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Store:  Strategy Games
Edition:  RoboRally
Series:  RoboRally
Genre:  Racing, Maze
Format:  Board Games


2nd edition

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Ages Play Time Players
12+ 60 minutes 2-8

Designer(s): Richard Garfield

Manufacturer(s): Wizards of the Coast

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Product Description

A dynamic robot race game

Product Information

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.9 in 23 reviews

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Competitive geek heaven
December 29, 2003

Given an evening alone with my wife, with my son over at a friend's house, I'm as likely to suggest Robo Rally as a way to spend the evening as anything else.

I'll never understand why WOTC stopped producing this, and I dread the day when my copy wears out.

This game definitely has a limited target audience. But I've never met a fan who wasn't rabid about it. It's a thinking game, like chess, or Risk, with a bit of lady luck thrown in. But it takes a different kind of mind to really get into the game.

It's not for everybody, but if you *enjoy* coding HTML in notepad instead of some web-page-spewer, if you *enjoy* writing quick-sorts, but are still willing to use a bubble where appropriate, if you *enjoy* taking things apart to see how they work, this is the game for you.

I only wish I could find more people to play against.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
I have NEVER played a better game in my life.
December 04, 2003

Humor. Strategy. Intellegence. This game is painfully amusing, addictive, and in severely high demmand as it is out of print. The company with the current rights to this game are either blithering idiots for not releasing it again, or mindbogglingly cruel.

If you get your hands on a copy of this game, you are a very lucky person. Send it to me if you don't like it.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
C/S, MIS, I/S, I/T - Geek Must Have...
March 03, 2003

If you're like me, you know how computers work at the hardware level - processor, RAM, Registers - this game is up there with the best of them. Program your robot to navigate the course and interact with the board elements in real time. Gears, belts, lasers, and your competitive robots will interfere with your program as it is fully autonomous - not remote controlled. Load the program and watch the metal fly!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Terry
Robotic chaos - You'll love it!
February 24, 2003

This game is one of the best games ever made. If you like zany, hair-pulling action, this is the game. Make one slight mistake, and you'll get crushed or accidently push your bot off the side of the world. This game is not for the timid. It is for smart players that like a real challenge.

Also has many alternate rule variations.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
The original Battle-Bots
January 24, 2001

RoboRally is a fun game with a bit of history behind it. If it weren't for this game, we would never have had the Magic: the Gathering craze, much less the Pokemon phenomenon. Designer Richard Garfield approached a little game company named Wizards of the Coast and asked if they wanted to produce his game, RoboRally. While they were interested, they could not afford to produce it and suggested that he design a game that was portable, fast-playing, and suited to play at game and sci-fi/fantasy conventions. Dr. Garfield went home and came back some time later with the design of Magic: the Gathering. They produced it, it was a sudden smash success, and Wizards suddenly had the money to produce RoboRally....

The game concerns programming robots from a selection of cards you receive each turn. Damaged robots receive fewer cards. The controller uses five of these cards to program his next moves, trying to maneuver his little robot across a littered factory floor from rally flag to rally flag. First robot to complete the circuit wins, but oh, how difficult a task that can be!

Robots move semi-simultaneously. Each player reveals their next queued card and the moves are resolved in the order of their listed card precedence. Robots can be bumped into pits, knocked onto conveyer belts, turned on giant gears, and will generally wind up where they ought not to be. There are pushers and lasers and other nasty effects on the factory floor itself. A robot's life is not a happy one.

Since the robots' moves are planned out in advance, and are resolved from the standpoint of the robot, players turn and shift in their seats as they program their cards, in a squirming dance affectionately known as the RoboRally Shuffle. This is a game that rewards a grasp of spatial relationships.

The original Wizards version of the game had lots of chrome that didn't add that much to gameplay, but the Amigo version strips it down to a much more approachable level. Players desiring more complexity can buy the expansion for it, and there is a possibility that Amigo will issue even more expansions in the future. This is a fun, goofy game, and is highly recommended.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Fun If You Set It Up Well
January 05, 2000

I agree with the comment below about needing at least 4 players for a good game. If it's taking too long, you've probably put the flags in places which are too hard to reach (I was in a 9 player game with a flag in a tough corner, and robots just crowded around, grinding each other to death in the nearby laser beams). Put them out in the open and make sure the route doubles back on itself enough so, if a leader gets way out in front, the others have a chance to chew him up.

Another modification to try is dealing everyone 3 option cards at the beginning of the game and letting them keep one or two; that way a lucky player who gets a good option early won't have as much of an advantage.

