Isaac Asimov Presents Star Traders

Game design by David Ladyman / Development by Steve Jackson
Cover by Kelly Freas / Interior art by C. Bradford Gorby and Denis Loubet
Box back photo by Mark Chandler

In the year 3250, the Galactic Empire is at peace. Mankind's heroes are not warriors — they're the daring Traders who journey between the stars. With your trusty hyperdrive ship, you are a Star Trader. You will build trading stations on alien worlds, and race the other Traders to be the first to deliver cargoes from planet to planet. Your goal: to earn great wealth — and please the almighty Emperor — until you can earn the title of Imperial Trader!

This Game Set Includes

The numbers of Stellors, Quarantine markers, and Station and Imperial markers have no game meaning. In the unlikely case that you run out, use other objects to represent these things.

Setting Up the Game

  1. Color: Each player chooses a colored ship token.
  2. Basic Resources: Each player receives 40 Stellors, 3 engines and 1 Prestige. Take a hexagonal marker the same color as your ship, and place it at "3" on the Engines Track on the board. If you're not playing the advanced game, use Imperial markers for this purpose to reduce the chance of confusion with stations. Do the same for Prestige.
  3. Starting Player: Choose randomly who goes first. Players take turns in clockwise order.
  4. Personalities: Each player takes a Personality Card. This determines what special advantages she has throughout the game. Deal them out at random, or see the Optional Rules below.
  5. First Stations: The six worlds marked with stars (one in each arm of the galaxy, and Capital in the center) are starting points. Each player starts on the starred world of the arm closest to him. If no player is The Insider in a six-player game, the last player to move starts on Capital. No two players may start on the same world. If it is not clear who is closest to which worlds, resolve the ambiguity randomly. Place your first station marker and ship token on your starting world.
  6. Insider's Stations: If one of the players is The Insider, she chooses 3 additional stations to place (see Personalities, below).
  7. Trader's Luck cards: Shuffle the Trader's Luck deck and deal two cards to each player. Players must look at their cards immediately (see Jubilee below).
  8. Determining Contracts: Shuffle the Contract deck and deal a set of cards beside the numbered Contract spaces at the side of the mapboard. Deal one fewer Contract cards than there are players, minimum two — five Contract cards for six players, for instance. (The sixth Contract space is for the advanced game.) Mark the contracts as explained below. These are the Current Contracts available for delivery at the beginning of the game.
  9. Completed Contract area: Designate a small open area beside the galaxy mapboard in which Completed Contracts will be kept until they can be discarded.

Marking the Contracts

The colored Pick Up and Deliver counters are placed on the mapboard to show where each cargo is coming from, and where it goes. (They simply duplicate the information on the contract cards and have no independent game meaning.) Thus a clever Trader can study the galaxy map to find the most profitable routes.

Every world has a unique two-digit number. The first digit identifies a galactic arm or the central hub. The second identifies the specific world.

Personalities

All Star Traders are smart, talented people. Each Trader has a specific personality or ability that helps him in the game. When a personality contradicts the other game rules, it takes precedence.

The Navigator may add one to his roll on each jump attempt except using orange jump lines. This skill does not affect random jumps.

The Psychic may always see the next Contract which will become available (by looking at the top face-down card in the Contract deck). If there are 5 or 6 players in the game, she can look at the top two cards. Don't rearrange the cards!

Lucky Lou may hold up to three Trader's Luck cards, but still starts the game with two. During his draw stage, he draws two cards instead of one, so long as he doesn't exceed three cards in hand. Before drawing, he can discard down to one or two cards in order to draw more cards. If he draws two, he looks at them both at the same time, even if the Trader's Luck deck is reshuffled between them.

The Negotiator collects an extra 4 Stellors from the bank for every cargo she delivers, and an extra two Stellors for every cargo delivered at one of her stations. The Negotiator still gets this extra payment even for special contracts that specify under certain circumstances that no Stellors are granted. She does not collect this when a cargo is delivered to a Completed Contract.

The Engineer may get a 6th engine. He may trade to get it or build it for 40 Stellors. He may add an engine at any world — he does not need a shipyard. The card Stressed Engines has a special case for the Engineer — he pays only 5 Stellors for repairs. The special payoff for delivering to Kluge (11) can give the Engineer a 6th engine.

The Insider starts in the center, on Capital. She can't ever lose this station, no matter what, and pays no Jubilee tax on it. (She may voluntarily give Capital to another player; it enjoys no special status if it is not owned by the Insider.) The Insider also starts with three more stations anywhere she wants them, chosen after other players place their first stations, but before initial Contracts are drawn.

The Hero gets two extra Prestige points for every cargo he delivers and one extra Prestige for each Avoid Calamity he plays. The extra Prestige for deliveries is added after doubling for the Imperial Contract. He still gets two Prestige even for special contracts that specify under certain circumstances that no Prestige is granted, but does not get it when delivering a cargo to a Completed Contract.

New Personalities

The Personalities section above covers the original personalities included with the game. This is an extension which covers new optional personalities that we have play-tested. They are presented in rough descending order of how well-liked they are.

