Tabletop Review – Robo Rally

What do you do on a lazy friday night?  How about get together with friends and play some board games!  Wet met up at a local brewery taproom, and our friend brought a game he said we had to try out called Robo Rally.  (My apologies in advance for the lack of photos… beer was definitely involved.)

Robo Rally has been around for a little while and was published by Wizards of the Coast, but I didn’t know too much about it.  I’ve seen the name here and there and reviews are great, but I’ve never seen it on the shelves of a FLGS game library.  So, it’s great to finally get a chance to try it out.

The premise of the game is that the players are all robots that are trying to make their way through a crazy factory to each of the locations marked with a flag.  The first robot to touch all of the flags in order wins.  Sounds simple, but throw in a touch of chaos and you really have something!

Robo Rally - Game Board

Robo Rally game board.  Go go gadget Zoom Bot!

Each player gets a card with their robot on it.  The robots have different names, but they’re all the same gameplay-wise.  A mini also represents the robot on the board, and has an arrow indicating its forward direction.  And there are several different boards to play with and plenty of cards to play, keeping the game fresh each time it is played.

Each round starts with the players receiving Register Cards.  If the player’s robot has taken no damage, the player receives nine cards.  These cards indicate various movements the robot can take on its turn.  (Moving forward or backward, rotating left or right, etc.) The players choose the five movements they want to make, in order, and place them in spots 1 through 5 on their robot card, face down.  The players then reveal the cards, one place at a time, and move their robots their first movement.  If there’s any chance the robots will run into each other, a number on the cards will indicate which robot moves first, starting with the highest number first.

At the end of each Register Card phase, additional actions may happen on the board.  If robots end in the line of a laser beam, they take 1 damage.  The same happens if a robot is in front of another robot, as the robots also have lasers on them pointing forward.  (Laser beams are broken by objects like walls, conveyors, and other robots.  So only the first robot in line would take damage, or you can take cover behind objects.)  If your robot stops in front of a pusher, it may get moved over one space.  Stopping on a conveyor means your robot will move along the conveyor an additional space, turning as the conveyor changes direction.  And robots may push other robots as they run into each other.  This means conveyors and robots may push other robots into the path of a laser beam, or into a pit, dealing damage or destroying the robot.  (A destroyed robot simply respawns at its starting space, and losing a life token.  If a player loses all three life tokens, the robot is toast and is removed from the game.)

Robo Rally - Robot Card

An example of a robot’s card, showing life tokens, damage tokens (the !’s), and the Register Cards played for movements this round.  Note the register locations begin to lock if too much damage is taken.  This robot has taken 2 damage, so far.  Numbers indicate the robot’s priority as each card is revealed and movements are taken.

If robots take damage, they receive one fewer Register Card on their next turn for each damage token on their robot card.  As the robots take more and more damage, individual Register locations may begin to lock down, preventing the player from changing those locations.  A player may choose to power down their robot for a round to repair all damage, but they essentially lose a turn.

Ending a turn on a wrench space will repair a single damage, as well.  Spaces with the wrench and hammer repair a damage and also let the player draw an Option card.  Option cards give robots a bonus, if the player activates them.  There were some really interesting Option cards, such as the “Remote Control” card, which forces the player of their choosing’s robot to mimic their own Register cards for the round, rather than those that player had chosen.

We really enjoyed playing this game.  It involves a bit of strategy, luck, and player interaction.  The ensuing chaos could really keep things interesting, as another player may push you off course and ruin your original plans.  The variability of the game is also a huge plus, and may keep it from growing stale if it’s played often.  Definitely a fun game that doesn’t take long to learn or play.  And it’s rules-light enough that even casual gamers can pick it up fairly quickly.  I’m looking forward to playing this one again!

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One thought on “Tabletop Review – Robo Rally

  1. Pingback: Board Game Night? Review of Robo Rally | Runkle Plays Games (R.P.G.)

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