AUSSER RAND & BAND is another of the ZOCH zum Spielen games that masquerades as a children's and family fun game whilst actually being a very strategic core-gamers strategy game.
Designed by Holger Schmidt with happy computer-part illustrations by Johannes Lott, this is a simple looking game which at first viewing could be mistaken for a remake of several tile or card collecting games. It is far enough away from any other game in this genre, plus the gameplay is tense as well as fun.
Tiles are displayed in front of the players and they - the players - bid, connive and strategise to collect/win the tile best suited for their personal collection. In Ausser Rand & Band the tile delivery method has been especially created as a rolling conveyer belt operated along the lines of the Labyrinth™ game and looking like a Troop Transporter complete with what could easily be taken to be caterpillar tracks.
At the beginning of the first game you must build the conveyor belt, but Zoch have thought this through so that the box is deep enough to contain the completed platform with all the other components stored beneath it.
Photo by PFC BRANDON E. LOVELESS, USMC.
The game is about collecting parts to build Robots. There are three separate parts; Head, Torso and Legs, and they are designed in three different colours. Some of the pieces are dual coloured.
Players each have a number of dice in their chosen colour. During a player's turn two of these are rolled and placed on the belt on the positions indicated by the dice - there are five positions on the belt but the dice only roll from 1 to 4 - this is part of the clever game mechanism.
Once the player has rolled and placed their two dice they select another die, they do not roll it and the number on top has no bearing. They place this die on one of the effect spaces on the edges of the belt, then they activate that space's effect. Choosing the space can be for fun - to make another player move their dice backwards or forwards or perhaps to make your own dice change direction. But that 'fun' can also be a tactic if you have been observing what the other players have been doing and collecting.
The last action of each player's turn is to take the top tile from the remaining stack, flip it over and push it (Labyrinth™ style) onto the belt, ensuring that the last tile on the belt along with all dice on it slides off onto the sloping front edge.
If no dice are on the tile when it slides off then the tile is put aside but is still in the game. The same happens when a bid for the tile is tied. These discarded tiles can be a great incentive as to how the next player reacts.
When the End of Work tile (the last tile in the stack)is brought into play the game ends. Players then use their collected pieces to create Robots. A three-piece robot with all the correct components in the same colour is worth 7 points. A completed robot using more than one colour gives 5 points and each single piece left is 1pt each. When completing a robot in a single colour using any dual coloured tile/s counts only as the necessary colour so 7pts are still scored.
The name doesn't really matter as long as you remember the game. It is definitely a keeper. It is one for those cold days and nights when adults, children, or adults and children, can sit around a table in a warm room drinking hot chocolate. It is a game to get players away from their iPads, Consoles or HandHelds for at least half-hour; though probably more as our young'uns always want to play it again.