When the Rick and Morty Season 3 episode “Pickle Rick” debuted on August 6, 2017, it was an immediate hit. Memes, fan art, fan-made T-shirts, and general online chatter were non-stop for the rest of the summer. Being superfans of the show ourselves, we knew we had to make a game based on this incredibly popular episode. But why is it so popular?
First up, Rick turns himself into a pickle to get out of having to attend a family therapy session. Who wouldn’t do the same!? But then he accidently gets washed down into the sewer, where he uses the muscle and sinew of cockroaches and rats he kills to build himself a body that can maneuver around … and build weapons. It’s all so preposterous, how can you not love it?
This all takes place within the first five minutes of the episode, mind you. The part that I knew would make a great game was what happens next. When Pickle Rick emerges from the sewers, he finds himself in a heavily-guarded compound, featuring lots of Russians with guns. They don’t take kindly to the intrusion, and a non-stop battle ensues as Rick tries to escape.
It’s pretty much Rick versus everyone else, but I did not feel there was enough “everyone else” to make this game anything other than a two-player game (there is a Solo Mode as well). One person plays Pickle Rick, while the other player is the Russians and Jaguar (a man so desperate to save his daughter he would hunt a pickle). To help game replayability, I decided against making a fixed map of the compound. I wanted the person playing Rick to have a real sense of not knowing the layout of the compound, which is a feeling you just can’t get when you can see the whole board or have played on the same old map before. We decided to use tile placement to create a new and unique board each time you play, though anchored by an initial setup framework. That framework places the Bathroom, two Guard Posts, and the Rooftop in play, with two random face-down tiles between each.
The tile backs are made to look like classic office popcorn ceiling tiles, which Pickle Rick may flip up by moving onto them. He may also move off the initial setup tiles, drawing a tile off the tile stack and placing it face up. Sounds easy, right? Except that many of the tiles have Walls in inconvenient places that might interrupt Rick’s best laid plans.
On 2/3rds of the tiles, you will find an Air Vent. This allows Pickle Rick a chance to maneuver his way out of danger or dead ends. When Pickle Rick moves through an Air Vent, he draws a tile to place on the other side. However, if that tile doesn’t have an Air Vent, the move fails and he’s back where he started. If there is an Air Vent, he places the two Vents back to back and moves on through.
Each player starts out with a 25-card deck for their side, a hand of five cards, and character cards that feature special abilities of the different characters. Pickle Rick and Jaguar each start out with 10 Hit Points. Pickle Rick emerges from the toilet in the Bathroom and must get to the helicopter on the Rooftop to escape. The Russians win if Pickle Rick runs out of Hit Points, cards in his deck, or tiles in the tile stack. Basically, the Russians win if Pickle Rick fails, and the Russians have a bevy of tricks to speed him to defeat.
The action of the game is generated through custom etched Action Dice that feature symbols: Guns (x2), Move, Draw, Utility, and Wild. At the start of your turn you roll the four dice. Re-rolls are possible most of the time. You can imagine what the dice symbols do based on their names, but the cards in your hand have symbol costs as well. Pickle Rick must use cards to deal damage by way of his Screw Launcher, Blade Launcher, or Shoulder-Mounted Laser. He also has a lot of Traps he can spring on the hapless guards. The Russian player doesn’t need to use cards to deal damage to Pickle Rick. However, each guard may only Move and Shoot once each round (Jaguar can Move and Shoot twice per round). Pickle Rick will be killing off guards left and right, but more are always on the way.
If all that wasn’t enough for you, the game is contained within a huge plastic pickle! It even has a stand that attaches to the back, so it can be the centerpiece of your family dinner every night. It also comes with two custom-sculpted miniatures, one for Pickle Rick (35mm) and one for Jaguar (45mm). It’s a must for any Rick and Morty fan, and there are literally millions and millions of them!
Matt Hyra has been with Cryptozoic Entertainment for 8 years and has been the lead designer on each of the company’s Rick and Morty games (e.g., Total Rickall and Anatomy Park—The Game). He is also the lead designer of the DC Deck-Building Game line and many others. He lives in Orange County, CA.