|Getting Around the Galaxy
A Preview of the Hazards of Space Travel in Merchant of Venus
|Merchant of Venus | Published 16 October 2012||Rating||7 votes|
The galaxy is packed with potential profits, and it’s each player’s job to maximize the markets available in Merchant of Venus. In this preview, we’ll be looking at the pilots and some of the hazards of space in the new version of the game (called the “Standard Game”) designed by Rob Kouba.
After a long period of embargo due to alien hostilities, galactic cluster 5632 has opened up for trade. Fourteen systems are spread across the board, and each one harbors a unique alien culture to be discovered. Each culture has different goods and services to buy, and each good is worth something to a handful of other systems in the galaxy. Find the right market for the right goods and get there in good time to make your fortune. At the end of thirty rounds, the player with the most credits wins!
Pick Your Pilot
Starting out from the newly established Galactic Base, players choose one of four intrepid young pilots. You can explore the galaxy as one of the practical, dry-witted, furniture-obsessed space-centaurs known as the Whynoms, a sentient machine from the friendly Eeepeeep colony, one of the super adaptable (and often bothersome) Humans, or as ball of living fog and lightning from the ultra-evolved artists of the Qossuth. Each pilot hails from a different world, and each has set out to make his fortune in this remote corner of the galaxy.
Each player must traverse treacherous trade routes in order to establish First Contact with the fourteen colonies teeming with alien life in this sector. Players then move from system to system via colored spaces and must manage all manner of hazards as they progress.
A man’s ship is his best friend in this business, and players will soon find their spacecraft sorely tested by the trials and tribulations of the trade routes. Your basic model galactic merchant ship comes equipped with lasers, shields, and, of course, your level one pilot possessed of a modicum of prowess in interstellar navigation.
Surviving in Space
All three of these features will be taxed by hazards on the board tailored to test each one. Depending on the type of hazard, players must roll a six-sided die to score less than the number of their pilot skill value or their ship’s laser or shield level in order to progress safely. Failure results in a halt in your travels or a reduction in your shield or laser levels if you’d like to progress, so it pays to keep your shields and lasers humming along.
Chance plays a part in every space voyage, and while you can always see the checks coming for your pilot, lasers, and shields, Encounter spaces are anyone’s guess. As soon as a player lands on an Encounter space, he must draw a card from the Encounter deck. The Encounter cards can be beneficial or disastrous. You might get a chance to purchase Star Maps, discover a new Telegate, or make an extra sale. If you’re unlucky you might have to do battle with the dreaded Space Pirates! You can foil the Pirates either by using your pilot skill to engage in some fancy flying, using your shields to just bull through, or start zapping with your lasers to put an end to their tyranny for good.
Unfortunately, not everything can be bested with blasters and barriers. Among these non-shootable problems are the Navigation Spaces and the Telegates.
Navigation Spaces are the most highly trafficked crossroads in the cosmos and have multiple exits and entrances. The direction you wind up going takes a little planning and a lot of luck. Navigation Spaces require you to take one of the dice you’ve rolled for your ship’s movement and assign it to a space on your ship’s dashboard called the navigation. This number will then determine what direction the Navigation Space spits you out, so you might be on your way to the center of a supernova when you’d clearly meant to land on a nearby Spaceport.
Next to Telegates, the Navigation Spaces can seem like small potatoes. Once again making use of value of the die assigned to your ship's navigation, Telegates can zip you to the other side of the galaxy in the blink of an eye. When used properly, the Telegates can make a long haul into a quick jaunt, but if a player isn’t careful he can wind up in a corner of the cluster bereft of buyers.
Efficiently managing all of the mayhem involved in interstellar travel is vital to your success as a budding baron of barter. Exploration is key, but this cosmic cash grab ends after thirty turns of play, so make good use of your time in transit.
Those are the basics of getting around the galaxy in Merchant of Venus. In our next preview, we’ll examine the particulars of trade and taking your ship upgrades to the next level!
Discover new alien cultures and get rich selling their goods in Merchant of Venus, the board game of space exploration and interstellar trade for one to four players! Featuring a double-sided board, Merchant of Venus presents both Richard Hamblen's beloved classic and a newly reimagined design by Rob Kouba.
© 2012 HASBRO, Inc. All rights reserved. Merchant of Venus and its logo are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast LLC in the U.S.A. and other countries. Used with permission. Licensed by Wizards of the Coast.