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Subject: First look and first game! rss

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Dave Coins
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Cross posted from SGOYT yesterday:

...this showed up today!

I've been looking forward to this game all year. I read the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson to get ready for it. Reading The Martian was what kicked it off though!

Here are your unboxing photos:









Update (later that night...much later):


The board is (almost) set up for solo play. You start off by placing 2 cities and 2 greenery tiles (which unfortunately don't help with the oxygen content!). I was in the process of doing this when I took this picture.
Mac Kern
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made this video: video and it was very helpful for set up and getting started.

This is what your starting deck of projects looks like:

surprisesurprisesurprise
There are just so many cards! So many things to do and explore with this game. In the end, I only saw slightly more than 1/3 of them I would guess. It definitely wasn't half!

Here I am after my first real turn:

I have built a Mohole and imported some GHG (greenhouse gases). That gets the heat production going (though it wouldn't prove to be enough).

The "Inventrix" card is my starting corporation. You can start with the Beginner corporation, but that's boring. There are 12 corporations to choose from, plus the beginner corporation. They all give you unique abilities. I don't think I was able to use Inventrix's very effectively.

This is the game at the end.

I lost! It wouldn't bode well if I won right off the bat! I have the feeling that with just one more turn I might have been able to pull it off. That's usually the sign of a pretty tight euro.

Win conditions for the solo game are different. In the multiplayer (what's that?) game, you all play until Mars is successfully terraformed and then tally up your VP. In the solo game you have 14 "generations" (turns) during which you can take as many actions as you are able in which to terraform Mars. If it's not done, then you lose.

In order to successfully terraform Mars you must cover 9% of the planet with oceans (9 ocean tiles-each hex is 1% of the planet's surface), get the average temp up to 8 degrees centigrade, and get the oxygen levels up to 14%. This is the bare minimum for human survival. The rulebook has a nice explanation of this. Apparently earthly locations like La Paz, Bolivia have 14% oxygen in the atmosphere and it's a thriving city! One of my favorite aspects of the game is that it seems to be firmly in the "hard" sci-fi category, where the science really is there behind the card rationale, or is a generation or two away. Given that the "example" players in the rulebook are Kim, Stanley, and Robinson we can see where the inspiration comes from. KSR's Mars Trilogy is well regarded for its attention to scientific detail.

To that end, here are all the cool things I got to "do"!:

If you look closely, the option "Miranda Resort" is actually a card that has you "building" (really just playing the card) a resort on Uranus' moon Miranda. It's fun how these let the imagination wander!

And here's the game at the end:

It's a nice looking, almost terraformed, planet.

To the final thoughts!
I love this game already. They had me at "crashing an ice asteroid into the planet" back when it came out, and it hasn't disappointed me. I enjoy the hard science, but the game play really is quite good. It's nothing terribly novel if you've played a tableau builder. This card buffs that card, lets you do other things cheaper etc. It has a resource management in typical euro style, and there's even some tile placement strategy that can lead to bonuses etc. I imagine with more players, more of the board gets covered, but these locations are specifically chosen because they are equatorial (higher average temps year round) and they are lower in altitude (in reality) and so more likely to be able to have atmosphere, warmth etc. An instant 9 for me.

Thumbs!
thumbsup The theme of near future outer space exploration/development is something that fascinates me, and will likely continue to.
thumbsup Solid game play. The combos make thematic sense as well as a reasonable degree of actual scientific sense (the designer does have his PhD in physics). There's nothing new in the mechanisms, but they are done well, and integrated with one another very well.
thumbsup The art and graphic design are gorgeous. And a little bit funny. There are some designer cameos (Fryx games is a family affair) that are kind of funny, though they don't detract from the immersion. Also, if you build the Space Station as I did the flavor text has the link to that very first Fryx game! laugh
thumbsupthumbsdownThe cubes are pretty nice plastic ones with bright gold, silver and copper for your money, but they have a lot of burs on them and then if you scratch at them, they lose that little lustrous part. Still, the cube money system works pretty well. I might have to "borrow" a few for Leaving Earth because I'm not a fan of the paper money there.
thumbsupthumbsdown While the cards and player mats look nice, they are a little flimsy. I may end up sleeving the cards, however, it would never stay in that stack sleeved! So many cards are also very hard to shuffle well, and even if you cut it down to smaller stacks they don't riffle shuffle well, so I quickly gave up on that. Peloponnes Card Game's cards were a dream to riffle shuffle.

