Menara is a one to four player cooperative dexterity game from designer Oliver Richtberg and published by Zoxh Verlag. In Menara, players will be using pillars and oddly shaped floor tiles to re-create and rebuild the ancient temple. Cooperation is key, a steady hand is a must and careful planning is needed to see the temple grow.
On a player’s turn, they may exchange pillars from their personal supply with those in the communal camp. Next, they reveal one construction card from the easy, medium or difficult stack and then add columns, move columns or move temple floors depending on what the card shows. Columns must be placed on the corresponding coloured base on an available temple tile. If a tile has no more free bases available, a new floor tile is immediately drawn from the top of the stack and added to the ever-growing temple structure.
If you physically can’t complete the construction card then it is added face down to the level cards. The number of level cards dictate the number of floors the temple needs to be at the end of the game to win. At the end of your turn, you draw as many columns as you have placed from the bag.
If a temple floor collapses the game ends immediately. The game also ends if any columns fall over and can’t be placed on their previous place. Other end game triggers include exhausting the column supply bag, the last construction card placed and the last temple floor tile placed. After the game has ended players check to see how high the temple is and if it is equal to or greater than the number of level cards in the display. If it is all players win, if not then all players lose.
Dexterity games are often competitive in nature so it's refreshing to see a dexterity game that favours cooperation. Menara is a wonderful game that has hidden depth that I didn't appreciate at first glance. It also looks gorgeous and has a wonderful table presence.
The basic principle of Menara is to place coloured columns onto corresponding coloured bases. Once all the columns are placed, a new temple floor is added and play continues. Columns are added from a stack of easy, medium, and difficult cards. On a player’s turn, they draw a card from one of these stacks and perform the required action. The rules are straightforward and simple which is highly appreciated.
The rulebook details which actions are in which stack and the frequency of the card. This means that you can, and must, carefully plan which stack you are drawing from. In the difficult stack there are cards that require you to move three columns to a higher floor. If you don’t have these then picking a difficult card is going to be tricky. By keeping an eye on which cards have been played means that you can efficiently perform the actions.
For all your planning and cooperation a steady hand is a must. Placing the pillars on the higher levels can be very tense, especially if the previous floors are not well balanced. It offers some “hold your breath” moments as you are trying to balance and place the pillars. The temple floor tiles are also odd shapes and never fit where you want them. Figuring out how best to place, where to place them and on which pillars is critical in keeping your temple steady and built on strong foundations.
I love this game. It is so easy to teach yet offers some fun and tense gameplay moments. There are various ways to alter the difficulty to suit your needs, which is always welcome and at the end, you can lean back and be amazed at the structure that you have built, or stare at the crumbling temple as it all comes crashing down. Either way, this cooperative dexterity game is great fun and I will be showing this to everyone and anyone that comes to game night.