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Subject: A review of Terraforming Mars from a board game newbie rss

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Doug Levey
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This is my review of Terraforming Mars as someone who's only previously played classic board games like Monopoly or Battleship. Hopefully I'll be able to describe how I felt about each aspect of the game.

The Basics
The game is meant to be played with anywhere from 1 to 5 players. Players start out with a corporation card, which they pick from 2 that are dealt to them. Different corporations start out with different amounts of currency and have different abilities that can alter the way that player plays. For our game, since all of us hadn't played before, we used the beginner corporation cards which had no abilities and gave each player 42 credits and 10 cards to start the game. All other corporations are given an amount of credits determined by their card and must choose to buy any cards they wish to keep out of the 10 they were dealt for 3 credits each. Once all this has happened, the game can begin. The objective of the game is to use action cards and project cards to get as many victory points as possible. Victory points are gained by buying and completing milestones and awards, through the playing of certain cards, and by gaining terraforming points which are gained by terraforming mars in any way. Players may perform up to 2 actions per turn, going around until all players pass. Once this happens, it becomes a new generation and all players go through the production phase in which they add a dynamic amount of resources to their resource pool. I say dynamic because different cards can change the amount of resources each player produces on each production phase. Once the production phase is over, the player who went second last round goes first, keeping the order of players unchanged, but giving someone new the chance to go first. This continues until all win conditions are met. The win conditions are to have all 9 ocean tiles down on the board, have the oxygen level get up to 14%, and have the temperature get up to 8 degrees Celsius. Once all of those conditions are met, the game ends and everyone counts up their victory points to see who will be declared the winner.

Setup

I would say that setup was probably the most tedious part of our play session. I'm sure it would go much faster in the future as we get more and more used to playing it. The bulk of the setup time was mostly trying to figure out the rules anyways. I would say that other people would probably have a similar experience in that the first time you set it up it can be a bit confusing, but after one game it becomes much clearer.

Gameplay

After we had finished setting up the game, the gameplay was surprisingly fast and easy to pick up. Now I'm not saying that playing the game is a simple walk in the park, just that the mechanics are fairly easy to pick up, and you can have a good grasp on them within 2 or so games. The real gameplay comes from your tactical decisions about what to place, what to buy, and how to allocate your resources. In our game, everyone seemed to know what they were doing for the most part by the end of the game. There were also not too many times where we found ourselves going back and checking the rule book, which was nice.

Verdict
I found Terraforming Mars to be a really fun experience. While the first time setup was a little bit tedious, the pace of the gameplay made up for it. I could see myself coming back to play this more times and recommending it to a lot of friends and family. Overall, I really enjoyed Terraforming Mars.
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Ben Bosmans
Belgium
Mechelen
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What strikes me about this game is that even after more than a year this game always shows up in the hotness top 10 table on BGG. Always. More so than Scythe even.

And the fact it climbed slowly but steady into the top 5 shows that the game is popular with all kinds of players.

Add the very interesting solo play/strong theme and you have a winner these days.

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Ido Abelman
Israel
Hod Hasharon
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Nice review Always great to hear from people that enter the hobby, and starting with a heavier game shows the definition of "gateway game" is not always straightforward.

I find the setup very easy relative to other games of the same weight. Put out the board, place cubes on 0 for the temperature and oxygen tracks, place the oceans in their spot, give each player a resource board and colored cubes which they'll put on their spots (0 or 1 on each production tracks and 20 on the TR track), shuffle and deal cards (and corporations if not playing with beginner corps as I see you did), done. Cities/greeneries, special tiles and resource cubes should be accessible but often I don't even pull them out of their baggies until needed. Then you have the "first research phase" for non-beginner corps (which I highly recommend you play with next time ) but that's pretty much starting the game already.

BTW I see in the second picture that you made the common mistake of placing the white "capital" city tile on the Noctis City spot. The "Noctis City" card places a regular gray city on that spot - that signifies that after placement it's just a regular city. The white city is used only for the "capital" card because the city is special as detailed on the card (it scores for oceans as well as greeneries in the end).

I see two more "anomalies" on the board that should mean black played the cards "Protected Valley" (place greenery on an area reserved for ocean) and "Urbanized Area" (place city between two other cities). Am I right whistle?
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AJ Cooper
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Glad to see a new player enjoying it. Also somewhat surprised to see it used as a first choice for a new hobby gamer. How did you settle on this particular title for your starting point?

Also for curiosity, a few data questions:

How many players in your first game?
For how many was it their first play of TFM?
For how many was it their first play of any modern boardgame?
Which variant did you use - basic game (+1 to all productions) or the corporate era (with the CE cards and zero starting productions)?
How long did it take to play?
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Ido Abelman
Israel
Hod Hasharon
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Talmanes wrote:

How many players in your first game?
Which variant did you use - basic game (+1 to all productions) or the corporate era (with the CE cards and zero starting productions)?


Based on the setup picture - 5 and basic game.
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Bill Collins
United States
Connecticut
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I think it’s great that you went from very basic board games to TM and really liked it. I hope you get to play a lot more.
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Candace Mercer
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Olympia
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Welcome to the geek! There is a thread called no geek left behind where people will gift you geek gold to get an avatar. I am a bit low, but gave you some to get a microbadge, check your user page for link to pick out badges.
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Steve Wraxall
United Kingdom
Manchester
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Nice review, have some GG for your trouble.
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AJ Cooper
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CBpegasus wrote:
Talmanes wrote:

How many players in your first game?
Which variant did you use - basic game (+1 to all productions) or the corporate era (with the CE cards and zero starting productions)?


Based on the setup picture - 5 and basic game.

Oh yes, I see now. Good catch.

Looks like not nearly enough table space for the rest of the game though.
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