The Tavern FAQ v1.02
(Mostly useless information for all Trade Wars games)
by Icehawk and Rave
Copyright © 2000, Kitty's Playground. All rights reserved.
Revised: December 25, 2000.
Table of Contents
Getting A Tall One
The Grimy's Trace
The Grimy's Tips
The Secret to Tri-Cron
v1.00 -- The first, the only, the original Tavern FAQ. (Yeah, big deal, huh?)
v1.01 -- Added some Other Keywords to the The Grimy's Trace section. Also added this Revision History.
v1.02 -- Extra specific information added to trace shielding section. Minor error correction.
Getting A Tall One
When Trade Wars 2002 was first introduced there were a lot of questions regarding some of the Tavern options. Gary Martin added plenty of Red Herrings throughout the game, but most can be found in the Tavern. One such Red Herring was buying drinks at the bar. A lot of people spent a lot of time checking to see if those messages actually did set any game flags that would affect the player in question. Of course, none of them ever panned out... Still, some of the responses are interesting, and I thought it might be interesting to gather up all the possible responses and post them here in the Tavern FAQ.
The red responses first...
Itrium can fuel the MOST powerful Quasar Cannon!
You have a feeling someone is planning to invade your home base!
You feel really unlucky! Better watch your step!
You feel like other traders have been taking advantage of you!
You have a premonition you will lose your next battle!
You are suddenly sure someone is out to get you!
You need more mines around your home base!
Suddenly you're mortally afraid of the Ferrengi!
Trade Wars Trivia: What other game text is this comment associated with? If you read the Class U planetary description, it mentions a fuel ore supposedly produced by Class U planets. Itrium, of course, never made it into the game (yet another one of Gary Martin's Red Herrings) but a great number of players developed Class U planets just to see if this supposed Itrium actually existed.
It shouldn't be difficult for people to understand why there were so many questions about these responses, or how easy it would have been for Gary Martin to set up flags for each on. The comments regarding the Ferrengi could easily have triggered your name being added to a Ferrengi's grudge list, or the premonition of losing the next battle set a flag to drastically alter your combat odds downwards.
The blue responses...
You feel as if you could wipe out the Ferrengi singlehanded!
You feel as if you could swing any trade at any price!
You know that the Feds will back you up in the next battle!
Great wealth and fame will be yours if you defeat the #1 trader!
You feel fearless! You will cheat death the next time it comes for you!
Of course you're not invincible... after a half dozen drinks or so you'll begin to get the message that "You're drunk." A couple drinks beyond this and you'll get the message that you're really drunk. From there you can drink all day without getting any drunker. As far as I've ever seen in the v2b or later releases of the game, being drunk or really drunk doesn't alter or set any flags.
However, during the days of the FIDOnet mail echo, there were comments made regarding being "arrested" and stripped of turns if the Feds caught you "flying drunk." I have no information as to what version this was unfortunately, but it was reported by several different people over the course of a couple years. But again, I've never been able to recreate that particular situation, so I would assume that it was a player created Red Herring.
The Grimy's Trace
There has been a lot of debate over changes made to the Grimy Trader's trader tracing abilities, and there seem to be little information available to new players regarding this feature. The following information has been taken from a variety of sources. A complete list of reference materials can be found at the end of this FAQ.
The first question that should be addressed is, "How can I find other players using the Grimy Trader?"
There are two ways to do this. One is a cheaper method, which has been available in the game since the v1.0x series of relieases, and is only marginally effective. The second method has been added to the game within the past year, and is decidedly much more dangerous to players not taking precautions against being traced. However, the new method is much more expensive.
STANDARD TRADER METHOD:
Go talk to the Grimy Trader in back of the tavern. Ask him about TRADER. He'll respond with a prompt saynig he can tell you something about TRADER for five credits. Say no (or yes if you really want a lame answer--hey, it's your money), and he'll follow up by asking if you'd like information on one trader in particular. Say yes, and enter the trader's name or partial name when asked for it. Usually he charges a reasonavble amount, anywhere from 5,000 to 15,000 credits for most traders. Soemtimes its more, sometimes its less. And its always 10 times more expensive if you've cussed at the grimy trader.
