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Subject: Robo Rally - A Mini Review rss

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All of my reviews aim to offer a brief overview that allows people to get a good feel for what the game may offer them. I feel that other reviews can be sought if detailed game mechanics is what you are after.

Richard Garfield is best known for Magic: The Gathering, a game that changed the games industry forever. Before Magic he designed Robo Rally. This quirky yet inventive game sees each player take on the role of a rogue robot out on the factory floor. These robots have gained their independence and choose to use it to compete in factory floor races. The game comes with a number of factory floorboards that each pose a series of unique challenges. These can be linked together in any number of combinations to create new and unique racing experiences. The aim of the game is to reach a series of checkpoints, the first robot to reach the last checkpoint is declared the victor. If only it was as easy as that!

The game’s main mechanic is the use of program cards. Each player is dealt 9 program cards per turn and they must select any 5 of these to program their robot’s turn. These include a range of turns (left, right, U-turn) and movement cards. The games second major mechanic is the obstacles found on the factory floor. Lasers, crushers, pushers, conveyor belts and other mechanisms are put in your way. Safely traversing from one checkpoint to the next is no mean feat but wait… it gets worse. Each robot also has its own laser which they can use to burn a nice hole in fellow racers. An even more lethal attack can simply be to ram an opponent’s ‘bot off course. Fewer things are more enjoyable than watching an opponent grimace as their carefully programmed move turns to disaster as a neat nudge sends them on a one-way trip to Pittsville.

To add further chaos, every damage inflicted to a ‘bot results in that player receiving one less program card on future turns. This can result in any number of hilarious situations. Thankfully players can choose to power down for a whole turn to repair damage or rest on a checkpoint for a partial repair.

The Final Word

Robo Rally is a unique gaming experience and very rewarding. The fun factor is way up there and on a mental level it is not as taxing as heavier strategy titles. Don’t be fooled though, Robo Rally can really mess with your head as you grapple with the facing of your ‘bot and how that next conveyor belt will change your course.

The board designs allow players to plot any number of paths through the chaos keeping future plays fresh. Each game is totally customisable and this is a big selling point as the length of a game is dependent on the number of checkpoints used. Robo Rally plays great with any number of players from 2-8 as players can choose the location of checkpoints and player starting positions to ensure maximum player interaction.

Team play is another popular option that adds loads of spice to the game. Robo Rally is supported by well-priced expansions and these add great new features such as oil slicks, teleporters, randomisers and robot modifications. The game was recently re-released and robot modification cards are now part of the base box. The mods are fantastic and allow each robot all manner of new gadgets and weapons. In my experience even non-gaming friends have enjoyed this one.
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