Alex Neuse's picture

Tharsis: Developing a Strategy

Alex Neuse

Posted on Wednesday, January 13, 2016 - 5:11pm

The unforgiving nature and unpredictability of space, the frailty of human emotion, dwindling resources, and the fragility of a spaceship that has been dealt a death blow by an unfortunate accident; this is what you have to overcome in Tharsis.

Your only resources are your wits and a handful of six-sided dice.

On the surface, Tharsis might look like space-Yahtzee (which by the way, sounds amazing), but once you get past the knee-jerk assumption that because there're dice involved, Tharsis is just a game of chance, you'll discover deep strategies that will assist you on your mysterious trip to the Red Planet.

Since I wasn't directly involved on the development side of Tharsis, I thought I'd share some of the strategies that I've developed as a player, which have helped me to excel at the game.

Be warned, every decision you make in Tharsis has massive repercussions, and you often have to be planning several turns ahead. 

Tharsis is a game about how well you manage resources that are out of your control. When your dice settle, that's what you have to work with, so think carefully before you commit to a plan--if things go south, what options will you have? How you use your resources, and which risks you choose to take, is entirely up to you; developing a solid strategy will ensure your success at the mission. 

Kind of like real life, really, if you want to get all existential...

So, here are five tips utilizing strategies that I've developed which have helped to keep me in the game...

  • Manage your Stress
    • The Side Project Phase is an amazing resource that should not be ignored. You can get wonderful perks from having your crew perform beneficial side projects. But they'll only suggest their best options when they're low on stress. So a strategy that I use is to regularly use stress-reducing research cards--especially once someone is over 50% stress.
  • Take a Hit now and then
    • One thing I've seen a lot of first-time players do is try to solve every event on the turn in which it occurs. Just keep in mind that the mission is solely to make it to Mars--you don't have to have a healthy crew or ship to succeed. As such, sometimes I will prioritize resource gathering over Crew Health or Ship Integrity.
  • Keep some Low-Risk Events in your Back Pocket
    • This can bite you in the ass if you're not careful, but one of my favorite tactics is to keep something easy to fix on the verge of completion and let it sit for a few turns. As everything starts spiraling out of control, if you've got some easily-solvable events just waiting for you, it could be what allows you to scrape by by the skin of your teeth.
  • Load up your Ship Integrity Early
    • Since there are more (and harder) events towards the latter half of the journey, I use the more calm first half of the game to get my ship in, well, ship-shape.
  • Don't be Afraid to Eat Allison
    • Unless you're vying for a high score, cannibalism is a great solution to a lot of problems. When considering whether to cannibalize, I consider the Max Health hit and weigh the likelihood of whether I'll need that top Health slot anyway. If not, dinner's served.

I'm sure you'll develop strategies of your own as well. The above list is just the tip of the iceberg, and are strategies that work for me. So remember, Tharsis is a game about respecting and managing the luck of the dice, not succumbing to it. Once you accept luck, the real strategy begins.

I kind of look at Tharsis as a parallel to the pinball-is-a-game-of-chance debate of the early-mid 1900s so wonderfully explored in the Special When Lit documentary. 

Tharsis, like pinball, is only a game of chance if you're unwilling to learn its strategies. 

Dant Rambo's picture

Tharsis is available now on Steam

Dant Rambo

Posted on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 - 12:04am

Greetings, folks!

Our latest game, Tharsis, is available now on Steam! Better yet, it’s currently 34% off! 

We’ve been hard at work on Tharsis for over two years now, and we’re extremely excited to finally be able to share it with the world. We hope you love playing it as much as we loved making it.

Oh, and keep an eye out for the game’s PS4 launch, which should happen sometime today around 2PM PST!

We’ll have a lot more to say about Tharsis in the days ahead, so stay tuned. And in the meantime, good luck on your trip to Mars! 

Dant Rambo's picture

We made physical Tharsis mission patches!

Dant Rambo

Posted on Monday, January 4, 2016 - 4:55pm

Hey everyone, 

With Tharsis coming out so soon (January 12!), we thought it would be fun to surprise the team with the patches worn by the ship's crew in the game. They were excited for the gift, albeit a little frightened by the implications. Fortunately, no one has felt compelled to cannibalize their coworkers. Not yet, anyhow. 

For those who don't know the story behind Tharsis and the ill-fated mission of the Iktomi crew, I suggest checking out our "Origins of Tharsis" video we recently released. Here's a link!

And if you're interested in possibly purchasing an Iktomi patch of your own, please let us know! We only made enough for our team, but we'd love to print more if there's enough demand for them.


Online Store

Store Featurettes

The Community