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RPS3 Review

Quick Look:

Designer: John Chiarolanzio
Publisher: UpDuc Games, Inc.
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 2
Ages: Approx. 10+
Playing Time: 15-30 min

Find more info on The Game Crafter.

Let me be honest about RPS3.

Does RPS3 bring anything new in terms of mechanisms? No, it’s a simple grid movement/deduction/combat/abstract strategy game.

Does RPS3 introduce something new thematically? No, it’s ultimately Rock/Paper/Scissors the board game.

Would I recommend it as an abstract strategy game? Yeah, I would and I do so because of the items listed above, not in spite of them.

It is no secret from my past reviews that I have a soft spot for abstract strategy games, nor is it a secret that any abstract strategy game that I can play with my kiddos is going to get bonus points from me. But RPS3 is more than just another lightly-themed, kid-friendly abstract game. I couldn’t pay my child to play Stratego with me, but re-theme it based on Rock/Paper/Scissors and decrease the play time, and it’s a game that they want to play every day. RPS3 took a ubiquitous thematic element and created an experience that meets my kids (and really anyone who is even somewhat familiar with Rock/Paper/Scissors) where they are–no board game experience needed, no unnecessary jargon, no unintentional gate keeping towards new gamers, no superfluous frills–and that is why I would endorse RPS3 as a family-friendly and/or gateway game without reservation.

Will RPS3 appeal to every gamer? No, it’s very basic in terms of gameplay and design, but not all games need to carry the complexity of a heavy Euro or the components and production of Scythe. Fans of abstract games may enjoy the familiar gameplay, the inclusion of a circular board, and quick playtime, but for me, the appeal of RPS3 comes from its simplicity and its inviting nature to those new to the hobby and, more importantly, my kids.

But all that being said, as much as I like RPS3 for the simplicity and familiarity, it is more than just Rock/Paper/Scissors. At its core, RPS3 is a conflict-based game. It requires that players remember the locations of several of their opponent’s pieces. It forces deduction as players attempt to control the center ring of the circular board. It coerces players to balance, sacrificing their pieces to see where their opponents’ pieces are on the board, while positioning themselves to eliminate their opponents. RPS3 is kid-friendly, but in no way is it exclusively a “kid’s game.”

Overall, I enjoyed the simplicity and accessibility of RPS3. It took a common theme, made it into board game form, and created something that I have enjoyed playing with my kids. If you are looking for a grid movement abstract game that is a step up from say, Checkers, but maybe more thematically desirable for kids (or those new to the hobby), give RPS3 a look.

Now let's look closer at set-up and rules.


Players are assigned either black of gray and then take the nine corresponding pieces (three rock, three paper, and three scissors). Players place their nine pieces around the outer ring of the circular board so that they control one half of the board with the Rock/Paper/Scissor icons facing away from their opponent. Players can place their pieces in any order on the board.

On a player’s turn, they may move one of their pieces on the board to an adjacent space. Players can move their pieces around the ring they are currently in on the circular board, or advance closer to the center of the board, but they cannot move to a diagonal space, and only one piece can be moved per turn.

The active player can challenge their opponent by advancing one of their pieces to a space occupied by their opponent. When this happens, the players reveal their pieces and the space goes to the victor following traditional Rock/Paper/Scissors rules–rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper, paper beats rock. If the active player wins the challenge, the defensive player must remove their piece from play and the active player may advance to the previously occupied space. If the active player loses the challenge, their piece is removed from play, and the defensive players piece remains at that space. If the players’ pieces are the same, no movement occurs and the turn advances to the next player.

The game ends when one player occupies the center space and cannot be overtaken by their opponent (e.g. a player’s rock piece occupies the center space, and all of their opponent’s paper pieces have been eliminated from play), or if a player eliminates all of their opponent’s pieces.

RPS3 is a bluffing and deduction conflict-based game dressed as Rock/Paper/Scissors.

Grid movement, memory, secret unit deployment

Artwork and Components: 
One circular grid board, and 18 domino-sized pieces on stands (3 gray and 3 black of each rock, paper, and scissors).

The Good:
As stated above, the ubiquity of the theme makes RPS3 accessible to almost everyone, whether they have previous board game experience or not. And while it is kid-friendly, I wouldn’t consider this a “kid’s game,” as it requires deduction, memory, and balancing, sacrificing your pieces to gain knowledge of your opponent’s pieces.
The Bad:
Bad is probably too strong a descriptor, but the simplicity of game play and components will likely deter some gamers from giving it shot.

Final Thoughts:
RPS3 is an example of what happens when you take solid, yet simple mechanisms and marry them with a theme that is familiar to almost everyone. This game isn’t perfect, but it may be perfect for introducing someone to the hobby, or getting your kids interested in gaming.

Players Who Like: Stratego and similar abstract games.

Check out RPS3 on:
   https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/rps3   https://www.facebook.com/UpDuc-Games-Inc-750145228416913/   https://twitter.com/UpducI   

Nick Shipley - Reviewer

Nick is a compliance consultant by day, a board gamer at night, and a husband and father always. When he is not bringing a game to the table, he is running (most often to or from his kids) or watching the New York Yankees. Nick lives in Oklahoma.

See Nick's reviews HERE.
RPS3 Review RPS3 Review Reviewed by Nick Shipley on May 09, 2019 Rating: 5

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