Although the basics of the game are fun at the beginning, the rote aspects can get boring eventually. However, Trade Wars has a lot of strategic depth, and once you get tired of writing down sector maps on paper and haggling every last credit out of stingy merchants, an excellent set of clients and helpers can help you move your game to the next level.
The most important features of any helper program are probably the zero-turn mapper and the trading/stealing scripts.
Zero-turn mapping uses the console client mode to interrogate the Trade Wars server and map the connections between sectors. This allows the client to identify bubbles, which are clusters of sectors with a one or more sector bottleneck connecting the bubble to the rest of the galaxy. Bubbles allow you to defend your nascent colonies from wandering predators (and Ferrengi), so you will definitely want a good mapping utility and bubble-finder when you've got a nice ship and are ready to start colonizing. SWATH and ATTAC have ZTM capability.
Trading / stealing scripts are essential to making money fast, as they allow you to automate haggling and moving and stealing between ports. Some more advanced programs allow more advanced trading and stealing strategies; for the height of complexity in this regard, look to TWX proxy. SWATH and ATTAC have great trading/stealing functions included in their free clients.
Since all the programs below can be downloaded for free, I encourage you to try them all to see which best suits your playing style.
30 day free trial, $26 registration fee.
The most popular and most mature Trade Wars client. SWATH includes a visual mapper, auto-haggling, pair-port-trading scripts, stealing scripts, port finders and a whole lot more.
Free to try, $26 registration fee.
A very solid tool, stable, lots of scripts, no visual mapper, but it does ZTM mapping and can find bubbles, port pairs, etc.
The new kid on the block, Kokua has a very SWATH-like interface but is open source and much less mature in terms of scripts and functionality. However, it is an extremely promising little client - the best visual mapper, operating automatically with little cpu overhead, session statistics on the side, and an outstanding reference library that is great for beginners and experts all make Kokua worth a try. Even if you use something else for routine script-driven activity, Kokua really is a must-download client if for no other reason than the fun of watching the universe unfold around you in the visual mapper. The future of Trade Wars?
TWX Proxy: http://www.twxproxy.com
"The veteran's trade wars helper" is not a client, but rather a proxy server that you can connect to through your favourite client. Open source & free. Very powerful scripts, you can queue up keys and send them in a burst, this is an absolutely essential program for the advanced player especially now that it is completely free. Runs pretty much all scripts.
Battle Calculator: http://digitalcreations.cc/TW/BC/
Using a battle calculator allows you to determine precisely how many fighters you need to capture, rather than destroy, an enemy ship. This one is web-based, and seems to work perfectly.
Once you've settled on a good TW helper program, have mastered ZTM, SSM, SST, PPT, and all those other acronyms, you may want to start fleshing out your collection of scripts to implement more advanced strategies. There are several scripting formats, but SWATH, for instance, recognizes scripts written for TWX Proxy, and vice versa.
Nota Bene: not all of these are particularly useful for the Apolyton game, and many scripts out there are designed to implement fairly advanced TW strategies that you should understand thoroughly before trying to automate. If you don't really understand what the script is doing, use it at your own risk. I personally find the ZTM type scripts and bubble finding scripts most useful, and haven't really gotten into the whole super-powered attack script thing, but to each their own... some of you may like that sort of thing
That said, here are a couple solid script packages:
CK Scripts from The Lost Traders Tavern
The free scripts available at this site include a good ZTM script, an SDT script, and a range of other interesting scripts. Advanced combat scripts are available for purchase in a script pack.
SupG Script Pack from TWInfo.org
This script pack is really well done, including an acclaimed ZTM script, attack scripts, fighter-dropping scripts and other such things that are useful in day-to-day play.