Mandala Stones Review

16 July 2021
Is it as pretty as it promises?

Mandalas are pleasing circular designs, whose creation is deemed by many a meditative act. Some artists choose to paint theirs on smooth river stones, with often gorgeous results. And that forms the loosest of  themes for this new abstract title, which to some degree is itself meditative, and to a large degree is pleasing to play.

Each turn is elegantly binary. Either use an artist token to pick stones from random stacks on the main board, carefully piling them on any empty slot on your player board; or score them by moving the top stones off your player-board piles and onto the Mandala board, which arrays them in a satisfying spiral pattern.

Both options involve a good dose of thought, choice and strategy. The stones come in four colours with two different mandala patterns, all of which are relevant to a variety of scoring conditions. The player board slots each have their own scoring method: differing heights of piles, different points for how many stones are in each pile, and points for different colours in the same pile. But you can only score if you have two or more piles with the same colour stone on top.

It’s the kind of game where every player slips into quiet concentration, mainly trying not to trap themselves into low scores by missing effective combos. Interaction is minimal, but not entirely absent. It’s not hard to guess what colour or patterns other players are going for, and it is possible to limit their options on the main board by careful placement of the artist tokens.

Given its artistic theme, the game does unfortunately score low in the looks department (it’s so… grey!), but it is absorbing and moreish enough to compensate. Here’s hoping for a second-edition visual revamp.



Designer: Filip Glowacz

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Publisher: Board & Dice

Time: 30 minutes

Players: 2-4

Ages: 10+

Price: £34

This feature originally appeared in Issue 57 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.

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