Published by: Minion Games
# of Players: 1 to 5
Energy Empire is a mid to heavy weight game in strategy and in components. Minion Games does a good job with always using thick cardboard for their cardboard components and Energy Empire continues that trend. Resources are represented by steel and oil drums made of light wood and plastic that is in the shape of clear pink plastic cubes. This adds a nice bonus to what could have been bland components. The game board is very sturdy and well organized to understand the flow of the game. Each player will have cardboard tokens for energy and workers, plus a thick card stock player board. The dice are unique to the game and easily visible to read. The art for the game is hit or miss for most people. The art matches that of the previous Manhattan Project entries, so if you like that art, you will like Energy Empire's art as well. Everything is made fairly durable and will stand up to some wear and tear. The rule book is very well done with lots of illustrations and organized in a logical way. There is a lot to go through but once you read it, you will understand the game. Minion Games did a stand up job with their components that look nice but also do not go over the top that it could affect the price.
Energy Empire is a worker placement game that has you powering your nation while trying to keep it clean at the same time. The goal at the end of the game is to have the most victory points. To start the game each player will select a country and be given resources based on that countries card. Pollution tokens will be placed on six spots and will contain a varied amount depending on player count. Once all the pollution tokens are off the board, the game will end. Each player will take turns placing a worker on the board or passing if they have no other moves to make. Players will place workers in one of 3 sections of the board. The government section in green, industry section in red, or the commerce section in yellow. Each section has different spots that when a worker is placed there, you will be able to perform that action. Also if you own any building cards of the same color as the section you just placed your worker into, you can use energy or workers to use those building actions as well during your turn. If someone is already on a space that you want to use on the board, you can place your worker there plus 1 energy. If a third person wants to place a worker there, they would add 2 energy to their worker at that location. Players can try to lock down a location by placing their worker and any number of energy on a spot to try and make it more expensive and possibly impossible to place a guy there.
If you are out of workers or do not want to perform any more actions, you may pass which is actually called generate. When you choose to generate, if you have 2 or more workers/energy left in any combination, you may claim an achievement. These are end game bonuses that will give you extra victory points based on the criteria listed on the achievement. Each achievement can be worth up to 5 victory points and you can have a maximum of 5 achievements. After you have possibly claimed an achievement, you will return all your workers to your player board and discard all energy tokens. You may then turn in oil to gain a petroleum die. (max of 4) You will add those dice to any energy dice you have that workers built during the game. You will roll all the dice and add up all the lightning bolts. You will get energy tokens up to 10 based on the number of bolts rolled. The die with the highest listed number is the pollution die. If it has a gas mask or hazard symbol on it, you will take a pollution token from the game board and add it to your environment grid on your player board. After a stack of pollution tokens is depleted, you will turn over a new event card. Event cards will award victory points right away for an area of the environment that is clear (air, land, water) and will also have some effect that will happen instantly or last till the next event card is flipped over. Once the last pollution token is removed from the game board, the game ends and players will total up their victory points. The player with the most points wins the game. I covered just the basics of the game. There is a lot more to this game, but nothing that is difficult to understand.
Manhattan Project Energy Empire is my favorite game in the series to date. This was a very smooth worker placement game that took under 2 hours with 5 people and majority of them were learning the game for the first time. There is a good amount of strategy and trying to find a balance in your energy needs and keeping your environment clean. I almost won a game as the Soviet Union by going coal and nuke heavy and polluting my whole country minus one water spot. The person who won went very clear energy and while not having as much options on their turn, they were able to pull out the win. I like the fact that there are different strategies to try and each country brings their own feel to the game. While the theme feels semi pasted on, it also seems to work with the gameplay. Energy Empire was easy to learn for those who have played worker placement games in the past, but took some time for those who are new to the mechanic. I felt satisfied at towards the end of the game with how my engine of buildings was working. The game lasted just the right amount of time where I felt I had done everything I wanted, but not too long where I would be starting to zone out. I like how everyone has the opportunity of using a worker space, but it will cost them more if there are others at the spot already. The dice seemed fairly balanced for their risk/reward. The components were nice for a worker placement game. I highly enjoyed the game and so did everyone else at the table that played. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys worker placement games or engine building mechanics. If you are expecting this to be just like Manhattan Project, then you will be disappointed. Energy Empire is a keeper for me and is pretty high on my worker placement game list. I think everyone who loves euro-style games should give this a try.
+Varied ways to try and win
+Each country has their own feel
+Easy to explain and learn
+Plays in under 2 hours
+Everyone has a chance to use a worker spot
- Personally not a big fan of the art
-Wish it was just called Energy Empire
- Takes up a lot of table space