Sunday, January 29, 2023

What Makes a Great Game? Return to Star Smuggler

My last post addressed my desire to create a new game system. In order to make great games, you need to know how to play games. This helps create new mechanics that are hopefully fun. So for the past week, I have been quietly playing a lot of games. 

I've also been collecting data from the gang at via a poll. There will probably be more polls over there. It used to be that Blogger had a poll system, but that has been depreciated to unhelpfulness. 

This week, I busted out Battletech, Star Smuggler, and the classic risk game. I have a feeling that my system will use only 1d6, but the question is how many of them. 

During this process, I happened to notice a good tactic for "winning" at Star Smuggler which is very simple. On day one, you start in the Regari system at the Spaceport with 1d6+150 credits (secs. not credits, actually. I hate that abbreviation). One of the highest-priced items with a good rate of return is e37 GM bots. They cost 120 and can be sold for 100, not including multipliers. Yes, you can sell the ship boat for more, but only once. 

Spend the day collecting your GM bots. We are talking 5, max. You just don't have the funds to do more. Next, jet off to Nipna. Nipna has a wealth of 60 which allows for a 10 multiplier. You can offload those bots for 4000 or 5000 creds. 

WARNING: You have a 1 in 6 chance of damaging your ship on the way to Nipna and once that happens, you have another 1 in 6 chance of being forced to turn in the Status Unit in pilotage which is very negative to gameplay, if not impossible to recover. I won't tell you the event number, but it is interesting as it is one of the cases where Duke can patch up the ship like an engineer. 

That takes the bite out of it, assuming he survives the event. The real kick in the pants is the event becomes more difficult if you have a lot of crew, as they could just outright die from it OR subject Duke to death by not piloting his own ship. 

This is not the end, as you just burned 4 of 6 hypercharges getting to Nipna. That is a cost of 2000 to replace cutting into your bottom line. Before we do that, spend some time hopping back and forth from the space station to the colony. You are looking for two interesting events:

e153 Buy High Technology items and 
e198 Disgruntaled Colonists. 

Also, be on the lookout for cheap items that can be resold at a profit. Due to e198, there is a good chance that selling your ship's boat is a good idea because you're going to need the space. 

How I imagine an empty hold looks like on the
The High Tech Items has a collection of fun items, but the Portable Life Support unit is my favorite. It allows you to provide 50 cu of goods with life support for a month. After that, it takes a week to recharge it with the ship's engines. What is interesting to me is, it doesn't say where you can use this. So, what if you strap it to the side of the ship? You now have a good-sized second hold for goods for 3 weeks a month. 

All of this space plays positively with the Wealth code of 60. You have a 1 in six chance of picking up items at the base price and an equal chance of selling them at 10 times their value. This is helpful no matter what you buy. The lowly repair unit is 1 to buy but you sell it for 10 on this one planet. Heck, even with half of that rate of return, it's well worth doing. Nipna is played as dark and dangerous, but more dark than really dangerous. 

This is where e198 comes in. Once you sell off the boat and add the PLS system, you can carry all of the disgruntled colonists no matter what you roll. The closest destination that meets the criteria is New Karma. You could probably do it without the PLS with a lucky roll. The result of this event scores you 30 creds per colonist, so even 30 of them is almost enough to buy 2 hypercharges at New Karma. 

New Karma is kind of the End Game planet for Star Smuggler and getting there in week 1 or week 2 totally changes the dynamic of the game. It is strongly suggested that once you build your bank account, you should try to take on crewmembers at a low-wealth planet, so you haven't completely abandoned the rest of the Pavonus Sector. 

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