During the early days especially, also take the time to mouse over the various icons and buttons on the screen (including the Notifications appearing along the top of the screen during each turn) and actually think about the info provided. The sooner you grasp the finer detail, the better you will do. In this game, the seemingly small stuff often turns out to be more important than it appears at first glance.
I would also strongly recommend that you refer to the Encyclopedia (upper left of the UI) often as you go, looking up appropriate subjects as you encounter new stuff in the game. Maybe even consider reading at least the main section of the Encyclopedia before you do anything else in the game. There are pearls to be found in there.
So how long will a single game last? I’m tempted to say “until you get gunned down or sent to prison!” but if you somehow avoid both of those fates, it seems you will have roughly 660 weekly turns before the ‘Legacy Goals’ (victory conditions) check kicks in on January 1, 1933, with the impending end of Prohibition. The really great news is, there’s actually nothing preventing you from playing beyond that if you wish, it will simply no longer count towards your Legacy Goals for that particular playthrough.
Most turns in the early game you should – if you are making the most of your opportunities each turn – run out of APs before you use all your movement points (MPs), so for the best possible start over the first 50 turns or so you want to be able to do as much as possible with your boss character before you have to hit that Next Turn button. Giving yourself that 4th (or 5th) AP as soon as it becomes available will essentially allow you to do 33% (or 25%) more per turn and maximize your early expansion and the opportunities able to be taken.
Note that a character’s experience gain in CoG is not simply ‘time served’ as these things so often are in many games. It is in fact mostly based on such as character traits, what sort of job that Crew member is doing and – perhaps most important for your own boss character, in particular – the number and type of actions performed. It seems a good bet that having more APs available sooner – and putting them to good use each turn – is likely to more quickly accrue even more experience gain for your own character.
Unused APs are not, however, carried over to the next turn. They are simply lost – which amounts to lost opportunity. It therefore pays to pause (figuratively-speaking!) a moment every now and then and actually plan how best to use them every step of the way. Is it really worth spending 1 AP to sell this guy a mere 2-5 more crocks of booze (i.e. his demand is still low because you stocked him full with a large delivery just a turn or two ago) or is it best to simply move on to another customer, who hasn’t received anything in a while so will probably buy much more? APs are your most valuable asset, by far – spend them wisely, for the best possible return, and you will reap the benefit in the long term.
Both APs and MPs are reduced to zero the instant you initiate violence against a corner Hooligan or member of a rival Outfit (yes, this also means you cannot immediately flee if it all hits the fan). If you really must get physical, at least make sure you are spending your single last AP that turn – and perhaps even the last few MPs – to do so. Acting rashly in the heat of the moment is just a waste, so always take care of business first. Besides, revenge is a dish best served cold.
If you end an exploring move near a newly-discovered corner belonging to a Hooligan or rival Outfit and you have just one or two MPs left over, consider using them to back off a little and thereby reduce the risk of being immediately attacked on the following turn. There are a lot of aggressive & very territorial goons out there, who won’t like you sniffing around their backyard. Wherever possible, it’s usually best to avoid antagonizing anyone until you choose to do so, otherwise they can easily become an annoying, delaying and potentially costly distraction for quite a while to come.
When you are planning how best to spend your APs each turn, also consider how best to use the available MPs, bearing in mind you have far more of these. For example, because your early load space is limited, it can sometimes pay to make a single large delivery and then return to base and load up full again before making the next delivery – even if both customers share the same corner. Sure, it may cost a bit more in MPs, but two large sales is better than one large one and a much smaller one just to sell what’s left in the trunk…. Aim for maximum value from your few APs, and consider spending extra MPs where needed to achieve that.
When you do run out of APs, don’t just hit that Next Turn button without a second thought. Look at your remaining MPs. Sometimes there will still be a surprising amount left over simply because you spent that turn operating in a very localized area and barely moving. So are you maybe near enough an unexplored area to head over there and investigate another corner before you end the turn? Failing that, what are your priorities for the next turn? Is it worth maybe moving someplace else before you end the turn, to get a jump on things? Plan ahead wherever possible.
Your very first priority is to turn this starting booze stock into cold hard cash by selling as much of it as possible, as quickly as possible. Whether it’s Homemade Beer, Hard Cider, Brick Wine or Moonshine – or any combination of these basic, unrefined booze types – there will usually be some known businesses (meaning, you can already see their markers clearly on the map) close by, run by people who already know and trust you.
Some of these business contacts will be very keen to deal in one or more types of illegal booze, which they will sell on to their local customers ‘under the counter’ or out the back door. From your perspective they are the middlemen, the retailers. They just lack a regular wholesale supplier – and that’s where you come into it. Load up your rusty old jalopy and get to it, but first use the Resources map overlay (top left) for each of the booze types you have in your starting stock, to see who is willing to buy what.
At the beginning of the game, Prohibition has already been around for a few months now and the whole neighborhood is drier than the Mojave Desert. Each interested business will be willing to buy enough stock of your fine wares to last them a few weeks. Bear in mind that each Turn in the game is just one week long, which means it will take several turns for these businesses to sell off most of your first delivery before they will have enough free space to accept another large load. As a general rule, don’t bother trying to sell them more too soon after the last delivery unless you really need just a tiny bit more cash for something urgent or important – it’s just a waste of your vital APs to sell in small quantities. Instead, look for more new buyers able & willing to take a significant quantity (see the section on Relationships, Influence & Favors for how to go about this).
You can also negotiate the price with business owners, either to offer them a discount, demand a higher price, or to accept the standard rate (i.e. no specific deal one way or the other, which is also the default if you don’t haggle at all). Any deal you make will apply to all the booze you sell that person, whatever the type, and it will remain in place for quite a while after. Eventually the deal made with that buyer will lapse and future prices paid will automatically revert to the standard rate unless / until you renegotiate it.
Demanding a higher price obviously earns you more profit, while offering a discount has the effect of more rapidly building a very good relationship with – and earning more valuable Favors owed from – that person. Selling at the standard rate is the middle ground and results in a fair mix of earning reasonable profit while also steadily building good relationships and Favors owed.
