Maarten Alders
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Tonight we are considering playing Terraforming Mars for the first time. We will have 5 players. I'm not so sure if this is good idea though.

Can this game be played with 5 people in about 3 or 3,5 hours for the first time, including explaining the rules?

Or do you recommend to play something else in this case? It is always difficult to judge the length of the game based on the official length (with our group it take often considerably longer the first time).

Hopefully the time does not increase too much with each additional player.

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Ted Morris
Canada
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Your downtime will increase, but the play time may not. Since the end of the game is triggered by maxing out all the Global Parameters having more people sometimes shortens the game length.

Definitely stick with Beginner Corps and no Corporate Era cards.
Have fun!
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Ben Goulding
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If your five players are board gamers then you'll definitely get it done with rules in 3 hours or so.

Dogtorted wrote:
Definitely stick with Beginner Corps and no Corporate Era cards.


Since OP mentioned time is a factor then yes, I recommend starting without the Corporate Era cards and starting with 1 production in everything, as this will help you all get your engines up and running quicker and get the game going.

My experience is the beginner corps are boring and you should only resort to them if you're trying to really dumb the game down. The five people I have introduced this game to since I got it, a couple of whom only have very limited board game experience, all opted to have a proper corporation at the start and played perfectly well with them.
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Jack
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There are certain games that I don't think I'd EVER want to play with 5p. This and Nations jump to mind. Not because the game would take longer, but having an extra set of eyes or two scrutinizing cards would make the downtime insufferable.
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Örjan Almén
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Great that people have different views on matters. I find this game appealing for all player counts. Use the downtime to prepare for next turn (not only deciding what to do but also prepare the cubes and exchange what is needed etc.) and your playtime gets more efficient which lowers downtime in general.
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Jack
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I tend to avoid 5p games in general, though there are exceptions. All it takes is one person with AP to grind that type of game to a halt.
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Sebastian Stückl
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orjanalmen wrote:
Great that people have different views on matters. I find this game appealing for all player counts. Use the downtime to prepare for next turn (not only deciding what to do but also prepare the cubes and exchange what is needed etc.) and your playtime gets more efficient which lowers downtime in general.


I have to be honest here. While *I* agree, and *I* can do that, not everyone does, even if you ask them to. Some particular players/groups are quite bad at this, and your advice won't help them. shake

Normally though, I wouldn't expect a 5p game to be a problem with TM.
I haven't played it with more than 4 yet, but judging from the amount of people reporting 5p games in the statistics threads, it's definitely not unreasonably long.
And really, for the first few games you won't just read every card ever played, you should be busy concentrating on YOUR cards, saving a lot of time in the process.
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Maarten Alders
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Thank you all for your input. I will discuss with the group. Im not so concerned with the game length anymore, but I am with the possible downtime & AP aspect as it can be high in our group.
 
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Jack
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Yeah, 5p and say 2 have AP and you'll be looking for the closest window to hop out of.
 
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Steve Cohn
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HappyMountain wrote:
Can this game be played with 5 people in about 3 or 3,5 hours for the first time, including explaining the rules?


Hopefully this will work as a point of reference for you:
My first 4 player game was with experienced gamers, we had just finished Mombasa (which I am apparently terrible at), grabbed some pizza, then set up Terraforming Mars. Two had played before, two had not. After set up I ran through rules. We finished in roughly 3.5 hours (with rules).

Things that will increase downtime/game time when playing the first time:
• Drafting. Drafting is great and recommended once you know how to play. The first time, however, you are looking at a hand of ten cards, none of which will really mean anything to anyone. If you add drafting then each subsequent turn you are looking at 4 new cards, then 3 new cards, then 2 new cards... Reading the cards and becoming familiar with what they do and when you can/should play them will add time to the game. Nothing wrong with that, it's natural. But for the first time, looking at just 4 new cards each turn and deciding which ones to pay for and which ones to drop is plenty to think about.
• Corporate Era Cards. Definitely leave them out for the first game or two. Get familiar with how the game plays before dropping production and then adding in yet more not familiar cards everyone needs to read every turn. This is a great "advanced" version of the game that almost feels like a mini-expansion. But it also adds time.
• Remind players that increasing all three of the global parameters (Oceans + O2 + Temperature) = increase in M€ every turn. So encourage them to do that when they can, some turns those tracks don't seem to increase the way they should. There is absolutely nothing wrong with slow playing one turn to try to build up for a big turn later. But that adds time.


This is a great game but with 5 players you might be looking at 3-4 hours as a learning game, and the time will really fly by. Hopefully the above helps keep that time to the lower end.

