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A New Launch for Mission: Red Planet from Fantasy Flight

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game: Mission: Red Planet (Second Edition)
In a March 2014 BGG News post, I included two images of Mission: Red Planet, one from co-designer Bruno Cathala and another (now missing) from co-designer Bruno Faidutti, but with elements in the images that pointed to a new version of the game being in the works, something Cathala revealed in a video interview for the video podcast "Something from Nothing".

Now Fantasy Flight Games has officially announced this new version of Mission: Red Planet, due for release in Q3 2015, and while the core of the game remains the same, this version does introduce changes — one might even say upgrades. Here's a rundown of the setting, gameplay, and what's new:

With technology rapidly developing and the human population growing, Victorian-era Earth is in dire need of fuel, land, and other natural resources. Fortunately, automated probes sent to Mars have discovered celerium, an ore that can be combusted to produce ten thousand times more power than a steam engine, and sylvanite, the densest substance ever found. More incredibly, the probes found ice that could be used in terraforming the planet, bringing the idea of colonizing Mars even closer to becoming a reality.

As the head of a mining corporation, these minerals and ice found on Mars could make you unfathomably wealthy – if you can reach them before your competitors. You have ten rounds to send your astronauts into space, occupy the planet's most resource-rich zones, and harvest as much celerium, sylvanite, and ice as possible. At your command is a team of nine professionals. Each has a unique skill set, from helping your astronauts traverse the Red Planet to blowing up spaceships before they launch.

In each round in Mission: Red Planet, players start by secretly deploy one of their character cards, with this card determining both when they place astronauts on the spaceships awaiting launch to Mars and which special action they take during the round. Each spaceship has a specified destination, and until an astronaut sets foot in a region, no one knows which resource they'll find. Players collect resources (worth points) three times during the game, and they each have a secret mission card that might grant them additional points at game's end. During the game, players might acquire an additional mission or a research card that changes the value of what awaits on Mars.

The 2015 edition of Mission: Red Planet features the same gameplay as the original 2005 edition, but it includes:

• Components for up to six players instead of five
• Special two-player variant rules
• New action cards and revised mission and discovery cards
• Mars' moon Phobos as a new zone that astronauts can explore before possibly returning to the planet itself
This edition of Mission: Red Planet keeps the steampunk setting of the original release, but it's lost a few knobs and gears along the way, looking more streamlined in the process — streampunk, I suppose. The launch pad depicted below has puzzle connections so that you can scale its size based on the number of players, and in a neat graphic touch the rocket tiles tuck behind the staircase and open porthole.

Another big graphic change is the replacement of the tiny wooden player discs with astronaut miniatures. I also have high hopes that this game board will lie flatter than the original one. (I brought my copy to a convention in the late 2000s and someone lost the gray character cards there, so I sold it years ago and am glad that I can now replace it!)

Board Game: Mission: Red Planet (Second Edition)
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