Which approach is best? Well, that’s where things get tricky. While it may seem sensible to always just demand the extra money (you can never have enough, after all – especially early in the game), if you really want to rapidly grow your business contacts, relationships, Favors owed, and future available opportunities, then there are times when – and situations where – generosity on your part reaps its own rewards. It’s really a question of short term gains versus more longer term, lasting benefits, and ultimately comes down to how you choose to build your criminal empire.
Luckily for you, not only does your your starting base (your ‘Safehouse’) have decent storage capacity, there’s also a sizable empty backroom here which the legal owner – a relative of yours, remember – has agreed to let you use for your nefarious activities, such as maybe installing a new booze production operation…. It’s nice to have Family.
Take a close look at the actual legitimate business run by your relative at that location. If you’re very lucky, it could be something that may be immediately useful to you in your future manufacturing aims. For example, some businesses may have surplus bricks of solid ‘Grape Concentrate’ available every few weeks (yes, this gunk really is packaged in brick shapes), which, it just so happens, can be fermented and turned into alcoholic ‘Brick Wine’ with the right production setup…. It gets you drunk, who cares about the taste?! A different type of legitimate business might instead yield surplus ‘Malt Syrup’ every few turns, which someone with the know-how (you, perhaps) can use to produce ‘Homemade Beer’. And so on.
Wherever possible, choose the backroom production operation to set up based on the type of surplus resource(s) actually being produced by its legitimate business cover, simply because that resource is free, ongoing, and regularly gets dumped into the storeroom there anyway (i.e. no extra transportation is required), so you may as well make good use of it if at all possible. In particular, don’t be put off from doing so just because there don’t seem to be too many local customers for that particular type of booze right away, which can sometimes be the case. It’s likely you will soon find more than enough eager buyers just an extra corner or two away, in one direction or another, and some of your existing business contacts may even be able to introduce you to those buyers if you call in a Favor or two.
Aim to get together the required cash and set up this first production operation as your absolute top priority overall, because it will take time both to build the thing (5 turns) and then more time (another 3+ turns) to produce your first regular load of booze from it. The sooner it’s underway, the better.
You will probably also need to buy in some Stoneware Crocks (or perhaps a different raw resource, if your legitimate ‘Cover’ business actually produces its own Crocks) for your new production operation. Use the resources map overlay to find sellers of what you need, make sure you have at least $100 on you, and go stock up. This is extremely important, because if a particular production operation doesn’t have in storage absolutely everything it needs to produce a full load of booze – by that final turn of production – then the production will stall and it will instead produce absolutely nothing.
If by chance you haven’t been lucky enough to have a viable production setup from the get-go (i.e. if the starting legitimate business does not actually produce a basic resource which you can immediately make use of), don’t despair, this is often normally the case. The resources being produced by your starting legal business will definitely have a future use so all is not lost, and in the meanwhile there’s plenty of space in storage to simply stockpile its output for now. It just means you will have to spend a little more time exploring and talking to your contacts first, while selling your starting booze stocks (and maybe also establishing one or two new Fronts, and instead focus on building your territory / protection income earlier to help get things rolling – see further below).
In such an event, look closely at the starting backroom production possibilities (especially concerning which you already have the actual Skill to set up – usually only those near the top of the list at the start of the game) and determine precisely which raw material(s) you would need to go ahead with one of those. Don’t, for example, confuse ‘Malt Syrup’ with ‘Corn Syrup’ – each resource serves a different purpose. As you explore the area around you, making new contacts and calling in Favors to help build good business relationships, use the Resources map overlay to help find precisely the resources you need.
Even if there’s no obvious supplier available for what you need, don’t despair – keep exploring, scoping out new businesses as you go, and talking to people. It’s really only a matter of time before you will encounter someone offering you a suitable deal (especially look for the Mission icon suddenly appearing below business Markers on the map, indicating that the owner wants to talk to you about something). If you agree to provide some starting cash and a few containers of a particular type, e.g. empty small barrels, they will happily provide the resource you want and deliver it where needed. These particular types of ‘resource supply’ missions are usually also repeatable as often as you like (i.e. you can keep the mission open), so ensuring both a continued supply and the ability to actually stockpile that resource, if desired.
When you finally have in storage everything your first backroom operation needs for its initial production run, the world is your oyster. It’s now time to further expand your business connections….
Why is this important? Quite simply, you’re dealing in illegal goods. Namely, bootleg alcohol, which some high & mighty, holier-than-thou types have decided should be outlawed. This is of course the dumbest idea, like ever, but it’s also a superb one so far as you’re concerned: these idiots actually created liquid gold, no less.
While many of the business owners in your neighborhood are also willing to quietly buy & sell the stuff (and don’t be fooled by the type of legitimate business they operate – it could be literally anything!), if they don’t know you from Adam then they simply won’t trust you enough to buy from you. You could be a Prohibition Agent’s stoolie trying to entrap them, for all they know, so this is where it begins to get a little bit more complicated. You need to build that relationship, that essential level of trust, first. This is where extremely useful Favors comes into it.
The better your relationship with someone, the more Favors they will owe you. Do something for them – even just supplying their needs – and they will do something for you. “You scratch my back…” etc. After APs and ready cash on hand, Favors are your next most valuable asset, so spend them wisely.
One of the most useful Favors someone can do for you is to introduce you to someone else they know, and to put in a good word for you in doing so. In vouching for you they give you a starting relationship bonus with that new contact (the extent of which will be based on how well they actually know this third person, or how closely related they are), at least enough to instill a little trust and help them get over their initial reluctance to deal with you.
This is something you can then build on to develop a long and mutually-beneficial business relationship of your own, but it won’t often happen without that good word on your behalf from someone they trust: “Do you know anyone buying what I’ve got for sale or selling anything I need?” is probably one of the most fruitful questions you will ever ask of a friendly contact, when available, and is one Favor always worth calling in sooner rather than later – available APs and other current priorities allowing, of course.
