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Dice Temple: Terraforming Mars Review
Like so many others I have a hard time discerning between good games and games that are all hype. It's hard to tell when BGG fads are fads, or when you can feel confident buying a game. That's why I was excited to play Terraforming Mars at Trashfest East this year. Besides meeting a bunch of awesome people, and drinking the coldest cheapest draught in Vernon, CT, I got to see if this new game from Stronghold was as good as the internet says. Now I hope to pass on a bit of my good fortune by writing this review, which should, at least in part, help you decide what you think about Terraforming Mars.
My dad was a salesman, until he started his own business and took on more roles, so I grew up dealing with hype. I know all the standard sales tactics and am highly resistant to them. Consequently, I usually have zero trouble discerning between good games and hype games, as long as I have at least some info to look over. Or I could be completely delusional and suffering from extreme confirmation bias. Probably some of both. Either way, I enjoy most of the games that I have acquired over the years.
Excellent review, because there is enough detail that I can see a decent game of a type that I don't enjoy.
This has made me consider auctioning and drafting more deeply though, especially since I do enjoy some games with those activities. Tides of Time is a recent two-player game that is built around the "choose a card and pass the rest" mechanic. I don't know if this strictly counts as an auctioning or drafting game, although it's close enough that I would normally find it to be a chore. And yet I really enjoy Tides of Time, whereas I detest games like Catan. I think the difference is that a game that has auctions or drafting only at the beginning of the game can just leave you royally screwed over and with no way to auction or draft your way back into contention. Many times I have played Catan only to experience that sinking feeling of knowing that you're going to lose, knowing that you can't really do anything about it, and knowing that it will take another 90 minutes to happen. Meanwhile, a game that has that all throughout the session gives you ways to mitigate bad auctioning / drafting decisions with better ones.
It sounds like Terraforming Mars isn't like that though, and has auctions / drafting throughout the game. So maybe I wouldn't hate it after all, heh.
The drafting is optional and minimal. Each round you get four cards, and you can buy any number of them for $3 each. If you're using drafting, you draft the four cards. That's it. It adds some time to the game, and it gives players a little more control, but it's not as central to the game as, say, 7 Wonders.
I taught TM at Trashfest. Were you one of the players?