At its heart, Port Royale 4 is a trading simulator, setting you up as an entrepreneur in the colonial Americas. This guide will show you how to set up your business empire and maximise your profits through trade.
Port Royale 4 Trade is simple in its premise - buy low, sell high - but there are plenty of variables to consider when trying to optimise. We'll start with the basics though.
Port Royale 4 Trade
Before you can trade with other colonies you will need to purchase a Trade Licence from their town administrator, which can be found by clicking on the colony flag or info box. This info box also shows what is being produced by that town, showing you what is likely to be cheap there.
Hint: The more you buy the more expensive they become. Especially important in the early game is to pick a small handful of towns you are interested in trading with based off the differences in production.
Once you are able to trade in a town you can start filling your hold with the goods you want to trade. The Market Tab in the colony window shows you all sorts of information that you'll need to know and even though we will be learning about automation later on, it's a good idea to become familiar with this screen.
The marketplace is broken down quite logically, with the most important commodities to the inhabitants at the top and some subsections set up for demanded goods, exports and craft, quality goods, and right at the bottom, Sailors.
Each commodity shows a fill level in the form of 4 bars on the left.
- 0 bars - Commodity is scarce. Maximum price.
- 1 bar - Supply not bad. Price high but dynamic.
- 2 bars - Supply is good. Price is constant.
- 3 bars - Supply too high. Price is low.
- 4 bars - Stock is too high. Lowest price.
As you can probably work out, it's best to buy where commodities are cheaper and sell where they're higher. Check out our Production and Town Management Guide for ways to minimise your costs.
When it comes to selling your cargo, the right hand side of the market shows you the average price you paid for the commodities you have, making it easy to work out whether you're about to get rinsed.
Port Royale 4 Trade Routes
After you've become familiar with the marketplace you will want to set up trade routes. These routes are automated convoys that take the constant checking out of your hands and give the tasks to a Captain.
Trade routes are created by clicking the map icon in the top right of the screen. From here you can edit the routes you already have or make a new one. To make a new route you click the towns you want your convoy to visit and they will appear in a list on the lift. You can also hold any in the list and reorder the convoy's route if you want to.
Hint: If you're setting up a new route for a convoy, it'll save you some awkward clicks if you have the convoy selected before you open the trade route window.
Once you have the towns chosen (or while you're still doing it) you can click on each and select what you want to trade. The simplest option here is to click the top button that says STANDARD and this will set the convoy to buy whatever the town produces and sell everything it doesn't based on the demand from other towns on the route. If you repeat this process with each town in the list you have your trade route almost set up completely.
As we said this is the easiest option but might not be exactly what you want. Doing it this way can lead to a lot of surplus stock in your hold that doesn't sell because of changes in prices over the time of the journey. The only way to really avoid this becoming a problem is to use fleets large enough that that cargo doesn't fill up completely, letting it eventually sell it on a later trip. However, if you want a fresh start each time, you can also change the options for the final town by clicking on the 123 button for each of the goods. This will set it to sell not by demand, but just to sell.
If you are worried about losing too much doing this you can combine both strategies, and set it to sell, but set a minimum price by clicking AUTOMATIC and cycling through until it gives you a gold figure you can set to whatever you like. This will help clear space in your cargo but can prevent selling too much for too little.
If you'd like to take more of an active interest in your trading, or are only looking to move a few specific goods, then you can instead go through each commodity, setting its automation or lack thereof individually. While hovering over the commodities, you will also see whether the other towns on the route have a gain or loss of that item, helping you work what they will need without having to manually check each one and remember their prices.
Once the route is set up to your liking, click CONFIRM and then ASSIGN ROUTE to the convoy you have selected. If you didn't have a convoy selected you will need to exit this window, click on your convoy, go to its trade route tab, click the icon, find the route in the list, then click assign.
Hint: Be sure that the convoy you choose has enough cargo capacity for the route you have chosen. You can see the estimated numbers for the trip in the route window along with the duration of the journey.
After the convoy has completed its first trip, the information in its trade route tab will update showing you the profit/loss for that trip and the combined total for the route. Both of these are important as the income from a route will rarely be the same every time and sometimes a normally profitable route will even lose money.
Port Royale 4 Trade Winds and Waypoints
While setting up your route (or by pressing ALT during normal play) you will see wind speed and direction. A ship moving with the wind will go fastest, and slowest while fighting against it. It is best to try and make your trade routes follow this as much as possible but a valuable trade will make up for a slower trip so don't worry too much.
However, you will want to avoid potential storms as much as possible. These are marked by red wind markers and while they aren't guaranteed to cause damage to your ships, they can do. If you are setting up the trade route, you can click on the dotted line that marks your path to create a waypoint. This can be dragged around the map to redirect the convoy.
Port Royale 4 Town Tasks
There are a few varieties of town tasks but here we will only cover the trading one. Sometimes a town will run really low on a specific commodity and put out a contract for delivery. These are marked by a yellow star on your map and by hovering over it you can see what they want to buy and by accepting this contract you agree to deliver the goods usually within a month.
These specific deliveries are good earners because the price will usually be higher than the surrounding towns but the real profit comes from Fame, with each delivery giving a considerable amount, especially during the early game.
Port Royale 4 Colonial Commodities
Colonial Commodities can give the same bonuses as the tasks mentioned above, but are available permanently. While most places will trade for these, sometimes even at a higher price, the Viceroy's town will usually pay a decent sum for certain commodities.
To see what your Viceroy wants to send back to your home nation, you can navigate to the Fame tab on the Viceroy window. For England, this is Cotton, Tobacco, and Cacao, but not Coffee. By trading these to this town you can earn considerable Fame along with your gold.
Hint: Set up small ship trade routes delivering these specifics on a regular basis. The amount they want varies from month to month but keeping the routes short maximise your chances of getting the most Fame out of each months demands.
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