Anno 1800, like its predecessors, puts you in the role of an island owner. You are responsible for the welfare of the residents, fulfilling their needs, and making them happy.
You start with a reasonably generous amount of money to build things. While you may have money to spend, you are also in charge of your monthly balance. The people of your island will push back if you make less money than what you earn.
Aside from potentially losing the game when you’re out of money, the game also poses a form of shaming when you’re doing badly with your finances — a newspaper. Granted, you can pay with Influence — a particular type of currency in the game — to put propaganda instead of the actual news. Influence points are hard to come by, and world leaders will respect you less for using it. It’s a hint from the game that there is a better way than covering up your misdeeds.
Aside from stirring your financial course when things go sour, the newspaper triggers timed effects that occur between published issues. Your people react to the news as we do. Their reactions are the actual effects. One outcome may lower a particular factory's expenses for a while, and another may trigger higher (or lower) happiness requirements.
The game has multiple venues for making more cash. The primary method of earning money is taking care of your people’s needs (not to be confused with happiness). When you meet more needs, more people come to live on your island. In previous games, there were no happiness requirements to meet. The demands were all that mattered. This time around, needs and happiness are separated. For example, a farmer needs a marketplace and fish as two basic requirements. But the farmer can be happier if there’s a pub near home and a steady supply of drinks for the pub.
The game also makes you understand the intricacies of temporary expenses. For example, you need to make 500 workers available to work on constructing a courthouse for the queen at some point in the game. That is a temporary situation. Once you finish building the courthouse, you will not need them anymore.
The smart player will build more homes, upgrade more farmers to workers, meet their needs, and then start construction on the building. This way, you still make more money, even after the construction has been completed. And it also allows you to advance a step closer to the next population level.
The other smart move (and faster) is to shut down factories temporarily. You will have to make sure you still meet your population’s needs. You can do that by buying supplies from other players, or you can pick factories that don’t deal with needs directly.
When you don’t prepare for this expense beforehand, you will still be able to start construction. If you do, 500 workers will reduce from your vital workforce, and the development of everything affected by the move will slow down to almost a halt. This workforce shortage can cause you to miss your people’s needs, and they may even riot.
For teens and young adults just starting in life and managing their finances independently, this game offers extreme educational value. You don’t learn about managing your money in High School or at College.
Aside from necessary finance managing, there are also more advanced features. For example, you can sell a share of your island. That will make you instant money but at the risk of losing control of your island and losing the game.
Instant money is never a long-term solution, and the game makes sure the point is taken by making sure shares are always a dangerous route to take.
Overall, I feel Anno 1800 and Anno games, in general, are an excellent way to educate people about personal finances. The most important rule of personal finance that thousands tend to ignore daily — Spend less than what you owe — comes across entirely by the game mechanics. Oh, and there’s also a story campaign.
Have you played this game? I would love to know what you think about it!
Disclaimer: This is a personal opinion-based article and was not sponsored by Ubisoft or any other third-party. I just like video games!