Terraforming Mars

There are two types of board gamers in this world. Those that churn through board games at a prodigious rate and those that have become too poor. Having bred and shortly thereafter realising how expensive little people are, I have in the last 20 months hugely curtailed my boardgame spend. Little people also hamper boardgaming in other more insidious and not immediately foreseeable ways. They exhaust you to the point where given the choice between sleeping or committing six hours to a board game where you have to strategize and connive to stab* your best friends in the back (sometimes in the front)… sleep tends to win out.

* My board gaming group is hyper competitive (and completely amoral)



I’ve heard a lot about this game. All goods things. So I was excited to have a go. In my venerable status as a gnarly old veteran (soon to be 39) this required some prep work.  I had to achieve the right level of caffeination pregame and then do regular maintenance throughout the evening. There would be a two beer limit and a moratorium on toking on anything containing Tetrahydrocannabinol. I needed to sustain a ninja like focus. (also I tend to break furniture and spill things at the best of times, a trait only amplified by THC)


We played a three player game. I drew Thorgate as my corporation. Essentially the power generation specialists. Their special ability allows you to pay 3 less when you pay for card that has a power ‘tag’. For example this Power point card cost me 1 to play.


The point of the game is to terraform Mars (which you may have gathered from the title) To do this you need to raise the temperature (from -30C) of the planet by creating an atmosphere along with at least 14% oxygen. (earth has about 21% oxygen at sea level in case that sounds weird to you)

Initially, since I was the ‘power’ Corp I thought it would be a good strategy to create lots of ‘cheap’ energy (which gets converted into heat)

I really struggled with my initial draw and one of my friends started generating lots of heat, completely out pacing me in that competitive sphere. Instead of playing catch up I decided to change my strategy. I started building habitats and since my buddies were doing all the hard terraforming by raising the temperature by releasing carbon into the atmosphere and crashing asteroids in the surface I concentrated on getting the ecosystem established by importing methane from Titan and growing Lichen on rocks.


Having raised the temperature sufficiently my opponents shifted gear and ramped up their infrastructure. The end score was quite close with me and my friend Marco both ending on 72 points each. He managed to win the tie breaker because his money production was far superior to mine giving him the win.

I really like this game and I can see it become one of my favorites. I’m giving it a friendship ending rating of :


*as a term of reference, Tokaido rates 0/5, ie no chance of losing friends and Through the ages 4.9/5, almost guaranteed to end in fisticuffs and burning down someone’s house.

I really like the mechanics of Terraforming Mars. As an aside we played with the card draft rule which I thought was really cool and worked well. I love the science and the flavour of each card. While there are a couple of ‘attack’ cards, this is a pretty peaceful game, it has none of the violence of action that Eclipse or Twilight Imperium has, where if you fall behind you die (again this might only be my gaming group… I have played in groups where betrayal is actively frowned upon)

Great game. Had lots of fun. Definitely keen to play it again.