The World Government has come to a consensus—the only way to continue humankind is to reach for the stars… or at least Mars.
If you like taking the existential threats of climate change, dwindling resources, and population increase and shoving them down into the back of your brain while you gather cubes and place hexagonal cardboard, Terraforming Mars is the game for you! It’s a really fun resource management game with a solid theme and some interesting commentary on corporations, capitalism, and environmentalism.
9yo: “I liked making the story of how Mars was terraformed.”
First and foremost, this is a long game. The box says you can play it in 90 to 120 minutes, but our first game took us three hours. Of course, we were learning, and we were playing it with an eleven-year-old and a nine-year-old when the game recommends players be 14+.
Thing is, both kids completely understood the game and the mechanics. They knew what they wanted to do on their turns, they could read all of the cards, and they could make plans and execute them. They just needed help with the fiddly cubes and the order of play! If you don’t mind supporting them through their turns, kids who like board games can easily grasp this before fourteen.
11yo: “Pretty long game. You have to be ready to play all day.”
The game feels the best when you encourage players to narrate their plays and celebrate each other’s wins. Because what’s cooler than placing a mangrove forest in a river on Mars? Probably crashing an asteroid into a mountain range. You can do both!
This game is fun and complex and clever. There’s a lot of exciting stuff going on, and we’ve just scratched the surface—there’s a ton of quality replayability in this box, and no pair of sessions will ever come out the same way.
So? Will you be the corporation that earns the best terraforming rating and saves humanity by turning Mars into a paradise? Or will you settle with being the best mining corporation or the best power generator? Terraforming Mars will answer that for you.
- If you’re apprehensive about learning the game, make sure to use the beginner corporations to streamline your first play.
- Expect to play your first game to learn and then play several sessions to master.
- The points scoring is pretty opaque, so it’s not always clear what the best choice is on each turn—that can be frustrating.
- There’s an optional rule for a drafting mechanic that Meric is very interested in trying out.
- Plan turns in advance, but make the plays fun for the other players too!