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oldschoolgamr
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The original robot racing game, Robo----- (name witheld out of respect), had always caught my attention whenever I saw it on the Geek or in my FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store - yeah, I read that for a while before I finally looked it up... everyone is a newbie at some point...)

In order to explore the mechanic I found a PC game called "Bot N' Scouts" which more or less mimics the Robo gameplay. The game (see photos below) even comes with an editor and on-line play. You can download it here if you are interested: http://sourceforge.net/projects/botsnscouts/




Now - the game is fun, but even with the extra cards they give you I realized you can get really limited with respect to moves really quickly. After reading the rules to the original Robo game I had second thoughts about adding it to my collection... It just didn't seem deep enough or fast-paced enough. I realize that for some it is perfect. I just knew that my default board game partner wouldn't have the patience to hang in through a whole game of flag touching bliss.

Then I stumbled onto RoboDerby: Express. The genius of the programming dice and allowing re-rolls after placing a register is superb. Straight away I went about cutting and pasting and all that good stuff (read more about it here - where I also talk about a board "holder" that makes printing and using tiles easier: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/789058/creative-solution...



So, how have the play session been? Well, it was a rather slow start as I was hesitant to drop into the advanced game. My wife was just getting into board gaming with me after years of giving my Talisman set-up the evil eye. The game(s) that did it: Castle Panic and Wiz-War - FYI. However, the dice mechanic is awesome and I know that it is what I was hoping the card-based game would be. While the simplistic early games were a bit like programming DOS, the most recent session with the advanced tiles was exactly what I wanted - pure Robo fun! Some more details are below, if you are interested.

Base Game Session #1
First trial game with the original Print and Play version. J actually caught on pretty fast to the movement mechanic, especially once she realized she could orient the dice to match the facing of her robot and make clearer decisions then. We misplayed the laser symbol - which should mean robot fires after ALL register movement is complete (we were firing before 2nd player register movement). E had some high space moves and a straight run at the opening of the game and J never really caught up. The final turn was more tense as we were on top of one another, but E used a back-up move that J's hack had no real affect on as it was unexpected... May also want to consider laser fire as freezing for a turn, unless the damage factor is higher in our next game.

Base Game Session #2
Game length was ~25 minutes. Dice mechanic works well, but may give you too much freedom - with upto three rerolls each turn. We used a lot more hacks, often canceling out each other. A good early hack messed E up and J was ahead by about a board and a half. E managed to catch up and win. We only each did one point of damage to the other. The game still feels like it needs something beyond the race aspect. Next will try the Third Wheel expansion boards or the Capture the Flag variant to add more excitement.

Base Game Session #3
This game went a bit longer as our hacks were messing each other up more. Still, we each damaged the other only once - need more interaction or better weapons. Think of trying the Capture the Flag variant next. Again, once E got a high space move roll series, J was in the dust till the final board. Must play with new boards/rules/etc. Note that the game length (20-30 minutes) keeps this game in play (great during lunch), despite the lack of non-stop excitement.

Base Game Session #4
Another attempt to get the damage higher. In all our sessions thus far, NO ONE has EVER had a locked register! Come on… We did make sure to fire lasers at the end of the final register of each turn, but still only a hit here or there… J flew around the track and had some significant hacks on E to get ahead. E is hoping that the CTF variant ("Capture The Flag") will allow for more interaction (and increased damage due to the weapons...!). ALSO - this was the first game played with the E-invented "RoboDerby MainFrame". Using a Mainstays 8x10" front loading (snap-in) portrait frame you can "freeze" the tiles in place for both the Derby and the CTF games. This way you only need to print them on 120 cardstock (or plain paper) AND they won't bounce around when the pieces are moved - which annoyed J more than it should have. This way, the tiles can be swapped out, rotated, and locked into place for another different game.

Capture the Flag Game Session #5
First trial of the CTF variant. Used four tiles in the "S-shape" suggested (and as in last game, used the "MainFrame" to hold the board tiles). The options die was supposed to add more damage potential to the game, but instead on the three rolls it came up all three were CPU backup (reroll one set of dice without having to place a die). We crossed paths somewhat, but still not enough to get more than 1 damage. I think next CTF game we will simply use three tiles in a single line, perhaps providing for more damage opportunities. J did a great job of laying down the hacks and slowed me down considerably. She got the flag and made it back with little complication (or fanfare for that matter). I am confident that this game includes all the great stuff from RoboRally, but non of the major frustration. However, it still seems to move too slow for me... So, next play will be a simple Derby and an introduction to the more complext tiles: Lazer, Gears, Conveyor Belts, and Ramps.

Advanced Game Session #6
Well, this was the way to go. The added dimension from the belts, gears, ramps, levels, and factory lasers add new and exciting interactions. We actually had locked registers and required periodic shut downs (regains 2 health). Once J got the rules she was off and running. Unfortunately, she took a beating in the final laser tile - as she was required to shut down in a "laser lane" she only regained 1HP at a time. I got luckier than her in the laser room and manged to scoot by and finish the game. The game was longer, more susenseful, more interactive with factory elements... just much better overall. This is what I expected and happy that RoboDerby: Express was able to deliver.

Now my wife wants me to enlarge the board tiles so she can see the details better...

So - the take home message is: "If you think you want to play the popular Robo game, instead - play RoboDerby: Express."

Thanks to Clint for pulling this game together - It really fills the spot in my heart for pre-programmed robot racing mayhem!

Thanks.

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Clint Herron
United States
Bethel
Ohio
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Thanks for the review, and I'm really glad to hear that you have gotten some enjoyment out of the game!!!

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doom 18
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oldschoolgamr wrote:
So - the take home message is: "If you think you want to play the popular Robo game, instead - play RoboDerby: Express

Two reviews in two days say the same thing, play this rather than the original... one was from RoboDerby: Express and the other one for Dark Moon (here). Interesting.
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