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Author Topic: Terraforming Mars  (Read 1318 times)

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Kuildeous

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Terraforming Mars
« on: March 26, 2018, 11:58:48 am »
+1

Since I introduced my wife to Terraforming Mars, she's been obsessed with defeating me. We've played four 2-player games so far. She enjoys the game, but she gets frustrated that she hasn't been able to build as good of an engine as mine. Part of it is shuffle luck, which TM is notorious for, but I also have a little more experience than her and can pull off some dick moves (the latest dick move was taking 1 action per round to her 2 in the final round so that I know she can't take any more actions and then bump up my money production so I could win the Banker award that she funded).

But the sheer luck is starting to sour my opinion of the game. The discussion of interaction in the Dominion clone thread makes me think of TM because there isn't a whole lot you can do to slow down other people. Some cards are detrimental to others, but they are usually minor. I think that's probably for the best because if you have a huge attack, that sends the game down a different path that I might not find as enjoyable.

There are possible ways on the board to block some strategies. Like putting the ocean geyser (whatever it's called) on an ocean tile adjacent to the capital so its owner can't benefit from that. Or placing an artificial lake next to someone's city. But those are still hugely based on the luck of the draw. I pointed out that one reason for my victory in one game was because her corporation benefited from claiming hexes with steel and titanium, so I claimed many of those spaces first to deny her access to them.

I wonder if there are ways to level the playing field without imposing an actual handicap. I suppose I could take the beginner corporation while she gains the benefit of an advanced corporation, but the beginner corp has the benefit of essentially starting with 72 credits, which is not shabby. It just would mean I don't start off with a focus, which could also be an advantage (I played a game where I started with 20 steel and didn't draw any buildings until the third turn).

I feel like the game may go better with more than 2 players. Cards like ants and predators can only really target one other person in a 2-player game. At least if there are multiple targets, then you can beat on the leader for a bit. We just haven't had anybody around to fill in another seat at the table.
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Watno

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2018, 12:17:33 pm »
+1

This game is really hyped and I absolutely don't get it.
I don't think the game is horrible, but I feel like I could play RFTG for a similar feel and get 5 games played i the same amount of time, each with about the same amount of relevant decisions as the single Terraforming Mars game.
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pacovf

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2018, 12:36:48 pm »
+1

The main draw of the game is the theme, which is really strong. The terraforming ratings (O2, water, temperature) are also a cool way to balance cards because of the interaction with other players.

It definitely has problems, luck of the draw being the big one (especially some corporations), though that one is mitigated by using the draft variant and having more players. I think it works better with more than two players, though the attack cards can make it feel *very* unfair then if you get picked on early (you snowball *hard* in TF), IMHO the game would be better without them. I also wish the board was a bit more important, aside from snatching good city spots from other players.
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DG

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2018, 01:14:53 pm »
+2

For that size of game there is too much luck. I think the straight options are better than people think they are, and it's certainly a mistake to buy marginal cards (the "big engine") that actually provide no value, but you can still get hosed by bad cards draws (full of marginal cards). The map is more relevant than it first appears and gives a significant vp shift even though it does nothing for the big engine. It's probably a better 3 or 4 player game than 2 player game.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2018, 01:17:40 pm by DG »
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Kuildeous

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2018, 01:15:22 pm »
+1

This game is really hyped and I absolutely don't get it.
I don't think the game is horrible, but I feel like I could play RFTG for a similar feel and get 5 games played i the same amount of time, each with about the same amount of relevant decisions as the single Terraforming Mars game.

Apparently I like the game more than you do, but I cannot disagree with your assessment one bit. The luck factor is quite huge in this game. I don't think it's as bad as RFTG because each card in TM (aside from those limited to early game) can do you some good. There's not as much synergy bonus as with RFTG (*cough* military strategy). At least that's my impression of it. But that luck factor is undeniably there. 

Like pacovf said, the theme is great. I absolutely love seeing certain cards working when Mars is still frigid/oxygen-poor/arid and then seeing the cards that require warmth/oxygen/moisture to work. And maybe that makes TM a better experience than a game.