So, that's it! Go out and terraform Mars!
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Ryan
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This is the first time I've read of this game (I've been hiding in the woods, apparently) and it looks like something I might enjoy - perhaps even the wife and daughter. How well do you think this game might appeal to someone not interested in sci-fi and who enjoys games (but not a hard core gamer) - kind of a general description, I know. Any idea on if a sharp fourth grader might be able to pick up on the game rules?

Thanks, Dave. Informative review without being too long or boggy in the details!
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Dave Coins
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Ryanmobile wrote:
This is the first time I've read of this game (I've been hiding in the woods, apparently) and it looks like something I might enjoy - perhaps even the wife and daughter. How well do you think this game might appeal to someone not interested in sci-fi and who enjoys games (but not a hard core gamer) - kind of a general description, I know. Any idea on if a sharp fourth grader might be able to pick up on the game rules?

Thanks, Dave. Informative review without being too long or boggy in the details!


Thanks Ryan. I am not great at rating game "heaviness" but I think this is medium or heavier. It probably isn't for the casual gamer who doesn't go beyond Ticket to Ride because there are so many combos over the 220 cards that are available.

That said, I have only played solo, and multiplayer may have a different tenor. Everyone is trying to terraform in multiplayer and the game ends when that is done. So, really the players are trying to score points. I generally ignore points when playing solo, because I'm more interested in whether or not I win. Perhaps I'll care more about points when I have won! Anyhow, there are many ways to score points and get different point engines going.

It is sci-fi, but it's "hard" sci-fi. The scientific ideas they propose on the cards are pretty realistic, and either real or near real for the most part (though some start getting into travel between various moons etc-so that's more distant future sci-fi). I think it's near enough future-historically that unless someone is adamantly against all things sci-fi it shouldn't be hard to stay immersed. Depends on how your wife thinks of these things! My wife enjoyed The Martian movie, but wouldn't have been interested in the book, or this game.
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Dave - awesome little review here! Perfect for someone like me who just wants the bare meat and bones. Love, love, LOVE all the pictures, too.

Was this a KS game?
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Matt Smith
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It was not a KS game. Stronghold had a pre-order on their website, and some people bought it at Gen Con (where it was sold in limited quantities).
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Stephen Buonocore
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Thanks for the review!


Thanks,
Stephen M. Buonocore
Stronghold Games
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ian o
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Hey thanks for the review! First off, what did you think of the Mars Trilogy? I love Red Mars, such a great read.

As for your points at the end, its too bad about the card quality. How much do you actually shoffle throughout the game?

The designer cameos in the cards makes me sad. Its sort of annoying when publishers do that, though only if they stand out. If we don't notice its not a big deal, but if they are well-known people it is offputting, or if the actual art is affected (see Merchants and Marauders: Seas of Glory as an example). How bad are they in this game?
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Dave Coins
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RedArmyIan wrote:
Hey thanks for the review! First off, what did you think of the Mars Trilogy? I love Red Mars, such a great read.

I really enjoyed it. The other two books continue the story with all the politics etc that develop, it's quite an interesting piece of speculative fiction.

RedArmyIan wrote:

As for your points at the end, its too bad about the card quality. How much do you actually shoffle throughout the game?

There's no shuffling during the game, just before hand. It's quite the undertaking to get all those cards shuffled, and so I do the deal out 12 piles and then stack them sort of randomly method. It works well and preserves the card quality. I'm not sure I want to sleeve them (though I do zombie) because they would take up so. much. space. in the box then.


RedArmyIan wrote:

The designer cameos in the cards makes me sad. Its sort of annoying when publishers do that, though only if they stand out. If we don't notice its not a big deal, but if they are well-known people it is offputting, or if the actual art is affected (see Merchants and Marauders: Seas of Glory as an example). How bad are they in this game?


