07 February 2024
RoboRally is a chaotic game of pre-programming your moves for maximum impact. Our Reviewer checks out whether the robots play, when the workers are away.
Written by Kim Wellens
RoboRally Board Game
Do you like a board game where you can meticulously strategise your own game, claiming victory with finesse and grace?
Well, that’s not this. Prepare yourself for absolute carnage.
RoboRally is themed around a group of factory robots who, when the warehouse closes for the weekend, come to life and compete with one another in races across the factory floor. Each player controls a robot throughout the race, passing through all given checkpoints and beating their opponents to the final destination, wreaking all kinds of havoc along the way.
How to Play RoboRally
Each turn has three phases, starting with the Upgrade Phase. Robots gain energy during the race which can be used as currency to install temporary or permanent upgrades from the upgrade deck.
Next is the Programming Phase, where all players simultaneously and secretly schedule moves for their robot. Choose cards from your hand to programme five movements into your five registers – you could move forwards, backwards, rotate, U-turn, or simply stay where you are and power up your energy. Try and plan out where you’d like your robot to end up, in full knowledge that your schemes may completely malfunction as enemy robots barge you out of the way and shoot you with lasers. We’ll get to that.
And finally, the Activation Phase. This is where the fun really begins. All players start with revealing the pre-programmed movement in their first register and take it in turns to activate their robots’ movements. At the end of each register, the conveyor belts move and gears rotate, (taking any robots aboard with them), and all robots fire a laser in a straight line, wounding any unlucky machines in their path.
If your robot gets hit with a laser, you receive damage in the form of a Haywire card (which forces you to make a move against your will in a future round), or a Spam card. Think of this as similar to being shot in Colt Express. You get a damage card added to your personal deck which eventually clogs up your hand, meaning your chances of drawing the effective movement cards diminishes with every successful laser strike.
Continue playing rounds until one robot reaches the final checkpoint and is declared the champion. RoboRally is great if you’re a fan of chaotic interplay and a good laugh because in a game about control, you really do have very little. If mayhem is what you’re after, the more players the better (it’s pretty easy to stay out of each other’s way with just two or three players).
Should you play RoboRally?
A real strength in RoboRally is how it can be easily adapted. There are a variety of factory layouts to choose from, plus you get to decide how many checkpoints to have and where they are positioned. Use fewer checkpoints on a simpler factory board for a shorter game with younger ones. Alternatively, deploy all six checkpoints across the factory boards with multiple conveyor belts and diversions for a longer, more chaotic battle of bedlam.
Reading the rules, I was excited to play this game. The level of interaction between players and the opportunities to interfere with your opponents’ schemes spelt for a lot of fun, and it didn’t disappoint. I did however find myself uncertain when to get this game out, unsure whether it fully fit into the party game category. Play it with too few players and it’s over quite quickly with very little interplay, but played to its fullest and it can go on for longer than you may expect a party game to last. On the other hand, it has way too much random mayhem to fully satisfy more strategic gamers.
Nevertheless, it’s a genuinely laugh-out-loud game full of robotic chaos, with lovely figures and aesthetics too. I’ll definitely be playing again.
Yes – it's an easy-to-learn and laugh-out-loud game – although maybe a bit too chaotic for the strategists and a bit too long for the party gamers.
If you liked Colt Express, you'll like RoboRally
Players simultaneously pre-programming their moves, and then watching madness ensue as they play out before your eyes. RoboRally is like Colt Express but with an extra dose of carnage.
Designer: Richard Garfield, Michael Davis
Publisher: Renegade Games
Time: 45-60 mins
Inside the box:
- 6 pre-painted robot figures
- 6 robot player mats
- 4 double-sided factory gameboards
- 1 double-sided docking bay gameboard
- 6 plastic checkpoint markers
- 120 programming cards (6 decks of 20 cards each)
- 40 damage cards
- 40 upgrade cards
- 8 energy tracking cubes
- 6 reboot tokens
- 6 archive tokens
- 6 checkpoint tracking tokens
- 1 large player aid card
- 1 priority token, 1 sticker sheet
- 1 rulebook