Revisions: December 23, 2016:

  • Expanded calculations in examples 3 and 4 to explicitly show the effects of automatic selling versus active management.
  • Added 2 appendices that provide more detailed analysis of Food and Clothing industries.

This is a large, general purpose, guide that explains how to find, evaluate, and manage profitable industries. It is targeted at a beginner to intermediate level of experience with industry. Starting from basic concepts, the guide progresses through increasingly more complex situations while explaining how player-owned industries behave in these situations. This allows the player to decide how deeply they wish to delve into industries. It includes 13 in-game examples, drawn from every region, to illustrate the concepts.

This guide is in a blog due to its size. Comments, questions, suggestions, and corrections are welcome.

A Beginner's Guide to Industry

You have been playing Caravaneer 2 for a while. You've just made your first million in cash. You think, "Maybe, I can make money more quickly by starting some industries." You look at the industries available in your current region and wonder, "How can I tell if the industry will be profitable? Which industry will be most profitable?" Your thinking process is correct. Industries can produce large profits. They can also be a drain on your time and money if you choose poorly.

This guide will teach you how to find, evaluate, and expand profitable industries that fit within your game strategy. It does not rely on special tricks or unusual conditions. It will not tell you which industries you should buy except coincidentally when examples are given. Some of the examples are not the best industries to purchase but that will help to illustrate the concepts, too. The best industries change depending on whether you are in Sandbox or Story Mode, and whether you choose the Liberation or Workforce Merchants story path. The strategy you choose to meet the economic goals in the game will also affect the relative value of the industries. Many possible combinations of industries can be used to help you reach your goals. You could choose a different combination each time you play the game. This guide assumes you are familiar with the basics of industry: how to start one, how to expand or downsize it, how to add money to your money reserve, etc., as explained in the game's instructions.

Of course, you can start an industry solely to supply the needs of your caravan. This is viable alternative. This type of industry is specific to your situation and will not be discussed in this guide.

Types of Industry

For purposes of this guide, industries in Caravaneer 2 can be separated into five broad categories based on their inputs and outputs:

1. Natural Resources

These industries have no inputs and normally can't be purchased. If you do purchase one, you cannot expand it. Consequently, they have very limited profit potential. Examples include: Water Well, Robbery, Oil Drilling, etc.

2. Basic Industries

These industries have only one input: water. Examples include: Forage, Cotton Cultivation, etc. These industries are categorized by relatively low cost of input and virtually unlimited potential expansion of production, but not necessarily unlimited profit potential. In general, to make money with these industries, you will need to transport the goods and sell them in a different town than the one in which they are produced.

3. Intermediate Industries

These industries produce products which are only used by other industries. Examples include: Cotton Processing (textiles), Wool Processing (yarn), Leather, etc. The demand for the outputs of these industries is limited by the needs of the industries they supply which limits their profit potential. However, this limited potential can be quite high in some towns.

4. Final Products

These industries produce products that are consumed by people in towns. This category has the widest variety of industries. Examples include: jackets, alcohol distillery, shoes, oil refining, etc. Demand for these products increases when town population or wealth increases. In the game, population and wealth tend to increase over time naturally. (New bandits constantly appear and battle survivors and prisoners eventually find their way into a town. Towns expand their industries to put the extra people to work.) Theoretically, demand for these products can grow without limit and almost every town consumes these products. These industries can have high profit potential.

5. Food Industries

Food producing industries are a special category since they produce both final and intermediate products (e.g., meat and skins), or produce final products from other final products (e.g., snake breeding, cheese making). Peas can also be considered a basic industry. The profit potential and challenges of these industries are similar and differ greatly from the other categories, so they will be discussed as a separate category.

In general, the performance of an industry can fall into one of three groups:

1. Automatic Cash Machine

This is an industry which you set up, stock with some money reserves, and can leave alone. You return once in a while to collect your profits and empty your storage. The advantage of these industries is that they make money while you are away doing something else, like completing missions or trading. These industries can be found in some towns. They are relatively few and far between. These industries are usually intermediate or final products industries.

2. Dead Weight

This is an industry that loses money or frequently stops producing. They are more common than you would like. This guide will help you avoid these industries. Dead weight industries can be found in all categories.

3. Star

These industries will require some active management to maximize profits, usually transportation of outputs to be sold in other towns. They are potentially the most profitable industries in the game. Since they require your caravan visiting them, you want to purchase these industries in towns that you periodically visit. These industries are usually final products industries, but occasionally an intermediate or basic industry.

How to Evaluate an Industry

For an industry to be a good investment, you need to consider several factors:

  • Will the industry keep running? Either the town needs to produce enough to supply the industry or you need to find a way to transport the inputs there yourself.
  • Will prices remain high? Either the town needs to consume all of your output or you need to transport the output to other towns and sell it yourself.
  • Will it make a profit? The value of your outputs needs to exceed the costs of your inputs and "maintenance" expenses.
  • How long will it take to recover the initial investment? This is known as the Payback time and is the most important consideration. Use the Payback time to compare different industries.

These factors are interrelated. If your industry stops running, you stop making profits. Higher prices means higher profits and a shorter Payback time. Payback time helps you decide which industry is a better investment for your limited money. If you have unlimited money, you probably don't need an Industry Guide.

Evaluating these four factors does involve some mathematics. You can simplify the calculations by using round numbers. An approximate result will tell you all you need to know: the industry will be profitable or it will be Dead Weight. If the result is marginal, you can probably find a better industry elsewhere. This guide uses exact numbers from in-game Story Mode examples to illustrate how the calculations are done. Note: The prices of industries, inputs, outputs, and "expenses" vary based on many factors in the game. It is unlikely you will see the exact prices shown in this guide in your own game, nor will the prices be exactly the same each time you play the game.

Industry Profitability and Payback Time

The cost of an industry includes your initial investment and operating expenses (the cost of inputs used plus the "maintenance" expense). The income of an industry is the value of its outputs when sold. Profit is simply income minus operating expenses. Payback time is how long it takes to recover your initial investment. The shorter the payback time, the better the industry.

The two items to consider to determine industry profitability, daily profit and payback time, are defined as:

Daily profit = (Value of one day's output) minus (Daily expenses)
Payback time = (Initial investment) divided by (Daily profit)
  • "Value of one day's output" is the sale price of each unit of output times the number of outputs produced every day.
  • "Daily expenses" is the cost of the inputs plus the "maintenance" expense.
  • "Initial investment" is the "start" price of the industry shown on the New Industries tab (or the "buy" price on the Town industries tab) plus the price of any expansion you do after you start the industry.

(Technically, you should reduce the initial investment by the amount of money you would receive by liquidating the industry either by downsizing it to zero or selling it to the town and determine the payback time for the "net investment." In the game, you usually won't liquidate a profitable industry, so the simpler definition of payback time above will be used. This guide's definition of Payback time also indicates how quickly you will generate additional profits, i.e., after 2 Payback times, you will have doubled your money. After 3 Payback times, you will have tripled your money, etc.)

Some actual in-game examples will help you understand. According to the definitions, both of these industries would be considered "automatic cash machines."

Example #1: Robbery Industry in the destroyed Drekar camp

Example #1: Robbery Industry in the destroyed Drekar camp

This is the simplest example since the output of the industry is money and the only daily expense is the maintenance expense.

Start price: 506,250.00 (level 1)
Value of one day's output: 185.00
Daily expenses: 83.00
Daily profit = 185.00 - 83.00 = 102.00 (per day)
Payback time = 506,250.00 / 102.00 = 4963 days (or, about 13.6 years)

Example #2: Alcohol Distillery in Lost

Example #2: Alcohol Distillery in Lost
Start price: 1,056,889.69 (level 1)
Value of one day's output: 7 alcohol X 222.14 (the market sale price) = 1554.98
Daily expenses:
10 forage X 1.22 = 12.20
20 water X 0.45 = 9.00
Expenses: 83.18
Total daily expenses: 104.38
Daily profit = 1554.98 - 104.38 = 1450.60 (per day)
Payback time = 1,056,889.69 / 1450.60 = 728 days (or, about 2 years)

As discussed elsewhere on this wiki, if you rely on autosale of items produced by your industries, you should expect to get only one-half the market price. (The middleman merchants who sell goods for you take their cut.) Using these more conservative sale price numbers, the revised numbers are:

Daily profit = 777.49 - 104.38 = 673.11 (per day)
Payback time = 1,056,889.69 / 673.11 = 1570 days (or, about 4.3 years)

In both examples, the industry is profitable. The Alcohol Distillery in Lost is the more profitable industry since it has the shorter payback time. Another section in this guide will teach you how to reduce the payback time. Also, neither industry was expanded at the time of the initial purchase which would affect the payback time. (Robbery is a natural resource and can't be expanded.)

Should you use the full market sale price or the one-half autosale price when evaluating an industry? That depends on how you are planning to run the industry. You could evaluate the industry both ways. This would give you information about the best and worst cases. With more information, you can make a better decision. You may find industries that are profitable at market price but unprofitable at autosale price. These are potentially dead weight industries if you don't actively manage them. Realize that every industry you own will have some active management even if you only visit them to collect your profits and empty your storage occasionally. Of course, an industry that loses money at market price is dead weight.

It pays to shop around in a region. The purchase price (initial investment) and costs of inputs can vary widely between nearby towns. Also, the value of outputs will vary from town to town.

Reducing the Payback Time for an Industry

After you have found a profitable industry, you may want to reduce the payback time. There are three ways to do this. In the game, you will probably use a combination of all three ways.

1. Don't rely on autosale of output

The simplest way is take your output from storage and sell it yourself (eliminating the middleman). You can also transport your output to another town and sell it to avoid flooding the market in any one town and driving down prices. This option is very effective but requires you to actively manage your industry. If you choose this option, you may want to expand your storage capacity in your industry's town to reduce autoselling. Just add the cost of storage to your initial investment when you determine payback time. This calculation can help you decide whether it is profitable to expand storage. Storage has no maintenance expense, but the cost of purchasing storage varies among towns.

2. Supply cheaper inputs for your industry

If you can find inputs for your industry at a lower cost in another town, you can buy in that town and deposit the items in your industry's storage. This can be time consuming and may only marginally reduce your costs. However, if your industry is in a town that you frequently visit, be sure to take advantage of this option. Once again, you may want to increase storage when using this option.

3. Expand your industry

This may seem strange, but the economics of the game make this a very good option.

When you start a new industry at level 1, you will notice that the cost to expand it to level 2 is one-third of the start cost. Actually, the cost to expand each level is one-third of the start cost. This ratio applies to every industry. Expanding your industry increases the daily profits faster than you increase the initial investment. This analysis applies to industries you "start" and not to industries that you "buy" from the town. Let's see how this works.

Recall that:

Daily profit = (Value of one day's output) - (Daily expenses)
Payback time = (Initial investment) / (Daily profit)

If you increase your initial investment by expanding to Level 2, the equations look like this:

Daily profit level 2 = 2 X [(Value of one day's output) - (Daily expenses)] = 2 X Daily profit level 1

Payback time level 1 = (Initial investment level 1) / (Daily profit level 1)

Payback time level 2 = [1 1/3 X (Initial investment level 1)] / [ 2 X (Daily profit level 1)]

Payback time level 2 / Payback time level 1

= ([1 1/3 X (Initial investment level 1)] / [ 2 X (Daily profit level 1)])
/ [ (Initial investment level 1) / (Daily profit level 1) ]
= (1 1/3 ) / 2
= 2/3

So, expanding to level 2 reduces payback time to two-thirds of the level 1 payback time.

In summary:

Expand to level 2, 133% initial investment and reduces payback time to 67% of level 1 (1 1/3 divided by 2).

Expand to level 3, 167% initial investment and reduces payback time to 56% of level 1 (1 2/3 divided by 3).

Expand to level 4, double (200%) initial investment and reduces payback time to 50% of level 1 (2 divided by 4).

Expand to level 7, triple initial investment and reduces payback time to 43% of level 1 (3 divided by 7).

