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Risk and Reward


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Posted 07 June 2013 - 06:31 AM

The discovery of valuable ores and other resources has led to the founding of a new colony, hidden away in an untouched corner of a steam-powered world. It won’t stay untouched for long, however; prospectors from all over are boarding their airships and then risking a trip across the Boiling Sea to stake their claim. Can you outbid and outbuy your rivals to acquire the most wealth?

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 our last preview, we took a look at plots of land up for grabs on the board’s claim map. We also covered extraction of all-important resources. Today, we will look at the resource terminal, and talk about manipulating the market to help build your fortune, while ruining your opponents.

Buy and Sell Valuable Resources

Once players have filled their carriers with precious resources and are ready to make a profit, they may use the board’s resource terminal to make their sales. The resource terminal, which tracks the supply of resources and their prices, fluctuates with each sale. The fluidity of the market means that players must be clever when buying and selling, using this volatility to their advantage.

The resource terminal, shown below (set up for a five-player game), has supply and price tracks for each of the four resources. On the left side of each column on the resource terminal is the price track, which lists the current cost of one resource in credits. The right column is the supply track, which displays how many of each resource is available in the reserve. The supply track is color coordinated with the price adjustment track, show on the far right. This determines how a resources price is adjusted. The gold circle at the bottom of each column depicts which resource the given tracks represent. Resources are always bought and sold in the order dictated by the number in the gold circle at the top of each column, beginning with quartz and ending with energy.

Let’s look at some examples to get a better idea of how the Resource Terminal works, and how supply and price adjustment impact the game.

During the Resource Phase, players have used their equipment to harvest resources and place them on their respective carriers. Now it is time to buy and sell resources at the Resource Terminal.

The first player elects to buy one quartz at 6 credits. He puts his credits into the reserve and takes her one quartz, placing it on his resource carrier.

Now, he adjusts the quartz supply track, lowering it from 7 to 6. Then, he compares the color of the supply track to the Price Adjustment track. 6 is on a green space, and is 0 on the Price Adjustment track, so the price of quartz stays the same.

The next player decides to pass.

The third player chooses to sell quartz, at 6 credits each. He takes 12 credits from the reserve, and places two quartz from his carrier into the reserve. Now, he adjusts the supply track from 6 to 8. 8 is a yellow space on the supply track, which is -1 on the Price Adjustment track, so the price of quartz is reduced by 1 credit.

This continues until each player has had the opportunity to buy or sell quartz. Then, beginning with the first player again, each person has the opportunity to buy or sell ore, then water, and finally, energy.

Use Market Shifts to Your Advantage

Prices can shift rapidly as each player buys or sells, so it is important to carefully consider turn order when deciding whether to purchase or sell resource (we will discuss how to establish turn order via Specialist cards in a later preview). Buying and selling to impact the market, in order to affect the choices of your opponent is a valuable strategy to embrace. After all, you can’t get ahead without putting people behind!

For example, let’s say that both you and one of your opponents have an abundance of ore. If you are first in the turn order for the round, it makes sense to weigh your options, and sell enough to drive the price down far enough that your opponent may decide not to sell, or sell at a much lower rate. However, if your opponent is able to buy or sell first, this may put you at a similar disadvantage. That being said, having your turn to buy/sell following your competitors may also provide the opportunity to capitalize on buying resources at low prices, and selling them at high prices after your opponents have induced a market fluctuation with their transactions.

In this example, during a five player game, players are buying and selling energy. To begin the round, energy is priced at 5 credits, and the energy supply is at 5 as well. The first player elects to sell 4 energy, so he places those into the reserve, and adjusts the supply track from 5 to 9. According to the Price Adjustment track, the cost decreases by 1 credit, so the price track is moved down one. The price stays the same at 5 credits.

The second player also elects to sell his energy. He places 3 energy into the reserve. The supply is increased from 9 to 12, and the price is adjusted from 5 to 3, as per the Price Adjustment track.

Though the price has decreased, the third player decides to sell just 2 energy this turn. Again, the supply track is adjusted from 12 to 14. The supply is now in the red, and the Price Adjustment track requires a price decrease of 3 credits. However, since the price track is already at 3 credits, and it cannot go below 1, the price is adjusted to 1 credit.

Unfortunately for the fourth player, who has a full energy carrier, energy is now selling at an extremely low price. Unwilling to part with his resources for such a low return, the fourth player decides not to sell this turn.

The fifth player, however, was counting on his competitors to sell off their energy this turn, and takes this opportunity to ****** up energy at this rock-bottom price. He purchases 5 energy at the price of 1 credit each. He places the newly-acquired energy onto his resource carrier, and 5 credits into the reserve. Then, the supply track is adjusted from 14 to 9. Since the supply track is now in the yellow (a -1 price adjustment), and the price is already at 1 credit, the price track is not adjusted.

Another important aspect of the resource terminal is using it to predict which resources are going to be worth more credits in the following round, thus determining which resources you should try to extract on your turn. The more effectively a player can determine which resources to focus on in the coming turn, the better chance he will have to amass credits and ultimately win the game.

For example, in let’s say in a previous turn, a player noticed that energy prices were sky-high, while water prices were very low. He buys energy converters for his basic tanks this round, and doesn’t produce any water. Then, he is able to sell it for a premium. Other players, who didn’t modify their tanks in reaction to the shifting market are stuck selling other, less valuable resources for far less of a profit.  

So, there you have it! Planet Steam’s resource terminal is an invaluable tool to maximize your profits, while derailing your opponent’s money-making opportunities.

In the next preview, we will discuss Specialist Cards, the auctioning process, and how their turn order and abilities influence the game. It takes a cutthroat attitude and clever decision-making to become a top entrepreneur. Do you have what it takes? Find out in the upcoming Planet Steam.






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