Careful you don’t go down the pit!
I was reminded of Robo Rally recently and thought to myself that it’s a fun game that we should try playing sometime. Bleeding ambitious though, so this would take a little thought on the best way to approach playing with a 5-year-old in a not-completely-trivial way. I think we ended up with something pretty workable.
So, what we did was ignore lasers and option cards, and we chose what I figured was the most straightforward board (“Island”), with just two flags to visit on opposite edges of the board, so there was a route which avoided conveyors, etc. (though I chose to go via the conveyors to demonstrate what happened). We then, instead of programming the whole turn at once, worked through each register phase, choosing a card for each move as we went along. After a few turns I switched to setting up the five cards in advance, which made things a little more fun — and I’m kicking myself for not thinking of that at the beginning of the game.
All-in-all this setup seemed to work pretty well. Miss B needed a little help with getting the right and left rotations straight in her head but, to be fair, that’s the case with many adults too. She didn’t like the idea of the lasers and having damage, so I’m quite happy leaving that out for the time being. I think she enjoyed it as an unusual sort of race game but, for the moment at least, robots directly interfering with each other (via lasers, shoving, etc.) is not what she wants to see. Maybe we’ll introduce some of those elements later.
Oh, and painted miniature robots make for instant win, even though I still need to paint the bases on them. Maybe this is sufficient incentive for me to finally finish the job. Overall I think things went very well and I expect we’ll be playing again, though I have no idea how long it will be before we develop into doing the programming aspect of the game. It probably won’t be soon.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 5¼): “I liked it but it was tricky. I really liked the robots. I liked Twonky the best.”
The game: Robo Rally (Wizards of the Coast), 2 to 8 players aged 12+.