top of page
  • Writer's pictureJW

Are oranges the apples killer? Underwater Cities vs Terraforming Mars

Terraforming Mars is in my top-3 solo games at the moment. I'm also closing in on 100 plays, which is not the same, as I play some favourites just a handful times a year. It's often compared to Underwater Cities, which happens to be my most recent acquisition. And while I love Underwater Cities as well (I've played it 12 times, and the first week isn't over yet), something weird happened to me. The game never, ever, made me think of Terraforming Mars.

Of course you can compare Underwater Cities to Terraforming Mars. When we are talking component quality for instance. Good lord. And yes, both have cards and a tableau. But I'm more interested in gameplay. Let me try to explain in broad strokes (ignoring some cool twists both games have that make them each great in their own league).


Underwater Cities plays like your typical euro worker placement game. Like in Nusfjord for example, every turn you place one of your three workers to get or use resources - and these workers block your opponent (or in solo: the AI blocks some actions from you every turn). With your hand of cards and the tableau you try to get temporary bonuses that will help you during gameplay. There are a few separate production rounds (that feel a lot like the harvest phases in Agricola, you even have to feed your workers 😨) and the usual over-the-top euro end scoring round. In this round everything - from cities to buildings to some cards to resources - is converted into victory points. VP kelp salad.


Terraforming Mars is an engine builder, where you produce resources every round. Then use them to produce more resources in your next round etc. There are no workers to be placed, no action spaces to be blocked. The amount and availability of your actions are only limited by the resources you have. You lay out your cards in a tableau, and the first game that comes to mind to compare it to is Race for the Galaxy. It is no coincidence that the card game version Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition will have similar action phases as that game (or as Puerto Rico if you want to be pedantic).


So. If you enjoy playing similar feeling games:

  • For Underwater Cities, try one of Uwe Rosenberg's euro games. These are the Everdell killers.

  • For Terraforming Mars, try one of Tom Lehmann "for the Galaxy" games. These are the Wingspan killers.

If you like variety in your collection like I do, Underwater Cities will coexist happily with Terraforming Mars. Go for the fruitbowl! Add Elder Sign. And Comanchería. And Legendary Encounters: Alien. Live and let live, I say. Or you'll get lonely.



So you live in the bottom of the sea,

And you kill all that come near you...

But you are very lonely, because all the other fish fear you


338 views8 comments

Recent Posts

See All

8 comentários


Nick Bolton
Nick Bolton
28 de abr. de 2021

I was interested to read this as I have and enjoy Underwater Cities, and I’m waiting for Terraforming Mars to arrive.


Race for the Galaxy is great solo too (the original card game).


I love Arkham Horror 2nd edition (don’t have Elder Sign), Navajo Wars is great (don’t have Comanchería) and Legendary Encounters (alien card game) is also not bad.

Curtir
Nick Bolton
Nick Bolton
29 de abr. de 2021
Respondendo a

Yes - you need the first expansion, in addition to the base game, to get the robot (AI) opponent.


I use all the first arc expansions when playing solo.

You can use the majority of the modules for solo play and varied AI difficulty settings mean you can chose the one that gives the challenge you prefer, and increase it as you improve.


I particularly like using prestige to get points.

It’s still a game I enjoy playing, after owning it for many years.

Curtir

Derek
Derek
28 de abr. de 2021

Great post JW! You and Athena have both got me curious about Underwater Cities. Although I don't appreciate the "kill Wingspan" comment. It made me sad. 😣

Curtir
JW
JW
28 de abr. de 2021
Respondendo a

With new card effects and new end round goals (and a few smart cards for the automa), the European expansion brought more variety to the game. Also: purple eggs! 👍🏻


I've heard conflicting opinions about the Oceania expansion, so I think I'll skip that one.

Curtir
bottom of page