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Tropico 2 Hints and Cheats

This is my favorite obscure little game du jour. I'm really surprised Tropico 2: Pirate Cove didn't get more attention; it's a better game than its predecessor, Tropico, in terms of its game mechanics, the graphics look really nice, and it's all set to the beat of infectious Caribbean music. Ah, I admit it: I just like pirates. It really is a cute game, though. Tropico Pirate Cove is a simulation wargame of sorts, using the same basic engine as the original Tropico; you erect buildings, train your populace, and send pirates out to fight and plunder. There's no tactical command, though--the pirates' battles are determined out of your sight, leaving you to make the broader strategic decisions and outfit pirates for victory as best you can before they ever set sail. You also have to keep all their needs met (as well as those of the captive population) or they'll start brawls, mutiny, or desert. The Tropico games are not as addictive as the SimCity or Civilization series, but they contain some of the best elements of both. This game is a fun play.

Anyway, here is my mini-strategy guide with the things I've learned about Tropico 2 so far, in case anyone out there finds yourself in need of a hint (or if I do, when I come back to the game five years later--I've been known to do that. :-D )

Buying Tropico 2

This game is still in print, so you shouldn't have any problem finding it at your favorite software store. You can get it bundled together with its only-slightly-less-fun prequel, Tropico, for an especially good value. You can buy it online if you like too--here's a link to the two-CD bundle, called Tropico Master Player's Edition. You can also buy Tropico 2 only, but since it costs the same as the combined set, the only reason to do this is if you already have Tropico 1.

Tropico 2 Cheats

It's possible to download a trainer for this game, but there's actually no need to do that, because Tropico 2 comes with an in-game cheat code system. Just hold down SHIFT-CTRL and type one of the following Pirate Cove cheat codes:

BOOTY -- + 2000 gold
TIMBER -- + 100 lumber
FREEBUILD -- enables instantaneous construction of buildings, free of game constraints
NORMBUILD --disables the FREEBUILD mode
GOAPE -- causes a selected pirate to become enraged
GOFORIT -- causes a selected captive to make an escape attempt
BRITINV -- causes a British invasion
SPANINV -- causes a Spanish invasion
FRENCHINV -- causes a French invasion
LOSEIT -- loses the game
WINIT -- wins the game

You can also use Tropico 2's scenario editor for more substantial cheating if you need to (i.e. altering buildings or game conditions,) but even when I was playing with my children, the Tropico 2 cheat codes built into the game were plenty good enough for me.

Tropico 2 Hints and Tips

Interactive Journal: It took a long time for me to fully realize this, but the Tropico 2 journal is interactive. You can issue an edict or change the status of any of your pirates or captives directly from the happiness chart or any of the demographics pages. This is a powerful tool! You can, for example, turn to the "courage" demographic page and press the three most courageous captives into piracy. You can turn to the "gunnery" page and send all the least skilled crew members to gunnery school. You can turn to the "rank" page and donate money to all the rank-1 pirates to promote them (so you no longer have to support their entertainment level). Don't waste time clicking on each one individually; you can macromanage your population with the journal.

Skeptics on the Ship: One problem I struggled with for quite a while time was skeptical pirates just sitting around on board their ship. Their food, grog, gambling, and companionship bars would all be very low, but they wouldn't get off their butts and go visit the entertainment venues I'd built. The issue, I finally figured out, was that they kept running out of money, so couldn't pay for any of their needs. High charges at the entertainment buildings and low pirate wages can contribute to this problem, but no matter how generous your island is, if you leave the pirates on shore leave too long, they will eventually run out of money. The best solution to this is to send the ships out more frequently, but you can also just give some cash to the impoverished pirates, either by donating to the ship that's been docked a long time or directly to the broke pirates (you can do this directly from the "cash" page of the "demographics" section of the journal).

Shore Leaves: The other side of that coin is that pirates, just like gamers, don't have enough time to satisfy all their entertainment needs when they spend it all at work. So they do need some shore leave time, or they'll get disgruntled. If you have a ship full of frustrated pirates with a lot of unfulfilled needs, they can get stuck in a rut--spend all their money hurrying from entertainment to entertainment, get less and less happy till you give them more, then spend that. The short-term solution is to donate $500 to their ship so that they can afford to improve their happiness levels slightly; click on one of them to follow him around town until he's out of money or all his needs are out of the danger zone; then tell the ship to cruise for gold with a generous payscale. By the time the ship comes back, they'll have enough money to take a long shore leave and get all their needs into the green simultaneously. The long-term solution is to establish a good routine of letting the crew visit two or three places each time before sending them off to sea again. That way none of their need fulfillments will ever get too bad in the first place.

