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Subject: A pictorial play through of a Business Cycle in Starship Merchants rss

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Here we are, sitting down for a run through of Starship Merchants. This article will step you through a full business cycle, which is one trip around the board. Here is the start of a 4 player game:

We have The Ming Antu Company (Purple)

Asteroid Miners (Green)

Armageddon Meteor Drilling (Blue)

and Zeu Pater Mining Co. (Red)


Each company starts with 15 credits and two unclaimed mines. The businesses are color coded and are represented on the board by the appropriate rocket ship. Each player also gets a two sided player aid sheet. Here is the board, upclose and personal, at start up.





The game starts with Ming Antu. He decides to start his mining adventure with a scout ship. He spends 8 credits, and grabs a ship display and a Scout ship from the shipyard. You can see the cost of the ship in the upper right corner, its energy, cargo space, and obsolescence in the bottom right corner. A Mark I Scout has 5 energy for use in the belt, 1 cargo hold, and becomes obsolete when the first Mark III ship is bought.



Up next is Asteroid Miners. He decides on a Tug for his first ship, and spends 10 credits. A tug is slightly more expensive, but has two Cargo Holds instead of one, however it only has 3 energy for mining operations in the belt.


Armageddon Meteor decides Tugs are the way to go, but takes a loan out for it. She spends only half the cost, five credits, and takes two loan markers.

Zeu Pater is next and also buys a Tug with a loan.



Ming Antu is done at the Shipyard and moves forward to the Market space. He doesn't have an interest in an ore scanner so he discards it for another card.

He turns up a Survey Robot, and decides to buy it. He takes the appropriate chip and place it on his ship display. Now this ship can explore for only 1 energy in the belt, instead of 2.

He removes the Survey Robot card from the game, and draws a Fuel Tank card to replace it, as there are always two choices available.

Asteroid Miners moves forward as well.


He picks up the fuel tank and buys it. This will give his Tug 5 energy for use in the belt instead of 3.

Armageddon Meteor decides to stick around at the Shipyard, and acquires another Tug, this time paying full cost.

Zeu Pater follows suit, and buys a scout, but takes a loan out for her Scout as well. She's mortgaged to the hilt, hopefully her mines will pay off.


This is the last Mark I ship. The next ship will cost at least 16 credits, 20 credits if they want the Tug.


Ming Antu moves forward again to the belt. He chooses to run his Scout which has 5 energy

He takes his two starting mines and moves them to local space ( on the table in front of him)

Ming spends 1 energy to explore (He has a survey robot which reduces this cost to 1, normally it is 2 energy.) He pulls a 4 value Cobalt from the bag, he could load it up, but chooses to place it local space.
Ming spends another energy point to pick up is value 5 Ice-9.
Ming spends his last three energy taking the Brennak Destination.



Asteroid Miners continues onward to the Belt.

He has 5 energy with his Tug due to an extra fuel tank. He spends 2 energy in exploring, finding a value 5 Ice-9, he loads it up. He then spends 1 energy to clear the destinations hoping for a better one.

Not being able to use either, he debates spending his last 2 energy in exploring but chooses instead to take the value 4 Ice-9, not wanting to risk drawing a 2 or 3 value mine. He finishes with 1 unused energy which is wasted.

Armageddon Meteor continues to the Market.

She discards Hon Smitty and draws Jon Hoek. Not liking either choice, she finishes her turn.

Zeu Pater moves forward, and discards the Ore Scanner drawing and draws Lana v. 4.3. Awesome! Zeu Pater pays 5 credits and places Lana on her Tug starship card.

Ming Antu, moves forward completing his first business cycle!

He places any unclaimed mines in his local space, in known space, which is located in the center of the board

He then sells off his mine, getting 5 credits for the mine and an additional 3 credits for his destination. The mine is placed in his local space.

Asteroid Miner moves forward and also finishes his first business cycle. He pops his Deuterium into known space, and sells off both Ice-9 mines for a total of 9 credits.


Armageddon Meteor moves into the belt with her two ships.

See decides to run her first Tug this turn.
She spends two energy in exploring and pulls a 3 value Cobalt, which she loads onto her ship. She spends her last energy loading the 2 value Cobalt, as she doesn't have enough movement to explore for a better mine. Her next Tug has to wait till next turn to run.

Zeu Pater joins Armageddon Meteor in the belt.

