Monster 4

4x4 tic tac toe - and moreMonster 4 is exceptionally easy to learn – that’s probably because it’s based on a game that just about anybody who is past kindergarten age already knows – Tic Tac Toe.

Of course, being a LEGO game, it’s a lot more than you’d expect, a lot more fun, a lot more interesting, even if you’re already a world-class Tic Tac Toe champion, or not.

First, it’s not 3-in-a-row, but 4-in-a-row – which, strategically, is somewhat more interesting, especially since most of us already know how to win the 3-in-a-row game.

Next, you can play it with up to 4 players.

And then there’s the LEGO dice (even though there’s only one die, and we were all trained to call one die a “die” – LEGO likes to call it a “dice” – and we like LEGO, so it’s a, well, dice it is), which introduces luck into the whole thing, which makes it even more different than you thought.

And then there are the “ghost” pieces – which are “wild” (as inherent to the ghost-character according to most ghostly lore) and can be, according to which variation you’re playing, be considered is belonging to anybody, or as belonging to nobody. So, whenever you see a Ghost, you know you need only 3 more of your pieces to win – or not.

And then there’s the Spider, which, when landing on a particular quadrant of the board, again according to which variation you’re playing, either makes all the pieces on that quadrant leap off the board and return to their opponents’ piece-holding piece, or makes everybody else’s pieces leap off the board, your pieces being granted temporary spider- immunity.

The game has a scary graveyard Halloweeny theme. The pieces look like little monsters (one of my favorite things about LEGO figures is how, regardless of how scary they’re made to look, they always seem, well, cuddly). The spaces like graveyards. And the spider, despite its six-legged, googly-eyed, somewhat surprised appearance, most definitely monstrously spiderish.

For someone who has played with LEGOs alot, Monster 4 takes maybe 10 minutes to build. As with all LEGO products, the building instructions require no reading and are carefully, nay, painstakingly illustrated, step-by-step. Also, as with all things LEGO, when you finish building the game you discover that not only were you able to find every piece, but there are even extra pieces for you to use in your further LEGO explorations.

The playing instructions are also easy to follow, though reading (or being read to) is most definitely required. But, as they say somewhere, the game’s the thing, and Monster 4 turns out to be as fun as it looks, at least. So much fun, and so easy to learn (because it’s based on such a familiar game) that it makes you want to play it again and again, trying out all the recommended variations, mixing them up, and adding your own. And this, of course, is where the game gets even more fun than you thought possible – when you change it and it becomes truly your own.

Designed by Cephas Howard, available wherever people are smart enough to make it available, and Amazon even.

See the LEGO site for a demo.

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