How To Play Gaia Project: Rules & Strategies to Win

For a newbie in resource building and heavy strategy games, Gaia Project rules may seem very puzzling. But if you have already played and loved Terra Mystica, you are bound to enjoy even more this rethemed space version called Gaia Project. 

For instance, in Terra Mystica you attempt to terraform new landscapes into habitable environments, but in Gaia Projects, its planets. It’s not just a mirrored copy of the previous one; rather better. Unlike Terra Mystica, Gaia Project can be played solo. 

Our guide to Gaia Project rules covers all essential aspects and instructions you should know about this game. 

What is Gaia Project?

Gaia Project Board Game Info Image

Gaia Project is set in the Terra Mystica galaxy’s fantasy world, where players from 14 factions are trying to colonize new habitable planets to meet their personal environmental needs. The factions attempt to terraform different planets peacefully.

Through developing these six aspects, a faction can increase its efficiency: Terraforming, Navigation, Artificial Intelligence, Gaiaforming, Research and Economy. 

Like a survival-of-the-fittest situation, the most expanded and developed faction wins the game. 

Number of Players: 1 – 4 (Best with 3-4)

Ages: 14+

Length: 2 hours

Difficulty: Hard

Similar To: Scythe, Terra Mystica, Coup: Reformation

Main Objective: Colonize new planets, build structures, gain resources, unite planets into federations and earn the highest VP to win the game. 

Why We Love It: You can discover new strategies and research for new technologies differently in every game. It’s never the same as before. 

What You’ll Need to Play Gaia Project

To begin playing this game, you’ll need the Gaia Project game kit. The kit contains the following items:

  • 10 Space sector tiles
  • 1 Scoring board
  • 7 Faction boards
  • 1 Research board
  • 10 Boosters
  • 36 Standard tech tiles
  • 12 Gaia planet tokens
  • +more

The game equipment has a stellar look with gorgeous space boards and well designed structures. However, some tiny tokens can cause choking hazards for kids. So better to keep an eye out for that.

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07/20/2023 09:22 pm GMT

Game Layout

Keep in mind that game setup for Gaia Project is a little more complex than other typical board games, so expect a few extra minutes getting everything setup to play.. 

Game Board:

Take out all 10 sector tiles for 3-4 players (1-7 tiles for 1-2 players) and assemble the board. 

Research Board:

Place the research board and put 9 standard tech tiles randomly faceup in each tech space on the board. Then stack the remaining standard tech tiles on the placed tiles of the same type. 

On each space between level 4 and 5, place 1 advanced tech tile faceup of 6 research areas.

Take one random federation token and place on level 5 of the terraforming research area. 

Place 1 player token of your color on level 0 of each research area. 

Scoring Board:

Place the scoring board near and put one round scoring tile faceup on each board’s tile space.

Place one final scoring tile faceup on each space to the right of the green ranking tracks. 

Round Boosters and General Supply:

Randomly select the round boosters (according to the number of players) and place them next to the game board.

Keep all the tokens ( action, Gaia Planet, Lost Planet, power, Q.I.C, record) nearby for general supply. 

Faction Board and Choosing a Faction:

Choose one of these factions for your 1st game: Terrans, Hadsch Hallas, Xenos, Taklons.

Each player chooses their factions in clockwise order and places their faction board in front of them with the chosen faction faceup. 

Put all structures and Gaiaformers of your color on their corresponding spaces on the faction board. 

Follow the numbers on your faction board and place Q.I.C and power tokens accordingly. Put 1 knowledge, 1 ore and 2 credit markers on the starting positions on resource track. 

Put your 7th player token on space 10 on the VP track and all the satellites on each 0 space on the scoring board. 

As you put your 1st structure (starting with miners), you make the first planet a colony.

Power Cycle:

There are three connected power areas (I, II, III) on the faction board linked to the left green Gaia area.

  • Charging Power:

To spend power, you have to charge power first. To charge, move your power tokens to area III gradually through area I and II. 

  • Spending Power:

Once the tokens are moved into area III, you can spend only them. 

  • Gaining and Discarding Power:

You can gain power if any action allows you to transfer power tokens from supply to area I. To discard power, you can remove a token from any area except the Gaia. 

Gaia Project rules playing image

Gaia Project Rules and Gameplay Instructions

Gaia Project rules cover overall 6 rounds and each round has 4 subsequent phases

  1. Income
  2. Gaia
  3. Actions
  4. Clean-up

Phase I: Income

At this phase, you get to gain resources at each round. The hand icon represents income in the game. 

You can be allowed to gain income by any of these: 

  • Faction board
  • Round Booster 
  • Tech tiles 
  • Current level in each research area

You gain 3 kinds of resources:

  • Ore
  • Knowledge 
  • Credits

The resource track on faction board goes upto 15, so you can have 15 of each ore and knowledge and 30 credits (15 per token). Keep track of your resources with the corresponding tokens as you gain or lose. 

