RobotLab: S.T.E.A.M. That Won’t Short-Circuit
“In RobotLab, you’re a scientist racing to build your robot and win the coveted Devol Prize in Robotics! Along the way you’ll need to do some research, dig through the trash, deal with some faulty parts, and do your best to avoid the other scientists trying to stop you. Will you become the first to successfully complete your robot?”
RobotLab is a STEM-inspired game for two to five players, designed by Adam McCrimmon and published by XYZ Labs. The goal of the game is to construct a robot of a single color, complete with head, arms, and legs.
Setup is faster than soldering a resistor to your robot’s circuit board. Place the parts deck within reach of all players to form the Lab. After all players select a robot torso, deal each a hand of cards, with card count based on player order. A player’s turn consists of three phases: Build, Discard, and Draw.
In the Build phase you may either Attach Parts or Play an Action.
Attach a part card (arm, leg or head) to the correct area of any Robot’s torso. Parts may be attached to any player’s robot as long as that Robot doesn’t already have a part in that spot. Always hold onto rainbow colored parts as these are treated as wild parts (count as any color).
Function: Action Card
When an Action card is played, perform the action instantly. For example, Reboot allows you to scrap all cards in your hand and draw five new cards. You may Attach a part this turn, but if you do, skip your Discard and Draw phases.
Bonus Action cards (as indicated with an orange exclamation point) can be played during anyone’s turn.
One of the most helpful Actions is Robot Research, which reveals the top seven cards of deck and attach a part that was revealed.
Functions: Discard and Draw
After building, players may discard any number of parts cards from their hand, as long as they’re all the same color (rainbow parts count towards any color). Any number of Action Cards may be tossed in the trash as well.
The maximum hand size is five. You end your turn by drawing up to five cards, bringing your hand back up to the maximum. If the Lab deck runs out, shuffle the trash pile; it becomes the new Lab.
You win when your Robot is complete with color matched parts.
RobotLab will get your neurons firing as you race to build a single colored Robot faster than your fellow scientists. It plays quickly and your kids will want to play game after game. The game’s artwork is cute and is very inclusive.
Simpler Than Turning Off Your Computer
At face value, the gameplay may seem too simple. However that all changes as soon a wrong colored part is added to your Robot by an opponent. The only way to mitigate this is by playing an Action card like Dissemble or Malfunction. Moreover, these two actions have a hitch; they only activate on players with the most parts on a Robot. It might take a turn or two in order to have effect benefit you, so don’t waiver.
Card draw is critical to building your way to victory. Use Action cards like Robot Research and Reboot to draw additional cards from the deck to find the parts you need. Don’t be afraid of discarding to gain new cards.
Learning All the Time
RobotLab will teach kids the importance of hand management and knowing when to play the right card at the right time. Holding onto a rainbow-colored part until it’s absolutely necessary to attach often leads to a surprise victory. Hold onto error cards to thwart your opponents from victory or blocking your progress.
When playing with younger children, we simplify the gameplay with two small rule modifications: remove action cards (reducing the reading barrier) and allow players to attach or detach a card on their turn. You can even remove the take-that element by not allowing players to attach parts to other robots.
RobotLab will foster your child’s imagination through creative play. After playing a few games, my daughter took it upon herself to bend the rules and attach limbs to different parts of the robot. She didn’t see any reason why her robot couldn’t use its hands to walk. It also fostered conversation about technology and robotics.
Do Robots Have Families?
All in all, RobotLab is a fantastic family game that oozes with theme. The STEM influence is showcased throughout the art, card names and even in the flavor text.
Kids will enjoy competing to build their colorful Robots just as much as parents will appreciate how quickly they can learn to play the game. It’s the type of game kids can play with friends and not require an adult to help guide them along. Player count isn’t an issue, either; we’ve tried with all counts and the game plays just as well.
RobotLab delivers exactly on what it claims to be – a card game that focuses on drawing and playing cards. With playtime under fifteen minutes, you’ll end up playing game after game. Pick up a copy of RobotLab and start building today!
- Quick gameplay with simple rules
- Optional rule-set for younger players to reduce effects of take-that.
- Charming science driven STEM theme that can lead to educational discussions and exploration.
- Great for families with low barrier to entry
The Family Gamers received a review copy of RobotLab from XYZ Game Labs.
Age Range: 8+
Number of Players: 2-5
Playtime: 20 minutes