A 'Math Trade'? WTF is that?
Tony Ackroyd
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I've been a registered user on BGG for over 4 years now, but up until 4 months ago I had no idea what a Math Trade was. Three Math Trades later and I am an addict.

In Math trades people offer the games they want to trade and then say the games they want to swap for from those on offer. The organiser uses a piece of software to maximise the number of trades.

But surely Math Trades:
1. ....are Scary
2. ....are Complicated
3. ....are hard to join
4. ....involve Math
5. ....are a good way to get a crappy game for a good one
6. ....are only for people in the United States or Canada

No, no, no, no, no and no. This list will tell you why and then analyze a couple of recent Math trades to give you some hints for success.
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Tony Ackroyd
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This Math trade guide will tell you all about Math trades. But I don't advise you to read it. It will scare you.

Math trades are not Scary. They are Easy.:

1. People add games to the list that they want to trade
e.g. Adam adds Puerto Rico, Mack adds Agricola, Susie adds Pandemic

2. People say which games on the list they want
e.g. Adam wants Agricola, Mack wants Pandemic, Susie wants Puerto Rico

3. The moderator runs an algorithm that produces the maximum number of matches
for example:
-> Mack sends Agricola to Adam
-> Adam sends Puerto Rico to Susie
-> Susie sends Pandemic to Mack

4. People send the games to their matches

5. Everyone receives a game that they want for a game that they don't want

6. If no game you wanted matches then you won't send yours - you only trade if you will get a game you wanted.
e.g. Charlie had added Through the Ages to the list and Adam, Mack and Susie had all wanted it. But Charlie didn't want any of their games. Charlie will not trade in this situation.
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2. Board Game: Peanut Butter & Jelly Math [Average Rating:3.50 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
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Math trades are simple for the users:

1. You find a math trade geeklist
2. You add some games to it that you want to trade
3. After the closing date for entries you send a list of the ones you like to the moderator
4. After the closing date for "Want lists" the moderator publishes a list of trades
5. You send your games to the users you are told to
6. You get games that you want
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Tony Ackroyd
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"I never know when Math trades are on".

Thats because they don't show up on the normal geeklists front page. If you subscribe to this thread then you will get a notification geekmail every time a new Math trade is created*.
You can also edit your profile so that trade lists DO show up on the front page by customising your Front Page :
Go to "My Geek", then "Account" and "Customise Front Page". Then you can add, remove and move the different BGG page elements. One of these is "Trade & Auction lists".

* - You have to go and look at the thread - you won't get any more notifications until you do.
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4. Board Game: Lucky Puppy Math [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
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Math trades always seem to include some games that you just can't believe someone has listed. They will be wanted by many, many people. Don't expect to get these. Some *lucky* person might.

But luck doesn't have everything to do with it. If you list games that lots of people want that gives you more chance of being in with a shot for the great games on the list.

And this definately is a might. BGG users aren't daft. They know a rare/valuable game and they will only want to trade it for something that they really want. So they'll probably have a short list of Want games that they will trade it for. So there is a fair chance that some of these Most Wanted games won't trade at all.

See below for an example of what happened to the most wanted games in a math trade.
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5. Board Game: Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays [Average Rating:8.76 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.76 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
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There are a few ways that you can optimise your Math Trade Wants lists. But I wouldn't bother with them on your first try. I don't think they make a very big difference compared to the games you are Listing and the Wants you list.

Dummy Lists: These are a way of avoiding getting 2 of the same game back if multiple entries of a game are available. But you are unlikely to get 2 of the same game anyway - unless no-one else wants it.

Prioritisation: You can use some notation to make some games higher priority for you than others. But the algorithm places less weight on these than on maximising trades, so they probably make a minor or no impact on the results.
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6. Board Game: Skim Math: Subtraction [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
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Don't enter a Math trade hoping for a miracle.
If you list crappy games then people won't want them, so they won't trade.
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7. Board Game: Team Work: Mathematik [Average Rating:6.08 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
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Math trades are a mixture of Magic and Teamwork.
How else can you explain a few pages on the internet meaning that hundreds of people send away a game they didn't like and instead receive a game they do?
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8. Board Game: Traveler Traders [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
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"Trading on BGG, especially Math trades, is only for Americans"

Not true - although the majority of it is (in the US and Canada). There is now a bi-monthly European Math trade run in an extremely professional and open manner by:
Christopher Gritt
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These European Math trades don't attract as many users as the US Math trades, but the November 2008 one had 257 games in it, added by 135 different users. Thats a decent size.

