Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Filip Neduk


No. of Players:
2 - 4



As it seems, Goblins must be quite fond of tinkering, and the strange company of Goblins Inc. has specialized in the production of Giant Robots of Doom. After many successful years the CEO now is going to retire, and his position will be given to the gobbo (player) who is most successful in building Giant Robots and turning them against the machines of his opponent.

The game is played over several rounds in which the players build robots and turn them on in order to fight each other. To build the robots, the players have to draft building tiles which then are placed onto a square construction sheet. Quite similar to Galaxy Trucker, the different tiles may contain weapons, interconnection parts, shields and motors, but instead of crazily drawing and placing tiles each player just draws five tiles, places three and hands the other tiles to his opposing player. Thus, the robots slowly grow until they fill the whole construction sheet, with the exception that some spaces always have to be left free, depending on a design restriction card which is drawn at the beginning of the round.

With the design phase being over, the Robots are turned on and set against each other. The combat once again is fought over several rounds, and at the beginning of each round of combat each player chooses secretly which side of his robot he will turn towards the robot of his opponent, with the number of motors still intact limiting the possible number of rotations. With a second indicator the player also chooses which side of the opponent's robot he will attack, and so the first big element of speculation in the game concerns the question how the opposing player possibly may turn his robot. Usually it may be suspected that a player will turn his robot in a way so that most weapon tiles point towards the opposing robot, but since this behaviour might be expected it may just be wiser to turn a side with less weapons to the front, just to make the other player attack a side which has better armour.

Another element of speculation concerns three combat cards which are revealed each round. Each player secretly chooses one of the three cards, and during the upcoming combat round he may use the special abilities of this card to enhance his attack. However, if both players should have chosen the same card, the card will go to the player who has added most tiles with motors in his robot.

When the players have received their cards, each player rolls a number of dice corresponding to the number of weapon tiles on the side of their robot which is facing the other player and pointing towards his robot. One side of each dice is a miss, but the other five numbers indicate columns in which a hit is scored. Just like meteors or laser beams in Galaxy Trucker, a tile will be removed in this column, possibly resulting in the loss of several adjacent tiles if they loose their connection with the command room in the middle of the board. Here now the combat cards also may be used, and their special abilities may range from emergency re-rolls to homing devices which allow the changing of the result of one dice.

The combat continues for a fixed number of rounds, unless the command room is taken out by several hits which have killed all goblins in there. This actually will result in an earlier end, and if this should happen the winner of the combat will be assigned some bonus points for an early victory. The wrecks of both robots now will be evaluated, and this will be done by each player revealing a hand of Goal cards which I have not mentioned yet. At the beginning of a round of play each player is given seven Goal cards from which he may keep found and discard three. These cards list various conditions under which victory points can be scored, for example the destruction of certain tiles in the opposing robot. The Goal cards either may be defensive or offensive, with the offensive cards listing goals of destruction and the defensive cards listing tiles of construction which a player must try to keep intact within his own robot. As indicated, all Goal cards are revealed by the end of a combat, and each player scores victory points according to the accomplishment of his goals. With this evaluation the combat is over, and the game continues with the players building yet another robot.

As indicated above, the playtesting session for this game came to me out of nowhere. However, I must confess that I would have missed a really entertaining gem, because both the theme and its implementation where done in a quite charming way. While the game certainly contains a certain factor of luck which comes to bear when the combat dice are rolled, the players retain a good degree of control over the implementation of the goals listed on their Goals cards. Thus, during the building phase a player knows which goals he will follow during this round, and so - if he has certain offensive goals - he may hand specific tiles to the other player which he must then include in his robot. Thus, good targets for reaching the goals are guaranteed! In addition, some possibilities to improve the result of a round of combat also are given by the combat cards, and here it may be wise to add some additional motor power to a robot, since a high number of motors may give access to a combat card even if both players have chosen the same card.

However, a good part of the fun which can be found in Goblins Inc. also comes from the high degree of speculation which comes to bear when the players try to predict the actions of each other, both concerning the robot's rotation and the choice of the weapon card. Here cries of joy regularly will be accompanied by some moaning, and so the game contains a certain degree of chaos which fittingly can be attributed to the Goblin builders!

Talking about chaos, the game can be played with four players as well, but even in this constellation only two robots are used!. Now two players must build and operate a robot together as a team, with one player operating the facing of the robot and its weapons, whereas the other determines the choice of the combat card and is responsible for the combat. However, both players in a team actually possess their own Goal cards which remain hidden from the other team member, and this actually may result in quite opposing views how to best attack the opposing machine. What a crazy constellation, and what a great game!!! Author Filip Neduk really can be proud of it!

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Copyright © 2012 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany