Board Game Review – Rasputin

rasputinI can’t figure out why this Rasputin game isn’t doing better on Kickstarter. It looks great, and I just played it yesterday and it’s pretty cool.

Here’s the deal. It’s the end of whatever era was ending when the Russians killed Rasputin. You’re all really pissed at the old Russian asshat, so you’re going to do him in. And apparently, you started an office pool, with the first one to off Rasputin getting a weekend at Vegas. So you invade the palace and set fires to distract guards, then run up and knife the old bastard. If the other players get in your way, knife them instead, because screw ’em, you’re getting that Vegas trip.

The game itself is more of a cat-and-mouse thing where you’re all heavily armed mice competing to take down the rat. Or cat. And then you’re hunted by pieces of cheese, so you chew some wires… This metaphor is not working at all. Forget it. I’ll start over.

You have this big board, and you move around on the board, and Rasputin and his palace guards all move around following some pretty basic AI rules. If you get into Rasputin’s space, you can try to kill him – but he’s a wily sumbitch, so it’ll take some doing. You’ll probably miss the first time. Thank God Rasputin doesn’t hold a grudge, or worse, run away. When you try to kill Rasputin and fail at it, you just get teleported away, and then he goes to the kitchen to make a grilled cheese and catch up on his stories on the little TV mounted underneath the cabinets.

The reason this isn’t a horrible, predictable game is that it relies heavily on some cards. The cards can be used to make yourself more bad-ass when you fight Rasputin, but you might also have to use them to evade guards, run a little farther, manipulate Rasputin, or otherwise turn conditions to your favor. And that means you’ve got some interesting decisions, which are really what games are all about. Deciding when to use your cards in a fight and when to just take the beating, or choosing whether to sneak around the wall or bide your time another turn, this is when the game gets really interesting.

Maybe ‘really interesting’ is not the best word choice. Because, to be honest, Rasputin is not exceptional. It’s not bad, or anything. In fact, I would venture to say it is a good game, and the fact that it uses laser-cut pawns for guards and assassins and Rasputin is actually super bad-ass. And the rules and cards and stuff make Rasputin fun. Like I said, I would happily call it a good game.

Unfortunately, Rasputin exists in a massively crowded gaming market. There are plenty of good games out there. More importantly, there are hundreds of excellent games. And why play good games when you could play excellent games?

Rasputin doesn’t have any serious flaws. The comp0nents are seriously impressive. The art is clever and the design is solid. The game play will keep you involved and having fun. The only strike I can really level against Rasputin is that it is just good. Not amazing. And I own some amazing games.

Still, though, there’s got to be a huge market for this kind of tactical, sneaky, plan-ahead-and-foil-your-friends game. It’s got a great theme. I just don’t understand why more people aren’t dumping money into it. Plus you can get an all wooden set that will make heads turn. If the creator of Rasputin hadn’t already told me I could get a copy of the finished game, I would probably pledge for that wooden one, and stain it all up to be even awesomer. I’ve seen lots of crappy games get money on Kickstarter, so I don’t understand why Rasputin isn’t racking up mass greenbacks.

If you do occasionally buy stuff on Kickstarter, take a look at Rasputin and tell me what you think in the comments. Tell me why you wouldn’t pledge on it, or let me know if you would. I am genuinely puzzled as to why this one isn’t running away with the bank.


2-4 players

Great components
Engaging gameplay
Really cool theme
Interesting play-and-counterplay with some tricky decisions

Good. Not great.

Check out the Rasputin Kickstarter right here:


One Response to “Board Game Review – Rasputin”

  1. kaden says:

    If people are just looking at the kickstarter video and photos, the game looks fantastic and I really don’t know why not enough people would back this project up.

    However, after they actually purchased it, and start playing, they will notice that the components are not so good, the cards not so well-made, the board also not very solid. I just got this game and start playing… gameplay-wise, not so exciting either, comparing to many other game I own. Nevertheless, this is a simple and fast game, a little abstract, but I still like it.