Martian Merchants

From IcehouseOrg
Jump to: navigation, search
Martian Merchants
Nick Sula
A pickup-and-deliver puzzle game
:Players Players: 2 - 4
:Time Length: Medium?
:Complexity Complexity: medium
Trios per color: 3
Number of colors: 5
Pyramid trios:
Monochr. stashes:
Five-color sets:
- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -
Pyramid die
Setup time: 1 minute
Playing time: 20
20 Min
0.333 Hr
- 40
40 Min
0.667 Hr
Strategy depth: medium
Random chance: medium
Game mechanics:
"" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.
BGG Link: Martian Merchants
Status: Complete (v1.0), Year released: 2020


You are interplanetary merchants, shipping and trading goods throughout the galaxy, racing to be the first to bring desired goods back to the inhabitants of your home planets. Large pyramids represent planets, which form the planetary navigational grid on the playing area. Travel is possible by warping ships to and from adjacent planets on the grid. The planets of your color are your home planets. Medium pyramids are ships, which you use to travel from planet to planet making deliveries and establishing stations. You control three ships of your own color. Small pyramids are goods, which are the commodities being picked up and delivered by your ships. The inhabitants of each planet desire goods of their planet’s own color. When you deliver a good to each of your home planets, you establish stations there. The first player to establish three stations wins the game.

Materials Needed


  • 3 trios each of 3 or 4 colors, depending on player count (see Setup)
  • Pyramid Die


The object of the game is to be the first player to establish 3 stations, one at each of your home planets.


For a 3-player or 4-player game, you will need 3 trios of pyramids per player; one color for each player. For a 2-player game, you will need 3 trios of pyramids in 3 colors: one color for each player, and one neutral color.

Take all 3 ships of your color, and place them in front of you, forming a stash. Then place one of your home planets, a large pyramid of your color, upright in the playing area. Planets are always placed so as to align in an orthogonal grid, spaced about 2 inches apart from each other. These initial planets are placed adjacent to one another, in a shape based on the number of players:

  • 2 players: planets are placed side-by-side
  • 3 players: planets are placed in an L-shape
  • 4 players: planets are placed in a 2x2 square.

Place the remaining planets and all the goods to the side, forming a bank.

Place the pyramid die within reach of all players.


Players take turns performing one action of their choice, then producing one good. The starting player in a 3-player game is the player to the left of the player whose planet is in the "middle" of the L-shape (so the middle planet’s owner goes last). In a 2 or 4 player game, the youngest player goes first.

On your turn, choose one of the following actions:

  1. Move a ship
  2. Discover a planet
  3. Consume a good

Then, produce one good.

Producing a Good

Choose a good from the bank, and place it on an empty planet of your choice. When producing goods, you must abide by these two rules:

  1. You may not produce a good of your own color unless there are no other goods in the bank.
  2. A planet never produces a good of its own color.

There will be situations where no planet is able to produce, either because of these production rules, or due to the lack of an empty planet or lack of goods in the bank. When that occurs, you skip the produce step. Each planet may only hold one good at a time.


1. Move a Ship

Choose one of your ships located at a planet or in your stash.

If you choose a ship in your stash, launch that ship by placing it next to one of your home planets in the grid. Place your ship upright so that its base is touching one side of the planet. A maximum of four ships may be docked at a planet at any time (one for each side).

If you choose a ship docked at a planet, move that ship to an orthogonally adjacent planet, and dock it on an available side. You may not move to a planet that does not have an available dock.

During the Move a Ship action, your ship may pickup & deliver goods on the planets at which you depart and/or arrive.

Pickup and Delivery

Your ships pick up goods from planets, and deliver those goods to planets whose color is the same as the good. Red planets desire red goods, blue planets desire blue goods, etc. Ships may only pickup a good from a planet if the good’s color does not match that planet’s color. Each of your ships may carry only one good at a time. To pickup a good from one of your home planets, you may freely pickup the good whenever one of your empty ships takes a move action, leaving from or arriving at that home planet. Remove the good from the planet and place it on your ship. To pickup a good from any other (non-home) planet, you must trade for a good of that planet's color. Take a move action with one of your ships carrying a good of that planet's color. When it is docked with that planet during this action (either before or after it moves), you may swap the good it is carrying with the good located at that planet. That planet is now satisfied, and will not produce again until its good is consumed (see Consume a Good). Your ship may trade goods with either or both planets that your ship encounters during a move action. When you make a delivery to one of your home planets, you establish a station.

Establishing a Station

You establish a station when one of your ships delivers a good to one of your home planets that does not yet have a station. Upon delivery of a good of your own color, stack your ship onto the planet to construct the station. If the planet was empty, place the delivered good on top of this planet’s stack (which now contains your station). If the planet was already carrying a good, that good remains on this planet. Return your delivered good to the bank, and place the existing good back on top of the planet-station stack. Once your ship becomes a station, it no longer acts as a ship - you continue the game with one fewer ship in your fleet (and one station closer to victory!). Each planet may only contain one station. You may deliver to a planet that has a station on it, but you don’t get to build another station there. Once you build your third station, you win the game!

2. Discover a Planet

Expand the planetary grid by adding newly explored planets, ready for trading. Choose a planet of any color from the bank, and place it in the grid, orthogonally adjacent to any existing planet. This new planet is immediately available for ship movement, goods delivery, and goods production. You may not perform this action if there are no planets remaining in the bank.

3. Consume a Good

Cause a satisfied planet (a planet which is carrying a good of its own color) to consume the good it is carrying. When you do so, you gain up to two immediate bonus actions. Choose any satisfied planet. Return that planet's good to the bank, and then roll the pyramid die to determine which bonus action(s) you may immediately perform (see Bonus Actions). Remember to produce a good, as usual, at the end of your turn (even if you already produced a good due to a bonus action). You may not perform this action if there are no satisfied planets.

Bonus Actions

The pyramid symbols on the die represent three types of actions. After consuming a good, you may immediately perform the bonus action you roll. If the die shows 2 pyramids, then you may perform both of those bonus actions, in either order. Bonus actions are not mandatory; you can choose whether or not to perform your earned bonus action(s) after seeing the result of your die roll.

Pyramid Die Result Bonus Type Bonus Actions
:SPN Goods action Export: Move a good from any planet to any empty planet;

OR Produce a good from the bank (see Producing a Good).

:MPN Ship action Warp: Move one of your ships directly to one of your stations;

OR Take a Move action (see Move a Ship).

:LPN Planet action Reposition: Move a planet in the grid (and any good or ships docked on it) to any location adjacent to another planet in the grid. The entire navigational grid must be intact after this move; you can create gaps, but you may not isolate any planets.

OR, Discover a planet from the bank (see Discover a Planet).

End of the Game

The game ends immediately when a player establishes their third station, winning the game!

Trading Variant

Players can decide to allow trading in the game, particularly when there are more than 2 players. When two ships are docked at the same planet, they may trade their goods with each other as part of a move action upon agreement between the owners of both ships.