Part 2: Summer 1815-1818 : Choosing Our Friends Wisely
Let's talk about trade. Once we end the turn to put our plans into action, it's time to start playing in the markets. (Technically the next few trade screens all show up before the newspaper, which begins the following turn.)
Every country that has goods they're willing to sell to you will submit an offer sheet, displaying the amount available as well as the price. Our foreign minister (the guy in the cameo there) will provide his opinion of the deal, or just raw numbers.
He also has the best animation in the game.
We can also click those tabs along the side, and get an idea of who else is bidding. The order of the flags under the selling nation's name is important : it shows that country's preference for trade partners. We're in the lead with Niridna, probably because we're next door to them and just built a trade consulate. We agree to the deal.
(Lest you think I know what I'm doing, this is literally the first time I ever clicked on that tab while the deal was in progress, and I'm kind of blown away that you can peek at rival countries' merchant marine and also all the other commodities.)
By the way, the reason nobody else has any ships available? They're using them to sell goods. The Great Power (or selling nation, for trade between powers) is responsible for transport, and their sales happened first for a reason I'm about to explain.
Niatat also offers us some wood, and we take it because we aren't harvesting any of our own yet. Note what our minister is telling us: with no trade consulate, this doesn't alter our diplomatic relations. That's what your votes purchased: Consulates, the first step in diplomacy.
The deal for wood comes after the deal for wool, and deals must be accepted/rejected in order. The order goes from top to bottom on the tabs (same order as the trade ledger). You don't get a choice of who you sell to. It's just whoever accepted the offer in the market, as long as you have cargo holds available. While each cargo space can transport only one unit per round, there is no restriction on the number of ports visited by a ship, so cargo space is effectively pooled for deal purposes.
Once all the sales are completed, we get a summary of how our money was spent, with additional details in the right column. Our net gain (or loss) is on the bottom line. The nation's current balance is always at the top of the screen.
This balance sheet does not show expenditures that occur 'during' the planning phase (for instance, setting up the Consulates cost $500 each). Those adjust the balance directly, although if the actions are canceled, it is rolled back.
Our intrepid prospector reports that an untapped vein of iron lies just outside the peaceful town of Aznar.
Back to the subject of trade. All trade with foreign nations must be conducted via our Merchant Marine. We must build the ships we use. At the moment, the Indiaman provides the most capacity.
If we lose our Merchant Marine, trade stops. If trade stops, so does our income. And if that happens, we bankrupt the country. And if that happens, it will be nice to have known you all. So to prevent that, we must keep the transports safe. We can build a powerful Ship of the Line bristling with guns. Once we have the guns, of course.
The two smaller ships to the left of the Indiaman and SotL are the Trader and Frigate, respectively. They are too weak to be of much use and unworthy of being in the Visisik fleet.Except for the two Traders we started out with.
The capital is looking much nicer with our brand-new mills and factories. Of course we don't want them getting too dirty so soon, so we'll wait a bit to put them to use.
Finally, there is the other benefit of having a Trade Consulate. We can now set subsidies with our good friends Niridna and Manfil Maran. This means we pay them more for all the stuff we buy from them, and give them better prices if they want to buy from us. (Although we still aren't selling anything.)
With his next survey our prospector reports that coal is just lying around for the taking in the Hlunaslotan foothills.
So does anybody know if Great Powers get a bonus for resources? I could have sworn I've started in countries that had about no coal deposits, but maybe it forces you to get at least something. I did not think that was the case. But we have two hills that both contain ore. [In fact I just realized that for those unfamiliar with the game, it might not be clear that most mountains/hills contain nothing.] I also have no idea what language they speak in Niridna.
We continue to buy whatever we can to get our economy going.
The cowardly Evaçais are attempting to woo Niridna away from us! This clear act of aggression will be met with
In 1816, we start to put our stockpiled goods on the market. Notice how the prices have gone up! This is primarily because most of the other Great Powers have sold their own supplies off, but demand has remained steady.
Trade deals put us back in the lead for Niridna's favor, without a need to adjust subsidy policy.
Our engineer has overseen the construction of rail into the heart of the great Karanka Forest. This depot will be able to deliver materials from there to the capital to feed our mills.
