Hands Down Best Terraforming Mars Expansions in 2021 [Ranked]

TerraForming Mars is one of the most popular board games on the market today and there are currently five great expansions to the base game to sink your teeth into if you are looking for a fresh new experience. Buying expansions without knowing what you are getting into can be an expensive endeavor so we have ranked these expansions for you, reviewed them, broken them down into what makes them great so that you can find the best Terraforming Mars expansion for you!

Prelude adds new corporation and project cards, but more importantly it introduces prelude cards. These are cards that are drafted before the start of the regular game. The Prelude cards give players interesting and powerful abilities, and because of this the whole game speeds up a lot. This is welcome as especially the beginning of TerraForming Mars games can sometimes be slow.

Furthermore, the Prelude expansion introduces a quicker single player mode. I appreciate this as I generally like my solo board games short but sweet.

Prelude is by far the best TerraForming Mars expansion that we have tried to date and if you were only to get one then this would be the one to get! We would even go so far as saying that it’s an essential expansion.

Hellas and Elysium is another great TerraForming Mars expansion. It adds several new maps, awards and milestones, which really shake up your usual strategies. Also, with so much new content it just adds a ton of replay value to TerraForming Mars.

This expansion is not quite essential right away, but if you have played the original base game a bunch and have tried out Prelude, then Hellas and Elysium is the next best Terraforming Mars expansion to try!

Colonies lets players colonize additional celestial bodies to extract resources from them. This gives players more options and adds an extra layer of strategy to TerraForming Mars.

The Colonies expansion also forces players to interact with each other. There’s limited opportunities to colonize planets and to trade with colonies, so players have to outsmart each other to make the most of these.

Finally, perhaps the most important improvement of the Colonies expansion is that it makes Energy stronger. The original TerraForming Mars is imbalanced in that Energy is by far the weakest resource. In Colonies players can actually try out Energy based strategies.

The new strategies required to colonize planets and outsmart your opponents make Colonies one of the best Terraforming Mars expansions for the more competitive gamers!

Turmoil is not the best received TerraForming Mars expansion, but we think it catches more flak than it deserves.

Turmoil introduces politics, and with that a ton of interaction as players all try to assert political influence. In our opinion, politics actually makes TerraForming Mars so much more interesting and strategic, so we really like Turmoil.

But, we do understand the complaint that Turmoil makes TerraForming Mars more complex and longer. You can mitigate the longer playtime by also adding Prelude, but not completely.

While the public consensus is that this is not one of the best Terraforming Mars expansions, we still really like Turmoil. If you can free up some extra time in your schedule to include the political aspect of this expansion, we think it’s really worth it.

Venus Next is the only TerraForming Mars expansion we don’t like. It adds Venus as a separate planet to TerraForm, but there’s no connection between Mars and Venus and Venus doesn’t need to be TerraFormed for the game to end. Venus just feels very tacked on in our opinion.

We know that the die hard TerraFormers still enjoy Venus Next, just because it adds some extra TerraForming. But we honestly can’t really recommend the expansion.

Why is Terraforming Mars so good?

First off, the theme of making Mars habitable has always been an exciting new frontier in space and thanks to Elon Musk, that future is sooner than we think. But apart from the theme of the game, Terraforming Mars may just be one of the most polished board games we’ve ever played. Smooth game mechanics and great strategy depth make Terraforming Mars and most of its expansions worth playing if you haven’t already checked it out.

How can I get better at Terraforming Mars?

We may eventually write our own Terraforming Mars strategy guide in the future, but the short answer to getting better at any board game is to really understand the mechanics. Terraforming Mars is really well thought out and each and every element of the game was added for a reason. Strive to understand why and how to best utilize each element in a winning strategy. Research some strategies and try them in your next game. Play some of the best Terraforming Mars expansions in this article. The slightly different game mechanics will not only train you to try new strategies but they will help you win more at the original game as well.

What is the best Terraforming Mars expansion?

If you read this article all the way through, you already know that hands down Prelude is the best Terraforming Mars expansion that we have played. The added game mechanics only make the original game better and they even speed the game up a bit which is a common complaint of the original. If you only had money for one Terraforming Mars expansion, Prelude would be absolutely essential!

Best Terraforming Mars Expansion for Solo Play

In addition to all the great things we have to say about Prelude and its multiplayer gameplay, it adds a great quick single player mode which makes it also our choice for the best Terraforming Mars expansion for solo play. Seriously, Prelude is a must have!

Wrapping Up

We hope our ranking gave you some insight in what might be the best Terraforming Mars expansion for you.

If you have any questions left, please let us know through our contact form. We would love to answer your questions and embed those answers in our post for the benefit of future readers.