The introduction gives a tip to build a market on the Rome regional map and trade there. In fact, “sell as much as you can there” - with the additional advice that it’s easier if you build a large city on the coast.
The game challenges are indicated as: the demand for Wine in 227 BC, Olive Oil in 97 BC, Salt Fish in 22 BC, Iron Swords in 12 BC and Dye; the double change from Clay Pots and Plain Woolen Cloth to Dyed Ceramics and Dyed Cotton Cloth in 19 AD. [The Dyed products changes are a real challenge.]
Difficulty - greatest!Edit
This scenario is the only one rated Very Difficult. Difficulty is because many commodities for producing finished goods are deliberately separated across the regional maps; for example: Carthago has no dye yet it has abundant sources of clay and wool, Rome has copper but no tin.
Unlike previous scenarios, where once you produce silver and gold rings and could supply markets till the game's end point, here Rings eventually will require Emery to polish them. This appears in the scenario from 68 AD. Emery is only sourced from Ionia and comes with a set up price tag of 14,000 coins.
Your largest and fastest sea trading vessel in the entire game is the Hipolym, which has a capacity of 9 cargo slots and is available from 17 BC with the advance Foremast; otherwise carry 4 items on a wheeled dray or 7 on the fastest canal boat, for the entire episode.
What a dwelling requires [on any map] in this scenario at the start:
- Mirrors [needs tin & copper, a smelter and a bronze smith]
- Clay pots (needing a potter)
- Woolen Cloth (needing a weaver)
All the required resources are on the maps, as are the production centres. However, no single map has them all. By the episode's conclusion add Wine, Olive Oil, Salt Fish [delete plain fish], Clay pots and Cotton cloth become Dyed Ceramics and Dyed Cotton Cloth and Brass Lamps [requiring Zinc and Copper, a smelter and bronze/brass smith]. No single map again has them all. So the location of commodities is important (though it appears any starting location has an equal chance of achieving Merchant Prince).
Regional detail and key commoditiesEdit
[remembering products aren’t all revealed at the start of a scenario]:
Rome has the majority of these products and could be supplied with only imports of Tin and later Zinc. It has clay/dye, wool, fish /salt, grapes/wine, olives/oil, iron and copper mines, marble and any maps have the base basic, wheat. You only need to import Mirrors and Lamps. However importing bulk dwelling items is the quickest way to build a profit supplemented by the available local Rome map produce. It’s the luxury items which will build a higher score ,hopefully MP; which are truly missing from the Rome map.
Carthago is a close source for Olives to export to Rome, it has abundant clay and wool resources for early exports of pots and woolen cloth to Rome. After the dye change, bring the finished dye back to your potters and weavers in Carthago, then export dyed products back to Rome. This regional map is also a good source for additional Salt Fish, Wheat and Marble exports to Rome. [The bonus points are for products sold in the Rome region]. Carthago has no grapes, dye or any ore mines in this episode.
Egypt has plenty of wheat, fish [salt fish] and clay [ and later dye]. However, it has no olives, grapes or wool. It has no tin, copper or iron mines. However, it has papyrus [the only source for paper making], incense and both gold and amethyst [required for rings].
Antioch has abundant resources of clay/dye/fish/olives/wool/grapes/wheat/copper. It lacks Tin and Iron. It has no Salt. Its special products are Incense and the Trade Centers [which supply Silk automatically in the game]. Its road or sea links to Ionia could supply the Tin and Salt.
Ionia has plenty of clay/dye/wool/fish/salt/olives/grapes/wheat. It has both Silver and Tin mines. It has Marble too. Its unique map product is Emery [from 68 AD]. It has no Copper or Iron mines.
Illyricum has a very limited coastal region. It has no dye/no salt/no olives and no copper. It has wheat/fish/wool/grapes/tin /iron/silver and gold. The road link to both the Rome and Gaul map is good for accessing the Tin.
Gaul is an important resource centre linked by road only to the Rome map. It has wheat/grapes/iron/silver/tin/copper/clay/fish. It has no dye, wool, olives or salt. It unique products are Amber for making Silver/Amber rings and Zinc for Brass Lamps. Gaul can be crucial in the game–as both copper and tin & copper and zinc can be sourced at the same market to make bulk Mirrors and Lamps. Import your Iron swords to the Rome map from Gaul for the bonus points.
Tarraconensis has clay/fish/wheat. There is no dye, salt, olives, or grapes. Minerals include gold/iron/tin. There is no copper. Its two unique products are lead [for pipes] and Cinnabar mines [ for Mercury].
The logical MP strategy is: don’t develop any intentional large market/s on your selected headquarters map. You can’t supply enough resources, especially olives, to both a large home market and a Rome map market. Develop one key large town on the Rome map – it needs to be on the coast or on the Tiber River. Unfortunately for game purists the best spot is unlikely to be actually Rome as product placement of initial wheat and olives are random for each game start. Ports are the key, major centres inland are too hard to service because there is no genuine canal system possible on the Rome map.
Game tip: whatever your chosen merchant family starting point, check the Rome map and see if there is a location which you think will make a good market to supply [Remember-it’s all uphill without wheat and fish in your first market radius.] You can always cheat by restarting the episode until you get a reasonable location.
