Session Report is a monthly series that explores the intersection of narrative and broader themes of game design by focusing on a specific tabletop game each month. This month’s game is:
Terraforming Mars by Jacob Fryxelius
The New World
It’s historically spurious and probably a conflation of many half-understood lessons, cartoons, and TV commercials, but the version of the First Thanksgiving story I remember being taught in school goes something like this: The pilgrims in New England were doing a shitty job of adjusting to the climate of the New World. Nothing they planted was growing; the first winter was harsher than expected; the prognosis was dim. The indigenous peoples, seeing the Europeans’ plight, shared their secrets and their seeds, helping the colonists plant local maize and squash. When the next harvest saved the pilgrims from an early demise, they all celebrated with a communal feast.
It’s that first part of the story, with European settlers dying left and right from starvation and exposure, that’s always been crucial to my understanding of the holiday. Even though it’s a feast—sometimes with a literal cornucopia—that famine is never far from my mind. Which, of course, is the entire point of a harvest feast, regardless of its historical context, but this was my first introduction to the idea that the land could actually, actively kill you. When, years later, I learned the meaning of the words “Terra Incognita,” this was the first image that came to mind: a frozen hellscape littered with emaciated, frostbitten, Puritan corpses. It’s why I’ve always avoided the East Coast.
There isn’t really any Terra Incognita left on the Earth’s surface, but speaking of frozen hellscapes, Elon Musk wants to begin the colonization of Mars by 2022, and NASA wants people there by 2033. It’s the New World all over again, literally this time. The next goalpost for exploration and discovery, Mars has been at the forefront of the cultural consciousness lately with the success of Ridley Scott’s adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel The Martian. The board game world hasn’t been safe from this Red Craze, either; prominent Mars-themed games of the past two years include Ignacy Trzewiczek’s First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet, Michał Jagodziński’s Pocket Mars, Krzysztof Wolicki and Grzegorz Okliński’s Martians: A Story of Civilization, and Jacob Fryxelius’ Terraforming Mars.
First off: whoa, that’s a lot of Central European surnames. What is it about Central Europe that inspires people to dream about moving to an entirely different planet? There was even a Poland Mars Analogue Simulation earlier this year. It puts me in mind of the following meme:
Secondly: apart from First Martians, which I may circle back to in a later review, Terraforming Mars does the best job of the games listed of conveying the message of how phenomenally stupid the idea of Martian habitation is. First, you have to consider the logistics of the transporting 100 people at least 54.6 million kilometers through unforgiving vacuum, a trip of seven to nine months with current technology. (In contrast, the Mayflower’s transatlantic journey took only a little over two months; about half of the 100 passengers died of scurvy and related complications.) Second, there’s the fact that the red planet’s atmosphere isn’t even remotely suitable to support human life, though it’s probably the closest we’re going to find in our own backyard.
Jacob Fryxelius understands this challenge, and the struggle to engineer Mars’ atmosphere to livable conditions forms the basis of Terraforming Mars‘ gameplay. It’s what I’d classify as a science game, one in which half the fun comes from its accurate simulation of scientifically realistic themes. (Since it’s also very fun and polished as a game, that makes it twice as fun as most of the competition.) I may not know much about history, but reading Terraforming Mars‘ rulebook is lightly edifying after the fashion of a Cosmos documentary. Fryxelius is a science teacher with a background in chemistry; in his words, he’s driven by a “passion for analyzing and explaining things,” and the rulebook bears this out with plentiful examples of both in-game procedures and “science tags” explaining the real-world justification for the game’s structure and details. Terraforming Mars also claims inspiration from Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars), a lauded series of hard sci-fi novels focused on the colonization and transformation of the red planet.
Life to Mars, Mars to Life
Terraforming Mars sets its sights a lot further than Musk, NASA, or even Robinson, whose epic trilogy opens in the year 2026. In Terraforming Mars, it’s well into the 24th century, and small colonies already exist on the planet, but in order to meet the needs of a ceaselessly growing humanity, the World Government is funding large-scale terraforming efforts to turn the red planet into a second Earth. Each player in Terraforming Mars represents a corporation engaging in, and hoping to profit from, this ecological revolution over the course of many generations.
One could say that the ultimate goal of Terraforming Mars is to push the three global parameters—atmospheric oxygen, mean equatorial temperature, and ocean coverage—into the required ranges. As explained in the handy science tag:
Each area or tile on the game board represents 1% of the Martian surface, so 9 Ocean tiles represents 9% ocean coverage, which should be enough to enable stable hydrological cycles, air moisture, and weather patterns. Water is also important as it moderates temperature swings. At very low temperatures, oceans are actually glaciers for most of the year.
