The Economics of This War Of Mine

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The Economics of This War Of Mine

This War Of Mine is a great little game, but due to its nature, the way its economy worked was poorly understood, even two years after its release. I changed all that on the Wikia for TWoM, here. Before I came, this info only existed as very incomplete snippets scrawled on napkins with things crossed out or question marks. You can still see the same, all across the net. I published a comprehensive treatise covering all aspects of the game's economics, and nailed it all down. I also made significant contributions on Shortages (the complete page), the Hatchet as a case point in tools, and Time.

I've reproduced my TWoM Wikia economics work below to archive it, but it looks better with the cool Wikia template, plus the links, formatting, and graphics work better there, so see it there if it's still up.


copied here from the Wikia 10/4/16. most of the links and some of the table formatting doesn't work unless you're on the Wikia, plus they have a better color scheme, so go there if it's still up


Updated Economics Information for This War Of Mine

The following work was done on the autoupdated Steam PC version v. 2.2.2 early and mid August 2016. I do not have, and did not test, The Little Ones. I only started playing TWoM July 22 and don't know why my values sometimes conflict with what has been posted, albeit usually by a very small amount. Because it may be due to platform differences, and because I don't want to spend time making pages look good when I may have it wrong anyway, I don't want to edit values all over the wiki. I am just going to post all my info here on my pages.

I suspect my values differ only because values changed over time (game updates) and hopefully are more stable now. And because I have done a much more exacting analysis, complete with .5 granularity. But this is only a guess.

I will be posting all my trade information, then moving onto another game. Probably in a few days or weeks. I leave it up to others to copy this to the rest of the wiki if and when it seems to work for everybody on other platforms, etc. (Or if not, then it can be copied out with a note that this is for Steam.)

-RedKnight7, Aug. 23, 2016 (the date I first posted this info, but I will undoubtedly tweak it some after that)

Item Prices

Reasons for Confusion

The developers instituted a system which in theory is simple, but the way it throws in a number of little rules makes it very hard to get a handle on precisely what's going on. Some of the reasons:

  • Of course, the game does not have a currency, and doesn't inform you of the value of your trade, unlike most games. This alone makes it exponentially more difficult to pin down the economics. One has to create a "barter equivalency" system, which is what I did (below).
  • Your offer (on the left side of trade table) MUST be more than what's on the right side, even if by the smallest granular amount in the game (.5). Call it a transaction fee. The little fee has surely confused many a player because it seems like costs keep changing (but the difference is whether it's on the left side or right side of the table). Or things cost less in bulk (but it's just the fixed fee distributed across multiples). You can clearly see where some price lists around the net don't mention the fee and got this factor wrong sometimes.
    • In rare instances when rounding is exactly right, there is no fee. So it saves you .5 once in a blue moon. More on this below.
  • I'm not sure how many folks are aware of, or know how to handle, the .5 granularity. Some lists of prices in the internet don't mention it much.
  • One of the most common items one might use - the [1] - has two different price rates, which you can say is four prices if you add Winter pricing on top of it (2x2=4). (Actually considerably more than that due to different trader rates. More on this later.) Unless players are aware of it (probably not so much before now), your values (if you measure by Components) would seem to vary for no reason, confounding attempts to determine prices.
  • If you have the same thing on the left as on the right (say, Medicines), it will not be subject to any rate changes (unlike anything else on the table). Identical items always trade at 1:1. It's one more cause for confusion if you're not aware of it; sometimes things will seem marked up (or down), but other times there's not as much of an apparent overall rate applied (if some of the items on the table are identical.)
  • Also, trying to sell weapons and armor, or wood or fuel, TO a trader causes a hefty one-sided markdown (you lose). Again, more cause for confusion if not aware of it.
  • Books seem to always(?) be worth twice as much on the right side of the trade table, as the left. (1.5 versus 3.0 or, in winter, perhaps 4.5 versus 9.0.)
  • Different traders have different rates of exchange. Again, it's one more reason for price variance.
  • Surely at least some prices have changed over time (game updates), which has led to old prices on this wiki and elsewhere. Leading to more confusion, especially when prices are hard to get a handle on already.

I'm not complaining. No, the developers have done a good job of making a somewhat complicated and confusing system, but they actually only have a modicum of moving parts under the hood. What else would one expect in a city under seige using a barter system, except something messy? So I'm not complaining. It is what it is. And honestly, most people do just fine without understanding the economics well.

Taken all together, it's no surprise there are lots of questions and confusion and little clarity about pricing and trade. Even though I sunk weeks into documenting trades to come up with what I have, I still probably got a few things wrong or missed a few things. Be that as it may, now there is a good foundation for others like you to improve upon in the future.

The Franko Standard and the Prices Table

Because the game has no currency per se and prices can be quite variable, a standard is needed. In this case, there's a pretty obvious one: Franko's prices (outside winter). Unlike other traders, Franko always has a 1:1 trade rate. He does not mark your stuff up or down relative to his. But he does still require a token fee.

None of these prices include Katia's bargaining skill. For her, with Franko and with every other trader, she gives a 1.2 markup. So, for example, if she wants 12 components, she could buy them with 10 water. (For extra credit after you've read all this - or just try it in the game - Does Katia obviate the need for the 0.5 fee in this example?)

