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The Light that Failed

Star Trader game 6 – Game End Statements

This is the sixth 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.

Previous reports: Turn 11 Turn 10 Turn 9 Turn 8 Turn 7 Turn 6 Turn 5 Turn 4 Turn 3 Turn 2 Turn 1 Start-up

The Corporation game, which we played here, is the original version of the game. It contains 11 defined Corporations, each with their strengths and weaknesses. The pre-set victory conditions and resources do restrict players’ options.

GAMLEPCO and HOUSTON FEARLESS have Factories and Market Positions and are best off producing and selling, using the market positions to outbid competition. MONOGRAM has the potential to make lots of money because Monopoles sell at a high price and don’t occupy cargo space. But there’s an initial debt and no ship to start with. ARCHANGEL has the peculiar position of being the Passenger carrier. As other Corporations have shown, carrying passengers brings pretty good profits, if no one else is competing for the passengers and the flights are not being intercepted. EON FLASHCORP and HOLYOKE ARBITRAGE are Corporations flirting with illegality. HOLYOKE has the Leviathan with its massive storage capacity and the ability to carry a lot of weapons as well. QUASAR is another trading Corporation. It has no Factories to start with, but the unrivalled ability to borrow up to 1,000 HTs. This ability of course, as with all loans taken out by Corporations, needs to bring in more profit than the interest payments, but allows the Corporation to consider various options. GATES-LEARJET starts with a bonus on smuggling, which may prove to be advantageous. The ASSOCIATION OF INTERSTELLAR ANARCHISTS and MCRADIE’S CREW both fulfil the role of destroyer. Both have limited amounts of money and it can be very difficult to recover from loss of a ship in both cases. In theory they could collect protection money, but in practice no one pays it. BELISAR POLITICAL has in theory the easiest target, as the Connections and reputation can be gained from trading which adds cash.

Mark Cowper, Belisar Political

Well I certainly didn’t see that coming! I’d thought the loss of the Bakunin would put the Anarchists out of the running. I was more surprised that Archangel hadn’t already taken the win in the last few turns. Congratulations (read curses!) to Paul, and well done to everyone else.

My strategy for Belisar was simple and, I thought, sound. Invest in factories and a couple of cheap haulers to work the low-end Alloy and Isotope markets in high volumes. The Wehrmachtian ship names were just a cheap attempt to throw you all off my objectives and perhaps give the pirates some second thoughts.

The chosen option was B: 10 Business Connections, 40 Reputation, and far too many Credits. The first two points were quickly met and then it was just a matter of time. Hauling cheap loads to stockpile and sell off on guaranteed contract rates. From earlier games I’d seen the margins evolve nicely on these commodities and I wasn’t disappointed here. Can’t say I managed it very efficiently, but it was getting there. Of course I was also counting on some lucky Op to give me a leg-up of a few hundred credits, as I’m sure everyone else was too. I had my small ship, Rommel, standing by for such a break... until Paul set off those crackers.

Oh well, we still ended up with a good run and the trade was steady. Three more turns maybe could have done it. Good game and appreciation to Mike for running it. May we have another?

Andrew Burgess, Monogram Industries

First of all, thanks to Mike for running the game, and to Paul for his win. As I started the game with a debt which needed repaying, that was my first priority. In real life, it’s probably the best move, although in this game, I would probably have been advised to take on a little more debt so that I could expand more rapidly. I still feel I am learning the ropes, but I’ll try and do better next time. Please put me down for the next game!

Przemek Orwat, Holyoke Arbitrage

Congratulations to Paul! Though it was too easy a victory. I tried to play a vigilante from the beginning of the game, but without support I was not able to stop AIA.

What if all the other players joined my anti-AIA alliance after the first announcement on turn 5? Wouldn’t we stand a chance against Paul?

Waiting for the next game!

You certainly kept track of what was going on, and made serious efforts to stop the AIA winning, despite some bad luck at times that didn’t help you.

