I got this on clearance a couple of days ago, but I'm only getting around to doing the write-up now. It's been kinda difficult to get my enthusiasm up for it for reasons I'll explain further on.
"Do you have what it takes to cross the finish line first and win the trophy? Use shortcuts, overtake or turbo boost past your opponents to get in front and change lanes to avoid the oil slicks in your way. The LEGO Dice brings a new twist on a classic racing game for 2 to 4 players."
Set Name: Race 3000
Set Number: 3839
Theme: Lego Games
Year Released: 2009
Number of Pieces: 166
Price: €19.99 on release
One of the more madly colourful box illustrations in the Games line, and one that's particularly energetic too, with the cars whizzing around the track, apparently being controlled by the power of mime. I did try moving the cars by flapping my arms. Didn't work. As usual, the box is only shrink-wrapped and won't be damaged by opening it. It's designed to be used to store the boardgame on the shelf after building, so it's good and sturdy.
The back shows a couple of pointless close-ups for anybody who doesn't know how Lego works, plus the blurb and contents list. This being a Wave 1 game, it refers to the die using the plural "dice." Every Wave does that, but I only forgive Wave 1 games.
Spill the box, and you're greeted by a big bag, a small bag, a big 16x32 baseplate, a small 16x16 baseplate, the iconic die, the rulebook (left) and the instruction booklet (right). For some odd reason, the instruction booklet was folded, despite there being ample room and despite the larger rulebook being unfolded. Somebody at TLG's printing plant must have obsessive-compulsive issues.
The English rules, and a random instructions page. There are fourteen stages to building the track but really, they could have just printed a single clear graphic of the completed track because the layout is 2-dimensional and very easy to follow. I didn't take pictures of the ads because there's nothing particularly noteworthy there. Both booklets feature the same ads (except for layout) for the other Wave 1 games and the Lego Club, while the instructions have a third ad for WIN. The old boring yellow one with three set images and a link to nielsen.com. Kinda makes you appreciate the win-shouty kid a little. The Rulebook is awful. Sorry for burying that potentially-interesting bit of scandal in the middle of the paragraph. It's entirely unhelpful and you need to be psychic to understand certain parts. I'll get to that in the gameplay section.
The traditional Parts Square. Or it would have been, if that random extra white tile hadn't completely ruined it. No particularly standout parts involved. Some nice curved bricks and a rake of psychadelic handsets but overall, quite run-of-the-mill.
Well, here we are after about ten minutes, and as you can see, it's starting to take sha... oh crap it's finished. Um, yeah. It's a very quick, very straightforward job. Heck, turning the damn pages took more time than actually applying brick. That hated random extra white tile is used to make the starting line seven studs long. The black things represent oil slicks. Not barrels. Slicks. Yeah. Well, they come off during the game so it was probably easier for little fingers to manipulate cylinders than studs. I got the feeling during play that the game is aimed at the very younger range of Lego fans.
The podium and cars. The design of these cars is simple but oh-so effective. They're just awesome. Gather the five core pieces from your collection and see for yourself.
Most of the die will be built during play, but before you begin, you stick the two orange tiles on opposite sides, and then fill out the rest of those sides with a single tile for each car. The orange tiles represent a turbo boost. The single yellow 2x1 tile (seen in the Parts Square) is used in an optional variant game - rolling that lets you rearrange one of the yellow shortcut segments on the track.
The spares. Nothing gobsmacking - one of everything you'd probably expect.
The Aim of the Game is, and I quote directly from the rulebook, "to complete one lap 'anti-clockwise'" first. Obvious, right? Clearly it's anti-clockwise, you can tell that just by looking at it. There can't be any reason why I'm making such a big deal of this. Alright then, let's get a game underway. The cars are positioned behind the starting line and ready to go. The road is a bit narrow but that doesn't bother White; he's clearly only here to run over the flagpost.
