First Rat: Rocket to the Cheese Moon!
The junkyard rats have been dreaming about the moon made of cheese. Now they’re going to build a rocket and see if they can make it there!
In First Rat, your rat tribe will collect resources, build rocket parts, buy bonuses, and prepare for the trip to the cheese moon.
First Rat is an entry level euro game designed by Gabriele Ausiello and Virginio Gigli and published by Pegasus Spiele. A game takes around 60 minutes to play for 2-5 players. The game can flex as young as eight years old, but ten is probably a better starting age.
How to Play
Each player takes turns in order. On your turn, you must move at least one of your rats, collect resources, and then you may buy, build, and/or donate. Get your markers out onto the different scoring tracks and hoard points for the end of the game!
Movement is one of the ways that First Rat is unusual. Choose whether to move a single rat (up to five spaces) along the path or multiple rats. If you move multiple rats, each may move up to three spaces, but they must all move to (different!) spaces of the same color.
You’ll have to pay “cheese” pieces to other player(s) if your rat finishes their move on the same space as their rat. Choose carefully!
After moving, every one of your rats that moved gets something from their destination space. These may include Cheese (yellow spaces), building supplies (green or orange), light bulbs (blue), or apple cores (white).
Light bulbs add to your light bulb string. Any time one of your rats finishes their move on a space next to or behind the light marker, they collect an additional resource that turn.
When your light string marker reaches one of the large Construction Lights, add a marker to the Construction Lights score track.
Apple cores let you move around in the Rat Burrow. Here, you can choose to get a comic at the Library, raise a new rat from the Nursery, or add Stored Food to your final score.
Buy / Build / Donate
After collecting resources, there are a few optional actions sometimes available.
If you have the right combination of resources, you can build a rocket part! Return the resources to the supply and add a marker to the corresponding score track.
You can also donate cheese for the flight – ten cheese gets you a marker on the Provisions score track.
If one of your rats is on the space for Harry Hamster (who sells backpacks that give extra items), Zippy the Frog (who sells energy drinks that double your item collection), or Macap Crow (who sells bonus-point bottlecaps), you can go shopping. Spend cheese to buy an item for the listed price, or steal it and send this rat back to the start space.
A player triggers the end game by putting their fourth rat on the launchpad, or when they place their eighth score marker. Everyone gets the same number of turns, then it’s time to tally points.
Whose rat clan will own the rocket?
First Rat is a game with a lot of moving parts. There are at least ten different ways to earn points, even though none are complex. Some players will find this exciting, and pick one or two score tracks to concentrate on; others will spread themselves thin trying to do everything. Some kids will be overwhelmed by all the choices they can make. Even I immediately thought there was a ton to look at when I first laid out the board.
Most ways to earn points are straightforward: collect resource sets, turn them in to build rocket pieces. Collect cheese and donate it. Move your rats up the path and turn them into rattronauts. But the Light String track and the Rat Burrow introduce tradeoffs between immediate points vs. cumulative benefits and require intricate planning to use well.
Easy to Get Started
First Rat has great iconography. A simple walkthrough of how the obviously different icons correlate with different positions on the board is really all you need. And, despite all of the different ways to get points, the core mechanic of the game is pretty simple: move one rat up to five spaces, or all of your rats up to three. Everything flows from there.
Easy to Ramp Up
Once you are accustomed to the game flow, there are additional changes you may make. The back of the game board offers a variable path, you can use updated scoreboards (new priorities), and “super rat” comics that give a permanent ability to a specific rat meeple.
Solo mode involves a dummy player that scores a lot but doesn’t collect any resources. It’s not very interesting.Asher
First Rat to the Cheese Moon!
The team at Pegasus Spiele did a fantastic job adding lots of variety without making the game too complex. This makes First Rat an awesome intermediate step for kids who are interested in their parents’ euro games.
We weren’t entirely sure what to expect out of the box, but we were thoroughly impressed. First Rat will remain in our collection for a long time; it just feels good to play.
The Family Gamers received a copy of First Rat from Pegasus Spiele for this review.
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Age Range: 10+ (too complex for most younger players)
Number of Players: 1-5 (best at 3-4)
Playtime: 30-75 minutes