Mandala Stones Board Game Review

Mandala StonesStats:
No. of players: 2-4
Amount of time to play: 30 min
Age requirements: 10+
Set-up time: 5 min

Mandala Stones is an abstract board game for two to four players that is easy to teach, learn and enjoy.

Mandala Stones Rules Description:

Mandala Stones comes with 96 stones (24 in each of four colors). To begin you place random stacks of four stones on the board and place the four artisans in their starting spots. You also get two objective cards. One of these will get you bonus VPs at the end of the game if you meet its condition. On your turn you either move an artisan or score. If all the spots on your board are full you must score your discs.

In order to collect discs you must move an artisan. The discs and artisans have two different symbols on them. When you move an artisan you may collect any adjacent discs with a matching symbol that are not adjacent to another artisan. At most this will be four total discs. You may choose which disc you pick up first then continue clockwise placing discs on top of the stack. Next you place the stack on an empty scoring spot on your player board.

You can score in two ways. You may remove the top disc from any number of your stacks and score one VP for each. The other way is to score any piles that have the same color discs on top. You must have at least two of these in order to score this way. There are five scoring piles on your mat and you start scoring the leftmost pile then continue right. The first stack scores based on the number of different height stacks you have. The next three score based on their height. One scoring the most for having just one disc another scoring the most when having three discs and the last scoring the most when having four discs in the stack. The last stack scores based on the number of colors in it plus one.

Anytime you score discs they go on the scoring track. Some spots on the scoring track give you an extra VP or two when covered. Once the spot showing the number of players is covered you finish the round so that all players get the same number of turns. Next you check if anyone has met one of their objective cards, add those points and the player with the most VPs wins. It doesn’t matter if you meet both objective cards. You may only score one objective.

Quick Review of Mandala Stones:

Mandala Stones is a board game that has simple mechanics but depth in the choices you make. It is easy to teach and is accessible to a wide range of ages. Both hard core gamers and those new to the hobby can enjoy it.

The components for this game are very nice. The discs are bright and made of ceramic. The cards are a bit flimsy but you won’t be handling them that much. The rules are well written and easy to follow too.

To do well in Mandala Stones you must know when it is best to collect piles, score and which way is best to score. Sometimes you have a decent spot to collect from, but it might be better to collect from another place and block the next player from having a great spot to collect from. Like I said the game mechanics are simple but there are lots of decisions you have to make.

Be aware that all the decision making in this game can lead to analysis paralysis. Sometimes the best path is evident but there are times when two choices will might gain you the same advantage

If you are a fan of abstract board games you should give Mandala Stones a try. It plays well with two, three, or four players and is easy to teach and learn, but hard to master.

Score and synopsis: (Click here for an explanation of these review categories.)
Strategy 4 out of 6
Luck 4 out of 6
Player Interaction 5 of 6
Replay Value 4 out of 6
Complexity 3 out of 6
Fun 4 out of 6
Overall 4 out of 6

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