First, I made this game, so my opinion may be biased. I'm actually quite happy about how it turned out and although I keep thinking about possible ways to expand it and make it more complex, I'm not sure it's really necessary
That said, I thought I would explain some of my thoughts after playing a few games.
There are two basic mechanics that affect your possibilities: The dice and the time. Together they make the core of the game.
First you have the dice. You will roll from 3 to 5 depending on how big the planet you landed on is. Of course, the size depends on how much time you spend to search and travel to the planet.
Each face shows one good and there are a total of 5 types of goods (Food is shown twice). The prices for each good always depend on the quantity available on the planet, and that depends on your dice roll. If you rolled 3 Robots, that means you can buy up to 3 Robots. It also means that the price for each Robot will be about average. If there were more Robots on your roll, the price would be cheaper, and if there were less, the price would be higher. That's what players should use to earn money from planet to planet. As players can re-roll some of the dice twice (for a total of 3 rolls), what you finally get is not totally random.
Then there's the time. As each trip costs between 1 and 3 days of game time, and each action (buying or selling) also takes 1 day, players need to manage well their actions to get a better profit without wasting precious time (there's a time limit that handles when the game ends).
Combining both considerations, some initial possibilities arise. Here are a few examples:
A player can decide to go for big planets to buy, trying to get as many goods of one single type as possible on their roll, to then go to a small planet to sell, ideally trying to get just 1 of that good.
This strategy maximizes the profit of that one trip, but doesn't take into consideration the next trip, so players after selling will find that the available goods are pretty expensive. They can decide to skip buying on that planet (gaining one day, but losing one trip). Total time expenditure for this strategy would be 7 days, so in a 20 day game you could repeat the buy-sell cycle 3 times (if the last planet is medium instead of big).
The other extreme of the balance is to go to small planets. The number of goods the player will be able to buy will be 3 at most, and the price about average at best. The most profitable way to sell would probably be as illegal goods on the next planet (trying not to roll the carried good), but it is quite risky. The police will catch the player about 1/3rd of the times.
With this strategy, the total time for the buy-sell cycle is just 3 days (one for traveling, one for selling and one for buying). This way, in a 20 days game the player could hope to complete 7 cycles (last cycle takes only 2 time as there's no need to buy).
Of course, the chance of police catching the player goes up, so it may be wise to try to sell legally too if the initial roll is promising. For example, rolling 3 food when buying (for a cost of 3 each) and then rolling one food when selling (for a price of 5) is almost as good as if it would be sold illegally (for 6). In the case of water, with the same numbers, the profit would be even higher legally than illegally.
This strategy (and mixing legal and illegal sells) is especially useful for Luxuries. The price increase as the number of Luxury goods go down is bigger each step, so buying them when there are 3 available and selling them when there's one is much more profitable than within the range of 5-3.
A third possible strategy could be to always visit big planets. This way the player can try to get both a good selling price for their current cargo AND a good buying price for the next trip.
Of course, this can be hard, as when re-rolling to get a cheaper price on a good, you can end up increasing the price of the good you want to sell. But the total cycle is shorter than with the first strategy, although not as short as with the second. Each cycle takes 5 days. That means you'd get 4 such cycles on a 20 day game.
Of course, all these strategies can be combined and changed to suit the players, and new ones are also possible. The medium planet is a good compromise between time and number of dice rolled, so it's also a good choice, and as always, most of the times players will have to adapt their style of play to the ever changing circumstances. After all, there's a lot of randomness and "push-your-like" kind of choices.
So, I'd love to hear from people that have tried the game (or just read the rules) and thought up some different ways of playing the game. Of course, I'm still trying out the prices (which I've just updated once) so ideas for changes are welcomed too...
- Last edited Tue Jun 2, 2009 5:05 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Jun 2, 2009 4:47 pm
I just discovered this game and definately want to try it this evening! It is very easy to assemble (you just need the dice and some piece of paper) and the mechanics (die-roll for determing the goods and prices, 1-3 days decision for planet size) seem very interesting and smooth.
Just from reading the rules, without ever playing it, I have some questions and suggestions. Maybe I should wait until my first game, but I have some time now, so here they are (take them carefully):
a) Starting Cash
In the rules, I didn´t find a value for the cash player starts with. Is this intentional?
b) Goods & Differences
The goods just differ in price - they take the same space in your cargo hold (which is unlimited) and have the same consequences when the police catches you selling illegal goods...
I see no real reason to go for the cheap goods like food or water(?). Robots and diamonds just seem "best". Is this right?
c) Cargo Hold
You have unlimited space for your goods. I think it would add some decisions and tension to the game if you only had space for x goods. Maybe different goods could take up different amounts of space? Or will this add too much bookkeeping?
Of course, this game has many possibilities for extensions, like events, special abilities for each player, different ships...
These would make the game more complicated and complex, and you said it right - maybe it´s just not necessary. ;-)
I write again after I played a few games.
Thank you for you effort!
a) Big OOOOPS!!! Cash starts at 10c (Edit: I've updated the files... btw, you can experiment with different starting amounts. With less starting money, players will be forced to go for cheaper goods...)
b) Price is supposed to be per unit of good, and a unit has a constant volume (standard cargo crates, I guess ) The thing is, you might not always have enough money to get more expensive goods, especially at the beginning of the game. Also, sometimes the dice roll can force you to go for the cheaper goods, afterall, food is the most common good (shown on two sides instead of 1)
c) As the maximum amount you can buy is 5 units, that's the size of the cargo hold. I wanted to make this simple, and in every game I've seen they either say each unit has a constant volume or weight, to simplify cargo space (I'm talking both about board games and computer games such as Elite and Frontier).
Thanks for the questions! as I said I'm open to suggestions, but I'm trying to keep this simple (I'm having to refrain myself here )
- Last edited Wed Jun 3, 2009 11:17 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Wed Jun 3, 2009 11:04 am