Star Trader game 5
This is the fifth postal (PBM/PBeM) game of Star Trader GMed by Mike Dommett and published by Pevans in my games magazine, To Win Just Once. This is the web version of the turn. Follow the link for an introduction to Star Trader.
Przemyslaw Orwat: M Mu Herculis Development Corporation
First of all congratulations to Paul! And thanks to Mike for running the game. This time I tried to play a “diversified manufacturer” (and for the first time managed to join from the turn 1).
My house rules & strategy in this game were as follows:
- buy some factories (about 5 units each commodity);
- gain contractor position for the manufactured goods on demand markets;
- ship 10 units every other turn from factory to the demand market and sell 5 on contract each turn;
- trade other legal commodities on occasion;
- no “illegal” action (smuggling, piracy, sabotage and the like);
- no “pump and dump”!
My rough calculations told me that about turn 13 I should be able to finally repay the loans (= no more interest) and about turn 19-20 I should have 2,000 HTs.
Initially everything went well. However, on turn 6 I lost a CG hull worth about 100 HTs to pirates and on turn 12 I lost another ship worth about 200 HTs (CZ hull @ 100 HT and 10 liquors @ 100 HT) to the same pirates. The loss of the second ship with cargo just a turn before the loan repayment was really painful – buying a CI hull armed with LW and shooting down the main pirate was just to make us even (300 HT loss each) and to deter others, not “another pirate try” as some have thought. The result? 1,700 HTs instead of 2,000.
What I did wrong? First, lost two ships to pirates (would conditional Hyperjumps help?); Second, no smuggling; Third, should’ve repaid the loans sooner and not paid the interest (but this was partly the result of point 1).
What I liked? I have not noticed any significant “pump and dump”. I don’t know if there were no occasions or just people played their house rules? [People were looking to do this towards the end of the game, but the only time it was done, it was rather defeated by other players’ actions.]
Other? Frankly speaking, I was almost sure that Jerry Elsmore was going to win this one with his unusual “passenger fleet” tactics, just the turn before he resigned.
[I think I agree with you. If you take a ship with 3 passenger pods, and jump it between the high Law level and Port class worlds, you will receive an income of 30 HTs every turn for that ship. Add in the profits from transporting some goods as well and you are making good money. When you have half a dozen ships doing this, you are making 200 HTs a turn. Obviously, someone competing to move passengers in bulk, or a pirate prepared to risk the Patrols and intercept your ships, will cause problems. But that didn’t happen.]
Bob Parkins: P Transuranic Trade Corporation
Thank you, Mike, for running the Star Trader game. It’s always a pleasure for me to be able to join in and play in the game.
I did the things I wanted to do, such as producing monopoles and carrying passengers, while avoiding trouble from the criminal elements in the game. I think if I had taken advantage of the event and opportunity chits, I would have maybe improved my chances, but hey ho, it’s not possible to do everything you want.
Congratulations to Paul for winning. He played a good game.
[You were not that far off at the death yourself.]
Andrew Burgess: A Bulgakov Lines
Thank you for running the game of Star Trader; it was my first attempt at playing the game, so I was learning as I went along. With hindsight, I tended to be a little too conservative in what I was doing and I should have started by concentrating more on production rather than how to move my products around the galaxy. In addition, I was having to experiment some of the time, to ensure I had understood the rules correctly, and there are still a few items I would not say I have fully grasped; maybe next time? Congratulations to Pevans on his win.
[Let me know what you had problems with – I want to update the rules. The original game was by SPI and the rules are written in their legalese style.]
Mark Cowper: C Janet
Firstly, congratulations to PEVANS for winning and sad that Jerry Elsmore had to drop out just when Tegwin Truckers were sweeping the universe. I chose to play the game as a resource management game; developing factories in Petroleum, Isotopes and Spice where the price is low, shipping to planets where price is high and selling under contracts. For this reason I choose 4 dealerships option.
[You need to select the Dealerships in commodities and star systems where you expect to get Contractorship positions quickly. Then you can deliver goods and sell at market rates rather than bidding in competition with others.]
