There’s a new edition of Mondo out there. The new edition is much smaller and cheaper than the original Mondo, but there’s also less game inside the box.
The game: Mondo: Der rasante Legespaß by Michael Schacht, published by Pegasus Spiele in 2015.
Elevator pitch: The clock is ticking – pick up tiles to build a 3×3 island that scores as many points as possible, while avoiding mistakes.
What’s in the box? There’s couple of cardboard frames, containing a total of 48 tiles, sized 3 cm × 3 cm, and a ziploc bag to hold them. No boards are involved. The players need to provide means for keeping score and a timer, there’s no timer involved. The tiles look the same as in original Mondo.
What do you do in the game? Everybody must build a 3×3 island. Since it’s an island, it must have water on the outside edges. The timer is started and everybody starts taking tiles. Once you place a tile in your grid, you can’t move it.
When everybody is ready or the timer runs out (four minutes, that’s plenty of time), the islands are scored. Failing the water (no water on the outside edges, water in inside edges) is fatal, and means you score zero points. Other than that, you get points for completed landscape areas (landscapes on tile edges match) and animals on tiles. First player to finish gets a bonus and the player with the most volcano tiles loses one point per volcano. Mistakes and missing tiles cost points, too.
There are three rounds. After that, the player with the most points wins the game.
Lucky or skillful? Mostly skill. You need to think clearly under time pressure. There’s a bit of chaos, though, as somebody might grab the exact tile you need for your island – there aren’t many copies of similar landscape layouts.
Abstract or thematic? Quite abstract, really, but building islands is fun.
Solitaire or interactive? Original Mondo had task cards that added some interaction. This is a pure race. The tile set is limited, so it’s not totally solitaire, but there’s very little interaction outside the race to grab the tiles you want.
Players: 2–4. Two is probably the best, because then you have enough tiles to build 4×4 islands, which makes the game more interesting.
Who can play? Age recommendation is 8+, which sounds good to me. As is usual for the speed games, the more skilled player will prevail most of the time, but of course it’s not always obvious the adult is the faster player…
Length: 15–20 minutes, depending on how much time you spend scoring. The game takes 12 minutes (and can be faster, as you can remove minute or two from the timer without really increasing the time pressure).
What’s to like: Simple idea; cleanly done; no unnecessary frills.
What’s not to like: Repetitive game play; not much game in it; weak replay value.
My verdict: Looks like I’ve played the original Mondo once. It was ok, but I felt very little need to play it again. The new edition doesn’t fare much better. Since my kids like this, I expect this’ll reach few more plays. However, I already felt after the first play that I’ve seen what this game has to offer – the replay value seems really quite weak here.
Then again, the small box is easy to carry around and the rules are very simple to explain, so it’s easy to play a game with just about anybody, in a short amount of time. If these are significant upsides for you, Mondo: Der rasante Legespaß might be a fine choice for you.
If my kids end up liking this a lot, I’ll get a copy of the original Mondo. It may be more expensive and come in a bigger box, but it sure has a lot more game in it than this one.
On the scale of Enthusiastic, Suggest, Indifferent or Avoid, Mondo: Der rasante Legespaß gets Indifferent from me.