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Subject: Beating The Nemesii rss

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Agent J
United States
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
This... is Container: The Second Shipment.

I was gifted with the opportunity to play out a game of Container in its entirety online versus two of my nemesii, Zebedee and
Dave Dyer
United States
Playa Del Rey
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, one of whom you may know from this site.

The brilliant thing is that all Container games are saved and available for review. This was my 18th play of Container, 14 of which have been on, most of which have been with ddyer and Bobc, who was the fourth player. I believe I've played 4 games against Zebedee. Bobc is not a nemesis because ddyer tends to win our online games.

I think the last time we played, Dumbot played as #5 and Zebedee won.

Well, there's your background. Player order went Zebedee, ddyer, Bobc, Jythier.

Zeb started with an orange(O) factory and quickly build a dark beige (DB) factory and produced, pricing at 2 for the o's and 3 for the db. Ddyer (LB Machine start) followed up with a warehouse and 3/4ing Zeb's O's.
Bobc(W machine start) grabbed a light beige(LB) machine and picked up the 3 O from Ddyer.

Now, my first thought here was, you're the fourth player, Jay. You have a producer, a warehouser, and a shipper in front of you. Nothing you do can possibly go well, you'll only flood the market. I was right of course. I was already off the pace. I started with a black machine, and I decided to grab a dark beige machine and produce, as it was the best option I had. Since I'm planning to ship here, fall in as the second shipper, I'm good with this – more goods for the warehousers to choose from means more likely they'll pick them up.

To help bump it along I price both produced goods at $2, which bumps my starting B to $3 due to monopoly rules. I hate monopoly rules.

Well, Zebedee was sitting on almost full starting capital after his sale so he throws in for a W machine, and produces even more goods, producing and pricing at $2. Ddyer buys yet another warehouse and pull over my $2 DB and B, selling for $3 and $4 respectively. Bobc buys a warehouse and 3/4's a W and O from Zeb.

Since I've got the extra action, I go ahead and produce and price at $2 again, and then go shopping at ddyer's harbor store, picking up the B and DB I had just sold him. I'm very partial to assisting those who buy from me to want to buy again from me.

Zeb hits up Bob's Discount Harbor store for his O and W, likely thinking the same as me – buy from those who buy from you. Then, he produces again and prices all at $2 (W,O,DB). Ddyer immediately gets a fourth warehouse and buys out Zeb's factory store, W/DB/O and prices the W at $3, the rest at $4. Bob grabs an orange machine and produces, pricing a W at $1, the rest at $2.

I still have a DB and two B on my factory store, so I trade up to a golden luxury container (L). I price it at $2 with my black because I'm now a shipper and don't plan to produce much anymore. I move my ship and we have the first auction.

If you've been following along, you'll know that Bob has $2, ddyer has $2, and Zebedee has $9. Zebedee... wasn't following along.
Bids come back for the DB and B, 7/2/2, and I sell to Zebedee. Profit from shipment - $7. To be fair, those were worth $10 on the island for Zeb, so he made out with $3 with no actions. Not too shabby.

Zeb went to the island with O/W, and I had an idea. The containers were worth $10 to me, he had paid $7 to get them, but I had an idea what the bids would be - $2/$2. So instead of my usual $7 bid for this sort of shipment, I dropped to $6. I probably could have gone down to $5. (Remember, you're still bidding against the shipper!) That gave me +$4 without an action and him +$5 from shipping. This may have been the turning point in the game. Zeb and I were cash flush. Ddyer repriced his warehouse DB down to $3 and passed, effectively having nothing else to do! Tempo regained on one opponent, at least. Bob went to the island with O, my $10. Zeb and I both bid $3 on it and I upped to $4 and got it, temporarily rebalancing my island in a bad way.

I moved my ship over to Ddyer and bought a couple warehouse goods, paying $6 for W/DB. At this point I don't have a good idea of what will ship for high values, so I just bought the cheapo goods. Maybe he had priced them to get them to the island quicker!

Zeb bought a warehouse and bought LB/W from Bobc for $4, pricing at $4 each. Ddyer bought my factory goods, L & B for $4, and priced all at $4. He shipped into Zeb and bought just the W for $4. Bob produced and priced W at $1, and LB/O/O/W at $2, and put his ship to sea.

I went to the island with DB/W. Cash positions for Zeb/Ddyer/Bob were $11/$1/$12, bids $3/$1/$6. I took the $6 and was happy because that kept me the 50% margin percentage.

