When I spoke with Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot designer Ignacy Trzewiczek at GenCon 2015 he described the game as being about fun and happiness. I’m happy to say that I can confirm that Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot is indeed full of both fun and happiness as well as heaping helpings of randomness, silliness, and charm.
Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot places each player in the role of a ship’s Captain, destined to head out onto the high seas, or the bottom of the game box in this case, to hunt down and sink merchant ships and steal their Loot. Each Captain also chooses a wonderfully illustrated, multi-sectioned cardboard ship and a small handful of dice in their player color that represent their fleet of ships.
Players set out on a series of Adventures that usually involve battling with a small handful of non-player ship dice. The player who is designated the Baron then takes those dice in hand and all players can send their ship-dice into battle by giving them to the Baron to be rolled as well. The Baron drops all of the dice into the box and a battle plays out in miniature, with players moving their dice around to fire cannons and board the non-player ships in order to gather coins and Loot.
After a series of Adventures—usually three—the players head to Port where they can spend their hard won Loot on improving their ship, hiring new crew, selling Loot for coins, and buying valuable items to secure victory points. Port visits are almost always satisfying, as it’s great fun to watch your ship grow and morph into an ever sillier contraption, and the abilities that new crew provide often serve to increase the amount of fun to be had while adventuring.
Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot is a zany dicefest where the fickle hands of fate can completely turn on you at a moment’s notice. Thankfully the silly gameplay and the constant sense of accomplishment as you see your ship grow in size and wackiness really keep the tone light enough that it can mitigate even terrible luck. The fact that gameplay revolves so heavily around the luck on not only the die rolls but also where the dice land in the box, will probably turn off players who prefer to formulate and execute strategies. But for nearly everyone else there is bound to be something that appeals to them in Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot.
With a full compliment of players playing on the Admiral Norrington scenario, Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot plays more like a lighthearted party game, with everyone going with the flow and playing as much to laugh as to win. If you lower the player count or use the Pirate Wars scenario though, the game can turn into a cut throat brawl where precision movement and planning out your moves to enact vengeance against a player who has previously wronged you become the order of the day.
A note on player conflict: Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot features two scenarios and one tutorial. Both the tutorial and Admiral Norrington scenarios task players with simply grabbing as many coins and victory points as possible, competing against each other to be the first to sink merchant ships. Players seeking more direct player conflict will want to play using the game’s Pirate Wars scenario. Pirate Wars allows players to target and sink each others’ ships and makes the game far more cut-throat and competitive.
A note on “chrome”: The components in Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot are absolutely lovely, from the art design to the card-stock to the awesome metal coins. The game’s custom dice are cool looking, and it’s a blast to be able to rattle and drop a big handful of them all at once. Neat little touches abound in Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot, such as the Captain cards being double sided so that players can play as either a male or female captain regardless of player color. The rulebook does have a small mistake in the component count but otherwise it is well done and lists the best “ultimate” tie breaker that I’ve read for a game to date.
The bottom line: Is Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot random? Yes. Can you strategize? Not really. Can the dice leave you totally out to dry? Definitely. Is it perfect? No. Should you buy it? Absolutely! Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot will be staying in my collection and will be the game I reach for most often when I am playing with people new to board games or when I just want something lighthearted. Fun and happiness.
Get this game if:
You are a fan of random fun and happiness.
You love “beer and pretzels” games.
You are looking for a game that the entire family can play that is still engaging enough for a gaming group of adults.
Avoid this game if:
You prefer Euro games with zero randomness.
You dislike dice games.
You like to form strategies and follow them through to completion.
Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot is a random, dice-chucking good time. The art and theme play perfectly to the silly gameplay and the game accommodates a wide variety of players, from a simple family game night to a complete cut-throat group of competitive gamers.