Trading in Helium Rain allows companies to exchange resources between each other in a living world. Resources are produced and consumed by stations and can be transported with cargos.
Manual trading goes as follows:
- Travel to a sector
- Dock with a station using a cargo
- Buy resources (or load them if the station is owned)
- Optionally travel to another sector
- Dock with another station with the cargo
- Sell resources (or unload, if the station is owned)
Note that in most cases, a station will only sell resources it produces and buy resources it consumes. One exception to this is the Supply outpost that buys and sells fleet supply. When selling supply, the outpost will apply a significant margin to any ship or station that used it to refill or repair.
Distant fleets do not need to dock with stations, but each trade (each single exchange) will take them a full day to complete.
One may automatize this process using trade routes.
- Trade routes are created by clicking the "Add new trade route" button on the right side of the Orbital Menu.
- Once in the trade route creation menu, one may first draw a list of up to 4 sectors by selecting them in the drop-down menu in the center of the screen and clicking on "Add (X / 4)", to the right of the drop-down menu (where X is the current number of sectors in the trade route).
- Once all desired sectors have been selected this way, a small diagram appears underneath, showing each sector in order, with arrows depicting which direction the trade route will take. Sectors can be rearranged using the "Move" buttons under each sector's column.
- Each column includes a list of Operations to be performed in that sector. Initially, only one default operation is listed per sector. Operations are added by clicking the " * Add" button. Each operation can be modified by clicking the "Edit" button; the operation's edition tab is then shown on the left side of the screen, where the type of operation, the resource involved, and the cargos' behavior can all be set. Typically the first operation of the first sector is to Buy (first drop-down menu) a Resource A (second drop-down menu). A limit in max quantity and time can both be set as well, by clicking the corresponding buttons and setting the slider that appears under each of them upon clicking. The max quantity limit will prevent cargos from loading more than a specified amount of resources. The time limit will force the cargos to start the next operation after a specified amount of days, even if they didn't fill their cargo bays.
- If one sector has more than one operation, they can be ordered using the "Move up" and "Move down" buttons in each operation's setting panel. Their current order is shown in the sector's column in the form of a numbered list; that order is essential, as each operation will be performed one after the other.
- "Load" and "Unload" stand for operations made with one's own stations. One may set a trade route that will buy Fuel somewhere and unload it in a sector where they have an Iron Mine; and then a second trade route that will load the Iron Mine's production, and sell it to a foreign Steelworks Station. The "Load/Buy" operation stands for "Load every resources available in owned stations, and if there's still room in the cargo, buy that resource to a foreign station, if there is one selling it". Same reasoning applies for "Unload/Sell".
- Once an operation is set, clicking the "Done" button brings up options to rename the trade route, assign a fleet to it, skip the current operation manually, pause it, and reset its stats. Stats are shown there as well once a fleet has been assigned to this route. They only become informative after several cycles.
Assigned fleets may include military vessels for defense.
Below is a trade route example where cargos will buy Dihydrogen in The Spire, buy Fuel in Lighthouse, Buy Iron Oxyde in Miner's Home, then sell it all in Miner's Home's Steelworks. Afterwards they will buy Steel from them and ferry it to Blue Heart's Shipyard.
Finding good deals
There are several ways to find worthwhile deals or trade routes.
- Clicking on a station (from your current sector, or from a sector previously selected through the Orbital Map) shows their current stocks, and what resources they buy/sell (Input/Output).
- The Economy menu (accessed from the Orbital Map) displays a given resource's supply and demand in each (already visited) sector. Typically, setting a trade route that will buy a resource where it's heavily produced and then selling it in a sector where it's heavily consumed is the way to go.
- Contracts arise from real needs. If the same delivery contracts keep coming from the same sector, a trade route may work well there as well.