Varies Item Standard

Value

Cold

Value

Stack Stack

Value

Ammunition 3.5 20 70.0
A Assault Rifle 37.0 1 37.0
M Bandages 27.5 2 55.0
* Book 1.5 4.5 2 3.0
Broken Assault Rifle 10.0 1 10.0
Broken Guitar 10.0 1 10.0
Broken Pistol 7.5 1 7.5
Broken Shotgun 7.5 1 7.5
Broken Toy 5.0 4 20.0
Canned Food 15.0 4 60.0
S Cigarette 2.0 10 20.0
Clean Water 1.0 10 10.0
S Coffee 1.5 10 15.0
* Components 1.0 2.0 4 4.0
Conduct Pass 12.0 1 12.0
Crowbar 11.0 1 11.0
Damaged Helmet 7.5 1 7.5
Damaged Vest 10.0 1 10.0
Electric Parts 5.0 4 20.0
Fertilizer 4.5 4 18.0
Filter 3.5 4 14.0
* Fuel 1.5 4.5 4 6.0
Gunpowder 1.0 20 20.0
Hatchet 24.0 1 24.0
Heat Lamp 24.0 1 24.0
A Helmet 22.5 1 22.5
M Herbal Meds 21.0 2 42.0
Herbs 2.0 4 8.0
Homegrown Tobacco 2.5 4 10.0
Jewelry 12.5 4 50.0
Knife 17.0 1 17.0
Lock Pick 6.0 4 24.0
M Medications 32.0 2 64.0
Med Ingredients 7.5 4 30.0
A Military Vest 37.0 1 37.0
Mixer 24.0 1 24.0
Moonshine 13.5 1 13.5
Parts 2.5 4 10.0
A Pistol 21.5 1 21.5
Pure Alcohol 11.5 4 46.0
S Quality Roll-Up 3.0 10 30.0
Raw Food 9.0 4 36.0
S Roll-Up Cigarette 1.0 10 10.0
Sawblade 7.5 4 30.0
Scoped Rifle 37.0 1 37.0
Shell Casings 1.0 20 20.0
A Shotgun 27.0 1 27.0
Shovel 14.5 1 14.5
Sugar 1.5 10 15.0
Thermo Regulator 24.0 1 24.0
Tobacco 5.0 4 20.0
S Vegetables 9.0 4 36.0
Weapon Parts 2.5 4 10.0
* Wood 1.5 4.5 2 3.0
Varies: If this column has a letter, the price for this item depends on:
A for Arms: Weapons and Armor sold TO all traders except Franko and Viktor suffer from significant reductions,as shown in the Trader info below. As the column shows, the game does not consider knives, the Scoped Rifle, and other weapon-related ammo / (broken) / parts for this treatment. Just the three guns and two armors noted.
S for Shortage: This is one of the Shortages items (coffee, cigs, and veggies but not alcohol AFAIK).
M for Medicine: Matey pays a 50% bonus for the three meds.
* for Asterisked: These special items have particular rules including increased winter prices and, for wood and fuel, assymetric selling (you get a steep markdown if you sell them to anyone but Franko). The Component and the Book are their own little stories, as explained elsewhere.

The Frank (?) As Game Currency

It would be very helpful if there were some type of currency (think: dollars, Euros). It just so happens that there is a major nation's type of currency that happens to sound a lot like Franko's name. And best of all, it's conveniently not being used by said major nation at the moment.

I propose we call the game currency Franks denoted by ? (or just a free standing regular F). Franks instead of Frankos (and not Francs either) sounds more natural to me, and making it different clarifies that you're talking about the currency, not the guy.

The Transaction Fee

All trades require that your (left) side be greater than the right side. It can be as small as the .5 minimum granularity, or as high as you want. Savvy traders will play with a little water, sugar, coffee, or whatever to get it to the closest .5. For example, if you can buy something with 4 ? but not 3, see if 3.5 will work (2 water and 1 sugar).

With Franko versus regular survivors (not Katia), the 1:1 nature of trades plus a minimum of .5 fee is very obvious. This is because it is 1:1. But with other traders - when the transaction rate is not 1:1 - the fee will usually be lower than .5 (assuming you are get the fee as low as you can, as usual). This is because when you are on a sliding scale (and not 1:1) and all you need to do is be higher than the other side (not necessarily .5 per se), then 0.5 becomes the max you need to pay. Consider a trader whose rate is 0.833 (a.k.a. 1/1.2 or 5/6). What you need to pay (your side of table) will rise as follows, then get rounded up to the nearest .5. Remember, you have to pay ever so slightly more than 1.2 times their true value:

Their

True Value

Your

Break-Even

Round To

Next .5

Overage

"Fee" Paid

Fee As

Percent Total

Apparent

Rate

Rate

Inverse

1.0 1.2 1.5 0.3 20.0% 0.667 1.500
1.5 1.8 2.0 0.2 10.0% 0.750 1.333
2.0 2.4 2.5 0.1 4.0% 0.800 1.250
2.5 3.0 3.5 0.5 14.3% 0.714 1.400
3.0 3.6 4.0 0.4 10.0% 0.750 1.333
3.5 4.2 4.5 0.3 6.7% 0.778 1.286
4.0 4.8 5.0 0.2 4.0% 0.800 1.250
4.5 5.4 5.5 0.1 1.8% 0.818 1.222
5.0 6.0 6.5 0.5* 7.7% 0.769 1.300
5.5 6.6 7.0 0.4 5.7% 0.786 1.273
6.0 7.2 7.5 0.3 4.0% 0.800 1.250
6.5 7.8 8.0 0.2 2.5% 0.813 1.231
7.0 8.4 8.5 0.1 1.2% 0.824 1.214
7.5 9.0 9.5 0.5 5.3% 0.789 1.267
8.0 9.6 10.0 0.4 4.0% 0.800 1.250
8.5 10.2 10.5 0.3 2.9% 0.810 1.235
9.0 10.8 11.0 0.2 1.8% 0.818 1.222
9.5 11.4 11.5 0.1 0.9% 0.826 1.211
10.0 12.0 12.5 0.5* 4.0% 0.800 1.250
* Fee is actually 0 at these points - see text
Apparent rate of transaction (amount paid / true value) versus true value
For the first row, if the true value on the trader's side was 1.0, and you are paying a 20% markup because the rate is .833 (the inverse of 1.2), you would have to pay 1.5 even though 1.2 would be enough to break even. You always have to pay more than the break even amount.

The "Apparent Rate" means that, because you paid 1.5 for something worth 1.0, it appears that you are only getting 66 cents on your dollar (1.0/1.5 = 2/3). The inverse of this is easier to grasp mentally - the fact you're paying 1.5 times its actual value. But that's only what it appears to be, when the true value is 1.0. As the true value increases, the fee decreases a lot as a percent of the total value. Ultimately though, the absolute value of the fee is simply bouncing between 0.1 and 0.5. It has to be at least 0.1 because your side has to be greater than the other side.

As you can see, with a sliding scale of 0.833, you actually only pay the full 0.5 fee a fifth of the time; most of the time it's less. The average here is 0.3, in fact. (Not .25, because you can't get down to 0.0 as one of the possibilities.)

There is one specific circumstance when you don't have to pay a fee. It's when your break-even (as shown in table) is an even and an exact amount (with no decimal) for both sides of the equation. In the table above, it happens when you are paying 6.0 (for true value 5.0), 12.0 (for 10.0), 18.0 (for 15.0), etc. You otherwise would have owed a "fee" of 0.5 at these points. For other vendors not trading at an 0.833 rate, the break points occur at other places. Use a spreadsheet to find even, exact amounts owed. A few traders do not have evenly divisible rates.

Why does this happen? I figure it's an oversight of sorts. They threw in a lot of monkey wrenches to the barter system to make it hard to get a handle on, just like you'd expect for a city under seige (see Reasons For Confusion). You have to be careful when programming math that does rounding. Maybe they simply missed it at these points. But then, what fool's going to dig so deeply into their deliberately problematic bartering system to find this tiny detail? (cough, laugh) It's beneath worrying about. Still... there it is.

Unless you are using Katia, you will not see the no-fee break points with Franko. That's because, if you're always at 1:1, there isn't anywhere to have rounding.

Examples of Transactions

In case it helps, here are some examples of transactions.

With Franko and a regular (non-Katia) survivor, you will always be performing a 1:1 transaction, plus a small fee on your side. Here's a common initial transaction with Franko, if you have a Bandage to spare:

1 Bandages (27.5 total) 
 for 
15 Components (15.0) and 8 Wood (12.0), 27.0 total

You paid your extra 0.5 fee, which is always required for 1:1 transactions. And you've filled all Franko's slots so your fee spreads as far as possible, while getting his all-important wood and components. (See Trading Tips below, for more on this.)

With most external traders, the rate is not 1:1. Here's Pavle versus Bojan (Military Outpost), getting a bonus for liquor:

3 Moonshine (3 x 13.5 = 40.5; 40.5 x .929 = 37.62 total) 
 for 
15 Weapon Parts (15 x 2.5 = 37.5 total)

Usually, Bojan applies a 1.4 divisor, as seen in the Trade table, but for alc and cigs, there's a 1.3 multiplier bonus. 1.3/1.4 = .929. As always, your final offer has to be larger than the other's. It squeaks by with .12 to spare.

Here's a complex one. Katia (1.2x) versus Ciorba (1/1.2) late in the game. In general, his divisor cancels Katia's multiplier, but watch the Components:

9 Ammo (9 x 3.5 = 31.5) + 4 Shells (4 x 1.0 = 4.0), 35.5 total 
 for 
28 components (28.0 -> 23.33) + 8 Sugar (8 x 1.5 = 12.0), 35.33 total

How come the overall equation isn't 1:1? Because we have found (to our surprise!) that Ciorba is doing the 1:1 Components price special. (You always have to be paying attention if you really want to understand trade. Price changes still sneak up even on me, after working with this information for weeks.) This causes Components to be fixed at 1:1 for regular survivors regardless of trader rate, which makes it 1:1.2 for Katia. (Katia ALWAYS multiplies EVERYTHING by 1.2.) So you are getting 1:1 on everything but Components, as expected when Katia's multiplier cancels his divisor - but you are getting 1:1.2 on his Components due to his special on Components. 28.0 reduced by 1.2 for Katia equals 23.33.

