M. U. L. E.
Typed out by Daniel Terlecki
M. U. L. E.
Welcome to M.U.L.E.
M.U.L.E. is a game of exploration and resource development on another
planet. As many as four humans can play. If you have fewer then four humans,
your Nintendo will play the others. There are three versions of M.U.L.E. -
Beginner, Standard, and Tournament. Each version has slightly different
rules. The player who has the greatest net worth at the end of the game is
If You Want to Start Playing Right Away
The fastest way to learn is to play the Beginner game. The next pages of
this manual have screen shots (None of which you'll see. -ed note) and quick-
reading captions to teach you the Beginner game fast. If you have any
questions, read the Questions and Answers section. The rest of the manual
has rules and strategies for the Standard and Tournament versions.
Pausing the Game
To pause the game, press the SELECT button. To start again, press the SELECT
button a second time. This is especially useful for playing and trying to
read this Guide at the same time.
1. Choosing Your Character
MECHTRON GOLLUMER PACKER
FLAPPER LEGGITE HUMANOID
(There's a screenshot here of the character selection screen. The above
names correspond with a picture of the character in the same spot on the
screen. -ed note)
The Nintendo will cycle through 4 different colors. Whoever pushes the A
button on the controller first uses that color throughout the game.
After choosing a color, you select a character. Use the control pad to point
towards a character, and it will appear in the center.
If you don't want this one, move another character into the center of the
screen, and push the A button. When you are done, the Nintendo will cycle
through the remaining colors for the other players.
2. Summary Report
(There is a screenshot of the Status Summary Screen here. -ed note)
Most players start with $1,000 in money and $300 worth of Food and Energy -
"goods." However, the Flapper starts with $1,600 in money and $300 worth of
Food and Energy, and the Humanoid starts with $600 in money and $300 worth
of Food and Energy.
3. Land Grant
(No relation to Hugh Grant or Lou Grant[Mary Tyler Moore Show]. -ed note)
(There is a screenshot of the Land Grant screen which is also the main
You select a plot.
The Land Grant is your chance to get one free plot each turn.
When the moving square is over the plot you want, push the A button.
4. Deciding What to Produce
(There is a screenshot here of the main viewing screen with lines pointing
to your land, the town in the center of the screen, the river running north
to south or vice versa[whichever] and to one of the various mountains
onscreen. -ed note)
You decide to produce Food on your river land.
Your plot of land will flash when it is your turn. Decide what you want to
do with your land. Mountains are best for mining Smithore, river land is
best for farming for Food, and flat land is best for producing Energy.
5. Outfitting Your M.U.L.E.
(There is a screenshot here of the main town screen with lines pointing to
the time bar in the upper right corner, food outfitting, energy outfitting,
smithore outfitting and the corral. -ed note)
You outfit a M.U.L.E. to produce food.
Go to the corral, get a M.U.L.E., and take him to any outfitting shop.
When the time bar runs out, your turn ends regardless of what you are doing.
6. Installing Your M.U.L.E.
(There is a screenshot here of the main viewing screen with lines pointing
to the player and the player's mule. -ed note)
You outfit a M.U.L.E.
To install a M.U.L.E., lead him out of town, by walking him off screen
either to the left or to the right, to your plot of land. Press the A button
when your character is directly over the house.
When installed, your M.U.L.E. turns into a production symbol. Your property
is ready to produce Food, Energy, or Smithore.
Whenever you want to go back into town, just walk your character to the town
symbol in the center of the screen (see the screen shot shown under the
heading Deciding What to Produce). (Which of course you can't see. But you
can read my description of it in any case. -ed note)
7. Wampus Hunting (I wonder if it's related to the snipe? -ed note)
You still have time left. Can you catch the Wampus?
The Wampus lives in caves in the mountains. when he opens his door, his bell
rings and his black door flashes. If you catch him, he will pay you to let
To catch the Wampus, you have to be outside of town, without a M.U.L.E.
Then, when you see his light, jump on him. Good hunting!
8. The Pub
Going into the Pub is an automatic way to win money. But it also ends your
turn. The more time remaining, the more you win.
9. Random Events
You can't really plan for "random events" like Planetquakes, Acid Rain, and
Pest Attacks, but they can happen.
