Tropico 4: General Strategies
Hello, El Presidente. Are your loyal subjects…ermm…citizens revolting? Are you constantly running out of money? Can’t beat one of the scenarios? You’ve come to the right place. Have a cuban cigar and follow me, won’t you?
Before you begin, you’re given the option to create an avatar or choose from something pre-made. Pick the traits that you believe would suit you best. Unlike Tropico 3, these traits level up as you use them increasing their bonuses. New players will eventually find the ones that suit them best, though to start I’d recommend picking the ones that give you a straight boost to export prices, your approval rating, and anything that improves education.
Most scenarios, if not all, start you off with a palace, construction facility, teamster office, two farms, a dock, and sometimes a garage. There are times where you may have a ranch or two in place of the farms. You’ll also start with about $10,000-$20,000, depending on the scenario. Your starting population is about 50, barely enough to populate all of the buildings that provide the above jobs. For example, you may have 6 out of 8 construction workers available so build times will be a little slower until later on.
What you do here will make or break the scenario. Let me repeat that. WHAT…YOU…DO…HERE…WILL…MAKE…OR…okay you get it right? Good, I didn’t feel like typing that all out again in caps.
In the beginning your economy sucks. You have no exports save for the extra corn (the default the farms are set to) you’ll grow. Time to change that. Set one of your farms to something more lucrative, like tobacco, sugar, or pineapple. Pay attention to color of the area around your farm as you hover your mouse over the different crops. You’ll want to pick something with a lot of green, indicating that the soil is fertile for that particular crop. Don’t worry, your Tropicans won’t starve with one corn farm, at least, not right now. If you’ve chosen a pineapple farm or anything else related to food, they will dabble into that along with the corn, so be warned. You’re profits may be a little less but your food quality will go up, making your Tropicans happier. The more kinds of food available to your Tropicans the higher their food satisfaction rating. While you’re at it, build a ranch. They are cheap, only require two workers, and will help feed your Tropicans and increase the money you get from exports.
A good starting tip: Build only one or two buildings at a time. Placing all of your assets into half-finished buildings is useless to you. Tropicans require time to build things, let them concentrate on constructing one or two structures at a time.
In the beginning your Tropicans’ satisfaction rating starts at 50% or so and will slowly drop. There’s nothing you can do about that initially. Try to please them with fancy buildings too early before your exports kick in and you’ll be in the red…services cost money. I normally start with a pub or restaurant (not both) and a clinic. This will begin to satisfy your Tropicans’ need for entertainment and health. Having a clinic also reduces your death rate every year and right now you need every last Tropican to man those buildings since you have a shortage of manpower. Building a church isn’t a bad idea either as long as you feel you can afford it. The clinic requires college educated male Tropicans and the church requires high school male educated Tropicans. If you’re lucky you’ll have a few already on the island that can fill one or two of those job openings. Hiring oversees is expensive, something you can’t afford right now.
If you see your treasury drop below $5,000, freeze spending. In the beginning, you’ll lose money due to wages and building maintenance until your exports kick in. Being in the red drops your approval rating of both your Tropicans and those overseas. The US and the USSR do provide aid every year and the amount they send is based on their approval rating.
It’s extremely important to keep your income above your expenses. It’s easy to see a big balance, build a bunch of buildings, and realize that your profit margin just crapped the bed. Before you expand, build more money-making buildings and have a decent balance in your treasury.
Keeping a large balance in the treasury at all times is a good strategy all around. Should a natural disaster strike you’ll need money to rebuild and need the time for said buildings to start producing again. Keeping a high balance will ensure you can handle whatever crap you’ve been hit with.
Bottom line…being in debt is bad…mmmmkay?
At this point you’ll hopefully have some more Tropicans on the island due to immigration. Check your almanac often to see how many unemployed / job positions open there are so you can plan your construction accordingly. If you have unemployed, build more money-making buildings. If you have a lot of job positions open, concentrate your construction on housing until more people show up. Cheap housing is better at first until you have the funds for the better quality housing.
A note on housing…you can set the rent on a building. Tropicans will move in and pay the rent IF their current wage is three times the rent. If you are paying a Tropican “5″ and your rent is “1″, they will move in assuming that the building they were living in is of lesser quality. If you increase the rent to “2″, those earning “5″ will NOT move in (2 x 3 = 6) unless you increase their wages to “6″ or more. Married couples are the exception, they combine their wages. If the husband is making “5″ and the wife is making “5″ then their combined income is “10″. They would be able to afford a rent of “3″. (3 x 3 = 9) I hope you paid attention in the third grade, this is a lot of maths.
High wages mean people will pay more rent. Job satisfaction also increases as wages go up. However, only increase wages if you can afford to. Wages take a nice chunk out of your treasury, especially as more and more Tropicans work on your island. It adds up. I honestly keep my uneducated at 6 and leave my high school and college at their defaults. I’m a cheap SOB. If you increase wages, remember to increase your rents and fees for entertainment buildings accordingly. You can also limit how many people work at a building…this can be beneficial if you’re producing too much of a service that you don’t need at the time being like electricity.
