Hamblen Variations

To set up the game quickly, mix the goods markers in with the bonus markers, pick 20 markers and leave the rest in the cup. Each time a new culture is discovered, pick up four more markers from the cup and place them appropriately. Otherwise, put all the markers in the cup and pick replacements as deliveries are made normally. Factory goods remain unavailable until the respective factories are built.
         Comment: This rule is highly recommended. It shortens up the set up-time considerably, and the early appearance of the Bonus markers makes the game faster and more interesting. The rule also serves to slow down early trading, but this serves to encourage exploration and the construction of factories, which leads to more efficient routes later on. The rule does make the solitaire version more exacting, however.

2. THE LOST "?" BOX:
Treat the asteroid in the Multi-Generation Ship system as a “?" box. A “?" marker starts the game there, and is discovered in the normal way.
         Comment: The extra "?" marker can lead to a lot of interesting variations because the dot is so crucial in play. During the last stages of playtesting, this was discarded because it makes the game so very unpredictable.

During blast attacks, the player who rolls higher doubles the firepower of any Nova Balls he fired (so each Nova Ball is worth 40), and the player who rolls lower halves the firepower of any Nova Balls he used (so each is worth but 10). If both players roll the same number, their Nova Balls are all worth 20.
          Comment: I recommend this rule, for it adds interest and uncertainty to combat when Nova Balls are in use.

On the turn you land in a city inhabited by your own species, you can buy and sell any number of items. Rule 9.41 does not limit you to one buy and one sale when you are with your own species.
         Comment: This rule is highly recommended, especially for novices. The only problem is remembering it when you trade with the planet your species has settled.

Different merchants have different ships with different capabilities. The same Cultures still sell he same sort of ships for the same prices, but when a merchant obtains a ship it is automatically customized to suit his species. He cannot choose to take a "normal" ship--he must take his customized version. To see how the ships differ, cross-index the ship type and his species on the "Custom Ships" Table below. The differences are easily summarized:

5.1 The Human player uses the normal ships that come with the game.

5.2 The Whynom player sacrifices a little navigation control in the Cloud and Tele-Gates to gain a little speed in space.

5.3 The Eeepeeep player sacrifices a lot of navigation control to gain a lot of speed in space.

5.4 The Nik player has fast ships that navigate well, but they are small; half of the holds are restricted to non-goods.

5.5 The Dell player drives scows that sacrifice speed for extra navigation; these usually have room for something extra on the hull.

5.6 The Qossuth player has unpredictable torch ships that can go extremely fast, or extremely slow. They are uncontrollable in the Cloud and the Tele-Gates. However, they do allow him to carry an extra piece of equipment.
         Comment: This variant rule allows the players to select a race whose ships suit their personal style of play, which can lead to a very entertaining game. However, the random set-up of the Cultures often gives the advantage to one group of ships or another. If this doesn't bother you, then by all means use this rule (you can even pencil in the changes on the ship cards).

Each time a merchant buys goods from a Culture, he pays a penalty and collects a refund. He specifies the goods he wants to buy and calculates his refund; then he rolls one die to define his penalty and states whether or not he will buy the goods. Whether he buys or not, he can continue trading normally. Note: Haggling applies only to goods; factory goods and other items are not affected.

6.1 The merchant's refund equals $5 for each Goods marker the Culture has for sale at the moment, plus $5 for each port, factory or fort he owns on the dot he is trading at, plus $5 if his species inhabits that system.

6.2 The merchant's penalty equals $5 times the roll of one die, plus $5 for every enemy port, factory or fort on the dot he is trading at, plus $5 if he is at a city or Open Port.

6.3 If the merchant buys, he collects his refund from the Bank and pays the normal cost plus any penalty to the Bank (normal commissions are paid at the normal cost, but no commissions are paid on penalties nor refunds). If he turns down the deal, he cannot attempt to buy those Goods again for the rest of that turn; and if he just landed at a city, the attempt counts as his one buy for the turn (9.41).

6.4 If the merchant can buy several Goods, he may buy them all at once, in the same deal. He collects only one refund and pays only one penalty, regardless of how many markers are involved.
          Comment: This rule adds verisimilitude and some nice tactical touches, if you are willing to put up with the bother and delay.

Add the variant Fort markers to those Forts that the merchants can build.

Before the game begins, each merchant is given the agent, base and second ship counters that match his color. He is the only one who may use these markers, and he cannot use them until he buys them from a Culture. These do not count towards the monetary requirements for victory at the end of the game.