You only paid a fee of .17 here, not .5. You usually pay less than 0.5 in trades that are not completely 1:1.

Problematic Transactions

As indicated in the Price and Trade tables, some items are particularly fickle in their pricing.

Buying Components

There is an odd phenomenon associated with [2]] and Parts that sometimes they can be bought for 1:1 from external traders, even when the rest of the items the trader sells are at the rates shown in the Trade table. (Franko is an exception; he's always 1:1.) I only noticed this late in my testing and was not able to find enough of a pattern to it to say when it happens, but it definitely does happen, fairly often. (I generally didn't test with Components much because they can only squeeze ~4 ? in one trade socket. The greater the value you trade, the more precise your rates and conclusions will be when testing.) As an incredibly rough guess, 50% of the time. We may be talking about a global event here such that - oh, I don't know, this is only something to toss out - maybe halfway through the game, all traders make these basics more affordable, because the player is starting to run out of new locations to hit. I got the impression that external traders all did it or none, but it's only a loose observation, I could be wrong. But these are musings; I really can't say when it happens. I leave it to others to find a pattern.

It seemed to be true for Olek as well as others, which leads me to believe it's not a 1.2 markup, but in fact causes values to become 1:1. (Most traders use a 1.2 rate divisor; Olek's is 1.3.)

My notes say that I saw it with Components but not Parts for Mateo (Central Square) and Olek (St. Marys). But for others that sold both, it was both.

In all honesty, I did not get a good handle on this. It does happen, but I don't know why or how often. However, I personally consider it a minor thing. If I have gone to the trouble to visit a trader to buy Components, I am probably going to buy them whether they are 1:1 or at the trader's usual lower rate.

Still, if people are aware of the issue and keeping an eye on it, maybe someone can figure out a pattern.

Selling Weapons

Weapons and Armor sold TO all traders except Franko and Viktor suffer from significant reductions, as shown in the Trade table. The game does not consider knives, the Scoped Rifle, and other weapon-related ammo / (broken) / parts for this treatment. Just the three guns and two armors noted in the Prices table.

I did not spend tons of time making sure I got the armaments markdowns precisely correct. Even if they get minor corrections, the bottom line remains that it's always best to sell those five items to Franko. If you can improve the table's accuracy, please do so.

Selling Wood and Fuel (and Books?), and Winter Prices

Very much as with weapons, external traders usually have very deep discounts on fuel, wood, and possibly books. I tried to detail them in the Trade table, but may not have gotten them all correct.

But just like with weapons, it's more of an academic observation than a practical one. You are rarely going to be selling these items to a trader, unless you are trying to dump stuff you can't carry at a location that has a trader. That's pretty rare for my style of play; I don't stick around and make so many trips that I have time to spare for dumping stuff. Better to hit some other new or less-looted location with lots of free stuff left, than re-visit places with only junk left. In theory I might do this very late in the game when most sites are pretty cleaned out, but by then, it doesn't matter much. I'd rather go buy more Components with all the alcohol I've made by then. Or whatever.

I am not 100% clear on what external traders charge what discounts for these three items, and whether it always affects all three or just some of them. If you get more precision or clarification, please modify the table or perhaps we should start another area for people to post data they have gathered. There may, in fact, be a number of rules at play here (prices going up and down at different times and for different traders). I don't really know and I don't particularly care. The facts remain that 1) folks probably rarely sell these items, 2) Franko pays the best, and 3) if you're dumping at other locations, then you're dumping, and the bad price is whatever the bad price is.

So, as far as I'm concerned, it's now pretty well established that you get bad prices trying to sell these three things to external traders. And that's pretty much that.

For a slight change of topic: These items are affected by winter price increases, as are Components. This is as good a place as any to note that I am pretty sure that Franko (and perhaps others) start showing winter price increases a day or three before actual winter arrives (when your rainwater distiller freezes up). At least for Components. Likewise, I am pretty sure he reverts back to warm prices 1-3 days before the actual thaw. Maybe other traders are the same.

Books

Books are strange. They seem to always be worth twice the amount of the right, as on the left. For example, before winter you can sell them for 1.5 ?, but Franko sells them for 3.0 ?. During winter, they may be marked up three times (4.5 on the left, 9.0 on the right). I swear I also have seen some other weird prices creep in, like 3.5 ? on the right (non-winter). But I have not devoted enough time to make sure I have everything right. Who really cares about a few books?

Suffice to say that books show particular weirdness in price.

Traders

The Trade Table (Table of Trader Rates)

Different traders have different rates of exchange. I present both the Rate and its inverse (1/Rate) because the inverse is often simpler to understand. Many have a rate of .8333, which is the same as saying that they divide the value of your items by 1.2. Or you could say they multiply your stuff by 5/6. It's all the same thing.

