Trade mod

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Trade mod

Postby darbycmcd on Tue 02 Dec 2014 10:01

Cralis had brought some interesting points with regard to trade in my mod, so I have been thinking on it. I was thinking, what would trade really do for you in this setting? I mean you couldn't, for example, import clothes or toilets. It really would be a matter of technological innovation (from the importers perspective) which would open up efficiencies and fields more quickly.

How about this, instead of directly giving Mcr, trade gives free EL points.... it is a bit like Mcr, in that you can reduce expenditure on EL research if you want, but more interestingly, these free RP don't count against the limit, so you can accelerate progress....

So what does it mean? Well, each EL RP is worth 2% of your econ, so it is a nice boost. But it is also a potential 10% (assuming you are normally buying 10 RP) toward EL advance, which in my mod is worth another 6% of your econ. As an example, going from EL 3 to 4 you need 120 RP, or 12 turns to reach the threshold to start rolling. With one treaty, you would get there in 11 turns (buy 110, 11 bonus points). So not crazy good but significant.

Over time, EL advance also makes SL advance quicker (as they would be < EL a bit quicker). The idea is that coalitions of trade partners would become technologically advanced quicker than isolationists.

So how much to give? Well, to keep it sort of inline with stock but also in the decomp idea, I am thinking something like this
Treaty RP/Turn
Restricted : 1
Limited : 2
Free : 3
For empires that are +- 1 EL, half for partner that is more than this above partner, double for reverse. Actually, this might be a bit low, as it is way less than what the treaties give in stock, but the somewhat more rapid advance in EL is a compensation, maybe.

What do you all (hahhaha, like there are masses reading this) think?
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Re: Trade mod

Postby Cralis on Tue 02 Dec 2014 15:25

darbycmcd wrote:Cralis had brought some interesting points with regard to trade in my mod, so I have been thinking on it. I was thinking, what would trade really do for you in this setting? I mean you couldn't, for example, import clothes or toilets. It really would be a matter of technological innovation (from the importers perspective) which would open up efficiencies and fields more quickly.

How about this, instead of directly giving Mcr, trade gives free EL points.... it is a bit like Mcr, in that you can reduce expenditure on EL research if you want, but more interestingly, these free RP don't count against the limit, so you can accelerate progress....


Basically trade gives science, like in the Civilization series. There is an argument for that, but the downside is that EL research has been meticulously balanced to keep players from advancing much more quickly than other players. If you add this mechanism, then a player with more trade will advance much more quickly than a player the isn't so lucky to find friendly NPRs.

So what does it mean? Well, each EL RP is worth 2% of your econ, so it is a nice boost.


Do you mean that each RP increases your imperial income by 2% ?

But it is also a potential 10% (assuming you are normally buying 10 RP) toward EL advance, which in my mod is worth another 6% of your econ. As an example, going from EL 3 to 4 you need 120 RP, or 12 turns to reach the threshold to start rolling. With one treaty, you would get there in 11 turns (buy 110, 11 bonus points). So not crazy good but significant.


Right. But what about 5 treaties? 10 treaties?

And let's pretend you only ever get 1 RP from trade. Over 20 EL, that would place you almost 2 EL ahead of someone without the same trade opportunity, and that gets worse as the free RP goes up. At 2 RP per treaty, that turns into 3-4 extra EL, and at 3 RP per treaty, that's almost 6 EL ahead.

That also goes against your stated goal of "reducing income" since that places you 6 EL higher than you'd be in the same time period, with 6 increases of 6% to your economy...

Over time, EL advance also makes SL advance quicker (as they would be < EL a bit quicker). The idea is that coalitions of trade partners would become technologically advanced quicker than isolationists.


It would place them very, very far ahead of their opponents in the long term.

But honestly what does trade do? The basic concept of trade is that empire A wants trade for:
A> goods and services they cannot provide, (such as raw materials they don't have)
B> goods and services that are much less efficient.

And in return provides:
A> goods and services that the other empire does not have,
and B> goods and services that the other empire produces less efficiently.

So as an example, if I'm better at making 50"-70" TVs and you're better at making cars, I'll sell you TVs and buy your cars and reduce my own car production. Then I can shift those resources into making more TVs. You do the opposite. And in doing so we gain a more efficient use of our resources and produce more, increasing our GDP.

