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Subject: Lego games - Lacking gameplay? rss

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Andreas
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Just recently fellow geek Calum M was so kind to post a review of Lego Minotaurus (http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/442139). It is a roll and move game, and the reviewer gave it a positive review.

I am guilty of starting a discussion whether

a) Lego games in general do give a comparably rewarding gameplay to
aa) good childrens games (Haba Kayanak, Selecta Giro Galoppo or The children of Carcassonne just to name a few)
ab) good family games (Zooloretto, Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride...)

(as the target groups age seems to fall between 5 or 6 and older and seems to be between these two types of well regarded games)

b) whether its advisable to just get a good game for the child and some regular Lego.

and c) whether when compared to family games the Lego games have any staying power beyond ages 10 or 11.

To initially state my opinion: I hold the aforementioned childrens or family games, depending on the age of the child You want to play with, in high esteem. They are highly ranked and have good reviews, the components vary from good to great qualitywise and they are educational too. Adults that play with their children/nephews etc. can have fun too, not only from the time spent together, but as intrinsic value of the game.
With the Lego games I am not so sure. They are roll and move mostly, or takes on old and not very innovative concepts like Mastermind or Cootie. Something that will work with children no doubt, but a family or childrens game worth its salt from Haba, Ravensburger, Abacus, Hans im Glück etc. will provide much more fun for all people involved, and specifically more long-term fun.

As is the case with Lego in general the Lego games are no bargain. Retail price is for example 35 Euros (Creationary), 30 Euros (Ramses Pyramid), 25 Euros (Lunar Command) or 10 Euros for the smaller Robo Champ. Carcassonne can be had for 12 Euros, the Children of Carcassonne around 18, Zooloretto maybe 16 Euros.

So to the other geeks mothers, fathers, Lego fans and haters: Whats Your opinion. Would Your child want a Lego game? Would he/she enjoy it? If so more than a game of the "traditional" publishers? And You?
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Shanya Almafeta
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I wonder when Lego Barbarossa comes out.
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Nigel Buckle
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My son was very taken with the concept, we got some of the games, had fun assembling them. Gameplay was lukewarm ... he liked Lava Dragon the most - and since the first play of all of them they've been left on the shelf apart from that one which gets occasional play.

If your family is into lego then they're worth considering, but in general, no I think other games are better.

Probably good for prototyping other games though ...
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Gerald Rüscher
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Personally I've played Lunar Command, Creationary and Ramses Pyramid and none of those were very convincing. I've played Ramses Pyramid and Creationary with my 6 1/2 year old son and my 9 y/o daughter and after a some minutes of enthiusiasm about the new LEGO sets they were rather bored by the games. IMHO the main problem with the LEGO games is the fact that the type of creativity inspired by LEGO does not mix too well with the analytical skills required by board games.

crumbb wrote:
The design of the LEGO board games is purposefully stripped down, leaving many options open for changes to the rules. It is meant to encourage children to come up with their own variants. Since everything is made of LEGO bricks (including the dice), the games can be completely redesigned and rebuilt with a few extra bricks.

The value in these sets/games is in the creativity they encourage.


Of course you're right when you say that LEGO is designed to bring out creativity but IMHO this concept does not work with the LEGO board games.

When a kid plays with regular old-school LEGO (i.e. w/o the board game aspect) it's easy and rewarding to be creative. You just build your model with trial & error. If a design looks bad or is unstable you almost always recognize it immediately and can then correct your mistake instantly. It's a quick and intuitive process.

However this does not work with a board game. First of all, it takes quite some experience to change a rule in a meaningful way. And secondly, the result of this change is not obvious. You need to play the game (probably the *entire* game) to see how the new rule affects the game. And as far as I'm concerned, playtesting is rather work than fun. It simply takes too long. It's boring if the new rule was not a good choice. And it's probably very difficult for a kid to analyze why a certain rule set does not work.

Bottom line: Designing, building and testing 10 different LEGO model designs takes a kid an hour. Testing 10 different rule variants probably takes more than half a day (if the game is not stuffed back in the shelf after 30 minutes)

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Andreas
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Excellent post by Gerald! The "traditional" games are playtested to death before they come out (please allow for some exceptions, but those are soon spotted by the buyers and the bgg community). A roll and move game stays a roll and move and will get maybe different when changing the die or some elements but it wont magically transform into a top 200 game.- If children were patient to figure out the possibilities in the first place and if the family got other Legos to supplement the included parts. They dont seem to include anything extra, just what is in the base game.

