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[Guide] Market - scooping up all the pennies

Discussion in 'CivWorld - General Discussions' started by LarryCiv, Jul 13, 2011.

  1. LarryCiv

    LarryCiv Chieftain

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    This is my first attempt at a guide to the market, mostly little things I do to pick up all the pennies other players drop, and eventually controlling the market itself.

    This requires some patience and a considerable amount of time. The goal is to pick up a few hundred gold here and there, and hoping that eventually they add up.

    Here are the categories of things you can purchase with gold, and I will go over each one
    1. Food/Production/Science/Culture
    2. Military
    3. Great Persons
    4. Commodities

    Please note that each game's dynamic is different, so the numbers here are served as examples, and you really have to get a feel for your particular game to determine what you want to do, with regards to pricing.

    If you were to learn one thing, remember: ALWAYS DO THE MATH

    Getting a feel for the market
    It is super important that you know what kind of game you're in. This might mean going into most of the active players' cities to see what they are producing, and anticipate needs. If you go farm when there's too much food in the world, you are not operating at a max efficiency.

    After that, prepare to spend some time monitoring the markets. See where the numbers go, and where it likes to stabilize. Have an internal number you're comfortable with.

    And don't go into the casino with money you cannot afford to lose -- if you can't afford to lose, don't put money on it. In the early game, the market can stay irrational longer than you can be rational!

    Market mechanics
    The market system is based on last buy/sell price. So the simple logic is this:
    Whenever you buy an item, its buy/sell price will go up.
    Whenever you sell an item, its buy/sell price will go down.

    It does not try to find a counterparty for your deal -- meaning effectively you can manipulate the market if you can afford to do so. You are selling to the bank.

    There is a spread to each item -- the difference between the buy price and the sell price. For the top-row items (resources and commodities) the spread is small, and basically if you buy and then sell back to back, you'll effectively break even (sometimes you lose $1, maybe due to rounding).

    Now try buying the same item multiple times in succession, its price will go up a few increments. Now try to sell the same item multiple times. Its price will go down.

    So this is the takeaway about the market mechanic:
    If you want the price of something to go up, buy it until it's at a price you want it to be!
    If you want the price of something to go down, sell it until it's at a price you want it to be!

    Here's a short example of how to make money:

    Buy price of food = 440. You believe it should be more in the 500 range.
    Buying it 4 times:
    440->463->487->513
    Now the buy price is at 598.

    It costs you:
    440 + 463 + 487 = 1395

    Now player A needs 300 foods:
    A buys it 3 times:
    513->540->568->598
    513 + 540 + 568 = 1621

    Now food is at nearly 600! You can sell it back down to 500:
    (Sell prices is one step down from buy prices)
    568->540->513->487
    So you sell it 3 times for:
    568 + 540 + 513 = 1621

    which is how much player A paid. You just net a cool 220 gold!

    Harvest/trickle resources:
    • :c5food: Food: Growth and people
    • :c5production: Hammer: Buildings and Military
    • :c5science: Science: Research techs
    • :c5culture: Culture: Creating Great Person
    • :c5gold: Gold: Currency

    Now punctuator has a <a href="http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=430544">guide</a> which explains these resources. This guide will try to go into how these things affect the market in particular.

    :c5food: Food. This is useful in one thing only, for growth. How much does your world value growth? An advance scouting will allow you to know who is "close" in popping. Then, when that player comes on, what will he notice? That he will need only X amount of food to pop. The average player will not mind that he is paying an extra few hundred per 100 foods. After all, he is so close! In fact, maybe it's even worth it for him even with the extra cost, depends on the math.

    :c5production: Wars and buildings. Early game there will be plenty of demand as everybody need to build those houses and structure and exploration. If someone's city just grew, they might need to build new houses and structures. At some point there will be more wars. Gauge how blood thirsty your world is! You can scout civs' intent to invade by looking at their civ screen -- they have to vote to go to war! One-sided wars will not do much for business, but given two motivated side with plenty of wonders to lose, everyone will try to one up each other. Prepare for this way in advance by buying hammers when they're cheap, raise the price when the war is starting, and sell when it's high enough.

