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Entry updated 21 August 2012. Tagged: Game.

Board Game (1994). Wizards of the Coast (WotC). Designed by Richard Garfield.

RoboRally is a light hearted game of Robot carnage, reminiscent of the UK television series Robot Wars (1997-2003) or the US BattleBots (2000-2002). The players are bored supercomputers who decide to relieve their ennui by staging a race around a series of checkpoints with their Robot workers, inhabitants of an exceptionally hazardous "widget factory" full of bottomless pits, unpredictable conveyor belts, flame throwers and Robot crushers. The Robots themselves are typically armed with laser beams which strike anything in their direct line of sight, though players can replace these with devices which allow them to take control of other Robots or push them away. The key problem of the game, however, is movement. Each Robot has 5 "registers", which must be loaded every turn with randomly dealt cards specifying such actions as "move forward one space" or "turn right". Players choose which of their cards to use, and the order in which they will be executed, under a strict time limit, an activity resembling high speed computer programming. As Robots accumulate more damage, their registers become "locked", meaning that whatever card was loaded into that slot cannot be removed and will continue to execute every turn until the Robot is repaired, or destroyed and regenerated from the last point at which its progress was saved (a concept borrowed from Videogame design). The result could be described as Robot slapstick; games rapidly degenerate into scenes of mayhem and utter chaos.

Related works: The first edition has four expansions, all designed by Garfield, which add new factory designs and other options: RoboRally – Armed and Dangerous (1995 WotC); RoboRally – Crash and Burn (1997 WotC); RoboRally – Grand Prix (1997 WotC) and RoboRally – Radioactive (1998 WotC). A variant European version, RoboRally (1999 Amigo), has one expansion, Crash & Burn (2000 Amigo). A revised edition, also called RoboRally, was designed by Garfield and Paul Sottosanti and released by Avalon Hill in 2005. [NT]


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