Terra Mystica Vs Gaia Project: Fashion the fantasy land or set up the space sojourn

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Terra Mystica and Gaia Project are both complex, strategic games where the constant decisions on the economy of raising new settlements to losing valuable resources will keep boggling your mind till the very end. Both games are must-haves for board game fans who like to dive deep into intricate patterns, to bring order to chaos while staying on their toes before every move.

Terra Mystica: Terraforming Terrains

Terra Mystica is a game of civilization building where different races compete for dominance. 2 to 5 players can play it at a time. The motive of the game is to build your faction with terraforming magic, where every race has a preferred home terrain and special abilities.

Terra Mystica: Merchants of The Seas
imgsrc: Amazon

The Tyranny of terrain rules:

Each player has their own board where they place their buildings to build a stronghold for their race. It is complete with three power bowls and a terrain guide. There are four types of resources in this game: priests, coins, workers, and powers.

Each time you place a building on the board, it may cost you a certain number of coins and workers. The empty spaces on your player board, on the other hand, will grant you an extra income. So you always have to be on the lookout for the opportunity cost of setting up a building Vs losing your income source.

The power moves from bowl one to two to finally three…And once it ends up in bowl three, it can unlock some major benefits.

Players can place buildings only in their home terrain. Thus they have to transform the tiles adjacent to it. Transforming or Terraforming the adjacent terrain will cost workers, depending on that terrain’s distance from the home terrain. You might thus have to pull up a spade on it once in a while to save the worker’s cost.

You can even upgrade your building for a cost and eventually end up winning a ‘Town Tile’. Your dwellings will get you, workers, while building temples will get you blessings (read: advantage) from the priests. The priests can help you on the ‘cult tracks’ and these are worth a lot of points as well.

It’s a game of six rounds and the player with maximum victory points in the end wins.

Gaia Project: Sweeping the interstellar space

Gaia Project is set up in outer space with competing players from across the galaxies. It is a 2018 upgrade of Terra Mystica for its science fiction fans and 1 to 4 participants can play the game. It is, in fact, literally an out-of-the-world experience. Set up in interstellar space, it springs an alert mode on all the sci-fi fans.

Capstone Games Gaia Project
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In this game, different species are in a race for control over the interstellar space…and the terraforming magic is still very much in play here as well.

The space statute:

Each player in this game has a home planet and variable powers. The key to winning lies in building a set of connected planets and advancing tech tracks. You also get to form federations of worlds.

So grab your round booster tiles and your income from the empty spaces (getting a Terra Mystica déjà vu?? well like we said, it’s an upgrade.)

However, there has been a change of the Resources to money, ore, and research. Research buys you technology upgrade, while ore and money help you terraform the landscape, or shall we say, spacescape to the needs of your species. The three power bowls find their way from Terra Mystica into Gaia Project as well.

The tech tracks have a lot of decision-making power, including how far you can terraform the world and how many QIC’s you land up with. The QIC’s can go a long way in helping you with expansions in the Gaia world.

The aim of the game is to transform the transdim worlds into the Gaia worlds, including those pesky purple ones. You can even build mineshafts, of course, by paying the cost. Furthermore, You can later upgrade it to a research base, which can get you the ‘knowledge’ to skyrocket your chances in the game.

You can also claim the top tech tile if you have federation tokens to flip, which you gain if you have managed to build enough planets to claim a federation.

Again, the game places through six rounds and the players with the most victory points wins.

Terra Mystic Vs Gaia Project: Comparison

 The Aesthetic Aspect:

Themes obviously depend on personal taste. If you are a fan of the fantasy world, Terra Mystica might catch your eye faster. On the other hand, if you are a star world geek, Gaia Project might be what you will lay your hand on first.

 While both are visually appealing games, the wooden pieces on Terra Mystic sort of adding a refined, old-world charm to it. Gaia Project, on the other hand, has only plastic pieces, although they are of good quality soft rubber.

The Space Cram:

There has been an expansion in the Gaia Project game board with its many randomized hexes. However, this reduces the charm of the crammed spaces of Terra Mystica. The board in Terra Mystica, because of the paucity of space and resources, is an exercise in effective utilization of all available options, where a few wrong steps can change the rhyme and rhythm of the game.

The board game in Gaia, although visually appealing, negates this attribute of Terra Mystica. Due to this, even lesser numbers of participants in Terra Mystica give an illusion of frequently putting the players in tighter spots, as compared to Gaia Project, even if it has far more participants.

The Additional Auxiliaries:

Gaia Project has upgraded some of the attributes of Terra Mystica….and we ain’t complaining. The Tech Tracks of the Gaia project are a significant improvement over the Cult Tracks of Terra Mystica. There is an additional ‘research’ resource to factor in, which converts into Knowledge!! There has been an increase in the number of spells from 9 to 17. “The more, the merrier” is our motto.

The Play-Repeat-Play Factor:

As far as the replayability factor is concerned, Gaia Project does have a slight edge over Terra Mystica. The multiple tech tiles and the tech tracks provide innumerable combinations, not to mention thousands of board combinations the hexes offer, which keeps the curiosity flame burning even on multiple repeated turns with this game.

The Complexity Conundrum:

The game plan of Gaia Project is slightly more elaborate and the rules a little more complex than Terra Mystica. Thus introducing the game to a new player as well as getting the hang of the game might be slightly more time-consuming.

However, experienced fans of Terra Mystica will of course be able to grasp the core of the game much faster, given multiple rules from Terra Mystica have nudged their way into Gaia Project almost intact.

The Race Heterogeneity:

The Race variability in Gaia Project is a step ahead of Terra Mystica. The races in Gaia Project are more different and less predictable, thanks to the interplay between tech tracks and tech tiles, which opens up multiple possibilities at every action turn.

Thus, although the Hobbits in Terra Mystica always wanted to shovel, the races in Gaia Project can be customized to the individual playing style of a participant.

Our Verdict

Both Terra Mystica and Gaia Project are highly popular games that have stationed at the top of the gaming charts for long periods of time.

 The opinion on which one takes the gaming trophy is thus highly divided. Both of them are deep strategy games where losing a few grey cells while planning a great civilization for your race, either on land or in space, is not a distant possibility.  

However, Gaia Project wins our verdict with a slight margin because of a slightly more refined strategy that is imperative to its playing and a few additional elements that have been added to increase the complexity of the game.

After all, for us board gamers, twisted is the new right.

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