    :c5science: Science. For science. The hardest part about trading science is if you're not careful, you might actually research something by accident, and everything goes down the pipe! Science actually goes away if you complete something, and all the extra ones are lost. The obvious move here is do the math first to see what you need, and if you have any extra, sell them, even at prices you would consider too low. As soon as the tech unlocks, you can buy the tech back up to where you expect them to be. This one is a little tricky to scout, as players also hide their beakers in other techs so it's not super reliable. If you can somehow anticipate someone's close, you can buy it up and selling it after another civ pops it. You can also easily scout your own civ, but that might be kill a little teamwork. :p

    :c5culture: Culture. This one might be the most unpredictable and hard to scout of the bunch. This is usually relatively cheap, so you can treat it as a commodity for trading, except for properties of a commodity that we'll discuss later. Of course, just remember if you're buying a bunch cheap, don't go over for the Great Person unless you want to! You'll lose all your puzzle moves!

    General notes, things to mind:
    [*] People tend to buy things in bunches. Given how the market works, this means the buyers buying in bundles will actually pay more then the ticket price! (Some people might do the math as the ticket price times the number they want, but this is incorrect in a bundle.)
    [*] Early game especially, but also true for cash-strapped nations (perhaps salvaged by wars, or dubious financial decisions -- you can scout this on the civ screen, and look at everybody's wealth) in order for them to buy something, they need to sell something. They will typically do both in bunches as per the previous point. Take both side of the trade!

    Commodities
    I believe these commodities just take some random fluctuations. It is affected somewhat by world supply/demand, but as nobody really needs commodities, I'm guessing the randomness is there to keep things from being too stall -- otherwise there's really no reason to buy these as then it'll be a pure zero-sum thing with not much upside or usage.

    In any case, commodity pricing follows the same spread as the resources. Your average price is displayed in the corner, allow you to remind yourself to always make a profit, assuming you're okay with the timeline.

    They are also a great way to make money, but the disclaimer again: Only play with money you don't need! If you're forced or tempted to sell your things (at a loss) for food, don't buy commodities!

    My model for the commodities is as such:

    I think of the expected value of a commodity rises slowly through time, but with some (sometimes large) fluctuations throughout. There's only one end point -- the end of the game. Otherwise, you can always take a profit (even if it takes awhile). Because the fluctuations could be quite large, even within the same real day, it is actually less risky, because you know it will hit some high point sometime in the day. You just have to be online to reap the benefits.

    I'll have to add a drawing at some point, but the obvious is this: buy low, sell high. Monitor the commodities, and see what point it rolls around.

    My strategy is, I set a bottom price that I think it won't drop lower than, and keep on buying it until it gets to the price I like. If it drops, I double down by buying even more -- as long as I'm comfortable with it! When it gets to a nice profit point, I will sell them. You can bunch a few, but if you have a large stock, you should wait it out a little bit longer, to avoid crashing the price too much.

    I've seen a commodity trading from 200 to 900 back to 400 on the same day, so it's definitely not for the faint of heart, but it's a really good way of making a profit if you have cash, and can stomach it.

    Military

    Military units are built using hammers, so hammer part about anticipating wars and demands as cities grow applies here. For the purpose of the market I only consider two things -- a unit's sell price, and its hammer cost.

    The math should be simple. You can calculate a unit's "gold price" for you as such:

    Take the unit's hammer cost. Let's say Artillery at 200 hammers. The cost of 100 hammer is at 323. So the effective price of an artillery would be 323 + 340 = 663.

    Now check the market for the artillery's sell price. Is it higher than 663? If not, move on to the next unit.

    If so, there are now two types of related trades you can do. You can buy the 200 hammers for 663, build the artillery, and sell the artillery at the sell price. The hammer price will now be up, and the artillery price will drop a little bit. Do the math again, and repeat until this is no longer the case. Congrats, you just received free money!

    The other scenario is if you have a lot of hammers and wants to just sell them, but the market isn't quite as high as you want it to be. Build the artillery and then simply sell it. Basically you just sold 200 hammers for whatever the sell price is!

