Ever walk into Boldo's Armory to see if anyone was playing Magic or hoping (in vain) that some Pokémon packs would be in stock, only to be disappointed? (The redundancy was intentional, for you critics out there).
Chances are there was a group of people huddled around the table in the back staring at a board with obsessive concentration. After a while someone shouts "9!" and flips a small hourglass over. Watch while some people slump over drooling while others hunker down, trying to find a way to shout "5!".
Those people are playing Ricochet Robot.
Ricochet Robot consists of four small boards that fit together in many and aggravating ways into one big board, four robots colored red, blue, green, and yellow with small square bases, an hourglass, and sixteen round tokens colored red, blue, green, and yellow and sporting four different funky shapes.
After you set up the board, randomly place the robots on said board, then
put one of the funky colored pieces in the center. You're off!
Oh yeah, how to play. Well, the robots are rather stupid, see. They only move in one direction, and they move until they run into an obstacle, either a wall or another robot. That little funky token you placed in the middle corresponds with a little funky space on the board. Lets say the piece is a yellow Saturn. The object would be to move the yellow robot to the same space on the board in the fewest moves. Feel free to move as many robots as you need, as many times as you need to, to help the poor yellow robot reach his destination. Don't touch! Do it in your head. When you have it figured out, but before your head explodes, smugly state how many moves you think it will take to get the little yellow robot to Saturn. Don't forget to include the other robots, if you moved them. Turn the hourglass over. The other players now have a minute to find a quicker solution. You can now bask in your intellectual superiority, until some wiseass undercuts you by five moves.
Caution! Your self-esteem can take a serious bruising if you play with young people. Their heads are mostly empty, which allows them to grasp the patterns of play more quickly than adults, who's heads are filled with junk.
Don't be surprised if you experience an adjustment period where, no matter how long you stare at the board, you are still just staring at the board. You will often find yourself daydreaming of simpler things, like superstring theory or the U.S. economy. Don't worry, this period will
eventually go away. We think...
Ricochet Robot can be played by any number of people, limited only by space and your patience. It's good brain food that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Parents, next time you bring your lovely children down to Boldo's to get their Pokémon fix, see if there's a game going. If not, get one going! The folks at the store are genetically programmed to play games. It's a lovely way to pass the time while your child spends his dollar fifty on ten cent Pokémon cards, one card at a time.