Best TerraForming Mars Expansion [2020]

TerraForming Mars is a very popular board game. There’s also some expansions available and in this post we want to share what we consider the best TerraForming Mars expansion and why.

  • Enables quicker games
  • Essential expansion

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 our favorite TerraForming Mars expansion. We would even go so far as saying that it’s an essential expansion.

  • More maps
  • More variety
  • More replayability

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 we strongly recommend it for people that have played the base game of TerraForming Mars several times.

  • More player interaction
  • Makes Energy stronger

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.

  • Introduces politics
  • More player interactions

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.

We still really like Turmoil though. 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.

  • Ehh... adds Venus?

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.

Rounding 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.