Mike Dyer, Quasar

Just like the trail of destruction following the AIA around the Universe, Turn 11 and the Game is over… Shock, probe, horror. I didn’t see it coming, so well played Paul, but it was somehow unfulfilling… only 11 turns and I was doing so well…

I have won with Quasar myself. As long as no one wins quickly, the ability to borrow the large sum of money is immensely useful. You were certainly starting to turn over a lot of cash each turn from your assets.

Martin Jennings, GamLepCo

Hmm… Game End statement, not really sure what to say. It was over too quick, Paul’s victory condition made it possible to go for a quick win while the other corporations were weak, so he took it.

With a Market Corporation, it is almost impossible to go for a quick win; you have to build up resources, contacts and cash. I do not think I was even half-way to my victory condition, I had got into position to start building up the cash flow.

Jury is still out on the corporation game, but ready for the next one.

Oh yes, ‘Yaaay Paul!’ on the win ;)

Bob Parkins, Gates-Learjet

First I would like to thank you for taking your time and effort into adjudicating the Star Trader game.

As the Gates-Learjet player my victory conditions were 1,500 HT in assets, all connection levels at 8 and a reputation level at least 30.

I thought I was doing OK to start with. I had factories and spaceships. So I had got production started and was able deliver cargo and passengers in a reliable manner. However the loss of one of my spaceships to an AIA attack put back my development within the game.

I knew the AIA were going to be a problem because their ships are better than most and are not hamstrung by an enquiry.

Therefore the AIA ships had to be taken out. I armed my ships to play my part in doing this. I just hoped the other players were able to do the same. Sabotage, of course, is another problem, AIA needed to be starved of cash.

Well done Paul and a curse on all anarchists.

Having the intersystem craft gives you an advantage in smuggling, using OP chits, but nothing worked for you,

Pevans, Association of Interstellar Anarchists

Well, well, well: that’s another ambition achieved! Ever since I discovered Star Trader I’ve wanted to play (and win as) the Alliance of Interstellar Anarchists. After all, they get to blow up spaceships without any come-back! I’m sure I’m not alone in that ambition – it brings out the child in us all.

One aspect of playing the game with the Corporations is that everybody has different victory conditions. This is both good – players have different strategies – and bad – it’s unbalanced. The AIA is probably the extreme example as (I think) all the other Corporations need to do some trading. The AIA doesn’t (though it will do some to raise funds). It’s also bad news for Corporations who ship passengers as they have to broadcast where their ships are going.

The AIA can be stopped, of course. However, it needs one or more Corporations to build well-armed ships to take on the AIA’s Dagger hull. The problem is that doing this handicaps those Corporations, so those who don’t take part in hunting down the AIA get an advantage. Kind of a prisoner’s dilemma thing.

Of course, the AIA can still destroy ships using sabotage – as I did to blow up my fifth and final ship – but this is much harder to do. The AIA does have a decent Criminal Connection level, which helps. However, only little ships are likely to be destroyed outright by a sabotage attack. Hello, little Piccolo hulls!

As for this game in particular, I took the obvious victory condition: destroy five hulls. I made a half-hearted attempt to disguise this by suggesting I was blockading Sigma Draconis. I suspect everybody saw through this in short order. Apart from that, it was just a question of positioning my warship to intercept smaller ships – I did not want to take on that Leviathan! It was the Leviathan that got my ship in the end, but not until I’d polished off four ships.

All I needed to do then was Sabotage one of the Piccolos that I knew were flying around, preferably in a Spaceport with a low Law level to keep the cost down. Bad luck for the Rommel when it flew into that lawless place, Mu Herculis.

Thanks to all for the game and Mike for GMing. At the risk of sounding patronising, I think this has probably been a decent introduction for the new players and I suggest you sign up for the next game. The free deployment set-up and victory conditions make it a tougher and more even contest.

I was impressed by the way everyone sent in orders, and all were working well. Paul’s AIA was very disruptive and the Corporations affected had to build themselves back up. Players worked out how to use the advantage of Market Positions and, had Paul chosen the option of blockading the Sigma Draconis System, I think that the game would still be going. All are invited to join the next game, a free deployment scenario, where you get to choose your special ability.