Calvin’s Commentaries: Roo

Ever sit down with a new game knowing that one player at the table was going to dislike the game almost immediately?

It happens!

That isn’t so surprising in the sense there are game elements particular players do not enjoy.

One in our group is not a fan of a game with the table covered in moving bits and chits. (I like simpler which likely goes back to my deep affection for two-player abstract strategy games).

In the case of the game that this review is about; Roo, the mechanic used is simple piece jumping – chaining together long, multi-directional jumps over your own, your opponent’s, and neutral pieces – to reach a particular location on the board.

It’s fascinating in the sense of the wild jump patterns you can achieve – if you see them.

If you are not into jumping games a game like Roo can be painful.

I grew up with my grandfather regularly beating me at checkers, and Chinese checkers being a family gathering staple so I tend to like jumpers – the 1930s-released Camelot or ’70s-released Lancer being examples.

So Roo is a game I welcomed.

That said it wasn’t a popular game at our table.

Even as much as I liked it, I could see what others saw as flaws.

The first is players are eliminated in the game so if you are first out you need to watch as the rest play it out. That is typically a huge flaw – a major reason I so dislike Monopoly. But, here games are generally very quick so the wait time is quite limited.

When I say Roo can be quick, you might lose after only a couple of turns, and on a truly stunning jump sequence, a player might score the trifecta and eliminate all three opponents on a single turn.

A winning move can emerge out of almost nowhere, and while that is a great feeling for the player making it, it can be deflating in the extreme for the player eliminated.

You need to go into a game of Roo with the mindset that one even half-bad decision will be your quick demise – it’s about as cutthroat as a game can be in that regard. The end comes brutally quick at times.

The good news is a game is under 30 minutes so you have a chance at revenge rather quickly.

The pieces here are just glass beads, but on a ‘mousepad’ board that looks great, they work fine – although two bead colors are quite close together so in some light that might be an issue.

Overall Roo is a game that some will like and others despise, with probably few being in the middle, so getting it to the table for four might be a trial – but it plays two-player as well.

This writer recommends it – but be warned it is not one all will appreciate.

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