Rig Game Review

The Basics:

  • For ages 5 and up (publisher suggests 12+)
  • For 2 players
  • Approximately 10 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Pattern/Color Matching
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Hand/Resource Management

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Race to build your rig to escape from a falling city!

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek rejected!
  • Parent Geek rejected!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

The city was a technological marvel and a jewel in the crown of its creators. The city flew above the clouds like a bird thanks to the steam-powered engines that kept it afloat. Many traveled to this miracle city and even more dreamed about living there. Then, one day, the unthinkable happened. Despite countless fail-safes, the engines stopped and the flying city started to fall to the ground. The occupants scrambled to the escape crafts and evacuated before it’s destruction.  All but two individuals. With nothing but a salvage pile of junk and ingenuity, you must quickly build your escape rig before the city crashes!

Rig, by Whirling Derby, is comprised of 8 six-sided dice (4 white and 4 black), 30 tokens(5 in each color of yellow, green, blue, red, black, and purple), and 1 cloth bag for storage. The game does come in a box which makes the cloth storage bag an extra and an optional storage choice.

Game Set Up

Note: prior to playing the game, you will be required to place sticker on the fronts and backs of all 30 tokens and on each of the six-sided dice. While not difficult, the task can be somewhat time-consuming because the order in which the stickers must be placed on the dice is crucial to game play. Expect to spend a good 15 or so minutes to assembly the game before playing it for your first time.

To set up the game, first give each player 4 of the same colored six-sided die (4 white dice to one player and 4 black dice to the other).

Second, place the tokens in the middle of the playing area into stacks of 5, with each stack containing the same color. You will have 6 stacks in the middle of the playing area in a line with no more than 5 tokens each once completed. This area is referred to as the Salvage Pile.

Third, decide which side of the table will represent the players’ queue and which will be the players’ rig stack. Both players should use the same side. In this way, Player 1 will have their queue to their right and Player 2 will have their queue to their left, for example. This is done to make sure that both player’s can easily see which sets of tokens are going to be used and have been used.

You are now ready to play!

An artist’s representation of the playing area

Rig Components

Each token represents 1 of possible 6 different rig components. A player must collect one of each in order to construct their escape rig and survive the crash of the city. However, each rig component can be used to complete an action that is only available to the player if they sacrifice the rig component. The players decide if the token will be used as a rig component part or an action when they place it in their queue. If the token shows a rig component, it will be used to build the rig vessel. If it shows the action, it will be triggered when it is at the top of the player’s queue. Each rig part and its action are summarized here.

Rotor (red)

Action: Sabotage – The player places this token back into the Salvage Pile to force their opponent to automatically place their top 2 tokens in their queue back into the Salvage Pile.

Gear (purple)

Action: Flip – The player places this token back into the Salvage Pile to flip over any 1 token in the queue or 1 dice to its opposite side. The token or dice can belong to the player or to the player’s opponent.

Gyro (black)

Action: Extra – The player places this token back into the Salvage Pile to take one extra token of any color from the Salvage Pile. This token is then placed in the player’s queue.

Pipes (yellow)

Action: Steal – The player places this token back into the Salvage Pile to temporarily remove one die for this round to take any 1 token from the opponent’s rig and placing it in the player’s queue.

Boiler (blue)

Action: Boost – The player places this token in front of them (does not get put  in the Salvage Pile). On their next dice roll, they get a +2 bonus to the results when determining which player goes first. Once used, it is placed in the Salvage Pile.

Frame (green)

Action: Magnet – The player places this token in front of them (does not get put in the Salvage Pile). For the duration of the round, any discarded tokens their opponent puts in the Salvage Pile instead goes the player’s queue. Discard this token to the Salvage Pile once the round ends.

Round Zero

The first round of play is different than all the preceding game rounds. This round establishes the initial number and type of rig parts (tokens) each player has. This round is summarized here.

Step 1: Roll the Dice

Both players roll their dice in front of them and simultaneously. Starting with zero, both players will now add “1” for every “+” rolled on their dice and subtract “1” for every “-” rolled. Any blanks are considered zero. For example, if the player rolled 2 “+”, 1 “-“, and a blank, their roll total would be “1” (1+1-1 = 1). The player with the most points will go first. If the combined values of both players are equal, both players will re-roll their dice until one player has a higher rolled total than the other.

