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How does trade work?

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Trade was one the most undercooked mechanics from TI3 and it looks to be one of the bigger changes in TI4. After reading the rules explanation I am still a little confused though. 

 

From the release

 

Trade - Trade contracts do not exist in Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition. Instead, commodities are traded between factions who have ships in adjacent systems. Every time the trade strategy card is used, its primary ability allows a faction to “refresh” their commodities. Then, that faction may choose to let any other factions refresh their commodities for free. Other factions may then use trade’s secondary ability to spend a token from their strategy pool to refresh their commodities. Commodities do nothing on their own, but become traditional trade goods when given to another faction.

 

First off, you can only trade commodities with your neighbours but  allow any player to refresh their commodities. Why would you allow anyone but your neighbours refresh their commodities?

 

Second, what does it mean to refresh your commodities? Are the commodities those new symbols on the planet cards?

 

All-in-all I'm happy to see them trying something new with trade but I'm wondering how it's going to play out. If trading is a one off event instead of an ongoing contract what stops me from making and breaking trade alliances on a whim? In TI3 breaking a contract was a big deal because it took so long to get them back up and running. 

 

Also not sure how it's going to affect the metagame. Are we now incentivized to team up with our neighbours? TI3 was usually team with one neighbour attack the other but this seems like I want to befriend both neighbours and at the very least it's going to cool conflict with any player you come in contact with. 

 

I find this the most interesting mechanic, so let's speculate!

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With the commodities becoming trade goods when given to another player, why would I, the guy you attacked, give you my commodities (trade goods to you) to fun more of your ships?

Trade Contracts were good, but this seems to add a bit more of a personal feel through a game mechanic, rather than a game mechanic giving giving a restricting feel.

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Commodities, similar to TI3's trade agreements, are cards you place within your play area.

Edit: Actually it seems there are no cards but printed on the racial sheets. When you refresh you get an amount of commodities tokens that can be given away as trade goods.

When the trade SC is played every player may trade commmodities to players with adjacent ships in the form of "Trade Goods".

Then the primary player may instantly refresh his/her commodities and then offer others to do the same.

Anyone who didn't get to refresh now has the opportunity to do so but must pay a strategy token for it.

 

As with much else, the reason to allow others to refresh their commodities for free would be a diplomatic tool. Remember that if the other players doesn't have refreshed cards, YOU cannot receive trade goods from them.

 

This is how I interpret how trading is done though I might of course be wrong. What strikes me as weird is why it couldn't just be called "Trade Goods" all along, why have it called "commodities" when they instantly become "trade goods" whenever used? There might be other aspects of the game dealing with this though were the distinction is important.

 

Edited by Soulless

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21 minutes ago, Archangelion said:

You can't spend commodities for yourself, you can spend trade goods for yourself.

Yes but they are easily differentiated by the trade goods sitting in my "commodities" area on my racial sheet and the trade goods in the "trade goods" area of my play sheet. Im guessing the reason for the two of them is to reduce the risk of them mixing up but it seems as having two sets of different tokens could easily have been managed by a single set of "trade goods" tokens.

 

I did read someone suggesting that perhaps the commodities tokens are two sided, with one exhaust side and one refreshed side. Similar to cards but in token form. This would explain it I guess!

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I for one like this mechanic. It means that your neighbors are more likely going to be your trade partners than a constant threat. This combined the game having a stronger emphasis on capturing and holding Mechitol Rex (new Imperial card) I can see games boiling down to 2 or 3 trade alliances vs. eachother.

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3 hours ago, Soulless said:

Yes but they are easily differentiated by the trade goods sitting in my "commodities" area on my racial sheet and the trade goods in the "trade goods" area of my play sheet. Im guessing the reason for the two of them is to reduce the risk of them mixing up but it seems as having two sets of different tokens could easily have been managed by a single set of "trade goods" tokens.

 

I did read someone suggesting that perhaps the commodities tokens are two sided, with one exhaust side and one refreshed side. Similar to cards but in token form. This would explain it I guess!

Either that or the trade good tokens and commodity tokens are the same, just opposite sides, and refreshing your commodities simply means you gain a number of commodities equil to your commodity value. That way you physically take commodities from your pool and hand them to another player in trade and they simply place them trade good side up.

I'm thinking they did this because some rules and cards will refer to trade goods while others will refer to commodities. The different names allows for rules to be simpler on the effects.

