How To Play: Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition – Setup, rule summary and strategy

Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition is an immersive and strategic board game that challenges players to terraform the red planet. By effectively managing resources, harnessing card synergies, strategically placing tiles, timing actions, and planning for the long-term, players can maximize their chances of victory. The game offers engaging gameplay mechanics with streamlined rules and a dynamic card-drawing system. High-quality components and stunning artwork further enhance the thematic immersion of the game.

Throughout the game, players compete against one another to achieve terraforming parameters and earn victory points through milestones and objectives. A careful balance of short-term actions and long-term planning is crucial, as players strive to optimize their strategies and outmaneuver opponents. Resource management is key, as players must plan resource consumption and maximize efficiency.

Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition offers high replayability, allowing players to explore different strategies, card combinations, tile placements, and timing strategies in every playthrough. With all these elements combined, players are presented with an exciting and challenging gaming experience that rewards strategic thinking, adaptability, and careful decision-making.

Whether you are a seasoned gamer or new to the board game world, Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition offers an immersive and highly enjoyable experience where every decision counts. Challenge yourself, embrace the thrill of transforming Mars, and compete to be the most successful corporation in the race for victory.


Welcome to our comprehensive strategy guide for Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition. In this guide, we will provide you with an in-depth analysis of this exciting board game, covering everything from the basic game rules to advanced winning strategies.

Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition takes players on a thrilling journey to transform the red planet into a habitable environment for humanity. It combines strategic decision-making, resource management, and card play in a race against time and competing corporations. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced gamer, this guide will help you elevate your gameplay and increase your chances of securing victory.

In the upcoming sections, we will explore the intricacies of resource management, exploiting card synergies, strategic tile placement, timing and prioritization, as well as long-term planning. Each of these aspects plays a vital role in shaping your path to winning the game.

So, whether you are a corporation seeking dominance in the new frontier or a scientist driven by the pursuit of scientific breakthroughs, join us as we unravel the secrets to success in Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition. Let’s dive into the strategies that will lead you to victory on the captivating red planet.

What’s in the box

  • Player Boards – 4
  • Corp Cards – 16
  • Milestone Cards – 5
  • Award Cards – 5
  • Project Cards – 84
  • Terra Tape Tiles – 9
  • Highest/Reserved Space Tiles – 2
  • Majority Space Tiles – 2
  • Action Tiles – 8
  • Global Parameters Tiles – 5
  • Pre-Generated Markers – 2
  • Basic Game Board Tiles – 12
  • Event Tiles – 4
  • Milestone/Award Dummy Corp Cards – 3
  • Titanium Resource Cubes – 40
  • Steel Resource Cubes – 40
  • Plants Resource Cubes – 62
  • Energy Resource Cubes – 78
  • Heat Resource Cubes – 15
  • Oxygen Resource Cubes – 9
  • Trade Fleet Resource Cubes – 5
  • Instruction Manual – 1

How To Play Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition: Rules Summary

1. Game Setup

  1. Each player chooses a corporation and takes the corresponding player board.
  2. Shuffle the project cards and draw 6 cards for each player.
  3. Place the resource cubes near the game board.
  4. Set up the global parameter tiles depending on the player count.

2. Goal of the Game

  1. The ultimate goal is to reach and fulfill the terraforming parameters before the game ends.
  2. Earn victory points by achieving milestones, fulfilling objectives, and contributing to terraforming Mars.

3. The Turn Structure

  1. Players take turns in clockwise order.
  2. On your turn, you can perform up to 2 actions from a range of available actions.
  3. Actions include playing cards, using standard actions, gaining resources, and placing tiles on the game board.
  4. After taking your actions, draw and resolve an event card.

4. Playing Cards

  1. Each card has a resource cost and an effect.
  2. To play a card, pay its cost in resources and place it in front of you on your player board.
  3. Some cards have ongoing effects, while others have one-time effects.
  4. Utilize card abilities to gain resources, increase terraforming parameters, and gain special actions.

5. Placing Tiles

  1. You can place tiles on the game board by spending resources.
  2. Greenery tiles increase oxygen levels and contribute to terraforming.
  3. City tiles increase population and provide ongoing benefits.
  4. Tiles must be placed adjacently to your existing tiles or cities.
  5. Link tiles and complete chains for bonuses.