Zeb went to sea and produced (W, DB, O) pricing at $2. Ddyer went to the island with a white. Here was a chance to rebalance my island. Cash positions for Bob/me/Zeb were $6/$27/$10, bids $2/$4/$2. Ddyer took my $4. Strange how the containers together were would have been worth $6 to me, but buying them separately I was willing to spend $4 for an O and $4 for a W, for $8. This is interesting to me as it may mean there's some sort of profit reduction from shipping multiple goods. I'll look at this through the rest of the game. I will notice this later in the game.

Bob invests in a warehouse and takes a loan, which I fund. His second action was to buy goods from Zeb, O, DB, W, for $6 and price at $3(O) and $4 (DB/W).

For the first time in the game, I have an actual decision to make with regards to shipping. Bob's store has slightly cheaper goods, Ddyer has the luxury good. Looking back I should have gone with the guy who was buying from me. I went to Bob's and bought all three warehouse goods for $11... maybe best because he was the one who owed me money. This dropped my cash to $2 but that was okay, because nobody else could ship before me at this point.

Zeb produced W/DB/O and priced at $2, then paid $12 to get the L/O/DB from ddyer's harbor store. He couldn't afford the last good. Ddyer bought W/O/LB from Bob and priced the O at $3, the rest at $4, then moved his ship to sea. Bob bought a warehouse and bought harbor goods from Zeb, pricing O/DB at $3 and W/O at $4.

I eyed those goods but I didn't think we were ready for a 5-good load. So I went to the island with my W/DB/O. Cash positions were Zeb/Ddyer/Bob $11/$16/$6. Bids came back $0/$7/$6. $7!!! What the heck. Suddenly, the shipping business didn't look so hot. $3 profit for me but only $1 for him... still, not a good load with only a 27% margin.

Zeb bought an extra W for his ship, and then produced, pricing at $2. Ddyer shipped into Bob's store and bought the O/DB for $6, then back to sea. Then Bob produced (O at $1, rest at $2) and bought warehouse goods from Zeb for $4, O/DB, priced at $3.

I went to Bob's store and bought the O/DB. This was the right move because we just weren't ready for 3-good shipments when 2-good shipments were the most profitable. I needed to come up with a better mix for my 3-good ships.

Zeb produced ($2) and his overloaded ship went to sea. Ddyer bought the $1 good from Bob and priced it at $3, then moved his O/DB ship to auction. Cash positions Bob/Jay/Zeb $13/$15/$9, bids came in at $6/$5/$0. That gave Bob a 6 and a 4. Bob turned in goods for a L and then produced, his factory looking like $1 O, $2 LB/LB/W/W/L. Then he bought warehouse goods from Zeb for $4, pricing the W/DB at $3.

I went to the island with my O/DB and requested bids. Cash positions were Zeb/Ddyer/Bob $13/$20/$1, bids $0, $4, $1. $4!!! For two goods! That's a one-good bid. It was time to send a message that these low bids were unacceptable. I bought the goods myself, tanking my island for the moment.

Zeb produced, pricing at $3. This was, I believe, a mistake. The goods were not going well on the island, there's no purpose to buying at that expensive from the factories at this point. He then shipped to the island with his monster W/O/DB/L $16-cost ship. Cash positions were Ddyer/Bobc/Jay $20/$1/$13, and the bids came in at $11/$10/$1. Zeb was forced to take the $22 (profit of $6 on 4 goods – not too great!) for the same 27% margin as I got earlier. The goods actually didn't help Ddyer as much as his $11 bid would insist – only $10 up in island score.

The island was not ready for 4-good shipments.

Ddyer went to Bob and, recognizing the problem, only bought the $3 W/DB, leaving the $4 goods to rot on the dock. Nobody wanted to ship even 3 goods in this economy. Bob shot right back and bought O/O out of Ddyer's dock for $6 and then went out to sea.

Now, given the low bids on auctions, it was time to change it up a bit, especially since Ddyer and Bob had left me with only $4 goods to buy, and it just wasn't worth it. I bought a warehouse and bought O/L from Bob for $3 and priced them up to $3 and $4.

Zeb put in an O and W for a L, so everything was priced at $3 in his factory. L/O/DB/DB/W sat there gathering dust. He picked up a W from Bob's factory for $2 and priced it at $3, then moved his ship to sea. Ddyer grabbed a black machine and produced LB/B pricing the B at $2 with the other LB already there, the B at $3. Bob immediately picked up both his $2 items and priced them at $4, repricing an O to $3, and then moved to auction. Cash positions were Jay/Zeb/Ddyer $8/$33/$6, with bids of $0/$0/$4. Another crummy auction, but you can't expect much better with OO on your ship.

