понеделник, 8 февруари 2016 г.

Tharsis - Rolling dice and eating people on the road to Mars

Tharsis is a small game made by Choice Provisions and it's about the first manned mission to Mars. From the Tharsis region on Mars is received a mysterious signal. Quickly a crew is gathered and sent to investigate. On millions miles away from home their ship is struck by a meteor storm and it is severely damaged and two crewmates are dead. Now it’s all in your hands.

Or at least this is what the game wants you to believe. Actually you control very little in the game. Tharsis on its own is very simple. You have four crewmen each with its own special ability and number of dice. That's right you are rolling dice in this game, but let me continue. Tharsis is turn based game in which every turn your ship is struck by different misfortunes (events), to fix those you will have to complete their dice threshold. If you don't manage to do this there will be negative effects which can vary from minus dice for your crew to minus food, more stress, direct damage to the ship or to your people. 

Other important thing to know is that every section of the ship is different and important. There is a medical bay; there is a garden which produces food, flight control, and life support and operations room. Each of those sections can give you some bonuses if you send someone there to roll. This will force you to choose do you want to repair something or do you want to get something. And this I like, its a strong strategy element which can really change your game. 

Let me go back to the damage and fixing it. When a section of the ship is damaged, there, depending on the section will be some negative effect which will affect your dice and make them...malfunction. For example they may get in stasis and you will not be able to re-roll them or even be directly voided and disapear, other effects include things like wounds which equal the rolled number. When all of your astronouts have spent their dice and all unsloved events are resolved you will be given choices regarding the dispensation of resources like food, dice, stress and hull integrity.

It’s a lot like a boardgame honestly. And it really well manages to create the feeling of desperation and doom with things getting harder and harder, more crew dying and in the end...even eating some of them if things get extreme. There is also a solid dose of mystery with the signal from Mars and with advancing in the game you will receive more messages from the Red Planet. Definitely creates its own atmosphere. 


Tharsis doesn't really know what it wants to be. It gives you hard strategic options and in the end the only thing you can do is rolling dice, which you cannot really manipulate. True when you see the dice almost getting the number you need but in the end failing its really frustrating and it creates the feeling of desperation that I mentioned but relaying only on luck to get you through this voyage is...optimistic at best. 

If you like space games and the travel to Mars interests you Tharsis definitely have something to offer, but only if you can endure the sheer randomness of the game.

Where to find it:

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