Expand to level 10, quadruple initial investment and reduces payback time to 40% of level 1 (4 divided by 10).

Notice that the reduction in payback time gets smaller as you expand. It may take more cash than you have to expand your industry this much. Don't worry. You can expand your industry slowly, over time, using the profits your industry produces. The cost to expand may rise over time, but not enough to significantly affect the payback time. A level 10 industry requires a lot of input and produces a lot of output. You may have trouble selling all of it without causing prices to drop. Depending on the industry and its location, you may also have trouble keeping it supplied. My recommendation is, initially, to evaluate potential industries at level 3 or 4. Here are two examples:

Example #3: Alcohol Distillery in Lost level 3

Example #3: Alcohol Distillery in Lost level 3
Start price: 1,056,889.69 (level 1) + 704,593.12 (level 3) = 1,761,482.81
Value of one day's output: 21 alcohol X 222.14 (the market sale price) = 4664.94
Daily expenses:
30 forage X 1.22 = 36.60
60 water X 0.45 = 27.00
Expenses: 83.18 X 3 = 249.54
(The actual maintenance Expenses in the game is 201.18 for level 3, a slight discount. The above estimate of 3 times level 1 is close enough for making a decision on whether to start an industry.)
Total daily expenses: 313.14
Daily profit = 4664.94 - 313.14 = 4351.80 (per day)
Payback time = 1,761,482.81 / 4351.80 = 405 days (or, about 1.1 years)
As noted in example #2 above, a level 1 Alcohol Distillery in Lost has a payback time of 728 days (or, about 2 years).

If you rely on automatic selling, your income is halved, and the revised numbers are:

Daily profit = 2332.47 - 313.14 = 2019.33 (per day)
Payback time = 1,761,482.81 / 2019.33 = 872 days (or, about 2.3 years, about twice as long as "active management.")

Example #4: Jackets Production in Tobar level 4

Example #4: Jackets Production in Tobar level 4
Start price: $585,000 (level 1) + $585,000 (level 4) = 1,170,000
Value of one day's output level: 24 jackets X 3011.25 (the market sale price) = 72,270.00
Daily expenses:
64 yarn X 444.83 = 28,469.12
Expenses: 66.80
Total daily expenses: 28,535.92
Daily profit = 72,270.00 - 28,535.92 = 43,734.08 (per day)
Payback time = 1,170,000 / 43,734.08 = 27 days
If this was a level 1 Jackets Production, the payback time would be doubled (54 days).

If you rely on automatic selling, your income is halved, and the revised numbers are:

Daily profit = 36,135.00 - 28,535.92 = 7599.08 (per day)
Payback time = 1,170,000 / 7599.08 = 154 days (or, about 5.7 times as long as active management)

Note by comparing examples #3 and #4 you can see that the reduction in Payback Time for not using automatic selling (i.e., "active management") is greater when the unit sale price of your goods is higher.

Right-sizing your Industries

To maximize profits, you want to expand your industries to the optimal level. This is known as "right-sizing." Determining the right-size requires you to look at both supply (input) and demand (output).

Right-sizing for Input

You want your industries to keep producing most of the time. This means you want to find an industry in a town that produces the inputs that your industry needs. Trying to keep an industry supplied solely from your caravan can be difficult and time-consuming, especially early in the game when you have a small caravan. Most industries' total weight of output is less than the total weight of input which means no autoselling for the industry if you are supplying all of its input.

Check the "Statistics" screen for the town to see what the "theoretical" surplus is and what level of industry the town can support. Initially, be careful and don't cut it too close. The caravans sometimes come into town and buy up the town's output. If you are buying a town-owned industry, check the Statistics - Recent Data to see if the industry is operating all the time.

Example #5: Jackets Production in Tobar

Example #5: Jackets Production in Tobar

Tobar produces a theoretical surplus of 102.6 yarn per day. Each level of Jackets Production uses 16 yarn per day. The maximum level Tobar can support is 102.6 / 16 = 6.4125, or a theoretical maximum level 6 Jacket Production industry. Checking the "Recent Data" of the Statistics, you will find that Tobar did not produce the maximum yarn every day. Over the 30 day period shown as Recent Data, Tobar produced only 2345 yarn (78.17 per day average): 78.17 /16 = 4.8 level Jacket Production industry that can normally be supported.

In this example, what size Jackets Production industry should be purchased in Tobar?

If you don't want to spend time carrying wool to Tobar: level 4
If you will spend time carrying enough wool to Tobar: level 6.

The difference between the theoretical and actual yarn production is about 24.5 yarn per day. For Tobar to produce an additional 24.5 yarn per day requires about 62 wool per day. (Each yarn takes about 2.5 wool.) A 30-day supply of wool for Tobar would require you to transport 1860 wool to Tobar every month. Where would you find this additional wool? Since that is "trading" and not "industry", this guide will not tell you. You will need to figure that out for yourself, or limit yourself to a level 4 Jacket Production industry.

On the "Statistics" screen, you can check the production of your industries. If you see that your industries are not functioning all the time due to lack of available input, consider downsizing them or figure out a way to keep them supplied.

Example #6: Shoes Production in Tobar

Example #6: Shoes Production in Tobar

Tobar produces a theoretical surplus of 140 leather per day. Each level of Shoes Production uses 1 leather. The theoretical Shoes maximum is 140 / 1 = 140. Actual leather production was 1919 leather in the last 30 days. 1919 / 30 = 63 leather per day. 63 / 1 = 63 level of Shoes Production industry can normally be supported. So, based on the availability of input, Tobar can support a Shoe Production industry between level 63 and 140.

(For the curious, Shoes Production is one of the few industries that has a total weight of output that is greater than the total weight of input.)

Right-sizing for Output

If you are trying to set up an Automatic Cash Machine, you need to consider the demand for your industry's output in the town where it is located. Once again, check the town Statistics screen to see what the demand is for your output, which is shown as a negative "balance." Compare the maximum levels the town can support for inputs and demand, and choose the smaller of the two. If you want to increase the demand for a "Final Products" good, increase the town's population. How to increase a town's population is discussed in several places in this wiki and will not be repeated here.

