Terraforming Mars Strategy − How Do You Really Win?

We all want to be the first person on Mars and terraforming is a key step in getting there. But how do you win at Terraforming Mars? It’s not as easy as it sounds. Terraforming Mars has been out for over two years now, and we’ve seen many different strategies that people use to try and win this game. In this blog post, we’ll cover some of the best strategies for winning Terraforming Mars!

What Is Terraforming Mars?

Terraforming is the process of making another planet habitable for human life. In Terraforming Mars, you are competing with other players to terraform mars and become the first person on that planet! It’s not as easy as it sounds though…


The game board is broken up into different regions. Each of these regions has a certain number of spaces that are available for you to put development cards on during the course of the game. You can place one card per turn in each region that doesn’t already have three cards played (or placed) in it, and if there aren’t any face-up cards left then you may play two instead. In addition to this base state – which looks like this:

Terraforming consists primarily of playing Development Cards from your hand or acquiring them indirectly through other means such as via milestones or by removing heat from oceans/ice caps when they flip over.

The Development Cards fall under three categories: Green, Orange, and Blue. They all cost energy to purchase, and you gain energy by placing workers on the card. When you play a Development Card though, it has an immediate effect before disappearing into your discard pile (face-up). However many times that same card is in your deck/hand – its benefits are cumulative! So if I played this card first turn and then later drew this card out of my hand to play again.

Best Terraforming Mars Strategies

There are many different ways to win at Terraforming Mars. Some people love focusing heavily on their cards or technology tree while others think that victory points should be your top priority. I’ve seen some games where players spread themselves thin getting a ton of different things developed but never truly winning because they didn’t stick with one strategy long enough to succeed!

The Technologies Strategy

One way to quickly win at Terraforming Mars is to get all of the technologies developed. This will give you more points than any other strategy and can be done in around 15 or so turns if you prioritize correctly!

You want to focus on getting cards that help develop new technologies early on, while also making sure not too many negative developments happen before your next turn. Once you have a solid number of technology cards (around 17), play them out every turn until one of the players reaches 45 victory points – this usually takes about 13-14 rounds depending on how everyone else plays.

The Red Planet Strategy

Another way people win at Terraforming Mars is by focusing heavily on terraforming their own tiles as much as possible with development cards like “Terraform”, which gives +$/+additional production. You’ll have to develop a lot of cards and technology, but this strategy can pay off big time if you’re able to get all your tiles up to six or more levels each!

The Focusing Strategy

This is another common Terraforming Mars strategy that I’ve seen work well for many different players. They focus on just one type of development card at a time until they reach the end game – usually either VP’s or technologies/cards depending on their priorities from earlier in the game. When picking what types of developments you want make sure not to pick them based on how far away they are (because other people might beat you there), instead go after those closest to winning as fast as possible!

The Low-End Strategy

This is a strategy that I’ve used to win at Terraforming Mars before. You focus on getting low development cards like “Mining” and cheap technology cards early in the game, while also only doing one or two of your own tiles each round (instead of three). Once you reach around 20 victory points, start focusing solely on developing expensive technologies/cards. If you can get into this mindset it’s possible for you to complete 15 more developments than most other players!

The VPS Only Strategy

Finally, if none of these strategies sound good so far there’s always the option to just go for VP‘s by themselves! One way some people have won with this strategy is by using all their resources on every turn to buy as many different development cards that cost two or three VPs. You might not get the best technology early on, but if you keep focusing on these low-end developments each round they can add up very quickly!

This strategy is risky because it’s easy for other people to steal your valuable VP resources, which means you need a lot of luck in order to win with this one – especially at higher player counts!

There are definitely more strategies out there than just what I’ve listed here… But hopefully reading about some of the most popular ones will give you an idea of where to start looking when trying out Terraforming Mars yourself.

Building An Engine

Terraforming Mars is a game that requires players to spend their resources in order to gain more, which means it’s important for everyone at the table to have access to lots of different things! This often leads people towards building engine-like developments early on – I’ve seen many engines win games before, but they do take some time and effort.

Another way players can get ahead with this strategy is by using cards like “Habitat” or “+$/+cards”, both of which give you additional actions each turn – thus allowing you an opportunity to build even more! If all goes well these types of cards usually lead to developing expensive VP cards since there are so many actions available during the game.

It’s definitely worth noting though that developing expensive VP cards early on will probably put you too far ahead of other players, which can be very detrimental if they’re drawing low-end developments and it costs a lot to block them!

Prioritizing Actions and The Goal

This brings me to my final point: if you’re building an engine it’s important to prioritize your actions and make sure they line up with what other people are doing! It can be tempting early on in the game (especially at higher player counts) for everyone to just grab as many different developments as possible, but this often leads to players not having enough cards or VPs left over by the end of the game.

Instead try prioritizing developing one type of development each round – whether that means focusing heavily on their own tiles only, VP’s, or something else entirely! Being able to block off opponents from getting certain types of resources is a great way to stop their engines cold and give yourself a much better chance at winning.

City Placement

As I mentioned before, it’s important to prioritize what you’re doing each round. This often means that players will want to place their cities onto tiles that give them the most points or resources – especially if they aren’t focusing on developing something specific! Just keep in mind though, because certain development cards can be so powerful having your city placed next to an opponent’s city might leave you with fewer opportunities than everyone else during a game.

How Many Players Should This Game Be Played With?

Terraforming Mars is a game best played by four players because it’s the highest player count and games can sometimes struggle with finding enough tiles for everyone when playing with less.

I’ve tried Terraforming Mars at different numbers of players, but I find that three & five end up being too slow while two ends up feeling like there isn’t much to do on your turn since you’re only concerned about one other person is doing each round.

However – if you don’t have four friends around to play this awesome board game then feel free to give all these suggested player counts a try anyway! It might not be 100% optimal, but it’ll still be fun nonetheless! Plus some people will enjoy having fewer options during their turn and more time to think about what they can do.

If you really enjoy Terraforming Mars with fewer players then maybe try playing it every other round or so instead of always having four people each game, since there’s no rule against changing the player count for different rounds if everyone agrees! But otherwise, I’d recommend sticking to this suggested minimum player number whenever possible.

Tips for Playing Terraforming Mars Corporation Strategy

It might be a good idea to brush up on some useful tips before starting your first playthrough as well:

  • Look at all the development cards available and prioritize buying those that give you the most VP (and money) per VPS spent.
  • Only buy tiles/power plants when absolutely necessary because these cost two VPS apiece – which is almost never worth it compared to what else you could be doing.
  • Keep your development cards/tiles hidden until the last possible moment so nobody knows what’s coming up next – this gives you an advantage. Yes, even if someone accuses you of cheating since they didn’t read the rules correctly.
  • Try to pick tiles that give you at least one energy per round so they pay for themselves.
  • Take turns as soon as possible because most of the time it doesn’t really matter who goes first – this gives you an advantage.

How do I keep track of my score? It’s pretty easy to lose count during Terraforming Mars and accidentally spend more than 45 VPS, which is what usually happens with me and everyone else I’ve played with too! The best way around this problem is by using a pen & paper or some other tracking method like on your phone (that won’t get ruined from all those little red power plant tiles rubbing off on it), and I’d recommend doing this even if you’re playing with a calculator app.

This way nobody has to ask how many VPS they have left every single time somebody else takes their turn, which can get pretty annoying for everyone after the first hour or so of playtime! Nobody wants that.

How Long Does a Game Usually Take?

This is hard for me to say because I’ve played two very different versions of Terraforming Mars now! With only three players around once we’d been playing awhile everyone started getting pretty familiar with each other and all knew which tiles would end up being available within the first couple turns based on how everyone else was playing, so the game ended up moving really quickly.

With four players I found that games would take forever to get started because it takes a few turns before you even start seeing any tiles available for purchase or auctions – which can make your early choices very difficult if nobody has much money! Plus with only two other people focusing on what you’re doing in every round then there’s less competition at this point too.

So overall Terraforming Mars definitely plays faster when played with more than three players around (depending on how familiar they are with each other).

I’d say average playthroughs will probably take about an hour and fifteen minutes unless you have some extremely slow/new/chatty friends who like to discuss everything in detail – then it might take closer to two hours.


Terraforming Mars is an awesome game for people who enjoy making choices, having lots of options available, and spending time thinking everything through carefully before moving ahead. Overall it’s one of my favorite games now because there are always so many different strategies you could try working on at once since every playthrough will be unique depending on which tiles get picked first and by whom! But I hope this guide has helped show you how to think about your tiles and other resources while playing too, so hopefully it should make for a more fun experience next time around!

Leave a Comment