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One of the issues TI3 had (before the expansions especially) was it encouraged you to turtle up and play defensively. A lot of the optional rules in the expansions were designed to reverse that and encourage interaction and conflict among players.

One of the things that encouraged turtling was the trade agreements. If you were getting a solid benefit each round and that benefit would go away if you started fighting people it encouraged you to just sit in your corner and not engage. I suspect this new way of handling trade is meant to avoid that issue, allowing trade to play a bigger role in the game without making you want to hold back.

 

All that said, I'd bet that the Hacan can trade with anyone, whether they are adjacent or not, and probably they can refresh their pool of commodities without a CC regardless of what the person with the trade card says. That would explain why they get 6 commodities when they refresh, while most everyone else gets 2-3. Every time trade comes up they can trade with everyone, gaining 6 trade goods total, while only giving any given opponent 1-2.

I do wonder if you can hold a maximum number of commodities though. If you don't trade all of the ones you have in a given round and then get more, can you keep stacking them up? Don't see a lot of reason to do so, but a player who is ahead in VPs might find themselves with no one willing to trade with them for a few rounds. could such a player hoard 10-12 commodities and then have a big reserve for when someone else starts looking like a bigger threat?

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9 hours ago, Forgottenlore said:

One of the issues TI3 had (before the expansions especially) was it encouraged you to turtle up and play defensively. A lot of the optional rules in the expansions were designed to reverse that and encourage interaction and conflict among players.

One of the things that encouraged turtling was the trade agreements. If you were getting a solid benefit each round and that benefit would go away if you started fighting people it encouraged you to just sit in your corner and not engage. I suspect this new way of handling trade is meant to avoid that issue, allowing trade to play a bigger role in the game without making you want to hold back.

I think in TI3, with the new objectives, all variants that encourage combat, it's still best to let others do the fighting (first). :D Frankly, in our group, trade is one of the least picked strategy. While it is true that it gives you a nice income and a mercenary, it's not going to stop you from attacking your neighbor, if that will accomplish an objective. It also gives trade goods to anybody, who didn't pick the Trade strategy. There are no real consequences for attacking (other than diplomatic relations turning sour), since next round you can make the same trade agreements again. It's rare that the primary player is not letting people trade.

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Although this is speculation on my part, the commodities appear to be adjusted stand-ins for the trade agreements from 3rd edition. Instead of providing cards, each race has a set amount of commodities that can be "produced" each turn. For example, from the picture shown the Hacan begin with 6 commodities, the Federation of Sol has 4, Yin Brotherhood 2, etc. However, commodities are worthless to the race that owns them, and only gain value when converted to TGs by giving them to other players. Instead of exchanging TAs with other players, you can exchange some or all of your commodities with others using the "ships must be adjacent" rule. You could exchange with one or more players during a turn, and the commodities you receive become TGs for your own use later on. Not only does this mechanic provide part of the economic engine for the game, but can also be used as a diplomatic tool based upon who/how many you decide to exchange. 

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remember that its not "adjacent players" though but any player with a ship adjacent to one of your ships.

Sure enough it will most likely be your immediate neighbours but a few rounds in it could be anyone!

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From the preview

Primary
Gain 3 trade goods.
Replenish commodities.
Choose any number of other 
players. Those players use the 
secondary of this strategy 
card without spending a 
command token.
Secondary
Spend 1 token from 
your strategy pool to 
replenish commodities.

I cannot find the source with the adjacent requirement, anyone care to link it?

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From the preview article (between the pictures of objective cards and promissory notes, 2nd paragraph)

Quote

However, trading with other players can be a risky proposition, and encourages factions to toe the line between friend and foe, as you may only trade with your neighbors. A neighbor is defined as any faction who has ships or claimed planets in a system adjacent to your own.

 

From the product page

Quote

Trade - Trade contracts do not exist in Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition. Instead, commodities are traded between factions who have ships in adjacent systems. Every time the trade strategy card is used, its primary ability allows a faction to “refresh” their commodities. Then, that faction may choose to let any other factions refresh their commodities for free. Other factions may then use trade’s secondary ability to spend a token from their strategy pool to refresh their commodities. Commodities do nothing on their own, but become traditional trade goods when given to another faction.

 

Edited by Forgottenlore

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The trading with your neighbours bit is them talking about the game though. It may not mean what it would mean in the rulebook. If it's in the rule book then that comparison would make sense. It may simply mean that you may trade with your neighbours (another player who controls a system adjacent to a system you control).

