Once I got over how ugly my budding villages were going to look if I wanted them to be efficient and profitable, Anno 1800 sunk its teeth into me. The hours flew by as I ignored its many automated suggestions that I should step away from the computer for a break. This seventh iteration of the long-running village-management series goes back to its origins, trading in the futuristic setting of the last two entries for the more traditional sails, Schnapps, and sugar cane. The change of setting doesn’t instantly make it better by itself, but it is refreshing and supports a fun real-time strategy game.
The complex and satisfying routine in Anno 1800 is built upon the creation and collection of various resources that you need to keep the inhabitants of your island colony happy. It’s a constantly evolving puzzle that plays out on three levels: Production lines, trade routes, and town layouts. Every level of technological advancement requires more ingredients, more educated workers, and more sophisticated facilities. The puzzle becomes even more complex when you add in that many of the pieces can’t be found or crafted on your starter island; that’s where trade routes come into play. Expansion is an option, but trade is a crucial mechanic for survival.