First Impressions: The Manhattan Project Chain Reaction

Hello everyone! It has been quite a roll I’ve gotten on again finally, and I couldn’t be happier to be back on the review wagon. Putting out reviews has been wonderful lately and I will keep this ball rolling for as long as I can. This review features a game by Minion Games called The Manhattan Project Chain Reaction. Let’s dive right in!

If You Love

  • Card games
  • Engine Building Games
  • Deck Building game play style


How It’s Played

To play Chain Reaction, there will be a deck of cards which are drawn from by each player. Players start with five cards, and will use those five cards on their turn to gain as much “Yellow Cake” and “Uranium” as they can manage, using Labourers, Engineers, and Scientists. The goal is to gain the resources necessary to build bombs. The bombs have various points on them based on the various resources needed for each one. Once a player gains 10 points, the other players each get one more turn, and the game ends. Whoever has the most points at that point wins the game. Now, to go back and go over a bit more on how to use the five cards you get. There are three different aspects of the cards. On the top of the card, there are resources which you need to gather to gain the bonus of the card, which is found on the bottom of the card. You will use this combination of resources to gain yellow cake or uranium. All resources are used in conjunction with each other, so having a bit of everything at your disposal will help you through the game. As well, along the side of the cards, there are workers that you can use to fill the resources needed to get better rewards from the cards. On the sides, there will be either the labourers, engineers, or scientists. (See below for an example of such a card). There are a few other things you can do within the game, but everything is based on this premise throughout the entire game.

The Pretty Little Bow

The size of the game doesn’t really lend itself out well to have any stand out art, but within the cards, the art is great. It reminds me of an era where bomb testing was the norm. (50s-60s). This is probably a good thing since the game is essentially an arms race, and you are trying to have the most bomb power. For a game that is made only of a deck of cards, it really portrays a good thematic experience.


What’d You Love?

The thing that I loved the most about Chain reaction was a very surprising aspect for me. Now, I’m not a person to name other games in a review, so I won’t start now. But, I play a collectible card game quite a bit, and it gave a feel of this game much more than I was expecting. This isn’t to say this is a combative game, but the way you can use the cards in your hand each turn to build a great and winning combination. This puts an exciting feel and satisfaction to the game, because for something to work so nicely is always a great thing. The other really neat thing is the unique second ability for each card. You could use it to gain a worker, or you could use workers to make the card more powerful to continue your combination and turn. Very nicely put together and the card synergy is excellent all around. As well as all of that, it is a great depth for a filler game. It can be played usually within 30 minutes, and gives a good amount of thought right from get go.

What’s Not To Love? 

As far as less than impressive aspects to the game go, there really isn’t that much I don’t like about it. I think that maybe the worst part of it is that there is not real distinct numbered phase order in the rule book. I found myself searching a bit for what you “do” on a turn (play cards, redraw, pass turn), because I’ve gotten so used to having a small spot which numbers each phase. Even though they are very easy steps, I feel I’m searching for that list first so I can get an idea of what is done on a turn, and work from there. Now, this may just be how I go about learning games, but I really noticed that it was missing in this game. Obviously not a big deal in the long run, as it is easy to read through and figure out, but I had to adjust my personal learning process, which was a slight annoyance.


img_6990.jpgWhat’d You Think?

Chain Reaction is a game that puts some fairly deep thought into a fairly short game. This is something that I am always interested in finding due to the fact that it isn’t every night that I have time to get a big two to three hour game to the table. If that happens to be the case, why should I give up the thought provoking aspects of those games just because they are shorter? This game perfectly throws you into what feels like the middle of a game, and right off the starting line, you are considering your every play. I would consider this to be a filler style game, however, I’m not sure I would be keen on playing it between two big heavy games. I would be more inclined to pull this out between a couple of games at more of a family night than the “gamers” night. This is only because I don’t feel it lends itself very well to relaxing the mind as well between games. This is a game that will never leave my collection, just based on the fact that I could probably sneak it in and get yet-to-be gamers playing it, and realize they can handle slightly meatier games. As well, it is perfect for throwing into a purse or knapsack and being played basically anywhere. I think if you can get your hands on Chain Reaction, it would be well worth it to pick it up.


Thank you for taking the time to read this review, and I hope it interested you enough to seek it out and give it a try! I look forward to writing the next review for you! As well, as a bit of a sneak peek into one of my upcoming posts, I will be writing on my experience on my first Convention!! So I hope you are all looking forward to reading about my experience. Have a great week, and don’t forget, I love you all!



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