I think I may implement the drafting variant. It makes hanging onto the cards more difficult, and there is some interaction. For example, if I'm built in the NW quadrant of the planet, I sure as hell don't want to give away the card that causes a volcanic eruption there. Note to future self: Don't build in the NW quadrant. My wife doesn't like it when I introduce new variants; she wanted to continue playing with beginner corporations even though the rulebook strongly suggests you go advanced after your first game. But drafting does two things: a) lets you mess with the other players' hands and b) gives you an idea of what cards may be out there. Granted, if you're playing 3+ players, you'll have no idea who took what.

I do like TM, but I am grateful for not buying it.
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Kuildeous

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2018, 01:18:20 pm »
0

For that size of game there is too much luck. I think the straight options are better than people think they are

I may be daft today. What do you mean by straight options?
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Holunder9

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2018, 03:16:22 pm »
0

I am probably in the minority here but Terraforming Mars is in my opinion far less random than other tableau-builders like Race for the Galaxy, especially if you play with 3+ and use drafting.
Dominion can also feel very random at first (and actually can be more random than TM: 5/2 can win you the game out of the opening in some Kingdoms) but the huge amount of cards you draw over a game mitigates draw luck. You draw of course far less cards in TM but there is a whole game beyond the mere card-drawing and tableau-building: the interactive spacial things on the map and above all the crucial decision every turn how much to "invest" into cards (which is, irrelevant trivia, mechanically basically the inverse of the cards-> money thingy from RftG which is a mechanism that has been done the first time by Friese in his game Landlord).
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Donald X.

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2018, 05:51:25 pm »
+5

I think what people like about the game is the joy of playing lots of different cards that do things. I don't think it's e.g. "you get a certain amount of titanium each turn." I was not feeling the incredible flavor myself.

From my one game my fixes were:
- Split the deck up into one deck for the first set of cards and one deck for after that. That way you don't find yourself immediately out of it as other players have early game cards and you don't.
- Get rid of the charge to keep a card; instead you keep everything but all cards cost that much more to play. The idea here is to not spend time on that decision. It's a long game and this part is not a highlight.
- Change the "pick who to hose" cards to "hose everyone else." Obv. if you're e.g. taking something, you don't gain the total, just the max.
- I wouldn't have end-game rewards for hoarding things you need to use to end the game. It came up in our game. I see how it's "here's a use for the thing you got too much of"; I still don't like it.
- Get rid of as many "hard rules" as possible - extra little rules you have to remember. The one I remember us not remembering was a limitation on placing greenery.
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Kirian

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2018, 07:41:28 pm »
0

TM is probably my favorite game at the moment.  There are several parts to this, not the least of which is being a huge fan of most of Kim Stanley Robinson's work.  Basically, if you haven't read his Mars series (Red Mars/Green Mars/Blue Mars), well (1) you should, but (2) you won't feel nearly as enamored of the theme.

There is some luck in the game, but I also believe it's mitigated by the draft.  I think the luck is much less than RFTG, but more than Dominion.  Nonetheless, like Dominion I see the same people winning multiple times even when they don't get the best draws, which suggests there's a significant amount of skill.

I have to agree with Donald on converting the paying twice to paying once, though you'd have to appropriately change the Planner milestone (presumably to cost $48 more).  I do think the endgame points for hoarding actually creates some interesting strategy, especially when playing as Helion, for instance, can get you the Thermalist award while still forcing the game to the end.
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scott_pilgrim

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2018, 08:26:27 pm »
+1

I've played Terraforming Mars twice and agree with Watno that both times I could not figure out what it is that people like about it. I don't think it's the worst game ever but I definitely don't plan on ever playing it a third time. There are a lot of things it does badly and/or has made me realize I don't like:

1. I don't like drawing cards from a deck (I also dislike RFTG for this reason, and reason #2 below). Dominion is somewhat of an exception, but I think it's a little different because you're the one setting up the deck you draw from. I don't automatically dislike games with cards in them - any kind of drafting or otherwise self-balancing mechanic makes cards fine - but there's something unsatisfying about just winding up with random cards in your hand that you had no control over. Arguably the drafting variant helps address this, but with such a small hand of cards you're drafting from it doesn't help that much (but it does slow the game down even more, exacerbating #3 below).

