Every other week Scott Jon Siegel contributes Off the Grid, a column on gaming away from the television screen or monitor.
In 1992, Richard Garfield met with a new company called Wizards of the Coast in order to get them to publish a board game he designed with Mike Davis. They liked what they saw, but at the time they weren't interested in board games; they wanted something more portable, a game that "would go over well at conventions." For this, Garfield revisited a card game he'd first designed in the early 80's.
The card game became the phenomenally successful Magic: The Gathering, but we're not dealing with that right now. A year after Magic first hit the shelves of hobby stores, Wizards of the Coast published Garfield's clever board game about robots: RoboRally.
The premise is simple enough to be appealing. A factory's computer reprograms its robotic workers during after-hours to have a little fun. Robots compete against each other to capture flags placed around the factory, while avoiding hazards like pits and lasers, and each other. Sounds like fun? Well, it is. Eventually.