I am not the builder of the family. My skills in 3D are limited (although I’m good at packing), and I leave the Lego work to the others.
But even I can manage the world of Lego when it’s combined with being a game, and with a story background. And you don’t need to study Classics to know about the minotaur – but it’s a great excuse to find some books of Greek myths afterwards.
I’ll leave you to look up the proper story of the Minotaur – it’s not entirely child-friendly. Think instead of a maze, underground. Somewhere, in its heart, is a beast – bull on the top half, human on the bottom half.
Now consider that, as a game, you can see into the maze from above – so you get to see which way to go. The minotaur is there to ‘get’ you, but nothing more serious. You are there to outwit it, and show off your cunning.
You, and other players, are trying to get to the centre of the maze – the Minotaur is there to stop you. If it does, you lose a (Lego) figure, but you have three, so you have more chances.
The first person to get all three of their figures (or at least, the most figures) to the centre of the maze wins.
For the building enthusiasts among you, part of the fun is that you effectively build the game before you play it. So imagine a square base board as the starting point – you build up the maze onto this with Lego pieces.
In the case of this game, the building is fairly straight forward – you are building low walls around the sides of the board, and some walls inside the board, which form the maze itself.
Part of the cleverness of the game is that you can also move sections of the walls about – adjusting the walls of the maze slightly so that they can be jumped over, instead of having to go round them.
And if anyone knocks a bit of wall, in their haste to move to the centre? You can just put it back again. Once built, the game stays made up, and goes back in the box as such, so it’s ready to go next time.
Starting the game
The centre has a raised area – this is where the Minotaur figure is at the start of the game, and where you want to get to. The game will allow up to 4 players – each starts from a different corner – but it works fine with just 2.
You roll a dice to determine how far you can move – up to 6 spaces. The one bit that can be a little trickier is keeping track of where you started and where you get up to, as the base board just has the usual Lego pegs, rather than individual squares.
The figures you move through the game are small, so this can be a little fiddly, but is fine once you get going.
Moving the Minotaur
The dice has the numbers 3-6. The faces of the dice that would normally have 1 and 2 have grey instead. If you roll grey, you get to play Minotaur, and chase or block the other figures.
When the Minotaur is in play, you get to move 8 spaces – so you’re moving faster than the other pieces, effectively. You move from the central section, and can move towards any of the figures which may be approaching.
As the Minotaur, you capture another figure by moving so that your go would include going over the space that the figure is on. When another player throws grey, they can take over being Minotaur, and move it from where it stopped on the board (rather than having to start from the centre again).
Moving your players
As with other games with multiple pieces, you can decide how many pieces to have in play at a time. It’s possible to get each individual figures to the centre, one by one, but you may find that it works well to start one off, then move a second one out a bit, and so on.
Having more pieces in play means that it’s easier to ‘distract’ the Minotaur – if you only have one piece, the person playing the Minotaur will logically pursue that piece only.
Moving the walls
One of the best bits of the game is the opportunity to move Lego blocks about in the game. Junior Player was very pleased at this, and the opportunity to configure the maze differently if wanted.
You can also move a wall to block an opponent – so if someone is getting close to the centre, and you can put across a piece that stops them moving on, then they take longer to get the centre. This can increase your chances of getting there first – unless they do it back to you!
Another factor Junior Player really liked was the permission to make up your own rules. If you want to adjust it so that e.g. throwing a 6 two times in a row gets you further, or gives you a penalty, for example, you can – or really whatever you fancy.
You might also want to institute rules about moving walls – but you’ll probably be keeping to the main notion of getting all your pieces to the middle of the board.
I stayed out of the building of the board (see above for why), but could tell that the builders of the family enjoyed this part. The concepts of the game are quite straight forward, but there’s lots of flexibility to adjust how easy it is to get through the maze.
We also appreciated the encouragement to experiment with the game, and make it our own – not many games directly invite you to do that.
Realistically, you could use the same maze setup with a different Lego baddie – Darth Vader instead of the minotaur, anyone? Parents will also appreciate the potential to put the lid on at the end, and know that all the Lego is in one plate (unlike most other household Lego).
However you play it, whoever you have as your baddie – it’s a lot of fun to play.
Natural builder or not.