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Anatomy of a TM-card

Last week, we released a sample of the new graphics for Terraforming Mars. For those of you who are unaware of what Terraforming Mars is, we thought we would give you a small introduction to the theme, and to the anatomy of a card.

Terraforming Mars is a resource management game where several giant corporations (players) compete for Victory Points by making Mars habitable. It is a crossover between science and science fiction, where all aspects are inspired by actual projects discussed by NASA, ESA, Mars Society, Mars One, and science fiction authors. At the start of the game, Mars is a cold, dry planet with minimal atmosphere. This is about to change, as the players introduce plant life (photosynthesis, increasing the oxygen levels), crash comets on the the martian surface (generating lots of heat and accumulating water), as well as numerous other more or less crazy projects to make Earth… eh… I mean Mars, a better place.

To introduce changes,  players play cards (projects). The game comes with approximately 200 unique project cards, each with their own project for making Mars habitable. Here is one example:


Lightning Harvest – By sending floating supercondensers connected by wires up into the clouds, electrical discharges can be collected and utilized for energy production. This enhances your energy infrastructure, as indicated by the purple power tag (top right).

In order to research this project, you must first pay 3 MC to buy the card into your hand (this is the same for all cards). Then you need to acquire at least 3 science projects before you can play  Lightning Harvest (3 white science tags in the yellow requirement box). When you play it by paying 8 MC, you increase your production of energy and MCs by 1 step each. This will give you 1 additional energy and MC at the end of each turn for the remainder of the game! If the symbols had not been on the brown production box, you’d have recieved a one-time bonus only. Because Lightning Harvest is an environmentally friendly technology, it is also worth 1 VP at the end of the game, as indicated by the Mars globe (bottom right).

Each card in Terraforming Mars has helpful text in paranthesis explaining how the card works. Each card also has a flavor text, giving you a clue to what this project is about. There is also a stamped card number, but who cares?

Because the card has a green banner, it stays on table after being played (it is still running) and its tags can be used in combination with certain other cards.