Offworld Trading Company from Mohawk Games


This seems like good advice… except for the part about avoiding debt. Generally speaking, new players are too afraid to run up debt and don’t take advantage of it as a tool. You can do a lot more with $100K in cash and debt than with $0 of both.


Man, that was the hardest lesson for me. I always built power in my first set of claims when I started, simply to avoid debt.

When I won a game against Employee AI for the first time, I had at one point gone to over 200k in debt. By the end I was still in the mid five figures. Learning that debt can safely* be ignored until level 5 bases was certainly a lesson that goes against all my natural instincts.

*for certain values of safely, naturally.


As long as you stay above d rating you’re doing okay, going to d is where is starts to get painful. One of the 1st round games someone was at d+20 which had something like 70% interest tick. D also cuts off most of the black market


Actually the problem I found was converting debt into cash. I’d have no problem with debt if i could still buy the things i needed to buy. But i couldn’t, so it just turns out that running on debt is bad, not because debt is bad but being cash poor is very bad. Cash definitely is king in OTC, from what i’ve seen. You can always buy what you don’t have, but you can’t always convert what you have into cash. In fact you may end up in a hold you can’t dig out of. So now i always build a wind turbine (and only wind turbines in most cases) just because that money the turbine makes is money in my pocket. It’s not so much trying to avoid debt as finding reliable sources of income early, and power is one of them. In fact in many of the vs AI games it’s (often, from what i’ve seen) the second or third most profitable commodity.

But i’ll take on debt all day long for those random pop ups that get offered, because they don’t affect my cash flow at all. And those high level players not having debt was not a function of them avoiding debt but having so much cash they were never in debt.


@Enidigm that map you guys had for game 1 looked painful. All of that canyon to the north taking up so much space.


But it’s only money in your pocket if you have no debt. And if you have no debt, it means your people are using life support resources from your supply rather than buying them from the market with debt. That’s bad: you could have sold the food/oxygen for cash and invested the cash (e.g. buying the resources for your next HQ upgrade, which gives you more claims, which gives you more production).

Early powerplants only make sense in a few limited cases. E.g. if you decided to grab a geothermal spot early just to get it, you might as well build the powerplant. And obviously for Robotic HQs it’ll be a bit different.

Can you link to one of the videos? I’m curious about what this zero debt gameplay would look like. The only time I’ve seen that is with a crazy Robotic HQ powerplant gambit, which iirc was a map with just a single silicon mine.


Just FYI (I wasn’t going to mention it) but that was literally the first entire game of Offworld I had ever played. I’d only played the tutorials before that.

Here’s a link to the replay for my second time beating the Employee AI; in fact it was pretty easy now, using those techniques I listed above.

I might specify I think what you’d call this is 0 deficit rather than zero debt gameplay, if that makes sense. Against the AI I never bothered to pay off what little debt I had as there was no need, but I easily could have if I wanted.


I played a 6-player game last night with some of the (not Qt3) Chaos Reborn folks. All the DLC was enabled but it was on Mars, so I wasn’t completely lost. I didn’t do so well overall but from these games and my ones against Chappers I’ve noticed that I get lost in the mid-game, sometimes finding a way out and up (see my graph above), or just simply and hopelessly crashing and burning.

I’m good at following the +GREEN net revenue flags but that doesn’t seem enough on its own. I feel like I’m either recycling and switching production too much or not balancing life support properly because my debt often spirals. Obviously, if I’m producing lots of high value resources at the expense of life support and auto-selling them that’s adding to my cash pile, but I need to be paying off my debt manually to offset the cost of water, food, oxygen and fuel (assuming they’re not as profitable). Is that perhaps the problem? Do I prioritise cash profit and keep my debt in check manually or keep life support just ticking over without the debt and less cash injection? I think it’s that balance that’s getting me unstuck.

Edit: just to add, I often find there’s points where life support stops paying out as much so do you just jack those in at that point and switch? The art seems to be in recognising when something is worth keeping or scrapping, which I feel hopeless at! :-P


It’s possible you’re investing in tiles what are making a profit, but not enough of a profit.

A better investment might actually to be to pay off your debt until you reach a new interest threshold!

