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SeaFall» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Trade Strategy [non-spoiler information only] rss

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Becq Starforged
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How effective will trade be at generating income? Let's take a look.

At it's simplest, trade (for income) involves pairing up a buy action (spend 6 gold to gain 2 goods) with a sell action (spend 2 goods to gain 12 gold). You can buy/sell fewer goods, but you'd be sacrificing efficiency. So, if we buy then sell two goods, how well do we do? We gain a net 6 gold! Not bad, right? Certainly better than taxation, which is only worth 3...

Well, maybe not. Keep in mind that we probably spent at least two full turns to gain that 6 gold. We did a trade action one turn (sail to goods source, then buy to gain two goods), then did another trade action the second turn (sail to a port, then sell to convert goods to gold). Compare this to a taxation -- we'd still need two turns to get 6 gold (3 gold per taxation), but in this case we are free to use our other action to do anything we want! Perhaps we could use it to reposition our ships for exploration, or even perform a raid (which can be paired with the taxation action, assuming the raider is already in place).

So without any bonuses, trading for income isn't worth doing, due to the "cost" of the actions required. And this only gets worse the further you have to travel to buy or sell goods. If you're thinking about using trade to generate some quick bucks early in the game -- don't, just tax instead. (Exception: if you plan to use the good for trade-in value, then it's worth doing, as long as you have the remaining cash needed.)

With bonuses, this changes. There are a few types and sources of bonuses. You can get bonuses that:
* Decrease the cost to buy, or increase the cost to sell. Better profit margins mean better action economy. If you buy 2 goods for only 4 gold, then sell them for the usual 12 gold, or buy for the usual 6 gold but sell for 14 gold, then you are making 8 gold for two action, which is better than basic taxation.
* Increase the number of goods you can buy or sell in an action. Volume improves the economy of the action. If you buy 3 goods for 9 gold, then sell the 3 goods for 18 gold, that's 9 gold for two actions, instead of 6 gold.
And, of course, if you combine these bonuses, it gets even better. Buy three discounted goods (6 gold) and sell them at an inflated price (24 gold). That's 18 gold for two actions. Much better. (And that's not the best you can get!)

There are several sources of these bonuses, at least that are available at the start of the campaign:
* Event cards can improve the buy or sell price. Making use of this requires timing, but no other investment.
* The Marketplace structure improves all sell actions by +2 gold. It requires an investment to build it, but that investment also brings in +1 glory.
* Advisors. There are a number of trading advisors, granting varied bonuses to both the number of cubes bought or sold, and the price at which goods are bought and sold.

Example: If you pull the -1 cost to buy event card, and have the Dockmaster advisor (and enough hold space), you can buy three goods for 3 gold (total). If you then pull the +1 to sell price event card, have a Market, and use the Master Trader advisor, you can sell those three goods for 33 gold. Profit (with some luck, and some investment in advisors and structures): 30 gold. Throw advisor upgrades (and perhaps other capabilities we haven't seen yet) and trading improves more.

Now you just need to hope that your treasury doesn't get raided. Or buy gun towers!

Other ways to benefit from trade, beyond pure trade for income:
* Trade in the goods for upgrades, structures, or treasures. It's worth noting that goods used this way are worth a net of 5 gold (buy for 3, trade in for 8), even without advisors or structures boosting the value. And action economy improves, since there isn't an action needed to convert the goods to value -- you just spend the good when you perform the build action. Buy-side bonuses still help you here.
* Selling ill-gotten gains. You don't need events or advisors to reduce the cost to buy goods if you use the old five-finger discount. Raid a market to gain 2 (mostly) free goods. Or rob your neighboring proving to grab half their goods. Then when you sell them, the entire value is profit! You still benefit from sell bonuses, as usual. (You can alternatively use these cubes for trade-in value ... but then you wouldn't be using the trade action at all, so that doesn't belong in this guide!)

Most of this is fairly obvious, except perhaps the action cost. Don't forget to factor that in when choosing your strategy!

