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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Boards & Brews at Home: Mission: Red Planet

Today we return for another home segment with big box games and numerous small components to play the first edition of Mission: Red Planet.  Since this game has a steampunk theme, we had to incorporate Dieselpunk beer.  The refreshing honey amber flavor provides a sweet, and light taste to enhance our gaming experience.  In the year 1888, steam technology has advanced to prodigious heights.  Automated probes have been sent to Mars, and transmitted their latest reports back.  These reports unequivocally reveal the planet's ground is composed of resources of immeasurable value.  The first resource known as Celerium, a new element for the periodic table, and a combustible energy to increase 1000 times the power within a single engine.  The second known as Sylvanite, is a material denser than anything found on earth.  If we can locate ice, we can use this to create an atmosphere, which would allow the planet to be colonized.  As the leader of a mining company, you must control the deposits hidden underneath the surface of the red planet in order to exploit these new resources.  Our trip to Mars cannot wait any longer.  Read on to learn how this process will unfold. 

In Mission: Red Planet, we will compete to send astronauts to Mars in order to colonize and mine for recently discovered resources.  Over the course of 10 rounds, opponents play one of their special agents every round to help fill the rockets heading to Mars with their own astronauts while simultaneously working to prevent their opponents from doing the same.  Once landed, it is required that you control specific regions of the planet, each yielding one of the three resources: Celerium, Sylvanite, or Ice.  At the beginning of each round, players will secretly choose one of their cards and will then reveal which card you have and carry out that card's action.  After 5 and 8 rounds, players gain score tokens for every region where they control the majority of the astronauts.  At the end of the game, players score one final time, adding any bonuses received from Discovery Cards and Bonus Cards. The player with the most score tokens at the end controls Mars and wins the game. 

As mentioned in the beginning of this segment, we own the first edition of Mission: Red Planet which was released in 2005.  The second edition, which was released in 2015 essentially just has better quality components and board pieces that are fitted together in a puzzle-like fashion with a few new action cards.  The first edition has been out of print for a while, and we’re perfectly content with this version rather than considering the second.  Claire is a much bigger steampunk fan than I, but I still think this is a pretty good game.  I enjoy the theme, and I think it has a solid back story, and I feel it carries well-executed mechanics during gameplay.  The game is good, it doesn’t see the table as often as I would like, but I hope that will change over time.  One annoying drawback for me, was the poorly designed box insert.  We made multiple attempts, but after you’ve punched out all of the components when you initially open it, it is physically impossible to fit all of the components back into the box unless you put all of your components underneath the box insert, but that completely defeats the purpose of having an insert.  It never does cease to amaze me how some products make it to production after being granted approval regardless of how poorly they were executed.  When we first purchased this game, we realized we wouldn’t be keeping the insert, and would have to throw it away.  I’m not pleased with doing that for an out of print game, but we were not given much choice.  Now everything is just in ziploc bags inside of the box, but that will have to do unless we decide to make our own insert. 

The artwork is quite good, the second edition has better artwork than the first edition, but I don’t personally think this is a big deal.  The fact that the astronauts are simply discs in this version is quite disappointing, compared to the 2nd edition which has actual small astronauts to replace the discs.  That is another let down for me in this version.  Almost anything could be better than wooden discs, but it’s not so big that it somehow destroys the game, it just lessons the engagement a little for me.  The fact that Fantasy Flight took over for the second edition is obviously much better than having Asmodee be in charge of the first edition.  While there are a few things lacking in the first edition, I’m still glad we own the original.  I think this game is essential to any gamers who like the steampunk world.  The density of strategy is pretty average, it’s not overly thick, but it’s decent for people who want a strategic game that won’t take multiple hours to play.

Mission: Red Planet (1st Edition)
Overall Meeple Rating: 6.5/10

Game Mechanics:
1) Area Control/Area Influence
2) Simultaneous Action Selection
3) Hand Management

Have any thoughts or questions?  Leave a comment below.


  1. Hi Chad

    I'm going to be launching a board game Kickstarter soon for a competitive cyberpunk game. Would you be interested in including an announcement on your blog on launch day?

    1. Hello Seph and thank you for contacting me about your upcoming game. I love cyberpunk so there is a very good chance of this happening. However, I need more details about your game. If you could reach out to me via our email address at that would be much appreciated. I've been receiving a number of requests lately and would like to have a link to your game to learn more about it and if I agree to play test it and review it, then I will provide you with a mailing address where you can send the game. Please email me so we can continue this discussion. Thanks!