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Subject: Every 100 Games Series - Robotory rss

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Adam Daulton
United States
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My 2,500 game logged on BGG was Robotory, so here is the review and story behind how I purchased it. So that makes this review the 25th in my Every 100 Games Review Series. Perhaps one day I’ll do a geeklist.

How I Got It
In 2008 I played Traders of Carthage for the first time and loved it, especially as a two player game. A bit later I played R-Eco and also really enjoyed it. About this time I decided to pay attention to who designed the game and realized that the same guy (Sasuma Kawasaki) who designed Traders of Carthage had also designed R-Eco. So I did a quick search to see what else he had designed and saw that he had only designed three games, the last one that I hadn’t played, being Robotory. I did a quick check and didn’t see that Robotory was readily available in the US, so I didn’t think much more about it.
Fast forward a few years. IndyCon is coming up and TimeWellSpent has offered to ship any games purchased from them to the convention for free. Wanting to support them, but not wanting to spend a lot of money since convention always bring a lot of new games into the collection, I happened to notice they had Robotory available for $7 or so and immediately purchased it. When I got it, I was surprised how small the box was and the simplicity of the components.

What You Get & The Rules
What you get is pretty simple. A cardstock board that folds into quarters, 3 “robots” that are basically half of a plastic marble, and several small plastic circle energy tokens, and a small rulebook with several languages in it. Again, I was surprised how small the game was. The box is about the size of a regular deck of cards, though square instead of rectangular in shape. The board, once folded out, isn’t much more than 7” x 7”. Since it is made of cardstock and isn’t mounted, it can be difficult to get it to lay flat.
The game play itself is very simple. On your turn you must do one of three things. 1. Play an energy token from your personal supply of 4 tokens on to the board. 2. Refill your personal supply back up to 4 energy tokens of any combination of white and black tokens. 3. Move a robot by “eating” the energy tokens that match the robots color. The Red Robot can eat both the black and white energy tokens. The game ends when a player takes the last energy token from the supply when filling up their personal supply back to 4. The person that has 2 robots on their side of the board wins. That is the whole game, yet like a lot of abstract game, the simplicity of rules makes for a deeper and enjoyable game without complication.

What I Like About It
What is there to like about this game then? Well, as I’ve mentioned it is simple. So just about anyone can play it. I’d guess maybe even a 6 or 7 year old could play the game, though probably not have a lot of strategies when doing so. Also, because of the simplicity it plays very quick. Most games I’ve played take about 10 minutes to complete. At the most a game has taken 15 minutes. Now maybe my opponents and I aren’t great thinkers and stretching the game out by making the absolute most optimal move every time, but that is a very quick game, so it makes for a good filler while waiting on a bigger game to begin on game day. The tension of the game is all in the tug of war that is going on. In this game there are basically three ropes you are tugging on the whole game and it is all about who is currently tugging the best when the game ends. I like that quite a bit.

Final Thoughts
Though Robotory isn’t my favorite of Kawasaki’s offerings, Traders of Carthage gets that, it is still a solid game. I’m not a huge abstract fan, so this had an uphill battle in the first place for me, but I’m very satisfied with my purchase of the game. I wouldn't go as far as to say this is better than Hive, my favorite abstract, but I would prefer to play this over any other abstract game I’ve played. I like it enough as well, that I’m really considering making a homemade wood board for it, with glass beads for the energy tokens and large wooden blocks for the robots. So my final thoughts on the game are simply this. If you are an abstract fan then this is a must buy. If you will play abstracts, but aren’t a huge fan (this is where I fall), then I’d still buy this because it is only $8. So I give it a solid thumbs up.

Images by tom-le-termite and meskue.

Edit: Changed "would" to "wouldn't" in the 3rd sentence of the last paragraph. Makes a big difference.
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