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Subject: Mina's Not-So-Mini Review - Two Kumquats on Mars rss

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Milena Guberinic
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Mina's Not-So-Mini Review - Two Kumquats on Mars




The Overview


In Terraforming Mars, you will sit at the helm of a corporation competing to be the best developer of Mars by playing cards to increase global parameters of temperature, oxygen, and water and thus increase your terraform rating, which will contribute both to your round-by-round income and final score.

To set up the game, you will place one of your player cubes on space 20 of the "terraform rating" track that runs around the perimeter of the board. You will receive 2 corporation cards and 10 cards from the deck and select 1 corporation card and as many regular cards as you would like, paying $3 for each card other than the corporation card you keep. Your corporation card will show your starting income and a special power you will have throughout the game.


There are 12 possible starting corporations!



The board shows the surface of Mars surrounded by 2 tracks (oxygen and temperature), a set of 9 ocean tiles, a list of basic actions, and rewards and milestones.



Each round, you will.
1) Change turn order, passing the turn-order marker to the next player.

2) Research, drawing 4 cards and buying any number of them into your hand for $3 each.

3) Perform actions
*Play a card
Cards include events, which have one-time effects and disappear afterwards...



...actions, which stay in your tableau and either have an ongoing effect that takes place every time some condition is met or can be activated once per round to take some sort of action...



...and effects, which are similar to events, but stay in your tableau to provide their tags for the duration of the game.



*Use a standard project on the board to
A) sell cards you have in hand for $1 each,
B) pay $11 to increase your energy production,
C) pay $14 to increase the temperature level and thus your terraform rating by 1 step,
D) pay $18 to place an ocean tile on an ocean space on the board and thus increase your terraform rating by 1 step,
E) pay $23 to place a greenery tile on the board and increase the oxygen level and thus your terraform rating by 1 step,
F) or pay $25 to add a city tile to the board and increase your $ production by 1 step.

*Use the action on an action card that you have played

*Convert 8 plants into a greenery tile, adding it to the board to increase the oxygen level and thus your terraform rating by 1 step

*Convert 8 heat into a raise in temperature and thus your terraform rating by 1 step

*Pay $8 to claim a milestone on the board if you have achieved one of the target levels that include holding at least 16 cards, having at least 3 greenery tiles or cities on the board, and having at least 8 building cards in your tableau.

*Pay $8, $14, or $20 to activate a reward to be presented at the end of the game to the player with the most of a specific type of indicator, including heat production, steep production, titanium production, $ production, or science markers.

4) Produce to gain the resources produced by your player board and the $ produced by your terraform rating and convert any energy you have remaining into heat.

There are some general guidelines for placing tiles on the map. You must place any greenery tiles next to tiles you already own. You must place ocean tiles on areas reserved for ocean. No cities may be placed adjacent to each other unless otherwise specified on a card.



The game ends when oxygen level is at 14%, the temperature is at 8C, and there are 9 ocean tiles on the board.

At the end of the game, you get points for your terraform rating (1:1 conversion), awards, milestones, cards that feature points, and map features (you get 1 VP per greenery tile you have placed and 1 VP per greenery tile adjacent to each of your cities).



The Review


Played prior to review: 5x


Please note that this review will focus on the full game and not the "basic" or "standard" or whatever version of the game is considered to be introductory. By this, I mean all cards included in the deck and "advanced" corporations in play and zero starting production beyond that indicated on corporation cards.






1. Unique components and great graphic design
Terraforming Mars features some unique components and a very clear, consistent, and simple graphic design aesthetic that makes the game easy to learn and play. The shiny metallic resource cubes are especially fun! And the fact that they are used to represent ALL resources, which is simply denoted by allocating them to different slots of your player board means that the whole resource fiddling business is made much simpler than it is in many games in which you manage multiple resources. Now, if you are the type of person who is prone to bumping things around, you could potentially end up mixing things up, but this has never happened in any of our games, so I actually see the simplification of the resource system as a positive thing.

2. Very satisfying sense of progression
In Terraforming Mars, you start with a very limited set of resources and generally little to no production of any sort. You have to literally build your terraforming company from the ground up by carefully managing your cash, adding cards to your tableau that will help you gain income or help you produce resources that will allow you to increase vital terraforming parameters to increase your terraform rating and thus your cashflow and ability to retain and add more cards to your tableau and so on...There's a very satisfying circle of life in this game and it means you become increasingly powerful with an increasing number of options each round. Your limited starting income means you are unlikely to perform more than a few actions in the first round. By the mid-game, round go on and on, as you play multiple cards, raise multiple parameters, and activate multiple actions. Going from nothing to a table-eating tableau is quite a lot of fun!

