This guide is meant to help you with beating survival, i also sprinkled some tips applicable to sandbox in here, so you may also read it as a help for sandbox i guess.
This guide is meant for people who just want to unlock the paranoic residence and then play sandbox or have a hard time getting into survival mode.
I highly advise you to atleast try and beat it without a guide, as it will be much more rewarding.
Survival mode may seem frightening, but you just need to play your cards right. Don’t be afraid to restart early and experiment. Just have fun and i hope this guide helps you. Enjoy the game capo!
This guide was made during the last beta prior to release, i am in the process of updating it. If you find any inconsistencies feel free to comment on them!
Choice of Capo
I’m gonna propose a capo that immediately unlocked to save you the hassle of unlocking capo xy. For any capo is to be able to launder enough LEGAL money. Thus, expansion is important and you need to strike a balance between good unlocks and combat power.
Because lieutenant choices are fixed in survival your first 4 lieuts will ALWAYS be:
Monstruo (unless you pick him as capo), Ahiga, Reina and Julio.
Thus, you also always have at least 6 power + your capo’s power.
My “ideal” capo pick:
Jesus “Dragon” Garza
- +2 Power
- Farm II
->Farm II will give you early access to cannabis, so you can skip messing with almost worthless opium. Robbery and Kidnap will kickstart your economy and -if used like i propose- possibly carry your the first few months.
I will simply ignore the other capos as there’s just too many of them and i don’t want to force you to unlock certain capos.
The choice of starting region
Choosing the right starting region can make survival very easy, picking the wrong one will kill your capo within the first three demands. All regions have pros and cons, but i will focus on only one, as this guide is only about winning survival consistently.
For those of you that don’t know: the game always starts with two regions in government control which are easy to conquer.
Which region to pick now?
So what does this region offer?
You get three building slots in the city, not that astonishing. With the hotel and the mandatory research center you’ll only get one building slot. I know that sounds bad, but the other traits of this region will make up for it, promise.
You get a seaport. That’s good, cause it allows for a lot of throughput, which means more dinero. And we’re talking about A LOT of throughput.
You get a 100% cannabis spot with a plantation already placed on it to boot. Yes, you’ll net to capture it, but even just monstruo would be able to do so easily. Also there’s 100% veggies fertility right next to it, but we won’t really need that.
100 loads of coke and 50 loads meth; a nice stock to either sell for quick profit or to keep in case a mayor demands that for taking over the city prior to setting up the production for it.
The airport won’t do you much good, but later on you could produce meth there and of course use the city for laundering money. Also a good stepping stone for further expansion due to being in dead center of the map.
Mostly bad fertility (apart from coca), only three building slots and a river pier. Sounds bad, but this region can give you a lot of value because it’s quick and easy to take over.
This region has only fertility for chem plants and veggies+coffee, so it’s good for setting up meth or laundering money, nothing beyond that, though.
The biggest city in the game, but actually not that hard to acquire. Getting this city gives you access to another river pier, but most importantly 5 city slots, which gives lots of potential for money laundering. Also cannabis and coffee fertility. For taking over this city you need to sacrifice on of your LTs. I usually send Reina to prison, as she’s not really useful.
Losing your capo
If you ever miss a payment your capo will die. This is NOT the end of the game! The payment demands will reset, starting at 10k again. You can choose a new capo, but you’ll lose some buildings either having them destroyed or confiscated as well as having regions flip neutral or hostile. Your lieutenants will retreat to one of your cities. PAUSE THE GAME! Immediately send them to all unoccupied cities (if they are losing loyalty) you still control! Check your production chains and repair them. You can get back in the game, don’t give up. Also you still have your research unlocks.
A point about the Drugs
Low value and slow return of investments will make production chains of this a not that wort it, but it still works as a supplement.
This is the drug to go for in the early game. Rather low research requirements (especially with Jesus as your capo), cheap investment cost, respectable output and after research of dryer II high production volume. The research for cannabis also sets you up with 2 of 3 techs needed for coke production! Insane return of investment until you export enough to kill the price. Remember to use your LT-Deals to bump prices up again regularly! This is drug can theoretically fuel your whole game.
With the research of cocaine being cheaper now this is a much more valuable export. As you get farm II through your capo you’re gonna research farm III to access dryer II early you only miss the lab I to start producing coke, this is a solid investment you should definitely go for.
For survival this drug is too late for the party. You’ll spend lots of legal money to unlock it and research a long time. Meanwhile you can earn more than enough with cannabis and/or cocaine. So this guide will do without it. If you’re ahead of demands you can still go for it.
Even later than meth, you’d better just ignore this one completely.
