Mars Operation from FoxMind | Source: the Toy Insider

HELP WANTED: Brave astronauts to captain a ship and launch it to Mars!

Designed for players ages 8 and up, the Mars Operation card game from FoxMind requires speed, logic, and perception to collect enough resources to blast off into space. The gameplay is easy to understand and master, but no takeoff is ever the same!

Mars Operation | Source: FoxMind

To start the game, each player gets a set of six spaceship cards. The game also comes with five resource cards (crew, water, food, energy, and oxygen) that go in the middle of the playing surface to help players prepare for the journey. Each resource card comes with a matching die that players will roll and place on top of the card. The number on the die decides how much of each resource is required to get the spaceship ready for liftoff. 

Once the number of units for each resource is rolled out, it’s time for players to prepare for their journey! Each spaceship card contains up to six resources. All players will simultaneously stack, flip, and rotate their spaceship cards to make the necessary resources show up. Astronauts should be warned: the ship has limited space and must be equipped with the exact number of each resource. That means each visible resource on the spaceship cards must match the same numbers as the dice on top of the resource cards. For example, if the energy die shows that astronauts require “two energy” for takeoff, players need to have no more and no less than two energy symbols face-up to win. 

Think you have everything you need? Players will then shout “MARS!” to have their competitors check over the spaceship. The winner of each round receives a Mars token worth 10 points, while other players who meet the requirement of at least three dice will receive a star token worth five points. Then, players will roll all the dice again for a brand new takeoff. Players can repeat the game four times, and whichever astronaut has the most points at the end of four rounds wins the game.

With a total of 36 spaceship cards in the box, up to six players can compete to assemble their spaceship before the other astronauts. Kids can also improve their skills by playing alone and flying solo to see how quickly they can prepare for takeoff. 

Endless combinations of resource requirements make collecting resources a challenge every time. Kids can work on problem-solving and logical reasoning as they rearrange their cards and figure out how to correct their spaceship. 

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Some combinations are harder than others, making the card game even more unpredictable. While most games take 10-15 minutes to complete (all four rounds total), I spent almost 20 minutes working on just one combination. The competing astronauts warned me that it was impossible, but I managed to find the solution. Every combination has a solution, even when it seems like the spaceship might never leave the ground. 

When kids are finally finished preparing the spaceship and are ready to blast off to bed, the game fits neatly in the box for easy storage. Mars Operation is the perfect card game to play at home or take on other journeys (on Earth this time).

About the author

Madison Eubanks

Madison Eubanks

Madison Eubanks is an editorial intern at the Pop Insider, the Toy Insider, and the Toy Book. When she’s not binge-watching the entire Harry Potter film series for the 42nd time or thrifting for vintage toys, Madison contributes her writing to all three publications. She is excited to explore the world of toys and pop culture. In her free time, Madison enjoys listening to music, writing film reviews, and performing roller skating tricks.