Terraforming Mars Strategy: The Ultimate Guide to Winning the Game
Since 2016, Terraforming Mars has entranced board game enthusiasts. With screen rights optioned and over 1.5 million games sold, this board game is here to stay. Learning to play this futuristic strategy game is fairly easy but learning to dominate is an entirely different matter. Transforming Mars into a habitable planet is no easy feat. Likewise, developing a solid Terraforming Mars strategy involves multiple layers of planning and approaches to dominate the game. Here are useful Terraforming Mars tips for both novices and experts to bring you closer to victory.
8 Terraforming Mars Tips to Crush Your Opponents
As a player, you are a corporation competing with other corporations to gain the most victory points during the generational terraforming process of Mars. Once all the global parameters for ocean, oxygen, and temperature are met, the game ends. Whether you love the board game or dice game version, incorporating the following tips into your Terraforming Mars strategy will help you win the game.
1. Never Undervalue Terraform Ratings
Terraforming is the simplest and most crucial source of points. Remember that there are only 43 points between oxygen, ocean, and temperature. Every TR point you earn takes away a potential point from your opponents. Moreover, prioritizing terraforming shortens the game.
An expert tip would be to terraform at the start of your turn. This provides income and earns points that will be denied to other players.
2. Earn Income Before Points
At the beginning of the game, your mission should be to build a solid economy and set up production. Rookie mistakes in the early game include:
- Building cities
- Large science systems
- Victory point engines
Avoid cards and actions that involve large requirements and high expenditures. Prioritize cards that increase your income of megacredits, steel, and titanium. Your starting cards should also focus on producing oxygen, power, or heat and ways to make energy production more efficient.
When picking cards, consider your corporation strengths and bank on cards that synergize with your corporation. This will reduce decision fatigue and help you build a better Terraforming Mars strategy. Aim to hold onto only four to six cards. Too many cards can cripple your early economy.
3. Bank on Actions that Give You Instant Benefits
The blue cards, or action cards, are super impactful. Before you play a blue card, ensure that you can pay for the action to reap the benefits as soon as possible. Try to build combinations around blue cards by settling activation costs or preloading your blue cards with megacredits.
Use blue cards for:
- Point production
- Resource conversion or production
- Oxygen increases
- Card drawing
- Passive bonuses
Note that during each turn, players can choose to do either one or two actions. There are advantages to each option:
- One action: You can glean more information before doing an action. This gives you the opportunity to obtain milestones, terraform rating (or TR) bonuses, and awards more easily if you are the only non-passed player.
- Two actions: You can move more quickly during each turn.
The difference between a beginner and an expert player is understanding when to use either one or two actions per turn.
4. Do Not Forget About Milestones
One of the Terraforming Mars tips that can be easily forgotten is this one. While milestones may not necessarily be early goals, they are definitely things that less advanced players might lose track of.
Once you have established your economy, rush for the milestones. Examine your cards to see which milestones are potentially available to you. Once you have a milestone, you earn VPs at a steep discount. Do not miss your chance to claim one before your opponents snatch it up.
5. Focus on the Forests
Forests offer important benefits and can even start to pay for themselves depending on their placement and certain bonuses.
- Two points per forest
- Income increase per forest
- Extra point earned if placed next to a friendly city
Note that the number of forests you can introduce is limited by the inherent need for cities to win the game. While you do not need to be aggressive in bringing in greenery, you will still need forests to win.
One caveat with forests is that greenery can potentially give your opponents points. The VP value of a city equals the number of greenery tiles it touches. Carefully examine your opponents' cities when deciding where to introduce greenery.
6. Understand Your Return on Investment
To maximize card opportunities and strengths, learn how to predict the patterns of project cards and the real ROI of your cards in terms of resources and income. Note the following card value assessments when developing your Terraforming Mars strategy:
- Least valuable: Cards with fixed VP points since they have decreasing ROI as the game progresses.
- Good value: Cards with global requirements but they have a narrow window of opportunity.
- Questionable value: Cards with native points since they come with rewards that depreciate later in the game.
Avoid maxing out your expenditure on your current turn and instead, shoot for an impactful next turn. Calculate your actual ROI over three to four turns to predict if you can hold out on a powerful action that has semi-distant requirements.
7. Utilize the Standard Projects
While standard projects can be more expensive than project cards, they are useful to enact throughout the game since they are readily available options.
If you have an empty hand, use the standard projects to get bonuses earlier in the game. Later in the game, use standard projects to build cities in hotspot areas.
8. Keep Tabs on Your Opponents
Keep track of your opponents' resources, income, and corporations. Do not focus only on your strategy, but try to form an idea of your opponents' goals. Understanding what they want can help you find ways to sabotage them. For example, if you notice that a player is focusing on plants, you can use a project that reduces plants to weaken their strategy.
The Terraforming Mars Strategy to Play Forever
One of the most important Terraforming Mars tips to follow is to ensure your cards are protected so that you can enjoy this game for many more generations. At Sleeve Kings, we have custom sleeves for this beloved board game. If you have expansions and would like to purchase additional sleeves, contact us today!