This was the other game I got for my birthday and was quite happy to get it. It's been on my wish list for a while now as what I have seen of it I have liked. It's not an especially big game, the rules are fairly lightweight but it does have a lot of variables to juggle, which is what I like.
The component quality was largely pretty good. It uses plastic, rather than wooden resource cubes. I know most gamers like wooden cubes but the plastic cubes were actually pretty good. My only complaints are that there wasn't enough of them and some different coloured cubes and multiple token markers would have been useful. The play mate, whilst functional might have been better on card rather than heavy paper.
Artwork wise I was quite happy. The board is very good. I have another two boards to play on yet so there is even more variety there. It's also quite well laid out. The artwork for the cards is also at a good standard,#. I think they are all different and clearly considerable effort has been put into them.
So assume you want to colonise the red planet, what do you need to make the planet habitable? Heat, oxygen and water. To get these you need power, raw materials like steel and titanium, heat and power, a variety of plant life, maybe a few animals and a big, big stack of cash. You use the resources you have to build up the infrastructure you need to terraform the planet.
There were five of us playing the game. All of us have played a lot of games over the years so we all have a good idea about strategy. This helped us out but there are a lot of variables that go to make up winning the game meaning that there is no clear dynamic for winning. There are a number of angles to try but I am far from sure of the best after the one game even if I did win it. It appears to me that anything that increases your pool of resources and give you bonus victory points has got to be a good strategy. I did end up with a huge amount of heat generation capacity which meant that I could raise the temperature almost twice every turn if I didn't have anything else that would my situation more, which meant that I amassed a huge stock of heat.
One of the more interesting dynamics is that many cards can only be played before or after certain points in the planet's development. You might get some good cards early on ut you can't play them early on. There are others that can be ripped from you as the cards cannot be used after a certain point. This is especially bad as you have to buy cards that can become useless in a matter of moment later.