How this works, is that the game looks into the user records for the trader you're searching for, gets the name of the ship that is indicated in the player record, then searches the port database for matching "Last Docked" strings. After searching the database it randomly spits out the sector of a port that the trader has docked at. The only downfall to this procedure is that it could be any port that has a matching "Last Docked" string. It could be another players ship by the same name, such as "A Ferrengi" or "The Merchant Marines," or it could be the trader you're looking for, but a porting several days old, which doesn't help you much.
However, this first method can still be highly beneficial. Over several days time you can put together a interesting list of ports that your target has visited. Specifically look for repeat visits to ports over the course of several days. This may prove to be the trader's SST area (if evil), a built up trading pair (if blue), or if you're very lucky, a port in the player's home sector. When tracing multiple reds playing for the same corporation this method works exceptionally well if precautions are not being taken by your targets. It takes little or no time to find a evil corp's SST area if they are not shielding themselves from being traced.
NEW BRIBE METHOD:
Be prepared to spend as much as a couple hundred-thousand credits to do this trace!
Start by going and talking to the Grimy Trader. Ask him about BRIBE. Exter an amount between 100,000 and 200,000 credits. According to various reports this amount almost always does the trick. Next ask him about TRADER and follw the same routine as outlined in the standard trader method. However, you don't need to spend a lot of money at the beginning of the game, according to Guardian in a post in the Trade Wars 2002 Egroup. According to Guardian, 20,000 to 25,000 credits works well early in the game, but as the game progresses you'll find you need to bribe the Grimy Trader with more.
Basically, the BRIBE method works exactly as the standard method does, with one exception. After you've BRIBED the Grimy Trader, it seems to set a flag of some kind. We're not really sure if its an actual flag in the game code, but for the purposes of explaining this feature its a good analogy. When this flag is set to active by the BRIBE, the Grimy Trader throws out old port records, and spits out the trader's last porting.
This is a wonderful way to track down another player who is online and trading or SSTing and hasn't shielded the ports their working against the Grimy Trader's trace. Because of the accuracy of teh BRIBE method, which was implemented in just the past year or so (2000), there has been some debate surrounding it. Namely, why there was no notification of its implementation.
The following commands I haven't personally explored fully, so I'm unsure at the moment whether substituting this optional keywords affects the reliability of the Grimy's Trace. PAY does the same, as far as I'm aware, as BRIBE does. PLAYER or PLAYERS works in place of TRADER or TRADERS and skips the 5 credit question before asking if there is a particular person you're looking for.
I've been told that in advanced, competitive games, PLAYERS will give better results that TRADERS will. I've also been warned that if your working ship is the same name as your enemy's, it will pull your corp's portings first. You may want to test this routine out on a test server before utilizing it the for the first time in a game. Again, I haven't personally researched just how this command affects the results of the Trace, and politely ask that if anyone else does test it, to let me know the results.
So now you can dig up some "dirt" on that trader you've been wanting to take out, but what about other traders who want to take you out after tracking you down with the help of the Grimy Trader? Well, the Grimy Trader isn't foolproof. There are two easy tricks to avoid being traced by him.
If you're online and out and about, the easiest way to avoid being traced is to deploy fighters in the sectors you trade in. The Grimy Trader is subject to the same limitations as a player requiesting a port report. If there any fighters in the sector that don't belong to you, they block access to the port's information. This applies to the Grimy Trader as well. Be warned however, that if another player comes along and destroys your fighter but does not dock at the port, the Grimy Trader will be able to access that port record and trace your porting there. This is especially important to remember early in a game for evils who have not yet built up a SST area, and are SSTing at the same evil pairs day in and day out. Over just a couple days, it isn't difficult to form a picture of where your enemy's primary SST pairs are.