Until we see the rulebook, this will remain unclear. Though I doubt it will be limited to the people who's home systems neighbour your own.

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I'm not sure what "comparison" your talking about, or what you think is unclear. The only ambiguity is whether it is needing specifically ships adjacent to each other, or if systems count too, as the 2 bits of text contradict each other on that point, otherwise it is very clear "commodities are traded between factions who have ships in adjacent systems" and "you may only trade with your neighbors. A neighbor is defined as any faction who has ships or claimed planets in a system adjacent to your own."

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18 hours ago, Archangelion said:

The unclear bit comes from not having a rulebook telling us what the actual rules are. All we have is an article giving us a rough idea of how it might/should/could/will work.

 

I would say that an article from the developer of the game describing how trading is done is probably a good indication on how it will actually work according to the rulebook as well. We cant make out the details of course but the article is pretty clear that if two players have ships and/or planets in adjacent systems they are considered "neighours" for the purpose of trading.

This might change before release of the official rulebook but for now the article is pretty clear on how that part of trading works.

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43 minutes ago, Soulless said:

 

I would say that an article from the developer of the game describing how trading is done is probably a good indication on how it will actually work according to the rulebook as well. We cant make out the details of course but the article is pretty clear that if two players have ships and/or planets in adjacent systems they are considered "neighours" for the purpose of trading.

This might change before release of the official rulebook but for now the article is pretty clear on how that part of trading works.

That's what we're talking about. Wether the adjacent player is referring to the player as they sit around the table, or the system adjacent to your units.

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Quote

A neighbor is defined as any faction who has ships or claimed planets in a system adjacent to your own.

 

Quote

commodities are traded between factions who have ships in adjacent systems.

Those 2 lines don't give any indication at all that seating arrangement is relevant. Is there a line somewhere that the rest of us have missed that suggests it does?

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50 minutes ago, Forgottenlore said:

What could? "Neighbor"? They explicitly defined that term and how it relates to trading. 

See, this is my point. There is no rule book for TI4, so any arguments over what the rules do or don't say is just silly, because we don't have any. We have a very similar game, but this is a new mechanic that We we have been given an idea on how it's going to work. We will know for sure when the rules come out. I'm sure it will mean adjacent system, and not your next door neighbour.

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Disclaimer:  Everything I'm saying in this post is based off of speculation, so take it all with a grain of salt.

I'm guessing that each race will have two commodity cards, each with a specific numerical value, just as you have two trade agreement cards in TI3.  However, instead of giving your trade agreement cards to each other, you can simply exhaust one of your commodity cards to allow one of your neighbors to draw that number of Trade Goods.  This means that they will be "use or lose," meaning that if you don't give away your commodities before you have the opportunity to refresh them, those trade goods are effectively wasted.

There might be a specific time when you are allowed to do this, but I'm guessing that it can happen at any time.  This means that if somebody uses the Trade Strategy Card, you can give away your commodities during the Primary Ability, then refresh them using the secondary ability.

If my speculation is correct (or close to it), I have mixed feelings about it.  I like that you can "trade" with just about anybody you want, even if you are fighting them frequently (example: being allies but trading planets/ships to mutually achieve conquest objectives).  However, I'm not sure how I feel about the "adjacent neighbor" clause.  I do like that this encourages building the map so that wormholes connect across the board, and how wormholes become trading hubs.  That is very thematic, which I love.  However, I do worry that it will encourage turtling in a game that already tends to encourage that behavior.

My favorite games of TI were the ones with early and frequent aggression.  To properly beat somebody up, that often meant trading with one of your neighbors, then attacking your other neighbor while trading with the guy on the other side of him.  As a bully race, I would often encroach on my nieghbors' "personal space" and set up shop.  Then, rather than attacking them further and weakening my position, I would use my intimidating position to negotiate for trade.  The trade agreement would act as a bit of deterrent to them coming after me later, and I'd have a long-term advantage with the extra territory.  It may be harder to implement these kinds of strategies with the new system.  I guess we'll see how it turns out.

This does bring up an additional question:  If commodities can be turned into trade goods, and trade goods can be given to any player at any time, what's the point of having commodities at all, aside from forcing me to play nice with my neighbors?  Maybe trade goods will also be transferrable only to adjacent neighbors.  Or heck, maybe they won't be transferrable at all, and serve only as a way to save up resources and influence between turns.

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