------------
Advisors

The starting advisors that directly benefit a Trade strategy include:

The Dockmaster (Costs 3, Buy at -1 price, Buy +1 good, Sell +1 good, 1 upgrade slot)
The Master Trader (Costs 3, Sell at +2 price, Sell +1 good, 2 upgrade slots)
The Renowned Merchant (Costs 4, +1 glory for earning 18 gold from selling, sell +1 good, buy +2 good)
The Smuggler (Costs 2, +2 temporary hold when buying, Buy +2 goods)

When trading for income, the first two advisors make an ideal combination, allowing you to buy three goods at a discount, then later sell three goods at an inflated price.

The Smuggler is probably most useful early in the campaign, before you've upgraded your ships into trade vessels. It allows you to buy 4 goods, and store them in a single ship. It's not clear how often it will be possible to buy four goods at a single island. However, you can use this advisor when you have ships at two islands, and one of them already has cargo. The empty ship can buy two goods, and the full ship can buy another two goods, overfilling its hold. (As long as he is not required to check his hold size due to damage or inventory change, he doesn't lose this extra cargo -- but make your way to a friendly warehouse as quickly as possible just in case!)

The Renowned Merchant provides a Trade for Glory strategy as an alternative or supplement to trading for income. If you use her to sell your goods, you won't get quite as much cash as you would have with the Master Trader, since she doesn't have the +2 to sale price. Instead, you'll get +1 glory when selling three goods (or possibly when selling two goods, if you have a marketplace and a trading event bonus). This is a very good deal -- you can't often convert 6 gold (reduced profit) to 1 glory, especially without requiring additional actions!

Note that with or without the Renowned Trader, you will need to find ways of converting your stacks of cash into Glory. This will most likely involve upgrading your ships, building structures, or buying treasures. So a Trade strategy pairs well with a Build strategy...

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Bilal Muaqat
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Will probably spend the first few games getting a feel for the various guilds rather than dedicating myself to either raid or trade.

As the advisors etc will get more powerful it will allow later games to be more focused and tailored depending on what is available.

I can rely on at least one of my players to be hard raid and another to be hard trade so I will get to witness both strats being played to their full extent... so I figure initially I will go full explore!
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Becq Starforged
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In a 3-player game, that sort of specialization might work. Just keep in mind, though, that the Trader will run out of goods to buy, and may turn to exploration to locate new markets. And the Raider only has so much enmity to spread around. At some point he's going to realize that the islands are heavily defended against him, and may turn to exploration as an alternative -- since he'll have destroyed trading opportunities.

I'd say feel free to specialize, but stay flexible and keep your options open.
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Becq Starforged
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(Added a section on advisors)
 
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Kelly

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Something that you appear to be overlooking (maybe I missed it) is that when you hire the Merchant's build you can take 2 of the 3 actions. Meaning, if you plan properly you can buy with one ship and sell with the other. It takes a bit more effort to get this to work properly, but it increases early trading efficiency significantly when done properly.
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Keith Pishnery
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You don't do 2 actions per ship, so there's no way to buy with one ship, transfer to another ship and sail somewhere to sell it. You can certainly buy at an island and then sell it right back if they have a market you can use, but you can't do any transferring on the same turn, as that would be 3 actions.
 
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Becq Starforged
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If you meant that one ship might buys then sails, while the other ship sells then sails, then Keith is right. You have to choose one of the three actions and perform it (possibly using both ships), then choose a second action and perform it (possibly using both ships).

One fairly useful option would be to split a buy or sell action between two ships. For example, I expect a common first round prologue turn will be to sail (move the slow ship to the first island and the fast ship to the second island) then buy (nab the initial good on each island, one per ship. The following turn would likely be a sail (move the ships home) followed by upgrade, build, or sell. You can do this sort of action effectively later in the game, too, and will likely be necessary to making the most out of advisors with buy bonuses.

With the traders guild, I believe you will typically be doing a buy+sail or a sell+sail. There are certainly exceptions where you might manage to get a ship with goods to a market and an empty ship to a supplier at the end of one turn, then do a buy and sell on the following turn, but a large part of trading is going to be relocating the goods (I think).