It's not bad. There's only a few cards and it's only if you actually know that it's them. Otherwise there's nothing to give it away. They fit IMO.
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Frank Jaeger
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Hi everybody,

sorry for my late reply, I have only now seen the review and read it so I want to respond to the remark about the cards being flimsy. This is the second time that I have this remark, and I think I need to address it. I have just added a picture of a card to the game gallery showing an original card ripped so you can see the interior of the paper. Because the paper is 300gsm playing card paper, black core. This is one of the most expensive papers and I am surprised that I end up having to defend it here. But I will, no problem, I onlyhave to go into detail a little bit more.

Generally, you can get cards from two basic papers.

One is playing card carton with a core. Essentially, it consists of three layers: Paper - core - paper. The outside paper is usually of excellent quality, the core inside prevents printed strcutures from shining through the paper when held up to a light source, which is why the cores are always of a dark colour. China uses grey core and blue core, just because the highest quality paper which is black core is too expensive and sometimes flat out not available to them, we only use black core playing card paper. The three layers also prevent the cards from breaking when bent, you can just bend it back and it will be flat again. These cards are also easiest to shuffle and usually have the finest edges because of the very fine fibers used in making the paper.

The second is - well, paper. Simply paper. It is not a bad quality and not a cheap paper per se, but yes, it is of inferior quality to real playing card stock with a coloured core. There are many games that do not requires black core paper because the cards are not shuffled frequently, or you want the extra thickness, because this paper is app. 30% thicker than the playing card paper. Note: not heavier, just more volume (sometimes you don't want that - I can fit 30% more cards with black core in a small card game box than I can of this "no core paper" (don't let the term "ivory core" fool you, that is marketing talk for selling you cards without core - as I said, not necessarily bad, but much cheaper for China than any of the coloured core papers). The drawbacks - you can potentially look through when held up to a light source, potentially not so nicely cut edges, more difficult to shuffle, and not as sturdy when played frequently - do not always matter. I use that paper, too, as it is cheaper, but when I am in doubt and don't know what is done with the cards in a game, or if the cards have a dark border, then I will always use black core playing card paper.

In Terraforming Mars we use black core playing card paper - actually we always do for Stronghold as we think their games are great and will be played a lot so they must endure a lot of handling. You will see it when my image of a ripped TM card that I just uploaded is approved by a mod and online.

Cheers
Frank Jaeger
LUDO FACT GmbH
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Dave Coins
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Thanks Frank! That is very educational. I just went by how it "feels" in comparison to other cards I've held and shuffled. So, that's a pretty subjective evaluation, but I am reassured to hear that these cards are made with high quality and care.
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Frank Jaeger
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Hm, my photo was denied - irrelevant, they say. So I try to insert it here, only it does not work



Here is the link without embedment:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1206630022691049&set...
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Paul Incao
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HI Frank,

If you go to the My Geek dropdown at the top of the BGG page and click on Gallery you should be able to upload the picture(this is your personal gallery of pictures and no approval is required).

Paul
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Frank Jaeger
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I am old. Modern technology passes me by left and right. Sigh.



http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/3158029/frank-jaeger

And if somebody could tell me why it is still not visible here, I may yet become a wise old man...
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Dave Coins
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frank jaeger wrote:
I am old. Modern technology passes me by left and right. Sigh.



http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/3158029/frank-jaeger

And if somebody could tell me why it is still not visible here, I may yet become a wise old man...


You put the URL in the IMG area. What you should do is click the little camera in the bar below all the emoticons then put in the image ID number. Like this:

[ImageID = 3158029] (just remove the spaces and it works:



I added "large" to make it bigger. Quote the post if you're curious.
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H-B-G
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frank jaeger wrote:
I am old. Modern technology passes me by left and right. Sigh.



http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/3158029/frank-jaeger

And if somebody could tell me why it is still not visible here, I may yet become a wise old man...


If you want to use the image tags you need the url https://cf.geekdo-images.com/images/pic3158029_md.jpg

Quote to see how this works



It is better to use the imageid tag as below, you can add Medium, Large, etc. to vary the size




Again you can click quote on this post to see how it is done.
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Frank Jaeger
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Thank you! I'll bookmark this to know next time ;-)
Frank.
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Chip Crawford
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Agreed on the flimsy paper components. Even the box and insert seem made of sub par materials.

