Review Details

Rail Raiders Infinite: Law Bot Lock Box

Rail Raiders Infinite: Law Bot Lock Box

Product Review (submitted on September 22, 2019):
Great chibi miniatures as usual, but... a terrible game.

The goal here is to end up with the most money at the end of the game. The game is a very swingy number of rounds depending on which cards make it into the event deck; cards can "slow" the train by drawing less event cards, or speed it up by trashing some. The last card is arrival at the station, which ends the game.

Combat is resolved by rolling some custom dumbed down poker dice and figuring out your rank from what you roll. You use this to grab money from other players, kill lawbots, and assist when you feel inclined.

These core gameplay elements are seriously awful, though. The variable turns thing is INCREDIBLY rough the way it's used here. It's possible to have just a couple turns, unexplored train cars, and other cars stuffed with lawbots. It's also possible the game drags on so long you just have players poking each other back and forth for money after every car is cleared, loot token grabbed... and this can go on for round after round. In my few games played, both of these things happened once each. The short game is better, if making everything feel pointless, while a long game emphasizes the flagrant idiocy of the combat.

See, there's a phrase that regularly pops up in scifi: "You did it to see if you could, never stopping to think if you should". Poker dice in a scifi western sounds cool, right? Well, thematically, sure, but as implemented it's so bare bones it's only a waste of time. You perform opposed hand ranks again and again, and against other players it's only a matter of who scores higher, not by how much. There's no gambling, no bluffing. You add dice for certain equipment for better odds, and that's it. Rolling standard dice and counting 4+ would have been faster and better for what's here; by using a hand rank system you're constantly calculating the usual table of hand rank odds, which is basically pointless. You pick your best hand, and you're done. It's wasteful and excessive.

The enemies are pretty boring, too, of course. The expansion figures swap in for others in their class but their effects are minor. They don't enhance gameplay in any way that makes it more tolerable.

I gave SPM the benefit of the doubt in Ninja All-Stars. They're obviously too in love with their babies to realize flawed core systems, and NAS still created a nice tactical puzzle. This one, though... for all the theme and awesome visuals, it's a simplistic game with overcomplicated design that just smells of an incompetent designer.

Basically, just buy Colt Express. It's the same goal, same core theme (just not in space), and is better designed on every level. Or, buy this if you want cool scifi western chibis with total #### gameplay.
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