Despite pouring hours into the Tropico series, I realized while playing Tropico 6 that I’d been doing it all wrong this whole time. In the past, I preoccupied myself with creating an island paradise, with a strong emphasis on education, low pollution, and technology. Yet, my experiments in democratic freedom inevitably led to disaster, as pollution controls and ever-growing power needs plunged the nation into debt. Eventually, the religious faction – tired of my focus on education and technology – would lead an armed coup triggered by the introduction of free Wi-fi.
It’s not easy being a loving leader. So, this time I decided to radically change things up. As El Presidente of an all-new Tropico, I made it my mission to prioritize wealth above all else. I would enact edicts, make Constitutional amendments, and cut deals that would fill the nation’s treasury alongside my Swiss bank account. Nothing else would matter.
Ruling The Islands Of Tropico 6
I began my sandbox game using the random map generator, which gave me a large region with rich mines and $150,000 starting money. In Tropico 6, players get to manage over multiple islands with differing resources and environments. Unfortunately, I only ended up with a handful of mines and they were scattered loosely across the islands. Fishing was out of the question too because there weren’t too many fishing areas to exploit. So, it became clear that I had to rely heavily on agriculture for my industries.
For my presidential trait, I chose Corruption, which boosts deposits to my personal bank account but increases the potential for crime around the palace. I decided to skip the Colonial era and start during the World Wars, where I had to manage relationships between Axis and Allied powers. I figured my best approach was to use Embassy tools and demands to align with the Allied forces while trading extensively with the higher paying Axis powers.
My regime got off to a rather rocky start, since I had to find suitable areas to build cash crops like sugar and tobacco while still sort of being able to feed my own people. I quickly burned through my funds building the infrastructure needed to get my rum and cigar industries off the ground. Things started to get complicated when demands from factions and superpowers started to come in.
In order to stay president, I needed to maintain some level of happiness and approval. However, my pro-child labor with no retirement age stance, alongside edicts that charged my citizens for everything from lunch to going to church, wasn’t doing me any favors. But my biggest wall was on education.
Crime was very high on the nation Tropico, so I needed a police force right away. But with uneducated labor driving my economy, and one high school for the entire nation, I was hitting a severe brain drain problem for these institutions. Fortunately, there was a relatively easy solution: I went on a heist.
Stealing Success In Tropico
I built a Pirate’s Cove, which enables raids such as large-scale heists to steal world monuments. One World Wonder that caught my eye was the Registan of Samarkand, which automatically gives all children a high school education. It took a couple of years for my pirates to steal the giant monument, but it was worth it. The theft was the key to my success, as it instantly provided me with the workforce I needed to run my institutions while others could immediately attend college for higher-end jobs.
But it turns out there was another problem on the horizon. Apparently, superpowers don’t like it when you sign trade deals with their rivals. I didn’t have much of a choice, since the Axis forces were willing to pay top dollar for my goods. I figured, if the Allies wanted a trade deal, they should offer me better prices, so I didn’t pay much attention to their growing disapproval.
That is, I didn’t until one of those overly sensitive nations decided to invade my island. Their soldiers came marching through and wiped out nearly half of my economy by destroying key buildings. My puny forces were barely able to repel them. It was then that I realized that having wealth meant protecting it. So, I had to put more funding into the military.
Watchtowers, barracks, and army bases were built to protect my buildings. I also enacted the military police edict so that my professional soldiers could double as crime fighters. Why not, right? After all, I had set my regular police force to catch and release, meaning criminals could buy their way out of being arrested, and the people wanted to lower the insanely high crime rate. So, I was giving it to them.
But that wasn’t enough, it seems. My approval ratings were bottoming out at around 40 percent, even though the nation was wealthy thanks to my efforts. Even with only the rich allowed to vote, which comprised of a tiny handful of citizens, I still needed to make payoffs to faction leaders and meet their demands to make it through the next election.
Meeting Tropican Demands
After that humbling experience, it was clear that I had to do something about my image problem. In past games, my weak point was always with the religious faction, so I decided to turn that around in Tropico 6. My first move was to amend the Constitution so that my nation would be a Theocracy. This earned me 20 extra points with the religious faction, but that was just the start.
Being a theocracy turned churches into a quadruple threat. Employees of religious institutions acted as a police force, arresting criminals that came in for forgiveness or sanctuary, and lowering the crime rate. Building churches boosted approval from religious citizens, so it became worthwhile to have them in every neighborhood. Then there was the edict that filled the nation’s coffers a little each time someone visited a church. To top it all off, I hired a government minister from the religious faction so that rebels and criminals who visited church had a chance of reforming. But even if they didn’t, I got kickbacks from the prison each time someone was arrested, so I made money no matter what.
Having a militaristic theocracy as the backbone of my state was exactly what my unfettered capitalistic economy needed. Sure, it hindered scientific progress, which made obtaining new edicts and technology slower, but that was okay. I was still early in the game.
I said goodbye to my soaring crime rate, smiled at my healthy treasury, and moved on to the Cold War era.
Fighting A Cold War
Transitioning to new eras was rougher than I thought it would be. All trade contracts are canceled at the same time, which meant a steep income drop. Both the Western and Eastern powers are pretty stingy with their trade agreements at first, since they’d much rather export goods than import them from you.
