RoboRally (Wizards of the Coast)

Playings 4, (3 hours)

Wizards of the Coast are the Magic people and have brought out 3 expansions to this game as I write however I have only played the basic game. This is one of those games that I bought to play with the kids and as yet it has proved in demand although not as popular as Groo. Lucy still wins every time.

There are 6 geomorphic boards and 8 little robots. The game plays well with 3 of the boards allowing some variety. The terrain on the boards varies from almost harmless to deadly so you can set how long or difficult the game will be. I have heard that 2 player games are better with 2 robots each but found that this required too much card sorting and dealing so stuck with 1 robot per player. The boards are squared off but you cannot move diagonally. No dice are involved as 5 cards are played to move the robots, if the 1st card says ahead 2 then that is what you do. Robots start with a hand of 9 cards to pick 5 allowing a robot to more or less go where it plans. These plans are confused when 2 robots attempt to move onto the same square. All cards are numbered with the lower numbered card moving onto the square 1st and the later robot pushing him off. This is likely to upset the plans of the pushed robot as all 5 cards are fixed for the turn. There is some satisfaction in forcing another robot into a pit or a crusher and killing him. Each robot has a laser that can only fire straight ahead, in the unlikely event that this hits another robot it takes one damage and draws 1 less card. You can take up to 9 damage before death but pits and crushers do the job straight off. The card distribution is such that an 8 card hand is acceptable but anything less than 7 makes it very hard to control the robot. With damage of 5 or more some of last turnís moves are locked and must be repeated. A robot can repair and announcing that it will power down on the next turn. It then does nothing but removes all damage except that caused when powered down. There are also spanner square that will repair 1 or 2 damage if a robot ends a turn on one. The 2 spanner repair site can instead give a robot a handy option card. These mean more or better lasers, improved control and such but do require some effort to get into the correct square in the 1st place.

The board has a number of devices that move robots after they have finished moving with program cards. These are conveyor belts that move 1 or 2 squares and turners that turn robots. There are also pushers that push during card movement, the card number that activates then is written on the board. All the robots aim to reach checkpoints in order at the end of their turn. It does not count if they go there and are then pushed off again. These checkpoints are counters that can be positioned anywhere on the boards although some places are clearly better than others. The general game plan sees the robots all starting on the same square and then splitting up. The robot moving last usually does best here as his move is least messed up. There are further bunch ups around the checkpoint flags with robots spreading out as the game progresses. If the robot dies it goes back to the last flag touched with 2 damage assigned. Robots have 3 lives but someone is likely to have won before all of these are used up.