Below are strategy tips for success in Offworld Trading Company.
---> Beginner's Guide <---
Driving up demand then exploiting it
Step 1: Identify a vulnerable resource
Look at the resources on the map and find a much-needed but little exploited one. Examples:
- CARBON: There are 2 scavenger players (which use A LOT of carbon instead of steel for building) and there isn't much carbon on the map. This makes carbon a good candidate.
- WATER: By nuking the water resources and/or keeping water gathering buildings disabled with Black Market abilities, you will cause real shortages in supply for enemy players. This is especially true if they have Cold Fusion which makes them very dependent on good water supply.
- POWER: Players using mostly solar are vulnerable to Black Market attacks during the day that disables their power, so they are forced to buy from market. Robotic players are also vulnerable due to using power instead of fuel.
Step 2: Stockpile the target resource
You can use various tactics to get the resource:
- Use Filthy Pirates to intercept multiple shipments of the given resource, e.g. carbon or water. Usually factories are built adjacent to the HQ so you cannot pirate non-raw products.
- Use the Hacker Array to fake a surplus of the resource, then buy a lot of it.
- If you have some claims to spare, build 2 or 3 buildings to harvest/manufacture the resource and build up some stock.
- You can also just buy it off the market without doing any of the above.
Note: Power cannot be stockpiled in this way. Simply build the power plants you need. However, getting the tech for stockpiling power can help you if power is your target resource.
Step 3: Raise demand for target resource
There are both peaceful and aggressive ways to raise the demand.
- AGGRESSIVE: Use Black Market abilities to disable enemy buildings that produce the resource to force them to buy from the market. This works well for basics like water, food, fuel, and power, but usually not so well for manufactured goods like glass or electronics, because players don't auto-buy those by default.
- PEACEFUL: Buying a lot of stock on the market in Step 2 will raise the demand, but if other players already make a lot of it, this won't drive up the price enough to make a profit. Use this when other players are not making much of it, e.g. carbon, chemicals, electronics.
- PEACEFUL: Use the Hacker Array to fake a shortage, then wait for the shortage to peak before selling off resources. Combining this with aggressive tactics to drive the demand up super-high is very effective.
- PEACEFUL: Timing and cunning is crucial for this option, especially early in the game, but if you can grab all or most of a much-used (like water) or a rare resource (carbon is usually more rare than other resources), then you automatically control the supply for it, and others are forced to buy on the market. You can compound (i.e. enhance) this advantage by also driving up demand/prices for the factories that use the resource, using a combination of the above tactics.
Step 4: PROFIT!!!!!
Sell the stockpiles of resources on the market for profit.
At this point you have to consider if you can keep it up or have to switch to another resource. Depending on the tactics you chose, you might want to switch to another resource. For instance, if you fooled other players into using up claims and resources to make a lot of a high-priced resource (e.g. electronics), you can reverse this by faking surpluses on the market with the Hacker Array or selling as much of it as possible while switching to another resource (follow from step 1 again) that others might not be focusing on. They will have wasted their resources/time/claims on a resource that is now cheap while you already switched to something there will be high demand for.
To accomplish this switch-tactic, you usually have to let the market demand 'build up slowly' using passive tactics so other players won't suspect market manipulation. Then as soon as everyone reacts to the demand by spending resources/cash/claims on it, you quickly go in for the profit, destroying the demand, and leaving them with useless buildings/resources, while you switch to something else. Quick and aggressive tactics too early on won't make the switch-tactic as good because other players won't have invested cash/resources/claims in it. They can thus react or recover quicker from the strategy.
Rushing for Offworld Market
The basic idea is to gather as many resources as quickly as possible (like steel and aluminum, depending on your hq-type) to upgrade your HQ to level 4, in order to unlock offworld rockets and send resources off-world. It is very profitable and can enable you to buy out other players much more easily if you can get your rockets working. The offworld rush is less powerful than it used to be, however, due to offworld prices generally starting lower and only increasing slowly over time.
This tactic is an end-game one, and leaves a player vulnerable to a lot of counters. One of the counters is where Black Market abilities are used to disable your steel production (or carbon if you're scavenger hq) that delays your resource gathering for upgrading. Another one is to drive you into debt through market-manipulation that makes your stock cheap (due to high debt) then buying up your stock by the time you get the rocket. Even if you use Goon Squad protection on your rocket when you do get it, its only temporary protection, and it is still easy to use any of the many Black Market sabotages to keep attacking it until your Goon Squads run out.
Rushing for Pleasure Dome
This is powerful when combined with the Virtual Reality tech that gives you +50% income from these buildings. They don't get bonuses from being next to each other, so keep them apart to protect them from Power Surge attacks or EMP attacks. They use a lot of power, so take care against Black Market attacks against your power grid or being too dependent on solar power (which will drive up your debt like crazy during night-times).
- Many people don't consider the massive bonuses that stacked levels of Optimization Center upgrades can give your resource production. After 4 upgrades, you get +100% bonus to production of that resource, and this bonus will stack with other bonuses such as the adjacency bonus. Using this in combination with other strategies will make you hard to beat. The disadvantage of this strategy is that players might sabotage your Optimization Center and/or chemical factories. But this can be countered with Goon Squad protection that both protects you and gives you free sabotages when you are targeted.
- If there are a lot of Scavenger HQs, you should expect a lot more Black Market actions from them, because that is their advantage. Get techs with the tech lab building that counter this, e.g. Thinking Machines where your buildings recover twice as fast from sabotages, or get Cold Fusion so it's easier to defend your power since water is easier to get than power from power plants (and more useful to make money with since its used in many other factories, even food).
- Try to combine technologies / upgrades with your HQ's strengths, for example, if you are Robotic, technologies that help with power will protect you against your weakness of power sabotage, and enhance your advantage of using power instead of fuel (fuel is harder to make than power, so it is an advantage).
Offworld Trading Company is a unique game that rewards thinking on your feet and adapting your strategy to constantly changing game conditions, not memorizing build orders and deploying hard counters. Every stratagem has a counter – literally, thanks to the real-time market pricing that is the game's core foundation – if you can see what your opponents are trying to do in time to react to it.