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Trading is one of the core mechanics of Anno1404. Trading allows players to expand their Settlements much more quickly, both through the import of building materials needed for newly unlocked buildings, and through the export of surplus Goods for profit. While it is possible to play an entire game without engaging in any trading, relying solely on Taxation to expand is going to heavily limit growth. A more advanced way of financing the expansion of your empire is through trading.

We make a distinction between Passive trading, which is the interaction between Trading fleets and Warehouses, and Active trading, which is manually performed by the player or set up in the Trading routes menu. Note that the transfer of Goods between islands of the same player is not considered Trading, even though the game refers to it as such.

For information on creating and maintaining trading routes, see the Trading routes page.

Active trading[]

The main difference between Active and Passive trading is that Active trading is done at the ports and harbours of others. Active buying should really only be used to import Goods that you cannot or are not producing yet. The two most obvious examples of this include buying Tools at the start of the game, and buying Glass to build a Keep. The Keep is unlocked at 510 Patricians, and requires 5 tons of Glass to build. Setting up Glass production is slow, so it might be advantageous to buy the required Glass from Lord Northburgh and rush the construction of the Keep, especially against aggressive Opponents.

The most common reason for Active selling is to dump excess Goods, either directly from your Warehouse or from Trading routes. Adding an additional waypoint to a Trading route where all leftover Goods are sold ensures your Warehouses don't fill up with excess Goods. Selling excess Goods is always more profitable than allowing Production buildings to stall, though it is still less profitable than exporting them through Passive trade.

Note: In the base game, Lord Northburgh and Grand vizier Al Zahir will only reward Honour for Active trading, making Active sales more appealing for generating Honour. In the Venice add-on this was changed to also work for Passive trading, so there is no benefit there.

Passive trading[]

Note: There is an Economy Achievement that requires the player to "Achieve the city status of Metropolis without ever placing any goods to trade in your warehouses." This means no Passive trading is allowed to attain the Achievement.

Passive trading is done by placing Import and Export Goods in the Trading place section of a Warehouse. The number of Goods that can be selected for Trade is determined by the type of Warehouse. When a Trading vessel moors in your Harbour, they will buy and sell Goods based on their preferences. Trading vessels will only exchange Goods up to a certain spending limit, but if the asking price is low enough, your Warehouse storage should never reach maximum capacity for those Goods.

Lord Richard Northburgh, Grand Vizier Al Zahir and Giacomo Garibaldi will always trade with you, and will always send out Trading vessels, even if there are no Goods for trade in your Warehouse. The same is true for Hassan ben Sahid, though only when not at war with the Corsairs. Each of these 4 Characters has an Attainment to upgrade their Trading fleet and spending limit. Note that Lord Northburgh will only sell Occidental goods and Grand Vizier Al Zahir will only sell Oriental goods. Additionally, Computer players that you have a Trade Treaty with will regularly send Trading ships to trade Goods as well. The spending limit of Computer players increases based on their Population level.[unverified] Computer players will only send ships to Warehouses that have Goods set up for trading.

Passive trading has two advantages over Active trading. Goods can be sold at a much higher cost through Passive trading, with default prices being 2.5x higher for Passive trading than for Active trading. This can be even higher if the player increases the asking price for export Goods in the Warehouse, though the demand for that Good will then be lower. The second advantage is provided by Duty and Toll items.

Dutylevied

Customs goods: Books

Duty / Toll[]

When these Items are equipped in a Warehouse, additional Goods will be charged from Trading vessels when they buy more than a certain quantity of Goods from you. These Items can occasionally be found for sale at one of the 4 Ambassadors, discovered by Ibn al Hakim at the Academy of Wisdom, or received as a reward for completing quests. These Items are generally quite powerful, especially when maintaining a steady supply of export Goods.

Trade progression[]

Almost all Goods can be exported for a profit, but not all Goods are equally suitable for this purpose. Consumption Goods generally have a high profit margin, but it can be difficult to balance export of these Goods with the consumption rate of your Inhabitants, especially when a Settlement is still growing and the consumption rates are constantly changing. The Trade bias of Trading partners can also influence the suitability of a Good for export. Ultimately, it is up to the player to export Goods as the opportunity arises. The following trade progression can be applied to almost any scenario without any additional effort or worry.

Ropes: Ropes can easily be mass-produced and are only used to build Ships, which will only be needed occasionally.

Weapons: Weapons are only used for the construction of certain Ships and Military units, which only happens occasionally.

War machines: Acts as a direct upgrade to the Ropes export. Three Ropeyards can supply two War machines workshops.

Cannons: Acts as a direct upgrade to the Weapons export. Three Iron smelters can supply four Cannon foundries.


We now elaborate on the previously mentioned Trade progression by breaking it down into the different Civilisation levels.

Citizens: While Tools and Linen garments are decently profitable at this stage, there will be little to no surplus as you continue to expand your Settlement. The best export Good at this stage is Ropes. Try to aim for at least three Ropeyards.

Patricians: Once the first Patricians move into your Settlement, you will unlock the production of Weapons. Similarly to Ropes, it is only used for Ships and Armies, which makes it an extremely efficient and easy-to-maintain export Good. It is advised to create a Weapons production chain for every unused Ore deposit, and shut down any overproduction of Tools in favour of Weapons production.