Awesome Andi may replace a single jump attempt each turn with an Awesome Jump. To Awesome Jump, she rolls three dice, one by one, and moves to the world indicated by her choice of rolls 1 and 2, 2 and 3, or 3 and 1, in those orders. This does not end her movement. A Trader's Luck card cannot be used to re-roll an Awesome Jump.

The Seer may make a Psychic Jump on his first jump attempt each turn. To make a Psychic Jump, he first rolls a die, then he may move along any jumpline for which that roll would have allowed a successful regular or station jump. He may choose not to move if the roll is unfavorable.

For Verdant Velma, green jumplines only require a roll of a 3 for regular jumps and are automatic for station jumps. When making a random jump or resolving You Are Lost, Velma may reroll the first die (before rolling the second) as long as it matches the first number of the world she departed from.

The Banker starts the game with 1 engine and 150 Stellors. Whenever any other trader pays the bank, she receives 10% of the transaction, rounded up. The Banker cannot be assigned an Imperial Envoy when she has fewer than two engines.

Pirate Pete can play Piracy as if it were Takeover, You Are Lost, Stressed Engines, Lose a Station, Lose a Cargo, Codebreaker, Gotcha, or Avoid Calamity. As an Action during his Action stage, if he shares a world with another Trader, he may attempt to destroy one of their engines. To do this, he pays 3 Prestige and rolls a die. On a 5 or higher, the engine is destroyed unless the defending player plays Avoid Calamity or Piracy. Pete cannot destroy a Trader's last engine.

Stages of the Turn

  1. Movement. "Jump" your ship from world to world along the colored jumplines.
  2. Action. You may perform one of these:
    • Build a new Station on a world that does not have one already.
    • Buy a new engine to increase your ship's movement.
    • Petition the Emperor for your Imperial Mission (or for an Imperial Station in the Advanced Game).
  3. Draw. Draw a Trader's Luck card unless you are already holding two cards.

You may pick up and deliver cargo during any stage of your turn. Doing so does not end your movement.

Cards can be played and deals made before, during and after each of these stages. In particular, you can play the card that you draw before it becomes the next player's turn. Likewise, players can make deals at any time, including during other players' turns, in the middle of another player doing something, even in the middle of another card being played.

You must, therefore, allow reasonable time for other players to think about whether they want to do something during your turn (or any other time you are doing something) and back up if you were going too fast and got ahead of them. In the rare situation where several players want to do something at the same time and can't agree among themselves which order to do them, players have priority starting with the player whose turn it is and proceeding from them in turn order.

You must explicitly state that your turn is over to let the other players know that you aren't planning to do anything else. It's possible that someone still wanted to do something during your turn, in which case you must (as above) back up and let them do it. Afterwards, your turn is not over until you again declare it to be.

Money

The money in Star Traders is called "Stellors". Players may exchange money freely in order to make any legal deal and may keep secret both the amount of money they have and the amount they exchange in deals.

All payments for deliveries come from the Imperial Bank. Payments made to the Emperor or his minions go to the bank.

A player cannot have a negative amount of money. That is, he cannot be in debt to the bank. If a rule or card directs a player to lose more money than he has, he simply loses all of his or her money. If a rule or card directs a player to pay more money than he has, that action cannot be performed.

Prestige

Prestige points are a measure of your status with the Powers That Be. Your Prestige influences the Emperor when you make a petition. You can earn or lose Prestige in several ways:

Traders may not buy, sell, or trade Prestige points. However, some Trader's Luck cards will let you affect your own Prestige, or the Prestige of others. You can buy, sell, or trade these cards, or agree to use them for other player's benefit. Or you can save them to sabotage your rivals' attempts to petition…

Prestige may not go below 0, or above 30. If a card or rule directs a player to lose more Prestige than he has, that player simply goes to 0 Prestige. If a card or rule directs a player to spend more Prestige than he has, that action cannot be performed. If a player would go above 30 Prestige, he ends up at 30 instead.

Stations

A station is represented by a hexagonal colored marker. Each player starts the game with one station, and can build more. Stations have two important uses:

Only one station is allowed per world. If you are on a world without a station during your Action stage, you may use the stage to build one by paying 5 Stellors. You get two Prestige points each time you build a new station (three in the advanced game).

Players may sell, trade, or give away stations any time they agree to do so… no matter whose turn it is. Traders do not have to be on the world having the station or even on the same world as each other to do this. Players may not destroy/abandon their own stations unless a card directs them to.

Engines

All Traders start the game with three hyperdrive engines, allowing three jump attempts per turn. You can buy extra engines to let your ship attempt more jumps each turn. A Trader can have a maximum of five engines, and can have fewer than three engines as a result of trades.

Engine # Cost
1 30 Stellors
2 30 Stellors
3 30 Stellors
4 30 Stellors
5 40 Stellors

You may use your Action stage to add an engine if you are at any shipyard world. There are six shipyards, each marked with a yellow ship emblem on the mapboard: one at Capital, and one at the end of each spiral arm.