(Edited for correcting my phone's autocorrect, plus some rephrasing.)
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Becq Starforged
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By the way, it looks to me as though it might be more common than I thought to be able to pick up multiple goods with a single ship at a single island. Of the set of stickers known to be used for island sites, more than half are goods producers. So it may not be all that rare to have three or four assorted goods produced on each island, once fully explored.

Obviously, if there are additional stickers, then the mix may change...
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Jason Pisani
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Your economic evaluation is good. The upgrades for your ships, appelations, and advisors change that math for future games. Trading in future games is a viable way to gain income.
 
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Chris P
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Some nice inputs here and thank you for that! I've been playing this game as a merchant and doing my best to see how well it will go. I've yet to win a game or even be close to winning but not doing horrible. I am the only one in my game doing any trading, the other 3 players are exploring and raiding which, like you said, is more fun. You get to read stuff in the captains log and travel the world. However, as the merchant I am going to the first 2-3 islands and just buying, selling and building things. Not winning anything and possibly not having as much fun as the others but I'm hoping that since I am the only one upgrading the ships sail and hold that I'll be able to pull ahead in later games.

I'm just worried about the pirates, we just added the event card where the pirates raid half your gold. This only affects me which sucks but it is what it is and it's difficult to plan with.
 
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Becq Starforged
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We haven't been hit by that card yet (might want to throw some spoiler tags around it), but then again I'm fairly sure we've only seen about half or less of the event cards we've added. That said, event cards generally take place at the end of the round their drawn in, so you have some reaction time. So if the card gets pulled, you can always fall back on buying a treasure, then choose Builder's Guild, and upgrade a ship (if a ship is somewhere with a dock) and build a structure. In my experience, it's the player pirates that are a bigger threat when you sell a pile of goods.

Oh, and obviously a lot of the details above will change as you unlock more of the game ... but I would say that the core principles are still reasonably true.
 
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Nathanaël Dufour
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Becq wrote:
Raid a supply source to gain 2 (mostly) free goods.


Wait, isn't that only for raiding Markets ?
 
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Becq Starforged
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Yup! Corrected it. (I thought I had already corrected it long ago, but I guess not!)
 
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atog n
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Quick question,

How do you usually balance between buying advisors and goods in the beginning? Like if your starting gold is 8, Do you just use reputation for any advisor that comes up in the first two rounds?

Also with Market, do you recommend always selling? Since the discount (8) is equal the the sell price anyway. I guess it comes down to if it is action-efficient. (using as discount doesn't cost actions)
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Frank Pelkofer
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atog wrote:
Quick question,

How do you usually balance between buying advisors and goods in the beginning? Like if your starting gold is 8, Do you just use reputation for any advisor that comes up in the first two rounds?

Also with Market, do you recommend always selling? Since the discount (8) is equal the the sell price anyway. I guess it comes down to if it is action-efficient. (using as discount doesn't cost actions)


The goods only come out once every 6 turns. And you have to sail to them. Depending on the turn order, your friends might buy them all before you can even get to them. It is possible for the advisers to run out in some games and you don't want to pass on one that is essential to your plans. But, in general, I think it's best to grab the cubes early if you can.

I think a strong early play is to spend reputation on an adviser who gives bonuses to buying or selling and then converting as much of your cash into cubes as you can. This gives you a lot of options on what to do with the rest of the year and it limits the options of your friends.

Please note that cubes provide a discount of 8 on purchasing buildings, upgrades, and treasures. But, they sell for 6. So, it is significantly better to use the cube as a discount than to sell it. If I can do a sail, buy 3 (with an adviser) on turn one, then sail and sell 2 on the 2nd turn, I should be set up to get a great upgrade or building on turn 3. If I get lucky, I can get enough bonuses to spend turn 3 doing a build and an upgrade. It's 3 turns for 2 glory, but now I'm hopefully on the path to complete a milestone in the 2nd half of the year with my upgraded stuff.
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