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Subject: sennaho's impressions of Terraforming Mars rss

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Johannes Lindrupsen
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The number 1 hotness on BGG (as of 25/10/16/) and the number 1 hotness from Essen. That is what Terraforming Mars is. It has skyrocketed the ratings and is almost at the top 100 as I write this. I’ve had my eyes on this one for a little while, and when my online retailer got 3 copies of this, I knew I had to jump at in and order one of them.

So, a card-driven game about terraforming Mars and making it livable for humans? After the Martian made a huge movie hit, the red planet has been everywhere, and in 2016 there are quite a few Mars games.

So, let’s dive into this 2-5 player game by Jacob Fryxelius, released by Fryxgames and Stronghold Games in 2016. Is it as hot as it can be? Or is it as cold as where you start with Mars in the game (-30degrees celcius)



Components

Let’s start of with the components of the game.
This game is not really heavy on components, so let’s take a look at most of them and see what I think.

Let’s start with the game board. This game is card-driven, so the board is only used for a couple of things. It is used to track points and also to track the different things we need to work on to get Mars livable for humans. Most of the board is filled with a great map of Mars, which is an actual «picture» of how Mars looks, with names on a lot of different locations. The board looks good and is very practical and user friendly, but more on the use of it later.



This game has a lot of different resources, and because of that (I guess) they have decided to use the same cubes for every resource. There are three different cubes worth 1, 5 and 10 resources, and it’s where they are put that tells you what they are. One thing they have done that I really like, is to paint them in bronze, silver and gold, and they are all in different sizes, with bronze being the smallest and gold the largest.

I must say that I am a bit worried as to how long the paint on these cubes will last, and there is already sign of wear on the cubes. This is a very minor point, and it doesn’t really bother me all that much, but I just thought that I should add it in here.



Next up we have the cards. The cards are the most used component and the base for the game. I have to say that they feel a bit thin. They are a little flimsy and I actually did something I never do with any game anymore: I sleeved it. I did this before my first game, so I don’t know if the flimsiness of the cards would make them show wear and tear from use after few plays.

The player boards are really, really thin, but I have never been irritated by this. It’s just a piece of paper that you will put things on. You are never going to move it, and for laying flat on the table and organizing your resources, the player boards do a great job.

The rest of the components are good. Tiles with nice thickness and some player cubes in different colors make up for most of it, but what about what’s on the components. Let’s talk about artwork.

Artwork

We all know that artwork can be very important in a game, and especially if you just see a game played on a table. The art is what will make you decide if you want to stop and look or walk away. With Terraforming Mars, the art is not the best. A lot of the components feels like the game is kind of old. It’s more of an old-school kind of art. Especially the player boards, while very functional, looks pretty boring and like they where made a long time ago. I don’t mean that I hate it by any means, and to be completely honest, I don’t really think about it while playing, but I have seen better art than the player boards.



The board has great art, and I do like the map of Mars a lot. I do think that this is my favorite piece of art in the game.

The iconography is heavy in this game, and I feel like the icons suffer from the same thing as the player boards. They are functional, but maybe a little dull and ols-school.

Before we go to the gameplay, let’s talk about what many have already commented on: The art of the cards. Here, they have chosen something that I haven’t seen before, and something that I know a lot of people think are very strange. There is a mix of drawings and actual pictures on the cards. Some cards has «nasa» as the artist, so that’s kind of funny, but I felt like the mix was a little bit strange. For me, I only thought about this the first game I played, and mostly because I had heard on a podcast that this was the case. I don’t know if I would have even seen it if it wasn’t for that, and in the end, it doesn’t really bother me. I would love to hear the reasoning behind choosing this different and kind of strange approach though.

Gameplay

So far, this game hasn’t had the best components ever, and it hasn’t had the best art ever, but how is the gameplay? Can it make up for the few negative points that it has been for me so far?

In Terraforming Mars, you work to make Mars livable and to make it our next planet to go to after Earth falls. To do this, you must compete to be the mega corporation that earns the most points while heating up the planet, filling it with oceans and making oxygen appear.

The game will go on for generations (literary, a round is a generation, so around 25-30 years? per round makes this a long game) and it will end when the players have placed 9 oceans, gotten the temperature to +8 degrees celsius and the oxygen to 14%.



As I have already said, the game is card based and it will mostly revolve around playing cards, making combos and building up an engine to be better than the other companies on terraforming and other aspects of life on Mars.

The game starts with every player getting 10 cards and 2 mega corporations to choose from. There is also a beginner corporation for new players that makes it a bit easier to get started. Every player will then choose a corporation that will give them their starting income and also a special ability that they can use through the game. This makes the game really interesting and while the corporations have great powers, none feel vastly overpowered.



The neat thing about the card system in this game, is that every time you get new cards (except when you get to draw cards because of an action) you decide how many to keep, and you pay 3 mega credits for each card that you want. This makes for some really nice thinking. Do I need this card that I maybe can use in the last round of the game or do I rather want the 3 extra coins to use this round? The more cards you keep, the less actions you’ll likely take.

Every turn you can do 1-2 actions. These actions will mostly revolve around playing cards from your hand or doing actions on the player board and cards you have already played. There is also general actions that everyone can pay to do on their turn, and they can be very useful to get a lot of points at specific times during some plays. After everyone has passed, you all get money and resources before the next round start and you all get 4 new cards that you can choose to buy.

The game will go on like this until mars is kind of livable for humans and the player with the most points at that point is the winner.

