Trade is a game mechanic that has been around since the beginning of time. It’s one of the most basic mechanics in games, and it allows players to gather resources, build an economy, and develop their civilization. However, there are many different types of trades that can be made in games. There are also many different ways that trade can take place in-game. The question is: what makes a trade “good” or “bad”?
The trade vs profession reddit is a discussion that has been going on for quite some time. It’s about the difference between trade and profession.
DISCLAIMER: There will be a wall of writing ahead, with a TL;DR at the bottom.
Intro is uninteresting
Greetings, Space Merchants, Emperors, True Believers, and Genocidal Warlords (well, not really, you don’t care about commerce).
The past two of Dev Diaries had me very excited. Some very intriguing additions, as well as – more crucially – balancing adjustments, are always exciting to me. While I, like the vast majority of the player base, do not believe Stellaris needs to be perfectly balanced in the way that RTS, MOBAs, or other competitive games do, I do believe that at the very least, a baseline of balance should be achieved, so that every option you have is actually viable and you do not actively sabotage yourself when pursuing it. (I apologize for the lengthy phrase.) Please accept my apologies; I am German.)
I appreciate PDX’s approach of polishing underutilized civics and introducing more varied tradition branches. While some of the modifications may be questionable (Technocracy *cough*), my primary point is that the introduction of the custodian team to take care of existing material may be one of the greatest things that has ever occurred to this game, and I hope I am not being too optimistic.
Anyway, one particular alteration grabbed my attention. The tree of mercantile tradition. “Oh, my goodness! There’s a lot of excellent material in there “I pondered. For clerks, there is a +1 basic trade value, a 20% trade value, and, of course, one merchant per commercial zone. The previous one really had me going, so I began theory-crafting a necrophage-shadow-council-merchant empire, intending to use mercantile on the new supremacy tree to just stack as much ruler output as possible while spamming commercial zones. BRILLIANT! … or at least that’s what I believed until I realized that pop output modifiers don’t apply to trade value. What a pity!
That made me think. I’ve always known that trade wasn’t worth it, and even with the latest buffs to clerks, they were still garbage, or were they? Now is the time to find out!
There are so many numbers… But what exactly do they imply?
To gain a clearer idea of how trade compares to the credits generated through generators, we must first consider all of the possible modifiers, as well as the job’s basic worth. I attempted to include every conceivable modifier I could think of, but I’m sure I left some out. Please let me know what more I need to know in such scenario!
All of those modifiers, as well as the total of everything you can obtain, are listed below, essentially the utmost best case scenario you can accomplish with each of those methods. I didn’t add repeatables since, well, that would make the number infinite, but we’ll think about that later. For the time being, I’ve also ignored amenities since they’re only useful if you’re below the threshold and aren’t impacted by any of the benefits, so their impact diminishes as you stack more bonuses. In addition, I ignored stability bonuses. It shouldn’t make a difference since they both apply for technical positions as well as clerk/merchant ones. On the one hand, they grow better because to the greater base value of technicians, while trade-focused economies are more stable in general due to all the amenities. In the end, I thought it would be close enough, and after all, my goal here isn’t to write an academic dissertation, but to get a better knowledge of how technologists and clerks/merchants relate to one another, and to see whether the new tradition tree would be sufficient to make trading fairly competitive.
- Base: 6
- +2 basic Energy Nexus
- Eco-techs account for 60% of the total (not inclucding repeatables)
- Synthetic Thought Patterns have increased by 5%. (tech)
- Subsidies for capacity of up to 50% (edict)
- Hegemony +15 percent at lvl4
- At level 4, there is a 10% increase in industrial development (galactic resolution)
- +15 Percentage Points for Ingenuity (trait)
- Generator World has a 25% bonus (planet designation)
- 5% increase / (10 percent if slave) Motivators in the Workplace (tradition, domination tree)
- Extended shifts +10% (or 20% if you’re a slave) (edict)
- Authoritarian Authoritarian Authoritarian Authoritarian Authoritarian Authoritarian Authoritarian Authorit (ethic)
- +2% for each govorner level
- a 10% increase in ironfist (governor trait, if slave)
- a 5% increase in Crystal Focus (empire modifier)
- Solar Power has been increased by 5%. (empire modifire)
- Anthem of Aurora has a 5% bonus (empire modifier)
(synth/nanite governor bonus not added) = 250 percent
- Clerk 4 as a starting point
- +1 base to clerks for trickle-up economics (mercantile traditions)
- Thrifty to the tune of 25% (trait)
- +20 percent Xenophile Fanatic (ethic)
- Free Traders get a 10% bonus (civic, mega corp only)
- a 10% return on investment (ruler trait)
- a mercantile diplomatic position worth 10%
- The Galactic Stock Exchange has a 20% bonus (building)
- +20% in the urban world (planet designation)
- Import/Export Agenda with a 5% increase
- At level 5, you may get a 25% increase in Galactic Commerce Resolution.
- enclave trader with a 10% bonus (Governor trait)
Tree of Mercantile Customs (not implemented yet)
- For commercial zones, add a merchant.
- +10% Increase in the number of superior ideas in the marketplace
- Finisher with a 10% bonus
League of Commerce
- +20 percent / 30% (if president) Level 5 of the League of Commerce
- Trade strategy of 50% plus in the Trade League
Σ = 255 %
Modifiers That Make You Stand Out:
+2 basic prod from the nexus of energy (tech)
Subsidies for capacity of up to 50% (edict)
28c per technician output
Modifiers That Stand Out in the Market:
+1 base to clerks for trickle-up economics
For commercial zones, add a merchant.
