Today’s review is about a game with no dice or cards called
World Monuments is a game by Piero Cioni and published by Queen Games. It’s for 2-4 players and takes around 45 minutes to play. In the game, you’ll be working together with your fellow players to build one of four monuments – Notre Dame Cathedral, the US Capitol, St. Peter’s Basilica, or the Taj Mahal.
Included in the box are 4 monument boards, 72 construction stones in four colors, 9 blue gems, a start player stone, 4 three-piece screens, 4 scoring tokens, a quarry board, a worker token, and a bag. At the start of the game, you’ll select one of the four monument boards to determine what you’ll be building. This board will show a base where you will be building the monument, as well as a picture of the completed monument and the distribution of tokens for each round. At the beginning of each round, you’ll put the required stones in the bag, mix them up, and place them randomly on the circular quarry board. Scoring tokens begin on 10 of the score track. Then, you’ll begin play.
Each round has two phases: Quarry and Construction. During the Quarry phase, the first player will place the worker on one of the spaces around the outer edge of the quarry board, taking the stone that is there. The next player may move the worker two spaces, taking one stone from each space crossed and making sure to end on the outer ring. The next player moves three spaces, taking one stone from each space ending on the outer ring. From that point on, players move the worker four spaces, taking one stone from each space if they can and always ending on the outer ring.
Once all stones have been taken, you move on to the Construction phase. Players take turns placing one stone on the foundation, following the distribution shown in the picture of the completed building. You score one point for placing on the first level, three for the second, five for the third, seven for the fourth, and nine for the fifth. If you ever cannot play, you reveal what you have left and lose one point per remaining stone. You’re also out of the round. Once everyone has passed (either because they can’t play or because they’re out of stones), the round is over and you reset for the next round.
The third round ends when the monument is complete, or when no one can play. Players lose points as normal, then add three points for each blue gem they collected during the game. The player with the most points wins.
COMPONENTS: As I mentioned in the introduction, there are no dice or cards in this game, which is a bit unusual in this day and age. There are four monument boards, and each has all of the pertinent information needed for seeding the bag each round, as well as what the final product should look like. The foundation as printed on the board is color-coded since those are often the most difficult to identify in the given picture. The score track only goes to 60, which is not a problem as long as you remember what lap you’re on. The quarry board is an appropriate size for its use, and is well designed so that your four steps can get you anywhere on the board. It’s circular shape gives it nice visual appeal, especially when all of the stones are laid out.
The stones are kind of a thick W shape, which is good for when the stones are offset in the structure. They’re nice and chunky, and they stack well. It’s good construction. I have heard reports of copies missing stones – the copy I played with was missing a blue and a white – so that’s something to be aware of.
Overall, the components are very nice. Queen usually does a good job with their bits.
THEME: This game feels like it could almost be an abstract game. In the end, you’re stacking blocks for points. But by having the stacks resemble actual landmarks, the game becomes more interesting. Of course, building the actual Taj Mahal would not be that easy, but here, it’s a good framing device for the game.
MECHANICS: It’s difficult to classify World Monuments in terms of mechanisms in play. BGG lists the two mechanisms as Set Collection and Worker Placement, and I don’t really see either of those. There’s drafting as you select the stones you’re going to use, and there’s resource management as you try to decide when to place the stones you have collected without being wasteful. There’s an element of dexterity to it as well as you try to stack the blocks in the correct shapes – however, you’re not penalized when a block falls off, so I wouldn’t call it a dexterity game.
The game is simple to learn as it has few rules, and the three-round structure keeps AP from being too much of a problem – rather than get all of the blocks at once, there are roughly a third of them available. The blue blocks provide a nice definite three points, though other colors have the potential for more, so that provides another choice.
STRATEGY LEVEL: There is randomness in the initial placement of stones in the query, but after that, this game is pure strategy. You have to make the choices about which stones you’re going to take, and choices about when and where to place them. You have to constantly be aware of what your opponents are doing, and you have to weigh your own moves against what they will probably do. The rules are simple, but there’s a surprising amount of thought going on.
ACCESSIBILITY: As mentioned, the rules for this game are pretty easy to pick up. I’d classify this as a solid gateway game that gamers of all levels could get into. In fact, it even strikes me as the type of game that should get some notice from the Spiel des Jahres committee. I’m terrible at predicting these things, but I want that on the record – I think you’ll be hearing more about this game next May.
REPLAYABILITY: With four different monuments in the box, as well as different configurations of stone coming into your hand each round, World Monuments is pretty replayable. It’s a very expandable game – all you have to do is come out with more monument boards, and all of a sudden, everyone is playing a different game.
SCALABILITY: I’ve only played this game with four players, and it worked very well each time. The game moves along at a good pace, and you never feel like you’re just sitting around with nothing to do. I imagine that fewer players gives higher scores.
INTERACTION: There’s no direct interaction here, just trying to get in other players’ way. You take stones from a single quarry, and try to get to the best ones first. Then you’re playing into structures, trying not to set each other up for big scores.
FOOTPRINT: You need room on the table for the monument board, the quarry board, and all player’s screens. It’s not a sprawling game, but I’d say that a medium sized table would be good.
IS IT BUZZWORTHY? I think so. It’s quick, simple, and fun. It’s not the deepest game in the world, but there is a lot going on, and it’s one that I think you could play with a wide range of people with a lot of success.
Thanks for reading!