General (really useful) advice:
- Packaging drugs is not only useful for shipping them via legal routes! It also increases the export capacity! The math is as follows:
Export limit (legal goods) * packaged amount (drugs) = Exported amount of drugs
To give you numbers for that calculation:
Export limit (18 coffee) * packaging limit (5 per coffee) = 90 drugs per flight!
You can see how much drugs can be stuffed into a unit of legal goods by checking your workshops.
Also, workshops take the same time for every cycle whatever legal goods you select.
So using higher tier packaging also increases the packaged amount per day, thus reducing the amount of workshops you need in total! This also reduces the workload of your warehouses!
So you can either export 32 cocaine unpackaged (with export upgrade for the aerodrome) OR you can use 18 coffee (each with 5 capacity) for a total of 90 coke per flight. That’s triple the original amount!
- Build priority for pure money laundering (if money is not the problem) Bank>Cathedral>Casino>Jewelry store> Circus>Taxi corp
If money is tight you’d build a jewelry store first as it is quite cheap for it’s laundering volume.
- Using the “demolish building” ability you can actually launder money. To do that you build something expensive, like an aerodrome, and then use said ability to demolish it again, earning LEGAL money in the process.
- Always throw as much force into a fight as possible, as the quicker the fight ends, the less terror you create. And fighting at two farms in succession for 5 days each generates less terror than fighting at both farms simultaneously and taking 8 days for each farm. Makes sense, right?
- If you plan on attacking a city or get a lot of terror it’s smarter to just bribe the first star instead of lowering terror, as the bribe costs only 10k$ and lasts for 40 days. That way you have way more breathing room.
- If you die, then you COULD cheese the game by going ALT+F4, do so at risk of killing the thrill.
- If the police cannot find a “suspicious building” (red exclamation mark), they will not trigger at all and their star goes inactive for some time.
- Defeating enforcers freezes their star for up to one month!
- The “lower terror” ability always resets the terror bar to ZERO, so you should go for as much terror as you dare before using it!
- If you’re about to hit the federales terror star: PAUSE THE GAME, check if any Lts are doing a long trip which might be interrupted by a spawning police cordon! Losing LTs that way is sloppy and should be avoided. Losing a high-value LT may cause the death of your capo in the long run! Also the federales will confiscate all trucks coming through the cordon!
- This one is super-duper-extra-important:
Terror is nothing you should be afraid of! It is a resource, so USE IT!
After following this guide you will understand why.
- Have you ever thought: “ugh, why are my LTs taking so long?!” or maybe “i wish my LTs could be faster. Say no more fam! I present to you: THE L.T.eleportation-device!
[*]Road length matters as much as the level of your warehouse! Always try to build direct roads to and from your warehouse for your trucks. Ideally have builds be directly adjacent to each other! The amount of goods transported scales ridiculously with road shortness. See this example:
This will make your LTs zoom around the map at near-lightspeed. Bigger buildings like aerodromes work even better.
- Road length matters as much as the level of your warehouse! Always try to build direct roads to and from your warehouse for your trucks. Ideally have builds be directly adjacent to each other! The amount of goods transported scales ridiculously with road shortness. See this example:
There’s more layouts in the bottom section!
The early game
If i were to divide this into early and late game, i’d say the early game is all around setting the foundation for your game and surviving the first few, let’s say three, demands. This is where you decide whether to restart, where and what to build, research order, the second region you capture and so on. We’ll see rapdily increasing demands while not getting that much time to deliver. The early game will see us fighting to survive harsh deadlines while trying to expand in preparation for the next demand. Here we go:
Pause the game immediately and get your bearings:
Which cities are enemy controlled? Which are neutral (government controlled)?
->you can consider restarting if no neighbouring regions are neutral as conquering them takes lots of power and diplomatic take over takes lots of time.
You’ll have this view:
To the left we have a plantation level 2 waiting to make us lots of money and a warehouse filled with cannabis. To the right there’s lots of farms to ignore as well as a village.
Step 2 (still paused):
Build the research center. Then we hire the available LTs and order them to take over the plantation and the warehouse. Meanwhile your capo will use kidnap and robbery for extra money.
Step 3 (now unpaused):
Watch as your research center is built and wait for the fighting at the plantation to be finished.
Turn it on. Afterwards you empty and deconstruct the warehouse, it’s in the way and poorly placed. Just send the cannabis to the city for now.
A BIG IF: IF Cerro Tacarina is neutral, then use step 4, otherwise skip to step 5:
The next targets are the buildings down in Cerro Tacarina to kickstart our drug production until we can set up all buildings ourself. See the next screenshot.
