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Spice trade, intelligently

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1 Spice trade, intelligently on Mon Dec 29, 2014 8:40 pm

This post is an introduction to getting spices and some tips for how to get them efficiently and at a low price.

How to get spices and why:
When you hit city level 14 you gain the ability to trade and will need to purchase Spices from Northburgh to satisfy merchant demand of spices thus increasing income. To start trading, you will need to build a pier along the coast and build a trade storehouse on the pier, you can then trade by tapping the Harbourmaster. You should know that people have had difficulty moving or even destroying piers after they are built, it seems to be impossible to do so, therefore pick a good location for them. At city lvl 18 you can upgrade your piers and Harbourmaster to extend them and have more slots on the same pier but it is more expensive to do than building a new pier. However, a new pier means more maintenance costs. The best spot for a pier is stuck to the Harbourmaster, east of it, and you can add more peers adjacent next to the first, like so:



Next you’ll want to start purchasing spice from Northburgh, here’s what you should know:

  • Northburgh’s prices fluctuate roughly between a low of 200 and high of 400gold per spice and they change each hour. I’ve heard some even lower prices but I think that’s rare. No matter how many shipments it takes for your ship to complete the entire trade, you will pay one price for the entire purchase up front. A single shipment takes about an hour to complete.

  • Using a bigger trade ship equipped with extra cargo hold capacity will allow you to purchase larger amounts in the same amount of time, so in general, try to have the biggest ships you can whenever making purchases. That way you can free up the trade house earlier and start selling some stuff instead; only one transaction is allowed per trade storehouse at a time.



Here’s a strategy to help get the spices when their price is low:
I noticed that the price follows wave cycles meaning it will gradually increase up to a maximum price and then gradually decrease down to a minimum price before reversing direction again and repeating the cycle. So whenever you’re online here are the steps to follow:


  1. Check price of spice and make a note of it. If it is a low 200, i.e. below 250 then you might as well just go ahead and make as large a purchase as you can (limited by your available money or warehouse size). If the price is a high 200 or around 300, make a note and wait. If the price is 350 or over, I would pass and wait, even if you end up running out of spice for a while.

  2. Check back again after one hour, if the price has increased then you are catching the cycle during its inflation phase. If you will need spice soon, then purchase just enough to sustain you for a while before it increases again, or simply let your spice run out while you wait for the price to go back down. In this case, it’ll be several hours before the price reaches its maximum, the cycle reverses, and finally becomes low again.

    On the other hand if the price has decreased after one hour, then you’ve caught the cycle in its deflation phase and if you wait another hour you will almost certainly find a lower price. If you urgently need spice, I would purchase an amount for a single shipment only, then wait and purchase more when the price goes down further.


It’s up to you how long you’re willing to wait to find a good price and what price is good enough for you to settle. Personally, I typically buy anything below 250gold without a second thought; and anything over only if I don’t have enough spice to sustain me for the next half day; and never over 350 gold. If you catch the cycle while it is going down, there’s no telling when that cycle will reverse and if you wait too long the price might go back up before you know it so there’s a risk. I don’t think all cycles have the exact same minimum and maximum, the respective values of 200 and 400 are only rough figures based on my own and other peoples’ observations that I’ve heard.

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2 Re: Spice trade, intelligently on Tue Dec 30, 2014 1:50 am

If I recall, the time to loop fully is on the order of ten hours. Remember that Spice sells to your people for 450 a tonne.

Also, that Trade Storehouse and Trade ship you built have to be paid for whether or not you are using them. So although you can factor in their operating costs into your profit margin, you will still be turning a profit on Spice when you buy it anywhere under about 402.

Finally, do not let the size of your warehouse stop you. If you over buy a good, it will sit in the trade storehouse until there is room in the warehouse. Personally, I choose to buy exotic goods (spice, indigo, silk) in loads approaching 10,000 each. this ties up the trade slot for a long time, but I rarely have to worry about refilling.

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3 Re: Spice trade, intelligently on Tue Dec 30, 2014 3:36 am

Thanks for your input Damien and extra information. I haven't tried calculating the actual profit from spices yet but it does seem like a good idea. I'll see if I find a similar figure to yours. Clearly, knowing this information would give a clearer answer as to what price is no longer worth purchasing spices for.

Finally about the warehouse capacity, the reason I don't make purchases as large as you mentioned is because I want to be able to use it to sell. Leaving the warehouse overloaded in this way is simply a waste of money when I could be selling while my population uses up the spices in stock and then purchasing more spice as needed. I suppose that later on in the game if I have enough trade houses to be consistently selling then I could do as you've suggested. Something to shoot for Smile

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4 Re: Spice trade, intelligently on Tue Dec 30, 2014 10:59 am

Damien, I'm curious: how do you know how much spice will sell to your people for? Given the game's incredibly inconsistent reporting of production and consumption of goods, that is.

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5 Re: Spice trade, intelligently on Tue Dec 30, 2014 3:25 pm

I'm not sure how Damien has calculated but I suppose it's possible to do the following way:
1. Make sure your merchants are fully satisfied and keep them that way, with spices available as well and note the income of a fully populated merchant house.

2. Note the amount of spice you have in storage and number of merchants. They should all be fully populated and this should not change throughout the experiment.

3. Let only your spice run out while everything else stays the same. Note the time it takes for the spice to run out and the new (lower) income per merchant house after the spice runs out. The change in the income per merchant house is the amount of money spice brings you per household. Dividing the amount of spice that was consumed by the time it took for the spice to run out gives you an idea of how much spice is consumed per second or minutes or whatever you divide by. Further dividing by the number of merchants give you the spice consumption per time per household.

4. Finally, using the income of spice (it is per 30 seconds) and the spice consumption per time per household, you can compare this with the purchase price of spice to see the profit you are making.

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6 Re: Spice trade, intelligently on Tue Dec 30, 2014 7:59 pm

That is essentially the way I did it- measuring the drop off of each good when not supplied to each level of citizens. I did it in early Anno Online, but as I have stated back then the game was identical to the current state of A:BaE. Additionally, I compared my calculations to the .xml data files released for that version. My observations were consistent to over 1E-5.

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