(There is a screenshot here of the main viewing screen with lines pointing
to this turns production, a food production symbol, and your base
production. -ed note)
Your River land produced Food.
Production happens automatically; you just watch your land produce. Each
little box that appears in your land plot represents one unit.
11. The Store
There is a Store in the game, played by the Nintendo.. During the Auction,
the Store buys and sells Food, Energy, and Smithore.
It starts out with 16 units of Food, 16 units of Energy, and no Smithore.
After that, the number of units it hs to sell depends on what the players
sell and buy.
12. Player Status
(There is a screenshot here of the store/status screen with lines pointing
to the store symbol in the lower left corner, the store selling price right
under that, the store buying price in the upper left corner above the store
symbol, the critical line and the units surplus. -ed note)
You have a surplus of Food.
There are three Auctions each round, one each for Smithore, Food, and
Energy. Each auction starts by showing "Status" in that good. A line grows
and shrinks to show how much you started with, how much you used, how much
spoiled, and how much you produced during your last turn.
A "critical line" tells you if you have a shortage or a surplus for your
next turn. (Except for Smithore, which is not "critical for survival.")
Finally, there is a message telling how much of that product the Store has.
You declare yourself to be a Seller in the Food auction.
Push the control pad up or down to declare whether you are a Seller or a
Buyer. You can change back and forth as often as you wish until the Delcare
Timer runs out.
Hint: If you have a surplus, you should sell it (your character will
automatically jump to the SELL position). If you have a shortage, BUY!
14. The Auction Begins
(There is a screenshot here of the auction screen with lines pointing to the
auction timer on the right side of the screen, and the units traded on the
bottom. -ed note)
You are a Seller, and you lower your price.
The auction starts with the sellers on the top of the screen and the buyers
on the bottom. Now the units row shows the number of units traded during the
auction, instead of the number of units owned by each player.
Sellers move down to lower their prices. Buyers move up to raise their bids.
Dashed lines indicate the highest bid and the lowest price among all four
players. All characters can move at the same time, racing to buy and sell
before the auction timer runs out.
(There is a screenshot here of the auction screen. -ed note)
You make a transaction. When the Buy Line and the Sell Line meet, the Buyer
and the Seller start flashing. Trading begins, one unit at a time. As trades
are made the Buyer's money decreases, the Seller's money increases, and both
plasyers' Units Traded increase.
Either player can stop trading at any time, simply by moving away from the
line. Otherwise trading continues until the Seller runs our of extra
product, or the Buyer runs out of money.
16. Sumary Report (Again)
After the first turn, you are losing, but not by much.
The Summary Report shows your points, or your "Net Worth" after each round.
Don't feel bad if you're in last place now. The losing players gets some
advantages. For instance, if you and another player both try to get the same
piece of land during the Land Grant, you will get the land. And if you and
another player both try to Buy or Sell at the same price, you will get to
make the trade, even if he or she is also on the trading line.
17. Transferring M.U.L.E.s
Later in the game, you can move M.U.L.E.s that you have installed. You can
even take them back into town and re-oufit them for a different type of
You can transfer a M.U.L.E. to your plot with or without a M.U.L.E. in tow.
When you press your A button, the M.U.L.E. you are leading (if any) will be
installed and the one previously installed will be following you. You can
take the new M.U.L.E. to another plot or you can re-outfit him for a
different type of production (by taking him back to town). If you have no
other use for the M.U.L.E., return it to the corral for $100.
You are now ready to play the Beginner's game of M.U.L.E. The game will last
6 rounds. Whoever has the highest value, or "Net Worth," at the end will be
the winner, the "First Founder." Good Luck!
Questions and Answers
Q: Why don't I always get the plot of land I want in the land grant?
A: It may be because you and another player are both pushing your
buttons at the same time, and he or she is getting the land. That
happens because the Nintendo figures out who has the least amount
of money, land, and goods and gives that player the land. Or else it is
because your "trigger finger" is just a little too slow.
Q: Why can't I watch the Nintendo-controlled player install a M.U.L.E.?
Is it cheating on me?
A: Since the Nintendo never makes mistakes, it's not much fun to watch.
Of course, the Nintendo can't catch a Wampus either.
Q: My M.U.L.E. keeps running away. What can I do?
