First things first, this was not my idea, and I first heard about the concept from Paul Grogan of Gaming Rules!
However, that being said, I wanted to write about this fantastic idea and the fun we had with it. This is something I would highly recommend – although probably only if you are really mad about the game Terraforming Mars as the three of us who played were.
The idea is that you play the game with two boards (each showing different sides of the planet). So you’ll need either the Hellas and Elysium expansion or one of the fan-made boards. You’ll also need two sets of the tiles (I have the cardboard tiles and the plastic ones from the Big Box) – mainly for the water but also in case you run out of city or plant tiles.
Then you need to decide what rules you are going to have regarding requirements on cards. You could make it so that the requirements need to be met on both boards. We decided that requirements were only needed on one board, but if the card affects the board, it could only affect the board that met the requirements.
You also need to decide what to do about milestones and awards. We decided that three could be taken on each board (making a total of 6 milestones and 6 awards), and that any milestone relating to the board related only to the board they were on (so, for example, Mayor could only ever be claimed if you had 3 cities on the original game board).
Similarly, we also agreed that if a card affected the board in multiple ways, all effects had to be on the same board – so for example, if a card increased the heat twice, both heat increases must be on the same board.
We decided to play with all expansions but Turmoil, in part because I was concerned we might run out of cards, and in part because the only expansion I ever separate out is Turmoil. As it happens, running out of cards was never an issue. While the discard pile was bigger than the number of cards in the draw deck, there were still plenty of cards to draw had we needed to.
We actually managed to terraform both boards in just 14 generations with really close end scores of 168, 158 and 157. We’re already very experienced players and the game is my second favourite game of all time and one of the other players’ all time favourites. I don’t think I would suggest you try this to inexperienced players of the game or people who don’t rate it quite highly.
However, it is definitely an experience I’m eager to repeat. I’d love to get some fan mats and play with those. It does, however, mean that I can never get rid of the cardboard tiles, so I hope the future Preludes 2 and solo expansions don’t take up too much space!