This guide will go over the best and worst goods to produce for purposes of trading. Some goods are a lot more valuable than others and some goods are a lot less valuable than others. Using this information will allow you to be as efficient as possible in your town’s expansion and prosperity.
With the new Automatic Trading update coming, I got to thinking… I have started about 10 or so different towns trying to test different strategies and found that sometimes I just end up with a ton of gold, like so much gold I can’t spend it all. Trading is a very manual process currently, but with automatic trading coming, it will be possible to buy a lot of the goods you need rather than produce them yourself.
For example, Foresters don’t provide much value currently. It’s a much better use of your labor force to produce valuable goods and just buy the lumber you need. Instead of assigning two foresters to get a lumber supply going, you can just assign 1 herbalist and 1 dockworker, sell herbs and buy lumber, you will have way more lumber than the foresters could produce. Iron Miners are even less useful than Foresters in this regard.
So I tried to calculate what the most profitable and least profitable goods to produce are in the game and boy was I surprised by the results. The following calculations are with a fully upgraded building without adjacency bonuses or enacted policies factored in. The costs and production are converted to the coin value of each good if you were trade it at the harbor/docks.
Honorable Mentions – These didn’t make my list, but these goods definitely possess above average value and are worth producing in order to sell for profit – Herbs, Tools, Oil Lamps(but not the oil), Combs, Decorations.
- Bakery (Cookies)
Upkeep Cost = 1750 coins (350 firewood 300 flour 200 egg 200 cherry 320 coins)
Production = 450 cookies (3150 coins)
Net Profit = 1400 coins per year per worker
Cookies are the most valuable good to produce in the game, bar none. This is more of a mid to late game good due to the research required to get this production chain going, but once you get it going, you’re going to be rich. For policies, Advanced Goods will improve production, and Advanced Budgeting will reduce upkeep for a sizable boost to your net profit.
- Tailor’s Shop (Fine Garments)
Upkeep Cost = 1652 coins (210 leather 210 wool 84 tools 350 coins)
Production = 400 fine garments (2800 coins)
Net Profit = 1148 coins per year per worker
No surprise here, gentry luxury goods are extremely valuable. Fine garments are late game goods, so you won’t be producing these until several years into the game. However, once you can start producing these, you’ll want to move a lot of your production into this as a full shipment (700 units) of Fine Garments is more valuable than a full shipment of most other goods (4410 coins after fees). For policies, Luxury Goods will improve production. It doesn’t look like there is an option to reduce upkeep cost however.
- Jewelry Store (Jewelry)
Upkeep Cost = 980 coins (120 iron 120 tools 500 coins)
Production = 336 jewelry (2016 coins)
Net Profit = 1036 coins per year per worker
Another gentry luxury good. You won’t be producing jewelry until late game, but the input materials on Jewelry are a lot cheaper than Fine Garments. You also have to consider that Jewelers are Gentry Class whereas Tailors are peasants (even if they are making Fine Garments), so Jewelry Stores can both increase your Gentry population and give you some really nice profit. For policies, Luxury Goods will improve production. Like with Fine Garments, it seems like there isn’t a policy to reduce upkeep cost.
- Clothes Shop (Clothes)
Upkeep Cost = 350 coins (110 leather 30 tools 40 coins)
Production = 570 clothes (1710 coins)
Net Profit = 1360 coins per year per worker
Clothes are an exceptional early game good to make some decent money. The value generated from Clothes is so high that it remains a highly profitable good even into late game. For policies, Essential Goods will improve production, and Essential Budgeting will reduce upkeep for a sizable boost to your net profit.
- Apiary (Wax and Honey)
Upkeep Cost = 180 coins (60 lumber 120 coins)
Production = ~350 honey and ~450 wax (~1600 coins)
Net Profit = ~1420 per year per worker
Apiaries pack a surprising amount of value. I had a difficult time ranking Apiary at #4 or #5 but they definitely belong in the #5 spot. Technically Apiaries produce more value than Cookies, however it produces a higher quantity of lower value goods. Trade ships have limited cargo capacity and a fully upgraded Harbor has limited trade ship cargo capacity of 700. 700 Cookies is worth more than 700 honey/wax. Apiaries produce more depending on how forested the area is, so these production numbers are a conservative estimate for an average to moderately forested area. For policies, Basic Goods will improve production, and Basic Budgeting will reduce upkeep for a sizable boost to your net profit.
