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Subject: Robo Rally - A Raggy Review rss

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Dev Sodagar
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I originally wrote this review for GeekPlanetOnline

Robo Rally
Written by Dev Sodagar
Designer: Richard Garfield
Publisher: Avalon Hill (owned by Hasbro) & Wizards of the Coast
Number of Players: 2-8 players
Playing Time: 30 Minutes - 2 Hours
Category: Science Fiction, Racing, Family Game
Mechanics: Card Drawing
Web: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=ah/prod/roborally

In Brief: Last week's review of Snow Tails showed just how well card drawing can work to make a quick and simple game with a solid strategic element. Robo Rally takes the card drawing/racing mechanic to the next level of complexity.

What do factory robots do at night when nobody is watching? They race of course! In RoboRally each player takes control of a robot and uses a hand of cards to determine movement. Turns are comprised of phases - at the start of each turn players decide the action their robot will perform for each phase such as move forward 1, 2 or 3 spaces, back up, turn left or right. They play their cards face down in front of them on the relevant phase marker. The players then act out these phases simultaneously. At the end of each phase board elements activate such as moving conveyor belts, firing lasers and then the robots each fire a laser straight ahead of them. Then the next phase is enacted. All this means that when you are initially choosing your phase actions you have to carefully think about what the board and other players will be doing.

Players will be turning their heads and bodies in an attempt to work through the motions of their robots, trying to make sure they don't get shot full of laserfire, or dropped into a pit. If robots take too much damage it inhibits their performance with players getting less and less cards (representing the instruction codes the robots follow) until some phases are locked for the robot and they are stuck doing the same action over and over! Robots can also collect upgrades that give them additional abilities such as moving faster or pulling robots with a tractor beam.

The game consists of a series of map tiles, plastic checkpoints to mark on the board, plastic figures of the different robots, play mats for the players to track damage (using card tokens) and place their phase order cards, and two decks of cards (one for the instruction code and the other for upgrades). The rules are well laid out and include some suggested courses with difficulty ratings (how easy it is to die) and playtimes (these playtimes are for experienced players, games will take significantly longer at first, particularly when phase actions get complex). The one problem is that several of the courses provided require multiple copies of the game, this is really unnecessary when there are so many map pieces in a single copy and players wishing for bigger games will probably have the experience to make their own courses.

RoboRally is a lot of fun, whether you win or lose. Players are trying to improve as much as beating others, there is enormous satisfaction in putting phases together correctly for the perfect move or predicting another players move and dodging or shooting him as a result. The game also provides a lot of memorable plays as robots get stuck going around conveyors as players forgot a board element or just had bad luck on the instruction codes, it is also great for the slow, inescapable deaths as players look desperately for a combination that is gonna stop them getting dropped into the pit at the end of the conveyor.

This game has a feel of a much lighter game whilst still introducing fairly complex gameplay. For new or younger gamers Snow Tails may be a better option at first but RoboRally perhaps without some of the more complex components (upgrades and board lasers) is a great choice.
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Gordon Adams
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Re: Robo Rally - A Raggy Review - GeekPlanetOnline.com

It brings "Toy Story" to mind !
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Mik Svellov
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Re: Robo Rally - A Raggy Review - GeekPlanetOnline.com
ragados wrote:
Publisher: Avalon Hill (owned by Hasbro) & Wizards of the Coast

Wizards of the Coast is also owned by Hasbro.
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Wayne O Connor
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Re: Robo Rally - A Raggy Review - GeekPlanetOnline.com
Robo Rally is a great game. Its best with more people on less boards as things go completely off plan more often...yes, we like seeing the carefully thought out plan lead instead to a pit or laser annihilation. I have the older version of the game, but a mate got the more recent set and its really good. Nice pieces and the Scenarios provided are more varied and fun.
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Stokes
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Re: Robo Rally - A Raggy Review - GeekPlanetOnline.com
Great Dane wrote:
ragados wrote:
Publisher: Avalon Hill (owned by Hasbro) & Wizards of the Coast

Wizards of the Coast is also owned by Hasbro.