These are standard rates for most survivors. For Katia, multiply all the rates shown by 1.2.

For the headers, Comps are Components and Arms are the 3 guns and 2 armors. Fuel usually includes Wood and may also include Books (it's not entirely clear). This is some sort of "anti dumping" clause (dumping loot you don't want to carry home, to a trader at that location).

The column headers are stated as, for example, "You Buy Components" to help make clear which side of the trade is being spoken of. Here, the column is talking about you buying components from the trader. That's all. The other direction simply uses the standard rate for everything else for that trader.

To be honest, the columns for selling arms and wood/fuel are not that relevant, because it's easy to avoid or manage if you want. And the Components column is just a reader aid, for this important item. Still, I investigated these things, and a table just like this is about the only way to present it. So there it is.

To read this table: If Ciorba has a rate of .8333 (inverse 1.2) it means that if you wanted to buy 10 components from him, you would have to offer 12 worth of something (something else). 12 x .8333 = 10. Plus, of course, you always have to pay slightly more than the other guy (the "fee"). That's not shown here.

The table is presented roughly in order of how useful these traders are, although in truth it depends on what you're trying to do. Matey and Bojan are actually toward the back of the pack unless you are selling them meds or booze and cigs.

Location Trader Rate 1/Rate You Buy Comps You Sell Arms You Sell Fuel Notes
Our Shelter Franko 1.0000 1.000 Plenty At Rate At Rate (1.00) Everything bought and sold at cost (plus fee).
Garage Matey 0.7692 1.300 Plenty Rate / 1.9 / 2.70? Good if selling Meds, which get a x1.5 bonus (1.5/1.3=1.154 Rate). Pure Alcohol is not a med.
Military Outpost Bojan 0.7143 1.400 Never sells Rate /2 = .3584 (1/ 2.80) Won't Take Good if selling alc or cigs, which get a x1.3 bonus (1.3/1.4=0.929 Rate). But Weapon Parts are the only noteworthy thing he sells. See Footnotes for more on Bojan.
Hotel Ciorba 0.8333 1.200 Plenty Rate / 1.7

(.5882)

Fuel and Wood

Rate/2

This general trader has selection as good as Franko's.
Semi-Detached House Vanya 0.8333 1.200 Plenty Rate / 1.7

(.5882)

Fuel and Wood

Rate/2

This general trader has selection as good as Franko's.
Shelled School Viktor 0.8333 1.200 Parts but no Comps? At Rate Fuel and Wood

Rate/2

Has lots of cig ingredients. Meds, Alc regular rate. Viktor pays more for weapons than anybody but Franko.
Central Square Mateo 0.8333 1.200 Comps but not Parts? Rate / 1.7

(.5882)

Won't Take Sells general. Won't buy Comps, Fuel.
Central Square Juro 0.8333 1.200 Never sells Rate / 1.7

(.5882)

Wood

Rate/2

Sells food
Central Square Petar 0.8333 1.200 Never sells Rate / 1.7

(.5882)

Wood

Rate/2

Sells cigs and alc
St Marys Olek 0.7692 1.300 Comps but not Parts? Rate x .7

(.5367)

0.375 General trader. Does not buy Comps, Parts. Sells Comps at 1/1.3, Wood at 1.00 (!), Fuel at 1/1.3, but Buys both at 1/2.6 ((1/1.3)/2) - "Anti dumping" clause. Saw him sell books at 1.5 apiece once.
Brothel Pytor 0.7143 1.400 Never sells? At 1/2 (.5) Fuel and Wood

Rate/2

Has lots of QRUs.
Central Square Bojana 0.7000 1.429 Never sells At 1/2 (.5) Wood

Rate/2

Sells meds
City Hospital Sandu 0.6250 1.600 Only 10 Comps? Won't Take Won't Take See Footnotes for more on Sandu.

Footnotes

Bojan at Military Outpost

  • You can sell both types of alcs and all 3 cigs at a 1.3 bonus: 0.7143 x 1.3 = 0.929 (can also be stated as 1.3/1.4).
  • You can buy SOME arms (weapons or armor) at cost, randomly. Each type gets a random roll. There's perhaps a 50% chance for any one item type to be on sale. It can be hard to see because he usually only sells 1 or 2 (which may not be on sale), but you can easily test it by selling/giving him many different types, then checking buy prices.
  • Otherwise, all other goods (besides alc, cigs, intact armor and weapons) tested and at regular rate, including Weapon Parts, Ammo/shells/gunp., Damaged Vest, all meds, all foods, herbs, tobacco, tools, jewel.
  • Horrific markdown if you try to sell guns or armor TO him. But no markdown for knives and Scoped Rifle.

Sandu at City Hospital

  • Takes all 3 meds, canned and raw food but not vegs, both alcs, and jewels, NOTHING ELSE that I tried.
  • Sells crowbar, shovel, 10 Comps, 3 Med. Ing., a few other things.
  • If multiplied by 1.2, his rate is ~.75.
  • He buys few things and has little of small value himself. With both sides locked down, it was hard to test his rates.

Using Traders

The way the game is structured, there seems little reason to use anyone but Franko once you know the game well.

