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Subject: No strategy articles?? rss

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Andrew SM
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Seriously, for a game that has been out for this many years, there is not a single post on strategy? I just bought the game, and have played a couple of sessions. What I've learned so far is that you are in for several hours of total destruction, lack of any control, and that it's pretty much impossible to even have one winner of the game if there a lot of robots all playing at once. And this was on one of the most basic boards. Everyone was just dying left and right. There were barely any flags touched at all.

Now this is fun and all, but I was starting to think that this is because we are abject beginners, and with a little time, some more intelligent approaches will settle in, and some order will rise from the chaos. Better players will emerge, races will be won, all will be merry. So I log on today to BGG to catch a glimpse of what you experienced Rallyers do to conquer this game and... nothing?

THIS CAN'T BE! Is there no way to wrestle this game into some sort of purposeful pursuit? I can't see investing tons of hours into it to eventually discover that what I know now is all that will ever be...
 
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David desJardins
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It would be pretty hard to have no winner. If all but one robot are eliminated, then the last robot standing could just take its time in visiting all of the flags, right?
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I've had fun with this one over the years, but it's all that many people can do to keep their 'bot from inadvertently eliminating itself. Especially with the board configurations some folks insist on using: it's like they want to watch players throw themselves down a well.

The games I've had with experienced players seem to center around styles of play more then strategy. Someplayers try to deflect attention on to other players. Some want to go into a "hide position" and snipe at opposing bots. Myself, I just try to plot a course for each objective and hope for the best.

I guess how I do that could be called strategy. In the time I have, here's what I do:

1. With the cards I have, what's the fastest sequence to the next objective? Arrange the cards in my hand to do that NOW.

2. Who's probably thinking the same thing? Plot an alternate course and arrange my cards in the new sequence NOW.

3. The heat is on. My 'bot is damaged and I need a safe place to shut down. Plot the appropriate course and arrange my cards to suit NOW.

4. Great. A few jokers are playing sniper. If I am close to them, I will program to bump them and make them pay for their stupidity. If they are fairly far away, I will program to avoid them. NOW.

I guess a summary would be:

1. There is safety in speed. Get there first if you can.
2. If you can't be fast, be safe. Just get there.
3. Preserve your 'bot so you can keep moving. Reset and carry on.
4. Some folks just want to spoil the fun of others. Avoid them or destroy them.
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Steve Bauer
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DaviddesJ wrote:
It would be pretty hard to have no winner. If all but one robot are eliminated, then the last robot standing could just take its time in visiting all of the flags, right?
If all the other robots are destroyed the last robot is the winner he doesn't have to visit the flags. I guess it is possible that several people could all die at the same time leaving no winner but it is very unlikely.
 
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David desJardins
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sbauer9 wrote:
If all the other robots are destroyed the last robot is the winner he doesn't have to visit the flags.
That's not in the Avalon Hill rules nor in the Amigo rules. I agree it would be a reasonable house rule.
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Andrew SM
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What I am afraid of in future plays is that everyone loses via fatique. That is, no one has won the race, and the game has lost it's initial fun factor because it has dragged on too long, and no one feels like they are in control of anything enough to feel like they are accomplishing their goals in a meaningful way. Too much luck plus too much time equals death by fatigue. I am still enjoying it (only two plays under my belt), but this is already a concern.
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Berthold Nüchter
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If you are being pushed your plan for movement will most probably be screwed anyway (you can still minimize the effect), but if you make more than very few mistakes while moving even though your movement is not influenced by others you will lose.
You should try to stay away from the crowd. If you can move fast, stay ahead of them. Analyse the course, often the shortest path is not the fastest! Move around difficult areas, even if the way is longer, especially if there is a high chance that you could be pushed in this difficult and dangerous area.
Usually you should repair yourself if you receive more than two damage chits.
I also agree that options aren't that important. You should not concentrate on getting them and waist too much time this way.
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Uatu O'Lantern
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xscientist wrote:
What I've learned so far is that you are in for several hours of total destruction, lack of any control, and that it's pretty much impossible to even have one winner of the game if there a lot of robots all playing at once. And this was on one of the most basic boards. Everyone was just dying left and right. There were barely any flags touched at all.
What was going wrong? I'll admit it takes some getting used to. You have to pay close attention to where the board elements are, and what they'll do to you, and what that means for how to get to the next flag. But it shouldn't be that hard to make some forward progress.

One thing you might try is to use the original Virtual Robot rules. I'm sure you can find them described here somewhere. Here's the basics: all robots start on the *same* square, for the first turn, it's as if each robot is a hologram - they all pass through each other and can't shoot each other or affect each other in any way. At the end of the turn, any robots that are in a square by themselves becomes "Real". Robots that are sharing a square remain Virtual for another turn. This makes the start of the game much easier faster (and fairer) and allows better progress to be made toward the first flag.

