TradeWars 2002

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"Ferrengi" redirects here. For the fictional extraterrestrial race in Star Trek, see Ferengi.
Trade Wars 2002
Developer(s) Gary Martin, John Pritchett

TradeWars 2002, also known as Trade Wars 2002 or TW2002, is a space game developed starting in 1984 and continuing through the 1990s by Gary Martin for play as a BBS door game, with later versions developed by John Pritchett both for BBS and, starting in 1998, a devoted game server called TWGS (Trade Wars Game Server).[1] The player is a trader in a galaxy with a fixed set of other players (either human or computer). The players seek to gain control of a limited set and amount of resources (specifically fuel ore, organics, and equipment) and travel through sectors of the galaxy trading them for money or undervalued resources. Players use their wealth to upgrade their spaceship with better weapons and defenses and fight for control of planets and starbases.

TW2002 takes a large investment of time compared to most door games. Some modern TW2002 tournaments allow an infinite number of turns, and the most dedicated players devote most of their spare time over several days to the race for galactic dominance. A few Telnet tournaments award cash prizes to the winner.

The game is entirely text-based, though developers made full use of the ANSI character set, similar to games like Rogue and Nethack. Later versions employed fairly detailed animations and color palette.

TW2002 was named #10 "Ten Greatest PC Game Ever" by PC World in 2009.[2]

The TradeWars 2002 universe[edit]

A TW2002 galaxy consists of 100–30,000 interconnected sectors. These sectors can contain planets, ports, ships, mines, fighters, and beacons. In addition to human traders, three types of computer-generated characters inhabit the galaxy:

  • Federation (Federation officers who enforce FedLaws)
  • Ferrengi (Space pirates who prey on weakly defended traders)
  • Aliens (Mostly harmless traders wandering space)

Upon starting a fresh game by the sysop, sectors, warps, natural planets and importantly, the locations of the Starport and Ferrengal are randomly generated. Though the starting settings can be changed somewhat, the FedSpace sectors and plot elements remain the same. In mathematical terms, a TradeWars universe is a directed graph in which the sectors are vertices and the warps are edges. The complexities of efficiently navigating or partitioning the graph are a large part of what makes the game so compelling.


Players can create planets by launching a genesis torpedo. Colonists can then be imported from Terra and put to work generating products. Assembling ore, organics, equipment, and colonists allows the player to build and upgrade the planetary Citadel through six levels. Each Citadel level adds additional capabilities. There are seven different types of planets; earth type (Class M), desert wasteland (Class K), oceanic (Class O), mountainous (Class L), glacial (Class C), volcanic (Class H), and gaseous (Class U).[3] Some types are more popular than others, based upon how easy it is to produce fuel ore, organics, and equipment on each. For example, because of their efficient fuel ore production, Class H planets are popular for defending bases, since Quasar Cannons and other on-planet defenses use fuel ore for their ammunition. Class K planets are similar to Volcanic planets, but only half as efficient at producing fuel ore, the same as Class Ls. Class O planets have good Organics production. Class M planets are good all-around producers, and are best at Equipment production. Class Ls are similar to Class Ms, with fuel ore production as good as Class Ks and Organics production better than on Class M (Equipment production, however, is not quite as good as Class M). On the other hand, Class C and Class U planets are usually regarded as useless. (The term Class M was borrowed from Star Trek; the other classes appear to have been made up; although the H, K, and O Classes do correspond to Star Trek classes, the others do not. For example, TradeWars Class Cs are Star Trek Class Ps.)

There are also many edits available in the popular TWGS platform that expand or change these planets by changing the time they take to reach the next citadel level, the amount of product each planet can hold, or the number of colonists a planet can hold. For instance, the popular unlimited turn "Subzero" edit for TWGS Gold has planets that can reach level 4 in a single day, expanding the tactics of play beyond the original "stock" planets.[citation needed]

Citadel Creation: Days to construct by planet
Class Lv 1 Lv 2 Lv 3 Lv 4 Lv 5 Lv 6 Total
C, Glacial 5 5 7 5 4 8 34
H, Volcanic 4 5 8 12 5 18 52
K, Desert 6 5 8 5 4 8 36
L, Mountain 2 5 5 8 5 12 37
M, Earth 4 4 5 10 5 15 43
O, Oceanic 6 5 8 5 4 8 36
U, Vap/Gas 8 4 5 5 4 8 34


Ports buy and sell products, making them the primary source of income for most traders. There are three product types: fuel ore, organics and equipment. Each port either buys or sells each of product at a different price. Buying ports usually pay more than selling ports charge; this arbitrage is the basic way to earn credits in the game.

