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Ratuki Card Game Review and Instructions

How to Play | Review | Final Verdict | Comments

How to Play

Setup

Each player takes a different colored deck of cards and shuffles their cards. Each player takes the top three cards from their deck and places them into their hand.

Gameplay

In Ratuki everyone plays at the same time. Players play their cards into piles made in the center of the table. The number of piles that can be started is equal to the number of players in the game (four piles for a four player game). Each pile is started with a one card. After a pile has been started any player can play a card on the pile that is either one number higher or one number lower than the card on the top of the pile. For example a player can play either a two or four card on a pile that has a three card as the top card. Ratuki cards are wild and can be played as any number.

Ratuki Gameplay
In this situation players can play either a two or a four on the bottom pile. On the right pile a player can play a one or a three. On the left pile a player can play a three or a five.

When a player plays a card(s) they draw new cards from their deck in order to get back up to three cards in their hand.

If a player is stuck with a card that they are having trouble playing, they are able to discard it. The discarded card is put off to the side and will count as a negative point against the player during scoring. After discarding the card, the player can draw a new card from their draw pile.

Players continue playing cards on the piles of cards until one of the piles reaches the number five. The player who played the five card yells out Ratuki and they get to take all of the cards from the pile to add them to their point stack.

Ratuki Gameplay
The orange player has successfully played a five card on one of the stacks. The orange player gets to take all of the cards in that pile.

End of Game

When someone plays their final card, the current round ends. Players count up the number of cards that they grabbed during the round which are worth one point each. Players lose one point for every card discarded or not played during the round. Points earned in the current round are added to points scored in other rounds. If a player reaches 100 points, they win the game. If two players reach 100 points after the same round, whoever has more points wins the game.

If no player reached 100 points another round is played. All of the cards are sorted based on color and each deck is shuffled before a new round begins.

Review

A Fun Unoriginal Game

Long term readers of this blog probably already know that for some reason I really like the quick paced free for all card game genre as evidenced by my reviews of Dutch Blitz and Blink. It is hard to explain why I enjoy these quick action card games but I just find these types of games to be addicting. I think it mostly comes down to the competitive nature of the games since everyone is competing against one another at the same time. While I wouldn’t play these games for long stretches of time, I could easily play several hands without getting tired of the game.

While Ratuki is a fun fast paced game, it is far from original. The games Blink and Dutch Blitz come to mind immediately when thinking about Ratuki. While they are not exactly the same game, these two games share a lot in common with Ratuki. Essentially if you have already played Blink or Dutch Blitz, you already know what to expect out of Ratuki. If you already own either game you probably don’t need to pick up Ratuki as well unless you can find it for cheap.

Chaos

When thinking about Ratuki one word immediately comes to mind, chaos. If you have never played one of these quick time reaction card games, you may not know what you are getting yourself into. As soon as a hand starts the game goes into complete chaos as everyone is trying to play their cards as quickly as possible. People are slapping cards down onto the table as quick as possible and if you are not quick enough you are going to be left in the dust. If you like games where you have time to plan out your moves ahead of time or you have a slow reaction time, Ratuki will not be the game for you.

Due to all the chaos there is a slight risk for injury to the other players and a high likelihood of damage to the cards if you are playing with aggressive players who want to win. Obviously no one will get seriously injured playing the game but players could end up getting scratched and they likely will get their hand slapped at some point. The cards will definitely shows signs from battle. In the first hand we played one of the cards got a nice large crease when two players tried to play to one pile at the same time. Luckily damaged cards shouldn’t affect the game very much since no one is going to spend time staring at the cards since they are too focused on finding the next card that they can play.

Well That Was Quick

If you have ever played one of these free for all card games before you are probably quite aware of how quickly these games can go. I would say that a hand of Ratuki takes at most two to three minutes. A hand ends almost as soon as it begins. While I think Ratuki could have been a little longer, I always liked the quick pace of these type of games. I love a game where you can play several hands within ten minutes. While the game recommends playing to 100 points, our group likes to play the game where a winner is determined after each hand. With how quick the game is, Ratuki would work perfectly as a filler card game.

Stalemates

One issue that the instructions never really address is what happens when none of the players are able to play a card to any of the stacks. In the hands that I played this was actually a regular occurrence. During each hand there was probably at least two different times where this situation came up and since the rules don’t specify what to do, our group decided we needed to come up with our own rule.

