ROVE Jr: Results-Oriented Versatile Explorer Game Review


ROVE Jr streamlines the ROVE formula. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, as Andrew found out in this Meeple Mountain review.

Disclosure: Meeple Mountain received a free copy of this product in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. This review is not intended to be an endorsement.

I love ROVE. Big fan. I don’t play it often—I don’t play any solo games often—but I always enjoy it when I do. The puzzles are tricky without being complicated, and reward good planning in a way that most puzzle games don’t require. Now, in tandem with their crowdfunding campaign for Aqua ROVE, publisher Button Shy is presenting the world with ROVE Jr, a ROVE for the 8+ crowd.

I, personally, am delighted. Given that ROVE reminds me of the ThinkFun—née Binary Arts—toys I spent hundreds of hours with as a child, the existence of ROVE Jr feels entirely correct. If you know how to play ROVE, you more or less know how to play Jr, but in case you don’t:

Four brightly-colored Module Cards arranged in an L.
He may not look like much, but he’s mine.

ROVE Jr is the cutest li’l robot you ever did see, made up of four Modules that start the game in a 2 x 2 grid. The goal of the game is to successfully rearrange the Modules into prescribed Patterns, which are determined by the Mission Cards you draw from the deck over the course of the game. To move the Modules, you use the Movement Cards in your hand.

Each Movement Card allows you to move one Module as many spaces as you’d like in a straight line, provided that all the Modules continue to be connected at the end of the move. Gone are the Movement Points and the Movement Type restrictions of either version of the full game. Instead, the Movement Cards show anywhere between one and all four of the Modules. You have to pick which one to move out of the options shown.

Every complete mission gets added to an adorable tableau depicting ROVE Jr's misadventures.

At the end of each Mission, you draw a new Mission and replenish your hand back up to between three and five cards, depending on the difficulty level you’ve chosen. While ROVE Sr has a punishing card economy, with just about every Mission sweatier than the last, Jr contains the stress. It does away with the forward planning of ROVE and Aqua ROVE, but the puzzle of how to complete the mission in front of you is no less formidable. I went into ROVE Jr with a bit of a “This’ll be cute” attitude, but found myself surprised. Playing at the highest difficulty, there were several times when I thought I was plumb out of luck, only for a clever solution to suddenly appear. ROVE Jr, despite the simplifications, is just as clever as its father.

While I didn’t initially plan on writing a Review Jr for ROVE Jr, it impressed me enough that I wanted to. This is a very clever streamlining of a very clever game. If you have a child who loves puzzles, they will probably love ROVE Jr, and it wouldn’t take too much practice for them to be ready for the full game. As far as adaptations for the wee ones go, ROVE Jr manages to do exactly what you’d want: it captures the essence while simplifying the rest. Fantastic work all around.

  • Great - Would recommend.

ROVE Jr: Results-Oriented Versatile Explorer details

About the author

Andrew Lynch

Andrew Lynch was a very poor loser as a child. He’s working on it.

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