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Let's Terraform: MARS
I ended up with a copy of TM for my birthday. I usually--almost never--suggest exchanging a present, but this had kinda been on my mind, and I think I ended up making a good choice since both my wife and I quite liked this (and played twice over the weekend). We have yet to do the standard corporations or the drafting, but eventually. I agree with the impression that this is a Very Good game but perhaps one that won't be spoken of in hushed tones five or ten years from now, but who knows?
Starting Money/Resources/Production: 40M€
Special Abilities: Whenever you play an active card you may use one of its action abilities ignoring all costs. (Do not put a marker on it)
Flavor Text: Mars is our future. But profits can be our present, too.
It seemed fun when I tried it and not actually very powerful. Hope they pick it up so I have a free Venus Next!
JEM wrote: I use the Gametrayz player boards. They take up a lot of space in the box, but they work well.
No. You know "what this game needs is a good set of clay poker chips."*
* I lost a bet, I need to include that phrase in 13 internet threads today.
I'm not sure that counts if you reference the bet.
I haven't played two-player a lot, but at least when comparing the three-player game to four and five players, it seems that the fewer players, the more potential for long, drawn-out games where the better engines mostly win. With four and especially five players, that rarely happens; usually at least a couple of players try to race the game to its end, and everybody just try to get as much done as possible before the game inevitably ends.
With three players, it's often easier for a single player to have controlling influence on the length of the game (we're just talking a single extra generation here, but late in the game that's massive, of course). I had one game where two of us tried to end the game, but didn't quite manage, much to the delight of the third, engine-building player who thereby got an extra generation. He ended up winning, of course, but that extra generation alone took over an hour to play (I passed after about 10 minutes...).
Mainly for that reason, I prefer the game with four or five players: There's less engine/tableau-building, more interaction, and the pacing of the game just feels better to me.
I can see that. I've played maybe ten or so 3-player, 4-player, and 5-player games, and 40 or 50 2-player games, so I could be stuck in 2-player and spouse metagaming.
I know that the Elysium/Hellas maps lean more towards point engines than the original map does. The Milestones and Awards on those maps are more engine-favorable. And my wife and I work our way through the maps - the next one will be Hellas. And I know that for 2-player, ignoring Milestones and Awards is GG.
I have played Colonies but we didn't have anything that worked with Jovians.
I can very much see the animal spam, though. In general, all the non-TR stuff seemed strong simply because it's far more available than usual.
It's that it adds more Jovians. There are 49 cards in Colonies, and 7 are Jovians. Compare this to 208/12 for the original set. It just makes the 1/Jovians a little better.
Later that day my son and I played some Terraforming Mars with everything all-in. I just scraped victory by spamming colonies and seeding cities which I then filled in with greenery so yes, it is viable to do these things and remain competitive. I had the corporation that lets you increase your lowest production and I used it to help me pay the cost of cards that were reducing power. I ignored thermal completely and when I got space mirrors online I used the power I was generating to move my trade fleets instead of allowing it to roll over, and used the world government to keep raising the temperature to deny scoring opportunities to my opponent. I had one of the abilities in play that allowed me to raise the income track before trading and later in the game picked up the card that allowed me to have more than one colony on one location. With three fleets in play this allowed me to turn three power into ten or thirteen money via Lunar and to collect useful stuff like metals or greenery production from the other locations.
The lad had a lot of thermal going on and was also drawing up a huge pile of steel that he couldn’t always use as the card draws weren’t going that way for him. He diversified into floaters and had a tiny engine going where he was building and selling floaters for some extra income, plus he had the corp that raises income when new tags are played, so he had an early lead over me on wealth. It was short-termist though and when I refused to hurry along the terraforming until I had caught up with him he ran out of steam with too many cards and not enough options.
