Review by Rhiannon King
I had the good fortune this past week to try out the new offering from Board and Dice, Mandala Stones. Designed by Filip Glowacz and art from Zbigniew Umgelter, it’s a game of the kind of simplicity that can only lead to complex and tactical gameplay. Filip was on hand to guide us through our first game using Tabletopia and ensured that we were behaving ourselves.
Playing the game
The game begins with four artists sitting amongst piles of Mandala Stones, each stone has one of two patterns which matches the artists. It’s simple enough – move your artist, take your stones, score points; or so I thought.
Artists and stones must match patterns and stones can only be claimed if they touch that artist and no other. Any claimed stack of stones is then placed on your player board and this is where the real strategy comes in as not only is it where you’ve put your stones but in what order.
Here you can see the artists (the tall black columns) in amongst the Mandala Stones (The colourful discs in stacks).
When a player moves an artist to an empty circle, they take the stones with the matching pattern from around them as long as the stones don’t touch another artist. Stones are taken in a clockwise order but can start at any point in the surrounding circle. This stack is then moved to the player board ready for scoring later. The player board offers different scoring depending on height and placement of different colours as shown below.
Once you choose to score, or you have no places left for your stacks, simply choose a colour matching the top stones of at least two of your piles and check the scoring conditions while removing them. Eg. You may score high if the colour is the only stone of its stack and therefore low down or you may score better for being on a large stack, It all depends on which space you have chosen when placing earlier. Equally, variety of colours or levels may be where your points lie. If scoring this way is not possible, you can also score a flat 1 point for each top stone removed and placed on the Mandala Board.
Mandala Board where players keep track of the games progress.
Any stones removed take their place on the Mandala Board and a game finishes once the symbol for the player number is covered. Don’t forget to pick up those extra points along the way if one of your stones covers a bonus spot.
It can all seem like victory is yours until you score you’re objective cards at the end. These cards are easy to overlook when your thoughts are all about getting the right stones but they’ve won me a couple of games now by themselves. With conditions like finishing with ‘only 3 stones on your board’ or ‘have exactly 3 yellow stones on your board’, they can be your saviour or your enemy.
I genuinely love this game, simple as that. It’s attractive to look at, it’s simple to learn and understand but at the same time has some real depth of strategy if you choose to. I’ve played four player games and two player games, and it works equally well with both. Some people will know that one of my main gripes when it comes to board games is a game that claims to be two player but the penalises your gameplay if you do. This does not punish you for playing two player which makes it a great game in our house as we can play as a family but also have a trickier game when just me and my husband play.
I can’t wait to see it in person once it comes out as virtual boardgaming can never do a game true justice. This is one I see making an appearance at many club nights next year and also around my game table at home.
8 out of 10: Based on virtual game alone but once it’s released and I can see the physical copy I shall come back and adjust accordingly. This is one I eagerly anticipate.