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DevBlog: Treasures of the soil

From rags to riches – your industrial machine shall never rest when your soot-blackened empire rises into a glorious new era. Manufacturing the first goods is easy enough but soon, you will manage a complex logistical network to ensure a steady flow of resources for your hungry industry.

Today, our Game Designers Christian and Sebastian illuminate our lodes and fertility system, which are kicking off a series of posts focusing on the focal point of Anno 1800’s core gameplay: production chains.

In the first stages, Anno is dominated by simple production chains, such as establishing a basic food supply. Harvesting natural resources such as capturing fish at your coastline or chopping wood is enough to get things rolling. But soon enough, your small settlement will start to expand and production lines will become more complex. When your production will be evolving into a real industry, it will start to require harder to find resources.
Fishing and lumbering won’t be enough anymore, when advanced goods will require you to grow various crops or to tap into the mineral deposits on your island.
The growing complexity of the resource management is an important challenge when progressing through the game and soon, you might realize that the conditions on your main island are not enough to support your demanding society.

Reaping the harvest – Fertility
In the real world, every plant has certain requirements in order to grow properly. The right enrichment of minerals in the soil determines the fertility for certain crops and other plants. Additionally, there are other ground and weather conditions which might affect the fertility of the soil.
Agriculture makes up a big part of Anno’s production chains, but we simplified the complexity of Mother Nature and translated the concept into our fertility system.
In Anno 1800, not every plant will grow on any island and players have to seek out other isles with the right prerequisites. When progressing, you need to either settle on other islands or establish trading routes in order to improve your production. The scarcity of some resources drives the economic aspect of the game and fuels conflict between different factions that compete over the most interesting islands. Later in the game, we will give you options to have an impact on the fertility of your island. But that is bound to a different feature, which we will highlight in a future blog post.

Have a look on our hops production – the beer must flow!

Earth riches – lodes
In general, lodes work similarly to fertilities with a few additions. Lodes are mineral deposits on your island, with ores like iron found in mountain ranges, while some others, like clay, can be found in a pit rather than a mine. There is one major difference with the fertility system. While you can cultivate crops and other plants at any spot if the needed fertility is provided, you have to construct your mining buildings on fixed deposits, which will get randomly generated with each new game.
That means that you have to build your coal mine on an actual lode and cannot freely start mining anywhere. In difference with fertilities, you won’t be able to add or change existing lodes during a session. The location of the lodes on an island play a role in your strategy when designing your city, as they create a natural center for your production districts. Will you create your district effectively around your mining area or will you decide to make use of a clever supply line for your distant factories to avoid having your heavy industry close to the city center?
To account for the effort you put in to optimizing your city layout, lodes won’t deplete after time, unlike in Anno 2070. We don’t want to force the player to completely re-arrange an already complex supply line.

Coal for the thousand fires of the industrial revolution

Resource restrictions and their gameplay importance
The fertility and lodes system can have a major impact on the gameplay, as the players need to make important decisions based on the availability of the necessary resources:
When is the best moment to expand? Should I rush for other islands to dominate the fight for resources or choose a more laid back approach, where a small outpost or a trading network will do the job?

How you tackle on expansion, diplomacy, trade or even the size of your empire, depends on your approach, define your playstyle and let you set your own goals for a match.
We want to encourage different approaches and never take away your free will. You should not only decide how you want to play the game, we will also allow you to modify the difficulty of the game based on your preferences. Higher difficulty settings will make resources more rare while easy settings ensure that you don’t have to worry about fertility too much.

But that’s it for today, a good foundation for us to build upon in the upcoming weeks. Whether you are a veterans used to fertility and lodes systems or new to it, we are curious to read your feedback in the comments below.




  1. R Ristonhawk February 21, 2018

    Exactly the right answer, exactly:

    “To account for the effort you put in to optimizing your city layout, lodes won’t deplete after time, unlike in Anno 2070. We don’t want to force the player to completely re-arrange an already complex supply line.”

    I plan to build and build and build for many hours. Recharging Lodes, unless I can automate, isn’t a mechanic I’m looking for.

    Really Excited!

  2. a ackrockboogie February 19, 2018

    WOW! I love how the trees and land textures look. Great job guys! Keep up the good work. Can wait to buy this.

    • U Ubi-O5 February 21, 2018

      Yeah it’s looking gorgeous and we can’t wait for you guys to play it.

  3. A Arkenophas February 17, 2018

    Nice devblog, as always 🙂 I wanted to ask, for the fertility, will we have seed like the others ANNO that we can plant on an island who have a free slot ? Or the fertilities will be fixed ? As MMateos19 said, seasons could be really interesting, some plants grows easily during spring, but hardly during winter, or maybe it could happen accident due to the heat or the cold, or something, I don’t know ^^
    Good job, I love to see the videos 🙂

  4. D Dawnreaver February 17, 2018

    Hey ^_^

    Thank you for sharing more details about island fertlities and lodes. I was wondering if the fertilities are similar to Anno 1404, so either you can grow wheat on the island or you can’t, or if it is a bit more like in Anno 1602, so you can have an island that has a 100% fertility for wheat, but beacause of the lack of nourishing soil, there are islands where the fertility for wheat is only 25%?

    You did mention that there will be other factors influencing the fertility so im looking forward to see the final model / concept for the fertilities 🙂

    Keep up the great work!

  5. r ruuti0 February 16, 2018

    Fertility and lodes systems sound great!

    I especially liked that lodes won’t deplete after time!

    Like you already said, your system add more strategies to play game and I like that.

    I think it is safe to say that more different strategies you can choose in Anno = better. I don’t think that in practice you ever will have that problem that there would be too much strategies, so I recommend that more different ways to play game you add for us, it is better and give game more replay value and that way more and more people recommend your new Anno 1800 game to others etc.

  6. M MMateos19 February 16, 2018

    It would be really nice if there were seasons or natural disasters that affect directly to the production. I know seasons are not a feature in classic Anno games but it would be nice for the gameplay difficulty I think, with the option of disable them of course.

    • C ChineseBenuts February 16, 2018

      Indeed, seasons and natural disasters can be really interesting! It would really add another challenge. I would love to see this implemented somehow

      • k kog.1 February 16, 2018

        Also, there should be disasters generated by the lack of funding, or overdriving a mine. For example methane explosions or coal dust explosions in a coal mine which will kill workers/generate unhappiness and disrupt the production completely until it is repaired, or collapses which decrease production for a certain amount of time.

        There are other kinds of variables which could influence a mine output like water. A wet mine needs more pumps so it is costlier to mine a certain mineral, unstable rock needs more reinforcing, which needs more wood, especially hard rock will need more dynamite to blast through and will use up more tools, etc.

        Given the fact that resources will not run out, events and things like the ones mentioned about will make mining for resources a more involving activity, you don’t just plop a mine and forget about it.


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