Tropico 4 Guide: Tips and Strategy

As a veteran El Presidente of countless Tropican islands I thought I might do a Tropico 4 strategy guide to share some of my Tropico tactics. I’ve actually just been playing through Tropico 4: Modern Times so I’ll cover some of the new elements in that as well. To be honest the core game hasn’t really changed that much since the original in terms of winning strategies so most of this guide should work for any of the Tropico games.

In the beginning

The first thing to do with any game of Tropico is to set up your avatar. Do you want to be a communist revolutionary intent on bringing a decent standard of living to the oppressed or perhaps you’re a silky smooth singer looking to create a tourist haven of epic proportions?

The older Tropico games used to make you choose your background, route to power and then two positive traits and two flaws, which was a cool trade-off. In Tropico 4 you’ll find you can avoid picking any flaws at all. You still have to pick a background and your rise to power but now you pick three traits and they are all positive to varying degrees.

Choosing a Background

In terms of Background I think Professor is the best. In order to have a successful island paradise you can’t do without educated people. You need them for the army, various government buildings, power stations and industries. As a Professor you’ll get +20 respect from the Intellectuals but more importantly education and skill training will be 50% faster.

A lot of the other options have drawbacks attached. Pop Singer is good if you want a tourist island, Self-Made Man is good for industry and Silver Spoon combines the two but at the cost of Communist respect. Farmer gives you a 50% boost to farms with a slight hit in the shape of a -10 hit with the Intellectuals. If you need maximum cash in a hurry then Booze Baron works well.

Rise to Power

For Rise to Power you can go for Capitalist for industry and US relation boosts or Communist for farming and USSR relation boosts. The best by far if you want to have a tourist trade is Hotel Corporate Buyout. If you don’t choose that then Capitalist Election is probably the next best.


When it comes to traits you can pick three and what you choose will depend on what you’ve already picked and the individual mission you’re undertaking. I’d recommend Administrator, Charismatic, Diplomatic, Entrepreneurial, Financial Genius, Hard-Working, Scholarly and Well-Travelled. You’ll want to pick the same ones again to build up the potential bonuses.

Scoping Out Resources

When it comes to the individual levels you’ll start each new game with a new island map. Begin by conducting a thorough survey. Seriously, pause the game and then check what resources you have. It’s a real pain if you later find out that you’ve built an apartment building on top of a gold deposit or a farm on an oil field. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to just select the building (gold mine or coffee farm) and then check where the good spots are on the map, the greener the better.  You can use the Overlays above the mini map to do this too and it is something you should refer back to as you go to quickly identify any major problem areas.

Once you have done this you can start to plan your island. The type of economy you build will depend on your personal tastes and on the mission you have to complete. You can go for crops, industry or tourism as your main focus or you can blend them.

You should check for good tourist spots at the start too because you want to keep them well segregated from your industry and farms and….your Tropicans!

Housing and Food

The fastest route to an unhappy population, rising crime and violent rebellion is homelessness and hunger. You absolutely have to provide enough food for your population. Always start by placing a couple of food farms and at least one fishing wharf. The good thing is that you can sell any surplus food you produce. You can import food as well, but you have to get your economy on track first. You can build a marketplace (or supermarket in Modern Times) and allow imports to avoid starvation but you might find it quite costly at the start.

You’ll inevitably see shacks popping up as your homeless population look for shelter. These shacks aren’t just an eye sore they are also a major source of crime. Keep an eye on your housing stock as your population grows. When you have enough housing to cater for your whole population (which will be a running battle) you should consider making your bottom tier tenements free so that even the unemployed homeless have a basic option that will discourage them from building a shack.

If your Tropico 4 housing stock includes a lot of tenements make sure that you upgrade them to have air conditioning when you get power because it seriously improves the living standards for tenants.

Stay in the Black

You can actually spend up to $10,000 into the red but if you go into debt it will harm your relationship with foreign powers which is very damaging. You can easily get stuck in a negative feedback loop. If you treat $5k as zero you should avoid problems but this isn’t always possible early on. Watch out that your export cash doesn’t all get splurged on imports or you may struggle to get out of debt.

Useful Edicts

There are loads of useful edicts in Tropico 4 and the Modern Times expansion adds even more. In any standard game you should build your Ministry early and hire a Minister of Foreign Affairs so you can enact edicts with foreign powers and go for USSR Development Aid for a 50% discount on tenements and apartment buildings. A little later when you want to build a power station enact the USA Development Aid edict for a 50% discount on power plants and airports. These two edicts will save you a fortune.

As your economy grows you can save Food for the People as a happiness booster when you need it. You’ll also want to enact the Literacy Program to encourage some more skilled workers. Everyone likes Social Security and Police Sensitivity Training has no negative side effects either.