3. An INCREDIBLE amount of stuff to think about each turn
Each turn in Terraforming Mars feels like a hurricane going off in your brain, as each turn is made incredibly intense by the sheer quantity of things you have to consider. At the start of each round, you are presented with a set of four cards and each has some effect you will most likely want, particularly in the early stages of the game. But you can't even keep them all, let alone play them all! Retaining each card costs you $3, which seems like a small sum, but retaining a card you don't really need can mean being unable to play another card one turn earlier or being unable to increase your production as far as you would be able to do otherwise, so every card you keep for the round has to help you in some way immediately or has to show potential in helping you later in the game. And it isn't easy to determine which cards may work well with cards you will acquire in the future, so this process is a difficult one. Do you spend $3 cash to gamble on being able to acquire a bunch of Jovian tags later in the game to make that card that provides points for Jovian tags worth delaying a production increase? Do you simply retain as many cards as you can early in the game to keep your options open or do you ignore cards that don't help you build your engine?

Once you've determined which cards to keep, you have to think about which to play and when. All cards cost money to play and, as I mentioned above, money is limited, so you have to make tradeoffs. Some cards help you increase production, while others help you increase point generation. You want to do both as early as possible, but you generally won't be able to do everything, even late in the game. You have to determine which of the two is most important depending on what your opponent is doing. And even if you decide to do the sane thing of trying to increase your production first, you have to determine which production route to take first. If your opponent is producing energy and heat generation, do you try to compete with that or build up your plant engine?

Some cards also have very specific requirements, allowing you to play them only when oxygen is at 6%, for example, or when temperature is above 0C. This means that you will have to influence these parameters to increase your ability to play these cards asap. And in the case of cards with very specific parameters, you have to carefully time your turns to ensure you are able to play them.

This brings me to the number of actions you take each turn. Each turn, you are allowed to take one or two actions. Taking single actions can help you pace yourself and see what your opponent does before committing to a course of action, while double actions can help you execute moves that demand very specific requirements be met. Playing cards with set oxygen or ocean tile requirements and fulfilling milestones are two examples of times that double actions can be your savior in this game. Your opponent can end up inadvertently increasing a parameter that would preclude your playing a certain card, so when the parameter is one away from being met, you can take a double turn to both increase that parameter and play the card that requires that level.

Racing to the milestones is another thing you constantly have to keep in mind, both as you choose to retain cards and as you play them, as some can help you increase parameters that will aid in your milestone pursuing endeavors. Your opponent is your enemy here and keeping a close watch over him is also important. Of course, just as they can help you fulfill the requirements of certain cards with perfect timing, double actions can help you fulfill milestones. For example, if you are one greenery tile away from fulfilling the greenery milestone and you see your opponent is building up to do the same, you could take a double action to play your final greenery and fulfill the milestone. But you have to manage your money carefully in order to ensure you are able to do that because milestones aren't free!

Each of the cards you have in your tableau also expands your turn-by-turn options by miles, as each card makes certain actions more appealing than others. Some action cards allow you to add animals for points. Others produce animals each time a city is built, increasing the appeal of cities. Others allow you to convert energy into oxygen level (and thus terraform rating) increases.

I could probably write a dissertation about the number of decision points in this game, but I will stop now. There is an exhausting amount of stuff to think about in this game. And I love having an exhausting amount of stuff to think about! If you are like me and love making tradeoffs between multiple appealing options, the options in Terraforming Mars are sure to appeal!

4. Interesting spatial element
I love card games that combine cards with some board-based spatial element and Terraforming Mars does this very well. Though the board doesn't feature a variable layout and certain elements must always be placed in certain spaces (i.e. lakes and certain cities, which can only be placed in their reserved spaces), the way the board develops changes drastically depending on which corporations players have selected, which cards are played, and the order in which cards are played. It would seem that the spatial element would become stale as the static board would develop in the same way, but that is far from the truth. In some games, the lower half of the board will be highly developed and others the upper portion. In some games, you will find strings of cities connected to each other and others you will find cities scattered all over the place.