The iron market is quite active. Luckily our policies with Manfil Maran give us the edge with them.
Also visible here is that each Minor Nation produces an amount depending on their actual deposits, so it gets more detailed than just looking at whether they produce it or not.
In the Spring of 1817, our first depot is completed. We assign our trains to bring all of it to us, along with some much-needed grain.
The red line under grain indicates a shortfall of that resource; we're only one short and as soon as the need is filled it turns green. The indicator is slightly less useful for industrial resources, as it shows the shortfall relative to maximum capacity, not necessarily what your labor pool and factories can sensibly support.
With plenty of wood being delivered, we can expand our mill, and also start producing consumer goods. Right when we finally sold out of our initial stock.
Status report by 1818:
It's actually been a bit tough to purchase wool or cotton, so our textile mill has been quiet. We're getting a lot of minerals in the warehouse, but at the same time probably do want to stay on good terms with our best partners, so we buy some coal too.
Also, sometimes there isn't any demand for what you're selling, even if the listed price is high.
It's now time to consider what to do next. First, the current rankings of the Great Powers. Despite Visisik's top position, there are a few countries that are very close to us. In truth, it's still too early for there to be big differences, but we can spot some trends.
My opinion as advisor, based on this info and the trade/diplomacy maps:
Mone is looking to take the lead by establishing trade with countries nobody else is talking to. The three nations just north of Pfessöttirg are hotly contested, with Pfessöttirg actually coming out the loser in that mess. Wan and Yakakkie have both made progress with Kangjung, but any of those minor powers could go in any direction. Kova seems to be doing quite well domestically, but this is mostly due to a rapid growth in population rather than industrial strength. Evace is struggling to improve its position, but nobody is really falling behind yet.
This is our current relationship map; we're just beginning to see a change in attitudes towards us from our trade peartners. One thing I did in the last few years was establish a consulate in Qak, as it was likely that either Wan or Mone would attempt to influence them. Originally this was only to hinder their influence, but now Qak seems to be happy to do commerce with us.
Who, if anyone, should we focus on next?
Ash Mukkun - Go with our original vote. Ash Mukkun hasn't been very active in the markets, and mostly they've been ignored. Mone is their current favored partner, but hasn't really been going after them strongly. It's just because they are close by that they're friends with them. Maintaining control of them would really solidify our position on this continent, though.
Qak - They seem to like us, so maybe we should step it up and continue to improve. Wan is actually struggling with population growth the moment and will probably take a while to really hit peak output. So we might not need to hinder anyone else, but maybe we just want to have a colony on the other side of the world.
Porgindris has made a number of offers to trade with us, which I don't always take them up on. But they do present a source of wool, and their central location is attractive. Mone seems to like them a bit too, so this might be a way to stick it to the island nation. Typically if a Minor Nation is submitting offers like this, it means that their current trading partners aren't fulfilling their needs.
Alternately, we can ignore those choices and instead try an alternate approach :
Option Conquer: Go for conquest now. Attack one of our neighbors and conquer a province or two! The downside here is that Niridna really should not be a target, and attacking anyone else is likely to upset them for quite a while. However, this is probably our last chance to go for early territorial gains. Then again, given the vast untapped mineral wealth of our land, it might not even be necessary.
Realistic terms: those domestic mines mean we'll have enough steel to just get by if in the future a critical colony is invaded or controlled by someone else. Most of the mineral colonies are producing in good quantities, so there's more than just one province's worth in the market. For now.
If voting for this, optionally select a target of Ash Mukkun, Asfah, or Niridna.
Option Focus: Ignore anyone else, focus on Niridna and Manfil Maran. Our income isn't large enough yet that we can buy up all the iron and coal from these two, so we might end up fighting for control of them. Focusing could get us to colonial status faster, and Manfil Maran has the best supplies of iron right now. But it's hard to tell if Kova will be a major threat, so it's not clear how tough it will be to maintain our position. We might be able to just keep them in our back pocket.
Again, vote in the thread.
These early turns are super-detailed in order to introduce the game and allow our decisions to be made when they're important. But we got through three years this update, and it'll start to pick up. This will probably be the last big 'set-up' vote, as from here on things will start to pick up.