RoboRally house rules

Tweaks to make RoboRally more competitive and fun.

In the opinion of this author, RoboRally is an excellent game, but it suffers from one problem: If one player takes an early lead, it can be very hard for the other players to catch up. Once someone gets ahead, there there aren't many ways for the trailers to pick up speed and catch the leader, and the leader has the advantage of open space in front of them (whereas the trailers will often find themselves pushing and shooting each other, whether they want to or not). Even if the natural paths between the flags criss-cross, it's still often possible for the leader to quickly slip past the trailers when they cross, and at that point the trailers aren't even going in the same direction as the leader any more.

This is a collection of house rules designed to help alleviate that problem. They work well together, but would also probably work fine separately as well, if any of them don't appeal.

The main rules

The Concrete Block

At the start of the game, put a six sided die on the first flag, with the six side facing up, representing an impenetrable Concrete Block that can withstand six points of damage.

Those last two rules only become significant once the Block moves to Flag 2, of course.

This rule has the most direct effect of slowing down the leaders and giving trailers time to catch up, without changing the feel of the game very much.

Options For Trailers

Whenever any robot tags a flag, any robot who has not already tagged that flag immediately receives an Option.

The direct effect of this rule is to help the trailers, whether they get Options that make them faster, allow them to attack the leaders more effectively, or just let them have more fun while they try to catch up. An indirect effect is that it creates a slight disincentive to be the first to tag a flag: In particular, if two or more robots could possibly tag the flag in the same turn, there's a significant advantage to being the last to do so. In a game with more than three players and/or more than three flags, it puts a lot more Options into the game, which can be good or bad depending on your point of view.

Options For Everyone

At the start of the game, everyone starts with one Option. Whenever you die, you lose an Option. If this leaves you without any Options, draw a new Option.

This is only peripherally related to the goal of slowing down the leader, but Options make the game more amusing in general, and throwing more havoc into the mix makes it a little less likely that anyone will just run away with the game.

Secondary rules/guidelines/comments

No Sit And Spin

Once you get an Option from a double-wrench or chop shop, you can't get another Option from that double-wrench or chop shop until you get an Option from a different double-wrench or chop shop.

This stops people from racking up Options by camping out on a double-wrench and turning in place for a few turns, which can be particularly effective early in the game (when you can then use your arsenal of Options to catch up with the rest of the pack). This is much more important if you're not playing with Options For Everyone, but is still a good rule in general.

Never Say Die

Players aren't eliminated from the game after their robots have died a certain number of times; you can die as often as you want and keep going.

This is just an MFQ thing: The game's less fun if you're not playing. It also provides a slight encouragement to take more chances, which generally makes the game more amusing.

Roll Your Own Options

Whenever you gain a new Option, draw two Option cards, and keep the one you prefer.

Some people like this rule because it lets them avoid the less useful Options. This author personally thinks that almost all Options can be entertaining if played well, and does not particularly recommend this rule in general.

Game size

In this author's opinion, the best size for a game is three players on one reasonably complex board with three flags. Four or five players can also play on a single board, and the game will be a lot shorter than if the flags are spread across two boards. Six or more players will probably be too crowded on a single board, in which case two somewhat less complex boards should be used. More flags will make the game a lot longer; three is enough for a satisfying battle, regardless of the number of players.

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Last updated on 2004-06-23 (Wed) at 09:30 PDT