8.1 Each time a merchant conducts the trading portion of his turn, all agent, base and second ship markers he has on ports or cities may also trade; this is in addition to any trading the merchant himself does. (His markers can conduct trade even if he is in space and cannot trade.) He may intermingle their trading and his own in any order he pleases. The merchant's turn continues until he and all of his markers have finished their trading. If his turn is interrupted, his markers can continue trading until they are done. If a marker's trade is interrupted, this does not stop that of the merchant nor his other markers.

8.11 When a marker makes a purchase, it receives the benefit (if any) of its owner's species. If the optional Haggling rule is in effect, it must haggle to buy goods. Should a marker purchase a Port, Factory or Fort, the counter for this is put in the system where the marker is trading.

8.12 When a marker buys a Swindle or a Revolt, its owner resolves the attack as if he were on that dot. If he owns any weapons on the dot, he may fire them to pay for revolts. If the attack should result in a tie, the marker stops trading for the rest of that turn. If the attack is defeated, the attacking marker is eliminated.

8.13 A Rastur on a dot prevents markers from trading; but it does not eliminate them.

8.2 The merchant keeps the cash supply for himself and all of his markers. He takes all money and IOU markers they may receive, and he pays for all penalties and expenses they incur--regardless of how far from his location they are.

8.3 Agents: Each merchant can buy agents only from his own species. The cost is $80 per agent. Agents have no trade-in value.

8.31 A merchant can carry his agents on his ship like Fares, and he can jettison them on any port, city or asteroid. A dot can hold any number of agents.

8.32 When an agent trades, he can make one purchase or sell one item (or make one move on his own). He may do only one action per turn. He can trade regardless of whether he is on a ship or on the map.

8.321 When an agent is on the same dot with a friendly ship or base, he can buy goods or equipment and place them in the ship or base; or he can sell from the ship or base. If there is no friendly ship or base on the dot, he cannot sell anything and any goods or equipment he buys is immediately jettisoned. [Clarification: When a merchant lands at a city where he has an agent, the merchant can buy one item and sell one item, and the agent can buy one item and sell one item.]

8.322 When an agent buys a ship, it becomes his owner's second ship (see 8.4 below). If the owner already has a second ship, the agent cannot buy a ship. Agents can never sell ships.

8.323 Agents cannot pick up nor jettison Fares.

8.33 When an agent moves on his own, he may go to any port, city or asteroid in the system he currently occupies. If he moves to an undiscovered city, he discovers the local Culture and . his owner takes the IOU. Agents cannot move from system to system by themselves.

8.34 When the optional Combat rules are used, agents do not pay penalties and cannot be attacked. However, if an agent is in a Hold when it is hit by a blast attack, the marker is eliminated.

8.4 Second Ships: Each merchant can operate two ships at the same time. One of the ships must be large (a Transport or Freighter) and one must be small (a Scout or Clipper). Second ships are bought from the usual shipbuilding Cultures for the usual prices, and they have the normal tradein value. Only agents can purchase a second ship. When an agent buys a ship, his owner takes the ship card and places his second ship marker on that agent's dot; the agent marker is eliminated immediately.

8.41 The merchant places the items he is carrying on his own ship card, and the items the second ship is carrying on its card. To avoid confusion, place a coin on the second ship card to distinguish it.

8.42 Each time a merchant takes his turn, both of his ships may move. He can move either first, but the first ship must complete its movement before he rolls the dice for the second ship. When both ships have finished moving, he may trade. If one ship's move is interrupted, the other ship is not affected.

8.43 A second ship conducts trade exactly like a merchant. It may pick up and jettison Fares. It may even sell the old ship and buy a new one (of the proper size). When a merchant and his second ship are on the same dot, they may exchange items--and even ships. This is the only manner in which items may be exchanged.

8.44 When the optional Combat rules are used, second ships fight just like merchants. However, the presence of a second ship in a system does not prevent enemy revolts there.

8.5 Bases: Each merchant can own a permanent base on the map. Bases can be bought from any Culture for $120, and they have no trade-in value. Only agents can buy bases. When an agent buys a base, his owner may put his base marker on any port, city or asteroid in that system and the agent marker is eliminated immediately. A dot can hold any number of bases, but each merchant can own only one base at a time.

8.51 A base is an immobile ship with seven Holds. It cannot move, but it trades like a merchant (EXC: it cannot take Fares aboard). There are no cards for the bases, so the items in the base must be kept to the side, next to its owner's ship card.

