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Episode 2 : Terraforming Mars

  • BGG Rating 84% 84%
  • Production Value 65% 65%
  • Solo Game Action 80% 80%
  • Chances of your bits getting messed up 90% 90%
Space… It’s really, really big. Even what’s close is so very far away. But sometimes all you need to explore, at least, a little part of it can be found in a small box. You’ll also need at least a little imagination, or a competitive nature. So welcome to Episode Two of Everyday Meeple as Mitch, Steve and I discuss Terraforming Mars. And that’s how we podcast. We pick a game, we play it a whole bunch and think about it a whole bunch more and then get together and just talk about it. We don’t teach you how to play, or give strategy tips. But we do hope our enthusiasm and our organic, rambling yet somewhat structured — conversations are half as fun to listen to as they are to have. Or grow on you like subzero moss in really dusty, red soil. A bit about the game: It’s for 1-5 players (the solo version is as addictive as Ed Wood movies, and way more scientifically accurate); is recommended for ages 12 and up and takes between 90 minutes and two hours to play according to the box, which is pretty accurate… so about as long as your favourite space colonization movie. It was designed by Jacob Fryxelius and is from Stronghold Games. I should mention that the version I have always played Terraforming Mars with, includes the Corporate Era Expansion which came with my base game. I don’t know why you wouldn’t.
Each player runs a corporation that, over several generations, will collectively make The Red Planet habitable. One thing we don’t really talk about in the podcast that I’ve thought a lot about is that several of the things you do in the game to convert Mars are the types of things that our environmentalists will tell you are killing our planet, releasing methane and increasing the planets temperature for example. An interesting concept to keep in the back of your head as you crash asteroids into the planet and strip mine for the ore used in steel and titanium,  while also releasing oxygen from under the surface. The game ends when the temperature reaches 8 C (from -30), the oxygen level reaches 14 % creating an atmosphere, and 9 ocean tiles are placed on the planet surface shown on the board. Player’s buy project cards which give them resources, or allow them to accomplish other tasks that ultimately help the planet along on it’s journey to house humans. Then you total up points, which come from laying city and forest tiles on the planet, from some cards played in the tableau in front of you, including some of those face down event cards, don’t forget to count those, as well as from reaching milestones and winning awards, two elements not in the solo game, but increasingly important the more you play with others. So that’s the podcast, give it a listen.

Notes on podcast:

  • Clarification: Starting temperature on Mars in -30C, and each time a player raises it by 1 step, the mercury moves up 2 points.
  • When Steve says “the last time we were on these microphones…” he means Episode 1.5 The In-between, where we focus not on a single game, but on general discussions about gaming.
  • As of June 15, 2018: I’ve played (Dave) Wasteland Express eight times and have yet to win. I’m itching to get out in the radiation and gang patrolled dust (once I have a rad-shield and a gunner of course)
  • As of this podcast, Dave has played Terraforming Mars 48 times, only 4 of them were with others. (It was a long winter.)
  • For third party inserts, and there are lots, check out Gaming Trunk or check out the shop at BGG to see the Game Trayz version (which sellout frequently).
  • The second expansion of Terraforming Mars we spoke of is called Hellas and Elysium
  • If you don’t mind pictures of his cat, garden, the local landscape and whatever else he feels like sharing, you can (often) see (new) pictures of board games Dave plays on his public Instagram account @dgrbartlett
  • The JG Ballard short story Dave references is called Thirteen for Centaurus
  • Dave didn’t quite remember the major plot of Stranger in a Strange Land (check it out here: But the parts he remembers the most are the descriptions of earth through Smith’s eyes. Time to reread that sucker again.
  • It should be noted The Misfits were inspired by B-Movie legend Ed Wood’s 1959 classic Plan 9 From Outer Space. Or check out the Tim Burton’s 1994 biopic starring Johnny Depp as the titular Ed Wood.

[ Mitch ]

I was completely wrong. There is definitely a moon smash card. Not just asteroids and what have you but an actual moon. It’s one of Mars smaller moons though so that’s not so bad right? The card is called Deimos Down and it is one of the more “expensive” cards in the game costing 31 MegaCredits – it also raises the temperature 3 times, ups your steel production by 4 and kills off up to 8 plant resources from any player. It’s a real doozy of a card. Sorry I misspoke. 

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