I did OK, finishing 4th; but the flaw in this approach were that it was way too slow. My production planet (Delta Toucanis) and selling planet (Epsilon Eridani) were difficult Hyperjumps, so I had to use a third planet (Tau Ceti) as a drop off point and shuttle goods from production planet to here, then ship them on to where the sales were (EE or Alpha Centauri). Too slow. I didn’t understand the loans early enough (a better option would have been to buy Monopole factories) or the fact you could sell ships for profit. I misunderstood the concept of passenger runs until Turn 6 when Jerry kindly explained what was happening. I think a ‘1 page Tips for Rookies’ guide may be in order. Looking forward to next one.
[Hearing what you say. I am working on this; the feedback is appreciated.
As a general point, if you do take a loan, make sure that you are making enough profit every turn to pay the interest on the loan. In the same way, while buying high connection levels may improve your access to chits, going from C6-C8 costs you 150 HT’s – you want to get this back in knowledge and profit. If you hire an agent, you need to make use of them, ideally, or sell them to someone else. I have wondered about allowing people to hire specific agents, but have never devised a system I feel happy with introducing.]
Mike Dyer: D Sundog
Hearty congratulation to van Rijn! And a tip of the bonnet to that fine old gentleman, Jerry E, who dominated right out of the gate. But thanks to everyone for a cracking game!
I was struggling to wrap my head around the trading system at the start, and then managed an early score on a moody Battle Comm pod. With that, I happily switched to a strategy which allowed me to indulge my destructive tendencies. I do hope I managed to keep my fellow players on their toes before my little ninja ship got vaporized?
I was trying to keep careful notes of who might have weapons and where those ships were heading. But after some big fat kills I got over-confident, dropped all that guff and just tried to board anything that wasn’t military. Now, with an Arsenal and Battle Comm pod, I really thought I’d fitted out the Tomiko to be a deadly killer, but apparently not… Mike was kind enough to point out that I might have chosen different tactics, but wouldn’t elaborate mid-game. So c’mon Mike, what trick did I miss? And just what was the kit on that fat Corco Iota from Mu Herc that took her down? Well done Przemyslaw, I really felt that one!
[He had 6 light weapon pods on the Corco Iota Hull: like the Flute it can be described as a semi-military hull, as it has a good protection rating – 2 rather than the 4 of the Phoenix, for example. 6 Light Weapon pods firing missiles gives firepower of 30, together with a dice roll and any agents aboard, and you are in trouble.
When someone has armed a ship like that, you need to make sure you have the Initiative, even if you chose not to move, so you can fire first. Alternatively, keep moving your ship about, so you might intercept someone who isn’t expecting you. An appearance in Alpha Centauri System Space might have netted a lot of ships. You stayed in Mu Herculis system space, establishing a blockade, and didn’t bid for Initiative. The Flute Hull only has 3 pods and the damage you took from his first fire removed most of your firepower.
We have never had more than one player taking the piracy option and, when they have, a combination of the other players has taken them down. What would happen if two players combined forces, I do not know.]
Ah well, one or two more snatched hulls would have seen me set, and the Tomiko was worth a small fortune. It was looking like a pretty good strategy. Tegwin’s huge fleet of unarmed tugs should have been the prime targets but Jerry’s negotiating skills saved him for a few turns. At least I had the chance to get more comfortable with the trading system in the last half of the game. Didn’t have much player interaction with anyone else so I’m interested to hear what the other strategies were. Final thanks and much appreciation to our hardworking GM. Great game, Mike!
[Jerry is very skilful in negotiation and assisting players. I admire him for it. It benefits the players, but helps him just that little bit more. Had it not been for personal problems, he would have wrapped this game up a turn or two back.]
Martin Jennings: J Swiss Mercenary Fleet
Well, I was trying a new slant this time to see what would happen. I had decided from the start not to take out a loan. This can be a good tactic if the right events happen, but they did not fall my way.
So really as soon as it became obvious that this was not going to work I just dropped into a holding pattern as far as the game went. Picking up the Black Market chits as much as possible and hoping for good die rolls and that the other players would start to either trip each other up, or maybe hire me to do dirty deeds to others.
