International Trade in Explorer

A funny situation in one of the team games I played in left me wondering why I was not able to take a couple of friendly aliens aboard my transports and populate a nice planet I've just captured from a nasty foe on the other side of the galaxy, just too far away for regular colonisation means to be efficient.

This later lead to the introduction of the Explorer international trade extensions that will be briefly described here.

Note that if either kind of international trade is activated, you'll really have to hunt down and mercilessly destroy not only all shooting, but also all cargo carrying ships of your archenemy to make sure that he won't be regenerated by his despicable friends once again.

Cargo trade at alien planets

The aim of this extension is to allow races to exchange the traditional goods (colonists, capital, and materials) over planets on the basis of mutual trust.

If this extension is activated in the game you play in, the usual L (load) and U (unload) commands get an extra flavor in which they become applicable to alien planets.

If you issue a command like:

L planetOwner grpNum cargo [num]
over a said race's planet that you are allowed to orbit and that has some stockpile of the goods you requested, the cargo will be transferred to your ship according to the usual rules.

If you issue a command like:

U planetOwner grpNum [num]                 
over a said race's planet that you're allowed to orbit, the contents of the group cargo bay will be dumped onto the planet as if the ships belonged to its owner.

Note that the conventional commands

L grpNum cargo [num]
U grpNum [num]
will function as usual over your or unpopulated planets. You need to use the new commands only over alien planets to tell the engine that you indeed intend to part with your treasures, or try to deprive someone else of them, both of which would be disallowed otherwise.

The R (route) command won't be changed either, so that you will be able to establish routes starting only at your own planets as usual, and unload cargo only at your or still unpopulated planets. Likewise, the planet's autounload setting will only affect the ships of the planet's owner.

Should several players try to load cargo at an alien planet simultaneously, their requests would satisfied in an arbitrary order. This means that some of the players might end up better off than others (including the planet owner), and that some of them might get nothing at all.

All other regulations pertinent to the cargo transfer (including those induced by the outcome of the battle encounters) also apply to the cargo trade over planets.

Cargo trade at asteroids

Explorer offers another, complementary way of swapping goods: cargo loading and unloading at asteroids. It can be activated independently of the cargo trade at planets described above.

If asteroids are configured to accept cargo, the usual L (load), U (unload), and R (route) commands act as if the asteroids were planets of size zero. Since asteroids cannot have any population and any industry, they cannot have any national identity either. All goods unloaded onto these planets will just stay there, and you still won't be able to establish a route going off an asteroid.

Note that cargo dumped onto an asteroid will immediately lose its national identity as well, and anybody (including a rogue pirate that would have been shot down on sight were it your planet prudently set on defensive) will have a chance to fetch the cargo starting with the next turn.

In another twist, battles over asteroids won't affect the stockpiles stored there thanks to the very deep and voluminous caverns used for goods storage. This transforms asteroids from trivial springboards for sneak attacks into nice permanently cooled stopovers on the way to remote planets, or outright treasure islands in the measureless void of the galaxy.