Friday, January 13, 2012


Ever wanted to build a series of islands in a timed fashion?

Mondo is a tile placement world building game from ZMan in which players compete against each other to build a consistent landmass while being timed. In the box you'll find 4 double sided player boards, a bajillion double sided land tiles (consisting of water, desert, forest, and plains), some additional tasks tiles, score modifier tiles, score sheets, and a timer.

The game has three rounds is played as thus: Set the timer, play tiles to build your island making sure to match the edges (desert to desert, forest to forest, and so on), repeat. Incredibly simple but actually very hard to do since you are racing against the clock (7 minutes per round), are fighting others for the tiles, you can't rearrange the tiles once they are on the board, and you can only use one hand. Seriously, its in the rules. During the building phase anyone can "tap out" at any time by grabbing the bonus chip, which will give you 1-4 points depending on when you go out. Of course as soon as you do this, then you're done for the round and can not add anything else to your board. After the round is over, be it because everyone tapped out, or the timer went "Ding!" its time to score. You score the following way:

2 points for properly connected tiles (forest to forest, etc) (land only, not water)
1 point for every animal on the board
1-4 points for bonus points, based on what you grabbed
-1 point for every active volcano you have on the board
-1 point for every misconnection (desert to forest, etc)
-1 point for every blank spot 
Points for if you played with the modifier/additional task tiles (advanced game)

Can you figure out my score for this round?
Player with the highest score during the round gets the volcano chip which counts inactive volcanos as active for purposes of scoring. At the end of three rounds, whoever has the highest score wins.

So yeah, thats it. Theres a large variety of tiles with different land combinations to them that make digging through them crazy. After a few games you know exactly which tiles you are looking for but with up to 3 others playing against you who are after the same tiles as you in real time makes for an exciting and frustrating time. The player boards are double sided (one side has water boarders, the other has all four tile types) and really force a change in how you play since you need to build off of previously played tiles.

The game is a lot of fun and forces people to spatially think on the fly, which in theory should keep those players who suffer from analysis paralysis from holding up the game (gooooo timer!). That said, for those same reasons its probably not for everyone. If you don't do well in a timed environment, you're probably screwed (unless you are playing with others). If you don't do well with spatial placement, it'll frustrate you. My wife is competitive but gets frustrated by this game due to the timer and spatial placement isn't always her strong point, so this isn't her favorite one to play. Honestly I'm surprised our timer hasn't sailed through the air to its untimely demise against the refrigerator with springs and bells strewn across the floor. 

In the off chance of that happening (or if it has already happened to you) I have created this fantastic tool for you to use - the Youtube Mondo Timer:

Please keep your computer in a safe place that can't be thrown across the room.

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