Variants

Although it's always enjoyable to play the RoboRally board game the classic way, sometimes it's interesting to try new twists on your favorite game of robotic racing. The following game variants can give you and your robots a whole new spin on the game.

Timed Variants

The following two variants limit the time available to RoboRally players during a game.

Two-Minute Turns: Tired of seeing your friends stall as they desperately try to figure out their lefts from their rights? Then this is the option for you. Every turn players receive only two minutes to program their robots. If a player does not finish programming her turn by the end of that two-minute period, she must select cards from her hand at random to fill the remaining slots. And robots rarely thrive under random programming.

Speed chess: With this option, players each receive a total of forty-five minutes to program their robots. Each player should keep track of his own time using a speed chess clock, stopwatch, or other timer. If a player runs out of programming time, then either he loses or he must start again with his robot at the beginning of the race (your option).

Board and Robot Options

Flags Replace Board Elements: Instead of placing flags on open squares, try placing a flag on a board element (usually a wall). The flag replaces the board element, so just treat that element as if it doesn't exist. This variation can make access to flags easier, and thus make games move more quickly.

Hidden Options: In this game variant, you still receive option cards for landing your robot on a double-wrench repair spot, however you do not have to reveal what option card you have until your robot actually uses the option. This often causes rampant paranoia among your fellow players.

Rotating Boards: What could be more interesting -or potentially frustrating- than finding the board your robot is on suddenly change position? When playing with rotating boards, every time a robot touches a flag, flip a coin. On heads, rotate whatever board that robot is on one turn clockwise. On tails, rotate one turn counter-clockwise. (One turn equals one side of the board.) For a wilder variant, every time a robot touches a flag, roll a six-sided die. If you roll 1 - 3, rotate the board that many turns; if you roll 4 - 6, do nothing.

Cube Play: In this three-dimensional version of the RoboRally game, boards are placed vertically; so instead of lying beside each other, boards are positioned above or below one another. If a robot drops through a pit on an upper level board in this variant, the robot "falls through" to the board below taking 4 points of damage. Of course, in order for this variant to work, you have to create special teleporting sites. You can mark these spots however you like. Each teleporting site should teleport a robot to a specific spot on a board one level up. You can also use the Machine Shop board (which contains four portals), where each of the four portals on the board teleports a robot to a spot one level directly above it. This variant involves a bit of preparation. You must first construct a standing frame that can hold one (or more) RoboRally boards. You can construct frames from legos, wood, or anything else that will support one or more RoboRally boards.

Ninth Damage Power Down: This game variant was actually in Richard Garfield and Mike Davis's initial RoboRally design. Here, players receive only eight cards. If your robot receives 9 points of damage, it automatically powers down.

Alternative Scoring

PacMan: Remember PacMan? That hungry little yellow ball of video game history? Well, in this game variant, your robots get to gobble up points too. To play this version of RoboRally, all you have to do is find a bunch of small markers (rice, pennies, etc.) and place one of these on each square of the board—except for those squares that contain flags. Every time your robot moves through a square with a marker on it you get one point. If your robot touches a square with a flag on it you receive ten points and your robot becomes invulnerable for the next turn. (Invulnerable robots cannot be hurt by lasers or other weapons, although pits, board edges, and so on, still affect them.) Once any robot passes through a square, that square's marker or flag disappears.

Assassin: In Assassin, a particularly ruthless play variant, robots score a ten-point bounty for every fellow robot they destroy. This variant can become degenerate as robots gang up on individual robots, but playing Assassin with two- or three-robot teams can often solve this problem. The team with robots left on the board at the end of the game wins.

Team Play

Dream Team: In Dream Team, players team up in groups of two. The object here is for your team to touch the flags in order. Only one member of any team has to touch an individual flag, but the team must touch the flags in order. Thus, if SpinBot and Twonky are on the same team, it's perfectly acceptable for Twonky to touch flag one and then SpinBot to touch flag two—or for Twonky to touch both one and two if SpinBot never touches a flag. Oh, and if you play this format, you're in good company. The Dream Team Challenge took place during the 1996 Magic: The Gathering World Championships. Game Designer Richard Garfield and Wizards' President Peter Adkison proved victorious over '96 National Champion Robert Campbell of Alameda, California, and U.S. Finalist Andrew Stalker of Columbus, Ohio.

Capture the Flag: In this team variant, teams of two or three robots each begin the game with a flag. At the beginning of the game, the teams flip a coin or otherwise determine who gets to place their flag on the board first. Each team decides where they will place their flag and which square will serve as their team's starting point. Whichever board a team places their flag on becomes their "home" board. No board may be "home" to more than one team. The object here is to capture the flag of the opposing team and bring it back to your home board. Whichever team captures the enemy's flag and brings it back to their home board first wins the game.

But how do you capture and move a flag? If an enemy robot touches the square with your flag on it, then that robot "captures" your flag. The robot can then carry the flag with it. If it reaches its home board while still carrying the flag, then you lose. However, while an enemy is on your home board, if any of your robots touch a square with an enemy robot on it, that enemy robot has to teleport back to its home board's initial starting square. The flag remains wherever it was dropped. Any board not claimed by a team is considered a neutral board. If a robot captures your flag and manages to get it to a neutral board, then the only way to stop the robot is to destroy it. Destroyed robots reappear on their home board. Once again, the flag stays wherever it was dropped.

Originally published at Wizards of the Coast.
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