Starports may be upgraded to sell or buy additional product. Typically players upgrade ore to be used to allow mobile planets to move or to fuel their quasar cannons. They might upgrade equipment better trading opportunity. Starports, including Stardock, Rylos, and Alpha Centauri can be blown up and can be used as a valid game strategy. Ports do have defensive capabilities and may destroy the attacking player.

One of the most important ports is the Stardock, which houses the Federation Shipyards, the Stellar Hardware Emporium, and other crucial establishments. There are also three ports — Sol, Rylos, and Alpha Centauri — that specialize in selling fighters, shields, and cargo holds.


Alien Derelict

Ships allow traders to travel from sector to sector, transporting products and fighters. Each ship type has different attributes, such as speed, combat specifications and equipment it can carry. In addition, the Ferrengi have four ship types that can be acquired by attacking and capturing them.

Trading efficiency, or TE, is a factor for comparing the overall ability of different ship types to use turns effectively. The Merchant Freighter is the most efficient in a "stock edit" (default ship setup), having a TE of 100. Trading efficiency takes into consideration:

  • "Gross trading capacity," the number of holds divided by the number of turns it takes to move to the next sector.
  • Turns used at the beginning of each session, traveling to the first trading port.
  • Turns used to move to a new trading pair, once a particular pair of ports has been drained. Ships with many holds lose some of their efficiency because they empty out the ports in only a few round trips and must move on to another pair much more often, thereby wasting a greater percentage of their total turns.
  • Turns used to travel back home from the last trading pair of the day. T-warp ships gain a small advantage here.

A ship's safety rating represents its ability to withstand attack. It is calculated using the total fighters plus shields, multiplied by the ship's odds. This rating is equal to the number of fighters it will take to destroy a fully loaded ship of this type, assuming an attacking ship with 1:1 odds. The Imperial StarShip, for instance, has 50,000 fighters, 2,000 shields, and combat odds of 1.5:1, giving it a Safety Rating of 78,000. This makes it a much safer ship than its closest competitor, the Corporate Flagship (Safety Rating: 25,800).


Good vs. Evil[edit]

Players can be aligned on the side of either good or evil. A player's alignment is represented as an integer; a positive (good) alignment is earned by doing good deeds, such as posting bounties on space pirates and destroying evildoers. A negative (evil) alignment is the result of evil deeds such as destroying planets and dumping colonists into space.

Good: Being a good-aligned player has four advantages:

  • Protection in FedSpace (under certain conditions).
  • The ability to enter the FedPolice HQ at Stardock.
  • The chance to obtain a Federal Commission.
  • The ability to save turns by transwarping directly to FedSpace for colonizing.

A player with an alignment of +500 can apply for a Federal Commission. This is essentially a permit granted by the Federation to buy an Imperial StarShip. If a player subsequently becomes evil, the Commission is revoked; he is then required by FedLaw to return the StarShip to the Stardock or risk destruction by Federals such as Captain Zyrain.

Evil: When a player becomes evil enough (alignment drops to –100 or lower), he can begin robbing ports. Because of this, evils have the ability to raise money quickly. However being evil has its downside as the player may occasionally get caught stealing ("busted") and be fined. The "bust" rate is approximately 1 time in 50 steals. Each bust costs a percentage of holds on the ship and experience is lowered. Experience dictates the number of holds of product, usually equipment, a trader can steal.


Players can form corporations to share planets, ships, and other resources. The founder of the corporation is the CEO, who can own a Corporate Flagship and control the membership of the corp.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ History of Trade Wars - John Pritchett
  2. ^ Edwards, Benj (February 8, 2009). "The Ten Greatest PC Games Ever". PC World. Retrieved 2010-01-03. 
  3. ^ "Planetary Specifications", TradeWars 2002 Information

External links[edit]