Today we are going to talk about Return on Investment, or ROI as it is usually called.
Return on Investment is a mathematical method that is used to estimate if something is worth buying or not. A good introduction can be found here
Now, we want to apply this to Planetarion. Because we can. Planetarion is all about getting assets that generate more resouces in some way. You can get ships or you can get asteroids. At some point the ROI for getting asteroids directly (initiating) becomes so high, you stop with it, then you start building ships to get asteroids from others, because that is cheaper.
At the same time you have to 'protect' yourself from others trying to remove your assets, because then they might never make up for their investment. What you really want is to invest in something and make it a cash cow
Experience has taught us some 'rules of thumb' on how to estimate your odds of 'losing roids'.
- Obvious holes in your fleet (you barely target FR or FI for instance)
- Being allianceless
- Being in an alliance that does not defend well
- Being in an alliance that gets attacked a lot (looks like the previous point, not totally the same!)
- Having lots of roids compared to your value (being FAT!)
- Being a planet that relies a lot on 'hugs' aka 'emp', ETD or CATH
If you can say 'this applies to me' in a lot of instances, you are prone to lose roids. If you have a lot of them, this risk grows exponentially.
Now lets continue, if you try to acquire assets (roids) from another player and you make a calculation, always do the 'possible worst case calculation'. This means that you take all factors into account, if the target produces frigates, assume it is only frigates that target you, if the target has cloaked defence and you cannot check by newsies what the defence is, expect the worst. When you have done this you will get your ROI calculation. If it is pricy, say more then 36 hours, it is usually not worth it. If it makes you REALLY fat, it usually definately is not worth it.
Now there are some counter arguments which we have heard. One of them is 'what about hurting my opponent'. Ofcourse, this is a valid one. This is a wargame and if you are out to utterly destroy your opponent, that is, only attack him and do not stop untill he is unable to threaten you in any perceivable way, then sometimes landing with a bad ROI is a good thing to do. Especially if you kill a lot of them, it makes the ROI of their defence very bad. In some extreme cases the losses do not even get spread evenly, if you do multiclass attacks this might sometimes be the case. A FI/CO attack where the FI gets slaughtered and the CO lands free is an example of this.
Loss distribution. A good thing about ROI is that it is communicative. This means that if an ROI is bad for one person, the same ROI is bad for 15 people. You cannot diversify your ROI away so it suddenly becomes profitable.
Another argument is: 'we take away their assets so they do not grow'. Do not forget that all losses you make, a certain percentage directly goes to your opponent, who is focussing on you. So while you take losses, or in the worst case if you had cash lying around you rebuild them instantly, you basically stand still. This has a lot to do with 'internal rate of return', we talk about that later. (This is specifically true where you take significant losses without hurting your opponent, this round that would be landing XAN FR on pure centaur defence)
Yet another argument is : landing for XP. This only works in the later stages of the round, when the loss in ships is more then compensated by the gain of score through XP. But you have to keep in mind how open it sets you to attacks. So it basically only pays off in the last week of the round or if you know for definately sure you can also keep those roids.
A small note should be made about 'strategical' or 'sweet lands', sometimes you just want to ruin someones round because you think you are attacking a perceived figurehead that might quit if you kill/roid him or make his top 1, 10, 100 ranking a figment of his imagination, if that is what you play for, then sometimes it is worth a landing, but you should really ask yourself 'Am I playing the right game?'.
So what we have seen is that ROI is a very usefull tool to quickly decide whether you (and maybe your teammates) should land an attack or not. We have also shown that some arguments used are invalid arguments and we have also shown a case where ROI does not apply.
Next time, when you have shown to apply ROI in practice, we go to 'Internal Rate of Return', also known as 'value creating more value'. Which is a good argument why landing for XP is never a good idea.
On behalf of the Ministry,
edit: I am posting this on AD as this is a significant item at the moment in the 'everyone and the kitchensink versus Apprime'-war at the moment