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The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Initial Thoughts After a Couple Plays rss

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Harold Coleman
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I'm not sure this belongs in the review forum, but it's got review-like comments so I'm putting it here. I received my copy Friday and played two games over the weekend - one solo play Saturday and a 4-player game Sunday with experienced gamers. Here are my initial thoughts on the game:

Beautiful game pieces. I wish I had another set of the oil barrels to use in Power Grid. I guess I could just borrow these.

Game Play - very smooth. If you're familiar with Manhattan Project, the mechanics are similar - either place workers on your turn or recall them, in EE's case this is called "generate," but it's basically a mechanic to recall your workers and generate energy to use in your next series of actions.

Now for some comments. I know, I know... I should give it more than one multi-player play, but these were the general consensus among several experienced gamers:

1. The game felt appropriately tight in the beginning, but too "loose" in the latter stages. By this, I mean that we all felt there wasn't much preventing us from doing whatever we wanted to generate all sorts of goods during our final few turns, making the completion of achievements a relative cinch. I ended the game with 5 achievements, each maxed out at 5 points. Of course, I didn't win, but that's another point discussed in #3 below. I also felt the looseness in my solo play - no urgency to do something because there was plenty of time to do it before the game ended.

2. The game seemed to take too long, 3 hours as I recall, and it seemed like we were playing quickly with little AP. One player suggested having fewer pollution tokens during the "Early" half of the game, like maybe one per player (4) instead of 6 for a 4p game. I thought maybe the opposite, more early and less later, but I cautioned him that I'm sure the game was thoroughly play tested and that the number of tokens selected for game length was given a lot of thought. Still, this in combination with #1 above, caused us to think that there were too many tokens placed. (And yes, we did remember to remove one from the stack if no one polluted during their generate phase.)

3. SPOILER? There seems to be a LOT, I repeat, a LOT of emphasis in getting buildings that produce VPs early in the game and using them frequently. Two players ended up tied for first - one got a commerce building on his first turn of the game that gave him 2 VPs every time he powered it. He must have powered that building at least 8 times for 16 points. The other player tied for 1st got several commerce buildings that gave him VPs and by the end of the game was getting 4 points per commerce turn. That player also got nothing but commerce buildings till the very end when he bought a government building. I ended in 3rd place and picked up only one VP-generating building along the way. The 4th place player had no VP-generating buildings as I recall. Now, there's nothing WRONG with this, but I think one needs to realize the importance, unless this difference can be mitigated in other ways. Future plays may reveal them.

4. I felt it was too easy to power other buildings with energy. Contrast this with Manhattan Project where all buildings must be powered by workers. I honestly believe one could do well by never buying another worker during the game and just concentrate on generating energy to power your buildings. Perhaps, maybe, the buildings with two activation planks should require at least one worker to activate? Again, first play, and I assume this was well thought out by the designers, so maybe time will change my mind. Most action sequences consisted of using a worker to do an action and place energy to activate same color buildings, repeat on another action/structure type, then generate and recall. One needs only two workers to do this. And the player that had only yellow structures only needed one worker to place, then activate all his buildings with energy, then generate every other turn. But... since energy is limited to 10 tokens, it might be necessary to buy more workers.

5. One player said it felt intuitive to do as many main board actions as possible before generating, but in reality it's the opposite that maximizes actions, i.e. doing as much as you can in one or two action phases, then generate/recall will maximize your actions.

I love the game. I love the mechanics. However, game length and the looseness in the latter half of the game are major issues that I hope correct themselves with more plays.
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Max Jamelli
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3 hours? Are you sure you played pollution correctly?
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Bill Buchanan
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1. I would have put this under Sessions instead of Reviews.

2. Did you remove a pollution token (ie. remove it from the game) even if no pollution icons were rolled during a generate turn?
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James Mathe
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Thanks for sharing!

hgcoleman wrote:
Beautiful game pieces. I wish I had another set of the oil barrels to use in Power Grid. I guess I could just borrow these.


Actually, I thought of that and ordered 100 extra sets of 30 barrels and we sell them on our website if you want more for other games.

