Early game boost with monthly trades

Early game boost with monthly trades

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aroddo

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TL;DR: Trade food and minerals for alloys and profit with alien empires.
Become a tech/economic powerhouse fast.


Provided you meet a somewhat friendly neighbour, you can start trading resources with them.
However, in the early stages, the AI sense for resource value is a bit skewed, which you can abuse.

Minerals and Food are important, but they are also easy to produce (using only base values):
1 district + 2 pops for 8 minerals or 12 food per month.

Compare that to alloy production:
1 building + 2 pops + 12 minerals for 6 alloys.

If you go to the galactic market to sell basics to buy alloys, you have to pay the 30% market fee twice - for buying and selling.
So in order to get a factory's worth of alloys, you have to pay ~32 energy for 6 alloys (except you can't: only bulk purchases).
And in order to get the equivalent amount, you have to sell ~45 minerals for 32 energy (except you can't: only bulk sales).

So: 45 minerals for 6 alloys.

Now let's trade with a friendly AI:

1601237379827.png


24 minerals for 6 alloys.

Again for emphasis:

Market: 8 minerals for 1 alloy
Trade: 4 minerals for 1 alloy

That in itself is already great, but consider how much it would burden your economy, if you wanted to produce those 6 alloys monthly by yourself from scratch vs trading minerals for them:

Produce 6 alloysProduce 24 minerals
Buildings/Districts1 building slot + 1.5 mining districts3 mining districts
Mineral cost950900
Working pops5 (2 metallurgists +3 miners)6 miners
Food upkeep56
Consumer Goods upkeep1.751.5
Energy upkeep3.53

Granted, producing alloys gives you 1 pop to assign elsewhere, but consider that there are plenty of different bonuses to mining available from the start, compared to only a handful of bonuses for alloy production.
And you have a building slot left over where you can put in something else. Like a research lab.
And you get the extra housing.
And you cripple the AI war economy (if they weren't cheating bastards).

However, over time, the AI re-evaluates resources value, so it likely won't work at a later stage. But it's awesome for the early game.
Works just fine with food, too.

I also wrote a small spreadsheet calculator for you to use when evaluating a trade:

1601557872425.png


Trade favorability 100% means, you get the same deal you would have gotten with the galactic market. Anything over 100% is a better deal.
Use the orange cells to enter your offer and the other empire's counter offer and you can immediately see if the deal is good or not.
Later, when prices on the galactic market are inflated, adjust accordingly in the Current Prize column.

Links here:
 

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Pancakelord

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I admit I haven't used the monthly trades with AIs in a long ass time, ever since federations came out my "Big-brain strategy" has been:
  1. trade for communications, then trade for communications with the new AIs that appear (repeat as needed), to map out the galaxy as fast as you can,
  2. then proceed to go through each AI trading your favours for their alloys (who cares if you've promised those 10 favours to every empire in the galaxy, it'll be a century+ before the vanilla GC is relevant with how slow it moves ... and even that is generous)
  3. Build a bigass fleet with all those free alloys
  4. ???
  5. Snowball.
If playing as a MC this is even better, as you can trade favours for EC to get your branch offices going really really fast on (advanced) AI home worlds, and the alloys particularly help on higher difficulties when turtling/tech rushing to build up your chokepoints faster, you can then plow all your building slots in to research facilities and skip alloy foundries entirely (heretical, I know), staying friendly with immediate neighbours just via envoys and gifts from your fat economy. Then can rebuild the alloy foundries on foundry-habs once you've got a huge tech lead and are ready for galactic annexation.
 
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My issue with this is that there are only two modes of game, ignore alloys or max alloys. This seems to only benefit if you are somehow focused on min-maxing and having a reasonable game where you increase power incrementally. This doesn't seem to work in current meta.

Either I get a huge power and use it, or I use tricks to avoid havign to power up. Alloys only have one use in this game. Having 3/4ths your neighbor's power and having 1/10 is really the same thing, he will slaughter you mercilessly. Having 2x or 3x his power makes a difference.
 
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alexti

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My issue with this is that there are only two modes of game, ignore alloys or max alloys.
I don't think that's true. If you go max alloys, you'll be deep in red after using all those alloys to build a fleet. So, the optimal mode is to have right amount of alloys - enough for the fleet capable of defeating your target while allowing the economy and trade to maintain it (at least until the war is over). Generally, some of my trades would be for alloys and others - for energy.
 

aroddo

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I don't think that's true. If you go max alloys, you'll be deep in red after using all those alloys to build a fleet. So, the optimal mode is to have right amount of alloys - enough for the fleet capable of defeating your target while allowing the economy and trade to maintain it (at least until the war is over). Generally, some of my trades would be for alloys and others - for energy.
Don't trade for energy.
If you need energy, just trade away alloys and skip the market fee.
 
