Travian has two markets: one for Resources and another for items associated with the Hero, items the Hero finds during Adventures. The resource market uses Pricing: you put up lumber, clay, iron or crop and other players may accept or not, up to a 2:1 ratio one way or 1:2 ratio the other once both players are out of Beginner Protection. Higher ratios depend on panic selling – players emptying Warehouse and Granary in the advent of an attack are often willing to pay exorbitant exchange rates rather than have an enemy cart them off for free – a particularly good strategy when your own allies can benefit.
The main market we will concern ourselves with here is the Hero Auction, where items separate broadly into two categories, consumables and non-consumables, and the method of purchase is Bidding. The highest bidder will pay the amount of the last bidder below them, an important point!
Passive strategy requires patience – such players will decide their limit and place bids on many items, hoping some will get through, particularly in times of lower volume when there is less competition. This is a particularly useful strategy for consumables: there is generally no point in getting into a bidding war over bandages, ointment and tablets of law although the law of supply and demand will occasionally create some tight situations. A player who has just received heavy damage to the Hero may well feel a little extra is necessary to buy that ointment! Bandages are more valuable in early game when the relative cost of units means that saving some from destruction can save a lot of training time and resources – later on in the game it is easier to replace dead troops when you have several villages and Barracks up to level 20: although saving troops is always helpful, saving 3 or 4 troops when you only have a few dozen is much more beneficial than saving 20 or 30 when you have thousands (and can replace them in minutes)
Aggressive bidding is more common with non-consumables: weapons, shields and helmets that grant more and more impressive advantages in play can fetch ridiculous prices – something to be wary of in early game as better quality items will become available later on in the game! In the regular game 30 gold will keep your resources +25% and the Plus on for a week, an amount that can be converted to 3000 silver, something to consider before you bid two or three weeks’ worth on a short sword or a small shield!
However the advantages of these weapons are not to be ignored (you may also want to allow a margin of error in your Combat Simulator for these bonuses because the simulator does not take into account the bonus of Hero weapons that apply to large numbers of troops).
Hostile bidding is more than simply bidding up an item you really want – it is bidding an item up to just below the other player’s bid in an effort to make them spend the maximum and drain their pocketbook. Thus if you figure out some patient bidder has placed a bid of 19 silver on every lot of 10 ointment for the next 24 hours you can patiently place a bid of 18 silver on every one to make sure they pay the maximum – the winning bidder pays the next highest bid!
Timing is important in the auction: players will be more active according to server time. With the .com english-speaking servers this will mean the largest number of players will be active during the day in Europe and North America; with other servers you can guess when the majority of the players will be awake and looking at the auctions by the time of day where most of their players reside. After school to bed-time and weekends there will be more traffic: this may increase competition for scarce items and bring in more bids.