Terraforming Mars Review - A Simulation Builder That Is Out Of This World
Quick Glance - Terraforming Mars by Stronghold Games
Game Type: Tile Placement / Card Strategy
Number of Players: 1-5
Mechanics: Board Building and Card-based Engine building
Introduction/Overview: In the 2400s, mankind decides that it is ready to explore other planets to inhabit. The most logical choice is of course our closest neighbor Mars. However, there is some work to be done to make life inhabitable. Raising the temperature, oxygen level, and creating oceans are all necessary for mankind to survive. Along the way you will be able to create prosperous cities, luscious greenery spaces and even some special monuments to assist in the terraforming of the planet of Mars.
Rulebook: Very descriptive and eye catching. Everything is clearly explained and I did not have to go “hunting” to search for clarification.
Theme: Loaded with interstellar and scientific themes, focusing generally on geology. Science laboratories, asteroids, space stations, and more adorn the cards each with a beautiful design. Every project card in the deck is directly related to the task at hand and even has a little quip at the bottom of each card. Sometimes informative, other times hilarious.
Set-Up/Takedown: This is not too difficult, especially with the assistance of the rulebook. All project cards are shuffled, markers are placed on the board. Tiles are all off to the side until needed. I will say this. Do yourself a favor and invest in the Broken Token inserts for Terraforming Mars. It’s extremely helpful with the tracking on the player board. On the standard boards that come with the game, one ill-placed bump could send all of your pieces flying!
Components: The placement tiles are heavy cardboard with a matte finish that looks both professional and of great quality. The player chits are heavy duty clear plastic, and look like gems almost. the money counters are similar but have a nice metallic color finish on them that just screams high quality. The project cards are also a decent heavy card stock with a semi-gloss finish on them. Although it cannot hurt to sleeve the cards, it isn’t necessary to do so.
Solo-Play: There is a one-player variant of this game where instead of aiming for victory points, the player must meet all of the Terraforming conditions (temperature, oxygen, and oceans) within 14 generations (rounds) of play. This is an interesting take on the game, but makes cards that only have victory point bonuses somewhat useless as the victory points are not counted in this mode. This seems like a great way of practicing different strategies to see what works when fate deals you random cards.
Final Thoughts: Terraforming Mars is an addictive game, that has gotten to our table on multiple occasions. The main thing I really like about this game is that there are dozens of different strategies to win this game, all equal in merit. In the multiple times I have played this, I have not used the same strategy twice. This game is perfect for anyone who loves board-building games, engine builders, and the space theme. The gameplay has been well thought out and fine tuned to near perfection. The game isn’t too difficult to understand, and everyone at our table picked it up pretty quickly. I cannot see any glaring flaws within this game, and I look forward to testing out the many expansions already created for this wonderful masterpiece.