Step 2: Diving Into the Salvage Pile

Starting with the first player, grab one token from the Salvage Pile that matches the color rolled for each of the 4 six-sided dice. For example, if the dice color rolled is “red”, regardless if it is a “+” or “-“, the player will collect 1 red token. In total, the first player will start with 4 tokens with each token matching 1 of the colors rolled on their dice. Once selected, the second player goes doing the same thing. Note that there are only 5 tokens of each color meaning it is perfectly possible that the second player will not be able to collect 4 tokens in total if one of the colored stacks has been exhausted. At the very least, the second player is going to collect 1 token.

Step 3: Organization

Each player will now place their collected token in their queue. Order counts as does the side the players choose to keep face-up (as noted above). The token the player’s want to collect or use first should be placed on top, and then the token they want to use second directly below that to create a single line. Do not stack the tokens. In this way, the token closest to the Salvage Pile is at the top of the queue, and any tokens behind it (in a line) are in the queue and waiting to move up.

This completes Round Zero.

Rounds 1, 2, 3… and So On

The game is played in rounds with each player taking a turn. The order of which player gets to go first is determine each round and what actions they take is based on the tokens they have placed in their queue. The first and all subsequent rounds are summarized here.

Step 1: Roll the Dice

Like the first step in Round Zero, both players will now roll their dice. Unlike the Round Zero, however, any dice that matches an opponent’s dice color is temporarily removed and not counted this round. For example, if Player 1 rolled a red “+” and Player 2 rolled a red “blank”, because both dice rolled the same color, each player removes that dice from play for the duration of the round. This is done on a 1 to 1 basis. Once all matching dice have been temporarily removed, each player counts their “+” and “-” rolls. The player with the highest rolled total gets to go first this round. If it is a tie, the player who went second on the previous round gets to go first this round.

Step 2: Activate Queue

The first player now collects their token on top of their queue. If the rig component side is face-up, it is simply moved to the opposite side of the player and counted as a rig component part in the rig stack. If the action side is face-up, the action is immediately taken regardless if the conditions are optimal. This means the token’s action could allow the player to perform an action with no benefit or possibility of completing it. Timing is everything! Depending on the action, the token is either placed in the Salvage Pile or placed in front of them temporarily. This process is completed for the second token (now the top most token) in the queue.

Step 3: Diving Into the Salvage Pile

Like the second step in Round Zero, the player now takes 1 colored token from the Salvage Pile that matches the color values rolled. Selection is always 1 token per dice. Once collected, the player puts them in their queue at the bottom, making sure to place face-up the side they want to activate. This completes the first player’s turn.

The second player now completes steps 2 and 3 as noted above. Once done, the round is completed and a new round beings with step 1. Any dice that were temporarily set aside are now collected.

Escape!

The game ends as soon as one player has successfully collected all 6 of the necessary rig components in their rig stack. Thematically, they have now built their rig and escaped the falling city.

To learn more about Rig and read the complete rules, visit the game’s web page on the Game Crafter.

Prediction

This looks to be a nice and easy game! Don’t much care for steam-punk, but it doesn’t bother me either. The steam-punk theme is very “hot” right now and it seems that everyone is jumping on it. Anything with gears and pipes, in fact, seems to be steam-punk’ish or suggest it. Not a bad thing, and funny enough, there’s a lot more people who now know about this somewhat obscure genre than ever before. Talk about the rise of geek culture, eh?

Rule wise, the game seems to suggest limited player choice and emphasis on timing. What choices are available to the player are based on dice rolls. This makes it an easy game to teach the Child Geeks and non-gamers, but will make the Gamer Geeks grit their teeth. Any game that takes the majority of the decision making out of the player’s hands is almost automatically rejected by the Gamer Geek group. For the Parent Geeks, this isn’t much of an issue because it makes the games more casual without reducing the game play.

Timing is going to be the biggest hurdle for the Child Geeks to jump. The non-gamers, usually being adults, shouldn’t be too bewildered by this game mechanism, but the Child Geeks sometimes have trouble thinking ahead. Essentially, the queue is a pre-loaded game action organizer. In fact, that’s exactly what it is. None of the actions, however, are harmful to the player which means the Child Geeks won’t be accidentally shooting themselves in the foot with a bad action choice.

Teaching the game doesn’t take long and is actually best done with a quick demonstration of a single round. Took me all of 5 minutes, which included answering any questions. And so, after setting up the game for my two little geeks to play against each other, I asked them their thoughts on it before they dived into the Salvage Pile.