Quote:
Now this is fun and all, but I was starting to think that this is because we are abject beginners,
You might want to check that you're using the rules correctly, too. You could be misinterpreting something to make even the easiest course deadly.

Quote:
Is there no way to wrestle this game into some sort of purposeful pursuit? I can't see investing tons of hours into it to eventually discover that what I know now is all that will ever be...
In my experience (quite extensive if I say so myself), there really isn't so much of a long-term strategy. You just go from one flag to the next, so focus on getting to the next flag, and don't worry about the one after that until you need to.

Be safe - don't try to be too clever.
Pay attention to where the other robots are and what they're likely to want to do. Stay away from them if possible.
Outright aggression against other robots usually doesn't pay off. If you can shoot another robot or push him off-course, consider it a happy bonus.
Make forward progress when you can. Stay safe when you can't.
Shut down in a safe place. Don't try to keep racing when you've got locked registers.
Anticipate when you'll be seriously damaged, and plan to shut down at the end of such a turn. Consider powering down with 3 points of damage. You definitely want to power down with 4 or more.
The "Sit-and-spin to collect options" strategy hardly ever pays off. I've seen people try it many times, and I've never seen it stop the other robots from slipping by and winning. You might get lucky and stop one or two, but you'll just be playing kingmaker - and randomly at that.
Collect an option only when it is convenient - don't go out of your way to get options.
Guarding the last flag is another strategy I've seen a few times that never works. It's a race game - you can't win unless you run the race.
Program carefully - check and double check to make sure (as much as possible) that you'll end up where you expect. Do the robot dance if necessary. Don't mix up your left and right.
Remember that two wrongs don't make a right, but three lefts do.
Use the conveyor belts, gears, and pushers to your advantage. If they take you the wrong way, avoid them.
Consider shutting down on a conveyor belt if it's going the way you want to go, but first make sure you know where you'll be when you wake up.

One possible variant to make the game easier is Standard Equipment - give every robot Ablative Coat or Power Down Shield to start with. This makes the game friendlier. (Of course, you can also give everyone Double Barrel Laser, or Ramming Gear to make the game deadlier robotdevil )
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One variant I haven't tried, but would like to, would be to have each player start at a flag. To win, a player's 'bot must visit all flags on the board but may visit them in any order they wish. (Leave a numbered marker to show the last one visited.)
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norman rule
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My strategy?

I wear my watch on the left wrist and my bracelet on my right. As long as I keep left and right straight, I usually don't die... too often.
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Uatu O'Lantern
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BradyLS wrote:
One variant I haven't tried, but would like to, would be to have each player start at a flag. To win, a player's 'bot must visit all flags on the board but may visit them in any order they wish. (Leave a numbered marker to show the last one visited.)
A similar variant I've played is the "Round Robin": # Players = # Flags, each player starts on a different flag and must touch them all, in order and end back on their starting flag. So in a 5-player game, the robot that starts on flag 2 must tag flags 3, 4, 5, 1, and 2. That way each player is running the same race, but offset from each other. It tends to keep 'bots out of each other's way to some extent.
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Andrew SM
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Thanks for all the suggestions, folks. I am looking forward to getting them all into play next time. It's a great game, just a tad frustrating I think. I guess that is supposed to be part of the experience...
 
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Sven Teuber
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As a beginner, try to play with 4 instead of 8 people and consider using a large floor plan (two boards) with flags that are placed in a circle, not on a straight line with the lower number at the far end. That way, you can familiarize with the movement and the board elements. If you manage to keep most of the bots alive and have an actual winner that touched all flags, put more players in and/or set up the boards for more carnage at your liking.
 
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Mark McEvoy
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
BradyLS wrote:
One variant I haven't tried, but would like to, would be to have each player start at a flag. To win, a player's 'bot must visit all flags on the board but may visit them in any order they wish. (Leave a numbered marker to show the last one visited.)
A similar variant I've played is the "Round Robin": # Players = # Flags, each player starts on a different flag and must touch them all, in order and end back on their starting flag. So in a 5-player game, the robot that starts on flag 2 must tag flags 3, 4, 5, 1, and 2. That way each player is running the same race, but offset from each other. It tends to keep 'bots out of each other's way to some extent.
That sounds to me like the worst game of Roborally ever. The robots getting in each others' way is the key to the game - it's the difference between a high-conflict rollicking good time, and a bunch of people playing spacial solitaire.
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Berthold Nüchter
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I agree with Mark. The course should increase the chance for massive interaction of the robots, but for winning you may have to avoid too much interaction with the other robots. Everyone should have hard choices between longer, safer routes without many obstacles and contacts to other robots or shorter and more difficult routes.
 
