Generally speaking I am not a big fan of roll and move games. The problem with the genre, especially with children’s games in the genre, is that they are usually really basic. You usually just roll a die, spin a spinner, etc and move your piece around the gameboard. There is very little if any strategy as luck is usually the only determining factor in the game. I don’t expect a strategic masterpiece out of a children’s roll and move game, but I at least expect a game that gives you a few decisions to make to keep the game somewhat interesting. While I didn’t have high expectations for Rhino Rampage as the game has a 4+ age recommendation, it looked somewhat interesting as it had some unique mechanics that I couldn’t determine whether they were interesting or just gimmicky. Rhino Rampage is similar to your typical children’s roll and move game despite having some unique mechanics which unfortunately don’t always work that well due to the components not always working properly.
How to Play Rhino Rampage
- Insert the rhino body and the tail into the game base.
- Each player chooses a color and takes the three bird tokens of that color. The tokens are placed next to the board but not on one of the spaces.
- The player that makes the craziest or mightiest roar will start the game. Play will proceed clockwise.
Playing the Game
On a player’s turn they will roll the die. What they roll on the die will determine what they will do on their turn.
If a player rolls a number they will move one of their bird pawns the number of spaces they rolled. The pawns are moved from the rhino’s head to its tail along the spaces on the gameboard. They can choose to move any one of their pawns whether they are already on the board or haven’t been moved yet. The only exception is that you can’t move a bird that has another bird on top of it.
If after moving a pawn it lands on a space occupied by another pawn(s) it will be placed on top of the pawns already on the space.
When a bird reaches the rhino’s back (does not have to be by exact count) the bird is safe as it will stay on the rhino’s back for the rest of the game.
If the player rolls the bird symbol the player will move one of their bird pawns one space. The one benefit of rolling the bird symbol is that the player can move a bird that has other birds on top of it.
Finally if a player rolls the rhino symbol they get a chance to activate the rhino. They will push down on the ground holder section of the board to stabilize the gameboard. They will then press down on the rhino’s tail.
If the rhino pops any of the bird’s off their current spaces, they will be returned to the start of the gameboard. If birds are knocked off the leaf or the rhino’s back they are returned to the spots they were on as they can’t be knocked off those spaces by the rhino.
After a player has taken their action play passes to the next player clockwise.
End of Game
The first player to get their three birds onto the rhino’s back will win the game.
My Thoughts on Rhino Rampage
As it was made for children and families it is not surprising that Rhino Rampage is pretty simple to play. You basically roll a die and then take an action based on what you rolled. Most of the time you will roll a number which indicates how many spaces you can move one of your pieces. There are two special symbols though which give you a special ability. There is a bird that allows you to move one of your birds one space even if there are other birds stacked on top of it. There is also the rhino symbol. When you roll this symbol you get to push down on the rhino’s tail which may launch some of the birds into the air returning them to the start. The ultimate goal is to get all of your birds to the rhino’s back in order to win the game.
With the rules being so simple it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the game is quite easy to play. The game has a recommended age of 4+ after all. It should only take a couple minutes to explain the game to new players. A parent might have to play the game once with younger children in order to teach them the rules. Otherwise I would think children would be fine on their own. With the game being so simple and the board being so short most games should end in about 10-15 minutes unless players get unlucky and their birds keep getting sent back to the start.
I didn’t expect there to be a lot of strategy in Rhino Rampage and my first impression was unfortunately correct. There is only one area that adds any strategy to the game. The die roll determines what action you have to take each turn but you can choose which bird you want to move as long as it is not covered up by another bird. Do you want to focus on just one pawn to improve the odds that it will reach the end of the track? Or do you want to spread out your movement so you don’t risk everything on one pawn that could be knocked off before it reaches the end? Usually it is pretty obvious what the best option is, but I still appreciate that it adds some decision making to the game. This mechanic is far from original though as it is used in a lot of roll and move games.
The one somewhat unique mechanic in the game is the stacking mechanic. When your pawn lands on a space that already has a bird(s) on it you will place your bird on the top of the stack. This becomes important because only the bird on the top of the stack can move unless a player rolls the bird symbol. This allows you to block the other players from moving their birds by placing one of your birds on the top of the stack. This adds a little strategy to Rhino Rampage as you can use your turn in order to block another player(s) from making progress. Outside of putting your own bird at risk this is usually a good decision as it gives you control over one of your pieces as well as all of the pieces beneath it which can’t move unless they roll a specific symbol. In particular this leads to a lot of congestion on the safe space as no one has any reason to move a piece off the space unless they have to or can safely get it to the finish line. This mechanic doesn’t add a ton of strategy to the game but it has more than your typical children’s roll and move game.
Rhino Rampage is far from a great game as it can be kind of boring due to the few decisions in the game being quite obvious. I don’t really see the game being all that interesting to anyone but young children. Rhino Rampage is still better than a lot of children’s roll and move games though as it at least has a little strategy. The problem is that the game is let down by its components. In some ways I actually really liked Rhino Rampage’s components. For a Mattel game the components actually show a decent amount of detail. From the rhino to the bird pawns some effort was put into the design of the components. The components are quite colorful. Due to this and the game’s simplicity I could see younger children that are interested in the theme getting quite a bit of enjoyment out of Rhino Rampage.
The problem with the components comes from the fact that the rhino doesn’t work as well as it should. It could have been just my copy of the game but it seems like quite a few other people have the same issue. Basically the rhino is supposed to work by you pushing down on its tail which is supposed to push up pegs on some of the spaces on the gameboard. If a bird pawn(s) are on the space they should be launched off the space. Sometimes this works as planned but it regularly doesn’t. Too often a peg will be pushed up but it will do nothing to the bird pawns on the space. The birds might slightly rise off the space but not fall off of it. In these situations the rules don’t say what should happen. I would assume that they should still be moved back to the start as they should have been launched off the space in the first place. In some cases the birds move so little that you can barely tell if their space was even hit. In these situations how do you determine which birds should be sent back to the start? These malfunctions hurt your enjoyment of the game.
Should You Buy Rhino Rampage?
Rhino Rampage tries to do some new things for children’s roll and move games but unfortunately it fails to really differentiate itself. It is very similar to your typical children’s roll and move game as most of the game revolves around rolling the die and taking the corresponding action. This leads to the game being pretty simple to play. In addition the game plays quickly and the theme should appeal to younger children. While it shares a lot in common with most children’s roll and move games, Rhino Rampage does differentiate itself some by giving players a few movement options. The options are usually really obvious, but by giving players some choices it adds a little strategy to the game. This in combination with the Rhino component could have lead to a solid children’s roll and move game. Unfortunately the rhino component seems to only work about half of the time which ruins the potential that the game could have had.
My recommendation basically comes down to whether you have younger children that may enjoy Rhino Rampage. The game is too simple to really keep older children and adults interested for long. I could see younger children having some fun with the game though if the theme appeals to them. If so it may be worth checking out Rhino Rampage if you can get a good deal on it.