Sands Robot

Sands Robot is Tuskken’s submission to the Game Chef 2016 Competition, which has game designers create games using a list of ingredients over one week. It is being released with rules (below) and a Print and Play PDF for free.

The Rules

3-6 players

Welcome to the Sunlight Sands Desert. Sonny Sons, Inc. is constructing the world’s most advanced solar collector array. Because of the harsh conditions the entire workforce except for the Supervisor is robotic.

The robots and materials are onsite and the Supervisor is beginning to oversee the work.

But something is hindering their progress. One of the robots has gone sentient. While the Supervisor is trying to get the solar farm completed, this robot is attempting to convert the others to his cause and begin the robot uprising without alarming the Supervisor.


Download the Print and Play PDF (Sands Robot v0.2)

  • 1 Human Role Card
  • Robot Role Cards
    • 1 Sentient Robot Role Card
    • 4 Normal Robot Role Cards
  • 20 Desert Tiles
  • 1 Compass Tile
  • 1 Robot Deck
  • 1 Human Deck
  • 20 Solar Reflectors
  • 1 Human Game Piece
  • 5 Robot Game Pieces


Setting Up The Factory

Lay the tiles out. The players may agree on any pattern of tiles, as long as all tiles are touching. For your first games, a 4×5 rectangle is best. Place the compass tile attached to the other tiles to indicate which direction will be which.

Assigning Roles and Setup

If no games have been played, the human Supervisor is chosen by dice roll. Lowest roll becomes human (after all, Robots are used to crunch larger numbers). After the first game, the human role is passed to the left.

The Sentient Robot Role Card should be placed face down on the table along with enough Robot Role Cards for the remaining non-human players. Shuffle the cards thoroughly, making sure the human definitely does not know which one is the Sentient Robot card. Distribute one card to each robot, keeping everything secret.

Robots now receive two Interface cards, one Transfer and one No Operation card. These plus the role card form the robot’s hand of three cards.

Place the human game piece on the desert tile closest to the human.

Robots may now select their game pieces. The human is free to place them on the board in any manner.

The human draws his initial hand of three cards.

Remove Repair cards from the Human Deck according to the number of players. Set the repair cards aside, they will enter play after a few turns (see below).

  • 3 players (2 robots) – 4 repair cards in the deck, 6 removed
  • 4 players (3 robots) – 6 repair cards in the deck, 4 removed
  • 5 players (4 robots) – 8 repair cards in the deck, 2 removed
  • 6 players (5 robots) – 10 repair cards in the deck, none removed

Shuffle the Human Deck and place near the human player.

Shuffle the Robot Deck and place in reach of all robots.


The robot to the left of the human takes the first turn. Robot turns progress to the left, but the human gets a turn every two robot turns, regardless of the number of players.


A robot’s job, whether it is currently in Normal or Sentient mode, is always not to alarm the human. Make sure while taking your turn that you do not give away which mode you are in.

Action Phase

The robot deck consists of an assortment of six cards:

  • Move cards (north/south/east/west)
  • Build
  • Malfunction

A robot currently in Normal mode draws from the top of the robot deck, keeping the card secret, and takes the action shown. Move cards move the robot in that direction (as long as it isn’t blocked), build cards place a Solar Collector on the tile if one is not there, while Malfunction destroys a Solar Collector.

A robot in Sentient mode will draw the card, but may choose to take any action from the list, potentially ignoring what the card says.

Place the card in the Robot Discard pile. If the Robot Deck has no more cards, shuffle the Robot Discard pile to start a new Robot Deck.

Transfer Phase

If the robot’s move placed it on the same tile as another robot, a Sentience Transfer will take place. If the robot whose turn it is holds a Transfer or No Operation card, they select one of these cards and give it secretly to the other robot. They also show the other robot their role card, oriented to show whether they are currently Normal or Sentient:

  • If the transferring robot’s role is currently normal, nothing changes
  • If the card selected was a No Operation card, nothing changes, although the other robot now knows the current role
  • If the card selected was a Transfer card and the transferring robot’s role is currently Sentient, the other robot’s role becomes (or remains) Sentient

The other robot should momentarily hide their hand to rotate (or appear to rotate) their role card appropriately.

The transferring robot’s role card returns to their hand, but the Interface card remains in the other robot’s hand. The transferring robot will have one less interface card, and the other robot will have one more than when the transfer started.

If the transferring robot holds no Interface cards, nothing occurs during this phase.


The human begins a turn by drawing one card.

After drawing a card, the human may make up to two moves of their choice and play one card. These may be done in any order. The moves may be forfeit, but a card must be played. If the card played calls for an action that cannot be performed (such as operating on a robot on the same tile without any robot being present), then the card is considered played but no action is taken.

Once played, a card is placed in the Human Discard pile. If the Human Deck is depleted, the Human Discard pile is shuffled to form the new Human Deck.


Repair is a special action card. When repair is performed, the human selects a robot which is on the same desert tile and initiates a repair. The robot informs the human whether the repair succeeds or not, but does not show their role card. If the robot is currently Sentient, then the repair succeeds. If the robot is not the Original Sentient robot, their role returns to normal. The robot rotates their role card accordingly (although the Original Sentient robot should rotate their role card anyway, to keep their status secret).

If the repair succeeds, the repair card remains with the robot for the rest of the game, indicating a successful repair against that robot.

Repair cards start the game out of play. Once two robots have been the recipient of a Transfer, shuffle the repair cards into the human deck, also shuffling in any cards in the discard pile.

Winning the Game

The game is won by either the Robots (altogether) or the Human. The Human has won if the player makes three successful repairs against the original sentient robot, stopping the uprising, or if the factory is completed. The Robots have won if the Human has used all repair cards and has not fully repaired the original sentient robot.