Manifest Kickstarter Preview
[This post is not a review, but a preview of a game that is currently on Kickstarter. The final version of the game may be different in terms of art, graphics, or rules.]
The game ships with two sets of game rules: Basic and Expert. Both rule sets are basically the same, with the Expert game adding deck building mechanisms to play. I will explain how the Basic game works first, and will later illustrate what the Expert game changes.
Before beginning a game of Manifest, players choose how long of a game they wish to play. The instructions suggest that with 4 players playing until a player has 11 points, for a 45-60 minute game, or to 15 points for a 60-90 minute game.
In Manifest, players control shipping companies, and have two cargo ships each. Each ship is able to hold four items, either goods or passengers. Players will be moving these ships from port to port, picking up goods and passengers and then transporting those items to the ports that want them, as indicated by Contract Cards.
There are 3 Contract Cards that are available for completion by any player. These are face up on the board. The Contract Cards are laid out very nicely, with a large picture of what good/passenger is wanted at the destination port, and dots on the map showing which port(s) the good/passenger can be picked up at, and where the destination port is located. When a player completes a contract, she takes the contract card and places it under her player mat, leaving the number of points it is worth showing.
A player who is able to complete these two contracts
would score 5 points - 5 for Petrograd and 1 for New York.
Play of the game is driven by an action card deck. At the beginning of each turn, a player will have 4 Action Cards in her hand. She can play as many of these as she wants on her turn. Each action card can be used for one of three things: movement, money, or the special card ability. Using a card's movement value allows a player to move one of her ships through spaces that are equal to or less than the value on the card. Money on a card can be used to pay to pick up goods or passengers in port, dump cargo or passengers that a player no longer wishes to haul, or purchase a face down contract from the contract deck. Contracts purchased this way are then personal contracts that can only be completed by the player holding them.
The "World Crisis" card ability affects everyone playing, and simulates the events of October 29, 1929 - Black Tuesday.
The final thing an Action Card can be used for is the card's special ability. This is the part of the game that really brings in the theme and makes the game stand out. The events range from being able to double the movement of a ship to being able to attack an opponent's ship. The art on the prototype cards that I received is very well done, with the ability text written in a 1920s style newspaper headline style. The titles of the cards are thematic as well, invoking language and events from the time, with titles like Double Whammy" and "Spanish Flu."
The final part of the Basic game are the piracy spaces and attacks. Some regions on the board (indicated by red pathways) are patrolled by thieving pirates. Any ships entering these paths need to roll two dice are pirate attacks! Resolving these attacks is simple: if the player has any cargo in the matching holds of the ship being attacked, they are lost. Some Action Cards have special ability text that allow a player to attack another - these attacks are resolved in the same way, except some of these cards allow the attacking player to steal any cargo lost!
The Expert game plays similarly to the Basic game, except instead of drawing Action Cards from a shared deck, players will be drawing Action Cards from their own decks. Money also has an additional function in the game, in that it can be used to draft new cards into player's decks. There will be a row of 3 cards available for purchase, all of which cost $3 each to put into a player's discard pile. These cards will then eventually be shuffled into and drawn from a player's deck.
Manifest is a solid pick-up and deliver game with some fun "take that" chaos added in. As I said above, the special abilities on the cards really add a lot of flair to what is otherwise a pretty basic (though still entertaining) family game. I think that Manifest is one of those games that could be played on the same game night as Carcasonne and Ticket to Ride with a group of gateway gamers. It is simple to learn and play, but has a good amount of planning and strategy - as well as a couple laugh out loud moments each game.
SchilMil Games is currently seeking contributions on Kickstarter to fund a print run of Manifest!! They are well on their way to being funded having already raised over a third of what they need!! If you're interested in pledging for a copy, head on over to Kickstarter to show them your support!
[Jim would like to thank SchilMil Games for having a prototype copy of Manifest sent to him.]