Robbing Robins are in a race to pay the king’s ransom in Uwe Rosenberg’s 2 player tile game, Robin of Locksley
Publisher: Wyrmgold, Rio Grande Games
Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Artist: Maren Gutt
Release date: 2019
Favouritefoe score 6.5/10
*Two Player * Strategic * Tile Game * Set Collecting * Race Game * Modular Board * Random Set Up *
When I found out that Uwe Rosenberg had designed another 2 player strategy game, my ears pricked up. Being a Patchwork addict, I almost needed it before I had seen it. I was expecting polyomino play. But, whilst Robin does include tiles, they are actually very uniform in shape. As such, this was not going to be the “Tetris” king’s usual fare!
Nope, this game is a race to the finish line. Twice around the board in fact!
History not repeating itself!
In Robin, as you may have guessed, you are both thieves! Trying to steal loot from the Sherriff of Nottingham in order to pay off the ransom demanded by King Richard’s captors. Peace is promised if Richard the Lionheart can return to England and resume control. Eh? Okay, so not exactly the golden-hearted, arrow wielding champion of the poor that we have come to know, but hey. This is Robin Hood, just not as we know it.
Lots of Lovely Loot!
Setting up the game is easy. You have one stack of 60 Loot tiles (5 colours, each with a treasure on one side and coin on the other). Plus you have a stack of frame tiles. These frame tiles are also double sided – daytime for easier mode, and night-time for a more challenging game.
The frame tiles set the course of the race. Specifically, they detail what you must have (e.g. a type or number of loot tiles or a location you must be in relative to your opponent e.g. striking distance or diagonally adjacent) when you land on them in order to move past them onto the next spot.
Having laid out 5 x 5 square of 25 randomly selected loot tiles (with treasures facing up), you then place a random selection of small and big corner frame track tiles around the outside edges. The starting and finishing tiles never change, but the rest are also randomly selected and placed out with each player’s bard meeple set at the start. Then each player takes their knight meeple and they each go at opposite ends of the board. Take the tile you have placed your knight on and flip it over so that you start the game with a coin.
And We’re Off!
On your turn you move your knight in a Chess-esque “L” formation and take the tile you land on. You replace the space you vacated with a new loot tile from the top of the draw stack.
Your bard can also move along the outer track if you satisfy the criteria on the next frame tile. Alternatively, you can spend a coin to skip that tile and keep going to the next one. You aren’t restricted to moving just one space either; you can go past as many tiles as you satisfy or can afford. And you can make your moves in any order; move the bard along the track, then move your knight, collect a tile, then sell a collection (or satisfy the next track tile) and move along the track again if you want.
As you amass loot tiles of the same colour, you are effectively building valuable collections for use during the game. They are your racing currency. And on your turn, if you have at least 3 loot tiles of the same colour, you can sell them for coins (3 tiles for 1 coin and then an additional coin for every tile over 3) which, as mentioned above, can be used to spend your way around the track.
When you are done, it is the other player’s turn. Whoever gets twice around the board first (or laps the other player) is the winner of Robin of Locksley.
Robin feels like quite a light game to us. Knowing what each edge tiles requires in order means that you can see what you will need to do to keep apace from the get-go. That means you can plan your moves accordingly. Or, if the track requirements look tricky, you can plan to cash out. Focus on collecting colours, building sets, and paying your way around the board. You could ignore what the track demands entirely if you are willing to pay your way to victory.
Having said that, you have to be in the right place at the right time. You need to land on the right coloured or positioned tiles to collect the loot you need to either hit the track requirement or buy out. And your opponent will be doing the same thing. On that basis, the game space is quite dynamic – the tile landscape changes each turn. Which can mean the move you were planning might not now be as useful, or even possible once the other knight has galloped along his desired L shape path.
That luck element helps to keep games interesting, but it may not suit players who do not like the unpredictability of random draws. It might also mean that you choose instead to sacrifice nabbing a juicy loot simply to block the other player from collecting something else just revealed.
There is, therefore, definitely some strategic play inside the box. And I should mention the box. For the volume of contents inside, it’s huge. And I mean way too big. Heavyweight game box territory. They could have easily stacked the tiles into something 1/3 of the space. The loot tiles are lovely though – really bright, colourful, and nice in your hand. They are also made from thick quality cardboard so should fare well over repeated plays.
For all the colour and promises of riches, however, I wouldn’t say the theme is particularly strong. Yes there is the well-known tale of Robin Hood in the background (albeit one version with which I am less familiar, but this is an abstract strategy game that could have borrowed any number of settings and still played the same.
Robin is quite a quick game. Probably unsurprising for a race! But no game has lasted longer than around 20 minutes for us. That’s not a bad thing, mind you – we like shorter games. However, over repeated plays, we have found that first player has a big advantage as they always have an extra turn without the other receiving anything in compensation. And in a race, another move can be (and evidently is) a big deal.
Being able to mix and match the frame tiles (even combining day and night tiles and reducing or expanding the size of the grid), and the ever changing tile landscape does keep the game feeling fresh, however.
Overall, I would say this is a good gateway level strategy game with a simplified Chess type vibe. The colours are pretty, the game play is speedy, and, if you like a sprinkling of luck added to your abstract, then this could be a good one for your collection!