Terraforming Mars expansions

Here we will list the Terraforming Mars expansions and answer the question; which is the best Terraforming Mars expansion?

Terraforming Mars expansions
Posted 23 May 2020 by Jay Kay

Which is the best Terraforming Mars expansion? How many are there? Look no further, we've got you covered.

Here we will list the expansions for Terraforming Mars and do some commentary. They are presented in the order of our favorite on top, and our least favorite on the bottom. What might be interesting for you to know, is that this order seems to be consensus within the Terraforming Mars community.

Terraforming Mars Prelude

TerraExp - Prelude

This Terraforming Mars expansion is our favorite, and it's probably the smallest one when it comes to components. It will fit in the base game box with no issues whatsoever. 

It contains 5 new corporations, and 7 new project cards, which are all nice. But the main thing about this expansion is the Prelude cards.

These are quite simple but change the game in such a nice way that you probably will not ever play TM again without them. Players will be dealt 4 of these at the start of the game together with the corporation cards and the starting project cards, and of these 4, 2 will be picked and the rest are discarded. These cards will provide you with very nice bonuses from the start of the game and provides a very interesting start to the game where you have to decide the best combination of corporation, prelude, and project cards.

As players start with more much-needed resources/bonuses, the game progresses quicker, which is very nice, especially so when combining it with other expansions that add game time. An essential expansion to Terraforming Mars. Fact.

  • Designer(s): Jacob Fryxelius
  • Cost: 20$

This one might be hard to get your hands on at the moment.

Hellas and Elysium

TerraExp - Hellas and Elysium

This expansion was the first one released and contains a double-sided board with 2 new maps, Hellas and Elysium.

They play very much like the original but obviously there's gonna be some differences, Hellas for an example has a lot of greenery in the north, and heat on the bottom, where there's a huge glacier on the south pole. You can melt this glacier and place and ocean for free. 
Oh yeah, oceans, unlike the base map this one has a big crater, HELLAS PLANITIA, waiting to be filled with water, so there's a pretty big difference there.

The other map, Elysium, is much like the original one, except for a lot of water in the north of the map. 

But, the biggest difference these two maps to the game is that they bring new MILESTONES and AWARDS unique to each map, which changes the feel of the game as you are racing for other stuff than the original map.

All-in-all a great Terraforming Mars expansion that will fit nicely to your original box.

  • Designer(s): Jacob Fryxelius
  • Cost: 20$

A solid addition to the game that adds more variety, currently on sale (15$)

Terraforming Mars: Colonies

TerraExp - Colonies

As the name suggests, this will add the possibility to colonize other parts of the Solar system, mostly moons like Titan, Europa, and Io, but also Pluto (11 in total). Each game of TM you will add a number of these equal to the player count + 2, except when playing 2 players, then you will add 3.

The expansion adds 2 extra standard actions, the first being able to build a colony on one of these places for 17 credits. You will get bonuses for doing this, for example, you will get +1 plant production when colonizing Ganymede and you will get Titanium when colonizing Titan. There are only 3 spots on each colony that players can claim so in 4 player+ games there might be some racing for these spots.

The other action you can do is to trade with these colonies, getting resources from them. Any player who has a colony on the place in question will receive bonus resources. This action costs 9 credits, or 3 power, or 3 Titanium. (More actions for power? yay). The interesting thing here is that value of trading with the colonies increase each generation, and resets when someone does the trade. In the Ganymede case, this ranges from 1 to 6 plants you will get for trading with that colony.

This expansion also comes with new project cards, corporations, and tokens. 

We would rate it the most advanced expansion on this list so far. It will also add some playtime, but not by a large amount. Recommended.

  • Designer(s): Jacob Fryxelius & Jonathan Fryxelius
  • Cost: 30$

A more advanced expansion that adds even more variety to Terraformin Mars.

Terraforming Mars: Turmoil

TerraExp - Turmoil

Turmoil is by far the most complex expansion for Terraforming Mars. It adds a lot of game time, and combined with some other expansions, drafting, and so on, it will simply take too long to play. It's a shame though as the expansion is a lot of fun. It adds a layer of politics to the game, where players compete to take control of the different political parties on Mars, which adds a ton of interactivity to the game. There are also events, basically effects that affect all players, and you will know which event will happen next generation so you can prepare for it. There's a lot going on in this expansion

This expansion also comes with quite a bunch of new project cards that will integrate with other expansions like Venus and Colonies. As always, there are new coorporations as well, 5 of them.

  • Designer(s): Jacob Fryxelius
  • Cost: 30$

This expansion is only recommended for experts of the game.

Terraforming Mars: Venus Next

TerraExp - Venus

In this expansion, you will terraform Venus along with Mars, which unfolds on another small board with a 4th global parameter track to keep an eye on. The board also contains a couple of spots for extra cities. The 4th global parameter does not have to be fulfilled for the game to end, so we are still terraforming Mars, but we're kind of terraforming Venus on the side, if we want to.

This is the premise, which is a bit meh, and this expansion also introduces a new resource, "Floaters" which interact with the Venus board. There's also a new milestone and a new award, which give you more variety. There are also 5 new corporations and a TON of new project cards, more than 50 of them.

This expansion is OK, but by no means essential. It also adds time and fiddliness to the game. Our least favorite expansion to date.

  • Designer(s): Jacob Fryxelius
  • Cost: 30$

This is not the best Terraforming Mars expansion, but it is by no means bad.

Terraforming Mars storage solution: Smonex Wood

TerraExp - Storage

Lastly, we would like to adress to storage issue with the game. There are quite a lot of them on the market, and the most famous one is probably the Broken Token Box Organizer, which is really nice, and built to hold Venus Next, Hellas & Elysium, and Prelude. Requires assembly, but it's not very complicated.. :)

However, we would like to introduce Smonex solution which is just delicious, and holds all expansions. Made of quality wood and according to Smonex, it's 30% lighter than similar soultions. The organizer is also built to support sleeved cards. For more info about sleeved cards read our article about Terraforming Mars sleeves. Have a look at these images.

Smonex Terraforming Mars solution
These images speaks for themselves.. Absolutely beatiful.
Smonex Terraforming Mars solution
Your sleeved card won't have any problems fitting.
  • Designer(s): SMONEX
  • Cost: 60$

This storage solution is awsome, but expensive (Around 70 bucks).