ROVE: First Impressions

ROVE game cover

ROVE gameplay overview

I recently played ROVE: Results-Oriented Versatile Explorer for the first time! ROVE is an 18-card wallet game from Button Shy Games where you control a robot on an unknown planet. You aim to complete seven different missions in a row by moving six module cards around in a specific pattern.

Game setup

You start the game with six module cards in a 2×3 grid on the table and five movement cards in your hand. Movement cards enable you to manipulate your module cards to get them in the pattern you need to complete your missions. Each round in the game, you will draw a mission card that shows you a pattern you must arrange your modules to complete.

ROVE mission with module pattern
Here you can see modules arranged to complete a mission card.

Movement cards and modules

Movement cards have two numbers that indicate how many times you can move modules. You can always use the lower number. However, if you want to use the higher number, your modules must be in a specific pattern. As a result, sometimes you can plan ahead by arranging your modules in particular ways to get more movement points.

Each module has a specific movement pattern. For example, one module can only move diagonally while another can move in any direction, but it has to move over another module. Strategically using your modules based on their movement pattern is one of the critical puzzles of the game.

In addition, each module has a unique ability that can only be used once during the game. Once you’ve used the ability, you must flip the module card over to indicate it’s been used. These special abilities enable you to take powerful actions such as moving a particular module to any spot on the grid and drawing an additional movement card.

Mission cards and winning a game of ROVE

You must complete seven mission cards in a row to win the game. Mission cards have a pattern on them that shows how you must arrange your module cards. Specifically, a certain module must be in one position on the grid, and the other modules must be positioned around it (see the above picture).

The challenge is being able to do this before you run out of movement cards. You draw one movement card after completing each mission, but sometimes that is not enough. You lose the game by running out of ways to move your modules before completing all mission cards.

Player count: 1 player

Playing time: 15 minutes

Complexity: Low

MSRP: $12.00

Link to BoardGameGeek page

ROVE game movement cards
These are movement cards used in ROVE.

First impressions

ROVE is quite the puzzle of a game! At first, each mission appears easily achievable because you have so many movement cards in your hand and all of the module abilities available to you. However, as your movement cards dwindle and you use your module abilities up, you realize there is much more strategy to this game. I enjoyed optimizing the movement of the modules to use the fewest number of cards!

I haven’t discussed the artwork yet, but I should note that the mission cards are quite charming! Each one has the ROVE robot on it engaging in some kind of action on the planet. The robot’s position matches the pattern you must arrange the modules, which is a neat addition. Also, the robot has a cartoon quality with various expressions that bring it to life. Additionally, the cards have a minimalist style with a monochrome color palette that I find relaxing.

I’m also a big fan of dual-purpose cards, and ROVE takes advantage of them. On the backs of the movement cards are the mission cards. These dual-purpose cards work well and add some additional strategy to the game. Since you are drawing from the movement card deck every round, you can see the upcoming mission card. As a result, you can kind of plan ahead by arranging your modules in particular ways.

Overall, ROVE is an entertaining puzzle game that you can play in only 15 minutes and still have a satisfying experience. Even though it’s a solo game, I could see a couple of people working together on it. There’s quite a bit of depth to the strategy, and it’s easy to miss things.

ROVE game wallet with mission cards
ROVE gets into all sorts of situations!

This post is part of my First Impressions series where I discuss my initial thoughts for new tabletop games I have been playing. Click here to read my previous entry in this series: Underwater Cities.


2 responses to “ROVE: First Impressions”

  1. I find the art to be quite charming as well. I haven’t played ROVE yet, but the puzzly nature and minimal quantity of components reminds me of Mandala Mind!

    • Now that you mention it, the feeling I get from playing ROVE is similar to Mandala Mind. 🙂

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