  • He gives the best rate of anyone for everything, except Matey if you sell medical stuff. Your map may not have Matey and even if it does, you wouldn't want to visit him constantly. A 15% price break is not much compared to plain old tons of free stuff at most locations.
  • Selling meds to Matey might be marginally good, but selling weapons, wood, and fuel to anyone but Franko is awful. Still, the wood products are a hassle to haul home. (And you're probably never going to sell them to Franko even then.)
  • It is always possible you might want to get more Components (there are never enough if you're trying to produce things). If so, use one of the guys at 1/1.2.
  • You might also hit Bojan for Weapon Parts, if you need them badly. Trade him cigs or booze.
  • If you have time on a map with a trader, you might sell them excess stuff you can't bring home. For me this is a last resort once a location is thoroughly looted. On the first 2-3 visits to a location, your time is best spent gathering and juggling everything free to be had. Subsequent nights I'll visit other places with entire new vistas of free stuff. By the time I do have time to kill at a location, the game is pretty advanced and bartering a few odds and ends won't help much anyway.

All in all, Franko's the main guy. A possible exception is for Shortages, if you want to roll the dice.

Katia's Vacuum

If you have followed everything above, a light may have gone off in your head:

Katia can swindle Franko out of almost everything he owns.
Every time he shows up.

All you need to do is go around in circles trading for his stuff. It doesn't matter what you trade, as long as you don't have the same types of items on both sides of the table. (For example, don't have components on both the left and the right side of the trade table.) Because Katia always does better than 1:1, she will be taking him for up to 20% of each transaction. As always, the more value you can get on the table, the better. (The fee gets stretched farther as a percent of total amount traded.) And as always, don't have the same items on both sides, or they'll cancel the discount.

Eventually you get to a point where her 20% difference is too tiny to worry about. Somewhere around 10 or 20 ?, all depending on how much you want to keep doing transactions. It seemed like I was doing 2 or 3 dozen trades, which took up to a couple of hours of game time, before he had very little left. For the record, it's an instance of exponential decay, like radiation half-life. Katia always gets you a 20% deal, but your first Vacuum trades will get you the most in terms of absolute value.

The Vacuum doesn't work with anyone else. Most traders have an 0.833 rate or worse; Katia's 1.20 advantage cancels the 0.833 and simply makes those guys 1:1. You have to do better than 1:1 to vacuum. Matey is the only other place this is possible - but only with medical items. And if you sell him medical items, they disappear from his inventory. So you can't circularize medical items. So you can't vacuum Matey. QED: Katia's vacuum only works on Franko. I guess she really knows how to charm him!

If you vacuum with Katia, you will be doing so much trading that you might run into the Identical Item Bug.

The Identical Item Bug

I haven't tested in depth, but it appears that if you ever complete a trade with the same item on both sides of the equation, that item will become bugged and will no longer cause a beneficial rate reduction. Example: If Katia trades with Franko and has at least one Component on both the left side of the trade table and on the right side, Components will become bugged from that time onward. (You have to complete the trade for it to happen.)

In future trades, you will no longer get the 20% discount for Components, even if you only have Components on one side. Apparently, once the "identical" flag is thrown, it sticks for the rest of trading.

It was my impression that it stayed until that day or night ended. In other words, if you accidentally trigger it, it will affect all subsequent trading by anyone, for that particular day or night. Then it will reset (go away) when that day or night ends.

Profitability

Profitability Data

I've posted everything I can think of, even though you actually only want to think of a few of these as production items. Just so we can all say, "we looked at that, and plenty of it is pretty marginal, or uses stuff I really need (like components). So now that we looked at it, I won't make most of this for profit". Smile.

All values are for using Bruno, for anything he affects.

