First Rat

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Each player starts with a family of two rats and may raise two more. Everyone works together to build the rocket. However, each family competes to build the most parts and to train the most rattronauts so they can feast on as much lunar cheese as possible. On your turn, you either move one of your rats 1-5 spaces on the path or move 2-4 of your rats 1-3 spaces each, as long as they …
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Category Tag SKU ZPG-51232G Availability Out of stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • So many different strategies to try to maximize your points
  • Lots of variety straight out of the box
  • Very high re-playability
  • Very quick game time especially at the lower player counts
  • Really good Solo mode included

Might Not Like

  • At higher player counts the board can become a little messy with rats everywhere
  • The end of the game can sneak up on you
  • The Light String rules are a little messy in the Rule Book
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Description

For generations, the rats in the old junkyard have passed down the great legend of the moon. They say it’s made entirely out of cheese! Of course, they want nothing more than to reach this inexhaustible treasure.

One day, the rats discovered a comic in the junkyard that described the first landing on the moon. Thus, the plan was born: Build a rocket and take over the cheese moon!

The junkyard has everything you could need, and the other animals are willing to support you - if they’re well paid.

Each player starts with a family of two rats and may raise two more. Everyone works together to build the rocket. However, each family competes to build the most parts and to train the most rattronauts so they can feast on as much lunar cheese as possible.

On your turn, you either move one of your rats 1-5 spaces on the path or move 2-4 of your rats 1-3 spaces each, as long as they end up on spaces of the same colour. Your rats can never share the same space, and if you land in a space with another player’s rat, you must pay them with cheese. You collect resources (cheese, tin cans, apple cores, baking soda, etc.) matching the colour of the space you occupy, or you can move your lightbulb along the light string to boost your income in future turns. More lights in the junkyard make it easier for you to find things!

If you end your movement near a store, you can spend resources to buy a backpack or bottle top. You can choose to steal an item instead, with the rat then returning to the start of the movement track. You can score points by spending cheese or resources to build rocket sections.

Apple cores allow you to move around the rat burrow. Here you can pick up comics and stored food or raise one of your rats from the nursery. Alternatively, you automatically get a new rat when one of your rats reaches the launch pad and boards the spaceship. When a player places their fourth rat on the spaceship — or places their eighth scoring marker on the board — the game ends.

The player with the most points wins. In the event of a tie, the tied player with the most rattronauts in the rocket wins.

First Rat includes a solo mode as well as variable game set-ups described in the rulebook.

Player Count: 1-5
Time: 30-75 minutes
Age: 10+

The rats have heard the moon is made of cheese and they can't wait to get there to sample its inexhaustible treasure. The different rat families need to work together to build their space rockets and get to the moon.

However, the rat family that contributes the most will get the largest slice of lunar cheese. To do this they will be collecting building materials for the rockets (vinegar bottles, baking soda, tin cans and calculators), storing food (apple cores), saving up whatever cheese they can scavenge for the long journey, providing rats to become 'Rattronauts' and several other ways of obtaining points.

This 1 to 5 player game combines some of my favourite game mechanisms such as resource management, engine building (no pun intended) and point salad scoring. The length of the game increases as you add more players but as a general rule, a 2 to 3 player game would not last longer than 30 minutes with a 5 player game maybe lasting up to 50 or 60 minutes. However, each player's turn will be very quick so there is very little downtime.

Rats In Space!

The board for First Rat is very big and represents a junkyard which works with the theme really well. It is double-sided with the reverse used for a variable layout.

The game setup is fairly easy and the rule book provides a good explanation for the different number of items depending on the player count. Essentially you place all of the building materials (vinegar bottles, baking soda, tin cans, calculators), awards, cheese and mouldy cheese next to the board.

Each player places 2 of their rats on the starting space and 2 in the nursery. They also place their rat burrow marker on the starting space of the burrows and the light string marker on the car battery. You shuffle the bottle caps and place 6 of them face up by the Madcap Crow's Booth.

The relevant number of energy drinks and backpacks are placed on Zippy the Frog's and Harry Hamster's Booths respectively. Finally, you place 6 comics in the burrows with it recommended that you do not play with the Super Rat episodes for your first game.

Cheese is then handed out to players with the 1st player getting 1 piece, 2 pieces go to players 2 and 3 and finally players 4 and 5 will get 3 pieces each. Each player also gets 8 score markers of their colour with the two remaining score markers being placed next to the board.

Cheese It

On a player's turn, you move your rats and then collect resources. Depending on where the rats end their movement you may also be able to go shopping. Finally, you can build rocket parts and/or donate cheese.

When you move your rats, you have two choices, either move 1 rat between 1 and 5 spaces or move 2 rats between 1 and 3 spaces each. If you move 2 rats, they must land on different spaces but of the same colour. Your rats can never land on the same space as one of your other rats. Rats must always move forwards in the direction of the rocket.

If you end your movement on a space that contains 1 or more of your opponent's rats you must pay them 1 cheese each. If at any point during the game you cannot afford to pay this you must take a mouldy cheese icon (minus 2 points at the end of the game) into your possession and 3 pieces of cheese to enable you to pay.

