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Subject: Terraforming Mars Thoughts After Three Games Played rss

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Mike Stevens
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I had been reading about Terraforming Mars on BGG for awhile and when I went to my FLGS for Monday Night Gaming, there was a Demo Copy just begging to be played. We had got there late and everyone else in the group was already in a game. My girlfriend said she would love to give it a try so we set it up and read through the rule book. It was not the best rule book I have ever read but certainly not the worst and we each drew our Corporations. I had the Interplanetare with its 20 steel and she got the Mining Guild. We looked at our 10 Project Cards and paid for our starting cards. Warning this game starts a little slow but really picks up steam in the middle and later rounds. Both of us were really enjoying the game and she did a much better job of remembering that you can take 1 or 2 actions each turn than I didshake

I seemed to draw and buy way more buildings and Red events, while she had a good mix of both Green and Blue (Action) cards. She snatched the first 2 Milestones in the same turn before I realized what hit me. This game does take awhile to play with 2-players, plus we had to keep referring to the rule book until everything clicked. The nice thing is even though the game takes a long time to finish as you try to get 9 oceans on the board, get the temperature and oxygen levels to where they can sustain human life, the game never seemed to drag and I was amazed that we had been playing for 2 1/2 hours when it finally ended. We followed the End Game scoring card and she beat me 77-57. Both of us really enjoyed the game and were thrilled to see that our FLGS had several copies in stock.

A little bit of sticker shock set in when we saw that the game was selling for $69.99gulp We quickly got on our phones and saw that several online game stores were selling the game for $45. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about supporting my FLGS but I have a budget and even though we both really liked TFM, we were not sure it was worth its MSRP. The board was nice, cards had very cool art and pictures, player mats were thin but certainly playable (I mean they just lay there during the game) and I really liked the bronze, silver, and gold resource cubes but $69.99, hmmmmmmm?????

My gf liked it so well that she ordered it from an online game store in Wisconsin for $51 which included shipping on Tuesday. She said that it showed that it was in stock but on Wednesday she got the dreaded email/invoice showing that the game was actually on pre-order. We both talked about how much we liked the game and couldn't wait to play it again. Everywhere I checked online it was sold out. Hmmmmm, should we just go back to our FLGS and play the demo again and see if we really like it enough to buy it? Yes that is a great idea! Unfortunately with our work schedules we did not have time and finally decided to just stop in when we had a free moment and buy our own copy. So what else is there to do on a Friday night other than stop by your FLGS right before they close and snatch the very last copy they have in stock, then go home and play your 2nd game of TFM till 3:00am?

Made some snacks and drinks, punched the game and sat down to play our 2nd game of Terraforming Mars. Seeing it on our dining room table, it really is a very nice looking game. This time I started with the Ecoline Corp. and she started with Interplanetare. Our 2nd game went much faster and much smoother. This time I remembered that I could take 2 Actions on each turn if I wanted and I thought I was doing pretty well for most of the game. I even got the first Milestone with 3 Green tiles on the board and bought the first Award (which I did not WINsoblue). I thought things were going good as I once again had a ton of really good Events. She got some great Action cards in play and before I knew it, she snatched the last 2 Milestones and purchased 2 more Awards (She won all 3) OUCH. This game lasted exactly 2 hours and it was time for Final Scoring. Not sure if she was being condescending or not but she said "I think YOU won this one"yuk I said "no I think you got it with the Awards". SUCKS to be right as she beat me again
104-89. Nice game babe, sure you tooshake



So after only 2 games, we are both hooked on this game and can't wait to play it again. Give this one a play if you get a chance and YES I think it is worth the $69.99 msrp. Nice mix of a CDG with some area control and the cards and board really add to the theme. I think we will get several plays out of this and I can't wait to try it with a few more players.

