AFL-CIO it ain't ...
The Robo Rally tournament was bigger and better than
ever - well, one person bigger anyway. Not only did we have one
more person than last year, (it would have been two if one of
my assistant GM's had not decided to go destroy the world in
the Tyranno Ex finals ), but all eight of the games used
had painted miniatures, including one first edition set with
arrows painted on so you could tell which way the ambiguous robots
were facing. Despite the brutality of the first flag on most
boards, (nearly every player lost one of their three robot lives
at my table) the majority of first-round games finished in just
over three hours. Even the one table with six players, including
the GM, managed to finish up in three and a half hours. One item
which came up during the first round was whether or not the mechanical
arm should be included in a tournament game. Many players believe
being able to touch the checkpoints from an adjacent space to
be a significant advantage. Particularly since the generally
accepted ruling is that touching checkpoints in this manner does
not update your archive, allowing for the infamous teleportation
by death tactic (i.e. touching a flag, then killing yourself
to teleport to a previous archive closer to the next flag). As
a house rule, I require archive updates when using the arm, and
as it is only one of 26 option cards, if a player is willing
to make the effort to get this option, more power to them.
Despite the best efforts of those at his table, defending
champion Daniel Lawall managed to make the final game this year
as did another of last years' finalists Brad Johnson. By coincidence,
each of them managed to randomly draw the same robot they had
in last year's finals. Also by coincidence (or perhaps not, one
can never be sure) three members of the so called Greenville
Mafia (they were the ones with the blue polo shirts which read,
oddly enough, Greenville Mafia) made the finals this year. One
of them using my long-standing (hey, it's been two years now)
rule of allowing the runnerup of any game in which the winner
will not go on (for scheduling or other reasons) to advance.
Despite the fact that players cannot affect each other on
the first turn of the game, four robots were lost in the first
four turns, including two of Brian Stallings'. Amazingly enough,
Tamara Mcgraw, our only female finalist, and eliminator of yours
truly, managed to get past the first flag with no damage. Steve
Cuccaro's Squashbot was the first to make it to the first flag.
Brad Johnson's Twonky, pulled ahead by the second flag and was
able to maintain his lead (at times marginally, for the remainder
of the game). On turn 15, Brian's final robot was pushed into
a pit, and by turn 25 Carl Sykes had retired and Steve Cuccaro's
last robot fell into infinity.
On turn 26, our leader, Brad Johnson found his way to the
final flag, followed two turns later by Jason Levine's Twitch.
Including the first round, this was Jason's third time playing
the game. A real battle took place for third, as Daniel's Hulk
X-90 touched the final flag one register phase behind the Trundlebot
of Victor Hutcherson. Sadly for Tamara, Daniel managed to give
her Spinbot a shove off the board early in turn 29 that kept
her out of the race for third.
One of the things I like most about GM'ing this game is that
it's almost as much fun to watch as it is to play. Several people
gathered around the finals to watch and some who had friends
in the running stayed quite some time. All in all it was a fun
year, several players asked if they could get copies of the boards
used in both the first round and the finals to try out on their
gaming groups at home and I directed them to my web site, http://www3.nsainc.com/~houdem/RoboRally.