In the Menara board game, all players work together to rebuild an ancient temple. But don’t let the building get out of balance….
So, now very carefully move the temple slab with columns upwards, it’s about to be done and…NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! – Everything collapses.
As with classic games like Jenga or Packesel, the Menara board game literally depends on dexterity, balance and skill and sometimes you hardly dare to breathe. But unlike other games of skill, Menara is distinguished by the fact that strategic considerations also play a role in building and that all players pull together here – or rather build a temple. Either everyone loses together or celebrates victory together.
The game is called Menara because of the Malay word for tower. Visually, the game material is modelled on temples from Southeast Asia. Is it worth buying and for whom? – Read more about how to play, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of this new game here.
Note: We were kindly sent a review copy by Zoch-Verlag. However, this review is not paid for or content matched and reflects our independent opinion.
The Menara board game consists of 18 different sized and coloured temple floors, 76 different coloured pillars plus bags, 35 building cards and 5 floor cards. There is also a so-called camp, which you have to assemble from pre-cut cardboard pieces during the first game.
To prepare for a game of Menara, shuffle the temple floors and make a pile, the “quarry”. Take the top 3 of these and use them to lay the base of the temple, whereby the pieces must always touch in at least 2 places. Each temple floor has a light and a dark side, each with different column bases. These determine where and in which colour columns may be placed here. When building the base, you can choose the side.
The columns are mixed well in the black bag. Then you fill up the base with them and each player draws a certain number of them. How many depends on the number of players and the difficulty level you want to play with. Two of us played with the easiest level and each drew 7 columns.
The level of difficulty can also be varied by the number of floor cards laid out next to the temple at the beginning. These indicate how many storeys high you have to build the tower.
In addition, the building cards are sorted according to the colour of the glyph printed on them – blue, yellow or red – and each pile is shuffled. These are also placed next to the game board as a draw pile. Now the game is ready to start!
When it is your turn, always proceed according to the following 4 steps:
In all steps, it is not only allowed but advised to consult with the other players. Always remember: the Menara board game is cooperative! You can actually only win if everyone works together and decisions are tactically well thought out.
To be honest, we underestimated the game the first time we played it and more or less just went for it. Even on the easiest level, however, it quickly becomes tricky! This is because the building cards specify tasks of varying difficulty. What is common is that the most difficult level has the most red cards. So it makes sense to get rid of as many as possible as early as possible, especially as the risk associated with this becomes greater and greater the further the temple has progressed and the higher it has already been built.
On the other hand, many of the red cards can’t be fulfilled at all at the beginning and that’s bad: every building plan card that can’t be fulfilled has to be placed in the row of floor cards and means the temple has to be one floor higher at the end for you to win. If, on the other hand, it could be fulfilled, it is placed on a discard pile at the edge.
If all the base fields of a temple floor are covered with columns, a new temple floor must be built. However, this floor does not have to lie on these columns or only on these columns. Which side – dark, light or whatever – faces upwards is determined by the active building card. It is also possible to place temple floors on columns that are themselves on different temple floors and thus interlock the temple construction more and more. This is also advisable for the stability of the whole.
The central decision element in Menara board game are the building blank cards. In a way, they determine the joy and sorrow of the players, depending on whether the card drawn calls for an easy, difficult or even impossible building measure. In principle, of course, there is also a lot of luck involved. Nevertheless, it is a not insignificant strategic decision from which of the 3 piles one draws a card. Before the first game, it is best to take a look at all the cards and familiarise yourself with what they mean with the help of the instructions.
Most of the building cards tell you to build or move columns. Since you are only allowed to build one column of that colour on a column base on one of the temple floors, it is also very important to keep an eye on which columns you have yourself or the other players have. It is not necessary or advisable to exchange columns with the camp in every round, but sometimes it can be downright necessary.
Particularly nasty are the maps that require you to move already built columns from lower floors to higher ones. You may have to hold your breath and pull a column out from between two temple floors or push it in between two temple floors. And this only works well if enough other columns can support the temple floor above and everything that rests on it! Because the balance is sometimes not so easy to assess, you should consult well with the others here.
The heaviest building card even requires you to move a whole temple floor (with columns on it if necessary) upwards! Fortunately, unlike other cards, this one only comes once, so you can breathe a sigh of relief when you have succeeded and put it aside.
If the tower, or even part of it, collapses, everyone has lost. To win, however, it is not enough, as you might think, to have built as many floors as the floor cards indicate. The Menara board game is not over until
If the tower is still standing and has as many floors as the cards on the table indicate, then the game is won!
If you like building towers, like games of skill and also like to play cooperatively, you will love Menara! The game is clearly a family game that can inspire both children and adults. Especially with the more difficult decisions concerning the balance, the older players can certainly advise and support the younger ones well.
We enjoyed the Menara board game very much, which is mainly due to the fact that it demands different skills at the same time and is also very communicative and interactive, which we actually always like. You don’t just need skill like in Jenga, for example, but you also have to think logically and consider which card to draw and how to use it, because you usually have several options.
We also liked the fact that you play cooperatively here, in contrast to many comparable games of skill, where the player who knocks over a tower loses and the others basically always try to make it difficult for the next player. Here, the opposite is true and the better you plan ahead, the more likely you are to win.
It is also great that you can vary the difficulty level and thus keep increasing.
The material is very well made and the temple design by Sébastien Caiveau is aesthetically pleasing. At most, the little black bag could have been made a little bigger, as the columns almost ooze out at the beginning.
An original game of skill in which not only steady hands are important, but also tactics, a sense of balance and, last but not least, communication among the players. Exciting and entertaining for both children and adults!
Looking for more new family board games? We recommened the board game The Quacks of Quedlinburg. Always up to date on tips & ideas from Abenteuer Freundschaft with activities with kids, partner and family? It’s easy: follow us on Facebook and Instagram and / or subscribe to our newsletter! 😉
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