Manufacturer: Minion GamesA power struggle at the beginning of an atomic age. A revolutionary new technology. Who will use it to build the deadliest arsenal and become the world's dominant superpower?
The Manhattan Project is a low-luck, mostly open information efficiency game in which players compete to build and operate the most effective atomic bomb program. Players do not "nuke" each other, but conventional air strikes are allowed against facilities.
The game features worker placement with a twist; There are no rounds and no end-of-round administration. Players retrieve their workers when they choose to or are forced to (by running out).
An espionage action allows a player to activate and block an opponent's building, representing technology theft and sabotage.
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- Fantastic game of aggression disguised as a worker-placement euro.
The most important thing to know about this game is that it has very direct player-on-player aggression via the Espionage and Air Strike actions. If you don't like the idea of directly messing with your opponents (or vice-versa), you should give this game a pass.
But if you are ok with that, get ready for one of the most amazing games in my collection. Every game is different, due to the order in which bombs and buildings appear, but the game has very little luck, because (unlike, say, the factories in Power Grid) you cannot take immediate advantage of new bombs and buildings. So you always have time to adjust your gameplay to the reality of the board state. Genius!
The result is a very intense, highly competitive game.
I also highly recommend the Second Stage expansion, in particular the Personalities. We always use them, and most of the time we add the H-Bombs and Rockets as well. A lot of people love the Nations, but we only use them intermittently.
I have purchased this game and expansion twice, so we can have another copy in the family. At this price point, it's a steal. S-Tier boardgame!
Game Play Quality Price Value
- Building Bombs in the Name of Peace!
Often the complaint is lodged against Euro games of pasted on themes, or very dry, unappealing and cliché themes. Neither charge can be laid at the door of The Manhattan Project. The idea is a slightly twisted version of history shortly after or during the end stages of WW2, each player building and stockpiling their nuclear arsenal. Using the classic game equation for Euros, thus we are going to acquire buildings and resources, convert those resources to a finished product, and then turn the finished product into points to win the game. It will take a few plays to get the feel for how to combine your mines and your universities and factories to churn out the yellowcake you need, then turn that into uranium/plutonium and finally build our bomb. It's a fun challenge and scales well from 2 to 5 players, the VP threshold diminishing the more players you have in a game, but even with 5, you will need to build at least 2 bombs to win. It's one of my favorite worker placement games, and it's a good one to teach players new to worker placement. Getting access to all of your workers is crucial to making your assembly line productive, and that's how I like to think of this game's mechanics, an assembly line, not an 'engine.' There are also some nice Cold War touches, like being able to use espionage and conduct conventional weapons air strikes against other players' nuclear facilities, just as in the real world, and these tactics can either aid you or inadvertently aid one of your opponents. Again, very thematic. The Second Stage expansion is really unnecessary content, but I do recommend the Nations mini expansion for added flavor. I've owned this game for a year and a half and have played it 20 times or so. I still find it extremely enjoyable, though for some folks, the race nature of the scoring means the ending can fall rather flat. There is no end game scoring, so when a player reaches or exceeds the point threshold for victory, that's it, and that racing aspect is a factor to consider when buying this game. Aside from that, production values are high and the board is refreshingly small, allowing it to fit well with a full group of players and not be cramped for space. The rulebook is well organized and clearly written in most instances, though using a video review or run through to become familiar with the flow of the game is always a good idea. Enjoy, and cheers!
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- Very Good Worker Placement with timely decisions and smart choices
This game as a worker placement is challenging. I've mostly played 2-player and find games nicely competitive. There is a bit of a run-away problem if you're in the lead and have built a good engine, but the game is meant to give you options to hamper your opponents engine as necessary. You have the option for espionage, you could resort to bombing.
Your turn consists of one of two actions. Place workers or return workers. If you place workers, you get resources, cash, etc. Returning workers is where you clear the board of all your workers and free up any actions on the board. You'll soon learn that it pays to plan your turns to time the returning workers round to best hamper your opponent. If you do it too soon, you can open yourself up to espionage. Do it too late by drawing out your workers, and you're allowing your opponent to make up some progress against you.
In a two-player game, bombings are infrequent, unless your mind is set to do it. There are usually much better options available to you, provided you've made some correct choices earlier. And bombing your opponent may slow them down, but that's temporary and you've wasted any opportunity to make progress yourself, so again, it's usually a last resort. In a four player game, bombing was more frequent simply due to the limited opportunities with four players. If you can imagine two superpowers, a mid-level ally, and a pariah then bombing suddenly makes sense.
My first ever review is long-winded and rambling, but Manhattan Project is easily better than the other review giving 1 or 2 stars for game play. As a two-player game, there are multiple paths to victory and the winner has changed hands multiple times.
Game time is about an hour to 75 minutes for two-players, unless it's purposely drawn out. It will take more than one play to figure out the rhythm, but it's well worth it. This is one of the games that has about a dozen plays and more and still remains competitive.
Components are good. Absolutely no complaints...wood blocks, heavy cardboard tokens for money, cards are thick enough and show little signs of wear. The game is thematic and well worth a look if you are looking for a good two-player game or a good worker placement game.
Perhaps the only two drawbacks are the slight advantage to the player with the better engine, it's sometimes hard to stop their progress, and the theme for some might be a downer. Other than that, Manhattan Project is a great game.
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- There are MUCH better Worker Placement games!
Usually in my reviews I give a gameplay overview, but this is a fairly complex game, so I will stick to what a review is meant for: giving an opinion.
In this game players are trying to research and develop atomic bombs.
I loved the premise. What a unique theme! Especially when so many Euro style games are so bland. It helps it to stand out in the very crowded "Worker Placement" category.
The artwork is also cool. Very cutesy and fun looking (which helps to keep things light in a game about developing weapons of mass destruction).
The gameplay? Oy! It was sooooo slow! In most Worker Placement games you draw back your meeples at the end of every short round of gameplay. In this game? No! Someone can place their meeples and then hog the space, effectively blocking and annoying everyone else FOR A LOOONG TIME. One player can totally grind the game to a halt.
There is also a lot of down time while people look at the many options on the board. If someone suffers fro "analysis paralysis" they should not be allowed in the same room as this game. In fact, don't even allow them in the same city, just to be safe. Our first game was at the three hour mark, with a winner in sight, so instead of dragging it out, everyone just threw in the towel.
Also, I usually welcome player interaction and find Euro games dry and boring because most don't have it. This game lets you build bombers and "bomb" each others' factories, thus slowing their progress down. All this did was make the game more annoying and even longer! GREAT!
I do NOT recommend this. There are dozens and dozens of Worker Placement games out there, and many are MUCH MUCH better.
Game Play Quality Price Value