Terraforming Mars Cooperative Variant

This is my guide to playing Terraforming Mars as a cooperative game. I would recommend this variant for teaching new players how to play Terraforming Mars, as experienced players have a massive advantage in the competitive environment. You can also play this variant if you just want to play Terraforming Mars as a collaborative experience!

Expansion content, when present, will be formatted as follows:

Corporate Era – Colonies – Venus Next – Prelude – Turmoil


The World Government has left the terraforming of Mars up to a select few corporations. You and your allies must now terraform Mars as fast as possible. If you take too long, the World Government may give different corporations the chance to terraform.

  • Before the game starts, after all players have drawn their starting cards and corporations, all players must fund 2 awards. If all awards are already funded, players may fund awards that are already funded, by placing their player cube with the other player’s. Players cannot fund the same award twice.

Actions Phase

Without the influence of outside corporations, you won’t need to time your projects to work around them.

  • You do not need to play in order, all players play as many actions as they want simultaneously.
  • If resources would ever be placed on cards (such as microbes or animals), you may place them on one of your teammate’s cards instead.
  • Awards cost 2 times the current generation number. This price does not increase otherwise.
  • Starting at generation 6, Milestones cost 4 times the current generation number. Before this, Milestones cost 8 M€.

Drawing Cards

As the only corporations terraforming Mars, you will sometimes have to deal with interference from other groups.

  • When a card is drawn for any reason, if it has a negative effect (except removing plants), it is played as if an opponent played it. If the global requirements are met, all players suffer the negative (red box) effects, if possible. If the global requirement has not been met, place a golden (10) cube on the respective spot on the global track. When the track reaches the cube, remove it and carry out the effects on the negative card. For negative blue cards such as Predators and Ants, the negative action is always carried out during the production phase, if possible, only to one player. If the card contains an effect that modifies a global parameter, increase the parameter but do not award TR. Finally, draw a replacement card.

Generation End Effects

Every few generations, the government will check your progress. If you’re too slow, your contract may be revoked.

  • Every fifth generation, right after the Production Phase, you must have a certain amount of oceans, greeneries, cities, and colonies. If you don’t meet this requirement, you have lost. The table below shows how many of each you need at each benchmark generation. The ocean requirement is capped at 9.
    Player Count 2 3 4 5
    Gen 5 1 1 2 2
    Gen 10 4 6 8 10
    Gen 15 8 12 16 20
    Gen 20 12 18 20 20

Terraforming is a risky business, and sometimes things go wrong…

  • Starting at generation 6, generations without tile checks (Just above) have randomized negative effects. Roll two six-sided dice and take the sum. Every 5 effects, the effects become more severe. Starting at generation 11, apply effects twice. Starting at generation 16, apply them three times. Additionally, if you are playing with 4 or more players, double all effects except #10.
    2 Negative Space Card.
    3 Pass your hand to the left.
    4 Remove an Ocean.
    5 Flip over a blue card or pay the cost of the most expensive green card in play.
    6 Negative Building Card.
    7 Lose 1 Energy Production. If you cannot, pay 10 M€ per production.
    8 Negative Microbe, Animal, or Plant Card.
    9 Flip over 3 cards with the most tags. (Players choose in case of ties)
    10 Discard a total of 2 times the player count cards or pay 6 M€ per card saved.
    11 A player must claim an Award for free. If you cannot, pay M€ equal to 4 times the generation.
    12 Each player gains 1 M€ per non-M€ resource production.
  • A “negative” card is a card that is applied negatively. Reveal cards from the deck until you find a card with the specified tag. Invert all positive effects on the bottom of the card. Players may spread the effects among themselves however they choose. Discard the revealed cards that were not used.
  • Flipped over cards no longer contribute cards or effects.

Game End and Scoring

The World Government thanks you for your effort. Your cooperation will be remembered as a symbol of peace and hope to the new world.

  • The game ends when temperature, oxygen, and ocean count are all maxed out. If playing with Venus Next, Venus must also be fully terraformed. Additionally, all players who funded awards must still be winning their awards. If two people funded an award (see Setup), it does not matter which sponsor is the winner and which is the runner-up. If a player that did not fund an award ties with one that did, the game can still end, but neither player gets VP for that award.
  • Double-funded awards give 5 VP to both winners as long as they are above all other players that did not fund the award.
  • Your team’s final score is equal to the score of the lowest scoring player, modified by how fast you terraformed. For every generation before generation 15, you gain 20 VP. If you finished after generation 15, you lose 20 VP for each generation too late you were. If you are playing with the Prelude expansion, decrease your score by 50 points. So far, my best is 171 points (2 players), with my dad!

Expansion Balancing


Other corporations that want to terraform Mars will begin seeking political power. Regaining control will take considerable investment.

  • When delegates are initially placed, place 3 neutral delegates for each symbol, instead of 1.
  • When delegates are placed during Turmoil upkeep, place 3 delegates in the first and last positions, and 1 in each other position. The arrow shows the order that the delegates should be placed in (The order can affect which party becomes dominant).
  • Remember that neutral delegates are unlimited! You can use silver cubes, unused delegates, or other markers to represent more than 14 delegates.
  • When you place delegates for any reason, you may instead move a delegate from a different party to where you want to place it.
  • Player delegates count for becoming party leader as a group. When a delegate is placed by a player, they choose which player becomes party leader. For example, if there are 9 neutral delegates, 7 red delegates, and 1 blue delegate, if both players place a total of 2 delegates, whoever places the 10th delegate chooses which player will become party leader. However, they cannot make a third player the leader unless that player added a delegate.


Not everyone has faith in you. If you stop trading with the colonies, they may seek other business partners.

  • Before increasing colony tile tracks, if any colony track is at the maximum position, it resets to the lowest position.
  • Colony bonuses only apply when you are trading with your own colony.

Balance Changes

  • Arklight corporation gains:
    • Action: move an animal from this card to another card.
  • Media Archives card benefits from negative cards (see Drawing Cards).