# Cost Ext. Cost
Moonshine
Sugar 3 1.5 4.5
Water 3 1.0 3.0
Fuel 1 1.5 1.5
9.0 Total Cost
Moonshine 1 13.5 13.5 Produced
4.5 Net increase
50.0% Percent increase
Pure Alcohol
Moonshine 1 13.5 13.5
Filter 1 3.5 3.5
Fuel 1 1.5 1.5
18.5 Total Cost
Pure Alcohol 2 11.5 23.0 Produced
4.5 Net increase
24.3% Percent increase
Herbal Medicine
Pure Alcohol 1 11.5 11.5
Herbs 4 2.0 8.0
19.5 Total Cost
Herbal Medicine 1 21.0 21.0 Produced
1.5 Net increase
7.7% Percent increase
0.375 Increase per herb
Bandages
Pure Alcohol 1 11.5 11.5
Components 5 1.0 5.0
Herbs 4 2.0 8.0
24.5 Total Cost
Bandages 1 27.5 27.5 Produced
3.0 Net increase
12.2% Percent increase
0.750 Increase per herb
Medications
Herbs 2 2.0 4.0
Med Ingredients 1 7.5 7.5
11.5 Total Cost
Medications 1 32.0 32.0 Produced
20.5 Net increase
178.3% Percent increase
10.25 Increase per herb
Homegrown Tobacco
Herbs 1 2.0 2.0
2.0 Total Cost
Homegrown Tobacco 1 2.5 2.5 Produced
0.5 Net increase
25.0% Percent increase
0.500 Increase per herb
Roll-Up Cigarette
Component 1 2.0 2.0
H. Tobacco 1 2.5 2.5
4.5 Total Cost
Roll-Up Cigarette 4 1.0 4.0 Produced
-0.5 Net increase
-11.1% Percent increase
-0.500 Increase per herb
Cigarette
Component 1 2.0 2.0
Tobacco 1 5.0 5.0
7.0 Total Cost
Cigarette 4 2.0 8.0 Produced
1.0 Net increase
14.3% Percent increase
No herbs
Quality Roll-Up
Component 1 2.0 2.0
Tobacco 1 5.0 5.0
H. Tobacco 1 2.5 2.5
9.5 Total Cost
Quality Roll-Up 4 3.0 12.0 Produced
2.5 Net increase
26.3% Percent increase
2.500 Increase per herb
Quality Roll-Up considering Homegrown as an Herb
Component 1 2.0 2.0
Tobacco 1 5.0 5.0
Herb 1 2.0 2.0
9.0 Total Cost
Quality Roll-Up 4 3.0 12.0 Produced
3.0 Net increase
33.3% Percent increase
3.000 Increase per herb
REPAIRS (can you make a profit fixing something to re-sell it?)
Pistol
Broken Pistol 1 7.5 7.5
Weapon Parts 5 2.5 12.5
20.0 Total Cost
Pistol 1 21.5 21.5 Produced
1.5 Net increase
7.5% Percent increase
Shotgun
Broken Shotgun 1 7.5 7.5
Weapon Parts 7 2.5 17.5
25.0 Total Cost
Shotgun 1 27.0 27.0 Produced
2.0 Net increase
8.0% Percent increase
Assault Rifle
Broken Assault Rifle 1 10.0 10.0
Weapon Parts 9 2.5 22.5
32.5 Total Cost
Assault Rifle 1 37.0 37.0 Produced
4.5 Net increase
13.8% Percent increase
Helmet
Damaged Helmet 1 7.5 7.5
Parts 3 2.5 7.5
Components 5 1.0 5.0
20.0 Total Cost
Helmet 1 22.5 22.5 Produced
2.5 Net increase
12.5% Percent increase
Military Vest
Damaged Vest 1 10.0 10.0
Parts 5 2.5 12.5
Components 10 1.0 10.0
32.5 Total Cost
Military Vest 1 36.0 36.0 Produced
3.5 Net increase
10.8% Percent increase
Ammunition
Gunpowder 1 1.0 1.0
Shell Casing 1 1.0 1.0
Components 1 1.0 1.0
3.0 Total Cost
Ammunition 1 3.5 3.5 Produced
0.5 Net increase
16.7% Percent increase
TOOLS (can you make a profit selling tools?)
Hatchet
Wood 5 1.5 7.5
Weapon Parts 5 2.5 12.5
20.0 Total Cost
Hatchet 1 24.0 24.0 Produced
4.0 Net increase
20.0% Percent increase
Crowbar
Components 10 1.0 10.0
10.0 Total Cost
Crowbar 1 11.0 11.0 Produced
1.0 Net increase
10.0% Percent increase
Lockpick
Components 3 1.0 3.0
Parts 1 2.5 2.5
5.5 Total Cost
Lockpick 1 6.0 6.0 Produced
0.5 Net increase
9.1% Percent increase
Shovel
Components 7 1.0 7.0
Wood 4 1.5 6.0
13.0 Total Cost
Shovel 1 14.5 14.5 Produced
1.5 Net increase
11.5% Percent increase
Saw Blade
Components 2 1.0 2.0
Weapon Parts 1 2.5 2.5
4.5 Total Cost
Saw Blade 1 7.5 7.5 Produced
3.0 Net increase
66.7% Percent increase
FOOD with Bruno, as usual
Compare price of Food to that of Canned Food, 15.0
(What do you save by cooking versus eating canned)
Cooked Food (Single)
Raw Food 1 9.0 9.0
Water 2 1.0 2.0
Fuel 1 1.5 1.5
12.5 Total Cost
Cooked Food (Double)
Raw Food 1 9.0 9.0
Vegetables 1 9.0 9.0
Water 3 1.0 3.0
Fuel 1 1.5 1.5
22.5 Total Cost
11.3 Cost Per Person
-1.3 Net versus Single Cooked
-10.0% Percent change
Water from Rainwater
Filter 1 3.5 3.5
3.5 Total Cost
Water from Rainwater 4 1.0 4.0 Produced
0.875 Cost Per Water
-0.375 Net Each versus Snow Water
-30.0% Percent versus Snow Water
Water from Snow
Snow 1 0.0 0.0
Fuel 1 1.5 1.5 Normal price
Filter 1 3.5 3.5
5.0 Total Cost
Water from Snow 4 1.0 4.0 Produced
1.250 Cost Per Water
+0.375 Net Each versus Rainwater
+30.0% Percent versus Rainwater

Observations

TWoM uses a fairly straightforward approach where a little value is added with each additional level of production. For example, the absolute amount of value you add is the same for creating Moonshine (4.5 ?) or Pure Alcohol (4.5 ?), although as a percentage increase compared to starting materials, Moonshine does twice as well.

