I have recently started attending a wargaming club in Swindon, that meet every Wednesday evening. Due to social activities, I am finding attending the Sunday afternoon meetings of the Devizes group difficult, so that only managing 1 game a month is normal.
Unfortunately I turned up 30 minutes after the club night started, so most tables and attendees were already playing. There is a multiplayer FoW North Africa campaign in progress, so 4-5 tables were involved in this. Fortunately a couple of gamers were just about to start playing some boardgames and they were happy for me to join in. We started with ‘Ticket to Ride, Europe’, a game I am very familiar with and like a lot. The game was new to one of the players which I think influenced the style of play, so that there was no aggressive moves (building lines to interrupt routes being developed by opponents etc.). I suffered a geographical error by confusing Budapest with Bucharest (!), which lost me points and resulted in a second place result in an otherwise close fought game.
Next we played ‘RoboRally’, a game I have always wanted to play and have considered buying. Basically this is a race of competing robots around a factory floor strewn with obstacles, conveyor belts, pits, laser beams etc. Players programme their robots movement using randomly dealt cards which have to be secretly ordered for each turn. We played using 6 phases per turn with 7 dealt cards, but looking at BoardGame Geek, it is clear that later versions have different rules covering number of phases and damage effects. Other robots can disrupt your plans by shunting you (radically altering your planned programmed moves), and shooting you, causing damage and potentially ‘locking’ future programme cards (very annoying). You can repair yourself on certain squares, or by ‘powering down’ for a turn. Total destruction sends you back to the start (or, the last marker you successfully reached). All the programme cards have a value which determines the turn order. This is great game, very frustrating, and players who enjoy disrupting opponents will especially enjoy it! You need a sense of special awareness to plan your moves, but even without the intervention of opponents, it is still difficult to move around due to the programme options you are dealt each turn. I struggled to reach the first objective marker in the game and even died by misjudging my move and falling down a pit. We were using 4 boards, and a review by Dice Tower recommends keeping the course more compact with only 2 boards, which I think is a good suggestion. An opponent shunting you early in a turn can send you in unexpected (dangerous) directions. Getting accidently caught and hanging around in a laser beam is obviously not a pleasant experience. We playing a 3-player game which was fine, but I think this game would be better with more (4-8) players. Also the game we played was an ‘early’ edition, and apparently more recent editions have better components although I thought the early components were fine. I really enjoyed playing this game and I will seriously consider buying a copy.