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Subject: Review after playing at GENCON rss

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Elizabeth Gurnack

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I was very excited about playing The Manhattan Project at Gencon. The Manhattan Project, and all it encompasses, has been an interest of mine for many years, so I was thrilled that a game was coming out based on it. I could only play it once and I had to leave only minutes before the ending. There were 4 players and it took just about 2 hours.

The Manhattan Project is a worker placement game. You start with 4 “general” workers and some money. Each turn you do one of 2 things: Place workers (and perhaps work on your bomb, how fun is THAT????) OR withdraw workers from the board.

If you place workers, you MUST place one worker on the general board, then you may place as many workers as you like (and have) on your own buildings. In the beginning you have no buildings so this gets more interesting as the game goes on.

The general board has many places on which you can place your worker in order to execute various actions including: build a building; get another worker; get a scientist; get an engineer; build a fighter plane; build a bomber; bomb another player’s building; place a spy; get yellow cake; make plutonium; enrich to uranium-235; repair a bombed building; sell yellow cake for money; get plans for a bomb. There may be more, but you get the idea. Generally, you want to be able to build your own buildings first. The buildings you build have essentially the same actions, but can be much more powerful, plus they belong to you!

As workers are placed they use up spaces so that no other player may place a worker on that space until the worker is withdraw by its player during his turn. This may be several rounds, so you have to be very careful about worker placement.

The turn passes from player to player in clockwise rotation; each player doing whatever they can that turn. It gets pretty exciting once people have more workers and thus more actions. You want to have engineers early to help build your buildings, but you have to acquire scientists to help with your fuel enrichment and to help build your bombs later in the game.

You have to work carefully to make sure you have the workers that are required to activate all of your buildings. It takes careful planning.
There are also “bomb actions” which are free and can be done at any point of your turn as long as you do not withdraw workers during your turn.

Bomb actions are:
• Once you have the correct fuel and number of scientists to build a bomb, you can build your bomb. The plans are for either a Fat Man (plutonium-239) style or Little Boy (Uranium-235) style bomb. Each bomb is worth a certain number of points.
• You can test your bomb, which loses you most of the points for that bomb but makes future bombs of that type worth much more.
• You can also load your bomb into a bomber which makes your bomb worth more points.

The first player to make 50 points wins. You will likely have to build 3 or more bombs to win. The end of the game is crazy fun. You go through most of the game with no points and suddenly people have a lot of fuel and start building bombs, then the victory points really shoot up. You have to pay attention to what you are doing, but also to what everyone else is doing to be able to win.

Summary: Interesting decisions, good player interaction, lots of late game tension, unique mechanics, excellent thematic presentation.
This game has a lot of decisions to make and all of them are interesting. Even though you are placing your workers, some actions involve other players and since it is a race you MUST pay attention to everyone’s progress. You can interfere with the other players by bombing their buildings or by spying on them (which will allow you to move one of your workers onto one of their unoccupied buildings.) It would be difficult though to destroy someone’s game completely; making any attack requires you to use up your own actions and since you have to place a worker on the board to do it, all players cannot attack the leader over and over and over again. I like that as it allows a player who has played well throughout the game and has pulled ahead to perhaps have to work harder, but he won’t lose all of his advancement.
It moved very fast even though we were (all or mostly) newbies. It’s a relatively easy game to learn, but is very strategic. All information is open except the individual bomb plans (and some of that information is known as well), so it’s definitely a strategy game, with very little luck involved. I imagine that it will play differently each time depending on the way in which the buildings come up for sale. The buildings you have will definitely influence your strategy.

I cannot comment on the components since I played a prototype.

I truly enjoyed playing this game and will definitely be buying it when it comes out.
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Jesse Dean
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Orlando
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Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!
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Paragraph breaks are your friend.
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Frank Conradie
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doubtofbuddha wrote:
Paragraph breaks are your friend.

Agreed, but otherwise a really excellent write-up of a game I'm most excited about. I backed it on Kickstarter and would suggest you consider doing likewise.
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Ken Dilloo
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Bothell
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Thanks for this overview, very well done. This game is zooming up my watch list!!
 
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Elizabeth Gurnack

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Point taken. I uploaded by pasting from a Word document. None of the breaks came along. Have edited it; hope it works better.
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Bob Flaherty
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egurnack wrote:
If you place workers, you MUST place one worker on the general board,

I don't know if this was changed from earlier versions of the rules, but the final rules say you MAY place one worker on the general board and you MAY place workers on your buildings. You MUST place at least one worker if this action is chosen.
 
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Brandon Tibbetts
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You are correct... you MAY place a worker. If you choose not to, then you simply proceed to Step 2 of your turn. There is a requirement, though, that if you choose to Place Workers, that you place at least 1 worker at some point during your turn. (You can't simply declare that you are Placing Workers and then not place any.)
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