One of the strange things about the board game industry is that every successful title, no matter how simple, eventually gets a card or dice-based variant. These versions are rarely as good as the games they are based on and Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition is no exception. By reducing the scope of its mechanics, it loses the depth and nuance that defined the original.
Reviews, articles and guides about Terraforming Mars, the science fiction game by Jacob Fryxelius.
Last week I played the most gruelling match of Terraforming Mars I’ve ever had. It took seven hours, used thousands of cards and had a massive board that covered the whole table. It was the GIGA variant, a fan-made expansion combining a deluge of unofficial content. This is the kind of experience made for fanatics like myself. How did it go?
Not all cards in Terraforming Mars are good. While most are welcome in the right circumstances, the opportunity to play some of them is too small. Be it out of inefficiency, poor design or lack of synergies there are at least six cards I’ll avoid in all but the extreme minority of games.
Not all good cards seem great at first. Some projects in Terraforming Mars are stronger than we give them credit for. Hidden synergies, potential discounts or simply being better in practise than in theory can turn a card into a hidden gem, waiting to be exploited.
Evaluating cards and knowing when to play them is the most important skill in Terraforming Mars. Depending on the situation, some cards get better and worse and it’s our job to decide by how much. In this article, I’ll cover six cards that are often thought to be better than they actually are and why they are not as impressive as they seem at first glance.