This guide is aimed at beginners who have recently started playing Offworld Trading Company and have at least completed the tutorials, yet, can help you even if you are already winning games.
In Offworld Trading Company, you are competing against rival companies to secure your own monopoly. To win a skirmish or a multiplayer match, the sole objective is to buy out all of your competition. With money.
If you look more closely, the buildings in the menu on the left are also showing the amount of profit that building would make when built. However, there are many caveats to this – it doesn’t account for most bonuses, makes other assumptions and power (electricity) buildings don’t reflect their true purpose, we will revisit them in the Debt and Power section.
Now, to make more money, you want to make the numbers on the screen bigger and to have more of those tasty numbers, of course! A profitable building needs a claim and increasing the amount of claims is usually the best investment in the game you can do (and be sure to remember to use those claims!) There are 4 ways to get more claims: buying out a player, winning a “tile claim” auction, buying a black market item “bribe claim” (when available) and, most importantly, upgrading your HQ. HQ upgrades give you the most claims by far, so be sure to use them.
Onto the second point of “making the numbers on the screen bigger”. One of the simplest ways to do that is to scrap the low number buildings and replace them with better buildings. Simple! An another way is to use adjacency bonuses. Any time you have two buildings of the same kind next to each other, both get 50% more production without requiring more consumption, which means that the profitactually increases by more than 50% (if the building consumes something). A triangle of buildings makes each tile 75% more effective instead. There are more ways to make your tiles more useful but this is enough for now.
Resources and money are practically the same thing but only if you respect these two rules:
- Sell resources you don’t need.
- Buy cheap resources you need instead of producing them.
That’s pretty much it. If you need 40 glass but glass kilns make very little money, don’t build glass kilns. Sell whatever you’re making and buy glass instead. If glass kilns make a lot, build them anyways (always build more than one!) because you can sell glass and buy whatever you want. The next section will go over what you should prioritize.
So, in theory, buildings make resources instead of money but if you sell and buy, you effectively get money!
Some things that will get in the way of you selling and buying:
Repeatedly clicking the sell button can get very annoying and that’s why there are hotkeys to autosell and buy/sell different amounts.
There is no auto-buy for resources but there is auto-buy for buildings that consume them. Instead of clicking on each building individually, I recommend setting an option that will always automatically do that for you. And, while you’re at it, click a few more checkboxes…
- Auto-Supply is exactly that – it will automatically buy resources you need so you can money.
- Show Total Costs will show the total cost of an upgrade/building.
- Show Tile Text will show additional tile info like how long until a disabled building can power back on again.
- Turn Off Unprofitable will automatically stop a building that is making negative money so you don’t lose any (check both).
Here’s the thing: prices change all the time. Profitable buildings become useless, useless buildings become profitable and it’s wise to know how that happens. The main reason, of course, is supply and demand!
There are two main sources of supply and demand: the players and the colony. There exist other sources but they are much harder to predict. When any player buys or sells a resource, it affects that resource’s price! This is modelled after real life economics. The important thing is that knowledge of what will be bought and sold can help make decisions.
Selling some aluminum will decrease its price.
Buying some aluminum will increase its price.
A person who has an iron mine will sell that iron overtime, increasing its supply.
A person who has steel mills will buy that iron overtime, increasing its demand.
Every player wants to upgrade their HQ and generates demand for their upgrade resources.
The Mars colony is the ultimate consumer that is constantly demanding for a bunch of resources and will increase their prices without ever making anything themselves (their demand grows, too!)
The colony in that picture is asking for a lot of glass. It means glass will rise in price more than normal and it will be more profitable to use glass kilns. Glass kilns use a lot of silicon and oxygen so whoever is up to making the glass, will also use more silicon and oxygen, increasing their prices (which also make the glass kilns less profitable if they do increase!). This is why it’s highly recommended that you collect some silicon if you’re making glass. Not necessarily because silicon is expensive but because it will be expensive (unless somebody else is just selling it for cheap).
It is very important to plan ahead and predict what is going to be the most profitable in the future.
Note that HQs need different resources, both to construct and to upgrade.
A good player has all of this in mind and, very importantly, thinks about it before even founding an HQ! When Founding HQ, a player wants easy access to their building resources. Additionally, if you check and see that the Colony buys a lot of glass, you might want to have silicon available nearby. If it’s chemicals, carbon will be profitable and scavengers need carbon for everything anyways so they will likely have a bunch to spare.
Founding is very important so I recommend paying more attention to it and perhaps even wathcing a video or two about founding.
Ranked matches and/or the Jupiter’s Forge DLC have more locations (Ceres and Io), more buildings on their respective locations and more HQs (Nomads and Elite). These additions change the dynamics significantly.
A common mistake is to assume that this is wasting a lot of money. It is not. These life support resources are vitaly important and companies are allowed to buy them for debt. This picture is of an Expansive HQ 3, which consumes 0.4 water, 0.6 food and 0.2 oxygen all of which you get for free*. However, I am using more water and oxygen for electrolysis reactors and glass kilns, which are set on auto-supply – these do cost a bunch of real money. Unfortunately, the losses aren’t shown very well by the game but the method of holding X and looking at your tiles is still accurate.
Power is a completely separate resource: you never have to pay for power in cash, your buildings are powered for free* completely by debt. Power also has no stockpile and is immediately bought and sold, this makes its price fluctuate with much higher ups and much lower lows.
Freighters that transport your resources use fuel and can generate a lot of debt if you’re shipping resources from too far away. Try to connect tiles to your HQ and claim tiles relatively close. Power buildings don’t require shipping.
Another source of debt is from auctions – whoever bids highest, receives the auctioned item for free* and receives the amount of debt they bid.As you may have guessed, that “free” debt has consequences – your stock price gets slightly cheaper meaning you’re slightly easier to eliminate from the game and a debt bond rating of |D| prevents you from using most Black Market itmes. Debt is very manageable with a few tips and rules of thumb:
- Make some power buildings after upgrading to HQ3
- Watch your debt rating and make sure it doesn’t go |D| or worse. Start worrying at rating |B| and make more power/life support buildings.
- If power/life support is unprofitable, you might want to pay debt from cash to get from |D| to |C| but TRY NOT TO PAY DEBT.
- Also, don’t bid too much on auctions if you have a lot of debt already (but do bid a little!)
Debt gets more easy to grasp as you play the game more (and perhaps read more guides).
A few more advanced notes:
It’s easier to manage debt with Robotic HQ.
Power buildings usually only pay for the debt and don’t make money but if you have no more debt to pay, they can bring in great profits! This is called “power money”.
If you have stockpiles, your HQ will consume the resouces from there instead of getting you more debt. For beginners, this is nice as you won’t have to watch your debt so often if you produce life support, yay! Meanwhile, professionals try to avoid this but that’s a topic for an another day.
But you have to attack too! Unlike in most games, usually the best target to attack in OTC is the strongest opponent. This is because it doesn’t cost that much more to buy out the strongest opponent but you will also have much less competition afterwards.
Use black market and advanced buildings. A beginner should focus on making money and not being eliminated first but good players try to make sure they buy a black market item as soon as they can. Try to master all other aspects to have more time for black market and advanced buildings and you will, too, keep up in no time.
Constantly check what your opponents are doing. Figure out who is strongest. If they’re doing great, try and learn what their secret of success was, during or after the game. But also attack them with black market right now so they don’t get too far in front!