My Thoughts on Terraforming Mars

Setting up and teaching the game.

I have played the game three times now. It is a weird, but great game. The first time I played it, I wanted to play it again immediately. I was left knowing that while I didn’t score well, knowing the game would return a deeper strategic experience. The second time it got to the table, I was eager to play knowing how the game works. However, that game left me slightly perplexed; it seemed to deny me the cards that I knew I wanted which ended up frustrating me. However, I tend to dislike card drafting in games, so I don’t fault the game for that. The third game was down right fun. The game design is elegant and quick despite having so many options for play. I knew my wife would love it. She learned it so much quicker than I did; and no surprise there, she just “gets” games and patterns. I don’t expect to beat her much in the future.

The game engines are starting to kick in.

Additional Thoughts on the Components

If you read the forums on BGG, which you should, you will see that the components vs the price tag is an issue for some. I will go on record and say that for a $70 game, in general, the components should be a work of art. However, they are not. The overall design is inconsistent, at best, and downright ugly in some cases. Ooooooh, metallic cubes you say? Look at the corners:

Photo uploaded to boardgamegeek.com by Stephen Buonocore.

The corners have the metallic “paint” chipped off. The first time I played this game I thought this was due to standard game play. However, when I purchased my copy, it was the first thing I checked. There they were. Chipped. I have later learned it is from the cubes being on a the sprue and when they are knocked off, behold, no paint. Remember, this is a $70 game. 🤔

And yet, sometimes the game looks great.

Terraforming Mars City and Greenery Tiles. Photo by Henk Rolleman.

Some of the photos on the cards are illustrations and some are photos, seemingly stock photos. I wish I kept the link so I could properly source it, but someone on boardgamegeek.com said the game reminded them of their high school science textbook. Sums up the design and might lead to some of its quirky charm.

Final Thoughts

Here is the deal, the game is great. Price and components aside, the game is just down right fun. It has all the complexities of Through the Ages, but somehow manages to be “easier” and more fun. Perhaps streamlined? Not sure. In the end, the weird art design choices leave this game with a lot of charm. If that was intentional, the designers are brilliant.

DesignerJacob Fryxelius
ArtistIsaac Fryxelius
PublisherFryxGames, Ghenos Games, Intrafin Games, Lavka Games, Maldito Games, Meeple BR Jogos, REBEL.pl, Reflexshop, Schwerkraft-Verlag, Stronghold Games
Year Published2016
# of Players1 - 5
User Suggested # of Players Best with 5+ players
Recommended with 1, 2, 3, 4 players
(300 voters)
Playing Time120
Mfg Suggested Ages12 and up
User Suggested Ages10 and up
(47 voters)
Language DependenceModerate in-game text - needs crib sheet or paste ups
(22 voters)
CategoryEconomic, Environmental, Industry / Manufacturing, Science Fiction, Territory Building
MechanicCard Drafting, Hand Management, Tile Placement, Variable Player Powers
ExpansionTerraforming Mars: Hellas & Elysium, Terraforming Mars: Schneealgen Promokarte, Terraforming Mars: Self Replicating Robots promo, Terraforming Mars: Small Asteroid promo
FamilyMars, Solitaire Games, Tableau Building
Primary NameTerraforming Mars
Alternate NamesA Mars terraformálása, Terraformacja Marsa, Покорение Марса, 改造火星

More info on BGG.

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