For myself, I shipped it over to Zeb's dock and picked up the cheap goods there. I wasn't going to ship more than 2 goods anyway, though I might have had more success going to Bob's dock and grabbing LB/O/W, as those were all three missing from Zeb's island. Zeb just had LB/W so at least it would be a little attractive to him.

Zeb moved into Bob's harbor and bought ALL the goods, O/W/LB/B for $16, then produced a single O and repriced everything to $2, save the $3 L. Ddyer took his ship and went to auction with his $6 LB/W. Cash positions were Bob/Jay/Zeb $23/$2/$24. Bob still had a loan from me so I took one from Zeb to supplement, so $23/$12/$14. Bids came out $5/$5/$0, and then $6/$6 on the rebid, and was given to Bob.

Bob bought O/W/DB/DB from Zeb for his harbor store, pricing DB/O for $3 and the others for $4, then producing to get LB $1, W/W/LB/LB/O for $2.

I repaid my loan to Zeb and went to the island with my $7 W/LB. Cash positions were Zeb/Ddyer/Bob $33/$15/$7, with bids coming in at $6 all around, then $8 for Zeb on the rebid. It bumped his island up $10, while giving me a profit of $9, margin of 56%. I've now made $25 shipping to the island, but my island was still a mess.

Mid game analysis!

Zeb is in the lead with $57 score, $20 on the island and $25 in hand with $12 in ship goods. Jay is in second, sitting with a score of $46, $14 on his island and $18 in hand, with 2 harbor goods and a loan out to Bob.. Ddyer has $35, $15 in hand and $16 on the island, and Bob is trailing all with a score of $29, $7 in hand, a loan owed to Jay, $24 on the island and 4 harbor store goods.

There is currently two L's out, and 1 sitting on ddyer's island, which could easily turn into a monster score. Bob has got to get that loan repaid as it's sucking the liquidity out of him. He's had it for 6 turns already.

Production has been kind to Zeb, as he's got 3 machines paid off and $20 profit already and $12 shipping. Shipping is doing it for Ddyer, with $16 profit so far, but little else. Bob can't seem to find any way to make money, and he's sitting on a loan and a bunch of goods. Jay, however, has $25 in shipping income, but a messy island isn't helping matters. The only person who has spent less money for their island than it's worth is Bobc, and that's only a $6 profit. So what needs to happen? Well, it seems more of a problem of the loads we're shipping and who has the money at the time. We haven't really found any load that's worth sending to the island, with a few exceptions, but we need a tri-color load to really get some profit going.

Back to live action!

Zeb produced W/DB/O and priced at $2, then finshed loading his ship into a mega 5-color ship. Ddyer produced, pricing B at $2 and LB/B at $3, then harbored from Bob's factory a W/LB and priced at $2/$3. Bob moved to Ddyer and loaded a W/LB/B load for $11.

It was time for a 3-container load. I hoped. Looking at the lineup, we have a full ship in dock, a ship with 3 in dock. Both are going to get to the island before me, most likely. So that will be two players flush when I get there. So I go to Bob's Discount Harbor and bought O/W/DB for $11.

Zebedee brings his full ship to auction. It's a $30 rainbow ship, but with my island off and only $9 in hand, and Bob's ship able to rebalance my island AND give me all 5 colors, I need to wait. Cash positions are Ddyer/Bob/Jay $22/$12/$9, bids $15/$12/$0. Huge boost for Ddyer, and a problem for Zebedee, because that only gives him $12 profit off an $18 investment!

Ddyer haul in the goods, and then buys more stuff from Zebedee, O/W($2) ,DB($3) for $6 and puts his ship in the ocean. Bob heads for the island.

Cash positions: Jay/Zeb/Ddyer $10/$58/$1, bids $10/$8/$1. Sold for $10 to Jay for $9 profit on the load, and my island jumps from $14 to $46 like that.

Now it's my turn to sell my O/DB/W load. Bob is now flush with the $20 I just gave him, Zeb is still flush, and Ddyer has nothing. The bids come back Zeb $0 Ddyer $1 and Bob $8. $5 profit on the load and his island jumps $14 to $38, giving him a good profit. Him and I have now both made $12 on island purchases, with Ddyer having made $15. It's good to be in the positive again, not so good to be getting stiffed on bids.

Zeb produces and prices at $2, and moves his ship to sea. Ddyer makes an L, produces, and then reprices his W to $3 in the harbor. Bob finally repays me after paying $9 interest on the loan, and then hits up Ddyer's harbor store, buying all but an O for $10.

This stalls me, as I have the only in-stock harbor goods, so I produce, pricing at $2 for DB/B and then moving my ship to sea. I was really upset to have my tempo killed here, but I at least could produce a couple goods.

