English language edition
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This great Spiel-des-Jahres-winning, skyscraper-building game is back! Add your parts to the growing Manhattan skyline! The higher, the better! May the tallest buildings win!
I bought this game when it first became the game of the year. It remains one of the best experiences in gaming. Few family games will bring you to the point that you say, "This is a Masterpiece." Those looking for an easy to learn game with depth and fun need look no further.
The mechanics have been explained in other reviews, I will not duplicate this. As great games come and go, this classic should be in the collection of every gamer.
Whenever I travel across the world, and visit big cities, one of the first things I look for are the skyscrapers. I really like to see large, manmade structures jutting high above the skylines. I like to read about which buildings in the world are tallest, etc. So naturally, a game that has skyscrapers in it, is very attractive to me. Manhattan (Hans Im Gluck, 1994 Andreas Seyfarth) was a very easy purchase for me.
So was Manhattan worth my purchase? The answer is that I find Manhattan one of my favorite four-player games, and certainly my favorite building game. Now, for the longer answer, starting with a description of game play
A board is set in the middle of the table, with six cities on it. Each city is composed of a three by three grid of squares, for a total of nine squares. Next to each city is a space where cards can be played. Each player has twenty-five buildings in their color. These buildings range from one floor to four floors. Each player takes a one-story building and places it on the score track. They then take six buildings of whatever height they want, and prepare for the first round. The cards are shuffled, and four are dealt to each player face down. One player is given a yellow marker to show that they are the first player, and the round begins.
In a round, a player must play a card. Each card shows one building on a 3 by 3 grid marked in red. The player can play the card in any of the six cities in any orientation they choose. If a card has already been played to that city, all future cards must be played with the same orientation. The player then places one of the buildings they have in front of them and places that building in the space on the board. A player may place their tower on top of another players tower, taking control of that tower but only if the total amount of stories of their color are equal to or greater than the previous owners total stories. After a player places his building, he draws a card, and play passes to the next player.
After a round is over (each player has placed their six buildings), scoring occurs. Each player gets one point for every tower they control. Then, they score 2 points for each city in which they have the majority (control most buildings). Finally, the player who controls the tallest tower gets 3 points (no ties allowed). The score pieces are moved accordingly, the yellow piece is passed to the next player, each player chooses six more tower pieces, and another round begins. After four rounds, the player with the highest score is the winner!
Some comments on the game:
1). Components: Im very, very pleased with the components of Manhattan. The tower blocks, while very simple, are extremely functional. The orange, black, sky blue, and blue colors contrast each other nicely, and are very easy to see on the board. The tower pieces stack well (although you cannot stack all 100 pieces on top of each other - I tried). This is especially useful for the scoring track (why cant more games do this and make stackable scoring pieces?). The cards are fantastic looking and are of good quality. Its very easy to determine the orientation of a card, and they have some nice artwork on them. The same can be said for the board. The cities are laid out nicely, with nice skyscraper artwork around the board. Each city is named (New York, Hong Kong, etc.) Not a big deal, but it adds to the theme. The scoring track is very easy to read, and easy to use with the stackable pieces. The box is a nice sized box, with a good plastic insert that holds the pieces so well that I didnt bother bagging them (I bag almost all my games).
2). Rules: I bought the Hans Im Gluck version of the game, so I wasnt able to go by the German rules (which did look nice, by the way). But, it was very easy to download a translation of the rules at www.gamecabinest.com. The rules are extremely easy to teach and play, and I find that most people are able to pick up the strategies quite quickly.
3). Godzilla: This is a variant designed by Erik Moore and Brian Bankler. When we played the game with this variant, it was so much fun that I think well always play the game this way. A small monster piece, (or anything, really) is placed in the center of any city. All the cities are considered to be in a 2 x 3 rectangle with wrap-around edges. Whenever a player plays a card, not only do they place a building, but they move the monster in the direction that the card indicates (if the red square is at the top Godzilla moves up, etc.). If the red square is in the middle, the monster doesnt move. Whenever the monster runs into a building, it destroys the building entirely. This changes the game considerably, adding another layer into the game. Not only do you have to be careful as to where you put your buildings, but you have to be careful where you move Godzilla! We found that when playing with this variant, tall buildings rarely occurred, as the monster was quickly moved to the tallest buildings on the board to cause their destruction. A milder variant (little Godzilla) has the monster only destroy the top piece of a building. I find that this is even better, as it adds the fun of the monster, but doesnt destroy the entire board. With either variant, however, you may want to be careful with whom you play, as some people can really get angry when you destroy their 12 story tower. But everyone Ive played it with has had a blast (even though we all yelled at each other and called down doom on those who moved the monster onto our buildings.)