So in short, trade SHOULD increase your GDP. At least, how I see it anyway :)

But I'd stay away from messing with EL R&D. It can really create an imbalance.
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Re: Trade mod

Postby darbycmcd on Tue 02 Dec 2014 16:12

Why the fear of messing with EL? I don't see it as very game-breaking, but maybe I am missing something. And the change is, not great. For example, you point out a change of 2 EL over 20 for normal growth... but that is something like 450 turns. At that point, is a difference of 2 such a big deal? Actually, I have never even heard of a game going for 20 EL. Could you explain more why this is important?

ah, also, I am thinking of this with my econ mod, so EL change is not so great (6% per) not the normal 20% change. But even still, the change in income is much smaller than trade treaties.
so for when you say
"That also goes against your stated goal of "reducing income" since that places you 6 EL higher than you'd be in the same time period, with 6 increases of 6% to your economy..." you forget that it replaces the treaty income. So yes, you could get 6*6% increases but that is much much less than 15% per turn which is what you would get treaty (given that the 6 increases are spread over 450 turns)

But EL has two components, it gives an income bonus, and makes SL cheaper.

Income: you can take the free RP and use it to replace the ones you would normally buy, to grow at normal rates, that is the 2% income benefit. But this is still less than 1/2 the bonus than a trade treaty. Or you could use the free RP to accelerate EL progress, which in standard is basically 20% bonus to income. But the benefit is less than with standard trade treaties. For example, say limited trade: in this system it could be 20% increase in speed to EL advance, and its 20% income bump, but with no income increase in the meantime. How does that compare to a 15% increase each turn? Actually somewhat worse. 15% for the average 23 turns to advance is better than 20% after 20 turns.

SL advance: yeah, it could push some tech faster, but I think that is not a bad thing.
In the way trade is now, you get to build lots more stuff with a treaty (up to 15%). In this system, you don't get the large increase in capacity, but you can get a bonus to quality, by having marginally better access to higher SL sooner (although even that not so much because of the limit on progress of research anyway). My musing was that unlike our trade experience, alien races would not actually produce much that we could use. And natural resources of course are quite unlikely to be massively cheaper to import over interstellar distance than mined/produced at home. That was my comment about clothes and toilets, what would and alien race make that you would use? Not much at a scale to be important. So comparative advantage is not really likely to apply. But technology would be useful, in other words new ways of making the things we could use. That was my thinking to move the gain from GDP (which I am not really using anyway) to improved productivity of capital, which is really EL in my schema.
But the SL thing also sort of fits my concept.

A race that focuses on trade will grow science faster, but not economy (alien populations are potential production resources which you can't use if you don't invade) A more warlike race will be the opposite, because of course if they meet an unfriendly npr, they invade and convert those PU to little output units!
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Re: Trade mod

Postby Cralis on Tue 02 Dec 2014 19:03

darbycmcd wrote:Why the fear of messing with EL? I don't see it as very game-breaking, but maybe I am missing something. And the change is, not great. For example, you point out a change of 2 EL over 20 for normal growth... but that is something like 450 turns. At that point, is a difference of 2 such a big deal? Actually, I have never even heard of a game going for 20 EL. Could you explain more why this is important?


Actually, yes. It could mean quite a bit. In almost every game I've played, the players stayed within 1 EL of each other. Those that didn't... died.

ah, also, I am thinking of this with my econ mod, so EL change is not so great (6% per) not the normal 20% change. But even still, the change in income is much smaller than trade treaties.
so for when you say
"That also goes against your stated goal of "reducing income" since that places you 6 EL higher than you'd be in the same time period, with 6 increases of 6% to your economy..." you forget that it replaces the treaty income. So yes, you could get 6*6% increases but that is much much less than 15% per turn which is what you would get treaty (given that the 6 increases are spread over 450 turns)


Ah, ok I see where you're going with it. Interesting. I still think that's not what trade does, but it's an interesting conceptual change.

But EL has two components, it gives an income bonus, and makes SL cheaper.


It's so much more than that. It allows you access to higher SLs. It allows you access to new branches with EL requirements. It allows you access to items in trees that require EL (like Construction). It is used for a number of income and population calculations and more. EL is the underpinning of nearly everything else science and economy.

Income: you can take the free RP and use it to replace the ones you would normally buy, to grow at normal rates, that is the 2% income benefit. But this is still less than 1/2 the bonus than a trade treaty. Or you could use the free RP to accelerate EL progress, which in standard is basically 20% bonus to income. But the benefit is less than with standard trade treaties. For example, say limited trade: in this system it could be 20% increase in speed to EL advance, and its 20% income bump, but with no income increase in the meantime. How does that compare to a 15% increase each turn? Actually somewhat worse. 15% for the average 23 turns to advance is better than 20% after 20 turns.


