Monuments Review

10 August 2022
A monumental shame

Any game that includes a pack of paper clips to hold its star components together raises an eyebrow. And so begins our tour of the standard edition of Monuments.

Here, players lead an ancient civilization. They must build a landmark to secure a place in the history books, while fighting opponents for land on a hex-covered map of (some of) the world. Monuments follows many civ games by obscuring timelines so the Egyptians, Incas, Greeks and Mayans coexist. Its slight detour is a fleet of modern-day fighter planes – a suspension of belief too far?

Each player assumes their home hex along with a set of civ tokens for spreading out and conquering. These manifest via an action-retrieval hand of ten cards (only one card is played per turn, then must be discarded. Retrieving cards is an action in itself). Resources are generated through worker and factory civ tokens and can be exchanged, along with said workers, to build each stage of a monument. When a layer is complete, bonuses intensify actions – for example, workers get one extra movement. The winner is the person with the most victory points, earnt by building monument layers, completing quest cards and having certain items on the board at the game's end.

If the mood strikes, you may attack fellow civilizations to accumulate more land. This is key, as each monument layer requires more hexes. However, having played this as a trio – using only the Incas, Egyptians and Greeks as the rules dictate – attacking feels lopsided. Because of their (exaggerated) proximity, the Egyptians and Greeks tend to engage in battle, leaving the Peruvian player undisturbed to fly (?!) to the UK or a made-up island near South America. Cartography is not this game’s strong suit, as seen elsewhere: the Caribbean is conveniently huge, and Russia has vanished.

There are rumours an expansion pack will fill the gap, but games should still work independently of upgrades. Same for components. The deluxe versions look better, but the standard editions aren’t fit for purpose. In congress to the colossal board, civ tokens are pinhead small so get lost and overlooked. They’re also all the same shape and colour, (i.e. all green, or all blue) making it very difficult to differentiate them on the board. On top of this, illustrations are colour-on-colour, which no trip to Specsavers can solve. A lot of the graphic design, in fact, feels like a prototype – especially the generic player boards. The superior 7 Wonders shows how beautifully these can be done.

Other snags add delays. Resource images, counter-intuitively, do not tally (food is wheatsheaf on the board, bread on the token; metal is a steel bar on the board, ore on the token) – resulting in pauses and head scratches. Each of the so-called ‘special’ dice have sharp edges that refuse to roll, sheep are interchangeably referred to as cattle, while vague wording throughout the rule book and on the cards tends to raise more questions than it answers… The back cover sells “smooth and fast” turns but the Mayans certainly wouldn’t set their calendars by it.

And then, sigh, the monuments. The very thing workers sweated and died for. Disappointingly made from cardboard boxes with images on all four sides, the sizing is mismatched so the pictures misalign. The boxes also won’t sit flush (Mr Colossus of Rhodes gets a gappy face) and are forever being knocked over – hence the paperclip afterthought. The Egyptians might rightly feel miffed the Lighthouse of Alexandria was chosen over, say, the Great Sphinx of Giza, while Incan architects will be spinning in their tombs to discover the top layer of Machu Picchu is just blue sky and clouds.

Somewhere, somewhere, in here lurks potential. The retrieval mechanic is, on the whole, successful and the ability to upgrade actions introduces an interesting engine-building element. Overall, Monuments – in its standard incarnation, at least – is more ‘work in progress’ than ‘work of art’.

Jenny Cox


Too much play is lost to staring at the board trying to tell components apart. The cardboard monuments don’t withstand the game let alone the test of time, making Monuments memorable for the wrong reasons.


Content continues after advertisements

While there’s only one type of monument in this box, it’s a lot more satisfying than Monuments misstep.

Designer: Martin Looi

Publisher: Keep Exploring Games

Time: 60-120 minutes

Players: 1-4

Ages: 10+

Price: £57

What’s in the box?

  • Game board
  • Colossus of Rhodes monument pieces
  • Lighthouse of Alexandria monument pieces
  • Tikal monument pieces
  • Machu Picchu monument pieces
  • 20 Personal bonus cards
  • 4 Score cards
  • 2 Solo score cards
  • 32 Common bonus cards
  • 4 Ability cards
  • 48 Quest cards
  • 10 Solo quest cards
  • 4 Player boards
  • 40 Action cards
  • 8 Solo action cards
  • 25 Wood tokens
  • 25 Sheep tokens
  • 25 Metal tokens
  • 25 Food tokens
  • 25 Weapon tokens
  • 1 First player crown
  • 25 Bridge/ferry tokens
  • 2 Horse tokens
  • 3 Workshop tokens
  • 3 Farm tokens
  • 60 Workers
  • 12 Forts
  • 12 Towns
  • 12 Factories
  • 12 Air forces
  • 12 Navies
  • 12 Armies
  • 10 Special and 1 normal dice
  • 2 Island and water overlay hexes
  • 1 Score pad


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