If a player acquires more than the allowed number of engines through a deal, the extra engines immediately cease to exist.

Trader's Luck

These cards are used to give yourself an advantage, or to interfere with other Traders. You may show them to your opponents, but you don't have to. Different cards can be played at different times. Each card tells when it can be played.

You may never have more than two Trader's Luck cards in your hand. If you end up with more than two (as a result of a trade), immediately discard down to two. If you have fewer than two cards, draw one during the draw stage of your turn. If you have two cards, you may discard one in order to draw another one. If you need to draw a card and the deck is exhausted, shuffle the Trader's Luck discard pile and use the cards again.

Re-Rolls: Instead of its stated purpose, any Trader's Luck card can be used to get an immediate re-roll on a jump attempt. To do this, just turn in the card and then roll the die again for that jump. You may not use a Trader's Luck card to re-roll a random jump.

Calamity Cards

Some cards are marked Calamity! These are to be played on your opponents (though you could play one on yourself if you wanted to!). Unless the Trader on whom you play a Calamity plays an Avoid Calamity card (see below), he must read the misfortune printed on the bottom half. This is the calamity that happens to him.

Special Cards

Some cards require a bit more explanation. First refer to the card text, then this section.

Avoid Calamity! If another Trader plays a Calamity on you, and you have an Avoid Calamity card (or can get one from another player quickly), you may play it immediately. The Calamity then has no effect, and both cards are discarded.

If a card is not marked as a Calamity, it cannot be countered with an Avoid Calamity card. You cannot wait and play an Avoid Calamity later — it must be used immediately. Exception: see Quarantine below.

Gotcha! If the victim has fewer than 2 Prestige, only the amount that she has can be stolen.

Imperial Envoy! Keep this card in front of you until you have gotten to the Envoy's destination, then discard it. You may not be assigned a second Envoy if already assigned to one.

The prohibition on delivering applies even to the mandatory delivery for a Current Contract. If the Envoy's destination is also that of a Current Contract you are carrying, upon arriving you must discard the Envoy and then immediately deliver.

This card directs you to "proceed immediately" to a particular destination. This is a sensible recommendation. However, you need not go by the shortest route, or indeed move at all. You simply won't be able to do very much until you get to the Envoy's destination.

Misprint: One of Envoy says "Telzey (43)", but Telzey is 23. It means "Telzey (23)".

Emperor Proclaims Jubilee! The player playing Jubilee does not draw a card to replace Jubilee.

Piracy! If the victim has fewer than 2 Prestige, only the amount that she has can be stolen. Piracy can be played even if the victim has either no Prestige or no cargo. The cargo is still stolen even if Prestige cannot be and vice versa. Piracy does not transfer right-to-deliver on a Completed Contract.

Quarantine! Keep Quarantine in front of you until its effect ends, then discard it.

Anyone may play an Avoid Calamity card immediately after Quarantine is played to cancel it entirely. An Avoid Calamity can also be used by a trapped Trader during a jump attempt to let that player move away, but will not free other Quarantined Traders. If a world is under multiple Quarantines, one Avoid Calamity is needed for each. If a Trader wishes to leave the Quarantined world more than once, she must use a separate Avoid Calamity each time. If a player fails a jump attempt after using Avoid Calamity, the Avoid Calamity continues to apply until the player successfully jumps.

See Timing below, for how to handle an attempted Quarantine during a jump attempt.

Players stuck at a Quarantined world do not lose any turns.

Takeover: The card says "This ends your turn". It means "This ends your movement and counts as your Action for the turn". You cannot play a Takeover you've just drawn, since your Action stage is already over. If Takeover is canceled by Avoid Calamity it does not end your movement nor does it expend your Action.

You do not get Prestige for stealing a station, since you aren't building a new station.

You Are Lost! This card may be played immediately after any successful jump. Random jumps and Awesome Jumps are always successful, as is the jump caused by the Superjump card. You Are Lost may be played immediately after another You Are Lost. See also Timing below.

Zap! and Superzap! When a die roll is being used to determine the number of a world, for instance for a random jump, treat the result of a Zap or Superzap as a 1 if the result is smaller than 1 and a 6 if the result is bigger than 6. However, for other rolls, use the number as is even if it could not have been rolled originally. When several die rolls are being made in a sequence, as for instance with random jumps, Zap and Superzap must be played immediately after each roll to affect that roll.

Trades and Deals

Any game commodity can be sold, lent, traded or given away. This includes, but is not limited to, money, stations, Trader's Luck cards, and delivery rights on Completed Contracts. Exceptions: Prestige can never be traded or sold. Personalities are not commodities and also cannot be used in deals. [But see the optional rules.] Players may make any deals they like, as long as they do not violate the rules of the game. No Trader ever has to keep their promises, but remember — if you're too sneaky, nobody will make any more deals with you!

Trades of cargo or engines require traders to occupy the same world.

Players can make deals and trades at any time, even when it is someone else's turn. If necessary, players can require that the player whose turn it is wait while they haggle; otherwise trades can be made simultaneously with things that player is doing.

