World creation is one of the great joys that I experience when I’m given the right materials. Of course, those right materials could be cardboard boxes and scraps of 2×4. From its beginning, Lego tapped into that world-building gestalt. I always preferred the most basic sets of Legos over the packaged ones (even though I might envy the friend who had some really sweet fortress) for the simple reason that I wanted to create my own world and my own designs. One of the best things about Lego was watching as the exact same blocks that I had used for a rocket ship would dissolve and reassemble to make a house or a horse or a bi-plane.
With some of their newest games, like Race 3000, Lego has preserved the world-building aspect that makes the basic Lego sets so fun and provided builders with a compelling way to enjoy their creations.
Race 3000 is really two games in one. The first game is what you would expect from Lego: build a race track. The pieces are bright and simple, the instructions are intuitive and clear, and the finished product is a curvy L-shaped track that has some architectural flairs like a trophy stand and a control tower. It was fun to build and you can easily reconfigure the track.
But building the thing is only part of the process. Once a world is built, the imaginative child will play with it and that means applying rules. Lego has exerted a light, natural touch here and made a racing game that is quick and surprisingly strategic. To accomplish this, they created Lego dice. Each face of the 6-sided die is studded with four Lego nubs. Onto these faces, players can attach small Lego squares that correspond to the colors of their cars. When your color is rolled, you get to move your car. Rules of the game allow you to add more color squares (good) or take away color squares (bad). Other rules allow you to add markers for turbo-boost and short-cut onto the die. The Lego Dice are a brilliant addition, and I can see that there are lots of ways that they will be used in other Lego games.
There is a third stage to this (and the other) Lego games and that is change. There are several rule variations and players are encouraged to try out new track configurations as well as new ways of using the Lego Dice. Families with Lego sets will probably find that this game is easy to expand BUT that means the pieces will also be easy lose in the great mass of Legos that inevitably find their way into a single box. The greatest challenge facing players of this game will be keeping the important pieces (especially the pieces for the Lego Dice) from wandering off.
Race 3000 is the first game I’ve played in Lego’s new line of board games and I’m looking forward to trying out the others. I’m especially interested in ways to use the Lego Dice. There will always be people who like the building more than the game (and vice versa) but I think Lego has managed to create something fun, Major Fun, for everyone.
Race 3000 was designed by Cephas Howard. It is © 2009 and distributed by The LEGO Group
Will Bain, Games Taster