The title The Manhattan Project should ring bells for people, as it’s a highly ranked strategy Euro-style game. The game uses a core of worker placement to allow players to collect resources, construct buildings, and assemble bombs. Players can use spies to activate each other’s buildings, orchestrate air strikes on other player’s buildings that must then be repaired, and test nuclear weapons for points. The game also has a couple expansions released, including one that allows players to take on the roles of various world superpowers.
A new game with the The Manhattan Project logo on the box is releasing soon: The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire. Despite the similarity in title, Energy Empire is not an expansion to the 2012 game. Rather, this is a new game taking place in the same realistic setting. Rather than building bombs, however, players will be building power plants and managing pollution in their environment as they seek to gain the most clout with the United Nations and complete various objectives.
The two games share many similarities, including the various workers that can be played in their worker-placement systems. Each turn, you’ll either play a worker or retrieve all your played workers for use in future turns. Players can also use their resources in both games to construct buildings, giving themselves special powers and unique actions.
Another prominent difference in Energy Empire is the incorporation of dice. While they don’t function as the backbone of the game, the dice provide a neat form of unpredictability among player resources. While players will be seeking to mitigate pollution in their environments as much as possible, that crude power source may just be too irresistible as a form of cheap energy—and hey, you might not roll that pollution icon anyway. As more pollution leaves the main game board and enters the world’s ecosystem by way of player boards, global events will occur that can punish players in various ways. You can sit back and be surprised when you’re punished for having all that polluted water or you can take the special action that lets you look at the upcoming global event and plan ahead.
While The Manhattan Project eventually produced an expansion that let players play as the U.S.A., Britain, and more, Energy Empire comes with that component as a core feature of the game. In addition to providing a thematic avatar in the game setting, these nation cards offer distinct starting resources and special actions for interacting with the U.N. During the game, players will be spending their resources on buildings, on power, and on trying to keep their environments clean, but they’ll also be spending their money and resources to earn more status with the U.N. for increasing numbers of points.
Despite that logo on the cover, The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire is clearly a distinct and unique game, but it’s one fans of the original will surely enjoy. And while it isn’t a second edition, it provides enough similarities that it almost feels like one. With a different theme and plenty of extra crunch—including the exciting dice mechanism—there’s plenty to offer even players new to the title or who didn’t enjoy the bomb-prototyping predecessor.
Item Code: MNIEE100
Item Code: MNIMHP100
For even more excitement in the universe of The Manhattan Project, check out The Manhattan Project: Chain Reaction as well. This is another standalone game, though this one has more similarities to the original than Energy Empire. While sharing many of the same core concepts, Chain Reaction is a lightweight card game with less than half the play time and all the scientists, yellow cake, uranium, and bomb-building as the original.