There is also a very similar Favor request sometimes available, relating to gaining an introduction with local ‘Troublemakers’ (i.e. a particular, usually fairly nearby, corner Hooligan). These are likewise often well worth pursuing, APs allowing. Even if you’re not interested in actually dealing with these minor thugs to any great extent, the relationship boost is usually sufficient to prevent that particular Hooligan from directly attacking your Crew for quite a while to come.
Sometimes that newly-introduced business (or Hooligan) contact will be located on a corner you have yet to even explore, in which case the friendly introduction also brings with it enough useful local information to count as an exploration move. That corner will be cleared and become visible on the map, as if explored for yourself but without needing to actually move there or spending 5 MPs to do so – a nice bonus. This is another good reason to always use the “Do you know anyone…” type Favors sooner rather than later, i.e. before spending too many MPs actually exploring around that particular area.
Favors also have many other uses in the game and the topic is probably worthy of a Strategy Guide all of its own… but for now it’s at least worth bearing in mind that when not needing to use your APs to actually sell your booze or buy in needed resources (there will be quiet turns in this respect, especially in the early days), or be introduced to brand new contacts, look to maybe call in some surplus Favors to also help build existing relationships even higher.
Asking one known contact to put in a good word for you with (especially) a close family member or good friend of theirs – even if you already know and deal with that third person – can often result in not only a better relationship with that person (which could lead to more or better opportunities for you in future, if they like & trust you more), it can also earn you more actual Favors with them, too. You can then cash in some of these new Favors to further spread your business contacts and build better relationships with even more existing contacts, also earning even more new Favors in doing so… ad infinitum, as Roman empire-builders used to say.
Steadily but continuously building an extensive network of business contacts and overall good relationships is one of the cornerstones of your entire future criminal empire – if not perhaps the main foundation itself, since not much else can easily happen without it. Treat it accordingly.
When looking at a particular person’s known contacts and relationships, it’s useful to bear in mind that they may often know people who are still completely unknown to you. After yourself meeting that third person by chance (e.g. by exploring a new corner and scoping out businesses there), the connection will thereafter be revealed, so it can also pay to check this new person’s own contacts and see who else you already know that may be able to put in a good word for you and help build this new relationship, particularly if it looks a very promising one to have.
Word of mouth is everything. Upset or harm the wrong person and you may find some others become more reluctant to do business with you. That guy you’re about to muscle, beat up on or perhaps even kill? Maybe his cousin runs a business selling a valuable and fairly rare resource which you might desperately need real soon. Or maybe he has a nephew or niece whom might one day even become your most skillful and valued Crew member – but probably not if you harm their beloved uncle in some way.
If you’re not careful, it’s quite easy to shoot yourself in the foot in this game, and sometimes without even knowing it.
On the other hand, helping other people, or simply becoming good friends with them through a mutually-beneficial & prosperous business relationship – or by having a mutual friend put in a good word for you – can bring you significant advantages and new opportunities, also not always immediately obvious in advance…. Word of mouth works both ways.
Think before you act in a way which could ultimately prove detrimental to you, and ask yourself if you really need to get physical with that person. At the very least check out mutually-known connections before you act in an aggressive manner, just to be better aware of who might actually become upset by any violent acts on your part. This applies to local corner Hooligans and even rival gang members as much as it does to local business owners: your most important supplier, most profitable customer, or best-connected contact, could actually be a relative or close personal friend of that particular goon you’re about to ‘teach a lesson’ just for the hell of it.
Being Mr. Nice Guy (where most people are concerned, anyway) will however also result in an increasing number of people coming to you seemingly with hat in hand, looking for a slice of your cake. Don’t be fooled though – what may at face value seem to be just another appeal for a handout can often ultimately prove beneficial to you in one way or another, and not just in terms of building a better relationship with that person should you decide to help them out. Do weigh all of your opportunities carefully, of course, but don’t jump to negative conclusions just because of how something may be worded in the dialogue…. There’s often much more to these seemingly hat-in-hand conversations than first meets the eye.
Beyond your own immediate neighborhood, you are aware of only the basic street layout, with no idea of what goes on behind closed doors more than just a corner or two away. Double-check how many turns you have free before your new batch of booze will be produced, and then roughly plan an exploration circuit to suit, bearing in mind it will cost 5 MPs for each new corner explored. You will want to do this periodically in between future booze deliveries, too, gradually broadening your knowledge of what lies around you. Where possible, aim to always be exploring quite a way ahead of your actual territory expansion in any particular direction, so you can better plan in advance exactly which businesses might make the best ‘Fronts’ (see below) for your future expansion into that area.
As you explore each new corner, any businesses located there will also be revealed, each costing 1 AP to then carefully ‘scope out’ and learn what might be going on there of possible interest to you. Do take the time to also interact with each such business owner after scoping them out (it doesn’t cost APs to merely introduce yourself to them, only to take the conversation further in some specific way). Although most will be unknown to you – and vice-versa – and so reluctant to deal with you just yet, occasionally one may also know an existing contact of yours and will be pleased to finally meet you in person, having heard (you hope) only good things about you…. Those sharing the same ethnicity as you will generally also immediately be more open to a possible fruitful relationship, as will some business owners with certain traits (if particularly Friendly, for instance).
Actually interacting with each newly-discovered business owner also gives you chance to better assess how valuable this business might be to you in future, either as a supplier or a potential customer, or perhaps even as a Front for local territory expansion. Check out the character traits of potential Front operators, in particular, for example with a view to minimizing the Heat they would generate in that role, or to determine how resistant they might prove to the idea of operating a Front for your organization (e.g. someone who is a staunchly Upright citizen would outright refuse to become too closely involved with your illegal activities).
As you explore in the early days, it’s always worth remembering that it’s often a good idea to back off a little or simply change direction when you encounter a Hooligan or rival Outfit territory, to avoid antagonizing them and becoming distracted by their tendency to leap into immediate hostility…. You have more important things to do with your time and energies than to tussle with every two-bit, lowlife hood out there – you have an empire to build.
