RoShamBo Game Review

The Basics:

  • For ages 4 and up (publisher suggests 5+)
  • For 4 to 8 players
  • Variable time to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Counting & Math
  • Reading
  • Emotional Coping Skills
  • Hand/Eye Coordination & Dexterity
  • Risk vs. Reward

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • The classic game of Rock-Paper-Scissors with awards and penalties

Endorsements:

  • Game Geek rejected!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

RoShamBo brings the classic and time-honored game of Rock-Paper-Scissors to the family gaming table and uses it to be the determining factor in challenges. The winner of these challenges goes on to win the game (eventually), but the losers are usually penalized by being given silly tasks to complete. For example, barking like a dog for 1-minute. The game is simple, to the point, and will generate laughter and groans at the table. Victory and defeat is only a hand sign away, but so is the promise of potentially embarrassing tasks.

RoShamBo is comprised of 1 game board, 8 plastic game pieces (for the players to use as pawns on the board), 1 six-sided die, and 50 Challenge Cards. There are 4 blank Challenge Cards included and are meant to allow the game owner to add their own challenges to the game. The player pieces and the six-sided die are small. Take note and watch your littlest geeks who  still like putting things in their mouth that have no business being there.

Game Set Up

To set up the game, place the game board in the middle of the playing area, have each player select a playing piece, and shuffle the Challenge Cards. Place the Challenge Cards to one side of the game board, face-down, and within easy reach of all players. Have the players place their selected game pieces on the Start space of the game board and then each player rolls the six-sided die. The player with the highest value is the first player, followed by the second highest and so on. Adjust sitting order accordingly.

Now have all the players roll the dice again to determine the order of selecting which bridge they will own. The bridges are special spaces on the game board that allow the player’s game piece to move from one section of the board to the next. The owners of the bridges, referred to as “bridge trolls”, get to challenge players before they can cross them. The player with the highest die value selects the bridge of their choice, followed by the second highest, and so on until the top four players have selected a bridge. There is nothing included in the game to allow players to mark which bridge they own which means all players must simply remember what bridge they select.

In the case of a tie when rolling the dice, the players who tied re-roll.

You are now ready to play the game!

 Playing the Game

In turn order, each player rolls the six-sided die and moves that many square spaces on the board. Where the game pieces lands will determine the next action.

  • If the game piece ends on a space with a plus ( + ) symbol, the player gets to roll again
  • If the game piece ends on a challenge space (indicated by the image of three hands demonstrating “rock”, “paper”, and “scissors”), they will draw the top Challenge Card from the deck – the Challenge Card is completed and whatever the result of the card is immediately  played out where applicable
  • If the game piece ends on a space where a bridge is, that player completes a best 2 out of 3 duel of Rock-Paper-Scissors against the bridge troll (the owner of the bridge) – if they win, they are immediately moved to the next section – if they lose, they simply end their turn – if they are the owner of the bridge, they win by default
  • If the game piece ends on a space occupied by another player, whatever symbols on that space are ignored and the players complete a one time duel of Rock-Paper-Scissors – the loser must move 5 spaces away in any direction
  • If the game piece lands on any other space, the player’s turn simply ends

Challenge Cards

The Challenge Cards are played whenever a player lands on a challenge space (indicated by the image of three hands demonstrating “rock”, “paper”, and “scissors”). When they do, they read the Challenge Card out loud and complete whatever action is required. Little geeks who are still learning to read may have their card read for them without penalty or game changes.

The Challenge Cards are a mix of Rock-Paper-Scissors, trivia, and one time bonuses. The cards are very clear on what the player should or should not do. There is even a card that allows the player to challenge each of their opponents to a single round of Rock-Paper-Scissors. If they succeed, the immediately win the game. There are also cards that penalize the loser of a challenge to wear an outfit of the winner’s choice for the duration of the game.

Some Challenge Cards are kept and are meant to be used at certain times during the game when conditions are right. For example, one Challenge Card allow the players to win a challenge of their choice by default. Combo this Challenge Card with an action that is near impossible to complete with another Challenge Card and you can have yourself a real game changer.

