Manhattan:  rules

Article published at Mayfair games

The Skyscraper Building Game

In Manhattan, players compete to build the biggest and best buildings in the greatest city in the world. Each turn consists of constructing new buildings or adding to existing buildings. Building is influenced by cards, but the player decides which of six neighborhoods of Manhattan to build in. Players can also steal control of other players' buildings by playing pieces on top of other players' buildings, taking away other players' hard-earned points. Once each player has played six pieces, the round is over and all players score points based on who has the tallest building, who has the most buildings in each neighborhood, and how many buildings each player controls. After four rounds of building and scoring, the player with the most points wins.


45 Building cards
1 Board
100 Building pieces (25 each of 4 colors in 4 different sizes)
1 Yellow marker


The youngest player will go first. He takes the yellow marker to indicate this. All players choose a color and take all the pieces of that color. Each player places one one-floor piece of their color at the bottom of the scoring chart on the board. This piece is used to keep track of the player's score, which starts at zero. Players should sit facing different sides of the board, so that no two players face the same direction. Once all players are ready, shuffle the deck of cards, deal four cards to each player, and place the remaining cards on the table where all players can reach them.


The game is played in four rounds (six rounds in a two or three player game). Each player starts by selecting six of his 24 pieces to use this round. During the round, players take turns playing one piece at a time to create a new building, to add to an existing building, or to steal control of another player's building. The player whose piece is on top of a building controls that building and will score points for it at the end of the round. After four rounds have been completed, the player with the most points wins.

1. Select pieces

Each player selects six pieces from the 24 initially available. These are the only pieces which that player can use for building in that round.

If any player wants to wait and see which pieces other players are choosing, they may request that the player with the yellow marker finalize his selection first, followed by each player in a clockwise order.

In a two or three person game, each player takes four pieces instead of six (see below).

2. Build

Players take turns building, one piece at a time. The player with the yellow square marker builds first. To build, he takes a piece and a card and places the piece in the neighborhood of his choice, in the position indicated by the card (see diagram on next page). The position can be an empty block or a block already occupied by a building.

When a player plays a card, he places it face up in front of him so the top of the card faces the board. On the top of the card, there are two squares, each divided into nine smaller squares. This grid of squares corresponds to the grid of blocks that make up each neighborhood. The small red square in each grid indicates the corresponding block of the neighborhood where he must play the piece. For example, a card with a red square in the top left of the grid indicates that the player must play his piece in the top left of the neighborhood, according to his perspective. Players must make sure that all the cards they play always face the same way (i.e., facing up), since changing the orientation of the card will change which square it indicates. Except for the center square, all cards indicate different blocks when played by different players.

Different pieces have different numbers of floors, which determine the size of the building and can restrict where the piece can be played. Pieces of any size can be placed on empty blocks or blocks that are controlled by the player who is playing the piece (i.e., the top floor is that player's color). If a player other than the player who is playing the piece controls the building (i.e., the top floor is another player's color), the player who is playing the piece must have at least as many floors of his color on the building (including the piece he is currently adding) as there are floors of the current owner's color.

Whenever a player plays a card, he draws a new card to replace it. All players should always have four cards in their hands. If at any time a player discovers that he does not have 4 cards, he immediately draws enough cards to bring him back up to 4. If at any time the deck becomes depleted, shuffle the discard pile and use it as a new deck.

3. Scoring

Each player scores points for all the buildings they control, plus bonus points if they have the largest building on the board or control the most buildings in any one neighborhood.

·Each player scores one point for each building that they control.
The player who controls the tallest building (i.e., the building with the most floors, regardless of the color of these floors) on the board receives three bonus points. These points are in addition to the one point received for controlling the building. If more than one building is tied at the tallest, no player receives these bonus points, even if the same player controls both buildings.

In each neighborhood, the player who controls the most buildings (of any size) in that neighborhood receives two bonus points. If three or more players control buildings in this neighborhood, this player need not have a majority of all the buildings in the neighborhood as long as he has more buildings than each other player in the neighborhood. For example, if one player has three buildings and two other players have two buildings each, the first player receives the two points. These points are in addition to the points received for controlling the buildings. If 2 or more players are tied with the most buildings in a neighborhood, no player receives these bonus points for that neighborhood.

These scores are added to the player's previous score by moving that player's scoring marker to the appropriate number on the scoring chart on the board. See below for an example of scoring.

End of the Round

Once all players have tallied their scores, the player with the yellow marker passes it to the player to his left. This signifies the end of the round. The next round begins as all players select six new pieces. The player who now has the yellow marker goes first. Players do not discard their hands between rounds, but instead use the four cards left over from the previous round to begin the new round.

Shuffle the discard pile and the deck together at the end of each round to make a new deck to avoid shuffling in the middle of a round.

Later rounds are played exactly the same as the first round. Buildings stay on the board through all four rounds and are still scored as normal even if no new pieces are added to them.


The player with the most points after four rounds of play is the winner.

Two or Three Player Rules

In a three player game, each player picks only four pieces each round, and the game is played for six rounds.

If there are only two players, each player controls two colors. At the beginning of each round, they pick four pieces of each color. On a player's turn, he can can play a piece of either color. The round ends when each player has used all of the pieces of both colors. Score each color separately as if there were four players, but add both scores to one total score for the player. The winner is the player with the highest score after six rounds.



This variant requires that a player supply an extra little plastic piece to represent a monster that is destroying Manhattan. Place this piece in the lower left corner of Soho when the game begins. Whenever a player plays a card, move the monster one square in the direction indicated on the card. If there is a building in that block, it is destroyed and those pieces are removed from the game. If the monster tries to leave a neighborhood, move him to the adjacent neighborhood (as if all 6 were lined up in a 3x2 rectangle). Squares with a monster on them cannot be built on.

Baby Monster

This uses all the same rules as the monster variant, but instead of destroying the entire building, the baby monster only removes the top piece. When a player plays a middle square card, the baby monster removes another piece on the same building.

Slow Growth

In the first round, only three neighborhoods are available for building. No pieces may be played in the other three neighborhoods. In each additional round, one more neighborhood becomes available for building.

Anti-trust Laws

No player may place a piece on top of one of their own buildings.

Home page Home

This site is created and maintained by: Carl-Gustaf Samuelsson