Based on the other rules presented in the game, we figured that there were two different ways to handle stalemates. All of the players could either be forced to discard one of their cards, drawing a new card to replace it. Otherwise everyone could keep all of their current cards and just draw a fourth card. Our group chose the draw a fourth card option since it felt like a waste making every player discard a card.

Well I Don’t Want to Play That Card

In addition to natural stalemates, Ratuki has artificial stalemates when players try to avoid playing a card they don’t want to play. This usually involves four cards. The key to winning Ratuki comes down to the four and five cards. The only way to make any points is to play your five cards. Since the five cards are so important, the four cards by extension become quite important as well. This creates a problem where no one wants to play their four cards since someone will likely steal the pile by playing the five card as quickly as the player finishes playing the four card.

This scenario lead to enough problems that our group tried a couple different rules to try and correct it. When we first started playing we played the game where players were allowed to play two cards in quick succession without having to draw back up to three cards immediately. Using this method the player who had a four and a five were guaranteed to always claim the pile since no one had a quick enough reaction time to beat a player that already knows what card is coming next.

Next we decided to change the rule that after playing a card, the player had to draw a card before they were allowed to play another card. As it turns out, this rule, while better than the first, reversed things a little too far in the other direction. Under this rule whoever played a four card was almost guaranteed to lose the pile to another player who could easily play a five card before they were able to draw and play another card. This rule made players try to avoid playing a four unless they absolutely had to. Sometimes players would try to sneak the four onto the pile so no other player would notice it. Under this rule a lot of players were forced to play fours in order to break stalemates which ended up with the player who played the four, not getting the pile.

This issue of being forced to play cards also comes into play when the game has stalemated except that one player has a wild card. Technically the wild card can be played as any card which would obviously break the stalemate. We found that this was not particularly fair for the player forced to play their wild card as a low number though since you obviously want to hold your wilds to be used as either a four or a five. Our group ended up deciding that any number card that could be played that broke a stalemate had to be played but wild cards did not have to be played.

Is That A Four or A Five?

One thing that is somewhat unique about Ratuki is the idea that the game comes up with several different ways to show the same number on the cards. For example the number two could be shown by two fingers being held up, two lines, the number two on a die, or just the plain old symbol “2”.  I found this idea to be both good and bad at the same time.

What I liked about this mechanic is that it makes you think about more than just the number. If all of the cards just had the symbols for the different numbers on them, the game would be pretty boring since it would just be an exercise of playing cards in numerical order. By marking the cards in the way that Ratuki does, you need to take that extra second or two to figure out what number each card represents. This adds excitement to the game as everyone is trying to figure out what numbers they have in their hands.

On the other hand, presenting the numbers in this fashion does add confusion to the game. Sometimes your brain just doesn’t want to connect the image to the corresponding number. This can get frustrating if you end up not being able to play a card because another player ended up making the connection on their card before you could. In addition this could lead to players playing incorrect cards which are hard to verify since everyone is too focused on laying out cards. It is hard to check if everyone else is playing by the rules and pretty much everyone has to play under the honor system and not knowingly cheat.

Components

Overall the components for Ratuki are pretty average. As I already mentioned, the cards will probably incur quite a bit of damage from play. This is to be expected from the type of game that Ratuki is. Overall the artwork is pretty average. There is nothing particularly wrong with the artwork since the cards are easy to read which is the most important thing in these types of games. The artwork is just kind of bland.

Final Verdict

Essentially Ratuki is a fun addicting game for people who enjoy fast paced free for all games. At times the game can be chaotic which actually helps the game in my opinion. The game does have an issue regarding players trying to avoid playing four cards but it is not a big issue since each game is so quick that you can quickly put the previous game behind you. The biggest problem with Ratuki is that it just isn’t that original. If you have played one of these quick play card games before, you have pretty much already played Ratuki.

If you have played one of these quick play games before and hated it, you will also hate Ratuki. If you like this genre of games though, I think you will enjoy Ratuki. With it not being highly original though you may just want to keep playing whatever games you currently have from the genre since Ratuki doesn’t play much differently. If you find a copy of Ratuki for cheap though you may want to consider picking up a copy.

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