RoboRally, Part 5
What's Old Is New
It's no secret that the new RoboRally game is an updated version of a game that originally appeared in 1993. If you played that earlier game, you may be wondering, "what's changed?"
The answer is, lots of little things but few big things.
Many components have changed, and new ones have been added.
The Program cards are identical, other than their appearance.
The two new Docking Bays allow each robot to begin the race in its own space. New rules on bringing destroyed robots back into play prevent two robots from reappearing in the same space at the same time. Together, these eliminate the need for those annoying virtual robots.
The plastic checkpoint flags are nifty and attractive. They're also functional -- because they're transparent, you can always see what's under them.
Program sheets (one per robot) have individual spaces for program cards, damage markers, life tokens, a big, red "Power Down" marker, some background on your robot, and the turn sequence. These reduce clutter and confusion on the table.
The robots' appearances have changed slightly. The New Squash Bot looks more like the old Hulk X90; the new Hulk X90 looks more like the old Trundle Bot; and the new Trundle Bot looks more like the old Squash Bot. The Hammer Bot, Spin Bot, and Zoom Bot look different but not like any of the old 'bots.
The game markers have changed significantly for the better. All are in full color and are identical on front and back, so they're never upside down. Damage tokens are triangular, life tokens are round, and the newly-added archive markers are square.
The four boards are backprinted, making a total of eight boards instead of the original game's six. Each of the new boards has an old board on one side and a new board on the other. The old boards that reappear here are Cross, Exchange, Island, and Maelstrom. Pit Maze and Cannery Row from the original game are gone. The four boards printed on the opposite sides are completely new, never-before-seen factory sections. The new boards are the same size as before. If you have boards from previous editions of RoboRally, you can keep using them with the new edition.
The obstacles you can run into during the race are basically the same, with two exceptions: crushers don't appear in the current version of the game, and pushers activate only on register phases 1/3/5 or 2/4 (single-phase pushers are gone).
Perhaps the biggest change on the boards happened on the repair sites. Before, repair sites with two wrenches allowed you to repair one point of damage and draw an Option card or repair two points of damage. It was hard to turn down two repair points, so Option cards didn't come into play very often. That was unfortunate because Option cards add a lot to the game. Consequently, those two-wrench spaces have been replaced with wrench/hammer spaces that always repair one point of damage and give you an Option card, with no alternative.
Rules-wise, the game has been simplified a little and streamlined a lot. This is still the same RoboRally game that you know and love.
The turn sequence hasn't changed except for the removal of the Crusher step during the "Board Elements Move" portion of the turn. With no more crushers, it wasn't needed.
The first turn or two of the game are easier to visualize and play because docking bays eliminate virtual robots.
The Course Manual includes many more courses, so you don't need to create your own before starting to play. (You can create your own if you want, of course, and instructions are included for doing so.)
Registers that are locked by damage now must be unlocked in numerical order, from lowest to highest. You don't have a choice on which to unlock when repairing damage.
Perhaps the most immediately noticeable change is the addition of a timer. The original game had no time limit when players were programming their registers. That could get annoying if one player wanted to ponder and plan to the Nth degree. Besides, RoboRally is supposed to be a race, and races should be about speed.
Now, when it gets to the point where all players but one have filled their registers, the timer is flipped. The slowest player has 30 seconds to finish filling his program registers or they get filled randomly. This keeps the game moving at a comfortable pace set by the second-slowest player. (It can also be a nice equalizer to help players who have several locked registers.)
The rules are presented in a straightforward, conversational manner instead of the previous edition's cute but often confusing flow chart structure. This rule book is clearer, shorter, and much more colorful.
Two Option cards were removed from the deck -- Turret and Shield -- and replaced by two others from RoboRally expansions. The Turret and Shield cards had to be rotated at the start of your turn to indicate which direction they were pointed, and that was always either confusing or annoying. Assuming you remembered to point them at all, you always seemed to point them the wrong direction. None of the current Option cards need to be oriented.
Finally, the wording of certain Option cards has changed subtly. We won't go into all the details here. Just be warned that if you played the previous edition, you'll want to read that Option card carefully before assuming that you know how it works.
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