- This article deals with the trade network and trade income. For information about trade goods and their production and value, see trade goods.
Trade and production of trade goods are two of the three main sources of income for a country, the third being taxes. Every province produces trade goods, which give production income to their owner directly. The trade value of the goods then enters a system of trade nodes, where it is steered and eventually collected by merchants as trade income.
- 1 Summary
- 2 Sources of trade value
- 3 Trade nodes and power
- 4 Sources of trade power
- 5 Merchants
- 6 Trade modifiers
- 7 Embargo
- 8 Privateering
- 9 Strategies
- 10 See also
- 11 References
The trade system in game can be summarized as follows:
- Trade nodes across the world are connected to form a global network of trade. Each node hosts the trade activity of a group of geographically associated provinces. Money in this global trade network can flow between trade nodes in unidirectional trade routes as well as terminate at end nodes. These connections between trade nodes are fixed and cannot be altered during the course of play.
- Trade value represents the monthly sum of locally produced and incoming trade goods in a trade node. Trade value is generated from the quantity and price of produced trade goods in each province. All provinces pool their trade value into the total trade value of their associated trade node. The trade tab provides an aggregate trade value in a node while the trade map mode displays a tooltip listing locally produced goods separately from incoming trade good values.
- Trade power is a number representing a country's control over trade in a node. The trade power of a country as a proportion of the total trade power of all countries present in the node determines what will happen to the trade value in each node. Power is used either to retain trade value within the node (if the nation is collecting with a merchant or at its home node), or to transfer it forward in the trade network (if the nation is steering from there with a merchant, or it's not its home node and it has no merchant). Trade power is generated by provinces, light ships, and merchants. Certain ideas, events and modifiers can also affect a country's trade power in a node.
- Merchants can be sent to a trade node to collect a portion of the node's trade value proportional to the nation's share of trade power in the node, or steer the node's trade value in a particular direction.
Sources of trade value
- See also: Trade goods
All trade income ultimately originates as provincial trade value.
Local trade value
The trade value of a province is equal to local goods produced × the price of the trade good that the province produces. This value can be seen in the province window. Trade value determines production income, but it is not itself affected by either production efficiency or local autonomy. See Trade goods § Goods produced for the details of goods produced; for trade purposes, the most noteworthy modifier is that merchant republics and trade companies give a bonus – in all provinces in the node, not just their own – to goods produced proportional to their share of trade power in a node, up to +50%.
|+20%||Controls Tea Trade||Cultural event: “The Way of Tea”
||for the rest of the campaign.|
|+10%||Diamond District||Price change event: “Faceting”||for the rest of the campaign.|
|+10%||Perfume Capital||Price change event: “Growth of the Perfume Industry”||for the rest of the campaign.|
|+15%||Regulated Economic Growth||Trade policy event: “Increased Demand for [trade_province.GetFancyTradeGood]”
||for 10 years.|
|+15%||Unregulated Economic Growth||Trade policy event: “Increased Demand for [trade_province.GetFancyTradeGood]”
||for 10 years.|
|−25%||Caravan Raids||Tribal Federation event: “Stolen [fancy_trade_caravan_origin.GetFancyTradeGood]”
||for 10 years.|
|+10%||Expanding the Markets of Cairo|| Mamluk Government event: “The Tarh and the Royal Monopolies”
||for 10 years.|
The trade value of all provinces in the same trade node is added together to determine the local trade value of the node. This can be seen in the node's window, as well as the ledger and the trade tab.
Multiple merchant bonus
In addition to steering outgoing trade value through a particular outgoing link (see below), each merchant applies a boost to the trade value on that link—that is, the steered trade value increases by a percentage as it passes between the two nodes, so that the incoming trade value of the downstream node is larger than the corresponding outgoing trade value of the upstream node. This affects all trade on that link, not just the merchant's country, so multiple merchants can boost trade on the same link. The total boost is:
Having more than five merchants will not increase the boost further. The boost is modified by the country's trade steering: for example, if the first merchant's country has +20% trade steering the boost from the merchant will be increased to +6.0%. The merchant order follow a scripted order, so the merchant with the highest trade steering will not necessarily be first.
Total trade value
The total trade value in a trade node is the sum of local trade value and incoming trade value from upstream trade nodes. For details of incoming trade value, see § Transferring trade below.
