Home Game Reviews The Manhattan Project: Nations Expansion Review

The Manhattan Project: Nations Expansion Review

Board Game Review By:
Tony Mastrangeli

Reviewed by:
On Jul 25, 2013
Last modified:Jul 10, 2014


We review the first expansion for The Manhattan Project. The Nations expansion is a small expansion that incorporates seamlessly into the base game.

This review is for an expansion for The Manhattan Project. If you haven’t already, you can read the review for the base game here.

The Manhattan Project Nations ExpansionRecently we reviewed The Manhattan Project, a fantastic worker placement themed around countries of the world racing to build bombs. If you haven’t read the review yet, you should probably read that before this expansion review. (you can do so here)
The Manhattan Project: Nations Expansion is the first expansion for the game and adds a bit more variety to the game. As you might have guessed, the Nations expansion adds in a nation for each player to assume the role of. Does the Nations expansion add more depth and game play to The Manhattan Project or does it add needless complexity to the game? Read on to find out.

Expansion Overview:

The Manhattan Project: Nations Expansion is a 7-card expansion for the base game. Each player is now given the identity of a nation to run during this giant arms race of a game. Player options include: Britain, China, France, Germany, Japan, Soviet Union or USA.

Each card gives the player a special ability that functions much in the same way the buildings do in the base game. The main difference here is that the power on the nations card is exclusive to the player owning it. Other players cannot use espionage to steal the power or bombs to destroy it.

The Manhattan Project Nations Expansion
The expansion comes with 7 different country cards and 2 rules cards.

Game Experience with the Expansion:

If you are a fan of The Manhattan Project then you want the Nations expansion. Honestly, there is almost no reason for you not to buy it. It costs about $5 and adds some nice variety to the game play. I do question as to why the Nation cards weren’t included in the base game to begin with, but for its price point, there isn’t much reason not to grab a copy.

I like actually playing the game better as a specific nation. No longer are you an ambiguous country trying to build up your arsenal of bombs. Now you are Germany or Japan trying to win the arms race against USA or France. It gives the game player a bit more identity and a useful power to go with it.

The Manhattan Project Nations Japan
Each country will now have a unique power that can’t be stolen or destroyed.

Speaking of powers, they vary from nation to nation and some may seem better then others. I think all are balanced and some will probably suit your play style more than others. For example, if you are a bit of a war monger, than Japan will be the nation for you to play with. Japan can spend any 2 workers to either build 2 fighters or active an air strike (Without having to waste their main board action to do it).

While each nation gives you a unique power, none are so strong that you have to tailor your whole strategy towards that card. I more so consider it a helpful bonus that only you get to take advantage of.

Since the cards work just like buildings, the learning curve on adding the expansion in is almost nil. I haven’t decided if it’s better to leave the nations expansion out during someone’s first play of The Manhattan Project (we have been), but when everyone has played the game at least once, I won’t ever see a reason to not play with the nations. I think even first time players could handle this expansion with minimal worry. You could always just ignore the nation card for the first round or two until people wrap their heads around the game.

Final Thoughts:

So there you have it. A very affordable game expansion that adds in a little bit of game play variety and almost no learning curve. If you are a fan of The Manhattan Project than you want this expansion, no question about it. If you aren’t a fan of the game then nothing about this expansions will change your mind on the game.
Go pick up The Manhattan Project: Nations Expansion today. After playing with this expansion I’d question why someone would ever play without it.

If you are interested in getting a copy for yourself, it’s about $5

Expansion Score: Buy – A small expansion that incorporates seamlessly into the base game.

Expansion BuyHits:
• Adds variety to the game
• Gives each player an identity
• Super easy to incorporate into the base game

• Didn’t come with the base game.


Get Your Copy


  1. Thanks for the review. The Nations were left out of the base game for 2 reasons.

    1) We didn’t want people to be able to bomb Japan out of the box – we thought some might take that as bad taste. So there is nothing in the main game that is using any real world countries.

    2) We used them as a bonus for Kickstarter pledges.

    As for teaching with our without the Nations 1. I started with but eventually came to the conculsion that it’s best taught without it as the Nations tend to make a person WANT to go a certain direction with their strategy and that’s not a good idea for a beginner.

  2. Does anyone think Japan’s card is too powerful?

    Being allowed to use fighters as bombers would mean the player could have up to 20 bombers to use against their opponent. It seems like they could just bomb their opponent into oblivion.

    Also, they can just build up their air force quicker than their opponent too since they get 2 free fighters.

    • It’s possible, although it’s never come up in one of our games as an issue. For the most part, we don’t do bombing very often, most of the time that precious centerboard action is too valuable to be wasted on attacking.

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