Placing tiles presents you with many difficult choices, particularly as the landscape develops. Do you place your city next to an ocean for a $2 bonus, limiting your ability to surround it with greenery and maximize its point potential or do you place it away from the oceans and give up the monetary bonus? Do you place your city close to your opponent's city, hoping to limit his ability to capitalize on the VP bonuses afforded by adjacent greenery tiles? Or do you place your city away from your opponent's city in order to acquire some placement bonus? Do you pursue specific placement bonuses as you place lakes or do you try to place them next to other lakes for cash or away from an opponent's cities to limit his ability to gain cash when he places greenery adjacent to his city?

Clearly, Terraforming Mars isn't a mere card game; it is a game that combines card play and tile laying on a fixed board in a clever and engaging way and presents you with a multitude of options when dealing with both aspects.

5. Theme!
Terraforming Mars is a very science-y game. And I like science! In fact, Peter and I met at the Ontario Science Center, so you could say I love science!

The science-based space colonization angle to science fiction isn't one that is often adopted in board games. Indeed, most science fiction board games feature green alien hordes or some sort of intergalactic diplomacy, so the theme of Terraforming Mars is certainly unique.

And the sciency theme is relatively well integrated too! First, the cards feature thematically-grounded effects and the actions available to you in the game have thematically sound justifications in naming and cost. Of course, greenery increases oxygen levels. Of course, building a city is going to cost an arm and a leg AND bring you income in the long run. Of course, asteroids will raise temperature (I looked this up. Apparently, there is a theory that the greenhouse gasses produced by the impact of asteroids may have warmed the Martian surface). And of course, you can control the trajectory of those asteroids because you are a futuristic terraforming corp! In fact, the rulebook goes to great lengths to provide justifications for various actions and for the target levels of ocean, oxygen, and temperature you are trying to achieve.

And beyond the card effects and actions available to you in the game, the game makes you feel like you are running a company through the resource-generating engine you create. Trading one form of resource production for another and becoming increasingly rich and powerful as the game goes on.

That said, Terraforming Mars isn't the MOST thematic thing in the world; it doesn't really tell a story, but it puts in a good effort.

6. Variable player powers
I love games that give me a unique starting situation each time I play. Terraforming Mars offers no fewer than 12 different starting situations and related player powers to discover! Each features a different company that is better at doing one thing than the others. For example, the Mining Guild gives you a head start in steel production and increases your steel production every time you place a tile on a map space that provides a steel or titanium bonus. This encourages you to seek out building cards and base your engine on those. It also encourages you to place tiles in the far reaches of the planet. In contrast, Helion allows you to use heat as $. Heat is a resource that becomes relatively useless once the temperature of Mars has reached its target level, so it tends not to be a resource you want to try to produce in the boatloads, particularly since you can acquire it by increasing your energy production. Helion encourages you to see heat differently, not only as a a way to quickly and efficiently increase temperature, but also as an alternative way to increase cashflow. Each and every one of the 12 different companies sets you on a slightly different path and changes the way you play the game, enhancing its replay value, as you discover new ways to play the same game. And that brings me to my next point...

7. High replay value
When you see a static map, replay value may not be the first thing that pops into your head. Fortunately, Terraforming Mars does not suffer in replay value from a static, unchanging map. The sheer multitude of variable player powers, cards and interactions thereof to discover should be more than enough to keep you coming back for more. And if you want to extend the game and add even more possibilities, the game comes with an extended-game variant with even more cards! This is my favorite way to play the game and the version we have played most often, as it allows you to build a huge engine that isn't only good at terraforming, but also great at churning out points in other ways!



soblue


soblue 1. The two-player game takes as long as a three-player game, which takes as long as a four-player game, which makes the game quite long (i.e. 1.5 to 2 hours)
Although 1.5 to 2 hours does not sound like too much time to spend on a 4-player game, this amount of time does make for a rather long 2-player affair. To give that duration some context, Arkwright takes us 1.5 to 2 hours to play. Agricola takes under 1 hour. In fact, most games take us under an hour. So Terraforming Mars has to be super special in terms of the quality and quantity of decisions it presents in order to justify this sort of play time. For me, it does, but for Peter, it does not.