There is also a bi-monthly UK Math trade run by:
Russell Martin
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Sign up -> here

In addition Fishious has run a European Math Trade and mikehibbert was running a bi-monthly european Wargame Math trade (but this seems to have died off)
marijn vis
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mike hibbert
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Its just a shame he is an Arsenal supporter.

I've also seen Canadian, Brazilian, Polish, German and Australian math trade threads. These may or may not be regular and there are probably other countries with their own math trades going on.
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9. Board Game: Open Numbers Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
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All these European Math Trades are run in a very open way with the Trades & Want lists published in the geeklist headers. Heres an example

This is great for trust, understanding and post-trading statistical analysis! There are some published stats:

Num trades = 104 of 264 items (39.4%)
Total cost = 1483 (avg 14.26)
Num groups = 6
Group sizes = 81 7 6 4 3 3
Sum squares = 6680

Groups are the number of 'trade loops', e.g. where A->B->C->D->A
I don't know what Sum squares is in this context.
These math trades are run with an algorithm called Trade Maximiser. I have no idea what it does or how it works, but I don't need to.

I can do some nice analysis of the other data.....
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10. Board Game: Early Birds [Average Rating:2.00 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
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Any Advantage in Listing Early?
So I wondered whether games that get onto the Math Trade list early get more people Wanting them....

Math Trade List Average Number of Wants per game: 9.7
Page 1 Average Wants: 13.8

Hey that looks pretty significant!

Okay, what about first half of the list compared to the second half:

First Half Average Wants/game: 10.1
Second Half Average: 9.3

Hmmm...not so clear cut.

Okay then, last page: 18.1

Okay, so no clear answer there. Potentially the first and last pages of the geeklist get more Wants. But more data and analysis needed.
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11. Board Game: Scrapyard Wars [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
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Math Trade Unwanted
Okay so what stuff (in Europe) wasn't wanted at all? This is the games that not one of the other 133 traders wanted. There are 73 games here which explains a significant chunk (nearly half) of the games that didn't trade.
If you want to be a success at trading don't add stuff like this:

555 Magic: The Gathering cards + 300 OverPower cards
Adel Verflichtet
Advanced Tobruk System Basic Game 1a - Screaming Eagles + Sniper 2nd Edition
Battlegames in Middle-Earth 1
Beus Vult
Cairo + Obscura Tempora
Catan: Seafarers + Catan: Cities and Knights
Chez Geek + My Dwarves Fly + Igels: Das Kartenspiel + Kollier
Clans
Cranium
Das Geheimnis von Mont Saint Michel
D-Day Rangers
Der Fliegende Hollander + Goldrush-City
Downtown + Lift Off
Drunter und Druber
Dungeons and Dragons Board Game
Dungeons and Dragons Board Game
Dungeons and Dragons Board Game
Dungeons and Dragons Boardgame [yep, so 4 copies]
Extreme Rock Climbers
Facts in Five
Flight Leader
Games Master International Magazine 1-14
Give me the Brain + Ruhe in Frieden + Gold und Rum
Go- the International Travel Game
Hector and Achilles
Hellas + Bloody Legacy + 3 PS2 games
Hellas + Dolce Vita + Monster & Mythen
Hellas + Nuggets
Ideology: The War of Ideas
Image
In the Shadow of the Emperor
Industria + Wo Ist Jack the Ripper
Kings and Things + Conquest of Space
Kogworks
Konig der Maulwurfel
Kontor + Architekton
Krone & Schwert
Kuhhandel
Kunstmarket
Lord of the Rings
Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation
Mah-Jongg + Phase 10
MBT
Meridian
Metro
Monty Python and the Holy Grail CCG
Munchkin Impossible + bookmark + silver coin
Navel Battles + Vive Le Roi
New York Chase
Once Upon a Time + Munchkin 1 & 2
Pass the Bomb
Phase Line Smash
Poleconomy
Roadkill
Runebound 1st Edition
Santy Anno
Scandaroon + Atlanteon
Scotland Yard
Settlers of Catan Card Game
Speed Circuit
Star Munchkin + bookmarks + D10
Starfareres of Catan Figures
Statis Pro Basketball + Pro Tennis
Streetcar
Tempus
The Game of Nations
The World at War
Time Pirates + Election Day
Tongiaki + Porca Miseria
Tycoon
Way Out West
Western Fron Tank Leader + Juggler's Jam

