The ups and downs of Virtua

Like everything in life, Virtua also faces her ups-and-downs. Lately, many of the most notable Virtuans have been taking a holiday in Cyberia or outside of the federation. This results in somewhat slow rounds, but most practically also in an ineffective government. This round, we face a lack of functional education department and sufficient judges to preside cases in the Virtuan Court. What will be the answer to these problems?

In this article I wish to highlight my position in a discussion that is not about being right or wrong, but about what feels right for most of the people while respecting the traditions and customs of the greatest nation of the Miniconomy federation.

First of all, having ups and downs are reality. Last round we had almost zero trading activity, but this round the Virtuan economy booms with the NSQ stock quotation being the highest of the entire federation while writing this article. In my opinion, the same can be said for our government. The efficiency of the government and her departments is fully dependant of the input of an active group of players committing themselves to the same noble cause, improving Virtua. Positions like judge and teacher can be taken at the same time as many of the other professions, but still it is a fact that you need at least a group of about 10 players to achieve the minimum level of efficiency.

The solution for solving inefficiency of the government should not be sought in changing the law. The law preserves the most important values and customs most of the inhabitants feel most comfortable with. For example, having an educational system where you have to take an exam to acquire a degree needed for certain jobs maintains a level of professionalism in a country where we take things seriously. At this moment, we are the only country to do so and I think it is not coincidence that the larger part of the international jobs is held by experienced and valued Virtuans like Tuned, Mystq (CoV) and natcha12 (IC).

No, instead of changing the law, we need to guide new players into all the dimensions this game provides. We should contact our old friends who have been taking long holidays from the Miniconomy Federation. And above all, we should cherish everything our fellow Virtuans do for our shared cause.

Viva Virtua!

Towers, the real effect

Miniconomy celebrated its 150th trading period last round, however what we all completely missed several rounds ago is the anniversary of the tower. Towers were introduced to keep the economy going in the third week as a lot of players complained that trade slowed and slowly stalled around that time every round. Towers would be something players could invest their cash in for a certain return. This return however was never disclosed by the Feds and therefore it remained a mystery to players if they were profitable or not.
In the first couple of rounds that towers were introduced, there was much discussion about the true value of building a tower. Many players tried calculating their proceeds and weighing up the costs. Towers were soon written off as unworthy of putting any money into;  the return did not seem to match up with the costs. Tranqer wrote in the TMC, Sept 2015: The Uselessness of Skyscrapers.
Recent rounds however have shown a big increase in the investment in towers. Last round, the top 2 in the end ranking together had over 1200 floors. What changed? In recent rounds tourists have shown to be a bit more active again, both in towers and in product purchases. This round again we see many of the top contenders investing heavily in towers.
Why does a top trader invest in towers?
Towers created a new phenomena in Miniconomy, which I like to call: overdrive. Overdrive is when demand for product is always higher than availability. It can be achieved quite easily when top traders in a country work together and all invest in towers. This round we saw Ibisha empty within a week! Coincidentally, they built over 500 floors in the same time-frame. Overdrive makes everyone earn a lot of money in a short period of time until resources are depleted. Overdrive is why resources are the most common products traded internationally.
Do towers work as intended?
Towers were supposed to be a ‘thing’ to keep trade going in the third week. Resources however never make it to the third week anymore. Countries actively trading together and working for their top ranking soon face resource issues. Miniconomy seems to have changed from a trading game to a logistics game, as players must determine who can get the most resources in the right place. This round we can see Natcha12 with in incredible amount of shop space displaying 10,000 iron ore he intends to make into iron bars.
Roebelarendsveen turned into a willing target as prime iron-ore-exporter during the past few rounds.
Plastic & Towers
The introduction of towers also changed the demand for plastic. Plastic back in the day used to be a product with which you could compete with your average brick/iron or wood trader. Skyscrapers increased the demand for plastic tremendously; every floor requires at least 18 plastic. A comfort room however uses 42 plastic. At first, this new demand did not hurt Virtua. Centropolis used to be the city with the highest oil in the Federation, and at an average of just over 200 oil per lot, plastic traders were doing better than ever. However, in the last few rounds the oil situation has changed; cities in the Federation were cut short of resources. Right now in Centropolis, you’re lucky to average 160 per lot. Not only do these changes make the cost of oil much more expensive, but it also means a 20% to 30% drop of oil available in Centropolis. Recent rounds have shown Centropolis is emptied easily, even when trading activity is rather low.

