In this post I’m going to review a board game called Sky Traders.
It was released in 2012 by Fantasy Flight Games. It’s a fairly simple game of commerce and intrigue for 2-5 players, age 14+, with remarkable looks and theme. However the initial setup and game mechanics might seem challenging for the newcomers.
Sky Traders includes:
- 5 sky trader figures
- 5 sky ship sheets
- 5 sets of three dice
- 5 pairs of level tokens (fuel level + influence level markers)
- commodities exchange sheet
- guild influence track
- 14 sky district tiles
- 31 Ill Wind cards
- 16 damage cards
- 29 crew cards
- 100 guild piasters tokens
- cargo and sludge barrel tokens
- 1 first player card
- 6 “wanted” tokens
- 5 commodities exchange sliders
In this game each player is a trader and a captain of a sky ship whose goal is to gain most profit from the existing market conditions, trading materials and selling them with profit in other towns. The price of goods is altered every round by all players voting for some of them.
Victory points are called “influence” and can be bought with the money obtained from the sales.
As captain of a skyship, you have to decide how to best fulfill your needs each turn. Buying cargo at one port and delivering it to another city is a great way to turn a profit.
However, a captain also must consider hiring new crew members, checking fuel levels, repairing damage sustained in pirate attacks, and other important tasks to keep the sky ship running. When money is tight, you can haul toxic sludge or collect minerals from the countryside to make some quick money.
Sky Traders seem complicated, but in fact they are simple strategic business game. Load, transport and sell raw materials, exactly like an economic game should work. You can fight pirates and each other with your sky ships, hire crew members and influence the market.
The game will take 2-4 hours, which is quite long and might as well spoil the impression for less experienced players.
Luckily, for those who wish to finish the game faster, there is an update to the original version of Sky Traders rules avaliable on the publisher’s website.
Furthermore, there is a director’s cut version released by the game designer. It’s only published on BoardGameGeek forum for now, but it’s stated that it allows to finish the game in about 2 hours with 2-3 players or 3 hours with 4-5 players.
If all this sounds confusing, there’s nothing wrong with playing according to the original rules, especially if you are playing for the first time.
The game is not completely flawless, and hopefully some of the shortcomings will be fixed in upcoming editions. But if the design and theme of the game looks appealing to you and you enjoy trading/commerce games, then you should definitely consider buying it, because it is definitely worth trying.