The elusive orange baseplate is the main reason MOCers will want this set, but it has a few other things going for it too.
Be the first to build a path over the stream of molten lava, so you can battle the monster and take the ancient golden treasure. Block your opponents with the monster or wall of fire and slow them down with a clever bat attack. A game of strategy and luck for all ages for 2 to 4 players.
Set Name: Magma Monster
Set Number: 3847
Theme: Lego Games
Year Released: 2010
Number of Pieces: 95
Price: €11.99 on release
This is another set that I got on holiday so, again, apologies for the occasional poor photo. As you'd expect from a subterrainian theme, the box art is very vibrant and does a lot to attract attention to itself. The guy in the hat is obviously losing so he's just gone and chucked the die into the lava in a huff. The other guy's about to start flinging game pieces at him. Ah, takes me back to those family Monopoly sessions when I was a wee lad. Nothing depreciates the value of a hotel like being submerged in someone's milk.
The back shows a clearer view of the restored game board, with both players having been tied to radiators at opposite ends of the room. Nothing too exciting here.
The booklets, with the instructions having been folded for no reason whatsoever.
To really rub it in, the rulebook is the one that doesn't quite fit in the box. The instructions would have fit fine, even unfolded.
Here are the other contents - two bags, the die, and that lovely 16x16 baseplate. To be honest, though, I haven't really thought up a use for it yet. All it really could be is lava. I'm using it to store my microfigs for the moment.
Spill the bags and you get this square, if you do it just right. Some decent earth-shade bricks that will make for good landscaping, but the main draw is the selection of more exotic elements - six flame jets is fantastic, two bats, some quirky dark red bits, gold crystal, hollow studs, and orange teeth. All very excellent.
Here are the four dudes and the brickbuilt Monster, who looks absolutely awesome. The head is extremely well-crafted. The minifigs are also among the most impressive I've seen, for their variety and versatility. They make plausible magma surfers but they could also be used in loads of other scenarios. The blue guy could be on a building site, or a street, or at a sports meet or something. The grey guy could be a Sam Fisher-style super spy, or a space marine, and so on.
A quick glance at the box art would tell you that there's not a lot of building to be done, so after three or four minutes we're ready to go.
The spares. A decent amount for a set with fewer than 100 parts. The fourth orange spike is sticking out of the Monster's back.
Like the building, the playing is very straightforward. Youngest player goes first, but since I'm gonna be playing all four roles, there's only one way to settle matters: Alphabetically by colour in Spanish! Azul goes first and hits a grey. That lets him place a grey brick, and then move any distance along any nearby grey path. Blanco goes next!
Blanco also hits a grey, allowing him to extend Azul's path and leapfrog to the end of it.
Gris rolls a brown. He can't move along bricks that aren't the colour he rolled, so he starts his own path... with blackjack! And hookers! In fact, forget the blackjack and the hookers!
Verde rolls black, which lets him sic a swarm of bats on a rival. With a cackle of "Fly, my pretties!" he sends them buzzing around the game leader, Blanco. On Blancos next turn, his die roll decides what happens. Hit black, and he shoos the bats back to their perch in the shadows. Hit any other side, though, and he runs shrieking, Ace Ventura-like, back to the mouth of the cave.
Seems I didn't take a photo, but rolling red lets you move the flame wall to anywhere else on the lava flow, ideally blocking an opponent. It's usually a very minor inconvenience.
Several turns later, and we finally have somebody within reach of the gold. In order to defeat the Magma Monster and claim the booty, Gris must roll a black on the die. Fail, and nothing happens, allowing the other players a chance to catch up. But succeed, and the game and glory are his. Does he? DOES HE???
Showing a complete disregard for drama, yes, he does.
There are varient games where the Magma Monster can move out around the lava flow, which is why he's built on that easily-manipulated red platform, but he's just eye candy in the main game.
As mostly usual, it'll fit back into the box if you shoo the bats.
This is a very simple set, both in building and in playing, and being at the cheaper end of the range makes it ideal for younger brothers and sisters to cut their teeth on. None of that makes it bad, by any means, but it probably won't stand up to repeated playing. Games are fast and simple. There can be a problem when one player splits off from the pack, as Azul (the blue guy) did in this demonstration game, because then it simply becomes a question of rolling the die and hopping on to the new brick, plodding relentlessly and boringly across the lava. That player will likely be the target of all the bats and flame walls, as a cluster of players are quite capable of tripping each other up by laying inconvenient path bricks for each other. Keeping the group together is the best way to make the game fun.
Design: 8/10: Keeping things streamlined was obviously a high priority with this set and the designers do very well with their limited resources. Some game rules could have been better - the flame wall doesn't really do anything - but there's nothing here that will really ruin enjoyment.
Parts: 9/10: Very nice, with about two thirds plain but versatile and the remaining third unusual but useful. The Bionicle minifig torso is about the only part that will take some thinking to fully utilise, and the orange board, while cool, doesn't really have a use yet either. I've already drooled over the microfigs so I don't need to repeat that here.
Build: 6/10: What build? The game board took about as long to build as the Monster did, so I barely noticed this stage. That said, the monster looks fantastic, and the design of his little alcove is very effective.
Playability: 7/10: It could be fun with the right players but it's one of the more simple games. For building playability, the parts selection is very good but perhaps not by itself.
Price: 9/10 About right for whatcha get.
Total: 82% A solid, workhorse entry in the Games line that does nothing wrong, but is a bit overshadowed by some of the other games.
Thanks for reading!
A Wooden Bridge Over Lava? Great Thinking, Guys
Edited by WhiteFang, 29 August 2010 - 03:59 PM.