How much debt you should take on depends heavily on how much profit you can expect to make from taking on that debt in the first place.

The more players in a game, the harder it is for any one player to hold a monopoly, and therefore the better specialising can be (due to ‘economies of scale’).

Indeed. Or manipulating others at scrapping/keeping when they shouldn’t.

Me too!


It depends, but as a general rule, yes, that, a thousand times.
You can think of debt as borrowed money you don’t pay back — as long as you are using it to pay life support stuff at a reasonable price; as a counterexample, you need to produce energy at some point in the transition from early to mid games or it will hurt.
To the old me that once knew how to play, the only real issue of being in debt was when it prevented access to the black market.
I think you are at the point where you should start getting familiar at looking at what your adversaries are producing as to, hopefully, guesstimate what market good is going to crash and which one is going to be profitable. At least, as a way to not do the reverse as it seems to be what you suffer from according to your description.
The important thing is to never play catchup: switching to goods that seem profitable now, check if you see your opponent producing it already or even worse, switching out of it. Those are clear red signs.
I also think you should keep life support production to at least sustain you when prices are crazy (food around 450 for instance. Any ressemblance to a previous game… ;) but still want to diversify. In the end game, you can suicide by negligence that way.
I don’t know what is the common wisdom nowadays, but I used to never autosell but stuff I wanted to make a quick cash from, and which I intended to switch out of shortly. Having stockpiles that you can access for some urgent money need that may arise felt always like a good idea to me.


See i’m wondering if it’s the other way around.

Situation 1 - auto sell your resource into the ground. Problem: that resource is now worth very little. Upside: it costs almost nothing to buy it now. Running a cash economy, cheap strategic resource is good.

Situation 2 - resource is increasing in price and is very expensive. Problem: buying that resource is cost inefficient, would have been better to have stockpiled it. Upside: auto sell of resource is a huge money maker. Time-value of money means it’s better to have money now than an uncertain quantity in the future. Running a cash economy, it’s better to sell resources now to have cash on hand for shenanigans.

Not saying this is the perfect min-maxed view, but i feel like the perfect min-max will come out of that.

Also a goofy way of inflating the price of an auto-sold resource is queuing up lots of Offload payloads. I’m not sure about the actual math but because you can queue up really far in advance, and queuing up a payload in an auto sell economy is essentially buying it, you end up really jerking the price upwards very significantly. Considering it might be 4-5 minutes away you spend money to overvalue the resource that your making bank on, which might cover or even exceed the outflow of money to buy it by some significant amount. Anyway it just seems when i’ve done that i’m rolling in dough.


There’s two aspects to holding resources:

  1. Selling them reduces the value of them on the marketplace (which may help or hurt competitors).

  2. They may become more or less expensive (making holding them better/worse than holding cash).

Many good players buy resources they predict will become more expensive in advance (such as glass in the early game), rather than holding cash.

Many good players hold stockpiles of cheap resources when they hit rock bottom, in case someone decides to play games with the market (or hacking it!). This is almost always a good idea - things can’t go below $1 per unit - but you may also just be letting an opponent dump their worthless supply a bit above rock bottom.

Dumping resources can cripple profits of an opponent, or help their input costs.

Really, it all just depends!




Yea, debt is not something to be afraid of in this game (or really, in business). It’s all about the balance.


Game 2 of our best of 5 series between Rhahi and DeathTacticus is here!


New OTC dev journal is out today!

“With the recent launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, this seemed a good time to touch on an idea that’s core to Offworld Trading Company: the privatization of space back here on Earth.”


Blue Chip Ventures: Best Served Cold

How the heck do you win this one? This mission pits you and an AI buddy up against six AI opponents, all in one team. The closest I have managed is a majority buy out on one AI, but I was bought out soon after. How the heck do you do this one?


That was easily the toughest one for me. I recall going scientist in the upper left somewhere, and the goal is to buy out whatever AI players own stock in your ally as quickly as possible. Making a pile of cash to facilitate that and obsessively using the black market to stall out the more successful AI players will help.


I’ve been trying expansive in that location, but I will try scientific next time.


I’m assuming the map didn’t change, and the claim efficiency you can get with all the iron, water and silicon up there is absurd, especially with carbon scrubbing.