There are a host of edicts that will encourage tourism, if you’re going for a tourist economy and you have the cash then they are all worth doing. Most of the other edicts have particular political implications so whether you use them or not will depend on your aims. I usually enact the National Day, Anti-Litter Ordnance and Pollution Standards.

Sometimes Free Housing is a good idea, especially if you have a lot of empty housing stock and homeless people who can’t afford to move in. The Papal Visit option in the US Foreign Affairs edicts is great for appeasing the religious faction and there’s no downside to it apart from the cost. The last one worth using periodically is the Amnesty for rebels.


Everyone knows that builders are a lazy bunch and in Tropico 4 this unfortunate truth can be a real pain. You’ll often find that you’ve put out multiple buildings and you’ve got money to spend but your builders can’t keep up. Now each building only has a set number of slots for builders to work on it so building another construction office won’t speed up individual building projects, but if you have multiple buildings waiting to be erected at once then it will help. I usually have at least a couple of construction offices. You can also set priorities for buildings so always hit high priority for the ones you want completed first.

The best way of getting them to speed up on an individual building project is to find El Presidente and send him to visit the construction site (you can hit Backspace to select him and just right click on the construction site you want him to visit). This can make a real difference and get your builders moving.

It’s also worth noting that you can press the [ or ] key to change the layout or style of some buildings before you place them out.

Imports and Exports

Your balance of goods will ultimately decide whether you win or lose. At the start of each game I’d recommend going to the dock and lowering your maximum imports to $2,000. That will give you a chance to build up some export money though you’ll definitely want to raise it again quite quickly.

The fact you can import goods is great. You can build a furniture factory and just import lumber instead of chopping down your own trees which will anger the environmentalists. In fact it means you are free to import all manner of goodies and build any industry you want. Just make sure you set the building to allow imports and that you’ve got the bank balance to cover it.

Always try and get a Customs Office fairly early to increase the prices of your exports.


Your Tropicans will get around by car so you’ll need to build garages. You’ll want at least one garage for each group of buildings. The traffic will inevitably build up and become gridlocked as you grow. For some reason 4-way intersections are especially bad, you’ll actually find things run more smoothly if you avoid making any of them and build loops instead but it looks weird.

Modern Times introduces a wonderful new transport option to the world of Tropico – a subway system. You can build subway stations anywhere and your Tropicans will happily use them which means – no more traffic problems. Just be careful when you put them out that you keep an eye on the cost, the further apart they are the more expensive they are to build. You should also leave gaps in your busy areas so you can slot the subway stations in when they become available.


Another important Tropico tip to keep things running smoothly involves logistics. You need plenty of Teamsters to pick up your exports and transport them to the dock for sale. They’ll be much faster if they have easy access to a car so they need to be close to garages. I don’t think it really matters where you build them because you can’t tell them where to pick up products from anyway. As long as they are near a garage and you have enough of them to pick up all your goods then you should be fine.

If you have a lot of surplus goods at your factories or mines and they seem to be taking too long to get picked up then you need more teamsters. On some islands (depending on the layout) you should consider building a second dock to help. Ideally you’ll have separate docks in separate bays rather than two in the same one.


Getting your industry up and running can really bring in the cash. You can always sell raw resources but if you use them to manufacture products instead your profit will grow significantly. You will need an educated workforce though, so a high school and college are essential.

It’s worth noting you can also set up imports for some of the manufacturing businesses. So even if you don’t have any tobacco farms you can import it and make cigars for profit. Just bear in mind that your import bill might be high and that you’ll need skilled workers for some of the factories. For this to work you have to turn on imports in the factory.

Most of the industrial buildings have upgrades so always click on the building and take a look. Many of them require electricity so you may not be able to get them when you first put the building out but you should make sure to remember and go back when you have power. The chemical plant is a good industry to start with because it only needs power to run and it improves the quality of your clinics and hospitals.

In Modern Times you’ll be able to get Borehole Mines; the big advantage with them is that even when the resource runs out they’ll still produce a trickle of output.

Military and Propaganda

You need an army to ensure that the rebels don’t overrun you. Make sure your palace is always fully staffed with soldiers (raise the wages if necessary) and build the improvements to increase their job satisfaction. You can build an Armory, Army Base and Guard Post later on. It’s a good idea to have a Guard Post near your power plant to ensure the rebels don’t attack it.

Always build the Childhood Museum and consider building newspapers, radio stations and TV stations to improve your standing with the people (you can target specific factions if you like). You should also build the Mausoleum when you can afford it because the rebels will always attack it first (there’s a fun booby trap option too).