There’s been some grumbling about it here but I am more than happy with Colonies. There are some useful exploits there and I think it is vital to fix on a clear strategy early on and to work out which if any of the colonies will support that. Relying on blind draw from the deck is too much of a risk for me so I like to have a plan with the visible elements of the game and then adapt those plans based on what I draw. In many cases the Colonies provide micro-advancements, e.g. trading with Lunar just to get an extra three money or paying three Titanium to get four or five in return, but the game is full of this sort of thing so it is a fundamental consideration when playing. I also think that the expansions have had a welcome dilutive effect on the dominant strategies that used to surround Ecoline and Tharsis which in turn requires a new way of interacting with the board itself. Building can still be used to generate points but it needs to fit in with the rest of your plans rather than being a pedal on which you stand full-on.
Concerning TM + Prelude + Colonies: My wife tells me, "Messing around with those greeneries is just going to make you lose." She's beat me 7 games in a row in 2p Colonies now. She is a hard-core engine builder, and I can't build fast enough to end the game before her points kick in.
This was what I was whining about above: Jovians are crazy powerful in the endgame now. I haven't looked it up, but Corporate + Colonies = 18 Jovians, plus or minus one. By the end of the game the other night my wife had 14 Jovians, plus the three 1/Jovian cards, plus Terraforming Ganymede (1 TR per Jovian + 2 points). I lost by 10 points,
The next game, if the opening will let me, I'll just try my damnedest to rush the ending and see what happens. Throw the rest of the cards I see away.
I don’t think greenery is definitively the best thing to do as it’s always going to be situational but the returns are pretty good for the outlay.
I do however know exactly what she is talking about as I’ve run the Jovian floater strategy before and it is very satisfying. Because it’s action card based it only gets better the longer the game runs so the best counter probably is to rush terraforming. It relies heavily on digging into the card deck though so it’s not without risk.
Greeneries simply have the best numbers in the game. On their own they are worth 2 points (One TR increase + One at the end of the game), plus additional points for cities. That's a big potential. But the thing is, they are cheap! Each forest gives you 1 TR (which produces money) and often 2 plants (1/4th of their cost) plus 2€ per ocean next to them. Add all the little bonuses and they end up being clear winners.
Any must have expansions with it? My organic recollection of the last few years of the boardgames played thread is that a lot of them were pretty meh but some people really liked a few of them, with some disagreement. Would love to get some thoughts. I personally really value divergent players powers and starting positions but I think TM has that already in the base...?
Ah_Pook wrote: Get the maps and prelude, don't get any of the other ones. they just add a bunch of bloated crap to a game that's already overly long. I also personally recommend not drafting and not using the corporate era cards, but many don't agree. I find both lengthen the game a lot and don't add enough more fun to make up for the added length.
I'd agree with maps and Prelude. Venus and Colonies are alright, but not great. Unless you love the heck out of this game, you can skip them.
What you need much more than any expansion is one of the many game aids to improve the terrible player mats that come with the game. Search 'Terraforming Mars' on etsy and pick one you like.
My wife and I toss a coin to figure out whether or not we draft. Try drafting a few times to see which one you like better.
I think you should play Corporate, because it opens up engine strategies. If playtime is an issue, use the Corporate cards but bump up all production to 1. Make sure that the Milestones on the other maps take that into account.
1) Don't waste your time with any variants, just play with all the cards. Playing Terraforming Mars without the "Corporate Era" cards is like playing a fighting game with nothing but basic punches. There's not much of a difference in difficulty or game lenght so I believe it's just unnecessary.
2) No expansions are needed. Just try out the base game nad look into more if you like it.
3) The most important expansion are the maps. And it's not even the maps, but the milestones. The base game has intentionally basic, simply milestones that play the same every game and benefit some factions over others. I never play on the base map anymore because of it.
Beyond that, Prelude is interesting because it (paradoxically) makes the game much tighter. There are less turns for your cards to pay off so things get more difficult.
Venus Next is getting a bad rap but I think it does good things to the game. It adds a lot of cards, makes game lenght more variable (so games are more varied and less predictable) and makes the basic resources less straight foward. It also works very well with Prelude.
I did't like Colonies and see little reason to play it.