8.52 When the optional Combat rules are used, bases can attack and be attacked just like ships. Since a base cannot move away, each turn it is on the same dot with an enemy penalty marker it must pay the penalty. Like a ship, it can make one blast attack per turn before it starts trading.

8.6 A merchant can voluntarily eliminate any of his agent, base or 2nd ship markers at any time during his turn, regardless of how far away he is. He cannot voluntarily eliminate them when it is another player's turn. Whenever a base or 2nd ship is eliminated, all of the items are jettisoned. Eliminated markers are immediately available to be bought again.
          Comment: These rules add another level of complexity to the game system, and thus can slow play considerably; on the other hand, due to the increased efficiency of the trading system that may be crafted, profit can geometrically increase and so end the game quite quickly in its latter stages.

Place the Mercenary markers in the Bank. The back of each Mercenary marker shows its cost and the Culture that sells it. The front shows its firepower. Mercenaries have no trade-in value, and do not count towards victory.

9.1 Each merchant can carry his mercenaries in his ship(s) like Fares, except that each Mercenary marker fills up one Hold (like a Goods marker). He may also place mercenaries on his base. When mercenaries are in a ship or base, they fight normally, on the dot where the ship or base is located. They can attack and be attacked.

9.2 Each merchant can jettison his mercenaries and leave them on the map. When a Mercenary marker in on the map, it must be supplied by a friendly port, factory, fort or agent marker on its dot. Each port, factory, fort and agent can, supply only one Mercenary marker. If a merchant has more Mercenary markers on a dot than such "supply" markers, he must immediately eliminate the excess mercenaries. Mercenaries are automatically in supply when in a ship or base.

9.3 Each merchant can use his mercenaries and their firepower during the trading portion of his turn. His agent, base and 2nd ship markers can also use them. Mercenaries cannot use their firepower during movement.

9.31 Mercenaries do not inflict penalties, and they cannot fire their weapons during blast: attacks. They cannot be the target of a blast attack; but if they are in a Hold when it is hit by a blast attack, they are eliminated.

9.32 A mercenary's firepower can be used to pay for revolts on its dot.

9.33 After a merchant finishes moving for the turn, he can use his mercenaries to make an attack -- new to MERCHANT OF VENUS. He can attack whether he landed, ran out of movement points, or stopped to avoid paying a penalty. He must use at least one mercenary to attack. If he landed at a port or city, he can make the attack at any time during his trading; and each attack counts as "buying" one item.

9.331 The merchant can choose any penalty marker or enemy mercenary on his dot as his target. He does not have to pay anything to attack, and he does not get any money if he wins.

9.332 To resolve the attack, the attacker and the defender each roll one die. Each player's strength equals ten times his die roll, plus the firepower of all Forts and mercenaries he owns on that dot. If the attacker wins, the target is eliminated and his turn continues. If the defender wins, the attacker loses one of the attacking mercenaries (defender's choice) and his turn ends. If it is a tie, the attacker's turn simply ends , and no losses are taken by either side.

9.4 Each mercenary on a dot adds +1 to its owner's die roll during Swindles and Revolts on that dot; it adds $5 to his refund when he haggles there; and it adds $5 to the penalty when other merchants trade there.

9.5 Mercenaries can be the target of Swindle and Revolt attacks.

9.6 A merchant can voluntarily eliminate any of his mercenaries at any time during his turn, regardless of how far away they are. He cannot voluntarily eliminate them when it is not his turn. Eliminated mercenaries are immediately available to be bought again.
          Comment: Depending on the inclinations of the players, the use of mercenaries can lengthen the game considerably -- or have little effect. Their use against the Rastur should be obvious, especially if the variant rules for 2nd ships are also in play.


HUMAN: Normal
Roll 2 Dice Roll 3 Dice Roll 2 Dice Roll 2 Dice
Double One Double One Double One Use 1x2
Roll 2 Dice Roll 3 Dice Roll 2 Dice Roll 1 Die
Use 1x4 Use 1x3 Use 1x4 Use 1x3
Roll 4 Dice Roll 4 Dice Roll 4 Dice Roll 3 Dice
Use 3 Use 2x2 Use 3 Use 2
Restrict 1H Restrict 1H Restrict 2H Restrict 3H
Roll 4 Dice Roll 4 Dice Roll 4 Dice Roll 4 Dice
Use 2 Use 3 Use 2 Use 1
  +1 Fare +1 Equipment +1 Goods
Roll 1 Die Roll 1 Die Roll 1 Die Roll 1 Die
Use 1x3 Use 1x4 Use 1x3 Use 1x2
+1 Equipment +1 Equipment +1 Equipment; +1 Equipment;

Roll: The number of dice rolled for movement.

