Ok, I am going to do my best here. I have had considerable luck with this game, learning it quickly, and even becoming radically successful! On easy. =P
But even with extreme concentration, if I pick the average difficulty and a map like Madrid, I stay waaaay behind my opponents all time.
First, your learning one of the hardest games to learn, cut yourself a break, and go to London, on Very Easy, and Free Play. Pride is one thing, but in this game, you really have to learn to crawl before walking or running!
As a landlord, my merchandise carts are always stuck somewhere, most of the time forget pick the stuff I set in the trade route.
The cart A.I. is really bad. Not much can be done here, other than to set up your routes to be as easy as possible. You can click on the bar next to the item to set how much they should buy. If you click and hold, you can just drag it to max. If there is no green bar next to the product, then they are sent to buy 1 of that item. Even knowing this though, I still have to take over and make the carts do right once in awhile.
Do I really suck that bad? What am I doing wrong? Is it normal to go so terribly poor in comparison to opponents, never getting to marry, never getting to upgrade my business to third level and so on?
You don't suck. It IS a hard game to learn. Just relax. =)
The catch I think was that I had enough money to make the minimum bid, which was considerably high. One thing I didn't understand here was that when my character died, his son didn't inherit the quarry, thus I pretty much wasted everything I invested there.
You must be able to make the minimum bid, and then you will be invited towards the end of the year usually. The reason it returned to your son is simple, it is a lease. You don't get to own it, as it belongs to the city. Not sure what causes the city to want to lease it, but that is who actually owns it, and where it returns when the person that leased it now leases a cemetery instead.
The best thing to do here is to only lease a structure that will provide you with basic resources you need. Which you can then lock the selling of at that structure, (mine, quarry, woods) so that only you can buy out that resource.
(I.E. Your a Blacksmith, you need Iron. You Lease the mine, and cease all iron sells. Then make the workers go mine a crap ton of iron, send it to your business, and call it a day.)
The important thing is that you must scout any building you'll break in prior to actually breaking in.
Click on the spyglass wherever found to scout a building. When the building is scouted a news button in the bottom right will pop up to let you know. You can take the link from there, or look in your building for an Intelligence pad.
When you get to this point, you will notice the details of the building, including the only three things that matter.
1.How many Pounds are there.
2.How much, if any, is the Burglary Defense.
3.How Reconnoitered the building is.
If there aren't a lot of Pounds, then go Pick Pockets, as that becomes very profitable. If the Burglary Defense is above a 50, I do not even try. Most Blacksmiths crank out an 80, and usually aren't worth robbing to begin with.
The last one is how well scouted the building is from 0% to 100%. This reveals the traps and defenses to your thieves, and makes you life a lot easier. ONLY rob a building once it is fully reconnoitered. Also, the higher the level of the thief, the higher gains he will make.
I must recommend everyone who likes this game to try out LAN-game with your friend.
Great advice, and very true. Unfortunately, this game has notorious Multi issues. For some it works seamlessly. For others, never at all. Since both the producer and designer companies are now bankrupt (that is what I hear anyways) the chances of it getting fixed are not good. I'll bet on the snowball surviving hell...
OK, not exactly suck, but there's always at least one AI ahead of me.
The A.I. really doesn't like spending money in the beginning. They hoard it. Your more than likely always going to be behind, not just in the beginning, but well through mid game. That is ok, just keep at it, and you will catch up. I have caught and surpassed a Dynasty that was almost an entire grand ahead of me. Just remember, when the Dynasty leader dies, since the A.I. seems incapable of training their children, they almost always lose a significant number. The longer the game goes on, the more apparent this becomes.
1. I build the +1 AP on my house in turn 1, buy and use the Endurance every turn, and always have a walking stick. I upgrade my profession as quickly as possible. How in the blazes are there one or two pulling ahead of me in AP?
I know this is misleading, but the AP button, doesn't lead to anything to do with AP. It is actually the Dynasty page that shows the scores of the Dynasties. You can also right click on their Coat of Arms to view their stats for quick reference.
