Ravine Review by David Lent
Ravine is a crafty and cooperative card game for 3-6 players who play plane crash survivors and at least one must survive until rescue arrives for the party to win. The players must work together to find food, make fire, craft tools and build shelters. Nighttime can bring dangerous animals, severe weather or many other dangers. Players who cannot cope with this dangerous survival situation may fall into madness and bring harm to their fellow survivors.
The game is setup by shuffling the madness, night, forage and wreckage decks and dealing each player one wreckage card and a crafting guide. Next, the players agree on the difficulty of the game and that determines how many night cards are in the deck. The dealer then shuffles the rescue card into the last three cards of the night deck. Next, the fire token is placed in the middle of the table face down, which signifies that the fire is out. Last, each player takes three tokens and places three up and rolls the other three to determine their starting health.
Ravine’s sequence of play is night, health check, daytime and preparation. The game always starts by drawing a night card.
Nighttime cards have effects that target all players without the ability to defend themself. Fire protects all players from wild animals, but only lasts until morning. Shelters protect up to three players and last until destroyed. Spears protect one player from an animal or human attack, but are destroyed after their first use. There are also various wreckage cards that provide shelter, protect from animals or restore health.
The health check phase is used to check if anyone is down to only one health. If so, they have to draw a dreaded madness card. Madness cards have annoying effects that either last only one day or until health is gained, but some last until death or rescue. Madness cards can have many different effects such as causing a staring contest between you and another player with the loser losing health, stealing cards from the group and discarding them, causing you to dance until you regain health otherwise you lose one health or violently throwing your cards and keeping only those that fall face up. It’s imperative for players to try their best not to fall into madness.
Foraging is done during the day phase. Each player may flip up to three of their hearts in order to draw up to three forage cards. If a player has a basket, they may draw one additional forage card. However, at least one heart must be spent in order to use the basket.
During the preparation phase, forage cards may be used. Some forage cards are food and restore up to the number of hearts printed on them. If a forage card has two or more hearts, you may give one or more of the hearts to a needy player. Remember, you don’t want anyone to be at one life during the health check phase or they will fall into madness, which can be bad for everyone. Some forage cards are stone, wood, fiber and bone piles. Four bone piles allow a dead player to come back to life. Stone, wood and fiber allow the construction of spears, baskets, fire and shelters. Players may trade or share these freely during the preparation phase.
I tried Ravine with 3 and 5 players. Both numbers of players made an enjoyable game, but it was more interesting with 5 players since more trading took place and there were a greater number of forage cards on the board. Ravine is challenging, but the ability to select the difficulty level at the beginning of the game ensures that you can always have a challenge level appropriate to your gaming group’s experience level. All of my play-testers (including myself) really enjoyed this game and one said he is going to buy a copy of this game for his Nephew’s birthday. The theme for this game is really interesting and players have to make meaningful decisions even though it is a really simple, press your luck game. If you’re looking for a light cooperative party game with an interesting theme, look no further.
View the components in the unboxing video below: