Jed picked up the new Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition game for me at Target the other day. It was a Kickstarter project, but due to complications, Kickstarter backers won’t get their copies for a bit, but you can now buy it exclusively at Target. So we played a game last night, and are playing it again now.
Jed says it’s essentially a combination of TM and Race for the Galaxy — I haven’t played the latter, so I can’t speak to that. I’d say it’s a stripped down TM; you can play it quite a bit faster, as they’ve eliminated various elements — the awards and milestones, the territory on the board.
There really isn’t much new, as such — a few cards, and the turn-taking mechanism is a little different, but it’s not like the other expansions that really added new mechanics.
I’m not sure if it’d be a good introduction to TM — maybe? I might try teaching Anand and see if he takes to it; Kavi already plays the regular TM, but Anand has shied off, seeing it as too complicated. Both games require a lot of reading fluency, which he didn’t have until recently. You’re essentially engaged in parallel play, building your separate Mars terraforming engines, and it’s only occasionally that you really interact much with the other players, except in the competing for points.
Anyway, had fun playing last night as Helion, having fun playing now as Ecoline. (No new corporations with this.) You wouldn’t want to combine this with the other TM games, I think; keep its separate box and cards. So it’s not really an expansion; more a different iteration of the game.