Step 4 (still paused):
This little hub is a juicy target. We got a cannabis farm, a dryer and most importantly: a workshop. This enables using the seaport instantly without having to sacrifice research time. We kindly ask the neighbours to leave. I’ll talk research when the research center is done.
Early expansion looks risky, but it really isn’t unless you somehow manage to trigger the DEA. In the beginning just ignore the police or bribe the cordon away, or even better: just build a sand road around those fools.
You will need to call in the “reduce terror”-favor to avoid the DEA. Definitely avoid them until you have at least 12 power with available LTs. Police, on the other hand, can be dealt with if you have more than 8 power. When you get above these power levels, you can just let them come at you and whoop their a*s.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If the federales cannot find a “suspicious building” (red exclamation mark), they will only trigger another roadblock by the police and the star will go inactive as if they raided you. You can abuse that if you’re careful.
Step 5 (it’s a lot, i know):
Priority research goes in this order: Farm III > Dryer II > Transport Company I > Workshop I
If Cerro City is neutral, lucky you.
Start research on farm III and order to attack the village and then the river pier next to Cerro City. Rebuild the village because that’s where the coffee for packaging the drugs will come from*. When farm III research is done go for dryer II research, with kidnapping money should be enough, if not -> loan. When the city is neutral you can just ask the mayor about taking over. To take over Cerro Tacarina you have to move 100 coke to Cerro City as well as 100 cannabis, the coke can be bought from other gangs. When the fighting in this region stops and you moved the drugs, congratulations, you just took over your second city! Order to rebuild the river pier.
If an enemy gang occupies the city talk to them and make them your friends. Some deals to buy/sell drugs will help your relationship tremendously.
*Why to buy coffee instead of growing it? Simple answer: You get loyalty for dirty money, so pay high prices! Long answer: dirty money comes in droves, legal money gets siphoned away by Panfilo, so we need to save the legal money you’d normally pay for loyalty boosts!
I hope you used robbery and kidnapping as much as you could! If so, then your bank account should look like this:
What you see here is the economy screen. I should note that i exported exactly NOTHING at all so far. All my income is my capo doing robbery and kidnapping, while i take over Cerro Tacarina. If you manage your terror well you can maximise the effect of “lower terror” and your capos money-maker abilities!
Step 6 is an odd one, as the timing of what to do now is variable and depends on whether Cerro is neutral, how long the fighting takes, whether you remember to continue research without a break and so on. So from here on the guide becomes a guideline and not a step-by-step tutorial. Use your brain and you’ll make it, i have trust in you.
Robbery + kidnap as much as your terror allows from here on out. Reduce terror with mayor’s favors before the dea triggers and regain loyalty by buying stuff in villages. Use the bought coffee for workshops, just buy veggies even if they get lost. As long as you keep buying all veggies and coffee your loyalty won’t be a problem.
For the production setup see this (or the appendix) and plop down the buildings around the plantation as you unlock them:
It is very important to build as tight as possible so the trucks can deliver quickly! See everything being built directly adjacent to the warehouses! (See the appendix!)
(Lower warehouses ONLY move RAW CANNABIS to their own connected drying rack)
You can pay their upkeep with legal money as the hotel will need all it’s trucks hauling money to the bank you will build VERY SOON*.
The workshops use coffee to pack your cannabis and the transport company delivers to the sea port.
When your research is done, buy the range and truck upgrades for your warehouses and transport companies.
Your first loan is for paying the research and the first demand by Panfilo.
Your second and third loan are for buying a bank in Soledoso.
You WILL need it. You will need at least three banks to make it through survival IF you’re quick.
Do NOT use loans without a reason, they get more expensive each time and trigger the favor cooldown!
The “later” game
By now ( late May / early June) you should have sold some shipments of cannabis and the first bank should already be busy laundering money. If you built the production setup like me, you’ll start swimming in cash, so it’s time for bank nr. 2 and to expand production. Think about more research and check your terror, because you should expand to Tensaca and Molino soon.
At this point you have to wait a lot. So you can do some schemeing in your head here.
More research stuff:
Residence I > aerodrome > gravel road (also go for truck upgrades)
You may ask why to go for the aerodrome as we have a pier and a seaport and i’ll tell you why:
The “Ox-Eye”-event would break your economy if you completely rely on them. By researching the aerodrome you can always just shift your export route and you don’t have to ship across the whole map like with checkpoints.
When Guerrero reaches max experience level him up for “Green-fingered” and have him take care of the cannabis plantation.
