Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition

My number 15 favorite game of all time is: Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition, which is the "card game version" of Terraforming Mars!

In this game players take the roles of corporations working together to tame the hostile environs of Mars. But, it's not cooperative. You are all working towards the same goal, but of course you want your corporation to be the most profitable.

In Ares Expedition, players have a personal player board to track things that they can contribute to the transformation of Mars into a habitable planet. You can contribute elements of heat to raise the temperature, plants to raise the oxygen, and well ... money, because more money helps everything. You manipulate the resources tracked on your player board by playing cards from your hand. All cards stay in front of you to provide ongoing benefits or just score you points, and all cards cost money to play.

In the center of the table is a shared board that represents the planet Mars itself. Here you spend your resource to actually raise the planet’s temperature, increase the oxygen, and create oceans. This part all feels very as players work together to terraform Mars. What the central board really is, is a progress tracker to trigger the end of the game. It all works really well.

Each turn players pick an action secretly and then reveal them. Then actions are completed in a specific order by both players at the same time. Simultaneous play means that while, Ares Expedition may be a “longish” game, there is very little down time, which is a great thing. Also, if you are a fan of direct player interaction, you won’t find any here. This may be a strike against the game for many, for us this is a huge plus. Finding combos is interesting, the deck contains over 200 cards, so there’s lots of variability and opportunity to explore different strategies.

Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition is a great engine building game! There’s even a two-player cooperative mode that we may try out at some point, but for now the competitive game is great. Oh, and Bernie (our cat) likes it too!

Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition is my number 15 favorite game of all time!

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1 comment:

  1. Well, if Bernie likes it I may have to give it a try. Does look interesting!