Also bear in mind that all vehicles suffer wear & tear, and will slow down with increased wear (automobiles in the Roaring Twenties were rarely known for their reliability!). In particular, before heading out on what might prove to be a lengthy exploratory journey heading well away from a friendly garage owner, do first check your vehicle’s status bar to see if it’s anywhere near in need of repair.
Conversely, the legitimate businesses providing hidden backrooms in which you can store resources and set up illegal operations – such as the starting ‘Safehouse’ owned by your relative – are in this game known as ‘Cover’ businesses, not ‘Fronts’. It’s an important distinction to bear in mind to avoid confusion.
Think very carefully about which business owners you approach to act as a Front for your organization, and always take the owner’s own character traits into consideration – such as with a view to possibly reducing the Heat they may generate in this role, or maybe their ability to more strongly resist a rival gang member’s attempts to intimidate & ‘subvert’ them. A person’s traits may also affect their willingness to even operate a Front on your behalf, sometimes needing a better, more trusting relationship with that person before they will agree. You may need a mutual contact to put in a good word for you to overcome their reluctance, or perhaps merely to boost relations a little by delivering more booze to them first, if this is something they’re interested in dealing in.
In addition to calling in a Favor, each Front will also cost you cash to set up. The amount increases substantially for each additional Front based on the number of Fronts already under your control, and also costs more the farther away its own location relative to your original Safehouse. In effect, future potential Front operators know you need them far more than they need you, and they will charge accordingly to compensate themselves for the risks involved – especially the farther away they are from the protective heart of your Outfit’s territory.
As soon as a new Front is in operation, that corner will immediately become part of your territory (it doesn’t need to be adjoining your existing territory, or even anywhere close for that matter). You can then instruct its owner to begin working on increasing your Outfit’s local Respect and expanding your territory into an adjoining, uncontrolled corner. This takes both time to complete and a little bit of cash each subsequent month to maintain and increase your Respect there. If the Front expands into a corner you have yet to explore, upon completion that corner will clear and any local businesses will become visible on the map, as if explored for yourself.
Although you cannot set up another new Front while an existing one is actively working on territory expansion, it is possible to instruct all existing Fronts to simultaneously work on expanding your Respect & territory in their particular area – where still possible for each to do so – simply by visiting each one in turn and discussing the matter with them.
Each Front is capable of steadily extending your controlled territory into all immediately connected, adjacent corners, so you will want to avoid overlapping potential expansion too much as there’s little sense in having two Fronts both being able to expand into the exact same corner, since only one of them will do so. That said, depending on the local street layout, sometimes it may be better to overlap Fronts expansion a little where needing to be very precise in their placement, e.g. to avoid leaving too many gaping holes in your territory as you expand (especially, perhaps, in terms of the higher movement cost for rival gang members moving into / through your territory, compared to them speedily whizzing through any gaps you may have conveniently left for them to use).
Fully expanded into all adjacent corners, a Front will typically cost $20-$40/month to maintain your Respect and territory, and if this cash is not provided in fairly timely fashion you risk losing all the territory so far accrued around there. There are two ways to cover the cost of maintaining your Fronts / territory: the first is to visit them every month or so and simply hand over the necessary cash out of your own pocket (perhaps not the best use of your personal time and energy, but necessary now & then).
The second way to pay for your Fronts is to put a little time & effort into extorting at least some of the local & nearby business owners, by visiting each of them in turn and asking them nicely to each pay you $20/month for ‘protection’ from all the nasty people out there… “or else“. You can only extort a business if it is located within territory you already control, which is just one good reason for steadily but continually expanding your Outfit’s territory.
Once again, pay careful attention to the owner’s character traits, as some will be much more resistant to intimidation than others. Being unable to convince a particular business owner to pay up on demand is bound to negatively impact your local Respect, forcing you to take ever more extreme measures to enforce the demand, or face having to embarrassingly skulk away with your tail between your legs…. Neither outcome is the desired one: immediate (and preferably, willing) compliance is the only satisfactory outcome from your point of view – even if they mutter under their breath on your way out the door.
Your local Front will collect all such ‘contributions’ for you each month thereafter, will automatically subtract the monthly cost of maintaining your Respect / territory in their area, and will hold any surplus / profit for you to collect whenever you feel like dropping by to pick it up (bearing in mind this costs 1 AP for each, so only do so when it’s actually worth collecting, or if you really need just a bit more cash for some urgent purpose). Later on, with more Crew members on your payroll, you will be able to delegate & automate these envelope pick-ups / payments to Front owners for monthly maintenance where needed.
While the ‘Protection’ racket can build up to provide quite a lucrative additional income stream over time, do bear in mind everything we have previously discussed concerning violent acts, social connections and word of mouth… or else, to borrow an appropriate phrase. Actually ruining your relationship with too many business owners just for the sake of $20 each per month could prove extremely detrimental in the longer term. Willing contributors, however (i.e. those with whom you still have a reasonable relationship despite the negative impact of extorting them), are less likely to affect you badly in some way, and in time most people will come to accept that the protection racket is just another unavoidable cost of doing business in this particular neighborhood. That said, while they may one day cease resenting it, that doesn’t mean they will ever actually like it.
The base cost of investing in a new Cover building, in which you can then install a backroom operation, is heavily dependent on the amount of storage space it has available (so the cost of just your second such building will on average range somewhere between $500-$1,000 based mainly on its available storage capacity) but also on the rarity of this particular business type and other factors such as what, if any, useful resources it also produces.
In addition, just like for establishing new Fronts, the cost will also be higher the more Cover buildings you already control, and is also further increased by its actual location relative to (i.e. its distance from) your starting Safehouse – just as it is for each new Front. There may however also occasionally be a very pleasant surprise waiting for you in the new building’s storeroom, if you’re lucky….
