After much hype preceding this game (which even included negotiations over a car ride), we finally sat down with a full compliment of six players to wheel and deal in Shanghai Trader. Shanghai Trader is a game in the same category as Junta (which I personally have never played), but as a fan of negotiation games I was quite eager to give it a whirl.
Most of the players (including my Japanese nationality) started the game trying to pick up two trading posts within a district and close out a racket. The coolies in trading posts started generating income while rackets started some great benefits and the ability to extort nice sums of cash from your opponents.
Several rackets were under control during round 2. Using these rackets started the ill will between players and before you knew it, thugs were taking pot shots at opposing coolies. Players also stared claiming wharves and the Shanghai club came under control of the French player.
In rounds three and four the game intensified, as everyone wanted wharves and factories to increase their income. A couple of players started falling behind in income and the use of contractors to hurt each other intensified. Trips to the international banks to deposit funds became more common too (cash in international banks being the “tiebreaker” among the “survivors” of Shanghai).
In rounds five and six, tempers flared as the effects of many of the rackets were costing too much to negotiate. Thugs were attacking almost non-stop and we finally had a successful mugging. A couple of players visited the opium dens too, but what else would you expect in old Shanghai?
At this point, time was running short so the seventh round would be the last. Everyone was running for passports prior to heading for the airport to acquire whatever bodyguards they could afford. Despite the evidence that I was not the forerunner in foreign deposited cash, I had three assassination attempts on my life! That they all failed must have been a testament to my honor. I made my roll for the airplane escape along with the French, German, and Russian player. The U.S. and British players couldn’t say the same.
The French player won handily, with the Germans, my Japanese, and the Russians behind in that order.
I think the ownership of the Shanghai club and its police protection contributed greatly to the French win. I’m eager to try again and see how this can be mitigated in a game where everyone really just wants to see each other die…