News for May 2013
Race to Riches
A Preview of Planet Steam, a Board Game of Cutthroat Commerce
Planet Steam | Published 06 May 2013

Board your airships, because business is booming! Since the discovery of valuable resources like quartz and ore, people are lining up to seek their fortune by wheeling and dealing in the steam-powered, steampunk boomtown in Planet Steam!

In Planet Steam, two to five players take the roles of entrepreneurs, racing to assemble equipment, claim plots of land, extract resources, and accumulate riches. After harvesting resources using tanks and converters, players must buy and sell those resources in a volatile and ever-shifting market. The one who amasses the greatest pile of credits by the end of the game will be victorious. However, only through shrewd resource management and clever manipulation of supply and demand can a player reign supreme!

In today’s preview of this exciting game of enterprise and economics, we will take a look at the plots up for grabs on the game’s Claim Map. We will also check out the equipment available to acquire and upgrade as players try to make a name for themselves as top entrepreneurs.

Stake Your Claim

The Claim Map is the area where land is divided into zones to be claimed by fledgling entrepreneurs on their quest to make a fortune. Players will later set up their extraction equipment in these zones, gaining resources to sell on the open market. What’s more, each zone a player has claimed is worth 25 credits at the end of the game, and the more zones a player holds, the more resources he is able to extract. Get your hands on as many as you can, because they’re going fast!

Planet Steam features a clever system to scale for the number of players, which means the game’s Claim Map is set up differently depending on how many people are playing. In a four player game, the Claim Map is set up as follows:

Claim zones are becoming increasingly scarce as more and more prospectors snatch them up in their attempt to strike it rich. Many of the claim zones have already been bought up by greedy companies, hoping to sell them off to eager, wannabe tycoons such as yourself. Each player begins the game with two claim zones, represented on the image above by the colored claim markers. The empty spaces are available to be claimed by any player, either by outbidding your opponent at auction, or by trusting the roll of the die. Zones covered by gray markers are not available to be claimed until the unclaimed zones are staked out.

Purchase and Upgrade Equipment

Once you have laid claim to a zone – or several – the next step is to stock up on extraction equipment. During the Tank Phase of the game, players may import tanks or purchase them from the local tank market. Importing tanks is done at a fixed price, while the cost of buying local varies depending on the supply. After purchasing a tank from the local market, players decrease the tank supply marker by one, adjusting the price for the next tank that is purchased. The more tanks you buy, the less there are for your opponents – and the more pricy they’ll become.

Players can buy as many tanks as they wish to each turn, provided they have enough credits and zones to accommodate their equipment. Tanks are worth 25 credits each at the end of the game, so stock up!

Standard tanks (those without a converter attached) extract water, but players can purchase converters to diversify the type of resources they can extract. With all of that energy, ore, and quartz to extract, a converter will help you get your hands on your share!

Typically, tanks can only extract one resource per turn, but players who wish to boost their extraction ability can purchase superchargers. Players must choose wisely, however, since each tank can only hold one supercharger. Along with extracting an additional resource each turn, superchargers are worth 50 credits each at the end of the game, making them incredibly valuable investments.

Extract Valuable Resources

Now it’s time to start harvesting those resources – after all, that’s where the credits are!

Of course, in order to dredge up valuable resources, energy must be expended. Players must spend one energy per tank to gain one resource during extraction. After resources are extracted, they are loaded onto a player’s respective resource carrier card to be sold on the open market.

Let’s look at an example of resource extraction. In our example, during a four person game, the claim map is set up as follows:

Players have claimed zones, then positioned their extraction equipment as shown above. During the extraction phase, the yellow player, who has Lady Steam this round, goes first (we’ll talk more about these characters and their relation to turn order in a future preview). He spends one energy,  to extract one quartz, and two water. Since two of his tanks are located on a river zone, he is able to extract water without the use of energy. The orange player extracts next, and spends one energy to extract one energy and two water. Since he has an energy converter, he may extract one energy without expending any. Because of he has one tank in a river zone, he does not need to spend energy to extract water there. Purple player is next, and spends two energy to extract two water. Green player is last, and spends two energy to extract one ore and one water.

Now that basic extraction is complete, it is time for bonus extraction! The yellow player is able to extract an additional water during this phase, because one tank has a supercharger. He also receives an additional water because of the Synergy bonus. Two (or more) of a player’s tanks positioned next to each other orthogonally, extracting the same resource, extract bonus resources equal to the number of tanks in a row minus one. Since the yellow player has two tanks next to each other, both extracting water, he receives one additional water. The orange player receives no bonus resources this turn. The purple player also extracts two additional water (one for the supercharger, and one for his Synergy bonus). Finally, the green player extracts one additional ore with the help of his supercharger, and bonus extraction is completed.

Now, carriers whisk these newly extracted resources to town to be sold, fetching a tidy profit for our budding industrialists.

In the next preview, we will look at the Resource Terminal, which tracks supply and allows players to manipulate the market to fix the best prices for themselves, while gouging their opponents. The person who best uses the ever-fluid nature of the market to their advantage is slated to become an economic kingpin, in the highly competitive world of Planet Steam.

Planet Steam is a board game in which two to five players take the roles of entrepreneurs in a steampunk boomtown, racing to assemble equipment, claim plots of land, extract resources, and accumulate riches. After harvesting resources using tanks and converters, players must buy and sell those resources in a volatile and ever-shifting market.

    
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