Immigration and Wages

You need a steady supply of immigrants to begin with but when you start to see unemployment and homelessness you need to close the gates. You can only control this with an Immigration Office so get one early.

Wages in Tropico 4 are vital as they determine what your Tropicans can afford. You should keep an eye on average Caribbean pay and see how your wages compare. Increase them when you can to avoid expensive strikes and increase job satisfaction. If you go above the Caribbean average you’ll also boost immigration.

Make sure you keep the same tier structure of unskilled – high school – college workers. You don’t want to increase just one. You can also use better wages to attract people to a specific job you want to fill. Make sure the dock workers and teamsters are always happy because they can effectively freeze your economy if they go on strike.

Religion, Healthcare and Entertainment

You will need entertainment and religion to keep your Tropicans happy. You should get a church fairly early to keep the religious faction off your back. You’ll also want a clinic early on. Both healthcare and religious buildings should keep pace with your growing population just make sure you have a sound economy to support them.

You have a pretty good range of entertainment options to choose from and some of them, like the movie theatres can be set to provide different bonuses. The pub and the childhood museum are a good start but you should wait until you have the money and you’ve already provided food, housing, healthcare, education, and religion before you spend big here.

A Few Final Tropico 4 Tips

  • Get your high school up and running early and buy in staff for it.
  • When you hire ministers make sure they are talented or they might trigger negative events. Always fire them if they do. Good ministers will trigger bonuses for you.
  • Check your Almanac frequently it has all the information you need to plan the right strategy and decide on priorities.
  • Remember to build some beauty in the shape of parks, trees and fountains.
  • Build a weather station so you get warnings about upcoming disasters.
  • In the campaign many of the missions have trigger points. Things will only advance when you complete certain tasks, so sometimes holding off on a specific task can help you build a solid foundation before advancing.
  • You’ll always make more money if you develop your raw resources rather than sell them. Even gold can be made into jewellery so take advantage.

If you’ve got a winning Tropico 4 strategy of your own or you want to share some Tropico 4 tips then post a comment.






22 responses to “Tropico 4 Guide: Tips and Strategy”

  1. Tony Avatar

    What I do in Tropico 4 is based on all imports. The first things I do in the game are build a ministry and appoint the foreign affairs minister then build a market and import corn. Set the import limit to unlimited but the corn will only cost about 3k. Then build a mine and set your starting farms to non-edible crops for profits so you can build a high-school and then start off with a weapons factory and you will start making big money.

  2. chris Avatar

    i used the cheat and build evering!!! but i can’t keep people working? i’ve loads of farms,ranches, warfs and churches??? loads of houses and blocks. put in entertaiment 4 them. loads of schools wacked up the wages?? loads of hospitals and clinics but still they won’t live or work???????/ please help tearing my hair out!!!!

  3. Simon Hill Avatar

    Good tips, thanks

  4. Simon Hill Avatar

    try checking the almanac and see what they are unhappy about

  5. jamie perryman Avatar
    jamie perryman

    how do you put the rices of imports and exports up and down on the xbox game tropico 4

  6. Mat Avatar

    Awesome article, really well laid out and easy to read. Going to read more on this site.

    to jamie: I’m not sure about the Xbox version but on my version to change import limits you click on the port and there is a slider at the bottom. Not sure about export prices, maybe customs office?

  7. bodger Avatar

    Been addicted to Tropico since the original and have kept up since. The two most recent games have taken Tropico to higher levels. The problem with the original Tropico and the second, was that roads took ages to build, could only be placed one bit at a time and seemed pointless. The same with constructable tree’s which had to be planted individually by a builder. But now, there are roads which can be laid over distances in a single click and are instantly built, as with trees/gardens/fountains also. Garages that compliment them, being the most important building in the game.

    Although not a profitable industry, I find infrastructure so important.

    So important tip, ensure you have garages placed near to all buildings that do not have a drive connected, such as garages and construction office. This allows everyone to get around the islands. It means that you can pack your population into one large area, but allowing all industry and other work places to be placed at at distance. With a large centralized population, with close access to garages, ensuring however that all entertainment and wealthfare services (churches, clinics, etc) are placed within close proximity. Doing so means that you with a few well placed clinics and churches, you can quite easily meet the demands from the population. I recommend a church to every 7 apartments and then only build a cathedral if required.

    Note – garages only need one teamster. I recommend having a full construction team if you are building,as the game runs in real, some builders may be in bed, at a bar, etc. Once well placed construction office, also appears to be far more effective than two half filled.

    For the sake of fluidity, a curved road will improve the speed of travel and reduce traffic, as opposed to a corner. Creating a fluid road system with strategically placed garages, docks, teamsters office and construction office, is how you get a happy population, make tons of money and create beatiful cities. Don’t forget to line the streets of residential and tourist area’s with tree’s, it’s up to you if you want to do the rest of the island.

