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The Manhattan Project: Chain Reaction» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Two player first impressions rss

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Magnus Carlsson
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Played it twice today at lunch and was unfortunately not totally amazed by it. So I'll let you know my opinion and some of you might have tips on how to improve the experience!

I think that the graphics is very nice. I had no problem understanding the cards and seeing differences between personnel. Rules seemed to contain everything and I could not find any problems there.

The only rule that seemed a little odd is the one where you can only use the basic personnel for one other card but the produced ones can be split. But I guess that play testing has shown that is the best way.

Mechanically I think everything worked, we found no problems there.

But...
We didn't really get the flow of the game. The only thing that stayed between turns was resources. Keeping cards on hand didn't really improve your situation because you only drew to five. So if you didn't really have a super card that you plan to use next turn, it was best to convert cards into Yellow cake if possible (or better Uranium).

Factories seemed a little hard to use, you often spent as many cards as you gained. OK, you got new cards but even if I tried this approach a lot of times I didn't really get the cards that I wanted. And for more players it seems that if I spend two cards to get another player to discard two, the real winner is the other players!

For me this turned into a simple:
- If nothing, try to produce Yellow cake
- If Yellow cake, try to produce Uranium, if not produce Yellow cake
- If Uranium, try to make bomb, else produce Uranium or Yellow cake

And this became extremely card dependent, sometimes I tried to save cards but then I "lost" yellow cakes. It also gave me a lot of AP even though I felt that the outcome was actually not so different.

For two players I think the Espionage is really powerful as it removes a card for the other player.

I will try this with more players and see if there are huge differences.

Please let me know if I missed something or that there are some "long term" strategies that can be used.
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Christopher Corrigan
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I must thank you for sharing your thoughts after two plays with one other fellow at lunch. It is indeed rather strange that this card game was "extremely" card dependent.
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Kevin B. Smith
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I have played 3 times 2p, and have found it very enjoyable. We prefer playing to 15 points instead of 10, to balance out the luck a bit. I also played 3p once, and didn't find it much different. I should mention that we played without any attacks.

There have been cases where I have held a card back rather than discarding it. Usually it's something special, like either gathering 5 yellow cake, or producing 3 uranium. So it's pretty rare, and extremely rare that I would hold a card back rather than playing it (as opposed to discarding it unused).

You're sort of right that it's about building bombs, and if you can't then produce uranium, and if you can't then obtain yellow cake. I mean, the whole game is built around that conversion chain. However, there are a lot of small decisions along the way:

Build large bombs or small ones? If you build small bombs, should you load them? Should you produce a little uranium now (inefficiently) or wait until you can do it more efficiently? Should you take a chance on a card draw, or are you better off settling for what you already have? If you are first in turn order, should you trigger the end of the game with exactly enough points, or aim a bit higher in case your opponent can end up with more?

Really, for me, the most fun part of the game is the mini-puzzle each turn. Trying to figure out how to optimize the use of your workers and other cards. There are some longer-term decisions (see above), but I view the game as more short-term tactical than long-term strategic. But it's a one-deck 30-minute game, so that's not a big surprise.
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Magnus Carlsson
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peakhope wrote:
I have played 3 times 2p, and have found it very enjoyable. We prefer playing to 15 points instead of 10, to balance out the luck a bit. I also played 3p once, and didn't find it much different. I should mention that we played without any attacks.


Yes, it seems that 10 points is a little two bombs and load.

peakhope wrote:

There have been cases where I have held a card back rather than discarding it. Usually it's something special, like either gathering 5 yellow cake, or producing 3 uranium. So it's pretty rare, and extremely rare that I would hold a card back rather than playing it (as opposed to discarding it unused).


My feeling was that it was very rare that I got the "right" super card that I wanted to use. So it was seldom worth saving something for next round. But I understand that I probably need to play it a little bit more to get a better feeling for the cards.

peakhope wrote:

You're sort of right that it's about building bombs, and if you can't then produce uranium, and if you can't then obtain yellow cake. I mean, the whole game is built around that conversion chain. However, there are a lot of small decisions along the way:

Build large bombs or small ones? If you build small bombs, should you load them? Should you produce a little uranium now (inefficiently) or wait until you can do it more efficiently? Should you take a chance on a card draw, or are you better off settling for what you already have? If you are first in turn order, should you trigger the end of the game with exactly enough points, or aim a bit higher in case your opponent can end up with more?


