17 March 2007

Daytime Attendance: Kris; Eric Sontag, Chris Knight, Ken Hooper, Glenn
Dinner Menu: Chef Ming's
Evening Attendance: Lisa, Kris, Elizabeth Brierly and Muffet

Daytime Game, Belter:

Kris played the PKF
Chris and Glenn played corporations
Ken played a partnership
Eric played a prospector

The Tactics-0 club met on Saturday to play this game. We had five players so that meant one player had to play the Peace Keeping Force (PKF). That player turned out to be me. The other four players (Glenn, Eric, Chris and Ken) played two corporations, a partnership and a prospector.

Turn 1 started slowly with the mining interests setting up mines, manually digging for ore, or prospecting their first asteroid. As the PKF I didn't even have the budget to fuel my ship, so I just sat their on the Marketplace planetoid. At least I didn't have to pay crew salaries as my troops were all government employees.

Turn 2 was slow as the PKF just waited for its budget to grow and the miners filled their holds with ore and gas. I'll skip the narrative for these turns. The game at start is slow and I thought the players might lose interest.

Turn 3: The PKF had enough money to go somewhere (anywhere in fact, using the patrol ship's fusion drives). The ore wasn't reaching market yet as the miners weren't going to pay to travel without a full hold. The lack of incoming resources was causing the price of ore and gas to shoot up--a situation the PKF must work to avoid in order to win the game. The only solution: rocket out to a mine with my troops, capture...I mean "detain for questioning" the miners, and gather 10 tons of "evidence" in the form of ore. This provided a nice mechanic for me, as the PKF, to ransom...I mean "arrange bail" for the mining crew to pay for my fuel. It also mean that I could quickly return a small amount of ore to market quickly, and this helped slow the inflation of resource prices.

Timing this tactic right meant that I could bring a little ore to market on turns when the miners weren't delivering to market. It wasn't much of an effect but it slowed the price inflation a little. Holding crews for ransom didn't disrupt the flow of resources and did provide operating funds for the PKF. Another game effect was pressure on the miners to start a revolt. We didn't get to that stage of the game but it would have been fun.

In all we played 18 turns in the afternoon. No really significant events occured. It was a routine of scratching for ore, taking a load of ore to market, the PKF arresting crews for shakedown money and confiscating a small amount of ore to spread around the supply to market.

Belter is a game with a slow start and long buildup to interesting events. With a 5-player game the PKF player doesn't have any activities directly related to the game theme, but could take the role of a space pirate. That does add a bit of spice.

With a long enough game the game events could become interesting (revolts, contra-terrene mining, asteroid destruction). It would make a good play-by-email game.

The game would be of interest to anyone who would like to think about what asteroid mining would be like.

Evening Games: