I think to myself, “I have perfectly planned out my next few moves. I am going to get to the flag and win!” But then Elijah’s robot pushes mine one space to the side. I quickly recall the programming orders that I gave my robot and start calculating what will happen now that I am not on the space I thought I would be on. “Oh no! My robot is going to drive itself off the edge of the board. Ahhhhh.”
RoboRally is one of the best games to teach logic and pre-planning. This is also one of the only game we have that can be played with up to 8 people. This makes it a great game for large families, or for a game night with lots of friends. Plus when there are more robots on the board, there is more pushing and damage (this means more fun).
The goal of the game is to get your robot to travel around the board and touch all of the flag spaces (in the correct order). Each round, you use the cards in your hand to program 5 moves for your robot. Then the robots execute the 5 movements. Your robots move according to the cards that you have programmed, but also according to the elements on the board. There are gears, conveyor belts, and pushers that will affect the path of your robot, so you must take these into account when you are programming.
At the beginning of the game you are dealt 9 cards each round, but if your robot takes damage, you get dealt less cards. Robots can be damaged by being shot by other robots, or by lasers on the board. If your robot has 3 damage, you get dealt 6 cards instead of 9. If you have 4 damage, you are only dealt 5 cards and must use all of them in your program. If you take even more damage, some of your cards get “locked” and you must use them in your next program. So things can get very difficult if you have a lot of damage.
You might have trouble getting to your flag, or even staying on the board. If you take 9 damage, drive into a pit, or drive off of the board, your robot dies. You have 3 lives in the game, so the first 2 times you die, you come back to life with only 2 damage. At any time you can “power down” for a round. This means that you don’t move (unless another robot or a board element moves you) and you heal all of your damage.
But be careful with your power downs. In this game Elijah powered down near the edge of the board and I pushed him off while he was sitting there. I also fell off the board that turn because I miscalculated my movements. Very often players will mix up turning right with turning left. This sounds silly, but when your robot is facing toward you, or you are trying to think of which way your robot will be facing after 3 cards, a conveyor belt and a gear, it is easy to get confused.
You can also collect “option” cards that give your robot special abilities. These could help you move, attack other robots, or defend yourself. In this game, Isaiah collected 6 option cards and we were all afraid to go near his robot.
It is a fun game and can get very silly when people miscalculate a movement, or get pushed by another robot. In addition to being fun, this game teaches the step by step kid of logic that is needed for computer programming. The box says it is for ages 12 and up, but all of our kids play it. Sometimes our 5 year old runs off of the board quickly because he is not very good at it, but he can follow the rules. I always move the robots for the whole group because I want to make sure that the robots actually do what the program says. Also you have to deal with special rules when 2 robots are trying to move to the same place.
The game comes with 8 different boards, which can each be used individually or together. You can also change the layout of the flags. So the game is always new and fresh. This is definitely a game worth investing in.