ROBOT X from G3 designed by Michel Saudoin illustrated by Sylwia Smerdel
This is a Robot building card game with an auction style mechanism. It is for 2-5 players aged from 8 upwards and takes between 30-60 minutes to complete.
The idea is to build a Robot that will help you with your daily chores and with that in mind it is amusing to see what type of helper you can develop.
There is a folded paper rules sheet with the rules interspersed with illustrations and examples. Although there aren’t many rules it is best to read through them once first before trying to figure out the game-play in your head. This is because the front page shows you the different card types, Robot parts, cards with $dollar values, event cards, extra points for robot parts, extra points for stars and extra points for number of stars.
The backs of the Basic cards; parts, cash and event cards, are the same, the backs of the Bonus cards are different by 3, ie there are 36 cards in 3 sets of 12 cards each. Keep these three sets separate.
Each player begins with a hand of 7 cards dealt from the Basic deck. There is no hand limit. A Turn is simplified into Drawing a card from the Basic deck and then doing one of the options available, one only. You can Bank a card meaning putting it face down to one side where it now counts only as money (you may only have 8 cards maximum in your Bank and each is only valued at $100 whatever is printed on its reverse side); you can put a card up for Auction from your hand of Robot parts (more on that in a moment); you can Buy a bonus card (Bonus cards available are displayed openly for all to see) or you can play an Event card – there are 4 different Event cards, 2 of each type. Their effects are explained halfway down side two of the rules sheet.
Auctions are where you get the parts to build your Robot. You buy the parts from the other players using the cash in your Bank. When you put up a card for auction it starts at $100 and this is what you have bid. Other players have to bid higher if they want the card and must always raise the ante by at least $100 each bid. If the player who put the card up for auction wins the auction they pay $100 less than the sum bid. If another player wins the auction they pay (at least) $200 to the Bank of the owner of the card, any that would take the Bank over 8 cards are discarded.
The winning player, as long as it isn’t the auctioneer, only pays half the amount of the total bid, but as stated not less than $200. Thus bids of $200, $300 or $400 would all be a cost of $200 while a bid of $500 would become $300. When bidding the player must have the amount bid before paying out, so to bid $600 even though the cost is only going to be $300 the bidder must hold at least $600 in their Bank (or be able to top it up using the backs of the cards in their hands for their cash value).
It should also be noted that each $100 bid is equal to one card. So If the auctioneer is to be paid $400 they must be given 4 cards, not one card worth $300 and one of $100. Money can be exchanged with the discard pile if necessary.
Until you get your head around the money system it is a headache. The main thing is remembering that the cards in your Bank count only as $100 even if they have $300 for example, on them. The number of times we erred in this is unforgiveable, but even now after many games we still keep seeing that $300 and thinking $300 instead of $100. If the card comes from your hand it is at face value but becomes just $100 once it is banked. This is confusing and could probably have been handled a bit better or a little differently.
When you win a card at auction you must place it face up in front of you as part of the Robot you are building. If you already have the same part in place then you have to put one of the cards into your Bank. If you cannot work it out for yourself which part of the Robot you hold (and to be honest there is no reason why you cannot because the art makes it very clear) there is a pictogram on each card showing it in position on a Robot. Players only build one Robot per game, but they may exchange parts when they buy better ones until someone builds a complete Robot and then the game ends.. Bonus cards are used to up the value of Robot parts, Number of Stars on your Robot and particular colour stars.
ROBOT X isn’t a brain-teaser or mind-bender but it is a bit of nonchalant fun. As it is in a small card box that is quite sturdy it is a good game to carry with you in a pocket. It needs an average sized dining table to play on.