A guide to getting all trading achiements in 30 minutes, to include wheeled merchant, trader, and great trader.
We will get three achievments in 30 minutes using market manipulation following these 10 steps:
Before you attempt this, ensure you do not have any cheats activated. This would disable your ability to get the achievements.
Step 1: Accumulate 10,000 Thaler and a few points in the trade and inventory management skills. Tip: If you just started the game you could do a few collect taxes missions and keep the funds as a loan to get your merchant empire started.
Step 2: Start buying any Velvet you find to stockpile it in your inventory. This works with other goods too but I recommend Velvet. Tools, Furs, Oils, Powder, Leatherwork, or any good with a high sale price will work. If you stockpile 10 velvet you will get the Velvet Commander achievement as a bonus. Velvet is hard to find but has the highest profit margin after you use market manipulation.
Step 3: Once you have 10 Velvet, sell them to the goods trader of a city. This drives the buying price of that good down for your caravan. The city does not have to produce the good for this to work.
Step 4: Save, then talk to the mayor about trade. Select send a caravan. Select Velvet, they should be at about 200 Thaler each. Then select medium caravan for 10 goods (or higher if available).
Step 5: Send your caravan to the city that pays at least 1,000 for Velvet. This is unique for every game, so you may have to load and try a few different cities. In general, the longer the travel the higher the price, but that is not always true.
Step 6: Accompany your caravan. Do not let bandits attack it. Use Ctrl+Space to speed up the travel. This does not count as a cheat for the game, it is just a time saving measure.
Step 7: Save the game right before you get to the city.
Step 8: After your caravan arrives you should get the Wheeled Merchant achievement (3000 Thaler profit or more). If you do not get this achievement, go back to Step 5.
Step 9: Repeat. Load the game and let the caravan arrive as many times until you get the trader and great trader achievements. You should get 10,000 Thaler for your caravan of 10 velvet, with about 8,000 profit. The total income counts for this, so you need to load 10x times for the trader and 100x times for the great trader achievement. If you spent extra time at the beginning and collect 15 or 20 velvet for your inventory you can speed this process up to 50. Be aware: The Great Trader achievement's status progress is broken but works regardless.
Step 10: Get the achievements. I have tried this with regular caravans for multiple hours before discovering that you can just sell your goods into the goods trader inventory and increase your profit margin. This is by far the fastest way to get these achievements.
You can do this without loading the game if you would like to be a honest merchant, you just have to be willing to commit significantly more time. The process is the same as the loading merchant, but you will have to repeat steps 1-8 multiple times with several different goods. It will take signicantly longer but will still be faster than just selecting the best prices available at the time for your caravans, escpecially for the great trader achievement.