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.

No Turkeys on Mars – #TurkeyGameDay17

The RockyMountainNavy household is a bit busy this holiday with family visiting. Unfortunately, this means the last weekend Game Night was cancelled due to travel. However, this week (and especially thanksgiving Day) saw some games landing on the table. For some reason, the Red Planet Mars seemed to be our theme….

IMG_2055Thanksgiving Eve the RMNBoys and myself played a 3-player game of The Expanse Board Game. The game was slow with some analysis paralysis as the boys tried to get their heads wrapped around the game. The game ended a bit early when the sixth Scoring Card came out before the fourth or fifth had been played. At the end of the game I was a bit worried because Middle RMN Boy (on the Autism Spectrum) reacted a bit negatively to the ruthless play of his brother. I (belatedly) realized that The Expanse Board Game is a bit more on the “ruthless” side of gaming and not like other games we have played recently. The contrast was all-the-more apparent since the previous games Middle RMN Boy had played were the cooperative Ghostbusters: Protect the Barrier Game or the very family-friendly Ticket to Ride. To further exacerbate his loss, he had played the OPA which probably has the most “indirect” asymmetry of the three factions. Maybe I should have encouraged him to take the more militant MCR or the diplomatic UN. Thus, it was with some trepidation that I agreed to another play of The Expanse Board Game on Thanksgiving Day. Middle RMN insisted that he play the OPA again and I did not get in his way.

After the first game, we had talked about how the game encouraged being ruthless and how it was not his brother being mean, but the design of the game. I was hoping he understood. After the game it was very apparent that I had little to worry about for he was just as ruthless as his brother. In the end, Little RMN ran away with a victory but Middle RMN and myself were in a virtual tie. The boys both want to play again, and I too am more comfortable playing with them as Middle RMN Boy now seems to “understand” the game and not take it personally.

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Courtesy BGG

Thanksgiving Night ended with a full game of Terraforming Mars. Little RMN again proved to be ruthless and gave us no mercy with another runaway win. This was the second full-play of Terraforming Mars using the regular Corporations and the boys are exploring various strategies and getting better at playing Action Cards. As we were putting away the game, we looked at the Corporate Era cards. The rule book states that using the Corporate Era cards will result in an extended game; elsewhere I have read using these cards results in a more “confrontational” game. For that reason I was not planning on introducing these cards until after a few more plays. However, after The Expanse Board Game the RMN Boys are in a bit of a “confrontational” gaming mood and want to play the Corporate Era variant.

Although our Thanksgiving games ended well enough, it reminded me that playing with Autism Spectrum must always be in the back of my mind. When introducing a new game, I need to ensure that the tone of the game is presented up front to avoid negative emotions. I am happy to do this because – at the end of the day – I get to game with two of my greatest gaming partners.

(Featured image courtesy stellasplace1.com)