But they were not when RoboRally 1st and 2nd edition were published.
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david landes
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Re: Robo Rally - A Raggy Review - GeekPlanetOnline.com
Not to mention:
- Armed and Dangerous
- Crash and Burn
- Radioactive
- Grand Prix

Oops, I mentioned them...
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Bill Jones
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Re: Robo Rally - A Raggy Review - GeekPlanetOnline.com
MitchCJ wrote:
Biomage wrote:
Great Dane wrote:
ragados wrote:
Publisher: Avalon Hill (owned by Hasbro) & Wizards of the Coast

Wizards of the Coast is also owned by Hasbro.


But they were not when RoboRally 1st and 2nd edition were published.


In the second edition the components were of significantly reduced quality, which is a real disappointment. RRally is one my favorites.


I'm not arguing, but do you think all of the components of the AH reprint are inferior to the original?

I have the reprint and think the quality is fine. Yes, the robots are plastic, but they have decent detail. I painted mine in solid colors with basic acrylic craft paints just to make it easier to differentiate them, and think they actually look better. The quality of the rest of the components is quite good, IMO. The glossy cards are made of durable stock and printed with nice quality graphics that are easily readable. The player reference sheets and factory floor guides are also superbly printed and include the necessary information to minimize the need for referencing the rules during play. The markers, chits, and flags are all of good quality. Finally, the boards, while not really visually exciting are still thick enough enough to outlive the rest of the components and I have never heard anyone complain about them.

I don't have the first edition game, but I did open a used box at my FLGS once, and my initial impression was that the reprint was much cooler in every aspect, except perhaps the metal robots. But it wasn't like the metal robots in the first edition were mind-boggling or anything - they reminded me of the metal Monopoly pieces, with cast edges sticking out all over, and basically nothing to write home about. I preferred the look of the reprint edition for all the other components.

I did not check the rule book of the first edition so can't comment on that, but I would say the rule book in the reprinted AH edition is excellent overall.

RR is one of my favorites as well, and I am quite happy with the newer AH edition.
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Bill Jones
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Re: Robo Rally - A Raggy Review - GeekPlanetOnline.com
ragados wrote:
This game has a feel of a much lighter game whilst still introducing fairly complex gameplay. For new or younger gamers Snow Tails may be a better option at first but RoboRally perhaps without some of the more complex components (upgrades and board lasers) is a great choice.


Nice review! I agree with your summary that it has the feel of a light game with complex gameplay. It can make your brain hurt figuring out which cards to play when navigating on or around gears, belts, and pushers. And much like chess, a key to good play is having the ability to see several moves ahead. We usually find that the payoff of seeing the moves play out is well worth the work-like effort of the programming. It's really entertaining!

Few players can go an entire game without making a mistake of their own, and even if you do avoid mistakes, the game is always unpredictable because of other robots knocking you off your path - sometimes intentionally, but sometimes by other players' mistakes.

The one frustrating thing, perhaps, is how unforgiving this game can be. A seemingly small mistake is often fatal. On the other hand, there's no one to blame but yourself when this happens...
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Dev Sodagar
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Re: Robo Rally - A Raggy Review - GeekPlanetOnline.com
wjones14 wrote:

Nice review! I agree with your summary that it has the feel of a light game with complex gameplay. It can make your brain hurt figuring out which cards to play when navigating on or around gears, belts, and pushers. And much like chess, a key to good play is having the ability to see several moves ahead. We usually find that the payoff of seeing the moves play out is well worth the work-like effort of the programming. It's really entertaining!

Few players can go an entire game without making a mistake of their own, and even if you do avoid mistakes, the game is always unpredictable because of other robots knocking you off your path - sometimes intentionally, but sometimes by other players' mistakes.

The one frustrating thing, perhaps, is how unforgiving this game can be. A seemingly small mistake is often fatal. On the other hand, there's no one to blame but yourself when this happens...


Thanks, I agree it can be very unforgiving, and although that is also true for Snow Tails, it is not as harsh and is one of the reasons I recommend that for the starters.
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