Bollocks and Ladders – Block Tech Blocks ‘n’ Ladders

bnlI must confess to being biased against this product from the outset. I have a thing against Lego knock-offs. Half the price, a tenth of the fun; the pieces never stay together properly. When my son brought ‘BnL’ downstairs to play, my heart sank. I was holding out for another round of City of Zombies. BnL was a gift from a friend at my 6 year old’s birthday party. It’s horrible choosing gifts for these occasions; I never know what to buy.  From the outside this looks a pretty good bet. Snakes and Ladders, only you build stuff as you go. Brilliant!

If only.

The board doesn’t lay flat, since it’s only a (thin) cardboard square, this is inexcusable. The pieces are in non-resealable bags. The idea of the game is to build and rebuild the specified models each play, so something to keep the pieces from being mixed up between games would have been nice. Some of the pieces are poorly moulded and it would transpire later that they weren’t all there. Then there’s the minifigures. Their faces are very badly painted on; some of them are truly terrifying. They look like ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’ after a trip to President Business’s beauty salon.

Despite my reservations we settled down to play. The first thing that caught my eye was the casual sexism. There are four characters, three male and one female. Their roles. SWAT team Policeman, Fireman, Dinosaur Ranger and… Fashion Model *sigh*. They each have their special squares where they can use unique abilities: Catch Criminals!, Extinguish Fires!, Follow tracks!, and…er… answer the phone… *double sigh*.

Only a fashionista can take that call...

Only a fashionista can take that call…

The game itself is straightforward snakes and ladders. You roll the die, move, then follow the instructions on the square you land on. These are normally ‘Take X pieces.’ The game says it’s for 5+ but my six year old who can manipulate Lego with no problem, really struggled. The pieces don’t fit together well and so he had to keep reattaching them. To his credit it took him the entire game before he lost his temper. The instructions for all four models are one double sided piece of paper. They are tiny and only one person can use them at once. You can cut the paper in half (which we ended up doing), but because they are double sided, it still means only two people can build.

These issues are exacerbated by the fact it doesn’t actually take very long to roll a dice.  Everybody has to either sit around whilst each person builds or just keep going collecting more and more pieces, getting further and further behind with their build. Each build has a wildly different number of pieces, which might be unfair, if it weren’t for the fact we’d all collected all our pieces around the half way mark. Three of us hadn’t built our models because we couldn’t see the instructions. We just had small heaps of Flego (Fake Lego) in front of us, but pressed on up the board as fast as we could in order to end the pain. By the end of the game my 6 year old finally managed to put his helicopter together, only for us to discover that his minifigure didn’t sit in properly. At that point he had a tantrum, and who can blame him?

This is a terrible game, devoid of thought or care. It is bound to end in misery for any family that tries to play it. Had this game been made by Lego it would surely have cost three times the price, but then I would only have to play it three times to get the same value for money.

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