There are shortcuts on the board, but they have a cost written on them. So, whenever a shortcut is used you must pay the relevant building material back to the supply.

You collect resources as depicted on the space you ended your movement. Yellow spaces provide cheese (between 1 and 4 pieces). Orange and Green spaces provide building materials. Blue spaces move your Light String Marker 1 space for each lightbulb shown (between 1 and 4). Finally, White spaces move your Rat Burrow Marker 1 space along the burrows for each apple core shown (between 1 and 4).

When you land on a space next to one of the booths you can go shopping. Backpacks from Harry provide permanent bonuses such as 1 extra good from an orange space or 2 extra cheeses from a yellow space. Energy drinks from Zippy provide a 1-time bonus of doubling the resources collected when used. Finally, bottle caps from Madcap provide extra scoring opportunities at the end of the game such as 4 points per Rattronaut.

Each shopping booth has a cost associated that must be paid in cheese, however, you can decide to steal from the booth without paying any cheese, but that rat gets moved back to the starting position as punishment.

The final action you can take is to build a rocket part and/or donate cheese for the journey to the moon. To build a rocket part you pay the associated costs as noted on the board and place one of your score markers on the highest point of the score track for that rocket part. When you complete a set of all 3 rocket parts you get to place a score marker on the Complete Rocket score track.

To donate cheese, you simply pay 10 of your cheese to the supply and place one of your score markers on the highest available points on this score track.

Houston, We Have A Rat Problem

The Blue and White spaces require some further explanation as these build your engine (game engine rather than the rocket engine).

I will start with the white spaces, for every apple core on the white space you move your rat burrow marker to the same number of spaces in the direction of the arrows until you reach one of the crossroads. You must then decide if you want to collect a comic, move a rat baby from the nursery to the start space or donate food for the store by placing one of your score markers on the highest score of the track.

Comics are a powerful resource as they could enable your rats to land on an orange and green space on the same turn, get a discount on building rocket parts and other permanent upgrades to your abilities. The Super Rat comics provide even greater permanent abilities and they even come with standees that slot into your rat indicating which one is Neil Ratstrong, Lola Rat, Arnold Rattenegger or Ratwoman.

For each lightbulb represented on the blue spaces, you move your light string marker to the equivalent number of spaces along the light string track. If on a future turn your rat moves to a space that the light string marker is on or has passed you will get 1 extra resource from that space. So, a space that provides 2 cheese will be worth 3 if your light string marker is on it or has passed that space.

At three points along the light string, there are construction lights. Whenever you reach or pass one of these you place one of your score markers in the highest scoring free space of that track.

Rattronaut

When one of your rats reaches the end of the track (the launch pad) you can choose a bonus of either a 3-point award or moving one of your rats from the nursery to the start position of the track. You then place your rat in the highest-scoring position on this score track. This rat will not be moved or used again, but it is going to be one of the brave rats that will fly to the moon.

You Dirty Rat

The game comes with a very good solo mode with 4 levels of difficulty. During this mode, you are competing against Greg the rat who cheats his way to points. He doesn't collect any resources and instead he will race his rats to the rocket and claim points on the score tracks along the way.

This mode is very easy to set up and play and a lot of fun can be had going up against Greg and trying out different strategies. On Greg's turn you flip over a card (from a prepared deck based on the difficulty) and follow the instructions for movements of his rats and claiming of awards or the removal of comics.

I had a lot of fun with this mode and enjoyed increasing the difficulty of Greg and trying to complete the solo mode challenges.

The Fast & The Furriest

The end of the game can be triggered in two ways. Firstly, by a player placing their 4th and final rat on the launch pad in which case the game ends at the end of the current round. Or by a player placing their 8th score marker in which case another complete round is played with everyone having access to their 2 other score markers at the side of the board.

Scores are then added up using the scorepad provided. You get points for all 8 score tracks, bottle caps collected, 3 points per awards token, minus 2 points for each mouldy cheese and finally 1 point per 4 resources left in your supply (vinegar, baking soda, tin cans, calculators and cheese).

It's The Final Countdown

I like First Rat quite a lot. It won me over with its quick gameplay, variety of set-up, numerous scoring opportunities, clever solo mode and simple game design. However, anyone thinking of jumping into the rocket with these rats should be aware of some small but annoying technical issues.

At the higher player counts the number of spaces you will encounter other rats increases significantly so the cheese will be flying between players. The rule book is mostly very good, but the Light String explanation could be better. Some people may not like how suddenly the game can be over especially if you haven't been keeping an eye on how many point markers the other players have left.

The board is very dark which I understand thematically makes sense, however, it can be difficult to read the first time you play.

Taking all of this into account I would recommend this game to anyone that likes quick playing games with lots of options, ways of scoring and unique themes.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • So many different strategies to try to maximize your points
  • Lots of variety straight out of the box
  • Very high re-playability
  • Very quick game time especially at the lower player counts
  • Really good Solo mode included

Might not like

  • At higher player counts the board can become a little messy with rats everywhere
  • The end of the game can sneak up on you
  • The Light String rules are a little messy in the Rule Book