2. I don't like games with a million different cards that all do different things. This just makes it impossible to plan for things, learn the game, and internalize what you're trying to do, especially when those cards enter your hand at random. Dominion is fine because in any given game there are only 10 cards (except when that's not true but you know), but this is a problem I have with a lot of other deckbuilders.

3. The iconography on the cards is hard to understand. I won't say "the iconography is bad", because it's reasonably compact and I suspect that in theory, one could learn what all the different icons mean, and then know what every card does without ever reading their text; and that's what iconography should accomplish. But the cards do so many different things that there is no concise language of icons that can express all the different things clearly, so I always have to read the text on every card anyway, meaning the icons don't do all that much. (They do help a little, because after I've familiarized myself with a card the icons help remind me which card it is.)

In any game where I have to read text on cards, it adds a whole extra step to any process that involves my thinking about cards. In a game with very clear iconography the process goes something like "glance at every card to understand what it does", "think about every card and how they fit into my game", and then "make a decision about what card(s) I want"; whereas if I have to actually read the cards, I need to prepend a step "read every card and make sure I understand it". In a game (like Terraforming Mars) where you have to make decisions about cards all the time, adding that first (relatively long) step slows the game way down. I agree with Donald about the extra step of choosing which cards to keep and which to discard should not exist; the slowness of that is amplified by my having to read each card.

Again, Dominion is relatively fine here because you only have to read 10 cards in any given game.

4. There are a few cards that target a single other player, of your choice. Why would they do that? I think by definition Terraforming Mars cannot be considered a Euro specifically because of these cards.

5. I find the game impossible to internalize. This is a problem I have with a lot of heavier games, but Terraforming Mars is I think lighter than most games that I have trouble internalizing. I cannot listen to a full teach of the game and then have a sense of what I'm trying to do. And I suspect that this boils down to, you have no idea what you're doing until you've seen all the cards. This is largely because the function of the resources is determined mostly by cards. Also point salad automatically makes a game much harder to internalize (this is the big drawback of point salad to me), but there are plenty of other point salad games where I can listen to a full teach and then feel like I have at least some sense of what I'm doing. Someone can teach you the rules of Terraforming Mars and by the end of it it still feels completely abstract, and your moves in the early game are uninformed and probably unproductive because you can't predict how the cards you see later are going to affect things.


So I've come to the conclusion that the appeal of Terraforming Mars must be entirely thematic. In particular, it seems to me like the designer(s) didn't put much thought into making a mechanically interesting game. Instead, their goal in the design seems to have been to find mechanics that they could fit to the theme. This would explain the single-player targeting cards (you definitely wouldn't include those cards in an otherwise non-political game if you weren't thinking about theme). I get that there are people who care about theme more than I do, but for me a good theme doesn't make up for bad mechanics.
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Holunder9

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2018, 08:49:36 pm »
0

Get rid of the charge to keep a card; instead you keep everything but all cards cost that much more to play. The idea here is to not spend time on that decision. It's a long game and this part is not a highlight.
Actually investing into cards is one of the key strategic elements of the game and without it the game would lose most of its tension and appeal. It is kind of like playing RftG without having to discard cards for money, it would also lose all tension,

I think by definition Terraforming Mars cannot be considered a Euro specifically because of these cards.
I don't know where you get the idea from that a Euro should never ever have anti-kingmaking mechanisms or that such a thing is bad. In most games it is actually a good idea to have some way to target the leader.
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scott_pilgrim

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2018, 09:12:27 pm »
0

I think by definition Terraforming Mars cannot be considered a Euro specifically because of these cards.
I don't know where you get the idea from that a Euro should never ever have anti-kingmaking mechanisms or that such a thing is bad. In most games it is actually a good idea to have some way to target the leader.

I think the term "Euro" has become increasingly ambiguous over time and it's also possible that I just use it incorrectly. I think of the most defining characteristic of a Euro as being that it does not feature direct conflict. Regardless, I consider direct conflict to be bad design. Negative feedback (if necessary, which it usually is) should be built into the mechanics of the game, not left up to the players to implement. The only thing that feels worse than having to choose which player to screw over is being the player who gets chosen to be screwed over.

