Trading with Natives

I was finding trade with Natives a little confusing sometimes, so I had a look to see how it worked. If you do it right, there is a lot of gold to be made, especially on the larger maps.
Native Gold

Native tribes have a certain amount of gold for trading (Available Gold) when you meet them, but this is not all they have and the amount increases over time.

The starting amount of Available Gold is based on the size of the tribe at the beginning of the game. 200 gold for each village and for each pop. e.g. a tribe with two villages of pop 1 and one pop 3 would have 200 x (3 (villages) + 5 (pop)) = 1600 gold.

The Available Gold stays the same until they meet a European. After that it goes up by 1/10 of the initial value every turn. So the tribe above would get 160 more gold every turn.

It keeps going up like this until it gets to a certain value (Total Gold) determined by the map size, the difficulty level, the game speed and the tribe. Below are some examples.

Total Gold

All tribes have the same amount of Total Gold on a given map, except Aztecs and Incas who have more, but the same as each other.

Normal speed, standard size, conquistador difficulty, a non-Aztec/Inca tribe has 3400 gold.

Bigger maps mean more Total Gold (Tiny = 2900, Huge = 4060)
Slower game speed means more Total Gold (Quick = 2570, Marathon = 10000)
Aztec and Inca have 2.5x Total Gold (non-Az/Inc = 3400 vs Az/Inc = 8350)
Higher difficulty means more Total Gold (Pilgrim, Pioneer, Explorer are the same = 3100, Revolutionary = 4600) (not what you would expect)

Examples above are for Standard size, normal speed, Conquistador difficulty and non Aztec/Inca tribe (unless otherwise stated).

The maximum Total Gold would be on a huge map, marathon speed, revolutionary difficulty and an Aztec or Inca tribe would have 40600 gold.

As well as the increase over time, you can trade or give stuff to increase the amount of Available Gold. Natives won’t accept raw materials e.g. food, lumber, cotton, tobacco, ore, fur, sugar or silver. Different things increase the Available Gold by different amounts as below.

Guns = +1000, Horses = +500, Tools = +200, Trade Goods = +200, Cigars = +100, Rum = +100, Cloth = +0, Coats = +0.

So, if a tribe has 2000 Available Gold and you sell one load of horses for 900 gold, then they will have 500 more Available Gold. 2000-900+500=1600 gold.

Once a tribe has all it’s gold available it will still increase very slowly (and seemingly randomly) by about 0-20 per turn.

The Total Gold doesn’t seem to be affected by any gold given out to scouts who talk to the chief.

There is more Native Gold around on bigger maps as there are more tribes and more gold per tribe. You do have more opponents though, but the AI doesn’t seem to trade much, even with tribes that are very close.

Native trade

Ok, so now you know how much gold the natives have got. The next step is to work out how to get it (by peaceful means). Trading is done on a tribal basis. If you go to different villages to trade at the same time you will have exactly the same trades available.

The main problem is that once you sell something, the price drops and takes a long time to recover. To get round this
– Don’t sell the same thing twice
– Sell as many loads as possible at once

If you sell two or more loads at the same time, you will get a much better price than selling one load at a time.

The problems with selling in bulk are:

1. You need the natives to have all their gold available for trading.
2. You need to be able to buy the stuff to trade
3. You need to have a big ship. You can only sell from one transport at a time, so even if you have two caravels you can only sell two loads at a time and you will get much less money.

1. This is not a big problem as you don’t have to wait too long after contact for the gold to build up. If you are playing a bigger map and are exploring some of the distant regions you might be the first to meet a tribe. Just because they don’t have much Available Gold when you meet them, doesn’t mean they won’t later. This is especially true for Aztecs & Incas. It can take a long time for all their gold to become available. You can sell them Guns and Horses to increase their Available Gold more quickly.
2. This can be a problem at the start. You can get a start to trading by converting your starting soldier to something else and selling their guns (works less well with Washington). You should then have enough to buy Horses from Europe and quickly build up your wealth with trading.
3. The Dutch have a big advantage here as they already start with a Merchantman. Otherwise it is well worth buying one as soon as you are able (remember to keep some money to buy stuff to sell). You can buy a Galleon to get the best trades possible and you can also use it for moving treasure. It’s definitely worth doing this on bigger maps as there is much more gold around.

What to sell

There doesn’t seem to be much point in selling certain goods e.g. rum, coats, cloth or cigars. Even with the best prices available for settlements that want them, the price doesn’t cover what you have to buy them for in Europe and you don’t have time to make enough.

Trade goods also don’t seem very worthwhile. You buy them at 300 and the best prices for selling are around 400. If you sell more than one load then you get an even worse price per load.

So that leaves horses, guns and tools.
Horses are the best thing to sell. Cheap to buy (300) and you can get good prices – around 2500 for 4 loads. They also increase the native’s Available Gold trade by 500 each time.

Guns are probably the next best. They cost more (~800) but you can sell them for more (around 1500) and they also increase trade gold by 1000. You might not want to give them to tribes that are very close to you.

Tools are also quite good. They cost 300 per load and seem to sell for exactly 437 gold. The advantage with these is that they are very good for selling in bulk. The price per unit stays the same, meaning that you could sell a Galleon full for 6×437 gold. If you try to sell them one load at a time, then the price drops much lower and takes a long time to recover.

If the prices offered are much lower than those above, it means that someone has already traded this thing with this tribe. It’s probably best to find another tribe to trade with and come back with something else (if the tribe still has gold).

If a settlement wants something, then the price is increased by around 14-25% depending on what it is. E.g. tools are +14%, horses +20% and guns +22% So, although it is nice if you can get it, it’s not that big a difference and not worth selling cigars, rum etc as the price is still not high enough.

Probably the best thing to do is to sell horses first. These are clearly the most profitable thing you can sell. You can then come back and sell tools or guns depending on your preference. Selling 4-6 loads of horses should be enough to get most or all of the gold from a normal tribe if it’s all available (depending on the map).

Special consideration should be given to the Aztecs and Incas as they have a lot of gold, so you want to think about how you can get it. If you don’t want to trade Guns, then it’s difficult to get it all from trading.

As I said at the beginning, you can make a lot of money very easily by trading with the Natives. On a huge, normal, Conquistador map the natives have a total of 44000 gold and you should be able to get about half of that as profit, which is a big help at the start of the game.

I should also mention that Native Gold is rounded down to the nearest 10 gold after trading, so you get an odd amount of gold then it’s probably because of this.

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