I haven’t played Rat Hot that much but it’s one that I find myself referring back to a lot in my head.
That’s because it was either the first tile laying game I played where the tiles were allowed to overlap or it was the first good one I played. Anyway, it made an impression.
The game has thick, chunky tiles that are three by one so it’s like you are playing with itty bitty planks. I’ve seen one PnP file for the game that’s designed to turn a Jenga set into a Rat Hot set.
Which actually isn’t a crazy idea. One of the placement rules is that, while you can stack tiles in top of each other, you can’t have gaps underneath. Using Jenga tiles would definitely help make that an easy rule to track.
But, in all honestly, what makes Rat Hot stay stuck in my head is the sudden death rules. If you end your turn with three rats of your color exposed, you lose. Good day, sir, you get nothing. To be honest, if memory serves me correctly, it takes either bad luck or bad play for it to actually happen. BUT it does mean you can make moves that your opponent has to react to. In Go terms, atari. (As opposed to in video game terms where Atari means something quite different)
But, as I mentioned, for me, this was one of the first times I saw overlapping tiles. Since then, I have seen that mechanic enough that it’s not even remotely novel. And I am absolutely sure it wasn’t the first use of it either.
I also don’t think that Rat Hot represents an innovation point in game design. I’m pretty sure games like Micro Rome or Hanging Gardens would exist without it. I do wonder if it influenced HUE from the Pack O Game series.
Rat Hot isn’t one of my favorite Michael Schacht games. It doesn’t even make it into my top ten of his games. But it has survidd many purges and stayed in my collection.