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.