6. Terraforming Parameters

  1. Monitor the global parameter tiles and advance them towards terraforming goals.
  2. Reach the required levels of temperature, oxygen, and ocean tiles to fulfill the parameters.
  3. As parameters are fulfilled, new resources and benefits become available.

These rules provide a basic overview of how to play Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition. Remember to strategize your card plays, manage resources effectively, place tiles strategically, and work towards meeting the terraforming parameters. By taking calculated actions and planning ahead, you can shape Mars and lead your corporation to victory in this thrilling board game.

Best Terraforming Mars Ares Expedition Strategies

Mastering Resource Management for Victory

Effective resource management is a key aspect of winning in Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition. Efficiently utilizing your resources can make a significant difference in achieving your objectives. Here are some strategies to help you excel in resource management:

Economy First: Prioritize Resource Generation

  1. Invest in cards or actions that generate resources consistently.
  2. Focus on increasing energy and titanium production early on as they are versatile resources.

Maximize Your Resource Efficiency

  1. Optimize card play to maximize resource generation or effectively convert one resource into another.
  2. Look for cards and abilities that allow you to gain multiple resources at once.

Balance Your Consumption and Production

  1. Regularly assess your resource consumption and production to avoid shortages.
  2. Consider the resource costs of your actions and play cards strategically to minimize wasteful spending.

Invest in Long-Term Infrastructure

  1. Allocate resources towards developing long-term infrastructure like cities and greenery tiles, which can provide ongoing benefits.
  2. Strategically invest in building production-related cards to secure a stable resource income.

By mastering the art of resource management, you can optimize your decision-making and streamline your progress towards terraforming Mars. Carefully consider your resource consumption and production, plan strategically for the long term, and maximize efficiency at every turn. Remember, effective resource management can be the key to a successful journey of transforming the red planet!

Exploiting Card Synergies for Victory

Understanding and leveraging card synergies is a crucial strategy for success in Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition. By strategically combining cards, you can amplify their effects and gain a significant advantage over your opponents. Here are some strategies to maximize card synergies:

Identify Card Combos

  1. Study your card deck thoroughly to identify cards that complement each other’s effects.
  2. Look for cards with abilities that can be triggered simultaneously to create powerful and game-changing combos.

Optimize Card Timing

  1. Consider the timing and sequencing of your card plays to maximize their impact.
  2. Hold onto cards that have synergies with upcoming or currently played cards to create powerful chain reactions.

Build Synergistic Card Engines

  1. Focus on building a cohesive card engine where each card enhances the effects of others.
  2. Synergize cards that provide resource generation, extra actions, or bonuses when certain conditions are met.

Adapt Strategies to Card Draws

  1. Be flexible in your strategies and adapt to the cards you draw.
  2. Adjust your plans based on the available synergistic cards, making the most of what you have at hand

By mastering card synergies, you can unleash the full potential of your card combinations, achieve powerful and coordinated moves, and gain a strategic advantage. Utilize your card deck wisely, balance card acquisition with strategically timed plays, and adapt your strategies to the cards at your disposal. With effective use of card synergies, victory in terraforming Mars is within reach!

Mastering Tile Placement for Victory

Strategic tile placement is a key element for success in Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition. Placing tiles strategically can greatly influence your progress in terraforming the planet. Here are some strategies to optimize your tile placement:

Plan Ahead with Terraforming Goals

  1. Strategically place greenery tiles early on to work towards achieving the terraforming parameters.
  2. Prioritize goals that give benefits for specific tile placements, such as adjacency bonuses or link bonuses.

Maximize Tile Synergies

  1. Look for opportunities for synergistic tile placements that can enhance the effects of adjacent tiles.
  2. Strategically connect cities with greenery or other tiles to unlock powerful bonus abilities.

Control Valuable Terrains

  1. Secure and control valuable terrains on the game board, such as areas with natural resources or bonusing locations.
  2. Use your tile placements to block opponents’ potential expansion or strategically limit their access to resources.

Adapt to Changing Board State

  1. Be flexible in your tile placement strategies based on the evolving game board state and your opponents’ moves.
  2. Observe and react to the placement decisions of others to maintain a competitive advantage.

