Terraforming Mars (Board Game)

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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 for getting victory points that are awarded not only for your contribution to the terraforming, but also for advancing human infrastructure throughout the solar system, and doing other commendable things.

The players acquire unique project cards (from over two hundred different ones) by buying them to their hand. The projects (cards) can represent anything from introducing plant life or animals, hurling asteroids at the surface, building cities, to mining the moons of Jupiter and establishing greenhouse gas industries to heat up the atmosphere. The cards can give you immediate bonuses, as well as increasing your production of different resources. Many cards also have requirements and they become playable when the temperature, oxygen, or ocean coverage increases enough. Buying cards is costly, so there is a balance between buying cards (3 megacredits per card) and actually playing them (which can cost anything between 0 to 41 megacredits, depending on the project). Standard Projects are always available to complement your cards.

Your basic income, as well as your basic score, is based on your Terraform Rating (starting at 20), which increases every time you raise one of the three global parameters. However, your income is complemented with your production, and you also get VPs from many other sources.

Each player keeps track of their production and resources on their player boards, and the game uses six types of resources: MegaCredits, Steel, Titanium, Plants, Energy, and Heat. On the game board, you compete for the best places for your city tiles, ocean tiles, and greenery tiles. You also compete for different Milestones and Awards worth many VPs. Each round is called a generation (guess why) and consists of the following phases:

1) Player order shifts clockwise.
2) Research phase: All players buy cards from four privately drawn.
3) Action phase: Players take turns doing 1-2 actions from these options: Playing a card, claiming a Milestone, funding an Award, using a Standard project, converting plant into greenery tiles (and raising oxygen), converting heat into a temperature raise, and using the action of a card in play. The turn continues around the table (sometimes several laps) until all players have passed.
4) Production phase: Players get resources according to their terraform rating and production parameters.

When the three global parameters (temperature, oxygen, ocean) have all reached their goal, the terraforming is complete, and the game ends after that generation. Count your Terraform Rating and other VPs to determine the winning corporation!

Product Details

Boards & Dice
26 Jul 2017
Strategy Games
Game Mechanic
Year Published
# of Players
1 - 5
User Suggested # of Players
Best with 3 - 4 players, Recommended with 1 - 5 players
Suggested Ages
12 and up
Playing Time
90 - 120 minutes
Game Designer
Jacob Fryxelius
Game Artist
Isaac Fryxelius
Stronghold Games
User Suggested Ages
Language Dependence
Moderate in-game text - needs crib sheet or paste ups
  • 2016 Golden Geek Best Solo Board Game Nominee
  • 2016 Golden Geek Best Strategy Board Game Nominee
  • 2016 Golden Geek Board Game of the Year Nominee
  • 2016 Swiss Gamers Award Nominee
  • 2017 Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming Nominee
  • 2017 Jogo do Ano Nominee
Expansion Sets
  • Terraforming Mars: Hellas & Elysium
  • Terraforming Mars: Penguins Promo Card
  • Terraforming Mars: Self Replicating Robots Promo Card
  • Terraforming Mars: Small Asteroid Promo Card
  • Terraforming Mars: Snow Algae Promo Card
Supply Source
South Africa

Customer Reviews

When Mars come calling - You decide how to change it.

Reviewed by on

You are in a position of power, as the CEO of a corporation you are in charge of how YOU will colonize and terraform Mars.

I've not had many games that left me with the level of satisfaction at the end of the game as this one. When you look at a terraformed planet before you and your two opponents and see the oceans and forest spreading out. When you see the planet you helped to make.

This is definitely a medium-heavy weight game and not for the feint of heart. Turn by turn you are competing with either other players (corporations) or a deadline, to launch projects (cards), build up resources (electricity, money, plants, tools, etc), or claiming territories. All of this to drive up the three things we need to make Mars livable: Oxygen, Water and Heat. The game can end suddenly when all three are on their ideal target.

The goal of the game is to be the Corp with the highest score at the end of the game, this is achieved through improving the planet, completing certain projects or reaching milestones first.

Interaction between players (Corps) is limited, with the game being more supportive to wards the same goal then competitive.

Most of my games were 2 or 3 players, this is ideal to reduce the wait time between your action, more players tend to make the game too long.
Solo play is fun and challenging, with a tight deadline to terraform Mars within 14 turns.

Not the easiest game to master, but still a must have.
The expansions adds new flavor and challenges.

Making Mars Great Again!

Reviewed by on

It took me a long time to get on the TM bandwagon. While I don't think it will ever be my favorite game, I certainly understand why this one is rated so highly and loved by so many. This game looked complicated at first glance and the choices can be extremely difficult, however the actual game-play is smooth and elegant.The game can run quite long but that depends on the players. Analysis paralysis is a real problem with this game because the choices are so important, although not enough to stop me from wanting to play. It is without doubt an awesome design.

Fantastic Game!

Reviewed by on

So here's the thing... This game isn't for everyone: If you want action
If you want fast turns
If you want to build armies & attack someone else
If you want to play in under 2 hours
And if you don't want to think or calculate too much...
Then I would NOT recommend this game for you

However, if you don't mind any of the above then read further!
The game starts with you owning a corporation with some unique abilities that has to complete projects (cards that you pick up) in order to make mars liveable (modifying/terraforming it) by increasing oxygen, temperature levels and adding water sources (ocean tiles)

It is sooooo satisfying to see yourself start with nothing and each card you pick up can help your corporation gain more & more resources or modifications until you accomplish great feats like bringing down an icy meteor to create a crater filled with water!

The game itself is moderately complicated to learn.
I dropped new players in the deep end and just started playing with them without any tutorial.
It was wonderful to see the light of understanding suddenly switch on in their eyes after we were about 25% into the game and see the gears turning as they start planning (better than before) what to do with their cards...

One has to really plan ahead & think hard which cards to keep, which cards to play and in which order, when to play them and keep track of all your resources & how you're going to spend them
As you do actions that increase mars' viability, you will earn Terraforming points (which will count as money each turn & victory points at the end of the game) and other cards or groups of cards you own will provide victory points as well
Obviously s/he who has the most points wins the game

I also LOVE the simplistic resource system they have where you use copper, silver & gold cubes as money or any other resource e.g. steel/titanium (Copper = 1, silver = 5, gold = 10)

There are hundreds of cards that allow for a lot of replayability and there are expansions available to mix things up even more!

This game hasn't been on boardgamegeek's top 10 list for over a year or 2 for nothing!
It is GOOD!
This game is on my top 5 list & absolutely wonderful!
And one that I will come back to play again & again!

Solid, Simple Mechanics

Reviewed by on

The game has simple fundamentals and does not have a difficult learning curve.

The variability is brought in by the Project and Corporation cards. With specific awards or milestones that can be financed it allows for various strategies to be adopted and no single right way to do things.

Loving this game at the moment, would highly recommend!

Amazing game

Reviewed by on

This is a truly awesome game and one which is not majorly complicated. It's easy to learn but at the same time requires you to think for future turns. It's a strategy game based on buying cards called projects which allow your corporation (you) to gain different resources and money to gain VPs for end game.