29 April 2021
One worth getting the ironing board out for.
It’s not often players have to iron the board before playing. Mandala is one of the few games where we’d advise that you do. The tea towel board (this is written affectionately) is laid before two players and the big deck of cards presenting some lovely looking mandalas is shuffled. Take a hand of cards and then either play them into your side of the one of the two ‘mountains’, on to the mountain itself, or discard and draw.
Players win a mountain by completing a set of six coloured mandala cards on a mountain, at which point it is destroyed and the player with the majority of any colour used gets the first pick of those colours on the mountain itself. These go into a scoring track where you’ll get points for each of that type at the end of the game, the first will land you a single point, whereas the sixth will gain you six points, and end the game in completing your personal set.
As such this is a game of tactical denial of your opponent’s set building ability. Because only one of each colour may be played into each mountain, blocking your opponent from completing their set, or gaining multiple high scoring cards is the way to victory. Equally, drawing cards requires placing mandalas into the mountain, which makes them up for grabs at the end and also don’t count toward your 'claim' on them. You have to give up something then to keep your hand full enough to have options in the future. It’s a smart back and forth, and having two mountains to complete at once can make for interesting ‘shifts’ in focus throughout a game. One worth getting the ironing board out for.
Christopher John Eggett
Designer: Trevor Benjamin & Brett J. Gilbert
Publisher: Lookout Games
Time: 15-20 minutes
This feature originally appeared in Issue 49 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
Sometimes we may include links to online retailers, from which we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate links do not influence editorial coverage and will only be used when covering relevant products