Tropico: Caribbean Tiger - A trade-based strategy for resource-poor maps
#1
Returning to playing the game and posting on the forum for the holidays, after a long hiatus. Felt like sharing my favorite strategy and a playthrough to go with it. Not sure if there's still gonna be any interest, but I gotta unload my spam somewhere, so I wouldn't mind at all if no one replies.

This accomplishes several objectives:
  • To give back to the forums for everything I've learned about the game that has improved my play and enhanced my enjoyment; sort of a Christmas present to everyone <3
  • To make up for my spam backlog, pay forward for next year, and to kill time during the holiday break.
  • To refresh my memory. One of the best proven recall techniques is to try explaining it to someone else.
  • To consolidate current knowledge. Lots of bits and pieces about this approach scattered across the web with no comprehensive guide that I know of. Here I attempt to put them together into one coherent whole, based on my understanding.
  • To acquire more knowledge by stimulating discussion, encourage constructive criticism, and hopefully liven up the forums.

Here be disclaimers:
  • This is a very long read; go grab a generous serving of your preferred hot beverage and make yourself comfortable. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.
  • I do not claim to have been the first to develop this strategy by myself, so you're free to share it if you want.
  • I do not wish to proselytize it as the perfect/optimal/ultimate playing style; you have every right to like/dislike/ignore it. This wasn’t intended to be a high-scoring strategy for the online challenges; it’s purely for entertainment, a challenging kind of fun.
  • This guide is based on the latest and probably final version (v1.06) of Tropico 4 (T4). Also, I haven't played in a long while, so I cannot guarantee the accuracy of statements and assertions made herein, and how they apply to earlier versions. This is a long work in progress - corrections and contributions are most welcome!
  • As I said earlier, this strategy has become my own personal favorite strategy, so some of the points and arguments I present here may not be totally objective or relies on too many presumptions - watch out for my biases and generalizations.
  • Also, what with T4 being an older game, a lot of you might already be familiar with the overall concept and/or minute details discussed here, so it may come across as overly repetitive/patronizing/condescending/pedantic.
  • Finally, some players might argue that this strategy goes against the original malevolent-dictator-ruling-over-banana-republic "spirit" of the Tropico series.

Apologies in advance, in any case.



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#2
Looks fantastic... Can't wait to get some time to dig deeper. this will help many people.
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#3
I was gonna reply soon after you posted, but the forum was down - now I see why. Cool new redesign!

Almost two months in; let's review our objectives:

Quote:
  • To give back to the forums for everything I've learned about the game that has improved my play and enhanced my enjoyment; sort of a Christmas present to everyone <3

Success - Belated Christmas and New Year's to you Tropi'je! Glad at least one person liked it  Smile

Quote:
  • To make up for my spam backlog, pay forward for next year, and to kill time during the holiday break.

Success - Finally got that off my chest

Quote:
  • To refresh my memory. One of the best proven recall techniques is to try explaining it to someone else.

Success - It's all coming back to me now

Quote:
  • To consolidate current knowledge. Lots of bits and pieces about this approach scattered across the web with no comprehensive guide that I know of. Here I attempt to put them together into one coherent whole, based on my understanding.

Success - Except for a few minor tweaks, I don't think i could have gotten my points across any better than that

Quote:
  • To acquire more knowledge by stimulating discussion, encourage constructive criticism, and hopefully liven up the forums.

Failure - From what I've seen, strategy guides and playthroughs are supposed to be one of the most controversial topics, with everyone dissecting the strategy and going on an easter egg hunt for even the tiniest cracks in the logic. Clearly that isn't the case here, leading me to believe that the forum is well and truly dead. Not that I'm complaining - it happens to all online forums eventually.  Wink
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#4
Both guide and playthough were some excellent reading, thanks for sharing your vast experience with Tropico!


I'd only wish that you went more into detail with your road network - you mentioned to use the overlapping roads, maybe you could elaborate your approach/give examples with screenshots? Though I guess over-careful street planning would not be necessary for the 300-400 people on the island this is the field in which I seem to be lacking.

On a giant "challenge" map (the map is no challenge as there are abundant ressources, farming options and flat, open space - its called "mega fun super sandbox challenge" or something like that) I tried and implemented a mixture of this guide (I used one big circle around the island and 4 smaller circles inside) together with the overlapping roads, creating a big 2 lane roundabout in the middle, similar to this. Then I connected circles and roundabout and called it a day - traffic was manageable well up to >1,8k citizens.

Still, when I try this approach with generic (or rather, campaign) maps, I fail more or less miserably - while I manage to somehow accomplish the objectives, towards the end of the mission, my roads get crowded. Any tips how to adopt the strategy I used on the big easy map to any kind of island would be most welcome.
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#5
(04-03-2015, 05:56 PM)JulesC Wrote: I'd only wish that you went more into detail with your road network - you mentioned to use the overlapping roads, maybe you could elaborate your approach/give examples with screenshots? Though I guess over-careful street planning would not be necessary for the 300-400 people on the island this is the field in which I seem to be lacking.

I wish I could tell you that I've got the technique down, but to this day I still find myself relying on trial and error more often than not. There's just way too much diversity across different campaign/sandbox maps. Nowadays whenever I use crossover roads it's more about making the place look nice and tidy, rather than actively trying to improve traffic flow.

You're right though that with plenty of space and/or very few people, you won't have to pay as much attention to road/building layout, with the low traffic volumes, and the freedom to minimize the use of, and to spread out the junctions. Like in the playthrough, I put only one ringroad along the coast, with a couple of offshoots cutting through the interior, and nothing else.

