So, I’m sure most of you have read the title of the column and are trying to search for a game called Rothbo. You won’t find it that way, because the Rothbo isn’t a game – but rather a “rotating board game platform”. We were given the opportunity to give one of these a whirl and see how the Rothbo could improve our game playing experiences.
The Rothbo is a fairly large sized platform that is mounted on a lazy-susan like rotating base. The surface of the Rothbo is large enough to hold a 33” x 22” board – in otherwords, almost any Eurogame will fit on this accessory. On their website, there are pictures that show boards as large as Axis and Allies fitting on the surface. There are rows of pre-drilled holes on the Rothbo, and you use bracket pegs pushed into these holes to fix the game board in place. The platform is constructed from MDF (medium density fiberboard) with a nice black matte finish on it. The rotating mechanism twirls smoothly and silently.
The purpose of this accessory is to allow all players to see the game board in the “correct” orientation. We have tried it on two separate game nights, and the Rothbo certainly accomplished all the feats it claims to do. The boards were snugly fit on the surface and did not move around. Secondly, no one had to read the board upside down. With a few games that had smaller boards, we were also able to put the bank/supply on the Rothbo. Given the easy rotation of the surface, everyone was then able to get their own stuff from the supply.
How useful was it? Frankly, it depended on the game. For a game like Wildlife Adventure (or any other game with a map with writing), it was pretty useful. It was much easier to read the locations on the map. With some other games, like Acquire and Han, being able to read the board right side up didn’t really seem like much of an advantage at all. That being said, it was nice to have the supply of stock certificates be right in front of the active player. A number of gamers (and my kids) have said that it helped them see the game better by being able to look at it in the correct orientation.
The board surface is elevated off the table by about 1 inch, and this does allow players to keep stuff on the table underneath the rotating surface. The problem with this is that it was sometimes harder for opponents to see that stuff if it was obscured by the Rothbo. You also have to be careful of things like drinks as the amount of space that the Rothbo needs is a bit larger than the surface itself. When you rotate the Rothbo, the corners circumscribe a circle of about 34 or 35 inches in diameter.
When the Rothbo rotates, the board generally stays in place (As long as you’ve chosen the right set of holes to place your shelf pegs in). One word of caution though – while the board stays in place, there is nothing stopping centripetal force from pushing wooden bits and cards right off the game board! As long as you spin the Rothbo at a moderate pace, you shouldn’t have any issues…
My only gripe with the Rothbo is that I wish that there was a less discrete method of fixing the board to the surface – this could be improved by either providing holes that are spaced closer together or some sort of sliding clamp mechanism that could be used to fit the exact dimensions of the board.
The Rothbo is being sold online at http://rothbo.myshopify.com/. The current price is $63.95. At first glance, this seems a bit high – but the components are of high quality, and frankly many of the games in the current market cost more than that! This isn’t the sort of accessory that I will use for every game, but I do think that it will improve the gaming experience with text heavy or crowded boards.