Ravine

3-6 players, Cooperative, Party Card Game

Designer: Mathew Sisson

Artwork: Mathew Sisson

Publisher: Timber & Bolt

Overview of Gameplay

In Ravine you and a group of 3-6 players are attempting to survive the harshness of nature after a plane crash in the mountains. To do this you will be drawing from a deck of cards trying to find food and resources so you can craft supplies and weapons until you are rescued. After every player takes a turn playing cards to craft items or feed themselves then you flip a “Night” card from that pile to see what treacherous things may befall your group. 

That all sounds really cool on paper and something that I obviously got drawn into as I enjoy a good survival game. However I quickly found that this game was based far more on luck and silliness than skill. Right off the bat you toss your health tokens to see how much life you start with, could be 3 or could be 6 or anywhere in between. This is meant to simulate if you got injured from the plane crash. That part is pretty cool. However what I don’t like is how you must lose health to draw from the resource deck. You can very quickly lose most of your life doing this in hopes of finding something of value. It’s a risk/reward system but everything in this game is so heavily based on chance that it might be better to just sit at the camp and not search. 

Not only that, but the cards in the resource deck are all very bland. Most of the stuff you find are food items which only allows you to regain the life you lost searching in the first place. There are some crafting materials to use and this is kind of cool. Once you collect enough materials you can craft something like a spear (that breaks after one use) or a basket that allows you to draw more cards. How it’s meant to work is that everyone goes out searching for supplies and then when they return to camp, they share their findings. Of course by the time you heal yourself and craft what you need there really isn’t anything left to share. 

And then we come to the madness cards. If you fall down to one life left then you have to draw a “madness” card and follow the directions on the card. Personally I hated these. I know that sounds harsh but they are just so silly that it destroys the game for me. Some have you loudly declaring things, others have you unable to speak the rest of the game and still others make you talk in a silly voice. They are meant to be super light hearted and for sure remind me of a typical drinking game.

Win Condition /Length

To win at least one player has to survive long enough till they draw the “Rescued” card from the Night draw pile. At the beginning of the game this card is shuffled into the bottom of the deck so you know at least you have to survive for a little while before it is drawn. I would say the game can take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes to play a full game so you can get multiple games in very quickly. 

Setup/Takedown

Setup is in the medium tier I would say for a card game. There are a few decks to shuffle up and set out and everyone has to do the health token toss to see what they start with. You have to shuffle the rescued card into the bottom few cards of the night deck. Pretty straight forward for the most part. 

Components/Game Board

The components are actually very well done! I love the wooden health tokens and the cards are all of a high quality. The box is compact and fits everything well and it even comes with a drawstring bag to hold all the tokens. I was very impressed overall with the quality of everything.

Box/Storage

As mentioned above the box is very compact but does a good job of holding everything securely. You can store it any which way and everything stays secure so you don’t have to worry about cards mixing up or anything. 

Visual Appeal /Theme

The theme is what originally drew me to the game. Survivors of a plane crash in the mountains and you might go mad and do unthinkable things. This sounds so awesome to me. Sadly enough the gameplay did not live up to the theme. The artwork on the cards is pretty basic and the colors used are bland as well. 

Rulebook

For such a seemingly simple game the rulebook really did its best to make it complicated. And this is just a small slip of folded paper! I had so many questions after reading through this slip and the information that was there only made the information given more complicated. 

Table Talk/Fun Factor

The game does try to create table talk and succeeds for the most part. You are meant to work together to survive so there are instances where you will be discussing with your teammates on how best to use the resources that were collected. 

As far as fun goes though, I can’t say I really enjoyed my time playing this one. The amount of chance involved destroys any skill of surviving and the silliness from the madness cards detracts from the struggle of trying to survive. The games are crazy short so there really isn’t any time to strategize either (if you even could).

Optimal Player Count/Replayability

Honestly it doesn’t really even matter with this one. I had the same experience with 3 players that I did with 6. Heck I even played it 2 player and it seemed to work. With more players you can draw up more crafting materials faster so that is handy but at the same point it’s harder to keep more people alive. 

There is replayability here however. There are quite a few different “Night” cards that can be seen or not seen so you are always on your toes on what might happen. The resource deck has some interesting cards that allow you to revive a player although you need all 4 of them to revive one player and that draw deck is massive so more than likely you will never get them all. 

Final Thoughts

This was just not a game for me. I was looking for a more serious survival game that lent your survival to your skill-set and not mere chance. I don’t like how you have to lose life to search the resource deck and I don’t like how the madness cards work. I can honestly say that I will never recommend this game to bring out and play unless I am having a wild night of drinking and want to act a fool with the madness cards.

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