I’m not sure if memory games get more or less fun as I get older. On the one hand, the challenge increases so that I can compete on the same level as my nine year old daughter. On the other hand, I can be beaten consistently by my nine year old daughter, and I know that I will not get any better!
But the good people at Gamewright have helped bring joy to my creeping senility. Joy in the form of Rat-A-Tat Cat, a delightful and simple race-to-the-bottom card game. The game consists of 45 number cards and 9 power cards. Players place four cards face-down in front of them in a row and only look at the two outside cards (the two in the middle remain a mystery for the moment). The idea is to have the lowest hand value when someone shouts RAT-A-TAT CAT!!
Players may draw from the top of the deck or from the top of the discard pile. Tension mounts as players turn over cards from the deck and in order to replace the cards in front of them. On a player’s turn the player draws a card and either discards it or replaces one of his or her four cards on the table (the face-down cards). The low-numbered cards have pictures of cats and the high-numbered cards are festooned with rats. The illustrations are funny and whimsical, but they also serve as a visual reminder for younger players: keep the cats, get rid of the rats!! And ohh are there a lot of rats. Player’s take a risk when they replace the middle two mystery cards because those could be precious cats which could go to an opponent.
The power cards allow players to take special actions. The Peek card lets a player look at any one card on the table (usually one of the mystery middle cards). The Draw 2 card allows the player to draw a second card from the deck if the first one is not to the player’s taste. Finally, the Swap card lets the player exchange one card for an opponent’s card.
Memory plays a big role in the game, especially when playing the Swap card. It is easy to forget what you have in your hand when the cards start to shuffle about the table. It is oh so tempting to take a peek but rules are rules!
When a player believes he or she has the lowest hand, the player yells RAT-A-TAT CAT!! The other players have one more turn to draw and then the card values are counted. Players have to stay alert through the end of the game because the person who called an end to the round may not have the lowest hand, and the Swap card could come out at any time.
Yelling RAT-A-TAT CAT? Fun. Stealing victory with a Swap card at the end? MAJOR FUN!
Rat-A-Tat Cat was designed by Monty and Ann Stambler with illustrations by Ronnie Shepherd. © 2003 by Gamewright.
William Bain, Games Taster