Unless otherwise specified, Challenge Cards are discarded when they are used. Players who “win” Challenge Cards simply place them in front of them until used.

Players also have the option of renegotiating the terms of the challenge if neither player wants to suffer the consequences of losing. This must be done at the table and only between the players who will be part of the challenge. They have about 30 seconds to agree upon new terms. If they do so, the new terms must be honored and trump whatever the Challenge Card stated. If they do not agree, the player who is currently closest to the winning space gets to decide if the original terms of the Challenge Card are to be used or they can decide new terms which must be honored.

Winning the Game

The game continues until one player crosses the final bridge and enters the winner space. That player must now beat each player in a quick contest of Rock-Paper-Scissors. If they lose, their turn ends and the other players take their turns as normal. Once it is the player’s turn again who is currently in the winner space, they restart their Rock-Paper-Scissors challenge, but only with those players who they have not yet beaten. In this way, the player continues on their turn, battling each player once, until they have beaten each player. Once they have done so, they win the game!

Of course, if a player pulls the “Chance of a Lifetime” Challenge Cards and wins the challenge, the game immediately ends, too.

To learn more about RoShamBo, see the game’s official web site.

Suggested House Rule

When playing with four players, the game can drag on without much player interaction. With few players and lots of board space, we found that four player games were even a bit tedious. As a result, we implemented a house rule that worked brilliantly. Whenever a player rolled a “1”, they had the option of moving their game piece or selecting a Challenge Card. This was a very welcomed house rule that made the game a lot of fun and we suggest you give it a try if you think your game could use a bit of a pick-me-up.

Prediction

My little geeks love a good silly family game, especially one that plays easily. There is nothing complicated about RoShamBo which will make it an easy game to play and to teach at the family table. This also makes it a good game to play with friends at parties and larger family get-together. Since the game fits up to 8 people, you can have yourself a big game.

The silliness of the Challenge Cards will not be lost on my little geeks, but I do wonder if my 4-year-old will take to the game. His emotional coping skills are dependent on his mood, how long ago it was since he last ate, and how much sleep he had. Some of the challenges might be a bit too much for him. We’ll have to play those by ear and shouldn’t be anything to worry about, however.

The only other aspect of the game that has me concerned is lack of game play length. Technically, the game could be won in five minutes or less. Technically, the game could also last hours. Putting in place a game time limit is necessary in order to maintain sanity and keep the game going. Otherwise, the game could drag on and the energy level at the table will completely dissipate.

Reading the Challenge Cards out loud is necessary, but it is not mandatory that the player who selects it be the one to read them. This means my 4-year-old can play at his own seat and control his own game piece. I’ll have his older brother read the Challenge Cards for him for extra reading practice.

Of course, it should go without saying that your little geek needs to know the basics of Rock-Paper-Scissors before they can play. This is honestly the only limiting factor to RoShamBo. The good news is that Rock-Paper-Scissors is very easy to teach and should not be an immovable obstacle resulting in your little geek not being able to play.

I had my 7-year-old read the game rules and set up the game for us. Excellent practice and really gives him a sense of empowerment. I also had him explain the game to the three other players. Again, a great way to get your little geeks involved in the game and feeling like a “big geek” at the table. Highly recommend it.

After the game was set up and my 7-year-old explained the game, I asked my little geeks what they thought of the game so far.

“Sounds OK. I like how the Challenge Cards work.” ~ Liam (age 7)

“Daddy, can I use whatever hand I want? I can? Then I will use my winning hand!” ~ Nyhus (age 4)

For those of you who are curious, my little geek’s “winning hand” is his right hand which he showed to all the players as a fist that he shook at us. Let’s play the game and see how it goes.