When you're offline, the best way to completely throw off the Grimy Trader is to transport into a ship that you have never ported in. Since the Grimy Trader accesses the player record to find the name of the trader's ship, whatever ship you're in is the ship he will search the port records for. If that ship has never been ported, it will have no entry in the port records. This has two effects. The most important being that you're perfectly shielded against being traced by the Grimy Trader, and the side benefit is that the person tracing you has spent some of his or her hard-earned credits following a absolute dead-end. Any credits spent with no return can only help you and hurt the tracker. Every little credit does make a difference.
It is important to remember, especially for mega-corping teams, that it's not just any fighter that will shield you from the trace. It has to belong to you personally, or to the corp you belong to. For example, in a mega-corping situation, you are playing on the red corp. If you enter a sector with a fighter belonging to you or the corporation you are a member of, your porting will be shielded from the trace. However, the blue corp's fighters (in a situation where the blues are twarp-towing the reds around for improved money-making), you're porting will not be shielded unless you first destroy and replace the fighter with your own, set as either personal or corporate.
Following those two tips should prevent you from being traced by someone using the Grimy Trader at least 99% of the time. I won't say that it'll work all the time, because I don't know that for a fact. However, all indications suggest that it works most of the time.,
The Grimy's Tips
In the EIS Online Support forum for the TWGS system, fear asked, "What else can I ask the trader about?"
If you've ever wondered just what tips the Grimy Trader can tell you, this is the section for you. However, be warned that much of the information available through the Grimy trader is out of date, having been put into the game as far back as v1.0x, so don't take everything you hear from him as written in stone. Following is a list of keywords and their possible responses, and if necessary, comments from myself or Icehawk regarding changes in the game that make the information obsolete and perhaps even a little TW trivia and history.
This list is by no means exhaustive. I can think of a half-dozen (at least) topics that aren't covered below that I'll get around to adding at a later date. For now, though, on to the Grimy's Tips...
"Mines make good fences."
"Density scanners don't use the power that holographic scanners use so you can see around without using any turns."
"Density info - Regular Ferrengi ships have a density of 40, but the large, well equipped Ferrengi ships are 100."
"Density info - Players, Ferrengi and aliens have a density of 40 each. Beacons have a relative density of 1."
"Density info - Fighters have a density of 5 each, mines are 10 each. All planets have a relative density of 500."
"Density info - Ports under construction have a relative density of 50. Ports open for business have a density of 100."
That I'm aware of the larger Ferrengi ships are no longer read with a relative density of 100. Can anyone verify this for me?
"Trading at ports off the beaten path can be extra profitable. All those ports offer a big price break for their first customer."
"All StarPorts are well defended an' you'd be well advised to refrain from attacking any of them."
"I've been a lot o' places, but there are still places I ain't been. The gains can be great when you're the first to find a trading port."
"The prices at the Class 0 ports used to change from minute to minute. Now they're much more stable. The price won't change for days."
"You'll be sorry if you get a ship manufactured by Martel Matra. They get a much lower trade-in than ships by other manufacturers."
One of the many Red Herrings Gary Martin put into the original Trade Wars. Or was it simply a feature that he intended to add but never got around to? Either way, a Martel Matra produced Merchant Freighter off the Shipyards showroom trades in for 29,003 credits--the same price as an Yokotosaki or any other manufacturer.
"If you have enough corbomite devices to destroy the bum that destroyed you, you get the experience points just as if you'd been the attacker."
"The FedSpace Police are an odd lot awright. Matter of fact their headquarters are only open on odd minutes."
Yes, back in the v1.0x and earlier days of Gary Martin's Trade Wars the FedPolice Headquarters was only open during odd number minutes. This was one of the many changes in the v2b series.
"Yeah, he's a nice enough guy. Too much spare time on his hands, though."
