Prelude to Corporate – The Full Experience of #TerraformingMars (@StrongholdGames / @FryxGames)

Terraforming Mars (designer Jacob Fryxelius at Fryx Games, publisher Stronghold Games, 2016) will likely become an “evergreen” game in the RockyMountainNavy collection. We love the theme and every game is new and interesting. This weekend was no exception.

My preorder for Terraforming Mars: Prelude arrived in the past few weeks and we decided to get this expansion to the table. At the same time, I realized we had not played the Corporate Era (extended game) version in the base set. More than a few of the comments in the BoardGameGeek Forums for Prelude mentioned that it shortens the game by “jumpstarting” the corporations. On balance it sounded like a good deal; shorter the extended Corporate Era game by using Prelude.

It worked. Really well. So well this will likely be our default game play mode from here on out.

Prelude jumpstarts your corporations by adding Prelude Cards and a new set-up step. Each player is dealt four Prelude Cards at the same time they are choosing corporations and project cards. After corporations are chosen and project cards paid for, each player plays two of their four Prelude Cards. According to the box back, each Prelude Card will either “jumpstart the terraforming process or boost your corporation engine.” This is a good counterbalance to the Corporate Era (extended game) which “focuses on economy and technology…projects that do not contribute directly to the terraforming, but make the corporations stronger, adding new strategic choices to the game.”

We didn’t take any photos but I remember the starting corporations. I took Inventrix, Middle RMN Boy was Interplanetary Cinematics, and Little RMN took Ecoline. From that point out the game developed in really unexpected ways.

Both RMN Boys ended up building fierce economic engines. By the end of game both had over 30 MCr income production. Interplanetary Cinematics also played several cards that reduced the cost of new projects, and Ecoline ended up going heavy into space (Jovian Tags) . For myself, Inventrix started out with many project cards but could not get a good income going meaning I was unable to purchase enough cards or play more valuable cards.

Seeing how we had not played Terraforming Mars in a while (since February…toooo loooong!) we were a bit slow. Even with the Prelude jumpstart our game lasted a bit over 2 hours. I don’t see this as a negative; without Prelude we could of gone at least 2 1/2 hours or more.

I don’t really have anything negative to say about Prelude except I wish that one major ruling had been explicitly stated in the rule book. It concerns the effect of Prelude Cards on the terraform rating (TR), specifically, an explicit ruling that a Prelude Card that adds an Ocean or affects Oxygen or Temperature moves the players TR. Fortunately, the question was quickly (son officially?) answered in the BGG forums. Everything else seems pretty straight-forward.

Indeed, the straight-forward nature of the two Terraforming Mars expansions I own, Terraforming Mars: Prelude and Terraforming Mars: Hellas & Elysium make incorporating these expansions into the base game quite simple. Both can be added to the game with very minimal rules explanation needed. The RMN Boys and myself don’t really feel the need to add Terraforming Mars: Venus Next and are concerned about added playtime. A two-hour Terraforming Mars game is about perfect for us.

Featured image courtesy Stronghold Games.

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