Got it.

SL advance: yeah, it could push some tech faster, but I think that is not a bad thing.


I think you'll eventually find that you'll disagree with yourself. :) Especially if you're not the beneficiary.

A race that focuses on trade will grow science faster, but not economy (alien populations are potential production resources which you can't use if you don't invade) A more warlike race will be the opposite, because of course if they meet an unfriendly npr, they invade and convert those PU to little output units!


Growing your science faster DOES grow your economy faster. And you've already shown how you can manipulate it to have a pretty massive increase in your economy, much more than EL increases alone (especially at your reduced percentage).
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Re: Trade mod

Postby PracticalM on Sun 07 Dec 2014 10:36

Why the fear of messing with EL?

Cue manical laughter… You have no idea. EL balances so many things and is the core of the game. Every once in a while I go back to all the emails from when GSF was in development and look at what was trying to be balanced just to get a centering on what was being built. The economic discussions were awesome.
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Re: Trade mod

Postby procyon on Sun 07 Dec 2014 20:14

Actually, I intend to swipe this thought and run it past my family/players.
I like the general trend of the thought, if not the exact execution as yet.

But for the most part, I am very disappointed with myself for not coming up with something like this before.

The point totals you were looking at feel pretty large. If you looked at my wife's empire several hundred turns in - she would essentially be getting 2 turns worth of EL research every turn, with one just generated by trade. That would be problemsome.

But if the trade treaty was treated as a flat amount off of the total needed for the EL, then that wouldn't be to horrible. So if RT dropped 1 point off, LT dropped 3 pts, and FT dropped 5, with a doubling of that for a trade partner that was more than 3 EL below the other - I would be all over that. Essentially, if you got a good trade deal with a higher EL race, you could get one turn of research free over the course of an EL. Several FT with races closer to your EL would be about the same.

For a P v P game, huge differences in EL can make or break an empire. But there is usually more impact from just dumb lucky rolls on this early. And late game it tend to depend on who gets lucky and bumps into a small but high EL NPR that they can stomp and then force EL assistance from.
But in our games with an SM (me), I can definitely use this. It will definitely keep the incomes down. It gives players reasons to open friendly relations with a higher EL race late game (instead of the old 'smash and grab' as it has come to be known...). And I don't have to refigure the treaty every 10 months for just how much each race is earning from the other (which is huge in a paper & pen game).

That, and it will let the players get 'new shiny stuff' a wee bit quicker. Over 20 EL, it would probably average out about 2 EL faster of an advance - but when translated to tech items, you would only be about one item farther down a tree as they turn up about every 3 SL. And since NPR generation is based off of the players EL - it will balance well enough. If one player gets a bit ahead - then that means the other players will start meeting races that are higher EL than they are - which means they can start getting "EL trade aid".

But even historically, this is fairly accurate. An enormous amount of 'advance' in history wasn't because everyone was 're-inventing the wheel' so to say. But that folks traded with someone who had a 'wheel' - and said 'Hey, we need to figure out how to make one !' Most isolationist countries ended up technologcally backward (Japan, etc), and the push to open trade was so that they could improve their economies by becoming more modern - not because of a huge influx of cash.
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Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: Trade mod

Postby darbycmcd on Sun 07 Dec 2014 22:57

Part of the issue is I think folks are comparing the trade treaty with no trade treaty, but that is not the comparison, it is compare the options of treaty. So lets look at this option vs stock free trade.

Assumptions: 5000 income empires, both with same modifiers and endogenous growth, so all those can be ignored
EL increase happens at 230 RP (around 50% chance with 3 turns of rolling at increasing odds)

Both empires will always buy max RP

EL increase grows economy by 6% (this is my mod growth, which is easier for this example)

Run for 54 turns (allows 3 EL increases on modified treaty)

Stock free trade gives 15% bonus, which is on the low side but lets assume 2 equal partners

So Empire A gets a free trade agreement, and decides to take the modified option, 3 RP per turn. He can use those points either to replace points he would normally buy (at 2% of econ per) or tack them on the end to run up his EL faster. He wants to do this. So for the first 18 turns (getting him past 230 RP at 13 per turn) he has just 5000 income, no bonus for trade. But on turn 18 his EL goes up and his income climbs to 5300. Cool beans!