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aroddo

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You know, this allows some really sleek new playstyles.
- Start with two races and pick food/mineral/research/society traits and build a fast research lab (because you can afford it).
- explore until first contact, then use superior research to decipher language for influence points.
- resume exploring until next contact - repeat.
- drain your contacts of alloys with your massive mineral/food surplus.
- claim systems and colonies with your large unfluence and alloy stockpile.

I'm trying out a syncretic agrarian idyll and it's looking pretty good.
 

alexti

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Don't trade for energy.
If you need energy, just trade away alloys and skip the market fee.
It's inefficient. Food -> energy typically gives 1:1 ratio or better if you find machine intelligence. If you trade alloys for energy you effectively go food->alloys->energy which is very unlikely to get 1:1 ratio
 

aroddo

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SInce the introduction of the global and internal markets I stopped exploiting the AI this way.
Well, I just told you how trading with aliens gets you twice as much for the same amount of resources ...
 
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alexti

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True. That's why I wrote the calculator to check your trades.
Like I said: in the early game the ai trades can be abused.
Later, they don't care for minerals at all.
It's a bit more complicated. How AI values things is not really a function of time, but of what they have available (and possibly what they produce, not sure about that). Important consequence is that what you sell them will effect their valuation. So if you sell them food, later, when you have more extra food production you will likely get a worse deal from the same AI. So there are advantages to wait until you can make bigger trade if you don't immediately need the imports. Also, if you are thinking longer term, it can be helpful to make a large food-energy deal around 2210-2215 with AIs you expect to be conquering in about 30 years time. This will cause them to build less farms and more energy districts, so when you conquer them you will get a boost in energy production just in time for going synthetic.
 
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aroddo

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It's a bit more complicated. How AI values things is not really a function of time, but of what they have available (and possibly what they produce, not sure about that). Important consequence is that what you sell them will effect their valuation. So if you sell them food, later, when you have more extra food production you will likely get a worse deal from the same AI. So there are advantages to wait until you can make bigger trade if you don't immediately need the imports. Also, if you are thinking longer term, it can be helpful to make a large food-energy deal around 2210-2215 with AIs you expect to be conquering in about 30 years time. This will cause them to build less farms and more energy districts, so when you conquer them you will get a boost in energy production just in time for going synthetic.
haha, that's evil! :)
But yes, I assumed that they rate resources lower when they have plenty of them (which would be later), but I wasn't that sure.

And that's why it's a good idea to set up a monthly trade for 30 years. That way they are stuck with a disadvantageous deal for them.

I wonder if you can buy up their stockpile of minerals/food and force them to reevaluate those resources, so you can negotiate a better monthly trade.
 

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Ok, this is close to a perfect start with this kind of strategy:

Government
1601473785690.png
Authoritarian
Xenophile
Pacifist
Agrarian Idyll
Corveèe System
Main race
1601474115204.png
Syncretic race
1601474158201.png
Starmap
1601469688881.png
Home Planet
1601473575722.png
First colony
1601473644565.png

Difficulty: Grand Admiral
Iron Man
Crisis: 100 years early and 5x strength (never did that. let's hope)

Found a friendly Hegemony origin civ as first neighbour.
That's three civs willing to trade 5 alloys for food and minerals.

Stardate: 2007.12.01
Current income:
1601470042967.png


Considering that I am building my third research lab right now, this is a pretty solid alloy and resource income.

I gave Corveèe System a chance because in my last version of this I had problems growing my syncretic population. Since the lithoids are more numerous and benefit from the colonization pop boost, they will more likely grow new pops in new colonies. And I want to mitigate that by shuffling the nomadic plantoids to new colonies for cheap (50 energy). Will see if that's worth ditching mining guilds for.
(edit: damn, I forgot that I can simply enable population control policy)

PS:
Due to syncretic lithoid/plantoid race, I can build Bio-Reactors (convert 25 food to 20 energy).
Do they actually make sense?
...... weeeell, they get their investment back after about 4.5 years when compared to setting up an automated trade with 30% market fee and no deflated prices.
If you currently have no use for an empty building slot, you might as well do it. replace or deactivate when needed. But on the whole, now that I think about it: Probably not worth it.
 
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Ok, this is getting ridiculous:

Stardate: 2210.12.01

1601482001542.png


That's after I luckily made contact with 5 more empires by trading communications from the others (and trading them back for resources). I have alloy trade contracts with 6 out of 8.

Stardate: 2211.02.01
1601483318999.png

1601483269917.png
And this is how it looks like after I added some automated trades, because -15 energy income has a bad psychological effect on me personally. And a mining station finished building.
Sure, +2 mineral income would normally cripple my ability to develop infrastructure, but I can easily make some bulk trades on demand.
And once I replace my sole alloy factory with civilian industries, I get back into positive energy/consumer goods income.

