If you like a game called Citadels then there’s a really good chance you’ll like Mission: Red Planet. If you don’t like Citadels, you should still give it a shot. They’re similar games, but they both have they’re own flavour. Finally if you’ve never tried Citadels…what’s wrong with you? It’s a great game! Go right now and play it!
Bruno Faidutti had a hand in both. He teamed up with Bruno Cathala to create an excellent role selection/area control game in Mission: Red Planet. The technology is ready. The experts are on hand to offer their services. Gleaming metal rockets line the launch pad.
The Mission is to colonize Mars with as many astronauts as you can and to control the various territories of the mysterious Red Planet. You have a team of experts to help you with your goal. Each round every player selects from hands of nine role cards including The Pilot, The Explorer, The Travel Agent etc. and reveal at the same time. The roles are resolved by card number (lowest goes first) and each player gets to carry out their actions. Actions usually consist of adding 1-3 astronauts to rockets that have not yet filled and some sort of special bonus move depending on the character. After all the roles have been resolved all full rockets launch and are replaced in the blast pad. Their astronaut passengers are dropped off at the Mars territory marked on the ship. If it’s a scoring round points will be awarded or left in the territory for future rounds in the case of a tie.
Mars is rich with elements of different value and you won’t know what you’re going to get until you explore the provinces. Two new elements have been discovered, Celerium and Sylvanite can be found as well as ice pockets on the planet’s surface. There are three scoring phases in the game, at the end of the 5th, 8th and 10th rounds. If you have the most astronauts in a territory you will get points in the form of element tokens. If there is a tie for the most, then no one receives the point tokens. They are left in the territory to be awarded during the next scoring phase.
The Scientist role can get you Event cards. An Event card is either a bonus, that can score you points at the end of the game or a discovery that can be played face down on a territory. It may be good for the astronauts in that territory or bad…only you will know for sure.
So, what’s so great about it? Like the aforementioned Citadels, Mission: Red Planet has a huge ‘take that’ feeling to it. You can assassinate your opponent’s astronauts, change the destination of a rocket and just generally screw each other over. The art is amazing! It’s very steam punk with each role card looking like they were pulled from a Jules Verne story. I think of the many things I like about this awesome game, the best is that I’ve had great success teaching it to new people. The gameplay is simple, the goals are pretty clear and the whole game takes less than an hour to play. All elements of a good gateway game. I routinely have people want to play agin right after we finish.
So, as I said if you’re not into Citadels or other similar ‘mean’ games where your best strategy might be to beat on your opponents, then I’d give Mission: Red Planet a pass. However, if the idea of destroying an enemy’s carefully thought out plan warms the cockles of your heart give it a shot! One thing to note this game can be pretty hard to find, so if you see one on the market, snatch it up! You won’t regret that find!