I got to play Terraforming Mars finally only 8 months after it was released. I'd had mixed feelings towards this game not least of which was the reported build quality. After all the hype. The reprints. The debates I played my first game on a buddy's copy. He'd paid €80 for it in a not so local FLGS… that's €80 I'm glad I didn't spend myself…..
First and foremost this is my first game of TM and I do plan to play it again. Bets firmly hedged let's continue
For my first game I was very much underwhelmed.
The theme is strong. You and up to three other players play a corporation with a special ability competing to get the highest score by helping to terraforming mars. You this by raising the temperature, oxygen levels and placing all the sea tiles. So these are the three levels Scotty slides to beam up a win. To affect these you plant forests, build cities, install microbes and a variety of other sciencey stuff.
Rounds start by drafting four cards from a massive stack and picking and paying which to keep. Each has a cost to play and a set of restrictions such as min or max temperature or oxygen levels. Usually these cards allow you to carry out an action or setup a future action at a lesser cost than the standard actions. Like Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne you can buy some of your actions more expensively if you have the cash. Well a lot of the actions.
Everything costs money which luckily you get at the start of the turn. You also get a variety of amounts added to energy, heat, plant life, iron and titanium. Each of these feed a very expensive slowly terraforming maw. Things like iron and titanium along with certain cards reduce the cost of building. Other levels allow you to build cities, forest and ok I'm going to stop there. We've been here before. You need to adjust a number of levels through a set of mechanics that vary in cost and effect as they're drawn from the deck, a very big deck it must be said. You can invest in cards that will increase score or improve your economy and ability to buy further cards and you're racing to get to the highest score. As always it's knowing when to build up your economy and when to go for broke and concentrate on scoring.
There is nothing wrong with the mechanics. It's all fine it's just so similar to every other games. What does annoy me about the game is as follows
It's a solo game practically. Everyone works away practically in their own bubble with very little interaction racing to the finish. I can't be doing with that
The build quality is poor. Not Monopoly money poor but it won't last. The board is basic unlike myself it will not age well. The money is easily chipped. The cards are fine but scream do be sleeved and there's just too many of them.
The artwork is fine and the color scheme fine. I want more for my buck, fine doesn't cut it. It doesn't wow accept maybe the money pieces.
The real problem I found with TM was there's better out there. There's too many games to play them all and I refuse to waste time on the mundane and after one game were still in the mundane zone. Sure it might improve as you play more but you're card is marked TM you'd better pull your socks up or it's expulsion for you.