Example #7: Jackets Production in Tobar

Example #7: Jackets Production in Tobar

Jackets is part of the group of "Upper Body Clothing." Its Statistics show that Tobar consumes 18.5 Upper Body Clothing per day. Each level of Jackets Production produces 6 jackets per day. So, Tobar alone can consume the output of a level 3 to 4 Jacket industry. Having a larger industry that only sells in Tobar will flood the market and drive down prices.

Example #8: Shoes Production in Tobar

Example #8: Shoes Production in Tobar

Tobar's Statistics show that it consumes 2.6 shoes per day. Each level of Shoes Production produces 3 shoes per day. So, Tobar alone can consume the output of a level 1 Shoe industry.

Note: For many trade goods, you will notice prices dropping before you sell the full amount of the negative "balance." This is normal for the game and will reduce your profits by a small amount. However, prices will be stable day-to-day since the "balance" is the daily deficit. The reduction in payback time for a larger industry usually outweighs the small drop in selling price.

Putting it all Together

Having determined the right-size for an industry based on availability of inputs and demand for outputs, we can now calculate profitability and payback time for the industry.

Example #9: Shoes Production in Tobar

Example #9: Shoes Production in Tobar

We have seen in the previous examples that Tobar can support a level 63 Shoes industry and has a demand for a level 1 Shoes industry. Comparing the two numbers, we see that level 1 Shoes is an "automatic cash machine" industry.

Start price: 585,000 (level 1)
Value of one day's output: 3 shoes X 1128.28 (the market sale price) = 3384.85 (halved for autosale = 1692.42)
Daily expenses:
1 leather X 956.82 = 956.82
Expenses: 71.40
Total daily expenses: 1028.22
Active management:
Daily profit = 3384.85 - 1028.22 = 2356.63 (per day)
Payback time = 585,000 / 2356.63 = 248 days (or, about 8.2 months)
Automatic selling:
Daily profit = 1692.42 - 1028.22 = 664.20 (per day)
Payback time = 585,000 / 664.20 = 881 days (or, about 2.4 years)

This is a long payback time which is not unusual for a level 1 industry that is using automatic selling. If we were planning to stay in the Janubi region for an extended period of time and actively manage the sale of shoes to other towns, along with other trading, we could expand our industry to our target of level 4 and reduce payback time.

Start price: 585,000 (level 1) + 585,000 (level 4) = 1,170,000
Value of one day's output: 12 shoes X 1128.28 (the market sale price) = 13,539.36 (not halved, active management)
Daily expenses:
4 leather X 956.82 = 3827.28
Expenses: 71.40 X 4 = 285.60
(The actual maintenance Expenses in the game are 225.60 for level 4, a slight discount. The above estimate of 4 times level 1 is close enough for making a decision on whether to start an industry.)
Total daily expenses: 4112.88
Daily profit = 13,539.36 - 4112.88 = 9426.48 (per day)
Payback time = 1,170,000 / 9426.48 = 124 days (or, about 4.1 months)

Our shoe industry has become a "star" industry. When we are ready to leave Janubi, we could sell the Shoe industry to the town for 429,000 or downsize it to level 1 and get 204,750 money (with the intention of expanding it the next time we are in Janubi or letting it run as a level 1 automatic cash machine). Notice that the money recovered by downsizing is equal to 21 days of profit for this industry, so the Payback time for the "net investment" is only 103 days.

This example also illustrates the effectiveness of expanding a low level industry above the "automatic cash machine" level, actively managing it for a short period of time to reduce payback time, and then downsizing it.

Managing more Complex Industries

The industries in the previous examples were simple, only one industry in a town producing only one output. What happens if you have more than one industry in a town or produce more than one output from an industry?

Each industry comes with some storage. The storage of all your industries is pooled and shared by all of your industries along with any storage you may purchase. When your industries collectively fill your storage, goods will be autosold at half the market price. (Unless total storage is an exact multiple of the total weight of all the outputs of your industries, storage doesn't actually get completely filled. It is considered filled when one entire day's output can't be stored, then autoselling begins.)

The goods that are autosold first are, generally, those that are the largest total weight (not number of units) of one day's output. The goods sold can be either goods that were produced that day or any goods in your storage that were previously produced. Selling of goods continues until all remaining output can be stored. Only goods that your industries produce will be autosold. Other items that you may be storing in your warehouse will never be autosold. So, if you leave industries running unattended long enough, you will find your storage filled with the goods that you produce the least.

Example #10: Both Jackets and Shoes Production in Tobar

Example #10: Both Jackets and Shoes Production in Tobar

In previous examples, we looked at Jackets level 4 and Shoes level 1 in Tobar as separate industries. Six jackets of each color are produced along with 3 shoes each day. (Each color of jackets is a different output.) The weight of one day's output of each jacket color is larger than the weight of one day's output of shoes. If we started both industries and left them running unattended, when we returned we would find our storage mostly filled with shoes. If we expanded Shoes to level 4 in Tobar, one day's output of shoes would weigh more than one day's output of each jacket color, then shoes would be autosold first and storage would fill up with jackets.

Example #11: Level 4 Goat Breeding in Okaidi

Example #11: Level 4 Goat Breeding in Okaidi

A level 4 goat breeding industry produces 8.8 goat meat, 38.8 goat milk, 2.8 wool, 2.8 skins (which weighs 5.04 kg.), and 0.4 tallow. All of these goods are 1 kg. per unit, except skins which is 1.8 kg. per unit. Total weight produced per day is: 55.84 kg.

Goat breeding provide 30 kg. of storage per level, so we have 120 kg. total storage. On the third day, we have a total of 167.52 kg. which needs to be stored, so at least 47.52 kg. must be autosold.

The goat milk will be sold first. Since a day's output of goat milk is so large compared to the other items, it vanishes from your warehouse first as one day's output of goat milk will make enough room for all of the other outputs. Next goes the goat meat, etc. Eventually, you end up with a warehouse full of wool and tallow.

You may see some deviations in this process, but the general trend is correct. Some strange results are possible depending on the mix of industries you have in the town.

