Games about trade?
April 25, 2016 9:00 AM   Subscribe

I crave to play a game with trading as the main mechanic. Maybe I'm some merchant in Venice trying to work my way up to Doge. Is there anything out there like that?

I have an iPhone, a Mac, and Steam. I'm not really interested in something where you have to join a guild or something to advance, I'd like something I can dip in and out of and play at my leisure without having to schedule around other players. A simple iPhone game would be fine as long as the trading mechanic itself is well developed.
posted by Diablevert to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Trade is pretty important in Civilization V, but it also has a lot of other things going on. There's also a risk you'll lose the next 2 years of your life to it.

There's also a pretty fun, simple game on Steam called Endless Sky, where you can engage in trade and optimize your routes to expand your fleet. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.
posted by Sleddog_Afterburn at 9:05 AM on April 25, 2016

Sounds like you want the Anno series.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:25 AM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

+1 for anno.
Also consider Recettear , which is entirely based around haggling and trading.
posted by Karaage at 9:29 AM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Kalypso has a game that is literally called Rise of Venice about establishing a trading empire as a Venetian merchant. It had uneven reviews, but it is exactly what you're asking for (and I believe it's on Steam).

Offworld Trading Company is due to release later this week. There is plenty of gameplay content to see on YouTube. It's an RTS but supposed to be focused on economics and trade rather than combat.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:34 AM on April 25, 2016

Ahh dang missed the note about being on a Mac. Not sure Rise of Venice was ever released for Mac sorry. OTC will be though.

If you really want to dig deep into games that sometimes seem more like spreadsheets there's Europa Universalis IV, which has a heavy focus on trade/economics and a cult following.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:39 AM on April 25, 2016

This is a super old game, but you can now play Zapitalism free in your browser!
posted by backseatpilot at 9:51 AM on April 25, 2016

Wizards and Wagons is basically this- almost entirely about trade with a tiny combat component.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 10:05 AM on April 25, 2016

So... these are older games, but the Patrician series has you playing as a merchant in the Hanseatic League and they have a very good reputation for being the real deal. I played Patrician II briefly and it seemed really neat. I also believe some of the older games have fan patches out there that allow you to play at higher resolutions.

I am 98% sure they are available on Steam, so check them out.
posted by selfnoise at 10:11 AM on April 25, 2016

posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:26 AM on April 25, 2016

I've also heard very good things about Offworld Trading Company (no need to wait until the official release, it's been in Early Access for something like a year now)

The Patrician games seem to be the closest to what you're looking for, (you play a small-time 14th-century merchant in the Hanseatic League). They are available on both GOG and Steam, but they're Windows-only, so it depends on how willing you are to wrestle with virtualization on top of game interfaces that felt out of date and clunky back when they came out ten or fifteen years ago.

Several friends of mine rave about Sunless Sea which has trading as a primary mechanic, though it also has a Lovecraftian Victorian Horror setting which may or may not float your boat.
posted by firechicago at 10:27 AM on April 25, 2016

Another super-old game, Tradewinds. It's on Steam. I think there are 5 of them.
posted by serenity_now at 11:31 AM on April 25, 2016

The internet tells me that there is an iPhone version of Dope Wars.

And it looks like there are sources available for the original too.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:17 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

I will (weakly) second Sunless Sea. I enjoyed the hell out of the game, but at least in the version of the game I played, there was some brokenness in the trade system that made the game trivial after a certain point. Still, enjoyable as hell.
posted by isauteikisa at 12:18 PM on April 25, 2016

Crusader Kings II is mostly a dynastic map-painting feudal/military sim, but with the The Republic expansion you can play as a merchant family in Medieval Europe.

Gameplay is less focused on trade per se, and more focused on perpetuating your dynasty, upgrading your palazzo, and on building and defending trading posts, but it's otherwise exactly what you describe--start as a patrician of, say, Genoa or Venice or one of the Hanseatic cities, build wealth until you are the most powerful family in the city, then take control of the city-state itself. Intermarry with the royal families of Europe or conquer enough territory to form a merchant-kingdom.

I'm letting my enthusiasm for this game carry me away: the expansions are really expensive if you buy all of them, and the learning curve is quite steep, so this isn't really a super-casual game. But once you get into it, it's incredible, and it is available on Steam, for Mac.
posted by Oxydude at 1:03 PM on April 25, 2016

Check out Reiner Knizia's "Medici" on your iPhone.
posted by hanov3r at 2:53 PM on April 25, 2016

backseatpilot: "This is a super old game, but you can now play Zapitalism free in your browser!"

I came in to recommend Gazillionaire from the same studio (and thanks to backseatpilot learned that it's available online too!).
posted by namewithoutwords at 3:22 PM on April 25, 2016

There are some people who play World of Warcraft just for the auction house.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:04 PM on April 25, 2016

It kind of glosses over the abject horror of the Opium Wars by quite a lot, but the central gameplay in High Tea is very (ironically) addictive.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:27 AM on April 26, 2016

This reminded me that Economies of Scale is still, amazingly, up and running. Seems to have been abandoned by its creator, but it's free and functional so go nuts!
posted by backseatpilot at 12:05 PM on April 26, 2016

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