    The spread for units is high, which makes it difficult to do a quick turnaround sale. The selling price is 60% of the buying price -- so you lose 40% off the buy immediately. If you anticipate war and see a unit's cost as fairly cheap, and should be relatively popular (the "base" units), then by all means stock up. For whatever reason, players are relatively irrational -- they will pay for a unit on the market for more than its effective cost by buying hammers. If your game is full of rational people, this might not be a good gambit.


    *I'm using the neutral he as the pronoun, please forgive me.
     
  2. LarryCiv

    LarryCiv Chieftain

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    Great People

    There are five different great persons - one for each of the resources:

    • :c5food: Food: Great Prophet
    • :c5production: Hammer: Great Builder
    • :c5science: Science: Great Scientist
    • :c5culture: Culture: Great Artist
    • :c5gold: Gold: Great General

    Each one will give a +5% bonus for both harvest and trickle. The spread for the GPs are pretty high, so most of the time you can't really make money on the market with them. If you know your world fluctuates wildly on GPs, then the usually buy low, sell high, I guess. Otherwise I don't really recommend trading them for beginners. (You might still be able to make money buying and selling at the right time, but it is trickier.)

    As with the military units, the selling price is 60% of the buying price, so you give away 40% already. The math is less transparent for other players as it is for the military units -- and people might just value things differently, perhaps providing the volatility you need. Also there are some passive benefits for GPs, both increasing the trickle and the harvest. So if you sell it for the same price, you won the "carry" -- the free resources you got from the GP. Do your math. :)

    Hoarding
    In the early early stages, you have to do what it takes, this probably includes popping bubbles. Adding an extra hundred early on is great for cashflows, especially in food and hammers, where demand would be the highest.

    I don't find it necessary to hoard the other non-resources, but they are without bounds anyways, so you can hoard without any thinking.

    The idea of hoarding is really giving yourself the flexibility for these two situations:

    If something is really cheap, you have enough gold to buy enough of it without worrying about it.
    If something is really expensive, you have enough of that resource to sell enough of it without worrying about it.

    The resources:

    • :c5food: Food: When your city is small, it does not take much to grow. You want to pop earlier for two reasons -- the extra person is a great % gain, and it'll give you a greater range of flexibility as you won't be caught popping by accident (and thus lose some ability to sell at higher prices). I like to pop with extra harvests (as a farmer) to replenish up to a reasonable level of food. If you're not a farmer, you might considering popping when you can buy enough to pop at lower prices. But do the math and work out what's good. When your city gets larger you will require a more than a few thousand to pop, so you can plan this ahead of time more. Even as a farmer, don't be afraid to buy extra food if it's cheap to help you pop!
    • :c5production: Hammer: This is the easiest to hoard. There are no limits, so feel free to stash as many hammers as you want. If you're building up for a war, be patient ahead of time and stash ahead of time!
    • :c5science: Science: This might be the trickiest to hoard -- if you stash your beakers on a tech and someone completes it, you lose all your beakers. Be alert, jump around, and if you need to stash it, stash it on a tech that doesn't give an era win, and maybe with a high ceiling. Also, you will lose maze moves as well when a tech gets completed, so plan accordingly! If you have to pop a tech, sell all the excess beakers to the market, even at way-below-market prices! If you're careful with enough cash, right after the tech unlocks, you can buy the beakers right back and use it for your next tech and hoard some more!
    • :c5culture: Culture: I like to pop the first few GPs to get my max into a reasonably high number, maybe in the teens of thousands. The tricky part to culture is that it goes for cheap usually, and with a ceiling, you're always trying to decide if you want a GP or keep hoarding. After that, just buy GPs that you feel you need, but when it's cheap. Sometimes GPs go for pretty high, and you can make a quick lump sum if you do the math and get a GP and quickly sell. The other tip is the puzzle swaps do not carry over on a GP - so sell your culture if you are going to have a lot of swaps left over, and try to make it just right -- your last move pops the GP. Additionally, I like playing all my puzzle moves together. If you're diligent and maybe at a time when other players aren't on, you can build a good chain and x5 it. My personal high is 45x5 per move! (Note that on a double swap, the reward is currently bugged or fixed at 25. So if you're on a chain longer than that, you will only get 25, instead of two moves of say, 40 each). The same thing applies to this as to the tech -- if you're about to pop, sell even at below-market rates. You can always buy most of it back!
    • :c5gold: Gold: This is what you're trying to hoard if you're reading this guide. :lol:
    Just because you produce something on harvest doesn't mean you don't buy things you already have! If it's cheap and doesn't have any forced consequences (popping, research, culture) take it and sell it back when it's cheap!