Autoselling can be very complicated if you have many industries in a town. If you want to know exactly how your industries will autosell, run an experiment:

  1. Save your game.
  2. Leave town and let time pass.
  3. Return to town every day and look at your storage.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3.
  5. When you are satisfied, load your saved game.

If you were to start a Goat Cheese Production industry in Okaidi to use your goat milk, you will find that it stops working when your storage fills up. Your industries will buy needed inputs from the town Market only if the town actually produces the good you need. If goods your industry needs just happen to be there (either by your production or your caravan's sale to the market), your industry can't use it. (Some town-owned industries that you "buy" may be able to use goods not produced by the town.) If you were to expand storage in Okaidi, you could delay the day when autoselling begins. This can be a viable option if you are planning to visit Okaidi often. This gets us into a discussion of chaining your industries, which is a complex enough topic to require its own section. It is definitely for advanced industrialists only.

Working around the Middle

There are some chains of production which involve 3 items. For example, wool -> yarn -> jackets/hats, or skins -> leather -> leather jackets/shoes. These 3-tiered production chains are industrial opportunities.

Look for towns that have industries that produce the first and last good in the chain, e.g., wool and jackets. If they have the middle industry for sale, e.g., wool processing (yarn), consider buying it. You can right-size your industry for supply and demand based on that section of this guide. Do your analysis and you may find that it is a profitable automatic cash machine. Note: Since most towns start with a surplus in their Market, you can size your middle industry above the level determined by the available supply shown in the town Statistics and run off the initial surplus for a while, which will help reduce your payback time.

Often, the town owns the middle industry and the final industry is for sale, but there is no steady supply of the first product. The examples we saw for Tobar Jackets and Shoes were like this. The caravans delivered some wool and skins, but not enough to fully support the town's industries. We saw that if our caravan sold wool to Tobar we could expand our jackets production. If you can find a way to transport a steady supply of wool to the town, consider doing it and expanding your industry. You may make a small profit selling the wool, but you will make a big profit on the additional jackets. The same reasoning can be applied to skins and shoes.

Note that there is no practical limit to how much of a good a town can have in its market. Even a town with no money will accept everything you sell.

Example #12: Trousers Production in Vatefaire

Example #12: Trousers Production in Vatefaire

Vatefaire town has a Cotton Processing industry that produces textiles, and a Trousers industry for sale that uses textiles. Vatefaire does not produce cotton.

Theoretical supply of textiles is 207.7 which can support a level 69 Trousers industry. Demand for Lower body clothing is 6.1 or a level 6 Trousers industry. There are a few towns near Vatefaire that produce cotton, so we will have little trouble keeping the town supplied with cotton. (The caravans deliver some cotton to Vatefaire, too.)

Start price: 780,000 (level 1) + 1,300,000 (level 6) = 2,080,000
Value of one day's output: 6 trousers X 3121.39 (the market sale price) = 18,727.71 (halved for autosale = 9136.36)
Daily expenses:
18 textiles X 286.27 = 5152.86
Expenses: 159.20 X 6 = 955.20
Total daily expenses: 6108.06
Automatic selling:
Daily profit = 9136.36 - 6108.06 = 3028.30 (per day)
Payback time = 2,080,000 / 3028.30 = 687 days (or, about 1.9 years)
Active management:
Daily profit = 18,727.71 - 6108.06 = 12,619.65 (per day)
Payback time = 2,080,000 / 12,619.65 = 164 days (or, about 5.5 months)

You can see that the industry will be a profitable, actively managed, "star" industry. The initial investment is high, but so are the returns. With active management, you can expand above level 6 and sell trousers to the nearby towns. Trousers Production has 10 kg. of storage per level. Trousers are light (0.4 kg. per unit). It will take 25 days to fill your storage (10 / 0.4 = 25). In theory, you could supply all towns within a 12-day travel radius of Vatefaire with the trousers you produce from this one town. Just ensure that a 25-day supply of cotton is in the Vatefaire Market before you go away on your sales trip. If you are wondering if it is worth transporting the trousers for sale, consider that in this example, the daily profit per trousers is about 2103 (12,619.65 / 6), and the profit per kilogram is 5257 (2103 / 0.4).

Vatefaire has for sale Shirts Production and Vests Production that use textiles. It may be profitable to diversify your industries and produce these goods, too. Do the analysis (and find the towns in which to sell) and calculate the payback time for these other industries. Having a variety of goods to sell is basic trading strategy as it reduces the chance of flooding the markets. Towns also consume a variety of goods faster than a single good. In this example, Vatefaire becomes an industrial hub: a town where you produce a variety of goods for sale in other towns.

Opportunities exist for you to build an industrial hub like this in other regions. Look for them. Industrial hubs are easier to actively manage than having industries scattered among several towns. Since your industries pool their storage, chaining your industries is easier in a hub, too.

Chaining your Industries

As mentioned before, you can try to use the output of one of your industries to supply the input to another of your industries in the same town. This can be very profitable if you can get it to work. The difficulty is autoselling that occurs when your storage is full. Since most industries' total weight of output is less than the total weight of input, the output of the first industry in your chain will be autosold first. Having a large storage capacity in one town defers this problem and makes chaining your industries practical. To determine if it makes sense to chain your industries:

  1. Compute the daily profit and payback time for the chain as a group.
  2. Calculate how long it will take your industries to fill up storage. If you have other industries in the town in addition to the chained industries, include the weight of their output, too.
  3. Decide how often you think you will return to the town before storage fills up. Having storage fill up occasionally won't significantly reduce your profits.

Example #13: Cotton Processing and Trousers Production in Masriah

Example #13: Cotton Processing and Trousers Production in Masriah

Masriah is a town in Qubba that produces cotton and has Cotton Processing and Trousers Production industries for sale. The town produces 60 cotton which can support a level 8 Cotton Processing industry (7.5 cotton used per level) which can produce 53.6 textiles per day (6.7 textiles per level). The Trousers Production uses 3 textiles per trousers. Theoretically, a level 17 Trousers industry is possible. Demand for lower body clothing (trousers) is 18.1 per day in Masriah. Let's start small with Cotton Processing level 2 and Trousers Production level 4 and run the numbers.

