Happen to know a card game called “Spit“? You know, that competitive solitaire-like game, only for two or more players. Where you don’t take turns, and you have to keep very alert, because sometimes the very pile you were hoping to play on gets played on first by the other player.
Well, Hasbro’s Ratuki isn’t Spit. It’s Spit-like. But faster, with a unique set of cards that adds a challenging perceptual/conceptual twist that makes it into something very much like a new game entirely.
The object of the Ratuki is to capture the most cards by being the first to complete a set of 5 cards, again and again and again. Players begin with a hand of 3 cards. There can be as many piles in the playing area as there are players. Each pile has to start with a ONE. Actually, there are five different kinds of ONEs: roman numerals, bilingual number names, fingers, faces of a die, and your regular Arabic-numeral type numbers. In a similar vein, there are TWOs of 5 kinds, each of which can be played on top of a ONE of any kind.
So, yes, you’re racing to build stacks of up to 5 cards, and equally yes, they can be of any kind, and even moreso, you have to constantly switch your expectations of which kind of number actually comes next.
Then there are the Ratuki cards, which you can use to capture a stack at any time. Sadly, there are only two of these wild delights. When you play your Ratuki card, you’re supposed to say “Ratuki.” Turns out to be almost as much fun to say that silly word as it is to play the card. Let’s say it together now, for the fun of it: ra-tooooo-kee! See what I mean?
And so the game goes. Speaking of which, if you can’t play, you can always discard one or more of the cards in your hand and pick up a new card from your draw pile. Which in one way is good, in another, not so – because after the round is over and you’ve counted all the cards you’ve won, you have to subtract every card left in your discard and draw piles from your score.
From time to time, no one has any cards they can play (unless they discard). And, since nobody wants especially to discard, you get these stand-off moments, where the game is stopped until someone confronts the fates, and discards, for the sake of keeping the game going. This results in a semi-profound meta-moment where the fun of the game actually takes precedence over the fun of winning.
There are many reasons to add this game to your library: the “educational” value, the appeal to children and adults, the ease of learning, the brevity of rounds, the quality of the cards, and, most of all, the sheer, intense fun of it all.
(updated, upon release by Hasbro, Feb. 8, 2011)