Star Trader game 8
This is the eighth 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.
Game End Statements (with notes from Mike)
Martin Jennings: SWISS MERCENARY FLEET - 8th
Martin's unusual strategy was to build Piccolo hulls at Tau Ceti and jump them to Mu Herculis to sell, hoping to make on the small difference in sale prices and construction plus crew costs. It did not work. This time. On the plus side, his orders were easy to adjudicate.
Mark Cowper: COSTA NOSTRA PIZZA - 7th
"Mon Signori, we are being shut down in this sector."
"What, but we have only just moved operations in here!"
"It's a closed shop - Intersidereal Greenhorns have just completely sown up the market."
"Mama Mia! What a disaster - we only are worth 1,000 HTs. How are we going to explain this to Don Vito Corleone?"
Firstly, congratulations to Mateusz on winning within 12 turns and Przemek getting over the line in the same term. Cosa Nostra Importers Inc had just managed to pay of their initial 400HT loan and, in game terms, were in the days of the Steam Engine whereas the winners were using Advanced Warp Drives. Struggled all game, I have no idea how I did so badly. I find this a tough game and I obviously haven't managed to find anything close to a winning strategy with focusing on criminal connections at the start. Maybe keep to trading is the best way and try and avoid loans. Over way too soon!
It usually lasts another four turns! At least.
Thanks, Mike, for running the game.
Paul Evans: WHITE STAR LINE - 6th
Well, I certainly didn't expect that! No, not the Spanish Inquisition (NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!), but this game ending so quickly. I expect a game of Star Trader to last 15+ turns, so this is clearly shorter. I'm not sure why - some analysis needed.
I thought I'd try running a passenger line this time (something I usually avoid as passenger pods + crew are expensive and you're telegraphing your moves to any lurking pirates). I was then disconcerted to find that several other players were doing the same. This meant bidding for Initiative (another thing I don't usually do) to make sure of getting first dibs on the available Passengers. In the end, this didn't seem to be a problem and I was quickly generating 100 HTs each turn.
However, at 100 HTs/turn, it was going to take a while to reach the magic 2,000 HTs. What I didn't do was add a second string to my bow to ramp that up. I belatedly realised this and invested in some factories, but this turned out to be too little, too late.
Some players have run sidelines in commodities that don't require cargo pods along with passenger liners.
Congratulations to Mateusz on a fine win. Thanks to all for another fun game and many thanks to Mike for GMing the game.
Jerry Elsmore: FATCAT - 5th
Thanks for the game. I was totally outclassed due to my irrational decision to go pirating. Should have stuck to my plans and bought a fleet of cheap passenger ships with D class crews and a couple more merchants, but it was so shiny...
Looking forward to the next game
Mike Clibborn-Dyer: FOOLS AND HORSES - 4th
What a quick and close game this one was! That incredible result for OP 15 appears to have catapulted the Greenhorns into a deserved win, but the asset valuation shows it was moot. Commiserations to the Pioneers, who had some sweet deals with OP 9 and OP 39, but ran into some bad luck too. It goes to show how effective, but risky, playing for opportunity can be. My own strategy was entirely focused on just one ship running just one commodity, spice. With a considerable monthly income the situation did look pretty good, but I really should have kept another small vessel on the side for chasing down opportunities too. Thanks to all and much appreciation to Mike for another great session.
Yes, it did end quicker than expected. Your concentration on a single commodity was paying off. I haven't seen this option pursued with as much effort before and it was doing well. It's not a very luck-related approach and maybe with different results you would have been closer.
Robert Parkins: TRANSURANIC TRADERS - 3rd
Thank you for a very well run game. My game plan was to maximise my factory production so I was always getting commodities to sell each turn. I also managed to avoid losing a ship this game as this usually happens and sets me back. I also managed to get a useful agent.
However, I was slow at improving my reputation compared to the other players. This I believe cost me much-needed revenue. That said, the game was won by the better player and I congratulate Mateusz on winning.
Please put me down for the next game, I am reviewing the situation, I think I will have to play again
Gaining Market positions boost Reputation. It may only be 5 or 10 HTs at low level, but it soon adds up over the game.
Przemyslaw Orwat: PAVONIS PIONEERS - 2nd
Thank you all for the game. Congratulations for the winner!