You cannot make a deal or play a Trader's Luck card that would force you to spend money you don't have, for example, if you have less than 5 Stellors but would have to abandon a cargo as the result of a deal or playing a Piracy card.

If two Traders wish to trade cargoes and both are holding the maximum number, no cargoes need be abandoned, i.e. both cargoes can move at once without there being a moment when one Trader has too many. The same applies to Trader's Luck cards.

Movement

During your movement stage, you can move your ship in "jumps" between worlds. You may attempt as many jumps as your ship has engines. Your ship starts with three engines, but you can buy more, in order to attempt more jumps every turn — see Engines.

There are three types of jumps. To jump, first choose which type of jump you are making, then follow the instructions:

Jumpline Minimum roll Probability
Orange 2 83.3%
Red 3 66.7%
Violet 4 50.0%
Blue 5 33.3%
Green 6 16.7%

Sharing a World: Any number of Traders can have their ships at the same world at the same time. However, each world can only have one station.

Timing Details

(The remainder of this section explains how to resolve complicated situations and can be safely skipped by the beginner wishing to learn the game quickly.)

Because several cards can disrupt a jump in progress, each jump attempt is carried out via a series of steps:

  1. A player declares that she is going to make a jump of a particular type, or plays Superjump. If applicable, she gives the destination. This happens all together, with no opportunity for any player to do anything between the declaration of the type of jump and the destination. If a player is making a regular jump or a station jump, it is permissible to simply state the destination without stating "regular" or "station", since these are obvious from the situation. Only if a player wishes to make a regular jump when she could make a station jump must it be stated explictly.

    Reminder: If someone wishes to do something before this, or any, step, they should head it off as described in Stages of the Turn, above.

  2. Quarantine interval: Immediately after step 1 (before the roll, if there is one), there is an opportunity for players to do things. Notably, the world the jumping player is currently occupying may be Quarantined. At the end of this step, if it is and each Quarantine has not been canceled for this jump by an Avoid Calamity, or if making a station jump, the station either does not exist or you no longer have permission to use it, the jump is aborted: You may choose to use this jump attempt in a different way or to end your movement. If the above conditions occur later, it does not matter.
  3. The ship enters hyperspace. If no die roll is needed, skip to step 5. Otherwise, roll, but leave the ship token where it is since you do not yet know if the jump is sucessful.
  4. Zap/Reroll interval: Before the player moves her ship token (or the jump fails), there is an opportunity for players to do things, notably to play Zap or Superzap and for the jumping player to discard a card to reroll. These may happen in any order. A Zap played has no effect if the jumping player rerolls afterwards. The ship is now in hyperspace and if Quarantine is played, it will not trap a successfully jumping player on her starting world. If at the end of this interval, the jump is a failure, skip the rest of the jump steps.
  5. The player moves her ship token to her destination. The ship is still in hyperspace; this simply indicates that navigation seems to have gone smoothly.
  6. You Are Lost interval: There is an opportunity to do things, notably to play You Are Lost.
  7. The ship exits hyperspace. You Are Lost can no longer be played. If Quarantine is played on the world where the player is now located, Avoid Calamity is the only recourse.

Players wishing to be very careful should explicitly ask the table when steps 2, 4 or 6 have ended to avoid having to back up if someone meant to do something or wanted more time to think about possibly doing something.

Example: You are on Mink (14) and want to go to Niven (13), so you say, "I'm going to Niven, regular jump. Anyone doing anything? No? Ok." You roll a 6. "Anyone Zapping that? No?" You move your ship. "Am I lost? No? My jump is over."

This will get tiresome; you'll probably want to save it for critical plays only, such as when on an Imperial Mission. Otherwise:

  • The Quarantine interval ends if no player immediately takes an action after the jump declaration nor asks for time to consider taking an action before the interval ends.
  • The Zap/Reroll interval ends when a player moves her ship after a successful roll and no player immediately objects as above.
  • The You Are Lost interval ends when any player takes some action other than playing You Are Lost without stating that they are staying in the interval and no one immediately says that they want to stay in the interval. In the second case, the player taking the action may take it back as per Stages of the Turn.

In all cases, the definition of "immediate" must be decided by the group playing, with a few seconds being a sensible default.

Example: you declare that you will attempt a regular jump from Mink (14) to Niven (13). No one responds. You roll and get a 2. Before you move your ship, an opponent plays Quarantine on Niven. You may Zap your roll down to a 1 to stay on Mink and avoid the Quarantine.

Example: Again, you roll a 2 for Niven. No Zaps or Superzaps are played. You move your ship and…

  • Without discussion, and before anything else happens, another player plays Quarantine on Niven. If someone says they wish to still be in the You Are Lost interval, the player playing Quarantine may either immediately take it back or let it stand as an action within the interval. In the second case, you may escape if you can get another player to play You Are Lost on you. Or…
  • Another player asks if the You Are Lost interval is over. ("Is the ship out of hyperspace?", "Is the Are You Lost interval over?" or "Are we done with You Are Lost?", etc.) Everyone agrees it is. He then plays Quarantine on the destination world, trapping you there.