Although the temperature on Mars can already reach 20 ̊C on ’hot’ summer days, this is not enough. To enable liquid oceans, the mean temperature has to be positive, at least at the equator.
The most important parameter for terraforming is the oxygen level. Without a breathable atmosphere, Mars is not liveable, not terraformed. Earth’s oxygen content is 21% of the atmosphere, 0.21 atm. At higher altitudes, this decreases as the atmosphere becomes thinner. At 3000 m the oxygen level is 0.14 atm, and there are a few major cities at this altitude, mostly in the Andes and in China. The most notable examples are the Bolivian cities El Alto (4150 m) and La Paz (3640 m), each with nearly a million inhabitants.
This is certainly the obvious goal, because it triggers the end of the game, but merely contributing to the terraforming effort—even contributing the most—doesn’t guarantee you a win. Many factors contribute to your final score: cities and greenery tiles you’ve places on the map, representing human settlement on the Tharsis region of Mars; various awards and milestones; and myriad smaller projects that add beauty, variety, and excitement to the Martian landscape. A Martian petting zoo might not directly contribute to the planet’s habitability, but it plays better on TV.
Which isn’t to say that terraforming is worthless. Far from it: for every step you increase one of the global parameters, your terraform rating, or TR, also increases. TR is your base score at the end of the game, making each terraforming step worth one point, but your TR is also your base income at the start of each generation; as they notice you working to reduce incident and improve life on Mars, the World Government issues larger grants to fund additional projects. And in case you thought Fryxelius forgot a few steps of the terraforming process, trust me, he didn’t:
Earth’s atmosphere also contains 78% nitrogen, the main component responsible for air pressure. Air pressure is also important, if not as crucial as oxygen level. Another aspect of terraforming is Mars’ very weak magnetic field. These aspects are not represented by a global parameter, but usually result in a higher TR for the player, as indicated on the specific cards.
Most importantly, controlling the global parameters lets you control the pace of the game, accelerating toward a conclusion while you have the edge or pumping the brakes long enough for your other projects to come to fruition.
And completing projects, represented by cards, is the focal point of Terraforming Mars‘ gameplay. With each successive generation, each player draws four new projects from a towering deck of 208 unique cards; to give you a sense of scale, that’s about the size of four Bicycle decks shuffled together. You can’t keep every project you draw, however; you must pay a fee of three Megacredits, representing research and development costs in the game’s futuristic currency, for the cards you want to hold onto, discarding the rest facedown so that nobody knows exactly which projects are in play. Later, you can play projects from your hand by paying their printed implementation cost, also in Megacredits. These projects—which represent activities as diverse as cultivating microbes, mining ore, building infrastructure, founding cities, brokering deals, and importing raw materials—may influence the global parameters directly, or they might give you the resources (or resource production) with which to accomplish this yourself.
Or not; 208 unique projects represents a lot of options.
Veteran gamers would slot Terraforming Mars into two categories based on its gameplay: it’s both a tableau builder and an engine builder. Being a tableau builder means that played cards remain displayed face up in front of you, forming an ever-expanding tableau that can affect the game in various ways. Every project has one or more tags reflecting its nature, and future projects might reference the sum of the tags in your tableau, either as a minimum requirement or as a multiplier for the project’s effect. Projects in your tableau can also have ongoing, passive effects or introduce new, once-per-generation actions to the game.
While a tableau builder is visually recognizable as such, the engine builder designation has more to do with how the feel of the game evolves over time. An engine-building game begins slow, as players are limited by paltry resources and basic actions. Over the course of the game, each player cobbles together a unique “engine” of resource production, upgraded actions, et cetera, to do the work of generating victory points. Building synergistic combos in a deckbuilding game like Dominion or Legendary is engine building; so is constructing complementary buildings in Imperial Settlers or Anachrony. Heck, certain Magic decks function on the principle of engine building. Once your resource machine or what-have-you gets rolling, the pace of the game accelerates rapidly, and the final rounds of a game like Terraforming Mars can seem epic in scope, as players are able to fire off dozens of large-scale actions that would each have required several rounds of preparation if attempted earlier. As I’ve already addressed in the context of deckbuilding games, this ramping up of scale and power is akin to the Hero’s Journey and gives these games an organic narrative appeal.