We also found it easier to ignore the limits on how many times you could die. Dieing itself is enough of a penalty.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Paul
Maddening Excitement
December 20, 1999

Never the right combination of cards in your hand!

Always just 1 turn away from that guy in the lead!

Too close to that conveyor belt!

Watch out for that pit! GAH!

Buy the game, get some friends, but don't get too drunk - it's frustrating enough as it is!

Program your little chunk of metal to perform wonders. At least that's what they seemed like before that little r2d2 ripoff pushed you onto that moving floor...

Great game with any number of players. First expansion is excellent - variable game length and complexity by the board setup.

You cannot ask for more silliness.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
great fun!
February 04, 1999

This past year I was introduced to RoboRally and its expansions and have quickly become its number 1 fan in our gaming group. The basic concept of reaching the flag first is easy to grasp for beginners but getting there is the fun!

I agree with other reviewers that setting a time limit to 'program' (organizing the movement cards passed out randomly into some kind of motion towards the flag) greatly speeds the game and adds fun as small mistakes intensify quickly. I would recommend the Armed and Dangerous expansion strongly as the number and type of option cards add excitement to the game. You must watch for other players' widgets (they can move you and damage you with lasers), game board mechanics such as conveyers and pits, and options such as land mines and ooze. This game takes a long time to play and needs at least 4-6 players to maximize the fun.

I have never won at this game and my widget has been destroyed in every possible manner (falling into pits, getting crushed and lasered, and even blowing myself up with the 'big one') but I still love this game!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Great.. but help with the rules
February 18, 2004

We love Roborally and would recommend it to any serious gamer, perhaps less for a casual gamer. It can, however, suffer from the much discussed 'runaway winner' syndrome and can run longer than planned if not properly set up. We have found the following house rules solve all problems: 1) Choose four flags and have the race course roughly loop back and forth across itself to maximize player interaction. 2) place flags in open areas to avoid ugly jam-ups 3) There will be four legs in the race, the first leg is a 'warm-up' and will be untimed. Once a player hits the first flag, they have two minutes to program moves until they hit the second flag. On reaching the second flag, they have 1.5 minutes, and on reaching the third, they receive only a minute. This provides a major 'catch-up' factor as extremely precise players cannot spend forever looking for the perfect move.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Robo Rally - still going strong.
December 09, 2002

Honestly, I can not believe that I have not written this review sooner. I first played Robo Rally back in 1995. Now, almost 8 years and countless games later, it is even more fun then the first time.

There is not much to be written about this game that hasnt already been printed. Robo Rally is a game that has stood the test of time and never looses its playability or fun factor. The limited number of sets available these days is a testament to this. Since it went out of print, even the used copies are hard to come by. No one wants to part with this classic series. If you have a chance to buy the Rally and its expansions, purchase them by all means, you will not be disappointed.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Chris G
the best, as long as you can grasp the concept
August 23, 2002

this is one of the greatest games i've ever played. the turns are set up by each player in a way that reminds me of the robotic arms that were around when i was a kid. first, you tell the robot eveything it has to do, and then it starts executing your orders. many people have trouble with the turning rules, but it's often fun to watch them run themselves into the abyss. this game has a definite cut-throat quality to it, as everyone has the option of destroying the other players. if people are easily angered, maybe you should play something else with them.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Wonderful Artwork; Enticingly Complicated Game!
January 04, 2002

Positives: Fun artwork; real pewter figures; nigh limitless variety and possibility of gameplay. Stretches the mind and tests the will. Complicated gameplay.

Negatives: Those who can not stretch their minds make the game last forever. Those who can not test their wills make the game boring. Complicated gameplay.

Verdict: I can enjoy complicated gameplay, so it is a positive for me. But beware, others do not. The steep learning curve requires a break-in period before true enjoyment can materialize. Keep the first few games small and simple. Participants need good 3D perceptual skills, or the game will grind to a halt. Players also need to be able to risk their robots for fun, or gameplay might as well be solo. Buy the game and ALL of the expansions, mix them all up, and have fun!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
A great game regardless of how much time it takes
December 12, 2001

This is a great game. It does have some flaws, as pointed out by others, but if you head into the game aware of those flaws, it is still really fun. I will admit that the game programming can take some time, but if you want to speed up the game you can easily make up the board so that the flags are closely placed.

I have played this game easily over twenty times and still am not bored with it as others say they have become. This could be due to the fact that we all started on the learning curve at approximately the same time, so our programming times are about the same. Only in dire situations will someone in my group take upwards of ten minutes to program their robot. We head into the game knowing that this may come up, but not that often.