Note the consequences of this: Suppose player A wants to Quarantine you on Niven and player B wants to keep you out of Quarantine, via You Are Lost if necessary. B should not reveal Quarantine until the You Are Lost interval has ended. The easiest and least revealing way to do this is usually to wait until you start a new jump or begin your Action stage. But supposing that A and B each know what they are both holding. A must play You Are Lost during the You Are Lost interval to avoid a guaranteed Quarantine on Niven. B may then Quarantine or not at his leisure depending on what world you arrive at.

Cargo

The way to earn money — and eventually to win — is to pick up cargoes and deliver them to their destination… quickly! The first Trader to make the delivery will earn money and Prestige. Latecomers earn nothing!

Picking up and dropping off cargo does not end your turn or movement.

Pick Up
Power Crystals
from FRYGIA (25)

Deliver to
WELLS (51)

Payoff: 19 Stellors
3 Prestige

Station owner receives
9 Stellors

Cargoes are determined by Contract Cards like this one.

This card says that Frygia (world 25) has a cargo for Wells (world 51). The first Trader to pick up this cargo and deliver it to Wells will earn 19 Stellors from the bank, and will increase his Prestige by 3 points.

If there is a station at Wells, the Trader who owns the station will earn 9 Stellors from the bank. (If the Trader who makes the delivery also owns the station, he'll get all 28 Stellors.)

Picking Up a Cargo

Contracts on one of the numbered Contract spaces are referred to as Current Contracts. You can only pick up cargo for which a Current Contract is calling. Any time during your turn at which your ship is at the Pick Up world specified on a Current Contract card, you may pick up the designated cargo.

To show that you have picked up a cargo, associate it with the appropriate Contract card by placing one of your markers on the card. Don't move the Pick Up counter from the world! Any number of Traders may pick up the same cargo — but only the first to deliver it will get paid!

You may carry up to two cargoes at any one time. You may pick up two copies of a cargo if you like, filling your hold, but only one cargo can be delivered per Current Contract.

The card Piracy lets you steal a cargo from another Trader. If you use it when you already have two, or if as the result of a trade you end up with more than two cargoes, you must immediately abandon the excess, paying the penalties. (If you cannot pay, you cannot take the action which gave you the cargo.)

If you happen to be on the same world as another Trader, you may be able to negotiate for her cargo (see Trades and Deals above).

Identical cargoes are interchangeable. At any time, you may reassociate any cargo you already have in your hold with any Contract card which calls for the same cargo. Simply move your marker amongst the Current Contract cards or any Completed Contract card for which you have the right to deliver. Because you may do this, it is not relevant which Contract your cargo is associated with except when Contracts become Completed Contracts and for determining when Completed Contract cards are to be discarded.

Dropping Off a Cargo

There are four ways to drop off a cargo:

  • Deliver it to the destination of a Current Contract card calling for it before anyone else. If you do this, you are rewarded as described under Payoffs below. When you are the first to arrive at a world with a cargo that it wants, you must make delivery immediately, before you do anything else. You can't move past, or keep the cargo on board; the Emperor would be very unhappy!

    Remove one of your markers from on top of the Contract card indicating that you have delivered the specified cargo. Then, if no Traders (including you) currently have the same cargo you just delivered, discard the old Contract card; otherwise see Completed Contracts below. Immediately draw a new Contract card and replace the card you just satisfied. If all Contract cards have been used, shuffle the discard pile and reuse the cards. Move the old Pick Up and Delivery counters on the map to the worlds shown on the new Contract.

  • Deliver it to the destination of a Completed Contract card calling for that cargo for which you have the right to deliver. Delivering is not mandatory in this case.
  • Abandon it. You can drop a cargo just to get rid of it. You must pay a 5 Stellor penalty to the Empire, and lose 3 Prestige points. This cargo simply ceases to exist, and so can't be recovered later. When you abandon a cargo for a Completed Contract, you also lose one right-to-deliver token for that Contract.
  • Sell or trade it to another player, with his agreement. You must be at the same world as that other Trader to transfer it to his ship. There is no penalty for getting rid of a cargo this way — it becomes his responsibility to do something with it.

You may only deliver or abandon cargo during your turn, but you may sell or trade it at any time. You may deliver or abandon during any part of your turn, except, as described above, that you must immediately deliver a Current Contract when able.

In the unlikely situation that you are holding a cargo and a contract comes up calling for that cargo on your current world, you must deliver immediately if it is your turn or immediately at the beginning of your turn if it isn't.

Races

When two Traders both have the same cargo in their holds, even if they are for different contracts, they are in a race to deliver. When you win a race by making the delivery first, you must announce that you have won the race and then you get one extra Prestige point for every other Trader who has that same cargo!

The first Trader to make a delivery in a race always gets Prestige from the race even at Kluge (11) or Jackpot (63) where it is possible that no other Stellors or Prestige are granted.