A: M.U.L.E.s don't really like to work. If they get a chance, they will
run off. If your time runs out before you get your M.U.L.E. properly
installed, it will scoot. If you realize you don't have enough time to lead
your M.U.L.E. all the way to your land, you can return it to the corral and
get your money back.
Q: Why can't I catch the Wampus?
A: Three reasons: you may be pushing the button, which keeps him away;
you may be standing on his mountain, which keeps him from opening his
door; or maybe you aren't really cut out to be a Wampus hunter.
Q: I get to the Buy Line just as fast as another seller and I don't get
to sell anything. What's going on?
A: Remember that the player with the least amount of money, land, and
goods always gets the advantage. If you are richer then the other seller,
he or she will win all the "ties." The same goes when you and another
player are both trying to buy something.
Q: Yes, but can't I sell just one unit?
A: Once a trade begins, no other players can break into it. Your only hope
is to get one of the players to stop trading.
Q: The store was out of food and I still wanted to buy some, but i couldn't
quite reach the seller. Is something wrong?
A: Nope. If the seller doesn't want to sell you anything, he or she can
just stay on the top of the screen and you can't reach.
Q: How come I can't always go as high as I want to in the auction?
A: You can't bid if you don't have enough money.
Q: Why do I have to stop selling just because I reach my "critical level?"
A: It sounds like you're ready for the Standard game.
Tips on the Beginner Game
+Always get land during the land grant, even if you can't get the one you
want. It's worth $500 in figuring your net worth.
+Avoid moving through mountains and the river when possible. They will
slow you down. The fastest way to move is diagonally.
+Learn how to transfer and reoutfit M.U.L.E.s to take advantages of
shortages and surpluses that develop.
+If you have time remaining after placing your M.U.L.E.s, look for the
Wampus. If the Wampus is too far away, ignore him and go to the Pub.
+Take advantage of the terrain by producing the right products in the right
place. Make food in the river, energy in the flatlands, and mine Smithore in
the mountains (particularly plots with three mountain symbols).
+Always get the other players to pay the highest price when you are selling,
and to take the lowest price when you are buying. Learn to "tease" then into
taking your price by wiggling your character up and down on the auction
+The amount you produce each turn depends on three things: "Base
Production," energy, and economic bonuses. Base Production is the number of
units your plot will produce if nothing else affects it. This number is
shown by the number of little boxes that appear in the lower right corner of
your land during production.
+A M.U.L.E. will produce zero units during a turn if it doesn't have enough
energy. Food and Smithore M.U.L.E.s need one unit of energy each turn, left
over from the previous turn. (Energy M.U.L.E.s just use energy as they make
+If you have three plots producing the same product, regardless of where the
plots are located on the map, you get an extra unit of production in each
plot. This reflects what is called "the learning curve theory of
production," explained in the section Economics of M.U.L.E.
+Whenever two or more plots producing the same product are side by side, you
will also get one extra unit of production in each plot. This bonus reflects
the theory of "economies of scale," also explained in Economics of M.U.L.E.
No more than one extra unit is given for "economy of scale" regardless of
how many plots are touching.
The Economics of M.U.L.E.
Prices are set by supply and demand. Prices go up when the supply is small
and the demand is high; they go down when there is a large supply and little
demand. For example, if there are 25 units of Smithore in the store and all
the players are producing it, the store will offer a very low price to buy it.
In M.U.L.E., the store sets prices using a formula based on priciples of
supply and demand, and also on the latest prices paid for the product. No
store price can go over $265. Food, Energy, and Smithore have minimum prices
of $15, $10, and $14, respectively.
Economies of Scale
The "law" of economies of scale says that the bigger you are, the better you
get. If you double the size of your operation, you more than double your
effectiveness. This is because of things like mass productio, and volume
discounts on buying raw materials and building tools. In M.U.L.E., if you
have two or more plots of land side by side doing the same kind of
production, your M.U.L.E.s become more efficient, and average one extra unit
of production on each plot.
Learning Curve Theory of Production
In many industries, as you build more and more of a product, you learn how
to do it more efficiently. The "learning curve theory" says that every time
you double the total numbers of units you have ever built, you "learn" to
build that product for 20% less. This is the reason that calculators and
computers keep costing less and less every year.
