Gaia Project is another game in the Terra Mystica line. Similarly to in the original Terra Mystica, fourteen distinct groups live on seven different types of planets and every group requires their own home planets type to survive; therefore, in order to create and develop new territories, they must terraform adjoining planets. What's more, Gaia planets can be utilized by all groups for colonization and Transdimensional planets can be changed into Gaia planets.
Each group can work on their abilities in six distinct spaces of improvement: Terraforming, Navigation, Artificial Intelligence, Gaiaforming, Economy, and Research, prompting cutting edge technological and uncommon rewards. To do all of that, each race has unique abilities and capabilities.
The playing board is made of ten areas, permitting a variable set-up and thus a much greater replay enjoyability than its archetype Terra Mystica. A two-player game is facilitated on just seven areas.
How It Works
Gaia Project is a perplexing Euro game for two to four players. Players control extraordinary extraterrestrial societies and attempt to colonize the system with their structures. The player with the most points wins.
To begin, each player receives a unique alien race, represented by a faction board. The modular board tiles are arranged, and the technology tiles are randomly assigned to the nine spaces on the technology board. A random advanced technology is assigned to each technology track, two end-game scoring conditions are randomly chosen, one round-scoring bonus tile is randomly assigned to each round, and round boosters are randomly chosen based on the number of players. Players set their buildings on their individual faction boards, choose starting locations on the main board, and in reverse turn order choose a round booster for the first round. The first player begins.
The game is played over six rounds. A round in Gaia Project consists of four phases: income, Gaia Project, actions, and cleanup. In income, players get resources based on which buildings they have on the board, their technology tiles, and certain technology tracks. In the Gaia Project phase, players’ Gaia Projects transform planets. The bulk of the game happens during the action phase, when players take actions, one per turn, in turn order until every player passes. On a turn, there are eight possible actions:
- Build a mine (colonize a new planet)
- Upgrade a building
- Start a Gaia Project
- Move up a technology track
- Form a federation
- Use a once-per-round “power action,” making it unavailable to other players
- Use a once-per-round, player-specific special action
There are four fundamental assets in the game: metal, credits, knowledge, and "quantum Intelligence cubes" (or QICs). Players need to painstakingly manage their assets to achieve their objectives. Every player likewise has a different pattern of sustainable power that can be utilized to purchase the four fundamental assets in the game or to make uncommon moves on the board. Players charge their power cycle through payments or by being in close proximity when other players construct or update.
In Gaia Project, mines are the only new buildings that may be built on planets, and in order to build on a new planet, the planet must be in range and the player must first terraform it to fit their race’s unique needs. If players want to place their bigger and better buildings on the board, they must upgrade their mines to trading stations and then upgrade their trading stations into other buildings. Each race has a “planetary institute,” which unlocks a unique power for the race when the player upgrades to it. There are also science buildings, which grant new technology tiles to the player. (Technology tiles advance players on technology tracks, which unlock new abilities for the player, and give them either one-time or ongoing bonuses.)
Most planets are differently terraformable for each race (that is, each race has planet types that are more and less accommodating to them), but green Gaia planets are equally terraformable for each race. There are also purple “Transdim” planets that are uninhabitable without using the titular Gaia Projects.
There are six technology tracks in Gaia Project, which grant players abilities the farther they climb them. The terraforming track makes it cheaper to make planets inhabitable; the navigation track extends a race’s range for colonization; the artificial intelligence track rewards players with QICs; the Gaia Project track allows players to use Gaia Projects; the economy track boosts players’ income; and the research track boosts a player’s knowledge, which can be used to move up technology tracks.
Players acquire points principally by framing alliances (connecting their structures on the board), ascending technology tracks and taking technology tiles, pursuing the end-game targets, and scoring the round's reward. Each cycle, another scoring opportunity is accessible to players that rewards them for working on something specific during the round (for instance: climbing a technology track, setting a mine on a Gaia planet, or moving up to their planetary organization).
The game ends after the 6th round. Players score end-game points for how far they have scaled the innovation tracks, for extra assets, and for their situation in the end-game scoring goals. Whoever has the most points wins...
Players who definitely know and love Terra Mystica will know pretty much what is in store with Gaia Project. The bones of the game are something very similar: players are attempting to extend their impact by building little structures and upgrading to better structures, the structures put on the board give some sort of benefit each round, and every player benefits from a race with a new power that defies the guidelines of the game in support of themselves somehow or another. Up to this point, it is natural.
Be that as it may, Gaia Project distinguishes itself from Terra Mystica both by making a few things more muddled and by smoothing out other parts of the game.
Gaia Project is an astounding new take on Terra Mystica. It streamlines the game in ways that make sense while opening the system to new strategic avenues. Indeed, the game can be long (presumably over two to three hours with a full table of experienced players); but it is worth giving it time to be fully appreciated. And that is certainly why the game received so many awards worldwide.
Take a look at the game page here:
Obviously, the whole BGA team would like to thank Feuerland Spiele, the publisher, as well as Jens Drögemüller and Helge Ostertag, the game designers, for their autorization to bring Gaia Project to the platform.
There are plenty of super-humans on earth, and we are proud that some of them are part of the BGA developers team: We send our deepest thanks to Kayvon and Mogri, the ones that made this game playable on Board Game Arena by developing it. Send them the warmest thanks, that surely was not an easy job!
But there's MORE!
Also, you will be glad to know that if you are a Terra Mystica enthusiast, the FIRE & ICE option is now available for all to play.
Another way to discover or re-discover this gem of a game for serious boardgamers all around the world.
That's it for today, thanks for your time!
And see you next week for another great release!