Review – Mission: Red Planet (Second Edition)
A simultaneous action selection, area control game.
Title: Mission: Red Planet (Second Edition)
Year Published: 2015
Designer: Bruno Cathala, Bruno Faidutti
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Game Time: ~90 Mins
Set-up Time: >5 Mins
Theme: Steampunk in Space
Mechanic: Hand Management, Simultaneous Action Selection, Area Control
How to win: Score the most points by mining resources and completing Quests.
With technology rapidly developing and the human population growing, Victorian-era Earth is in dire need of fuel, land, and other natural resources. Fortunately, automated probes sent to Mars have discovered celerium, an ore that can be combusted to produce ten thousand times more power than a steam engine, and sylvanite, the densest substance ever found. More incredibly, the probes found ice that could be used in terraforming the planet, bringing the idea of colonising Mars even closer to becoming a reality.
As the head of a mining corporation, these minerals and ice found on Mars could make you unfathomably wealthy – if you can reach them before your competitors.
Put Mars, Phobos and Lost in Space on the table. Connect docks so there are a number equal to the number of players. Put the destination tokens, Point tokens and Ice Monopoly mission card near the board.
Shuffle the ship cards and put one in each launchpad. If any ships with unknown destinations come out put them aside until all ships have a destination. At least one destination MUST be Phobos so if one wasn’t drawn, put a Phobos destination token on the right most ship.
Give a player a set of cards and pieces of their colour. Shuffle the mission cards and deal two to each player, they keep one. Mission cards are kept face down near the player.
Randomly place a resource face down in each zone on Mars, one on Phobos and keep the others near the board.
Shuffle the discovery, action and unused mission cards together to form a deck.
Randomly put one astronaut from each player on each ship in the dock, the left most ship is the first player.
The game is played over 10 rounds, each with 6 phases
1 – Choose Character – Every picks one and places it face down in front of them.
2 – Resolve Character Effects – Starting with 9 and counting down, players reveal their card when the number is called with ties being broken by player order. Cards must be resolved top to bottom in order.
If a ship reaches capacity, slide it away from the dock to show it has launched.
If an astronaut is placed on a ship with an unknown destination, put a destination token on it.
But what do the cards do?
9 – The Recruiter lets you put an Astronaut on any docked ship, then take all your played cards back into your hand, including this one.
8 – The Explorer lets you place one astronaut in a docked ship and make 3 moves with your astronauts on planets. One move is moving one astronaut to an adjacent zone and you can move one astronaut multiple times. Any face down resource tokens are flipped face up.
7 – The Scientist lets you put 2 astronauts on 1 or 2 docked ships. Then you either draw a card or look at a face down discovery card in play. If there is no room to put the 2 astronauts into ships, discard the card and look at a face down card instead.
6 – The Secret Agent lets you put 2 astronauts in 2 different ships then launch a ship that isn’t full yet.
5 – The Saboteur puts 1 astronaut in a docked ship and lets you blow up a docked ship. Put any killed Astronauts on the Lost in Space memorial.
4 – The Femme Fatale lets you put 1 astronaut in a docked ship and then replace an opponents astronaut with one of your own in a zone or ship where you have an astronaut already. This includes docked and launched ships, Mars or Phobos. The replaced astronaut is sent to the memorial too.
3 – The Travel Agent puts 3 astronauts in one docked ship if there is room. If not, the card is ignored and the players turn ends.
2 – The Soldier lets you place 1 astronaut in a docked ship, kill 1 astronaut on the edge of Mars or on Phobos then move 3 astronauts from Phobos to Mars… You can kill your own astronauts if you like. Astronauts moved at the same time are not required to go to the same zone on Mars but you must move at least one astronaut.
1 – The Pilot lets you 2 astronauts in 1 or 2 docked ships then change the destination of a ship. The destination token can be placed on a Docked or Launched ship and even on top of an existing destination token.
3 – Land Launched Ships – Put astronauts from launched ships into the landing zone on the ship. If the resource token in that zone is face down, flip it face up. Discard the ship and any destination token.
4 – Draw New Docked Ships – Put a ship into empty docks.
5 – Assign New First Player – The player who last acted is now the first player, which is only used to break ties but can be very important.
6 – Advance Round Tracker
There are several things that can happen here…
The numbers are just the current round, nothing special.
Each zone with a face up resource token produces points equal to the dots on the phase on the dial. Players get points for each zone based on majority with ties split evenly with the remainder left in the zone for future turns.
Reveal Discovery Phase
Discovery cards are played face down under the board near the Outer Zone of Mars it’s affecting. They can’t be use on Phobos, Syrtis Major and Valles Marineris. In this phase you Reveal Discovery cards, the icon will show when the card is resolved.
Players determine if they completed their mission cards (Ties count as a success). Failed cards are discarded.
The player with the most Ice points gets the points from the Ice Monopoly card with tied players sharing the points rounded down.
Add points from Missions, Point Tokens minus lost points from any Discoveries, most points wins.
Ties are broken by the player with the most number of point tokens.
So this game is fun. I played Citadels and liked the role selection thing but I didn’t like the game overall. So I got Lost Temple and again, I liked the role selection but the game didn’t appeal to me. 3rd time lucky I guess.
First off he steampunk-ish look of the game is really nice and the art and the components are all good too. The little space minis you use are really nice as well as being bright and colourful. The dock and ships works quite well, it’s very easy to see where the ship is going, how many people it can hold and if it’s docked or not.
The game play is good too. The countdown to launch that doubles as the calling out of the roles is quite thematic. The roles themselves are varied considering they basically do the same thing and thematic based on the name of the role. They’re easy to understand too, they pretty much do what they say on the card.
Scoring is OK… You get tokens of the type of the space you’re on if you have the most people on it… That’s OK and it works fine but it’s not great. The 3 types of resources have 3 different values but the lowest value one has an end game bonus if you have the most…
You don’t know which regions of Mars (and Phobos) will have which resource to start the game as they start face down so there is a little bit of luck there. You might just happen to go to the right region… Or is it luck?
Those Mission cards you get at the beginning of the game give you focus in the first round. A lot of them want you to control a few areas on Mars… This is fine… But they’re random and picked before you see the resources.
What if the regions you need to control just happen to be full of those 3 point resources? That’s an advantage right?
Or will it be harder to control them as you’ll be facing more competition as players go for those resources themselves? I’m not sure…
It seems balanced either way.
I fun game that’s plays as nice as it looks.
I give it 7/10