Space Capitalism

My friends and I play plenty of board games and we come across some really fun and unique ones.

Some of my recommendations consist of:

Settlers of Catan, it’s a classic game of trading resources.

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Splendor, a deck building game involving become the best jeweler around.

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Betrayal at House on the Hill, a world building game where all of the players explore a haunted house.

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All of these games are super fun because they take really simple elements and stack them on top of each other to create a complex strategy environment. The learning curve on these games aren’t steep. You can pick them up really fast.

Catan is probably the hardest one to understand the first time you play, but that’s mostly due to the freedom given to the players, and the edge cases that don’t appear in the general rules.


Today though, we aren’t talking about any of these popular, well thought out games. We’re talking about a game that my friends and I found in a Half-Price Books one time.

It’s called Trailblazer.

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Trailblazer was a part of a series of games that came out in the 80’s by a company called Metagaming.

What Metagaming would do is release a rule book and board (which was mainly a grid) and then have the players be in charge of maintaining the board and game conditions.

From what I’ve gathered Trailblazer was one of the less popular ones.

Trailblazer defines itself as “A game of space exploration and economic exploitation based on supply and demand.”

On the back of the box, they state “Libertarians will love it.”

If those two sentences don’t have you sold I don’t know what will.

The crazy part is that the rules are actually really good at making a game that simulates free market economics. If that were the only part of the game, it would have me pretty well entertained.

The tough part is that free market economics isn’t exactly easy to simulate.

The game requires that the players fly around the galaxy looking for more planets to exploit and trade with. These planets aren’t on the map in the beginning and when the players find them they have to:

  1. Draw what planet class it is.
  2. Roll for every resource it produces. (3-5ish)
  3. Roll for every resource it consumes. (3-5ish)
  4. Roll for all of the demand modifiers of those resources that it consumes. (3-5ish)
  5. Keep track of all of these stats.

That’s just to find a planet.

During the buy phase every player has the opportunity to bid for any resource that is available on any planet they have a ship or a factor at. Which means there could be tens of planets all with 3-5ish resources each, all of which have to be bid on individually.

Everybody has a ship log for every ship they have, a warehouse log for every factor they have. The game has a board that has to be managed, a star chart has to be logged for all the stats of all of the planets that are found. Anytime goods are sold on a planet, the demand modifier has to be altered for that good.

None of this is automated.

And so after reading the rules, my friends and I have decided not to play.

Free market economics makes for a fun game, but I have no desire to manage multiple spreadsheets for a game that could take “4 hours to days per game.”

 

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