White rolls a blank side, but that's fine. He just puts one of his tiles on that side and moves forward one space. Or, at least, he does once he figures out how. First of all, the instructions tell him to move "forward clockwise one space." Not anti-clockwise. So, am I moving backwards or forwards? On paper, it seems obvious that this must be a mistake, but when figuring out the rules... maybe rolling an empty side is penalised? Well, we'll assume it's a mistake. So he moves forward one space... one what now? What's a space? Again, the rulebook just sits there, silent, grinning evilly probably. Is a stud a space? I tried that, but the cars were positioned so akwardly it looked like a major traffic accident. I eventually figured that a space equalled three studs. There's a diagram in the rulebook - below the Union Jack, if anyone wants to scroll up - that shows a section of track with three little green arrows pointing to three studs. That diagram is NO HELP. That could just as easily - in fact, even more easily - mean THREE MOVES. Okay, so after a few false starts, White moves forward one space.
After that stressful beginning, Green also rolled an empty side, and then Blue rolled a Turbo side. Blue nips forward to the next orange line. The other cars with tiles on that side of the die each move forward a space, so after just three rolls, all vehicles are off and jostling for position. Being on an orange line means that Blue can also change lanes, potentially avoiding oil slicks or taking a tighter inner lane. Short cuts and the pit stop can also only be accessed from orange lines, so they're quite desirable places to be.
Skipping forward a couple of turns and someone finally hits an oil slick. These cannot be turbo'd through and stop you in place. It also forces you to remove one of your tiles from the die. The oil slick is then removed from the track.
Hitting the pits lets you choose any two sides of the die and strip them bare (except for turbo tiles). A less extreme optional variant lets you just choose one enemy tile and replace it with your own.
As usual, the whole lot fits back into the box with a little bit of disassembly.
Race 3000 has two big strikes against it. The unclear rulebook, I've already touched on. I'm assuming you can only access the short cuts if you're parked on an orange line, otherwise, wouldn't everybody take them? The rulebook specifies that they must be attached to an orange line. The rulebook isn't too dense, the mechanics are simple so it's not an issue of space, just poor wording.
The other big strike is that the game isn't very interactive. It feels like Snakes & Ladders, which kids of a certain age will find enjoyable but everyone else will be left chafing at the lack of control. Anybody's die roll can move a pack of cars forward. The choices available at the orange lines are usually complete no-brainers. The only time that decisions need to be made is in the pit stop, and that's fleeting. Randomness is king in this game, and if that sounds like fun, then you'll probably have loads.
Design: 7/10 Very clearly laid out but not especially interesting to look at. The only aesthetic bonuses - the podium, flagpost and racing tower - aren't a whole lot to write home about. The cars, on the other hand, pull this rating up a bit because they're terrific. The game rules strangle creativity but that's probably a design decision so I can't mark it down for it.
Parts: 5/10 Nothing I really needed. Very straightforward and functional. No microfigs. Baseplates are always handy.
Build: 7/10 Very quick and extremely simple. Normally I'd mark it down for being unimaginitive, but the boardgames are usually about getting the building done quickly so the play can commence.
Playability: 4/10 You roll the die, do what you're told, the next guy rolls the die. Repeat ad psychotium. The part selection doesn't really lend itself to anything other than alternative track layouts, so yeah, not a whole lot going on here.
Price: 7/10 Well I got it for €12.99 down from €19.99 off so I can't complain too loud. I wouldn't even consider it for parts at full price, and having seen the contents up close, I'd be hesitant about spending even €12.99 again.
Total: 50% I own a good few Games titles now but this is easily the most underwhelming. The parts list isn't as interesting as I thought it would be, the game is boring, and overall it just feels like an afterthought entry in the Games line. So unfortunately, it becomes the first Game title that I wouldn't really recommend.
Thanks for reading!
In Loving Memory
Edited by WhiteFang, 29 July 2010 - 01:46 AM.