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The Robot That Totally Saved Cleveland Review

Quick Look:

Designer: Christopher Severn
Artist: Andy Lenig
Publisher: Pickaxe Group LLC
Year Published: 2016
No. of Players: 2-8
Ages: 9 and up
Playing Time: 30-60 min.

From the publisher:

Attention citizens! The Robot That Totally Saved Cleveland is all about building robots--the kind that are tough enough to defeat the evil Dr. Head Case & his mutant monsters!

Game play is fairly simple. After quickly setting up the table per the instructions, just deal each player 5 cards. Turn over 4 cards from the draw deck to start the discard pile. Turn over the first Mutant Monster, and start taking turns building the best Robot possible to defeat the monster. 

When you think you have the most powerful Robot, pick up the First Entry Card as your turn. Once everyone else has finished their last turn, players take turns showing off their Robot and tallying up the points. 

The player with the highest score wins the round and takes the Monster card. Collect the cards, shuffle and deal again for the next round. 

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com


Overview and Theme:
The evil Dr. Head Case has released his mutant monsters on Cleveland! It's up to YOU to salvage the best possible robot parts to build a tough enough robot to defeat the monsters one by one and eventually--no, TOTALLY--save Cleveland.

The Robot That Totally Saved Cleveland is a light-hearted, sci-fi themed set collection card game for 2-8 players ages nine and up. My family was immediately captivated by the theme of building wacky-yet-courageous robots to defeat the bizarre mutant monsters, and hooked by the cartoony illustrations and the often hysterical flavor text on the robot parts. The set collection mechanic was easy to learn and the humorous storyline kept us playing again and again--sometimes we only had enough time to play one round and defeat one monster, and other times we sat down at the table to TOTALLY save Cleveland once and for all.

Components and Setup:
The Robot That Totally Saved Cleveland is a card game, and so the pocket-sized tuck box contains the petite rulebook, 64 Robot Part Cards, 9 Monster Cards, and 1 First Entry Card. The cards themselves are glossy but durable and illustrated with bold imaginings of Razor Sharp Dentures or the Spatula of Doom. The flavor text on the cards was irresistibly readable and we shared plenty of laughs each time we turned up a new card or announced our final robot entries, like Sheryl the Rodent Powered Cyborg.

Setup is quick: separate the Monster Cards and the First Entry Card--these go to one side of the table--and the six Bargain Center Cards on the other side, with the Robot Parts in the middle. Each player gets a hand of five Robot Parts cards, and four are flipped over to start the discard pile. A quick review of the card types and a read through of the rules, and you'll be ready to play in under five minutes.

Game Play and Mechanics:
The gameplay of The Robot That Totally Saved Cleveland is familiar enough for card-playing families--draw a card and discard a card in the hopes of having the first and/or best hand. This makes it fairly easy to jump into your first game, as you learn about the different card types and powers.

The robots you'll be building are made up of three basic parts: head, body, and feet, with the possibility of having one extra add-on card to give it a little oomph, like the Anti-Gravity Suspenders. Each part has a point value and a color (double-identified with a simple shape, to make the game colorblind friendly) as well as its type icon and a title. Building a robot out of cards of the same color isn't necessary, but it will get you bonus points. That lends itself to a little higher level push-your-luck strategy: My robot may be barely strong enough to take out the monster, but if I wait one more round I might get that orange body I am hoping for...

The first player to think they have a strong enough robot to defeat the current monster will pull the First Entry card on their turn--then everyone else has one more turn to bring their robots up to snuff (and usually snag the colorless but better-than-nothing parts out of the Bargain Center). Final robot points are compared by adding the total points on your head, body, and feet, plus your add-on, and bonus points for having multiple cards of one color), and the most powerful robot defeats the monster.

Continue playing rounds until you have collectively defeated all the monsters, and the player who has defeated the most monsters will win. (We also often just played for as long as we had time--waiting for our food at a restaurant was usually good for just one monster; waiting for a movie to start might be enough time to defeat two or three.)

There's luck here, and a little bit of strategy (when do you buy from the Bargain Center? If you discard this card, will your opponent pick it up to complete their red robot?). There are purple Tool Shed Cards which give you a little bonus action, and Junkyard Cards that let you dig deeper into the discard pile. In general, the game is light and comfortably familiar but with lots of laughs as we read the card names and flavor text aloud or sniped the best parts from each other to try to defeat Johnny Footbones or the Yo-Monster!

The Good:
The Robot That Totally Saved Cleveland is funny--a truly laugh-out-loud game as you flip over silly parts and read amusing flavor text. (A Really Large Button: We aren't totally sure what it does but one thing is for sure... It's Big! Banana for scale.) The sci fi, monsters-and-robots theme is very engaging, especially for geeky families and circles like my own.

The draw-and-discard, set collection mechanics are easily taught with enough differences to keep you from thinking you've played this game before.

The Bad:
As with many games that my family enjoys, this one might not be your cup of tea if you're looking for serious, strategic, or heavy gameplay. It's a card game, light and comical, with luck and a splash of probability-driven strategy. We enjoyed it, but you might not.

Players Who Like:
If your group enjoys goofy card games from Guillotine to Alienation to Fluxx, you may also enjoy The Robot That Totally Saved Cleveland.

Final Thoughts:
The Robot That Totally Saved Cleveland is absolutely a keeper for us. Playable as a full game or just one or two rounds squeezed between other events, comical and futuristic, familiar and new, it fits everything we like in a card game.

Check out The Robot that Totally Saved Cleveland on:


About the Author:

My name is Alexa: I'm a life-long game player and homeschooling mom to two awesome kids. I've loved board games since my early days playing Scrabble and Gin Rummy with my grandmother, and life only got more interesting when I married a Battletech enthusiast and fellow game lover. We've played games with our kids since they were small, and I helped start a thriving homeschool co-op where we have weekly sessions of board games with kids.  In a family with kids raised on Catan and Pandemic, life is sure to be fun! You may run into me on Twitter, BoardGameGeek, and other social media as MamaGames. Be sure to say hi!

The Robot That Totally Saved Cleveland Review The Robot That Totally Saved Cleveland Review Reviewed by MamaGames - Alexa C. on September 18, 2018 Rating: 5

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