Manhatten - Reviewed by Johm

Category/Format: Abstract/Board

This well presented game is for 2 - 4 players and takes no more than an hour to play. We usually play the 4 player version, so it is from that perspective that I am reviewing it. The game is easy to understand, simple to play but cannot be won without a moderate degree of thought. In our particular games group, because I am more intuitive than thoughtful I find it difficult to win, but I always enjoy the challenge.

The English version of the game is published by Mayfair Games under license from Hans im Gluck and was designed by Andreas Seyfarth.

The playing board shows 6 neighbourhoods of Manhattan each represented by a 3 x 3 matrix. Players will compete to build Tower blocks on each of the 9 areas within these 6 neighbourhoods.

The game commences with each player sitting facing different sides of the board (see reason below). Every player selects a set of 24 Building blocks (identical in content but different colours) and receives four Building Cards, the remainder of the cards being placed face down on the table. The building blocks are of different sizes (1,2,3 and 4 floors). The distribution for each player is, 3 with 4 floors, 4 with 3 floors, 6 with 2 floors and 11 with 1 floor. The building cards will influence the placement of the blocks and players will always replenish their hands after playing a card so that their choice is always from 4 cards.

The game is played in 4 rounds (6 rounds for the 2 and 3 player version). At the start of each round players select 6 of their blocks to play this round (we do this secretly). During the round each player in turn will place one block at a time to create, add to, or steal control of a building (the colour of the top block signifying control). Scoring takes place at the end of each round and after round 4 the player with the most points is the winner.

Players build by placing one of their building cards against their edge of the board, (top of the card against the board). The card indicates which one of the nine areas of each 3 x 3 Matrix (neighbourhood) can be built upon. At this stage the player therefore has 6 different placement options available to him, subject to this restriction, - to control a tower (top block) the player must have at least as many floors in that tower as the player who currently controls the tower.

Scoring is simple - 1 point for each building controlled, 2 points for each neighbourhood controlled (most buildings in that neighbourhood - ties do not score) and 3 points for the tallest building ( again ties do not score).

Strategy options include

a) - playing the building cards to optimum benefit

b) - placing the blocks to improve your score, either : -

by increasing the number of your buildings,

or by gaining control of a neighbourhood,

or by achieving the tallest tower.

c) -placing your blocks to decrease your opponents score, either : -

by taking control to decrease the number of his buildings,

or negating his control of a neighbourhood,

or by equaling or obtaining the tallest tower.

There are variants to this game which we have not yet played ( I only discovered them during this review as its not my game so I had not previously seen the full rules). These all appear to have some merit and may enhance the game play. The review will be updated later when we have tried them out, meanwhile I will simply list them.

1) Introduce a Monster which moves around the board according to the building cards played, damaging towers (baby monster) or destroying towers (monster)

2) Only permit building in three neighbourhoods in the first round and make a further neighbourhood available each subsequent round.

3) Do not allow a player to increase the size of a tower he currently controls.

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