I've read a few discussions over the years on this subject. And the conclusion tended to be : it IS [theoretically] possible to make more Goods overall by using nothing but Travelling Merchants - but there are more considerations here than only
maths (very interesting though it is - and I recall previous outcomes of similar types of calculations being very similar to @Sir Derf
's figures, too). So here's a few things which I (as a non-maths person) think also
needs to be considered, brain-bending though this topic is - and in as few words as I can manage while retaining clarity.
1. Roads. TMs are small, so they need a lot of Roads. An efficient City has >10% Roads - the fewer, the better. 1% would be great, but impossible. The usual way this is calculated, even though it's not actually accurate because City layouts vary so much, is to say that every building needs half as many Road tiles as its shortest side - so for TMs, that's [minimum] 1 Road tile per building (but only if you could arrange them all suitably). [ETA : Cross-posted with Sir Derf on this - I'd just add that '1 Road per TM' assumes 100% ideal - and thus never fully attainable - layouts]
- 1a. How to fit in all those TMs, amongst other buildings which will increase in size as the game progresses - while also
not multiplying Roads?
2. Difficulty and cost - and time required
- to upgrade and/or replace TMs vs Manus at the start of every Chapter. This is probably impossible even to estimate on anything but an entirely individual level, i.e. by using the specific City's layout, contents, and
fast/slow/etc. rate of Chapter progress, as well as how many Teleports / RRs the player can obtain and/or is willing to spend [and all the sub-costs that those both
entail, e.g. Tournaments - and player time is an issue here again - with or without Polar Bear and/or Timewarp, for example? - plus Spire and Crafting... plus all the sub-costs of that
[and Spire and Crafting are not separate, but rather function in synergy.]... etc. It's incredibly complicated, even without
attempting the maths.
3. As seen above already, the greatest single factor is always going to be : how much Population and/or Culture does the player obtain from Standard vs Magic Residences / Workshops / vs Pop/Culture Event buildings (which also
need to be replaced and/or upgraded... but the problem here is that there IS no reliable source of replacements, since Events award them randomly, and not typically in directly comparable efficiency terms, either).
As for running a City solely on Event-building Population / Culture : probably the best-known practitioner of this - very successfully - was/is the very well-known player called @SoggyShorts
. He formerly posted here, but now is [not often] to be seen almost exclusively on the US and Beta Forums, and his game mathematics is perhaps what he's best known for - in terms of many in-game costs, from calculating why T3 really does
cost more to produce, using Manus, than T1 and T2 [even with the now-improved Trader ratios], to how efficient in terms of production per square Orc Nests are vs Armouries, and much else as well - not excluding the TMs-vs-Manus debate, in which he's had input over the years.
I am not denigrating anyone else's calculations here - if anything, I've already said that his figures, and those of others, too, have typically worked out to be pretty much the same as @Sir Derf
's, so the chance is very high that both are correct for an 'average' player...
if there is one! However, there really isn't, and even that
player may well make per-Chapter or just ongoing City changes which will alter even the best-prepared maths.
And finally : the reason why I personally think that we keep on seeing so many TMs in Crafting - and speaking here as [arguably?] this Forum's resident Conspiracy Theorist Extraordinaire when it comes to Inno's motives behind their actions - seems to me most likely to be : because solo play is often more lucrative than group play, for any number of reasons based both on the game's functionality and also the solo/group player's mindset.
And none of this helps, I know! Long story short - I just keep to the minimum number of Manus, and don't even try to cope with a swarm of TMs.
PS : @Arya Lightning
- the current glut in T3 Goods is largely caused by the disproportionately [very] large percentage of Event-won Evolving Buildings [and some Sets] offered in the past 12-18 months which produce 'free' T3 at many Chapter levels, and sometimes until the end-game. The reverse is true of T2 and T1, which are not only somewhat more costly to produce [always], especially T1, but are also rarely produced by Evolving Buildings and/or Sets [with a few notable exceptions] - and the lack of T2 in particular, which has now finally knocked-on to the entire Trading market, originates in (a) the 'free' Scrolls-producing Moonstone Library Set - as it formerly was (as in : Scrolls for everyone) - formerly being available in unlimited multiples via the Spire - to the point where I've seen 14 Sets in one City - causing (b) Scrolls to become being near-unsaleable - so (c) many later-game Scrolls players left or began (d) cross-Trading - until the Moonstone Set was finally fixed... about two years too late.
In short : Trade is in a mess, and it's not realistic to make long-term City plans, e.g. whether or not to build a lot of TMs, with all the effort and expense involved, and/or to neglect Manus - again, lengthy and costly to build up - based solely (or even primarily) upon assessing the current Trade market. It will take perhaps a year or two more, but in the end, the market will re-balance - and will look very different indeed. Er, I hope...
Sorry for the very long post - I hope, at least, it wasn't also too rambling, this time...!