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23 May, 2014

Top 10 Tips - Your Essential Guide to 1849

It’s criminal that so few iOS games have taken advantage of the rich backdrop of the Old West. That’s why we’re stoked here at Grab It that indie dev, SomaSim, has ventured out to stake its claim by bringing the Old West to life in its debut title, 1849. Set during the California Gold Rush, 1849 is a city management game heavily inspired by the likes of SimCity and Civilization. Across 20 campaigns, players are tasked with building towns upon patches of dirt and turning them into thriving, pulsating hubs of humanity. Sounds like a walk in the desert, right?

In the next episode of Grab It - out soon - we review 1849, calling it a well-rounded city management game, with equal parts fun and strategy. To help you become the fastest gun in the West or, more accurately, the best administrative town planner in the Old West (which really doesn’t sound as cool), we’ve put together our Top 10 Tips.

Don’t forget to pick up 1849 (grab it here). Also, be sure to sign up to our newsletter to get daily indie iPad gaming news delivered to your inbox and to find out the exact moment when Episode 5 of Grab It lands.

Top 10 Tips

1. Choose your starting benefit wisely
At the beginning of each campaign, you’ll be asked to choose between three starting benefits for your town. One option endows players with a substantial amount of cold hard cash, the second offers a mix of cash and pre-constructed buildings, and the third offers a mix of cash and trading benefits (e.g. receive 50 lumber every month). To give your town the best start possible, choose the second option. The pre-constructed buildings will often be directly related to the victory goals and will provide you with a steady flow of resources (e.g. food, lumber) necessary to grow your town.

2. Only build what is necessary to achieve the victory goals
In each campaign, you’ll have the option to purchase an array of buildings and cosmetic items, some of which aren’t strictly necessary to achieve the victory goals. Unless you want to leisurely stroll through each map, avoid purchasing these unnecessary items. This will help to focus your attention on the main objectives and avoid adding further complexity.

3. Don’t rush to upgrade your houses
Upgrading your houses is a critical part of 1849 as it allows you to expand your population capacity. To upgrade houses, you’ll need to produce certain resources (like boards or fabric) and construct certain buildings (like a saloon or church). It can be tempting to upgrade your houses as quick as possible, but this could have unintended consequences, such as a massive growth in unemployment. Be sure you are adequately prepared before upgrading your houses, including having a buffer of money and resources, and sufficient job opportunities.

4. Don’t worry about upgrading other buildings
As important as it is to upgrade your houses, don’t worry about upgrading your other buildings (like lumber yards, ranches etc). The cost of upgrading buildings is far outweighed by the relatively minor benefits, meaning your money is better spent elsewhere. Instead, just build a second version of the building you were intending to upgrade.

5. Make it a priority to build a Fire Brigade and Sheriff Office
Achieving success in 1849 is already finely balanced, even when everything goes to plan. Imagine the frustration when an expensive building suddenly bursts into flames or robbers make off with a sackful of gold from your mines. Be smart and build a Fire Brigade and Sheriff Office early on. This will help to reduce the number of potentially unknown disasters that will befall you.

6. Be prepared for a rainy day
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have some money and resources set aside for a rainy day. Apart from unexpected disasters that will come your way, it can be difficult to manage your cash and resource flow in amongst everything else you need to keep an eye on. It’s worth nothing that if you do run out of money, you’ll receive a one-off grant of 500 gold to tide you over.

7. Buy low, sell high – become a master trader
In some city management games, trading can often feel tacked on and useless; not so in 1849. Trading is absolutely integral to achieving success, often being the only method to bring in some profits. It can be expensive to open up trade routes with other towns, but it’s worth doing so to invest in the long-term viability of your settlement. If you have the opportunity, selling gold, silver or pickaxes to other towns will guarantee you massive profits. 

8. Take full advantage of your advisors
In the top left corner of the screen, one tab brings up information from your financial advisor and population advisor. These guys are, perhaps, the most important elements in the game. The financial advisor will help keep track of your income, expenses and net cash flow, while offering some pretty decent advice. Likewise, the population advisor will keep track of how many people live in your town and the number of jobs on offer. This is very important in knowing whether to build/upgrade your houses or invest in more businesses.

9. Manage the unemployment rate
Following on from point 8, the population advisor is incredibly useful in keeping track of the unemployment rate. Once the unemployment rate reaches 100% (just like real life, right?), your town will start to have massive problems with crime. You can manage the crime rate by building a Sheriff Office or a Gaol. However, it’s far wiser to make sure the unemployment rate never reaches 100%. The trick is to keep the unemployment rate around 90-95%. This will bring in the most cash possible from rent money, while keeping a lid on the crime rate.

10. Do the optional challenges
Every now and again an optional challenge will pop up, such as providing resources to a visiting dignitary. These challenges can be quite difficult, often requiring you to construct buildings not directly related to the victory goals. However, the rewards are often worth the effort, such as a monthly endowment of key resources for your town.

So there it is! We hope these top 10 tips fare you well in the dusty, one-horse towns of 1849. Did we miss anything important? What are your thoughts on 1849? Let us know through our social media channels.

If you liked our tips and strategies for 1849, be sure to check out our Top 10 Tips for the following titles:
     - Your Guide to Fiz: The Brewery Management Game
     - Your Guide to Hoplite
     - Your Guide to Isle of Bxnes

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