Time for game 3 of Terraforming Mars and my very competitive gf says "I love this game, it reminds me of Grand Austria Hotel because you can NEVER win at it and I'm undefeated in both of those games. I'm so glad you bought it"shake Well dear, first of all this game is nothing like Grand Austria Hotel and YES you have beat me the 2 times that we have played both of those games and NO I'm not going to be a gaming bully and mention the hundreds of games I have kicked your cute little butt in! Oops, sorry readers, I really am a good sport and I may just be a TINY bit competitive myselfarrrh

Game 3:



She picks the United Nations Mars Initiative and I take the Tharsis Republic. The Republic allows me to place a free city on my first action and gives me a nice little Megacredit bonus each time a city is placed. The UNMI allows her to pay 3mc to increase her Terraforming score once per generation anytime she increases it by 1. Both of these seem interesting and we had not played with either one. My 10 project cards look pretty good and I actually purchase 4 of them. She points out that she gets to be first player because she won last time we played. Of course babe, how could I forget?

We both get pretty good cards in play and I make a point to get some blue action cards down as they really seemed to help her win in the first 2 games. I also make up my mind that I am going to try my best to get all 3 milestones and at least 2 of the awards. As the game moves on, I keep more and more cards from each Research Phase until I have the magical 16 cards in hand and in back to back turns I take the 8 building tags and 16 cards milestones. She calls me a sneak and immediately plays an asteroid and destroys all of my lovely plants. Game On Girl, as I was also hoarding several events and now had the extra MCs to start playing them. My energy and heat production was zooming and with all my MCs I was going to open the first Bank of Mike on Marsbagbag

She got some nifty card combos going and even though I purchased the first 2 Awards she did steal one from me. Things were looking good for me and it was time to make that final push to get those last 2 oceans out along with the Temperture and Oxygen levels to the top. The end game came quicker than I thought and we started adding up the scores. 3rd times a charm as I finally got my first win 102-94. The final score was much closer than I thought it would be. Sorry sweetie, no one stays undefeated foreverheart



So what do we think after 3 games of Terraforming Mars? WOW, this is one of those games that seems to keep getting better and better with each play and you seem to have a natural progression in your game play that is very satisfying. It is Monday Night Gaming at our FLGS and we are planning on getting in our first 4 or 5 player game. I think most of our group will enjoy this game and I am very excited to teach it.

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Ian Noble
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Re: Terraforming Mars Thoughts After Two Games
Just curious why you started with the corporations in your first game? Did you also include the corporate area cards too? Cause having to pay for your starting hand is probably why it felt like a slow start.
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Mike Stevens
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Re: Terraforming Mars Thoughts After Two Games
ianoble wrote:
Just curious why you started with the corporations in your first game? Did you also include the corporate area cards too? Cause having to pay for your starting hand is probably why it felt like a slow start.


We decided to not use the Beginner Corporations because several people who reviewed the game said the regular corporations played fine even in your first game. No we have not used the advanced corporate cards yet.
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Dennis Ku
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Re: Terraforming Mars Thoughts After Two Games
I don't think I would play the game without the Corporate Era cards. I find it makes for much deeper gameplay and you can work to get some great combinations of cards out.

Give it a try solo if you have a chance. Much faster, and with the limited number of generations, there's a lot of pressure. It's amazing.
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chris thatcher
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Re: Terraforming Mars Thoughts After Two Games
Yeah I used corporate era stuff in first game.
 
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Erik H
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Re: Terraforming Mars Thoughts After Two Games
I had one long afternoon (over four and a half hours) playing our first game of TM. We used the beginner corporations but added all the cards because nobody noticed there were different sets of cards.

We started with 10 cards and didn't buy any. Even then I was low on income until the final generation and even then I could hardly afford anything.

I even had to pass two full generations at one point because I couldn't afford anything or didn't meet any requiremenTS of the cards I got. I had an income of 19 from generation 2 until 8 and ik the final generation I had an income of 32.

I feel like the game is totally unbalanced and If you get the wrong cards in the beginning you are totally screwed. Of my starting hand of 10 I was only able to use two cards and the rest was out of the range of requirements met etc.

I only managed to built two cities and these were both the moon cities so no bonus points at the end.

I never managed to get my energy production up more than 1 and steel even was at 0 the entire game.

One of the worat experiences I had with the first pkaythrough of a boardgame I ever had. This felt like an early prototype also because of the really bad quality of components. Counter cubes are almost all damaged. The player boards are the cheapest I've ever seen and the cards also have a cheap finish.

