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Throwback Thursday: Robo Rally

Posted Thursday, 12-Mar-2015

Contributed by Andrew Knighton

Most games involve some forward planning, and seeing your plans go wrong.  Robo Rally is all about watching those plans unravel, and being helpless to intervene.

Considered hilarious by some players and a nightmare by others, it’s a game that still creates heated debate twenty years after its release.

Robo Rally

Creating a Program

In Robo Rally you race robots around a hazardous factory floor. But unlike more conventional race games like Race! Formula 90, you don’t have turn by turn control of your robot.  You have to program it in advance.

Your program consists of a series of instruction cards which you put face down in an order you choose.  A card might tell the robot to turn right or move forward two spaces, and you plan ahead for how these will get you across the factory.  You have to set several instructions in advance, and once they’re set you can’t change the order – your robot will obey no matter what happens.


Robo Rally Course
Photo Credit: TheBoardGameFamily.com


Things Go Wrong

Once the programs are set, the robots start moving around the factory, in an order determined by numbers on the cards.  But all the robots are racing through the same space, and can block each other. That’s where the chaos begins.

Say you’ve programmed your robot to move around a pit by going forward, turning left and then moving forward again.  But on the first move your robot runs into another robot right by the pit.  It stops, turns left, and then roles into the pit – disaster!

Taking It In Your Stride

If you can take these setbacks in your stride, then Robo Rally is a fun puzzle that turns into a series of amusing disasters as you watch the robots do what the players told them to do, not what the players wanted.  On the other hand, if losing control in a game frustrates you then Robo Rally may make you tear your hair out.

The quirky little robot figures add character to the game, and set a tone of not taking things seriously.  That’s the way to play Robo Rally – not to see your plans succeed, but to enjoy the comedy of everybody’s plans failing.


Robo Rally Figures
Photo Credit: www.bordenkaartspellen.nl

There’s nothing else quite like Robo Rally, and for fans that makes it a must have game.  But love it or hate it, you’re unlikely to ever be bored.

Published by BoardGamePrices.com

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