Medications make the most profit, but they rely on unique, found Med Ingredients. Sandu at the City Hospital usually sells three. Their base Franko price is 7.5 but Sandu's rate is .625, so each Ingredient would cost you at least 12.0 ?. Ultimately you will only make 7.5 ? profit from Medications using Ingredients bought from Sandu (20.5-12.0), not the usual 20.5. Three of them will get you 22.5. All in all, I would not make a Hospital trip based on this alone. But if I was going there already, I would try to remember to buy his 3 Ingredients.

Should you focus on the cig, alcohol, or medicine chains? One of the biggest challenges I've always had is a shortage of Components. I think you can argue that focusing on one of these lines early is better, so you don't spread yourself out, sinking big outlays of materials into workshop improvements you can't readily use (because you're sinking money into big workshop improvements). But in the long run, you will probably make most every workshop and garden at the highest level. So we're really only talking about what you do for the one or two weeks in the middle after you've got the basics but before you've got everything. I just do whatever I feel like at the moment, shrug. With the intimate knowledge of prices and profit gained here, you will always do very well. At that point, you're more challenging yourself, than being challenged by the game.

One choice is that, instead of turning Pure Alcohol into Bandages (if you've gotten that far), turn them into Herbal Medicines instead. This can reduce the pressure on Components, but you lose potential profit. To me, this is one more demonstration of how central Components are.

Related to this, you see some interesting points in the profitability tables. Hatchets certainly increase value... but do you have enough wood and weapon parts? Many of the choices are like this. So I simply focus on one of the lines (usually alcohol) and don't sweat all the rest. I only do them when there's a clear surplus of parts. But it's often at end-game, anyway.

Should you repair weapons just to sell them? I definitely would if I had plenty of Weapon Parts. But be sure you do; you don't want to find you can't make a hatchet or saw blade when you really need one. Usually this means at least the second half of the game. Fixing armor and making ammo takes Components, which makes it a problematic decision. I usually don't, not until I've made most every house improvement (near the end of the game). I'm rich by then anyway.

One place where cigarettes really shine is if you see a shortage coming, and are in a position to prepare for it. Then, if Franko shows up paying double price for one of them and you can act on it, crank them out as fast as you can, right then and there. For more info, see Shortages.

You might wonder what the profitability info is worth if many of your ingredients were actually found. Isn't the profitability much more than shown, if the parts were free? True enough, but you also could always have sold the raw ingredients to Franko instead of manufacturing something with them. Because of this, the tables do show demonstrable profit; they show what you can get if you make something, versus selling the parts.

Wholistic Economic Strategy

TWoM can be played a number of ways, which is the sign of a good game. As you probably guess, I do a power play on economics. Here's how I am playing the game at the end of this research:

  • Initially, I sell Franko "end product" loot like medical supplies. If it is at the end of a long production chain (e.g., pure alc, medical), you are not missing any future possibility to increase its price (like you might with moonshine, herbs, or whatever).
  • The advanced player won't try to take home everything of value in the early game. Your slots are precious. Save things like sugar, shells, gunpowder, and med. ingredients to take home later. Focus on immediately-needed basics and pinnacle (medical) loot for Franko. But keep notes on what is where. Also note how many components you've left behind.
  • Also early, sell Franko anything of little or no use, or that might only be worth a little toward end of game. You will be rich then, so don't hold onto, e.g., broken things that you might repair for a little profit only much later, with an advanced workshop.


  • Mid game, I focus on moonshine. I don't try to get everything going at once. I go for the one product line and otherwise focus on securing the house and improving their lives.
  • With three people, you usually only need one bed for a long while. What a fun thought. Just keep them rotating in, and let the third one sleep. You only need a second bed when some perturbation has not let the third person sleep (like helping someone overnight). I have gone a complete game with one bed and never noticed a problem, but most of the time I make a second bed sometime around weeks 2 or 3.
  • If you see a cig shortage coming and can jump on it, do so. See Shortages for more. This is usually easy with Shortage Pattern 1, when cigs happen later. By then, I usually have an (Advanced) Herbal Workshop anyway, plus plenty of ingredients. If you're on Pattern 2, it may or may not be worth it to gear up to try to catch Franko having double prices. It's a big gamble.


  • Late in the game, I make Pure Alcohol but the extent that I do depends on how many Components I have. Of course I also make Medications to whatever extent I have Med Ingredients. But I often don't even worry about making herbal meds or bandages. I am super rich with 128 Pure Alcohol or whatever. And that's how the game ends for me. I have the potential to makes lots of medicine, but have only actually made a little.

In my approach, the most precious commodity is Components. Everything is geared toward an alcohol, cigs, and/or medicine production line. And the single most common ingredient of everything is Components. So I hoard and coax them as much as I can, including doing things like buying filters and water, etc., so I won't need to spend components making more water. Et cetera. I will postpone anything I can, including making ammo, additional beds, etc. But I don't infringe on things that simply make the game funner or easier; I always get the radio, secure the house, etc., early on.