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Atlantic Robot League

Robots smashing each other seems to be a popular theme for board games, from RoboRally (Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro) to King of Tokyo (IELLO) to Overdrive (Mantic Games). In WizKids' Atlantic Robot League, designed by Camden Clutter, players don't have their own robots to control but are betting on the outcomes of the 5-team 15-robot brawl, each taking turns to control any robot of their choice as they try to swing results to their advantage.

At the start of each of the three identical rounds, players will guess which team will have the most survivors, which will be knocked out first, and which will have knocked out the most opponents by the time the round ends (when there are five or fewer robots remaining). Players also choose five robots they hope to survive the round. Points are scored at the end of each round for correct guesses, with more points available if correct guesses were unique, encouraging players to try to bring about a result that others weren't expecting.

Once bets are made, players take turns very simply moving a robot and knocking out an adjacent robot if possible: each of the teams' robots are capable of knocking out robots belonging to two of the other teams, in a kind of rock/paper/scissors mechanic. Tho' there are no chance events involved, however, this game is far from predictable as players will nearly always have an abundance of options and their decisions will be guided by their own secret bets.

There's also money involved, which can be confusing at first because the game is won on points not money. The currency is purely used to enable players to change their bets and to activate a special move provided by a small deck of unique cards, but the bribes on robots in the corner do encourage players to go after the least vulnerable robots which might otherwise seem safe bets for surviving the round.

It can be a challenge to not get too attached to any particular robot or team colour, and it can be a bit discouraging to finish a round with zero points when others achieve 20, but at least there's no player elimination and rounds are only quick. The cartoony artwork by Gabo and the slightly crazy theme are a good fit for this game: it is not to be taken too seriously but should provide plenty of entertainment for young and old without being lengthy or overly complicated.

(Review by Matt Young)

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