Completed Contracts

A Completed Contract is created when a Current Contract is satisfied, but cannot be immediately discarded. In other words, when a race is lost or the Trader delivering a Current Contract has a copy of that cargo in her hold.

Completed Contracts must be moved into the Completed Contract area as soon as they are created. Any markers on top of the card are moved along with it. Then each Trader who is currently carrying the designated cargo in her hold places a marker beside the Completed Contract card — having your marker beside the card indicates that you have the right to deliver.

The right to deliver means that you may deliver to this location without penalty or payoff (for you and the station owner). You may deliver any number of copies of a cargo, so long as you deliver them all at once. When you deliver, remove as many markers on top of appropriate Contract cards as cargoes you are delivering and remove one of your markers from beside the Completed Contract. Note that due to trades you may have more than one marker beside each card.

A Completed Contract is discarded as soon as it has no markers, either beside it or on top of it.

Payoffs

When you deliver a Current Contract, you are paid the amount shown on the Contract card. If there is a station at the delivery world, the station owner (even if it's you) receives the second payment shown.

You also receive Prestige for each delivery. The Prestige value of each Contract is listed on its card. When you get Prestige, move your counter along the Prestige Track on the board.

Contract No. 1 is always an Imperial Contract. You acquire double the Prestige listed on the card for filling a Contract requested by the Emperor. If there's a race for the Imperial Contract, double the printed Prestige first, then add Prestige from races.

In a two-player game, do not use the rule giving double Prestige for Contract #1. When only two Traders are competing, the double Prestige would make the game end too quickly.

Some contracts have a special payoff. Read the card for instructions. If the card says "ends your turn", it means "ends your movement and counts as your Action for the turn".

Winning the Game

The winner of the game is the player who successfully petitions the Emperor for an "Imperial Mission" and completes that mission. You may petition to get a mission at any time, as long as your Prestige is 15 or more. But a failed attempt can be expensive, so don't try it until you're ready!

Petitioning

You may petition the Emperor during your Action stage. Use the Petition Table below. Roll one die. Your Prestige can add to your roll. Then refer to the table to see what the Emperor says!

Any Trader may use an appropriate Trader's Luck card to change your Prestige before you roll. This may change whether you are in the "0", "+1" or "+2" areas of the Prestige track. If your Prestige is reduced below 15, you cannot petition. In this case, you may take a different Action this turn if able, but you may not go back to the movement stage.

Traders can also change your die after you roll. If you have such a card, you can play it on yourself!

If you are in the "+1" area after you have rolled and all cards have been played, you may add 1 to your roll. If you are in the "+2" area, you may add up to 2.

When the plusses and minuses are figured, look at the Petition Table for what you must now do to get a mission.

Completing Your Mission

When the Emperor grants you a mission, turn up the top card in the Contract Deck and place it beside you. This Contract is your Imperial Mission. If the Payoff on the card is less than 15, it is not challenging enough for an Imperial Mission. Discard it and turn over another card. Keep trying until you get one with a payoff of at least 15. (Contracts to Jackpot (63) have probabilistic payoffs; use the average. One pays 39 Stellors one-third of a time. This averages to 13 and is therefore not enough. The other pays 45 and so is.)

Disregard the specific cargo listed on your Imperial Mission Contract card. The actual cargo is a special Imperial Cargo that is just for you. No other trader may pick it up or deliver it. You could trade or sell your Imperial Cargo, but as only you can deliver it, it is of limited use to anyone else. You cannot have two identical Imperial Cargoes in your hold. Imperial Cargo cannot be pirated.

Place two of your Imperial markers, one next to the pick-up world and one next to the delivery world. This doesn't give you any new stations — it just reminds everyone what your Imperial Mission is.

Once you have been granted your Imperial Mission, you cannot be given an Imperial Envoy, even by yourself, nor may you petition a second time for a different Mission.

You must pick up your Imperial Cargo and deliver it to its destination. Upon delivery, you become the Imperial Trader and you win! But it won't be easy — your rivals will do their best to stop you.

And while one Trader is trying to complete his mission, any or all of the other Traders may also petition for their own missions. It is possible for all the Traders to be on Imperial Missions at once. The first one to complete his mission is the winner.

Good luck, Trader! Hot jets!

Advanced Game

The Basic Game can be played in 2–3 hours. For a longer, more challenging game, use the Advanced Rules.

Setup

Use the same setup as the Basic Game, but deal Contract cards equal to the number of players.

In the Advanced Game, building a station earns three Prestige instead of two.

Imperial Stations

In the Advanced Game, you are trying to build a chain of Imperial Stations. The first Trader to build a long enough chain will be named the Imperial Trader.

To make one of your stations Imperial, you must be at the station. You may now call the Emperor on the hyperwave relay and petition for Imperial status. Roll the die and check the Imperial Station Petition Table. A successful roll promotes your station to an Imperial Station, but only if you can pay the price indicated on the table. Note that you will usually have to spend Prestige, as well as cash. You are calling in favors at the Imperial Court! In all results calling for a fractional loss of Prestige, round in your favor.

