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  Traders of the Air by Compass games  Once again, Compass Games has done it to me. They have sent me a Euro game that is set in a Steampunk...

Traders of the Air by Compass Games Traders of the Air by Compass Games

Traders of the Air by Compass Games

Traders of the Air by Compass Games

 Traders of the Air


Compass games

 Once again, Compass Games has done it to me. They have sent me a Euro game that is set in a Steampunk world. What, may I ask, is Steampunk? I have heard the word and I believe I have played a little bit in a computer game that was based on a pseudo steampunk world. So, off I go to gather more information on this here thing steampunk thing. Next up, a Euro game? I am a wargamer who is hidebound in many ways. I kind of swore I would never sully my hands with a Euro game. Well, now I am sullied. You can teach an old dog new tricks, as long as you pull hard enough on the leash and there are treats in the end (I have a rescue dog that one of its traits is listed as willful. I think it is a perfect match for me.) So, where Compass leads me with the leash I shall follow, although a bit begrudgingly. 

As an aside: "Steampunk is a retrofuturistic subgenre of Science Fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery".

 The game is for 2-4 players who represent steampunk guild traders on a far away planet. You buy and sell goods between different cities propelled on a flying steamship. You must also setup guild contracts at the different cities. To put it simply, you are trying to make the most money and establish as many guild contracts as possible to win. So, it is Capitalism in a pseudo 19th century world somewhere in the universe. 

This is what comes with the game:

Two game boards (backprinted on a single "sheet")

Eight guild mats (four of them backprinted)

One steamship

60 guild contract discs (15 each in four player colors)

22 sky dollar cardboard "coins"

78 cardboard goods markers

Two bags

One cardboard "compass" (used only for the variant)

Two rules booklets (English and German)

One start player marker 

 The components are the usual well done fare by Compass Games. The double-sided mounted map is sturdy and colorful, with enough room for all the players' markers etc. One side is easier to play than the other, and is recommended for your first games. The following are the different kinds of markers:

The Steamship and Start Player Marker

The Guild Contracts

The Goods Markers

The Sky Dollars

The above are either wooden colored chits or thick cardboard ones. Each player also gets a Guild Mat. There are eight generic mats, and on the back of each is a named Guild that has some enhancement to playing that Guild. The Rulebook is eight pages long and is in full color. It is filled with examples of gameplay. The rules are slightly more involved than Monopoly, so you will be up and playing in no time. Once you have the basic game down pat, you can add the named Guild Mats into play for a more interesting game. There is also an option to use a Compass Marker at the beginning of the game. This will decide if the steamship movement arrows to all of the cities follow the normal ones on the boards, or are reversed. Just a little something to make the game a little harder once you have learned it. 

 This is the Sequence of Play:

Income (every player gets three Sky Dollars each turn)

Replenish Goods Markers (At the cost of one Sky Dollar)

Actions (Move the Steamship, Purchase Goods, Setup Guild Contracts)

Taxes and Tolls (You can make as many Sky Dollars as you can each turn, however at the end of the turn no player can have more than three Sky Dollars, or three Goods Markers)

 As usual with something new, I was prepared not to like the game at all. I decided to bite the bullet and involve the family in playing the game. Normally when I mention playing a game (wargame), they roll their collective eyes or head for the hills. With this game they hesitantly looked at it, and checked it out like it was an alien artifact. Keeping with the dog theme, they were just sniffing it to see if it was a treat or something with a hidden pill in it. With the rules, we were playing in no time at all. It is a game where that tired phrase "easy to learn hard to master" hits the nail right on the head. It is true that I was not creating a Russian breakthrough or trying to stop one. However, the game is fun. Everyone has their own idea of what fun is. This game is able to bring the word into its barest meaning. With simple rules and lots of replay value, it is a fun game for the family or friends. This is also a good game for when the people at game night have become a little jaded over rulebooks etc. The Taxes and Tolls sequence is almost a reset of the game each turn. This means that every player is in the running until the very end. You do not have one player that is amassing a fortune, and even though the game is half over you know who will win.

 Every player is on the one Steamship. So, another key to good play is to move the Steamship at the end of your turn to a city that does not help your opponents. The Steamship can only move certain ways to each city. The routes you can take are shown on the board. Guild Contracts are worth a lot at the end of the game, especially if you have more than any other player in that city. The Player is always torn between using their contract, and losing it, or keeping it on the board. The choices for each player during each turn are almost endless. This is because, like Chess, the player has to be thinking what his opponent will be doing, or trying to do, after your turn. Then you also have to be thinking about what you will be trying to do during your next turn. It is very possible to make the wrong choice of actions, and then hamstring yourself on your next turn. The game retails right now for $39. For the components and the replayability of the game that is a steal.

 Thank you once again Compass Games for pulling me out of my safe space and making me revaluate my thinking on games. This is a great fun and easy game for everyone to enjoy, even for crotchety old curmudgeons like me.


Compass games:

Traders of the Air:


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