Start price:
Cotton Processing: 975,000 (level 1) + 325,000 (level 2) = 1,300,000 (produces 13.4 textiles per day)
Trousers Production: 780,000 (level 1) + 780,000 (level 4) = 1,560,000 (uses 12 textiles per day)
Total initial investment: 2,860,000
Value of one day's output:
4 trousers X 3643.56 (the market sale price) = 14,570.24 (not halved, chained industries require active management)
1.4 excess textiles per day (assuming a sale price of zero for this example)
(Technically, you won't get any trousers on the first day since you have no textiles in storage. It makes little difference in the long run. Either put 12 textiles purchased elsewhere in your storage, start the Trousers industry one day after you start Cotton Processing, or do without them.)
Daily expenses:
15 cotton X 30.69 = 460.35
Cotton Processing: 2 X 21.00 = 42.00
Trousers Production: 4 X 139.20 = 556.80
Total daily expenses: 1059.15 (notice this gives a cost per Trousers of 264.79)
Active management:
Daily profit = 14,570.24 - 1059.15 = 13,511.09 (per day)
Payback time = 2,860,000 / 13,511.09 = 211 days (or, about 7 months)

Cotton Processing provides 80 kg. of storage per level. Trousers provides 10 kg. per level. Total storage is 200 kg. These two industries produce 1.6 kg. of trousers and 0.182 kg. of excess textiles per day: 1.782 kg. total per day. Time required to fill 200 kg. is 112 days (200 / 1.782). So, the two industries can run for 112 days before they fill the storage and then autoselling will begin and the Trousers production will stop. This is probably enough time for this chain to work as "active management" without too much effort. You could supply every town with trousers within a 56-day travel radius of Masriah, i.e., the entire world. (Actually, there will be 156.8 units of textiles in storage after 112 days, so Trousers Production will run for a few more days. Textiles will be autosold which will not be very profitable.) For this chain, the daily profit per trouser is about 3377 and the profit per kilogram is 8442 (3377 / 0.4).

For the curious, Masriah's Cotton Cultivation industry is for sale. If you keep expanding your industries, you could buy the Cotton Cultivation industry if you find yourself running short of cotton and then own all three industries in the chain. I'll leave it to the reader to calculate the profits and payback time for this 3-industry chain since it would take some time to expand to level 17 Trousers Production (due to a shortage of unemployed). Masriah is the only town in which the complete cotton-to-trousers chain exists. Different chains are possible in other towns.

Miscellaneous Information

This section contains some odd bits of useful information on a variety of industry related topics.

Miscellaneous Information
  1. Money Reserve: Your Money Reserve in a town can be a negative number. This will happen only if you have an industry that loses money, or you start a new industry and forget to put money into the Money Reserve. There doesn't seem to be any side effect from having a negative reserve. It is simply a one-time deduction from the money you add to the reserve in the future. Of course, your industries won't produce anything if they can't buy their inputs.
  2. Autopurchase of inputs: Your industries will buy needed inputs from the town Market only if the town produces the goods you need. This prevents you from using the town Market as "storage" for your industry's inputs. It also makes chaining your industries more difficult. Selling the first industry in a chain to the town, if possible, is one way to get around this problem for the advanced industrialist, but it is an expensive solution. (Some town-owned industries that you "buy" may be able to use goods not produced by the town. You should save your game before buying the industry and run an experiment to verify that inputs are purchased after you buy the town-owned industry.)
  3. Autosale criteria: The goods that are autosold first are, generally, those that are the largest weight (not number of units) of one day's output. The goods sold can be either goods that were produced that day or any goods in your storage that were previously produced. After the heaviest are sold, the next heaviest will be sold, etc. With multiple industries in one town, you can try to adjust their levels to determine which goods will autosell first. (Note: Some weird results are possible. My Forage Cultivation and Sheep Breeding chain in Drushlak starting accumulating water in storage when forage was autosold and the amount of forage left in storage was not enough to support the full level of the Sheep Breeding industry. It appears that the water needed to operate the full Sheep Breeding was still being purchased although the industry was operating at less than its full level.)
  4. Forced autosale: You can force your industries to autosell to keep running by giving them a very small Money Reserve, but there isn't any benefit to doing this unless you are short on cash.
  5. Bankrupt towns: If a caravan comes along and takes all the money from a town, autoselling continues normally, but you won't get money from the sales. This situation only lasts for a day or two. Be careful you don't bankrupt the towns (with your own sales) where you are using autoselling for your industries.
  6. Storage: The storage of all your industries is pooled and shared by all of your industries along with any storage you may purchase. Items not produced by your industries will never be autosold from storage. If desired, you can force your industries to autosell sooner by storing items that are neither produced by or used by your industries in that town.
  7. Transportation costs: For your potential "star" industries where you plan to carry your outputs to other towns for sale, you may want to calculate "profit per kilogram" if you have to carry the goods a long distance to sell them. Just divide the profit per unit by the weight of one unit, in kilograms. This type of calculation gives some consideration to "transportation costs." It helps you compare profits for items of different weights like jackets and shirts, cheese and eggs, or leather and yarn.
  8. Statistics: Your industries' consumption and production are not included in a town's overall Statistics. They are only on the "your industries" screen.
  9. Food Statistics: A town's Statistics shows the total food produced. If you calculate the "energy" produced by the town's industries, you will find that the Statistics number is 10 times the "energy" produced by the town's industries. Similarly, food consumed is 10 times the "energy" of the food consumed.
  10. Inflation: The gradual increase in population and wealth over time causes "maintenance" expenses to slowly rise. This effect is noticeable over the course of game-years. This applies to the game as a whole. Note that the wealth of a town changes up and down frequently, even when population and industries don't change. In some towns, the changes in wealth are large (e.g., Ozbet).
  11. Town personalities: Each town has its own behavior pattern as it responds to increases in population and unemployed. The industries increased as population grows are usually noticeable after a 5-10% increase in the town's population. Be aware of this if your industries use the same inputs as a town's industries. Also, some towns increase food production, and some don't. Some towns increase forage, and some don't. (Or, if they do increase it, it happens at such a high level of population that it is almost the same.)
  12. Theoretical Negative Forage: When a town's Statistics show a negative balance for forage, extreme price changes occur. Not only does the price of forage rise significantly, but the prices of all goods the town produces using forage will rise. This includes items like milk, wool, tallow, and skins. Be aware of this effect if your industries are relying on the town to supply them with these goods. Patrolton and Shosta start with Theoretical Negative Forage. (Bleik does too, but seems partially immune to these secondary effects.) Towns that rely on cattle, sheep, or goat breeding to feed their people are more likely to develop Theoretical Negative Forage due to population increases than those that use insect or jerboa breeding. Twin Rivers, New Serino, and Lago seem to be especially prone to reaching Theoretical Negative Forage, although Lago will expand forage if its unemployed population rises further (as will Patrolton).
  13. Difficulty setting: On "hard" difficulty setting, the "start" and "buy" price of industries is double the "normal" difficulty price. The "expand" cost is still one-third of the (hard) "start" price. If you "downsize" or "sell" your industry, the money you get is doubled, too. Maintenance expenses appear unchanged. The effects are to double the Payback time for every industry and to require more money when starting your industrial empire. The increase in Payback time may make some "normal" difficulty industries unattractive on "hard" difficulty because you will have progressed farther during the time it takes to get enough money to start them and will find better opportunities with shorter payback times for your limited money.