James
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Michael Denman
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WBuchanan wrote:
1. I would have put this under Sessions instead of Reviews.

2. Did you remove a pollution token (ie. remove it from the game) even if no pollution icons were rolled during a generate turn?


He says he did, but that was my first thought too. It sure didn't take US that long to play the game on the first play though, so something would seem to be wrong.
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Luke Laurie
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I've never heard of a game taking 3 hours. In fact much of the feedback we're getting is about how quick the game is.

There are some choices that players can make that can slow things down - if several people are not engine building, and making only incremental moves, and if everyone is limiting their moves only to nonpoluting actions, the game can take longer. For example, if players only used one worker each turn, like in a traditional worker placement game, things would crawl along pretty slowly.

Playing that way isn't very strategic though- it's much better to dive in, grab some buildings and dice, and get the engines running.
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Luke Laurie
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Out of curiosity- did you always take pollution from the track? Like when you bought buildings, did chemistry, gained blue dice, etc.? If players forget and take those tokens from the supply instead, that can be a problem.
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Jeroen
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Can you elaborate more on the solo play?
Did you play the solo rules, or just a multiplayer solo to learn the rules?

I am very interested in this game and also for the solitaire variant, so I wonder how much fun that is.
 
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Chris Ruf
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My initial 5p game only took somewhere between 2-2.5 hours including rules.
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James Mathe
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Another way this game COULD drag on a bit is if everyone buys all their additional workers. Unlike most worker placement games the additional workers are not really needed and only extend the time between your generate rounds. If everyone does that then everyone is taking longer to generate. Thus longer between times of pulling off the pollution.

Also as Luke mentioned, EVERY pollution token taken in the game MUST come off that timer track - never out of the box.
 
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Luke Laurie
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Yes - buying workers could slow the game a bit, but because you get pollution when you get one, even that moves the clock.
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Bill Buchanan
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RPGShop wrote:
Another way this game COULD drag on a bit is if everyone buys all their additional workers. Unlike most worker placement games the additional workers are not really needed and only extend the time between your generate rounds. If everyone does that then everyone is taking longer to generate. Thus longer between times of pulling off the pollution.

Also as Luke mentioned, EVERY pollution token taken in the game MUST come off that timer track - never out of the box.


There are some some global impact cards that will tell you to take pollution from the supply and add them to your board though, right?
 
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Luke Laurie
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Responding to Chris Ruf: That's fairly typical for a 5 player first play (2-2.5 hours). Once players get it down 5 player comes in between 90 and 120 minutes.
 
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James Mathe
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WBuchanan wrote:
There are some global impact cards that will tell you to take pollution from the supply and add them to your board though, right?


You may be right. There might be a special card or two that does it - but it specifically states that. So I shouldn't have said ALWAYS, but yeah, 99% of the time.

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Marshall
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hgcoleman wrote:
2. The game seemed to take too long, 3 hours as I recall
... However, game length and the looseness in the latter half of the game are major issues that I hope correct themselves with more plays.
I played this for the first time at BGG.con last weekend and including instructions, a 3 player learning game took well under 2 hours and it's hard to understand how a second game, even with 4 players, would get anywhere near the 2 hour mark, so as others have mentioned, I suspect that you were playing pollution wrong. In fact, initially, we thought that we might be playing wrong because the game was moving so quickly.

And I think that's where your second concern comes from too. If the pollution is not running out as quickly as it should, and as a result the game goes longer than it should, you would have built up enough that the game would get really loose toward the end.

I would give the game another try with the understanding that anytime anybody gets pollution for any reason, unless it is explicitly stated otherwise, the pollution comes from the pollution track. Also during the power generation, even if a person doesn't generate pollution, you still take 1 pollution from the track and toss it into the general supply.

I suspect that this will turn a "really good" game into a "great" game for you ... though I highly doubt you ever get 5 maxed out achievements again.

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Justin Baumgartner
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I got it to the table this weekend as well and intend on writing a review after I get a couple more plays, but I'll add in our initial thoughts here since there is pretty good dialogue:

1) Game flow for us was probably the best part of the game. We felt like it moved at a really great pace, so I'm not sure how it took 3 hours either.