The worst buy of Essen this year and yes I am saying that even without having played the other games I bought.
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O.Shane Balloun
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Re: Terraforming Mars Thoughts After Two Games
phusebox wrote:
I had one long afternoon (over four and a half hours) playing our first game of TM. We used the beginner corporations but added all the cards because nobody noticed there were different sets of cards.

We started with 10 cards and didn't buy any. Even then I was low on income until the final generation and even then I could hardly afford anything.

I even had to pass two full generations at one point because I couldn't afford anything or didn't meet any requiremenTS of the cards I got. I had an income of 19 from generation 2 until 8 and ik the final generation I had an income of 32.

I feel like the game is totally unbalanced and If you get the wrong cards in the beginning you are totally screwed. Of my starting hand of 10 I was only able to use two cards and the rest was out of the range of requirements met etc.

I only managed to built two cities and these were both the moon cities so no bonus points at the end.

I never managed to get my energy production up more than 1 and steel even was at 0 the entire game.

One of the worat experiences I had with the first pkaythrough of a boardgame I ever had. This felt like an early prototype also because of the really bad quality of components. Counter cubes are almost all damaged. The player boards are the cheapest I've ever seen and the cards also have a cheap finish.

The worst buy of Essen this year and yes I am saying that even without having played the other games I bought.


So you played with the advanced deck without realizing it and without prior experience regarding the tempo of the game, and you're ready to throw in the towel? You should sell your copy post haste. Someone will buy it.
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Erik H
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Re: Terraforming Mars Thoughts After Two Games
Well if anything I thought the advanced deck would make it more balanced.

And what do you mean about the tempo? The box said around 2 hours, we did double that and didn't even do drafting. And why should these cards make the game slower?

I don't mind playing four hour games, but I do mind having four hours of my time decided by sheer chance and luck.

And nobody should pick this up 2nd hand, as even new out of the box all components are damaged, the cards easily are and the player boards are really crappy. If I print them myself on premium paper they are even better.
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John Burt
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Re: Terraforming Mars Thoughts After Two Games
Quote:
We started with 10 cards and didn't buy any. Even then I was low on income until the final generation and even then I could hardly afford anything.


With the beginner corp, you get to keep all of those 10 starting cards. Did you play that way, or discard them?


Quote:
I feel like the game is totally unbalanced and If you get the wrong cards in the beginning you are totally screwed. Of my starting hand of 10 I was only able to use two cards and the rest was out of the range of requirements met etc.


A commonly recommended (unofficial) fix for a "bad hand" is to play a Mulligan: discard all 10, and draw a new set of 10. You might try playing that way if you get another bad hand.

I can't help but wonder if you got a rule or two wrong somewhere - it isn't hard to do as the instructions can be confusing.

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Florian Ruckeisen
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Re: Terraforming Mars Thoughts After Two Games
quill65 wrote:
Quote:
I feel like the game is totally unbalanced and If you get the wrong cards in the beginning you are totally screwed. Of my starting hand of 10 I was only able to use two cards and the rest was out of the range of requirements met etc.


A commonly recommended (unofficial) fix for a "bad hand" is to play a Mulligan: discard all 10, and draw a new set of 10. You might try playing that way if you get another bad hand.

Some variation of Mulligans are certainly debatable if you're really worried about your starting hand. It's not as much an issue once you play with "real" corporations rather than beginner corp, because if you get a bad first hand with those you just buy fewer cards and save good money.

As for (un-)lucky card draws later on, the drafting variant is there for a reason and is highly recommended by many players, if you don't mind the somewhat longer playtime it brings with it.

Quote:
I can't help but wonder if you got a rule or two wrong somewhere

It certainly sounds like it.
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Aaron Cinzori
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Re: Terraforming Mars Thoughts After Two Games
phusebox wrote:
And why should these cards make the game slower?


