I’ve been waiting a while to post this review. I’m really excited about this game and you should be too. Mars Needs Mechanics was designed by Benjamin Rosset and has been a part of no less than 5 Unpub events! It’s a game we’ve had our eye on for over a year. We’ve seen it develop along the way and it’s absolutely beautiful.
The first I heard of the game was in June 2011. It was called the Market and I didn’t get to play it at our first unofficial Unpub Mini. A few weeks later at the WBC I was given the opportunity to play the game and I have to admit I was luke-warm on it. I liked it, but it felt slight. The game felt like a solid core waiting for something more.
The basic concept was buying and selling of goods. The goods were limited to what was randomly available each round and their price was determined by what was bought and sold in the previous round. It was neat. Felt solid in it’s concept. It was interesting because the way you interacted with goods affected their future price, which meant you had to consider each buy and when you made it. Sometimes that meant you might lose out on an opportunity. Wait a tad too late and you lost the good to someone else’s buy. It became a game of wits where the goods were tools and the players were where the game lived. I really loved that aspect, but that was all there was to it.
Well, the game continued to develop and in January of 2012, Ben brought the Market to Unpub2. He sold one of his prototypes to an attendee. Someone loved the game so much that they couldn’t go home without a copy!
It was shortly after that weekend that Ben sold the game to a publisher. Nevermore Games was going to publish The Market, but the name and theme had changed. It was now Mars Needs Mechanics.
Ben brought this new version to an Unpub Mini in Washington, DC’s Labyrinth Game Shop. It was one of the hits of the event. people came specifically to see Mars Needs Mechanics. I opted not to give the game a play that day because…well, I was busy and I knew I’d have another chance to play at Origins in a few weeks. Ben barely got a break as people signed up for a waiting list to play Mars Needs Mechanics, so I didn’t need to deny anyone a seat at his table.
As mentioned, a few weeks later Origins came along. Ben and John Sizemore of Nevermore Games brought Mars Needs Mechanics to the Big Blue Noodle and I had a chance to play the game again.
Wow! What a difference! The theme, which sounded hokey to me at first, really made sense within the game. Instead of money throughout the game players were earning and spending cogs. The goods had changed from Textiles and Spices to Tubes and Piping. The art was forming very nicely.
One of the major changes was the introduction of the Mechanisms. These were devices you could build with your goods during the game to alter game play. The were events and effects that you could make happen on your turn. They increased interactivity, up the challenge level and informed people’s buying decisions. Price was no longer the only reason to buy or sell something. You could make stuff. It inflated the personal value of some goods making them more important.
I can’t speak about the specific mechanisms. Origins was a lifetime ago in development. I didn’t get a chance to play again at GenCon. The game was on a great track for success and it seems to continue along that path. I’m really please with where it’s going. Ben’s got a great game and one I’m looking forward to playing again.
I can tell you one thing that I really appreciate about the latest version. This was a change I didn’t know about, but saw in the BGG Play-Through of the game: the goods track, which is altered every time someone buys a good. is much more clear and understandable now. Instead of just moving those markers around the board, they slide back at the end of each round and actually tell you what happens to that particular good. It’s a great improvement.
Through all the development, the heart of the game, the heart I met over a year ago, remains. It’s a great “mechanicism” to hang the game on. It’s engaging and tense. Ben and the guys at Nevermore have been able to really flesh out something fun and unique. I’m really proud of how far this game has come and where it’s future is. You should be too.
If you need more information go look at thePlay Through, watch The Trailer, and visit their BGG page (thumbing pictures and what not.) The game has already made the Hotness, but you can keep it there with your interest and excitement. Support Mars Needs Mechanics by Nevermore Games!