4). Fun Factor: As you can tell, the Godzilla variant adds a lot of fun. But theres a fair amount of fun already in the game. There are no brain burning decisions to be made here, but the decisions are there to be made. Should you cap somebody elses building, or put up a new building in a different city? Are you trying to go for the tallest building, or the most buildings? Since the decisions are important, but easy to make, the game becomes a lot of fun.
5). Strategy and luck: The only luck in the game is what cards you draw. And yes, sometimes youll be stuck with many of the same cards, and you wont get that single card you need to cap your opponents tower. But strategy plays a large role in this game. Its important how you place your pieces, regardless of the cards youre dealt. And I believe that the monster variant, especially the little Godzilla adds even another layer of strategy to the game.
6). Aesthetics: Sometimes how a game looks is very important, as it helps draw people into the hobby. Manhattan is one of those games. When people see the skyscrapers all over the board, they find it interesting and stop to see whats going on. Manhattan is easy to learn, and players will find that the game plays as well as it looks. For this reason alone, Manhattan deserves all the awards it has won.
And therefore I highly recommend the game. Its quick, taking about forty-five minutes, looks good, and is fun to play. Add a good layer of strategy and a small dose of luck, and you have a nice winner on your hands. Manhattan is the perfect game to show people, when you want to prove to them that games without dice can be fun. Try it out and teach it to your friends -- you won't be disappointed.
Though an older title, I just picked up a copy of the original German version and my fellow Game Night players and I love it. This is one of the few games where after its initial playing everyone said, 'Hey, let's try that again!' and we did. Though it really only works with 4, that's the only flaw I see in an otherwise fantastic game.
Love the tactile nature, and I like the use of 3D which literally opens up another new dimension compared to most games!
The 'kingmaker' aspect does often come into play; eventually it's likely that someone will be forced by the cards to attack someone else--but this is just like Risk! And I don't think it is a criticism, just part of the game that forces conflict! Who wants a group hug game? Equally it's frustrating when you want to attack someone but you don't have the cards for it! But happily this introduces a small bit of luck into the fun, which means anyone potentially can win. It's great when you fully expect to be attacked but the round goes on and you realise no-one has the cards to do so! Gambling on what cards the others have or have not adds a lot to the intrigue! Don't get me wrong; the game isn't force-led by the cards, they limit your options but contribute to the nail-biting!
The simplicity of the rules is also a bonus; it's an especially good game to drag out for occasional players where you don't want continual rulebook referrals, and where anyone can win even if you're the 'expert'.
The scoring system is very good and leadership ebbs and flows between rounds.
I'm looking forward to playing the baby-Godzilla variant!
Fun, let's-play-again skyscraper building game where you top your opponents by topping their buildings. Pleasing plastic components of 1, 2, 3 and 4 stories are placed according to any of 4 cards held in the hand over any of 6 neighborhoods, each a 3x3 grid on a handsome board. Game is easy to learn, and deftly blends strategy and tactics, and offers many choices each round. The game's mechanism is logical and matches the theme perfectly. Round by round scorekeeping allows easy viewing of who's on top. Athough owning the tallest building is desired, the key to winning is controlling the neighborhoods. An instant fav hereabouts that appeals across age groups from casual to serious gamers.
As you compete to have the most buildings a city as well as in several city blocks, you are also competing to have the tallest overall. Throw in some cardplay and you have a classic game that is absorbing and is nice to look at as well. The rules are simple, but the play is deep. I've seen many a rowdy group come to stone cold silence waiting for the next play. This game is a masterpiece!
This fun 1994 Spiel des Jahres winner has been out of print for some time now, but fortunately it is still possible to find copies in different locations (such as BGG marketplace). After reading the reviews on this game, I knew I wanted to get it, and was fortunate enough to get this game for Christmas this past year. I’m sure glad I did, because it is becoming one of my favorite 4- player games.
The rules are simple and straightforward (reminiscent of Ticket to Ride’s rule clarity and simplicity), and we were able to play this game soon after opening the box. The Godzilla variation is also a lot of fun.
In Manhattan, you are competing against other players to build skyscrapers in 6 different cities (3x3 square grids) around the world in order to earn points. Points are earned for (1) each building a player owns on the board (1 point per building owned), (2) for having the most buildings in a particular city (2 points per city in which a player has the majority), and (3) for having the tallest building (3 points for the player in each round who has the tallest building).
The game is played in 4 rounds (for a 4-player game, which I enjoy more than a 2 or 3-person game), and the person having the marker begins by pulling 6 building elements from the supply— which supply contains building elements of different heights ranging to 1 to 5 stories (I think 5 stories is the max). The other players do likewise. 4 cards are dealt to each player—each card symbolically revealing where a player may build on a city. The player builds by placing a building element on any city of his/her choice that conforms to a card the person holds in their hand. The person lays that card in front of them, and then ends by drawing another card. This continues until all players have played all 6 of their building elements. The scoring for that round then begins. In a 4-player game, each player gets to start a round one time.
