Mission to Mars 2049 is a new family board game that’s up on Indiegogo now and looking for some funding love. The game is in the same category as ones like Settlers of Catan, where you’re managing and trading resources as you race your fellow Martian colonists to the north pole to extract the precious water.
They’re 90% of the way to their goal with still 33 days left on the clock.
From the campaign:
“Trust humans to screw up something as monumental as the colonization of another planet,” – Signe Cane, Australian science journalist.
Over the past few decades Mars has been in the spotlight of speculation and serious study about possible human colonization. NASA has been talking about sending humans to Mars since the 1980’s. Now there are private initiatives as well. MarsOne aims to launch their first unmanned mission in 2018 and land humans on the Red Planet in 2025. We literally live in an era of Mars colonization as much as our parents lived in an era of Moon landing. It was just about time that we finally got a board game about Mars that is cool and can be casually enjoyed at a family dinner table while engaging in a conversation of near future space exploration.
This science, not-even-so-much-fiction-anymore, board game is well designed and feels more like based on some epic movie than a scientific story. In “Mission to Mars 2049” your target is to colonize the Martian North Pole. The action takes place on the Northern hemisphere of Mars, a map of which is on the game board. You start the game on the outskirts of the map and gradually build your colony larger until it reaches the North Pole. Once there, your mission is to build a water extraction station on the Polar Ice cap to win the game. Because this Polar ice cap, according to the story behind the game, stores 95% of all water deposits on Mars.
The Australian science radio journalist and blogger Signe Cane writes this about Mars 2049 in her blog (http://www.signecane.com/2015/01/07/mars-2049/): “They struggled, but they survived. Small encampments peppered the iron oxide landscape, and eventually humans began to flourish in their permanent new home. Here, at the first true frontier of space, they also began to show their nature. The first battle of Mars began. The year was 2049, and the objective of the battle was water.”
Mars 2049 is a family board game, a strategy that adopts somewhat similar mechanics as the famous “The Settlers of Catan” yet is not a copycat. It features slightly similar resource collecting and colony building aspects which we know from Catan but employs a range of different mechanics as well as a straight, map based objective, rather than earning points to win the game. The mission cards allow you to take two different roles in the game – you can be good and play peacefully or you can be bad and challenge your opponents with an aggressive play. All those things together make it an original, lightly playable game to enjoy with your family or friends.
Signe Cane comments the game objective of colonizing the North Pole from science perspective: “Now, as far as the game story goes, it’s fine, and would probably make for fun gameplay. But if you were truly on Mars, chances are you wouldn’t need to trek all the way to the North Pole in order to get some life-giving water. While it is certainly the biggest single ice deposit in volume, coming in at a whopping 1.6 cubic kilometres, there are plenty of other places where you can get the water for your colonisation needs.” So whether or not the first colonizer to build a water extraction station on the Polar Ice Cap would have gone through all those lengths for a useful purpose or not is still debatable. What is not debatable, however, is that he would have clearly proved himself to be the strongest colonist of Mars, achieving a well deserved victory.
Mars 2049 was invented and designed by one man – a Latvian graphic designer and art director Dagnis Skurbe working in both R?ga, Latvia and in London, UK. “The game uses Mars as a main theme but it doesn’t introduce too complicated story around it. I wanted the players to remain themselves while playing the game rather than trying to force some fictional world onto them. This way the players explore the competitiveness, the eagerness to win, the good and the bad deeds that they already have in themselves and the game just lets those characteristics to come out,” Dagnis is explaining the mechanics behind his own game. “I believe that such a strategy creates a more powerful and a more engaging game experience.”
But why Mars? Dagnis has an answer to that: “When a board game deals with a socially significant subject such as the colonization of Mars is to mankind, in a way that makes it something more than just a board game. I have already seen how playing this game can make children dream about actual travelling to Mars. Or how they ask a lot of questions about Mars and other game elements that are based on real science. The first humans who will ever set their feet on Mars in real life are probably less than 10 years old today. Games like Mars 2049 can be a necessary inspiration nudge for these children to make and pursue their dream of actual space exploration. For me it would be an unbelievable dream to think that perhaps someone who played “Mission to Mars 2049” in his or her childhood will one day in reality be among the first humans to walk on Mars.”
“Mission to Mars 2049” is currently in a prototype stage and is undergoing a fundraising campaign on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. By the time this press release was written it had already reached 82% of its campaign goal in just one week. You can help “Mission to Mars 2049” board game to happen by visiting the Indiegogo campaign and contributing to its cause. For that you will get the chance to be one of the first humans to own a copy of the “Mission to Mars 2049” family board game.