cover image for an article listing the best alternatives similar to terraforming mar board game

Top Board Games If You Like: Terraforming Mars

Top Board Games If You Like: Terraforming Mars

Terraforming Mars is a beloved board game known for its deep strategy, rich thematic elements, and intricate gameplay. If you're a fan of Terraforming Mars (like we did) and looking for similar experiences, you're in the right place. Here, we explore best other games that offer the same strategic depth and thematic richness.

Related: Terraforming Mars review.

gaming board of terraforming mars board game

If You Loved the Mechanics of Terraforming Mars

Ark Nova

Description: This might be the most compared board game to Terraforming Mars. In Ark Nova, players plan and develop modern zoos to support conservation projects worldwide. The game combines tile placement, card drafting, and strategic planning elements.

Key Features: Strategic depth with a focus on building and resource management. The game offers a unique theme with a strong emphasis on environmental conservation.

Why You Might Like It: Fans of Terraforming Mars will enjoy Ark Nova's strategic depth and thematic richness, as well as its unique focus on conservation.

Gaia Project

Description: Also set in space setting similar to Terraforming Mars, The Gaia Project is a highly strategic game where players take on the roles of different factions trying to terraform planets and expand their galactic civilizations. Each faction has unique abilities, and the game features a modular board, variable player powers, and numerous strategies for achieving victory.

Key Features: The game offers a similar level of depth and strategic planning to Terraforming Mars, with a strong emphasis on resource management and long-term strategy. The modular board setup ensures a different experience for each game.

Why You'll Like It: If you enjoy Terraforming Mars's strategic complexity and thematic richness, Gaia Project provides a similarly deep gameplay experience set in an expansive space theme.

Underwater Cities

Description: In Underwater Cities, players build underwater cities by managing resources and developing infrastructure. The game combines card drafting with city-building mechanics.

Key Features: Strategic complexity with a unique underwater theme. Players must balance resources and plan their city layouts to maximize efficiency and growth.

Why You'll Like It: The strategic depth and innovative theme of Underwater Cities will appeal to those who enjoy the resource management and planning aspects of Terraforming Mars.

On Mars

Description: On Mars is a deep and complex game where players work as astronauts, establishing and developing the first colony on Mars. The game involves managing resources, building infrastructure, and completing missions.

Key Features: High strategic complexity, multiple paths to victory, and a strong thematic presence.

Why You'll Like It: If you love the Martian setting of Terraforming Mars, On Mars offers an even more detailed and immersive strategic experience.

Ares Expedition: The Terraforming Mars Card Game

Description: Ares Expedition is a card game adaptation of Terraforming Mars. It streamlines the experience into a faster-paced, card-driven format while retaining the core mechanics and thematic elements.

Key Features: Card drafting, engine building, and familiar thematic elements.

Why You'll Like It: If you love Terraforming Mars but want a quicker, more portable version, Ares Expedition offers a similar strategic depth in a more compact format.

close up of the card "space mirrors" from the terraforming mars board game

If You Love the Space Theme

Related article: Top Space-Themed Board games.

Race for the Galaxy

Description: Race for the Galaxy is a card game where players build galactic civilizations through card drafting and tableau building. Players must balance exploration, development, and settlement to create the most prosperous empire.

Key Features: Fast-paced gameplay with significant strategic depth. The game offers a rich thematic experience and requires players to adapt their strategies based on the cards they draw.

Why You'll Like It: Race for the Galaxy's thematic similarities and strategic choice. Race for the Galaxy it a great choice for fans of Terraforming Mars looking for a quicker, card-driven game. 

Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy

Description: Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy is a space exploration game where players manage resources, develop technologies, and engage in strategic combat to expand their influence across the Galaxy.

Key Features: Combines strategic combat, exploration, and resource management. The game offers a grand scale and deep strategic elements, making each game session unique.

Why You'll Like It: The expansive space theme and deep strategic gameplay make Eclipse a perfect choice for fans of Terraforming Mars looking for a similarly epic experience.

Pulsar 2849

Description: Pulsar 2849 is a dice-drafting game set in space where players explore the galaxGalaxyelop new technologies and build megastructures.

Key Features: Innovative dice-drafting mechanic, varied strategies, and engaging space exploration theme.

Why You'll Like It: The game's blend of dice management and strategic planning provides a fresh take on space-themed board games.

Different to Terraforming Mars, but You Still Might Like It


Description: Set in an alternate-history 1920s, Scythe is a game of conquest, territory control, and resource management. Players control different factions, each with unique abilities, and strive to gain control of territories, build structures, and deploy mechs.

Key Features: Combines deep strategic gameplay with stunning artwork and high-quality components. The game balances combat, economic strategy, and resource management.

Why You'll Like It: Fans of Terraforming Mars will appreciate Scythe's strategic complexity, immersive world-building, and balance of multiple game mechanics. 

