Preview: Terraforming Mars (Steam)

Asmodee Digital are bringing the 2016 board game Terraforming Mars to Steam. We got to play a very early alpha build of the game and this is what we found out. For those who don’t know, Terraforming Mars is a board game that took the world by storm back in 2016. Created by. Terraforming Mars has two game types which boil down to a difficulty setting. You would work against/with other players to colonize and terraform Mars. I say work with and against as really points are earned and winners and losers are announced but sometimes a sneaky partnership can benefit everyone.

Gameplay involves spending credits on playing cards and scoring points, Placing tokens on the board and making Mars habitable by creating water, Making the air beneath able and sorting out the temperature. As the game continues you can fund awards for bonus points and so much more. With such a deep game we do wonder if it can be transferred to the digital realm and still keep its charm.

First off as it is an early alpha the only mode we had access to was a simple vs AI mode and could choose normal rules or the corporate era rules. Main difference here is the corporate era is the harder version of the game where you select a corporation to control who have their own attributes and starting credits etc, Regular gives you a beginner corporation that has you starting with loads of credits and being able to bank all offered cards at the start of the game for free. So with my theory of it being like a difficulty, Regular is normal/easy and corporate is hard.


So anyway let’s get to the actual game, shall we? First off you can play the whole game with just the mouse, You can zoom in and out of the board and spin it around a bit. Cards are big and have the excellent art on show. The UI is clear and has handy pop-ups to tell you what they are and that. Yes, the screen looks a bit busy but it is so faithful to the physical game layout that its natural they keep the same layout.

You have a clear move counter, Player names show how many actions you have, Turn order and who’s go it is. You have to click cards to get to the description which is a bit annoying as its a thing you will constantly do until you know cards inside out. The game will not let you play cards unless you meet the criteria so any cheaters out there are out of luck.

Animations of the cards being played, The river and city tokens all look really cool. I have played the game recently so I am somewhat knowledgeable of the rules If this was my first time I really would struggle. Remember its alpha so I expect this to change but it currently has no tutorial help at all. I had a few crashes and especially on my first game with it being an hour into the game, My system of mining was beginning to flourish and my score was rising, Lost it all no save nothing. Later games improved but it did crash again.

So how is the game? Well, it is a really good version of the game that keeps the atmosphere, The fun and the true spirit of the board game. When it has everything it will serve as an excellent game to teach people how to play meaning they can then get the board game and bring in more players. Current players will love how true to the source it is and allow you to get games going quickly but also play with friends all over the world again opening up the game even more.

I loved what I played of it and further cemented my belief the board game is one of the best board games created. Yes, it had a few issues but its alpha and I have full trust in Asmodee that they will put everything in the game needs and I cannot wait to play the full game!

Jim Smale

Gaming since the Atari 2600, I enjoy the weirdness in games counting Densha De Go and RC De Go as my favourite titles of all time. I prefer gaming of old where buying games from a shop was a thing, Being social in person was a thing. Join me as I attempt to adapt to this new digital age!

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