Terraforming Mars’ engine building largely occurs in the context of resource production. Each player has a personal board on which she tracks production of six resources: Megacredits, steel (used as a discount for construction-related projects), titanium (used as a discount for space-related projects), plants (used to place greenery tiles on the map), heat (used to increase temperature), and energy (converted to heat at the end of each generation, or diverted to various alternative uses by project cards). On a side note, that energy-to-heat, heat-to-temperature conversion has got to be the coolest, most elegant depiction of entropy and thermodynamics I’ve seen in a game. Players begin with production of each resource at zero, and they can typically only be increased by the effects of projects, so the engine building is sort of folded into the tableau building. Your starting corporation gives your engine a mainspring by providing you with starting production, funds, and a special ability, while additional actions and passive effects on cards in your tableau can feed into and amplify one another like intricate machinery.
Those labels are fine, as far as mechanics go, and they tell you pretty much all you need to know about Terraforming Mars’ gameplay. I’d use a third label, myself, though; as mentioned previously, Terraforming Mars is a science game. Just as hard science fiction exists in literature and film, so too does it exist in games, and Terraforming Mars is hard enough to get my geek juices flowing. One of the most exciting things about tabletop games is their transparency; their mechanisms are laid bare, not hidden behind lines of code. Those gears must be big, blocky, and well-labeled enough for a regular human with no specialised training to operate. Navigating a game’s mechanisms should be like assembling IKEA furniture, which is why I also get way too excited about games that communicate their mechanics through language-independent iconography. Keeping things Fisher Price simple necessitates some high-level abstraction, and whenever any degree of fidelity to a theme, scientific or otherwise, manifests within that abstraction, it’s something indistinguishable from magic. Here are a few examples of how Terraforming Mars accomplishes this:
- The Bonus Steps: Increasing mean equatorial temperature and atmospheric oxygen above certain thresholds triggers an auxiliary effect. At 8% oxygen, thickening of the atmosphere creates a greenhouse effect, granting the player one free temperature increase. At -24 and -20 degrees Celsius, thawing carbon dioxide at the poles provides the player a heat production bonus. And at 0 degrees Celsius, ice-bound groundwater melts, bringing liquid to the surface, giving the player a free ocean tile placement.This is a great example of theme-first game design. Having surface ice melt at 0 degrees Celsius obviously originated from thematic considerations; that’s the melting point of water. But it justifies itself mechanically; this and the other bonus steps organically create mini-races and tension within a design that already rewards getting there first, complementing the core gameplay beautifully.
- Placement Bonuses: The placement bonuses function similarly. Whenever a tile is placed on the map, the player placing it gains any bonuses associated with the space being covered up. These could be resources like steel, titanium, or plants, or they could be bonus card draws. The handy science tag explains:
The game board has an accurate map of the Tharsis region of Mars, including Valles Marineris and 3 of the 4 great volcanos. Only the region around Olympus Mons is missing. The areas reserved for Ocean tiles are low in elevation, so water will naturally flow there. The plant bonuses around the equator simulate that the higher average temperature will make it easier for life to thrive there. Mountain ridges have steel and titanium bonuses, while other interesting sites may have a card draw bonus, like the Viking site where the first man-made lander touched down.
Again, the shape of the map and location of placement bonuses are, by Fryxelius’ admission, wholly driven by the actual topography of Mars, but they serve the game mechanically by adding a layer of spatial decisionmaking, player interaction, and another mini-race to claim the most fruitful spots. A small expansion, Terraforming Mars: Hellas & Elysium, introduces two new maps, allowing players to experience the unique challenges and opportunities presented by the far lowlands, peaks, and polar regions of the Martian surface.
And then there are the projects themselves. Rather than provide 208 examples, I’m going to pick my favorite representatives of a few of Terraforming Mars’ 11 project tags:
- Microbes: Small but prodigious, able to thrive in conditions that wouldn’t support more complex organisms, microbes pave the way for larger-scale changes to the ecosystem. Archaebacteria are photosynthesizing extremophiles, which means they’re particularly suited to the pre-terraformed Martian environment. The card, which cannot be played if temperature is above -18 degrees Celsius, allows you to jumpstart your plant production early. GHG-Producing Bacteria produce greenhouse gases, like nitrogen and carbon dioxide, as a product of cellular respiration. Although they require some environmental oxygen to thrive, they can, given time, contribute to planetwide climate change. The card cannot be played if oxygen is below 4%, and it adds two once-per-generation actions to your tableau. The first one adds a microbe resource to the card; the second spends two microbes from the card in order to increase temperature.Regolith Eaters, which consume rock and excrete oxygen, work similarly but affect the oxygen parameter. Finally, Symbiotic Fungus, as the same suggests, works by creating mutually beneficial conditions for other microbes; the card, which can only be played if the temperature is -14 degrees or higher, creates an action that adds a microbe resource to another project, making your regolith eaters and GHG-producing bacteria more efficient. All four of these microbes played a critical role in the session described below.
