The Terraforming Mars app has had an up and down history.
So much so that for a while, I wasn’t going to buy it (though I eventually succumbed).
And it has greatly improved over time, especially with the Prelude expansion.
However, one thing players have been clamouring for is the implementation of the two expansion maps for the game: Hellas & Elysium.
That day has finally arrived!
On Wednesday, May 10, Asmodee Digital released the digital version of those two maps and I, for one, am very thankful.
I was getting really bored with the basic (Tharsis) map.
How well do they play?
Let’s take a look.
My review of the base game app gave an overview of how to play, so I won’t get into that here.
Essentially, this is an expansion that adds two maps with new milestones and awards, so there is not a lot to it.
However, the differences in the maps are what make them cool.
First, Hellas has a space right at the South Pole (seen at the bottom of the picture above), when you place a tile there, you can pay 6 megacredits (MC) and place an ocean tile anywhere. That’s a free TR! (Ok, 6 MC TR, but still…)
Hellas also has a big ocean right in the middle, just to the right of center, which will be giving you a fair number of 2-MC opportunities when you are placing oceans. In fact, the two major oceans are clustered into two big areas, with only one other small ocean hex elsewhere on the board.
The other interesting part of the Hellas map is that there are places that give you actual heat, since you’re tapping a heat source underneath the planet.
Then of course there are the milestones and awards, which really make the new maps shine (really, Tharsis was getting so old).
There’s the Diversifier, which requires a player to have 8 different tags in play. Tactician works for the player who has played at least 5 cards with requirements (<=7% Oxygen, for example).
Polar Explorer is shown above, requiring you to have 3 tiles in the bottom two rows. Energizer requires 6 Energy production and Rim Settler needs 3 Jovian tags.
The awards are cool too.
Cultivator is whoever has the most greenery tiles. Magnate is the most green cards in play. Space Baron is the most space tags (events don’t count). Excentric is the most resources on cards. Contractor is most building tags (again, events don’t count).
This really breaks up the monotony of the base game.
Then there’s the Elysium map.
Elysium has huge oceans too, but these channel some of the players’ tiles into a thin strip.
There’s a huge ocean in the top right with a small one near it in the center. Then there are strips of land next to them.
The milestones and awards are even more interesting than Hellas.
The Generalist milestone requires that you’ve increased all six of your productions at least one step. Specialist requires one production of 10 or more. Ecologist requires 4 bio-tags (plants, microbes, animals).
Tycoon is 15 project cards (blue & green). Legend requires 5 played events.
For awards, you have Celebrity (most cards in play that cost 20 or more, not events). Industrialist is whoever has the most steel and energy resources (not production). Desert Settler is given to whoever has the most tiles in the bottom four rows (away from the huge ocean). Estate Dealer is for whoever has the most tiles adjacent to ocean tiles.
Finally, Benefactor is awarded to whoever has the highest Terraforming Rating. This one is done before anything else at the end of the game, of course.
Basically, the maps force you to change up your strategies, at least a little bit.
Sure, the game is still almost purely tactical, with players having to deal with the cards they are dealt.
But players have an idea of what they’re trying to find, and if they can get a lot of card draw, they can fish for the cards they need.
These maps were so much needed and they are a welcome addition to the app.
Sadly, the 1.4 build that came with the expansion introduced a bug in the base game where it’s now possible to play a tile on Noctis City (on the main Tharsis map) when it’s supposed to be reserved for only Noctis City.
Hopefully that bug will be fixed soon, but then again, who will be playing that map for the next couple of weeks anyway?
The other thing is that I doubt they fixed one of the main issues with asynchronous multiplayer: the ability for anybody but the player who took the last turn to see the results of an asynchronous game.
I wanted to get this review out in a timely manner, so didn’t have time for the 2+ weeks it would take to finish one.
If they have fixed that, I will gladly come back here and edit the post.
One thing they have fixed, and I’m not sure when they did it, was to have the final scores actually tell you which corporation was which colour.
I have score pictures from last October that showed “Green wins!” and you had no idea what corporation it was.
I still doubt that it will show the players on the score screen along with the corporations. However, if it turns out they do, I will come back and edit!
At least it’s not as hard to remember what corporation you were playing as it was to remember what colour you were.
All in all, there’s not a lot to say about these as it is just a couple of new maps with new awards/milestones.
The maps are great and I don’t know when (if ever) I will go back to Tharsis. It might be neat as a change once I have a few games under my belt.
If you’re enjoying the Terraforming Mars app (and God knows there are a bunch of you who aren’t), then this expansion is a must buy. It’s not quite as necessary as Prelude was.
But it’s pretty close.
This expansion (as well as the basic app, of course) is available on Steam, iOS and Android.
Have you bought these yet? What do you think of them?
Or are you still wondering why anybody would like this game or this app?
Let me know in the comments.