The Trouble with Robots

Any audience I have by now is aware of how interested I am in games which bridge the gap between traditional paper games, like Scrabble, and traditional computer games, which tend to be more simulations. This interest lead me to work with Alexey Stankevitch on Spectromancer, and to frequently mention Quadradius, one of my favorite games, by Jimmi Heiserman. These days there are more and more examples of this, particularly from the tablet market (Dungeon Raid and Wargames are worth checking out!)

This brings me to The Trouble with Robots by Geoffrey White – which is not on Tablet but certainly should be. It is a customizable card game, you choose 5-10 cards for your deck and can play them to summon fantasy units – or cast spells. The units fight robots in real time. Normally with this description I would be skeptical for a number of reasons. One is that the real time aspect of real time games tend to dominate the ‘customization’. Not here – the creatures all fight for themselves – almost all you do is choose when and which spell to cast and occasionally target that spell Another reason for skepticism is that customizable games are usually super complex and it takes a lot of work to start getting enjoyment out of the customization. Not here – the customization is easy – and fun right from the start. There are plenty of combos that help make deck construction fun and make you excited by every additional spell added to your arsenal.

The free demo is perfectly representative of the play – it begins off super easy, but comes with a challenge mode which should make you work pretty hard to master. If you don’t like it after that point you probably won’t like it, but if you are like me you won’t be able to wait to go further.

More description from people who actually include visuals in their blog posts:

And the  game webpage:

Have fun!



10 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Michael Brough,

    On the topic of digital games colliding with board games, are you aware of Glitch Tank? It’s on iPad,, two players, has Robo Rally in its family tree.

    • Yes – an interesting game. I know it is going for a retro look but the graphics bother me. They obscured what was going on. I enjoyed the game play however, and one notable thing is that I found I vastly prefered the real time mode rather than the turn based mode – which I wouldn’t have predicted.

  2. Okay game for some casual entertainment, but the strategy element is a bit on the shallow side, it’s fairly obvious that certain cards fit together, and the levels don’t differ much strategically, once you have got a working combo it’s tempting to just stick to it.

    The main game is very easy, expect to breeze through it. Limited mode offer some more challenge by only letting you choose from a random 20 of the 40 cards, unfortunately the challenge of this mode vary depending on theses cards, all the way from making victory impossible to giving you all the cards you would have chosen anyway. Since a lot of cards require certain other cards to be worthwhile the actual selection up for consideration is usually significantly fewer than the 20 cards presented, thus the harder challenges doesn’t require as much strategic skill as they require willingness to retry, over and over again.

    In total, the difficulty gradually goes from easy to randomly screwing you without really getting to the hard but fair strategic challenge that most strategy fans would be looking for.

    • Thanks for checking it out and giving feedback Jacob! I actually found the challenge levels and some of the hard levels challenging, and found the combinations fun and occasionally subtle, and they tempted me to try to build useful decks with them. I am sure you will speak for a lot of strategy fans though!

      • Jacob Christian Munch-Andersen,

        Don’t get me wrong, I have had my moneys worth of entertainment. The game has some nice humour, and a good polish. But the flip side of that turn based feel is that gameplay hinge pretty hard on strategy, the game doesn’t last longer than it’s strategic elements do.

  3. jmzero,

    I would probably have passed on this game without this recommendation – thanks! It’s a well made game (art, technicals and general theme are all perfectly pleasant) and it’s paced very well (many authors would have tried to stretch this content out over much more time).

    My only complaint is about a problem that seems inseparable from the genre (tower defense/rush/conquer/etc all seem to share a lot of structure) – the game snowballs pretty hard. It doesn’t have the naked “investment” snowballing mechanisms you see in many of these games, but being ahead early still means you have more units, which means you lose less units, etc.. You can either have easy victories or impossible defeats on the back of “what cards did I get early” Shorter atoms might help, or a different approach to unit elimination.

    Anyways, excellent game.

  4. Jonatan,

    I thought this was a very fun game. Perhaps a little too easy once you get the hang of it, even on limited hard mode. I find there is always a good enough deck. I only lose on the Dragon level or the final level, or if I try to build a weird deck type, like trying to win by using 5 Apprentices and Corrosion.

    I wonder if you (or other people here on the forum) have other recommendations for simple strategy games? In the last couple of years I have only liked Quadradius, Spectromancer, Slay and this one, 3/4 of which are recommendations by you.

  5. Ah yes, digital card games. I should really try some of these one day!

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