Recommend
23 
 Thumb up
 Hide
10 Posts

Starship Merchants» Forums » Sessions

Subject: First impressions after a play of prototype rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Will
United States
Fresno
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I got to play a prototype of this with Joe Huber recently and enjoyed it. He said I could talk about it so here goes.

Since I see the only other thread about this game is about 18xx, I'll mention that I don't really play much in the way of 18xx games. I've played some train games such as Railroad Tycoon and enjoyed that.


I enjoyed playing this game (I got to play just once). I'll run through some of the things I liked about it. I liked the sci-fi theme (I'm a sucker for sci-fi games), I can't wait for more pictures of the final graphics on the components. I liked managing my ships, I liked upgrading my ships, I liked putting pilots and upgrade parts into my ships. One needs to manage money somewhat carefully (including loans). Also, at certain points some ships become obsolete, so one should plan deliveries and ship purchases around when you or the other player might trigger that.

I think this is the only picture of the components:

I'm not sure if this is a computer generated image, or if this is a final picture of the actual components, but I'll refer to this.

Basically you get one thing per turn to do on each of the 4 sections of the board (there are some exceptions). Each turn its generally possible to advance one space to get to the next quadrant and do its action, or remain in the space to repeat a action. For instance, buying a ship takes up a turn on the shipyard space (as seen on upper left of the picture of the game). If one stays on the shipyard space one could buy an additional ship next turn. The Market space in the upper right allows one to purchase equipment for the ship and hire pilots. Each ship has a certain number of movement points and cargo capacity, so once you hit the lower right space (the Belt) you plan one ship's entire mining run in that turn. Each thing you do in the mining run takes up movement points, such as exploring for new mines, taking the ship to a destination that will pay bonuses for the haul, picking up a load from a mine and putting it into a cargo hold, etc. Then on the lower left space, you deliver all cargo from all ships at once.

The game ends when one person gets to a set amount of cash (I think there was one other possible ending condition that I can't recall).

Joe ended up beating me. I made a mistake towards the end with regards to estimating how the timing ended up going, if I had skipped one of my earlier actions, I would have been able to deliver before he did and the scores would have been closer. Fortunately the game was short enough that after a play, I'm confident I could do better in a 2nd play.
I think our game was around 30-45 minutes but I wasn't timing it, and a some of that was rules explanations. Now that I've played, it should go even faster a 2nd time.

Anyway, this game is going on my wishlist.

Edit: Just a reminder that I played a prototype, and game details could change. However, judging from the picture I linked above, if that represents the final game, then most of what I played is in it in some form. I like the addition of the ship mat in the picture above (upper right), that wasn't in the prototype.
19 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Judy Krauss
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
but I'm not the only one
badge
My hands are small, I know, but they're not yours, they are my own
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the review and info. It's going on my wishlist, too.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I like this game a lot (I've played it 5 times as a prototype and plan to buy it as soon as it is released.)

To me, it has a lot of the feel of an 18XX game while being far more streamlined. Of course, it doesn't have the depth of an 18XX game, but it's a trade-off between depth and streamlining.

One cool thing about the game (which is not in most 18XX) is that, in effect, the different players can be in different parts of the "buy ship, buy equipment, run ship, collect payment" cycle at the same time, so you have opportunities to monkey with running order. One of the functions of the stock market in 18XX is to allow players to monkey with the running order, but Starship Merchants allows it in a different way.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Toy Vault Inc.
United States
Kentucky
flag msg tools
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmb
Glad you enjoyed it. The game play is the same from the prototype to the finished rules. We've worked on the playing experience, adding helpful charts and the organizational ship mats, as well as some incredible art from Chris Quilliams.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Folke
Denmark
Lyngby (Copenhagen)
flag msg tools
badge
Pierce 2
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Wow, 30-45 minutes including some rules explanation? That puts this game on the top of my watch list.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
msg tools
Falke wrote:
Wow, 30-45 minutes including some rules explanation? That puts this game on the top of my watch list.


Do note that that time is with two players. But it is definitely playable in 30 minutes by two experienced and quick players.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
huber wrote:
Do note that that time is with two players. But it is definitely playable in 30 minutes by two experienced and quick players.


In fact, Joe can play a 2-player game with himself and finish before he starts. I think it's some kind of faster-than-light thing.
21 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael "Tie-Dyed-Eyes"
United States
Rapid City
South Dakota
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I too got to play this with Joe & Tom at Stained Glass Games. We had a 4-p game that lasted less than 2 hours. But I think we also got interrupted twice with some convention announcements, and two of us had never played. Also one of us newbies had been up all night playing Battlestar Galactica (cough-Isaac), and sleep-deprivation was probably the only reason he didn't win. But it felt much shorter than that, with very little down time. The turns progressed pretty fast, and I too have placed it at the top of my wishlist.

There seemed to be many different viable strategies, and I also enjoyed the ship customization which reminded me of those beloved old computer games like Elite, Sundog & TradeWars. There is a fair amount of interaction, in that you're competing for some of the same resources, you can often tell what the others were likely to do. So you could either go a different direction and avoid competition, or disrupt their plans by swooping in and snagging a key resource that they were counting on. There is a similar level of interaction with the Ship Market, jockeying for position to land at the Shipyard when the cheap ships are available, and trying to force your opponents' ships into obsolescence.

I'm what the marketing people call a "value conscious consumer" (cheapskate) so I will probably only buy about 2-3 games this year. But Starship Merchants will definitely be one of them.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Will
United States
Fresno
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
toyvaultinc wrote:
Glad you enjoyed it. The game play is the same from the prototype to the finished rules. We've worked on the playing experience, adding helpful charts and the organizational ship mats, as well as some incredible art from Chris Quilliams.

From that publisher reply, it sounds like the rules are fairly well set now, so I'll add a few other more specific details.

After you collect mines (I think it was at a cost of 1 movement point each), you have a chance to upgrade them for a fee so they give more output and are then invulnerable from getting taken over. You can steal unupgraded mines from other players when you do a mining run (at a higher movement point cost than just getting output from one of your own, I think it was a triple move cost). The stolen mines must be ones the other guy doesn't have loaded on a ship for delivery. After a player delivers all mines to the dock, any mines in his pool he didn't claim output from are moved into a "neutral" pool. Grabbing mines from the neutral pool are also just 1 movement point to claim, although most of them that end up there aren't that good. However in some cases, a destination card could reward you for getting some of those lower end mines. Alternatively, you could purchase a refinery that increases the value from the lower end mines.

Besides all that, one is always free to explore for a new mine (2 movement points cost to explore and that includes loading it into cargo hold, or one can drop it into their own pool for later use). With the high cost to steal, and the explore option, there's always ways to get additional mines.

There's also loans one can take to buy a ship (rather than paying the entire ship cost up front). You pay half the normal ship cost up front, and get 2 loan tokens that are paid off at that half rate each (so total ship cost with a loan is 1.5 * the retail of a ship).

So there's a fair number of things one could do with money and actions and movement points.

Edit: fixed explore cost, thanks.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tom Lehmann
United States
Palo Alto
California
flag msg tools
designer
mbmb
Yargo wrote:
one is always free to explore for a new mine (1 movement point cost to explore and that includes loading it into cargo hold [...]

The base Explore cost is 2 MP; a Surveying Robot (which you had) reduces this to 1 MP.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.