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Subject: FMW Reviews #13: The Manhattan Project rss

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Antonio
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Ah yes, many have Fallout 4 fever right now. And because who else really likes when building nukes is the talk of the town? When it comes to board games, worker placement games are a great mechanic to make any board game (well, not any board game) that much more fun and exciting. But wait a minute, what does nukes and worker placement have in common? Why, this wonderful game actually!

The Manhattan Project is a wonderful worker placement game that combines the thrill of placing workers with the fun of building bombs. Just to note, your building said bombs. Just to clarify that no actual workers were harmed in the playing of this game. The theme is rich here and the components are top of the line, I would say that MP is probably one of my favorite worker placement games I've played and most likely, it's the best game that I own right now. So, grab those scientists and some of those generic workers, I believe it's time to build some bombs!!!

I wonder if Megadeth's Rust in Peace album fits well here.



The Manhattan Project
Minion Games
Released: 2012
Worker Placement/Card Management
2-5 Players
~120 Minutes


Components

The Manhattan Project has some top quality components to the game and everything here is just wonderful. A good worker placement games needs some good pieces for the game and here's what we have here:

1 Main Board - This is where part of the action will take place in the game. From getting new cards to spying on others, this is the board where half of the game will be played on.
5 Player Boards - These are the boards that the players will use to build buildings and move their fighters and bombers up and down depending on the actions they did on the main board.
50 Building Cards - You have 6 starting buildings and 44 regular buildings. These are placed on the top of the main board for players to buy and put on their player boards. These range from getting more workers to getting yellowcake.
30 Bomb Cards - These are the cards where players are able to gain and eventually build bombs to score victory points.
48 Money Coins - These are the main currency of the game, nice and thick card board tokens are used and feel nice in your hands.
5 Bomber and Fighter Counters - These are colored to a players board and used to keep track of which plane you have a certain amount of.
5 Implosion Test Counters - These are gained whenever you decide to test a Plutonium Bomb to get more points when building future bombs of that type.
15 Player Discs - These are used to keep track of certain levels of fuel and espionage a player has on the main board.
10 Loaded Bomb Markers - Whenever you decide to load a bomb, you get on of these counters.
16 Damage Markers - These are placed on a players building if someone has bombed one of your buildings.
40 Yellowcake cubes - These are the cubes used in the game where you need to gain some fuel. Oh, how I wished it was cake shaped.
72 Worker Tokens - These are some thick worker tokens we have here. We have 24 Laborers, 24 Scientists and 24 Engineers. These are the workers of the game and even includes generic grey workers of each kind as well.

Overall, Manhattan Project has the best components around. The workers themselves are nice and thick like really thick that it won't be damaged easily. Everything about the game is top quality for a worker placement game. Now that we have the components down, we must now head into the game and really explore!

Gameplay

The main objective of the game is to build bombs and earn victory points. Depending on the number of players, that will determine how many victory points you have to get in order to win the game! Now, on your turn, you can do one of the following and only one:

1. Place a worker on the main board and then placing workers on your buildings. For this, you can only place one worker on the main board, while you can place as many workers on your buildings you have available and if you have enough workers to do so.
2. Retrieve workers from the board and from your player board (plus any that you used on other players buildings when you used the espionage action). When you perform this action, this is your whole turn.

Now, the fun really begins as I will now explain what actions you can perform on the main board. Keep in mind that this is where the bulk of your workers will be in the first couple turns until you get the feel of what you can do on your turn. Now, to the main board!!!

I mentioned before that you have three different kinds of workers: Laborers, Scientists and Engineers. While some spaces only require a laborer to be placed there to take that action, you often have to use either scientists, engineers or a combination of them in order to take that action. Keep that in mind as we explain the main board.

Construction - On the top of the board, this is where players are able to see the cards that are available for sale. Each card has a number n top of them that determines how much that card is worth. Placing an engineer here will grant you the ability to buy one of the two cheapest cards for free! If you decide to buy one of the three most expensive buildings, place a $1 token from the general supply and place it on Bribe Pile next to where all the building cards are. Whenever you buy the cheapest building, you add all those collected coins into your supply. Money talks in this game so remember that!

Factory - Here, this is where players either gain bombers/fighters or money. All of the spaces where you gain money, you take a dollar token from the general supply to the bribe pile. Now, it's interesting to note that the middle space where you get money, you see a money amount with two arrows surrounding it. While you get money, everyone else actually gets money as well. Keep that in mind because that means your helping others get more money.

Mines - Here is where players can mine for that yellowcake! Once again, the middle space allows you to get yellowcake while others get a yellowcake as well! Man, sharing is caring in this game. The bulk of the mining will be happening here until you start buying buildings that allow you to mine for more.

University - This is the spaces where a player can start gaining more workers! You can either gain three generic laborers or you can start building up your scientists/engineers supply so really whichever space is free, you should take so that you have workers. Note that whenever you retrieve your workers, all generic workers are returned to the general supply!

Reactor/Enrichment Plant - These are where players place their workers in order to get Plutonium or Enriched Uranium! Here is where your scientists and yellowcake go in order to get the fuel needed to build bombs.

Air Strike - Ah yes, what's a game without attacking other players. This is where you can attack players but the key thing is what are you planning to attack. With the fighters, you can attack other fighters and bombers. Bombers can only attack another players building and they can't attack if a player has any number of fighters. When a bombing run is successful, you place a damage token on that building and so long as its there, you can't take that action until you repair it. However many fighters/bombers you used, you lower them by that many spaces on your player board.

