Time: ~30 minutes
Times Played: 8
When we saw Raptor, we saw everything that we wanted in a board game. Dinosaurs? Check. And that was pretty much it. Dinosaurs are awesome and completely underrepresented in board games. But in all seriousness, this game had much more to offer than just dinosaurs. Heavily thematic? Two-player? Quick? Easy? Modular board? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Raptor is a card driven asymmetrical board game pitting the dinosaur player against the scientist(s) player. The Raptor is looking to either eat the scientists or get three of her babies to safety whereas the scientists are trying to subdue the mother Raptor or capture three of her babies. The game comes with ten cardboard game tiles, six plastic Raptor miniatures (one mother Raptor and five babies), ten plastic scientist models (which are different models), eighteen action cards (nine per player), fifteen cardboard tokens representing fire and tranquilizer/bullets, nine cardboard rocks (3D once assembled), a rule book and two player aid sheets.
The ten cardboard tiles are double-sided and offer you the opportunity to have either a jungle or a desert locale for your voyage into Raptor’s lost world. Once you decide on where you want to play, the six square tiles are placed in a 2×3 pattern, forming a rectangular board. The four remaining L-shaped pieces are placed on the end and are the exit points for the baby Raptor’s. The Raptor player then places the mother on one of the two central squares and the babies are placed one each on the other five squares. Four scientists are placed, one each, on the end L-shaped pieces. Lastly, the rocks are placed where the rubble spots are on the board, offering some line-of-sight cover for friend or foe as the game goes on.
As the game begins, players take their nine cards in hand and examine the options in front of them. They choose three of the nine to form their hand and then place the action they would like to take face down in front of them. When both players are ready, they reveal their cards simultaneously.
The player that played the lowest number card will go first and may perform the special action located on the card. Special actions range from extra movement, knocking down opponents, starting fires or calling for reinforcements, to name a few. Both players have identical ‘1’ cards, as they allow the player to reshuffle their deck once it is in play. On the other hand, the ‘9’ card offers no special ability.
Typically, once a card has been played and until it is returned to the player’s hand, it is left face up and available for the opponent to see so they can base their next decision(s) off of what information is available.
So we have established that the lower number card gets the special action, but what does the higher number card do? The difference between the cards is the amount of basic action points the higher card player is granted. So if someone plays a ‘2’ and another player plays a ‘6’, the ‘2’ card player gets to perform the special action on the card while the ‘6’ player gets four action points to use, as the difference between ‘2’ and ‘6’ is four.
If both players play the same card, the actions cancel out and nothing happens; the next round begins. This continues until one side meets their victory conditions.
I liked the simultaneous card play. I liked the visible discard pile. I liked the unique themes for each side. I liked the miniatures. I liked the modular board. I liked the player aids. I loved that it was about dinosaurs. That cannot be stated enough. The rules are well written and everything is easy to understand and more importantly, makes sense thematically. You never have to wonder why you might do something with the actions you have available. The mother Raptor can hide and reappear like a stealthy Jurassic Park scene and the scientists can slow her down by using tranquilizers. Both sides seem balanced enough in the plays that we had.
Raptor combines luck and strategy as you never know what your opponent has up their sleeve. You are trying to outwit and outmaneuver your foe with each card play. As the game winds to a close, it’s typically a dead heat between the players as to who will fulfill their greed of capturing baby dinosaurs or who will amass a slew of scientist bodies.
Now, all that being said…this game fell incredibly flat with my group. It is everything I want in a game. Inexpensive. Thematic. Fast. The components are quality. But nothing stood out or made a lasting impression. I feel like if this game would have been bought when we were just getting our feet wet into the board game culture, we would love it a lot more. I have no doubt that Raptor is a great two-player gateway to the world that is board gaming but after playing some heavier games with more meatier decisions, Raptor just didn’t scratch the itch we were hoping for. That sounds like such a cop-out, snobby answer too. “Oh, this game is far too simple for my superior board game intellect” but I honestly cannot think of what else was keeping us from loving this game.
This could also be due to the fact that we have played some two player games to death as well and Raptor did not bring any new mechanic to the table that wowed us. Grid Movement was familiar to us from our many, many, many playing’s of Mr. Jack in New York and the Hand Management/Simultaneous Action Selection was something we ran into the ground from our playing’s of Twilight Struggle. I know that many games share mechanics and the examples used don’t match what Raptor does exactly, I’m just trying to articulate why I feel the way I do about this game.
If you are looking to add a two-player game in your collection, there are far worse options than Raptor. There is a good, quality game in the box and if you read any other review, you will see them rave about the game. This is one that just did not resonate in with me or my group. And it’s weird. I love the “outwit with cards” that Get Bit! offers, so a more fleshed out version should be something I was a fan of. Maybe I was just blinded by a board game with dinosaurs. If the theme was anything else, I can’t say for certain this game would have gotten a second look. But it is what it is and hopefully you find a more enjoyable experience in the box than I did.