I finally had the pocket money to go ahead and pick up Minotaurus. Well, when I told my wife I was going to the Lego Store to get it she said "see if they have any girl or princess mini-figs because Maddy (our niece) had been playing with my bag of figures and hadn't found a single 'girl' part!" So, I had to spend a bit of time digging through the mini-fig display. You can build 3 figures with a head, body, legs, hair/hat, and an accessory for $9.99. $3.33 is a bit much for mini-figs, but if it makes the niece happy then I'm happy to do it! So, I made my figs, grabbed Minotaurus and headed for home... ok, ok... like when I bought Lava Dragon, I had to open the box in the car and check out the pieces... then I drove home!
Minotaurus is priced at $24.99, not a bad price at all for the quality, quantity, and uniqueness of the bits you get!
As with Lava Dragon, the players pieces are "micro-figs". In Minotaurus they are painted to represent Greek warriors. In Minotaurus each player gets 3 of these micros, and they come in 4 colors; red, white, blue, and yellow. What strikes me about these figs is that each color is painted differently! They aren't all the same character with different colors, but they have different armor, different faces... the yellow guys even have "6-pack" abs! It is this kind of detail that keeps the new micro-figs as my favorite new Lego piece!
The Lego die is also still an awesome bit. Each game comes with one empty die and the various bits that make up the faces. In the case of Minotaurus, these included 2x2 flat tiles; 4-white ones numbered 3-6 with pips, a grey tile, a black tile, and a green tile. Initially the green tile is not used, but it can be added in a variant.
The Minotaur is pretty cool, and I am always surprised when the Lego creators come up with using pieces that I would never expect them to use for something like a minotaur. I was very impressed!
The rest of the bits include the large green base-board, grey wall pieces, green outer walls, light green "hedges", and a small "temple" in the center of the board.
One nice thing is that they included a cardboard template for laying out the hedges once you had the outer wall built. While I certainly wouldn't have problems figuring out the hedge placement without it, little kids might and I appreciate that Lego thought of this when testing this set out.
THE GAME and RULES
In Minotaurus, the object is to get your warriors to the center of the maze. Apparently there are rules for this, (2 player only 1 guy, 3 or 4 players only 2 guys.) I had made an assumption and played it that all 3 guys had to get to the center of the maze.
This is a more typical roll and move, though the 6-sided die only has 4 movement sides ranging from 3-6. The other 2 sides consist of a black tile and a grey tile.
If you roll one of the numbers you simply move one of your 3 guys that number of spaces orthogonally. You cannot share spaces with other players, nor can you jump over other players, walls, or hedges.
If you roll the black tile you get to move the minotaur 8 spaces. If the minotaur lands on the same space as a player, then the player goes back to the start, and the minotaur goes back to his temple.
If you roll the grey side then you can move any grey wall (either from the edge of the board, or from in the maze) to any spot you would like.
The variant listed in the rules lets you add the green tile to the die in place of the "3." If you roll the green tile then you can jump over a piece of hedge.
For my first play, I played Minotaurus with my wife and niece. My niece is 6. I was worried that she wouldn't get the "move the minotaur" or "move the wall" actions and wouldn't play very well. I was wrong! The only thing she kept having a problem with was moving diagonally and occasionally I had to help her figure out which space she needed to start counting from, but other than that she got the game really well.
The game started with Jan (wife) moving walls the first couple of turns, Maddy moved one of her guys towards the middle, and I was moving my guys towards the middle. Maddy got right up to the center, and then started moving another of her guys (I was trying to help her not waste movement as she had rolled a 6 and only needed 1 to get onto the center space), and unfortunately for her that first guy got sent back to start by the minotaur! I had gotten sent home first though! Then Maddy and Jan proceeded to block all 3 of my guys into my home corner with walls! I spent several turns waiting to roll a grey tile and move a wall. Jan even moved one out of the way for me, but before I got to move, Maddy rolled grey and put it right back! Every time she moved a wall to block she would laugh maniacally! Also, whenever she got a guy to the center she would throw up her arms like a touchdown and yell "SAFE!" :rotfl: Eventually I made it out of the home area, and all 3 of my guys were heading for the center. Maddy had 2 in the center at this point, Jan had 1, and I finally got my first guy there as well. Then it was time for some pay-back, so I put up walls to block in Maddy's last guy. She took it in stride and simply changed direction to go out the other side. Jan was getting her last 2 guys close to the center, but Maddy was able to get a wall in there to block her, then the minotaur sent one of her guys back to the start!
