I received an amazing gift for my birthday this month and wanted to share this. Kassandra Kaplan made an actual 'Raccoon War 2012' board game for me, and it's incredible.
As you may know, I had a series of incidents (linked) involving a raccoon that snuck into my house repeatedly defeating various traps along the way until finally (spoilers) I got it. Kass was inspired by my struggle to create a board game where players can fight their own battles against the procyon menace and it's a lot of fun.
First, the production quality is tremendous. The game comes in a box (pictured) that contains a folding board, two cloth bags with game pieces, and two decks of cards in transparent boxes.
The board is printed on quad-fold chipboard and has a heavy, solid feel. When set up, it shows a map representing something that looks very similar to the Willamette Valley, with a few slight changes. There are four geographical 'zones' with color-coded locations that often roughly coincide with real Eugene/Springfield places but have raccoon-esque names like 'Orsetto Lavastore Pizza', 'Araiguma Dojo', and of course 'Tanuki Sushi'. Thirsty? Better head to 'Waschbären Wein und Bier'! Each zone belongs to a raccoon 'general'/end-boss (who must be defeated). There are 39 total locations which are interconnected to form a network of paths. The top has a place for player cards and throwaways, and the bottom is dedicated to the raccoon army's attack cards which are pulled each turn and control things like the spread of new raccoons, breeding rates, and more.
Printed on 165# heavy clay coated card stock, they feel professional and look great. There are two decks and some outlier control cards. The players have a deck of locations they can add to their inventory (which they can then use as instant teleports, to fight raccoon generals once they have 5 of the appropriate color, build teleport bases) and mixed in (proportionately to the number of players) with them are raccoon escalation cards that do things like increase breeding rates, advance the raccoon agenda towards winning (the 9 circles on the bottom, a sort of raccoon game progress indicator), and so on. There are also player cards that change their role; master trappers who can trap more at once, real estate agents who can set up bases, etc.
The other deck has a card played each turn that helps the raccoons. The 39 placenames can have new animals 'appear' on them as summoned by the raccoon attack cards, and the rate they accumulate increases throughout the game as they breed.
The gameplay is similar to Pandemic with many differences including a new 'Ricky the Raccoon' human-played antagonist that Kassie has been finalizing. We played the inaugural game a few days ago and it was a blast. Three adults and my 10 year-old played and everyone got into it very quickly. The raccoons started out in a couple of tiny colonies and victory seemed assured, but for every fire we put out, another one or two started... then spread. It's a collaborative game where we're playing against a common enemy, so there was plenty of horse-trading (well, card trading. There are few actual horses in the game.) within the rules and we had a great time. You can perform up to 4 actions a turn (with some modifiers based on role-cards) such as move, trap, build base, etc. It sounds complicated at the beginning, but we were playing like pros within minutes.
Here's a gallery with pictures of an unboxing and the board during our game:
In conclusion, this is one of the best gifts I've ever received and I'm blown away by the amount of work she put into this and the quality result. Raccoon War 2012 will be a treasured family board game for years and a great reminder of both my victory against the furred menace as well as the amazing things the people we care about can surprise us with. Thank you Kassie, you're amazing!
As for you, Ricky the Raccoon, stay out!