Lava Dragon

Lava Dragon can be a very scary game – especially if you follow the recommendations and change a rule or two.

As you can see, there’s a castle-mountain-looking thing which is actually (gasp) a volcano! And there, perched on the top, a comparatively giant (double gasp) dragon! And should you, teeny tiny micro-fig that you are (to get a sense of scale, you can almost make out the red guy on the second level), brave the menacingly volcanic temperament and be the first to reach the top, you will have won not only the game, but also a fanciful flight on the back of the even more fanciful dragon (which is in its LEGOish way, a most awe-inspiring creature).

The key to the game, as in most LEGO games, is in the die (or, as LEGO would have you call it “dice”). After you’ve built everything and placed your brave avatar on the lowest level of the conceptual volcano, your dice is empty save for two orange “lava tiles” on opposite sides. These orange “lava tiles” allow you to move one of the 12 orange lava cones anywhere you want (generally, between one of your opponent’s and where said opponent would most passionately wish to go). From then on, every time you roll the dice to a side with sufficient space, you can add one of your own movement squares (you get four of the tiny things) to that face of the dice. As the game progresses, every time you roll the dice, you and everyone else who has a movement square on the top face of the dice gets to move his or her avatar one space for every one of her or his movement squares showing. There are rumors that where you decide to place your movement square is of significant strategic impact.

Once again you experience the unique play element introduced by the LEGO dice – a die whose faces you each can actually change as the game progresses.

And so it goes, each player taking a turn adding one of their movement squares (if possible), blocking someone else with a lava tube (often, even more fun than moving your own piece), moving their knights one or several spaces vertically or horizontally, peg-by-peg towards the top. And everyone is amused. Until someone makes it to the top first, and is more amused than everyone else.

Later, perhaps much later, when you’ve discovered all that you wish to discover about the game, and you all feel brave enough to explore even more gasp-inducing variations, you find yourself ready, for example, to face the dread power of the, pant, lava, gasp, stick.

See, there’s this stick. And there are these holes on the sides of two of the levels of the volcano (one near the bottom, one near the top). And these holes go all the way through. And should your personal piece be near one of those aforementioned hole, and should your opponent happen to roll the dice so as to cause the volcano-exploding orange tile to be revealed, that opponent can now take said lava stick, poke it through the hole on the opposite side of the volcano, and cause your beloved micro-fig to leap, rather spectacularly, off the volcano, to be returned to the very bottom and start the climb all over.

But fear not. There’s another, and perhaps happier wrinkle you can also employ to in some small way ameliorate the potential horror of the lava stick. There’s a brown tile that you can add to the dice. And this tile, known as the “climbing rope,” will allow you to scale a completely flat surface of the volcano, lifting you two levels closer to the top. So if you do get knocked down, there’s now the chance for a swifter climb.

We recommend this game only for kids, from the ages of 7-15, because adults tend to have weaker hearts.

Lava Dragon was designed by Cephas Howard, and is available in most toy-carrying stores, and, of course, Amazon,

There’s an animated demo of the game on the LEGO site.

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