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Doug Adams writes:
Publisher: Hans Im Gluck
Designer: Andreas Seyfarth
Manhattan is an interesting game about building skyscrapers in one of six cities. The object of the game is to earn the most victory points, which are scored at the end of every round. The game is played over four rounds.
On opening the box you're confronted by lots of plastic building pieces. There are four different coloured sets of 24 pieces. Each set consists of four different sizes of buildings, the height of the sizes range from one story to four stories. Each player receives lots of 'ones', not that many 'fours'. The pieces are designed to stack on each other, and can do so to quite a great height.
A large game board portrays six major cities of the world. Each city is broken up into 9 blocks, 3 by 3. A deck of 45 cards is also included, which governs in which block of a city a building piece can be placed.
The game is played over four rounds. At the beginning of each round, all the players select the six building pieces from their pool with which to play the round with. Each player is dealt four cards from the deck.
During a round each player in turn will play a card and a building piece. The cards have a 3 by 3 grid printed on them with one of the boxes shaded red. This indicates which block the building piece can be played on, on any of the six cities on the board. The building piece is placed on the corresponding block on the board - on top of any exisiting piece already there. The top story of each building indicates who owns that building.
There are two ways to play cards during the game. The cards can be played onto a common discard pile with the first player setting the orientation for the game. Every subsequent card will be a referring to the board from that fixed orientation. Using this method will result in some players viewing the board as upside down in reference to their cards, etc. However, this way is correct as the card distribution is used as intended.
The other way (not official) is that players play cards as viewed from their perspective, ie. they all play their cards and pieces according to how they view the board. This makes game play slightly easier, but results in more attacking games, and lower scores. Both methods of play have their merits.
There is a restriction to randomly building on top of existing buildings; in order to build on an existing building, you must equal or exceed the number of floors already present in that building of the previous owner. If Fred has a building 5 stories high that are all his colour, then all the other players are locked out of that building, as the most that can be added to any building at any one time is 4 stories.
A round will last until all players have played their 6 pieces. Once the last piece is played, the round is scored. Points are earned as follows:
The next round is played in exactly the same manner, except that the start player is passed around to the player on the left of the previous start player. This means every player will get an opportunity to play first through to last over the four rounds.
This is a very simple game, and one that has great lure potential for non-gamers. Personally I find the game rather straightforward, with your move being fairly obvious - build on another player if at all possible. It's generally a good strategy to concentrate on taking the majority of two or three blocks, if you go for any more then you tend to lose control. Each card can only do so much, so they must be used wisely.
Mayfair released an English version of the game - the board is quite a bit smaller than the German version. The cities depicted not cities but areas of New York which keeps in tune with the title a little better. The English version also comes with a couple of variants inspired by Godzilla. Yes, buildings are destroyed as the monster ranges over the board at the whim of the cards. Our gaming group feels that it doesn't quite work, as we didn't tend to change our strategy from the basic game but got very annoyed at the destructive influence of the monster. It seemed to depart from the elegant build mechanic and made the tactics a bit less important. Still, variety is the spice of life, and it does produce some giggles.
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