My quick thumb through the deck suggests that none of the corporate era cards advance any of the three game clocks, so that slows the game down.
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Brad Keusch
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Re: Terraforming Mars Thoughts After Two Games
To the OP: if you like being able to play demo copies at your local FLGS and using their play space, consider actually buying from them! 69.95 is MSRP, and retail stores need margin to survive. There are plenty of threads discussing this in various forums here, but ultimately it comes down to what you see as valuable.
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Florian Ruckeisen
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Re: Terraforming Mars Thoughts After Two Games
WonderCinz wrote:
My quick thumb through the deck suggests that none of the corporate era cards advance any of the three game clocks, so that slows the game down.

As it says in the rulebook too:
Rulebook, p.13 wrote:
Corporate Era focuses on economy and technology. These are projects that do not contribute directly to the terraforming, but make the corporations stronger, adding new strategic choices to the game.
Playing Corporate Era makes the game longer and more complex. We do not recommend it for players new to Terraforming Mars.
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Derry Salewski
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Re: Terraforming Mars Thoughts After Two Games
anatana wrote:
To the OP: if you like being able to play demo copies at your local FLGS and using their play space, consider actually buying from them! 69.95 is MSRP, and retail stores need margin to survive. There are plenty of threads discussing this in various forums here, but ultimately it comes down to what you see as valuable.


did you read his post?
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Brad Keusch
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Re: Terraforming Mars Thoughts After Two Games
scifiantihero wrote:
anatana wrote:
To the OP: if you like being able to play demo copies at your local FLGS and using their play space, consider actually buying from them! 69.95 is MSRP, and retail stores need margin to survive. There are plenty of threads discussing this in various forums here, but ultimately it comes down to what you see as valuable.


did you read his post?


skipped the 4th paragraph initially, but the overall message is still relevant!
 
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O.Shane Balloun
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Re: Terraforming Mars Thoughts After Two Games
phusebox wrote:
Well if anything I thought the advanced deck would make it more balanced.

You are probably right that the corporate deck does make the game more balanced as between the corporations, but as others have now pointed out, your assumption that "balanced" equals "shorter" or "easier" was not well placed. The rulebook indicates the corporate deck extends the length of a game of Terraforming Mars.

Quote:
And what do you mean about the tempo? The box said around 2 hours, we did double that and didn't even do drafting. And why should these cards make the game slower?

Tempo is the rhythm of a game—a term borrowed here from war game analysis— where players and analysts will speak about how the players engage in a tempo of attack, parry, riposte, flank, retreat, etc. at various important times/timings.

Although tempo bears on play length in some cases, it is not a measure of a game's time-to-completion.

Quote:
I don't mind playing four hour games, but I do mind having four hours of my time decided by sheer chance and luck.

Your exaggeration is not well founded. Terraforming Mars, yes, has randomness, because it is developed to be stochastic in nature. You will rarely get everything you need to begin, and you may even start in the hole. But the key is to develop an intuition about when to act and why, i.e., to understand the game's tempo. Over a great many games, I suspect that experienced players will win over newer players, because the skill lies within developing that intuition, in some cases over many games. It's a form of Bayesian pattern-matching.

For someone who rates A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition) at an 8, Power Grid at a 7.5, Fief: France 1429 at a 7.5, Dominant Species at a 7, and Blood Rage at a 7, you should be used to games that use decks of cards to insert randomness into games in such a way that players must tactically respond within the context of their strategies.

Also, a game about terraforming the red planet would not be thematically sound if it didn't incorporate the hostilities of unexpected events, much like the cards in Terraforming Mars can do from time to time.

Quote:
And nobody should pick this up 2nd hand, as even new out of the box all components are damaged, the cards easily are and the player boards are really crappy. If I print them myself on premium paper they are even better.

Well, if you don't believe anybody should pick the game up second hand, I presume you're ready to give it away? If so, send me your PayPal address and I will happily pay for shipping of the game to the United States from the Netherlands or Germany (if you're at Essen). It's been a long time since I've experienced the joy of a dear find at a rommelmarkt, and this will be a good substitute.


***
anatana wrote:
To the OP: if you like being able to play demo copies at your local FLGS and using their play space, consider actually buying from them! 69.95 is MSRP, and retail stores need margin to survive. There are plenty of threads discussing this in various forums here, but ultimately it comes down to what you see as valuable.