Final Word

Here’s is some trivia for you. “RoShamBo” has multiple meanings. The one that is meant here and is the title of the game, is the classic game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. The other common meaning is a game where players take turns kicking or hitting each other in the groin. Without question, this game has nothing to do with hitting, punching, or in any way causing physical harm to another player. I mention this only because of some interesting conversations I had with others when I mentioned I was going to play RoShamBo with my little geeks. I usually had to follow-up my statement with a quick description of the game to ensure they did not call the Department of Children’s Services. Still, it was a great deal of fun seeing some people’s eyes get really big and their mouth drop open when they heard I was going to teach RoShamBo to my children. I openly admit that I found much pleasure in seeing some adults squirm.

The little geeks enjoyed the game, especially when they got to challenge their parents. By using simple Rock-Paper-Scissors to determine the outcome of a challenge, the playing field is always even. Adults do not have any serious advantage over the little geeks anymore than they have over each other. Of course, observation and timing is helpful. A person with quick reflexes could, in theory, change their selected hand sign to beat other players. However, we found that no one was that fast and everyone at the table called “do over” when they thought a player wasn’t playing right. This nipped my little geeks a few times and they quickly learned to be faster and more observant.

Parent Geeks liked the game and making the other adults do silly things, but not all Parent Geeks liked being the receiver of the penalties. For some Parent Geeks, the game became quickly aggravating. To which I told them, “get better at Rock-Paper-Scissors”. For the most part, however, the Parent Geeks had a great time, especially when there were little geeks playing the game, too. Lots of family fun and laughter. The more aggressive player won each game by focusing in on getting to the center, but I doubt they had more fun than the casual player who was there to simply have a good time. The game handled both playing types well and no one felt left out.

Gamer Geeks hated it.

A challenge is declared with the expected response from my 4-year-old

Gamer Geeks, there is nothing for you here. The roll-n-move game mechanism will drive you crazy and the simple Rock-Paper-Scissors challenge will lose it’s charm quickly. Clearly, not a game intended to be played at the gamer elitist’s table. Enough said; moving on.

Parent Geeks, while the Gamer Geeks might not find much in the way of enjoyment, you will. This a fun and interactive family game that could also easily be seen as a party game, too. With up to 8 players, you can sit a lot of friends around the table and have a good time. The challenges are funny and for the most part, easy. This will allow even your young little geeks to participate. Non-gamers will have no problem easily understanding the roll-n-move game mechanism and everyone should be able to play the game with only a minute or two of rules explanation.

Child Geeks, this is an easy game to play and an easy game to enjoy. The challenges are simple to do but not at all easy to win. You’ll be going head-to-head (or is it “hand-to-hand”?) with your opponents with epic Rock-Paper-Scissors combat and you just might have to do some very silly things as a result. Get ready to laugh and groan as the challenges will make you and everyone else at the table perform crazy sounds and stunts.

RoShamBo is a fun family game that uses the simplest of game mechanisms. The real joy of the game comes from the players who are interacting with each other. Everyone of our games was a good time, but not everyone enjoyed the game. The game’s pace can be a bit slow at times as the dice determine the progress of the player and the game could use more challenge spaces. Implementing our suggested house rule will address this concern.

For little geeks, RoShamBo is simple “Game Play 101” and an excellent way to make the game itself  accessible to everyone, but at a cost. By simplifying the game, the game’s depth is reduced. The end result is a game that is easy to play but is heavily dependent on the players to make the game worthwhile. In other words, do not expect the game to entertain you – you the players will have that responsibility. The positive side to this is that you get to determine the level of fun by choosing the right people to play the game with. Play RoShamBo with a fun group of people and RoShamBo will be an outstandingly good time. Play it with a group who doesn’t like to interact or is not very imaginative, and the game will fail.

If you are looking for a board game that uses simply mechanisms, easy to teach, and let’s the players challenge each other with old school Rock-Paper-Scissors, then look no further than RoShamBo.

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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2 Responses to RoShamBo Game Review

  1. Lisa says:

    Wow, you’re right! My family just LOVED this game! We played a game that was left in a vacation home–a little hesitantly, wondering how the classic game could be improved. But this was a blast–for everyone from my mom (Gramma) down to the 12-, 9-, and 6-year-olds. It’s been a long time since we have found a new game everyone can play.

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