“A neat idea to use the tokens like they are on a conveyor belt.” ~ Liam (age 8)

“Can I put lasers on my flying machine, Daddy?” ~ Nyhus (age 5)

Both of my little geek engineers are ready to go! Let’s get the game started and see if they find it to be a fun time or a crashing failure.

Final Word

As predicted, the Child Geeks did have a few problems at first with the player queue and understanding its use. The queue also tended to be somewhat overloaded with either actions or rig components. If a player just put rig components in their queue they would win unless the other player took a lot of actions against them. On the other hand, if a player did nothing but actions, they would never win the game. Balance was needed and balance is what the Child Geeks eventually demonstrated, mixing their queues with rig components and actions. Sometimes two rig components at a time, two actions, or a mix of both. What was not observed was purposeful action selection to offset another player’s actions or any semblance of meaningful action timing. This, however, didn’t hurt the Child Geeks until they started playing with the Parent Geeks.

The Parent Geeks were much more critical in their token queue placement and showed some excellent decision making when it came to timing. After observing their games a number of times, I am convinced that this game is less about strategy or tactics and is much more centered around logical and critical decision making. A player who purposely considers each token placement in the queue based on what tokens are already visible on both sides of the table is going to be a stronger player in the long run. Non-gamers took slightly longer to “get it” when it came to the player queue, but used it well once they understood its practical use in regards to timing.

Gamer Geeks, as predicted, didn’t much care for the game. They found it to be too simple and too random. The level of player interaction was warmly welcomed, but how one initiated it and how the rest of the game was played was not well received. The death-blow, however, came when the Gamer Geeks spent too much time trying to determine the dice colors and not actually playing the game. This killed it for them and they gladly walked away from the table.

My “part time Ninja” little geek effortlessly builds his rig as I struggle to identify the dice colors

Gamer Geeks, this is a simple game of timing and thinking a few turns ahead so as to be able to act and react to random dice rolls and opponent choices. The game uses a neat mechanism to keep track of what actions are coming up, which is also visible information. You can’t surprise your opponent, but you can outmaneuver them. Balance wise, the game is excellent, and no single player ever has a strong advantage over their opponent. Ultimately, though, the lack of game depth and the tremendous amount of confusion over dice colors left all the Gamer Geeks rejecting Rig.

Parent Geeks, your peer group rejected this game, as well. Again, the dice were the culprit. The color choices, which are very similar and hard to distinguish, slowed the game down and more mistakes were made than avoided. This also caused an unnecessarily high level of confusion and frustration, which exhausted the Parent Geek’s goodwill, resulting in displeasure for both players. In the words of one Parent Geek, “a game I spend more time trying to understand versus actually playing is not a game I want on my table.”

Child Geeks, your peer group gladly accepted this game and didn’t much consider the color choices an issue. Your peer group was, however, somewhat confused by the icons on the tokens, but this was nothing more than a short learning curve. For those Child Geek who could read, the tokens were quickly identified by glancing at the rule sheet. For those Child Geeks who could not, simply asking the other player what they were was more than sufficient. Obviously, your peer group must have much better vision because not one Child Geek had a problem with the dice colors. Fun was had by all and the game has been played a great number of times. Much to the chagrin of the Parent Geeks.

As noted, the color choices for the dice are difficult to distinguish unless you have just the right light or (apparently) are under the age of 18-years-old. Our Parent and Gamer Geek groups spent each round dropping their eyes about 4 or 5 inches away from the dice to make sure the colors were correctly identified.  In the most extreme cases, the dice were picked up and moved to better lighting to ensure accurate color identification. This, as you can imagine, got old fast. The green and blue were just dark enough to be mistakenly identified as black and the purple and red were almost always confused.  This made the game, which was designed to be played fast, move at a very slow pace. This can easily be corrected in the future by providing different shapes for each rolled color. For example, all the reds are a square, all the blues are a circle, all the blacks are a triangle, etc. Something other than color needs to be added to identify the dice or the colors need to be corrected. Either way, this production flaw is making the game less entertaining and more frustrating.

It saddens me that the current color scheme on the dice is enough of an issue that I can’t personally recommend Rig. There was just too much confusion and delay as the player’s attempted to identify and then re-identify the colors rolled. I, myself, incorrectly identified colors many more times than I care to account for. If the colors or die design are ever redone, I’d be more than happy to give this game another look. Until then, I’ll focus my eyes on other games.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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