Trade nodes and power
Each land province in the world belongs to exactly one trade node. The trade value from a province is added to the node's local trade value. In addition, most nodes have one or more other incoming nodes, and one or more other outgoing nodes. In this way all nodes are connected in a global network, with a handful (e.g. California, Siam, and Ethiopia) being origin nodes with nothing upstream of them, and three (English Channel, Genoa, and Venice) being end nodes with nothing downstream of them.
Relative trade power: competition over trade value
Nations use trade power to compete in manipulating the flow of trade value in several ways. The absolute amount of trade power is unimportant; what is important is the relative proportion of trade power wielded by a country and others it is cooperating with, compared to all countries it is competing with.
Each country has a main trade city. This is the same as the capital at the start of the game, and usually stays that way. In the trade node that this province belongs to, the country gets an extra +5 trade power and automatically collects trade. With the Wealth of Nations expansion, the main trade city can be changed at the cost of 200 diplomatic power. If the capital and main trade city are the same, moving the capital also moves the main trade city for free.
Countries can also collect trade by sending a merchant. In this case, the country's trade power is reduced by −50%. This is a multiplicative modifier, applied after all other modifiers.
When collecting trade in a node, the country is allocated a portion of the node's total trade value equal to
Each country collecting trade competes with all other countries collecting trade and all countries transferring trade.
A country with trade power in a node who either has a merchant present and set to steer, or is not collecting there but is collecting in a node somewhere downstream (no matter how many hops away), is transferring. There are two stages to transferring trade:
- Countries use trade power to increase the share of trade value that leaves the node (outgoing trade value).
- Countries transferring with merchants use their trade power to increase the share of outgoing trade value that flows into one particular outgoing node.
Pulling trade value forward
All countries transferring trade pool their trade power to pull trade out of the node. The amount of outgoing trade value is equal to
At this stage, all countries transferring trade cooperate with each other, and compete with those collecting.
Each country transferring with a merchant present selects an outgoing node to steer trade to (the player does this from the trade map mode). All countries steering in a particular direction cooperate with each other, and compete with those steering in other directions as well as those collecting, whereas they neither compete nor cooperate at this stage with countries transferring but not steering. The amount of trade value steered towards a particular node is
In this equation, "modified trade power" means the country's trade power multiplied by 1 + its trade steering modifier. If this would be a division by zero (i.e. no trade power is used to steer), it is instead set to
In other words, if no one is steering in any direction, trade value is divided equally between all outgoing nodes.
There are two important consequences of this equation:
- Countries that are not steering with a merchant have no influence whatsoever over the direction in which trade flows. They only influence how much trade value leaves the node.
- If the amount of trade power used to steer towards a particular outgoing node is zero, then value of trade steered there is zero (unless it is zero for all outgoing nodes). In other words, if there are merchants steering, but one outgoing node has no merchants steering to it, then that node receives no transferred trade value at all. If only one country is steering, all trade leaving the node goes to the node that country selected, no matter how tiny their trade power is.
Sources of trade power
Provincial trade power
Every province contributes an amount of trade power to its controller's country in the local trade node. The exact amount and relevant calculations can be seen in province view under Trade category. It is determined by the following factors:
Provincial trade power modifiers
Certain ideas and policies improve provincial trade power.
Transfers from traders downstream
Any nation that has at least 10 provincial trade power in the node enjoys the propagation of that power upstream. An amount equivalent to 20% of the nation's provincial trade power is added to the total trade power of that nation in every immediate upstream node, where it is denoted as transfers from traders downstream. Global trade power modifiers do not apply to the amount considered for propagation, but are applied in the upstream node instead.
Age of Reformation ability - Powerful Tradeships bonus (requires Mandate of Heaven):
- +20% Ship tradepower propagation: An amount of 20% × 20% of ship tradepower also added to upstream node.
|Available only with the Wealth of Nations DLC or the Dharma DLC enabled.|
- Main article: Trade company
A country that owns a province in a trade node that is not in their home node but is in a trade company region can add it to a trade company. Provinces in trade companies get +100% local trade power. There are 15 trade company regions throughout Asia and Africa. Nodes with trade companies in them count as domestic trade nodes and can be collected at by a merchant without incurring penalties for overextension.
