Before I begin I was provided a review copy of the game in exchange for an honest review. This is not a paid review. If you would rather watch a video review, check it out below, and you can learn more about the coming campaign here.
I think my favorite thing about doing reviews is that fairly regularly I get sent games to review, or preview, that I probably would never have sought out on my own. ROBA is one of these games. You see, I am REALLY bad at real time video games, if I have to do anything more than control a single character, and do not have the ability to pause and issue orders.
Radiant, is a card game that seeks to capture the feel of MOBA games. Since I am so bad at that type of game, I have never even tried to play it before. So, clearly a game based on that kind of video game is not something I would seek out…even though clearly, by my own explanation that does not necessarily make sense. After all, it is clearly not real time.
In any case, when I was contacted about it, I thought, “why not?”, this might be an opportunity to play something that I never would otherwise, and perhaps I would be pleasantly surprised like I was for so many other games.
In ROBA, each player selects , via draft or not, three heroes. These three heroes come with their own decks of 10 cards. Additionally, they select a god to champion, as well as three items. The game is played by attempting to destroy your opponents three divine conduits, thus forcing their God to manifest. Take out their god and you win.
Each round you receive three actions which allow you to swap lanes, level up, attack, or recover (untap for those of you familiar with magic). When attacking each player gets to play a single “clash” card which upgrades their hero’s stats. Beat down your opponents hero to clear a path to their conduit so that you can destroy it. That is it. I mean not really, clearly there are plenty of details, but honestly picking your heroes is almost the most complicated part of the game. (There will also be a video review which will show some more details of how play works)
So what do I think?
Let’s start with the artwork. It is FANTASTIC. It’s thematic, exciting, and gives you a vibe for what the character is actually like. On the same note, the characters are all distinct, and require different play styles, this forces you to play differently each time based on your team.
Now, let’s talk about the mechanics. They are clean, and once you get them fast. They have done a very good job of creating limits on the number of cards that you can play, this makes EVERY play important, and filled with thought. It also keeps the game moving as there is never THAT much math to do. Along with that, they have masterfully limited the amount of power that you can earn, this means you can never “have it all.” You have to choose, do I level up my characters? Buy items for them? Save it to resurrect my heroes when they get beat down? All of those choices are good, but you gotta choose.
Finally, I will say right out, that the speed of the game is perfect. It is fast, and does not take up much space. You can pretty easily play on a coffee table, and MAYBE, just maybe, you could play on adjacent airplane tray tables.
The rulebook is pretty clear, though the way it is laid out is not particularly user friendly, to me. I will also note that there is a quite good link on BGG which does a wonderful job of explaining the rules of the game. However, as it stands it can be a little challenging to find specific details when you are looking for them, as always I am a proponent of a good index, or at least table of contents.
I will also just add, that I already want more characters. I would have thought that there were plenty in the core box, and single expansion I have, but I am already wishing I had more. That is a tasty, but potentially expensive proposition!
This is a mastery type game I think. If you have played a fair amount I do not think that there is much of a chance that a new player will be able to defeat you, barring some crazy luck on hand draws. I wouldn’t say it is bad, per se, but something to be aware of. There is a joy to learning the characters, and becoming proficient with all of them, but if that is not something you are interested in, and you are playing someone who is…well you will probably get a good old fashioned beat down more often than not.
Bringing it all together
ROBA is a delightful game. It is fast, simple, and has beautiful art. While it is easy to play, it is certainly not easy to master, and you will certainly be at a significant disadvantage against players who have played before. The rulebook clearly explains how to play, though can be a little tricky to go back and find specifics. This is a game that actually made me consider trying out an online MOBA. That is saying something!
If I knew MOBA’s I would insert some punny comment about doing things fast that somehow related…but I don’t so use your imagination!
* Excellent art, tight mechanics
* Fast to play with a small table presence
* Easy to play, but hard to master
* You will definitely be at a significant disadvantage against someone who has played before
* Rules are clear, but could be organized a little better
* Has sparked my interest in actual MOBA’s