Time to earn more money. While researching the lab you can already think about the layout of your coke farms in Cerro. Remember the lesson learned while building the cannabis production? Apply it to your coke farms as well – so keep those roads short and see how warehouse level I is enough to be able to serve coke farms (while developing sore eyes from all that road spaghetti). Through clever use of kidnapping and loans you should be able to afford researching constantly and you should be able to afford the castle residence in southern Cerro (or a normal one) See here:
I call it ‘nightmare on coke street’. It looks awful, but it will work (when the warehouse bug gets fixed; until then these need to be warehouse lvl2 to function at full efficiency). Researching gravel road and better warehouses later on will fix efficiency. If the pier cannot keep up, just drop an aerodrome here. Later you can build aerodromes in other regions and ship coke there with extra transport companies.
By this point, with your production and two banks the demands should not be an issue for now.
This means it’s time to expand, get more banks and casinos, research to improve your production and have some fun finally.
By this point you should be able to keep up with both paying the demands and research. So next step.
Acquire Tensaca and Molino at the same time, as both have the condition to launder money through banks, so two birds with one stone. Place some cannabis in Tensaca as well as another aerodrome. This way Tensaca can supply it’s money laundering by itself and you don’t have to fiddle with money transfering.
4X – explore, expand, exploit, exterminate.
This is very straightforward. Whereas in the early game small mistakes could mess up your game and dirty money was an issue, by this step, the game is only about capturing cities for new banks. So at this point the guide opens up and you can go on how you see fit. Here i can only present you a loop that will lead you to eventually become “too big to fail”, earning you the alternative ending dialogue of the survival mode. Or you wait it out and see what Panfilo has to say when you reach the end date.
All you do is as follows:
burn enemy buildings
increase loyalty / reduce terror
build laundering buildings
And that’s it actually. If you reach the point where you don’t have to worry about meeting the demands you’ve actually won already, you just have to keep taking cities and occasionally plop down more production and research stuff to level 3.
From here on you should also place more aerodromes, one for every two regions you own is a good number. Place some cannabis farms for easy money or go for more coke / research meth (but be careful not to overspend!).
Salvage Value I and II
Get the legal money, it’s free LEGAL money. You can just buy that stuff with dirty money later on.
Fill or Kill
Export 100 Opium, why would you even consider only getting 7k $ if you can get 10k LEGAL money?
If your plantation goes down to 50% it’s no dealbreaker, you’ll get enough money nonetheless. Especially if you place a capo with an efficiency bonus in there.
If this event comes early take the dirty money. If you already have good exports and dirty money isn’t a problem take the loyalty.
You should definitely pay the 2k $ to freeze an attention star. Especially if police is already frozen, because then it will freeze the federales and you can go crazy for 21 days. To be more clear: this event should freeze the highest, non-frozen star!
You should buy lots of stuff from villages anyways, so taking the 8k $ goal is a no-brainer. Free loyalty.
For this one you select “forfeit 8 buildings” then you place some random opium farms and deconstruct them again. Done.
Example production layouts
Due to a bug in the april-playtest warehouses sometimes idle their trucks for a short time between deliveries, killing efficiency, in that case just add one or two more warehouses
Example Plantation Layout
An Example Layout with a Plantation for later is shown below (it is in the fertility zone closer to the port, outside of your hotels area of influence).
This shows road placement as well (see the random tips section for an explanation for this).
Here you see whats serviced by warehouse one.
And the serviced buildings of warehouse two.
Example Layout with coke and meth mixed
These two screenshots show a compressed coke and meth operation in Foscani. This is the only production i have in that save and see how little warehouses it needs by using clever spacing and supply restrictions. For example restriction warehouse 1 to raw material and warehouse 2 to legal goods for workshops and finished drugs, as well as restricting warehouses to only pick up the chosen drug to avoid pollution of said warehouses.
For the sake of completeness i repeat the layouts shown in the actual game guide here:
Remember to configure the warehouses in the bottom to only transport raw cannabis, while the upper warehouses ignore raw cannabis.
Here the inner warehouses take the coca leaves to the drier, while the outer warehouses take the dried coca to the lab and ignore the farms.
Residence placement tips
At some point your hotel will be overloaded with logistics. At this point you want to build residences. Just build all the buildings in a city you want so you can see where they will be exactly. Then build a residence in a spot that covers most of those buildings.
The residence in the top right should cover at least two buildings in Soledoso at level one. If you upgrade it later the area of influence will increase and by level 3 all buildings are covered.
A big thank you
For the original guide:
To Zero on the official discord for proof-reading and feedback!
As well as Guardinger for being my guinea pig to test my guide!
For the april-playtest-update:
Thank you to casasa viruz on discord for playtesting and feedback!
And to you, the reader, for taking time to read this guide and making it worthwhile to spend hours on this. Please leave feedback in the comments!
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