Good evening Lug-nut bots and Automatons! Tonight's going to show an exciting race, that's for sure! Rivalries have been flaming on the production line all week, and there will be no punches pulled! But who will go back to their pod with the gold, and who will need the weekend to repair? Find out in Robo! RALLY!
BACKGROUND: Robo Rally is a board game designed by Richard Garfield and published by Avalon Hill Games originally in 1994 for 2-8 players, and was republished in 2016. Players take control of automotive factory robots that race each weekend after the factory closes, with sabotage and fighting abound.
GAMEPLAY: Players are dealt a hand of cards from one deck that determines how their machine moves, either forward, backwards, or turning. Everyone sets up their initial 5 card movement and on their board, or register, and discards all other cards. Then each player flips their first movement card.
MOVEMENT: The players move according to the highest priority number located at the top right. Once all players move, the board elements like conveyor belts and spinning gears move all robots accordingly. Continue until all 5 cards are flipped and played, then redeal each player an appropriate hand size.
DAMAGE: Once all players and the board have all moved, any lasers on the board, and all robots will fire. If they hit another robot, that player marks damage on their board, and is dealt less cards. Enough damage locks in the players movement to any card still on their register.
REPAIRS: There are two ways to repair a robot. Players can, instead of taking cards for the round, shut down their robot, clearing any damage at the beginning, but they may still take damage from another player or a board laser. There are also Wrench tiles and Wrench & Hammer tiles. Landing on one of these will heal 1 damage from a robot, while landing on the latter gives the player an Option card, which have various effects.
WINNING: All around the board are Flags. Players must land on each flag in numerical order, and move their Archive token from the either initial starting square or the previous Flag to that space. If a robot gets knocked off the board or into the pit or takes 10 damage, they respawn on that square at the initial deal phase. The first player to make it to all the flags and
CONCLUSION: For this review, I played the 1994 version of this game. The 2016 republish has apparently altered some rules such as having each player have their own deck and damage cards shuffled into the deck instead of losing cards, but I won't be discussing it here. Robo Rally is a lot of fun for people who are into games where you plan strategy long term. It reminds me of a turned based version of the British show Robot Wars, which I loved watching growing up. This game also has a lot of longevity, as there are multiple suggestions in the manual to set up the boards, with even more combinations as every board can be mixed and matched in the way the players want. My only mild complaint is if you ever wanted to play with every board, you'd need to buy 2 copies, as the boards are double-sided. I enjoyed this game immensely, and thanks to my friend Duane for introducing it to me.