Final thoughts

Wow, this game is good. The engine building, the combos, everything is just amazing. There is something with this game, that just makes me want to play again and again, and that makes me happy even before I have looked at my first 10 cards. I know that I will have an awesome time in the 2 next hours and my body is getting ready.

I really love how variable the game is, and I feel like the replay ability is really huge in this one, even though you are kind of going for the same goals every time. You can go for those goals in a lot of different ways, and when you look down and see that you have build a cool engine that works and that gives you points and resources it feels really good.

One thing I must say, is that the game do have luck in it. This shouldn’t come as a surprise when cards are such a huge factor, but for me, this hasn’t been an issue so far. First off, there is a drafting variant where you look at 4 cards each round, pick one and send the rest away and you’ll do this until you again have four cards. Then you’ll choose which ones of those you want to buy. This can help out when people are unlucky and doesn’t draw anything they really need.

The other thing that I like a lot about the cards is that even though there are many, many different cards, there a quite a few cards with the same theme and kind of the same effects. There will never be a time where you’ll need to get one special card out of the over 200 in the game to get anything going. As long as you are willing to adapt you will get somewhere in this game.

This game is all about long time strategies vs short time strategies. You will need to build a long time plan with the cards in your hand, but you will also need to adapt from what you draw and be willing to let your new cards drag you in a new direction if that direction is better for you than the one that you had planned. Balancing the two is really interesting and feels so great in this one.

I don’t really think there is anything I don’t like about the gameplay in this game. Everything just feels so good put together, the game is so much fun to play and it’s all in all an amazing experience. If you don’t like the art or the graphics design, don’t think about those, just get this game and see how amazing it really is.

This is the best game I have played in 2016. I rate it a

Thank you so much for reading my review. For more of my reviews, check out my geek list here: https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/216106/sennahos-impressio...

What did you think of the game? If you haven’t played it, are you looking forward to do it?
Have fun gaming, every single one of you
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François Mahieu
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Nice review. The game is so great, but the arts on cards and overall graphic design are dull and boring. I couldn't agree more.
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Gerritjan Roubos
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sennaho wrote:
Wow, this game is good. The engine building, the combos, everything is just amazing. There is something with this game, that just makes me want to play again and again, and that makes me happy even before I have looked at my first 10 cards. I know that I will have an awesome time in the 2 next hours and my body is getting ready.


This is exactly what I feel laugh

sennaho wrote:
This is the best game I have played in 29,5016. I rate is a

And this...

Thanks for the review
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Isaac Fryxelius
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Very nice review! The choice of card art was a very tough decision. We know this is not the mainstream way of doing it, and I would probably not advice such an approch to any other game, but this game covers such a wide range of subjects, and it reaches from todays science to future science fiction, and from microbes to business contacts to space engineering. You should view this game like you would a science magazine - and just like them, we love NASA, and we love sci fi art.
Cheers!
// Isaac Fryxelius, graphic design
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Vergililus De Kat
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Isaac Fryxelius wrote:
Very nice review! The choice of card art was a very tough decision. We know this is not the mainstream way of doing it, and I would probably not advice such an approch to any other game, but this game covers such a wide range of subjects, and it reaches from todays science to future science fiction, and from microbes to business contacts to space engineering. You should view this game like you would a science magazine - and just like them, we love NASA, and we love sci fi art.
Cheers!
// Isaac Fryxelius, graphic design

Hey Isaac!

Thanks for showing an insight in the graphic design of TM.

When I read the first reviews I was worried about how the cards would turn out. Almost every reviewer counted the artwork of the cards as a "con".
Now I know they used the artwork in order to have a "negative" about the game , although for you it was probably very hurtful to read those remarks.

Personally, I don't have any issue with the artwork, and nobody I played the game with had *any* remarks on the artwork.
Some are photos, which I kind of "see" as "current" events/actions (inventors contest f.e.).
Other cards are pictures/drawings, and I "see" them as a "presentation" or a "blueprint" of a "future" project (interstellar colony ship or physics complex f.e.)
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Johannes Lindrupsen
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Isaac Fryxelius wrote:
Very nice review! The choice of card art was a very tough decision. We know this is not the mainstream way of doing it, and I would probably not advice such an approch to any other game, but this game covers such a wide range of subjects, and it reaches from todays science to future science fiction, and from microbes to business contacts to space engineering. You should view this game like you would a science magazine - and just like them, we love NASA, and we love sci fi art.
Cheers!
// Isaac Fryxelius, graphic design


Thank you so much for answering, Isaac! That is really interesting. I do see the point that there is so many different kind of subjects on the cards, that this was a nice approach! I love the game, so thank you so much for being part of it being made
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Jack Francisco
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Totally agree. Just played this last night and I thought about it on the whole drive home. That's the sign of a great game. Plus, the sweet pain of having your plants torched right before you were about to use them is so delightful. Multiple times, I was a MC short of something I wanted to do or agonizing over whether to keep that extra card. Great, great stuff.
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Johannes Lindrupsen
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senorcoo wrote:
Totally agree. Just played this last night and I thought about it on the whole drive home. That's the sign of a great game. Plus, the sweet pain of having your plants torched right before you were about to use them is so delightful. Multiple times, I was a MC short of something I wanted to do or agonizing over whether to keep that extra card. Great, great stuff.


It's so great to hear other people thinking about it after playing it! It's been like that every time I have played it...which makes me remember that it's over a week since I played it..have to do something about that soon!
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Jack Francisco
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Totally. To me, that's the sign of great design. The game tells a narrative. Yes, it's kind of a generic narrative, but even last night, there shouts of, "Another GHG card?" and "Where the hell are the microbes?" Awesome.
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