summer, when Larry Dunlap called and asked if I would be interesting
in playtesting Imperial Wars, I was surprised to hear myself accept.
Actually, when I thought about it later, Larry was probably the
one person who could talk me back into the game industry. A few
years prior, I unofficially retired from the brutalizing schedule
of game production and development. Though the experience was
rewarding, it was also draining.
Larry had been the one person who had set me on that path years
ago, and I thought it only right to accept. Years before, I had
playtested an earlier and different incarnation of the current
Imperial Wars game, and had loved every minute of it. My character
in that early game had been a Raider, but I had broke with typical
game conventions. I teamed up with the other Raider in the game
instead of competing with him. The ensuing havoc we wreaked was
I had another opportunity. I eagerly accepted Larrys invitation
and waited until I received my character choice. In this playtest,
characters were assigned to us. I knew, however, that Larry would
assign me the Raider again. I even chose the same name as I had
in the original playtest.
I found out I was playing a Trader. Ugh! In my opinion, they were
Galactic truck drivers, space freight jockies, the fedex drivers
of the universe. What fun was that? Traders rarely attacked anyone,
or stole anyones raw materials, or blew up their homeworld.
Needless to say, I was disappointed, but a promise was a promise.
I would do my best, even if I wasnt going to enjoy it.
I was wrong. After a couple of turns, I logged on to discover
I had mail. A philosopher character was passing through, and wondered
if I would let him preach to my populations in exchange for some
work. Soon after, I received e-mail from a warlord requesting
my services, and then a baron. Soon the requests became more interesting.
Did I know where so and sos homeworld was? Did I have starmaps
for the worlds north and east? Would I trade my planets for fleets?
the game heated up, so did the intrigue. And right smack dab in
the middle of it was my trader. The power this character can wield
is surprising. When I had trouble with a Terminator, I immediately
had three of my customers ready to fight him. In another case,
I was supplying goods to factions on either side of a conflict,
while misleading the other side who was not to be trusted.
soon discovered that Traders offered more than just moving raw
materials. They offered information, they offered relationships,
and they offered a neutral ground for parley. Allies were plentiful
and trustworthy; after all, traders moved through their territory
without restraint, and knew all of their strengths and weaknesses.
In the end, I had corresponded with almost every player in the
game, and I had a much different view of Traders. If knowledge
is power, than the Trader is king.
Hints for playing a Trader:
One of the great things about Imperial Wars is the depth of strategic
options open to a player. If you simply follow the standard scoring
abilities of your character, you will miss the subtler, and yet
greater, opportunities. As an example, heres some tips I
discovered during the U101 playtest.
giving your homeworld away-
What? Sacrifice your home and all you hold dear just for profits
and points? You bet! Youre a Trader. You would sell placebos
to a plague planet if there was profit in it. Giving your homeworld
away to a player you trust has enormous opportunities. Think
of it this way, instead of just bringing materials to your own
planet and getting one measly credit for it, you Gift your planet
to an ally. Now when you deliver those same materials, you get
two credits for the delivery and earn points besides. Obviously,
you will need to use care in who you choose to run your planet.
your being so giving, consider giving ALL of your planets away-
Why not? What have the greedy inhabitants of your worlds ever
do for you? Just like with your homeworld, you will receive
more credits and points if you dont own the worlds you
are delivering to.
Many of your allies will try to pull you into conflicts. Avoid
this unless necessary. An warmongering trader makes for bad
business, and you will soon lose the trust of your allies. Learn
from your children and use passive resistance. If you want to
help one side, "forget" to carry out certain actions
for their enemies, or even deal them misinformation. Often times,
quick talking will help you escape any repercussions.
"How to win Friends and Infuence People"-
Thats right. Youre a salesperson. Dust off your
plaid jacket and meet and greet as many other players as possible.
Be friendly and persistent. After all, there is nothing to fear
from a Trader, right?
Most of all, have fun - This character
has the potential for a large of amount of interaction with
other players. Make the most of it by getting into your character,
and keep in communication with your customers. The more effort
you put into your character, the more fun you will have.