In Terraforming Mars, you take on the role of a corporation working to make Mars habitable for humans, while competing with other corporations to make the most money (mega credits) doing so. To do this, you must manage your resources (mega credits, steel, titanium, plants, energy and heat.)
You will use your resources to raise the temperature and increase the oxygen on the planet, and to place ocean, greenery, city and special tiles on the board. You will also play project cards, which you must purchase each round. These cards do a variety of things. Some cards will give you continuing benefits, some will give you a temporary boost, and others may hurt your opponents. Some cards have requirements, like being above a certain temperature, that you must meet before the card may be played. You need to keep tabs on what your opponents are doing as well to make sure that you don’t give them something they need.
You may also claim milestones or fund awards. These tracks will give you additional victory points at the end of the game. To claim a milestone, you must be the first to reach and pay for those points. Only the first person to claim the milestone will get the points, and only three of the five available may be claimed. There is a lot of strategy to get to these, and they can be easy to forget, but very important at the end of the game. When you fund an award, you guarantee that points will be counted for that award at the end of the game, but only the first and second place players will receive the points, regardless of who funded the award.
Although there is a lot to manage in this game, it all flows very well and is fairly intuitive. There are many different strategies and all are valid ways to win. The cards are easy to understand and though the game tends to start a little slow, once the momentum gets going it’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement.
I have been lucky enough to play every game with the insert from the Broken Token. I HIGHLY recommend getting an insert for this game, especially one with player trays. I would hate to have to keep track of all the different cubes on my player mat without them. With many of the board game inserts, I am ambivalent as to their necessity, but with Terraforming Mars, I believe you will find them a huge asset to game play.
This game has had a lot of hype, and it is all well-deserved. It is a strategic, exciting game, sure to give you many hours of enjoyment, and doesn’t seem to lose its luster with repeated game play.
On to Mars! Recommended.