SNAP Review – ROVE
The Results Oriented Versatile Explorer (ROVE) has crash-landed on an alien planet. It must reconfigure its modules to navigate the planet and report back!
ROVE is a game for one player, age 8+. It was designed (and illustrated!) by Dustin Dobson & Milan Zivkovic and it’s published by Button Shy.
The art uses some familiar sci-fi and robot tropes. Our little buddy ROVE is only shown in outline, but he’s cute nonetheless, with wide, expressive eyes and all kinds of appendages.
The iconography is clever and fairly clear, and the six modules are all obviously different from each other.
The missions stack together lengthwise to offer a triptych of all that has happened to ROVE over the course of a game.
Lay out your six module cards randomly, in a grid two rows high and three columns wide. The other twelve cards are used for both missions and movement.
Randomly choose a starting mission card and lay it in front of you. Then draw a hand of five cards to use for movement points.
Play a card for its movement point value to try to arrange the modules to match the current mission. Each module moves in a slightly different way!
You can gain extra movement points for matching the arrangement shown on a movement card before playing it. Each module also has a special ability that can be used once per game.
When you finish a mission, add a new mission to your triptych log and draw one more movement card. Complete seven missions to win the game.
I love the idea of Button Shy games in general. They’re compact, portable, and inexpensive. But their solo games have been very uneven for me: Sprawlopolis is great, the solo mode for Tussie Mussie is fine, but others like Twin Stars have been way too much for me to wrap my head around.
My contact at Button Shy promised that this was a family-weight game. So, I took a chance on it. I was hoping it would be compact and fast-moving, the type of solo game I prefer.
ROVE is certainly a more complex puzzle than something like Sprawlopolis, but definitely approachable. I have played a bunch of times, but I have not managed to beat seven missions yet and “win” the game. It’s usually on that seventh mission that I run out of options.
But I feel a sense of accomplishment every time I complete a mission, more so if I can do it efficiently and use only one movement card. So even though I haven’t won yet, these little micro-victories in ROVE keep me coming back and trying again and again.
It’s a little less compact on the table than I was expecting, but it’s worth it to physically move the cards around to solve the puzzle. It’s also really cute to see my progress with the mission log, with the little ROVE-guy moving around, doing all kinds of things: making a bridge, planting a garden, learning to speak an alien language, or boosting away from a monster.
There are plants in the Fantastic Flora expansion. This is an additional six cards, which didn’t seem to make the game either easier or harder. It does add more variety (cute pictures of ROVE meeting plants!) and a way to “recharge” various module abilities to use them more than once in a game.
It’s really easy to learn, and incredibly hard to win.Asher
I recommend ROVE as a good choice for any solo gamer in your life, whether that person is an adult or a child. This is definitely approachable for an 8- or 9-year old.
The twelve mission/movement cards are enough to keep things fresh, but there’s few enough there that you can begin to see how various cards work together and find patterns for more efficient puzzle-solving.
Buy ROVE on the Button Shy website, starting November 26, 2021.
The Family Gamers received a copy of ROVE from Button Shy for this review.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
ROVE: Results Oriented Versatile Explorer
Number of Players: 1
Age Range: 8+
Playtime: 15-20 minutes