Spirit Island

Description: Spirit Island is a cooperative game where players embody spirits defending their island from invading colonizers. Each spirit has unique powers and abilities, and players must work together to repel the invaders and reclaim their island.

Key Features: This game offers deep strategic planning and cooperative gameplay. It includes variable power sets and asymmetrical gameplay, providing a fresh challenge each session.

Why You'll Like It: Spirit Island offers a different take on strategic planning and resource management, with the added element of cooperative play that requires careful coordination and strategy.

Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization

Description: Through the Ages is a civilization-building game in which players guide their societies through different ages, developing technologies, governments, and wonders while managing resources and the military.

Key Features: The game is known for its complex resource management and strategic depth. It offers a grand scale of civilization development, requiring long-term planning and adaptability.

Why You'll Like It: If you enjoy the grand strategy, resource- and card- management in Terraforming Mars, Through the Ages provides a similarly expansive and rewarding experience.

Great Western Trail

Description: Great Western Trail is a game of cattle ranching where players navigate the Old West, managing herds and developing their ranches through strategic movement and resource management.

Key Features: Combines deck-building with strategic movement and resource management. The game offers deep strategy and engaging mechanics.

Why You'll Like It: The blend of deck-building and strategic planning in Great Western Trail provides a rich and engaging experience for fans of complex board games like Terraforming Mars. 

Brass: Birmingham

Description: Brass: Birmingham is an economic strategy game set during the Industrial Revolution, where players build networks and industries to develop their economic power.

Key Features: Deep economic strategy and resource management. The game offers complex decision-making and strategic depth.

Why You'll Like It: Fans of strategic planning and resource management in Terraforming Mars will appreciate the economic depth and historical theme of Brass: Birmingham. 

>We gave it the perfect score! Check out the full Brass: Birmingham review here.

Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar

Description: Tzolk'in is a worker placement game with a unique gear mechanism that represents the Mayan calendar. Players place workers on gears that rotate each round, planning their actions to maximize resources and score points.

Key Features: Unique rotating gear mechanics, deep strategic planning, and historical theme.

Why You'll Like It: Fans of strategic planning and resource management will appreciate the innovative mechanics and depth of Tzolk'in. 


Description: Anachrony is a sci-fi worker placement game where players travel through time to gather resources, build structures, and prepare for an impending catastrophe.

Key Features: Time travel mechanics, strong narrative, and strategic depth.

Why You'll Like It: The unique time travel element adds a layer of strategy and complexity that fans of Terraforming Mars will enjoy. Also the sci-fi setting is a plus!

Clans of Caledonia

Description: Clans of Caledonia is an economic game set in 19th century Scotland where players expand their territories, trade goods, and manage resources.

Key Features: Deep economic strategy, resource management, and variable player powers.

Why You'll Like It: Fans of strategic resource management and economic games will appreciate the depth and complexity of Clans of Caledonia.

Sid Meier's Civilization: A New Dawn

Description: Civilization: A New Dawn is a streamlined version of the classic Civilization board games, where players build their empires, advance technologies, and manage resources.

Key Features: Area control, technology tree, and varied win conditions.

Why You'll Like It: The game's emphasis on civilization building and strategic planning makes it a great fit for fans of Terraforming Mars.


Description: Barrage is a resource management and strategic planning game where players compete to build dams, divert water, and generate energy.

Key Features: Unique water flow mechanic, resource management, and strategic depth.

Why You'll Like It: The innovative water management mechanics and deep strategy will appeal to those who enjoy the resource planning in Terraforming Mars.

Endeavor: Age of Sail

Description: Endeavor: Age of Sail is a strategy game set in the Age of Exploration, where players develop their empires through trade, industry, and conquest.

Key Features: Area control, resource management, and historical theme.

Why You'll Like It: The blend of exploration, resource management, and strategic depth offers a rewarding experience similar to Terraforming Mars.

Glen More II: Chronicles

Description: Glen More II: Chronicles is a tile-laying and resource-management game set in Scotland, where players expand their clan territories and manage resources.

Key Features: Tile placement, resource management, and variable player powers.

Why You'll Like It: The game's strategic depth and modular expansion system provide a dynamic and engaging experience for fans of complex board games. 

active game or terraforming mars board game, top down picture


City building board games offer diverse experiences, from strategic planning to creative construction. Whether you're managing resources in Suburbia or building skyscrapers in Manhattan, these games provide endless entertainment and challenge.

We'd love to hear your thoughts! Share your favorite games similar to Terraforming Mars and any tips you have for fellow gamers in the comments below.

Related Articles:

Board Game Review: Terraforming Mars

Top Space-Themed Board Games

Top Board Games If You Like Brass: Birmingham

Best Bang for Buck: Top Value-For-Money Board & Card Games


Looking for a new card game to play with your friends?

The Spheres of Life: Mythical Forest is a new competitive fantasy card game for 2-7 Players. From stunning design to fun gameplay, this exciting game can be a fantastic addition to your family and friends' game nights!

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