2) At the end of the game the way we read the rules, one player ended up getting one less turn than the other two players. Is that intended? If so, why? (To clarify, the player who triggered the end game in our 3 player game was the second player, meaning the third player went, then the first, then the second, ending the game)

3) Focusing on one building type seemed to be the way to go. Maybe I'm wrong, but only being able to activate buildings of the type your worker was placed in seemed to encourage single-track building.

4) Even though there is a pretty fair amount of RNG in the game, there is also a ton of mitigation for it. I think that the board spaces available are really well thought out.

5) We ended up with a strange Global Impact card situation happen where 4 of the 6 were Air Pollution scoring cards, and one player in particular got hammered by it over and over.

Generally speaking, the game was well received in the one play we had, and the player who was a little salty about not getting the same number of turns said she enjoyed Energy Empire the most out of the games she played over the weekend. I'm going to bring it to the table a few more times in the coming days (I have a holiday at the grandparents that I'm going to pack a couple games for) and then I'll write a full review for it then.
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Harold Coleman
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LL Games wrote:
Out of curiosity- did you always take pollution from the track? Like when you bought buildings, did chemistry, gained blue dice, etc.? If players forget and take those tokens from the supply instead, that can be a problem.


Sorry all, this is the problem! We only took pollution tokens from the track when we generated and NOT when we bought buildings or otherwise got the tokens. shake Totally missed this concept, though it is clear in the rules. It also explains why I thought the game was loose at the end. Now I'm thinking the game is going to go too fast.

I tried to pull this post before it was approved, but couldn't find it until you all had commented. Again, I apologize for being a dunce.
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Luke Laurie
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No worries - that's what these forums are for!
 
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Marshall
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hgcoleman wrote:
Now I'm thinking the game is going to go too fast.

That's the great thing about it being your game. If you and your group want to slow the game back down a bit, add a few more pollution tokens to the track.
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Max Jamelli
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marshalls_acct wrote:
hgcoleman wrote:
Now I'm thinking the game is going to go too fast.

That's the great thing about it being your game. If you and your group want to slow the game back down a bit, add a few more pollution tokens to the track.


Bingo. I may do this when I play again.
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Bill Buchanan
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marshalls_acct wrote:
hgcoleman wrote:
Now I'm thinking the game is going to go too fast.

That's the great thing about it being your game. If you and your group want to slow the game back down a bit, add a few more pollution tokens to the track.


I wouldn't want to add too much, might make maxing out points on everything too easy. Especially when everyone gets experienced.

Might be interesting to try with that Apocalypse variant Luke Laurie posted the other day.
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James Mathe
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Extra pollution on more buildings is actually something that I really pushed for in the end. Mainly cause I and many others don't like it when you finish a game and did everything. It's much more interesting to only have completed 2 out of 3 of your goals and self-analyse later what you could have done to do better or different. That makes for a better game. So I wouldn't add more tokens till you've tried several games played the correct way.

James
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Chris Ruf
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RPGShop wrote:
Extra pollution on more buildings is actually something that I really pushed for in the end. Mainly cause I and many others don't like it when you finish a game and did everything. It's much more interesting to only have completed 2 out of 3 of your goals and self-analyse later what you could have done to do better or different. That makes for a better game. So I wouldn't add more tokens till you've tried several games played the correct way.

James


This is especially important for the 5p game. Even in my first play, which was 5p, some of the building stacks were running very thin by the end.
 
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Bill Buchanan
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There's an expansion idea! Buildings with more pollution to spice things up and make it more challenging!

Maybe throw in some new global impact cards for playing Apocalypse variant
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Max Jamelli
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WBuchanan wrote:
There's an expansion idea! Buildings with more pollution to spice things up and make it more challenging!

Maybe throw in some new global impact cards for playing Apocalypse variant


I like the double pollution idea - but isn't essentially the nuclear pollution a double pollution? I don't know if I'd buy a card with double nuclear. It would have to be a pretty powerful card.
 
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