Is the balance gone?
This is another question of mine. Last round Likemyitem and I together decided to go for an active trading round. We would set new records in terms of tower building and net worth. Trade started up nicely and by the time we had our shops built, we started on the towers. Before being able to build over 100 floors, we already noticed that we were going way too fast on the resources if we wanted to keep trading for the entire round. Ships were produced, and thousands of squsts of resources and products were imported to Virtua. Without these imports, trade would ended right after the first week.
Towers were a nice change for a while, however now they’re being worked and in my opinion doing exactly the opposite of what they intended to do. Instead of keeping the trade going for longer, they make resources disappear more quickly.

Legally Dirty

Everybody knows it; everyone has done it at least once, if you are not completely new. It’s one of the easiest ways to get rid of competitors. It’s accepted by a lot of players, but the victims hate it and may do the same back to the players who did it to them. I am talking about the lot wars, specifically: “boxing in”.

It is a pretty well-known term in Miniconomy. It actually means that you box your competitor on the map. The boxed player cannot buy any more lots because all adjacent lots are bought. This way your competitor gets stuck and cannot continue his trade, because of lack of resources.

This method to get rid of competitors is the most used method. However, it is not the cheapest solution, since you have to buy all the lots around your competitors lots.

Personally, I hate it. I find it cowardly. It can be effective to box your competitor in and cut him from the resources, but doesn’t that mean that you are afraid to compete with that person? I see it that way. You can ruin someones joy in the game and/or ruin his round. This is not to be taken lightly. Instead of competing with each other by prices, marketing, setting up marketing in the shops so players will see your shop earlier, players use this ‘boxing in’ method. What is more fun than to compete with others?

I find the boxing in dirty; I would have given cheater status to players who do it. The biggest problem I see is that the method is legal. The most dirty and unfair method to compete is completely legal.

This round I am an example. I am a victim of being boxed in. I started the round with plastic, and decided to do gas with it. Some hours later, the player in question, Xzese, started to trade plastic as well, claiming he had the product earlier. I didn’t even mind that he was doing plastic. We both were happily digging oil out of Centropolis.

But after some time, Xzese started to offend me. He said to me in chat, that he doesn’t want me at his part of Centropolis. That really offended me, like I was not to be trusted somehow, and I was not even close to the place he was digging. He was digging west of the main road and I was digging east of the main road. I felt mistrusted, which was not a good beginning for Xzese with me.

I had many rounds where I was able to dig together with other oil diggers without having problems. Without saying anything we were able to dig peacefully by each others sides. But with that being said, Xzese was claiming his part of Centropolis.

But today (at the time of writing) I was shocked at first. Suddenly, someone was digging loads of lots, right beside mine. Most often that is a sign of someone boxing you in. After looking around a bit, I was indeed boxed in. But I became really agitated when I saw who boxed me in. Xzese, the one who was forbidding me to go near his lots, had bought all the lots around me, giving me no space at all to dig.

Boxing someone in is low, but forbidding someone to dig near his lots, and then boxing that player in, is way lower than low. I have no words for how dirty this trick is. Towards Xzese I said, “Screw you, Xzese. I thought you were a reasonable player, but first claiming not to get close to you and then boxing me in after, will make you no friend of mine. You can go with another bunch that deserves cheater status for the same reason. I hope you are happy with your life now.”

Now comes the tips: how to avoid being boxed in completely by players like Xzese. First, when you start buying lots, make sure you make little boxes for yourself. If you buy a perimeter around some resource lots, you are still able to dig resources, while someone boxes you in.

Secondly, make sure you have some good friends who are always able to help you out. If you find someone who can sell you a lot outside of the box, you can go farther outside the box. You could even box the player who boxed you in. In that case it will be payback.

At last, stay focused on the map. If you have the feeling someone is digging towards your lots, start digging around so the player cannot get to your lots immediately.

So these are my concerns about boxing in. I hope the honest players can use these tips and prevent being boxed in during lot wars. All I can hope for further is that it will be illegal someday.