One of the paths to doing well in Ikariam is to trade resources. This page is intended to suggest strategies for pricing goods for buy and sell, and to help with some basic questions and answers - in short, an FAQ of sorts.
Why should I trade my luxury goods?
Trading luxury goods by verbal agreement/swap or buying and selling via the Trading post enables you to obtain those luxury goods that you don't have.
What should I charge for goods?
For a beginner in a fresh start economy, everyone's pretty much in the same boat: Goods are expensive and it's easier to trade 1:1 and meet new people than to spend money. However, as alliances come up, the alliances are going to be more particular about with whom they make equal trades, and may work internally and not so much externally.
In some cases, desperate times calls for desperate measures. If you're a small upstart in a large economy, and you can't find anyone who will trade, and you don't have money, the best thing to do is to gather as much of your island's resources as you can fit in your trading post and sell for cheap relative to the other listings. If you need 100 , and the marble is selling at 35 , but nobody's buying your sulphur, sell 200 at 1 . It'll be snatched up rather quickly, and you have the money to buy 100 at 35 .
When you're more in control of your finances and you can afford to wait a bit on your returns, that is a good time to up the prices of what you sell. Marble is a good thing to have. However, if you know that the areas around you are in war mode, having sulfur can be advantageous.
How does Helping Hands change the cost of goods?
Helping Hands: Take the number of workers eligible to work gathering resources and add 50% of that number. Every 4 additional workers for wood brings an additional 1 unit of wood per hour. Every 8 additional workers for luxury gathers 1 additional unit of luxury per hour. This means that those extra workers are not bringing in income. However, the overall cost is about 1.33 citizens *4 gold (non-income) per unit of wood per hour, and 2.67 citizens *4 gold (non-income) per unit of luxury per hour, depending on level of resource source and based upon total occupancy. These make a slight difference to cost; however, if you look at income, you can see your income drop drastically when using helping hands. When you're building, you probably won't care. When you're trading, having income is important to get more goods and to buy more Cargo Ships, which you should be doing as often as makes sense.
How many Cargo Ships should I have? When should I buy them?
The short answer is the obvious one: as many as you can and as often as you can afford them. The conservative answer for affordability is to make certain you have enough gold to cover expenses after you purchase the cargo ship. You absolutely do not want to lose your investment in units because you can't afford their upkeep. A more general, but easier to remember, rule of thumb is to buy half your gold's worth of cargo ships. When you start moving goods around swiftly, you will find that this is very easily accomplished, and that you'll be able to afford a new cargo ship every few days.
In a Trading post what is "Looking for" offering? And how can I use it well?
Looking for means people who are SELLing the chosen good. These prices are the prices you will need to compete with if you choose to passively sell your goods at the trading post. Passive selling is the best way to get the price that you want to sell at, but it relies on other players to make the decision to send cargo ships your direction to buy. If you are priced too high, you may be sitting on your selling goods for longer than you want. Especially, those goods sitting in your trading post aren't being used to increase your empire. Don't forget about them!
When you sell your goods, your information will also show in Looking for. Don't forget that your distance number is part of the equation. People who are in a hurry might consider paying a premium to get goods that are closer to them.
Offering means people who want to passively buy the chosen good. These prices tend to be a LOT lower than the selling price. In fact, they are doubly cheap because they want the sellers to come fill their demands with the Seller's cargo ships. Rather lazy, to be sure. However, if you're in a hurry to sell, this can be a way to at least get some money for your efforts of purchasing or gathering your goods. Don't overlook this path. Even though it's your action point and your cargo ships, and your time, you can still likely make some money by selectively fulfilling certain requests.
How can I use the Premium Trader?
Now that that disclaimer is out of the way, in the trading post or by clicking the Ambrosia link at the top of the page, you can enter the Trader. Use of the trader requires 5 Ambrosia, and may decrement your ambrosia account each time you press the trade complete button, so be careful!
The trader is a fast and easy way to convert wood to luxury or luxury to luxury at 1:1. Simply reduce the amount of one luxury and raise the amount of another luxury or luxuries. When you're finished, make sure you max all luxuries in order to avoid an error telling you that you didn't assign all luxuries.
The trader is good for splitting up your own resources so you can build that Palace or whatever. The trader is also good for when you buy that resource that's really cheap and converting it to marble or wine to sell for profit.
What about buildings?
There are 4 buildings that affect trade:
- Trading port - Without this, you can't buy Cargo Ships.
- Trading post - Without this, you can't buy or sell goods. You probably can get away with a level 5 trading post for a while. When you reach levels where your buildings take a day or two to build, increasing the trading post's level helps you gather potentially better deals outside of your known zone. This is especially important because further out from you might be more newbies selling at ridiculously low prices. Admittedly, they'll sell less of it than you'll want per action point, but the idea is profit where you can. 600 at 20 does help even if you're buying 6000 at 30 elsewhere. Another benefit of the trading post's higher levels is the amount of goods you can passively offer to sell or to buy. Having the ability to eventually passively sell 16,000 of a good at a time makes you a double-edged target. On a trade basis, it means that you're more likely to be worth an action point, even if you're at a premium distance, and perhaps at a premium price because you have more goods to sell. It might also mean that you could be a target for pillaging, because you're announcing your inventory. Nonetheless, the rewards are very likely to outpace the risks, especially if the costs of purchase are better than the costs of war.
- Also, note that your capacity to hold goods to sell in a trading post does not change your storage capacity of the Warehouse. Consider the trading post to be more of a user customizable catalog of what the warehouse holds. In one sense, the quantity of goods in the trading post subtracts from the maximum that the Warehouse would hold if nothing was in the trading post.
- Warehouse - Critical for two purposes: How many goods you can hold and therefore sell or gather, and of course, how many goods are protected. You should be careful not to purchase more than your capacity to hold, because you will lose the excess.
- Town hall - Again, important for two purposes: citizens to gather goods on your own island to sell, as well as the number of action points. Action points are very important because not having enough could mean you aren't shipping supplies around to your other colonies if you've used all your action points to buy or sell goods.
If in a difficult situation
For example: I need marble in order to raise the level of my Trading post, but no one's selling. There are no weak towns on my island, and I can't figure out how to attack off my island. So, I'm stuck. What can I do?
First, sell what you can gather at around 30 just to get some gold. Even if your Trading post isn't high, other people around you can see. Selling cheaply gets you cash. If you're really only looking to raise your trading post, you probably can set a BUY offer for 100 (or more) at 50 gold each. You'll get your marble. I don't recommend this for all your needs. However, desperate times... Nonetheless, you probably want to research Expansion as soon as possible, then build your Palace, which requires only wood to build your first level, and colonize on a marble island so you will be out of this situation. On the other hand, you can start asking around for trades of your goods for marble.
As a side note, you'd need to have some Cargo Ships, some units from your Barracks, and find an island in World View to make an attempt to pillage off your island. If you're as weak as your question suggests, you probably don't want to irk anyone at this stage.