One of my favorite games is Terraforming Mars. It has been out for a couple years and has quite a following especially in this age of FOMO (fear of missing out of new and shiny games). While people are adding more and more games to their collection, I like to keep my collection relatively small. I do buy new games here and there, but I am picky on what I buy and Terraforming Mars is one that gets to my table many times.
Terraforming Mars is an engine building game where you need to increase production of ME (mega credits), energy, heat, trees, steel and titanium. This post is for players who play Terraforming Mars and like to play solo rules.
The solo rules are a little different from the regular multiplayer rules. You have to add the Corporate Era deck of cards to the regular deck. The Corporate Era cards has a small icon of a red circle with white arrow in it. These cards do not help with terraforming Mars. They focus on economy and technology.
Also you start the game with 2 neutral cities with a greenery tile adjacent to them. If you play a card that steals resources or reduce production, you use it against the neutral opponent. Though bear in mind, the neutral opponent does nothing and are there to just make cards you play activate. For instance, if a card say decrease any energy production to do something, you don't have to do it to yourself because the neutral opponent exists though you don't need to do anything and the card can be activated. Or if a card says steal two greenery from another player, you just take two greenery from the supply and add to your player card.
You start the game with a TR (Terraforming Rating) of 14 unlike the regular game where you start at 20. You have 14 generations to terraform Mars. There is a more urgency when you're playing solo.
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Choosing a corporation
At the beginning you have a choice between 2 corporations. This is important on your overall strategy. Make sure you understand the company's strength to use for your overall strength. Try not to choose a corporation that simply makes money or doesn't really lend a hand to production of resources or help with affecting the global parameters.
For instance, Ecoline increases your greenery production at the start and you can spend 7 greenery to place a greenery tiles instead of 8. This is very useful in getting your oxygen parameters up.
Don't buy cities
What I mean is Cities are good for scoring Victory Points. In a solo mode, you can keep track of your Victory Points and try to be at your score in the next game. But your main objective is to bring all of your global parameters to their winning conditions. Oxygen has to 8%. The global temperature has to be 8 degrees and you have to place all your Ocean tiles on the board. Things like Cities or cards that only score Victory points are not as useful until after you terraformed Mars.
Optimize your hand
At the beginning of the generation, you have the option of buying up to 4 cards for 3 ME each. Try not to buy all four as that costs 12 ME and you will need your ME to activate cards. Keep your hands small and do not add cards that won't help increase production or help to increase a parameter. Discard the cards that have a high cost to activate at the beginning of the game when you barely produce enough ME. Later when you're producing a lot more ME, you can then start to buy those but only if they affect at least one parameter and increase production.
Use the blue border cards
Cards with blue borders have actions you can use once per generation or effects that always happens whenever a condition is met. When buying cards, find the blue border cards with actions that help with increasing production, decreasing costs.
You may not always win, but these could help you to win the game. Once you are are close to maximizing the global parameters, you can start buying cities to get victory points for yourself for bragging rights. You can even leave space surrounded by greenery for a city to maximize your Victory points.