This FAQ is provided as a guide to the most frequently asked questions in Trade Empires. Please feel free to distribute it to whomever.
Section I: Basic Questions Edit
- People are just as sensitive to price as they are to availability. They want fish, but just getting them some fish may not be enough; people don't want to spend too much money on essentials. Also, ceramics may not seem like a necessity to us, but to ancient peoples it was the difference between starvation and plenty. In order to have positive population growth, you must provide a plenty of all the food and all but one of the non-food items demanded by dwellings. These demands are universal in every level, so it is always easier to maintain larger populations in towns where one or more food resources are available by default. In addition, having extra dwelling-demanded resources sitting for sale in a market gives a bonus to happiness, increasing the chance for new customers to move into your market.
"OK, I'm busted. I'm twenty grand in the hole, and my dwellings just started demanding a new food item. What can I do?"
- Sometimes it's better to just restart a scenario if you're too deeply in debt. On the other hand, a certain amount of debt at the beginning of a scenario is normal, especially if you've just invested in ship routes. Generally, levels requiring you to spend big bucks on transportation have more high-priced commodities, enabling you to make back your investment quickly. Learn when to say no to unnecessary technologies; it's generally not a good idea to buy a technology if doing so will utterly bankrupt you.
"Why are my resources (wood, fish, etc.) or production buildings (smelter, etc) shut down?"
- The resources and production buildings represent local farms and craftsmen, who are only going to go through the hassle of bringing their crops to market if they can get a certain price for their goods. Thus, if wool is selling for 60, and cloth is selling for 120, since it takes 3 wool to make 1 cloth, a weaver would have to be some kind of poor businessman to work at a loss. As for the resources, the base price is a good indicator of a healthy economy; as long as the price of whatever is being produced stays above a certain level, the locals will continue to make more to sell. Note that for production buildings, if you have the necessary monies you can purchase them and turn them to on, even if they're operating at a loss. This is handy if you're selling goods at a different market than where they are produced, as your merchant can come and pick up these items at a steal and then sell them at a huge profit, increasing both your cash on hand and the chance that he'll get a new special ability.
"Why is demand for my luxury goods at demand building locales no longer rising as fast as before?"
- When the price for a particular good gets very high, even those buildings which are rich will demand less of it. You may have a palace, temple, mosque and library all demanding incense, but the speed of that demand's rise is modified by the current price of the item. To take advantage of this balance, try to time luxury routes so that you slightly overmatch demand; that way, demand will rise faster than if you allow the price to hit the ceiling.
Section II: Routes & Pathfinding Edit
"Why won't my merchant get on my route?"
- Usually, when this happens, it's because the route beginning is not accessible from the Merchant's current location. If one end of the route is near the merchant, try re-designing the route starting with the leg that the merchant is nearest, if that's feasible.
"Why does the game say my route is invalid?"
- Most of the time, a route is invalid because of a missing link in the transporter chain. If you're using horses or better ground transport, you have to have a Caravansary at every stop on the route. If you're using ships, each stop must have a port of the appropriate type.
"It says my first stop is inaccessible from my last...what does that mean?"
- If you are using different transporters for the same route, you might have trouble if, say, your route begins with grain on a donkey and ends with a shipload of figs. You have to make sure that the first stop and the last stop are compatible as far as shipping. The merchants will pathfind to begin a route, but not during a route.
"Okay, I built caravansaries and a road, and am only using one merchant per leg, why is it still giving me an error?"
- Sometimes a road doesn't connect exactly; check to see that there isn't a small gap in it, or an old piece of trail. Further, remember that once you build a caravansary, that's where the goods need to be dropped off by ground transports (except trains). So any of your road routes have to connect the two caravansaries, not the town centers. In scenarios where there are both trails and roads, the build road menu will have a button to allow you to upgrade all trails to roads instantly.
"All right, I've got a land route across the sea, it's valid, but my merchant won't get on it. The city I'm traveling to has a sea port, and there's a sea port near my merchant, why won't he go?"