(04-03-2015, 05:56 PM)JulesC Wrote: On a giant "challenge" map (the map is no challenge as there are abundant ressources, farming options and flat, open space - its called "mega fun super sandbox challenge" or something like that) I tried and implemented a mixture of this guide (I used one big circle around the island and 4 smaller circles inside) together with the overlapping roads, creating a big 2 lane roundabout in the middle, similar to this. Then I connected circles and roundabout and called it a day - traffic was manageable well up to >1,8k citizens.

That image in your second link was actually made by myself, for a reply in this thread (scroll down for more pics). Meanwhile, this post shows how they would look like in an actual game (sorry about the potato quality Tongue ), but that was with Modern Times toggled on so they don't contribute much after Metro Stations came along, and their purpose is reduced to mere aesthetics.

I became interested in roads after seeing lots of earlier posts including your first link, and especially after trying JugglerX's "Best player in the world" challenge - a big flat green island very similar to what you've described. The most popular approach was to export booze-baron rum. Growing the sugar is no problem, as is turning it into rum - the real challenge, the bottleneck I ran into each time, was shepherding the wayward teamsters. I've long since given up on the challenge, but continued to experiment with roads, culminating in my long-posts in the above linked thread.

(04-03-2015, 05:56 PM)JulesC Wrote: Still, when I try this approach with generic (or rather, campaign) maps, I fail more or less miserably - while I manage to somehow accomplish the objectives, towards the end of the mission, my roads get crowded. Any tips how to adopt the strategy I used on the big easy map to any kind of island would be most welcome.

Since this approach was developed with flat challenge maps in mind, I guess it makes sense that it would not be as effective in campaign/sandbox maps, with their mountains, valleys, rocks, gulfs, lakes, and other obstructions making the more elaborate designs very difficult to pull off. In such maps I usually just stick to the basic dual-lane avenues. Like in a recent game applying the strategy in the OP, this time with overlapping roads. I had enough space to build double the factories, requiring roughly double the population to support, and recently added tourist facilities to the far west.

[Image: http://i.imgur.com/atqwfWH.jpg]

As soon as I had the money I plopped the circumferential "beltway". I placed the factories outside the beltway which also serves as a kind of “buffer” between the main town and dirty industry. The factories were built alongside the docks to reduce transit times for teamsters. Placed most of the residential and other service buildings within the main town.

 If I had stopped at one factory of each type, and kept out the tourists, I would have needed only 2-3 docks, and I might have gotten away without crossover roads given the lower traffic volumes. But with two factories of each type, along with the booming tourism industry, I was really worried that the ordinary traffic (citizens going to/from work, or to satisfy their needs) together with the tourist traffic (tourists seeking attractions in the main town) would interfere too much with the vital teamster traffic (teamsters shuffling back and forth between the factories and docks).
 
Tropican drivers always take the shortest route even if it's not necessarily the fastest route like the Sims in SimCity. Using the conventional road layout, if teamsters had to travel between a dock and a factory on the other side of town, their routes would have had to cut through the routes of the factory workers living in the main town, as well as the routes of other citizens and visiting tourists.
 
Notice the road connections to the inner and outer layers of the beltway: the segment separating the factories from the main town has been completely sealed off from either side, and the routes between the main town and the factories have been relocated further inland, connected to the outer lane and overlapping the inner lane. Meanwhile, the tourist roads connect to the inner lane, overlapping the outer lane. The idea was to leave the inner lane for the ordinary citizens and tourists, diverting the traffic from the factory workers onto the outer lane, and parallel with the teamsters’ routes – instead of everyone crossing into each others’ paths and causing mayhem.

[Image: http://i.imgur.com/cOMLyTp.jpg]

The current setup looks fine; I can't be definitely sure that the crossover roads actually helped, but I'll take it. Big Grin
 
Another one, from the post I linked above (again, sorry about the potato quality)

[Image: http://i.imgur.com/zap548C.jpg]

As with the other game, I've placed the docks and factories beside each other, next to a “coastal highway”: the inner lane connects the factories to the docks for the teamsters’ convenience, while the outer lane is for other citizens coming out of garages, who might want to head elsewhere. Like I've said, this was with Modern Times and well after metro stations have been unlocked so they are redundant by this point.


A few other observations, starting with the most common, tried and tested suggestions:

  • Minimize/spread out road junctions
  • Road access to buildings may also be considered as junctions
  • Keep road access to buildings, especially those for garages, far from road junctions
  • As much as possible, avoid 4-way junctions
  • Make use of roundabouts.
  • Not all buildings need access to roads.
  • For those buildings that do not have road access, they will need stopping/dropoff points. Place these buildings away from the most popular roads.
  • Distribute service buildings across the island - a possible exception is markets for food.
  • Build perfectly straight roads, along the north-south/east-west/diagonal axes, where they "snap" into place. This offers two main benefits: conserves space because most buildings have a rectangular footprint that can only be oriented along those same axes, and straight lines provide the quickest travel between two points since the sharper and/or more frequent the curves, the more the drivers have to slow down in order to turn.
  • Lay out the main roads at the start or as soon as you can afford it, then branch out from these as you expand. Helps avoid that atrocious "stained glass" city layout
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#6
Wow, great guide. Thanks for the insight. Sorry for just bumping an old thread like this, but I just wanted to let my appreciation heard. Good stuff.

ps. Nothing wrong with the look of stained glass city layouts, efficiency is another thing.. Wink
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