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Terraforming Mars Prelude Expansion Review

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All board game reviews and ratings from “A Pair of Meeples” are entirely based on the game at two players. You can learn more about our rating system by clicking below.


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Do you hate how long it takes to build multi-million dollar intergalactic corporations?  Well then, Terraforming Mars Prelude might be the perfect expansion for you, jumpstart your terraforming endeavors with this expansion and save a few generations worth of work!

Terraforming Mars Prelude Review

8.5 out of 10

Is it Good For Two Players? : Yes especially for two players!

From the slight reduction in game length to the feeling of getting into the action faster, almost everything about Terraforming Mars Prelude is positive for us.  Not to mention the added variety to the starting setup of your corporation makes the initial card selection more interesting as you will now also be able to select prelude cards that work well with your starting project cards and corporation. 

Theme: 8/10
Replayability: 7/10
Components: 5/10
Conflict: 2/10
Fun: 6/10

Husband’s Rating
9 out of 10
Wife’s Rating
8 out of 10

Pros

Reduces the game length

Adds more variety to the game

Very simple and easy to learn expansion

Keeps core gameplay the same

Cons

Limited new project cards

Gameplay Experience:

This is officially our first full review of a board game expansion, which might say a little about what we think of Terraforming Mars Prelude.  If you read our recent review of Terraforming Mars, you know it’s a game we really enjoy, but we did have a few gripes about it, including game length.

I couldn’t keep convincing my wife to play a game that takes the entire night to play over and over again so off to the internet I went to find a way to make games of Terraforming Mars go a little quicker.  Many people suggested that the long games were just due to the lower player count, but I was determined to find a way to make the game a little less burdensome to pull out.

Eventually, I found my way to the Terraforming Mars Prelude expansion discussions and realized this might be the answer.  I ordered it instantly and we set up to play with the expansion once it arrived.  Prelude is one of the most simplistic board game expansions we have probably ever used.

It doesn’t change the core gameplay in the slightest, which makes it really easy to learn how to play and add to the game.  This expansion just includes a deck of new starting cards, corporation cards, and a couple of project cards.

Terraforming Mars Prelude Corporation Cards
Terraforming Mars Prelude Corporation Cards

The most significant aspect of Terraforming Mars Prelude is the new starting cards, called prelude cards.  These cards give you a boost right at the beginning of the game.  Some of them increase your production levels, some give you money, others let you draw more cards, and some even increase terraforming parameters.  

Terraforming Mars Prelude Cards
Terraforming Mars Prelude Cards

After the initial setup and gaining the benefits of your selected prelude cards, the expansion has little direct effect on the rest of the game, other than those few new project cards.  The slow beginning of the game is reduced with very little change to how the game feels to play.    

You feel like you’re in the action faster and in reality, what would take a few generations to build is now started before you even take a turn.   Once you’re used to the expansion, we would argue it probably cuts between 15-30 minutes off of game time.  This isn’t dramatic but it definitely helps and is a pretty good reduction considering it doesn’t change the overall feel of the game in the slightest. 

Our games still take quite a while, but Terraforming Mars Prelude makes them a little quicker and makes the early game seem a bit more exciting.  We always play with this expansion and likely will never not use it, because in our opinion it provides quite a few benefits with no additional negatives.

Terraforming Mars Prelude Rules Summary:

Terraforming Mars Prelude is a dead simple expansion and is super easy to add to your games.  It has a few new corporation and project cards, but the only new concept it introduces to the game is the prelude cards.

At the start of the game, players are now also dealt four prelude cards and can pick two to keep.  These cards are typically used immediately, and players just need to gain the benefits of the cards they decide to keep.  Sometimes they will give players more money or higher production of a particular resource.  

These benefits are typically gained before the game begins and any normal actions are taken but some prelude cards can have an ongoing effect throughout the game.  

That’s all there really is to Terraforming Mars Prelude though, like we said it’s pretty darn simple to add it to your games and it doesn’t take long for players to familiarize themselves with the cards and how they work.

Conclusion:

Terraforming Mars Prelude might be one of the most essential expansions we currently have in our collection.  It improves the game without any negative consequences in our opinion and fixes many of the issues that some players might have with the base game.

From the slight reduction in game length to the feeling of getting into the action faster, everything about Prelude is positive for us.  Not to mention the added variety to the starting setup of your corporation makes the initial card selection more interesting as you will now also be able to select prelude cards that work well with your starting project cards and corporation.  

All these benefits are even more impressive with how easy it is to add to the game and use.  Overall Terraforming Mars Prelude might not have a lot in terms of new content, but in our opinion that content is very impactful and truly improves the game. 

Is Terraforming Mars Prelude Good For 2 Players?

If you haven’t already gathered were a fan of Terraforming Mars Prelude, but when it comes to two player games of Terraforming Mars, we would argue this expansion is even more essential.

As we said before Terraforming Mars game length is one of ours and others biggest issues with the game, with two player games typically taking the longest. This is due to fewer players contributing to raising oxygen and temperature and placing ocean tiles.

While Prelude only takes probably 10-15 minutes off the total game length, it significantly makes the game feel shorter and better especially when playing with only two players.  Two player games can drag on in the early and end game. You might still have to deal with a player stalling at the end of the game but at least this expansion gets rid of that slow start.

Overall, with two player games of Terraforming Mars taking so long, we would argue this is a must-buy expansion for anybody who plays this game consistently at this player count.  You might think it doesn’t significantly reduce the game length, and we would agree, but at least it does a little, but most importantly it just makes the game “feel” less long, which makes the game much easier to bring to the table in our opinion.

Pros:

  • Reduces the game length.  It may only shave off 15-30 minutes of total playtime, but the time it does cut out is the least enjoyable time of the game.
  • Adds more variety to the game.  The new prelude cards give you even more options and strategies to think about as you try to effectively pair them with your starting corporation and project cards.
  • Very simple and easy to learn expansion.  Takes practically no effort to add to the base game.
  • Keeps core gameplay the same and doesn’t change the overall feel of the game.

Cons:

  • Limited new project cards.  7 new project cards just doesn’t feel like very many, but hey at least there are some.
Terraforming Mars Prelude Project Cards
Terraforming Mars Prelude Project Cards

Terraforming Mars Prelude
Terraforming Mars Prelude
Terraforming Mars Prelude

We hope this Terraforming Mars Prelude two player review has helped you.

Our reviews are not paid reviews, but some games are given to us, we do not let this affect our opinions in any way. This post may contain affiliate links so we might receive compensation if you sign up for or purchase products linked to. As an Amazon Associate, we can earn from qualifying purchases. This helps cover our site's costs and allows us to continue reviewing games.


If you want to check out our full review of the Terraforming Mars base game you can find that here: Terraforming Mars Board Game Review


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