On and on, by turn 54 he is just ready to go up again after his 2nd increase and his current income is 5618. So after 54 turns he has made 16524 credits total over his starting income base of 5000 per turn, all due to EL increase. And he is ready to go up in EL again, which is a big advantage. Say he started at 7, he would be turning 10… nice

But Empire B is more traditional, and takes a stock free trade treaty, gaining 15% of its economy in trade. The down side is it will not grow its EL as fast, in fact over 54 turns it will be about 15 turns behind on EL growth compared to A, which is double plus ungood. But what does it get? Well it does still grow due to EL, in fact its sum of income above base is 11844, not terrible but about 5000 less than Empire A, and it is falling behind in tech! yikes….

But how much income does it get from trade? Well 15% of its income over 54 turns amounts to ….. 42,277 credits… not chump change. In fact, that is a ton of money. What could an empire do with 42K extra credits… maybe invest in colonization, or another crap ton of ships… lots of things especially when you consider the time value of money. In fact, I think it would be a better decision to take this option than the modified one. At least it is difficult to see the mod as over-powered. At any rate, just saying higher EL is bad doesn’t consider the opportunity cost of that benefit. Of course it is a problem to accelerate EL, if that was all that was happening, but if each choice has a cost as well as benefit, it is less a problem. And really, in the end, there have to be choices that lead to winners!
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Re: Trade mod

Postby procyon on Sun 07 Dec 2014 23:53

I am more inclined to the 'flat RP reduction of the target #' than giving free RP each month. But I still have to think about it and run it past my family.

But for me, if two FT treaties with 'typical' NPRs dropped the RP you needed for the next EL by 10 points, you pretty much saved a month on your research. Not a huge bonus - but worth taking. And it won't substantially increase your income. And when you are two hundred to three hundred turns into the game and have a bunch of treaties - you will also have healthy sized RP goals for your EL so it tends to keep things even keeled. One of the problems with later in the game is 'stagnation'. It takes a long time to see much progress as the RP goals get bigger and bigger and the 'work' involved in maintaining the game gets larger and larger - and then it fails.
We get around that a bit by adding a heavy role playing element to our games, but it still sets in as the empires get 'older'.

So 'slightly speeding up' the EL (and thereby the SL) progression - without cranking up the MC's looks like a good plan.

And 6% is probably on the high end for econ growth for us when the players go up an EL - but that has a lot to do with how I stage the games. I generally set up the 'universe' with 1 hab per 10+ systems. So the habs are spread out, harder to colonize, and represent less of the total population as the players colonize the desolate worlds and moons to claim systems and gain income. But the non-hab colonies tend to max out quickly - which means that EL growth doesn't impact them. A 60 PU moon at EL 5 earns the same the next turn when it goes up to EL6.
So the scarce nature of habs in our games makes going up an EL less of a boost to your total income.

But I still like this way of treating a trade treaty - as an EL boon and not a source of income.
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Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: Trade mod

Postby Cralis on Mon 08 Dec 2014 01:13

And keep in mind this is PER TREATY. Multiply this by 10 treaties and see what happens.
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Re: Trade mod

Postby procyon on Mon 08 Dec 2014 03:49

Cralis wrote:And keep in mind this is PER TREATY. Multiply this by 10 treaties and see what happens.


I am.
At least in our games, the 'average' is LT with some form of military treaty attached.
There are about as many FT/Partnership treaties as RT treaties with 'new' or 'shy' races. So if it goes 1 per RT, 3 per LT, and 5 per FT/Partner - then by the time you have 10 treaties (and are realistically 100's of turns and a fair # of EL's up the ladder), then you are probably shaving about 30 RP of the total you need to get to the next EL. So instead of needing 140 RP for EL6 (and actually 145+ to make a roll) - you are only shaving it down from 14 months to 11 months. So you save 3 months worth of R&D, plus any increase in income from going up in EL 3 months early.

Of course, compare what you save on 3 months of EL R&D to what you earn from 10 LT treaties in the 11/14 month time frame. Even with 'piddly' small NPR's - 10 trade treaties is going to be a CHUNK of MC...

So I still see it as a 'mild' way to speed up getting shiny new toys in the game, without pouring more MC into it.
And everything that slows down the 'Economic upward spiral of doom' - is a very good thing.

ETA
I have yet to participate in a game that self destructed because the players got tired of refitting their ships with newer and better tech, or having to design a newer and cooler vessel.
But we have watched a bunch die because the empires became money gluts that just became to much work to track, with incomes that could support a couple thousand ship fleets and movement order lists ran to several pages of notebook paper just to cover 'routine' deployments and refits...

ETA2
Kind of like no one generally complains about playing scenarios that have high tech ships.
But how many folks do you know that actually play through the ISW-4 scenarios and want to track those ship lists through the combats...
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Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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