Food Industries

This analysis examines food industries as a trade good and not as something your caravan would consume.

Food Industries

Insect, jerboa, goat, sheep, and cattle breeding only need forage and water as inputs, which are usually relatively cheap. You may think: "All I need to do is find a town that has a food deficit and cheap forage and water and start an animal breeding industry." Unfortunately, there is only one town in the game (Okaidi) in which this occurs. Most towns which have these primary food industries for sale either have a food surplus, have expensive forage, or no forage to spare. Consequently, food industries require active management to be very profitable. "Automatic cash machines" with reasonable payback times in this group of industries are rare. Every region has towns with food deficits, and some towns produce no food at all. Obviously, these are the best places to sell food. You will need to investigate to determine which foods sell for the most in which towns. Translating the town's food Statistics deficit into "energy" may help you decide how often to sell food to a town but is not necessary.

This section provides some information on food industries which will help you decide if you want to start these industries and to find the best places to start them. Food industries can be divided into two categories:

  1. Primary food industries take water and forage as input. This includes peas, insect farming and jerboa, goat, sheep, and cattle breeding.
  2. Secondary food industries take food as input and produce food as output. This includes lizard and snake breeding, and goat, sheep, and cow cheese production. These industries must be in a town with a food surplus since they use food as input, unless you are supplying your own inputs. Remember to check the town's Statistics Recent Data to ensure the town has a sufficient surplus of the specific food you need to supply your industries. Just because a town produces a specific food doesn't mean it has a sufficient surplus of that food even if it has a total food surplus.

All the food industries come with a relatively small amount of storage (10 to 50 kg.) per level. Generally, the primary food industries will fill up their storage in 1 or 2 days (peas and jerboa breeding take 5 days). It is very difficult to prevent autosale for these industries. You also need to figure out a way to dispose of any tallow, skins, or wool you may produce. (If you let these industries autosell, you may end up with only tallow, skins, and wool in storage.) Usually, these items will have to be transported for sale. Rarely, your other industries or the town will use your tallow, skins, or wool. The amount of active management these industries require is relatively high except in very few situations.

The secondary food industries will fill their storage in 6 to 10 days. The outputs of these industries tend to sell at a higher price per kilogram than primary food industries. This makes it more efficient to transport them to a sale location. Active management is required for these industries since only a town with a food surplus will produce the inputs your industry needs. Some autoselling is tolerable for a secondary food industry (it should cover your total daily expenses), and you won't have any low price outputs to dispose of.

Snake and lizard eggs, because of their very low weight per unit, are very efficient to transport (high price per kilogram). Their low "energy" value makes it safe to zero their consumption on the Supplies Menu and helps to keep their selling price high even when selling in large quantities. Eggs are the "caviar and truffles" of foods in the game. The problem is getting enough eggs: a level 1 lizard breeding industry takes 50 days to produce 1 kg. of eggs, snake breeding takes 23 days for 1 kg. Try to set them up where autosale of the meat will cover your total daily expenses, then collect the eggs and excess meat after several months.

Each of the three cheese industries has a very high ratio of weight of input to weight of output (9 - 11 kg. to 1 kg.). It is difficult to keep them running if they are not getting their milk from the town unless you have a lot of storage available in a big industrial hub: a month's supply of milk would require about 300 kg of storage for each level of your cheese production industry.

You could try chaining a primary and secondary food industry. It is difficult because the industries come with very little storage and fill it very quickly. It is easier in one of your industrial hubs where you have a lot of storage available. The cheese industries high ratio of input to output weight makes chaining these industries very difficult: the milk is usually the heaviest daily output you produce in a town.

Lizard and snake breeding are easier to chain since the industries they use (insect and jerboa, respectively) have no outputs that are not used in the chain. Also, excluding water, lizard and snake breeding have a higher weight of output than input which should cause lizard/snake meat to be autosold and not the insects/jerboa meat if you use all of the insects/jerboa meat in your chain. Because of the relatively lower weights used by these industries, you might also have an industry in your industrial hub that produces a heavier daily output than any of them which would autosell first. However, other industries in your hub which produce lighter weight outputs may cause the chain to work less than perfectly. Also, the Payback time of any industry chain needs to be calculated to determine profitability. Just because you can chain industries, doesn't mean that you should.

Managing food industries to maximize profits requires analyzing the industry and the trading routes that you use. To minimize transportation costs, the closer to the town where you plan to sell the food, the better. I'm not saying you shouldn't start these industries if they fit into your strategy. They can have a place in it, especially the secondary industries. Be aware of what is involved in managing them. If they are in a town that you visit often, managing them is easier. I would not advise starting your industrial empire with a food industry since your trading pattern is likely to change. Also, The Federation is the only region that starts with an overall food deficit. In the other regions, there is an overall surplus of food. It is better to wait until the natural population growth in the game reduces some of the food surplus. Secondary food industries can also use up some of the surplus food.

