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One arena. Two sides. Three robots. Can you get the most robots on your side?
Each player takes turns to select from one of these three actions: place an energy token, move a robot or fill up with energy. To play a token, take a piece from your stock and place it on an empty space on the board. (that is, a space that doesn't contain a robot or an energy token). Robots always move towards nearby spaces containing energy tokens, using them up in the process.
The black robot can only use black energy and the white robot can only use white energy. The red robot can use both. To replace used energy, players draw tokens from a common supply: these can be black or white or both, but they are limited to having only four in their hand at a time.
When the energy supply runs out, the player with two or three robots in their area wins.
Design by: Susumu Kawasaki
Published by: Kawasaki Factory / Asmodee
2 Players, 5 – 10 minutes
Review by: Greg J. Schloesser
Two-player abstract games are practically a dime-a-dozen in the gaming world, but yet new ones continue to appear with great regularity. Many are outstanding, including the Gipf series developed by Kris Burm, which have set the bar quite high for other entries into the already crowded field. Sadly, many games not only fail to clear this bar, but fall woefully short. Unfortunately, Robo-Tory is one of these games.
The theme of Robo-Tory is paper-thin. Players expend energy to move robots into their territory. The player controlling the most robots when the game expires wins. That's it. But don't try to immerse yourself in the theme, as you will only get frustrated. The game is an abstract – pure and simple.
I have the Kawasaki Factory version, which is similar to desktop publishing quality. The laminated board is slightly thicker than card stock, while the two side boards are even thinner. The remaining components are standard wooden cubes and pawns. Some have complained that board is too small to be functional, but I haven't experienced any problems. Everything works fine, but it has a less-than- quality feel to it.
A hexagon grid regulates movement on the diminutive board, which is divided into two territories. The neutral yellow robot begins on the start player's territory, while the red and blue robots begin in the other territory. Each player receives two red and two blue cubes, with the remaining cubes being placed on a small "cube" board.
Players may exercise one of three options on their turn:
Place a cube. The player may place a cube from their supply onto a vacant hex. The idea is to place cubes so the matching robot may move along a path of like-colored cubes, ending his move in the player's territory.
Move a Robot. A robot may move along a path of like-colored cubes. The neutral yellow robot may move across any colored cubes. Once the robot completes his move, all of the cubes on the path along which he moved are removed from the board and discarded. These cubes represent the energy expended to move the robot.
Refill cubes. The player may opt to refill his supply of cubes to four, selecting whichever combination of cubes from the supply he desires. If a particular color is depleted, the game ends immediately. When the game ends, the player with at least two robots in his territory is victorious.
Robo-Tory is a tactical game with elements of timing and proper placement. The idea is to place cubes in such a fashion so as to maneuver the robots into your territory and force the depletion of one of the cube colors to achieve victory. While this may sound like a deep challenge, in reality it is a fairly light exercise that is simply too basic. There is no sophistication. The playing area is small and a player's options are limited. There isn't much room here for cleverness, deep thought, or skillful maneuvers. As my friend Kevin Nunn commented, "It is too straight-forward." While the game plays swiftly – 5 minutes or so – there isn't enough here to maintain one's interest beyond a few playings.