So at this point you have a few farms, a ranch, a few buildings to see to your Tropicans’ needs, and maybe some cheap housing. You’re going to need more money to further provide for your Tropicans. Build more farms, ranches, mining camps, logging camps, or whatever else makes you money. You’ll need to look at your resources map to determine what you should build. Have a lot of trees near you? Go for a logging camp. Have a lot of flat land around you? Chances are two more crops will grow there. Any ore or salt deposits near you? Try a mining camp. You’ll need to do your homework a little before you begin placing any old building and expect it to make you a fortune. Keep in mind that oil deposits require college educated female Tropicans, you won’t want to build those yet. Factories are the same way, most require high school educated Tropicans. Stick to the simple buildings that require no education.
Check your almanac often to see the approval rating of the various needs your Tropicans have. In the beginning you won’t be able to address them all, but toward mid-game you’ll be able to at least keep them out of the red. Aim for an approval of 45% or higher. Keep in mind, the more expensive buildings satisfy better but will drain your treasury faster…make sure your profits are high before going nuts on pleasing your Tropicans.
A quick note: Faction leaders have their own section in the almanac. They will tell you how satisfied their faction is (military, religious, intellectual, etc) and what they are currently demanding. Pleasing the foreign nations will also net you benefits.
Once you have an economy going and money rolling in, build a high school and college. If necessary, hire two high school and two college educated people from overseas to help jumpstart your education program. The more teachers and professors you have the more people who can be taught at once. Those that attend the high school will have a high school education and those that attend college will have…you guessed it genius, a college education. It may seem like a lot of money initially, but it’s much cheaper than paying for them overseas throughout the game.
If you don’t have two already, put a garage in your main city and one by your docks to help your Tropicans get to and from faster. You may also want to place an extra teamster office or two to aid in the deliveries of your goods to where they need to go.
Once you have education buildings you can begin building the more advanced buildings. You’ll want a factory or two, preferably ones that can be supplied with raw material from things you are already producing. If you have a few tobacco farms for example, build a cigar factory. An armory will increase your military faction’s satisfaction, you’ll need it anyway as your population grows. You’ll also need another farm, ranch, or other food making building to help feed your Tropicans. You’ll be able to build a media building to increase your liberty rating which in turn, increases your Tropicans’ satisfaction rating. You’ll have the money for a garbage dump to aid your environmental rating. You’ll have more money for more and better housing for your Tropicans.
You’ll be able to enact edicts to give you special bonuses. I find that social security and the literacy program are great to have. The former keeps most people out of shacks and the latter helps your Tropicans learn faster…that includes job experience. Job experience increases as Tropicans work the same job over time. More job experience means more production and better results. The USSR aid package that reduces the price of your apartments and tenements more than pays for itself.
The list goes on. You can also dabble into tourism if you’d like just to get your feet wet. Tourism isn’t as lucrative as it was in Tropico 1 and 3 but still a nice addition to income. You won’t survive purely on tourism profits however, your Tropicans will still need clinics, churches, entertainment, and other things that cost money. Manning buildings related to tourism (hotels, attractions, etc) means you are using manpower which could be used elsewhere, though if you have a lot of manpower and nowhere for them to work, tourism isn’t a bad idea assuming you have the funds to start it. You’ll need a dock, hotel, and at least one attraction. Placing these buildings in areas with a high environment score will help boost your tourism.
You may have noticed that you have a Swiss Bank Account. It serves mainly for bonus points toward your final score and for certain mission objectives. There are multiple ways to accumulate money into your Swiss Bank Account. Certain buildings like banks will syphon money and other buildings like your childhood home have the drop down option to assign a portion of your income from visitors into your Swiss Bank Account.
You also may have noticed that many buildings have drop down options. For example, tenements can have normal maintenance or roach patrol maintenance, the latter reduces maintenance costs but also the living quality making your Tropicans less happy. Most buildings also have expansions you can buy…some require power, some don’t. The rum factory, for example, has an option to spend a big chunk of change to give it the ability to produce spiced rum, which exports for more than regular rum. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the options you have available to you and choose the ones that work best for you.
Also new to Tropico 4 is importing goods. In previous Tropico’s, you’d need to make the raw materials to keep your factories running. Building a rum factory? Hope you have sugar farms…and so on. Tropico 4 allows you to build factories and import the raw materials (for a price) you’d need to keep them going. My advice is to build an extra dock if you’re going to be import heavy.
Getting this far means you’ve probably restarted a dozen times and finally “get” the mechanics. I learned the mechanics from Tropico 1 which was a lot less forgiving so you may have less of a learning curve. Keep the above tips in mind while you play and you’ll win every scenario on its first run almost guaranteed. A good economy is the key to victory.
Good luck out there, El Presidente! If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments below.
You can view play sessions here: