Strategy for the Tyranically Impaired
(or Repression and Power Mongering made easy.)

Tips :: Strategy :: Cash, Housing, Jobs, Buildings & Happiness, Politics, Tourism, Retirement

  • from the Tropico Bonus CD.
  • Edited for grammar and formatting.
Dic-ta-tor
1 a: a person granted absolute emergency power b: one holding complete autocratic control c: one ruling absolutely and often oppressively.
2: one who dictates. Hector Acrez

Hi, Hector Acrez here. I’m not a dictator but I play one in Tropico. I’d like to talk to you about being a dictator. No, not the flashy “oh-look-at-my-medals” genneralisimo or the “I-can’t-count-all-my-money” politician. I want to talk about the real leader types that plan on ruling the island of Tropico. It’s not all guns and rum punch here and the sooner you realize that, the sooner you can start repressing your people and building your Swiss bank account. Let’s get started with the basics of ruling your island.


Player Characteristics
Who you are and what could you have been thinking when you chose those flaws?

Player Characteristics

Ok, all dictators start somewhere and this is where you’ll start by choosing your characteristics. Most of the choices are pretty balanced so let’s first assume you’re making your choices for flavor as well as ultimate victory. Your choices here DO make a difference in what happens in the game so pick according to what you feel suits your playing style. Remember to try and pick traits that leave you some area of proficiency. As an example, don’t choose to be a Booze Baron and then choose a trait which will kill your factory production? There are a great deal of combinations and discovering them is half the fun so I won’t tell you which to take but simply be aware of the potential for creating a dictator who would have trouble leading boy scouts never mind a country.


The Survey Says

Coffee Conditions

You may feel overwhelmed when you enter the INFO MODE. Don’t be. These are just overviews that can speed up your understanding of the collection of environmental and personal make ups of your island. These are particularly important when making overall choices for your island and often times, best viewed when the game is paused or going very slowly.

The first thing you should do when you start your reign is get an idea of the crop potentials of your island. Since there are never any options to import food in the game this will be an important step. There is no hard fast rule here but consider a couple very important points.


  • Each farm can support approximately 30 to 40 people with food.
  • Not all crops have food potential. Sugar Cane, Coffee & Tobacco are all cash-only crops.
  • Food crops begin producing in about 1.5 to 2 years (don’t worry your people will survive). Cash crops are from 3 to 5 years.
  • The Fisherman’s Wharf produces food very dependably but has very low cash value. Still, if you find your people starving it’s the fastest way to get food on the table.
  • Mining Conditions
  • Mining is profitable but is much more dependent on the location of the deposits. Iron is generally a low profit item but most deposits can support 2 mines. Generally speaking, don’t mine iron if it is located right next to your city center (current or future) since it’s value is heavily offset by the pollution it causes and terrain deformations make movement and building placement troublesome. Gold is a different story, pollute like it’s the 1980’s, just get that mine built. Bauxite close to the city center should only be done if you can NOT generate a good cash crop or logging is not an option.

Housing and other places for Tropicans to hide from work

Housing TypeBest Housing Quality
Shack8
Bunk House31
Tenement38
Country House51
Apartment Complex63
House71
Luxury House92

Housing is the next thing to get under control and keep on top of for the entire game. Few things ruin a Tropican’s day like sleeping in a shack. Grumpy is an understatement. Since they spend a large amount of their time in their homes, it’s important that it not have serious negative affects on their attitude.

Get them in better housing as soon as possible.

Shacks will fall apart when they have been abandoned for 1 year. It’s cheaper to let them fall down than to have them bulldozed.

An important fact about paying rent. Tropican’s will pay approximately One-Third of their combined family income on housing! If you are paying decent wages you’ll be able to raise the rate on your housing and recoup the building costs in short order.

One more point. If you choose Diplomat as a character Quality you will start the game with a Foreign Ministry. This will allow you to make a deal with the USSR that will let you make Tenements for half price. It will be worth it in the long run.

Wages, Hiring & Firing of the masses

Paying your people well is a good thing. Not just to make them happy, but to also allow you to get more money OUT of them in housing and entertainment. Since payment for these things is based on the amount of money they actually earn, a decent income is necessary to get decent profits from things like pubs and restaurants. However, maxing out a farmers pay at the beginning of a game is just asking for trouble in the long run since this is the best way of making them happy directly. It’s advisable to adopt a process of Cost of Living raises semi-annually to keep ahead of the Tropican’s tendency to get crabby as they get older. Beware the CHEAPSKATE Flaw, it’s salary cap can be devastating.

Job Slots

You already know how to fire people but the question is when to fire them? In most cases you only need to fire people when you’re having BIG money problems and can’t seem to get enough cash to build the next thing to get you out of the RED. The best thing to do here is avoid the problem. Don’t always allow ALL of a buildings worker slots to be open. Close some BEFORE buildings are finished so you don’t need to generate any hard feelings when you fire someone that jumps that job the instant the building is open. The Teamster’s Office is the first place to be keeping an eye on worker numbers. Also, factories which are constantly out of INPUT items are best kept at a minimal staff.

Waste not want not.

Factory workers and other Tropican myths

Your people are lazy. It’s the truth. It’s not the heat it’s the humidity – makes them sleepy and tired. No, wait. They have headaches, the dog ate their work clothes, the fish made them sick or the programmers made them do it. Whatever excuse you choose to accept, it is a fact of life on Tropico. You can’t just coral a bunch of factory workers and say go to this cigar factory and work till you drop! It’s not going to happen.

So, what’s a dictator to do? You could pass an edict like marshal law, that’ll limit the amount of wandering they’ll do but that really won’t make things better on an island that just needs a bit more productivity. The answer is there are NO magic bullets. You may be saying “HEY now! This is a strategy guide. What gives?” Well, it is a strategy guide but it’s not a walkthrough. You’ll have to consider what job is being neglected to create a solution. Generally speaking jobs will fall into one of 2 categories:

Building Options
  • Money Motivators. This means that the primary work incentive is the money being paid in wages. Upping this will improve their happiness and willingness.
  • Special Options. This means that you can use an option within the function of the building to squeeze more work out of them. This is a particularly noticeable option in Factories, Teamster Offices and Construction Offices. This doesn’t mean that cash doesn’t help, it’s just easier to qualify improved performance through these in-building options.

Another way for you to improve productivity and output at factories is to invest in factory upgrades. While this will not necessarily improve worker attendance it will improve worker productivity when they are on the job. Factories upgrades can dramatically change your world and should not be ignored.

On that note I’ll point out an important aspect to the Logging industry on Tropico. If you rely on logging as a staple industry you should invest in the horticulture upgrade as soon as you can afford it. It can really change the value of your logging industry in the long run if not save it outright, but it needs to be done EARLY.

This also leads to the multiple building question. The most obvious is when do I need two docks? Two docks are a good thing when you tend to have more queue items stacked up at your dock than can be consistently moved to a single ship before it leaves. Here is the problem with perhaps the laziest person on Tropico with a mission critical job.


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