A country may increase its trade power in maritime (non-inland) trade nodes by sending its light ships on Protect Trade mission. Ships can only be sent to protect trade in coastal nodes where the country already has trade power or a merchant. Each light ship increases trade power in the trade node in which they are protecting trade, the amount depending on how advanced it is; higher technology unlocks better light ships. Having the ships out of port for the Protect Trade mission costs −1 sailor per ship per month.
Some bonuses to ship trade power are:
|+33%||Selecting the 'Merchant Navy' Naval Doctrine|
|+20%||Being in a Trade League|
|+5%||Per Maneuver skill of the fleet's admiral|
|+15%||Extortioner admiral trait|
Light ships on protect trade missions can only be sent to trade nodes where the country already has trade power and the supply range is met. The limitation on supply range applies even when naval attrition is removed at diplomatic tech 22. If the trade range permits, a country can send a merchant to a node without any initial trade power and then follow up with light ships protecting trade (as long as these are within supply range). A good way to arrange for a favorable supply range is by gaining fleet basing rights from a nation in the vicinity of the target trade node.
Other sources of trade power
- Merchant Present: The presence of a merchant increases a nation's trade power by +2.
- Main trade port in area: A nation gets additional +5 trade power in its home node.
- Colonial nations provide their overlord with 50% of their trade power.
- With Mare Nostrum, members of a trade league:
- Other nations can be persuaded (through diplomacy) or forced (through war) to enter into a Transfer Trade Power relation, which does not count towards the diplomatic relations limit. This transfers one country's trade power to another: a transfer enforced in a truce transfers 50%, while a diplomatically arranged transfer can transfer any amount from zero to 50%. Personal unions and vassals do not transfer trade power to their suzerain.
- With Common Sense, countries that have vassals or marches have a subject interaction for them to divert trade, which transfers 100% of their vassal's trade power, at a cost of +30% liberty desire.
Merchants are envoys used to alter the flow of trade value by collecting or steering trade. A merchant must be stationed at a trade node to have any effect and can only travel a distance defined by a country's trade range. A merchant present in a trade node gives a bonus of +10% to trade efficiency and also increases the trade power by 2 in that node.
Merchant trade power
The 2 base merchant trade power is modified by the following ideas:
Trade with no merchant
In the absence of merchants:
- In the country's home node, the country will collect trade.
- In non-home nodes that are not upstream from any nodes where the country is collecting trade, their trade power does not affect the flow of trade. It still propagates upstream if the country has at least 10 provincial trade power.
- In all other nodes, trade power is used to pull trade forward, increasing the share of trade value transferred. There is no influence on the direction of trade, only the amount transferred.
Merchants can be sent to a trade node to perform one of two missions (as denoted in game interface):
- Collect from Trade: Use the country's trade power to retain trade in the node, and turn it into income.
- In other nodes than the country's home node, this gives a multiplicative penalty of −50% trade power.
- Transfer Trade Power: Use the country's trade power to pull trade forward in the trade network, and simultaneously to influence trade to flow preferentially into one of the downstream nodes (see § Steering trade above). The player can choose the direction to steer trade in using the trade map mode. (The name of this mission is a misnomer, as it is trade value that is being steered, not trade power.)
- A merchant steering trade in inland nodes enables the caravan bonus.
- Merchant republics have +1 merchant.
- Some events can give a national modifier that temporarily provides +1 merchant.
- The “East India Trade Company” decision gives +1 merchant. This requires being a country with a capital in Europe, Africa or America, the Global Trade instutition embraced, at least two ports, and one coastal province in India, China, the East Indies or Japan.
- Countries that control one of a number of trade nodes have the “Confirm Thalassocracy” decision (requires all maritime ideas and control of several specific trade nodes), which gives +1 merchant.
- With Wealth of Nations, a country gets +1 merchant for each trade company they control with the majority of the provincial trade power (>51%) in a region.
- A country gets +1 merchant for each colonial nation with at least 10 provinces.
- Winning a parliament debate "Charter Trade Company" provides +1 merchant for 10 years.
- With The Cossacks, the Tengri religion with syncretic faith Zoroastrian provides +1 merchant.
- With Cradle of Civilization, Sunni countries are able to invite a Shafi'i scholar, providing +1 merchant.