This reminds me a bit of the themed Lego sets. You can build things with Lego. But the things buildable with Lego Star Wars always are Star Wars, nothing else, chained imagination.
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Kevin Taylor
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The general market that the Lego games are aimed at, are not (in my opinion) the same market as the people who are able (or willing) to drip feed their kids Carcassonne/Zooloretto etc.

Most of the sales of these particular games will be Christmas and Birthday presents from Grandparents and long lost Aunties and Uncles.

I also believe that if you were to wave Carcassonne in one hand and a Lego game in the other, the kids would snap your hand off to get to the Lego game no matter how good (from an "Adults" perspective) the other game is. It's branding and familiarity.

Of course this is just my opinion and everybody is entitled to believe what they like, but at the end of the day - you're all wrong
(Just kidding of course)
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Andreas
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Yes my brother asked me what I think of the Lego games. I gave my opinion. Next day he bought it for the kiddies. They wanted it and could hardly contain themselves to open the box, but their father decided (wisely) they open it at home (they live in Taiwan and were visiting Germany). So it was Lego and the box looked good -> they had to have it. But how often will it see any play? Once? Twice?

Maybe Zooloretto stands a chance. Cute animals seem to attract women and girls. Carcassonne hm it has that "sourly looking dude" look that is so popular with Eurogames.
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Luke Morris
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Ramses Pyramid was disappointing. The winner depended on who could make the right dice roll at the end. cry

Still, I've found another use for the game (more to come in a future geeklist...)
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Andreas
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Rhis post by Dave is nice: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/427816

He asked about the unclear rules of Ramses Pyramid and then later said no more need to know it as "the game is rubbish".

The ultimate goal of Ramses Pyramid is to fight the Rames on the pyramid top. And the method for fighting him is - drum roll please - rolling a "3". Yes sure kids can change the rule. Maybe then the victory is achieved by rolling a "4". Or a 3 and 4. Imagine the possibilities for Your kids mind!
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Oliver Graf
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We have Minotaurus and Race 3000. Yes, they are very simple from the gameplay. From those two I think Minotaurus is the better one.

But I like the concept: you build the game, you play it and they even give ideas how you could customize the game with your own rules! And this is the really nice touch of those.

In addition: the custom dice are (very bouncy but) cool! I need more of them for all those DIY dice games and BGG
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My eight-year-old son really enjoys Arkham Horror, Last Night on Earth, Pandemic, Prophecy and Memoir '44 and his absolute favorite game is Galaxy Trucker. But given an opportunity to play a Lego game regardless of how good or bad it might be, he'd jump at it because Lego's are a "theme" he enjoys and has many fond memories of the plastic cubes as well as the computer Lego games.

If it makes him happy and let's him play a boardgame he MIGHT enjoy, more power to him. Explore away. Discover what works and what doesn't. Learn from experience why a mechanic is enjoyable or not.

While I understand the OP's point that there are undoubtedly "better" options available that will provide a better experience in the long run; the bottomline is whether we get to spend quality time together. If the answer is yes, then whatever we're playing together is a good game and well worth the cost to buy and time spent to play it.
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Andreas
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HamsterOfFury wrote:
Ramses Pyramid was disappointing. The winner depended on who could make the right dice roll at the end. cry
)


Beat me with this important part on game play. Did really Dr. Knizia have this novel idea on resolving a fight by die rolling?
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Anders Gabrielsson
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The one clear advantage I can see with the Lego games is that even if the kids never want to play the game again, at least they can play with the Lego bricks.
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Andreas
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AEIOU wrote:

If it makes him happy and let's him play a boardgame he MIGHT enjoy, more power to him. Explore away. Discover what works and what doesn't. Learn from experience why a mechanic is enjoyable or not.

While I understand the OP's point that there are undoubtedly "better" options available that will provide a better experience in the long run; the bottomline is whether we get to spend quality time together. If the answer is yes, then whatever we're playing together is a good game and well worth the cost to buy and time spent to play it.