There are three overall types of illegal backroom operations able to be set up in a controlled Cover building, each requiring cash, one or more known Skills, and certain types of construction resources to build. You must place the needed cash & materials in the building itself in order to set up its backroom operation (the same applies for any future upgrade or expansion). Each building can have only a single backroom operation installed, however, so choose carefully from the options you have available at that time (determined by the Outfit-wide Skills you have acquired up to that point – see further below). All backroom operations essentially fall into one of three possible overall types:
- Production operations – Presses, distilleries, stills, bottling and manufacturing operations which refine ingredients into valuable alcohol resources.
- Logistics operations – Garages, depots, and repair bays that support the expansion and upkeep of your vehicle fleet.
- Sales operations – Bootleggers, speakeasies, and clubs which sell alcohol direct to the public, cutting out the middleman and substantially increasing your profits by doing so.
Buildings with higher storage capacity – i.e. those tending to be the more expensive ones you can buy into at any given time – are perhaps best reserved for production facilities wherever possible, since these types generally have greater need of extra storage capacity in their day-to-day operations (especially when fully expanded / upgraded).
While it’s entirely possible to place a production operation in a smaller (i.e. generally cheaper) building, you may over time find that its more limited storage capacity proves problematic and could even hinder its smooth operation when you begin expanding & upgrading it…. This is however still pure conjecture on my part, based entirely on the significant differences in available storage space for different building types noticed in the Demo game (i.e. there must surely be a good reason for the substantial size and cost differences, and this is the most likely one I can think of! I could be completely wrong though).
In addition to storing supplies and alcohol output – i.e. any actual resources – any of your controlled buildings can also be used to store cash and spare weapons. Storage in buildings is generally safer than carrying any excess around with you in your vehicle(s), but given the game’s setting there’s a strong likelihood they may at times be raided by such as Prohibition Agents, and definitely by rival Outfits (once these actually explore the area and learn of its existence). As a general rule, don’t put all your eggs in one basket if you can possibly help it – the term ‘Safehouse’ is only a label, and not one to be taken literally. Even your starting one.
As you expand, you will also be able to assign new Crew members to act as Managers for your various backroom operations. Where possible, choose people with appropriate character traits for the task you have in mind. For example, intelligent or hard working people are ideal for managing production operations, while talkative, friendly or kindly types are better suited to dealing direct with customers, either by making booze deliveries or in managing an actual backroom sales outlet of your own.
All backroom operations have upgrades and expansions possible over time (again, derived from the actual Outfit-wide Skills your gang has acquired to date), improving efficiency and productivity, and ultimately, profits. In some cases, Managers need specific traits (or even particular personal skills, for some much later, high level upgrades) in order to take advantage of many backroom expansions & upgrades, so choose your Managers wisely according to trait descriptions, and also increase personal skills appropriately when the opportunity arises.
In the Demo Game at least, it was possible to move a Manager from one building to another (simply by removing & reassigning them) in order to perform some basic upgrades, and the upgrade continued to work even when the Manager moved on again – handy until you have more good Managers available. However, do note that on the turn a particular backroom Manager gains experience and gets to improve a personal skill, some of the options available for that new skill gain will be specific to the type of operation they are currently running, so remember to always move them back to the operation you want that person to actually specialize in.
Any building under your control can also be used by yourself or any Crew member to lie low for a while and recover from any injury sustained. To do so, simply drive that person back to a building’s corner: if currently injured, on arrival there a button will appear beside that person’s listing on the right, which when clicked will have them rest up for the remainder of the turn and in doing so recover some health. APs and MPs will probably be reduced to zero at this point, so maybe consider using some of these first if that Crew member is only ‘Roughed Up’ and can still perform some useful tasks along the way.
Generally speaking, the more good business relationships you have, the more options you will have in the number and type of people available to you for hire as actual Crew members, as many of your best contacts will know of interested people they can introduce you to as soon as you have spare Crew capacity. This is just one more reason why the bigger your network of good business relationships, the better. Hiring a relative or close friend of an existing contact will also boost your relationship with that particular contact (as well as your relationship with other relatives and friends when they hear of your good deed), so even this consideration may at times have some bearing on your actual choice for the next new Crew member.
Your main consideration in choosing a new Crew member, however, should concern their specific character traits and abilities. Some of these are clearly positives (intelligent, hard working, strong, etc.) while some are decidedly negative. Some are however very good in certain ways, or maybe specific situations, but bad in others. Such people can still be very useful, even advantageous for you, if you are careful in the type of role or even specific tasks assigned them – study the full descriptions for all the various character traits & abilities very carefully indeed, to really make the most of each Crew member.
One thing you should not do is wait too long before hiring someone new whenever you have the spare capacity and can afford to do so, even if you’re not certain you can make full use of that person just yet. There are enough indications to suggest that both current Crew size and their capabilities (available weapon types / quantity in particular, but maybe also certain traits and personal skills, where these would logically enhance the fearsome reputation of your Outfit in the underworld) have a direct impact in various ways. For example, having a bigger / tougher Crew will definitely help give your Front operators the confidence they will need to more firmly resist any attempt by rival Outfits to intimidate & ‘subvert’ them / nibble away at your territory. It stands to reason that this could therefore also be an important overall factor considered by the actual bosses of rival Outfits, when deciding if they should even risk making an enemy of you in the first place (although their own personality could at times be the main, overriding factor in all such decision-making).
All Crew members gain experience while working for you, often specific to the type of role they’re currently involved in. Someone spending their time active on the street and driving around will, like your boss character, be able to choose skill gain in APs, MPs or Brawling. Regular delivery drivers will also have additional options for skill gain, specific (and very beneficial) to that role. Managers of backroom operations will instead gain experience in entirely different areas of expertise, some general in nature to all Managers, and some specific to the actual type of operation they are currently running for you. Specialization in expertise is likely to prove very advantageous in the long term, so again, plan ahead wherever possible when deciding how best to improve each of your Crew member’s personal skills.
