Terraforming Mars (board game)

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Terraforming Mars
Terraforming Mars board game box cover.jpg
Designer(s)Jacob Fryxelius
Illustrator(s)Isaac Fryxelius
Publisher(s)FryxGames (2016)
Playing time120 minutes
Random chanceModerate
Skill(s) requiredStrategy, tactics, logic

Terraforming Mars is a board game for 1 to 5 players designed by Jacob Fryxelius and published by FryxGames in 2016, and thereafter by 12 others, including Stronghold Games.

In Terraforming Mars players take the role of corporations working together to terraform the planet by raising the temperature and creating oxygen, water, and plant and animal life.[1] Players compete to earn the most victory points, which are measured by their contribution to terraforming, as well as building human infrastructure.

Players accomplish these goals by collecting income and resources which allow them to play different cards, which represent either buildings or events, which then increase their income or resources or directly contribute to terraforming the planet or building infrastructure.

The game has been well received by fans and critics, winning or being nominated for multiple awards and accolades.


Board and game pieces

Players represent competing companies remaking Mars, which is represented by an array of 61 contiguous hexes (with additional unconnected spaces for Phobos and Ganymede at 1 hex each) onto which can be placed oceans, greenery, cities, and other special features.[2] Players accomplish this by spending money and resources to buy cards representing various technologies or buildings used to terraform Mars.[3][2]

The game ends when three terraforming conditions have been met: the atmosphere's oxygen level has been raised to 14%, the temperature has risen to 8 degrees Celsius, and 9 ocean tiles have been placed.[4][5]


Popular Mechanics named Terraforming Mars as one of its 50 best games of the year.[6] Polygon named Terraforming Mars its runner up for best game of 2016 and best strategy game of 2016,[7] ars technica listed the game as one of its 20 best games of 2016,[8] and Vulture called it "the best high strategy game of 2016."[9]

The game was nominated for the 2017 Kennerspiel des Jahres award for best strategy game of the year.[10] As of 2019, Terraforming Mars is ranked 3rd among all board games on BoardGameGeek.[11]

Hellas and Elysium and Venus Next were the two runners-up for the Golden Geek award for the best expansion to a game in 2017.[12]


Four expansions have been released, Hellas and Elysium (2017), Venus Next (2017), Prelude (2018), and Colonies (2018).[13][14][15] A fifth expansion, Turmoil, is expected to be released in 2019.[16]

A legacy variant is being worked on and is expected to be released in 2020 or 2021.[17]

Video game adaptation[edit]

A video game adaptation of Terraforming Mars, developed by Asmodee Digital, was released in October 2018. Matt Thrower of Strategy Gamer considered the adaptation to have "too many rough edges to recommend".[18]. However, in a list of Best Board Games On PC[19] from the same site he later revised this opinion, saying "developer Asmodee Digital has stepped up the plate with a host of updates. And while the interface remains a bit obtuse, the game itself is shining as it should."


  1. ^ Nightingale, Melissa (February 10, 2018). "Adults claiming board games as more than a childhood hobby !". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Law, Keith (December 8, 2016). "Terraforming Mars is One of The Best Games of 2016". Paste Magazine. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  3. ^ Olson, Jeremy (May 24, 2017). "Game of the year 2017 nominees announced!". Albany Times-Union. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  4. ^ Anderson, Nate (October 1, 2016). "Terraforming Mars review: Turn the "Red Planet" green with this amazing board game". ars technica. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  5. ^ "5 Board Games David Gardner Would Put Under the Tree This Year". Motley Fool. December 19, 2016. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  6. ^ Hall, Charlie (March 9, 2017). "The Best Board Games of 2016". Polygon. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  7. ^ "Game on! The best board games of 2016". ars technica. December 27, 2016. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  8. ^ Law, Keith (December 21, 2016). "The Best Board Games for Every Holiday Situation". Vulture. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  9. ^ Anderson, Nate (May 22, 2017). "2017's "Board Game of the Year" shortlist is out—get playing!". ars technica. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  10. ^ "Browse Board Games | BoardGameGeek". boardgamegeek.com. Retrieved Aug 27, 2019.
  11. ^ Hall, Charlie (March 14, 2018). "The best board games of 2017, as chosen by the Board Game Geek community". Polygon. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  12. ^ Adams, Sabrina (August 19, 2017). "Locally printed board game "Terraforming Mars" returns to Gen Con with new expansion". WXIN. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  13. ^ McAleer, Jeff (December 19, 2017). "Ring in the New Year with 'Terraforming Mars: Venus Next'". The Gaming Gang. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  14. ^ "Terraforming Mars". BoardGameGeek. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  15. ^ "Merry Christmas". FryxGames. December 21, 2018. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  16. ^ Zoch, Patrick. "Terraforming Mars Legacy in the Works". Dice Tower News. Retrieved 2019-01-27.
  17. ^ Thrower, Matt (October 24, 2018). "Review: Terraforming Mars". Strategy Gamer. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  18. ^ Thrower, Matt (May 22, 2019). "The Best Board Games On PC 2019". Strategy Gamer. Retrieved May 23, 2019.

Further reading[edit]