I know this is off-topic, but if we're going to get into sermonizing about financial expenditures, I am fatigued by these sorts of moralizing posts about needing to support local game stores. The arguments for are endless, as are the responses from my side, but because this afternoon I am given to tilting at windmills… …it is not OP's responsibility to keep any local game store in business. That's the store's responsibility. Obviously, last minute, the FLGS provided OP value that he could not find elsewhere: immediacy, which was clearly worth the price.

But wealth is created and preserved by low/long time preferences, so to the extent any consumer is going to buy a product/good but can wait for a longer delivery time for a cheaper price, such is the rational option.

It is important to remember that the customer's wallet is the prize to be won by the LGS, not the other way 'round. But LGSs do well to convince customers that their stores, the immediacy of purchase, and the experience are indeed the prize. That is, it is the LGS's job to sell.

Lest someone respond with a completely nonsense argument using a parade of horribles that without FLGSs, this hobby would suffer, it is important to note that the internet and BGG specifically have done more to increase the density of FLGSs over the last 15 years than anything else. LGSs have increased in number because of the proliferation of the hobby, and certainly they have increased the network effects of the industry's growth, but they are not, counterintuitively, a primary driver.
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Erik H
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Re: Terraforming Mars Thoughts After Two Games
I don't believe we got any rules wrong and yes I kept all 10 cards and of those 10 I had 2 which I could pay on generation 1 and they costed 42 credits all together.

By that time others had played about 4 cards increased some of their production and placed something on the board.

Next round I had to buy at least one card because none of my initial hands were playable which leaves you with just enough credits to play 1 card in generation 2.

I love strategic games and can deal with a random card once in a while but this to me feels like 20% strategy and 80% luck.

I had good cards but they needed 7 science or 4 plants. I never even saw 7 science or 4 plants over the course of the entire game.

Other players had blue action cards they could activate every generation. I didn't draw any action card the entire game. Others had bonus cards where if you do X you get Y. Never saw one of those either.

Btw. I should adjust my rating of Blood Rage to a 5 after more plays and we play Game of Thrones without the random combat cards. Power Grid gets the random cards out in the open to bid on do you lose some of the luck needed there.
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O.Shane Balloun
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Re: Terraforming Mars Thoughts After Two Games
phusebox wrote:

I love strategic games and can deal with a random card once in a while but this to me feels like 20% strategy and 80% luck.

I had good cards but they needed 7 science or 4 plants. I never even saw 7 science or 4 plants over the course of the entire game.


Right, and successive plays of Terraforming Mars would help you to internalize that those cards were probably worth selling/not keeping right away because they came at inopportune times and were not worth holding onto.

It now occurs to me that the argument here against Terraforming Mars is the same one leveled against Innovation, which is an entirely card-based game where each card is unique. Players must tactically respond to various inputs (the cards) in order to effect their strategies over the remainder of the game. To the untrained eye—to my eye at first—Innovation seems (seemed) totally random. But it's not. Anyone with five games of experience will defeat the new player, and anyone with 25 games of experience will defeat a player with 5 games of experience, because it rewards successive plays and an intuition for what comes or should come next.

Quote:
Btw. I should adjust my rating of Blood Rage to a 5 after more plays and we play Game of Thrones without the random combat cards. Power Grid gets the random cards out in the open to bid on do you lose some of the luck needed there.


That makes a little more sense to me. Blood Rage was actually the game that I thought to myself, "What?? He rates Blood Rage, which uses a host of 'random' cards, highly?" I mean, I really enjoy Blood Rage, but it certainly isn't as serious of a game as Terraforming Mars and is actually much more random.
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Erik H
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Re: Terraforming Mars Thoughts After Two Games
grammatoncleric wrote:

Right, and successive plays of Terraforming Mars would help you to internalize that those cards were probably worth selling/not keeping right away because they came at inopportune times and were not worth holding onto.