My industries had to grow beyond booze, cigars, and guns, which had been the foundation of my entire economy. That meant I had to grow my infrastructure again to keep up with the times, which burned through most of my cash and sent the country into heavy debt. Therefore, I did what any reasonable Tropico leader would do. I started cutting corners.
I reduced safety and job standards and had my pirates go out on regular raids to get money. I let my citizens live in the cheapest housing possible and barely paid to maintain them, which was fine, since almost everyone was poor. Most of all, I started building banks since they make money just by existing. They’re expensive, so I couldn’t build too many at once, but they helped lift the economy up when it was in peril.
But while I saved the national treasury, a new problem quickly arose. My people were dreadfully unhappy, whining about petty things like inadequate healthcare and liberty. That’s when I started promising better healthcare with every speech I made, which I got to doing… eventually. With the theocracy slowing my research time down and the recent economic recession, I couldn’t put a lot of resources into making sure my citizens saw doctors. Besides, healthcare starts as a free service until you research the right Constitutional amendment, so there was nothing in it for my bank account.
I briefly tried expanding into tourism, but not too many people want to visit a militaristic theocratic government, even though I had high-class hotels, restaurants, and Rome’s Coliseum as attractions. Go figure.
Things got dark during the Cold War era. My approval ratings dropped to 35 percent, so I had to take more drastic action. I set all my state-owned media (newspapers, radio, television) so that they would extol my virtues and tell my Tropicans how happy they actually were. I paid off faction leaders and bowed to their ridiculous demands. All of that moved the needle, but it wasn’t enough. Ultimately, I had to “nudge” the election results so that I could stay in power.
I was able to make to the Modern era by 1990. So, despite my numerous setbacks, I was able to more-or-less keep in line with real history. I was proud of that, but the true work of industrializing the nation and cementing Tropico’s place as the wealthiest island on Earth was about to begin.
Although the Modern Times era offers amazing technology, it is the most challenging time period of the game. There are five different nations and several factions to deal with now, and I had nearly depleted all my island’s natural resources. Worse yet, over-farming the land led to severe soil degradation, so I wasn’t producing as many goods as I used to. Not to mention, the people were still pissed at me for rigging the last election.
Surely, boosting the nation’s wealth was the answer to everything. But first, I amended the Constitution so that haters had a chance to be exiled forever. I should have also limited the voting rights to government workers only, but I maintained faith that my five rich citizens would be happy with all the money rolling in.
Rolling In Cash
To brace myself for Modern Times, I built office towers, which provided income for every employed citizen on the island. I bought myself a superintelligent research facility to make up for my utter lack of education institutions and supplemented it with a spy agency that stole money and technologies for me. I researched global trade and joined an elite consortium, permanently boosting income from my exports.
Money was rolling in, and it was awesome. Having lots of money was the next best thing to having the cheat codes for Tropico 6. I could build or upgrade anything, and I was on track to be a supreme leader.
That’s when everything pretty much fell apart. Pollution from my industries supposedly caused the sea levels to rise, but I didn’t believe it. But climate change did cause a lot of fires. Buildings were burning on a near monthly basis. Fortunately, I had excellent firefighter coverage. The pollution was also making people sick, so I finally got around to building a couple of hospitals that no one could afford. See, I kept my promise!
However, the biggest problem was that my nation’s economic prosperity was attracting people from all over the world, and I soon had a housing crisis.
Almost no one could afford to live in a middle-class apartment building, so I had to build large blocks of crumbling tenements to pull rent from all these squatters. But no matter what I built, it was never enough. Homelessness was at an all-time high and so was unemployment. I had no choice but to put a stop to immigration by closing off my borders.
That’s when China invaded, because of course they did. Fortunately, my nation was armed to the teeth now and I successfully repelled their attack. However, instead of bringing my people together during a time of crisis, the invasion did nothing to change people’s opinions of me. My approval rating was still at a dismal 35 percent, despite all the brainwashing.
The End of El Presidente’s Reign
It was time to get serious. I set my intelligence ministry to start spying on citizens to root out potential rebels and adjusted my prisons to brainwash everyone who came in. Despite my efforts, Environmentalists began to radicalize and vandalized one of my buildings. That pissed me off to no end. I’d finally had it with all the poor, oppressed, homeless, sick, and ungrateful people who couldn’t appreciate living on one of the wealthiest island nations in the Caribbean.
I could have tried going on a heist to steal a monument that solved approval ratings, but I didn’t have time for that. Instead, I sent my military drones to kill off all my enemies and anyone with a low approval rating of me. That should have solved all the problems, but it was too little too late.
Elections came, and nothing I did could stave off the inevitable. I bribed all the faction leaders, bowed to their demands, and even tried to rig the election one more time. I managed to push my approval to 40 percent, but it wasn’t enough.
The people voted me out. This was the thanks I got for achieving immense economic prosperity in Tropico 6. All that was left to do was retire somewhere and enjoy all the money I earned in my secret Swiss bank account.
Steven has been tinkering with computers and playing PC games since he was a little kid. He remains fascinated with all the ways technology and entertainment come together to make amazing new experiences. When not writing or playing video games, he usually watches way too many sci-fi movies and shows.