Use: The number of dice used for movement. Only these dice add to your movement points, and the player must choose one of these dice as his Pilot number. If called upon to roll more dice than the player can use, he must select which to use and discard the rest (discarded dice do not count for movement and cannot be used for a Pilot number). If no "use" number is given, the player may use all the dice he rolled.

x2; x3, x4: To calculate movement points for the turn, multiply the dice used by the indicated value. In no multiplier is given, the player has movement points equal to the dice used.

Double One: One of the dice counts double towards movement points; the player may select which die is doubled. This die can still be used for a Pilot number, at its undoubled value.

Restrict 1H, 2H, 3H: The indicated number of Holds may carry only Fares or Equipment. These cannot be used to carry Goods or Mercenaries.

+1 Equipment, +1 Fare, +1 Goods: The player may carry one extra marker of the indicated type on the Hull (without counting toward Hold space). For example, "+1 Equipment" allows the ship to carry a Drive on the Hull, an extra Shield, or an extra Laser, etc.


Culture ID Name Strength Cost
1a NILLIS CI Carnivorous Ivy 30 $90
1b VOLOIS GL General Luck 60 $180
MG Mud Guard 30 $90
  SL Slug Guard 30 $90
  SA Stock Aides 20 $60
  TS Time Servers 20 $60
3 NlKS PJ Practical Jokers 40 $120
AA Armored Auditors 40 $120
  AP Adventurous Pessimists 30 $90
4b HUMANS SC Street Cops 50 $150
  SG Street Gang 40 $120
PP Panzer Pack 60 $180
  WP War Pride 50 $150
  PB Puss-in-Boots 40 $120
FT Field Team 40 $120
7a ZUM
ST Swarm Troopers 40 $120
  SW Swat Team 20 $60
7b EEEPEEEP TT Think Tank 60 $180
AC AirCav 70 $210
SF Storm Flu 40 $120
9b WOLLOW TTTT 10-Ton Tapdance Troop 40 $120
  BC Ballet Company 30 $90
10 QOSSUTH MD Mad Dreams 50 $150
  NM New Math 50 $150

Descriptions of Mercenaries: (see the Gazetteer in the game for description of the Cultures)
AA/40: Armored Auditors are CPAs trained and equiped to deal with the tough cases.
AC/70: The AirCav are airmobile Whynoms with proven massed firepower tactics.
AP/30: Adventurous Pessimists are fatalistic soldiers of fortune.
BC/30: The Ballet Company is a Wollow cultural exchange group that presents energetic productions of violent themes; they are temperamental artists who do not respond well to criticism.
CI/30: Carnivorous Ivy are Nillis practitioners of Social Darwinism.
GL/60: General Luck is a traveling field effect sold by the Volois. Apparently it is either an invisible entity, or an anomalistic probability field.
MD/50: Mad Dreams are Qossuth psychoses so strong that they impinge upon Reality.
MG/30: The Mud Guard are the lowest remnants of the once-mighty Graw Imperial Guard.
NM/50: New Math is the latest Qossuth revision of the laws underpinning the Universe.
PB/40: Puss-in-Boots is a Shenna soldier-of-fortune, the epitome of the clever, individualistic feline -- and highly successful to date.
PJ/40: The Practical Jokers are Niks who use their wild imagination, zany humor, and bioengineering skills to craft pratfalls for the enemy.
PP/60: The Panzer Pack are Sheena military reformers, formed into a modern armored unit.
SA/20: Stock Aides are swarms of courtiers left by the extinction of the Graw Army.
SC/50: Street Cops are hardened veterans who would prefer an honest war.
SF/40: The Storm Flu consists of Cholos who invade a target and do random mischief.
SG/40: The Street Gang consists of Human teenagers who want to get off the streets.
SL/30: The Slug Guard were the first Graw guards, became ceremonial when the Imperial Guard was formed, and survived when the Imperium passed away.
ST/40: Swarm Troopers are the standard Zum fighters, fanatics who attack en masse.
SW/20: The Swat Team are Zum infiltrators.
TS/20: Time Servers are the hereditary goldbricks and dregs of the extinct Graw Army.
TT/60: The Think Tank is a mobile armored computer wargame, with ports for attaching an unusually large variety of input and output devices.
TTTT/40: The Ten-Ton Tapdance Troop is a Wollow group known for its clumsy enthusiasm.
WP/50: The War Pride is the traditional Shenna family fighting unit.

Outside link to variant ships

Updated 16 Mar 06.

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