It seems like Mars can’t be made habitable, because we’re going to terraform Mars again, but this time with dice. Are you able to roll a Planet B together?
Background and goal
Everyone knows the engine builder with incoherent artwork where players collectively make Mars habitable by increasing oxygen levels, temperature and the amount of water. I am, of course, talking about Terraforming Mars. Several expansions have been released for this popular board game, and a few years ago the card game, Ares Expedition, was also released. After the card game, it’s also time for a game with dice. Enter Terraforming Mars… the Dice Game!
Now you may be expecting a roll and write with a Terraforming Mars setting, but that is not the case. There is plenty of rolling, but for a dice game, the dice don’t necessarily fly around your ears. Terraforming Mars the Dice Game, like Ares Expedition, is an adaptation of the typical elements of Terraforming Mars. Players contribute to the three different levels to make Mars habitable, and they get to play and build a whole bunch of unique cards to get an engine going. When two of the three goals are maximized, the final round of the game enters. The player with the most victory points wins.
Setup & gameplay
Place the game board on the table and lay out the various components and shuffle the various stacks of cards. Give each player two corporations. Players choose a corporation and this card determines this player’s starting resources. The dice are used as resources and means of payment to buy cards and perform actions. Each time players get a resource, they either get a random die to roll or a specific side of a die. In addition to the initial roll, dice can only be turned but not re-rolled.
During a turn, players can choose between a production turn or action turn. During a production turn, players can refresh the cards in their hand and start collecting and rolling dice based on their corporation and green cards so that they have new deployable resources.
During an action turn, players can perform different actions. First, they take a support action and then a main action. With a support action, they can get an extra resource or swap resources or get new cards. With main actions, players can use their resources to play/build cards or work on goals. In this way, players also earn victory points.
Players can also take an additional support action instead of a main action. When players play blue cards, they get new actions they can use. Red cards give them one-time bonuses, and green cards unlock new production opportunities.
The Dice Game conveys the feel of Terraforming Mars very well in a simpler and more manageable game concept than its bigger brother. The gameplay is more streamlined in terms of choices and consequences, but because of the dice, players have a lot less influence on the game play. The dice are the resources, and you need specific resources to perform certain actions. Players familiar with Terraforming Mars know that you can depend quite a bit on the cards you draw. There are ways to refresh your cards and influence the roll, which does allow you to mitigate luck. Players who are a little less fond of randomness should beware. For other players, this should not spoil the fun because Dice Game is a faster and simpler version of the game that many love so much.