Designate an Imperial Station by using one of the Imperial markers (markers with crowns).

An Imperial Station cannot be taken away from you or destroyed by a Trader's Luck card or any other means. You may still sell or trade it to another player, if you choose. If you do this, it ceases to be an Imperial Station.

Winning the Advanced Game

The winner of the game is the first Trader to put together a large enough network of Imperial Stations. Each Imperial Station in your chain must be directly connected (by a jumpline) to another Imperial Station in the chain. Unconnected stations don't count! It takes a chain of 6 Imperial Stations to win a two-Trader game, 5 to win a three-Trader game, 4 to win a four-Trader game, and 3 to win a game with five or six Traders.

Dropping Out

If a player drops out of the game, all her money goes back to the bank and her ship is removed from play. If she has any Trader's Luck cards or an Imperial Mission Contract card, they are discarded. All her hexagonal tokens (stations, cargo, etc.) are removed.

Since there are now fewer Traders in the game, the next non-Imperial Contract that is completed is not replaced. But, in the basic game, if only two Traders are left, play with two Contracts, not one.

In the advanced game, the victory conditions do not change when a player drops out.

Petition Table

< 0 The Emperor is angered by your presumption! Lose your next turn and 15 Prestige.
0 Caught attempting a bribe! Lose 20 Stellors and 10 Prestige.
1 Your petition is denied. Lose 20 Stellors and 5 Prestige.
2 Emperor goes on vacation. Your petition is not heard. Lose 10 Stellors.
3 Loads of red tape! Your petition will be granted if you can pay 60 Stellors. If you don't have this much, lose 10 Prestige and 10 Stellors for wasting the Emperor's time.
4 Greedy bureaucrats delay you. Your petition will be granted if you pay 40 Stellors. If you can't pay, lose 10 Prestige and 10 Stellors for wasting the Emperor's time.
5 Your petition will be granted if you pay 20 Stellors. If you can't pay, lose 10 Prestige.
6 Your petition will be granted if you pay 10 Stellors. If you can't pay, lose 10 Prestige.
> 6 Your petition is granted at no cost!

Advanced Game Only: Imperial Station Petition Table

< 0 The Emperor is angered by your presumption! Your petition is denied. Lose 10 Prestige. Your station goes up for auction. You may bid on it yourself.
0 Caught attempting a bribe! Your petition is denied. Lose 20 Stellors and 10 Prestige.
1 Your petition is denied. Lose 10 Stellors and 5 Prestige.
2 Emperor goes on vacation. Your petition is not heard. Lose 5 Stellors.
3 Red tape! Your petition is granted if you pay 40 Stellors and spend half your Prestige. If you can't pay 40 (or don't want to), lose 5 Prestige for wasting the Emperor's time.
4 Greedy bureaucrats delay you. Your petition is granted if you pay 30 Stellors and spend one-third of your Prestige. If you can't pay 30 (or don't want to), lose 5 Prestige anyway.
5 Your petition is granted if you pay 20 Stellors and spend one-fourth of your Prestige. If you can't pay 20 (or don't want to), lose 5 Prestige.
6 Your petition is granted if you pay 10 Stellors and spend 5 Prestige. If you can't pay 10 (or don't want to), lose 10 Prestige.
> 6 The Emperor is very impressed. Your petition is granted at no cost! Spend 10 Prestige.

Included Trader's Luck Cards

There are 65 Trader's Luck cards, broken down as follows:

Rolls

Movement

Calamities

Other

Included Contract Cards

There are 72 Contract cards, as follows:

