“It’s robot-smashing time! Bring to the arena your best robot creation and defeat other robot wrangling teams and AI bots to be RFL Champion”
Designer: Emerson Matsuuchi
Artist: Annika Brüning
Artist: Marina Fahrenbach
Artist: Steven Hamilton
Game Type: Miniatures Combat
Initial Year of Release: 2018
Age Range: 10+
Expected Playtime: 30-45 min
Number of Players: 2-4
Theme and What is it?
It’s robot-smashing time! Bring to the arena your best robot creation and defeat other robot wrangling teams and AI bots to be RFL Champion! Lasers, pits, energy walls — these are just some of the dangers you’ll meet if you want to become the robot fighting champion!
Collect the most Victory Points (VP) from the arena and damaging/destroying opponents.
Select your robot figure and associated components.
Choose the arena layout board, setup the arena components and place your robots on a starting space on your side of the arena.
Randomly draw VP tokens from their pile and place them on the location in the arena corresponding to the number on the token.
Place the turn order tokens in the stadium.
Gameplay occurs in rounds and phases 0-3.
Phase 0 is the Preparation phase where new Victory Point tokens are placed and cleanup from the previous round occurs.
Phase 1 is the Programming phase where the players place their attack (red) and move (blue) dice on the Control Unit card. You may place only one die on each pad: blue dice on blue controls, red dice on red controls. You do not roll the dice but assign the number which indicate initiative (ties go to player with lowest turn order token) when resolving each control pad as well as number of spaces for a move die.
When one of the players calls out to start placing controls, it becomes a race between them to assign dice and grab turn order tokens.
Phase 2 is the Activation phase where the 3 control pads are resolved based upon type of die and die value: move (blue) die are resolved first (lowest value), then attack (red) die.
Phase 3 is the Resolution phase where the spaces that the robots are located on are activated for collecting VP or hazards.
There are 2 modes in the game: Training and Robot Fighting League (RFL).
Training is very basic, using the rules described and ends with 3 VP.
RFL adds Modules, uses the variety of arena configurations, and the choice of fighting in the RFL Championship. Modules are cards that provide unique enhancements to your robot, coming in 3 different types: Movement (blue), Damage (red), and Yellow (tactic). The goal of the RFL Championship is to decide the greatest of the robot heroes by collecting each robot’s special RFL Module.
At first the game appeared simple, too simple even when doing the Training. But when moving on to using the full rules with RFL, certainly more complexity came into it trying to come up with a strategy, correctly place die, and to grab the lowest turn order token as fast as possible became chaotic and tricky.
Game Build Quality
There are a variety of components: arena cards, arena towers, privacy screens, dice, control pads, tokens, cards, and miniatures. The cardboard components are thick and robust but the cut-outs to form the towers bend and I’m not so sure how they’d hold up over repeated use. The privacy screen and cards are made of similar paper stock; same goes for the privacy screens and bending. The miniatures are small plastic figures, each unique design and unpainted (production grey).
The art and design format harken of the robot combat theme: futuristic and a little dangerous. It is fun and evocative of the setting and their story even hints back to the Battlebots TV show.
Remote control robots dueling to the death in a pit of doom… ooooh ya! Training mode was too simple for even as newcomers to the game but the additional rules and complexities of RFL and the RFL Championship mode really make the game shine.
Age Range & Weight
The weight of the game marries just fine with the age range. Rules are concise, easy to understand. Racing against other players for your Control Pad setup is a fun challenge for them. Older players can find increased difficulty with that dexterity component when trying to come up with and execute a strategy.
This game is an update to Volt: Robot Battle Arena from 2014 from the same designer.
Volt certainly was fun to play, something outside of our usual board games. I have high praises for the art: colorful, thematic, fun. Playing the game was certainly was challenging, especially when bringing the use of the AI bots because we didn’t have 4 players using the RFL rules.
A couple things I had an issue with is the rulebook and the victory conditions. The rulebook for Training was separate from that of RFL — interesting choice, but didn’t help for cohesiveness because we had to refer to both to ensure we understood the complete order of operations for each of the phases. The victory conditions we thought were too easy for Training and RFL (3 and 5 VP, respectively), but this is something you could easily agreeing to other VP totals or collecting a VP of each number, etc.
I found the game something that could be easily expanded by giving each robot unique abilities to start with (not just in the RFL Championship), new robots, more Module cards, more arena boards, and maybe scenarios/missions where robots have to complete certain objectives instead of just beating each other up. I hope to see more come of this game.