Of course. A game that the kid does not like is not worth even one cent. But board gaming is a community experience too. Between children and adults and between children (siblings, friends, in school). This is what makes them so worthwhile. You need to behave Yourself, be a good player, refrain from cheating and have the others movements in mind too. Lego in its original form works well for a child alone or as sort of multiplayer solitaire. I build the house, You build the barn. There is not a lot of common ground beyond the marketing hype isnt it?

I am not against Legos, in fact had them myself when I was young aeons ago. And I had good board games, though the ones available today seem to be in another league methinks. Its OK to have Lego and to have quality board games. Just not a Lego board game.

P.S.: For Lego Star Wars i am not so sure...
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James Cheevers
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I gave an answer to this in the other thread, but I'll try an expand here.

I would be really happy if my children wanted nothing more than to play games that I deemed fit for them. However, children are not like that. All children are different.

My children are thus:

Christian (12) - He is a member of BGG. His favourite games are Agricola, Le Havre, Power Grid, Blue Moon & Pandemic. He will give anything a try.

Andrew (10) - Will only really play co-operative games like Pandemic, Ghost Stories & Red November. Doesn't like games where another player can 'get' you. However he was really interested in Minotaurus, so we got it for his birthday.

Amy (7) - Likes to play some simpler games like Kids of Carcassone, Cha Cha Chicken, Ludo & Snakes and Ladders.

As you can see they have their own gaming preferences, with Christian being closer to my own. Should I mould the other two to this ideal, despite what they enjoy themselves?

No.

As a grown up I find most of what my children are into a little bit pointless (to me). Amy plays with Barbie dolls and wants to be a Princess. Should I stop her roleplaying with dolls because there are far more rewarding activities she could be doing?

Andrew spent a good hour yesterday hitting a tree with a stick, as he was pretending to be a Power Ranger while Christian & I had a game of 'Le Havre'. Should I have stopped this pointless escapade and made him join in with our far more interesting game.

Christian is getting into music but likes a few bands that I find mediocre. Should I encourage him to only listen to the music I deem fit?

This type of discussion doesn't stop with games. And yes the games you have listed are, in my opinion, far better than the Lego game range. But none of them have a Lego Minotaur that can stomp his Dad and brother.

As a parent I will happily play any game my children want. Hopefully a lot of the time it will be a game I can enjoy too. But so what if it's not? I have many games of 'Uno Jr - Dora the Explorer' under my belt. No it's not a very good game but no other game makes my daughter smile and laugh as much as that one.

One question for Xeenu... do you have children of your own?
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Andreas
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solove wrote:

One question for Xeenu... do you have children of your own?


The honest answer is no i have not. I play with my brothers and the neighbours children and got them into age appropriate good games. Like Carcassonne and Zooloretto. They love Lego too, especially hm Star Wars. And Dinosaurs and some other popular stuff. And I see that some things are just wasted money. There was the Hotwheels "Shark eats car" set one of the boys just had to have. Expensive, hard to build and impossible to take apart. Play value? Some when new. Nothing afterwards. And the 30cm dinosaurs figure that he got lately. Seems the same to me. Yes I admit some things must be bought and control is a bit limited. But nevertheless I keep trying
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James Cheevers
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Xeenu wrote:
There was the Hotwheels "Shark eats car" set one of the boys just had to have. Expensive, hard to build and impossible to take apart. Play value? Some when new. Nothing afterwards.


Oh yeah... we bought one of the Hot Wheels sets and had exactly the same experience. Luckily we got ours on sale. It had the good effect in that none of the kids have gave any of the new Hot Wheels sets a second glance after the initial "Cool" reaction. They remember the set upstairs gathering dust.
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Quote:
Lego games - Lacking gameplay?


    Gee, none of us saw THAT coming.

             Sag.


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Andreas
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Sagrilarus wrote:

Quote:
Lego games - Lacking gameplay?


    Gee, none of us saw THAT coming.

             Sag.




Sorry I did not understand You Sir. May I kindly ask You to maybe explain Your reasoning a bit why it was/wasnt obvious please? surprise
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Gerald M. Zabos
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Xeenu wrote:
Would Your child want a Lego game?