    Move your main construction office, if building across the island. This reduces travel time overall of the builders. I recommend no more than one construction office, providing your are not overly enthusiastic with your building projects and make use of el presidente to improve construction speed of builds, particular major ones like factories and monuments. Use another one if you have tons of builds on the go, but remember that each build site has a max number of workers, so have 10 construction sites will not increase construction speed of an individual building, so make use of el presidente, or even a strategically placed blimp ride set to presidential influence mode. Make use of quick build if you got the money and if it’s just a cheap build. Later on in the game this is more useful if you want to cut builders numbers to improve job rating overall.

    Teamsters office, have a max of 2, place near resource sites and/or factories. I recommend putting relevant factories as close as possible to it’s relevant resource or within a well structured route and a dock

    To ensure your exports are selling at the highest price ensure the following

    – Build relevant factories for each natural resource. IE logging camp – timber mill – furniture factory or iron mine – weapons factory. Then create a fluid as possible road from your industrial sector, to your export docs.

    – Create and move if necessary, that are in a close proximity as possible with fluid roads, to your industrial sector, if possible, build factories on the road that directly connects to a dock. Place residential area away from docks to lower congestion as the roads can get pretty packed and a street coming of a road can traffic dramatically. Place connecting roads in a way that ensures each dock is going to receive produce in bud, perhaps by splitting your industry and placing each dock with a fluid road directly to it. I believe distance and fluidity of the road, defines which dock will receive which produce. Do not place the docks and roads so that the resources are being carried through the main population area, use fluid bypasses.

    – Salt and buaxite mines are useful early in the game, but should be removed later on, because they can only be sold in natural form. There are no industrial uses in this game. With increased wages therefore, they become less and less profitable. Iron and gold mines should be then explited, given already experienced miners jobs, and being combined with factories to increase value of export.

    – That the necessary improvements are built (spiced run), or in the case of tobacco, to not build the cigar rolling machine as this lowers price of cigars, we only sell the best in tropico. Although though perhaps not true in reality, canned products are considered a better quality product in tropico when exported.

    – Note that a chemical factory requires no resources and that the oil refinery collects it’s own resources. These make them highly profitable, as you are not having to pay a large uneducated workforce to supply them. In turn, also increasing average job rating. Though a chem factory make appear to not make a fortune, it’s profit margins are vastly improved. Weapons factory make appear to make a tonne of money, but you are having to pay for the factory workers and miners, and other costs such as upgrades. A full working oil refinery, or more if the resources are available. Wells are best left till later on when you are trying to improve job rating, or for example, run out of gold and iron.

    – If using farms for industry, focus only on sugar, coffee and tobacco farms. Food from the other farms will eventually be required to feed to populous as it expands and are recommend to be used, with reduced number of farmers, for improving food tropic. As you already need loads of corn farms, and you aim to keep the uneducated workforce down, you can see why this is recommended.

    – remember to issue the industry campaign edict once you have a tv station. Issue this only once you have factories to make it worthwhile.

    – Ensure entertainments are available, are near to homes, and that they are as packed as possible, with as high a price people will pay to attend them. If no one is attending them, despite the price and there is no other bonuses, destroy them to save money or try placing elsewhere. If an amusement is placed too far away from houses, regardless of garages, it seems people are less inclined to attend. Also, have a limit of one of only each service type, or at least replace one with the next best service quality one, once you and the people can afford it. Such as replacing normal restaurant with gourmet, or replacing pub with cabaret as the drinking facility. The number of each equivalent then, depends on the population. If you have 2 pubs now, replace them with cabarets, rather than building both.

    For imports, simply go to each docks and lower the import amount on the scale bar. If some imports are necessary, either access associated building, ie cigar factory and clcik forbid/allow exports, for that resource. For corn it’s the market. Corn is a cheap import so useful for feeding people, if you havn’t got big numbers of corn farms. Another method is to enter the alamac, go to trade and their should be list options for each resource group. In the list will be the resources for that group or all if selected. Click on the flag in the import list so it has no arrow displaying within it, to stop import of that particular product. To import only corn, set amount at docks you are willing to import in total, for example $1000. Then in the list ensure all other imports are not selected and only corn is selected for import. If you are low on corn also set it so that it is not exported. If you are using shopping malls, the luxury goods import will need to be selected

  8. DirtySlick Avatar

    Very good advice I do the exact same things. If you’re new to being in control of your own country then this article will save you a lot of frustration. Now I’m just looking for tips I’m not aware of to top the leaderboards. I play xbox360 version.