Luxury imports into Rome are clear; as shown below. The best return cargo from Rome is fast-and-cheap-to-make Iron Swords, which are always in demand at regional map military structures.
Egypt: Paper and Incense [ and Gold Rings till the change to Polished Rings-then with the increase in demand buildings –Schools & Libraries ,increasing the paper and incense] - some marble and iron swords were exported back to Egypt.
Antioch: Silk and Incense. Marble and Iron swords were exported back to Military or Temple structures.
Gaul: early imports of Bronze swords [slow but worthwhile - no bronze swords were exported outside of Rome because of their value], Rome’s source for Mirrors – again none were exported outside of Rome because of their import value, Brass Lamps-the same self imposed game rule of no exports other than Rome. Amber and Silver Rings (until the change to polished rings). Also Gaul is the source for Bronze Cuirasses [which are difficult to make - x4 bronze ingots, which is a lot of copper. The price was good but so was the price for bronze/brass ingots needed for both Mirrors and Lamps. [Both required by dwellings]. Gaul was also used to import wine into the Rome region. Rome has its own vineyards; however this is a logical tactic to boost the bonus score.
Illyricum: was exploited mainly for its Tin resource. Either back into Rome to be smelted, and then exported to Gaul – for finished imported products back to Rome or later directly into Gaul to assist with bronze and brass products.
Ionia: the Emery resource was purchased and accessed late in the game – to produce polished rings- it didn’t have time to impact on the winning treasury total. (Rings production is harder with Emery and you may not find it worthwhile to micro manage.)
Tarraconensis: has two unique products, treated as luxury items in the game. Lead for lead pipe production, a material required at military and civil structures. Secondly, Mercury manufactured from Cinnabar, only mined in Spain. By the time these products enter the scenario (42 AD Lead, 86 AD for Mercury), the player should be able to export Iron swords as a return cargo].
Carthago: the game players best starting point and headquarters for all merchants. No demand housing settlements should be developed here. The Rome map is the key market. The Carthago coast has easy access to abundant clay pits, fish, salt and olive groves. So Merchants leaving Carthago for Rome have instant cargoes. Carthago is very canal friendly; as your treasury allows, create canals inland to access bulk wool/cloth, olives/oil and marble to export to Rome. After the introduction of dye, return with dye from Rome, this is more direct and makes a more efficient use of your merchants than allocating merchants just to bringing Dye from Ionia or Egypt to Carthago – with the problem of dividing resources aimed for the Rome map to other maps.
The computer Merchants will compete fiercely for Gaul’s copper and tin ore resources early in the game - they will clog smelters or brass works - often only importing all the copper or all tin-while you try to bring in both - or you will bring in the ores and they will wait to take the swords/mirrors without bringing in ore - making it very difficult to get the balance right. Also a bronze works not purchased by the player will favor the production of swords over mirrors. Keep developing smelters in Gaul, Rome and Illyricum. A lot of micro management is needed here. The pressure is off with the easier-to-make iron swords.
Some advances not mentioned above include:
- Silver and Amber Jewelry 140 BC
- Temples 130 BC
- Silk Trade centres from 117 BC
- Sail from 114 BC
- Emporiums 47 BC
- Ox Cart 45 BC
- Brass Lamps 111 AD (This is the last major advance in the episode, which gives game players time to consolidate all their infrastructure and advances and get bulk cargoes to Rome.)
The scenario ends sharply at 200 AD.
There are the standard 30 Merchants available. Their maximum cost is 1600 coins, muchlower than some of the scenarios rated Difficult. They have historical names like Augustus, Cicero, Cleopatra, Nero, Virgil and Caligula.
Timing and capacitiesEdit
Pace your imports to match town growth- a boat may take 8 items but it’s better to start with 5 salt fish and build to 8 as the market grows or as you want it to grow-doing the same with olive oil and ceramic pots. It’s easier to over supply luxury items than dwelling items. Luxury items – you wait till it’s sold or dump it. With dwelling, oversupply-your town grows larger-stimulating additional demand. However, make sure you have the capacity to meet that higher demand or your population will fall away quickly.
This scenario becomes even more difficult without the Computer players. They at least purchase some advances, build roads and caravansaries early in the game, they will licence advances you can purchase cheaper, and if coins are tight, you can wait and pick up some advances for free.
2,000,000 coins are required for the title Merchant Prince in this episode.
How do you know you are on target for Merchant Prince? [2,000,000 required]
There is no 0 AD (except in computer games or astronomy) – so around 1 BC/1 AD aim to have a total score of 500,000 coins. This is possible if you trade into Rome’s dwelling demands immediately the game starts. Your treasury needs a balance of 20,000 to cover advances and running costs from around 30 BC . As in all Trade Empires scenarios, your game score should increase more rapidly if your initial planning was sound. Your progress will slow with the big three changes of Salt Fish, Iron Swords, and Dye until 50 AD.
As Trade Empires is a thinking game, at several points you will have to hit pause and sort it all out and it takes time and strategy. This episode's truism: Rome won't be built in a day. The detailed historic geography and technology is worth the effort of pursuing MP.