In addition, my group tends to play with absurdly large boards. They may take as much as six hours to complete, but that is the way we enjoy playing. The other problem of catching up to someone far ahead in the game can be partially solved by placing the flags in a position so that players must travel back the way they came, therefore they must navigate past the players trailing them or go the long way around.

The robot's options, which may be picked up during the game, expand the fun. Players who trail too far behind the leaders can pick up options to make them a force to be reckoned with.

There are many house rules which can be played with. Robo Rally lends itself to easy rules modifications. We have played games where each player starts off with an option. We have had hidden options where you dont have to reveal your option until you use it. We played with the random robot, which follows the leading robot around the board even if it gets destroyed. Another house rule we have played with is rotating boards in the middle of the game. If you are in the mood for destruction, you can have a battle to the death and not bother having a race.

This is one of my favorite games, and its length doesnt detract from the game for me at all. Although the game has some luck elements, there is almost always something beneficial that you can do, no matter which movement cards you are dealt.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Great idea, but slow to play.
December 25, 1999

Wow. Roborally has convinced me of Richard Garfield's talent in game design. One of the best games I've played in a very long time. Programming your robots is a wonderful idea that, surprisingly, has seen little use in previous games. It allows for a wild and chaotic beginning, and enough randomness to keep some check on the leaders.

Now that I'm done with the praise... This game plays slower than any I've played before. Over the several games we've played, by the end we had become so weary that we just threw down whatever seemed right, without thinking too much about it, and usually ended up dying, rather than having a winner. The game claims that a three- or four-board game will take a couple of hours, but our third game, on a two-board layout, took at least five hours spread over two days to complete.

Anyway, it is still a great game, but not quite flawless. If you don't mind waiting, buy it now!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Anything but robotic
August 04, 1999

RoboRally borrows from so many genres it is hard to place it in a category. It is part strategy, part tactical, part race, part sheer bloody-mindedness.

There is nothing polite about RoboRally; your robots shoot lasers ahead of them indiscriminately, pits and crushers are unforgivingly final. So it is best to approach this game as a safe way to be vindictive towards your fellow players without real-world repercussions.

What makes this game so much fun is the collecting of option cards, which give your robots extra powers. Some are dangerously powerful and others are practically useless. The more options you play with, the more fun it becomes. The Armed and Dangerous expansion is worth getting too, if only for its great collection of extra option cards.

You can help to overcome the problem of the leader running away with the game by making a course that crosses itself several times. This way the leaders meet the main group going the other way and are sure to get pummeled a bit.

This game will appeal instantly to the programmers out there, so those players who can't program their VCRs may find RoboRally heavy going.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Striking components highlight this game of racing robots
February 07, 1999

In 1995, Wizards of the Coast brought us this charming game of dueling robots racing through a computerized factory. It's a fun way for friends to whomp on each other. Unfortunately, it seems that the player who gets his robot into an early lead always cruises to a win.

All of the components of the game are good: six boards, which can be arranged into different configurations each game and which feature conveyer belts, lasers, crushers and pits; program cards that players use to maneuver their robots; option cards that give robots special abilities and weapons; and eight unpainted metal miniatures representing the robots.

Each turn, players must assign--in a specific order--five of their program cards to their robots. Then everyone reveals their first card and implements it, then their second card, etc. Any robot directly in front of another robot (regardless of distance) gets shot by the latter's built-in forward-firing laser. Severely damaged robots have some of their program cards locked in (i.e., they cannot be changed without repairs), limiting their options.

RoboRally won the 1994 Origins awards for Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Boardgame and Best Graphic Presentation of a Boardgame. Nevertheless, I think there is a serious issue with this game regarding play balance. But if what you really want is fun more than satisfaction, give this one a try.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Hart
Simple Programming and a Wild Race!
February 02, 1999

I run a game club in a K-8 elementary school (I teach grade 4 there). Robo Rally is, hands down, the favorite game at the club!

The goal of the game is to use cards that give simple programming commands to your robot (ex. move two, turn right, etc.). Use these commands to move your robot through a factory floor racing to touch numbered flags.

THE CHALLENGE: What gives this game its unique challenge is that you must plan the next 5 commands for your robot all at once. So, you need to visualize the position of your robot up to five turns ahead of yourself.

THE FUN: This process is made very enjoyable due to the addition of front-firing lasers on your robot. It is always great to make a sneaky move and blast your buddies (up to 8 can play at once--party game!)

THE JOY AND THE SORROW: if your robot bumps into another robot early in the sequence of 5 turns, their robot is pushed to a new square on the board. The commands for his robot often due not suit his new placement on the board, and his robot will often fall into pits, or walk into crushers (THE JOY). Of course, if your robot gets pushed off course, there is the SORROW.

