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  • Writer's pictureBealz

ROVE - Dastardly Review #144

ROVE was designed by Dustin Dobson and Milan Zivkovic. It is Buttonshy's newest 18 card wallet style game.

ROVE is a single player game that takes 10-20 minutes to play.

Complete 7 missions to win ROVE. won't win every time!

ROVE has great balance between winning and being challenged. ROVE takes a couple minutes to learn but is a heavy thinking game. You constantly need to plan several moves ahead. Lots of fun decisions!

Dustin Dobson's Skulls of Sedlec is in my Top 5 solo games...will ROVE live up to this high standard?


ROVE is an 18 card game and comes in the now famous Buttonshy wallet.

The instructions are very straightforward and easy to learn.

The artwork fits with the theme of space exploration. The cards are easy to understand and of high quality.

There are 6 Module Cards.

Each Module has a Special Ability that can be used once per game unless it gets refreshed. The Modules are the core tiles of ROVE. They get moved to form patterns to complete a Mission. Each module has their own movement style.

There are 12 Mission/Movement cards. Each card has a Mission Side and and a Movement Side.

On the Movement Side, the normal Movement Points are in the top left. In the middle is the Bonus Pattern and in the bottom right is the Bonus Movement.

A Mission is defined on the Mission Side of the cards. It shows how the 6 Modules cards need to be arranged.

Match that pattern and you complete a mission! Draw another Movement Card into your hand and flip a card Mission Side up to start the next mission.

There is also a 6 card expansion called Fascinating Flora. With the expansion, the goal is to complete 12 missions.

The new cards include Movement Points similar to the base game but if your board matches the Bonus Pattern on these get to refresh the indicated Module.


ROVE's game play is simple:

1) Play a Movement Card from your hand. Use the grid marks around the card's edge to keep track of how may Movement Points you have remaining.

If the Modules match the Bonus Pattern start with the Bonus Movement count otherwise start with the normal Movement Points.

2) Either move a Module or trigger a Module's Special Ability. Repeat until either of these conditions are true:

- If the layout of the Modules matches the Mission's Pattern then you have successfully completed the Mission. If you have less than 5 Movement Cards in your hand then draw another Mission card. Turn the top card over to start the next Mission.

- If you used up all of the Movement points from the last card played then play another Movement Card.


ROVE is deceptively complex. While the rules are simple, the game itself is full of interesting decisions. Do you use a Module's Special Ability early or save it? Should you spend some moves so you can match a Movement's Pattern to trigger Bonus Movement Points? What's the best way to complete a Mission's Pattern?

The expansion adds a new series of decisions by adding the ability to Refresh a Module's Special Ability. The expansion is awesome. I will always use it.

ROVE is the 'thinkiest' small box game that I have played.

ROVE takes a very small footprint to play. It fit easily on an airplane's fold down tray.

The Bonus Patterns and their extra Movement Points create a unique series of 'mid game' bonus conditions. It is cool that the tiles (Module Cards) have Special Abilities.

Does ROVE live up to the high expectations set by Dobson's Skulls of Sedlec? Yes. Dobson is now 2 for 2 in creating winning games with Buttonshy. Skulls and ROVE are very different but both rock!


ROVE is a challenging spatial, pattern matching game. The countdown of using Movement Points adds a level of tension similar to a timer. Every decision effects the outcome of your missions.

A ton of fun.


The winning condition of "complete 7 Missions" is harsh. Levels or trophies based on how many Missions are completed would be much better.


ROVE earned a spot in my backpack.


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