Timewaster Tuesday: Ricochet Robots

Hey readers! I hope you didn’t forget about me. School’s been tough for fall quarter, but that just means I have had a lot of destressing to do. Luckily for you, that means trips to the game store and playing new board games until ungodly hours of the morning! That means I’ll have a few games to introduce you to for the next couple weeks.

First up, one that has become a quick favorite of mine. Check out Ricochet Robots.

Robots

So first of all. Robots. Win. Instantly.

Now that we’ve covered that, let me explain this game to you. My friend who introduced me to it described it like so: “So, you know that ice level in that game? Yeah it’s like that.” And that was a pretty good description.

The game comes with four boards, a piece to hold them together, 5 robots (red, yellow, blue, green, and silver) with markers, and pieces representing the goals on the board. The goal of the game is to earn the goal markers by getting robots into their goals in the least number of moves — and with style.

Robots

Basic Rules

1. The yellow robot tries to get to yellow goals, red to red, etc. The silver robot doesn’t have any of his own goals. There is one rainbow goal, which any robot can get into. It’s way cooler if you get the silver robot, but less moves is priority.

2. A robot must ricochet at least once to finish any set, so you can never just move a robot into a goal in one shot. If you can, either play that goal later or do it in more than one move.

3. A robot can’t just bounce off a wall, as that is a rebound, not a ricochet. A robot may either stop or ricochet at a right angle.

Robots

Game Play

To start the game, you arrange the four boards — they are double sided — in any order and orientation that you choose. This allows for a different set up every time you play. Trust me that this is a good thing. When you’re playing you get to know your board pretty well, so changing it up each game keeps you on your toes.

Then you take the robot markers, and toss them onto the board. Wherever they land, that’s where the robots start the game. Just make sure no robot can get into his own goal in only one move.

Have all the goal markers face down in a pile. Flip one over and place it in the middle of the board. Everyone stares for awhile, trying to figure out how to get the right robot into his goal.

Once someone figures it out, shout out how many moves it takes you. Then flip over the timer. Other players have until the sand runs out to find a solution with less moves.

When time runs out, whoever bet the least moves shows off their skills. If they counted wrong or forgot, then the next lowest person takes the turn instead, and so on. Whoever successfully solves the puzzle gets to keep the goal piece.

Priority

This can get a little confusing, so pay attention. There are no turns in this game. Everyone plays every goal at the same time.

If two people can solve the puzzle in the same number of moves, then whoever has less goal pieces to their name gets priority for that turn. If they both have the same number, whoever called it first gets to show first.

Tips and Tricks

You can move other robots in order to get a better bounce, but be careful. Stacking robots sometimes makes the set take twenty or more moves, and your competition could be solving it in less.

If you think you see a solution, don’t just holler it out right away. Instead double check and make sure you counted right and there are no walls.

If you have the lowest bid, don’t outbid yourself. You are allowed to solve the puzzle in less moves than you said, but if you use more it goes to the next person. Sometimes it’s better to play safe.

If you see a really simple solution – 6 moves or less – chances are that everyone else will see it too. In that case, it will go to the person with the least goals.

If you see a really good solution and you’ve double checked a few times, you might want to wait until right before the sand runs out to call it. That way no one will have time to outbid you.

There is a learning curve, so if experienced players are playing with new players, you might want to lay off the sand timer and give players a little more time. They’ll catch up pretty quickly!

Outside the Game

Sometimes its not just about getting the lowest number, but you’ll end up with a solution that is so elegant or complex that you absolutely have to show it off. In these cases, we move the markers to where the robots end according to the winning move, and put the robots back to their positions at the start of the set. This gives other players a chance to show off their awesome – although not winning – solutions, without screwing up the rest of the game.

Winning

You win if you have the most number of goals at the end of the game. In case of a tie, there are a couple of things you can do.

The first tie-breaker is to write down how many pieces each person has, gather them all up and play the whole game through again! Okay, that’s not a tie-breaker, but it could be fun.

Another solution is for the two who tied to keep their pieces, gather up all the others, and play one. Whoever wins that piece wins the game.

Even more fun than flipping one piece is flipping two – be sure they are different colors – and solve for both robots at once in the least number of moves.

Why I Love it

If you haven’t figured it out already, I guess I can break down a few of the reasons I’ve fallen in love with this game so quickly.

First, it’s a giant puzzle game, completely based on spatial thinking. This is probably my favorite genre of game ever. If you’re not spatial, this may not be your favorite game immediately, but you will get better!

Also, you can play this game with tons of people. As long as you can see the board you can play. If you want to join late or leave early, that’s cool too. Or you can play by yourself, continuously trying to beat your own solutions.

Last, I love a game that can drive me crazy simple because of my own mentality. Most games drive me nuts because of the other players, but in this game, I get myself stuck in infinite loops and traps and squares. The best part, those loops usually help me out later in the game!

Variations

None that I’ve seen so far, in the board game world, though I would love to see some expansions – I’m thinking extra board layouts, or an expansion with five boards making the game into a 9×9 with some new goals!

However, there are a couple places you can play or tone your skills online. Here and Here are both pretty good online versions.

So what do you do once you’ve finished a game of Ricochet Robots? Play again of course! I haven’t heard anyone turn down a second game yet.

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