Pondering the past and future ...
The finalists have the prize in sight
as the wood awaits the winner.
Casualties of War ...
Every year, I find myself wondering how to start doing the
writeup for the tournament and this year is no exception. In
the past, I have fallen to writing a blow-by-blow account of
the Final, reconstructed from the copious notes I've taken while
watching the game, once again, from the sidelines. Fortunately,
I find RoboRally to be almost as much fun to watch as
it is to play. The careful study of my blow-by-blows would reveal
things like the fact that three of six players managed to stay
virtual for the first three turns, and nine robots were crushed
into widgets in cannery row over the course of ten turns, or
that we had more options taken in this Final than in any previous
year (six), or even that four-time champion Brad Johnson didn't
even make it to the semi-finals this year.
You might also deduce that some of the walls printed on the
board are hard to see, and this occasionally causes some player
to program their robot as if the wall wasn't there. This can
be a particular problem when using the large red flags provided
in the original basic version of the game. The small green flags
provided in the armed and dangerous expansion are much better.
The new flags from the Hasbro version of the game, while better
than the large red, and quite cool in their own right, are not
quite as good for this purpose as their transparent yellow color
sometimes blends with the yellow wall color.
Speaking of the new version of the game brings up some interesting
questions. As most of the people who play the game know, there
were some significant rules changes. The most, we'll say interesting,
is the removal of virtual robots and the addition of a starting
board. I understand the reason for the rules changes. Virtual
robots are one of the hardest things to understand about the
game (although the resulting returning to the board when killed
rules are possibly more difficult) and they tend to limit player
interaction for the first turn or two. The problem is that the
start board is inherently unfair -- since players start in different
positions in relation to the first flag.
Unfortunately, over the course of time, as the older sets
get, well, older, and the newer ones become more common, and
newer rules better known, it seems likely that we will have to
at least think about incorporating some of these changes into
the tournament. I am certainly willing to entertain suggestions,
to that end, as to how to make things like the start board fair.