Boardgaming in 2017!


Well, that’s that. I have zero desire to ever play Terraforming Mars unless it’s with the drafting mode. Since it’s a game about tuning an economic engine, you need drafting to a) set up synergies, and b) deprive the other guys of the cards they might need. Without drafting, it relies too much on the luck of the draw. There’s too much potential built-in frustration.

Have you played with drafting yet, @Sharpe?



Yes, I prefer drafting, if all the players at the table are experienced with the game. Otherwise it’s like 20 minutes of analysis paralysis every draft.

I do have one comment/tip though: don’t disregard the normal actions. Even when the cards are not drawing your way, you can still pursue your goals via the regular actions. Be aware of what you can affect with regular actions when the cards bite you (energy, temperature, oceans, forests, cities) and be aware of the areas you will need to get cards for, or work around (plant production, steel and titanium production).

For example if your only path to win is by pumping up plant production, you are over-reliant on cards. If on the other hand you can win by laying down oceans, well even if the cards dump on you, you can still buy oceans.

On that note, never ignore Megacredit income. Some of the other types of resources seem sexier (plants, energy) or seem to provide more bang for buck (steel, titanium) but all those resources are narrowly targeted. The good old megacredit is your flexible friend.

Basically a mix of flexible engine building and focused engine building should allow you to get some synergies and survive bad card draws.

On the other hand, if your draws suck rocks and your opponents are drawing nothing but net, well then you’re screwed.


Speaking of Terraforming Mars I played it today with a sub-group of our local meetup, the “Eurogamers: Hardcore” folks. (And yes, they are hardcore - I taught TM to 3 new players and managed to win but 2nd place was a tie one freaking point behind me and the guy in 4th place was 5 back of that, AND everyone scored over 100, which is crazy for new dudes.)

It was a mutually beneficially exchange. After I taught TM, they taught Feast for Odin and Holy Crap, that’s some heavy stuff. I loved it and did surprisingly well for a first timer (I came in second at 110 points, to a leader at 120) but woah, my brain felt squozen afterwards. I do get why people were making a fuss about it, it’s a damn interesting worker placement game, although I suspect the Tetris element may cause some folks to hate it.


Yeah, the drafting mechanic definitely adds playing time and complexity, but I feel Terraforming Mars is a bit pointless without it. In fact, I think it does it a disservice. With players for whom the drafting is too complex, I’d rather get something else to the table.

I use the standard projects as a template for teaching the mechanics. It’s all there except for temperature.

That’s where the standard projects also come into play. You teach that you can terraform Mars entirely using standard projects. First introduce the board, then the resource model, and finally fold in the special projects.

Have you had much luck focusing offboard for points? One of the guys tried it tonight and got thoroughly trounced.

Also, I think you mentioned upthread that I might find the theming a bit dry. On the contrary! I think the game does a fantastic job expressing life, space, water, corporate Earth concerns, scientific research, etc. It’s a really nice alternative to the usual castle building or railroads or whatever.



Question about Terraforming Mars: Does this drafting mode work in solo mode, too?


So i picked this up from Miniature Market yesterday, and I tried one quick solo game last night, using the suggestions in the manual for a first game. I played the lightning spirit and lost control of the blight situation pretty quickly. I’m really looking forward to digging more into the game but a question on solo play, do you play with just one spirit/one land tile or do you play with say 2 or 3 spirits and manage multiple hands?


No, drafting requires that there are multiple players. It’s drafting like a Magic the Gathering draft: each player gets a stack of cards, chooses one, then passes to the left or right and repeats the process. It’s a way for multiple players to look at more cards and select from them.


On second thought, I had an idea how to do a draft-equivalent in the solo Terraforming Mars game.

The normal draft to start would be each players gets a stack of 10 cards, picks one, passes, and then picks another card from the stack of 9 cards that is passed to them, and so on. Then on each turn, this process is repeated but with stacks of 4 cards rather than 10. Out of the cards drafted, each player then chooses any number to keep, paying 3 megacredits for each card kept.

In solo mode, you could simply start the game by dealing 10 piles of cards in descending size from 10 cards to 1 and then selecting one card from each pile. On each turn you deal 4 piles (4-3-2-1) and select one card from each pile. Although the random distribution won’t exactly match the player selected distribution of a draft, it’s pretty close b/c not all players will be drafting the same cards.

I’ll give that a try next time I try TM solo.



So I gave my home-brewed drafting variant of Terraforming Mars solo play a try and it emphasized how much drafting can add to a player’s options. I had much greater card choice and a lot more options how to proceed. It does make the solo mode easier.

Going forward, I am going to try to play more with drafting as the increased card selection strategy is quite strong.


The one time I tried it as the Jovians I failed miserably, I did not draw enough Jovian cards. One of the players tried a space/titanium strategy yesterday and it also foundered midgame due to not drawing the needed cards. Basically, an offboard strategy is very dependent on card draw.

However, now that I’ve refreshed myself on how much drafting adds to the game I believe that an offboard strategy could work, in a game with drafting, if no other player is competing for offboard cards.


This seems much different from a multiplayer draft. In your version, a player will see 55 cards and always choose the best one. In multiplayer draft, a player will see far fewer and will eventually revisit a deck to pick a card that was initially passed over. For example, in a four player draft each player only sees 34 cards. Fewer players would mean even fewer cards seen. The flip side is that players also have some idea of their future choices.

To simulate this, you could make (for example) decks with 10, 9, 8, and 7 cards. Choose one from each deck, then randomly discard three cards face down from each deck after choosing. For your fifth card, go back to the first deck (which will have six cards left) to repeat the process.


Magnet, for the initial 10 card draft I think you are right, and I also think going with 4 piles (which is roughly similar to a 4-player draft) is probably reasonable. For the subsequent 4 card drafts each turn, a simple 4-3-2-1 will work fine.

Basically, in magnet’s version, the solo player has exactly the same number of cards to select from as in a 4 player draft, with the only difference being random discards instead of player selection of the 12 cards between the first and second rounds.

I might try that version as the 55 card version I started with was a bit too OP.


I don’t own Terraforming Mars, but I’ve played it a bunch. I don’t think you’re supposed to draft the initial 10-card draw, are you? Only the 4-card draws on subsequent turns.

[edit] Yeah, according to the rulebook ( you don’t draft the initial draw. You can do it however you like, though, I suppose.


It is a variant, but it is not officially endorsed by the designer. In fact, he thinks it is a bad idea.


The interplay among the different gods is a fundamental aspect of the gameplay. If you’re playing solitaire with one god, you’re missing out on that. I play with two gods or none at all! :)



Ok good to know. I’ve played 2 games with the Lightning one and one with the Stone. Next game I’ll take them both. Also I think I’m ready to start with a blight card, is that the next step up in difficulty?


Yeah, go for it. I don’t find they increase difficulty too much, just a small bump.


Yeah, the next steps to playing the non-baby game are a blight card and an adversary. They both throw a substantial wrench in the works.

In fact, without an adversary, the invader cards in stage 2 are kind of screwy. The four terrain cards are supposed to trigger an adversary-specific effect, which corresponds to the coastal terrain card that puts down extra explorers. Without an adversary, the coastal terrain card stands out as more difficult than the other stage 2 cards.



Yeah I did notice that, those coastal cards could ruin things quick. I was wondering what that little fort symbol on the cards was. I’m actually really impressed with the amount of content in this game. Beyond the different spirits there’s those adversary cards plus the different scenarios, without actually seeing any of them in action yet seems like they would change up the play dramatically.