Pick up Cargo Deliver Payoff
AMBER (56) Stasis Cubes HELIX (54) 6+1, 3
AMBER (56) Stasis Cubes MINK (14) 16+3, 8
ASIMOV (45) Robots AWWAD (41) 7+1, 3
ASIMOV (45) Robots JAXIN (15) 18+3, 9
AWWAD (41) Microtechnology JEEVES (55) 16+3, 8
AWWAD (41) Microtechnology NIVEN (13) 25+4, 12
BABEL (35) Universal Translators CAPITAL (66) 9+2, 4
BABEL (35) Universal Translators OZ (62) 9+2, 4
BRADBURY (33) Dandelion Wine SANCTUARY (34) 3+1, 1
BRADBURY (33) Dandelion Wine WOLF (44) 13+2, 6
CAPITAL (66) Bureaucrats NIVEN (13) 10+2, 5
CAPITAL (66) Bureaucrats SNELL (43) 10+2, 5
CLARKE (31) Magnetic Monopoles PYGMALION (52) 28+4, 14
CLARKE (31) Magnetic Monopoles SNELL (43) 10+2, 5
DRACHIR (26) Jewel Wood BABEL (35) 13+2, 6
DRACHIR (26) Jewel Wood VRAGEL (21) 10+2, 5
ENDOR (61) Fur FRYGIA (25) 10+2, 5
ENDOR (61) Fur HENCH (65) 4+1, 2
FRYGIA (25) Power Crystals CLARKE (31) 23+4, 11
FRYGIA (25) Power Crystals WELLS (51) 19+3, 9
HEINLEIN (16) Tesseracts CAPITAL (66) 6+1, 3
HEINLEIN (16) Tesseracts PYGMALION (52) 16+2, 8
HELIX (54) Designer Genes HOSPITAL (46) 16+3, 8
HELIX (54) Designer Genes SHOWER (32) 25+4, 12
HENCH (65) Dragon Eggs DRACHIR (26) 9+2, 4
HENCH (65) Dragon Eggs LAMBARD (36) 9+2, 4
HEXWORLD (53) Mutant Repellant LAMBARD (36) 16+3, 8
HEXWORLD (53) Mutant Repellant VERNE (12) 19+3, 9
HOSPITAL (46) Youth Serum AMBER (56) 10+2, 5
HOSPITAL (46) Youth Serum HEINLEIN (16) 12+2, 6
JACKPOT (63) Indentured Labor DRACHIR (26) 7+1, 3
JACKPOT (63) Indentured Labor SHOWER (32) 10+2, 5
JAXIN (15) Cybertanks STATYK (24) 19+3, 9
JAXIN (15) Cybertanks * TELZEY (23) 16+3, 8
JEEVES (55) Serving Androids AMBER (56) 3+1, 1
JEEVES (55) Serving Androids BABEL (35) 18+3, 9
KLUGE (11) Hyperdrives AWWAD (41) 27+4, 13
KLUGE (11) Hyperdrives WELLS (51) 16+3, 8
LAMBARD (36) Gremlins * KLUGE (11) 22+4, 11
LAMBARD (36) Gremlins OZ (62) 7+1, 3
MINK (14) Pheromones HELIX (54) 16+3, 8
MINK (14) Pheromones SWARM (22) 22+4, 11
NIVEN (13) Autodocs HOSPITAL (46) 16+3, 8
NIVEN (13) Autodocs WOLF (44) 22+4, 11
OZ (62) Dream Machines ASIMOV (45) 12+2, 6
OZ (62) Dream Machines HEXWORLD (53) 13+2, 6
PYGMALION (52) Living Scuplture JEEVES (55) 9+2, 4
PYGMALION (52) Living Sculpture SANCTUARY (34) 25+4, 12
SANCTUARY (34) Fuzzie-Wuzzies ENDOR (61) 15+3, 7
SANCTUARY (34) Fuzzie-Wuzzies TERRA (42) 22+4, 11
SHOWER (32) Fungus ENDOR (61) 16+3, 8
SHOWER (32) Fungus MINK (14) 25+4, 12
SNELL (43) Cybernetic Brains ASIMOV (45) 6+1, 3
SNELL (43) Cybernetic Brains JAXIN (15) 19+3, 9
STATYK (24) Psionic Shields BRADBURY (33) 19+3, 9
STATYK (24) Psionic Shields * JACKPOT (63) 39+8 or 0, 6
SWARM (22) Hive FRYGIA (25) 9+2, 4
SWARM (22) Hive VERNE (12) 16+3, 8
TELZEY (23) Telepaths BRADBURY (33) 16+3, 8
TELZEY (23) Telepaths UNIVERSITY (64) 13+2, 6
TERRA (42) Tourists HEXWORLD (53) 13+2, 6
TERRA (42) Tourists * JACKPOT (63) 45+12 or 0, 7
UNIVERSITY (64) Scholarly Expeditions SWARM (22) 16+3, 8
UNIVERSITY (64) Scholarly Expeditions VRAGEL (21) 19+3, 9
VERNE (12) Singing Stones HEINLEIN (16) 12+2, 6
VERNE (12) Singing Stones UNIVERSITY (64) 16+3, 8
VRAGEL (21) Alien Artifacts HENCH (65) 19+3, 9
VRAGEL (21) Alien Artifacts TERRA (42) 28+4, 14
WELLS (51) Chronospheres CLARKE (31) 27+4, 13
WELLS (51) Chronospheres * KLUGE (11) 16+3, 8
WOLF (44) Mercenaries STATYK (24) 24+4, 12
WOLF (44) Mercenaries * TELZEY (23) 25+4, 12

The Payoff column lists: Deliverer payoff in Stellors+Prestige, Station owner payoff in Stellors. A star (*) indicates special payoff:

Optional Rules

Personalities as Commodity

Personalities can be traded, bought, sold, lent, etc., just like any other game commodity. You may have no personality or more than one. Personality changes don't take effect until the end of turns. (If the Insider moves from one player to another, ownership of Capital changes to the new Insider at the end of the turn.)

Selecting Personalities

You may want to select personalities in some non-random or semi-random way that requires players to pay fashion for personalities that they want. For instance, flip random personalities up one at a time and bid Stellors for them. Players can only buy one, so the last player gets the card flipped for free. There are infinite variations on this theme.

Notes on the Original Rules

Our rules mostly modify the original by filling in gaps and resolving ambiguities. However, in a few cases we have made outright changes. This section documents notable changes. It isn't comprehensive.


Revision 2017-12-29.

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