3 Chits, 3 Giggles
Have you played The Manhattan Project? In case you haven't, it's a fantastic worker placement game by Minion Games about the arms race to build nuclear weapons; a terrifying theme for a great game. It's reasonably heavy and can take a couple of hours to play, which may be off putting to some. Well, fret not, for now you can have all that bomb building fun at a fraction of the play time!
The Manhattan Project – Chain Reaction only lasts about 20-30 minutes. Each player draws cards from a common deck with the aim of trying to chain through their hand to get resources as quickly as possible. This is so they can build bombs which is how you win the game, because when a player gets to a total of bomb value of 10, everyone left in that round gets a final turn and then it's all over. The player with the most bombs wins.
The cards work in a simple but really interesting way. You can play them horizontally, which will give you workers, or vertically, which act as locations where you can use the aforementioned workers to get resources. This leads to some really interesting decisions, where you'll find yourself turning cards sideways and upways and all sorts of ways trying to work out your best play for that turn. Much head scratching ensues.
There isn't a whole lot of player interaction within the game though. There are a handful of cards that can affect other players at the table, but apart from that it's all about the race; get the most, the quickest.
It's fun, it's light and usually games end with players on a very close score. For example, I had one game where three players were tied on bomb points at the end of the final round, so it went to a tie breaker, which is where the player with the most cake scraped themselves the win. Mmmmm delicious cake. (N.B This is not the sort of cake you'll find at a birthday party)
For the solo gamers reading, I've also played the solo version of this game a few times and have enjoyed it. It's essentially you versus the deck. You have to try and score as many bomb points as you can before the deck runs out. After you jot down your score, you can try and beat it the next time you play. It's a nice and simple solo variant, and I recommend it if you fancy having a go. It's also a good way to learn the basics of the game, should you find yourself needing to teach it to other people too. (Something I'm sure Rob will add to his list!)
I am quite impressed with how much game they have crammed into this little deck box. For less than £15, that's a lot of mushroom cloud for your money. I would recommend this title if you are looking for a well produced, light and speedy filler game, and also if you like the occasional solo game too. Now where did I put that cake?
Review by David Murcutt