By Scott Schweinfurth

Type of game: Strategy
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 hands

In the 2400S, mankind begins to terraform the planet Mars. Giant corporations, sponsored by the world government on Earth, initiate huge projects to raise the temperature, the oxygen level, and the ocean coverage until the environment is habitable. In Terraforming Mars you play one of those corporations and work together in the terraforming process, but compete in doing the best work, with victory points awarded not only for your contribution to the terraforming but also for advancing human infrastructure throughout the solar systems and other commendable achievements. The players acquire unique project cards, which represent anything from introducing plant life or animals, hurling asteroids at the surface, building cities, and establishing greenhouse gas industries to heat up the atmosphere. You compete for the best places for your city tiles, ocean tiles, and greenery tiles. When the Terraforming process is complete, the player Corporation with the most victory points wins.

Terraforming Mars is a one to five player game where players assume the role corporations attempting Terraform Mars. To do this, you will have to use your resources to increase the planet’s temperature, oxygen level, and oceans. Of course, you’re not the only one trying to make a name for themselves! Other corporations will also be trying to make improvements to the planet. Players will build buildings, arrange supplies from Earth and even sabotage the other companies to be the corporation that gets the credit for this new world.

Terraforming Mars is almost a puzzle. You need to know when to complete your projects to be most beneficial. Knowing when to play cards is essential to getting a victory in this game. In addition, there is kind of a fun engine builder. You are going to need to build this machine that keeps producing materials for you so as to be able to finish bigger projects in future generations. This is especially true in the solo variant of the game. It can be challenging to get your machine to create the supplies you need for all three aspects of terraforming, but when you succeed, it just feels that much better.

I love this game. Even though I have only had it for a little under a month, I already have around 30 plays in. I have heard people criticize the game, claiming that you spend more time looking at your player board and not as much the main board and that there isn’t a lot of player interaction, almost becoming a solitaire game that you happen to be playing simultaneously with other people, but I didn’t find this to be true. There was always plenty of reason to be invested in what the other players were doing as it definitely has an impact on what I want to do.

Overall, I think Terraforming Mars is a fantastic game and worthy of the hype surrounding it.