"The Ferrengi have stolen the technology for specialized ships. Watch out!"
"Beware the Ferrengi scum. They will sneak up on you when you least expect it."
"The Ferrengi are such low-lifes that no one cares for them. If you kill off them or their fighters, you get extra experience."
"The longer the game, the stronger the Ferrengi get."
"Be sure to defend your planets. The Ferrengi will rob you blind."
"The Library has some good information about the ships that the Ferrengi and the aliens are using in this area of the universe."
"Remember--it don't matter whetehr you're good or bad, the Ferrengi is the enemy."
"I know Videon. He's the guy who opened up the new theatre in the StarDock."
"Since they have 512 individual viewscreens, they can show the original Rocky and all its sequels simultaneously."
"I recommend you see Vulcan Thunder (***1/2). Look to see if you can find the hidden message in the planet scene."
TW Trivia: The hidden message in Vulcan's Thunder is "C9," though at today's connection speeds its almost impossible to catch as the ANSI downloads and displays ten times faster that it did in the days of BBSing. One of the very few questions never answered about the Red Herrings of the game, was the meaning of this hidden message. Only Videon knows, and who knows where he is today.
"Business has been so good here at the Tavern and at the Hardware Emporium that they had to open their hours to 24 hours every day of the week."
"The StarDock is the home for some characters of 'questionable' reputation if ye catch my drift. Know where you're going or you could get mugged."
A StarDock that didn't have the Hardware Emporium open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Boy, that would make photon blocking StarDock much harder. Does anyone know what version that didn't have a 24/7 Tavern and Hardware Emporium?
"Haven't you been to the library? What's the world coming to? In the StarDock look for the sign of the plus."
Originally access to the Library could only be done by the "+" key, and it had no menu listing. The only information available was on the three (or four for HVS MBBS games) Ferrengi ships and the five alien derelicts, which of course were Red Herrings themselves. The Library section of the modern game is much more informative if the sysop or gameop takes the time to write up the files for their alien races, ships, homeworlds, etc.
"Fed Commission will get you a StarShip. You'll have a great advantage. But the Fed Commission comes with strings attached. You'll pay in the end."
"Corporate StarShips are top of the line. No ship can do more. But you have to work long and hard before the Feds'll commission you."
The only string attached to a Fed Commission is that you can't go evil and keep your ISS. If you go evil you'll quickly find yourself in an escape pod. In older versions, it was possible to get your Fed Commission, get an ISS, dump alignment, and play evil in a ISS. (Yes, a evil ISS long before Gold edits.) You simply had to be careful to avoid the Federals, and this created a whole new strategy for reds in those days.
"I always claimed any planet I made as well as the ones I managed to overtake. Yeah, I always say, Stake you claim."
"TransWarp drives on planets are great if you know where you're going. But if you try to TransWarp blind, you can materialize inside a planet."
"I've owned a planet or two in my time. The best way I found to keep 'em is to put fighters on them."
"The only way to protect your citadel while its being constructed is by using lots of fighters and mines in the sector."
"Planets are nice. You can't grow anything in outer space."
"Be sure to read the fine print when you go into a Trade Agreement with the tightwads at the Ports. They'll offer almost half the goin' rate."
"A fast way to get ahead in the Tradin' business is to get a planet and then colonize the 'ell out of 'er."
"Better safe than sorry, I always say. You should get a scanner and scan all enemy planets before trying to land."
Blind transwarping a planet? That I've got to see. Something tells me that could be a whole new strategy. After all, I don't think materializing around your opponent's loaded Interdictor Cruiser is really going to do much to the planet. Blind TransWarping of planets has never been allowed except through the use of game bugs in very early versions of the game.
"Always evict traders in a citadel when you overtake a planet."
"When you evict your opponents from their citadel, they leave the planet. That means they're just sittin' ducks out in the sector."
