Father in the Messe 2016: a Chain Reaction

Dear opinionated readers, here I’m, again, with my report from Essen. This year, for the first time, also Francesco, my 9 years old kid, will join me and Caterina in the Messe. What does that means ?


  1. We are now able to play easily almost all the games
  2. Probably we will play less 2-players games
  3. I’ll have absolutely no control in which games we will play
  4. Probably, thanks to Francesco, I’ll be able to try some sci-fi game or war-game

We are preparing our tour not reading reports, previews and web-sites (actually I’m doing that anyway) but playing games as much as possible to be ready for the Messe and to start the typical Essen’s chain-reaction where you start playing new titles and you are not able to stop! In the last two days we played Dojo Kun, Star Wars: Rebellion, Potion Explosion, LEGO (yes, Francesco is always playing LEGO in his spare time!) and The Manhattan Project: Chain Reaction

The Manhattan Project: Chain Reaction

The world is again threatened with war! As the War Minister of your small nation, you have been tasked with confronting aggression by developing atomic bombs for your country. Your spies have stolen the needed technology, but you need to acquire the materials and personnel to get the job done before your rival nations do. Once someone has built 10 megatons of bombs, the final round will finish, and the player with the most bombs will win, their nation’s survival assured!


  • Designer: James Mathe
  • Publisher: Minion Games
  • Players: 1-5
  • Ages: 12+
  • Time: 30-40 minutes
  • Times played: 3, with preview copy provided by Minion Games

I’m a big fan of The Manhattan Project so I was really happy to get a copy of this little card game with the same graphics and theme of his greater brother. The game is easy to learn. You have to score 10 points creating bombs and loading/testing bombs. Every turn you have 5 cards in your hands and you have to play in the best way: sometimes using all the cards, sometimes keeping some to prepare the next turn.

Cards can be played as personnel (laborers, scientists and engineers) or universities/mines/factories using personnel just generated. You have to combine your cards at best, remembering that everything produced in the turn, apart from bombs, uranium and “yellow cakes”, are lost in the end of the turn.

How to use your cards is not only a matter of simple optimization: you need to look the bomb projects (just a few are available each turn) and what your opponents are doing. There are always 4 landmark cards available that you can use as many times as you want in your turn offering just 1 scientist, 1 engineer, 1 yellow cake and 1 uranium: are not so good as the cards you can draw but sometimes can help you. In the end of the turn you can also discard not-used cards and bring your hand again to 5. The game ends in the and of a round where a player scores 10 or more points so you have to optimize at best your outputs to just be quick enough to score 10 before your opponents or to be able to score more than the others.

If you like quick games where you have to play your cards at best, with not too much interaction and a bit of strategy, I think you will like the game. Of course is not so deep and themed like the boardgame but it is a good game. It is the kind of game you think every-turn “How can I use my hand at best ? Is there something I can keep to make the next round great or it is better to play as much as possible and draw new cards ?” Me and Francesco liked it.



About Andrea "Liga" Ligabue

Andrea "Liga" Ligabue is a game expert contributing to many games related international projects including Gamers Alliance Report, WIN, ILSA Magazine and Boardgamenews. Member of the International Gamers Awards Committee is coordinator of Play - The Games Festival and founder of the project Ludoteca Ideale.
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