Space Lane Trader Gameplay
In Space Lane Trader, you are playing a character in control of a cargo ship, trying to make a fortune in the newly opened up shipping trade. You buy and sell goods transporting them between planets within the Terran Federation, preferably to where demand and prices are high. The main objective of the game is to earn money (credits) faster than your competitors and return to show off your success.
During the course of the game, you can fit your ship with upgrades that will make it go faster, attack harder and defend better – all with the goal to ensure that you manage to beat your competitors to the goal. You can also buy new ships with better capabilities, that can carry more goods for you, go faster or fit more upgrades.
Your character will develop during the game – from the inexperienced person starting play at Terra station in the Solar system, to a grizzled space ship captain with much improved skills. You develop your character by spending Experience Points (XP), that are earned by drawing Event cards as the game progresses.
The most obvious way of earning money is buying goods, transporting it to another planet and selling it there. Another way however, is attacking your competitors and take what should have been yours anyway. Winning combat against another player will allow you to either steal cargo from your opponent or take loot in the form of Debris cards. Debris cards can either give you valuable salvage that can be sold on planets, or the best equipment in the game that will improve your ship beyond the capabilities of your competitors.
Not all parts of space is safe. Planets away from the most busy parts of space is characterized by a wild west mentality and the Terran Federation security forces don´t have the capacity to uphold law and order everywhere. This is reflected by two different security levels in the game – green and yellow. Green security level planets are safer, and although bad things can happen, the negative consequences are not so extensive. On security level yellow planets however, the dangers are higher but also the rewards.You can provide your ship with upgrades that is bought from either the market or the ship yard.
The upgrades will give you bonuses to one or more of your ships stats, and help you earn money faster.
Pick-up and Delivery
All planets in Space Lane Trader demand one or more goods and most planets produce a good. One of the main ways of earning your wealth is to buy goods that is in high demand on other planets and transport it there to sell it.
Movement is conducted along space lanes – space highways that is patrolled and kept reasonably safe by the authorities.
The most profitable goods to trade are those that are in high demand. Demand is increased at the end of every turn for only those goods that wasn’t traded during the turn. Demand increases in this way every turn until a Players decides to trade with it, at which point the demand drops down to its starting level. The demand level for each good is tracked on the demand board.
Demand is also changed if you draw a market event card from the event card deck. A high demand card means that the good on it is in constantly high demand and doesn’t drop down if it is traded. A low demand card means the opposite and demand isn’t increased at the end of each turn for this good. These effects are in play as long as the cards are in play.
You can play with one of eight characters in the game – each one with its strengths and weaknesses.
A character board features a picture and a description of the character and more importantly his or her special rule and starting credits on its front side. On the backside are 4 rows of squares on which experience points can be used to unlock different capabilities and bonuses. The first three rows are common to all characters and focusing your investments in different rows means that your game will provide you with different strategic advantages that will affect how you play your game. The first row – Piloting – deals with your ships capability to move through space, most often by providing bonuses to Speed. The second row – Combat – increases your capabilities in combat, both on offence and defense. The third row – Trade – focuses on money and how to get as much of it as possible. The fourth and final row – Special – is unique to each character and provides a set of bonuses that only that character can benefit from.
You will draw Event cards during the course of the game which will earn you experience points.
The experience points can be used to unlock new bonuses, features and abilities on your character board. How you choose to invest these points can have a great strategic impact on how you play the game.
Every time you enter into orbit around a planet, you draw an event card. The event cards will describe something that has happened to you and your crew during your previous trip. A card can be either good or bad. A good card will give you some kind of benefit, such as better conditions to sell your cargo, equipment that you can use to upgrade your ship or greater movement next turn. A bad card can for example cost you some well-earned credits or you can be attacked by a pirate or an alien.
In Space Lane Trader, you can play commanding one of four available ships. You can choose between two smaller cargo transports at the start of the game – The Aegir or The Hyperion. Each ship is characterized by four different stats :
– Speed : the number of space lane segments that you can move each turn
– Attack : the attack power of your ship
– Defence : how well you will defend yourself in combat
– Cargo : the number of cargo cubes that your ship can transport
Having earned enough money, you can buy a bigger, faster and better ship – either the faster Taurus Cargo Freighter or the even bigger but slower Atlas Cargo Carrier. Buying a better ship will enable you to carry more cargo and travel faster across the sector, thus giving you the potential to earn your credits faster, but take your competitors actions into account – too many players making the same strategic decision may cause you to be without any cargo to transport.
Each ship is represented by a ship board that shows the ship’s upgrade control system and features a blueprint of it with its main systems highlighted, as well as a picture of the ship. More importantly however, it displays which locations of the ship that can be upgraded, how many upgrades that can be fitted to the ship in terms of weight- and power capacity as well as the ships original Speed, Attack, Defense and Cargo stats. Displayed is also the special rules that applies to that particular ship.
You can provide your ship with upgrades that is bought from either the market or the ship yard. The upgrades will give you bonuses to one or more of your ships stats, and help you earn money faster.