• Terraforming Mars (2016)

    From Arelor@VERT/PALANT to All on Sunday, January 30, 2022 17:45:57
    Hello, boardgamers! Today I am gonna tell you about Terraforming Mars, a game in which players act as the CEOs of massive corporations which have been tasked by the Earth's Government with making Mars suitable for human occupation.

    The background behind the game follows: in the not-so-distant future, Bill Gates won and established a New Word Order-style single government for Earth. Then he decided Earth was not enough and that he wanted to reign on Mars too. Therefore, he started syphoning the resources and money of common people in order to pay corporations for Terraforming Mars so he could rule over it too.*

    Thus, the objective of each of the player's corporations is to become the most influential and powerful organization on Mars by the time the Terraforming is complete. In practical terms, this means that the player who has the most points by the time the game ends is the winner.

    There are three parameters which meassure the level of life-friendlyness of Mars, and each time a corporation improves one, it gets Terraforming Points, which is a cute way of saying they get more handouts from Bill Gates (or, rather, the slaves who pay taxes to Bill Gates). These parameters are Oxygen, Temperature and Oceans (refering to the percentage of the planet covered by liquid water). The game ends when the three parameters reach their target objectives.

    Terraforming Mars is an Engine Builder game mixed with a bit of Deck Building. Each generation, corporations gain resources according to what they can produce (money, steel, titanium, energy...). Then they are issued 4 project cards, which are engineering projects which can be used for either improving the corporation's economy or rising a Terraforming parameter. There are tough decisions to be made, because resources at the begining of the game are very, very scarce and often there are not enough to purchase or play all the interesting cards. Then, there is the fact that each project costs aditional money to actually put in play.

    As with most Eurogames, Terraforming Mars feels a bit like a multiplayer-solitaire at times, but not that much. Sometimes it appears that the game is all about raking up points faster than everybody else, but the author cared to include some conflict. For example, there are Milestone bonifications for the first player to make certain accomplishments, so the first player to create three Greenery territories gets a bonus, as does the first player who creates three urban centers, and so on.

    There is also a kind of "betting" system, in which a player can fund a certain award. For example, the player with the best mining may fund the Miner Award. What this means is that the player pays a big chunk of Bill Gate's subject's money, and in the end of the game, the player with more Steel and Titanium gets extra points. This creates a potential point of conflict because it is very possible for the player who funded the award to be surpased by some other player.

    Terraforming Mars is all about making the most of the meager resources the game wants to give you. Sometimes this feels like the game is a gypsy shell-game artist trying his best to screw you. Sometimes you'll get a corporation which just sucks to play (since every corporation has different abilities, and not all of them are equally useful in different circumpstances). Sometimes you'll get a project card for an electrolysis factory which can create a massive ammount of oxygen (and points) but which you can't power with the lonely power plant you have alone. Meanwhile, your opponent may get a powerful combination of cards at the right moment (such as a card that increases your steel production and a card that allows you to sell steel for obscene ammounts of Mega Bill Gates Dollar) and steamroll you.

    It is very unlikely that you will be killed off by the game outright, and there is always something you can do with your resources, but oh boy, sometimes it is so unfair.

    Terraforming Mars biggest fault is, in my opinion, the fact it lacks rubberbanding. There are some project cards that allow players to take or destroy resources from other players, so in theory a group of losing players could try to slow down a player who is winning. However, my experience is that these cards are rare and players usually try to improve their own standing rather than screw other corporations. What this means is that a corporation which has a good start will leave the others back in the dust, since the advantages add in a nearly exponential manner: the better you build your economy, the more resources you have to improve your economy and rack up even more points in subsequent turns.

    The game has a central board which represents the surface of the planet, and there is a bit of an area control element for the game. Placing vegetation on the planet increases the level of oxygen, and placing cities near vegetation also provides points. Some locations provide resources for building something on them, such as metals or extra project cards.

    Another interesting aspect and source of tough decisions is that many projects cannot be played unless certain conditions are met. For example, you cannot have cattle farms unless there is a minimum of oxygen, you cannot play certain plant projects unless the temperature is right, and so on. The end result is that you may run into very good cards early in the game, and be faced with a dilemma: it is wise to buy a great card now which you won't be able to play for a very long time?

    In conclusion, Terraforming Mars may not be the best game ever, but it is quite fine and worth trying out.

    * The background is a loose, liberal interpretation of what the manual says. Which is to say, the manual does not mention Bill Gates. But everybody knows it is Bill Gate's head, from a formaldehyde capsule, calling the shots in Earth's Government.


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  • From poindexter FORTRAN@VERT/REALITY to Arelor on Monday, January 31, 2022 06:28:00
    Arelor wrote to All <=-

    Hello, boardgamers! Today I am gonna tell you about Terraforming Mars,
    a game in which players act as the CEOs of massive corporations which
    have been tasked by the Earth's Government with making Mars suitable
    for human occupation.

    On a different, related note, check out Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars book trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars) if you want a vision of transnational corporations colonizing Mars.

    Transnational = what happens when corporations become so big they can buy entire countries?


    ... Where is the edge?
    --- MultiMail/DOS v0.52
    Synchronet .: realitycheckbbs.org :: scientia potentia est :.
  • From Arelor@VERT/PALANT to poindexter FORTRAN on Monday, January 31, 2022 16:17:26
    Re: Re: Terraforming Mars (2016)
    By: poindexter FORTRAN to Arelor on Mon Jan 31 2022 06:28 am

    Arelor wrote to All <=-

    Hello, boardgamers! Today I am gonna tell you about Terraforming Mars, a game in which players act as the CEOs of massive corporations which have been tasked by the Earth's Government with making Mars suitable for human occupation.

    On a different, related note, check out Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars book trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars) if you want a vision of transnational corporations colonizing Mars.

    Transnational = what happens when corporations become so big they can buy entire countries?


    ... Where is the edge?

    Thanks for the tip.

    I knew of the existente of the books, but somehow they had failed to grab my attention.

    --
    gopher://gopher.richardfalken.com/1/richardfalken

    ---
    Synchronet Palantir BBS * palantirbbs.ddns.net * Pensacola, FL
  • From Vk3jed@VERT/FREEWAY to poindexter FORTRAN on Wednesday, February 02, 2022 16:56:00
    On 01-31-22 06:28, poindexter FORTRAN wrote to Arelor <=-

    On a different, related note, check out Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars
    book trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars) if you want a vision of transnational corporations colonizing Mars.

    Excellent reading. I've got all 3 books, and they were hard to put down. :)


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