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Piotrzeci

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Whenever I try to find a reason why some mechanic isn't as good as it could be, it brings me to the same culprit - the trade system. It's fine and generally does it job, but it's certainly a rather limiting way of representing trade. I'll try to name a few things that in my opinion can't really be improved as long as we have these mechanics for trade.

Global trade institution
Is an institution that quickly spreads to every corner of the world and is embraced by everyone before it is really noticed. Then it gives a merchant and it's story comes to an end. There isn't something like global trade in EU4, but it's not the only complain; Global Trade institution does not relay on trade at all. Instead of having spots on the map be centers of the global trade, because they are harbours of a country that conveys transcontinental trade, we have spots that arbitrary placed centers of trade. The irony is that if not for auto discovery of the world map, most of the world would embrace this institutions without actually ever seeing Europeans.

Institutions in general
Institutions outside of Europe feel disconnected from the rest of the game; develop first three (there also is Feudalism by it's a different story) and get the last three without much trying. Part of the problem is in trade. There isn't a system that would show that some place in Asia is visited by traders from Europe or the Muslim world, so every institution has to spread through land, like through lovely nomadic steppes. The speed of embracing isn't a matter of how much involved you are in trade with more advanced nations, it's purely about the distance from the spawn point. The path spread takes isn't reasonable, there is no spread from Arabia to Muslim parts of Indonesia, but instead it takes it time going through Persia, Iran, Burma and Indochina. In the end we get a system that you can't really influence.

Trade goods
Something Imperator Rome did was have individual goods provide an effect to the country that has access to it and trading for it was a way to get such access. Because of that there is an opportunity to make them provide different bonuses and give the game a new layer of complexity. In EU4 it's just a matter of the price. There is a way to get "Trading in" bonus by controlling trade nodes, but really it's only that. There is nothing that can be done to have this trade power and bonus but conquering the land.
This leads to general lack of global empires. There is no point in getting footholds across the globe, if America and Indonesia produce the exact same good - ducats.

War, what is it good for?
Absolutely everything. There is nothing that can make you a lovely trade partner and fill your coffers just like conquering everything. Technically you just monopolize trade in some area... but there isn't really any other way. You want money from trade, then you gotta conquer more and more nodes. This obviously leads to tall gameplay being pretty much unavailable, even if you have a bunch of development your neighbours will eat the trade value you create unless you kick them all out.

I'm just gonna become the contour of Africa
Another problem is how trade can only travel in predetermined directions. There is no way to create a Dutch colonial empire where they control Indonesia, if you don't hold the entire path to it. Who cares how much potential trade value there is, if it's impossible to get it. It would require colonizing the Cape and controlling Ivory coast, but does it really? Why can't I have a mercantilist policy where ships would travel to some part of empire and trade with homeland (maybe only requiring single ports along the way to resupply) without trading all my wealth with everybody else along the way? What stops a merchant vessel from going from the Cape to the Lowlands, why does it have to go through the Ivory Coast no matter what?

Arbitrary favourable treatment of some areas
A trade has to come from somewhere to somewhere and the way it's done is sometimes quite unfair. Why can't Japan profit from control over China? Why can't Morocco trade with it's own America? Why some nodes only have a way out? Why can't Russia get ducats from owning Scandinavia? Having trade nodes be set at the beginning of the game defeats the point of playing as whoever you want wherever you want. No matter how great of an empire you create nobody is gonna trade with your capital if you don't have a good node. There can also be a situation where a country is split between two nodes that do not connect (Like Naples) and all that can be said is "well unlucky".

Europocentrism
When it comes to favourable treatment Europe gets the best deal. This is the home to all the end nodes, has chains of TC regions leading from anywhere and good paths from the New World. EU4 is supposed to be a game where you play as a country of your choosing so why is having trade center in Europe always the best option? What makes it so important, that an Asian empire will go from their go homeland into Europe rather than the other way around?

There isn't much diplomacy but the local one
There really isn't much point in caring how the rest of the world is doing. There isn't a way to trade wealth with far away countries, so unless you are (relatively) close to some other country, you might as well ignore it's existence. Asia will always only care about Asia. Japan has a full incident dedicate to trade with Europeans and it doesn't do anything more than give a modifier, Spanish, Portuguese, the Pope or Golden Horde empire it does not matter who visits. As long as you can't trade with someone long distance diplomacy will be based on two questions "Will I conquer them anytime soon?" and "Will they plan to conquer me?".

And quite obviously navies and naval combat
This could be a thread in itself, but I'll just say, that if trade is just a matter of having trade power in nodes and it only brings ducats, then there is no point in defending it. If someone chooses to block you for few years, then why bother doing something about it? Current system just makes it impossible for navies to be useful and if they aren't useful, then nobody has them sufficiently financed and up to date. Just put them to auto hide during wars and done.

It's just few examples, I am sure many of the lacking features can be traced back to trade. I would love to see a full rework of this system, but realistically speaking it won't happen. So I just hope trade like in EU4 won't appear in any future games, simply because it leads to too much lacking mechanics. It's not even like it is an easy to play with system, it takes a bit of knowledge and works pretty well, but is far from perfect.
 
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3ishop

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I agree with all of it but this:
Arbitrary favourable treatment of some areas
A trade has to come from somewhere to somewhere and the way it's done is sometimes quite unfair. Why can't Japan profit from control over China? Why can't Morocco trade with it's own America? Why some nodes only have a way out? Why can't Russia get ducats from owning Scandinavia? Having trade nodes be set at the beginning of the game defeats the point of playing as whoever you want wherever you want. No matter how great of an empire you create nobody is gonna trade with your capital if you don't have a good node. There can also be a situation where a country is split between two nodes that do not connect (Like Naples) and all that can be said is "well unlucky".

