Cartel Tycoon – Best Setting for Sandbox Mode

Escobar Experience

With this setup I want to give the player a true Narcos experience – running a large criminal empire, while feeling rich and powerful instead of a survival roguelike “Escobar on the run” simulator, which the game’s designers insist on providing us.

1) Starting Situation

  • Legal Money – $250.000
  • Illegal Money – $250.000
  • Growing Zones – Rich

Research Unlocked: Farm I, Plantation I, Warehouse I, Residence I, Aerodrome I, Gravel and Asphalt roads.

Here my aim was for the player to have all the tools needed for start and comfortable development. Initial money may seem excessive, but all costs and earning have been increased, so starting money had to be boosted accordingly.

Rich soil was selected to provide more strategy options for expansion.

As for research, initial options pretty much reflect on Cartel Tycoon’s pre-EA game design, when aerodromes and roads were available from the get go. With this setup, the player gets all the tools needed to set up opium chains, as well as money management with residences and better logistics with different kinds of roads. Plantations are also available as a quality of life option to reduce the need for production replanning after the opening of the game.

2) Quality of Life

  • Hire Delay – 0%
  • Research Duration – 0%
  • Construction Duration – 50%

The game feels too slow-paced and tedious at times, advanced research takes forever, which limits the progression through the game. This setup aims to remedy that with instant research (now research should feel more like unlockable upgrades). The availability of new lieutenants is also made instant to partially offset the frustrating system of hiring them, which was never remade into a new one by the devs.

3) New Economy

  • Legal Resources Cost – 300%
  • Illegal Resources Cost – 300%
  • Products Selling Time – 100%
  • Money Laundering Time – 10%

The core element of Escobar Experience is to give you a feeling of running a large, profitable Narco empire. The amounts of money you earn in Cartel Tycoon however are more akin to running a fast-food restaurant, so your profits have been tripled.

Selling time for the goods remained unchanged to encourage expansion and usage of multiple smuggling points throughout your empire.

Money laundering time has been made 10 times faster for several reasons:

  • 1) to reflect on the game’s pre-EA design when laundering wasn’t as hard and demanding;
  • 2) to make the game faster and give the player more flexibility instead of having to wait for money to become available in chunks at certain periods of time;
  • 3) to accommodate for the Narcos situation, whose problem was actually not at all with laundering the money, but with having enough ways to spend it afterwards.

P.S. Based on how laundering works, there are two separate values – building upkeep which influences how much dirty money you have to put in and laundering speed, which influences, how fast you’ll be getting clean money. While the latter can be set up to 10% (10x faster), the former only goes up to 300% (3x more dirty money needed). As a result, laundering no longer happens at 1:1 ratio, ex. for the bank you’ll be getting 30k for every 9k of dirty money every day. I decided to leave it as is for this setup, as this makes an investment into laundering more beneficial and even makes sense, seeing how your buildings not only launder your money, but also operate and make some profits of their own (ex. a bank was able to triple your investment while converting it to legal money along the way)

  • Research Cost – 300%
  • Construction Cost – 300%
  • Building Upkeep Cost – 300%
  • Mayor Favor Cost – 300%

To balance out the increase in money gains, and also to provide more realism along with money sinks which the game currently desperately lacks, the costs of everything have been increased accordingly.

  • Building Stash Capacity – 300%
  • Transport Stash Capacity – 300%

The capacities were boosted to accommodate for this changes but mostly for realism, as the truck that was able to carry only $2500 per haul frankly made no sense.

4) Lieutenants

  • Lieutenant Allegiance Decrease – 0%
  • Lieutenant Upkeep Cost – 300%

Lieutenants had the potential to demand better salary ad infinitum, no matter their rank. This led to absurd situations when their salaries amounted to 25-30% of the cartel’s total expenses and at some point started to outweigh any profits the lieutenant’s city/smuggling point would bring you. The only remedy was killing off your lieutenants periodically. This setup does away with allegiance decrease entirely, making sure you only have to increase their salaries upon new ranks. This is both realistic and meaningful, since their salaries are now tied to the new perks and more value they bring to your cartel.

5) Terror and Law Enforcement

  • Terror Gain – 30%
  • Loyalty Gain – 200%
  • Attack Frequency – Rare
  • Mayor Favor Cooldown – 30%
  • Empire Destruction – Disabled

Terror gain has been largely toned down as it’s been too aggressive and punishing in the original game, with severe repercussions for even the slightest of crimes, which made many perks and actions not viable. Together with very slow time of city combat (could drag for weeks!) it resulted in rapid star accumulation and punished expansion.

Loyalty gain has been boosted mostly as a quality of life change, as it’s too low otherwise, and would require you to click tediously through a number of buildings to see any noticeable change.

Mayor favors cooldowns were likewise toned down to encourage using them more often and preventing the game from turning into a waiting simulator.

The empire destruction mechanics were disabled altogether, simply because it was too punishing and unfun to experience how everything you worked for crumbles. Also, your capo’s death is the game’s only way to permanently remove stars as of now. So this kind of setup is best until the devs introduce a better mechanism for that.


Volodymyr Azimoff
About Volodymyr Azimoff 945 Articles
I turned my love for games from a hobby into a job back in 2005, since then working on various gaming / entertainment websites. But in 2016 I finally created my first website about video games – Gameplay Tips. And exactly 4 years later, Game Cheat Codes was created – my second website dedicated to legal game cheats. My experience with games started back in 1994 with the Metal Mutant game on ZX Spectrum computer. And since then, I’ve been playing on anything from consoles, to mobile devices.

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