She decides to run her scout first. She explores and draws a 5 value Deuterium! She decides not to load it on her scout, because she'd rather have it on her Tug. She explores again and draws a 4 value Deuterium. She loads this, so she can use her last Energy to Sweep the Destinations, hoping for a low energy destination for her Tug. Unfortunately the stars don't align, none of the Destinations are useful.


Ming Antu moves to the Shipyard. Feeling flush from his first delivery, he splurges, takes a loan, and buys a Mark II Tug. with 4 energy and 3 holds!

Asteroid Miners also moves to the shipyard, but is feeling conservative and chooses not to buy a new starship this turn. The only way he could have, would be to take a loan out on a Mark II scout.

Armageddon Meteor is ready to run her next Tug.

Seeing a 4 value Deuterium in Known space, she spends one energy placing it in her hold, then loads up her 6 value Ice-9.


Zeu Pater is ready to run her Tug with Lana v. 4.3 at the helm. She spends two energy and places both value 5 Deuteriums into her hold.

Ming Antu moves forward to the Market, and with no credits decides to do nothing.

Asteroid Miner hits the Market, and liking his two Ice-9 in local space, picks up Jon Hoek for 6 credits.

Armageddon Meteor has finished her first Business Cycle!
She has no unclaimed mines in local space to move to known space, so she goes straight to selling off.

Gathering 15 credits from her sale, she is feeling flush, at least till she has to start paying off her loans next turn.
Zeu Pater brings up the rear, finishing her first business cycle.

Zeu Pater moves her unclaimed mines from local space to known space

She cashes out her Tug with Lana v. 4.3 first, gaining 14 credits

She then cashes out the scout gaining another 4 credits.

The board at the end of Zue Paters turn.


So the game is starting off strong. All the players had a pretty successful business cycle, they took different strategies and it should be an interesting game.

Ming Antu has the first Mark II ship, and probably will be the only one to have one for this business cycle, as both Zeu Pater and Armageddon have loans to pay off. However Zeu Pater already has two good Deuterium mines for use with Lana v. 4.3 and should do well, the question is whether it is better to pay off all the loans, or pay them off slow, so they can afford to claim a mine.

Armageddon Meteor is doing well, with a decent selection of mines, hopefully they can replace the value 2 cobalt with something better.

Asteroid Miners is probably being too conservative, and should've bought another ship. But with Jon Hoek as a pilot, the two ice in front of him will bring in 13 credits.

I hope you enjoyed this simulated play. There are a couple of issues with some of the pictures, comment on what they are below, and I'll tip the first comment 5GG.
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Will Colton
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So destinations can be either people or planets? Also, do you move Lana v. 4.3 from destination to the unlabeled spot above destination. What is the significance of that?

Looks like fun! Cannot wait to see more or try it out.
 
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Tom Lehmann
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Destinations are either the "generic" one (the Dock), which costs no extra movement and generates no bonuses, or some planet you visited on your way to the Dock. Special destinations take some extra movement but earn you a bonus, for delivering certain types of ore or perhaps delivering "the mail", using an empty hold to do.
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DaGreenMachine wrote:
So destinations can be either people or planets? Also, do you move Lana v. 4.3 from destination to the unlabeled spot above destination. What is the significance of that?

Looks like fun! Cannot wait to see more or try it out.
Congrats you found one of the picture errors, Lana v. 4.3 is a pilot not a destination, it was placed in the wrong slot on the starship card.
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Brian Bankler
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How do loans work?

I gather that when you take out loans to buy a starship, you get two loans to pay for half the cost, and presumably you pay them off later. (I'm guessing you pay back what you borrowed, once the first time around the board, once the second, but that's just a guess).
 
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Bankler wrote:
How do loans work?

