Board game reviews, strategy tips & session reports
No. of players: 2-5
Amount of time to play: 120 min
Age requirements: 13+
Set-up time: 5-10 minutes
Second Stage is a set of modular expansions for The Manhattan Project. You can add different expansions that you enjoy and fit your group’s playing style.
Description of the Second Stage Expansion:
This review is going to focus on the Second Stage expansion and assumes you have a handle on the base game. If you have not played The Manhattan Project you can read my overview and review here.
This expansion is made up of five different mini-expansions. You can add all or just some of them to your taste.
One mini-expansion adds H-Bombs. To make them you need a new resource, Lithium Deuteride (LD). Orange cubes are included to represent LD and you can buy factories to produce it. H-Bombs upgrade one of your existing Plutonium Bombs. They double the value of that bomb and are gained during the Design Bomb action.
Also included are Rockets and a track to count the number of Rockets you have built. Rockets are used like bombers, but they ignore enemy fighters. To build them you need a Rocket factory. This building is gained by not taking a bomb card during the Design Bomb action.
There was a previous small expansion called Nations. Second Stage has a Nations 2 expansion that lets you take on the role of a nation. You get a National Identity card that works like a building. During step 2 of your turn you may place workers on your ID card to gain its benefits.
In addition to national identities there are Personalities in one expansion. These Personalities grant you benefits on your turn and a free to use. The benefits include a free Espionage action, free Fighters and Bombers and doubling your energy output on the Main Board’s reactors. There are seven Personalities and you get one every time you Refresh your workers. When choosing a new Personality you cannot take the one you just had.
You can also turn up or dial back the direct conflict in the game by using the new Air Strike Overlay. The base game has two slots for workers to take the Air Strike action. The overlay lets you up that to three for more fighting or drop it to just one spot for less fighting.
Lastly there are boards to use for placing available bombs and the resources in the general supply.
A Quick Review of the Second Stage Expansion:
Second Stage is an excellent addition to The Manhattan Project. It lets you add the expansions you like and cater the game to how you like to play. It enhances the game play without adding a lot of new rules and time to the game.
The components in this expansion are on par with those in the base game. The art and rules are well done. Everything is high quality and the new boards for the general supply are nice to have.
The Personalities are probably my favorite addition. It changes the game by adding role-selection to it. And I like how that enhances the game play. Some of the benefits can help you accomplish things more quickly and thus the game can move a bit quicker. Also not being able to keep the same Personality when refreshing adds some strategy to when and why you might refresh. You might not even have all your workers out but refresh just to get the Personality you want.
Nations 2 is a solid addition that again adds options for players and can help move the game along.
I like the H-Bombs and Rockets a bit less. The H-Bombs can be tough to pull off and an LD Plant may not show up to buy. The Rockets let you blow things up but cost a good bit to build. I don’t mind the direct conflict they bring too much, but if your buildings are getting destroyed the game can go longer.
Another great thing about Second Stage is that you can add what you like. The Air Strike Overlay even lets you modify the direct conflict in the game. Adding what you like and being able to cater to your group’s tastes is great.
Second Stage enhances a game that is already really fun. If you own The Manhattan Project, I think this is a must-buy. You may want to wait until you have played the base game a bit. But this expansion just adds to the experience.
Score and synopsis: (Click here for an explanation of these review categories.)
Strategy 4 out of 6
Luck 3 out of 6
Player Interaction 6 out of 6
Replay Value 4 out of 6
Complexity 4 out of 6
Fun 6 out of 6
Overall 6 out of 6