- With Rights of Man, Fetishist Fetishist religion countries who have interacted with Zoroastrian nations are able to choose the Mazdayasna cult, +2 merchants.
Merchants can only reach nodes at this distance from a cored province (or a cored province of a subject nation or a nation granting Naval Basing Rights). The distance is measured to the central province of the node, visible on the trade map mode. Base trade range is increased by Diplomatic technology (100 at tech 1 and 400 at tech 32) and some decisions and ideas.
- Trade Range is increased by certain ideas and policies.
Please help with verifying or updating this section. It was last verified for version 1.28.
|Available only with the Cradle of Civilization DLC enabled.|
A nation can set a trade policy in any node where they have a merchant present. There is no cost to setting this policy and it can be changed every 12 months. Policies available to all nations (except Propagate Religion, which requires a religion in the Muslim religion group) are:
|+5% Trade power (Default policy).|
|+25% Spy network construction with all other nations with their home node or a merchant located there.|
|+10% Siege ability and +1 Artillery bonus versus forts for all provinces in the node (Only possible with more than 50% share of the trade power in the node).|
|+15% Improve relations with all other nations with their home node or a merchant located there.|
|A religious centre will be established in the node, automatically spreading the religion of the merchant's nation through the node. Can only be activated when the trade node is in a trade company region, and with a 50% or more share of the trade power in said node.|
Global trade power modifier
Global trade power modifier increases trade power for nearly all purposes. In other words, it is applied before any other, specialised increases to trade power. The only time it does not apply is to provincial trade power before propagating it upstream.
Certain ideas and policies improve global trade power.
- Each colonial nation (of at least 10 provinces) provides +5% global trade power to its overlord.
- Prestige provides between −15% and +15% global trade power.
- Stability provides between −3% and +3% global trade power.
- Power projection provides between 0 and +20% global trade power.
- Reformed religion Fervor power Trade provides +10% global trade power modifier (requires Wealth of Nations).
- Parliament debate "Reduce Trade Regulations" provides +5% global trade power modifier for 10 years (requires Common Sense).
If no merchant is currently collecting outside the home node, then the home node receives a 10% bonus to trade power for each merchant steering trade there. This is a big decision making analysis depending on whether one should collect in other nodes or only steer trade.
Domestic trade power
A country's home node and nodes where a nation has the highest provincial trade power are considered domestic. Overseas provinces and trade company provinces can still be domestic. Domestic trade power refers to trade power in these nodes.
Certain ideas and policies improve domestic trade power.
Trade power abroad
Trade nodes that are not domestic are considered abroad and will suffer from over-extension penalties. Trade power abroad refers to trade power in these nodes. Overextension imposes a penalty of −1% trade power abroad per percentage point.
Trade power abroad receives the following bonuses:
Mercantilism provides the following effects (per percentage point):
The button ‘Promote Mercantilism’ on the trade tab increases mercantilism by 1% for 100 diplomatic power (only with Mare Nostrum DLC enabled).
Certain events, decisions and missions give permanent increases or decreases to mercantilism, some of these are:
- +10% English Designate Calais as The Staple Port decision
- +7% ×2 Ayutthayan Prasat T'ang's Economic Reforms and Phrabat Somdet Phra Chairachathirat events.
- +5% Chinese technology group Close Foreign Trade decision
- +5% Revolution disaster event The Revolution is here
- +3% Republican in exchange for -2 republican tradition Freetraders winning debates choice.
- +2% Genoese missions
- +2% Immediate effect of starting parliament debate "Restrict Imports" (with Common Sense DLC active)
- +1% Theocratic The Merchant's Son event
- +1% Catholic nation in exchange for -50 Papal influence.
- +1% Anglican nation in exchange for -100 Church Power.
- −3% Republican in exchange for +2 republican tradition Freetraders winning debates choice.
Trade steering is increased by certain ideas and policies.
- Each point of navy tradition increases trade steering by 1%.
- With Mare Nostrum, the leader of a trade league gets +2.5% trade steering per member of the league.
|Available only with the Wealth of Nations DLC enabled.|
- Note: The values are displayed under country modifiers of the government interface even without Wealth of Nations DLC, but without effect in the trade nodes.
A nation steering from, towards or collecting (only in main trading port) an inland trade node receives bonus trade power. This bonus, called caravan power, is a percentage equal to total development ÷ 3, to a maximum of +50.