I am completely fine with (and strongly encourage) indirect conflict, which usually comes in the form of competition for some kind of limited resource (like actions in a worker placement game, cards in a 7 Wonders-style drafting game, etc.). In a well-designed game, denial of things from other players should almost always be because you want that thing, not because you want someone else not to have it. I recognize that a lot of games which are clearly Euros (and many of which I still like) blur that line more than I would say is ideal. But having a mechanic that serves no purpose but to let you choose a player to hurt is very deliberately forcing direct conflict into a game, and direct conflict automatically makes the game significantly less fun to me.

I will admit that I am guilty of subconsciously defining a Euro to be "a game that I like". I sometimes like to jokingly say "that game's not a Euro because I don't like it".
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Holunder9

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2018, 10:03:16 pm »
+1

I find it tricky to categorize deck- and tableau-building games, they often seem to occupy a nethersphere of neither Euro, wargame or Ameritrash.
TM is admittedly more Euro-ish than e.g. RftG due to the heavy economic and the spatial elements in the game. But then again you could claim that this is something which 18xx also features (train/economic games are probably also a game category of their own; I wouldn't even call something like Brass a Euro).

So I am not sure whether I would label games like Race, Terraforming Mars or Dominion Euros. Apart from that categoization issue I totally agree that "take that" can be off-putting and that subtle interaction is more elegant. But I also think it is fun to send an asteroid down on somebody who is about to convert his plants, especially if that player is in the lead (which is admittedly not always easy to tell). :P
As this is the main "take that" mechanism in the game (sure, there is also destruction of other resources / resource generation but plant desruction occurs most frequently) it is also something you can plan with (keep an eye on opponents Titanium as indication for when asteroids might come). Plants are powerful resources and you have to take into consideration that they can be destroyed by asteroids. You could have the nearly same game with asteroids not being "take that" but e.g. natural disasters triggered randomly by the game.
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DG

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2018, 10:46:09 pm »
+1

I don't know where you get the idea from that a Euro should never ever have anti-kingmaking mechanisms or that such a thing is bad. In most games it is actually a good idea to have some way to target the leader.

The problem with the 'target the leader' thing is that there's no point playing a tight effective economy that is well planned and well executed if someone just looks at your position and says "I'm going to play this card and take off your pieces instead of someone else's". The game politics take over and makes a lot of other things, things you are spending a lot of time doing, redundant.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2018, 10:50:55 pm by DG »
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pacovf

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2018, 10:49:28 pm »
+1

I like the game but still really dislike the "take that" cards. I particularly dislike how harsh some of them are, and the fact that sometimes there's only one realistic target, so it just feels random and unfair. For example, "steal one titanium production", your upside is too big to pass, so you will likely screw over whoever has titanium, even if they are last place, and they might have just paid quite a bit for that production. You can also get screwed over with plant production before you realize how many cards attack that and value it accordingly. Honestly I would just remove those cards from the game. Making them hose everyone would not solve the problem, since the narrow cards will still only affect one person.

As for the rest, I find that card drafting smoothes out most of the luck of the draw. The main skill is recognizing which cards are a good deal and which ones aren't, how long it will take before the requirements to a good card will be met, when to invest in money making cards and when to invest in points, etc. Making an engine is kinda difficult because there's a lot of variety in the cards, and you don't see that many if you don't build card draw.

I think paying for the cards you keep at the beginning of the turn is not an unnecessary mechanic (do you want to keep that sweet late game card that goes perfectly with your tableau? you have to pay 4$ right now), but I can see how it could turn people off because of the extra time, especially if you draft beforehand. Though just drawing the cards and paying extra 4$ on build time would change the balance quite a bit from what it's now.

The only complaint I have that nobody has mentioned already is that the corporations vary wildly in power, because some of them are always useful, and others rely on lucky draws to offer any kind of advantage.
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Watno

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2018, 12:01:14 pm »
0

I am probably in the minority here but Terraforming Mars is in my opinion far less random than other tableau-builders like Race for the Galaxy, especially if you play with 3+ and use drafting.
Dominion can also feel very random at first (and actually can be more random than TM: 5/2 can win you the game out of the opening in some Kingdoms) but the huge amount of cards you draw over a game mitigates draw luck. You draw of course far less cards in TM but there is a whole game beyond the mere card-drawing and tableau-building...
RFTG and Dominion take half an Hour, Terraforming Mars takes 3. Short games can get away with way more randomness than long ones, not only because you can play multiple times to have luck evening out, but also because you spent less time being screwed from being unlucky once (or multiple times in succession).
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Donald X.

