Theme and What is it?
You are a leader of an advanced nation in the world racing for the greatest technological and economic growth. As you expand your energy production to do more things, you will cause pollution to clog your environment. Balancing your environmental impact with your thriving industry will determine who has the greatest Energy Empire!
In classic Manhattan Project style, players will select one main board action and then take personal actions using extra workers or energy. Unlike other worker placement games, players can take a main board action that has already been used (even by themselves) by paying extra energy.
Once players run out of things they can do, they can return all of their workers to their supply, lose any leftover energy, and use dice to gain more energy. Unless using environmentally friendly energy sources, dice will cause pollution and nuclear contamination to be introduced into the environment.
Tom and Luke have captured all the best parts of The Manhattan Project while removing direct player attacks in Energy Empire.
Energy Empire has a familiar style to the original Manhattan Project and looks right at home on the table. The missing espionage and bombing tracks make it look more friendly towards player interaction.
Game Build Quality
The painted wooden steel and oil barrels look and feel great while the plastic plastics cubes are on the nose. The thickness of the board and the crazy thick punch out workers/energy are exceptionally high quality. However, the player mats are just standard cardstock and are a little flimsy compared to everything else.
Artists Josh Cappel and Jeffery Edwards have captured the feel of the original art while bringing it forward into a 1950’s feel. The board has the look of a cluttered diplomat’s desk. It has newspaper articles, file folders for various projects, and flip boards with building plans inside. Each worker has a unique appearance.
So, players can pick the person they think looks best suited to the job. The art matches the feel and theme of a post WWII game using colorfulness and clutter without seeming overly realistic or distractingly cartoonish.
Energy Empire is such a great experience that my players are already adding it to their collections. If fun for you is always having enough resources to do everything you want wherever you want, this game will likely appeal less to you. If you are like me and love making sacrifices to accomplish greater goals, then this game is going to be an excellent experience for you.
Age Range & Weight
13+ seems reasonable. With an experienced teacher helping occasionally during play, you could push that age range down a few years if everyone is willing to be helpful. The game rules are not so accessible that you could teach yourself in 10 minutes, but it took less than 30 minutes to get everything setup and understood for the first time.
I will be introducing this to all my friends at their earliest convenience. This game follows the original Manhattan Project’s basic premise of a worker placement game with continuous play. Both feature a single main board action followed by a growing engine of options on player constructed buildings.
That said, we liked the original game and found Energy Empire to be an even more enjoyable experience that was easier to engage with. This game doesn’t have any direct player messing with other players mechanisms and, as a result, will expand the game audience that loves it.