Caravan power is increased by certain ideas and policies. Can exceed 50 with these bonus.
- Merchant republics gain +33% bonus to Caravan power.
Trade efficiency is added as a bonus modifier to trade income. Base trade efficiency is defined by diplomatic technology but it can also be increased by certain ideas and policies (capped at +200%).
|+20%||Diplomatic technology: Ahead of time|
|+20% −10%|| Burghers estate|
(depends on influence and loyalty)
|−5%||for every embargo against non-rival countries|
Embargoing is an option in the diplomacy screen that allows a country to leverage their trade power against another nation's, decreasing that nation's trade power in shared trade nodes. The trade screen shows icons for each nation embargoed and those embargoing your nation. Placing the mouse over each nation icon breaks down the penalties in each shared trade node.
Embargoing a country has the following effects:
- The defending country suffers a penalty to trade power in all trade nodes that both countries have power in. The base magnitude of the penalty is half of the attacker's trade power share in the trade node before the embargo. This penalty stacks multiplicatively with other modifiers.
- The defending country's opinion of the attacking country is modified by −15. The defender also gains a Trade Dispute casus belli against the attacker unless the embargo is mutual.
- The attacking country's trade efficiency suffers a −5% penalty unless the defender is a rival.
- Embargoes do not count against the Diplomatic Relation limit.
- The attacking country gains up to +10 power projection if the target is a rival, the amount depending on how severely the embargo affects the target's trade.
Each point of mercantilism provides +0.5% embargo efficiency, capped at +50%.
Embargo Efficiency can be increased by the following:
- Main article: Naval warfare#Privateering
|Available only with the Wealth of Nations DLC enabled.|
Any fleet that contains light ships can be sent on a privateering mission to any trade node within trade range. The fleet will hoist the Jolly Roger and add the trade power of its light ships (plus a bonus) to a dummy "pirate" nation in the node, thus reducing the trade power share of everyone in the node – including their controller, though a portion of the trade value lost this way is returned to the controller, listed in accounts as "spoils of war". This effectively behaves as though they are collecting. Unlike protecting trade, privateers can be sent to nodes a nation has no power in, making it a way of weakening the nation's enemies or gaining revenue from nodes it can't touch otherwise. Privateering a rival's trade generates power projection.
- Main article: Naval warfare#Hunt pirates
|Available only with the Mare Nostrum DLC or the El Dorado DLC enabled.|
This mission is available to fleets which contain at least one ship that isn't a transport. Fleets containing heavy ships or light ships may hunt pirates in any non-inland trade node; however, fleets containing only galleys (as well as fleets which are a mixture of galleys and transports) can only hunt pirates in nodes where all nearby sea provinces are inland seas.
Pirate-hunting fleets reduce the trade power taken by the dummy "pirates" nation in the chosen trade node by reducing their privateer efficiency. They do not actually damage or take damage from any ships.
Effectively managing trade is key to give a nation the economic edge it needs to both survive and gain an advantage over its neighbours. Therefore, knowing how to both optimise one's trade income and undermine its competitors' income is instrumental in securing most of the game's objectives, both militarily and economically.
Secure the home node
While most great oriental nations (Mamluks, Ottomans and Ming), and those dominating the end nodes (England, Aragon/Spain, Venice), do not struggle in controlling their home trade nodes, for other countries, it is often a nightmare to merely secure the trade benefits that derive from their production. Several steps must therefore be taken by all nations, in order to assert their control over the trade transiting from their territory, as without it, most of their growth will feed other nations' economies.
- Choose carefully the location. One elementary step is to look carefully at the current nodes and the streams that go in out of them. For instance, most land trade nodes will have a hoard of nations with caravans within them, and should therefore be avoided as building up a consequent share of the trade power there will require far too extensive resources at first. Also take into account your expansion plans, and try to pick the coastal node where you hold significant power located the most downstream from all your present and future possessions. Finally, check for any powerful country that holds trade power in the nodes you're targeting, as dislodging them may be very difficult if starting small.
- Check for all trade hubs within it: In the node you have chosen, ensure that you hold enough trade hubs to build up your bonus trade power, once they'll be upgraded. Also check for the ones held by other countries. Your future wars should be waged at least in part to secure these hubs in order to further assert your dominance over the node, and in turn boost your income.