[Yes, no one seemed to think of that. Perhaps, as you suggest, with your advantages, you might have advertised yourself.]
Here is a hint: If a player has high criminal connections, high reputation and a Chairman who gives a +2 reputation increase every turn, there is a likelihood that he is open to negotiations to sabotage. Congratulations, actually no, damn you Pevans, I will get you next time, and your little dog too! Muhahahahahahahaha! <cough!><hack!><splutter!>, ow my throat.
Cheers Mike and all the best for your wedding.
Pevans: F Solar Spice & Liquors
Woohoo! That was a result. It’s a bit disappointing that Jerry had to leave the game as he might well [almost certainly] have pipped me to the win – as Mike’s figures last time showed. My strategy was the usual: trade in commodities that don’t need Cargo pods to transport, particularly Monopoles. As I don’t need Cargo space, I can cover my ships in (legal) weapons to deter pirates – as with my initial ship, Safety. Then I buy factories when I have the cash and hire a couple of Agents, refining my strategy to use the Agents’ strengths.
In this case, I took Agent Crip as my starting option and thus began with the intention of doing some smuggling – ideally of Tempus since that doesn’t need storage space either. I gained Agent Clint, who wasn’t much use, but was lurking in case any threatening Agents showed up! Then getting Agent Willy (giving me a bonus when selling on the black market) was a real bonus.
My initial trading is as much about gaining Market Positions as making money. The idea is that having Contractors’ positions lets you sell stuff without having to bid below the asking price, so you make your profit later – especially if you’re selling what was produced for free in your factories. Gaining positions also boosts your Business connections, providing access to more News.
My second ship, Ladies, was a Piccolo. It can’t take any pods, but it’s streamlined, which is an advantage when smuggling. The original idea was to put Crip and Willy on this and use it for smuggling. I was then able to pick up a Battle Comm pod, which is also an advantage in smuggling. However, I couldn’t fit it on Ladies, so cue a new ship, Cutthroat, a streamlined hull that could have some pods.
[Different ships have advantages and disadvantages. I once had some press talking about ships, I could put it into the tips.]
It actually took me a couple of turns to shuffle things around, but everything looked set once I’d got that done. I was able to pay off my loan by turn 11 as my trading in Monopoles was working well. Then up came the opportunity to buy an (illegal, military) hull. The idea with this was simply to sell it and hope to make a profit. Hence it was the Disposable.
PERF beat me to a nice smuggling opportunity, but then sold the Tempus to me. I was still able to make a decent profit, thanks to Agent Willy. I don’t know if any double-cross was intended with this, but nothing materialised, so thanks to PERF.
I then got a bit concerned when I sold Disposable as I obviously had a big pile of cash and was probably making myself a target. Mike’s figures suggest that maybe I should have sold everything on turn 18, but my valuation was a bit short of the magic 2,000 HTs. I decided I had to go for it on turn 19, but was hampered by the ‘Psychic Jam’ event. This stopped me jumping my ships to Mu Herculis and getting as much as I expected for selling them. However, I could then just coast over the line.
As you can see from my account, I play this game without much reference to what other people are up to. This is the complete opposite of Jerry’s “talk to everyone” approach, of course. I was still very aware that he was my competition! Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the game. Thanks to all for playing and making it fun and big thanks to Mike for GMing.
Oh, and as you’ve no doubt spotted, my ships were all types of razor. No, I don’t know why either, but it seemed like a fun idea at the time. :)
A good game, and. I appreciated the efforts made to get orders to me on time, and warning when problems were occurring. There is obviously still a problem with explaining some aspects of the game; the mechanisms are simple once you have got your head round them. Several of the Corporations were doing well and it was only in the last few turns that Tegwin and then SSL drew clear. There was some quite serious selling and driving down of prices on the bulk commodities of Alloys, Isotopes and Petroleum, which cut down profits.
In the end the winner and closest rivals had engaged in buying cheap and selling dear and picked up what else they could get – the way to go.