- Plants and Animals: The more complex organisms are represented by the plant and animal tags. Animals tend to exist solely as a source of additional points, while plants, either directly or indirectly, help you place greenery on the map (and thus increase atmospheric oxygen). Adapted Lichen can be played at any time, since it’s bioengineered for the Martian environment, but most plant projects require minimum conditions of water or temperature. For instance, Kelp Farming can only be played after six ocean tiles have been placed; it increases your Megacredits production and plant production. Arctic Algae is a little different, adding a passive effect that gives you two plant resources whenever a new ocean is placed.Like Adapted Lichen, Pets require no special conditions to be played; they stay inside of the climate-controlled human colonies, after all. Any time another city is built, more pets get added to the card, increasing its points value. Finally, Livestock require a healthy amount of oxygen to breathe—9%—and consume some of your plant production, but they increases your Megacredits production, as you can profit from their meat and hides. Like all animal cards, you get rewarded for the size of your herd at the end of the game.
- Building and Space: As mentioned above, projects with the building tag can be paid for, partially or wholly, using the steel resource at a 1-to-2 conversion ratio (the rules state this is usually some kind of magnesium alloy). These projects place cities, mines or infrastructure on the Martian landscape. Windmills, Martian Rails, and the Space Elevator and Aquifer Pumping projects seen in the session below are all building projects. Most focus on mineral resources, energy, and economics, but a few have unexpected benefits for terraforming. The Ore Processor, Ironworks, and Steelworks convert some of your energy resources to titanium or steel, respectively, but the electrolysis of the raw materials also results in oxygen evolution, raising atmospheric oxygen. The Greenhouses project rewards you with plants based on the number of city tiles in play, as you can cultivate greenery inside temperature-controlled structures.Space projects, meanwhile, can be paid for using titanium resources at a 1-to-3 conversion rate. These often represent bringing raw materials in from elsewhere in the solar system—whether that’s performed by landing a shuttle or colliding a mineral-rich asteroid with the surface. Optimal Aerobraking helps you make the most of these opportunities, adding a passive effect that rewards you with three Megacredits and three heat resources each time you play a space event. Aerobraking is a method of converting kinetic energy to heat energy by dragging the spacecraft through the upper atmosphere. You might also play a Toll Station, which increases your Megacredits production for all of the space tags in other players’ tableaux, benefiting from the traffic they have created.
The following session was played using Terraforming Mars‘ solo variant. This one plays a little differently: your starting TR, and therefore your Megacredits production, is lowered, and you must maximize all global parameters by yourself within fourteen generations. This changes the value of many of the cards—you won’t be playing animal projects or building lots of cities in most solo games—but despite this difference in feel, terraforming Mars solo is a satisfying, replayable puzzle.
When it comes time to write many of these session reports, I tend to provide little embellishments to better evoke the narrative implied by the game’s progression, but I don’t think Terraforming Mars wants or needs this treatment. The following is a Mars-dry depiction of the terraforming of the red planet over fourteen generations.
The Mining Guild
The earliest private enterprises on Mars focused on mining and exporting minerals off the surface. As the mega-corporations arrive to terraform, the miners unite in the Guild to defend their interests. With their expertise and knowledge of the planet, they will be a worthy contender in the race.
In the first generation of Martian terraforming, I, as the Mining Guild, invested in Standard Technology. For a frugal investment of six Megacredits, this card gives you three Megacredits back every time you purchase a standard project, which are always-available options like power plants and aquifers that let you pursue mission-critical objectives regardless of the cards in hand. This was an important opening gambit, because I had several projects in hand that required me to reduce my energy production as part of their cost…but no projects that actually gave me energy production. I then spent eleven Megacredits (receiving a three-Megacredit ROI) to buy a Power Plant standard project, giving me one energy production.