- Ensure that enough trade value can flow in it: As you build your empire, you'll eventually reach other nodes. Ensuring that these are located upstream of your home node will earn you considerable wealth. Also, check for any upstream land node, where you'll be able to send your merchants. They will be far more effective there than in most coastal nodes, and this will help you earn good trade income right from the beginning of the game even if your starting region is devoid of valuable trade resources.
Expand one node after another
With your home node chosen and secured, you should look at taking control of the upstream nodes. One should be particularly careful about securing one node after another, as extracting trade value from a node only to see it collected by a rival in the next one is both fruitless and dangerous. While expanding, keep in mind some of the following aspects:
- Go for the hubs first: Even if said hubs aren't in a strategically important region or may be hard to defend, ensuring that you get to control these will significantly increase your trade value. Especially in company regions, asserting control of them will help you by both granting you truly massive trade power and undermining your rivals' efforts, as they also tend to aim these first.
- The coastline means everything: It is also important to take into account that while monitoring trade in a rich land trade node may require extensive wars, simply going for the coastal nodes and taking all of their provinces if possible will be far more beneficial in the long run. Not only will they allow you to snippet away inland trade through merchants, they may also grant you the ability to "steal" the trade value other nations will have extracted farther upstream, as most of intercontinental trade flows through oceans and thus coastlines.
- Be greedy: While going for trade domination, no effort should be spared to enact total control over the nodes you'll be targeting. Even if a nation or trade hub isn't much of a threat, and you have more important issues to deal with, attacking and taking control of the most provinces possible is essential, especially in company zones. While you'll be distracted farther away, you may go back 10 years later and find out that your rivals bought off provinces or simply conquered their way in, ruining most of your precedent efforts. Special attention must be paid if you're planning to core your overseas conquests in order to boost your income, as short of the company total trade power bonus every province lost to a rival will severely compromise your hold.
Develop and build
Once your income gets comfortable enough to allow you to stop conquering a bit and starting building up your provinces, there comes the time to build and develop your provinces.
- Go for the richest: There is no use in maintaining a homogeneous development in all your provinces. Provinces producing trade goods worth 3.00 ducats or more should be the ones you'll be developing first (with Rights of Man enabled). Even if they are overseas (as long as they are in trade companies), they can become very valuable very quickly, and you'll be able to use the newfound money for further development projects.
- Manufactories and workshops are the name of the game: Even if tax income seems to be very lucrative, and in respect production income negligible, keep in mind that more production also means more trade value created. With your control asserted over the node the province is in, your income will rise very quickly once these buildings have been built. Both buildings synergise very well, and it may often be worthwhile to demolish less important buildings to ensure that every valuable province at first, and later on every province, has both of these buildings. Despite their high cost, Manufactories increases income from both production and trade; building them in trade companies is a good way to increase the company's share of trade for the +1 merchant. Since Manufacturies give the equivalent of +5 production in the province it’s built, you should only built Manufacturies based on the autonomy that this province will hit (0% for Trade Companies in 1.29) and on the trade good. The more expensive a trade good is, the better your manufactury will be and the quicker it will pay off.
- Strive to be the richest: Using the Trade Value map interface, you can quickly check which of your provinces are the most advanced, and which ones have the most potential. By developing and building up in these, every single one of your provinces should, after a couple decades of attention, reach 10 or more trade value. Also check for policies that increase both production and trade efficiency, as these may give you the decisive edge over your rivals you'll need.
- Build in states and trade companies: Territories have a minimum autonomy of 75%, and centers of trade cannot be upgraded (with Dharma DLC) if they are located in territories. Therefore, it makes sense to put limited resources into states and trade companies which have lower autonomy. Within states, prioritize provinces given to the Burghers estates, and provinces which are not under any other estate.
With these principles in mind, you may be able, starting as any nation, to reach by late game the podium of the world's wealthiest nations. This, in turn, will ensure your continued survival throughout the game history and, as the Industrial Revolution closes in, put you in the best position possible to steamroll the world as its foremost industrial power.
- The penalty "Collect from Trade not in your Main Trade City" is multiplicative, but it's displayed as an additive modifier to trade power. This percentage is calculated as , which is equivalent to a −50% multiplicative modifier.
- See in Static_modifiers#Mercantilism). (
- See in .