2. I'm never exactly sure, but when I get pickpocketed, I think my cash gets debited. But when I play as thief, either this doesn't happen to the AI, or they have money trees growing somewhere. I mean, if I steal 3k, shouldn't that translate into the AI being down 3k? So where are they getting all this money to build and expand business? Seems strange that some of them have amassed 3 first level shops, 2 second levels and upgraded to townhouse while I'm still at second level shop, but getting close to going to third.
When you get Pick Pocketed, you do indeed lose that amount directly from your funds. When you are Pick Pocketing, that income is coming from everyone in the town, not one specific person. Though not literally, the money from Pick Pocketing is generated based on stats of the thieves and other things I am unaware of. Also, when you rob someones house or business, that is not ALL of their money, just what is in the building.
3. Do I just have colossally bad luck or do master craftsmen really, truly suck? Set the slider to zero for one of the products and check back in a turn or so and he has everyone working on that product. Get the raw materials filled before you hire him and the first thing he does is sell all the raw materials for less than I paid for them. Does he serve any purpose at all? Do I at least get some kind of production bonus for putting up with him?
Master Craftsman SUCK! If you just want someone to do whatever, and make some money with a business, use a master. If you want to max. the business potential, or focus on a product, you'll want to do that yourself. They do not add a production bonus that I am aware of, and if they do, it is not mentioned in manual, or in the game itself. Don't waste your money until you have to many businesses to worry about, and then hire them and let them go. Leave the sliders alone, as apparently, they are really more like suggestions than actual control over your business.
SIDE NOTE: If you are going to leave a Thieves Guild/Guards Tower/ Robber's Fortress in the not so caring hands of a Master, make damn sure you do the training yourself, first. They will simply not care, and send your 2 star thieves/guards/robbers to their deaths.
4. Do you buy and use "On Talent" every turn? It seems kind of a waste to spend 400 for a 1AP skill, but on the other hand, if that's going on a 6AP talent, its a great deal.
Well, sadly, it is only 1/2 of a star.
Useful tip here, with the person you start the game with, make their life priority the production of a successful business. When you can afford to almost have your supplies maxxed out, and still have a few thousand laying around, you know you've done well. They will die. With your next person, keep the business successful, but when you have a kid, take all of your extra money and buy Spinning Tops. This will increase the Handiwork skill of the kid, and can be quite effective. ALWAYS send this kid at least to Occupational Training which will guarantee they can run the business once your dead. After Occupational Training, a University option appears. I always go for one that increases the Negotiation. Following this, your third Heirs stats in Handiwork, and Negotiation should come out the booth with at least 4 stars in both, or close.
Once this has happened, max out this characters Handiwork and Negotiation with potions, stick, etc. With that done, your business will now almost double in income! The rest becomes almost wash, rinse, repeat from here, with each successor. On your forth heir or so, you'll have the income to buy a scroll a round, or three at a time. Then you can almost max all stats! if you have any extra Finished Product spaces you aren't using, you can store extra Talent scrolls there for use by heirs, only pulling one out to use it immediately.
5. Kind of related to the thief, don't the AI carts getting robbed set them back, too? Or do they only waylay mine?
Not to sure I get this one, but I'll try.
The A.I. carts may or may not get robbed. I have never seen evidence either way. I do know that the Thieves operated by an A.I. can and will rob buildings, pick pocket, and occasionally kidnaps. If you play as Guardsman, if your guards enter an area where any of these are happening, a fight will ensue, and you will be told exactly why. You can even set your own thieves and guards against each other as a method to test this!
I hope this helps those here, and those that will need some help in the future. One final tip before I go, Guardsman can Raid Thieves Guilds, and if they win, you can seize the Thieves Guild from it's owner FOR FREE! That's right, you even keep the Thieves, and all the equipment! One badass Guard Tower can lead to you owning all the Thieves guilds in just a few years!