By: Jerry Maus
The five participants in this popular game were Ashton Arnold (his game choice), Trevor Antcyak, Darren Arnold, Steven Maus and your scribe. The game started peacefully with everyone racing to explore systems and purchase cargo. The first unfriendly deed occurred on turn 3 when Ashton sent me across the galaxy in a supposed attempt to beat me to several nearby systems.
Trevor built up a nice crew and ship. Steven upgraded his drive and hull. Things were peaceful and trade was lucrative except for an occasional nuisance card. Ashton finally made a very nice cargo sale but I unleashed a defective goods and two tax cards on him, costing him 1/2 of his sale (pay backs are hell!). Everyone was fairly even by the end of the first session with Trevor and Steven having an apparent slight edge.
Walter Nunes replaced Steven, who was out of town, for session two and Trevor was a no-show, so it became a four player game. Everyone had a handful of cards so it was obvious that things would not remain peaceful for long. All players had some type of accelerated drive so travel was quicker.
Darren made a nice sale and was suddenly perceived as the front runner by Ashton and Walt. Darren was set upon by numerous pirates, Rastur, taxes, quarantines and every nasty card that those two could muster. Darren had a crew member (the Graw Hobo) that allowed him to take the top card from the discard pile and was able to hold on for awhile due to some 'generous' discards which had been played by me.
Walt tried to unload a lucrative cargo worth $500, but I played a defective goods on him and cost him dearly. I perceived myself and Walt as the front runners now. Walt and Ashton continued to hammer at Darren with pirates and cost him his entire cargo. Darren now possessed a 'Dell Godfather' crew member and was extorting $20 per turn from either Ashton or Walt. My previous helpful discards that Darren took advantage of were being remembered!
Walt and Ashton now realized that I had built up a substantial bankroll and turned their attention to me. However, I had accumulated some nice cards and with a little help from Darren (pay backs are hell, Ashton!) was able to fend them off until game's end.
Final tally: Jerry 1920, Ashton 1317, Walt 1204, Darren 740
The cards add a flavor to the game, but could still use a bit of adjusting. Those pirate cards are nasty. There should be at least one card (Bribe, Spy, etc.) which would allow a player to buy-off the pirates or maybe turn them against the player who played them.
A lesson to be learned, though: BEWARE THE PERCEIVED LEADER SYNDROME!