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2018, 03:40:32 pm »
+2

Get rid of the charge to keep a card; instead you keep everything but all cards cost that much more to play. The idea here is to not spend time on that decision. It's a long game and this part is not a highlight.
Actually investing into cards is one of the key strategic elements of the game and without it the game would lose most of its tension and appeal. It is kind of like playing RftG without having to discard cards for money, it would also lose all tension,
Actually I'm right. Actually.

In San Juan / Race it's never "but I could also keep this for $3, is it worth it," it's "I only get to keep one card, will it be this or this." You are comparing cards rather than comparing $3 to a card.

It's not that there's no joy to the decision as to whether to pay $3 to keep a card or not. It's that it's a poor use of the players' time, way too slow for what you get out of it.

I don't know where you get the idea from that a Euro should never ever have anti-kingmaking mechanisms or that such a thing is bad. In most games it is actually a good idea to have some way to target the leader.
"Pick who to hose" sucks utterly. You get to play the game of voting on who wins instead of whatever other game. If it's only there mildly, then you are mildly playing the game of voting on who wins.

There are people who like the game of voting on who wins; I don't mind them having fun playing that game. I hate it.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 03:44:38 pm by Donald X. »
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Holunder9

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2018, 04:33:37 pm »
0

Investing into cards is indeed more elaborate and time consuming than discarding cards for money but both are always painful decisions that give you the feeling that whatever you are doing is wrong. I cannot imagine RftG or TM without these excruciating decisions. The games of TM I played took around 2h and I wouldn't want them to take 1:40 at the cost of eliminating one of its main mechanisms. It is kind of like saying that setting up Dominion takes too long so you always use the same Kingdom. You can of course do that but it takes a lot out of the game.

I play 3P A Game of Thrones LCG and the game feeling is more about keeping a balance of power than about voting. I agree that there can arise situations in which you choose who will win and that such a game result is not very satisfying.
The other disadvantage is that it can feel too destructive, which is why it is a dubious mechanism for building games (you get joy from building your deck/tableau and then somebody destroys it). So indeed perhaps not the best choice for TM.
The advantage is that such games are highly interactive, you have to constantly try to evaluate correctly who is leading instead of just glancing at what the other players are doing while mainly focusing on your play.
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Donald X.

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2018, 11:40:53 pm »
0

It is kind of like saying that setting up Dominion takes too long so you always use the same Kingdom.
I disagree completely.
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Twistedarcher

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2018, 12:24:24 pm »
+1

The advantage is that such games are highly interactive, you have to constantly try to evaluate correctly who is leading instead of just glancing at what the other players are doing while mainly focusing on your play.

This hasn't been my experience with TM at all. I played a four player game where the player on the other corner was far enough away that I couldn't really see the cards he was playing unless I asked. Rather than being engaged and trying to keep up with what he was doing as it would impact my gameplay, I shrugged and moved on without really knowing what he was doing for the most part -- the gameplay advantages simply weren't worth the effort of looking at what he was doing. This was in a drafting game, as well. I knew what tags the other player was going for, and that's about it.

When I played a take that card, I'd look up, see everyone's board state, pick a player who'd be impacted the most / who I thought was winning at that moment, and went back to my board. It was simply a moment of taking stock of the game state, rather than constantly evaluating the game state every turn. Definitely not a highly interactive experience in my eyes. It may be similar to Dominion, in that Dominion seems uninteractive until you get to higher levels of play, but the initial impression is definitely multiplayer solitaire.

That said, I do enjoy TM. It lets you do cool things and build an engine, which I really enjoy. I think it has plenty of warts, but ultimately is still a very fun game.
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Holunder9

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #20 on: March 28, 2018, 01:59:42 pm »
0

The advantage is that such games are highly interactive, you have to constantly try to evaluate correctly who is leading instead of just glancing at what the other players are doing while mainly focusing on your play.

