In another review (Up for Grabs) I could scarcely contain my glee at the opportunity to mess with my opponents. I should take a moment and convince you that this is not one of my defining characteristics, merely a small fraction of the games enthusiast that visits with you periodically. I should do that but I can’t because sabotage and schadenfreude must be hardwired into my small, cold, gamer’s heart.
Enter Manhattan, from Rio Grande Games: a strategic stacking game that challenges players to compete against each other by building (or stealing) skyscrapers in six different cities. Each player has 24 stackable building pieces of varying heights. They can play these segments of skyscraper in any of the six grids that represent six of the world’s biggest cities, but in each round there are two limits: each player has only a few segments (in a three person game each person has 4 segments per round) and each player has a hand of five cards that indicate the available spaces.
You get points for having the tallest skyscraper.
You get points for having the most skyscrapers in a city.
You get points for each skyscraper.
You get to steal skyscrapers from other players by stacking your color on top of theirs (pause to catch breath and allow maniacal laughter to dissipate).
While some of the rules for stacking take a little experience to master, the game is easy to learn and the strategy grows out of the choices players make as they consider the number and size of their segments. Is it better to go for the tallest high-rise? Is it better to have a lot of small buildings? Will you have to sleep on the couch if you take one of your wife’s buildings? These are some of the many legitimate strategic questions. The instructions are clearly written and organized and the examples deftly clarify the few complicated aspects of the game.
You might not make any friends by stealing the tallest skyscraper, but you know that everyone is gunning for your buildings as well. And it’s all in fun.
Manhattan is distributed by Rio Grande Games and is © 1994 by Hans im Glück Verlags-GmbH. Designed by Andreas Seyferth with art by Ramon Mascarenas and Zeilbeck & Natzeck Design Company.
Will Bain, Games Taster