An explanation of Treasure Fleet's economy and the resulting strategy.
When I first played Treasure Fleet, I was confused as to how exactly its economic system worked. What did efficiency mean? How much will my workers produce? What will this bonus give me? Through careful analysis and questions on the forums, I was able to work out how the underlying production system works, so I (and now others) will be able to make intelligent decisions about how to build and settle.
Resources come from your colonists. Colonists work in your cities and can be assigned to a job to produce that resource (by default, they produce food). Each colonist produces an amount of resources depending on their Job and their Specialties.
- The Base Production of a Colonist is +2.
- A Colonist assigned to Food will produce +2 food.
- A Colonist assigned to Lumber, will produce +2 lumber.
Specialists have a Base Production of +4 (sometimes +3) if working in their preferred Job.
- A Farmer assigned to Food will grow +4 food (or +3 cotton)!
- A Lumberjack assigned to Lumber will chop down +4 Lumber.
I will go into further details on the Specialists later, but suffice it to say, your challenge will be to try to have as many people working +4 jobs as possible, and +2 only when necessary. +3 Jobs are better than +2, but make math harder.
Terrain matters very little. It's surprising, but true. Colonists production is based on their own abilities, not on the efficiency of the land.
What terrain does do is say what the maximum production of a colony is. Fertile land does not make a farmer produce more food, rather it allows more farmers to work in the city.
Terrain represents Capacity.
If a city location has 12 food (you can see this by right-clicking a selected tile) then you will be able to produce a maximum of 12 Food in that city, whether this is done by 3 Farmers or 6 Colonists.
When a city is small, the Resource Capacities of its location will always exceed what its colonists could possibly gather. Only when a city grows large will it strain against the limits of its land.
- One thing that does matter with regards to terrain is the presence or absence of certain rare resources. There's not a lot of difference between a Resource Capacity of 12 vs 16, but a huge difference between 0 and 2.
- Gold, Silver, and Gems are rare and valuable, so their presence grant you the ability to mine them and will define your city. Your other cities will just be mocked by the grayed-out job categories for these minerals.
- Ore is a critical ingredient for Tools, which you need for self-sufficiency, but cannot be found on flat ground. Seek out Mountains and Hills.
- Spices are found only in Tropical/Rain Forests. Cities in Temperate zones will simply not have them.
- All the other resources tend to be spread around the world fairly evenly. There will be Food everywhere, and Lumber is common and easy to find.
- Different crops like cotton or tobacco will vary in their availability, but you generally won't notice or care about their absence.
If you find yourself short on capacity, either from a rare resource or a large city, you can build terrain improvements to increase the count of available resources.
- Farms will double the Food/Crop capacity provided by the flatland they were built in.
- Mines will double the Ore/Precious capacity provided by the Hill/Mountain/Desert they were built in.
- Roads provide a flat +1 capacity to all resources produced by the tile they were built in.
- Getting enough ore is important to being self-sufficient.
- Mountains will a Mine will give 4 Ore.
- Mountains with a Mine and a Road will give 5 Ore.
- Hills with a Mine and a Road will give 3 Ore.
Note: You need more than just a Hill next to a city to make efficient use of a Miner's +4 production.
Mid/Late game, Lumber will come into huge demand (required to build everything), and you will run up against the limits of wood-production in most of your larger colonies. Building roads will help, but aim for capacity multiples of 4 for efficient Lumberjacks usage.
There are two categories of Jobs within a city: Resource Gathering and Manufacturing.
- Resource Gathering jobs simply add materials to the stockpile.
- Manufacturing jobs consume resources, and then add their product to the stockpile.
Every unit of manufactured good requires 2 of its raw material to produce.
- A Colonist assigned to make Coats will consume -4 Fur to produce +2 Coats.
- A Master Craftsman assigned to make Coats will consume -8 Fur to produce +4 Coats.
Tools and Muskets are distinct in requiring two different raw materials, Ore and Lumber.
- A Colonist assigned to make Tools will consume -4 Ore, -4 Lumber to produce +2 Tools.
- A Journeyman assigned to make Tools will consume -6 Ore, -6 Lumber to produce +3 Tools.
Boards can only be produced when a colony is Building something, and are accumulated in the Building's progress rather than in the warehouse. Boards consume Lumber at the expected 2:1 ratio, and create a nearly insatiable demand for Lumber.
Efficiency Buildings provide a bonus to the labor of the worker, and thus increase the Throughput of production. You don't get more stuff, you just get it faster.
- An Engineer assigned to Boards will consume -8 Lumber to produce +4 Boards.
- With a carpenter built, that same Engineer will consume -12 Lumber to produce +6 Boards.
A Fisherman in a city with a Dock can produce +6 Food instead of +4 (assuming there's enough fish available).
This is the one case where a building will in fact give you "more stuff".
There are a number of different professions for your Colonists which affect how productive they are at their job.
Generic Professions (in terms of production)
'Colonist's, Soldiers and Missionaries have +2 production across the board. They excel at nothing, and should be used to fill in gaps in your production. Better than nothing, though.
Specialists each have a bonus in their particular area of expertise:
- Fishermen have +4 for Food from Ocean/Lake tiles.
- Farmers have +4 for Food from Land tiles, and +3 for other crops.
- Trappers have +4 for Furs.
- Lumberjacks have +4 for Lumber.
