Fantasy Flight Game’s ‘Sky Traders’ gets some rules, we take a look @FFGames
Sky Traders is an upcoming strategy game from Fantasy Flight Games where the players play as airship captains trying to maximize their profits where navigating the skies. FFG recently posted the rules, so I thought I would take a look and see what we have here.
First of all, although pictures can be misleading, the components look top notch. The game board is modular, with the beginning of the game consisting of the players putting hex map pieces on the board until all 14 are placed. The art is nice and colorful, although the pictures on the pieces don’t really form a ‘map’ per se, which I guess makes sense, as the game is about airships. Anyway, each hex has a nice looking picture of one location or the next on it. The scoring track is a cool looking spiral deal and everything has a consistently muted, piratey palette.
The gameplay looks fairly straightforward. On each turn consists of a player taking what is essentially a chance card to draw a random event, moving, adjusting his cargo and crew, and choosing to perform one of four actions. There is combat in the game, both against the random event cards and other players. A player with a better crew has a better chance of winning, but there is a roll of the dice in there. Thankfully, there is no player elimination, just a payment to repair damage or losing a turn if you take too much damage. There are also bounties to collect if you are feeling particularly adventurous.
All of that said, it looks like the heart of Sky Traders is the haggling phase, where each player rolls three dice that will be used to move the costs of different commodities higher or lower. After the rolls negotiations begin and basically everything a player has is fair game in an attempt to influence the market in a way favorable to them during a two minute negotiation session. After finishing up the negotiations, players place their dice however they see fit to adjust the market. You can use your money to buy influence, which is what determines who wins the game.
Honestly, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a negotiation game that did much interesting with the genre. Sky Traders takes the base negotiation game and piles a lot of mechanics on top of it in a way that I find interesting. Of course, it’s hard to know how the skill – luck ration is without playing the game, but there is a lot of dice rolling in there, from determining who wins combat to determining how many minerals you get to seeing how much you can affect the market. With quite a bit of dice rolling as well as active negotiation, there is a good chance of a player getting completely stonewalled, although that is the case with negotiation games generally. Still, it could be problematic over the course of the game’s two to four hour length Sky Traders is currently set to be released next week, so if you like what you see in the rules, you won’t have to wait long.