Unlike building with LEGO, playing board games implies very specific elements of luck, strategy, and competition. It’s very hard to draw parallels between building with plastic pieces and spending hours over a board moving tokens back and forth. So when the two universes meet each other, the result can be absolutely unpredictable — just like 40198 LEGO Ludo Game, the new LEGO version of the famous Ludo board game. The set consists of 389 pieces, includes a small army of 16 minifigures and retails at $39.99/€39.99. And could I have imagined how much fun was hidden inside the box..?
What is Ludo?
Ludo is one of the simplest board games that came from medieval India, where it was known as Pachisi. Modern version of Ludo, also known variously as Pachisi, Parcheesi, Sorry!, Trouble, or Aggravation, is played by 2, 3, or 4 players on a square-shaped board consisting of a cross-shaped playing area with 4 colored areas called yards. Each player starts the game with 4 matching tokens resting in the yard. The goal is very simple: you must be the first one to move all 4 pieces along the track and put in the home column. One of the main rules of the game says that no square of the playing area can be occupied by more than one token. When a token’s move ends on a square occupied by an opponent’s token, the opponent token must be moved back to its yard and must start its journey once again.
This set is actually the second version of the LEGO Ludo game. G572 was released in 2006 and included 4 teams of City minifigures. Unlike 40198, the previous version included a glued game board and a regular dice.
Packaging and contents
The set comes in a box slightly larger than one may expect. It won’t take you long to notice that there are not that many pieces in the set, but the reason for the box’s larger dimensions is, of course, a regular 32×32 baseplate that the game board is built on.
The box feels stuffed with bags, but once it is opened it becomes clear that the most of the inner space is taken by a 32×32 baseplate and four 16×16 plates. The width of the box matches the width of the baseplate perfectly, so it sits inside very tightly with very little spare room.
The rest of the contents looks like 5 LEGO polybag sets. There are so few pieces in each of the bags that it seems it would have made more sense to put everything in just one huge plastic bag.
The Ludo game is so simple that it takes only a couple of pages and 6 pictures to retell its rules. Even though the rules are very easy to figure out, the building guide falls short with a lack explanation in other languages rather than just English.
No doubt, the key element of the set is an 8×8 round tile with 6 coloured sectors. The pattern is printed on the piece, so, perhaps we can expect more LEGO games with the same piece to come in near future.
The set is rich in small plates and tiles of various colors. It is a very good source of 1×8 tiles in black (16 pieces), 1×2 tiles in light bluish gray (40 pieces), and regular 2×2 plates in white (32 pieces).
Even if you’re unimpressed with the piece selection the set provides, let’s take a look at 16 funny minifigures that come with the game. Divided into 4 squads, they are dressed just right for their respective seasons. As far as we recall, this is the first LEGO set to feature minifigures dressed for all four seasons. However, since it’s difficult to characterise Autumn with a particular type of clothes, the female figures come in red office suits, which is a bit of a hilarious solution.
The set’s 16 minifigures have a total of 8 different heads, 8 different bodies, and 8 different hairstyles. Just like LEGO City People Packs — 60134 Fun in the park, 60153 Fun at the beach, 60202 Outdoor Adventures — which offer some amazing possibilities for customisation and creation of your own minifigures, Ludo game set lets you create your own team, and most of the times custom characters turn out absolutely gorgeous.
Good news: you won’t have to wait long before you can spin the spinner and start your first game. All you have to do is to prepare a very simple-looking base and four almost identical square sectors.
Even though it will take you about 20-30 minutes to finish the set, don’t be surprised if you feel tired after lots of repetitive building with small plates and tiles.
These four yards, each representing one of four seasons, look absolutely cute; there’s a lot of spare space for playing out some silly scenes, yet each corner has just the right amount of decorations.
Considering how easy it is to swap the yards, you can easily replace any of the default ones with your own designs representing a hangar of the Death Star or a room from some ancient Ninjago temple.
Playing LEGO Ludo
The game of Ludo is famous for its easy rules and straightforward gaming process. It’s a perfect candidate for any kid’s first board game. Decorating the board and the tokens is the simplest way to customise the gaming process, but using LEGO pieces and minifigures brings Ludo to a whole a new level.
First of all, it’s the minifigures that make you laugh and cry when winning or losing. Despite the iconic status of the original Ludo pieces, LEGO minifigures add a many new possibilities to make the most fun of the game. Now your tokens can run, sit, wave at each other and, most importantly, interact with each other in so many ways. And it’s not just about teammates, but also about figures of different teams even if they are in yard and not on their way to their homes yet.
A couple of short gaming sessions proved that at some it almost doesn’t matter how good your tactics are. When it’s somebody else’s turn, you spend this time playing with your minifigures — or with your opponent’s figures! There can’t be any losers when everyone is laughing at yet another funny scene unfolding in your yard–a distinct improvement over the classic game with static playing pieces. The decorations placed in the yards already provide some great playability, but why not add pieces and minifigure accessories from your own collection too?
With the 10.2 cents per piece the 40198 LEGO Ludo Game is not a particularly cheap toy and a bit more expensive than traditional versions. The reason for the price is, of course, 16 minifigures and a number of large plates and a baseplate, all of which increase the price significantly. However, I can’t find a way to call the price unfair. Unlike many other LEGO sets, the Ludo game comes with countless hours of easily customisable gaming sessions. The board, the figures, the rules — everything can be changed, and the size of your LEGO collection is the only limit. All in all, the set makes a very positive impression and we are looking forward to trying out more LEGO board games in the future.
LEGO 40198 Ludo Game includes 389 pieces with 16 minifigures.
The set is available now from the LEGO Shop ($39.99 in the US | $49.99 in Canada | £34.99 in the UK), Amazon.com, Target, and elsewhere. The set is also available from third-party sellers on eBay and BrickLink.