My first brush with Minion Games was with their hit: The Manhattan Project. I was immediately drawn into the game’s clever take on worker placement in a historically interesting theme. It was the first game I had ever played that used different kinds of workers to take different kinds of actions. It was love at first play.
When I heard that Minion Games was working on a successor to The Manhattan Project, I immediately took notice. Back in April, Energy Empire hit Kickstarter with a very successful funding campaign with games set to ship anytime now for early November delivery. In preparation for this release, we were lucky enough to get an early review prototype copy.
Energy Empire has a very similar feeling and flow as its big brother. Player’s turns are either made up of playing to a center board location and a bunch of player buildings, or recalling workers to prepare them to be played again. Energy Empire does shift the mechanics significantly to form a familiar, but still distinct game.
In Energy Empire, nations are competing for resources and technology in an effort to rebuild infrastructure and gain reputation after World War II. Utilizing energy as a way to augment normal worker placement, players are challenged to deal with and leverage the uncertainty that comes with dice based energy production.
Overall, this game shines in the face of Eurogamers who like building up an intricate engine and seeing it run smoothly. My only gripe is with what seems like limited viable paths to victory. In the handful of plays, it seemed as though there was only one convincing path to victory. This might have been because I was playing the strategies of the other paths ineffectively, but I don’t see why you would even not play an industry heavy game.
Even though I reviewed a prototype copy of the game, players are in for a treat with realistic resources, custom dice and the usual polish and esthetic from the artwork and graphic design. The game looks impressive and inviting when all set up on the table and ready to go.
The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire
Designed by: Luke Laurie, Tom Jolly
Published by: Minion Games
Time: 120 minutes
Mechanics: Worker placement, Engine building, Dice
I highly recommend Energy Empire to any fan of The Manhattan Project. It is very much a different play experience, but still harkens back to the ingenuity that made Manhattan Project great. While over the course of many plays, singular strategies may prevail; each individual game rewards the player with a satisfying march towards an efficient and powerful engine. Put your Nukes to good use, and make some energy!