Repair - Here is where players need to place their workers in order to remove up to three points of damage from buildings. And, players in turn order have a chance to repair buildings for a cost as well. So second player pays 2, player 3 costs 3 and player 4 costs 5. This is handy if you have someone that has been attacking.

Design Bombs - Here is where you place both a scientists and an engineer in order to take some bomb cards. What happens is that you take the face up bomb cards and pick one card and pass them to the next player. They pick a card and pass it around. By the time it gets back to you, you should've gained two bomb cards. Then, replenish the supply by adding however many players there are, plus one card more. So in a three player game, add four bomb cards face up.

Espionage - That worker is a spy! This action is quite a complex action because a player then has the ability to place their workers on other players buildings! How this works is that on the same turn you used this action, you then can place a certain amount of workers to other players buildings. But remember, you can only place workers on your opponents buildings on the same turn you placed your worker on the Espionage action!

And that's the whole main board! Man, that's a lot of actions to do but over the course of the game, you have the ability to see what you can do every turn. You can get more workers or get some more buildings to build on your player board. Now then, the fun really begins is on your player board!

Building Worker Actions - Once you gained a number of buildings on your player board, this is where the second action comes into play. After you place a worker on the main board, here is where you can place any number of workers on any number of your buildings as long as you have the workers to do so! How this works is that on the top of the card, it tells you how many workers you need and of what type in order to take that action below the card. This varies greatly from getting more workers to getting yellowcake. The options are limitless so you can get different buildings and expand on them as you please. Just remember that once you used that building, you can't use it again until you retrieve your workers. The building cards vary as they can be Factories, Mines, Universities, Enriched Plants and Reactors, just like the main board but they can give you more!

Keep in mind that certain buildings will grant you either/or items, meaning that you can only take one item or the other item depending on what two items are separated between the / symbol. Once you got that down, then you really understand where you can place your workers.

Bomb Actions!

Here is where the fun really begins. Once you have a certain amount of workers and fuel, you can now build that bomb you wanted all your life! These are the only way you can get those victory points. Now then, each bomb card has something on them in order to use them. On the top of the card is where how many workers you need to build the bomb. On the right side, that's how much fuel you need of that type in order to fuel the bomb. You have a load cost which will be explained later. And finally, at the bottom, you have how many points you gain from building the bomb, which we'll get into more about it right now.

1. Build - Here is where you need the amount of fuel and workers in order to build the bomb. Place the bomb card face up next to your player board and place that amount of workers it needs and subtract the amount of fuel it needs. Once you got that done, you built the bomb and scored the points on the bottom!!!

2. Test - For Uranium Bombs, there's just a base amount of points you can get. However, for Plutonium Bombs, they have two sets of points. The one on the left is how much you get if you hadn't tested a previous plutonium bomb and the one on the right is where you can get more points if you gained an implosion token. This works by taking the bomb card and placing it on the bottom of the bomb card deck and taking the highest Implosion Test Marker. From now on, you can now get the highest amount of points on the plutonium bomb since you already tested it!

3. Load Bombs - Ah yes, want more points? Of course, you want to win in the long run! How this works is that each bomb has a loading cost on it. You pay that amount and lower your bomber one space. You loaded the bomb and so, you gain a loaded token on that bomb, gaining you five more victory points! Pretty neat huh?

And that's it! The player who reaches a certain amount of victory points will have their nation the most powerful and wins the game!!!

A Nuclear Winter

To compare this game to other worker placement games is a challenge. For one, we don't have a lot of games with a theme of building nuclear arms. However, a worker placement game is a game that needs as much love as building those bombs actually. But I can compare this game to Caverna. Now, I've played Caverna a number of times and Manhattan Project a number of times and so far, MP has the vote with my group. The reason is because of the theme alone does it for us. While Caverna is great and awesome in its own right, MP is just a great game that you can't really ignore it. The game is that good and the theme is on point actually.

But like I said before, to compare it to other games is a task because worker placement games tend to be long games and those who want to play those games are in for a ride actually. MP can take a while for new players to get into the groove of things but once a few turns go around, they will be learning all the tricks of the trade. You have 50 different buildings you can build and they can show up at any times on the game! You are not limited at all and you can decide where you want to go. It always changes every game depending on how well you shuffle the deck. Both this and the theme itself are the real winners here and it's a fun game to play for those who don't want a real heavy game but want a taste of worker placement games. I can say that this is a medium game that leans towards the heavy side of the game but not a lot. Everything is straightforward and its clear on what you can do in the long run.

Final Verdict

Don't worry guys, there isn't anybody here that is completely blue and naked here. This game is amazing, hands down. I've played other worker placement games but this one takes the yellowcake. The theme of the game shines with you building nuclear bombs and the game is straightforward and easy to learn but a bit challenging to master. With the buildings deck changing every game, you don't know what appears and you don't know what you want to do! If there's anything wrong with this game, it's just that this game needs even more (obviously we have expansions for the game). It's more that I wish other worker placement games have such a strong theme to them. But you know, that's what makes other games great as well. Manhattan Project is really my favorite worker placement game and will most likely be my favorite board game of all time.

Overall, I give The Manhattan Project the highest rating I can give it: A solid 10 out of 10, showing that with a theme most don't turn to, a game can really shine against the others and it really shows here! Hats off to the peeps behind this wonderful game!

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Selwyn Hope
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I like the Manhattan Project, but always feel that it ends too quickly (ie someone else always wins before I can get my engine cranking).
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Cesspit wrote:
I like the Manhattan Project, but always feel that it ends too quickly (ie someone else always wins before I can get my engine cranking).


I do agree with you on that one, I know a few on here that would add more points to make the game longer
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