High Tea


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Rating: 4.5/5 (125 votes)
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ChiktionaryHigh TeaThink you've got what it takes to succeed in trading? What if you were trading to appease the British thirst for tea? By selling opium? "Not for all the tea in China!" I hear you say. Actually, that's probably something your Grandma would say. Aaanyway... in High Tea, you'll be trading opium for just that, all the tea in China. Whether you have a head for trade, or not, you'll enjoy excercising your trading skills in this, a beautifully presented and interesting simulation game by Preloaded.

The goal here is to buy opium, then sell it to buy tea for the seemingly unquenchable Birtish thirsts. Using your mouse, click to select amounts of opium and tea to buy, and to accept offers from various ports in China. Both opium and tea can be purchased in batches of 5, 10 or 15 crates. Watch the stock prices and aim to buy when the prices are at their lowest, or at least before they start to rise again. Sell your illicit cargo, choosing offers wisely and use the profits to purchase crates of tea. The difficulty ramps up quite quickly, as the opium and tea markets begin to fluctuate wildly soon after you begin your trading exploits, and your purchases will influence the prices strongly. The more you trade at a port, the more risky selling becomes and you risk being fined hefty amounts of cash, or worse, losing your boat and entire shipment of opium. Occasionally a corrupt official will help you out with a bribe card that you can use in case of such a dire situation. With each successful shipment of tea to England, you'll be rewarded with another boat to aid in your trade efforts.

Based on the true historical events of the Opium Wars, High Tea offers some unusual and challenging strategic gameplay in a tastefully presented package, including impressive visual effects and music that adds a sense of tense anticipation. And probably not unlike the fortunes of Imperialist traders in early 19th century China, luck may be on your side. Then again, it may not. But matters of fortune aside, a lot depends on your reflexes, your instincts and your ability to be a shrewd trader. So set your sails, and start your mission to keep the people of Britain happy and swimming in tea. And as Chinese well wishers would say ... Hao Yun! ... Good Luck!

Play High Tea

20 Comments

I imagine some people would get a little offended by its historical content. I know it's a game, but it's like a game where you have to fly a plane to crash into buildings.

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WhiteLynx February 9, 2011 6:45 PM

Don't expect to do well right away. A bit of a learning curve. But once I got into it I found I love the game. Unfortunately, I suck at it.

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Torsvan Traven February 9, 2011 7:52 PM

maybe they could make a sequel called "Air America" where you have to fly heroin out of Southeast Asia to fund covert CIA missons.

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ChaoSpectre Author Profile Page February 9, 2011 9:02 PM

While I can see the potential harm in the historical content here, it doesn't have the same temporal resonance that User bwansy might regard it with.

The oppression of the Chinese people via drug trade may strike a sore spot for some people, but those people are separated from the crime by generations. And while the incident User bwansy uses in metaphor may be regarded by the public with more sensitivity than it deserves, it happened no longer than a decade ago.

Today, a game about planes going into buildings will easily elicit much more violent reactions from people than this game about the Opium trade will. However, in a few more decades, such a game about planes won't be so unimaginable (if it hasn't been made already).

This temporal phenomenon of insensitivity over time is why we have games that refer to actual wars, or even why there exists such sensitive content as

a simulation of the assassination of President Kennedy.

The phenomenon does not excuse it, but it certainly explains it well enough.

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argosgold February 9, 2011 9:31 PM

The game accompanies an amazing exhibit at the Wellcome Collection in London, called 'High Society' well worth a visit if you're local. I went a few months ago and it was fascinating.

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sandylouise Author Profile Page February 9, 2011 11:02 PM

Or you could just say: tragedy + time = comedy

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Sandylouise, i dont think its a function of time. As a german I can say we still cant laugh about what happened a few decades ago and probably never will. And this is the way it should be.

Comedy is a way to say somethings through the flower that you couldn't do directly. This game highlights pretty well how the commonwealth exploited its colonies forward and backward.

Steering planes into buildings is not a "comedy" or a message. However a more thoughtfull game could highlight some of the complicated dependencies that led to that event, and maybe open new views. However, I'd not have an idea.

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It's interesting you bring up the Nazi example, since we North Americans have been brought up to regard the Nazis as simultaneously Totally Evil and Strangely Hilarious. (See Those Wacky Nazis on TV Tropes.) Still, I think, for example, playing Nazis stealing art would strike North Americans as offensive.

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The demand for tea gets insanely high after a while, to my opinion. Around orders of 400x tea I get in trouble.

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I really like the idea, and it's a slick execution, but there's one overwhelming problem - near the end of the game, the bottleneck isn't money, it's how fast you can buy tea. For the second-to-last shipment, I was literally buying tea as fast as possible from the moment the previous clipper departed, and I was still late. It's very frustrating to lose (which I did, on the last mission) because of that kind of gameplay issue. Even giving me a 'buy tea constantly' toggle, so I didn't have to be clicking all the time would have been nice.