Travel Times: There's another potential problem with pirate and captive need fulfillment in Tropico 2, and it's one veteran gamers are already familiar with--time spent walking from location to location. If the entertainment buildings are too far away from each other, a pirate can get stuck in a time-wasting loop running back and forth across the island between establishments, his gambling level already back into the red zone by the time he's done wenching and eating. It doesn't always help to scatter little blocks of one restaurant, one gambling den and a few wenches near each port, because a pirate may decide to go to a restaurant near one dock and a casino near another dock on the other side of the island. The best solution is to put all the entertainment buildings in one district within easy reach of each other. Then any pirate on shore leave or work break can knock off a few needs in quick succession before getting back to work. Captives, on the other hand, seem to go to the nearest chuck tent or bunkhouse they can find (not having that "haunts" AI the pirates do), so build a chuck tent station near any place of employment (including the entertainment neighborhood) to minimize the time your waitresses spend trudging across the screen and leaving the clientele to fend for itself.

Overcrowding: If the entertainment buildings are too full, you either need to get rid of some wealthy captives (who always seem to clog up the nicest establishments) or build some more. If the chuck tents or stockades are too full, you either need to release some captives or build more. You can use ctrl-click to release multiple extra captives directly from the stockade, or multiple wealthy captives directly from the journal.

Starvation: Usually this isn't due to overcrowding, but to a lack of slop at the chuck tents or too much time spent walking before captives can arrive at the chuck tent (see Travel Times above). A lack of slop may be because there isn't enough corn production (in which case build a new corn farm), or it may be because the corn isn't getting to the chuck tent quickly enough. Each chuck tent has only one hauler, and the corn farms are sometimes far away from an area you need to put a chuck tent (due to fertility and employment issues). The best possible solution is to use a skeleton hauler at each chuck tent until it gets a surplus of corn stacked up (see Undead Can Dance, below). The second-best solution is to always have more corn farms than you need so that the chuck tents never run out of corn in the first place, because fixing a corn deficit can be a real pain in the ass.

Undead Can Dance: Skeletons can be used as haulers, and they are vastly superior to captives. Not only do you never have to worry about their happiness or consumption levels, they never take a break to go get food or rest, so they're on shift 24/7. Unfortunately, every time you raise one skeleton, the cost of the next goes up. Save yourself some cash: only get a few skeleton haulers, and use hiring and firing to shuffle them around your island. Once a chuck tent has 40 corn sitting in storage or a tavern has 35 cases of rum, a human hauler should be able to keep the place adequately supplied for the rest of the game. And if not, you can always move the skeleton back in later.

Order and Anarchy: You can't keep everyone happy. Pirates like anarchy, and captives like order. The best you can do is make sure areas pirates never have to go (like chuck tent/bunkhouse stations, churches, and workplaces without overseers) are deeply orderly, and areas captives never have to go (like pirate housing and, if you have skeleton haulers for them, docks) are deeply anarchic. Areas frequented by both pirates and captive (like entertainment districts) need to be somewhat anarchic or your pirates will start to get restless--besides, it's hard to get the brothels and casinos to be orderly anyway. If all the chuck tents, bunkhouses, and churches are in high-order zones, then captives who work in an anarchic area will get a good dose of order every time they leave work to accomplish their other tasks. That's usually enough for them.

Rotate: Sometimes you will wind up with a problem area despite the best of intentions... a dock that's in an anarchic zone and so far away from church and chuck tents and the like that the dockworkers slowly start getting more and more dissatisfied, trying to escape and/or starving to death. The best solution is to place an orderly enclave with a chuck tent in it nearby, but there isn't always room for that near the dock area, much less a church. So one alternate solution that works pretty well is just to fire the dockworkers after a year or so (or release them, or promote them to pirates). They'll be automatically replaced by fresh workers from the stockade, who will be able to work for another year or so before their food and religion and order bars run low... at which point you can do the same thing to them.

Links And Other Stuff

The game designer, Take 2, has tech support and the latest patch for Tropico 2 available at their rather minimalist site.

Express World has an excellent Tropico 2 site with a forum, downloads, and tons of scenario and modding information.

Blue Parrot Inn has a thorough walkthrough for all the Tropico 2 campaign scenarios.

Download the demo for Tropico 2: Pirate Cove.

That's all I can think of at the moment. Happy gaming!

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