Europocentrism
When it comes to favourable treatment Europe gets the best deal. This is the home to all the end nodes, has chains of TC regions leading from anywhere and good paths from the New World. EU4 is supposed to be a game where you play as a country of your choosing so why is having trade center in Europe always the best option? What makes it so important, that an Asian empire will go from their go homeland into Europe rather than the other way around?

Unless we get region based prices, making it European based fits best. The price of the goods is set according to how much Europe valued it, end nodes in game are where people would have paid the most for the majority of the goods. Supply and demand. We'd really need the ability to move individual goods and have prices set by region for a dynamic system that makes sense.

And quite obviously navies and naval combat
This could be a thread in itself, but I'll just say, that if trade is just a matter of having trade power in nodes and it only brings ducats, then there is no point in defending it. If someone chooses to block you for few years, then why bother doing something about it? Current system just makes it impossible for navies to be useful and if they aren't useful, then nobody has them sufficiently financed and up to date. Just put them to auto hide during wars and done.
The loss of income can be a pain, but it's generally not enough in and of it's self to cause huge problems which isn't right. Blockades should be more impactful.
 
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pheonicia

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I continuously hope that one day the trade system will go the way of base tax and be gutted from the game.
 

mechanical_Critter

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Another problem is how trade can only travel in predetermined directions. There is no way to create a Dutch colonial empire where they control Indonesia, if you don't hold the entire path to it. Who cares how much potential trade value there is, if it's impossible to get it. It would require colonizing the Cape and controlling Ivory coast, but does it really? Why can't I have a mercantilist policy where ships would travel to some part of empire and trade with homeland (maybe only requiring single ports along the way to resupply) without trading all my wealth with everybody else along the way? What stops a merchant vessel from going from the Cape to the Lowlands, why does it have to go through the Ivory Coast no matter what?

All this feels really wrong.

- you can collect anywhere. If you don't want to press that button, it's your issue.
- your cape to lowlands route would naturally pass through Ivory coast, so you'd be at a disadvantage towards traders trading here and there, basically that's well represented (for once).

You don't really have concrete suggestions of improvements, although some of your griefs aren't without any merits.
 
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Cancerofthehead

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A few thoughts:

On Eurocentrism - See history and the game name.

The basic fundamentals of the trade system make many other things necessary. And unless you have an entire large expansion dedicated to replacing the trade system, you will have to work within it.

Bidirectional trade or flexible trade just don’t work in this system. Maybe you could add events to change specific trade routes, say give Japan a mission to control Beijing and trade will flow from Beijing to Nippon, but you would also have to adjust other nodes such that nothing downstream of Japan can possibly flow to Beijing.
 
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Piotrzeci

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On Eurocentrism - See history and the game name.
Europeans were the most successful for other reason than being in the right region to divert trade to. It doesn't really make sense in a game where you are encouraged to play as any country even outside of Europe and are expected to turn it into at least a regional power. If a WC run will have moving capital into Europe to get a better deal in ducats, then there is something wrong with the system.
 
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Blackwhitecavias

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Something else that the system doesn't simulate at all is the general Dutch way of trading (which may or may not differ from other countries) in both Asia and Europe. Most of the wealth the Dutch gained didn't come from Asia, but from the Baltic (the baltic trade is called moedernegotie in Dutch meaning mother of all trade) where they traded bulk goods (the most important of which were grain and wood) and became the dominant trading power in the Baltic sea (which did include fighting some wars against the Hansa). This trade made more money for the Republic than the Dutch East India Company (the VOC or United East India Comapany) did even though the Dutch only owned a small part of the trade route (their home soil was part of the route between the Baltic and other areas of Europe). The Dutch East India Company itself also didn't make the majority of their profit by collecting trade in one place or transporting spices to Europe (which they also did, but only with the most expensive spices as the journey was usually just not worth it), but by trading goods between different trading outposts (a lot of which they conquered from the Portugese) across most of Asia.

Most of the Asian trade also became less profitable after the 17th century (among other things due to the closing of the Japanese silver and gold trade and a shift from luxury goods to bulk goods which were less profitable for the VOC.
 
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Piotrzeci

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I remember a similar thread ages ago saying you can't have dynamic trade as trade nodes that loop would generate recursively more massive amounts of money
That's true, nodes have to be planned as to make it impossible to create a loop
But a trade system doesn't have to have nodes.
 
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Cancerofthehead

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That's true, nodes have to be planned as to make it impossible to create a loop
But a trade system doesn't have to have nodes.

At this point in EU IV’s lifecycle, Paradox is almost certainly not completely replacing such a fundamental system to the game (there is a small chance they could do an expansion dedicated to trade, but that has its own issues).

If you want the trade system to improve, you need to make suggestions on how to improve the current system not just say that they should throw it out and start over.
 
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Ivany

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Maybe the system could maintain nodes and trade flows with the difference that all trade power you hold would flow to you. The only thing that could stop this flow would be the "trade tax" that local provinces would impose on the trade that was flowing through their trade area, and the influence of other countries merchants in deflecting the node's flow to their area instead of yours. This countries tax and merchants deflection could be simulated through a mechanic that switched the 'tag' of the trade power, which would made the trade flow to the home node of the new country it was assigned. It would implicate in a bunch of more calculations, but hopefully it would make the trade flow dynamic without breaking the game with infinity loop spirals, as the trade power would never increase from node to node (like it happens today every time a merchant transfers trade), it would only be diverted.
 

MojaveDreams

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strange I love to trade... The only thing I would change is to make it more competitive.

Dutch english and portugal used to build factories in the spice islands not just take the whole province/country. I think colonial powers should be given a merchant republic ability of trade posts.

It is too easy to get over 1k income from trade as a colonial nation. Also Navies NEED to be more important for trade