Yankee Trader by Alan Davenport is a text-based BBS game similar in style to Trade Wars 2002 and was developed from the TW2 code base. Quick timeline:
1984 Chris Sherrick releases the first Trade Wars.
1987 Trade Wars 1000 released by Alan Davenport
1989 New versions renamed Yankee Trader
1994 Yankee Trader ver 3.6, the final version, is released
This guide focuses primarily on strategies and tactics specific to Yankee Trader 3.6, since Alan Davenport has reported that the original quick basic source code for the game has been lost, making future releases to the game unlikely. If you are not familiar with the game, try skimming the Yankee Trader Insurrections first. For those familiar with Tradewars 2002, Yankee Trader is drastically simpler and requires no scripts and only basic recordkeeping.
The essence of the game is a combination of exploration, earning money, and warfare. Exploration can reveal dead-end sectors, sectors with only one exit warp, that are much safer hiding places for your planets to prevent them from being found by other players or hit by traveling missiles, Xannor, or mercenaries. Exploration also reveals the locations of other players, their planets, special wandering planets, Xannor who can be killed for additional turns, and mercenaries, who can be bribed to join you at a rate of only three credit per fighter, far cheaper than the 100 credit per fighter cost at Earth. Three ways exist to earn money, either trade between two different ports, sell off planetary production to a port, or to steal it from enemy planets. Warfare can be approached in many different ways, either directly attacking other players directly or their defensive fighters, using alternative weaponry such as missiles, mines, or plasma bolts, or attacking their planets and either destroy or steal them.
All players start in sector 1 at Earth, a special and unique port which sells some items that cannot be obtained elsewhere, and others which are overpriced but can be offered on sale up to 95% off their normally stated value. Beginner and intermediate players should always make a daily trip to Earth to play the lottery five times a day, as shown below not only for the possibility of winning a large number of credits but to generate special clearance sales, which make the items sold at Earth considerably cheaper. Note that ground forces are normally sold for 750 each and fighters are normally sold for 100 each.
Unless an extremely good sale of 90% or more is found, fighters should be collected from planets, ground forces can be slowly generated by storing money on planets, holds, shields, and a danger scanner need to be initially purchased but rarely are lost.
The absolute first priority of any first-time player is to obtain 1000 cargo holds, and soon afterwards a danger scanner. Most types of damage are absorbed by defensive fighters but a small percentage of some types of damage will tend to bypass the fighters at times (such as incoming missiles) so shield batteries are also somewhat important for advanced players or for players engage in warfare or who need to withstand multiple Xannor missile attacks. Anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 shield batteries are more than sufficient and will generally never need to be replaced. If you do not have sufficient shields, you can be killed despite having defensive fighters to spare. For example:
On day one, spend almost every single credit earned from the lottery on cargo holds, and then look for two adjacent ports (see earning money) near enough to earth to purchase the rest of your cargo holds and a danger scanner. The order of business after this is to locate a good safe dead end sector preferably containing a port to establish and build a planet in, and have enough money to purchase sufficient ground forces (preferably on a sale) to withstand random nightly Xannor attacks.
Early game strategies:
- Build a port scanning script to locate defensive fighters in port sectors
- Build a list of dead end sectors, separated by sectors without ports and sectors with ports
- Build up planet scanning script to scan all known dead and sectors for enemy planets (c;9;[sect 1];9;[sect 2];9;[sect 3] …etc…)
- Build a missile script that will hit all dead end sectors (usually separated into scripts to hit dead ends without ports, dead ends with your planets, dead ends with ports not containing your planets)
- Build a list of dead end sectors which contain ports that will by a considerable amount of equipment and pay a good price
- Built a number of planets with at least 100,000 productivity to produce plasma bolts every day
- Build a planet scanning and port scanning script to see which planets to go to for making money (c;2;[p1];9;[p1];2;[p2];9;[p2];2;[p3];9;[p3] …etc…)
- Make a list of empty and never used dead end sectors to use to hide out at the end of the day (typically twice removed from sectors containing ports)
- Constantly be on the lookout for a very good sale of shields and ground forces
Late game strategies:
- Locate and capture the mercenary base for 25 million credits, especially if it has not been done recently
- Locate and capture the Xannor HQ if it has not been done recently for the valuables on the planet and hide in an empty dead-end sector with 100% cloak afterwards
- Build an exclusion list for all the sectors containing enemy planets
- Start storing up money on very well defended planets to produce ground forces, plasma bolts, and missiles.
- Distribute stashes of plasma bolts among all your planets to use as retaliatory weapons in case your ship is killed