+50% trade policy
+20 percent / 30% (if president) Level 5 of the Trade League
17,75c per clerk output
42,6c per merchant output
24c average production with a clerk/merchant ratio of 3:1
First and foremost, we can observe that technicians are much more productive than clerks in this best-case scenario, producing approximately 64 percent more resources per person. We can also see that the bonus % is almost identical, but since technical positions have a greater base value, it simply scales better and makes them more effective.
On the other hand, because of their greater base value, merchants are approximately 65 percent better than technologists, which makes logical given that we are comparing a worker to a ruler job. With the new perk, which provides you access to many more merchant positions than you would normally have, I imagine you’ll be able to reach a clerk to merchant ratio of 3:1, since you’ll only hit the planet pop limitation once in a while. With that ratio, your average production per pop is really very near to technicians’ output. Given that clerks and merchants both create comforts, this seems to have a pretty similar production value, which is pleasant and something I didn’t anticipate. Of course, we must remember that repeatables are not included in this list, which will eventually lead to technical jobs outscaling any trade in the mid to late game.
Second, we can see that the biggest trade benefits are tied to traditions, while the most significant bonuses for technicians are tied to technologies, and you must also utilize an edict slot, which I believe is a good design decision since it adds diversity.
We can now go at the mechanics of both systems and the investments that go along with either having a production or trade focused economy after this basic study of the key modifiers and comparison of the productivity of both choices. I won’t put any figures here since it’s difficult to define how much of an investment you’ll need to make, but I think that explaining the concepts will enough to reach a decision. I almost feel like I can skip this section since it is so apparent, so I shall do so.
If you want to concentrate your economy on technicians, all you have to do is study the appropriate eco technologies, which doesn’t come at a high cost of opportunity since it’s in the physics tree, which has the least essential techs overall. Then you implement capacity subsidies, build up an energy nexus on your chosen generating planet, and you’re good to go. That’s basically all you need to do to be reasonably productive; anything else is great to have, but it won’t even come close to the effect this simple setup will have. Of course, this has the “drawback” of requiring a planet with at least six energy reserves (ideally more), but this isn’t a problem in the overwhelming majority of instances. Many of the small worker production boosts also apply to your mineral and food output, making things even easier.
However, there is a bit more to consider if you wish to concentrate your empire on commerce. To gain access to the most powerful bonuses, you must first complete one Tradition tree and then either find some spacefaring merchants who want to found a trade league and let you in, which is a big risk and only happens once in a while, or you must choose either the merchant guilds civic or be a megacorp, open up another tradition, and create one yourself.
You’ll also need to construct a lot of commercial zones to acquire enough merchant jobs to compete with technicians, as illustrated above, which will take up precious building slots (you know those things, where you usually build labs).
But the story doesn’t end there. After you’ve put in the work to make your trade economy competitive, you’ll need to gather all of the trade value, which means you’ll need to construct starbases on top of your trading centers, or at the very least near them, and build some trade hubs on them. Last but not least, all transaction value must be transferred to your capital and therefore must be safeguarded. You may either line up starbases along the way, construct a shitload of gateways (and hope your CPU can handle it), or deploy a few pirate hunter fleets. Oh, and even if you do all of this, your economy will be far more vulnerable to assaults, since even small systems captured by the enemy may quickly shut off trade routes, leaving you in a significant deficit.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe all of those trade mechanisms make sense and are immersive, but it is obvious that correctly setting up a trade economy takes a lot more work.
Trade is still weak, even with the new mercantile tradition, which is a fair boost in my opinion. As demonstrated, trade can keep up with normal energy production through technicians under ideal conditions, but the investment required is much greater. You must carefully choose your civics and traits at the outset, commit to it via tradition trees, which has a high opportunity cost in my opinion, and also somewhat lock yourself in a diplomatic playstyle with the required trade league to keep up, and even with all of this set up, you will only just break even in terms of productivity until repeatables kick in, at which point you will have no chance to compete.
Overall, I enjoy the mechanics of trade, and I think it makes logical that establishing a thriving, interplanetary trading empire is more difficult than just collecting energy. However, I do not believe the reward is worth all of the effort. If done correctly, trading should be more lucrative than technicians when considering the whole setup you’ll need to make it happen. Technicians, in my opinion, should be the low-effort, dependable method to collect energy credits, while trading should be a high-risk, high-reward game. As things are, this isn’t the case, and if you don’t have access to a trade league, you’re better off skipping trade altogether (as most people do right now)
I don’t believe there is anything that needs to be changed, since the mechanics itself are good in my opinion; it’s just that the numbers don’t add up as they should. I would only make two minor adjustments.
Pop output modifiers must have an impact on the first transaction (I want my necrophage-shadow-council-merchant empire pdx pleeeease)
Second, in order to stay viable in the latter phases of the game, repeatable trade technologies are required, which should most likely be included in societal research. There will most likely be 1-2 basic technologies followed by a recurring 5% trade value. The precise figures are debatable, but it would be a simple adjustment to add precisely the modifiers required to make trade profitable. I’m not sure whether it’s simply a % modification or another +1 basic trade value for clerks, and I’ve written enough to let someone else figure it out.
TL;DR Trade can compete with technicians until repeatables kick in, thanks to the new mercantile tradition tree and ideal circumstances. However, without a suitable payoff, the investment, risk, and opportunity cost of a trade setup are much greater. More boosts and access to repeatables are needed in the trade.
u/MrFreake I hope I’m not disturbing you, but you have no idea how much it would brighten my day to hear from one of the developers about their thoughts on the current status of commerce in the game. Cheers!
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Frequently Asked Questions
Whats the difference between a trade and a profession?
A profession is a job that you do for money, while a trade is something you are good at doing.
What is classed as a trade?
A trade is a transaction where one person gives up something of value in order to receive something else.
What makes a profession a trade?
A trade is a profession that requires someone to learn and practice in order to become proficient.