Plant life is an important part of terraforming – it releases oxygen via photosynthesis, and it grows the ecosystem.
But Mars is an arid place and plants need water, so conditions have to be changed. Even releasing some water is not enough. It needs to be made available in vast areas by introducing a water cycle. But we can’t wait for a natural water cycle, can we? Let’s create one by chemically initiating cloud formation and precipitation in the desired areas.
This will need to be continually supported, and the clouds will reflect some of the sunlight, but this loss of heat will be more than compensated by the great increase in plant growth!
When there is enough water, Cloud Seeding is a great way to get your ecosystem going. Especially your city-dwellers will enjoy the greenery growing in the nearby countryside (a city gets 1 VP for each greenery tile adjacent to it). It does decrease your MegaCredit production, but on the other hand it allows you to decrease an opponent’s heat production. A nice little way to interfere with their plans.
Who are you to terraform Mars? A mighty corporation with a glorious future, of course! The players in Terraforming Mars each control a corporation that competes to get the biggest share of land, resources, and glory. One of these is ThorGate, an energy giant with Nordic roots:
Starting with energy production allows ThorGate to kick-start industries right off the bat. It also has the capability of increasing its energy production at a discount, allowing the player to concentrate on an energy-driven strategy.
ThorGate is indeed destined for a glorious future – it will eventually become a top contender in the Pleiades conflict a thousand years hence (but that’s another game)…
The point of terraforming Mars is to inhabit it, but why wait all those centuries? Take a cosy crater, furnish it with farmland and buildings, and cover it with a transparent dome. The dome is held up by the air pressure inside it, which is higher than outside (so you have to build it before the atmosphere builds up too much). Something like a balloon – but don’t pop it!
To power the city you need energy of course, but then it will give you quite some income. In Terraforming Mars, cities are placed as tiles on the game board and give you VPs at the end of the game, depending on how green the surroundings are. The Domed Crater, though, is so cool it even gives you an extra VP!
Still working on graphics and administrating the production details for Terraforming Mars. Meanwhile, here is another fascinating project from the game. To appreciate the full scope of terraforming, you need to look beyond Mars.
One way to introduce water to Mars is by hurtling comets down to the surface, but importing ice from one of Jupiter’s ice moons might just be more… predictable. Although expensive, it gives you an opportunity to increase ocean each turn, as well as giving you Victory Points for each Jovian tag you have (thus, at least 1).
*Jovian, also called a gas giant—a large gaseous planet like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, or Neptune. Thus. in Terraforming Mars, the Jovian tag is used for projects focusing on the outer solar system.
In Terraforming Mars, the future of mankind is in the players’ hands. It is a grand feeling to smash asteroids to the Martian surface, search for organic life forms, expand your industries and build space stations (see, what we did a few years ago is just a small part of what we do now!) In a similar way, it is a grand feeling to be working on this huge project. Terraforming Mars contains over 200 unique project cards, each depicting a small part of the terraforming process. When it comes to graphics, some of these projects are easy to illustrate; concrete, physical results of technological advancements that fire our imagination, like towing a comet, inducing volcanos, establishing futuristic cities. Other projects are not as easy to depict; abstract things such as the process of research, short-term investments, and invisible power sources. However, all cards need graphics, and that’s our largest piece of work in preparing this game for production.
To capture the wide variety of topics contained in the game, we use several methods to create images, from oil paintings to 3D models, to sketches, to clay models. Yes, you heard me, clay models. Daniel, who created the graphics for his game Fleets, formed 18 of the 20 motherships from clay before putting them into the computer to finalize his work.
He uses the same techniques as he works on some of the cards for Terraforming Mars that he shows in FryxGames first video blog. Enjoy!
Now lets talk about how to kick-start a terraforming process. Mars is very cold and very dry, so let’s do something about that. You’ve discovered a really big asteroid almost entirely made of ice. It’s orbit isn’t really close to Mars, but add a few huge rocket engines to it and fire them at strategic times so that the orbit gradually comes to cross that of Mars and voilà!
One day the people of Mars will look up and cheer at the burning star slowly crossing the sky, descending behind that horizon. Then a few minutes later they will feel the shock-wave of its crash many miles away. Some houses may not make it. Some other corporation’s experimental forests may not make it. But oh my! If it is terraforming you want, then this will do it! The heat will equal the detonations of half of Earth’s nuclear arsenal, and the water could make a Sweden-sized glacier once it freezes again.
And if it’s money you want, then this will do it too, since your terraform rating will rise 4 steps, increasing your income too. And don’t forget the VPs.
Now what could be cooler that getting Victory Points for using Symbiotic Fungus together with Decomposers? Using it to help genetically designed bacteria produce greenhouse gases to raise the global temperature instead – of course!
Science project indeed! Through a series of artificially designed reactions, these microbes can turn carbonates and other minerals into molecules that are very efficient at absorbing infrared light, thus preserving the global heat from escaping into space and instead allowing it to accumulate even more. For2 generations, you’ll accumulate microbe resources on the card, and in the 3rd generation you may exchange them for a rise in temperature. This will cause the Terraforming Committee on Earth to raise your terraform rating, thus raising their regular payments as well as being worth another VP at the end of the game. And with the Symbiotic Fungus at work it will be much faster. Bring it on! I say.
These small cellular chemical factories require oxygen though, for energy, so first you will need that. Hmm, terraforming is becoming quite a science isn’t it? Decomposers benefit from Symbiotic Fungus, which requires a certain minimum temperature. Greenhouse gas-Producing Bacteria can help you reach those temperatures but require a certain level of oxygen in the atmosphere. Where does it start? To get the terraforming started, we clearly need some other means…
Now it’s time for another card and this time it’s… mushrooms! Again.
Well, with over 200 different cards, some of the cards are bound to be a bit similar. Can you imagine how many different kinds of bacteria there are? Anyway, we all like mushrooms, don’t we? 😉
Last time we promised you a card that would work together with Decomposers. Believe it or not – Symbiotic Fungus can work symbiotically with Decomposers, not only adding 1 microbe on Decomposers when played, but also adding 1 each generation as an action! Wow! Won’t you look at that! Now you don’t actually need to play any bio cards to get decomposers – you just wait for them to accumulate with the help of the helpful Symbiotic Fungus. You first have to wait until it’s warm enough for them to thrive though.
Not impressed? Well, there are of course cooler things you can do with Symbiotic Fungus…
It’s been a long time now, a very busy time! As we are finalising much of the layout, we can now release more cards and let you see more of the game.
Terraforming Mars is a long game. In fact each round in the game is considered a generation long. Everyone lives, everyone dies. But life goes on, much thanks to these little fellows:
Decomposers are bacteria and fungi that feed on dead organisms and excrete nutrients in forms available to other organisms. This is of course very valuable from a biological perspective, awarding you VP’s. Decomposers need oxygen, though, leading to an oxygen requirement on this card, and to multiply, they also need a diversity of other organisms to feed on, giving you 1 VP for every third resource you get on it.
This can be a good card to play if you hold several bio projects on your hand that you want to play later, because you will not get any bonus for the ones already played. And not from your opponent’s projects either.
Next time we will see another card and how it interacts with Decomposers. And as a recompense for the long wait, the next update will be already this weekend!