This time I played a standard opportunistic trader, quite well I think. Actually the only thing I could do better was to bid significantly higher for the initiative in turn 8.
I bid 26 HT, hoping to get the OP 15. However Intersidereal bid 25 HT and after a lucky roll they took the initiative and OP 15, which gave them 500 HT over two turns. So actually one lucky roll for initiative - against the odds - turned out to be pivotal in terms of the final result of the game.
So this particular game was really about winning, just once, against the odds.
I didn't know it was going to be so significant, but yes, it was. And you were so close so early without that luck. Both of you surprised me.
Mateusz Ochman: INTERSIDEREAL GREENHORNS - 1st
First of all, I want to thank you, Michael, for running the game :) I know it was hard for you, especially with that hospital adventure... But I'm glad you managed to run the whole game.
Maybe with a few errors... ;) Even in the last turn. I wrote to sell warehouses, but they were not sold... :) And all the time mixing the names of ships, my email and so on :P But it was all not game-changing.
I had the pleasure of playing this game few times in my life in "real". So, for me the game was quite ... different. Not about the expansion rules - they were great. Random (in reasonable range) news chits values, special "powers" when starting, more systems and resources... All of them, and more, really improved gameplay.
But I think the game "lost" a bit because of the fact that news are always 1 turn "longer". There were no "sudden changes in plan" and so on. That's why I'd like to propose an easy fix for that: I think in next game(s) the pause for giving orders should be not before Bid phase, but before Hyperjump Phase.
It's not a big difference for you (starting orders include first bid and first news phase, next orders goes from hyperjump to news), but, in my opinion, it would change the game for how it should be - for better. With this comes a superb thrill, when a great opportunity is only available now, and you have to abandon previous plans (and maybe passengers) to get it...
You have the same problem now, there's just time to think rather than the snap decision over the board. .
Still, it was my first game with you, so I wanted to play it safe and sound. That's why I've chosen a name that would not sound too scary (I hope) and also a safe strategy - not to get sabotaged and all the time. I wanted to concentrate on two commodities. I thought of one "heavy" (I was thinking mostly of isotopes or alloys) and one "light" (Liquors seemed best for me). I wanted to have stable production and keep on selling them and gaining positions on different systems. So that's why I've chosen to get Isotope factories and bought first more of them and some Liquor factories, and tried to have as little loan as possible.
It certainly matters what you do with a loan. No matter how much and for how long, it has to be paid back. Selling ships for repayment is uncertain and risky and factories will often have lost value. You need to make a profit at least as much as the interest payments a turn.
Also that's also why I've chosen political connections, because I hoped to gain business from positions and I didn't wanted to play any black market. I was very afraid that it won't work, because I saw others taking very big loans and I thought they'd just undercut the market by offering very low prices in big amounts. Luckily for me, there was not very much competition in Isotopes and Liquors, so I managed to repay my loan and gain more ships to sell my production all the time. In the meantime I was trying to just get any bargain "by the way" where were my ships.
And then two things happened. First, FATCAT put a thread. Luckily again, it was not (yet) very bad, as I could wait few turns with my storage in warehouses. However, I was preparing for battle if needed - that's why I bought Corco Mu [hull] with 5 Light Weapons. I was ready to give a fight, however, none was needed. Second was a great opportunity - with the possibility of even few hundreds of HTs. Since I had quite a lot of ships already, I decided to pay a lot (in my opinion) in bid and get it. I was shocked when I noticed that I almost lost it (Pavonis Pioneers paid more in bid!), but I had luck... again. And even more when my ship returned with enormous amount of 500 HTs!
Then I was just planning to end the game as soon as possible, still afraid of getting sabotaged by everyone else (since I though it's obvious that I'm little ahead now). I wanted to try to end in turn 11, but I knew about the PSYCHIC JAM, and I decided that I will play it safe until the end. I think I would probably won if I'd sell everything on turn 11, but I was not sure of it, while I was quite sure no one else could (yet).
Still, thank you everyone for a great game, congratulations to you all, it was a great pleasure, and now I'm awaiting another contest. :)
Thank you, gentlemen, for playing. Full sets of orders and quite closely fought, with several different routes to victory attempted. It looks like the OP 15 chit with the large reward helped Intersidereal Greenhorns to victory, but the ship could have been lost or paid much less. It was a deserved victory. I am pleased to see everyone is up for another game, and we may have some other players as well.