In the second generation, I purchased an additional Power Plant using the same economic model and established the Great Escarpment Consortium, diversifying my mining interests (the card provided me an additional steel production on top of the one the Mining Guild starts with). In the third generation, I purchased a third Power Plant and made no additional investments. Finally, in the fourth generation, I put my considerable mineral assets to use constructing a Strip Mine, harvesting both steel and titanium from Mars’ metalliferous surface (and increasing oxygen to boot), and purchased a fourth Power Plant. At this point, I was committed to steel; inevitable with the Mining Guild, but a risky proposition in solo, since I would be reliant on drawing cards that A) could be paid for with the steel resource and B) would somehow contribute to my terraforming goals.
Global Parameters: 2% Oxygen, 0 Oceans, Temperature -30 degrees Celsius
TR: 16. Basic Income: 0. Total Income: 16. Steel Production: 4. Titanium Production: 1. Energy Production: 2.
Resources after production: 21 MC, 4 Steel, 1 Titanium, 2 Energy, 6 Heat.
In the fifth generation, using more of my famous Martian steel, I built a Research Outpost in Icaria Planum. This would give me a one-Megacredit discount on all future cards played as well as allowing me to place a city tile, establishing my first presence on the map. Per the Mining Guild’s ability, if I placed on a space that gave me a steel or titanium placement bonus, I could also increase my steel production as the Guild purchased permanent mining rights to the ore-rich area.
In the sixth generation, I was able to spend eight of my built-up heat resources to increase the global temperature. I also built a Plantation in the Thaumasia Fossae, improving atmospheric oxygen while expanding mining operations in the Thaumasia quadrangle. And in the seventh generation, I sponsored the Olympus Conference, a meeting of the scientific elite atop Olympus Mons. This would give me a free card draw for every second project I played with a science tag—a golden opportunity to mitigate the deck-dependence of a steel strategy. Now pledged to both the advancement of science and the exploitation of Martian geology, the Guild researched Advanced Alloys to make more efficient use of their stores of steel and titanium.
Global Parameters: 3% Oxygen, 0 Oceans, Temperature -28 degrees Celsius.
TR: 18. Basic Income: 0. Total Income: 18. Steel Production: 6. Titanium Production: 1. Energy Production: 2.
Resources after production: 20 MC, 15 Steel, 4 Titanium, 2 Energy, 4 Heat.
In the eighth generation, the Mining Guild put more of their steel to work constructing GHG Factories, diverting some of the energy from their power plants into heat production. I also constructed an Electro Catapult that would me to export raw materials mined on Mars for a profit—once per generation, I could use its action to spend a steel resource (of which I was sure to have a surplus) and gain seven Megacredits. Since Megacredits are more diverse than steel, I made sure to use this power every opportunity. Finally, I introduced GHG Producing Bacteria into the ecosystem. In a couple of generations, these bacteria would raise the temperature without human intervention. Not content to rest on their laurels, the Guild hired a Media Group to monetize their efforts (it would give me a three-Megacredit refund every time I played an event card) and embarked on an exploratory Mining Expedition.
In the ninth generation, I had already built up enough heat to increase the global temperature again. Furthermore, I established a Titanium Mine and a facility to harness Tectonic Stress Power, paying for both entirely from my stores of Martian steel. I used my saved-up titanium to direct a Beam from a Thorium Asteroid, safely importing both energy and heat from space. With some of the profit from the Electro Catapult, I utilized Flooding to establish an ocean in the Argyre Planitia. (Apart from contributing to my global terraforming parameters, this placement gave me an additional two titanium resources and, thanks to the Mining Guild’s power, one steel production.)
Global Parameters: 4% Oxygen, 1 Ocean, Temperature -26 degrees Celsius.
TR: 21. Basic Income: 0. Total Income: 21. Steel Production: 7. Titanium Production: 2. Energy Production: 6. Heat Production: 7.
Resources after production: 28 MC, 9 Steel, 4 Titanium, 6 Energy, 9 Heat.
As I was now producing nine heat per round, plus any unspent energy from the previous round, I was able to increase the temperature again in generation ten. I also forced an Asteroid collision (another standard project) to increase it further. The now-plentiful GHG Producing Bacteria increased the temperature further yet. The Guild introduced Archaebacteria to the environment, then used funds from their Electro Catapult operation to ship in another Asteroid. Remember that I was receiving three Megacredits back for each of these purchases.