  9. maxim Avatar

    About construction yards and garages. Once i’ve seen some builder walking about year to another side of the island (no way – lazy guyz).
    The transport do not helped them if they already on their way…
    So one construstion yard is OK,but… for fast building (for example ore and iron mines and some farmes on other side of the island) – I prefer build contstructiona yard and a garage (and some residental if money is enough) just for evade some stupid walking and waiting for monthes…You will loose much more without your farms,mines, factories finished in time.

  10. holly Avatar

    I was wondering if anyone has had the issue on the Xbox 360 where I completed level 5 on campaign and clicked win, and instead of moving on to next map and mission it sent me back to the first one and I was wondering how do I fix that or is there a reason why it happened.

  11. kangarool Avatar

    Hi, quick question – just starting out, I have a goal of exporting 500 Iron. Mine was built and I got halfway there, but (stupidly?) built a Weapons factory for some extra cash. But it seems to use all my Iron, even after building a second Mine. Anyway to mothball the Weapons shop, until I can export out my remaining 250 Iron that I need to export? I can’t see a way except killing the Weapons factory – or maybe building still more Iron Mines? Thanks for any help.

  12. khanh Avatar

    what about the bank i suggest you build 3 bank to reduce the cost of building down. with those 3 bank i can quick buy anything i want. tennent cost 2k to build and quick build. with those 3 bank i barely have to build more then 2 constructor. (

  13. laccy Avatar

    best strategy from start: nuclear test and booze baron

    choose booze baron and make rum from imported sugar, you need some high school workers, restart game few times it generates more sometimes

    check map and choose your traits
    some maps got high fertility sugar, others got oil, others got mines, or nice beaches

    make many banks, it can lower your building price and can bribe faction leaders

    schools and kindergartens are important, choose youth organization or spelling bee
    you must have places for all kids

    make many loyalists with el cigarro grande, ballons, national day, mausoleum, museum

    walk to every building with president, use ballons to boost production, docks and fabrics produce much more if you do so

    entertainment gives you a lot of money, especially the zoo, stadium but cabaret is also nice

    place some entertainment near male workers so they can meet womans, they use less place

    good housing more kids, houses even more than apartmans

    group your factions, its easy with metro stations:
    you got the communists, low educated farmers, miners, builders, teamsters, they like to live in tenements, go to pubs, zoo, newspaper for respect
    educational zone near communists
    if they want to get more money, they will learn, they complain often about this

    grade scools in cental position behind buildings, they dont travel with cars they dont need roads, but need to be central to dont walk much
    they need bubblegum radio and church, a tv station

    religious zone, mostly kids will fill churches

    mothers walk slow, fire from job, they got a husband to keep them, they walk slow and got many problems with health, food so also central position

    educational zone, near grand schools, they need tv station learning with larry and academy set for educational standars, cheap housing close to them

    garages are important, shaks pop up even if you got houses around, dont place far the house from garage

    industry zone with garbage dumps, close to farming routes but far from city and tourists, fabrics near dock, place teamsters

    teamsters builders need cheap housing close

    apartment/house park
    why you need every house near work?
    they need a garage, so after resting they cna go to work, place all apartments in a place, a garage and a fire station and a tv station set for lucha libre, and another tv station in radius (educational zone learning with larry) gives a lot of boost
    lucha libre is great profit with skilled journalists, fill the tv zone with houses you can get a lot of money monthly, just by this

    fire station boosts housing

    you need markets all around, keep an eye on imports

    hospital zone, you need some hospitals set on obsteterics, place it near ministers, tv with learning, your ministers need to live long

    smart people learn faster, help them with house, work

    rent is 1/3 of salary, so 2 max for 6 salary, 3 for 9, etc, so keep salary divideable with 3, and rent at 1/3

    you can control the 3 classes (uneducated, high school, college) just by setting rent, for example salary of 6 -12- 21
    7+7 is 14 for mansions, 7+4 is 11 for condominiums, 4+4 for house, 4+3 for apartmans, etc.