Kinda disappointed there, but many speak highly of gameplay.
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Jonathan Fryxelius
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Maybe we should make a poll soon about components, for future prints. Choosing components is not an easy task. But I would like to give some defense;

1. As Frank stated above, the cards in TM are high quality. That they feel thin does not mean poor quality or that they in any way are more prone to damages. In fact, it is more to the contrary. You might not like the feel of it, but please don't complain about the quality, because that is simply not true.
2. Also the player mats have had som criticism about the "flimsy"ness. This was probably the hardest material to choose. We chose a very thin player mat because anything thicker has a greater chance of bulging and bending, which would be 10x worse than it is now. This one lies flat on the surface, which is exactly what we want. We've discussed punchboard mats, but these would be easier to bump, add a LOT of cost to the game, and it would not solve the production meters problem (unless we made a cutout for cubes, which instead would make them considerably larger. This game does not need larger.)
3. The insert was too thin. We will make it thicker in the future.
4. The cubes. Many say that the cubes' color is chipping off in the corners. This is true for some cubes, yes. But I would like to point out that all cubes have a plastic injection point in one of their corners. This corner cannot be coated with the metallic color due to the manufacturing process. This is simply unavoidable. Please do not confuse this corner with poor quality, it is nothing of the sort. However, from this corner there is a slight possibility to chip off the color along the corners of the cube. This should take considerable wear, and though a few couple cubes seem to wear off easier than others, the vast majority of cubes hold a great standard. In my copy, for instance, not a single cube has chipped off any color, and I've played the game over 100 times already.
5. Rules paper. It is thin, but in no way low quality. I have yet to hear anyone complain that the rules pages tear or being damaged due to quality issues.
6. Box. Same as above.
7. Punchboards. As far as I am concerned, this is the same quality as any other LudoFact production (Settlers, Carcassonne etc.).

It simply seems that people's assessment of our product quality does not reflect reality.
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Dave Coins
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Thanks Jonathan for the insights on manufacturing. That is very helpful.

I see my attempt to find something less than perfect about your wonderful game has caused a bit of a stir. I am glad to hear that the components are of high quality and sturdier than they might feel. Your insights on why the thinner play mats were chosen makes a lot of sense. Every designer/publisher makes those decisions differently, but I've found that thicker components usually work and seem to hold up to wear better. Still, you make a good case for your components as they are and they don't detract from the game play or the aesthetics which are both out of this world!

In summary, I feel that the cards feel differently than other cards I've played with. Perhaps a little thinner. It should, in no way, keep anyone from getting the game, because it's incredible.
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Jonathan Fryxelius
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Oh, please understand that it is a coincidence that I chose this forum thread to post the defense in, maybe we should start another thread about it. Many different sources have these views, so I wanted to address it, not specifically to you, but to all.
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Dave Coins
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No worries. I understand why you'd be concerned if the quality was questioned.
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RIK FONTANA
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Well, your review is so good that I am reduced to pointing out that each hex is actually 1.64% of the surface, so the 9 Oceans represent 14.75% of the surface.

If that ends up being the worst that can be said, this game will certainly be a popular addition to my collection......
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J Larkin
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Lord_Aethan wrote:

2. Also the player mats have had som criticism about the "flimsy"ness. This was probably the hardest material to choose. We chose a very thin player mat because anything thicker has a greater chance of bulging and bending, which would be 10x worse than it is now. This one lies flat on the surface, which is exactly what we want. We've discussed punchboard mats, but these would be easier to bump, add a LOT of cost to the game, and it would not solve the production meters problem (unless we made a cutout for cubes, which instead would make them considerably larger. This game does not need larger.)


While some may complain about the "thinness" of the player board, the real issue is the texture. How this made it through testing is beyond belief to me.

The reason punch board makes more sense is the texture would prevent the already slick cubes from moving as much. But ultimately there were so many other options that could have been taken to track production that wouldn't so easily ruin a game from a simple bump of the table. Plastic clip sliders, dials, dry erase... The fact is the paper player mat is terrible. It feels like a lazy design. It looks and feels cheap. No matter the reason given for going that route, it just seems like a bad choice to so many people I don't know how it could have been the best option.

I also find it interesting you say that increasing the size would hurt the game somehow, when the small increase in size when I remade our play boards saw a huge benefit.
 
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