In M.U.L.E., you get an extra unit (on each plot) for every three plots of
land you have that are all producing the same kind of product, regardless of
where they are located. This is in addition to the bonus you get from
economies of scale you get from adjacent plots. For example, if you had
three Smithore mines, and two were side by side, each mine would produce and
extra unit for the learning curve effect, and the two adjacent plots would
produce a second extra unit for the economies of scale effect.
Just when you thought you had it wired, economics comes through with the
"law" of diminishing returns. This law says that economies of sclae and
learning curve effects reach a point where they get less and less important.
In M.U.L.E., you can see how this works if you try to develop a Smithore
monopoly. At first you get high levels of products by locating mines in the
mountains (where there are rich Smithore deposits), and getting the
economics bonuses as well. Eventually you have to start mining for Smithore
in the flat land to increase your economies of scale and leraning curve
effects. Sooner or later you reach a point where you get more value from
giving up the economic bonuses and producing food or energy instead.
The Prisoner's Dilemma
Normally, in a free enterprise system, things work out best if everyone
looks out for himself. However, there are some cases in economics, such as
"The Prisoner's Dilemma," where everyone loses if each person spends too
much time worrying about himself.
In M.U.L.E., if the colony doesn't survive, everyone loses. If one player is
really doing poorly, he can't afford to pay high prices to buy all the
Energy or Food that you are producing.
If you want a real challenge, try placing the Humanoid character against
three Nintendo players and see if you can get a total colony score of more
than 100,000. If you can, we'd like to hear about it. Good luck! (However,
considering the age of the game and the fact that when I called Mindscape to
see if they still sold manuals for this game [had to finally find one at the
flea market], not one single person, including supervisors had even so much
as heard of the game [not to mention it wasn't in Y of their
computers/books/whatever], your best bet would be to impress IRC, newsgroup,
or NES site folks. -ed note)
There are several new rules in the Standard game that give you almost
unlimited strategies. First, the Standard game lasts 12 turns. Second, the
entire colony must have a total worth of at least $60,000, or you will all
get sent home to work in a M.U.L.E. factory. Here are the other changes:
In the Standard Game, the store auctions land immediately after each Land
Grant. The number of plots auctioned each turn averages 1, but can vary from
0 to 6. The plot to be auctioned will be displayed by a black flashing
square. after all players press their A buttons, the auction begins. To bid,
simply move your character up the screen above the minimum price shown. Your
bid will change as you move just as it does in other auctions. when the
timer runs out, the player with the highest bid (above the minimum) receives
the plot. If no player moves above the minimum bid, the plot doesn't sell.
The plot may be valued at $500 in figuring your net worth during the Summary
no matter how much you pay in the Auction.
In the Standard game, you can sell your land. If it sells, you receive all
the money paid for it. If your plot doesn't sell, it will not be auctioned
off again unless you offer it again.
To mark your land "For Sale," enter the land office without a M.U.L.E., and
then go to the plot you wish to sell. When you are in the center of the
plot, push your A button and return to the land office. To help you, the
timer is turned off when you enter the land office to mark a plot. Land
marked "For Sale" will be offered in the Land Auction the next turn.
Selling land works differently than selling good. When the Seller moves his
control pad up or down to raise or lower the asking price, the price changes
but the Seller doesn't move on the screen.
The Seller can change his asking price at any time. If he does this, if he
moves the asking price either up or down, the Buyer's bid is automatically
rejected, and he has to move above the asking price again. When time runs
out the Buyer who is highest, and above the asking price, gets to buy the
land. There is no maximum price.
In the Standard game the price of M.U.L.E.s varies from turn to turn
depending on the number of M.U.L.E.s available and the number of undeveloped
plots owned by players.
Each game starts with 16 M.U.L.E.s in the corral. When these are gone, they
can only be replaced in one way: by building more from Smithore. It takes
two units of Smithore to build a M.U.L.E., and only the store knows how.
Because of the difficulty, it takes the Store an entire turn to build a
M.U.L.E., from the Smithore it buys. Needless to say the prices of M.U.L.E.s
and Smithore skyrocket when the colony begins to run short on M.U.L.E.s.
Another change in the Standard game: the M.U.L.E. will run away when you try
to install him on your land, unless your character is directly over the
house when you push your A button. Pressing the A button at any place, other
than your plot, will also cause the M.U.L.E. to run away.
