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Posted on Mon, Sep 27, 2010 : 7:45 a.m.

Creationary gives adults a great excuse to play with Legos again

By Mike Hulsebus


Mike Hulsebus | Contributor

Lego Creationary is Pictionary but with Legos. Let me say that again: Pictionary with Legos. Feel free to tell the Meijer cashier that you're buying it for your kids, but this is a game for adults too. But before you run off to go find your credit card, let’s take a look at the game and see if a toy can become a fun board game.

Creationary comes with a whole bunch of bricks in different colors. It also comes with a deck of cards divided into three difficulties so that players of different skill levels can play together. Level 1 cards ask you to build things like a shoe, a phone, a suspension bridge and a church. Level 3 cards, on the other hand, ask players to build more difficult things like the ruins of a roman coliseum or a grizzly bear (try making a brown quadruped that doesn't just look like a dog).


There is a wide variety of pieces in the game and just the right amount of strange pieces to allow players to use their imagination.

Mike Hulsebus | Contributor

I find all difficulty levels of the cards challenging, and that’s a good thing because that’s what really makes the game. It’s incredibly satisfying to get a card showing a park-style grill that you have no idea how to initially build, only to later find that you’ve made a nice little Lego creation that you’re proud of. There are a lot of board games out there that give you satisfaction of “building an economic engine or that let you take a small kingdom and to make it bigger, but I think there is no other game experience like the feeling the accomplishment of building something clever out of Lego bricks.


Mike Hulsebus | Contributor

This, ordinarily, is where I start to go over the rules of a game, but Creationary doesn’t really have rules. The “rulebook” outlines four different ways how you might play, but it doesn’t get too specific when it comes to things like how you're allowed to move the pieces, and it leaves it up to you how many guesses each player is allowed. There isn’t any guidance about how you some interpret the cards, either. For example, if I get a card with a picture of a cordless phone sitting in its dock, do I have to build that, or can I build any sort of phone? Normally, I really don’t like unclear rulebooks, but in this case, the “it’s your game, play it how you would like” seems consistent with the overall philosophy of Lego bricks. In this way, Creationary blurs the line between “toy” and “game.”

The one main problem that the game has is downtime. You have infinite time to build your creation, so if someone is building something particularly complex (“cave” for example), the other players just sit there and watch bricks go together until it has taken shape enough that you know what’s going on. The ideal way to play would be, I think, if there were enough sets of bricks so that all players were able to build at the same time, pausing occasionally to guess what those around them are building.


Sometimes a simple creation can say just as much as a complex one.

Mike Hulsebus | Contributor

Even when just one player is using a set, we’ve run into times where it would be nice to have more of certain types of bricks, so we’ve recently put in a special order to Lego to get enough so that next time we make vehicle, we can build more than just one side of it. There are a lot of pieces, yes, but it would be nice to have more. I’m guessing that this was deliberate to keep the overall price from getting prohibitively expensive (The game is $33 on Amazon and $30 at Meijer).

What I mean to say is, the most fun thing about Creationary is building, and the more building you can do the better, so even though the game says it plays up to 8, I would rather play with as few as possible: my wife and I play without scoring points even though the game says it’s for a minimum of three players. Unlike other games where you can play the same game with any number of players, I think players will find that different rules work better with different numbers of players.


Mike Hulsebus | Contributor

I had pretty high expectations for Creationary, and I’m happy to say that it exceeded them. There’s something about making it a game that makes it interesting. I would quickly get tired of building random things, but when you have a situation where you’re told what to build and where someone else has to try to figure out your thought process, that’s a great game. Yes, as fun as the game is, it’s still basically an excuse to play with toys, so if that’s not the game experience you’re looking for, don’t get Creationary.

Let me put it this way. Back in second grade for my birthday, I got the Lego ice base with the grabby crane and the ice guys and I remember how hard it was opening up that morning and then having to wait all day of school to play the thing. When Creationary came, it showed up on my lunch break, so I got to look at the pieces but didn’t have time to play with it. The day at work sure dragged on as I waited to get home so I could play with Legos. I haven’t messed around with Legos for many years and it sure is good to be back.

Mike Hulsebus someday wants to run a tabletop RPG in which players build their ships out of Lego bricks. Until that ruleset gets written, he’ll have to settle for making laser noises just for fun. He can be reached at Join him next week when he returns to nerdier games and plays Magic:The Gathering..


Mike Hulsebus | Contributor

Answers and building credit:

Mike: garbage truck, outdoor grill

Karen: castle, chair, scarab, blender

Jake: submarine


Phil Dokas

Mon, Sep 27, 2010 : 10:01 a.m.

A) Holy crap you had the ice castle!? My god, you would've been king of my second grade. B) Perfect birthday gift for my nephews: located.