The Golden City, a beacon of hope in a post-apocalyptic world. Not too fast! You must earn you place in the higher ranks of this newly established society. Can you become respectful, skillful or brave enough to become a new citizen of the Golden City in Raid & Trade?
How do you play the game?
Raid & Trade is set in a post-apocalyptic world. You are trying to get a good reputation in this devastated world and thereby obtaining a spot as a citizen in the Golden City, just risen from the ashes of a horrible war.
You win the game by being able to spend 20 action points, plus becoming very skilful, complete three quests or having a fantastic reputation. The first player who meets one of these conditions wins the game.
Every player has its own miniature, its own set of skills in the form of a personal die and a set of personal items. Every character also has a personal player board with an action dial, a skill dial and a reputation dial.
The board consists of nine ruin tiles with roads, some including obstacles, that are connected to other tiles and houses that can be raided to acquire goods. There’s one extra location on the board, the Outpost, where you can work for credit disks, worth an equal amount of reputation.
A round starts with the starting player, the player with the least amount of goods, chosing one of the two Global Events that are drawn. These events affect all players that round and might be something positive or negative.
On a turn a player has to move to a desired location and then he can do one of these actions: raid, combat, craft or trade. To raid you have to be located next to a house, spend the required actions points (large houses need more than small ones) and then you draw a card from the respective raid deck. On that card you find your reward. Sometimes you have to roll a die to see if you succeed. You always get some goods, randomly drawn from a bag, but if you succeed you get more, plus an added bonus. At other times you have a choice to gain a reputation point and don’t get the reward, or get the reward and get negative reputation.
The goods tiles you acquire have different colours. To activate certain cards you need specific goods and food can also be used to get extra action points.
The second action you can do on your turn is the combat action. You can attack an opponent on the same tile when you have enough action points to spend. He or she decides to defend or not, if so then you both roll your personal attack die. Everyone has one side with a special icon, only they have. The most important aspect of attacking is that you get to take a credit disk or some goods from your opponent if you win the fight.
Crafting is the third action. Every character has a set of personal item cards. You can build them if you pay a certain amount of goods and these items can give you extra’s throughout the game, mostly a one-time action.
The last action you can do is trading goods or items with you opponents or with the black market, a randomly drawn tile in the middle of the board. There are basically no rules when you trade with other players, but when you trade with the black market you must discard four goods of your choice to gain one of the depicted goods on the black market tile.
This is pretty much what Raid & Trade is. Be the first to meet the abovementioned conditions and you can consider yourself as the winner of the game and enter the élite circles of the Golden City.
Raid & Trade is very freeform, at least it looks that way at first glance. You can do whatever you want, walk one way and raid a house, or walk the other way and attack an opponent, it doesn’t matter. However at one point you have to choose to go for one of the three win conditions and these do guide you in a certain direction.
To get a good reputation you might want to spend a couple of rounds in the Outpost, accumulating credit disks. To become skilful, you need items, every item you build gives you a couple of skill points, and to build them you need goods. Goods you can only get when you raid, attack and, if you don’t get the right goods, trade. Although in the games I’ve played there was not much trading going on, mostly the players acquired the right goods only by raiding and sometimes attacking. It sometimes seemed that the game’s name should only be ‘Raid’.
There were just too many goods available, players were accumulating piles and piles of tokens, so it was pretty easy to do what you needed to do without trading with the other players. Besides, attacking them is much more fun.
I must say that the game, at least in the games I’ve played, only became interesting after the raided houses left the board and the strategies of de different players became more clear. I noticed that players were more focussed on themselves during the first half of the game and only when their plans became clear, ‘I need to build these items, play this card and find these goods to complete this and that quest to win’, they looked at what other players had to offer or could do to mess with their own plans.
And you just can’t know beforehand what your strategy will be, the cards you draw from the raid deck, the goods from the bag, the dice rolls, everything is random. So, you just do things that you think that are fun or worthwhile until you acquire enough points in one of the three categories and from then on you just go for that end-game winning condition.
The action points work well. Everything you do has a different price and you constantly will be thinking about what you can do with the amount of action points you have. That also means that, when players are going to minmax everything they do, turns can take longer than desired. Plus, not everything has a fixed result. When you are going to build an item, you know what you are going to get. When you enter the Outpost, you know what you are going to get. However, raiding a house or attacking another player, might give you a lot, or, if you’re unlucky, won’t give you anything at all.
Does it all end well?
In the end you will find that the game plays quite smoothly, the rules aren’t very difficult, once you’ve dealt with them once.
The character-development mostly takes place on paper though, I never had a strong feeling that my character became better in a story telling kind of way. It’s mainly a mechanical progress.
I did enjoy myself, however I must say that I enjoyed myself the most when there was more confrontation during the game. Plus, during the final stages of the game when you’ve gained more insight in what you are pursuing you could make some cooler combinations with the cards and the items you have, and that satisfied me more than hoping for a good result alone.
Many thanks to Mage Company for providing me a review copy. Visit them at their website!