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I don't think this game glorifies opium trading, but instead throws into question the British thirst for Tea, and I think the subject matter is well handled here.

The game is clearly from a British perspective and goes a long way towards informing the player of the mindset of an institutionalized opium smuggling operation.

It's admirable that they even bother to propose the consideration that your actions in the pursuit of profit are leading to the detriment of millions. There is a sensitivity which stops short of an outright condemnation of the trade, but which could provoke thought and personal reflection.

The comparison to Nazis is inevitable (given Godwin's Law), but the goal is unchanged. Giving context to the human conditions that led to atrocities should be lauded rather than hissed off the stage.

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Finally completed the final tea shipment, after a few tries! It definitely helps to stock up on tea as much as possible throughout the game.

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I totally s(t)uck with the final shipment. Both opium and tea prices sky-rocketed, so it's just impossible to buy 660 crates of tea. Any hints?

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Pronounce the title (Hai-ti)

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I also never got the last shipment. The prices are crazy.. Good game though! Hi-score of 39M.

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Windy, try buying lots and lots of tea early, when prices are not so high. And towards the end sell opium for any reasonable (60+) price if you have huge stocks of it.

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The key, as said by vashee,is to stock up on tea as constantly as you can right from the start. Remember, the opium trading in this game is nothing to do with hoarding money, its entirely to gain money to buy tea. When i completed it I did so having made my first 4 orders so early that by the time they shipped i already had enougth tea to fill the next one. This is the only way you'll make the last two orders. Also, hoard opium whenever the market drops, and never buy it above £50 unless you have to. Keep a close eye on the markets, why buy tea at 350 close to your order if it was at £10 ealier on. It's all about managing prices. It's better to be watching the markets and just to glance at sales when they pop up than it is to stare at the map.

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Oops, i meant to say at $50 not 350, my apologies.

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Eggheadbeater Author Profile Page December 15, 2011 10:21 PM

Well, I've managed to complete this game a few times now with a best high score of 60K plus, finally making the 1839 tea shipment of 660 crates. It took a lot of practice...

As previous posters have said, the key is accumulating tea early in the game when it's comparatively cheap. Between 1836 and early 1839, prices most stay sky high and the temporary dips won't let you grab in much more than 150 cases before you spook the market back up again. But there's more to it than that. Seems to me the winning strategy has three main elements:

1) Accumulate stock early. Not just tea, but opium as well. You need to be sitting on a stock pile of at least 100 chests of opium before the dealing houses merge in 1833/4, sending the price up above £90 for ages. To do this, you need to be ruthless about buying at the bottom of the market for both commodities and selling only to the highest bidder. Keep ship(s) in port, rather than let opium go for less than £60 a chest (with one caveat that I'll come to later on). Also in the first season, wait as late as possible before clicking on a deal, just to be sure there isn't a better one elsewhere. Good performance on opium sales keeps profits high which allows you to pig out on tea when it's going for less than £20 a chest early in the game and build up a stockpile of at least 400/500 chests before the first 300+ shipment becomes due. Remember, the tea will hardly ever be this cheap again - so grab it now!

2) Use the bribe card well. Never risk a dodgy trade when you only have one boat - that's game over. It's also a game killer if you have to operate with only one boat after the first year. When you get the bribe card. look for really big orders (20+chests) at high price (£69+) in the risk ports and go for those. With luck, you'll get one or two free before they nab you and you have to use the bribe card to get your skipper out of a Manchu prison. Thereafter, only take risks on small deals where you can afford to lose the boat and cargo OR when your cash is low and the fine will be comparatively modest.

3) Keep the supply going. You need to keep the Chinese supplied with opium otherwise they start going clean on you. This can means being prepared to accept very small profits or even small losses in Year 2/3 when the orders start drying up and also being prepared to take judicious risks to get supply through to risky ports. Pay attention to the stats graphs at the end to see how you performed on this, This is why an early opium stockpile is so important so than you can keep the Class A drugs flowing during 1832/33. If you can get over the mid game hump on supply, then really big orders build up later in the game that enable you to earn £4000 + per shipment and buy tea in industrial quantities at up to £60 per chest to feed that insatiable English habit!

Hope this helps.

E.

PS: Don't understand why you're not getting paid for the tea shipments in this game. Or is the payment in the knighthood and title you receive when you retire to the Home Counties?

yours

Lord Hook-Up of Kowloon

3)

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Eggheadbeater Author Profile Page December 15, 2011 10:31 PM

Oh. one other element I forgot:

4) Buying something is better than nothing. Don't forget to take advantage of the 5 or 15 order quantities, especially early in the game when there are real bargains to be had but money is tight. When you see a chance to buy tea at under £15 a chest and opium at under £20 early on, then buy it in in penny packets rather than miss out. Over the course of the game, all those 5s and 15s add up to substantial amounts.

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