Here Zeb made a mistake of interface and bought LB/B for $5 from Ddyer when he could have had it for $4. Bummer. Then, he came to my harbor and bought my goodies, O/L for $7. With Bob's ship this hopefully going to end up well, as that would give me the leverage I needed to make Zeb's ship pay off. Ddyer refilled his B/LB and then bought my factory goods to refill his harbor for $4. Bob moved his ship to the auction block.

Cash positions: Jay/Zeb/Ddyer $38/$47/$10. Load is LB/W/DB. Worth $12 to me currently. Bids came back $8/$0/$7 and I get it, with $6 profit going to Bob, $4 to me.

I notice something here. Bob's island has no LB/B goods. In Zeb's warehouse is LB/B for $7. Good load right there. He doesn't have many containers on the island yet, so it won't help him much, but he'll THINK it's helping him more than it is. So I grab them, then refill my harbor store with the same load.

Zeb buys W/O from Bob and heads to the sea. Ddyer picks up the W/O from Zeb and then went back to sea. Bob went to sea and then to my harbor and bought me out. I hit the ocean and then the auction.

This load cost me $7, Cash positions Zeb/Ddyer/Bob $57/$7/$15, target Bob. Bids: $6/$6/$8. Success! $9 profit to me, $4 profit to Bob as his island jumps $12.

Zeb produces a single DB and then hits the island with his L/O load costing him $7. Cash positions Ddyer/Bob/Jay $7/$7/$44, bids all $6, rebid all $7, goes to me for $7 profit, $5 profit to me on the island.

Ddyer produces and hits the island like a hurricane of W/O goods. Zeb doesn't bid and Bob and Jay's bids are $7 each, Ddyer sells to Bob who heads to the island. New cash positions: Jay/Zeb/Ddyer $37/$71/$20, bids come in for the B/LB load at $7/$6/$7, upping to $8 for Jythier on the rebid, winning them for an $8 profit to him and a $6 profit to me.

I've now made a 32% margin on my island purchases. For comparison, Zeb's at 25%, Bob's at 36%, and Ddyer's at 29%. But as they say, it is not the margin but the volume. I've made $27 on these actionless profits, Zeb $5, Ddyer $15, and Bob $23.

I hit the sea and head to Ddyer's place for a bit of O/B/DB for $12. Zeb restocks his harbor store from Ddyer with a LB and a B at $4 and goes to sea. Ddyer restocks his harbor from Zeb, DB/W/O/O for $8, pricing at $3 for O and $4 for the others, and heads to sea. Bob heads to Ddyer's store to pick up those goods for $11, O/W/DB.

I predictably auction. Cash postions: Zeb/DDyer/Bob $75/$39/$5. Target: $12 bid for 50% margin. Bids: $10/$10/$5, rebid: $12/$12. Woohoo! Take the money and give the goods to Zebedee. This doubled his island score to $40, so $8 profit to him and $12 to me. I've now made $51 on shipping.

Zeb produces and makes most goods $2 – W/DB/DB/L, and $3 for O. His ship hits Ddyer's store to pick up a single O for $3. Ddyer grabs the DB/DB/W/L combo from Zeb for $8 and prices them all at $4, then goes to Zeb's harbor and buys B/LB for $8. Bob ships his lovely DB/W/O containers to the auction.

Cash positions: Jay/Zeb/Ddyer $42/$75/$26, all more than enough for this load. Bids: $9/$0/$8. I really why Zebedee didn't use his money all game. He's sitting on plenty of it, and there must have been a load he could have, as a warehouser, put together in order to make him happy. Regardless, I take the goods for a $7 profit to Bob, and a $3 profit to me.

Keep in mind though, that right now I'm set up to throw away my 5 white $6 containers. I have 3 $2 containers (DB). It's time to act irrationally. I go to Ddyer's harbor and pick up my dream load – DB/DB/L. I suppose the L wasn't really necessary, but it didn't hurt.

Zeb produces, and we're down to 1 container left for W/DB and 0 left for O. So if Bob produces, it's over. Zeb hits the sea. Ddyer does the same but to the island. It's a B/LB combo and everyone is over $20. Bids come out, and Zeb bids $6, I $7, Bob $8. $8 for Ddyer, $4 for Bob.

Bob moves his ship to sea and passes. I think he wants a shot at the O boat. Scores right now are Jay $127, Zeb $117, Ddyer $108, Bob $91.

I go to auction. Here's how it plays out. If Zeb takes it, his island goes from $40 to $26. If Bob takes it, his island goes from up $2. If Ddyer takes it, his island goes up $6. The bid... is 0's. Rebid. 0's. I take them. My island goes up $30 as I now throw away 5 2's instead of 5 6's ($24) plus get a second L for $6. That's equivalent to getting a $15 bid, but without an opponent getting any points.

