European High Middle Ages
800000 coins are required for the title Merchant Prince in this episode. The player should work to include the special or bonus points for dominating trade in more than one regional map.There is a bonus for each individual map.
This game is fairly short and new products come at a quick pace. Dyed cloth is an important change only 40 years into the game and will cost 2000 to implement. Houses start by demanding : Salt fish, Bronze vessels, Wheat, Cloth, [then dyed cloth] and Wine. Tin for Bronze is only located on the Cadiz and London maps.
In this scenario be aware of Medicine; it is required by houses/markets as part of their growth later in this game as well as a product to sell at military centres like Barracks, Arsenals and Castles and also Churches. Medicine is however,produced quickly by herbs, so it helps towns grow and makes a fast profit at both towns and military centres.
Important early products to trade include; Silk cloth and Tar. Churches demand the silk, which is produced at no cost to you at a Trade centre like Genoa.There is another centre in Cadiz. Tar from a tar pit is demanded at Barge and Shipyards. As both of these resources can be traded in their raw state for profit, they make excellent starting products to build your initial treasury. The AI merchants don't compete on the Tar trade, but are aggressive and route distribution disrupting with Silk.
While all starting points appear to have an equal chance of achieving MP, there are a number of good reasons for choosing Northern Italy in this episode. Flanders is a weaker starting option as you will need to immediately import Wine and it has no Dye in 1190 AD. Or herbs for Medicine when it is required later in the game. Gascony has all the required elements to be competitive; only lacking a Silk centre. Northern Italy has Grapes and Wineries often together,so you don’t need to purchase a winery to start production. Dye is also common on the Italian map from 1190 when you need it and Medicine is abundant too. There is plenty of Iron to make local swords and later chain mail. Also Copper that can be combined with imported Tin from Cadiz to make Bronze Vessels.
Tin for Bronze vessels is only located on the Cadiz and London maps. Very rarely in any game start does it fall together within any market radius on the Cadiz map and we are talking Emporium radius here. On the London map it does often fall within a Bazaar radius.However, the London map is not feasible for trading early due to travel time factors and start up money constraints. Also as a general game tip; if you trade too far outside your home map too early on very long trade routes your coin indicator goes wildly negative beyond the point of no return very quickly. So Tin is best sourced from Cadiz, just inside the link road back to Northern Italy. Set up a smelter at a double Italian Copper source and then deliver the Bronze Vessels as required.
Chain mail is one key key product to a high scoring result. It’s better not to develop the same iron source to create Swords and Chain mail. Developing the Rhineland Iron resources and the Rhineland military markets will be a key to a big coin total and getting the bonus for best trader in each region.
Obviously getting Medicine, Dye and Chain mail into Flanders should help you dominate trade there. The Gascony AI merchant family is usually more aggressive than the Flanders AI one.[Flanders is a weaker starting point.] Northern Italy appears the best starting point-don’t give it up. AI merchants rarely build strong big towns in any game. They like high profits and will go far to get them. You can out coin them on their home map mainly by developing a town- usually one they have already started: send a couple of merchants and aggressively trade-Cloth, Wine and Medicine-then as your profit increases-bring in Chain mail, Gunpowder and more Medicine. Even create military only trade centres on their map,where Arsenals and Barracks are combined. The London map has the best resources for Cannon making but again keep most of the trade on that map to get the bonus score. The AI merchants are aggressive with Silk early on the Cadiz map but you can get the bonus with strong Chain mail deliveries.
There are possibly many routes to MP apart from a Swords and Chain mail focus. Cannons and Artillery are costly to make but can return very high profits. Hierarchical Organisation [Cathedrals], Literacy [Paper] and Illuminated Manuscripts- [only available if paper is purchased] can all be possible winning strategies combined with Silver ingots and Silk deliveries to Churches and Cathedrals.
A game note: certain products appear with a 90% regularity at the same map locations every game; there is always Saltpetre, Sulfur and Wood for Charcoal –to make Gunpowder along the lower Rhine river-keep the area clear–early in the game- later a well placed Bazaar or Emporium-will cover all products making production faster and easier with a Gunpowder maker and Charcoal burner on site.Otherwise you need slow ox carts to group all the necessary elements which slows the process. If you must import parts don’t make it Saltpetre –the main ingredient-make it sulfur or charcoal. The Flanders and London maps have the capacity to make Gunpowder too, though you need more micro management than the Rhineland.
Chain mail though appears to rules the High Middle Ages.