Thursday, April 13, 2017

Programmed actions and how RoboRally was a bad start for me

ForI first played RoboRally during the very short time that I was living in Colorado. Just one game at a cute little game shop and this was years before I even discovered Catan or Puerto Rico. At the time, it was a strange and downright fascinating experience.

That one play was pretty much the high watermark for my experiences with RoboRally. Pretty much every game of it I've played of it since then has been unpleasant.

OK, here's the elevator pitch for RoboRally. Each player is running a robot through an obstacle course. For each turn, everyone programs the movement of their robot using cards that have different actions on them. When, not if, other people's programs mess up your plans and  damage your robot, your hand size of cards gets reduced. Whoever makes it through the course first, wins.

My problems with RoboRally comes down to this. The game never ends. Every time your robot gets destroyed, you have to start over. I have been in games in which it's been called after two hours because the end was nowhere in sight.

In particular, I dislike a rule that states that when your hand size gets smaller than the number of actions you have to perform, cards get locked into your program. So, you basically lose control of what your robot is doing. In the game this long, that is terrible. I would much rather see the number of actions you get reduced. That'd still be brutal and potentially lethal but you'd have more control.

However, to be fair, what has probably been the biggest problem has been that I have inevitably played with people who want to create the largest board possible. All of the problems that I have with the game get vastly compounded when you have a huge obstacle course to get through. 

And I've also heard that newer additions have added timers and reduced the penalty for getting destroyed.

But as it stands, my experiences with RoboRally exemplify what I don't want to see in a game. Overly long with relatively few meaningful choices. While I am always on the lookout for a shorter games that are chock-full of interesting decisions.

Would I ever give RoboRally another chance? Actually, yes. With a smaller course (maybe even just one board) and maybe a completely different group of players, I would try it. If it only took an hour, it wouldn't be such agony and maybe even fun.

Truth to tell, RoboRally kind of put me off from programmed actions for a while. However, games like Piranha Pedro and Shogun made me realize that programmed actions could be great. You just need those actions to be, well, meaningful. Particularly regarding length of the game. Piranha Pedro's actions are relatively light but it's a quick game. Shogun is longer but there is a lot more weight and meaning to your decisions.

One of these days, I should try RAMbots, the Looney Pyramid reimagine of RoboRally. Playing it out on an 8 x 8 board might be the real way for me to reassess RoboRally.

No comments:

Post a Comment