The views in this piece exclusively reflect the opinions and experiences of KangarooJackNicholson, and do not reflect other staff writers, nor the Earth2 team. It should also be noted that KJN holds tiles in multiple nations and is actively involved in marketplace purchasing and selling.
In the Earth2.io Discord, it seems that the community is always waiting on something. UAE, credit card withdrawals, the Easter Egg hunt, an announcement about what Shane had for breakfast, you name it. This can give the feel at times of a community in stasis, but the always changing, constantly moving marketplace shows the exact opposite. The dynamics of a marketplace for a game which does not yet exist are complex, especially with so much to be determined. There are only two filters users can currently utilize: nation and class.
These two filters are simple in premise but have complex ramifications, and establish a framework similar to a stock market. When filtering by nation, evaluating the marketplace is a bit simpler, as you can compare whatever you’re looking at to the new tile value. At the time of this writing, new land tiles in China cost $7.21, while there are multiple plots on the marketplace under $3 per tile. Obviously there are other concerns like plot size, shape and location, but we at least know these are “good deals” relative to the cost of brand new land.
When reviewing these discounts though, you’ll notice that all of them are Class Two or Class Three. Filtering China down to Class One shows a dramatically different landscape. Currently, only two plots are below $10 per tile, and by the bottom of the first page you’re looking at over $40 per tile. In short, Class One in China is four times as costly as Class Two. Does this mean it is four times as valuable? My gut reaction to that question is, no way in hell, but I’m also keenly aware that I could not prove it if I tried. Somebody arguing that Class One China is actually relatively undervalued would be faced with the same reality, that we just don’t know what the final benefit differences between classes will be.
"The First Class Lounge at Qatar Airlines, Doha" by Trey Ratcliff is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
As it stands, let’s cover what we know about Class One. We know that there were only 100,000 per nation, and Class One can only be obtained from the marketplace or from a new country release. Because it’s the first 100,000 tiles sold, that means many of these plots are desirable within that nation, as folks in November were more likely to buy famous things in major cities (though those early plots can be poorly made, myself included). We know it generates significantly more land income tax than lower classes, though on many plots these are differences of a few pennies. We also know that loot, treasure and resources will be impacted by class, but not to what extent. The same can be said for advertising revenue, Class One will be better, though how much better is a mystery. So how can we take this relatively small amount of information to make rational marketplace decisions?
First, I think any given nation needs to be analyzed independently. The cost differences between classes described for China are more extreme than many, especially cheaper nations where that kind of dramatic difference isn’t even possible (Afghanistan or Central African Republic, for example). In addition, some nations are quite far into Class Three sales (USA, Italy) while other nations are not large enough to ever reach Class Three. So, 20% off Class One in one nation may be a far better deal, relatively speaking, than 20% off in another.
Next, you have to determine your own portfolio priorities. Some folks, like my colleague Hazy, are particularly resource driven. This approach makes great sense, resources are one of the concrete things we know the game will contain. Class One will give added resources, but we don’t know how much, and I highly doubt it would be the fourfold increase we see in China. That said, if you’re targeting resources, would China be a preferred destination anyways? A Class One mine in a nation under a dollar makes far more sense, unless resources were also tied to the new tile value of the nation, which I also don’t anticipate (but could be wrong!)
My portfolio includes mines, but knowing that all tiles will generate resources, I began targeting locations with high footfall, especially landmarks. In those kinds of situations, class becomes irrelevant, the landmark is the landmark. When purchasing El Poder Brutal, Certovy Hlavy or the Appennine Colossus, I’m not even sure that I looked at the class. Yes, I would have preferred for these items to be Class One, but it was not particularly important.
In researching this piece, one thing I found interesting was the high market pricing of Class One in microstates and small nations, such as San Marino, which has barely any Class One below market value, while having many Class Two plots of 40% off. If the strategy involves buying up the entire nation, why would Class One be so much more valuable? I would think that Class Two would be close in value once the nation is truly bought up, as any seller could charge a premium regardless of class. But I digress.
Now that we’ve talked about the marketplace and gone through our portfolios, what are the conclusions? Many will come to their own, but I will keep my own conclusion simple and brief. Class Two and Class Three are wildly undervalued in many nations compared to Class One. While Class One is an amazing boon, and I myself am guilty of hoarding Class One, some of these pricing disparities simply do not make sense from a strict cost-per-tile point of view.
In a nation like Senegal, where the price disparity between Class One and Class Two is still relatively small, I think it makes sense to pursue Class One, as there’s decent reason to believe that the bonuses could outweigh the ~30% cost increase. I just don’t believe the same about a 400% cost increase, but this article now exists for me to look like an absolute fool later. Let’s see what happens.