FTW Staff Picks - Manila

For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.


Genre: Gambling / Worker Placement

Designer: Franz-Benno Delonge

Player Size: 3 to 5 Players

Game Length: 60 minutes

For fans of: Camel Up 

The motherland. I'll be honest, a friend of mine bought Manila when it recently came back into print solely because it's a game based off our homeland. We didn't know what to expect going into it, but were pleasantly surprised when we reached the end of our game. Our group of gamers are quite the risk-takers, so we really loved the gambling aspect of the game. Overall, Manila feels like a deeper Camel Up. 

In Manila, players take turns placing workers on various spaces of the board as three ships sail, hoping to dock various goods. Each player secretly have stocks invested in getting the four goods successfully to bay. The various spots on the board allow players to predict whether certain ships will successfully dock, whether they will fail, or even give the opportunity to seize and overthrow workers on a boat to claim all the bounty for themselves.

Unlike many other worker placement games, Manila offers just enough options to players to keep things competitive throughout the entire game. Each dice roll to move the ships creates a strong level of tension. Taking your turn as Harbor Master creates meaningful decisions when analyzing the current state of the game, similar to the Master Builder in Castles of Mad King Ludwig


What began as a joke among a friend and I, turned into finding a new favourite to add to our collection. There are many press-your-luck, gambling type games in the scene and Manila strongly sits atop that list for us.

Earl OliverosComment