    Be patient, be cheap, and get yourself to riches one step at a time!
     
  3. LarryCiv

    LarryCiv Chieftain

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    another reserved
     
  4. LarryCiv

    LarryCiv Chieftain

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    just in case reserved
     
  5. Glinda

    Glinda Chieftain

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    Hoarding hammers is great strategy for several reasons:

    1. Rather than hoarding units, it is a stealthy way to have armies - only build them when you need them, and your enemies will be surprised by the strength of troops you can produce.
    2. If 2 other civs get in a war, the price of hammers will often skyrocket, and you can cash in on their misery.
     
  6. raunch99

    raunch99 Chieftain

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    It's definitely possible to make decent money trading GPs, but requires more patience and money to play with than the other commodities. For example, in my game right now the price to buy great people is fluctuating between maybe 8000 and 25000 (Atomic Era), so even with the wide spread you can sell GPs for about 15k when the price is at its max and make a good profit. As with life, timing is everything.

    The whole key to the market is becoming familiar with the price ranges of all the items and watching how they change over time, then capitalizing when the price is near its lowest or highest.

    Very good guide. I was thinking of making one myself but you pretty much got it covered here.
     
  7. LarryCiv

    LarryCiv Chieftain

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    Ya, I think maybe the issue is my current two games, by coincidence, way overvalues GP, or they really love to buy them to make wonders. For example, the Great Prophet was 20k$, while food is at 400. This is a game where I have ~400k$, while only one player has 50k, and 2-3 more over 30k. The spread for GP, at the 20k level, is 20k buy, 12k sell. That's an 8k spread.

    I skimmed over it by saying "buy low sell high", but yes, you can even factor the "carry", which means even if you sell it at the exact same price, you can "make" money because of the trickle, and the actual harvest usage. I debated adding it in, because at least in my two games, they are disproportionately priced and it's quite a huge risk -- the money is so tied up I don't know if I would recommend it in general.

    Maybe I'll just put what I wrote up there at some point, if people demands it. ;)
     
  8. LarryCiv

    LarryCiv Chieftain

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    Money quote right here. I think I mentioned patience a few times here, and some comment about the market being irrational. I had a few (more) preachy lines about patience and don't play with money you can't afford, but I figure maybe I said that enough.
     
  9. Glinda

    Glinda Chieftain

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    I think it's definitely good to have a general idea of prices, but to be flexible about what you buy and sell.

    Eg, if someone drops the price of food or hammers to below 200, then BUY, BUY, BUY, even if you don't need those things. Likewise, I hardly ever sell science because I am usually working on a tech strategy, but in one of my games science keeps going up to 1200 or so, and I break my rule and sell it at that price.
     
  10. LarryCiv

    LarryCiv Chieftain

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    I think that's what I meant -- you have to have a good general idea of prices to know what's cheap and what's expensive. Every game's market is different -- I hear food goes for over 1000 in other games, but it goes only up to 500-600 at mine. But yes, I will buy and sell everything, at the right price. My civ actually have quite a few techers, all competing with each other, so I don't try too hard, and sell most of my excessive tech. (It's also usually at the 120-150 range).

    But ya, buy when it's cheap, and sell it back when the market gets back to what you would expect it to be (or more!)
     
  11. Boozie

    Boozie Chieftain

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    I would love input on market game trends. Food seems extremely important for most of the game, but I am curious if it will be overcome by tech in the 1900s. Do great people increase over time or will they stagnate in price at a certain point? I realize there is still flux, but I am just looking for a stagnation in the average.

    Open for any examples even if it's anecdotal from a single game.
     
