Mangrovia is a beautiful game to see, but the first impression of the board is also a bit overwhelming. The board is full of squares, figures and numbers. Luckily it is not that bad when you know where to look and it is quite simple.
The core of the game is that the players choose each round in turn which action (or actions if you are with two or three players) you want to perform. At the bottom right of the board is a type of island with all the squares depicted around which a boat sails. The players place their bowls here (sacrificial bowls to be precise) on the spot between the two actions they want to perform. Only one bowl may be placed on each spot.
The boat then sails around the island and the actions are performed. In some places you may draw cards (resource cards or landscape cards), in other places you may build one or more huts, sometimes you may collect amulets or you may become the starting player.
The goal of the game is to collect as many points as possible. And you do this by building huts on strategic locations. The board shows how many points you get immediately when you build on a spot (the number of suns) and at the end you can score (many!) points by having the most huts in different rows and areas.
To build a hut somewhere you have to hand in a combination of cards. First you have to hand in a suitable landscape card as the one you want to build on and then you have to hand in resource cards with the same point value (the pictures are purely decorative, it concerns only the numbers) as shown on the spot where you want to build. There are also places where you have to pay with amulets.
If you build on a round space you may move one step forward on the amulet track. The further forward you are on this track, the more amulets you may take if you choose an action in which you score amulets.
As soon as a player has built all his huts, the round is completed and then it is time for the final score. On the board 8 totem poles are scaled down. You then decide who has the most and the second most huts on the “holy path” in front of the totem and these two players receive the points. If there is a tie, the player with a hut closest to the totem pole wins. After that, points can be divided for two quadrants on the game board and for the collected amulets. And the player with the most points wins the game and becomes the new ruler of Mangrovia.
Concluding this Mangrovia Review
Mangrovia is, despite its beautiful execution, actually a fairly dry game. You try as cleverly as possible to divide your huts over the board so that they help you to the first or second place in the final score as often as possible. At the same time it is important to make sure that you also take steps on the amulet track, especially if other players also focus on this. If one player manages to get a head start on this, there is a good chance that he will take the win. Most squares count for two or even three final scores, so sometimes it is quite difficult to choose where to build and then you also have to make sure you have the right cards and amulets to make your building plans come true. This sounds very complicated, but because the number of different types of actions is limited (6 possibilities per round), it is not that bad. Of course you always want more than you can, but it is precisely because of this scarcity that choosing becomes difficult and therefore interesting. The game is also really fun with two players.