Board Game Review

Fighting a Moose Whilst Eating Berries (Ravine)

Ravine is a Kickstarter I received very recently, and I already love it. Survival coop is the only coop I truly enjoy and this game manages it beautifully. It’s one of those games you finish and restart without thinking, you’re so tied into the experience that you need to know what will happen to you next!
A brief summary;

  1. Every player is the survivor of a plane crash. You survive the nights, you win… You die, you lose.
  2. The game is run in a cycle, draw a night card, check for insanity, forage or don’t, prepare what you’ve foraged by crafting/sharing/eating, repeat.
  3. Players have between 3 and 6 health at the start of the game and lose health through madness, foraging and night events and can gain health by eating.
  4. Night events change what might happen next, explain what bad things happened in the night, or if you’re lucky, no repercussions.

  5. Checking for madness is if you have one health after the night. Madness cards have play effects and a resolution as to when they they can be discarded, but they are brutal.
  6. Choosing to forage is risky. You can forage up to three times, exchanging health for each forage card. All players forage at once and the cards are revealed after foraging has taken place.
  7. You can use what you’ve foraged to craft an assortment of items to help survive and can share but are not forced to. You can also use food you have found to heal yourself or other players, but again, you’re not forced to.
  8. Dying doesn’t mean the end. Some madness cards keep a dead player in and some resources foraged might help…
  9. The Rescue is one of the final night cards and is disguised as a night card.

Ravine is tremendously light weight and we learned it in under 5 minutes, the instructions were clear and concise and didn’t take a lot of deciphering. Mastering the game is something we haven’t yet done! We played about 8 games of varying difficulties (based on the number of nights you play). The game each time was different but we got the routine of the game down to a tee after the first 3 games, no longer needing to consult the rules whatsoever. We went from going gung-ho and foraging like mad to being extra careful and slowly building up our resources, each yielding different results. With over 100 foraging cards you really can’t predict whether you’ll get what you need. But everything can be used or will have an effect on play. The cards are excellently made, often containing humour and sometimes being pretty dark on the reality of the situation, however all follow a clear aesthetic and look incredible… and the wooden tokens are also gorgeous! I did not expect that when opening the box! And then there’s the beauty of it being “coop”. Yes the game is cooperative… but you may not be! You are at no point forced to share during the prepare phase but your reluctance to do so may result in someone going mad, dying, or you being ignored by the team for the rest of the game! We found some decisions to be very common sense; someone’s hurt, heal them. But common sense disappeared very quickly when 2 other people were on 1 heart after a poor forage and only having a single heart healing item available… and then me using it on myself! I thought if I survived we could win. We didn’t.One specific run was hilarious. Me and D had poor health to kick off and my partner managed 5HP to start. After a few bad nights and poor foraging runs we were eventually on 1HP each. We’d gone mad once or twice, me needing to mimic everything D did and D declaring that he was Captain Cranberries and would be addressed as such. My partner had found a plum and some wood, so she lit the fire and ate the plum herself. THEN she used her character specific item, chocolate (which cannot be shared) to max her health out.. leaving me and D to go mad the next morning. Luckily we didn’t go mad, we were saved that embarrassment, instead we were killed by wolves in the night. Which we were very thankful for after seeing what happened to my partner. First she got cocky and foraged for 2 after already losing 1HP, meaning she had 3HP left but got nothing of use from foraging. Panic had clearly set it, and then all her foraging was stolen by weasels in the night. Next she foraged for 1 and got nought again, leaving her hanging on by a thread. Me and D were very supportive of course, explaining how her character would no doubt die to an angry moose or something. After a long struggle she was finally on 1HP after a night, and madness set it. To start off, she couldn’t speak. At all. And there was no cure, so we narrated everything she did. Then she got incredibly lucky, foraging on her last health point and finding a single spring onion to get her heart back. The night was quiet, unlucky for her, as madness caused blindness and needed her to cover her eyes with her hands! Myself and D took no pity as you can expect and spent a bit of time being very unhelpful, although we eventually decided to narrate her turn to her and allowed her to nod and shake her head to dictate her actions. Again; she foraged on her final HP and gained a HP, which cancelled the blindness’s effect. Then the night came, and she was finally rescued. For her, it was the greatest victory she could have achieved. For me and D, it was unbelievable and put a bad taste in our mouths.. but a win was a win.

Pros

  • The game is incredibly light and set up time is next to nothing, making it easily accessible to new gamers!
  • Learning the game is incredibly easy, mastering it is another question!
  • The game can have up to 6 players and 9 with the expansions (which I missed out on!) which, with a few drinks, could quickly change it from a boardgame to a party game!
  • The need for cooperative play is completely optional, meaning there is scope for competitive play (although last man standing isn’t as appealing as actually surviving!)
  • The madness cards have fantastically awful effects on the whole team and can ruin the team’s chances, meaning looking after one another is necessary… but still optional!

Cons

  • The cards can be somewhat vague; does a madness card resulting in losing health still count as a human attack even if it’s as the result of a staring contest?
  • It is incredibly easy to die. Tremendously incredibly easy.
  • The risk reward isn’t always balanced… Although you are marooned on an island. Maybe it’s good theming?

Ravine will definitely be a regular on my table amongst friends and, whether it’s a warm up game or not, it’ll be a while before it ends up put away properly!