Mission to Mars 2049 Review

Mission to Mars 2049 by Dagnis Skurbe is one of the many Mars based games to appear over the past few months. Some of the others get high praise, does this?

This is aimed at the family market and although I am a hardcore gamer and I do not have any kids, I do appreciate family games.

The box

This is a race game – of sorts – for the first player to reach the north pole of Mars and build a water plant there wins. There are very strong similarities to Settlers of Catan, if you have not played this classic game, it is a resource gathering/trading/stealing sort of game where you use the resources to build more production factories that will give you more resources. The resources are gained at the start of each turn with the result of a dice roll. However this is different enough from Settlers to warrant investigation, especially if you are a fan of the franchise.

There are three different main resources in the game, air, food and minerals. There is also a fourth different resource, roads, which are treated quite differently and have a different function in the game. At the start of the game you have one factory of each type of the three main resources and a base all adjacent to each other. You need to keep building in adjacent locations in order to get to the North Pole.

What’s in the box?

At the start of a players turn they will roll the single D6 and the result of the roll dictates what happens next. The six different sides are Air – everybody’s air factories produce one air each, Minerals – producing minerals one per factory (just like air), and Food – producing one per factory (now it changes – honest). There is the steal icon where you can steal one random card from the player of your choice, a diamond which is take any single resource, including a road or you completely miss your go if you roll the big X. Now you see the similarities to Settlers.

You can then build more factories, bases, laboratories or buy peaceful or aggressive missions. You can also exchange your resource cards for resource tokens. The tokens are in values of 3 and 8 of each resource. These are safe from being stolen by the roller of the die who rolls the steal icon. You can also trade goods with the bank to get that elusive resource that you have been waiting an ice age for to get your mitts on. You trade at a ratio of 4:1 and the goods you trade in have to be identical. You can build laboratories to reduce this ratio to 3:1 and even 2:1 once you have attained the former, but they are expensive to build.

Tokens

I briefly mentioned missions above, both peaceful and aggressive. What are these? They are cards that you buy and they will give you bonuses like extra resources or an extra factory. These are the peaceful ones. The aggressive ones are when you pilfer things off other players, resources and even factories. However there are a couple of horrible cards in the deck that can hurt you and you lose a factory – serves you right for being aggressive! They are the risks.

To get to the pole you need to build a road to get there and to build your road takes 3 road cards. I have mentioned these briefly above and there is only two ways of getting these, one is via rolling a diamond on the die and the other is to trade at the ratio applicable to you with the bank. They cannot be stolen, once you have built the road you can get on with building the water plant. You need 8 of each resource to build it. The first to do so wins.

The race is on!

This was a thoroughly enjoyable game and although the similarities to Settlers of Catan are very strong, it is a definite improvement. It is very hard to get blocked in, I tried it a couple of times to my neighbouring player, but didn’t manage it. I’m not sure if it is possible – but damnit, I gave it a go! The game time was a lot shorter too. Around 90 minutes a game, but I did not get to play it as a 2 player – I rarely do with any games– and I would expect that it would be even shorter with two players.

The green player keeps things orderly

The rulebook was very clear and well laid out. Unfortunately there was one rule that I could not find when referring back to the rulebook and could not find an answer for online, which was do you get change from the resource tokens if you don’t use the full amount of 3 or 8? Plus can you use a combination of tokens and cards for paying for more expensive buildings. We house ruled this quickly, but it was the only thing missing in the rulebook, well I couldn’t find it anyway when referring back.

The artwork was nice and clear and the cards were all clear and nicely produced. I thought it might have looked even prettier if the round factory tokens were wooden buildings, but then I thought about that there would have to be at least 5 different designs for the buildings and would you be able to produce 5 different wooden building that were easily distinguishable from each other? What would be the cost implications be on the unit price? As much as wooden buildings would look better, I expect that to make it accessible to the family market and keep the price accordingly the correct decision was made.

Not like the purple and orange players

Talking as a hardcore gamer, I enjoy a game of Settlers every now and then, but I strongly recommend Settlers of America. This puts a gamer’s spin on the classic game. This is for the gamer. Mission to Mars 2049 sits nicely between the two. It will make my copy of Settlers of Catan redundant. It removes the flaws of Catan, shortens the game length and gives it a better theme.

…and the winner is…..

Mission to Mars 2049
  • It did cut the mustard!
4

Summary

Very similar to Settlers of Catan, but irons out the issues that Catan suffers from and is an improvement. Family game.

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