- Miners have +4 for Minerals (Ore, Gold, Silver, or Gems).
- Convicts have +3 for Minerals and Lumber.
- Engineers have +4 for Boards.
- Journeymen have +3 for Boards and Manufacturing.
- Master Craftsmen have +4 for Boards and Manufacturing.
Shipping Capacity is extremely limited in this game.
The cargo holds are small, and the oceans are wide, and new ships are expensive.
Goods can be shipped overland, but face a strict limit.
A Caravel can carry only 20 tons of goods in its hull. Journeys to Europe and Back can take 11-15 turns. This puts the useful production rate of cash goods to well under +2/turn. You can produce more than this, but it will just pile up uselessly in your warehouse.
The Carrack has a more generous 40 ton cargo hold, but a slightly slower speed. Its round-trips can take 13-17 turns This gives the Dutch a useful production limit of nearly +3/turn.
Needless to say, the beginning of the game will be dominated by harsh limits on your ability to sell goods in Europe. Until you can get more ships, you will simply be unable to put your Trappers to full work, and they'll have to spend time as inefficient farmers and lumberjacks.
Because of this, you will end up being forced to focus most of your labor on internal projects. The construction of Buildings is not stymied by limited export capacity.
Any colony connected via roads to another colony has the inherent ability to transport up to 4 resources/turn to that colony. Because roads are cheaper than ships, this will become the backbone of your national development plans.
Because this is a per-colony limit, the most effective way to deliver raw materials to your main hub is via numerous small colonies.
It is possible to increase this road capacity to 8, but it requires a lot of resources, and it is generally much cheaper to just build a new colony.
With all these limits in mind, I have found a number of settlement paradigms for an efficient colony:
Located amid dense forests on the coast, this city has one goal in mind: Boards. Build roads on its forests as needed to raise its Lumber capacity to the nearest multiple of 4, then fill it with Lumberjacks, 1-2 craftsmen, and as many Farmers as necessary to feed it.
If it has a mountain or a hill with ore, then it can produce some of its tools locally, but I've found it simpler just to make the tools in other colonies and send them in via roads.
The forests around your shipyard will not be enough as your thirst for Boards grows with your ambition. Set up a number of small colonies with just a Lumberjack and some other colonist to provide food. This minimal effort will give you +4 Lumber to export to wherever you please.
Settled next to a Mountain, or a Hill with Ore, build a Mine to raise your Ore capacity above 4 and set a Miner to work, with a partner to keep him fed. +4 Ore! Export it to wherever you need Tools.
Wait, making tools requires Lumber and Ore. Shipping Ore off to the Shipyard will just increase its lumber demands even further, necessitating another Lumber Camp. What if you made the tools here?
Take your Mining Town, but then give it its own dedicated Lumberjack. Then add a Farmer to feed them, and then a 4th colonist is free to play Blacksmith and convert the Ore and Lumber into Tools on-site! 4 People working in sync to produce +2 Tools per turn in a perfectly balanced economy. Instead of having to ship 8 resources via roads, you're shipping 2 manufactured goods.
The Tool Town, as amazing as it is, only uses half of its nominal capacity. What would it take to produce 4 Tools/turn?
This can't be done just anywhere. Look for a site with 2 Mountains, a Mountain + Hill, or 3 Hills. With Mines and Roads as needed, you can raise your Ore Capacity to 8.
Hopefully there are enough forests to provide 8 Lumber as well. (If not, you'll need to build another Lumber Camp.)
2 Miners and 2 Lumberjacks can provide enough material for 4 Tools/turn. This can be done by 2 Colonists, 1 Master Craftsman, 1 Journeyman with a Blacksmith, or 1 Colonist with a Forge.
These 5-6 people can be fed by 2 Farmers.
All in all this city will hold 8 People and export 4 Tools/Turn to wherever they are needed.
The only downside is that you will need some construction time to build a Well so that you can fit more than 5 people in the city.
The Spice must Flow! Like a Lumber Camp, but for spice. Good when you need just a little more cash, but don't want to make a large investment. 2 Random colonists will give +2 Spice.
Similar to the Tool Town, but produces Manufactured Goods instead.
Basic Version: 1 Farmer, and 3 Colonists.
- Farmer grows food, 2 colonists grow +4 cash crops, 1 colonist turns it into +2 manufactured goods.
Advanced Version: 3 Farmers, 1 Journeyman
- 1 Farmer grows food, 2 Farmers grow +6 cash crops, Journeyman turns that into +3 manufactured goods.
Advanced version is more productive, but much more expensive since it uses Farmers which are always in high demand (putting their hiring price high). You're almost always better off letting Farmers grow Food and letting non-specialists do the other work.
Fishermen aren't very valuable since they only help cities that are surrounded by worthless Ocean. Better than trying to export that food to other colonies (and creating a logistics headache), try turning it into a Manufactured Good: Horses!
1 Fisherman producing surplus food, and 1 Colonist growing a herd of horses. A Dock can raise the efficiency of the Fisherman so that even more horses can be grown.
Minimizing the journey time for boats is important. Building a city as far east as possible shorten the journeys ships need to make and thus increase your cargo capacity. 4 resources/turn is the limit for delivering goods via roads, but there's no limit to how much a city can RECEIVE!
Send all your cash crops and manufactured goods here to be picked up by your ships.