In the end, Maddy was able to eek out a win with all 3 guys in the center! I had 2 guys in the center and Jan only had 1.
As with my previous review of Lava Dragon, the main downside to this game is its size. A single Lego "dot" does not make a great game board space, and it can be hard to remember where you were at the beginning of the turn if you lose count. Granted, you are only counting to 8 at the most, but it could be (and was a couple of times with Maddy) an issue with kids playing.
Minotaurus was also pretty light. Mostly "roll and move" with a bit of twist in there for the wall and minotaur movements.
My last downside is going to be about the Lego Die... ok, not the die itself, but with the bits they give you to make up the faces. Minotaurus literally teases you by giving you regular die faces, but not all of them! You get a 3, a 4, a 5, and a 6. Is it really that much more to include the 1 and the 2 even if they aren't used in the game? Really? And I don't even know if there are any sets out there that have a 1 and 2 die face! (granted I haven't researched that bit, but still...)
As with all the Lego games, my biggest "upside" is going to be the bits, and the ability to customize! I can see huge potential with this game! Maybe tighten the maze up (most of the paths are 2 spaces wide) and create more blocking potential. As mazes go, the default layout is wide open, so maybe we make it more "maze-like." Maybe introduce single space walls (current ones are 1x2), and perhaps the minotaur can have some minions running around. We could introduce some battle elements as well to take down those minions!
Though the game play is light, it does lend itself to some tactical thought, as you have to think a little bit about the best paths to take and you have to consider the wall placements and minotaur movements as well. It also lends itself to some diplomacy issues, given that you can make alliances with or against other players. Maddy at one point leaned over and whispered in my ear "let's get Auntie Jan!" and for a few turns we ganged up on her with the walls and the minotaur!
I think the theme in Minotaurus is great, and I'm glad that they make the effort to make all of the player pieces different... even among the other games. I won't get the blue knight in Lava Dragon confused with the blue warriors in Minotaurus because they are painted completely different! I love that!
RATING and RECCOMENDATION
I would give Minotaurus a rating of 6 out of 10. Though it is light on the game play, it does have that small modicum of tactics and diplomacy... granted it isn't much, but it is there. I have to confess that I wouldn't rate the game nearly that high if it weren't made of Lego.
As with Lava Dragon, if you are a Lego Enthusiast like myself, then I highly recommend this game, particularly for the die and the micro-figs.
If you are not a Lego fan, and are not "geeked" out by the cool bits, then I would say to go ahead and stay away from this one.
I can't wait to "pimp" this game out with a better maze, minions, etc... And, I'm hoping that the Lego Store at Lego Land this weekend will have some bulk white flat tiles I can buy so I can start making my own custom Lego Dice!
I think that my biggest joy with the Lego line of games is the juices that start flowing while you are playing it! Both this game and Lava Dragon got me thinking about all kinds of things I could do to add my own personal touches to the games! What can I do to the die to make it different? What can I do to the board? If you have a kid, and that kid likes Lego, and that kid likes games, then you absolutely cannot go wrong in giving that kid ANY of the Lego line of games!
The game Ramses Pyramid has a 'normal' two-dot side, and a 'one-dot' side that also includes a little triangular symbol used in the RP game.
Excellent review... I can already see myself making a huge version of this game where I get a whole bunch of those huge grey base plates and make a maze large enough for the normal size figs like the new Harry Potter ones... Minotaur to be replaced by lego Voldemort
Great review and my sentiments exactly--okay game made awesome by the awesomeness of lego.