This is somewhat similar to my Hacker Game idea which I haven't written up yet, so I can't link to it right now. This, though, is a tabletop game.

So, we have a gameboard with a grid, and it's got some stuff randomly on it. One gets points in the game from collecting items off the grid and putting them into your target zone. When an item is put into a player's target zone, it is removed from the board and put into the player's stash.

The way you play, though, is with robots that are also on the grid. Each robot, for each turn, can do some number of actions (let's say 4). The types of actions are "pick up item, drop item, move left, move right, move up, move down". The move commands all have some number attached to them, so "Move 3 squares up", for example.

These actions are on cards and are played into slots 1-4 of a robot in the Players part of the round. Then, in the Robots part of the round each robot does each action, as described by the cards, one after another. So, the action in slot 1 is taken first, then the action in slot 2, etc. If at any point it can't complete an instruction, the robot ends its turn. So, if instruction 1 is "Move 4 sqaures up", but there is a box 3 squares above it, then it instead moves 3 squares, until it hits the wall, then it stops. It doesn't run instructions 2 through 4, since 1 failed to complete.

I think players take turns going around laying one card in an open slot until all slots are full, or each player passes. Oh, or, there can be an unlimited number of NoOp cards that a player can always play. So, a player may play a card from their hand, or a NoOp, but they must play a card. That way there are always 4 * (number of robots) turns, and stuff.

So, that's the basic game. Control bots to move to resources, grab them, then move them to your target zone, all without other people screwing you over.

Then there are special cards:

The robots have to have some assigned order, but I don't know if they perform all of their operations before moving on to the next robot, or if they each perform instruction 1, then each perform instruction 2. It only really matters when the robots interfere with one another. Do they interfere from stage 1 to stage 1, or from stage 4 to stage 1. I'll say the robots have a defined order, and they run stepwise. Stage 1 Robot 1, Stage 1 Robot 2, Stage 1 Robot 3, Stage 1 Robot 4, Stage 2 Robot 1, etc.

Robot Rules:

And really, I don't even know about those last two. On one hand, that's an easy way to abort things. On the other hand, if you have a whole chain setup, and someone throws down an Off By One, then it make it move, then miss the item you thought, then pickup nothing, then move around with nothing, and will be more disasterous than if it just moved to right beside the item and then stopped. Yeah, I think I want to get rid of those last two as abort cases.

I'm also not sure how I feel about having the robot carry more than one item, or having more than one item on a space. I think it'd be fine. A robot would have to issue one Pickup instruction for each item, and one Drop for each item to drop, but it should be fine. And again, we're playing these cards from a hand, so you have to have enough Drop instructions, and the more items a robot is carrying, the more valuable it is, and fragile, so yeah. I'd say you can do it if you like, but it's risky. A robot can carry as many items as it wants, but must Drop each of them separately. They Pickup and Drop in a stack. As many items as is desired may be Dropped into a single space.

I think playing order is that each player draws a card, plays a card, potentially playing a NoOp from the bank. So, when it comes time to fill Stage 2, you draw a new card which you can play, but didn't have when you were filling Stage 1.

To pick player order for a given round:

Before player order is chosen in a round, any player may discard any number of cards to achieve better player order.

I think I like having 4 actions per robot, but that can easily be tweaked to something else. Also, to make it line up more, I think having one robot per player makes sense. Either that or some multiple like 2 robots per player.

Many tweaks to those number will give the game a different feel. Having 1 robot per player with 4 actions per robot will be normal, having 1 robot per 2 players with 6 actions will allow for more struggle and correction. Having 2 or 3 robots per player with 1 or 2 actions per robot will give a faster more chaotic game.