In the eleventh generation, things had accelerated to the point that I was able to raise temperature twice using heat alone. I then introduced several new lifeforms to the ecosystem: Heather (for plant production), microbial Regolith Eaters, and Symbiotic Fungus, which interacted positively with the Regolith Eaters, increasing their rate of reproduction. Finally, I established a system of Deep Well Heating to draw even more energy from the planet’s core.
Global Parameters: 4% Oxygen, 1 Ocean, Temperature -12 degrees Celsius.
TR: 28. Basic Income: 0. Total Income: 28. Steel Production: 7. Titanium Production: 2. Plant Production: 2. Energy Production: 7. Heat Production: 9.
Resources after production: 36 MC, 17 Steel, 8 Titanium, 4 Plants, 7 Energy, 15 Heat.
In the twelfth generation, the Mining Guild used their steel to establish an Aquifer Pumping facility on Mars, which would allow them to tap subterranean reservoirs to “create” oceans on the surface. This was a critical project to completing terraforming within the time limit, particularly because it allows the use of steel to power its action. I used this technology immediately to establish an ocean at Viking Site, which allowed me to draw a few extra cards due to its historic value. I then built a Mass Converter, another research breakthrough, and welcomed a Large Convoy bringing water and knowledge from Earth. With this water, I created an ocean at Kasei Valles, drawing another card. Using knowledge from the imported scientists, I built a Space Elevator to supplement my export operations; this functions basically in the same way as the Electro Catapult. The plentiful Regolith Eaters raised atmospheric oxygen, and with my store of plant resources, I spread greenery to Solis Planum, an action that raised atmospheric oxygen and gave me a card draw as a placement bonus. At this point, it didn’t look like I was going to complete terraforming in time, and I was desperate for any project that could push me over the edge.
Global Parameters: 6% Oxygen, 3 Oceans, Temperature -10 degrees Celsius.
TR: 33. Basic Income: 0. Total Income: 33. Steel Production: 7. Titanium Production: 3. Plant Production: 2. Energy Production: 13. Heat Production: 9.
Resources after production: 58 MC, 7 Steel, 3 Titanium, 3 Plants, 13 Energy, 23 Heat.
In the lucky thirteenth generation, the Mining Guild used the secret of Aquifer Pumping to establish an ocean in Candor Chasma, raised global temperature three times with their heat stores, imported a Comet to establish two more oceans on and to the east of Ius Chasma, introduced Algae to the ecosystem, forced a collision with a Nitrogen-Rich Asteroid, and used their plant resources to spread greenery to Lampland and the area north of Solus Planum. As you can see, the engine was chugging along at full steam at this point, but would it be enough? Aided by the Symbiotic Fungus, the Regolith Eaters increased atmospheric oxygen further, while the GHG Producing Bacteria increased global temperature.
Global Parameters: 9% Oxygen, 6 Oceans, Temperature +4 degrees Celsius.
TR: 48. Basic Income: 0. Total Income: 48. Steel Production: 7. Titanium Production: 3. Plant Production: 8. Energy Production: 13. Heat Production: 9.
Resources after production: 65 MC, 9 Steel, 3 Titanium, 10 Plants, 13 Energy, 24 Heat.
During the final generation of terraforming, the Guild used their Aquifer Pumping technology to establish an ocean in Melas Chasma, used their plants to spread greenery in the east Sinai Planum, and used their heat to increase the temperature to eight degrees Celsius. Importing a Giant Ice Asteroid, they established oceans in Coprates Chasma and Eos Chasma, achieving the necessary 9% ocean coverage. The remaining work was done with economics: funded by their Space Elevator and Electro Catapult, they spread greenery to the central Sinai Chasma, the east Sinai Chasma, northeast of Solis Planum, and Lassell. The Standard Technology card played all the way back in generation one made this possible; without the refund it presented, and the extra funds from the Electro Catapult and Space Elevator, I would have fallen short by one percent of oxygen.
Mars had now been fully terraformed, but the game was not over yet. I had until the end of the generation to maximize my score. I’d spent most of my funds, but placement bonuses from this round had given me enough plants to place another forest the northwest Thaumasia Planum, giving me two more points (one from the forest and one from the city adjacent to it). I then played Hired Raiders to “steal” a few Megacredits from a competitor, which gave me just the money needed to play Gene Repair, the culmination of my research efforts, which requires three science tags but is worth an additional two points at the end of the game.
Global Parameters: 14% Oxygen, 9 Oceans, Temperature +8 degrees Celsius.