Unsurprisingly, the people you hire to work for you expect to be paid. If they’re not paid each & every week, they won’t work. While any Crew member out on the street carrying some of your cash (e.g. from selling your booze) will happily draw his or her salary directly from that wad in their pocket if needed, any Crew members not necessarily dealing in cash – such as Managers for your production operations – can only draw their salary from cash currently stored in any controlled building. No pay, no work: unpaid Crew will become unassigned from their current role, won’t perform any work that week (and probably also won’t gain any experience that turn), and will need reassigning again.
Always aim to leave enough cash in one or more buildings to cover your wage bill each turn (or ideally for several turns, to be on the safe side) to avoid potentially costly disruption to your vital operations. In the early days especially, this means you will have to remain acutely aware of precisely when your next batch of booze will actually be produced / ready to sell, and be certain to not spend / invest too much of your current cash-on-hand before more will come in again to cover your regular wage bill.
You start the game knowing only one or two of these major Outfit skills, and the pursuit of more is (or at least, should be) one of your main aims throughout the game, as there are a significant number and variety of these to benefit from and help grow your criminal empire in diverse and interesting ways.
Also included in this category of skills are all the ones needed to improve the actual efficiency and/or productivity of the various backroom operations, in the form of expansions and upgrades for each, often specific to a particular type of operation. For example, your Outfit having Sanitary Measures skill will allow your Managers to upgrade various types of booze production facilities and gain some worthwhile benefits for a relatively low installation cost.
There isn’t any sort of ‘tech tree’ in this game. Instead, these Outfit-wide skills are gained from your various business contacts semi-randomly, usually as a reward for the completion of missions, so once again it pays to have a substantial network of good to excellent relationships so you have a lot of new skills options to consider. Call in a Favor, do something nice for them (often at considerable cost, sometimes in time, APs and MPs spent as well as actual money), and they will reward you with some new & very useful knowledge – while also looking even more favorably upon you as a result.
You will generally find, if you steadily grow your business connections and relationships, that there is no shortage of new skills on offer – or at least, the missions available to gain such. The limiting factor at any given time will instead be your inability to pursue them all straight away due to a simple lack of spare cash on hand, making it necessary to choose very carefully indeed which to pursue. There’s probably little point in gaining a new main Outfit skill unless you are fairly sure you can put it to good use shortly after, otherwise it will be little more than a sinkhole for a sizable chunk of your working capital until such time as you can make proper use of it…. Granted, if it sounds like something immediately worthwhile, sometimes you just have to take a gamble, cross your fingers, and hope for the best!
Expanding and maintaining the logistical side of things will, over the course of a full game, undoubtedly prove every bit as important as building your production facilities, sales outlets, Crew members & Outfit skills, available weaponry, network of business & underworld connections, and overall good relationships.
Maintaining your delivery fleet in good working order will also prove vital to the smooth operation of your growing criminal empire. All vehicles suffer wear & tear when in use and will require periodic repairs to avoid grinding to a halt by the roadside (i.e. do keep an occasional eye on the status bar displayed below each vehicle in use, on the right of the screen). Any friendly garage owner will perform this service – for a fee, usually $50-$150 – if you have the cash on you, until such time as you are able to develop your own repair facilities.
Be aware that you may have to call in a Favor for such an introduction, as these guys are just like any other business owner – they won’t often deal with a distinctly shady-looking character like you unless someone they trust tells them you can be trusted, too… then they’ll quite happily turn a blind eye to the bullet holes, strong whiff of stale booze, and often suspicious-looking cargo.
In addition to ordinary wear & tear, vehicles can also suffer extra damage when in the vicinity of violence, so it’s logical to assume that any actual gunfire is likely to increase both the risk and perhaps also the extent of damage possible – maybe even depending on the actual number of people blasting away in a sidewalk shootout, and the type of weapons being used. Keep an eye on this when the lead starts flying, just in case sudden major repairs are urgently needed.
Experience in the Demo game, albeit limited in this particular respect, seemed to suggest that prices for new vehicles can and do vary, so it may well pay to shop around. Always at least talk to every suitable business owner you come across to see what they have available and at what price, even if not yet ready to buy (it does not cost APs to merely inquire, only to buy), and make a mental note for future reference. Given the importance of Relationships in the game in general, it also seems likely that you may get a better deal – or better options in some other way – from someone with whom you have built an excellent relationship, compared to buying from someone you barely know.
Note that some missions from business contacts can also provide you with additional vehicles, either cheaper than normal and/or simply as a bonus for fulfilling that mission. It’s also possible to acquire cheaper vehicles by other means. A friendly, business-minded Hooligan, for instance, may occasionally lay their hands on a stolen or junked vehicle and be willing to sell it to you for a fraction of its value – though it will often also be in dire need of repair before being of much use for the purpose intended.
In addition to scheduling the delivery of surplus alcohol to your growing network of business contacts, and buying in fresh supplies of needed resources, you will also be able to automate the process of moving resources between your own operations, such as regularly transporting basic, unrefined booze (e.g. Brick Wine) to a separate refining operation (e.g. to turn it into more profitable Sparkling Wine), and of course supplying booze to your own established backroom sales outlets as a top priority, maximizing your profits by cutting out some of the middlemen.
You will also be able to automate the process of collecting Protection money from your various Fronts, as well as automatically providing your Fronts with any cash needed to continue maintaining or expanding your Respect / territory in that area, wherever there’s currently a shortfall due to a lack of local Protection income.
Do remember, however, that Cash is also considered a ‘resource’ when automating things. It needs to be specifically dropped off and/or picked up, as needed, at appropriate buildings along the scheduled route, just as other resources are. While this may seem glaringly obvious to you and I, for some reason this simple fact seemed to escape several YouTubers covering the game to date… so I figured it was maybe worth a reminder. 🙂
The question of precisely when to begin automating things a little is the important one. On the one hand, your first additional Crew member will prove absolutely vital to you in helping to free up more of your own time to devote to expanding your business contacts, setting up new Fronts and dealing with their operators, building better relationships, and exploring unknown territory / scoping out new businesses. He or she could, for example, keep your booze deliveries (and profits) flowing smoothly while you are personally otherwise engaged, but to really make the most of this person’s time as well (APs & MPs, and the ability to easily vary their activities accordingly each turn) it is probably best done manually for a while, as with your boss character’s activities.
