A couple months ago David and I decided to buy the game Goblins Inc because it sounded like fun. The first time we played it it was a blast. I don’t know if I can fully describe what it is because there are so many elements to it. The basic idea is that you are building a robot and then fighting said robot against another player. Now in the following discussion I am going to look at the 2-player rules because that is all we have played so far and understanding the 2-player rules seems like a good step in being able to upgrade to 4-player.
There are 2-3 turns in the game, depending on time and number of players you might consider 2 or 3 turns. Now during the turns there are 2 phases, a build phase, and a combat phase. During each of these phases all players are playing simultaneously. You are both building your robots at the same rate, and fighting each other at the same time. During each of these phases there can be 4 rounds in each phase (which I will explain in more detail for each phase).
So during setup you each get a grid to build your robot on and you choose your color. Each player gets 3 Goblins and a deck of Hidden Agendas. One of those Goblins is used to keep track of your points and the other two sit in the cockpit of the Robot. Then before you get to the build phase you draw 7 Hidden Agenda cards, which you will want to think about during the build phase because the Hidden Agenda cards are how you score points. Finally, to finish the setup we have to have a blueprint, this tells us which four squares we are not going to build on when putting together our robots. Each player uses the same blueprint so it is even, but your strategy for how you want to build will be different depending on the blueprint. Now it is time to build!
During the Build Phase we are building our robots, which sounds simple enough, but of course it is not that simple. There are more tiles than spots that you build on the robots, so you will actually randomly pick the tiles. Not only that, but you are selecting about half of your opponent’s tiles at the same time, just to create another level of randomness. So how it works is that you do four rounds and in each round you first plan your tiles and then build your tiles. So you grab five random tiles and from those tile you pick three to keep and two to give to your opponent. Some of this decision comes from the Hidden Agenda cards you have to think about what do you want to have left on your robot, and what do you want to destroy from your opponent’s. Once you give your two tiles and get your two tiles then you place the five tiles.
The big thing to remember during the build phase is that you can put tiles anywhere, but you want to try and make sure that you can trace a path from each tile to the cockpit, which is in the center. This can be more difficult than expected because the tiles you get are random and sometimes they just do not line up. Now once everyone has finished building their robot, then it is time to FIGHT!
The combat phase is really where things get interesting because you get to fight with your robot. Now at the beginning of this phase there is some more set up that needs to be done for combat. First, each player removes any tiles that are not connected to the cockpit and puts those tiles in their scrap pile. Then they choose the four Hidden Agendas that they will count at the end of this phase. Depending on the cards and the robots you will want to choose some over others to try and maximize your points. Now before we begin combat we need to get the pilot’s controller and the tactician’s controller. The pilot’s controller lets you say how you are going to turn your robot and what side of your opponent you are going to attack. The tactician’s controller is used to say which tactic card you are going to use. The tactic cards add extra abilities for players to use each round and each round there are three cards to choose from. So once all this is setup it is time to fight.
So to start out each player uses the pilot’s controller to decide how they are going to turn their robot (because you always fire from the front of your robot) and choose which side of the opponent’s robot you are attacking. This information is kept hidden from their opponent and then they use the tactician’s control to decide which of the three tactic cards that they want to use, also hidden. The important thing about both of these decisions is you are trying to guess what your opponent is going to do. You might want to be attacking one side, but it depends on how the opponent moves. The tactic cards are limited and if both players choose the same tactic card then it is very likely that only one player will get to use it. A lot of decisions that you need to make and predict based on other people.
As mentioned before each player plays at the same time. So after you have made all your decisions each player reveals the pilot’s and tactician’s controls. When you reveal the pilot’s control you move your robot as you decided and then you figure out if you are competing for the same tactic card or not. Once all of these decisions are figured out it is now time to attack and resolve the tactic cards. So depending on how many weapons you have facing forward (to a maximum of 5) you roll that many dice. You then line up the dice in the order that you want to attack the opponent’s robot. Then you each attack at the same time, so you resolve the dice at the same time until all dice have been resolved.
The dice have 1-5 and blank on them, blank signifying a miss. The robots are built on a 5×5 grid so the number on the dice indicates what row on the side you aimed at you hit. When a tile gets hit it gets knocked off. If the cockpit gets hit then you actually knock your opponent’s Goblins out of the robot. Once you have finished resolving the dice then you repeat the process starting with using the pilot’s controller and tactician’s controller.
Now there are three ways that the combat phases ends. One way is if at the end of the round all Goblins have been knocked off the robot, then that robot is disabled and the other player wins the combat. The other way is if at the end of the round a robot has no more weapons. Again, that robot is considered disabled and the other player wins. Finally, the combat phase ends if both robots are still standing after four rounds. Now it is time to count points.
Points and Hidden Agendas
All points that are gained in the game are from the Hidden Agenda cards you end up with. Basically at this point you are just counting the tiles that you have left on your robot and the tiles that got destroyed from your opponent’s robot. All of this is based on the cards you have. Based on points that you gain you use the third Goblin to keep track of your score on the points board. Once the scores have been calculated then you start the next turn. If you have already played through the 2 or 3 turns that you wanted to play through then it just shows who has won the game.
This is an amazing and crazy random game, but it is so much fun to play and it is not just playing your own tactics, but playing against your opponent as well. Now this has been the 2-player version, but there is a 4-player version that follows these basic steps, but with some added differences.
David and I really want to play the 4-player variant because it just adds another level of chaos to the game. So even in the 4-player version there are only two robots and you each choose your color and there are cards to say who is working together. Each player has their own hidden agendas, but the two players are working together to build one robot. During the build phase with the two players “working together” one of them is the planner and the other is the builder. So one player is choosing the tiles to keep and give away and then the other player is deciding how to build the robot. The important thing to note is that the rules specify that the players are not supposed to strategize with each other, there is no talking. So they have to pick and build based on what they want personally.
This tactic stays in the combat phase where one player is the pilot and the other is the tactician. The pilot chooses how to turn the robot and which side to fire upon, then the tactician chooses the tactic card then actually rolls the dice. Then at the end each player counts their own hidden agendas separately and you are all competing against each other even though two people are “working together.” In a 4-player variant you might want to do the full three turns because then all players will have to “work together” at some point.
Basically, this is a game I would highly recommend. I hope this gives an overview that makes you want to play this game. It is a little complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it the game can move pretty quickly.