I think its pretty safe to assume that "Sweetners" don't necessarily help much either.
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12. Board Game: Last one Left [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
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Hardly Wanted
And these ones only 1 person said they wanted:

Agricola X Deck
Agricola X-Deck
Australia
California
Caveman
Das Prestel Architekturspiel
Intrigue
Invasion Sicily
Mesopotamia
Modern Navel Battles + Modern Navel Battles 2
Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper + Shazamm! + Hector and Achilles + Atlanteon
New England
San Juan
Settlers of Catan
Settlers of Catan + Stoplights
Settlers of Catan Card Game + Razzia + Zooloretto Building Sites + Robotics tiles + 50 wooden cubes + Carcassonne Scout
The Gardens of Alhambra
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13. Board Game: The Game of Top Ten Lists [Average Rating:6.75 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
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Most Wanted
Whereas here are the Top Ten, with the number of traders who wanted them:

111 Ghost Stories
84 Galaxy Trucker
83 Memoir '44 + M44 Eastern Front + M44 Winter/Desert Board
79 Imperial
71 Tribune: Primus Inter Pares
71 Factory Fun
61 Runebound 2nd Edition
59 Kingsburg + Caylus Magna Carta
46 Race of the Galaxy
44 Ra
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14. Board Game: Aftermath [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
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What Happened Next
So we already saw that of the 264 games on the list 104 of them (39%) traded.

3 out of the Top Ten did not trade. This includes the top 2 most wanted games: Ghost Stories and Galaxy Trucker.
Ghost Stories didn't trade because the person trading it only put down one game that they would trade it for: Cuba.
The guy trading Cuba didn't see anything he liked so didn't put down anything.
Galaxy Trucker didn't trade because the person trading that only put down one game that they would trade it for: Ghost Stories.

Kind of ironic. If the Cuba guy had put Galaxy Trucker down then they would have all traded with each other.

The other 7 games in the top ten did trade and all of them traded with games outside of the top ten. The least wanted game directly involved with one of these seven was a game that was wanted by 4 people: Lifeboats.

So I guess the lesson here is that if you want one of the Most Wanted games then you have to put in games that a good few people will want.
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15. Board Game: Dracula: The game to play before the game [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
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Most Wanted from the previous European Math Trade
This is the Top Ten from the previous math trade.

76 Betrayal at House on the Hill
61 Battlelore + Call to Arms + Epic Adventures
61 Wilderness War
55 Shadows over Camelot
46 Mare Nostrum + Mythology expansion
45 Thebes
44 Prophecy
43 Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage
43 Friedrich
42 Imperial

If any US or Canadian Math Trade organisers want me to have a go at analyzing their trades then if you geekmail me the list of games and the list of wants then I can put them through the same process.
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Tony Ackroyd
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Other trade types: Ultimate trades
Hey, Math trades sound great, but are there any other types of trades?

Yep, Ultimate trades are a way of producing a trade loop through a geeklist. You can see the live ones on this thread (mostly US).
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Tony Ackroyd
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Other trade types: Chain of Generosity
And this thread lets you see the ongoing Chains of Generosity.
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Tony Ackroyd
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This other geeklist is also useful reading....
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Tony Ackroyd
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This is a great geeklist that shows you how to use the OLWLG (On Line Want List Generator) Tool. I haven't used it yet, but it looks great!

Update: Have now used it several times. Its a bit clunky for the user but does have some significant advantages, not least in showing the trades you have opted for in a summary which points out any illogical choices.
It does seem that OLWLG makes running a maths trade much easier for the co-ordinator.

Big tip for first time users: don't forget to press the green "submit my wants list" button. This does not appear until the list has been closed for additions (but still open for Want List submissions), so it is easily missed.
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Tony Ackroyd
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Just found these. There are video tutorials on:

Part 1: How to find Math Trades and adding items
Part 2: Adding items via the OnLine Want List Generator (OLWLG)
Part 3: Editing your want list in the OLWLG
Part 4: Duplicate Protection in the OLWLG
 
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Tony Ackroyd
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Another guide list which accompanies a mock maths trade - which is still open as I add this item, so if you want to try a Math trade with no strings attached give it a go here:

Learn to be a Math Trader - Mock Math Trade
 
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Tony Ackroyd
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Some very interesting analysis of a New Zealand Maths Trade
 
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Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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Cool and considered Math trade guide with examples.
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  • [+] Dice rolls
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