When a company known for making little plastic accessories for LEGO minifigures decides to expand their brand, the obvious choice is to make a board game. I mean what else would you do?
Enter Chains to Champions!
Chains to Champions is a gladiator type game where you take on two roles across three stages. You start as a wealthy person looking to bid on a warrior to enter into the gladiator arena. But before you bid, you can bribe the guards to take a peek at the merchandise and size them up. When everyone is content and passes, everyone blind bids on who they want for the fight. You can buy multiple fighters but only one may enter. If you don’t get a chance to buy any, you are stuck with a weak convict.
The next stage is training. You have seven days/turns to train your fighter by equipping them with armor/weapons, special moves for that armor/weapon, academy training so they are better prepared, or earn money to afford the other stuff. But keep in mind, not everything will be available since others are buying up the goods and some pieces aren’t for sale.
Lastly you equip your fighter and you get to walk in their shoes into the arena. You can team up with others, but in the end, only one fighter leaves victorious (and alive).
I’m a big fan of LEGO and having a board game that provides more depth than just roll and move is great in my book. The game comes with training dummies but you can insert any minifigure in it. I always keep six little guys in the box to always be prepared. I’ve chosen the silly route for added fun but you could make this game extra “cutthroat” and have a bunch of medieval warriors ready for a fight.
The bidding on and training your fighter feels good. It is exciting to see what type of warrior you will create and bring onto the battle field. Plus having others see the gear you got and act scared is priceless (even if you are the first one out).
While I like this game and glad I own it, there are some problems with it. The biggest is probably all the math. I’m not against it, but calculating the attacks can feel tedious after some time. For example, most weapons are (D6+1) x Strength and if people don’t remember their strength from the one small pad of paper provided, there is a lot of questioning. And then the defense of D6 X Toughness isn’t as bad but when Toughness is hardly really talked about, it can be easier to forget the stats. Maybe if the next iteration had a player board to store some of this info, it could streamline it.
The most recent game I played of this had a long, drawn-out match between two people (one with a weapon but low strength to use it and the other without a weapon but high toughness) and the math made my eyes gloss over. If it wasn’t for one person keeping track of the numbers, it might’ve been an even longer battle.
Player elimination is another issue. I am hesitant to mention this because you can’t have a gladiator game about being the last one standing without it. The game isn’t supposed to be too long so it shouldn’t be a problem but ones that drag do keep it being a problem. Not sure if this should be fixed but it is something I am familiar with, especially when you (I) are the first one out.
But this game has a nice place in my collection. It is fun to pull out every once in awhile from the sheer absurdity of having cute, little LEGO minifigures being bought, trained, and then made to fight to the death (which can lead to see pictures since they can be dismembered). And if you get eliminated early because you were shoved into a spike wall, you can always pretend you are in the crowd, cheering for your favorite warrior to win or get revenge for you!
Publisher: Brick Warriors
Genre: Blind Bidding/Miniature Game
Player Count: 2-6
Duration: 40+ minutes