It now occurs to me that the argument here against Terraforming Mars is the same one leveled against Innovation, which is an entirely card-based game where each card is unique. Players must tactically respond to various inputs (the cards) in order to effect their strategies over the remainder of the game. To the untrained eye—to my eye at first—Innovation seems (seemed) totally random. But it's not. Anyone with five games of experience will defeat the new player, and anyone with 25 games of experience will defeat a player with 5 games of experience, because it rewards successive plays and an intuition for what comes or should come next.


I can relate to some of what you're saying but I didn't get more than about 6 cards during the entire game that I could really build on.

Selling of the first 10 cards you get for free in the beginner game seems like a waste of free cards, those measly credits aren't going to do you any good.

Like I said, I never got any action cards (that provided something every generation) or any 'do X gain Y' cards. So while others could get lots of stuff for almost free, I was halted.
Once I finally got a "lay down 2 ocean tiles" card, all the ocean tiles were gone so that didn't do anything.

I almost only got 16+ credits cards, and if you get 20 income, you don't get very far.
 
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O.Shane Balloun
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I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
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Re: Terraforming Mars Thoughts After Two Games
phusebox wrote:
grammatoncleric wrote:

Right, and successive plays of Terraforming Mars would help you to internalize that those cards were probably worth selling/not keeping right away because they came at inopportune times and were not worth holding onto.

It now occurs to me that the argument here against Terraforming Mars is the same one leveled against Innovation, which is an entirely card-based game where each card is unique. Players must tactically respond to various inputs (the cards) in order to effect their strategies over the remainder of the game. To the untrained eye—to my eye at first—Innovation seems (seemed) totally random. But it's not. Anyone with five games of experience will defeat the new player, and anyone with 25 games of experience will defeat a player with 5 games of experience, because it rewards successive plays and an intuition for what comes or should come next.


I can relate to some of what you're saying but I didn't get more than about 6 cards during the entire game that I could really build on.

Selling of the first 10 cards you get for free in the beginner game seems like a waste of free cards, those measly credits aren't going to do you any good.

Like I said, I never got any action cards (that provided something every generation) or any 'do X gain Y' cards. So while others could get lots of stuff for almost free, I was halted.
Once I finally got a "lay down 2 ocean tiles" card, all the ocean tiles were gone so that didn't do anything.

I almost only got 16+ credits cards, and if you get 20 income, you don't get very far.


It sounds like you legitimately had a rough start. Sorry to hear that. That's always tough, I think, for any new player because it is no fun to lose because you feel stuck from the beginning.

I would encourage you to give it another try—it may actually be worth playing with the regular corporations (not the beginner corporations) because their powers start you off with potential strategies. You get to choose from two and also look at the cards you are dealt to make that decision about what corporation and cards to keep. For instance, you may be dealt Thorsgate and Ecoline and find you have a bunch of power tag cards in your initial hand and no plants. Go with Thorsgate, dump Ecoline, and begin.

I'm not sure whether this would break the game or make it too easy, but you could even decide not to pay for any of the initial cards (as you would for a beginner corporation). That way, you don't have to make any strategic choices about which you have very little knowledge and can just see how the game progresses. Then if you decide you may try it a third time, you can play the game with its correct rules regarding payment for cards for non-beginners.
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Mike Stevens
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anatana wrote:
To the OP: if you like being able to play demo copies at your local FLGS and using their play space, consider actually buying from them! 69.95 is MSRP, and retail stores need margin to survive. There are plenty of threads discussing this in various forums here, but ultimately it comes down to what you see as valuable.


Actually, I buy a bunch of stuff from my FLGS and I agree with you that if a LGS provides you a nice, clean place to gather and play, and also has Demos and a library of games to play that you should do your best to help support them. Not only do I buy some games from there but I always buy pop and snacks from them while we are there playing. This is a very nice store with a very nice owner and staff but they are a business and I am a consumer. I don't fault anyone for trying to find the best deal they can get on a game regardless of where they purchase it from. Times are tough, games are not cheap and unless you have tons of disposable income, you should want to get the best bang for your gaming buck.

I certainly don't want to change my original post which was intended to share my story about my first few plays of a great new game which I enjoy and hope that others get a chance to enjoy.

FYI, so far Terraforming Mars has been worth every penny of its MSRP.

Game ON!

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