Okay, so if you love city builders and managing production chains, I’ve got a game for you! It has been a while since I’ve played a city builder that has grabbed my attention so much, and over 60 hours of game time so far. Just be warned, this is one of those games where you can really get stuck in a “just one more thing” mode until you realize it is way to late; but is that so bad?
So, what is Anno 1800? Just too keep it simple, it is a city builder that takes place within a fictional version of the 1800’s with a big focus on managing production chains to keep your citizens happy and build up your empire. Add to that, every map has you settling islands in an ocean, each with their own set of resources. So, instead of just setting up one super city, you need to settle multiple islands to make sure you can collect the resources you will need to help advance your colonies with more advanced production chains. This is my best description in a nutshell.
As for game modes, there is a Campaign mode that does a really good job of introducing you into how the game plays out while giving you a story to help drive your progression. There is also a Sandbox mode that you can customize however you want, great for just playing around with the game and taking the whatever time you need to better understand the different aspects of the game. Last, but not least, there is a Multiplayer mode. I’m not one for multiplayer, so I can’t really speak to much about it; but I expect it to be similar to Sandbox mode with AI, just with smarter AI.
Where the game really shines, comes down to expanding and advancing your colonies by managing the many different production chains needed. The citizens of your colonies are broken up into hierarchies, each with their own needs, with some crossover, and each one being an upgrade to the previous hierarchies. Fortunately, you can’t just add the highest hierarchies from the start. You have to start at the bottom and work your way up. This is where you will eventually be forced to start colonizing new islands as there aren’t any with everything you need. This is where the navel aspect of the game comes into play. You can setup trade routes with other AI’s, with your other islands, or a different region. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about this initially and becomes more critical the higher you advance, so no need to worry about setting up those trade routes right away.
Thanks to the added report system, it is fairly easy to manage the supply and demand of each chain. And yes, there are downsides to both going overboard with your supply and not covering demand. When you aren’t meeting the demand, you won’t have as many citizens, so you won’t be making as much money. Going overboard on supply, each production chain has it’s own maintenance cost, so you could be spending more keeping a chain running then you have citizens to buy the goods. There is definitely a balancing act, but it is honestly not that bad. Play through the campaign and you can get a good feel for how the production chains work without worrying to much, especially if you play on normal. You get some nice leeway; but there is always the option to just start over knowing what you now know. Not ashamed to admit I messed up my production chains so much, I dug myself so far into debt, I had no way to recover.
If you are a fan of the Anno series or are just a fan of city builders, I definitely recommend giving this game a go. It scratched all of those city builder itches I’ve been having as I haven’t played a city building in a while. It is also a very beautiful game with a lot of detail. You can get lost zooming all the way into your towns to see what is going on. Strongly recommended.