- If your merchant needs a ground transporter for the route you're building, than you have to build a caravansary at the town with the sea port, otherwise, your merchants have no place to buy a mule or camel.
"Why is my merchant going all the way down to this city by mule when he could just get on a boat/train/wagon?"
- Your merchants don't have a lot of initiative, and they're cheapskates. If you want to have your merchant take a faster transporter, redesign your route to put him in a closer city. For example, if he's bringing a trainload of grain from far away to nearby, start the route empty-handed and in the close city. That way, he'll travel to the near city, grab the appropriate transport, see that he's supposed to be empty-handed, and leave for the next destination. This is also especially handy when the route in question is dangerous and requires guards; the merchant on a guarded route won't buy guards until at the designated beginning of that route. Remember; your routes are circular, you can start or stop at any leg.
Section III: Technology Edit
"Oh, no! The salting/dye advance has come along, and suddenly my people are too good to eat regular fish and/or use un-dyed cloth & ceramics."
- Certain advances make old goods obsolete. No one is going to pay for plain ceramics once dyed have been invented; no respectable army is going to continue to use brass swords when iron ones are available. This is both reflective of the real world and a game mechanic; in order to succeed, you must adapt quickly to changing consumer demands. Hop to it.
"I just bought a technology, it says I have access to a new building, but when I go to my build menu, it ain't there. Why?"
- Certain scenarios have buildings which are region specific; you can't build a mosque in London, and you might not be able to make papyrus-based paper outside of Egypt. If the building is essential, and you need one right away, check around the various maps. Any region restrictions you encounter were done in keeping with actual historic availability.
"Okay, then why aren't the independent artisans working unless I buy them?"
- When you buy a technology in some scenarios, you have a monopoly on it; this means that no one except for you can use it until a certain amount of time has passed. Some advances become instantly accessible to the general population upon development; such as carving, but others require specialized training and knowledge, and are therefore unavailable to enemy families or independent production houses until a certain amount of time has elapsed from the initial technology purchase.
"My people just started demanding this new technology, but it's just sitting there with a colored icon, taunting me, and it won't let me buy it."
As mentioned above, there are times when a technology is monopolized; when you play against the AI, the AI will have access to some technologies before you; if they elect to purchase them, they can also choose to monopolize that product, just as you can when you purchase an exclusive upgrade. In some cases, you or the AI player may choose to license a technology in order to regain spent capital; this is when the little box icon is open. Be warned, however, any money spent on licensing goes directly into the treasury of the opponent. By the same token, any money the AI merchant families spend on your licensed technologies goes into your treasury, as well.
Section IV: AI questions Edit
"Hey! Why does the A.I. get to use my market without paying me anything?"
- When you build a market, you have created a place where trading can happen. In today's society, it seems like no one would do anything for any reason other than immediate profit; but this is not and was not always the case. Building markets is building infrastructure; it allows the economy to flourish and people to make better lives for themselves. The nature of the market is such, however, that you cannot charge a fee and expect anyone to pay it. For example; a bookstore can charge a fee to people who buy an item, but how long would they stay in business if they charged for browsing?
"But I built the market! Doesn't that entitle me to anything?"
- Ultimately, no, it doesn't. In a capitalist system, it requires the expenditure of venture capital and resources to begin a cycle of new trade. This trade requires a free and open market. If the market were restricted, in the long run everyone would suffer margin loss because free trade is more attractive to consumers and builds customer base faster. When you build a market, it just means that; you now have a place to trade in. So does everyone else.
"The AI players are upgrading my cities, and otherwise screwing up my program. That bites!"
- The AI is programmed to try to make a profit, if you want, you can do things to mess with them, as well. Buy a production building in their main city and shut it down; or use a merchant with a speed bonus to outpace them on a parallel route. Basically, you have to live with the AI's actions and it has to live with yours.
Cursor is hard to see / hard to maneuver:
- This problem has been reported by a couple of people. It turned out they needed to update the drivers for their video cards and the problem went away.