Great multiplayer game with loads of thinking and tension! Highly recommended!!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
A Great Game If You Have The Time and Enough People
January 12, 1999

RoboRally is one of my favourite games. It is played by laying 5 program cards out that dictate the next five movements of your robot. These cards include move forwards, rotates, etc. Robots move across a factory floor covered with pits, conveyor belts and other traps; thus playing the cards requires thinking ahead. The game only gets really interesting when playing with several people, because robots can push and shoot each other. This means that no matter how well you plan your turn, someone else may push you a space and cause you to walk directly into a pit. The object of the game is to use these cards to avoid the traps (and other robots) to reach checkpoints in order.

My only two complaints are the time it takes to play, and the fact that it doesn't work very well with less than 4 players. Robots tend to take the lead, and there is really no way catch up. The time issue can be solved by placing a time limit on card placement of 2-3 minutes. Without the limit, players will take a very long time planning all the possibilities, and some of the chaos will be lost.

Despite these complaints, this game is REALLY fun, second in my mind only to Knightmare Chess and The Settlers of Catan. Go buy it.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Matt S
Good game for the right crowd
December 08, 2003

I bought this game for Christmas and played it with my wife and family. At first I enjoyed it, but then I couldnt get anyone to play. The play time is too long and it isnt too fun when things don't go your way. An expansion might spice it up, but it just isn't for me.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Tom J
Great game, but loses its appeal
April 09, 2001

RoboRally was my favorite game when I first bought it; I have never seen a game with more to offer. However, after playing it four or five times, it quickly lost its appeal. If the board layout is too big, the game takes forever, and if it is too small, than there aren't enough effects to make it interesting. Three game boards and three flags seem to be the best amount for me. Also, I recommend buying the Armed and Dangerous expansion for this game, since the option cards make the game more interesting.

All the other reviews are right there should be a time limit to program your robot, but if you play with people that know what they are doing, this really isn't an issue. Of course, introducing new players to the game can be fun too since you get that first-time feeling all over again. Even though I am sick of this game, I will still go out and buy any new expansions for it. I like the art, and the basic idea of the game. Also, some days I just get in the mood to play a marathon game that could last a few days with 9 boards and 6 flags. So far we were unable to finish one of these games since I was tired of leaving the board set up for so long.

Still, I'll never forget my brother-in-law screwing up his program and screaming about the mistake he had made, and then later in his turn he had made another mistake that fixed the first one. At least until I pushed him into a pit--Oops sorry about that, he he he.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Way too slow
April 11, 2000

The concept behind this game is great. Every turn you put out 5 program cards that allow you to move your robot. However, the boards are huge with a multitude of obstacles to navigate through and many other players to disrupt your plans.

The game suggests 6 flags, one flag on each board. This is an insane idea. I played in a 6 player game and after 4 hours and only 3 flags gained, the whole group just gave up. There are a lot better games out there to spend your money on so if you're dead set on buying this game I suggest you try it before you buy it.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Bring a book
December 02, 2000

Ironically, several years ago I posted a positive review of Robo Rally to the Game Cabinet. (I posted under a different name, Julie Prince. You can read my review by searching Funagain's Gameweb for 'Robo Rally.')

In that review, I said it would be hard to get sick of Robo Rally. Guess again! I now flat-out refuse to play it.

The addition of many expansions has, in my opinion, muddied the waters. Some of those new boards--the ones with water and goo, for example--are impossible to move across. You could spend a whole game trying to go a very short distance.

The main reason I've gotten turned off of Robo Rally, though, is that I got tired of sitting around waiting for everyone else to program their robots. OK, I'm not going to win any awards for patience; but when it takes someone 10 minutes to program (I am NOT making this up) and everyone else is too nice to make that person program in a reasonable amount of time... well, that's not my idea of fun.

Robo Rally could be entertaining if you play with a group in which everyone programs at about the same speed, and if you lay out the boards to promote mayhem and make it possible for people to move.

I'd rather play Settlers of Catan any day.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Swashbuckler did it much better
November 05, 2000

RoboRally is apparently lifted directly from the old Yaquinto game Swashbuckler. In both games, you pre-plot your movement and attempt to wipe out your opponents (who are likewise pre-plotting their moves). The ensuing mayhem would be fun to watch if it didn't evolve so slowly. But what you really get is 75% planning, 20% boring movement, and 5% mayhem. Considering that the average game (even in tournaments where the players are supposed to know what they're doing) runs in excess of 3 hours, the distribution just doesn't work out.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.

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