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You May Also Like: Terraforming Mars

You May Also Like: Terraforming Mars

First released in 2016, Terraforming Mars has cemented its position not only atop the Board Game Geek chart for Top Strategy Games, but also in the top five of ALL games on the site. This comes as no surprise to anyone that has played the game before. When you consider the pure aesthetics of the game, which are nothing to write home about, it become clear very quickly that this game isn't popular because of its great artwork or production values, its greatness lies deep beneath the surface.

The hallmark of a great game (in our humble opinion) is one that offers interesting choices with consequences, variety in gameplay experiences, and concepts that are easy to understand but difficult to truly master. With its elegant combination of drafting, set collection, and tile placement mechanics, Terraforming Mars checks all of the boxes. If you've already colonized Mars for the umpteenth time and need something fresh, or want to dive into something similar before taking the Martian plunge, this list is for you. Read on to see our list of top 5 board games to play if you love Terraforming Mars.

5. Imperial Settlers

Imperial Settlers Board Game Setup

Number of Players 1-4
Playtime 45-90 Min
Suggested Ages 10+
Designer(s) Maciej Obszanski, Ignacy Trzewiczek
Publisher Portal Games

Imperial Settlers is the spiritual cousin of Terraforming Mars. The end goal is similar, you are working to build the most prosperous civilization by spending your turns deciding whether to improve your production, gather more resources, and more, all as you try to advance up development tracks to earn more victory points. Sound familiar?

A card-based game, Imperial Settlers has players leading one of four factions as they build empires by placing buildings, then sending workers to those buildings to obtain new abilities and resources. Played over five rounds, during which players also take actions to explore new regions, build buildings, conquer enemies, trade resources, and, ultimately, score victory points.

Buy Imperial Settlers online now!


4. Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization

Through the Ages Board Game Gameplay

Number of Players 2-4
Playtime 120 Min
Suggested Ages 14+
Designer(s) Vlaada Chvátil
Publisher CGE

If you're looking for a little more of a step up from Terraforming Mars, Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization is a great option. This game also focuses on building a civilization over time by drafting cards. With so many resource collection options, your decisions can easily trigger glorious waterfall combinations to score big, big points.

During the game, each player attempts to build the best civilization through the discovering of new technologies, careful resource management, electing the best leaders, building epic wonders of the world and maintaining a strong military presence. Players must strike a fine balance between developing their science, to open new buildings, leaders, and actions, with resource management to ensure they have enough to sustain their growing population. But all is not peaceful, so your military must also be kept up or you will fall victim to one of your opponents' attacks. TTA does not have a map, so players can't lose territory, but opponents with strong military can still attack to kill leaders, steal resources, science, and take population or culture. Win the game by having the highest culture score at the end.

Buy Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization online now!


3. Suburbia (Second Edition)

Suburbia (Second Edition) Drafting Hexes

Number of Players 1-4
Playtime 90 Min
Suggested Ages 8+
Designer(s) Ted Alspach
Publisher Bezier Games

Next on our list is Suburbia (Second Edition). This game features a lot of the same engine-building aspects that you will find in Terraforming Mars, but employs a common area where players select their tiles from, rather than through drafting.

Suburbia is a tile-laying game where each player is trying to build their economic engine and city's infrastructure so that it will become self-sufficient, and then profitable as its population expands. Players use hex-shaped building tiles to add commercial, residential, civic, and industrial area to their city, as well as special points of interest to provide additional benefits and resources. The ultimate goal is to have your area of the city thrive enough to end up with the highest population compared to your opponents.

Buy Suburbia (Second Edition) online now!


2. Race for the Galaxy

Race for the Galaxy Board Game Gameplay

Number of Players 2-4
Playtime 30-60 Min
Suggested Ages 12+
Designer(s) Thomas Lehmann
Publisher Rio Grande Games

Falling just shy of the top spot on our list is Race for the Galaxy. Like Terraforming Mars, this game takes place in space and has players working to build a well oiled machine engine. With that said, there are some stark contrasts between the games that make Race for the Galaxy an excellent choice as an alternative to Terraforming Mars withing feeling like you're playing the same game.

Race for the Galaxy is more of a tense, fast-paced race that can end in a few rounds. With a faster pace, each action you take is precious, with those you deny your opponents from taking being as important.

A card-driven game, Race for the Galaxy has players building galactic civilizations by playing cards in from of them to represent worlds, or technical and social developments on those planets. Some worlds let players produce goods, which can then be used later to draw more cards or gain victory points. The game is driven by roles that players simultaneously select at the beginning of each round. Each role allows players to carry out specific actions. The combination of role selection with triggering abilities of your worlds and developments creates a tense-fast paced race to the most victory points in the galaxy.

Buy Race for the Galaxy online now!


1. Ark Nova

Ark Nova Player Board

Number of Players 1-4
Playtime 90-150 Min
Suggested Ages 14+
Designer(s) Mathias Wigge
Publisher Capstone Games

Much like Imperial Settlers, the top game on our list feels like it's a close cousin to Terraforming Mars. Ark Nova is the newest game on this list, and also easily one of most popular games of 2022. It's a card-driven euro-style game with a huge array of cards that players use to build an economic engine to support their zoo.

Where Terraforming Mars has you racing to increase attributes on the planet to satisfy card requirements, Ark Nova has players working to build their appeal and conservation points along opposing tracks. To do this they must play cards in similar fashion to Terraforming Mars but in more complex and strategic ways.

In Ark Nova, players plan and design a new zoo with the ultimate goal of having the most successful zoological establishment. You achieve this by building enclosures, caring for animals, and supporting conservation projects across the globe. Specialists and unique structures help you in achieving your goal.

Buy Ark Nova online now!

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