Conversely, however, you would actually gain a further relationship bonus with each contact buying your booze if they know you value their custom highly enough to have become part of your regular (automated) delivery schedules, rather than continue to be treated as just an occasional outlet as & when you have spare stuff to sell…. The sooner you can provide more of your valued customers with this high level of reassurance, by being included – and supplied – as part of a regular, automated delivery schedule, the better for your relationship with them.
By the same token, while your production is limited and booze is still in relatively short supply, spreading it around more contacts – some here, some there – may cost your first automated delivery Crew member more APs and MPs overall, but in this instance at least, it may pay dividends in building more and better relationships over the wider neighborhood (rather than with just a small number of very local, but often fully-stocked, businesses), by including more of your customers on an automated delivery schedule and thereby potentially earning that extra relationship bonus with each one.
This could in fact be even more useful if your delivery guy also happens to be the type that naturally gets along very well with most people – thereby earning an extra relationship bonus with each visit, or possibly some other benefit, during his regular dealings with them – and he or she may then also work on improving appropriate personal ‘delivery’ type skills to boost this further….
It’s all a matter of pros and cons, but it’s certainly something worth thinking about.
Until such time as you can spare some cash to pay off the cops, however, you will need to be very careful about where you or any other Crew member end each turn’s move – or at least, with what you are carrying in your vehicle at that time. Prohibition era cops were very poorly paid in general, so unless you are bribing them to leave you alone they will have no hesitation in shaking you down if given sufficient cause (and just being on the wrong corner at the wrong time is deemed ‘sufficient cause’!), confiscating your cash, weapons and illicit cargo before slapping you on the wrist and sending you on your way. This could prove extremely expensive and damaging – especially in the early game when you desperately need every dime you have – so it can definitely pay to have some local cops in your pocket sooner rather than later.
Before the local cop ‘bagman’ will even consider accepting a pay-off from you, however, he will need to know and trust you a little, making it necessary to first gain an introduction from a mutual friend that can vouch for you. Cops are only human though, so they also enjoy being praised for their sterling efforts in maintaining law & order in the neighborhood, and will respond accordingly if approached…. Hypocrisy knows no bounds, on either side of the law.
Once you have the local cops securely in your pocket, you can thereafter effectively ignore the Heat being generated by your Outfit’s criminal activities, at least while operating within any Precinct boundary currently on your payroll, and provided you avoid doing too much which even they cannot blithely ignore (excessive murder & mayhem, for instance).
Until such time however, or when operating outside of friendly Precincts, you have to be very careful to never end your turn carrying illegal goods in an area of high Heat, otherwise the risk of being apprehended & stripped of your valuables is also extremely high. You will also find yourself unable to deal with any business owner who is wary of the local police presence (if you’re not yet paying them off, that is), when drawn there by high Heat, and those cops may hang around and get in your way for several weeks until the Heat dies down a little – obviously also in hope of a pay-off to go away. Use the Heat map overlay often!
Given the sheer nuisance potential of the local cops, it’s perhaps even worth studying the Precinct map overlay very early in the game and decide where best to expand your initial Fronts / territory and (ideally, where possible) sell your booze. If you can confine your early activities in this respect to mainly just one, or at most two, Precincts, you’ll soon be able to have the most dangerous cops in your pocket quite cheaply (the first Precinct for maybe as little as $170-$250 or so, which will suffice to keep them happy for several months) and be able to expand & operate much more freely, thereafter having to be careful only on those occasions where you might wander into Precincts you have yet to bribe – or perhaps where the bodies are piling up on the sidewalk.
This will become increasingly important as time progresses. In the early days you are only small fry, not really worth the trouble of more than just a slap on the wrist / confiscation of your cash & illicit goods in a police shakedown. But as the money begins to really flow and your Outfit grows – and your reputation and renown (and the Heat you generate) with it – you and your Crew will become increasingly likely to begin receiving much stiffer prison sentences, which may even result in removing some valuable Crew members from the streets for the remainder of the game. Ouch!
Having friendly cops in your pocket also brings other benefits in addition to better protecting your Crew, operations and assets from interference, such as occasionally having ready access to weapons confiscated from other hoodlums… surely they can spare a little something for such a good friend as you? And if you’re having trouble with a rival Outfit encroaching on your territory, maybe the local cops would be willing to use official channels to cause that gang some legal problems of their own, even outside their own Precinct (since bootlegging is a Federal crime and the Prohibition Bureau often rely on local police to tip them off about such activities). Having a dangerous rival gang member taken off the streets and locked up for a while would at least save you the trouble of having to send the boys round to, ehm, ‘reason’ with him.
All Hooligans are essentially classed as either business-minded or tough brawlers (although their personal traits may at times blur this distinction a little, so be aware of that). As with all other contacts in the game, you can over time build a relationship with Hooligans of either type should you be so inclined. Generally speaking, business Hooligans often deal in stolen or other illicit goods of possible benefit to you, if on good enough terms (cigarettes being especially useful, since you can often sell these on to businesses which don’t yet trust you enough to buy your booze, and in doing so build a better, more trusting relationship). Friendly brawler type Hooligans may be encouraged to target their belligerent tendencies in a direction of your choosing – against a particular rival Outfit, say. Watching from the sidelines is often more fun than being in the middle of a damaging fracas, and certainly much more satisfying if you’re the one that sneakily caused it.
