Mars Needs Mechanics -- A Double-Take Review--And Giveaway!

Today we're not just bringing you our heralded Double-Take Review of Mars Needs Mechanics, but  we're also giving away a copy of the game!

So how many mechanics does Mars need? Well apparently just one. Mars Needs Mechanics is, in fact, an economic game in which players try to earn the most money, which earns them the right to be the mechanic that is needed... on Mars.

The Components

Game Board - This features a value tracker for the different resources, as well as the Order Line that determines the value of the resources. This will all make sense in a minute or two.

7 Component Value Markers and Tokens - These track the value, and order of components - yeah, that will make sense shortly.

56 Component Cards - These are what you will buy sell and use to build Mechanisms.

10 Mechanism Cards/Blueprints - There will be some combination of four of these used per game. If a player builds a mechanism, they gain the special ability listed on the card.

8 - Scrap Metal cards - These help you sell off cards if you don't have enough to make a set.-You guessed it: This will make sense in a while too.

1 First Player Marker

12 Player Tokens - Used for various marking throughout the game.

Cogs - A bunch of them. These are the game's monetary system. Note that when you punch the center out of the middle of the larger cogs those are the 1 denomination, not garbage!

Jeremiah--We can't talk about the components without talking about how awesome they are/look. Really cool steampunk artwork, and very quality components. If I had one small complaint, I'm not a fan of the value marker pieces, you get a sheet of stickers to place on them to differentiate between the different components. It's not a big deal, and they work fine within the game, I just have a thing about putting stickers on game pieces... Maybe I'm weird... 

Firestone--Well you're definitely weird. But I like the art style and the theme here, too. And even the money is cool. 

The Setup

Each player gets, 30 Cogs, 2 Scrap Metal Cards, their chosen color of player markers, and 3 Component cards. Then the 7 Component Tokens are randomly placed on the Order Line (which is the tracker that lines two sides of the Game Board. Then take the 7 Component value markers and place them on the 5 of the value tracker--the large part of the board.

Then deal out 8 component cards along the bottom of the Game Board, and select 4 Mechanisms to be used in the game. These are placed at the top of the board. There are four basic ones the game recommends for your first game, but we would say go for whatever you feel like using!

The Turn

There are only a few things you can do on your turn. You HAVE to either buy a card in the marketplace, or pass. If you pass and not everyone else passes you can take another turn when play comes back around. If you pass, you can still take an optional action which is to build and/or breakdown a mechanism. If you choose to buy a card from the marketplace you pay the current market value, and then move the component token to the front of the Order Line. 

Mechanisms keep your component cards tied up, but give you special abilities/bonuses that you can use as long as you've got them assembled. You can always break them down before the end of a round if you want to sell off the components.

Jeremiah--The turn mechanics are really easy to learn, but it's all about grabbing components at the right time for the right price. The meta game becomes a big part of playing, as you try to get ahead of your components, or maybe buy up a card just to stop someone from putting together a set.

Firestone--Yeah, you're trying to figure out which cards you think will rise in price, and then buy them before they go up. Buying at the right time is important, too, because if you buy early, that component might go down in price because others bought later move in front. 

The mechanisms give you other choices, too, because you can only have one built at a time, so you have to decide if you need to tear one down and build another from turn to turn.

The round ends when all players consecutively pass, or there aren't any more cards in the Market Place; then you run through the end-of-round steps:

Adjust values: You simply decrease the value of the last three components in the order line, and then increase the first three components in the order line.

Sell sets: Players can sell sets of three or more matching component cards back at the new value. (Or you can add a Scrap card as a "wild" to make it a set of three, but you don't get any money for the Scrap card.)

Then you restock the marketplace (back up to 8) and then the first player token moves, and start a new round.

The game ends when there are no longer enough cards in the draw deck to refill at the beginning of a new round, or when no players buy from the marketplace for two rounds. Then you count up your cogs (money) and the player with the most wins!

The Verdict

Jeremiah--So, my first impression is that the theme doesn't totally make sense; there's little to do with mechanic-ry or Mars in the gameplay itself. BUT, this theme is much more visually and aesthetically interesting than, say, a game about the stock market. That being said, I stand by my earlier statement that the game LOOKS really cool, great graphic design and artwork!

Firestone--The mechanics are so basic that they could have used any theme at all on this. I like the steampunk theme, though, and like that it runs right down to the cool money they chose.

Jeremiah--Ok, let's chat about game play. My gaming pals and I put Mars Needs Mechanics in comparison with Nautilus Industries, and we really enjoy both of them! Mars Needs Mechanics is definitely more approachable for non-gamers or for a casual (almost) filler-type game. It plays in well under an hour and has a really fast learning curve. The mechanics are easy, but the strategy takes it a little deeper!

Firestone--This felt like a long-lost Knizia to me: mathy math, and then some math, to manipulate the math to your advantage, and then math to win. "Okay, now what's our theme?!" Knizia's a genius, so that's not a dig. 

Jeremiah--Unless you're playing with very casual gamers I would suggest not using the beginning setup for the mechanisms, dig in with some of the others that can be a little more useful. In our first play through the mechanisms didn't really have much if any impact on the game. Go ahead and live a little with those!

Firestone--Totally agree. The suggested starting four were kind of boring. I'm not even sure they were a good way to "just learn the game." 

Firestone Final Verdict--Mars Needs Mechanics is a stripped-down economic game with some interesting timing choices, tactical gameplay choices, and special powers. Since it's a 100% economics game, that'll limit the type of people it will work with. But any game that makes me think of Knizia (who's been MIA for years now) is okay in my book. 

Jeremiah Final Verdict--Mars Needs Mechanics is neither a sci-fi game, nor a mechanics game--it's an economic game, and a pretty fun one at that. The whole game revolves around player interaction and competition; no one is simply trying to play their best game on their own. Every turn affects the entire market, which shakes up everyone else's strategies. If your gamer friends are into economic games, the Order Line mechanism will be a fun engine to navigate. If you're playing with casual gamers, Mars Needs Mechanics is a great introduction into the genre! We have a lot of fun with Mars Needs Mechanics, and I think you will too! 

Thanks for reading! For your chance to win your very own copy of Mars Needs Mechanics, check out the contest below.