Two changes have been made to the Auction phase. First, you can now use your
own judgement and sell products below your "Critical Level" if you think it
Second, when the store has no more units, the selling price for a unit of
any product may go as high as Buyers are willing to bid. In other words, if
one player really wants something, you can make him pay for it. Because the
screen is only so big, it may look as if the buyer isn't moving, when the
big price is actually rising fast; so watch the bid price. So long as the
seller does not move down from the top of the screen, no transactions are
made, no matter how high the bid goes.
This allows shrewd players to take advantage of their friends.
One odd visual effect occurs if one player is bidding very high while other
players stop raising their bids: the bidder doesn't seem to move anywhere
and the non-bidders seem to be going backwards. The reason: it's all
relative. The non-bidders last bid doesn't change, only their relative
positions on the screen.
Tips on the Standard Game
+Conserve cash for the Land Auction. Land is very valuable. You should be
greedy for land. Make the other players pay dearly for it.
+During each player's turn, there is a 25% chance of a random event, and
there are 21 different events. The losing player will never receive a bad
luck event, and the winning player never gets lucky.
+In the Standard game, the production on each plot varies from turn to turn.
Base Production is only the average production, and it varies from 0 to 8
units even if the M.U.L.E. has enough Energy. You might want to save a
little extra Food and Energy as "safety stock" just in case you hit a
streak of bad luck.
+Random events may also come up just before the Production phase. There are
8 different types. Most affect all players, but a few only affect
individuals. Watch out for the Pirate, he plunders everyone's Smithore. (In
the Tournament game, he plunders Crystite, explained later.)
+The Standard game invites player interaction. Diplomatic and persuasive
skills are often more important than knowledge. This is like life in the
rest of the galaxy.
+Don't be afraid of losing a M.U.L.E. or two-especially if you have been
hoarding Smithore. Remember: your opponents can't develop their land without
M.U.L.E.s. And after all, it only hurts them if they're ahead of you (and
their turn comes after yours). All you have to do is get a M.U.L.E. from the
corral, outfit him for Food, leave the town, and press your A button. The
M.U.L.E. will disappear faster than you can say "which way did he go?"
+Speaking of "cutthroat" play, an occasional cutthroat maneuver may put you
well out of reach of other players. For example, if you have food and the
others don't, try buying out the store instead of selling surplus. This may
keep a close challenger from catching you, and next turn you may have a
The Tournament Game adds two new concepts to M.U.L.E. - Crystite and
Collusion. These two small changes turn it into a game that's almost
Crystite, which is found underground, is the fourth product available for
discovery and development. Crystite varies with undergound contours, rather
than terrain type like other products.
In each game, there are always 3 plots which each have base production of 2
and 1. Crystite cannot be mined in the river valley, because the boggy land
makes mining impossible.
There are teo ways to discover Crystite. You can install a Crystite M.U.L.E.
on your plot, and hope you have made a good guess, or you can take an
To do this, enter the assay office in town, then visit the plot you wish to
check. When you are in the center of the plot, press your A button to obtain
a soil sample. When you take the sample back to the assay office, it will
report Low (1), Medium (2), High (3), or No (0) Crystite deposits on the plot.
You may take soil samples on any plot on the map, even those that noone owns
yet. However, it might be tough to find the center of a plot that isn't
owned, because you won't be able to see the shape of the plot. Keep trying.
You'll get it sooner or later.
You agree to Collude in a private trade so the leading player can't buy your
Collusion is a powerful technique that allows players to make private deals.
When collusion is in effect in an Auction, only the players involved can
trade and others are shut out. Although the basic approach is the same,
Collusion works differently in Product Auctions than in Land Auctions.
To start a Collusion during a Product Auction, two or more players push
their A buttons at exactly the same time. (To make sure that the timing is
perfect, you may even have one person push BOTH the A buttons.) This starts
a special Collusion timer, changes the color of the screen to pink, and
causes the other players and the Store to fade into the background. Until
time runs out, the players involved can concentrate on working out a deal
between themselves. The game returns to regular auction after the collusion
Collusion works differently in the Land Auction. The Seller gets to set the
price and select the Buyer. No prearranged signal or special timing is
necessary. Here's how it's done:
First, the Seller pushes his or her A button to begin the Collusion timer.