The reason that this game takes the same amount of time to play across player counts is that the target levels for oceans, oxygen, and temperature are identical across player counts. Perhaps they should be lower when playing with fewer players. When playing with fewer players, you have to accomplish the same amount of stuff as you would when playing with more, so you end up with twice the number of played cards and stuff on the table and the board as you would in a 4-player game. As the game goes on, your tableau starts to sprawl uncomfortably and the game starts to feel like a weight you are carrying for no good reason. It just drags. And It isn't possible to easily modify the target levels because many cards require that oxygen, ocean, or temperature levels be at a certain point to be played, so I understand why the levels equal across player counts, but it doesn't feel quite right to me. That said, we have managed to play the long version of the game (Corporate Era) in 90 minutes (14 rounds) several times, so I am hopeful that play time can either drop slightly or remain consistently at that level because that is what it would take for me to get Peter to play the game regularly. For me, the quality and quantity of decisions I face in Terraforming Mars is sufficient to justify the duration of the game, but it is still a little long for Peter.

soblue 2. Can be difficult to keep track of all effects late in the game
This is related to the even duration of the game across player counts and extent of tableau sprawl when playing with two I mentioned above. Because two players have to accomplish the same amount of "stuff" as four players would prior to the end of the game, each player will have as many cards in his tableau in a 2-player game as 2 players would in a 4-player game. That is twice the stuff! That means you will be dealing with a relatively large number of effects, which can become troublesome to administer late in the game.

Late in the game, your tableau can contain a number of effects that trigger when certain things happen and it can be hard to keep track of them all, leading to forgetting to do X, Y, or Z. This can be frustrating. For example, there are multiple cards that take effect when a city is built and provide cash or animals or income increases, there are multiple cards that provide discounts for playing cards of various types or provide cash when you play cards of various types, there are multiple cards that give you a specific resource every time you play a card with a particular symbol...The list goes on. You can imagine how having a number of these different effects could a) slow the game down as you go through your tableau to ensure you have triggered every effect you are entitled to do and b) lead to missing out on effects when you neglect to follow what an opponent is doing. Add to your tableau effects the cascade of effects that can take place when you place a tile on the tableau, including gaining money from adjacent oceans, increasing terraforming parameters, getting placement bonuses, etc. and you have a perfect storm for a bookkeeping mind f*&^.

soblue 3. Spatial aspect would be more interesting with more than just two players involved
The spatial aspect of the game works quite well and is interesting enough with two players. Certain spaces are inherently more attractive for building due to the resource bonuses they provide and they tend to be spaced closely together., which means you frequently have to make some tradeoffs with respect to acquiring those resources to help yourself vs. your opponent and trying to position your cities in a way that would minimize the amount of non-mutually-beneficial greenery he could place. There is certainly some interesting interaction that can happen on the board with only two players involved, but more players would enhance that space, forcing you to consider not only whether it would be worthwhile to assist an opponent but which opponent to assist or hinder when placing your tiles.

soblue 4. The card artwork is very strange
The board artwork is generally nice and the graphic design is great, but the card art is just plain strange. Some of the cards feature photographs, others illustrations, and others some combination of the two. It's just a strange smorgasbord of strangeness. It doesn't appeal to me and it doesn't add anything to the experience. I would have a lot more fun exploring pretty, intricate sci-fi artwork as I draw cards than staring at yet another photograph of some random dude's face. Art is a subjective matter, but this art does not appeal to my eyeballs.

soblue 5. Card randomness can be a bit annoying
Terraforming Mars is a card game. As a card game, it suffers from the same affliction from which most card games suffer - it can be a bit random. While this isn't necessarily problematic in a shorter game, it can be quite annoying in a game that takes as long a time and brain investment as this one. Terraforming Mars gives you no way to mitigate or manipulate the luck of the draw, as you are given a fixed number of cards each turn and have few ways to draw more. This means that you cannot dig through the deck to acquire the indicators you need to make your engine run better or the scoring cards you really want; you simply have to make do with what you are given. Ultimately, this doesn't destroy the game for me and I do think that the luck of the draw is somewhat reduced by the sheer number of cards you do draw throughout the game, but if you get unlucky and don't draw cards that help you build a resource engine efficiently early or don't draw cards that help you score easy points (animals, for example) while your opponent does, the luck of the draw can be a bit annoying.

