top of page

War Machine - Preview

War Machine is an introduction to the Manhattan Project series of games. That series includes the original Manhattan Project which came out about 10 years ago, Manhattan Project: 2 Minutes to Midnight, and Energy Empire.

Game cover, prototype components

Manhattan Project: War Machine plays in 20-30 minutes, it's meant to introduce a lot of the Manhattan Projects mechanics and themes without being overwhelming to new players. What our you going to do with all that nuclear waste you are generating to keep your production going?

It’s a dice action selection game where on my turn I lead, and you may be able to follow.

Each player has a series of boards that they place out in front of them. Many of these boards are upgradeable. One represents your warehouse and you will place cubes in slots depending on which player you are - there is actually a slight disadvantage to the first player so they get more stuff. The resources are food, steel, and gold. There is also a tracker for victory points. Players are limited during gameplay if they do not upgrade the side boards for the warehouse.

warehouse board with slots for cubes

Each player also gets to keep one government grant and one company card. The government grants give you end game scoring conditions and your company card will give you a special ability to use with nuclear power.

There is a central board where you place buildings off to the side, again this is not a final component and some things will likely change for ease of play.

central board with buildings to buy and action spaces

On your turn, you have three parts: 1. Roll dice and select them. 2. Take global actions 3. Activate structures. Finally, you will clean up by placing all your dice back in their starting spots and checking for the end of the round. The game has less rounds with a higher player count.

At the end of the game you will count up any victory points you have received throughout the game, including on any structures or upgrades, subtract any negative points, like from nuclear waste, and then declare a winner. In the case of a tie, the person with the most resources wins. If there is still a tie, the players celebrate the strength of their nations’ shared victory.

Here’s what I like about the game: 1. You get a larger dice pool as the game progresses 2. Games are quick and it’s easy to play a couple without stressing about it. 3. The artwork, even though it isn’t all quite finalized is quite stunning. 4. Finally, the you lead and I follow mechanic keeps everyone paying attention and ready for their turns.

the game evokes a World War 2 or Cold War theme, but not in an overhanded way

I think this game will be for those who like dice selection and action games but don’t want to think too hard. There are choices and variety on how to build out your action combos and engines in the game, but there aren’t too many to feel as if its formidable.

You may not like this game if you don’t like randomness. The dice definitely play a factor in the game. It also may not be for you if don’t like shorter games where you have a plan and it may not come to fruition. Someone may grab that building you needed or you may be one resource short at the wrong time.

There is still some dice mitigation in the game, even a powerful upgrade to allow you to set one of your dice to a side you choose. I like the game and think this will be a good one to grab for game night when no one wants to play something too long or too thought provoking.

Be on the lookout for War Machine from Grail Games, let me know what you think about it, and happy gaming!

Thanks to Grail Games for the review copy!

Teaching 9/10

Aesthetics 9/10

Strategy 6/10

Gameplay 9/10

Time 20-30 Minutes

Players 1-4

Mechanics: Dice Placement, Dice Rolling, Engine Building, Unique Powers


bottom of page