    if you place oil wells near academy, probably they marry, same class marriages are the best to maximize profit

    foreign investments only for houses

    many houses, obsteterics, stopping foreign people and edict makes a lot of kids

    best tourists are eco/wealthy, choose only one or maximum 2 types at a time, with all buildings, they prefer bungalows with smart/skilled staff

    police stations near dock airport entries

    set police and military to special opps

    fire some dockworkers, temasters at start, fire mothers, kill lonely old people if you got the money, kill criminals

    they become criminal if somebody dies in family, good health is better

    police station and foregn aid works good to replace hospitals early on

    oil, rum or cigars have good profit, use import if you got enough, control the import price at dock

    rodas nead to be 4 way but in circle, make loops around city, 1 way for tourist to entertainment zone, 1 way for production between farms fabrics and docks

    micromanaging can be great, play slower, check married couples, build houses between their work place

    stadium as far as possible from religious zone

    use balloon ride, presidente presence and edicts to boost entertainment
    good price is salary -1. control entertainment for 3 classes with this, uneducated in restaurant, pub

    high school in stadium, zoo

    college pay a lot for good places set on higher rating, pop singer+noght club is great

    cinemas can control faction respect

    garbage dumps set on recycle, no mines, many gardens keep enviromentalists happy

    the 3 categories are most important, you can have a lot of money, but dont waste it, separate people, and optimize it, number of kids- number of grade schools, number of college- number of good quality house, number of high schools- number of apartmans, number of uneducated- number of tenement

    fire station with bunk house park can be really cheap, keep enviroment and housing higher with some mansions and beauty zones, than you can have a bunk house park for newly arrived people and students

  14. El Gigi Avatar
    El Gigi

    About people walking huge distances:

    Builders will run into this problem if the building they just worked on is not near a garage. They can get there by car but will have to walk back home or to the nearest garage. That’s why it’s a very good idea to build garages first, especially when you start building in a new uninhabited area. If there’s no garage near a mine way outside of town the workers will run into the same problem – they get there by car (if there’s a road of course) but have to walk back home.

    Immigrants can run into this problem too. If there are no jobs available for all the immigrants on a ship when it reaches the docks, the ones who are left unemployed will have to walk all the way to town or to where they’ve spawned their shack. The ones who got jobs as soon as they arrived will leave the port by car. That’s why you should try to make sure you have enough jobs available when a ship comes in. Try to anticipate the number of immigrants coming on the next ship. “Open Doors” can often bring you 15, even 20 people per ship, “Skilled Workers” policy usually brings in 5-10 people and “Tropico First” will shut the doors completely. If you can’t create enough jobs in between ship arrivals try to lower the number of immigrants you allow through the immigration office.

    Otherwise you’re just going to have a load of useless bums and even if you provide jobs soon after they set foot on your island they won’t be able to take them until they reach town by foot, and that could be a long time. That also almost guarantees one or two from the group of bums walking to town will turn criminal before reaching it because they’ve been unemployed for too long.

    Children are also susceptible to walking ridiculous distances because they can’t use cars but have plenty of activities that might send them off to very far away places. Children often go to farms and markets to bring back meals and they go to churches and grade schools. This is one of the reasons why housing buildings should never bee far from a church that isn’t overcrowded, a grade school and especially a well stocked market. Children can die of starvation on a very long trip to a farm far away from home to get some corn.

    A side note about builders:

    Just like every other worker in the game, builders spend a lot more time filling their needs and on the road than actually working. It’s just a lot more obvious in their case because if you place a construction site and you only have one construction office it usually takes some time before even one worker gets assigned on it and you’ll rarely have more than 2 available as soon as you place the new building.

    It’s true that no more than 4 or maybe 6 builders can work on a single building but it’s a good idea to have 2 or 3 construction sites simply because there will be more workers available on short notice when you are pressed to raise a building quickly.

    Later in the game, if you can get your economy going and have a strong cash flow you can start using quick build at least for the cheaper and often used buildings like garages and leave the more expensive or less urgent ones for the construction workers. This allows you to expand much faster.

  15. Xboxguyz Avatar

    The best way to start is get at least 2-3 mines ASAP. My best game so far i started with bauxite mine and 2 oil deposits pretty much inside my town. I just built 1 mine and 2 oil wells and put wages to 12. The first 2 freighter gave me no export money. But then the third gave me 20,000. The 4th and so on returned around 30,000-40,000. I then built another teamster office and got 60,000 every time. All the while expanding my city and providing modern apartments and bio farms (modern times dlc) i now have 1 more bauxite, 1 iron and 1 salt mine set up, giving around 70,000-80,000 with every ship. But make sure you place guard towers around that salt mine because that seems to be the first thing the rebels attack

  16. zero Avatar

    I have had some good luck hitting oil immediately, getting two wells up, then going to the refinery with barely any acknowledgment of any other issues. After the refinery is up, I can start importing oil and still make a lot of cash with my college grads. I also boost their pay up to max, to get as much oil flowing as possible.

  17. tatmanblue Avatar

    Couple things I don’t see on the xbox 360 that are mentioned in these comments:
    1) i can’t build a ministry. game says its not available at this time.
    2) i only see oil deposits off shore.
    3) every new game starts with the same island, with the same layout and same resources.

    is this just because I play on xbox 360 ?