soblue 6. The game has a strange decision curve
Terraforming Mars isn't like your typical engine-builder in which you have an ever escalating sense of power and an ever broadening decision space. At the start of the game, you can't do much of anything but build up various aspects of your engine - income to increase your ability to retain and play cards, steel or titanium to reduce the amount of cash you have to pay for certain cards, heat to help you increase the temperature and thus your terraform rating, plants to help you grow greenery and increase oxygen levels and thus your terraform rating, and heat to help you in various exploits. As the game goes on, these various forms of income start to take on a life of their own, barreling your terraforming ability forward. Up to a point. When an indicator has reached its maximum, those forms of income can become entirely useless if you haven't saved or seen cards that can help you find other uses for them (and there are FEW such cards). Heat is a good example of a resource that becomes almost completely devoid of use once temperature has been maxed out. Drawing cards that relate to increasing a maxed out indicator also becomes more likely later in the game, so, as the game goes on, you end up with a shrinking decision space...at least with respect to the cards you've drawn. Now, this may be balanced out by the cards you have played in your tableau; you should still have enough to think about when it comes to allocating your resources and making the most of blue cards in your tableau late in the game, but it feels a little strange to be entirely dependent on the luck of the draw when it comes to drawing useful cards late in the game.

soblue 7. Mean!
This is not a nice game. Keep in mind that you will be stealing and getting things stolen. If you are sensitive to that sort of thing, you may be bothered. The level of stealing is not significant and doesn't bother me or my playing partner, but it is something to keep in mind.



Final Word


Terraforming Mars is not an easy game to review or rate. It is an excellent game and one that is very satisfying to play, but it isn't perfect. At least, it isn't perfect for me or with two players. There are nearly as many things I don't like about it as the ones that I do, but the balance falls FAR in favor of the ones that I do. The high level of game-to-game and turn-to-turn variability, broad decision space, and great sense of evolution and progress towards the ultimate goal make Terraforming Mars something I intend to keep playing for a long time to come!

Now, if I had to liken Terraforming Mars to a food item, which I feel I do for no good reason at all, it would be a kumquat, as it features a full spectrum of game flavors. It's a little sour on the outside because it doesn't look all that appealing...at least the cards don't. It's incredibly sweet and delicious in the middle because the decisions you make are so many and varied and each card pulls you in a different and equally appealing direction as the next, and if you're like me, this just makes you smile. And it can be quite bitter if you get unlucky and fail to draw the cards you want/need while you watch your opponent get the perfect ones. It's like a kumquat in another sense too; it so cleverly combines so many game elements and mechanisms, including card play, engine building, tile laying, and resource management, that it overwhelms the senses! I just love it! Sour, bitter, sweet, and tasty! I'll never get tired of it!

MINA'S LOVE METER heart heart heart heart LOTS OF LOVE



Puppies have come to terraform Mars!



***



***


Mina's Love Meter


angry Burn it! - I dislike this game so much that it makes me angry. (I rate these 4 or less on the BGG scale)
Dislike - I don't like this game, but I can see why others like it.
(5 on BGG scale)
heart Some like - I find this game somewhat appealing, but it doesn't really grab me. I am glad to have had the opportunity to try this game, but it is unlikely to stay in my collection for very long.
(5.5 to 6.5) on BGG scale)
heart heart Like - I like this game and appreciate the design. I am happy to play this game occasionally when the mood strikes and enjoy doing so.
(7 to 7.5 on BGG scale)
heart heart heart Some love - I love this game. It's not perfect, but it really appeals to me and I will play it frequently.
(7.5 to 8 on BGG scale)
heart heart heart heart Lots of love - I really love this game. The design really speaks to me. I want to play it most of the time.
(8 to 9 on BGG scale)
heart heart heart heart heart All love all the time - I ADORE this game and can see myself playing it many times and for many years. I would go to sleep clutching it in my arms and want to play it all day every day...only not literally because that would be insane.
(9 to 10 on BGG scale)



To see my other reviews, visit this geeklist.


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Jeff Noel
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Great review! A few notes about the variants you're using:

1. The Corporate Era game ends in the same generation that all three global parameters are maxed out. Only the solo game is fixed at 14 generations.

2. The game isn't really missing any features if you play without Corporate Era. It's just a slower early game buildup. If your games continue to run longer than you'd like, you might want to try the standard game.

