Manifest Destiny is a card-driven multi-player strategy game for 3 to 5 players set in North America from colonial times to the present. Designed by Bill Crenshaw as the successor to the Age of Renaissance, and developed by Ken Gutermuth, Manifest Destiny combines the strategic components of earlier, longer civilization-based games with the elegance of streamlined European gaming. While reminiscent of its predecessors in some respects, it is significantly simpler and quicker to play. Designed to appeal to a wide range of gamers, Manifest Destiny combines several unique elements that require strategic balancing to succeed.
Each player controls a mercantile empire as it expands into territories containing new markets across the continent. Players use cash to purchase Progressions and tokens. Progressions give players additional capabilities during the game. Tokens are used for territorial expansion and to purchase Pioneers, cities and additional cards.
Pioneers are used to explore Breakthroughs, which provide a unique ability to the first player to complete the Breakthrough (or to two collaborating players). Cities increase payouts and improve a territory's defense. The number of tokens available for purchase each turn is limited based on turn order -- the earlier you move, the fewer tokens available. The cost of Pioneers, cities and cards increases based on how many players previously bought them that turn.
As players gain or lose territories, their Profit, which is paid in cash each turn, increases or decreases accordingly. Each territory produces one or more products that result in payment as corresponding cards are played.
The card system is multi-faceted. There are two types of cards, Destiny Cards (events) and Progress Cards (leaders, events, products). All cards must be played during their historical era and only one Destiny Card can be played each turn. Each card also has a number in historical sequence, and players choose turn order for the next turn based on who played the highest numbered card the prior turn.
Each game is unique -- there is no standard path to victory. The game has several elements that keep all players competitive -- cards and Progressions are designed to assist lagging players. How you balance the competing opportunities will determine whether you achieve your destiny.
Move first and you can play a Destiny Card and get the first shot at a Breakthrough; you will have more choices in how to use your tokens, but the number of tokens available is limited. Move later and you will have access to more tokens, but your options will be more expensive. Do you want to play a card to improve your turn order options or save it for later when you can better capitalize on it? Do you want to play a card to take advantage of an historical event, or as a product to generate cash? How do you use your limited tokens? Do you invest in Pioneers to explore Breakthroughs to try to get a leg up on the competition? Do you acquire cities to increase product payouts and protect your markets? Do you acquire additional cards to give yourself more flexibility? Do you save your tokens to expand your holdings to increase your Profit and possibilities for product payouts? What Progressions do you buy?
As players acquire Progressions and Breakthroughs they receive deeds that are placed on a mat in front of them to mark their progress. Each Progression and Breakthrough is worth 1-3 Victory points, and the player with the most cities also gets 2 Victory Points. The game ends at the end of any phase in which a player reaches 30 Victory Points. Players' relative standings can be determined at a glance without extended calculations.
Players familiar with earlier related games will appreciate the combination of simplicity and sophistication. No complicated scoresheets to fill out, no pesky $1 bills, no smaller tokens that convert into larger ones, and no complicated competition system.
A 5-player game takes 3-4 hours, a 4-player game takes 2½-3½ hours, and a 3-player game takes 2-2½ hours. Allow more time for beginners.
Components: a 22" x 32" map; play money; a 64 card deck; five 6-sided dice; five sets of round tokens (25 each) and square counters (seven each) and miscellaneous markers (five victory Point counters, five Profit markers, five turn order markers, five priority turn order markers, 20 Cities, five Native Sovereignty markers, three Tourists, two Tech Centers); 75 Progression deeds and 20 Breakthrough deeds; five Progress Mats and one Breakthrough Chart.
Game Design: Bill Crenshaw
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