By mastering tile placement, you can shape Mars according to your strategies and gain an edge in the race to terraform. Plan ahead, leverage tile synergies, control valuable terrains, and adapt your placement strategies to ensure maximum efficiency. With careful consideration and thoughtful tile placement, you can pave the way to victory in the red planet.

Mastery of Timing and Prioritization for Victory

Timing and prioritization play a vital role in achieving success in Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition. Making calculated decisions and utilizing opportunities at the right moments can give you a significant advantage. Here are some strategies to master timing and prioritization:

Assess the Current Game State

  1. Regularly evaluate the progress of the game and the positions of your opponents to adjust your timing and prioritize objectives effectively.
  2. Consider the current terraforming parameters and the cards in play to determine the right time to pursue certain actions.

Strategically Time Card Plays

  1. Identify cards with impactful effects and strategically time their plays for optimal outcomes.
  2. Hold onto top-tier cards until the right opportunity arises or events align in your favor.

Prioritize Goals and Objectives

  1. Divide your attention between short-term milestones and long-term objectives, carefully choosing which to prioritize at any given moment.
  2. Focus on objectives that align with your strategy and provide the most significant benefits based on the current game state.

Seize Opportunities, Respond Swiftly

  1. Stay vigilant and seize opportunities that present themselves, such as favorable card draws or undervalued card exchanges.
  2. Respond swiftly to unexpected events and react accordingly to gain a strategic advantage over your opponents.

By mastering timing and prioritization, you can make the most efficient use of your actions and seize critical opportunities to advance your terraforming efforts. Assess the game state, tactically time your card plays, prioritize objectives strategically, and respond swiftly to opportunities. With precise timing and effective prioritization, victory in terraforming Mars can be within your grasp.

Developing Long-Term Plans for Victory

Long-term planning is a critical strategy for achieving success in Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition. By carefully mapping out your goals and strategies, you can position yourself for victory. Here are some strategies to excel in long-term planning:

Set Clear Objectives

  1. Define your long-term objectives early and align your actions to support those goals.
  2. Identify specific milestones, achievability parameters, or victory point sources to guide your planning process.

Invest in Powerful Synergies

  1. Build a card engine with complementary cards that synergize well together.
  2. Focus on long-term card and resource investments that will offer cumulative benefits over time.

Manage Resource Efficiency

  1. Prioritize resource generation that will sustain you throughout the game, not just the short-term.
  2. Plan your resource consumption, allocation, and conversion judiciously for long-term sustainability.

Adapt to the Changing Landscape

  1. Stay flexible and adjust your plans as the game progresses, accounting for the dynamic nature of thematic events and players’ strategies.
  2. Anticipate and adapt to your opponents’ moves in your long-term plans, balancing your interactions with the changing landscape accordingly.

With a solid foundation of long-term planning, you can steer your strategy towards victory in terraforming Mars. Establish clear objectives, invest in powerful synergies, manage your resources efficiently, and remain adaptable to the changing conditions of the game. By effectively navigating the complexities of long-term planning, you can pave the way to a triumphant transformation of the red planet.

Final Thoughts

Congratulations on completing our strategy guide for Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition! We hope this guide has provided you with valuable insights and strategies to elevate your gameplay experience. By understanding the rules, mastering resource management, exploiting card synergies, strategic tile placement, timing and prioritization, and long-term planning, you are well-equipped to embark on an exciting journey of transforming Mars.

Remember, winning in Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition requires a combination of tactical planning, adaptability, and skillful decision-making. Establish clear objectives, exploit card synergies, strategize your tile placements, optimize your resource management, and prioritize your actions wisely. Keep a watchful eye on the Terraforming parameters while reacting swiftly to your opponents’ moves.

We hope this guide has inspired you to explore different strategies, discover powerful combo possibilities, and unlock the secrets of successful terraforming. Whether you choose to become a corporation leader, a scientific pioneer, or a terraforming expert, your actions will shape the destiny of Mars.

Remember, as you forge your path to victory, the journey itself is as thrilling and rewarding as the destination. Embrace the challenge, enjoy the strategic gameplay, and savor each step towards transforming the red planet. Good luck, and may your plans bring about a flourishing Mars!

Want to know what we think of Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition? Read our detailed review of Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.