Summary and Conclusions

While building your industrial empire, remember these points:

  1. Initially, focus on Final Products and Intermediate industries.
  2. Ensure the town can supply your industries.
  3. Start Intermediate industries in a town that uses your output.
  4. Give priority to industries in towns you frequently visit.
  5. "Right-size" your industries based on availability of supply and demand.
  6. Calculate your Daily Profits and Payback time. The shorter the Payback time, the better the industry.
  7. Use your industries' profits to fund expansion (to the right-size) to maximize profits and reduce payback time.
  8. Build industrial hubs (where you have more than one industry in a town).
  9. Expand storage if needed to facilitate active management or to chain your industries.

At some point in the growth of your empire, you may find it difficult to remember all of your industries and their locations. If this happens to you, make a list, by town, of your industries and their levels. Other useful information for your list is:

  1. amount of the Money Reserve, so you can calculate the profits or expenses in your absence,
  2. total storage you have available in that town, if you want to supply some of your own inputs,
  3. the number of days required to fill your storage in that town, especially if you are chaining your industries.

By following these guidelines, you will be able to build a profitable industrial empire in the shortest possible time and with minimal frustration. You will avoid Dead Weight industries. As your empire grows, you will notice that you will be spending more of your time traveling among your industrial hubs and selling to the towns in between as these will become your most profitable trade routes. Your industries will generate more than enough money for your needs.

As you grow in experience starting and managing industries, you will learn to manage more complex industry combinations than the examples used in this guide, such as using the output of one industrial hub to supply your industries in a nearby hub. A caravan with a large cargo capacity will make it easier for you to integrate industries in different towns. You may find that the economics of the game are both interesting and challenging.


The first two appendices analyze the input and output weight information for Food and Clothing industries. Together, these two appendices cover 24 of the 27 industries that are manageable by the player. (The other 3 are: alcohol distillery, forage cultivation, and oil refining. 5 of the 46 industries are Natural Resources, 3 are only found in Your Bunker, and 11 are normally only Town-owned.)

Appendix 1: Food Industries

The information in this appendix may help you in planning and managing these 11 Food Industries.

Appendix 1: Food Industries

The output weight is the sum of the weights of all items produced by the industry (e.g., meat, milk, skin, tallow, wool, eggs). All weights are in kg.

Primary food industries (data is per level)
Industry input forage output weight output energy energy per forage storage days to fill storage
Pea Cultivation 0 3.4 275.4 not applicable 20 5.9
Insect farming 1 5 605 605 10 2
Jerboa breeding 2 2 330 165 10 5
Sheep breeding 56 8.7 664.7 11.87 20 2.3
Goat breeding 88 13.82 967 10.99 30 2.2
Cattle breeding 184 25.1 1771.2 9.63 50 1.99

Notice the large differences in "energy per forage" for insects and jerboa compared to the other breeding industries.

Input weight excludes water. If you have to supply water to your industry from outside of the town in which it is located to keep it running, your industry is in the wrong town.

The "ratio output/input energy" is the total "energy" of the food produced divided by the total "energy" of the food used by the industry. Most secondary food industries consume more energy than they produce.

Secondary food industries (data is per level)
Industry input weight output weight output energy ratio output/input energy storage days to fill storage
Lizard breeding 1 1.502 144.5 119.4% 10 6.7
Snake breeding 1 1.244 117.6 71.3% 10 8
Goat cheese 10 1 364 60.7% 10 10
Cow cheese 11 1 356 48.9% 10 10
Sheep cheese 9 1 320 37.4% 10 10

Appendix 2: Clothing Industries

The information in this appendix may help you in planning and managing these 13 Clothing Industries.

Appendix 2: Clothing Industries

Clothing Industries can be very profitable. They are more complex mathematically since most inputs and outputs do not weigh 1 kg. per unit. This appendix summarizes input and output weight information. The data is per level of the industry. When the input or output weight is not 1 kg. per unit, the number of units is indicated in parenthesis. Input weight excludes water. If you have to supply water to your industry from outside of the town in which it is located to keep it running, your industry is in the wrong town.

If you are supplying inputs to your industry, the input weight and storage can be used to calculate how many days your industry will run when the storage is filled with required inputs. Weight information is also important if you are chaining your industries. Remember to combine the storage from all industries when planning your industry chains.

Production of skins and wool are not included in these summaries since they are produced by animal breeding (food) industries and vary depending on the source(s).

The industries are grouped by the middle product in the chain: leather, yarn, textile. All weights are in kg.

Industry input weight output weight storage days to fill storage (output)
Leather Production 12.6 (7 skin) 6 (4 leather) 20 3.33
Leather Vests 6 (4 leather) 1.4 (2 leather vests) 30 21.4
Leather Jackets 4.5 (3 leather) 2 (1 leather jacket) 20 10
Shoes Production 1.5 (1 leather) 2.4 (3 shoes) 15 6.25

Industry input weight output weight storage days to fill storage (output)
Wool Processing 7 wool 2.7 yarn 20 7.4
Jackets Production 16 yarn 7.2 (6 jackets) 20 2.77
Hats Production 1.5 yarn 0.42 (2.1 hats) 20 47.6

Industry input weight output weight storage days to fill storage (output)
Cotton Cultivation water 3 cotton 50 16.67
Cotton Processing 7.5 cotton 0.871 (6.7 textile) 80 91.8
Trousers Production 0.39 (3 textile) 0.4 (1 trousers) 10 25
Shirts Production 0.78 (6 textile) 0.6 (3 shirts) 20 33.33
Vests Production 0.26 (2 textile) 0.72 (1.8 vests) 20 27.77
Tagelmust Production 1.56 (12 textile) 2.34 (9 Tagelmust) 40 17.1

Note that Shoes Production, Vests Production, Tagelmust Production, and Trousers Production have a higher weight of output than inputs, although the difference for Trousers is negligable.