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Rat-A-Tat-Cat - Board Game Box Shot


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A game of suspense, strategy, and anticipation. Get rid of the high cards (rats) and go for the low cards (cats). Sneak a peek, draw two, or swap cards for an added twist. Low score wins the game. (A poker face helps!)

As children play Rat-a-tat Cat, they develop a sense of timing and an understanding of basic, but essential, mathematical concepts. They learn ways to remember their cards and strategies to figure out what cards other players might have. They also begin to develop an intuitive sense of probability. Rat-a-tat Cat requires skill, strategy, and awareness, challenging both young children and adults.

Rat-a-tat Cat components
images © Gamewright

User Reviews (2)

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Amateur Advisor
21 of 22 gamers found this helpful
“Your child's first gateway game!”

This was the first real analog game I remember ever playing. I was probably around six, at a marathon-watching party with my parents. The kids of the host were playing some Gamewright card games on the floor, including Slamwich, that witch game, and Rat-A-Tat-Cat. From the moment I saw those cards on the carpet, I knew that gaming was for me. It was fated. Thus, this review may be colored by nostalgia.

In Rat-A-Tat-Cat, 2+ players are distributed four random face-down cards each. They do NOT get to see those cards. Each card has a numeric value 0-9 (or one of two or three special powers), and your goal is to have the lowest total value among your four cards at the end of the game.

On your turn you choose one: either take the top card of the discard pile and switch it for one of your cards, face down (remember, you don’t know the values of your cards, so it’s risky), or you draw the top card of the deck. If that card is a number, you may switch it with one of your 4 cards, or discard it. If that card has a special ability, you do that special ability and discard it.

There are three special abilities: Peek, Swap, and Draw 2. Peek allows you to look at any face down card (yours or your opponent’s). Swap allows you to swap your face down card for an opponent’s face down card (they don’t get to look at the card you gave them). Draw 2 allows you to take 2 extra turns.

One of the cool mechanics in this game is that it ends when any player calls “Rat-A-Tat-Cat,” so you have to believe you’re doing better than your opponents. When a player does that, his or her opponents each get one more turn and then it’s over.

Most of the strategy in Rat-A-Tat-Cat revolves around memory, which is okay but not awesome. You really need to remember which of your cards are which values, and you really should remember which cards your opponent has as well.

However, there are a few interesting strategies and tactics in Rat-A-Tat-Cat. Like in Gin Rummy, when playing against a skilled opponent you should do your best to give your opponent as little information as possible. Sometimes this means passing up better cards in the discard pile, or replacing a 3 with a 0 instead of a 5 with a 0, because your opponents know what the 3 is.

Another interesting strategy is bluffing, by replacing a 2 or a 1 with a higher card (although preferably not too much higher, like a 3), so they think you have a better score than you do.

Finally, it doesn’t come up when playing as a kid, but I now realized that if you get a 0 on one of the first draws, or start with one, it is probably a good idea to end the game right there and then.

Rat-A-Tat-Cat is a fun little game, mostly for kids, for 2-6 players. It’s short, and very flexible in where you can play it. If you have kids who like the game, you could carry it with you and use it to entertain them when their bored, almost anywhere. It was my first real game, and it’s a good introduction to semi-strategic gaming for children.

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Intermediate Reviewer
Professional Grader
4 of 5 gamers found this helpful
“Great for Kids”

I was fortunate to grow up in a family that loves playing games. Rat-a-tat-cat didn’t come out till I was much older but as a parent I wanted to pass on the love of games to my kids and this game is a perfect start, so we bought it.

The game is simple: high cards bad, low cards good. When you think you have the lowest hand you go out, limiting the rest of the players to one more turn. Then you turn over your face-down cards and tally up the points.

My kids loved the silly pictures of the rats and cats. It helped them learn their numbers and their values. They had to concentrate to remember what cards they have in front of the them. There is simple strategy: to go out quickly and stick your opponents with a lot of points or bide your time trying to get the lowest score but allowing others to better their cards.

The game is easy to learn and quick to play. You can adapt it to really any length of time, just pick a point limit to end the game. I believe starting young is a great way to ensure gamers for life.


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