  18. Greg Goetz Avatar
    Greg Goetz

    I have an island population of about 1100, at least one of every factory, maybe a dozen churches and cathedrals, 5-6 police stations, 3 colleges, high schools and elementary schools, and just about every other necessary building. My problem is trying to keep these buildings fully employed. I have imported enough foreign employees that my expenses for collegiate imports is above $30,000 each. For example, I will import a full staff of power station employees. They will all show up, and everything will run ok for about 2-3 months, then they are all gone? How do I get them to stay, and where are they going? Seems like I am just wasting money. Even though the island needs college grads my colleges rally produce them. Same with high school grads. You would think that 3 of each should be able to produce at least part of my requirements. Any suggestions? I’m even having bigger problems keeping priests hired. They’re usually gone after 1 month. Eve after importing all of these workers I still have about 25%of my businesses without any employees.

  19. TofuThePanda Avatar

    So I got pretty much everything people are saying but I just need to know can I make one section of my island purely residential with some entertainment and food markets. Then another part with all the education then the last one nothing by industrial and get food from importing and material for my industries the same way?
    So basically:
    Section 1: People
    – Houses
    – Entertainment
    – At least 1 police station
    – TV station or something for Liberty
    – One garbage dump for pollution or so depends on how nasty they
    – Garages
    – Market places ( Do you put them across the houses or in between every couple of houses?)
    – At least 1 church ( I put down a Cathedral so a lot of people can go )
    – At least 1 hospital

    Section 2: Education
    – At least 1 of each school
    – Garages
    – Probs some power sources ( Honeslty don’t know which one is the best to use)

    Section 3: Industries
    – Which industries are the best to plant? I’ll be using cheats to build them faster so no worries there.
    -Teamster buildings ( should I build these in section 1&2?)

    My biggest issue is though is building all the house in place work? I get so pissed off that I give them nice free air conditioned apartments but they rather sleep in a SHACK a filthy shack! By their job instead.

  20. Jenn Avatar

    How does the Suisse Bank account work?

  21. Paffimal Avatar

    Go booze baron, elected as capitalist, financial genius, hardworking and scholarly. Mine, farm whatever you have to do to get a highschool built then a rum distillary. Then i build 5 docks and 3 rum distilleries import sugar for less than 2k export spiced rum for 9 to 11k you win dosent matter what happens you will have more money than you can spend in an hour. I quick build everything and have millions of dollars even if your island sucks you will still get rich. Have fun beating the game!

  22. Paul Emmons Avatar
    Paul Emmons

    My usual strategy:

    1. Lay out the roads near the central city with the game paused. Check mining resources and put roads near them but not on them. The overlay for crop conditions gives you a good grid to look at to count squares and build the roads straight. I don’t think that corners are bad for traffic, but intersections definitely are. Try to minimize them.

    2. Look at the lists of people by education. How many college and high-school-educated people do you have? You might be able to avoid hiring teachers and professors from abroad, and if you must do so you will know it from the start and plan accordingly.

    3. My first building is a clinic, to put any college-educated men to good use and protect the others (especially the well-educated) from dying of disease. After building it, raise the salary temporarily to coax him or them away from where they are initially working, and perhaps reduce the salary of the latter. Perhaps you can just fire them from their initial job, but I don’t like to do that lest it decrease their respect or turn them into criminals. Does anyone know whether firing a worker affects loyalty, happiness, etc.?

    2. Next building: marketplace. This improves the efficiency of workers by keeping them from going to a farm for food. Be sure to forbid imports, or your cash balance will take a nearly disastrous hit.

    3. Next: four or five llama ranches and two cattle ranches– or rather, a garage near them and then the ranches. Always build a garage first in any area you are developing. You can probably set it to one worker initially. Ranches are inexpensive in terms of building cost and employees, and the resources are inexhaustible (unlike metals). The selling price of llama wool is a good return on investment. Income from these ranches will provide all the money you need for quite awhile.

    Reduce the salary of your teamster office to 4, and as workers vacate, close off their positions beyond 2-4. There are better things for them to do. Garage workers are teamsters and perform the same function. With a good network of garages all over the island, you might never need another teamster’s office.

    4. With these in place, priority is education all the way. Start with a high school. Close off only one position and raise the salary to 12. Put it near the palace so that El Pres. can easily visit the building site and raise the service level. I want five teachers at all times and to keep them from leaving. Enrollment fluctuates according to vacancies or upcoming vacancies for jobs that need a given level of education. There will be times when you don’t need that many teachers, but it’s a good idea to keep them in place and ready to work.

    5. Next buildings: grade school (near where you plan to put housing) and college (next to the high school, across the street from the palace. Try for four professors, although much later you might be able to fire one or close off his position.