Overproduction: The Tannery is unlocked at 690 Patricians, and can supply up to 1429 Patricians. This surplus can be sold for one of the highest profits of any Good in the game. Leather jerkins are the most profitable Good when it is unlocked at 690 Patricians until the Wine press is unlocked at 1500 Noblemen. A similar situation arises for the Printing house, which overproduces Books between 940 and 1875 Patricians. Keep in mind that the overproduction of these Production buildings decreases as your Population grows, which makes this export harder to maintain than Ropes and Weapons.

Noblemen: The Noblemen tier immediately unlocks War machines. War machines workshops use the Ropes we're producing as Raw material and return the more profitable War machines. Three Ropeyards can supply two War machines workshops, so we can simply extend our existing Ropes production to increase our profit. At 950 Noblemen we also unlock Cannons, which similarly act as a direct upgrade to our Weapons production. Simply shut down one Weapon smithy for every new Cannon foundry.* Note that both of these require Wood for their production, which will take up additional space on your Islands.


Oriental Overproduction: Carpets export is easily the most profitable in the early stages of the game. The Carpets production chain also has a high initial cost, however. Carpets export is not recommended for Medium to Hard difficulty games.

Tips[]

  • Click the Attainments icon (little shield on the bottom-right of your screen) and use your Honor points to expand trading fleets. Each stage of this attainment will improve the rate at which ships visit (exception of the venetian trade fleet), the quantity of goods they handle and the money they have available. This greatly improves the rate at which your goods will passively shift (thus profit) as well as improves the quantity of goods the AI are willing to sell to you.
  • Sign a pact with the Corsairs. This not only stops your trade ships and harbors from being raided by them but also grants you access to their trading fleets. Although they are the worst of all the passive traders, they can still do deals worth thousands of coins. With a few trade fleet upgrade attainments for the Corsairs, you can easily find yourself making a profit. Eventually you can become permanently allied to the Corsairs so they will never attack you again or ask for tribute.
  • Sign trade treaties with AI players. They will come buy and sell things at your Warehouses which will improve your standing with them as well as reduce your unwanted stock or replenish needed goods.
  • NPC ships visit all Warehouses on the map before idling for a period of time so to maximize the number of purchases they make you should always have something for sale in all your Warehouses. Build an excess factory or two on each of your islands and offer goods for sale even if it has to be Wood or Stone.
  • Excess capacity for luxury goods like Pearl Necklaces shift very easily and can earn you serious money. Military-related goods like Weapons, Cannons, or War Machines are a major universal seller. Keep producing and selling them to make a net profit.

The "Sell everything" Strategy[]

The following strategy details how to sell... well, everything.

Peasant
Peasant level At the beginning of the game you will be desperate to sell anything to improve your account balance so you should place additional lumberjacks's huts, Fisherman's huts and Cider farms and offer their products for sale. If you're very short on money, you may wish to actively sell these Goods since the delay between passive trading can be quite long in the beginning of the game. Also note: No one passively buys Cider in Anno 1404, but Garibaldi passively buys it in the Venice expansion.
Citizen
Citizen level As the game progresses switch from selling basic goods to more advanced Citizen goods since those produce much more income. So instead of selling Fish, Wood and Cider you can begin selling goods such Stone, Tools, Linen garments and Ropes. These goods are very popular with computer player ships. If you have enough excess to sell, the computer ships will pay you a few thousands coins per visit to your island. Rope, specifically, is a massive early-game money maker despite the Ropemaker's relatively high cost. Also note: You may still offer basic goods for sale in your more remote warehouses but your main island should quickly move to offering more advanced products.
Patricians
Patrician level Next sell the overproduction of patrician goods that your population isn't consuming. This includes producing extra Beer, Bread, Weapons, Leather jerkins and Books. Ship them to your main Island and passively sell the surplus to computer player ships. These goods are your main earners for majority of the game. Along with progressing sales on your main island to patrician goods, you should also move your auxiliary islands a level up and make them offer tools, linen garments and ropes instead of the wood and stone these islands sold before.
Nobleman
Nobleman level The principle stays the same, you want to overproduce goods for your population and offer surplus in your warehouse. Noblemen goods are very profitable and will quickly lift your treasury to hundreds of thousands of coins so it's really worth to push for these products fast.
Nomads
Nomad level are not big earners early on since they are based on single plantations and don't sell for good prices. Spices, Dates or Milk don't sell for much better than the price of wood so don't rely on income from this goods. But this changes when higher levels of buildings are unlocked. Carpets, Glass (produced from quartz so the chain should be placed somewhere south despite being an occidental need) and Mosaic are as good of earners as patrician goods so you should strive to produce surpluses of these goods and offer them for sale on multiple islands.
Envoys
Envoy level Envoy chains of production are incredibly profitable. A very solid earner is Coffee. Have numerous coffee chains and sell every single ton your envoys do not drink. Perfume is very profitable since the buildings don't take up much space (three rose plantations and one Perfumery per supply chain). Pearl necklaces are also profitable, and remember you can put multiple huts of pearl fisher's on one reef. Also very profitable is Marzipan. Just find an Island with both Sugar and Almonds fertilities (you can purchase seeds from the Grand Vizir to plant on an island) and watch your treasury increase phenomenally.
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