- Sawmill (Firewood)
Upkeep Cost = 60 coins (60 lumber)
Production = 1200 firewood (1200 coins)
Net Profit = 1140 coins per year per worker
Yes, you read that right. Firewood. Sawmills produce a ridiculous amount of firewood. Almost every new town I make uses firewood as a source of income in the early game because you just get so much of it. If you want to start making big money at the beginning of year 1, spend 275 coins on an expansion upgrade and production upgrade of your sawmill and get 2 woodcutters working for a respectable 1920 firewood (1920 coins $$$) per year. Buy the lumber they need and then turn around and sell the firewood. Selling firewood is key to getting early upgrades on all your other buildings. For policies, Essential Goods will improve production, and Essential Budgeting will reduce upkeep.
Honorable mentions – Beetroot Fields (Beetroot), Forester’s Hut (Lumber)
Beetroot fields should be on the list since they are the worst crop in the game, but due to them being an unlockable seed, you won’t always have them every game. They do give you extra food variety I guess. Foresters while not very useful at least provide a few hundred lumber per year with no upkeep cost so they at least provide some value.
- Healer’s House (Medicine)
Upkeep Cost = 1996 coins (382 firewood 255 herbs 212 oil 680 coins)
Production = 103 medicine (721 coins)
Net Profit(Loss) = -1275 coins per year per worker
Holy Toledo. The healer just hemorrhages money. They provide a nice health boost for your citizens in a very large area but you can stay healthy with strategically placed wells. Just buy medicine, don’t make it yourself. Nothing even comes close to the money pit that is the Healer’s House. The Luxury Goods policy will boost production, but it still doesn’t even come close to being worth producing this.
- Oil Mill (Oil)
Upkeep Cost = 770 coins (210 firewood 280 sunflower 280 coins)
Production = 300 oil (600 coins)
Net Profit(Loss) = -170 coins per year per worker
This one is actually quite surprising. Sunflowers are an amazing source of food, with fields producing about 1000 sunflowers per year. The oil made from those sunflowers however is some of the worst return on investment in the game. Just buy the oil you need. Don’t waste your time producing it. You’re better off using sunflower fields for their amazing food supply.
- Gold Mine
Upkeep Cost = 1316 coins (120 lumber 182 tools 650 coins)
Production = 234 gold (1170 coins)
Net Profit(Loss) = -146 coins per year per worker
You would think gold would be the most valuable resource in the game. However it turns out it costs more than it’s worth. The only building that uses gold is the Mint. The Mint provides a sub par profit however and is only really good for increasing your Merchant population though. If you want more merchants, buy Gold from the Harbor and use it at the Mint.
- Iron Mine
Upkeep Cost = 147 coins (63 lumber 84 coins)
Production = 225 iron (225 coins)
Net Profit = 78 coins per year per worker
You need a lot of iron. It’s used in many building upgrades, and the upkeep cost of several buildings. The problem with it is it’s so difficult to produce. Valued at only 1 coin, it’s so much easier to buy what you need than to bother trying to produce it. Find iron piles around the map to gather what you need in the first few years, then just buy boatloads of iron once you get on your feet. It’s so cheap and your labor is better spent producing other goods you can sell in order to buy the iron you need.
- Mushroom Farm
Upkeep Cost = 310 coins (150 lumber 160 coins)
Production = 380 mushrooms (380 coins)
Net Profit = 70 coins per year per worker
This is a trap. You do need food diversity to keep your citizens happy, but the Gatherer’s Hut provides more value than this, and a lot of diverse foods too. The Gatherer’s Hut provides about the same amount of food fully upgraded if in a lightly forested to moderately forested area. If you’re considering a Mushroom Farm, add one more worker to your Gatherer’s Hut for a superior boost to your economy.
- Distillery (Wine)
Upkeep Cost = 525 coins (125 firewood 200 grapevines 75 coins)
Production = 150 wine (750 coins)
Net Profit = 225 coins per year per worker
Not all gentry luxuries are a good value. Wine has a surprisingly low return even though it trades at 5 coins each. Cider has about the same return at 250 coins per worker. Distillers in general provide below average value, but wine and cider are outliers. Advanced Goods and Optimized Distilling will provide a boost to Distillery output (If the Distillery is next to an orchard), while Advanced Budgeting will reduce the upkeep. Even with these policies in place Wine remains a below average return on investment and you should have minimal investment here if any. It’s definitely not something you want to pursue for trading.
This is not an exhaustive list, just a list of outliers of high and low value goods based on the cost and yield. All other goods not in this list are varying shades of above average, average, and below average. It’s good to have variety in your work force, but it’s also good to be aware of where to focus and where not to focus your labor.