It’s probably generally a good idea to remain on friendly terms (or as ‘friendly’ as these things get, anyway) with as many local corner Hooligans as possible, as much as possible, if only to avoid being distracted by their petty activities being directed against your own Crew. A single introduction from a mutual contact (which also makes visible that Hooligan’s corner turf on the map, if not yet explored for yourself) and growing local Respect should suffice in most cases, with perhaps further dealings in some cases as time, need or opportunity allows. It’s also possible to hire a promising local Hooligan into your own Crew if you know them well enough, or to encourage them by some other means to give up their life of petty crime and so free up their turf for your own Outfit to expand into.
There will generally be 5-10 rival Outfits to contend with, with the exact number mostly depending on which actual City you’re trying to take over (larger cities will naturally have more organized gangs fighting for control). Each Outfit will be named for their boss, just as your own Outfit is, and those names become visible on the map – once some part of a rival gang’s territory becomes known to you – and can be seen simply by zooming out a little.
While rival Outfits may grudgingly respect your achievements and will probably tread more warily if you have considerably greater Respect / territory and a stronger Crew (and perhaps especially if they’re currently already fighting another nearby Outfit), and while they will also find it harder to intimidate & actually subvert your Fronts / take over your territory if you have more and better-armed Crew members than their gang… at the end of the day it simply means they will view you as just a somewhat tougher nut to crack. All the indications seem to suggest that it’s not so much a question of if a particular Outfit will come gunning for you, it’s more a question of when. Being unlucky enough to have more than one rival Outfit do so at the same time is likely to prove especially challenging.
Interaction between different Outfits in the game (including your own) is however presently limited to either open rivalry, full-scale gang warfare, or a shaky truce before hostilities break out again, with no other diplomatic nuances or business interactions currently possible. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, so as you grow make sure your own bite is much worse than your bark – otherwise you’ll be the one left yelping (…sorry, couldn’t resist! 😀 ).
Since recuperating in a controlled Cover building is usually the only early-game means by which an injured Crew member can regain their health, if you plan to initiate a major gang war with the aim of actually eliminating a substantial rival Outfit and ultimately taking over their territory, do consider – if at all possible – waiting until you actually have a controlled building relatively near that gang’s border, and preferably one also able to conduct vehicle repairs.
Bear in mind that the movement cost of driving through rival territory is 3 MPs per corner traversed, so it’s just plain dumb to wage war too far away from your own nearest Cover building if you can possibly avoid doing so. Ideally, you want to make sure any badly injured Crew members can always make it back to a controlled building immediately on the following turn (to avoid the very great danger of being hunted down and easily eliminated on their way back – especially if their vehicle is also badly damaged and barely able to limp home), and to then also be within immediate striking range as soon as they recover enough health. Outright gang warfare will undoubtedly often be a process of damaging and relentless attrition, so plan at least some of your building placements specifically to benefit from such a tactical advantage where it seems likely to be needed, and thereby minimize your own losses as best you can.
If you fail to keep your own fatalities to a minimum it will certainly cost you in the long run – literally. The families of deceased Crew members will require regular financial support for the remainder of the game, which, if you outright refuse to pay, will negatively impact your relationship with those particular family members (e.g. business owners) you have dealings with. It’s entirely possible (although this is pure conjecture on my part) there may also be wider, more subtle consequences, such as a lessening of your Respect in the immediate neighborhood of any such family members (that oh so important word of mouth, remember), or perhaps more difficulty – or increased cost – when it comes to hiring future Crew members, due to being the bread winners in their family and now wary of how you would treat them if the worst happens….
Enemy Outfits will aim to strike at your Crew members on the street, your Fronts (any Front successfully intimidated & thereby ‘subverted’ by an enemy gang member could cost you all of your territory and protection income in that area if you don’t respond quickly enough, plus time and a chunk of cash to actually reassert control) and even your backroom operations, once discovered. The latter, and their valuable, highly skilled Managers in particular, are likely to be the prime targets once discovered by a particular enemy gang, as these form the backbone of your entire criminal operation, store the bulk of your spare weapons, cash and resources, and ultimately generate most of your income.
Indeed, allowing rival gang members to scout out your territory unmolested – maybe in the vain hope they’re just looking for someplace where they can buy a decent cannoli – is perhaps just begging to be hit where it really hurts… and probably sooner rather than later. Where rival Outfits are concerned, it seems likely offense may at times prove to be the best form of defense. Time will tell. On the positive side, you will also be able to loot the vehicles and buildings of deceased rivals (up to your own vehicle load limits, anyway), so some careful targeting / planned raids on your part could at times also prove extremely lucrative.
Actually killing a rival gang member will however result in a protracted, angry vendetta against you by that Outfit, whereas sometimes just inflicting a fair amount of pain will be enough to get your message across and cause them to back off. That’s always an option worth consideration, since it could sometimes buy you more time in which to expand and grow – especially if at that time you’re in no fit state to actually engage in open warfare on the streets.
Sometimes, killing the rival gang boss may settle a dispute for a while – provided their replacement isn’t an actual family member, which would of course serve only to heighten the vendetta – and at other times you may be able to buy a truce if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew (and can actually afford to do so). A rival boss’s own personality will however often figure highly in all such matters, e.g. there will probably be no reasoning at all with a rival inclined to be violent or vindictive – short of lead poisoning – but a boss somewhat less inclined to violence may secretly be pleased that you removed their predecessor (if not an actual relative, that is) and may be willing to let the matter subside – provided you don’t push it, either.
All that said, it’s worth noting that only two of the twelve ‘Legacy Goals’ (victory conditions) of this game are even vaguely related to actual gang violence in any way. This fact alone is a clear indication that this is most definitely not intended to be a game about making money purely in order to wage war, as so many other games are at their root (especially mobster games). Instead, City of Gangsters is a game where you sometimes have to wage war in order to protect the money you’re already making… and yes, perhaps also occasionally to smooth your way to making even more.
It’s a fine distinction, but a very important one: at the end of the day it’s all about the money, not the body count – that’s the real difference between a successful Gangster and a dead (or imprisoned) Wannabe in the “Roaring Twenties & Troubled Thirties“.
Bear that in mind, at least, and you won’t go far wrong.