I’m not usually one who boards the hype train. I prefer to judge things that speak to me, as I outlined in my last blog, it can be theme, components (oh Chip Theory, how do I love thee…), or even designers. I belong to a lot of board game groups, and see tons of games discussed daily there. One game I have seen over and over and over again is Terraforming Mars. It has been pretty hot on the internet, and I was doing really well avoiding it. Then I saw one of my YouTubers do a playthrough, actually a ton of playthroughs. To be precise, Boardgames with Niramas, has done 35 videos on it. So I watched, and watched, and watched… and then I ordered it.
Terraforming Mars, published by FryxGames and Stronghold Games, is a game that did not disappoint. I read a lot about it prior to pulling the trigger, despite what Niramas said. I read all the good, the bad, and the ugly. I read about what many considered sub par components, and I will admit some of the complaints had a point. Many of my metallic cubes were chipped, the player boards are thin and flimsy, the cards are not linen finish. But, and here’s a big but, especially if you remember my love of components, these things do not factor into the fun of the game and I am glad that they did not hold me back from getting it. Honestly, for the amount that I paid for this game, the components seem right on track. In this game, and it pains me to say this, it doesn’t really matter!
The game requires that you satisfy three different objectives to win the game in solo mode, or to trigger the end of game in the multiplayer game. These objectives are to raise the temperature to +8 degrees Celsius, place 9 ocean tiles, and increase the oxygen level to 14%. These objectives are accomplished by placing greenery tiles to increase oxygen, producing heat to increase the temperature, and playing cards to place ocean tiles. Each of these actions can be performed by purchasing standard projects as well. Cards will help you by increasing plant, heat, energy, mega credit (the games currency), steel, and titanium production. Playing the right card, at the right time, and having the credits to pay for it, is critical to success in this game, so there is a bit of a luck factor. There have been many games where I got the right card at the wrong time, either too early or too late in the game. Building the right engine to fuel your plans feel great when you can really pull it off, and it makes for a very satisfying gaming experience.
The gameplay for solo gaming is not easy. I’ve played through this game several times now and my win rate is really low, like abysmally low, okay, I’ve only won once. And I still keep coming back. The choices that I have to make in such a short amount of time are epic. Do I try to get more heat production to raise the temperature on Mars, or do I focus on plant production, because, well, we need to breathe too! Maybe I need to get some oceans out there, or maybe we need to mine some titanium or steel to mitigate some of the costs of this entire endeavor! Arghhhhhh! These are the tough choices you have to make, along with resource management. Adding new cards to your hand can be costly (3 credits each) and there are times when I want all 4 cards offered to me. Buying those then depletes the money I can spend to actually PLAY those cards. The choices are endless, and make for a very tense, fun, exciting experience. It also ensures that there is lots of replayability. Add this to the 12 different corporations you can choose to play as, and this game has endless possibilities. The set up and tear down time is really quick, and gets you into the game fast. Shuffling the 200+ cards in the games takes more time than anything, but more cards means more replayability in my eyes, so I am okay with that! To help you understand the magnitude of the number of cards in the game, I have one promo card, Self Replicating Robots, and I have only seen this card come in in two of the games that I have played. Two expansions add more content to the game, such as additional objectives, more corporations, and of course, more cards!
We touched upon the components earlier, but let’s get a bit more in depth here. The cubes used as the currency in the game, as I mentioned are plastic with a metallic coating. They come in three different sizes to help denote the different denominations. I liked that they did this, it makes calculating your credits quick and easy. I was a bit bummed that almost all of my gold pieces had a chip missing in the corner, but during the game it is easily overlooked. The cardboard pieces are really well done, and I love that the city and greenery tiles are double sided making less pieces for me to store. The game board is nice and sturdy, and I love that the board for the Hellas & Elysium expansion, like the city/greenery tiles, are double sided. The cards are a bit thinner than I am used to, but once they are sleeved it makes no difference. The one biggie for me was the player boards. They are very thin, but what really bugs me, is how easy it is to bump the board, or even the table and move your counters. This has made a big difference in the games that I have played, both solo, and multiplayer. There are a lot of people out there making overlays for this game to combat this problem including BoardGameBoost, and I’m looking into adding that to my copy.
I’ve boarded this hype train so hard that I even have Venus Next and the Hellas & Elysium expansions on their way. Recently Stronghold and FryxGames announced another addition to the line called Terraforming Mars: Prelude. I’m pretty excited about this and look forward to seeing more about it as the release date gets closer. Until then I think I have plenty of content to hold me over!
I am planning on doing a playthrough of all the corporations in the base game, and possibly the expansion as well. Comment below if you’d like to see these playthrough sessions posted on here, highlighting what I like and/or didn’t like about each of the corporations.
Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly terraformed Mars! Join me next time, follow me on Twitter, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!
Don’t forget, once I hit 200 followers on Twitter, I will have a giveaway of a copy of Mint Tin Pirates!!