I gather that when you take out loans to buy a starship, you get two loans to pay for half the cost, and presumably you pay them off later. (I'm guessing you pay back what you borrowed, once the first time around the board, once the second, but that's just a guess).
When you take a loan out to buy a starship you take two loan tokens. The payoff cost of each loan token is one half of the cost of the starship. So a Mark I Tug costs 10 credits, so each loan token would cost 5 credits to pay off. You are paying 150% of the original cost, but spreadout over business cycle(s). When you enter the Shipyard space, your first turn there must be to pay off one of your loan tokens, but you can pay off more if you wish. So if you have an outstanding loan, it will take two turns to pick up a new starship; one to pay off the loan, and the next turn to buy the starship.
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toyvaultinc wrote:
When you take a loan out to buy a starship you take two loan tokens. The payoff cost of each loan token is one half of the cost of the starship. So a Mark I Tug costs 10 credits, so each loan token would cost 5 credits to pay off. You are paying 150% of the original cost, but spreadout over business cycle(s). When you enter the Shipyard space, your first turn there must be to pay off one of your loan tokens, but you can pay off more if you wish. So if you have an outstanding loan, it will take two turns to pick up a new starship; one to pay off the loan, and the next turn to buy the starship.
I'm confused. If the Tug costs $10 and I take out a loan to buy it, and just get two loan tokens that cost $5 each to pay off, that's only $10 I end up paying back. Where's the 150% figure coming from?
 
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Tom Lehmann
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Lancer4321 wrote:
I'm confused. If the Tug costs $10 and I take out a loan to buy it, and just get two loan tokens that cost $5 each to pay off, that's only $10 I end up paying back. Where's the 150% figure coming from?
When you take a loan out to buy a starship you *pay half price* and take two loan tokens.
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Tom Lehmann wrote:
Lancer4321 wrote:
I'm confused. If the Tug costs $10 and I take out a loan to buy it, and just get two loan tokens that cost $5 each to pay off, that's only $10 I end up paying back. Where's the 150% figure coming from?
When you take a loan out to buy a starship you *pay half price* and take two loan tokens.
Yes, in 4149 the lessons of the 3rd Millenium financial crisis are well known, so there aren't any "No money down" loans.
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Tom Lehmann wrote:
When you take a loan out to buy a starship you *pay half price* and take two loan tokens.
Thanks, understand now.

New question: the play-through didn't show a Refinery being used. Could you elaborate a bit on how they work? Are their payoff rates in lieu of a destination's or in addition to? And are they one-time benefits, or perpetual once you have them? Finally, can their effects be "stacked" (e.g. if I have two Refineries with a bonus for a specific type of mine, do I get to cumulatively apply both, or must I choose just one of them)?

BTW, looks like a fun little game. Any plan for expansions?
 
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Lancer4321 wrote:
Tom Lehmann wrote:
When you take a loan out to buy a starship you *pay half price* and take two loan tokens.
Thanks, understand now.

New question: the play-through didn't show a Refinery being used. Could you elaborate a bit on how they work? Are their payoff rates in lieu of a destination's or in addition to? And are they one-time benefits, or perpetual once you have them? Finally, can their effects be "stacked" (e.g. if I have two Refineries with a bonus for a specific type of mine, do I get to cumulatively apply both, or must I choose just one of them)?

BTW, looks like a fun little game. Any plan for expansions?
Refineries, aren't available to purchase until any player leaves the Dock for the first time. Once that happens they are available to anyone to purchase. Refinery bonuses apply to ALL of the owning players deliveries. If you own multiple refineries that apply to your deliveries then they do stack. The payoffs are perpetual not one time. They are in addition to a destination card. They only apply to your deliveries though, not all deliveries.

When you enter the Market space, you have the option of either buying a Market card, or a Refinery, not both. So if you buy a Refinery, you will not be able to buy a pilot of gear card that turn.
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I noticed two things that we do different, and they may be in the rulebook, but I don't have it with me.

We turn the Refineries face-down for the start of game, and flip them over when someone leaves the Dock for the first time. You're not supposed to be able to buy one on your first trip to the Market. We also keep our mines on top of our Color ID Cards the first round to remind us that we can’t claim any mines until we’ve actually been to the Belt.

Oh, and as far as the "Issues" with the pictures, the other one must be Asteroid Miner’s first payoff, where he earns 9 credits, but in the image, it looks like he got short-changed, only 8 shown.

I've only played 7 times, and 2 of those were practice games I ran solitaire to get a feel for it before I had to teach my friends. The other night I played with my 14 year-old daughter, and she had some very strong intuition, and did great. But I was trying some bold gambles, which paid off, so I did beat her, but only 185 to 168.

She loved it.
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Glad your daughter is enjoying the game! You did find one of the errors in the picture as well.

Normally I slide the mines onto the business card at the start, but thought they might get a bit lost when I took the pictures.
 
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