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A caravan arrived at my fort and I selected goods from both sides (theirs and mine) so that it showed the caravan merchant making a small profit, something like 15 on 500-worth of total traded goods. He refused my offer, so I tried upping it a couple times, by small amounts. He refused each time, then decided to stop trading with me.

Is there a way to figure out what minimum profit a merchant will tolerate without running this risk of losing the chance to trade?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

What usually works for me is starting from a 100% profit ratio (e.g. you buy for 500 and sell for 1000) and gradually lower that during a trading session to somewhere around 50% (buy for 500, sell for 750). The happier the traders are, the more stuff they bring next time.

I tend to overshoot the required profit quite far, since I need to get rid of all those mugs taking up precious barrels :-)

Honestly: after the first year, you can empty most caravans if you've got a Stonecrafter working full time!

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Yes, I have far more stuff to sell than I need to buy, but I still feel compelled to try and get that "perfect deal". –  sjohnston Aug 16 '10 at 13:22
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the perfect deal is clearing your fort out. xD if you are anything like yatima or me your fort is probably drowning in finished goods that you would be happy to be rid of. Also, The more you sell the greater your Exported wealth is. Greater Exported wealth means dwarf nobles notice you more, it's how you progress from baron, to count, to duke, and then to king. Which really has no point at all other than barging rights. xD –  Narcolapser Aug 16 '10 at 15:24
    
Ah, I didn't know that exporting had any effect aside from the trade itself. –  sjohnston Aug 16 '10 at 15:56
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50% profit works for me all the time. If I want to buy 1000 worth of goods I offer 1500.

As the broker gets more experienced and the trader happier, I can sometimes get away with offering less, like 1400 worth of goods offered. But the trader will usually make a counteroffer that brings my offer to 100% markup and then I have to find the extra items, remove them from the offer, and add a few more items to my offer that bring it up to a reasonable price.

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