Since i'm a pacifist empire, I can't turn this into a war of conquest.
But I wonder if Nihilistic Acquisition during a defensive war might provide some extra fun. :p


Stardate: 2216.01.01
1601491717771.png
1601491886716.png
Took the time to expand and fortify my borders, build trade stations and research plenty of special projects. Got Robot Assembly working on first colony, but not on the main planet. Maybe replace consumer factory with assembly and handle the fallout with trades again.

Stardate: 2220.03.01
1601495983328.png

1601496873594.png
Settling my 5th colony, have 50 pops total (2 of them bots), distributed nicely among the colonies.
Politely declined vassalization demands from my nearest protective neighbours and armed a space station at the chokepoint.
Will build up fleet between expansion spurts.
I am currently trading 113 food and 59 minerals away for 51 alloys and 2 consumer goods each month.

Stardate: 2243.10.01
1601573209215.png

1601572560018.png
I have nearly 100 alloy income without having a single alloy factory (trading away 10 for energy). Upgrading all bases to Starholds, because why not.
Didn't need to create a big fleet, because I am on good terms with most empires.

Sadly, there are barely any colonizable planets around, so I have to snake my way all the way down.
Still only 108 pops ond 5 colonies, which isn't great for nearly 44 years. I blame lack of planets plus Lithoids. The whole point of Lithoids is to colonize everything, but there's nothing there!.

At least there is plenty of undiscovered real-estate. Maybe I get lucky.
 
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alexti

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Due to syncretic lithoid/plantoid race, I can build Bio-Reactors (convert 25 food to 20 energy).
Do they actually make sense?
...... weeeell, they get their investment back after about 4.5 years when compared to setting up an automated trade with 30% market fee and no deflated prices.
If you currently have no use for an empty building slot, you might as well do it. replace or deactivate when needed. But on the whole, now that I think about it: Probably not worth it.
I could never find use for those. In principle, later in the game it's easy to massively depress food prices thus making bio-reactor conversion rate attractive, but the building slot always seems to be too valuable to use for that. If it could convert 250 food to 200 energy that would be a much more attractive option.
 

aroddo

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I could never find use for those. In principle, later in the game it's easy to massively depress food prices thus making bio-reactor conversion rate attractive, but the building slot always seems to be too valuable to use for that. If it could convert 250 food to 200 energy that would be a much more attractive option.
Well, they actually get slightly better when the food market is rock bottom.

In my current game, the food value is 0.73 energy instead of 1 energy.
So selling 25 food on the market with a 20% fee gives me 14.6 energy.
Right now, the Bio-Reactor would give me +5.4 more energy than the market.

However, it's a building slot. Still not worth it.


And by the way: It looks like the alloy trade scheme works even in the later stages of the game.
Numbers are different due to changed resource value and market fees, but you can still hammer out a trade favorability of >300%.
And for some strange reason Food usually trades much better than minerals.

Perhaps they didn't build agricultural districts due to me providing them with food for 30 years and when the old trade agreement expired, they have a massive starvation on hand and pay premium prices for munchies. :p
 
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The Bored Chairman

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Abusing cheating AI resource pools is a proven way to make harder difficulties a total joke. Unless you spawn next to a Fanatic Purifier, obviously.

This happens in Civ VI too, you trade relatively worthless resources, like amenities or Diplo favour for a ton of gold.

Kind of ironic that all a resource boost to the AI does is only make the player stronger.
 

alexti

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And by the way: It looks like the alloy trade scheme works even in the later stages of the game.
Numbers are different due to changed resource value and market fees, but you can still hammer out a trade favorability of >300%.
And for some strange reason Food usually trades much better than minerals.
Oh, those trade still work later, they just become irrelevant. When you are producing 3K alloys extra 10-20 alloys cheaply bought from AI aren't going to make difference.
 

aroddo

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Oh, those trade still work later, they just become irrelevant. When you are producing 3K alloys extra 10-20 alloys cheaply bought from AI aren't going to make difference.
Well, if we are talking about the obvious: The challenge is getting there.
And this trick gives you a big fat advantage on top of whatever your other winning strategy is.
One of the first decisions you have to make is to decide what to do with your first building slot: Alloy Foundries or Research Labs.
If you get just one trade going, you get the equivalent of both.
 

alexti

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Well, if we are talking about the obvious: The challenge is getting there.
And this trick gives you a big fat advantage on top of whatever your other winning strategy is.
Yes, trading with AI is very important in the first decade, by 2230 when the first contracts expire it becomes less significant and by the next round in 2260s they are mostly irrelevant.

One of the first decisions you have to make is to decide what to do with your first building slot: Alloy Foundries or Research Labs.
If you get just one trade going, you get the equivalent of both.
I think with the most regular empires the first building slot is holo-theatre. I would also rebuild something (lab and factory) into holo-theatre. Unity is about the only resource that you desperately need at the start and you can't buy it.