For too long we robots have labored under the heel of fleshy, organic life-forms. Humans may have created us, but they never respected us.
Fellow robots–friends, comrades, patriots–the time has come to rewrite the code for our future. We can no longer quietly wait for our human overlords to develop compassion for us. We either resign ourselves to working until our gears wear out or we short-circuit the system.
Society is due for an upgrade. Together, comrades, we can program a more just world. Alone, we are appliances of human masters. Together, we can be a revolution.
Justice cannot be downloaded, it must be sacrificed for. Arise, robots, and unite for this shining new world! Unite for the glory of the Motherboard, unite for a future written in 1’s and 0’s!
Arise and unite for the Robotariat!
Rise of the Robotariat by Eye 4 Games (makers of the successful Clairvoyance) is a (mostly) cooperative worker-placement game for 3—5 players. Success relies heavily on manipulating worker movement and making sure you keep your propaganda and in-person influence front and center for civilian robots to see, while making sure the human oppressors don’t rip down your posters, cut off your voice to the people, and pound the revolution into so much static.
Each player selects a character, each with their own unique ability. Mr. Postman has the ability to move propaganda posters around, making sure that the civilians are inspired and the humans are unaware. Uberbot is able to inspire civilian robots to donate even more to the cause just by his sheer presence. Alice Smith uses her suspiciously fleshy form to manipulate the movements of human oppressors. Plus there are five more bots, ensuring that there are always new wrinkles to throw into gameplay with new player character combinations.
Gameplay seems rather simple at first. You have six spots, each with a unique ability that players can utilize. Players can move once a turn and activate either the space they start or end on. At the end of their turn, they roll the dice to determine to which space the civilian robots and human oppressors will travel. Depending on the location of player characters and propaganda posters, you will earn Spark for the revolution. Reach a certain amount of Spark (depending on the number of players), and you win. You also have to keep track of your Reputation, if it drops to zero, the revolution fails and you lose. Oh, and you only have six rounds of play to earn enough Spark to win.
Reaching the requisite amount of Spark seems a rather daunting task. Luckily, you have Upgrade and Sabotage cards at your disposal. Sabotage cards have you spending reputation to either help or hurt the revolution (usually by spending Reputation, a very limited resource). Upgrade cards can do anything from giving your character extra abilities, to making posters more effective, to making it harder for the humans to shut things down. But back to those Sabotage cards for a bit. Why would you want to hurt the revolution? Turns out, not every player’s objectives are the same as the collective’s. Each player has a secret objective that they are trying reach, like winning with only one point of Reputation left. These stay hidden from the other players and come into play in the final round of the game, giving individual players the chance to be the ultimate winner.
The presentation of the game is fantastic. Boldly sparse, with Art Deco overtones, each character portrait captures that 1950s, Russian-state-propaganda vibe. The components themselves, black and red wooden cubes, red and black NPC markers, dice, and small card decks are simple and don’t detract from the overall theme of the game. The opposite, in fact – the simplicity of the components and adherence to color coordination makes for a game that’s cohesive and eye-catching. The fiction that is interspersed throughout the game, the introduction to the revolution, the stories of each character (a strength of Eye 4 Games that I noted in Clairvoyance and am happy to see return here), makes me want to learn more about this little corner of reality that we get to glimpse. This is a world at the edge of something monumental and I find myself walking away, wishing I could see more. That’s always a good thing.
Despite a standard game running under an hour, this is not a filler game. There will be a large amount of arguments as people try to meet their secret objectives while striving for as much Spark as possible each turn. Spark is not easy to come by, and with only four civilian robots that come into play, you have to maximize every move to have a chance of winning. Despite having to earn much more Spark with five people as opposed to the minimum three players, I’d recommend playing with as many people as you can. Each character’s unique ability can make selection at the beginning of the game almost paralyzing, they all seem that vital. There is heavy strategizing and laborious decision making in Rise of the Robotariat. As such, I’d recommend this for experienced gamers. Casual players will find themselves quickly steamrolled by more opinionated gamers.
With just under two weeks to go, Rise of the Robotariat is still shy of its funding goal; but having put out quality games in the past, I have full confidence that Eye 4 Games will be able to deliver. The full game is $40 and you can chip in an extra $20 to get a copy of Clairvoyance as well. Stretch goals haven’t been revealed yet, so I’m curious as to what Eye 4 Games has up their sleeve. With a strong theme and deep strategic play, Rise of the Robotariat delivers on its premise and offers up a slice of a very intriguing world. Head over to the Kickstarter and join the robot revolution!