  12. zbgayumn

    zbgayumn Chieftain

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    Based on at least two games, I can say that science will sell for as much or more than food toward the end of the game. In one of those, culture also went up and stayed up, after being 100-150 most of the game. When you get down to those last 4-5 era victories everyone tends to go for science or wonders victories in my experience.

    As with culture above, I think GPs can skyrocket at the end of the game. There does seem to be a stagnation point in my current game, but we're only in Early Depression era, despite the year being 2100. I think that will change as we get a few eras closer to the end.

    There's definitely an opportunity to take advantage of late game tech races. If you can keep supplying science at a high price and everyone else is buying it, you could easily reach economic victory before any of them finish the current tech. It depends heavily on how many econ victories have been won; raising 500K gold that way would be tough, but maybe not impossible. At 1M gold, you can probably forget about it.
     
  13. Glinda

    Glinda Chieftain

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    In the last era (or 2) you may see prices suddenly plummet as one civ has a fire sale trying to get that last era financial victory.
     
  14. LarryCiv

    LarryCiv Chieftain

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    Small anecdotal data point is it depends - people are very wonders-happy in my games, especially near the end, so they tend to rise, though it feels like it stabilizes mid-to-late game.

    I should have explained the military/GP market a little bit more -- yes, it is affected by other player buying and selling, but it also decays as a function of time. So if there's no one buys or sell a GP in awhile, the prices will go down slowly (though sometimes it randomly jumps up a tick or two).

    In other words, it's a function of what people can afford -- resources, commodities, and military, everyone can afford to buy one or two if they really need to (perhaps). In my first game, the GPs has been around ~10-15k, mainly because most players don't have that much money -- maybe 20 players have more than 10-15k to spend, so your effective audience for keeping the cost going up might be small. And the people are spending their money on tech and culture near the end.. and with the diminishing returns (the returns on a GP might be 4-5 days, but there might not be 4-5 days left to the game..) the market for GP stalls after that.
     
  15. LarryCiv

    LarryCiv Chieftain

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    Very true. In my game the economic has been so out of hand I don't think anyone would try, but otherwise it's something to look out for. (I have 600k in cash, the civ has 850k, and the world together has roughly 1.1, 1.2 mil. The next economic victory is at 1.3 mil.)
     
  16. Boozie

    Boozie Chieftain

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    Hammers were like 600+ for a long time and they've been down really low and I've been gobbling them up back to like 500 or so but I have spent a LOT of gold on it to the point where I'm starting to get worried that late game they aren't useful.

    Gold seems to be the better way to buy units as of the time being, but maybe that's because my civ is steamrolling and other people can't buy those units.
     
  17. punctuator

    punctuator Ginger Snap

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    In my first game the market value for hammers crashed once people were done building up their towns. However, I suspect that hammers are actually still quite valuable for military production--it's just that in that game, there wasn't a lot of actual competition. The one I'm in now has two strong civs, and I think a spike in the price of hammers is to be expected if we actually ever manage to pass our invasion vote....
     
  18. LarryCiv

    LarryCiv Chieftain

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    Ya, the hammers become less necessary as the game goes on, and certainly for me, earlier on. The problem is also the battle system is not great -- it does not promote the "lost" side to keep building in hopes of catching up. No desperation move, no nothing. So people do the next rational thing -- they don't even bother building up a military.

    If you can get two civs of maybe roughly similar toughness to fight each other.. then it'll sky rocket again. I'm cocky about reading the market, and after perhaps buying too many hammers I don't even touch them, however low or "cheap" I thought they were.

    I ended up spending most of those hammers building military units to get the military medals, attacking everybody.
     
  19. LarryCiv

    LarryCiv Chieftain

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    Also, one of my games mid-game-ish the game was effectively down for 2-3 days. I suspect it promoted the idle people to stash, inadvertently, everything, perhaps even just from trickling. Food gets consumed, culture turns into GP, and tech gets teched, but hammers remain, and people might not need them as much, especially since no/few wars during the downtime..
     
  20. Verdisian

    Verdisian Chieftain

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    Bored watching the market just wanted to note that the prices on commodities take about 5 minutes to start changing then change from left to right with maybe 5-10 seconds between each one changing. The prices on great people will change shortly before the prices on commodities.
     

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