Letters of Mass Construction

Terraforming Mars

My first board game review. I hope I do better at it then I do playing some games. I am a converted video game player. I used to play hours and hours of video games a week but honestly I vastly prefer the joy of a good board game than almost any video game I have ever played. Which brings me to my new most favorite thing, Terraforming Mars.

I am going to go ahead and get this out of the way. It isn’t perfect. Far from it but the game has captivated my wife and I (in particular my wife). I am a long time science fiction fan. One of my favorite books is Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson and this game activates my imagination like few others have this last year.

Terraforming Mars is dripping theme. The game is about making Mars habitable by bringing oxygen oceans, and temperature to Mars. Each player plays a corporation who brings a particular skill set to making Mars beautiful (the rulebook recommends players start with a beginning cooperation……don’t do this…..the game is much better from the get go as a unique cooperation).

You terraform Mars by building a game engine that produces resources. You do this through cards. You draw four cards and buy the ones you think will help you produce resources that will get you victory points. This is the first place in the game that I think is a little flawed. I would recommend that you do not play this game as a random draw but instead use a drafting method to buy your cards. The randomness of the card draw means that sometimes a player can really struggle to begin to build their game engine. Which leads to the second flaw. If you get way behind early, it is hard to catch up.

Even with those flaws the game is exciting and fun. I love games that make me start playing one way and then slowly change my strategy as the game goes on. I love games that I have multiple paths to victory. I especially love games that I don’t care if I lose. Board games should be fun and this game is fun. I have never played it the same way twice.

While there are flaws (the player board could have been better) but none of these things took away from my joy. I always felt like I was actually playing a game about terraforming Mars. I was in the theme. When I had a strategy and those cards came up I could feel the joy bubble up. I loved when I bought a card to use later and then got the oxygen level to where I could use it. I loved trying to figure out what my wife was doing and how I could use it to let me win. I haven’t played the game with 3 or more people or solo but as a two-person game it is the boss. I look forward to seeing what expansions might be coming down the pike.

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