Ok, I didn't get that feeling of choice. For me it often felt quite obvious was I was supposed to do and then it was a matter of puzzling out the optimal route with my current cards. My personal feeling is that it would have been nice to have the option to increase your capacity from turn to turn. Say that you always draw X cards no matter how many you use or that you are allowed to save one Building on your playing mat. So that you "prepare" for future turns. Now everything that I can't convert into resources or bombs are "waste". Ok, I can keep certain functions in my hand but it wont really strengthen me, it will just allow me to draw less cards for next turn.

peakhope wrote:

Really, for me, the most fun part of the game is the mini-puzzle each turn. Trying to figure out how to optimize the use of your workers and other cards. There are some longer-term decisions (see above), but I view the game as more short-term tactical than long-term strategic. But it's a one-deck 30-minute game, so that's not a big surprise.


I totally agree that this is a short time game. I though feel that there is something small missing from taking it to another level. It might be me just not clicking with it....
 
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Magnus Carlsson
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Krsnaji wrote:
I must thank you for sharing your thoughts after two plays with one other fellow at lunch. It is indeed rather strange that this card game was "extremely" card dependent.


You are welcome.

Any tips on things I might have missed? I really feel that I want to like this game. I find the theme and graphics very nice, there is though something missing for it to really get me going. If I don't find any missing things or implement some super-duper house rule I guess that other card games like Star Realms or Battle Line will hit the table instead of this.
 
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Dan Licata
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Bel Air
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The game is really all about the 'Chains' you make with your cards. There are some really great combo's you can achieve if you use your cards correctly. I have surprised myself with some of the chains I have made in games. There is a little long term strategy like mentioned above but most of the game is using the cards in you hand to maximum effectiveness.

Yes you generally don't save cards from turn to turn but that's fine. Like peakhope above I find myself only saving the big cards (i.e. 5 Yellow Cake) hoping to get the right cards in my next hand to use it. I generally don't save any cards that are these big cards for the next turn.

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Kevin B. Smith
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grimmymail wrote:
Ok, I didn't get that feeling of choice. For me it often felt quite obvious was I was supposed to do and then it was a matter of puzzling out the optimal route with my current cards.

Two things there:

First, I often hear people say that games have "obvious" choices, where I don't feel that way. Mostly co-ops. I'm not sure whether:
- They're just better at those games than me
- They think moves are obvious, but are actually playing sub-optimally and don't realize it
- I focus on the subtle decisions that are part of the choice, where they ignore/forget the subtle steps they passed through along the way to a decision
- They are making some rules error that is skewing the game (or that I am)
- They have a different definition of "obvious"
- ...or something else I'm not thinking of

Second, it's interesting that you choose what to do, and they try to make it happen. My approach in this game is to use the cards I have to accomplish the most I can. If that means I end up with 10 yellow cake before I produce my first uranium, so be it.

The only exception is right near the end, where I might have to try to build a bomb to trigger the end of the game, or to respond to my opponent doing so. Or a turn or two before that to be sure I'm in a position to be able to build a bomb when I really need to.

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Magnus Carlsson
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peakhope wrote:

- They think moves are obvious, but are actually playing sub-optimally and don't realize it
- I focus on the subtle decisions that are part of the choice, where they ignore/forget the subtle steps they passed through along the way to a decision


I think that it's probably the first option there. Combine that with a game that apparently isn't my style of game.

So my current conclusion:
- It's a well produced game
- It works according to the rules
- Unfortunately it doesn't tickle my gaming nerves

I'll give it another go and if I still doesn't like I move on to other games. My attempt by this thread was mainly to see if there was things that I didn't understand correctly that might have skewed my experience.
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Magnus Carlsson
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I played the game yesterday with four players but it didn't bring any new revelations. So I guess I'll trade it to someone who appreciates a little more solitaire experience.

One note on the factory cards though, as they are today I find no reasons to ever use them against another player. From my perspective it would be more interesting if they had been "Draw Two AND all others discard One" If the factory cards all held double engineer/scientists it would also add a little choice of "Should I waste my good guys to hurt my opponents"

I'll see if I can test the original Manhattan project and see if that fits me better.

Over and out!
 
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