3. Have you tried the draft variant? I see this as a must, as it will improve your options quite a bit. Instead of seeing 4 new project cards per round, you'd see 7 in your two player games (9 in 3P, 10 in 4-5P).
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Milena Guberinic
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jeff0 wrote:
Great review! A few notes about the variants you're using:

1. The Corporate Era game ends in the same generation that all three global parameters are maxed out. Only the solo game is fixed at 14 generations.

2. The game isn't really missing any features if you play without Corporate Era. It's just a slower early game buildup. If your games continue to run longer than you'd like, you might want to try the standard game.

3. Have you tried the draft variant? I see this as a must, as it will improve your options quite a bit. Instead of seeing 4 new project cards per round, you'd see 7 in your two player games (9 in 3P, 10 in 4-5P).


Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the comment.
1. I realize that. I'm quite certain I didn't state anywhere in my review that the game is fixed at 14 generations.
2. We have played both with the corporate era and the standard game and I personally prefer the corporate era game.
3. No and I would not try it because it would make the game go on for waaaaaaaaaay too long. We already take enough time deciding which cards to keep as is.

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Curt Frantz
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milenaguberinic wrote:
jeff0 wrote:
Great review! A few notes about the variants you're using:

1. The Corporate Era game ends in the same generation that all three global parameters are maxed out. Only the solo game is fixed at 14 generations.

2. The game isn't really missing any features if you play without Corporate Era. It's just a slower early game buildup. If your games continue to run longer than you'd like, you might want to try the standard game.

3. Have you tried the draft variant? I see this as a must, as it will improve your options quite a bit. Instead of seeing 4 new project cards per round, you'd see 7 in your two player games (9 in 3P, 10 in 4-5P).


Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the comment.
1. I realize that. I'm quite certain I didn't state anywhere in my review that the game is fixed at 14 generations.
2. We have played both with the corporate era and the standard game and I personally prefer the corporate era game.
3. No and I would not try it because it would make the game go on for waaaaaaaaaay too long. We already take enough time deciding which cards to keep as is.



Nice review!

I will say, I think the Corporate Era game needlessly extends the game time. I'd rather play with drafting but without the Corporate Era deck. It allows each player to play more cards throughout the game, but why?

The CE deck increases player interaction, but I see this as a negative. As you stated, this game can be quite mean, but it's much less mean in the standard game. On the whole, the CE cards are meaner.

I know you said you prefer it, but it seems to me playing without the CE cards would help to solve two of your problems: length and meanness.

Disclaimer: I love this game and I'm in no way bashing it
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Milena Guberinic
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tribefan07 wrote:
milenaguberinic wrote:
jeff0 wrote:
Great review! A few notes about the variants you're using:

1. The Corporate Era game ends in the same generation that all three global parameters are maxed out. Only the solo game is fixed at 14 generations.

2. The game isn't really missing any features if you play without Corporate Era. It's just a slower early game buildup. If your games continue to run longer than you'd like, you might want to try the standard game.

3. Have you tried the draft variant? I see this as a must, as it will improve your options quite a bit. Instead of seeing 4 new project cards per round, you'd see 7 in your two player games (9 in 3P, 10 in 4-5P).


Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the comment.
1. I realize that. I'm quite certain I didn't state anywhere in my review that the game is fixed at 14 generations.
2. We have played both with the corporate era and the standard game and I personally prefer the corporate era game.
3. No and I would not try it because it would make the game go on for waaaaaaaaaay too long. We already take enough time deciding which cards to keep as is.



Nice review!

I will say, I think the Corporate Era game needlessly extends the game time. I'd rather play with drafting but without the Corporate Era deck. It allows each player to play more cards throughout the game, but why?

The CE deck increases player interaction, but I see this as a negative. As you stated, this game can be quite mean, but it's much less mean in the standard game. On the whole, the CE cards are meaner.

I know you said you prefer it, but it seems to me playing without the CE cards would help to solve two of your problems: length and meanness.

Disclaimer: I love this game and I'm in no way bashing it


Thanks for the comment. I presented the meanness as a negative for those who are sensitive to that sort of thing. It isn't a personal negative and for us, standard vs. corporate era (and by standard I mean WITH the corporations because I would never play without) game time hasn't differed all that significantly...maybe 15 minutes or so.
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Curt Frantz
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milenaguberinic wrote:
tribefan07 wrote:
milenaguberinic wrote:
jeff0 wrote:
Great review! A few notes about the variants you're using:

1. The Corporate Era game ends in the same generation that all three global parameters are maxed out. Only the solo game is fixed at 14 generations.

