East India Company Gameplay
Running a nationalized company as opposed to a country or a private enterprise makes for an interesting combination of elements in gaming from the two. You spend most of your time trying to get rich by trading, but if pirates act up, or if East India Companies from other Countries (you choose from one of eight, and compete with the others) conquer too many ports with trade items demanded by your nation’s leaders, you have options. The Crown will gladly allow you to undertake military operations, and might even reward you with cash infusions for your trouble.
The game is a bit simpler than say, Ascaron’s Port Royal series, so it is easier to pick up and less annoying to people who don’t like the number crunching side, but will be less appealing to those who like that depth. Instead of the page of goods to buy and sell, with maybe four to twelve being generally good to buy from any particular location, there are about six to ten goods for sale in any particular port, and they are all at prices good enough that you can sell them for profit if taken to the right target port.
Ports are divided into three kinds: your home port, which sells export goods and buys everything else at profit; trading ports, which sell assorted trading goods; and most importantly, the African and Indian ports, each or which sells some trading goods, as well as one of what the game calls a Main Trade Item, or MTI. The MTIs are only available from a couple or few ports each, and most of the Campaign mode’s goals revolve around bringing back increasing amounts of them to sell at your home port.
Since you’re assured of some profit on your trades, the hard part is not spending all your money on ships or port upgrades, then not having money to fill your ships with goods, which leads to not being able to pay your port upkeep and crew salaries. There are more tips about this in our East India Company Campaign Guide. The other challenges you face will relate to pirate attacks, and not being able to access MTIs because competitors lock up the supplying ports.
Controlling non-MTI ports is also important, as your fleets have a range mechanic, (an interesting addition), past which they slow dramatically, so they need to put in for resupply at ports several times to keep up their speed when running from Europe to India and back. Between the need for resupply ports and MTI access, not to mention the pirates, there is plenty of opportunity for conflict on the waves.