Game– The Manhattan Project
Set-up/play/clean-up– 2 hours
Basics-It’s time to build bombs! Each player takes the role of a different nation building nuclear weapons. On your turn you do one of two things: place workers on the main board and your board or recall your workers. Yes, this is a worker placement game, but the main twist is your building and how you use them. On the main board, players can buy buildings, repair, declare war, get money, get yellow cake, get bomb designs, get more workers, get more planes to attack, steal other player’s spaces, or refine your yellow cake to plutonium or uranium. You also get buildings that do much of the same but these are on your board. When you place workers, you get to place only ONE worker to the main board, but you can place as many workers as you want on your board. This leads the start of the game to go slow as everyone builds their home boards or only place on worker on a turn, but later in the game, you will see people place well over 10 workers to several different places. So, like some other euro style games, this is an engine building game. The way you win is building different bombs. Each bomb functions like a single use building that requires different types of workers to use as well as an amount of plutonium or uranium. When you build a bomb, you score its points. You can also load a bomb for five more points. With plutonium bombs, you can actually test fire a bomb. When you do this, you lose all that bombs points, BUT plutonium bombs are not worth that much more.
Theme-You play a nation trying to build bombs, and it’s fantastic. The different worker types make the game fun and make you really think you are sending your scientists to develop better reactors while engineers are building buildings and the base workers are out there in the mines. Espionage as an action is amazing. It really does feel like the cold war where your agents are out there sneaking into different facilities and stealing for your country. The fact you can declare war and attack really adds the feel of warring nations, and it’s a welcome addition to the euro game genre. Honestly, I played this game at Gencon, and bought this the next day. 5/5
Mechanics– Again, this is a great game through and through. It’s a euro, worker placement game; that’s a pretty crowded genre, but this game’s different spin on that really make the game. The different actions and workers really enhance the theme. And, the different actions complement one another. As an example, when you take some actions, money goes to a bribe pile. When you buy the cheapest building, you get the bribe pile. This means that you don’t have building build-up that you see in other games where no one wants to take a specific group of locations. This game might not be for everyone as there is direct player vs. player combat, but it was definitely for me! My only real complaint was the location deck. The game starts with a standard set of buildings, but after that, anything thing goes. So the next five buildings could be the most powerful combination in the game. The randomness in the building pile could hurt the game play and does take a bit from the game play. Check below for my suggestion on how to fix that. 4.5/5
Art/Construction– The art of this game is great. It’s got a retro, 50’s fib to it, so the art really enhances the theme. The board looks like pieces from a 1950’s office hammering home the feel of the cold war. The pieces are thick cardboard. Since I’m crazy, I would have liked different colored meeples for the workers, but the cardboard works. The boards use iconography instead of words, and that works well. All and all, a well put together game. The tracks for fighters/bombers could use a bit of work, but I’m happy. 4.5/5
Instructions– The instructions are online at http://www.boardgamegeek.com. They are written in well-written, readable English with different translations available. It’s a beefy book (10+ pages), but it does explain how to play quite well. 5/5
Final Thoughts– I love this game. I love the combat, the engine building, the theme, the mechanics, and almost every aspect of this game. It’s one of my favorites. I bring this game with me to every game day I go to. If you want a great game, the easy to play, but has levels and levels, this is the game for you. 95%
Quick Fixes– The main problem at hand is too much randomness in the building deck. To fix it, I look to Suburbia. In that game, when the players set-up the game, they make three piles of tiles to play based on the tile backs. These tiles are marked with an A, a B, or a C, and they tiles get more powerful as the letters go up. If Minion games released a revamped set of building cards where the buildings were marked A, B, C so I could shuffle them appropriately, I would buy it in a heartbeat. Heck, maybe this week, I’ll sit down and make a list of cards for each group!