We have a LEGO store, where we live. I am visiting it quite often with my son (7). On our last visit, the shop owner showed us the LEGO game section. After checking the pictures on the different boxes, the price tag and the short description of the rules, his only comment was: "That's all expensive crap". I second that.

We've built our own games out of LEGO. More fun and cheaper. arrrh
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Xeenu wrote:
Sagrilarus wrote:

Quote:
Lego games - Lacking gameplay?


    Gee, none of us saw THAT coming.

             Sag.




Sorry I did not understand You Sir. May I kindly ask You to maybe explain Your reasoning a bit why it was/wasnt obvious please? surprise


    Rawlings makes baseball gloves. Would you anticipate that their first step into the boardgames market would be successful? I mean, they make stuff for kids, it would be a natural step for them.

    Lego makes toys. Good ones. They're not games.

    The majority of Lego revenue in the US is from licensed tie-ins such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones. These are good toys; my kids love them. But fundamentally they're toys. They're space ships that you fly around or boats you sail. This doesn't give them much insight into the moving algorithms that are required for gaming, especially for kids games. Building blocks provide no insight into narrative or tension.

    This conversation occurred on Fortress Ameritrash about nine months back when the idea was first announced. The parents on the thread came to the following consensus -- "we'll believe it when we see it."

    My guess was that the games would be lackluster and the Lego pieces that came with them would be just window dressing, not an integral part of the play. I haven't seen any of them so I'm curious to know if I was in the neighborhood.

             Sag.


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James Cheevers
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Sagrilarus wrote:
My guess was that the games would be lackluster and the Lego pieces that came with them would be just window dressing, not an integral part of the play. I haven't seen any of them so I'm curious to know if I was in the neighborhood.


You're pretty much correct. I think Minotaurus is probably the best one out of the range. There is some minor tactical play in that you have a choice of 3 heros to move or perhaps the Minotaur. There is also blocking present in the form of the grey walls.

My 12 year old is 'meh' on it but our 10 year old who we bought it for thinks it is pretty fantastic. So it will get a fair bit of play in the near future and the two boys are planning home-brewed expansions with their existing Lego.
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Gerald Rüscher
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Sagrilarus wrote:
My guess was that the [LEGO] games would be lackluster and the Lego pieces that came with them would be just window dressing, not an integral part of the play.

That's precisely what I thought. LEGO itself is one the greatest toys ever. LEGO board games however ...

Anyway I'm pretty sure that the LEGO board games will be a huge hit on Christmas. Here in Germany, many toy stores already have large displays with the LEGO board games and these are really an eyecatcher. I guess that many kids & parents will be as fascinated as I was when I first saw the LEGO games. But I fear that they also be rather disappointed afterwards.
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Andreas
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gruescher wrote:
Sagrilarus wrote:
My guess was that the [LEGO] games would be lackluster and the Lego pieces that came with them would be just window dressing, not an integral part of the play.

That's precisely what I thought. LEGO itself is one the greatest toys ever. LEGO board games however ...

Anyway I'm pretty sure that the LEGO board games will be a huge hit on Christmas. Here in Germany, many toy stores already have large displays with the LEGO board games and these are really an eyecatcher. I guess that many kids & parents will be as fascinated as I was when I first saw the LEGO games. But I fear that they also be rather disappointed afterwards.


Yes this assumption is very reasonable and likely. Lego is prominently displayed in stores. A pity. People could get really good games instead which may - just may - impress the children and families and make them long for more. Instead its another Monopoly. Marketing hype without substance, a loss for the families, the hobby and those publishers that bring out those great games we know and like.soblue
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solove wrote:
Sagrilarus wrote:
My guess was that the games would be lackluster and the Lego pieces that came with them would be just window dressing, not an integral part of the play. I haven't seen any of them so I'm curious to know if I was in the neighborhood.


You're pretty much correct. I think Minotaurus is probably the best one out of the range. There is some minor tactical play in that you have a choice of 3 heros to move or perhaps the Minotaur. There is also blocking present in the form of the grey walls.



So the prolific Dr. Knizia, who is credited with designing Ramses Pyramid, did NOT make a game that is at least mediocre or surpassing the other Lego games in game play - not that this would be major achievement, surpassing the Lego take on Cootie, mind You...
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