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Trade Port
Cost: 750 Credits 100 Metal 125 Crystal
Build Time: 50 Seconds
Logistics Slots: 4
Hull: 4500
Armor: 5
Ability: 1.0 credits/sec income + bonuses
Trade Ports allow your civilization to conduct trade between the various planets in the system, which earns the player credits.



BasicsEdit

IncomeEdit

The base income for each trade port is 1 credit per second. Then, 0.075 credits per second are added to all of your trade ports for each jump in the longest unbroken trade chain that you have. For example, if you have a continuous trade route 4 jumps long, you would earn 1.300 credits per second at each of your ports. If you hold your cursor over the Credits Summary, your longest trade route is highlighted on the system map. It's important to stress that this single longest route boosts the income of all your trade ports. For details on designing long routes, see below.

Very importantly, Trade Port income is not modified by allegiance. Trade is a meant for the expanding empire whose per-planet tax income is dropping due to distance from the homeworld. A larger empire can support longer trade routes, counter-balancing the effect of lower allegiance. (Claiming more UCGW extractors as you expand has a similar allegiance-compensating effect, for metal and crystal.)

Multiple ports at a planet DO stack; you receive income for each of them. Planets with a trade bonus are good candidates for TP stacking. However, it is usually better to spread your ports out so you expand the length of your longest trade chain and boost the income of all of them.

New Trade Ports take a minute or so to reach their full income as they spawn their initial trade ships. Also, it takes a few seconds for the map (and your income) to reflect your new longest chain, if you have added or subtracted any ports that change it. The chain updates when new ports are placed on the map, even if it will be a long time before your constructors get around to making it.

ResearchEdit

Both TEC and Vasari can perform research to increase their base trade income up to 30%. (The Advent can't increase theirs.) This increase only applies to the basic 1 credit/second that each trade port earns; it does not modify the additional income from your longest trade chain. Still, FWIW, the 30% increase is functionally equal to making your longest trade route be 4 jumps longer (4x.075 = +0.3 per port); each of the 4 research levels (2 topics x 2 levels) is the same as adding one more jump to your longest chain.


Trade ShipsEdit

Each Port fields 5 ships. If one is destroyed, 50 credits are awarded to the destroying player and the income of the depot goes down until the ship is replaced after 25 seconds. Trade ships are not particularly bright when choosing which systems to jump through, so beware of making trade ports close to or inside enemy or neutral territory. Like constructors, trade ships repair at extremely slow rates, and Repair Platforms must be manually directed to repair them (this latter point not tested but assumed to be true). So even if they zip through lightly defended hostile systems, they will eventually be killed. Unfortunately, trade ships do not show you systems you don't have a visual on - but you will be notified if they're being attacked there! (sigh)

You can turn symbols for trade (cargo) ships off in the User Interface options, if you want to reduce clutter or increase frame rates.


Designing Long Trade Routes Edit

As Tip # 20 says,

Building trade ports in adjacent planets will link them together. The longer the chain the more trade income will be generated per trade port. Hold the cursor over your credit summary to highlight your longest chain.

It's this unbroken chain that you want to pay close attention to, if interested in lucrative routes.

Importantly, uncolonizable gravity wells (UCGWs), including stars and wormholes, always allow trade through them - otherwise they would block potentially lucrative routes, versus how empires would want to trade e.g. from one star system to another. Stars (and wormhole connections between star systems) are especially nice, because they add two to your chain. It's why your income per Trade Port usually goes up as soon as you make your first Port in a different star system. You can have a 3-jump trade chain even if you only have two trade ports, if the ports are adjacent to disparate stars, forcing the trade ships to jump from star to star - or have even more jumps with just two ports, if there are other UCGWs between the ports and their stars. There's no limit to how many UCGWs can be in the chain, just as long as they lie on the route between two planets with TPs.

Similarly, Dead Asteroids also allow trade chains, because they don't have logistical slots - but this stops when a TEC player researches Development Mandate. Ultimately, Development Mandate gives the TEC player more control over their longest chain. (TEC can then choose whether their Dead Asteroids block or allow trade.)

Another important but subtle point is that sometimes it's more profitable to not have a Trade Port at a particular planet, in order to force your longest route "the long way around". That's right - spamming Trade Ports can easily result in LESS trade income in total, especially on large maps. So you may want to tactically choose a few planets to not have Trade Ports.

There's no easily-stated rule for when a new Port will cause you to lose money, because it depends not only on how much your longest chain might be shortened, if any (it isn't always easy to predict), but also because it depends on how many Trade Ports you have in total (the more that you have, the more that a decrease in the longest chain will be multiplied). A specific example can be easily calculated, however, so maybe the easiest rule is "do the math": Will the overall total trade income loss from shortening the chain be more than the income from the new trade port?

In any event, once you focus on route configuration, you'll get a feel for when a TP is a bad choice. A few general rules:

  • Any TP at your frontier shouldn't shorten your longest route; if anything, it may lengthen it
  • If your longest chain is pretty short (4 jumps or less), a new TP is probably worth it - there's not much length to lose
  • A TP adjacent to your current longest chain (in a place that doesn't extend it) should be looked at closely; it might shorten a leg or even close a loop
  • Watch those uncolonizable grav wells! They can be friends or foes to your longest route.

