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 Space Bucks

Space Bucks

                             Beginner Economics:

                  A Course On Successful Celestial Commerce

                                by Tim Carter


                                   Ah, empire building...the favorite
                                   past-time of megalomaniacs the galaxy
 DITCH THE FINCH To maximize       over. In Sierra On-LineĂs SPACE BUCKS,
 profit, keep overhead to a        the empire is economic, rather than
 minimum. With this in mind, sell  military, and this simple fact should
 your starting Finch I ship in     tailor the strategy of aspiring
 favor of the Sparrow I, which is  intergalactic Donald Trumps. The goal is
 2500 credit cheaper to maintain.  profit, not conquest.

The key to a quick start in SPACE BUCKS is keeping overhead to a minimum.
Some costs are relatively fixed, and cannot be helped, but a little thought
and planning can go a long way to turning an immediate and sizable profit.
There are three general categories of expenses which comprise overhead costs
at the beginning of the game: ships, planetary concessions, and planetary
improvements. To maximize profits, move as much cargo as possible with the
fewest and cheapest ships, across the fewest planets, and with the fewest
improvements possible.

With that in mind, avoid the temptation to oversimplify your trade routes by
assigning only one ship to move between each pair of planets under your
control. Many larger, sophisticated planets will generate enough cargo, even
at the beginning of the game, to allow more than one ship to trade there,
allowing you to develop two or more profitable routes without spending
additional cash on starports. Having said this, it is also important to
avoid the temptation to create overcomplicated routes. Routes that include
more than two or three planets are likely to be wasteful, as cargo will sit
waiting for the ship to arrive.

When adding to your economic empire with bids on planets, look at the
negotiation time; if itĂs too long, cancel the action and then send in your
negotiation team again. The negotiation times are randomized, and can
sometimes be shortened by this tactic.

Adding Value

Within a few years, the average trading empire will grow to somewhere
between 6 and 12 planets. At some point, it will become much easier to build
profit through improved cargoes than through additional planets. When
building facilities to produce industrial goods or luxury items, try to
maximize the number of shiploads of cargo that will be generated while
keeping costs as low as possible.

Producing industrial goods greatly
increases the total cargo generated by a
planet. Therefore, build your first       KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID Building
industries on centrally located planets,  industries can realize a good
so that cargo can go in many directions   profit, but donĂt build them
at once. A central planet with industry   until you have sufficient capital
should be able to service several raw     to support the overhead.
material planets, accepting the lower
valued goods in return.

Also, build your first industry within range of a Tesarian planet. Since
Tesarians pay good money for toxic waste, it is important to include them in
your initial industrial expansion. Selling your waste not only keeps storage
costs down, it generates extra cargo at no cost to your company. When the
Tesarian planet is ready, the waste will also allow you to produce exotic
animals, another high value good. Therefore, when conceptualizing the
overall structure of your initial empire, it is important to identify a
planet with sufficient natural resources to support an industry and a
Tesarian planet to buy the toxic waste. Once your Tesarian planet is in
operation, begin looking for likely Secanii markets for the Tesarian exotic
pets. The Secanii, of course, will eventually be able to produce arms, which
you will want to ship to the Krec N┤had. Keep these relationships in mind
when you initially send your negotiators to annex planets.

High profits are created by adding cargo runs without adding overhead. Every
trade route that you can create without having to pay rent on an additional
starport, or without building new industry, will add to your profit margin.
Every time you expand geographically, on the other hand, your overhead goes
up and your profit drops. Rather than spending money on every planet you can
reach, think about the most profitable routes available. Consider the value
of the goods available at the prospective planets, as well as the
requirements of neighbouring systems. If you want to build a chemical plant
on system X, and system Y can provide additional fuel, you may want to go
after both at once. On the other hand, if system Y is not needed to meet any
immediate needs (including markets for other planet┤s cargoes), then don┤t
bother with it.

Plan ahead as well. Eventually, you will need that Krec N┤had planet to buy
arms from the Secanii, so build it into your original economic system. This
way, you can make the transition to high-profit cargoes without adding any
infrastructural costs whatsoever. All you have to do is begin producing the
relevant items and add another ship to go between the proper planets. As the
range of your ships increase, you will need to expand more quickly. Fast
expansion is necessary for two reasons: it brings in more profit and it
hinders the other players. Of course, you will need money to expand, which
probably will be in short supply in the beginning of the game.

Of the two sources of venture capital available to you, the stock market is
by far the best bet. First, there is no interest on money raised through the
stock market. Second, the computer opponents will usually invest in your
company if you issue more shares. While this can work against you later on
if your shares rise tremendously in value and the computer players realize a
large profit, early on it will deprive the competition of much needed cash,
slowing their expansion just as yours is starting to take off.

Wiping Out the Little Guys

Of course, winning involves more than merely making money. Wiping out the
opposition requires clever geographical planning. The trick is to isolate
the computer players from as much of the galaxy as possible by hemming them
in to unprofitable or relatively small areas. To do this, it is often
necessary to expand to planets which are not likely to be profitable
traders, but which could provide a springboard for your competition to reach
more lucrative markets.

                                   Look to snap up your competitors stocks
                                   whenever possible. Allow the other
 NEVER PAY FULL PRICE Unless       companies to buy some as well, however,
 youĂre in a competetive bid,      as this may lead the computer to
 there is no reason to pay more    overexpose one or more companies by
 than the minimum bid for a        issuing more than 50% of the stock to
 planetĂs landing rights.          the public. Once a controlling interest
                                   is available on the market, the company
is doomed: it┤s just a matter of waiting for the other owners to sell. Of
course, it goes without saying that you should never issue more than half of
your own stocks.

If your trade routes are planned properly, your company will be assured a
constant flow of credits. Once the opposition is hemmed in to a relatively
small part of the galaxy, winning is really only a matter of time.

Playing the Stock Market

Don┤t play the stock market too early. The first few years of expansion
should be funded by operating capital or through bank loans. Although the
interest is high and the quarterly payments can be quite brutal, until your
company has been making money for a number of years, the value of your
shares will remain quite low. Always avoid selling shares when you are
losing money, as you will not get full value for them.

In fact, any dealings with the stock market should be planned around the ebb
and flow of your company. For instance, before issuing new stock, up your
prices and cut your maintenance and security spending for a quarter or two.
This will increase your profits, inflating the price of your shares. If at
all possible, look to buy back your shares soon after your expansion
spending is complete. Because the computer counts share revenue and loans as
part of general income, your profits immediately after you raise the money
for expansion will be high. However, if you just spent a year or two
investing heavily in expansion, your profits will be low even if you have
established many lucrative trade routes. Right after your year-end shows a
serious loss, switch to the stock market and buy anything available. Borrow
money if you have to, as the combination of additional profits and rising
stock prices will easily cover the interest on the loan. Using the stock
market can be a bit of a headache, but it can serve as one of your most
lucrative sources of capital.

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