[OTC] Same move, different value. Context matters!

Today’s post returns to the Offworld Trading Company FFA we drew on earlier this week. This time, we’ll be looking at how three players’ superficially similar plays (of constructing an Offworld Market) vary in value due to differences in the players’ situations.

(12:23-12:40) Commentator philothanic tracks down DeathTacticus’ (DT’s) Offworld Market as it is under construction. DT selected the Nomadic HQ type at the start of the game, which means he uses silicon instead of steel for construction. He also has the Transparent Aluminum patent, allowing him to use aluminum in place of glass for buildings. All told, his Offworld here takes 100 aluminium, 600 silicon, and 100 electronics rather than the standard HQ cost of 400 steel, 100 glass, and 100 electronics. Looking at the market prices at this spot in the game we see that aluminum (~$20) and silicon (~$50) are much, much cheaper than steel (~$190) and glass (~$125). As Philothanic points out, the low cost of DT’s Offworld Market construction compare favorably to the currently high profit margins on the offworld shipments it enables. DT’s Offworld will pay itself off quickly. This is a rarity, as most Ceres games have high onworld prices that both pump up Offworld Market construction costs and eat into offworld shipment profit margins:

(13:31-13:55) Adorfield is researching the Thinking Machines patent, which gives partial protection to buildings adjacent to one’s HQ, especially useful with super high value buildings such as Offworld Markets. His choice of patent signals his intention to build one. But Adorfield has a Robotic HQ and so must pay the standard steel/glass/electronics construction price which will run him a whopping $153k, much pricier than DT’s $87k:

(15:57-16:44) Third to join the Offworld party is Hexapus. As the game’s second Nomadic HQ player, he too uses silicon instead of steel, but without Transparent Aluminium he is forced to build with glass rather than the much cheaper aluminium. It costs him ~$81k, making it a reasonable choice. DT meanwhile starts construction on his second Offworld for just $53k, which philothanic notes will pay for itself in just 1.25 uses:

As you no doubt realize, the superficially-identical choice by each of these players to investing in an Offworld Market (or two) is not in fact the same at all. With the Nomadic construction resource of silicon costing much less than steel, the nomad players DeathTacticus and Hexapus have a major leg up over Adorfield. And DeathTacticus’ Transparent Aluminum patent gives him an additional advantage in the relative value of his Offworlds as compared with the other players, even over the other nomad. No matter the game, you’ll see the same theme: every play must be considered with its context to be evaluated and understood.