This hasn't been my experience with TM at all.
It has not been mine either. Just because it has a few 'take that' cards doesn't make it a particularly political game.

Quote
Definitely not a highly interactive experience in my eyes. It may be similar to Dominion, in that Dominion seems uninteractive until you get to higher levels of play, but the initial impression is definitely multiplayer solitaire.
There are 3 global parameters and there is a map with spillovers (greenery granting 1VP to adjacent cities) so even on a first play it is anything but multiplayer solitaire.
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GendoIkari

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #21 on: March 29, 2018, 10:06:34 am »
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I could start a new thread possibly... but how do Terraforming Mars fans (and non-fans) feel about Macao? I ask because Macao is the game I can think of that reminds me the most of Terraforming Mars. Primarily in that they're both generally about choosing from a huge number of unique cards to build of a tableau that gives you some sort of engine.

The competition for various spaces on the planets also correlates to the competition for certain city quarters in Macao, or also the race to ship various goods first. While Macao has an added layer of luck due to having dice rolls involved, it doesn't feel like it's a more luck-heavy game as a whole, I guess because the cards are chosen based on a turn order, and getting that turn order is an in-game action that you can choose to spend resources on.

Macao also has no directed attacks; though there is plenty of opportunity to screw only a specific player over by taking the city quarter they wanted, or delivering a good before they get a chance to.
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werothegreat

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #22 on: March 31, 2018, 01:20:24 am »
+1

I actually played this tonight.  It was okay.  I was thinking a lot of the things that Donald X said earlier - get rid of the charge on cards (there were a couple times where I did the math wrong for how many credits I'd need to spend in a turn because of having to separately add in the keeping cost), and make "attacks" less political.  Energy seems pretty damn useless - it was essentially another source of heat, delayed by a turn, and that's it.  It also really didn't feel like the player who played best won - our winner was the person who kept having to be reminded the whole game to add to production, not resource pool.

No but seriously lose the charge to keep cards.  It's just stupid.  Discard cards you don't need, but you already have to pay to play them anyway.  It just seems unnecessary.
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Holunder9

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #23 on: March 31, 2018, 02:34:14 am »
+1

No but seriously lose the charge to keep cards.  It's just stupid.  Discard cards you don't need, but you already have to pay to play them anyway.  It just seems unnecessary.
If you get rid of having to invest into cards you can just keep all cards and play those you want to. In the actual game you have to manage your money well because the cost is now upfront and having invested into a card that you will not play will hurt you.
In the game I played there was often a sharp contrast between players who invested into a lot of cards and got the respective payoffs in the later part of the game and players who did not invest a lot and mainly tried to get their economy going.
This is a strategic choice you would get rid off in the 'keep all cards' variant which is admittedly OK as quick or easy version of the game.
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pacovf

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Re: Terraforming Mars
« Reply #24 on: March 31, 2018, 06:36:24 pm »
+1

I guess if the paying-for-cards really, really bothers you, you could just houserule it that:

-you draw all the cards at the beginning of your turn for free
-you can sell patents (=discard cards) for 3$, instead of just 1$
-reduce the starting terraforming rating by 12$ (to compensate for the extra money per turn from not having to pay for cards)
-reduce the starting money of advanced corporation by 18$ (10 cards x3 = 30, minus the 12 from the decrease in terraforming rating)
-increase the card milestone by 3 cards, decrease the terraforming milestone by 12 points.

that way the balance doesn't get too screwed up (aside from the buff to card-draw, and making discarding cards to pass your turn easier) but you don't need to spend extra time at the beginning of the turn deciding which cards to keep.

I think that's the minimum number of extra changes you would have to do to allow for "free" card draw; just increasing the price of cards by 3$ messes up too much, IMHO.


Energy seems pretty damn useless - it was essentially another source of heat, delayed by a turn, and that's it.

You should think of energy as a "tag" you can always buy. The heat from unused energy is a consolation price. You should only ever buy energy if you have a card that requires energy.

Quote
It also really didn't feel like the player who played best won - our winner was the person who kept having to be reminded the whole game to add to production, not resource pool.

I assume all players were new? Playing draft, an experienced player should easily beat a newbie.
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