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Uatu O'Lantern
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thatmarkguy wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
BradyLS wrote:
One variant I haven't tried, but would like to, would be to have each player start at a flag. To win, a player's 'bot must visit all flags on the board but may visit them in any order they wish. (Leave a numbered marker to show the last one visited.)
A similar variant I've played is the "Round Robin": # Players = # Flags, each player starts on a different flag and must touch them all, in order and end back on their starting flag. So in a 5-player game, the robot that starts on flag 2 must tag flags 3, 4, 5, 1, and 2. That way each player is running the same race, but offset from each other. It tends to keep 'bots out of each other's way to some extent.
That sounds to me like the worst game of Roborally ever. The robots getting in each others' way is the key to the game - it's the difference between a high-conflict rollicking good time, and a bunch of people playing spacial solitaire.
The path still criss-crosses a lot and the flags aren't so far apart that robots never shoot each other. There was plenty of interaction.
 
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Eric Carter
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Roborally is one of the few games I hate. You should hate it too.
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Uatu O'Lantern
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ejcarter wrote:
Roborally is one of the few games I hate. You should hate it too.
And yet you still took the time to read the RoboRally Forum. How dumb is that?
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RoboRally is a game of tactics, not strategy. For one thing, the objective is very straightforward, so it's not something you really need to strategize about, per se. Additionally, you have to play the hand you're dealt, so you can't do too much planning ahead. Weigh the advantages of safety vs. speed, pick a course to the next flag, and hope it works out.

I agree with most of the points that have been posted by others here. I can add one more: If it looks like you're likely to interact with another robot this turn, being first to a certain point is a DISadvantage. You're likely to get shot or pushed off course. So play (e.g.) two move 1 cards instead of a move 2, or (if you have too many rotates and not enough move cards) do your rotating in the early phases instead of later ones, hoping the other guy might end up in your sights.

But having said all that, bringing up the rear is not exactly a good strategy (it's a race!), and especially if you're both headed for the last flag, hanging back in hopes of shooting up the other guy is probably not worth the risk.

Once you've gained a little more confidence with your programming, you'll want games with difficult board elements and a lot of interaction with other robots. Being able to think your way through the mayhem is what makes this one of my favorite games.
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Whangdoodle wrote:
RoboRally is a game of tactics, not strategy. For one thing, the objective is very straightforward, so it's not something you really need to strategize about, per se.
There are two possible objectives: winning the race, or killing off the opposing robots. Both can be viable, so choosing between which to pursue (or in what combination) certainly seems like a "strategy".
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
ejcarter wrote:
Roborally is one of the few games I hate. You should hate it too.
And yet you still took the time to read the RoboRally Forum. How dumb is that?
Neither I, nor anyone I've met, have ever claimed that I was smart. My agreeing to try Roborally a second time is proof of that.
 
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Our second game of RoboRally was much more enjoyable when we played in teams.
 
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Whangdoodle wrote:
RoboRally is a game of tactics, not strategy. For one thing, the objective is very straightforward, so it's not something you really need to strategize about, per se.
There are two possible objectives: winning the race, or killing off the opposing robots. Both can be viable, so choosing between which to pursue (or in what combination) certainly seems like a "strategy".
There are some variants on each of these strategies that I have seen deployed.
For both strategies you can opt to gather options to get a superior robot that can race or destroy your opponents faster.
If you are racing you can try to race out in front or hang back a little bit and hopefully bring up the rear, pushing and shooting your opponents out of the way. This often turn out to be dictated by the cards but I know some players who always try to be in back.
 
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Uatu O'Lantern
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Whangdoodle wrote:
RoboRally is a game of tactics, not strategy. For one thing, the objective is very straightforward, so it's not something you really need to strategize about, per se.
There are two possible objectives: winning the race, or killing off the opposing robots. Both can be viable, so choosing between which to pursue (or in what combination) certainly seems like a "strategy".
I've never seen the "killing off the opposing robots" strategy work. I would not at all call it viable, unless there are few players (no more than say, 3), and they aren't that good at the game, or unless all the players are going for that strategy, (or if you get extremely lucky).

It takes too long to completely kill a robot, and it's too easy to slip past someone guarding the last flag.

Also, if you just sit on the last flag waiting to kill robots as they approach, you spend most of the game doing nothing interesting and having no fun.
 
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:

I've never seen the "killing off the opposing robots" strategy work.
I have, at least a dozen times, with as many as 6 players. In some ways it is easier with more players as they will kill or at least wound each other giving you a large set of weaker robots rather than a smaller set of heather ones.

It depends on the board. A hard board where it is easy to kill yourself will make this a much more viable strategy also the longer the game the more likely you will succeed.

Killing people is never boring, I would not sit on the last flag, you need to follow the leader from flag to flag looking for choke points that are going to make your job easier.
 
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