The Buyer on the left will be highlighted and the others will fade into the
background. That Buyer is the only one who can make a bid on your land. To
select another Buyer, simply push your A button to select the next one on
the right. Whoever you select can move his bid up or down, while you, at the
same time, raise or lower your price. (Notice that the house does not move
on the screen, but the price changes nevertheless.) As soon as the Buyer
meets your price, he or she gets the land. If Collusion time runs out before
anyone meets your asking price, the game returns to normal Auction. Don't
forget: if the Buyer you select isn't going to meet your price, you can
always shut him off and "activate" another Buyer.
Tips on the Tournament Game
+The Tournament game starts with just enough resources to keep the Colony
alive for one turn. You also get less time during the Development phase to
place M.U.L.E.s on your plots. A good way to offset these changes is to be
self-sufficient during the beginning of the game. Try to get one of the
River plots for Food, and occasionaly take an Energy plot next to the Food
plot you've made. These two plots will probably keep you going for 3-5 turns
of the game.
+Crystite prices vary from $50 to $150 per unit, but are not affected by
supply and demand on the planet. The way to make a killing on Crystite is to
buy it cheap and sell it when it gets to its highest peak.
+In the early stages of the game, look for Crystite by assaying plots if you
have extra time. You should look for Crystite in preference over hunting
Wampuses. The best ay to earn enough cash to stay flexible is by speculating
on Crystite. If you can find and obtain the richest Crystite plots, you will
be well ahead toward winning the game.
+Speaking of Crystie, it is better to group lots together around a low or
medium producing plot than to go for the plot with high concentration. By
taking advantage of "the learning curve" and "economies of scale" you can
produce much more Crystite than by going for the high concentration and
scattering your land holdings.
+Don't be shy about transferring and re-outfitting M.U.L.E.s particularly
toward the end of the game. Victory can often be pulled out during the last
1-3 turns by swiftly converting all your plots to the product selling at the
highest price (usually Crystite). Build up a surplus of Food and Energy
(particularly Energy) for the last turns, then go for it!
+Trade Land by using Collusion! If you can talk one of the other players
into trading a plot you need, work a private deal through Collusion. If you
are skillful at negotiation, you should be able to make deals that are good
for both of you. For exaine, you can greatly enhance your standing just by
getting a key plot (particularly a plot which connects several other plots
you already own).
+The Pirate Ship is very dangerous in the Tournament game. No more
than 2 Pirate Ships ever arrive during a game. If, for example, no
Pirate ship has arrived, it is turn 9, and you have 50 units of Crystite
in storage, SELL!
+Watch for the "Fire in Store" special event. When it happens, the price of
products will increase, particularly Smithore if M.U.L.E.s are scare.
+The Nintendo player(s) receive an extra $200 to offset your superior
play. Try playing the Humanoid (advanced) character against the
Nintendo. You will be hard pressed to beat him!
Food determines the amount of time you have during Development. Average
production for food in the River Valley is 4, in the Flatlands 2, and in the
Mountains 1. Food Prices range from $15 to $250. The outfitting cost for a
food producing M.U.L.E. is $25.
Energy is used in the production of all products except Energy itself. The
amount you need is based on the number of non-energy plots with M.U.L.E.s
plus 1. Average production of Energy in Flatlands is 3, in the River Valley
2, and in the Mountains 1. Energy prices range from $10 to $250. The
outfitting cost for an energy producing M.U.L.E. is $50.
Smithore is used in the production of M.U.L.E.s in the Standard and
Tournament games. The store will produce 1 M.U.L.E. for every 2 Smithore
units it buys from players. Average production of Smithore in the Flatlands
is 1, in the River Valley 0(you may not mine Crystite or Smithore in the
River Valley), and in the Mountains 1 plus the number of mountain symbols in
your plots (1 to 3 mountain symbols). In the Beginner's game, Smithore has a
fixed price of $50. In other games, Smithore prices range from $25 to $250.
The outfitting for a Smithore producing M.U.L.E. is $75.
Crystite can only be found when playing the Tournament game. All Crystite
found is shipped off planet. Please refer to the Tournament games
instructions for the locations of Crystite. Crystite prices range from $50
to $150. The outfitting cost for a Crystite producing M.U.L.E. is $100.