~Steve


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Brian McCarty
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First play for me and the other 4 players took somewhat more than 3 hours (but probably less than 3.5) including teaching.

I was familiar with the rules but did need to look up some things

Brian
 
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Norman Hills
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We did 5-player, all new to the game with the basic corporations and finished in about 3.5hrs.

Currently trying 5-player with the corporations plus extra cards (no drafting), we're taking it slowly as we're a social group, fortunately without any AP prone members, it's run into a second session, so I would think it'll end up around 4-4.5hrs mainly due to reading and understanding all the new cards/interactions.

We don't find that there are any downtime issues and I would expect that subsequent 5 (and possibly 6) player games will finish in a single evening session.
 
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Chris Toth

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HappyMountain wrote:
Thank you all for your input. I will discuss with the group. Im not so concerned with the game length anymore, but I am with the possible downtime & AP aspect as it can be high in our group.


Just my two cents here, not much new: I usually limit this to 4 players with new players. I have taught it three times now to groups. I really think you need to have some experience with the game if you want to increase the player count. A player with AP can really lengthen the playing time.

If AP is high in your group, my suggestions would be to:

1. limit your first game to 3-4 players.

2. Play with beginner Corps.

3. Start by playing the standard game. no corporate era cards and bonus one production in all areas at the beginning of the game.

4. During research phase, gently remind 1st time players that they may only want to evaluate and buy cards that they feel will help them (and that they can afford to play) in the next round or two.

----------

The only controversial suggestion of mine there is the final one, but I really feel like in your first game, players need to focus on things that they can accomplish and try to limit their hand at first. I played with a few people who bought too many cards during the research phase and ended up not having the credits to play any cards on their turn. It took them forever to get an engine going, and consequently also made their game a bit more frustrating. Once they understand the cards better after having a played a game or two, they will better be able to evaluate the cards the next time around.

that being said, everybody I have played this with really likes this game. Even if they lost the game, everybody felt like there were some really great choices and fun decisions in the game. Most of the time people were just looking at the cards and saying "oh, this would be cool." etc.

hope you have a good game!
 
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Gringe Commander
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First game 4 players took almost 4 hours.
5P would be a long game, and considering that the game has almost zero interaction it could be quit boring after a while.
 
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Örjan Almén
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GringeCommander wrote:
First game 4 players took almost 4 hours.
5P would be a long game, and considering that the game has almost zero interaction it could be quit boring after a while.


But this game doesn't take longer time with more players, rather the opposite.
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Danny Perello
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GringeCommander wrote:
First game 4 players took almost 4 hours.
5P would be a long game, and considering that the game has almost zero interaction it could be quit boring after a while.

I have played this 3, 4, and 5 player, with all games taking about 3 hours, with plenty of interaction, especially on the map with city placements being hotly contested, as well as getting the last few global parameters of any given sort. Near the end of the game, 2 actions per turn never feels like enough...
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Matt Smith
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My first competitive game was 5 players, all gamers, 3 of them new to the game. Took 2.5 hours to play with full CE game. And that's with two AP- prone players. Add about 20 minutes for rules explanation.
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robert baynosa
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the way we play the game, we do the research and production phase simultaneously.
 
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Roger Garcia
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If the people in your group aren't strangers to games of that length, then it shouldn't really matter. But if you know there are some that may mind, then maybe find a way to go over rules in a more concise way.
 
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Maarten Alders
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We ended up playing it with 5 people yesterday.
Took us around 3,5 to 4 hours with basic cards and basic corporation, including explaining the rules.
We finished after 7 generations (wonder if that is to be expected with 5). I almost made a huge mistake thinking you would have 1-2 action per generation (making blue cards or actions like selling your cards almost unplayable), luckily I spotted my mistake just in time. The only rule people somehow found confusing is how to use tags. So they see a microbe tag and want to know what it does, then it is difficult to grasp that it depends on the card... And people were sometimes adding production points when they should be taking cubes.

Great game and only slightly longer than we had hoped (we always try to finish before midnight and it was 0:20 when completed). But because it's such a great game I didn't think people cared too much.
I don't think playing the game with fewer people would decrease playing time by much, as you just need more generations to terraform everything.
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Matthieu Fontaines
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My first game was with 5 people, we started at 21:30 and ended at 01:00, explantions included.

We had one AP player who was stuck with his 10 first cards. Afterward, it was quite fluid.

The only downfall of 5 players games is the fact that you can't follow your game and 4 other players at once, so you don't always know what is happening if you check you cards.
 
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