"The best defense against moths is the level 5 citadel, the planetary Sentinel. Set the atmospheric level to a small % to kill them off."
The Level 5 citadel is now adds the planetary shielding system instead of the Planetary Sentinel.
"The new level 5 citadels can sure improve your defenses! That Sentinel can do a whale of a job protecting the whole sector."
The quasar cannon is now added to your citadel at Level 3. The Level 5 planetary sentinel was replaced with the planetary shielding system.
"Leavin' single fighters all over the galaxy will give you a lotta information on where other traders are."
"Never leave fighters on a planet without a Level 2 citadel. You're just askin' for trouble. Take them off and put 'em in the sector."
"Anytime you have the chance, attack fighters. If nothing else, it'l give you some experience."
"Keep fighters on planets with Combat Control Computers. If you do this, the offensive fighters get 2 to 1 combat odds and defensive have 3 to 1."
"Cowards need to be afraid. If you retreat from your enemies, there's no guaruntee you'll get away."
There has been some confusion in an Egroups forum over the combat odds of planetary fighters. At the time this FAQ was written, defensive fighters on a planet receive 3:1 combat odds while offensive fighters receive 2:1 combat odds. These odds were tested and verified on TWGS V.36 in standard (non-MBBS) mode using a Merchant Cruiser (1:1) odds.
"Trading is always easier with a psychic probe. You can find out where your price is compared to what the cheatin' scum will take--then you adjust your offer."
"Upgrading starports is helpful when you have a planet in the same sector. Watch out for the law of diminishing returns."
"If you've ever been caught tryin' to take stuff from a port, you'd best not go there again. You might even get busted just trading like normal folks."
"The colonists you get from Terra can really produce the good for ya!"
"Terra must have good air or something because once you get the colonists to a new planet, they procreate at varying rates."
The Secret to Tri-Cron
First off, the official Tri-Cron instructions, taken straight from the game...
This is a game of skill and luck. You pay an entry fee to play the game. This fee goes into the Top Player Jackpot which will be detailed later in these instructions. The game will last for 10 rounds. In each round you will be dealt three Crons. Each Cron is a number from 0 to 9. You will be using these crons to form a three-digit number. To win, your three digit number must be greater than the dealer's. Before he shows you the cron, the dealer will ask you which position your next cron will occupy - 1 (hundreds), 2 (tens) or 3 (ones). Psi-Filters are used to insure that Telepaths and Empaths do not get an unfair advantage over the races that lack such skills. The winning number will be added to the winner's cumulative total. The totals are compared at the end of ten rounds and the greater of the totals will be declared the winner. If the house is the winner, the game is over and you will have to pay again if you wish to play again. If you are declared the winner, your payback is 2 to 1. If you are the Top Player you win all accumulated money in the Top Player Jackpot.
Many people say that Tri-Cron is not only a waste of your online time, but a waste of credits as well. While this may certainly hold true later in the game when a small jackpot wouldn't match a drop in the bucket of a blue doing planetary trading or a red running rampant in an SST bubble, early in the game it can be a source of extra cash, especially on the first couple days if no one else has tried to win the jackpot. The extra 5,000 credits from breaking Kal Durak's 5,000 point top score can pay for a density scanner and a couple extra holds for that merchant freighter you traded in for. (You did trade in your Merchant Cruiser for a Merchant Freighter didn't you?) Once the jackpot score reaches 6,000 or so it becomes diffiuclt to win it unless you're willing to lay out some serious cash.
So what is the secret? There isn't any, despite what the Grimy Trader might tell you. Tri-Cron is purely a game of chance. Absolutely no skill is involved. Being a game of pure chance, if you put enough money on the table, you're almost gauranteed to win, even if the top score climbs to seven or eight thousand. The highest Tri-Cron player score I have personally ever seen was 8,742. That would require an average of 874 for each hand, providing the player won all 10 hands, or well above 900 if they lost even a single hand. But it can be done.
Lisa M. Wilson