Building ownership is indicated by the color of the top building element. If a player desires to seize ownership of an opponent's building, the newly placed element needs to make it so that there are at least as many stories in the new owner's color as the previous owner’s color.
Not the most attractive game I’ve ever seen, but I was pleased with the overall quality of the game components. The buildings stack well, and the colors and different city locales contribute well to the theme. The board is also nice and sturdy.
Strategy and Tactics
Although there are only 3 ways to earn points, there is more depth and strategy than one might think. Deciding whether or not to try for the tallest building, take over another’s building, or simply try to maximize your presence in as many different cities as possible can be agonizingly fun. Timing can be crucial, and the game can be very brutal, but in my experience this has not detracted from the fun. In several respects, I think the strategy and tactics of this game are similar in nature to Ticket to Ride--in both cases, your planning at times has to be adapted on the fly. There is luck to be sure, but superior planning and tactics are still rewarded.
If you love Ticket to Ride, I think you will enjoy Manhattan as well. Definitely recommended. Definitely a lot of fun. I hope this gets a reprint soon.
This game plays like a Reiner Kinizia title. Surprisingly simple to learn, but painful to plan what you are going to do. I find that this game plays better with more than two, because with only two players there are not enough pieces on the board, so a lot of importance is then placed on who has the tallest building. I see where Torres got its ideas from.
1. Simple to learn
2. Beautiful pieces and board well made!
1. Doesnt play well with two
2. There is an element of luck. (You need to get the right cards.)
Manhattan is an outstanding strategy game, and well-desrving of its 1994 Spiel des Jahres award. The rules are simple enough to be taught in a minute or so. Strategic decisions begin with the all-important selection of which building pieces (out of a mix of 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-story structures) a player chooses for that round of play, and continues throughout board play. The card deck provides just enough of a chance element to make the strategic and tactical options challenging without marginalizing them. The bits are high quality and functional.
The Monster and Baby Monster variant rules add a little spice (and luck) to the game, and some fans prefer them. Our group still plays the basic game. This game will get repeated playings; it certainly has with our group.
I highly recommend Manhattan for both hard-core strategy game veterans and beginners.
What one will appreciate about Manhattan is the easy to learn rules, quick and lively pace, and yet intriguing possibilities. Suprisingly our group feels that this game works better with 2 players than with the full 4 players. With 4 players a big drawback is that for the players who are out of the running can heavily influence the outcome enough to decide who wins.
In addition to what the other reviewers have said, I must add that using the baby monster expands on the possible moves. This not-included monster (a two-headed rubber miniature that my daughter donated) wanders around the board destroying the top most building piece where ever he lands. His movement is dictated by the cards laid so he moves every time. If a center card is played he hops on the same square destroying another piece in a high rise. As the monster can wrap around the board top/bottom and side/side no neighborhood is safe. The big monster rule destroying the entire building on a square is too severe. At work where I play this with other engineers, this game has people swearing at each other but coming back for more. For families, the game is a little antagonistic compared to Settlers or Union Pacific.
With its quick playing time and noticeable luck element, I consider this a good family game. The interaction level is high (sometimes too high: my sons like to gang up on me) and play tends to move along quickly. The main problem I see with the game is that you can become frustrated due to not receiving good play cards at various times. However, good card saving and play timing can help overcome this. As another reviewer mentioned, falling behind can tend to doom you and put you in a 'kingmaker' role.
My only other comment is that this game can be played by children under the age of 10; even our 5 year old has played (and won) by having him play a card and us helping him outline his options -- he definitely knows enough to realize it's best to build on top of someone else. His shorter arm length comes in handy, too, as he dominates the neighborhoods within his reach.
Beautifully designed board and cards, really catching my eyes. We usually have no more than four people, so luckily no 'not enough seats' problem, as this game at most for four players. There are lots of interactions (lobbying) between players during the game, as where you put your building seriously affects other players. The game is exciting and you always want to play again after you lost because all your building blocks are 'covered' by other players' blocks.
One minor problem in the game is that the best strategy to use is not always clear. If you are far behind after the third round and don't know what your strategy should be for the last round, your play may end up interrupting others' plans without benefiting yourself, which can potentially be a disturbance.
The main problem is the luck of the card draw. Its hard to plan if you get random cards.
The easy solution is to allow the players to either:
This is a clever game but has not had the appeal for me that it seems to have for so many others. The mechanism for play is original and interesting enough, but since you can only score by keeping someone else from scoring, you always wind up having to decide which of your opponents is your best target, and unfortunately this decision overshadows any actual tactical considerations. So in my opinion, the game is playable but not really much good. But hey -- that's just one gamester's opinion!