FLASHBACK FRIDAY – Robot Rise – Happy Harpy Games – Review

The box for Robot Rise is thick and sturdy enough to withstand a crushing robot stomp. From a small robot of course, don’t get crazy.

Jeremiah & Kara Clark

MeepleGamers

7.7/10

Theme and What is it?

7/10

You’re standing atop your tower of evil, surveying the surrounding wasteland when you see it: a massive robot with laser cannon arms and legs that look like they’ve never skipped leg day in their life. The ground thunders as it stomps toward you, your tower quivers with each impact, yet you are not afraid. 

You helped build this robot, and in this world that’s significant. You watch with glee as the metallic monster makes a sharp turn, heading for the mad scientist next door. The robot pauses, its light cannons ignite. Then, with a beam brighter than the sun and more silent than a ninja toot,  the neighbor’s not-so-secret lair is blasted into the sky.

Robot Rise is a player-elimination take-that style card game. Players will attack, steal from, and defend against their fellow mad scientists as they try to destroy each other’s secret lairs. You’re all mad, but who will be the maddest?

Gameplay Mechanics

6/10

In Robot Rise, players are trying to destroy each other’s secret lairs. They will rob, bomb, annoy, and unleash massive lethal robots on each other until only one player is left standing. As with most card games, the mechanics for Robot Rise are really simple. Each player is given a secret identity card with a onetime effect they can use during the game. On a player’s turn they will take once action and then draw a card to end their turn. 

Most of the actions are simply playing a card from hand. You can play a card to draw extra cards from the deck, steal cards from an opponent, perform a major or minor attack against an opponent. Nearly all the available actions are just playing a single card from hand, and all the cards explain exactly what they do. 

There is one action that is different from the others, and it’s what makes the game really interesting. On a player’s turn, as an action, they can play 2 of the 3 body parts they need for a functioning robot (i.e. a head and legs) and request the 3rd body part from their opponents. (A robot’s body parts don’t need to match for it to function, but if they do match, the robot becomes extra powerful.) Any of the opponents are free to offer the 3rd body part, and if the requesting player accepts, a ‘temporary alliance’ is formed. This means that when the requesting player sics his robot on his fellow mad scientists, he can attack anyone EXCEPT for the player who gave him the body part. This creates a really fun “please don’t hurt me, look we’re friends!” vibe around the table.

This leads me to one problem we found with the game. Once all but two players have been eliminated the game becomes a 2 player game. In a 2 player game, it doesn’t make sense to form an alliance because there is only one player who could offer the 3rd body part, and if you formed an alliance with them, you wouldn’t be able to attack them. The robot would be wasted. The inability to form alliances really cuts down on some actions an active player can do on their turn if their hand is full of random robot parts. We found that in some cases in a two player game, the active player isn’t able to do anything on their turn at all.

There aren’t any alternate rules for the game once it gets down to 2 players, which is strange because at some point in every game, there will be only two players left. The game still works fine, it just becomes less of a robot battle and more of a back-and-forth card-drawing race to see who can draw the first nuclear bomb.

Initial Impressions

6/10

I had never heard of this game, but I was willing to give it a spin. The rules were simple, albeit a tiny bit unclear at times, and it was super easy to set up. We had to refer to the rulebook quite a few times to clarify some things that happened, but we still had a good time nuking, smashing, and destroying our friends.

Game Build Quality

8/10

The components for Robot Rise are minimal: There’s a deck of play cards, some lair cards, and some secret identity cards. It’s all cards. The cards aren’t super fancy, but they look nice and shuffle well. The box is thick and sturdy enough to withstand a crushing robot stomp. From a small robot of course, don’t get crazy.  

Artistic Direction

10/10

Robot Rise is choc full of bright colors, witty text, and creative robotic styles. Each card has a unique ability with a name and picture to match. What if it’s difficult for players to know what each card does, you ask? No worries, the abilities of each card are explained on the card in an easy to read, simple to understand text.

But what if some robot body parts look similar, and it’s hard to figure out which ones “match”? I see your point. Many of the robot body parts do look like they could go with multiple robots. Luckily the artist thought of this too. Each robot body part is marked with a number and all the body parts with that same number go together to form a “matching” robot. 

Another great touch is that all the cards are color-coded by ability: orange for attack cards, green for special cards, and blue for defense. This makes it really easy for players to know at a glance what kind of cards they have in their hand.

Fun Factor

7/10

We had a fun time playing Robot Rise. Gameplay moves quickly as players attack, defend, and return fire. I love that players can form temporary alliances. It’s so fun to watch all your opponents throw their spare robot parts into the ring, begging to form an alliance because they don’t want to be sonic-punched by your diabolical metal man. 

Players laugh and joke as they freeze, bomb, and laser-beam the life out of their opponents.The game is less fun once you’ve been eliminated, because then you just have to watch and wait for everyone else to finish, but the game is usually short enough that it doesn’t cause much boredom or frustration.

Age Range & Weight

10/10

Robot Rise is a really light game. Either play a special action card, perform an attack, or request a temporary alliance. There’s not much room for over-analyzing since the choices are so straightforward. The manufacturer recommended age is 8+ which I think is perfect. As long as someone is at a basic reading level, they can play this game. The card abilities are written on each card, which makes this game accessible for people of all ages.

Conclusions

7.7/10

Robot Rise has some flaws, but overall it’s a fun little game with a fiendish robot theme. It plays quickly and is generally easy to understand. Those who dislike player elimination and/or take-that style games probably wouldn’t care for this one, but people looking for a short, player-elimination robot rampage will enjoy this game. For 30 minutes of Robot-building, friend crushing fun, check out Robot Rise!