2. The game isn't really missing any features if you play without Corporate Era. It's just a slower early game buildup. If your games continue to run longer than you'd like, you might want to try the standard game.

3. Have you tried the draft variant? I see this as a must, as it will improve your options quite a bit. Instead of seeing 4 new project cards per round, you'd see 7 in your two player games (9 in 3P, 10 in 4-5P).


Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the comment.
1. I realize that. I'm quite certain I didn't state anywhere in my review that the game is fixed at 14 generations.
2. We have played both with the corporate era and the standard game and I personally prefer the corporate era game.
3. No and I would not try it because it would make the game go on for waaaaaaaaaay too long. We already take enough time deciding which cards to keep as is.



Nice review!

I will say, I think the Corporate Era game needlessly extends the game time. I'd rather play with drafting but without the Corporate Era deck. It allows each player to play more cards throughout the game, but why?

The CE deck increases player interaction, but I see this as a negative. As you stated, this game can be quite mean, but it's much less mean in the standard game. On the whole, the CE cards are meaner.

I know you said you prefer it, but it seems to me playing without the CE cards would help to solve two of your problems: length and meanness.

Disclaimer: I love this game and I'm in no way bashing it


Thanks for the comment. I presented the meanness as a negative for those who are sensitive to that sort of thing. It isn't a personal negative and for us, standard vs. corporate era (and by standard I mean WITH the corporations because I would never play without) game time hasn't differed all that significantly...maybe 15 minutes or so.


Agreed. The corporations are a must, even if the Corporate Era deck is skipped. It adds no length to the game, and gives each player something unique to consider. Also, they seem quite balanced in my experience.
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Karen Knoblaugh
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Hi Mina,
Always love your reviews (and your blog!). Re: the randomness, I understand that strategy gamers may find this to be frustrating, because they are generally trying to plan ahead and build engines, but I actually find the randomness thematic. If you've read the book (or seen the movie) "The Martian," you know that sometimes you don't get what you need, or your plans don't always work out. I'm happy that ultimately you like the game because I think it's sooo good!
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Dennis Ku
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Oh my god, I'm so jealous that you have this game already. I wish my pre-order would hurry up and get here.
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Enoch Fryxelius
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Thanks for a very good review!

Well-informed and well written.

As developer, we are aware that the 2-player game is in some ways the most problematic one. As you pointed out, your tableu will shoot through the roof. Compared to a 3-player game, each player has 50% more terraforming to do. Actually, 2-player games is usually slightly LONGER than playing 3-5 players, because the game lasts more generations, and so you perform more research and production phases than you would otherwise. So, yes, 2-player games get a little crazy, especially with CE or some of the other expansions we are working on.

The "take that" element is stronger in 2 player, since there is only one opponent to target. You would be more compelled to pick up these cards as they would slow down the only competition you have. We hope that the take-that is not to significant in any of the game variants...

This being said, my mom (who has played this game more than anyone else in the universe) just LOVES 2-player games for exactly these reasons: Developing your corporation to maximum and hurt her opponent (usually my dad) anytime she can. (My mom rules!)
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Alvin
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I need to compare more things to Kumquats. I wonder what the boardgame equivalent of pomegranates and pumpkin are...
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shumyum
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Great review!

I second the call to use the card drafting. It adds a tremendous amount of strategy:

d10-1Getting stuff more likely to fit your engine
d10-2Denying stuff that your opponents want (an especially viable strategy unlike many drafting games since you don't keep all your cards anyway)
d10-3Knowing what cards are out there (heat production? meteors?) so you can plan for it
d10-4Knowing what cards will probably never be available to you.

Yes, it makes the game take more time, but it isn't downtime and I think it is well worth it.
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Jay Caracappa
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Excellent review. I am also jealous that you have yours and I don't have mine yet. Hurry up preorder!!!

Looks like I will enjoy this thoroughly. I love the build-up of the production engine and I don't mind a little "take-that" as long as it isn't crippling.

Can't wait for this one.
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Regarding play-time issue, wouldn't a possible solution be to limit the game time by generations, just like in the one-player game? For example, if 1,5 hour game takes usually 24 generations, then setting end-time to 16 generations will make the game last 1 hour.
 
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