Designed by Juha Paananen as a 2-4 player game for younger players, from about 6 years old and up, to play with their elder siblings and/or family.
The components consist of 4 Robots (thick card discs with slots for gems); 12 space blocking tiles (square grey tiles with blank backs and eerie looking tentacles & eyes on the front), a small bag of gems (15: 1 gold, 2 red, 2 pink, 2 purple, 2 mauve, 2 green & 4 blue) and 110 cards (50 black, 25 yellow, 25 orange & 10 green).
As befits a game designed specifically for young children (with an elders assistance for reading) the rules are short, just 5 small pages littered with illustrations and examples.
The story is that Robots have landed on a distant planet in search of diamonds which they require as a power source. The board shows a bright orange planet overlaid with large squares and on this the gems and the blocker tiles are placed as shown on page one of the rules. In each corner of the board, the planet is indeed circular but it is situated on a square board for ease of play, are colour spaces which are the starting spaces for the similarly coloured Robots. Straightaway we were disappointed that the robots are just flat discs rather than being plastic models, because this is for younger children and they will not appreciate the costs involved, they will just see flat discs that look nothing like robots.
The Function cards (10 green cards) are placed to one side and the remaining 100 cards are shuffled together – the first game will require a mighty long and good mixing – and 5 of these are dealt to each player, dealing them face-up in front of the players.
On their turn the players arrange their cards in front of them in the order they are going to move them – this is called programming your robot. Older players may remember the game Robo Rally which had a somewhat similar mechanic, although this is far more simple and with less possibilities and no major onboard hazards or moving parts. You don’t have to use all 5 cards but you cannot hold on to any; those not used this turn are discarded. If you decide not to move the robot on a turn you discard all your cards and draw 7 (not 5) though in future when you move again you will draw 5 cards at the end of your turn as usual.
The idea is to move your Robot around the planet and collect gems, you need to carry 3 gems back to your base to win. This causes the game to be longer than many youngsters enjoy so we suggest that when playing with children who are easily distracted you determine the winner as a robot that has 3 gems on it and no opponent’s robot on any of the 4 orthogonal spaces next to it.
You gather gems by landing your Robot on a space containing a gem or moving over it and continuing your movement. If you land on another players robot you push their robot to the next square (one assumes directly opposite your robot, pushing the other robot in the direction you were going) and collecting a gem from it for every space that you push it, if the pushed robot was carrying any gems that is.
In this review I call the treasures gems whereas the game calls them diamonds. I say gems because of their different colours and because if you want to add a little spice give the gems different values according to their colour and have the winner the player with the most gem value when the game ends. For example the Gold gem is worth 8, the Red gems valued at 6 each, Purple & Mauve gems are 5 each, Pink & Green are 3 each and Blues are worth 2 each; this makes it important which gems you aim for.
There is a game variation which introduces the Green cards, the Function cards. With a F card you can form a Function, another series of commands, from the cards in your discard pile (aka your “spares pack”). Again, this is generally too complicated for younger players and one surmises it has been included so that once the kids have gone to bed the older folk can play a more adult gamer version.
There’s nothing I can say that is actually wrong with it, it all works as it should and it looks okay (with the exception that it isn’t friendly to younger players eyes and relies too much on their imaginations – it takes a lot of imagination to see the coloured discs as any type of robot) but to be fair this is a bit of an enigma. It is neither an adult game nor a children’s game. It isn’t the type of game most youngsters enjoy playing. There is nothing to draw them back to it and even calling the playing pieces robots and suggestion that the movement is computer programming doesn’t really appease their being called away from their ipads and game consoles. For adults/gamers there isn’t enough of a challenge, even with the variation and our suggestion for the gems it falls short of what would be regarded as passably acceptable.