Rat-a-Tat Cat Review
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Players: 2-4
Playing Time: about 20 minutes (or more, depending on how you decide to play)


Toss the Rats, keep the Cats. The object of the card game Rat-a-Tat Cat is to have the lowest score at the end of the game—and if you can get rid of the rats, you have a pretty good chance to win. The game consists of a deck of 54 cards, which include low-numbered Cats, high-numbered Rats, and three types of power cards that allow players to peek at their cards, swap a card with another player, or take an extra turn.

Play begins by dealing four cards face down to each player and placing the remaining cards in the center of the table in a draw pile. Each player, without looking at her cards, then places them face down in a line on the table in front of her. She then gets to look at the cards on each end so she’ll have some idea what her starting score is.

  
 
Play starts when the player to the left of the dealer chooses a card, either from the draw pile or the discard pile, and replaces one of her cards, discarding her old card face up in the discard pile. The players try to remember which cards they have and keep score, and when someone thinks she has a low enough card count to beat the other players, she taps the table and says “Rat-a-tat cat!” to indicate the end of the round. Everyone gets one more turn, and then all of the player reveal their cards and total the points. One player is the scorekeeper and keeps a tally of the totals for each round, and the player with the lowest score at the end of the game is the winner. The end of the game can either be a predetermined number of rounds, a specific length of time, play to a certain number of points, or anything the players agree on.

Poor Emily (my third-grader) was home all week with the flu, and by the time she was starting to feel better, she was bored out of her mind. We took advantage of her sister’s preschool time to play this game, and we found it to be really fun. The illustrations of various cats and rats on the cards are pleasant and amusing, and although the game involves mostly chance, there is a certain amount of strategy in timing the end of the round and remembering what your score is, as well as paying attention to what score your opponent might have. This was quite fun with two players, and we’re pretty sure it would be even more fun with three or four. Mom says thumb’s up on this one, and we can’t wait until Little Sister is old enough to play, too.

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