[OTC] Tourney match featuring aggressive pressure against lategame potential

Here we have the best of 3 Offworld Trading Company (OTC) match between players blackmagic and DeathTacticus with excellent commentary from philothanic and Zultar. In this match, we see cross-game ideas such as the strength of controlling the center as well as a race between early and lategame strategies.

Game 1. It's best to search for ways to get in your opponent's way while advancing your own gameplan. Here Blackmagic cancels an iron claim to the east and instead takes 2 iron tiles adjacent to DeathTacticus's base. This play does not lose as much tempo as it would seem, as he could not claim those 2 tiles earlier as they were protected by the timeout from DeathTacticus' own found there. These two tiles stifle the expansive opponent's options, walling DeathTacticus off from the open space northwest of his base and reducing his options for later building placement. Expansive colonies have a large tile footprint that can make it especially difficult for them to design their bases in tight areas. They face the competing incentives, wanting to connect production to the base to avoid shipping but also wanting to avoid over-clustering of buildings that increase the value of the opponent's EMPs and Power Surges (both of which randomly spawned for this game's black market):

Both players are in the top center of the map away from many of the map's resources. Zultar discusses one attractive alternative found location nearer to the center that went unused. Controlling the center of a game map (LoL mid tower, chess center squares, etc) is very strong because occupiers have the shortest average travel distances to other points on the map. In this case, reducing shipping distance to every other point on the map would help because shorter shipping lanes are cheaper to operate. Playing to shorten distances is as important here as in other map-based games, as we saw with Planetary Annililation. By founding in a particular spot, players make a (mostly) static choice about shipping costs for the map's resource patches:

At the start of this game, electronics started at half cost ($50) and glass started normally (despite a mistaken mention in commentary). The cost has risen because the 4 warehouses at the neutral colony consume some each tick. Blackmagic as a robot colony uses electronics instead of glass for his upgrades. Two overlapping effects contribute to Blackmagic having a significantly cheaper upgrade resource (electronics) than DeathTacticus (glass), so we can expect blackmagic to have cheaper and therefore faster HQ upgrades:

When a play affects yourself and an opponent, it's important to assess the value of the swing as a whole, not just the bonus for oneself. Blackmagic moves into a single glass kiln to take advantage of the high glass price relative to the cheap silicon price. There are downsides to consider, though the play overall may still be sound. The kiln is not benefiting from building adjacency. Also, since blackmagic is a robot, he does not use glass for upgrading his HQ. To use the glass, he will probably need to sell it for cash. Selling will reduce the glass price and thus cheapen the opponent's HQ upgrades, which do require glass:

"Blackmagic has the debt advantage over DeathTacticus." Each tier of debt increases the size of the interest tick at the end of each Mars day, such that the further one falls behind in debt, the faster one falls behind in debt. Pressing debt advantage as early as possible may be one of blackmagic's few viable strategies to win despite his awkward HQ location (he used his found to crush water) before the expansive player's long term potential kicks in. Philothanic suggests Blackmagic race for HQ3 and the power market, hitting multiple birds with one stone. Robotic HQ shipping lanes cost power, not fuel, to maintain. By moving into power first, he could try to take advantage of the power price spike himself. At the same time, the move would reduce the price of power and thus make the opponent's almost-inevitable move into power production less profitable for them. The goal is to press one's debt advantage. By benefiting from and undercutting the price of power, the opponent is asked how they plan to use their forthcoming HQ3 tile claims to stave off debt efficiently:

Both players realize debt is important right now. DT takes a high silicon/ice tile at auction for $6k that goes right to his debt. Blackmagic, by conceding a tile auction to DT for a mere 6k, shows he wants to do damage early before the tile can pay for itself. Both players build more power production. DT, behind in debt, commits especially hard to power, seeking to deny some of the strength of the play we discussed above. Of note, DT's power sources, being geothermal plants and wind turbines, always operate while blackmagic's solar panels require the day sun, so DT has even more in his favor claiming the lion's share of the power spike:

Blackmagic wants to use a black market magnetic storm effect to destroy DT's expensive glass shipments. However, he's not able to catch more than one (possibly not even full) freighter in the air at once. DT's expansive colony comes with faster freighters. He can intentionally stagger his launch times to spread the time between shipments. He may have manually sent out freighters before they could fully load up, further minimizing the number of vulnerable glass glass units in the air at once:

There was a window in which blackmagic could have bought into fuel and oxygen, expecting the prices to rise as the expansive opponent automatically buys them for his colony life support and shipping freighters respectively. This missed tactic would have had multiple harmonious purposes. First, buying into fuel/oxygen immediately increase the market price, forcing the opponent to take on more debt with their operating costs. Second, in the long term, with no player producing fuel but one player consuming it, the price will gradually rise, so the fuel will definitely be sold at a later profit. Third, and tied to the second, the opponent would probably be forced to invest in fuel production, creating a perfect timing for blackmagic to sell the hypothetical stockpile not just for profit but to knock down the the market value of the resources, and thus the profit margins for the forced reactors:

The initial spike in power price has come and gone. Before this highlight the price briefly crashed to the minimum $1. Now comes a second debt-driven contest over power. Both players have upgraded their HQs, giving them more tile claims on which they have more power-consuming buildings. Further, DT's 2 power-producing wind turbines from HQ2 have long since been scrapped to make space for power-consuming glass kilns and then into especially power-hungry steel mills. Recognizing the resurgence in power need, DT completes the circle, transitioning those steel mills tiles once more into wind turbines. An impactful and random solar flare appears at just the right time to jumps blackmagic's solar panels' presence in the power market:

Blackmagic possibly erred in constructing an offworld market, for several reasons. Overall, it comes down to a critical question raised in a classic Magic: the Gathering aritcle, "Who's the beatdown?" In this case, much like we saw with the early struggle over power, Blackmagic may have more to gain by pressing a short-term advantage than shoring up a long-term weakness. The offworld market building is expensive up front and badly vulnerable to two of this black market's still-cheap items. It costs more to rebuild in response to still-cheap dynamite and a (costly) goon squad is powerless to block slowdown strikes. Further, prices offworld are not so very high relative to onworld prices. However, as Zultar eventually points out, a hacker array may not have had a clear winning chance, since blackmagic lacks a monopolized (probably carbon-based) resource to leverage with price manipulation:

Philothanic notes that DT's patent lab working on Thinking Machines signals his intention to construct his own offworld market. DT's plans for an offworld are partially suspect for the same reasons blackmagic's are, but mitigated by possession of Thinking Machines, which reduces effect for black market sabotage against tiles touching the HQ. DT's offworlds and other tiles will not be as vulnerable as their mirrors. Expansive players can hit a powerful lategame stride on the back of the extra tile claims they get with each HQ upgrade, so it makes sense for DT to set up for a favorable long game:

Immediately after taking Thinking Machines DT starts research on Carbon scrubbing, which negates the carbon need of carbon-consuming buildings. Since neither player has a carbon tile, DT has potential to lucratively dominate the market in carbon-requiring chemicals and electronics, if he survives:

Blackmagic has a cash advantage over DeathTacticus, but not so large of one as it first appears. DeathTacticus can and does threaten blackmagic with a majority buy out, forcing blackmagic to finally get around defensively buying 50% of his own stock. However, blackmagic did take 2 stock in his opponent early, when stocks were cheaper, and this does give him a leg up as players race to the final buy out:

We see right at the start of this clip the explosion of DT's offworld. Even with thinking machines, the cost to reconstruct is hefty, to the degree that his earlier majority buy threat (that forced blackmagic to buy defensive stock) is no no longer live (for a bit). There was a window after DT committed his cash to the reconstruction in which blackmagic could have played more aggressively, selling out of his own defensive stock and declining to repair his patent lab in order to build up the last bit of cash to win immediately:

Blackmagic ultimately wins out anyways on the back of dept pressure into an un-harasssed offworld market, despite an exciting but insufficient rally for DeathTacticus that attempted to punish blackmagic's missing the earlier window.

Game 2. There is one rich iron spawn and one rich carbon spawn, near together but split from most of the map's other resources by empty space. DT settles directly amid the iron as expansive. Blackmagic dodges a need for iron by selecting scavanger, dropping adacent to two high carbon tiles in a cramped crater:

Players unequally split the small nearby water patch. Blackmagic uses his third HQ1 claim on the flexible and low yield aluminum+silicon tile instead of going for the water adjacency and denial. The third water in the triangle between the two players is left unclaimed. Philothanic argues the players undervalued the swing by simultaneously gaining an adjacent water tile combined with denying the opponent the same. Zultar points out that blackmagic is using his silicon tile to partially feed his glass kilns:

Blackmagic's spawn in the crater is a problem as his base will be vulnerable to the area effect EMP from the black market. He could have more space founding above the crater rip, though doing so would have meant shipping the carbon, costing more precious early tempo:

Scavenger falling behind in HQ upgrades to an expansive is a a bad sign. Often, scavengers upgrade quickly because they use carbon instead of steel. They also get faster black market access, enabling them to keep a slower HQ behind on tempo and increase the gap. Expansive players, on the other hand, tend to perform better the longer the game goes thanks to the strength of their extra claims. That said, this game's black market does have extra claims which blackmagic may be able to buy up quickly enough to counter the expansive player's extra tiles:

Power may be an opportunity for debt pressure play this game too, and going for power hard modifies the black market plan for blackmagic. He lays down a pair of geothermal power plants to DeathTacticus' one in a bid to grab the bulk of the first power spike and leave DT with fewer tools to pay off of debt. As the power price is on the road to crashing, blackmagic targets DT's farms and reactors with sabotage instead of going for power. This play enables him to invest cash into life support resources, waiting for the price to increase if DT chokes and has to buy from the market resources he's trying unsuccessfully to produce:

Scavenger HQs have reduced cooldown for black market access, but that timer (as always) does not start ticking down until one makes a purchase. It is important to buy black market effects as soon as possible, as doing so moves up the timeframe for future purchases too:

DT buys a claim at high cost (to his debt) of $14k. His long term potential is excellent, but his immediate debt situation is a serious problem. Blackmagic may be able to press the debt advantage enough to win early. This is a sort of situation where scanvenger black market bonuses can really shine, repeatedly disabling just the tiles the opponent is counting on. DT takes abrutal $37k interest hit to his debt due to his D rating. In this game ultimately blackmagic does keep DeathTacticus off balance enough on debt and takes the game and the match with a win at 11 minutes:

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