“Terraforming Mars” – and why I think a board game like this is worth your time

Hello good people!

Recently I acquired a new board game dubbed Terraforming Mars. The game is developed by Jacob Fryxelius and published by Stronghold Games. It has a price tag of around 60 EUR / 45 USD on Amazon. The game has an impressive rating of 8.4 on BoardGameGeek.com.
The game can be played by 2 to 5 people. The box says a game should take 90 to 120 minutes, but in my experience it’s more like 2 to 3 hours (I’ve played 20+ games so far).

The objective and how the game is played
You and your fellow gamers will be assuming the role of big corporations working to … *queue suspense sound effects* … Terraform Mars *fanfare*. Not that surprising really, is it πŸ˜‰
You start out by having a set production for your corporation, some starting capital and a corporate feat, which may help you throughout the game to a greater or lesser extent.
The games is played in rounds (simulating generations in timespan), where you go through phases of producing resources, buying project options, spending money to built said project or from a set of standard projects. Players take turns performing one or two actions per turn. When everyone is done, the round ends and a new one begins. Each project can have a variety of effects, of which some raises one or more of the three global parameters (oxygen, water and tempetature). When all these parameters reach a set level each, the game ends.
During the course of the game you raise your Terraforming Rating, which ultimately serves as Victory Points. The player with the highest amount of victory points is the winner.
The game is composed of both cards and a board on which you play tiles, thus giving an additional way to interact with other players.
You can find the rules here; Terraforming Mars rules

Why I love it and what I think makes it great
Terraforming Mars has me hooked on a number of things, which is why I’ve played more than 20 games in the course of 4 weeks. First off it has a set of really interesting mechanics. I’ve found myself pondering over which projects and actions are the best, what the return on investment is on each, how I should sequence them and lastly what my opponents are doing. I’ve played 2-player games by far the most. Even here the actions taken by my opponent in these games are an important enough factor, that I could never successfully disregard this.

Another interesting thing is that the resources you produce over time enable you to complete more projects, making you produce even more resources over time. Thus building up resource production is the most important thing in the beginning of the game. But when the game end all these resources are worth nothing in terms of winning the game – only Victory Points is – which brings in a whole new aspects of when should you shift your focus from producing resources, to gaining Victory Points.

The setting of the game is great too. It’s really well executed with regards to mechanics and gives a great ambiance to the game as a whole. I’ve caught myself chuckling a few times, when I read the flavor text on a project card and seen how well the story on it supports what it actually does in terms of gameplay.

Complexity wise the game has a lot to offer. More than once I’ve found myself missing things, so if I had to say something negative it’s got to be that the game is best played when you’re not too tired, as it will affect your enjoyment, as misplays will happen more frequently.

Terraforming Mars does have an element of luck, but I’ve never felt that you couldn’t make skill count too. It balances a fine line between skill and chance, and it does it well.

Ending remarks
I see myself playing this game over and over, and are trying to find pockets of time during my week constantly.
Terraforming Mars has all the good elements that you could stuff in a box and I am happy to toss countless hours into managing my interstellar corporation for generations to come.

Kudos FryxGames.se on a job well done πŸ˜€

10,000 version 1.6 is up on Google Play

Hi,

The 10,000 app has recieved an update.
I’ve made some improvements to the User Interface, so that buttons will be easier to tell apart from the rest of the UI. There has also been made some modifications to the computer player, so that it will try and score more than you, if you’ve reached 10,000.

I hope you all enjoy it. Go check it out πŸ™‚

Best Regards
Lars Sonne

Authentication using WordPress

Hi,

From time to time I’ve made a few PHP pages, for various reasons. Some of these use a MySQL database for storing and retrieving data. When it comes to securing my data and restricting access to editing and deleting functions to me only, I’ve looked at a few simple solutions to the problem. One of the ways I’ve done this, and the one I prefer, is by letting WordPress handle the authentication of the user. The WordPress authentication can probably be bypassed, but since it’s not personal or top secret data, I’ve come to the conclusion that a basic protection is adequate for these data.

How to do it?
First off you need to use WordPress own login page and the users you want to let on to the custom page need to have access to log onto the WordPress site you’re using for authentication purposes.
In my PHP code I’ve included the following lines (the page is located in an adjacent directory to the WordPress installation):

require(‘../wp-blog-header.php’);

and

if(is_user_logged_in()) {
   // Show the page, since the user is logged in
} else {
   // The user is not logged in
}

The inclusion of the wp-blog-header.php file is required if you want to be able to use the method is_user_logged_in(). It is this method that check to see if the user is logged in (surprise, surprise!). Then all I need to do is put the magic inside the curly brackets between the if and the else. Easy, peasy πŸ™‚

Things that I haven’t checked
There are some obvious things that I haven’t checked, like if it’s possible to circumvent the authentication and if so how easy it is. I also haven’t looked into the possibility of making a special right for the page, but just given access to any user that can log into the WordPress site that I piggyback my authentication off.
The solution is simple, I know, but it covers the bare minimum I needed for the pages I’ve created. Oh, and any updates to the login procedure is not my headache, since they get handled with the WordPress updates. Which is probably better than what I could piece together on my own anyways πŸ˜‰

Cheers!
Lars

The Android likes dice – 10,000 version 1.5 released

Hi all,

I’ve released a new version of the 10,000 – The Dice Game app on Google Play. This release features a few things.

  • You can now play against the computer
  • German translation
  • Better randomness of the dice rolls

The option to play against the computer is something that has been on my mind for quite some time and I’m happy to say that the result is now here. The AI proved to be a bit more challenging to implement than I first thought, but from my time in the computer industry I was hardly surprised. Things are in my opinion never straight forward πŸ˜‰ Nevertheless I’m quite pleased with the result.
I’ve aimed for the computer to be beatable but not a walkover, relying on a set of simple rules to govern its behaviour. I also tried to make it animated so you can follow the steps it takes when playing and who knows, maybe you’ll even get a new trick or two. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

Happy rolling πŸ™‚

The Gaming Beast and why I don’t get the important things done

I like computer games. I like a lot of games. So much that it’s becoming almost like an addiction. Not the one that makes me lie to people and forces me to make morally despicable choices just to satisfy the Beast, but the kind that stops me from being a better version of myself.
Tell me you don’t recognize the situation; I got some stuff I should do, doesn’t matter if it’s important or just a little thing. I want to do it, and doing it would give me a sense of achievement. If I did it I wouldn’t have it hanging over my head. But somehow I end up putting it off and not having it done by the time I end up going to bed, which these days end up being much later than it should be. Especially considering I got two small kids to take care of.
Why is this? Games. Lots and lots of games. It’s so easy when I settle in front of the computer, which is around 8 PM, when the kids are sleeping. I feel my energy ebbing out, knowing I could be doing things with my time now, that I can’t do during the day, if only I could muster the willpowerΒ … And then it’s just sitting there. That little icon that promises a few minutes of fun. It starts off so innocent and BAM, the evening has passed. The wife and I have an understanding. She likes watching TV, I like my computer games. And we go to bed at the same time. Well used to anyways.

So why is this? Because I’m soft. Because I’ve put myself in a vicious loop where I don’t get enough sleep since I’m up playing games, and I play games since I’m too tired to do anything else. But I know I’m able to change this. I just need to take the first step… And this is it. So tomorrow evening I’ll refrain from clicking that little time consuming icon. If I can’t muster the energy to get the important things done first, then just shut the computer down and go to bed, or read a book, or spend time with my significant other.
So tomorrow I’ll let the Beast sleep.
And who knows, I may even get something done …