    6. Three banks set to urban development. These are expensive but a good investment ASAP. They will reduce the cost of all other buildings by an eventual 40%. The 18 job positions will attract the male population into school and college.

    7. Along the way, the ministry is important. As soon as you build it, enact social security. You don’t need a minister, and every faction loves it! Minister positions are cushy, you can reduce their salaries somewhat. You might be able to hire education, economic, and defense ministers right away. Foreign and interior ministers must probably be hired from abroad, but do it. As soon as a foreign minister is in place, enact USSR development grant to reduce the cost of housing. With an interior minister, enact anti-litter ordinance and contraception ban.

    Other good buildings while you’re waiting for the banks to fill up and reduce costs:
    Science Academy (more cushy jobs– take the salaries way down to keep your profs and bankers in place. The attractiveness of a job is its job quality, not its salary. Make sure that job quality is less than that of a banker.) The function that reduces blueprint costs is the best choice.

    Two horticulture stations– ditto. It’s more important to create these positions than to fill them immediately. Their existence keeps your high school and college cranking out those male college grads.

    Foreign office (which might be free depending on your traits. If not, it’s a lower priority). Immigration office. Armory. As soon as cost is fairly low, a tenement. I’m not fond of tenements and prefer apartment buildings. But shacks are really bad. It may be worthwhile to get rid of them with tenements and replace them later with apartments.

    As soon as you have workers available and money to keep them busy, build a second construction office close to a garage and away from downtown. Plan to put an apartment there, too.

    For entertainment, build a childhood museum and a pub. For religion, build a church when you must, but it’s rather expensive. If you can wait for costs to go down before the priest gets too upset with you, good. It also distracts men from going to college.
    Eventually, you can build a cathedral for the same price as a church costs at start of game. Other good buildings: immigration office, police station (if shacks are under control, a staff of two or three will suffice!), fire station– centrally located downtown for the maximum effect on reducing upkeep costs in the area. At least keep the space reserved for it if/when needed, which depends on the frequency of events in your game or scenario.

    An army base = good housing and enables the military modernization edict.

    Two goat ranches to export cheese should be built. They’re not much of a moneymaker, but being able to export goat cheese pleases one of the foreign powers (China?). Same with a salt mine, for the USSR, which it is *essential* to stay on good terms with.

    A restaurant and a cabaret are good for entertainment at this point.

    If all goes well, the stage is now set for farms and industries. First build a third, and soon a fourth, construction office around the map. I don’t like to build metal mines until I’m ready to build the industries that can make full use of the finite resources, and even then I’m quite stingy. From this point, a key idea is decentralization. Traffic jams will soon become a problem, crippling everyone’s productivity. You want to minimize it by building housing near your farms and factories, and a marketplace and grade school in every housing area.

    Although I’m not sure how important multiple grade schools really are, I just believe in them. With contraception enacted and hospitals set to obstetrics as soon as you have enough of them, the children in just two apartment buildings will fill a grade school. So my usual layout is a garage, an apartment building on either side of it, often a marketplace as close as possible, and a grade school behind the garage (doesn’t need to be along a road). Distribute your cathedrals and hospitals, and to some extent entertainment buildings, in various subdevelopments around the map. You never need more than one high school or college.

    You will need at least one industry operating (probably jewelry factory), and others well on the way, before thinking about electrifying. Be sure to get the US development grant to cut costs. My choice is the nuclear plant, but the imported uranium is expensive (you’ll need to slide max import way up at the dock) and comes only from the USSR. Hence the importance of maintaining good relations at all costs. I’ve gotten into trouble many times by attempting to electrify too soon. It can run you into the red and cause an economic slump for several years if you are not ready. But once it has been built and stocked, you will probably never need another source of power. It is also non-polluting and more labor-efficient than regular power plants.

    Some people like to quick-build power substations, but I’m too frugal for that. Use your construction crews, mark them high-priority, and always have a garage nearby. They won’t take long.

    With the two sandbox islands I like to play, I build only minimal tourist housing, because numerous tourists will cause terrible traffic jams. You need an airport for various purposes. With that built, a single beach house is all you need to open up the entire array of tourist/luxury buildings. Of these, the only important ones are the blimp and the balloon. The blimp is valuable because it can give the effect of a presidential visit on buildings it passes over. The balloon works wonders in increasing membership in the loyalist faction. All other tourist buildings are merely for decoration and vanity.

    Two buildings I have little use for are newspapers and stock market. The trouble
    with a newspaper is that it takes quite a bit of space (although it can be built anywhere) and that it caters to a faction by both placating it and increasing it. A faction that needs placating is not one you want to increase in size.

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