The economy is very basic, there are four different types of goods all priced differently on each island.
Trading is a simple money-making strategy, which makes use of the goods system. Head to an island that sells a good you desire at the cheapest price (see table below); fill your cargo with that commodity. Again, using the table below, find which island is buying the commodity you have at the highest price. Go to that island to sell your cargo, which will earn you a minimum profit of 150%.
Trading goods is the fastest way to get Gold if you do it right. If you want to buy a pricey ship or item, this is usually the way to go.
Lowest price in green, highest price in red. Accurate as of 8/11/2020
Each good takes up a different amount of cargo space.
The best routes from each island are highlighted in green. Note that some routes are unprofitable with any good; for example, every single price is higher in Spain than in Brazil. These routes are highlighted in red and marked as "Not Applicable.
Note: The tables below are outdated
this analysis is based on prices that are accurate as of February 24th, 2018.
|Source||Destination||Commodity||Profit Margin (%)||Adjusted for Distance (%)||Profit Per Cargo Spot||Adjusted for Distance ($)|
This analysis suggests that, if you can afford to fill your cargo hold, the best possible route is to travel back and forth between Jamaica and Guinea, buying Silk in Jamaica and selling it in Guinea, and buying Coffee in Guinea to sell in Jamaica. You will be making a profit of 11.833 per spot in your cargo hold, which, after adjusting it for the shorter distance (and therefore the ability to make more trips in the same amount of time), is 16.9, which is slightly better than the next-best route between Guinea and Spain (which gets you 16.208).
There is always a highly profitable route to Jamaica. In fact, unless you start in Spain or Brazil, when taking a load of Silk to Guinea is even better, your best initial plan is to go to Jamaica with whatever good is most profitable at your current island.
There are profitable routes to be run at every island, but unless shipping lanes are crowded enough to make it dangerous, there is no financial reason to ever go to Labrador or Brazil, as there are bigger profits to be made elsewhere. Of course, if you have a large ship needing to recruit krew members, it is still worth visiting every island occasionally.
This analysis assumes you can afford a full cargo hold for every run.
(Adjusted for Distance)
|Guinea-Jamaica||Coffee||Silk||16.9||By far the most effective as long as you can fill your cargo with Silk. Additionally, it can be quite dangerous sometimes.|
|Guinea-Spain||Coffee||Silk||16.208||Can be better if you can't afford a full load of silk at Jamaica.|
|Brazil-Jamaica||Silk||Rum||10.71||The best southern route if the northern routes are too dangerous. If safety isn't an issue, you may as well go on to Guinea to sell your silk and then run Guinea-Jamaica.|
|Guinea-Brazil||Coffee||Silk||9.86||Not worth considering; stopping half-way in Jamaica and returning to Guinea is much more profitable over a shorter distance.|
|Labrador-Jamaica||Rum||N/A||9.71||Also a decent southern run if the north is too dangerous.|
|Guinea-Labrador||Coffee||Silk||8.92||If Guinea-Spain is actively patrolled by pirates and all routes involving Jamaica are too dangerous, this is worth considering.|
|Labrador-Brazil||Rum||Silk||7.87||If you don't want to get close to Jamaica or Guinea, this route will still give you decent profits.|
|Spain-Labrador||Silk||Rum||7.266||Not really worth it, given the long distance and low profits.|
|Spain-Jamaica||Silk||Rum||7.14||There are better routes that are likely to be safer.|
|Spain-Brazil||Rum||Coffee||4.875||Hardly worth considering.|
If you can afford it, running a large Trader such as the Trader 3 with a full load of cargo on the safer southern lines can be as profitable as running a smaller, faster ship on the more dangerous northern routes.
Adjusting Profit for Distance
There are two ways to evaluate a trade route.
- One is to look at the profit margin. For example, if you can turn 100 into 200, that's a profit margin of 100%. You doubled your money. If you don't have enough money to fill the cargo capacity of your ship, this is what you should focus on.
- The other is to look at the profit for each cargo spot. For example, if you can turn 16,000 into 20,000, that's a lower profit margin than turning 2,000 into 5,000, but if you have 16,000 to spend on cargo, it's worth a lot more. If you can afford to fill the cargo capacity of your ship, this is what you should look at.
Of course, both methods should be adjusted by the length of the trade route. The corner-to-corner diagonal routes are about 1.4 (approximation of the square root of 2) times the length of the straight routes along the sides. The routes between a corner island and Jamaica in the middle are half that, so about 0.7 times the straight routes along the sides. Divide those routes by that value to get a distance-adjusted comparison to the profit to be made from the straight routes.
Now let's look at some specific routes. The columns with distance adjustments are adjusted to give a good comparison to the routes along the side. Two routes will not be shown between the same islands if one is always better; for example, you can make a profit running Rum or Spice from Brazil to Guinea, but you're better off carrying Silk, even if you can't afford a full load.
When two goods for the same route are listed, that means that the best good depends on whether you can afford a full load. For example, if you want to go from Brazil to Labrador, you can make a higher profit margin carrying Spice. However, Spice fills up your cargo hold relatively cheaply. If you have lots of money and can afford to fill your cargo hold with it, you'll make more money from carrying Silk.