Mars RTS Offworld Trading Company is the game Soren Johnson “always wanted to make”

Soren Johnson is both head of and nomenclatural inspiration to Mohawk Games.

Marketplaces make for fantastic battlefields: plenty of cover, and all the excitement of exploding fruit.

Former Civ brain Soren Johnson has something else in mind for his market battlefield, though: an RTS in which corporates must fight not only to build a sustainable colony on Mars – but ensure they turn a profit in the process.

Offworld Trading Company is Johnson’s first game as head ofMohawk Games, who are backed by GalCiv types Stardock.

If those names indicate a stately pace, they do so wrongly. Offworld Trading Company is a “quick and intensely competitive” game for eight players, who trade off against each other on randomly generated maps.

The trick is to determine a path towards profitability and self-sufficiency as soon as possible – and to avoid black-marketers ready to raid player shipments or smuggle paralyzing EMPs into colonies.

There’s just a suggestion that other players might be responsible for paying those smugglers. It certainly seems unlikely that above-board free marketeering is the only way we’ll compete in Offworld Trading Company.

There are no swarming units, however – instead, we’ll be rushing a market built from 13 resources that fluctuate in price and necessity in real time. Dump your excess iron into the market and its price will bomb, for instance, disrupting other players’ own investment in the metal.

You can pre-order Off World Trading in its standard $34.99 tier, or plump for the steep $79.99 option for a second copy and early access to a prototype in the Autumn.

“We want to get people in as early as possible,” explained Johnson. “Offworld Trading Company is unlike any other RTS out there, and we’re working to make sure our community feels that it’s fun, memorable and something special. This is the game I’ve always wanted to make.”

Cor. On the face of it, this is more reminicent of classic management games like Transport Tycoon than anything Meier coded. Is fast-paced market-tipping the sort of thing you Civ vets go in for?