With creative tinkering, a few maps allow for some cool trade chains:

  • Here's an example of a modest chain, forced to go the long way. Spoiler alert: Shows the small Centrifuge map.
  • Here's an extreme example, with 34 jumps. Huge spoiler alert: This map has surprises; you may want to play all the large non-random stock maps before looking.

Planetary Trade Bonuses Edit

There are 23 types of Planet Bonuses, 8 of which affect income from Trade Ports. Here's a listing of trade bonuses sorted on decreasing trade income effect:


IncomePlanet Bonus NameTerDesIceVolAstWhen FoundAdditional Bonus
+30%Massive Pure GlaciersX-X--Colonizing or Explore 1-
+25%Mega Fauna--X--On ColonizingPopulation -15
+20%Kalanite Deposits---XXExplore 1 or Explore 2-
+20%Pharmaceutical FloraX----Explore 1 or Explore 2Population Growth +20%
+10%Expert Agrarian SocietyX----On Colonizing-
+10%Ionic Storms---X-On ColonizingPopulation -20
+10%Spice TradeXX---On Explore 1Culture Spread +5%
-20%High Security ProtocolXXXX-Colonizing or Explore 1Tactical Slots +5
Average trade income change +7.1% -1.0% +5.0% +1.0% +3.3% across all bonuses for each planet type


The average trade income change shows the average of how much trade income is changed by all bonuses for each type of planet. (The value of trade bonuses shown above were added and then divided by the total number of all possible bonuses, for each planet type.) Clearly, Terran and Ice planets are favored, and Deserts are not. Note that Explore Planet 1 might increase trade income - but also might reveal High Security Protocol.

Is it worth it? Edit

Is it worth it, to Explore for Trade Bonuses?

If you study the table above, you'll see that many trade bonuses will be, or have a chance to be, seen when you Colonize. While we just saw that Terran and Ice worlds are best for trade bonuses overall "before the fact" (before colonization), the situation is quite different once you have colonized (and seen bonuses that might appear when colonizing).

This is due to High Security Protocol. If you remove the three bonuses sure to be seen when Colonizing, notice that Desert (Spice), Ice (Glaciers), and Volcanic (Kalanite) planets only have one other trade bonus that might yet be seen at Explore 1 - in addition to High Security Protocol. Which is to say, you have a chance to find a positive trade bonus, but also a chance to find a negative trade bonus.

However, Terran planets have three positive trade bonuses that might be seen at Explore 1 (as well as Security). In a sense, one of these sort of cancels the chance of finding Security, and you're left with a net two possible positive trade bonuses. Clearly, it's wisest to spend money on Terran planets first, if you want to find trade bonuses. But keep in mind that Starting Homeworlds never have bonuses, even if no one actually started on them. (They might have artifacts if no one started on them, however.)

As a fallback, Ice planets are next best. This is because Explore 1 might reveal the -20% Security bonus or the +30% Glaciers bonus, a net +10% possible bonus.

In comparison, Volcano worlds have a 50% chance* of a +20% Kalanite bonus but a 100% chance of a -20% Security (overall, a net -10% likely impact on trade), and Desert worlds have a 100% chance of the +10% Spice bonus but also a 100% chance of the -20% Security (also net -10%). Of course, Volcano worlds also have the potential for Expert Metal Miners on Explore 1, which always makes it worth it. Just don't put Trade Ports if you find High Security Protocol.

*Here, "100%" and "50%" only refer to whether a bonus will be found at Explore 1 (if not already found at Colonizing), versus whether it will be found at Explore 1 or Explore 2. The chances of actually finding a bonus are, of course, much lower, as reflected in the bottom of the Planet Bonuses table (but adjust for the fact that you've already colonized, and thus have altered some of the possible findings and modified the general odds shown there).

Asteroids cannot have Security protocol, have a 50% chance of finding Kalanite with Explore 1, and have less bonuses for the game to pick from than most other planet types - but they can only have three Trade Ports at most (four with TEC Development Mandate). These might be your third choice after Ice worlds. Choose your poison.

NotesEdit

  • In version 1.03, you can adjust the rate of income for a game, when starting or loading it. (You have to load it from the Main Menu to get this option.) Values shown on this wiki are for Slow income rates; Normal is +15% income, and Fast is +30%.
  • The Advent can use Resource Focus to essentially turn Trade Ports into Refineries. For better or worse, ports on Resource Focus do still participate in making (or breaking) long trade chains, but do not otherwise have anything to do with trade income.
  • When figuring trade-chain paths (or when sending ships), the game seems to define "shortest distance" more precisely as "quickest route for ships to travel". To wit, sometimes it will choose trade-chain paths that use wormholes between star systems, even though the path needs more jumps than a star-based path - likely due to the fact that ships move faster between stars using wormholes. So it doesn't seem to use the number of jumps, per se. Sometimes this can work to your advantage to give you "extra" legs in a trade chain, on certain maps. Wormholes are nice because they always add two legs to a chain (the start and end wormholes) that don't actually need TPs. On special maps (like Twin Empires) that have wormholes within one star system, they add three "free" legs that don't need TPs.

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