Zeb ships the orange and Bob buys it for $4, no other bids, and restructures his island to get $12 out of that $4 bid, for $8 profit, with $5 profit to Zeb.

That was it... Ddyer produced, Bob produced to end the game.

Final scores:

Island scores:

I made $48 on just island purchases alone. I made $51 on shipping. Between warehousing and machines, I made $7. I actually collected that much on loans.

Zeb was really the powerhouse behind production, but he wasn't able to turn it into profitability because Bob was selling so low. Bob made no money from production at all. Zeb made $37 over cost from spending $29. Zeb also made $35 shipping.

Ddyer was the powerhouse behind warehousing, making $29 but was almost always short for auctions. He managed $31 out of shipping.

Poor Bob moved a lot of merchandise through factories and warehouses, but never actually made much out of it. He did make $37 shipping, and $35 on the island. He's my counterexample to the volume seller – if you invest heavily, and then move stuff through your machines and warehouses by pricing low, you will barely make back your investment. It's not worth it, and you're always not liquid enough because you have too much money in goods. If he had stuck to what he was good at, shipping and islanding, he would have had given me a run for my money for sure, as even more I would have had less opportunities to ship, particularly with him being my RHP.

What else did we learn? Well, I think in this particular case, we had lower value on the island container bids, so there was not a big inflationary push. Big loads did come but they always do, and it's usually a rebalance and unrepeatable. I do think the shipping picture changes throughout the game, but that everyone has to keep shipping in order for the economy to move. There really is no good balance between the roles, and we certainly didn't find it this time, but I believe that they were keeping me from running away with it throughout most of the game, so the final scores, even with a dedicated shipper, ended up not too far off. A good load at the end really put the nail in the coffin, but it was close before that. The loan didn't pay off for Bob, but it sure did on my end, and being able to find just a couple really good loads during the game is all that pushed me ahead of the other players. That, and keeping the liquidity necessary to bid on the auctions, which were extremely profitable due to the low bids.

The game can be reviewed in it's entirety on It is game “CO-Zebedee-ddyer-bobc-Jythier-2012-03-09-0206” and boy was it a blast to play. Thanks guys!
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Agent J
United States
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
The overall feel of this game is that it's an economic system, and to me that makes it a numbers game, and if I play it like a numbers game I'm going to end up doing well. For others, the game could be about controlling the tempo, and maybe it is. I've heard it said that it sometimes makes sense to buy for $4 and price for $3, but I maintain that losing $0 is a better score than losing $1. If you can turn that good you sell out of your warehouse into another player losing more money or losing enough volume that you come out ahead, or you can make more money on the shipment of said good, yeah, it can make sense. But in the end it's just a cost of doing business and making more profit in the end, and that's certainly a part of the game I'm playing. Lose now, win big later. It's one of the reasons my RL company sells to the OEMs with little margins – there's volume, which decreases costs, and it's like someone paying you to advertise your products to the aftermarket, where there are big margins. You can do one thing in order to make money with another thing.

The pricing part of this game can make a huge difference. You're basically playing a co-op game all the time. You co-op with your similar suppliers to hold prices, you co-op with your customers by giving them a price low enough that they get a cut of the profit too. If you miss this cooperative attitude, you end up in a game with high prices or low prices, depending on which side you refuse to cooperate with. Warehouse prices are more volatile because it's free to reprice, and shippers usually win out because of this. Bidding low takes away your ability to invest your money into the island. I find I can usually keep pace with them as long as I'm only bidding what they paid to get the load to the island. Above that and it's a big load, or someone is intentionally inflating the economy. If the economy gets to the point where it's so inflated that singles are worthless, though, you may end up in the situations that others talk about, where tempo and signaling is all that matters.. My problem with that hypothesis is that it tends to come to the conclusion that tempo and sending signals is all that matters, when in reality, the only thing that matters is the final score, which is made up of slowly increasing your value, which tempo can slow down and signaling well can speed up, but so pricing correctly can speed up, and getting cheap goods through shrewd bidding can also speed up, and overbidding can slow down while speeding up your opponents. My thought is that they have played so much that the rest of the game is so ingrained into them as to become meaningless due to repeatedly doing the same thing. Perhaps I'm wrong, and nothing matters but tempo and signaling. I'll just have to keep playing until I can find out. If I can win without slowing down the others, but by helping them flourish ALMOST as much as I have, then I'll feel I've played a much better game than if I endeavor to halt their progress and succeed.
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