Thursday, January 12, 2006

That New Game Smell

My brother got me Thai food and a gift certificate to my local game shop as a birthday present. Huzzah!

I picked up the second edition of Ricochet Robots, yet another of those clever German board games that play so well. It's almost a competive puzzle instead of a board game. I use the word puzzle on purpose- any number of players can play, searching for a solution.

Players sort of control four colored robots in a maze-like area, trying to reach randomly drawn destinations. Most of the game takes place in the head- everyone must do the mental gymnastics needed to arrive at a solution without touching the board. Also, the robots move like rooks without brakes- the skill comes from imagining the positions of several robots needed to bounce off each other to get the target robot to its goal. The competive aspect enters once players start bidding for who can move the robots with the fewest number of moves. Sometimes you can get outbid by another player with a more efficient solution.

The second edition adds colored diagonal walls in certain locations (like-colored robots pass through while differently-colored robots ricochet off) and a black robot for additional obstacles.

I've seen field data that suggests this game has a male gender bias- be advised. Something to test down the line, perhaps. Also a bias for players of very twitchy console games.

With the rest of my gift certificate, I grabbed a modest supply of poker chips in order to have fewer obstacles to a playtest of 1984 Prime.

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