Phase II: Gaia

When you want to colonize a Transdim Planet, first you put a Gaia former and then a Gaia Planet token on that planet so that no other player can intervene.

This planet is now considered as a Gaia Planet. Remove the Gaiaformer when you build a mine there. 

Phase III: Actions

As the game goes in clockwise order, every player takes a single action on each turn until all of them complete the Pass action. With the Pass, a player ends his game of that phase. Other than Pass, players can take all actions multiple times during the same phase, one action on each turn.

Out of 10, some very crucial actions are:

  • Build a Mine:

The first step towards colonizing a planet is to build a mine there. You can see each mine’s cost on the left of the mine on the faction board; it’s 2 credits and 1 ore. 

Conditions applied to build a mine on a planet:

  1. It has to be empty
  2. It should be accessible from your planets and habitable to your faction
  3. If not, you first pay the cost to make it habitable. 

After paying all necessary costs immediately, place the leftmost mine from the faction board on the planet. 

Rules for Transdim and Gaia Planets:

You cannot build a structure on a Transdim planet but can transform it into a Gaia planet with a Gaia Project. To make a Gaia Planet habitable for your faction, you can pay 1 Q.I.C.

  • Start a Gaia Project:

Conditions to start a Gaia Project:

  1. An available Gaiaformer
  2. Access to a Transdim Planet without any pre-existing Gaiaformer on it
  3. Spend power as required 

After this, you can place your available Gaiaformer on the Transdim Planet. But the entire action finishes on the next round, where you can finish the project and build a mine. 

Gaia project will cost you a total amount of power from 3 areas shifted to the Gaia area, determined by your progress in the Gaia area on research board. 

  • Upgrade Existing Structures:

To gain new resources and advantages, you can upgrade the structures, one at a time. Except for mines, all other structures replace another structure for an upgrade.

Rules to upgrade:

  1. Put the replaced original structure back on the faction board on its row from right to left.
  2. You pay the cost of upgrade in ore and credits, which is mentioned on the left side of the corresponding structure’s row. 

The flow of upgrade of structure goes like this: 

Mine ➜ Trading Station ➜ Planetary Institute

Trading Station ➜ Research Lab

Research Lab ➜ Academy

  • Form a Federation:

Once you colonize several planets, you can form a federation comprising them. For this, you can choose a federation token from the supply.

Conditions to form a Federation:

  1. A total value of at least 7 from the structures on these planets.
  2. Build satellites to connect the colonized planets that are not adjacent.
  3. Discard 1 power to build a satellite and place them in connecting spaced between the colonized planets, not on top of them.
  4. Connect all planets in one action. 
  5. A new federation cannot be directly adjacent to your existing federation.
  • Pass:

When you are done taking all your actions in a round, you pass. 

When you pass:

  1. Pick one new round booster and return the one you used in this round (except in the final round)
  2. Place the new booster facedown to show that you have passed. 

Once all players have passed, the action phase ends. 

Phase IV: Clean-up

In the clean-up phase, the current round ends and you prepare for the next. Skip this phase after the last round and proceed to scoring. 

When you clean-up:

  1. Remove all tokens, Q.I.C. s, scoring tile and return them to supply. 
  2. All players flip their round boosters faceup.

Game End and Scoring 

The game ends after the action phase of round 6.

Victory points are added up at final scoring. Players gain VP for their progress on the ranking track corresponding to each final scoring tile.

  • Highest – 18 VP
  • 2nd Highest – 12 VP
  • 3rd Highest – 6 VP
  • 4th Highest – 0 VP

For a tie, add the VP for the highest remaining rank and divide the score evenly among the tied players. 

  • Research Scoring: You gain 4 VP for each level (3,4,5) you have reached on the research board. 
  • Resource Scoring: You gain 1 VP for every 3 credits, knowledge of ore. 

Calculate the VPs of each player. The highest-scoring player wins!

How to Play Gaia Project – Video Tutorial 

Frequently Asked Questions About Gaia Project

Can Gaia Project be played solo?

Yes. Follow the automa rules to play solo.

Are the Gaia Project rules similar to Terra Mystica?

Although there are some similarities between the game patterns, Gaia Project has an entirely new set of rules and in our opinion it’s even better than Terra Mystica. 

Is Gaia Project suited as a party game?

The game is too lengthy to be a quick, fun party game.

Alternative Board Games You Might Like 

If you are absolutely into resource and engine building strategy games, Scythe would be our next suggestion for you. The game is set in an alternate history involving conquering territories, building infrastructure, winning combats and more.

You may also want to check out our suggestion for 5 Best War Based Board Games.

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