Last year at PAX Unplugged I picked up the Terraforming Mars Organizer from The Broken Token booth. Prior to that purchase, I had never owned any “deluxe” organizer and strictly stored and organized our games via condiment containers (much cheaper at your local grocery store FYI) and resealable bags from Michaels. In fact, I still mostly store everything in baggies and containers. My Amazon “Inspired by…” section has me pegged as a pusher.
One of my biggest pet peeves about Terraforming Mars was the poor components, particularly the individual player mats. A major factor in purchasing the organizer was to have the sturdy overlays but as I also picked up Venus Next at the same convention, I was also looking for a way to organize everything in one box (hopefully).
If you’re thinking about whether this item is worth it or for you, I’m going to say flat out that it’s one of the best board game purchases I’ve made and I’m going to document it below.
The main reason I purchased the organizer was the player mat. It’s everything I could have hoped and dreamed for. The iconography is easy to read and see and helps players remember what each conversion is. The cutouts for production also ensure that pieces are not moved in case a table or mat bump occur. There’s spaces for 10, 20, and 30 for when production starts to increase in the later game.
The player mat also includes a little cut out to slide cubes from energy to heat. This is a small inclusion that is immensely helpful as you don’t have to physically pick up each and every cube each round when conversion occurs.
The second biggest get of the organizer is the card tray. Below you will see it filled with all cards from Terraforming Mars and Venus Next. This includes a separate space for corporations and reference cards and I currently use the front space for the Venus milestones, although it could be used to house more cards. Also, every card is sleeved and there is ample room to fit the sleeved cards. Now, when another card-based expansion is included for the game, there will have to be some adjustments made but luckily the dividers are easily movable. I could probably fit somewhere up to another fifty sleeved cards in there if I really wanted. Maybe more if I remove the divider from the corporations and the playing cards. There’s also a cool rocket ship included on both sides for a small dose of theme.
When playing, we pull cards directly from this chute. While it looks a little messy in that last photo, that’s more to Me being tired after back-to-back games as opposed to the design of the organizer.
The next biggest boon is the two trays that hold the three different cube values as well as the plant/city tiles. Since there are two trays, you can place them on opposite ends of the table to ensure players are always in reach of whatever it is they might need.
The organizer also came with some acrylic markers to replace the white cubes to designate turn count, oxygen levels, and temperature. There is a holder for the ocean tiles and a three-dimensional rocket ship to remind players who is first. These are purely cosmetic and don’t impact the game but they’re a much nicer touch than the white cubes and flat Mars token from the base game.
The insert includes one last holder that is for all of the brown hex tiles and includes additional spaces for any future tiles that may be added to the game.
But how does it store in the box?
Like a glove honestly. But if you store the game vertically, the cubes will fall out of their holders. The organizer will also fit the original play mats, rulebook, and game board with the box closing comfortably.
However, if you own Hellas and Elysium and Venus Next and store them in the same box, the lid will stick up almost two inches. This isn’t an issue for me as I want everything in one place but it does make storing it more complicated as it’s now more “fragile” and honestly, storing it vertically is no longer an option.
Speaking of fragile, the organizer is anything but. It adds a hefty weight to the game and has pretty much ensured me that Terraforming Mars is a game that is only played at home.
Creating the organizer took about an hour, maybe a little more as I was overly cautious. The pieces were easy to remove and the instructions were helpful. The typical Broken Token rules apply where moving too fast might splinter the wood but if that does occur, you can sand it down to ensure no one gets poked. The only tools necessary are a hammer, sand paper, and glue. I did glue this project and most of the downtime was just waiting for the glue to firmly settle.
I can’t recommend the product enough, especially if Terraforming Mars is a game you come back to regularly. I’d say we comfortably play it around twenty or more times a year and I would have bought this if we only played it ten times. It makes set-up and tear down a breeze and saves on table space since the cards encroach on so much real estate.