Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday 8 February 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Terraforming Mars Venus Next

 Game: Terraforming Mars: Venus Next

Publisher: Stronghold Games

Designer: Jacob Fryxelius

Year: 2017

Venus Next is the second expansion for Terraforming Mars – an engine building game that has taken the board gaming world by storm. We are no exception, and are big fans of the original game and all expansions are an instant buy for us. Unlike the first expansion, Hellas and Elysium, which only added new boards, Venus Next adds additional cards to the decks, introducing both variety and new strategies for earning end game points in particular. Venus Next also adds a new global parameter – the Venus track. We don’t necessarily feel the need for expansions to Terraforming Mars, because the game feels very complete, and we don’t need new content to ensure it hits the table, but does Venus Next add enough new elements to make it a must-buy expansion?

To take each new addition in turn, I’ll begin with the new Venus board which is a smaller side board that you play with in addition to the main Mars playing board. The board includes a few cities located on moons, but mainly the Venus track. The Venus track is another track that can be increased to gain terraforming rating, but getting to the end of it is not part of triggering end game. Its main purpose is to add new requirements to some of the new Venus cards in the deck, eg. Venus track must be at 10 or more. As you are now investing resources in a fourth aspect of the game, it is compensated by a phase at the end of each round where the first player can increase one track by one step. No bonuses are gained by doing this, so the two main reasons for selecting a track would be to deny a bonus to another player or to help you meet a requirement of a card in your hand. This can be a fun new element of manipulation and really useful when you’re stuck without the ability to increase a certain track.
The Venus board has room for a few cities along with it's own terraforming track.

The next big addition is, the slightly unfortunately named, floaters, a resource that you collect on blue cards in your tableau. Floaters work in the same way as microbes or animals in that you can collect them on cards and in most cases they will be worth 1 point per two cubes at the end of the game. There’s nothing new or complicated to get your head around with this strategy, but adding them into the deck means that all strategies are slightly less powerful as the cards for each are drawn less frequently. I’ve also noticed and enjoyed some of the interesting combos on these cards, for example those that only interact with other cards with a Venus tag, indicating that you should really focus on a Venus strategy if that’s what you want to pursue.

Finally, Venus Next adds some new corporation cards to the deck which again just add more variety and pick up on some different strategies that help to make each player unique during the game. The expansion also adds a little more variety with a new milestone and award related to your cards with Venus tags and floaters. The new milestones and awards often catch me by surprise, especially playing with the standard base game boards where the original milestones and awards are so familiar.

While some of the new corporations are venus-based copies of the originals, many of them are unique and some don't involve the new planet at all!
Venus Next has been a really enjoyable expansion for us to play with. It doesn’t change the game in any significant way, it’s just more of the same for people who already enjoy the game and want to add new variety and explore a more diverse range of strategies. It doesn’t complicate the game at all, so I would happily teach the game with Venus Next incorporated and interchange the three different maps we now have for Mars. As with all of the Terraforming Mars range, Venus Next seems like quite an expensive expansion, which may be off-putting for some, especially since it doesn’t really change the game. For us, we will play this expansion far more than we play many more expensive games on our shelves, so the price is definitely worth it. With many more expansions lined up for this game, I am however hoping that the next expansion might actually be a game changer.

For the Yellow Meeple Terraforming Mars: Venus Next is an 8/10 and a really solid expansion for fans who play Terraforming Mars a lot.

Terraforming Mars: Venus Next was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £29.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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