The Continuous game mode allows you to customize a plethora of options regarding map size, resources, natural disasters, other players, starting conditions, and winning conditions. Continuous mode can be considered the ultimate Anno 1404 experience since it allows total freedom to build your world how you want.
Note: There are quite a few achievements that can only be done in Continuous mode. If you're trying for a specific achievement, it's in your interest to tailor the game settings to help you get that achievement.
There are three pre-set modes available: Easy, Medium, and Hard. However, you can customize your own game the way you want and set goals you want to pursue. The game allots certain "difficulty points" for every option you pick. If you pick enough harder options, the game will be considered medium or hard.
Tip: If you're trying for an achievement that requires a "Hard continuous game", make sure you customize your game with enough "hard" choices to make the game difficulty reach the "Hard" level.
Settings for maximum population
If your goal is to build the biggest cities possible, always play on a huge world with large islands. Pick abundant resources as well.
It's also advisable to specifically pick one of the map numbers listed in the next section in order to have the most land to build upon. Land space is ultimately the limiting factor for your maximum population size in Anno 1404.
You could pick to have the building materials fully refund on demolition since this allows for lots of experimentation with farming and housing layouts. However, this makes the game difficulty "Easy".
Good Maps for Continuous Game
This section lists map numbers and their screenshots allowing players who have no time to restart multiple times to pick a good map for their future game without much hassle.
Map 18030 with Medium Islands is a nice map to start your adventure with Continuous Game mode. The main Occidental island has an Oriental island right next to it with Spices, Dates, Quartz, and Clay (on fertile islands setting of course). The main island itself has a river, 2x Brine, 2x Stone, 2x Iron and 2x Bear's Cave along with Hemp and Cider fertilities.
Map 39950 - Venice Only
Map 39950 has its largest island almost in the center of the map. It has 2x Stone, 1x Brine, 2x Coal, 3x Iron, and 3x Bear's Cave. It has 6x River spots for construction and Brother Hilarius neutral power who sells you tools and wood. The main island has Cider and Hemp fertilities. To the east there is a small island with 3x Stone and 4x Iron mines, which is excellent for a Wood/Tools production.
Map 59766 (if is huge with large islands) has 2 giant isles that are right near Kingsport and Al-Zahir's port. The main Occidental island has 3x Stone, 5x Brine, 2x Coal, and 2 Caves. The only bad thing is only one Iron. The isle's NPS is Barnabas. Also this island has a river and Cider, Hemp and Wheat fertilities. The great Oriental island has 2xStone, 1x Quartz, 4x Coal, 2x Copper, 1 Iron and 2x Reef (has fertilities: Dates, Spices and Silk) The NPC is Izmir.
Continuous game mechanics are basically the same as the Campaign or most Scenarios. The only difference is there aren't any story elements or special quests, although any present NPCs will offer a selection of quests randomly.
- If you picked to only start with a ship or ship with an escort, you start next to Lord Northburgh's Warehouse. Purchase all the wood offered unless you've started with really low amounts of gold. For a really aggressive start, sell (or dump and pick up later) the fish and buy all the tools you can as well.
- Settle an island. Compared to other Anno games, in 1404 there is a moderate amount of time to find a good place to start since AI ships will take their time, often stopping in the open sea and in general won't rush for best islands like ships did in previous games. Still, if an AI grabs the largest and best island before you do, it's highly recommended to restart the game, unless you want a challenge.
Finding a perfect island
- The perfect island should be large and flat, contain no lakes or major waste of land, be close to neutral port, be centrally located for ship travel time purposes, have Cider and Hemp fertilities, and have at least two deposits of Stone and Iron Ore each.
- Settle on the southern end of the island, the first goods deliveries will be coming from the South. Later you can build Harbor Master's Offices on the west, east, and north ends of your island to speed up deliveries from other occidental islands.
- Immediately after landing and setting up warehouse port, build three woodcutters around your warehouse port with roads to the warehouse port. Make sure your woodcutters have enough space apart to operate at 100% and add Trees (only 5 gold) in construction menu around them until all three are 100%.
- Build two Fisherman's Huts touching on each side of your warehouse port. Connect them with roads with the port.
- Proceed to build your first housing area. Build a Marketplace, surround it with as many houses as you have Wood for. If you bought Wood from Northburgh as advised above, you will be able to settle around 40 houses right away. Keep adding new houses as more Wood is produced so your tax income grows.
- Raise the taxes from 'Euphoric' to 'Happy' to allow them to keep moving in while increasing your revenue. Increase their taxes to 'Calm' once all your peasant houses are full, since your peasants can't ascend now. Just remember to put tax back to 'Euphoric' level when you want them to ascend.
- As soon as enough (60) peasants have settled, build one or two Cider farms and connect them to one of your warehouses. Cider will increase tax revenue from your peasants and is a prerequisite to ascend to citizen level.
- There is no point in building a Chapel until your peasants are satisfied with cider. It only costs maintenance and does not increase tax revenue.
- While doing the above or after finishing the building above, you can send your Flagship to explore all the islands in the archipelago (game map) you're playing. You want to have all the islands discovered very quickly so you can claim the good ones for yourself.
- On your way exploring you should first visit Northburgh again. Buy a Diplomatic Scroll with the 50 honor you got at reaching 90 peasants. Unless you started with only 10,000 gold, buy all the Tools and Wood he has to offer again.
- Set off to find Al Zahir's harbor and deliver the Diplomatic Scroll to him. This will give you a Caravel full of Tools, Wood, and Dates. Send this ship right back to your main island to help build up Stone and Tool production. (Or you can start building your Oriental settlement with this ship.)
Stone and tool production
- While your Flagship is out exploring, your city will continue to grow. Your priority is to start producing Stone and Tools as fast as possible to become independent of expensive Tool purchases from the NPCs. Block ascension rights after reaching 16 Citizen houses (240 Citizen capacity), so you don't spend precious tools upgrading too many houses. Build the basics only: enough Fish, enough Cider, and one Chapel. Build one or two Stonemason's huts to produce enough stone for your Tool chain.
- Start building your Tool chain. First, build an Iron Ore mine and a Charcoal burner's hut close enough for the Iron smelter to make direct pickups from them (or build them apart and connect everything to Market buildings). Place two Tool maker's workshops close to the Iron smelter and connect them to a Market building. Sell some buildings if it helps get the Tool chain running sooner.
Satisfying citizen needs
- When your Tools production is up and running, you should progress to building three things. First, satisfy your Citizens need for Linen Garments with two chains of two Hemp Farms and one Weavers Hut (sell surplus). Then start some production of Ropes for sale (and in the long run for producing ships). Two Hemp Farms and two Rope Yards will produce a good quantity of it and earn a steady influx of cash for your settlement. Then set up your second Tools chain.
- Once you pass 355 Citizens, you're going to need fire protection. You'll need all of your houses covered by a Carpenter and/or Fire station. Carpenters have very high maintenance costs, so it's best to just use Fire stations until late in the game.
Developing the Orient
- Find a big Oriental island with Spices and Dates fertilities and send your flagship there to settle. Build 10 Nomad Houses (150 Nomads is how many you need to open up Spice production and Nomad houses hold 15 people each, so 10 is exactly how many you need. To supply your population with Dates, build one Date plantation (and one Noria next to it if it's in desert area).
- When 150 Nomads settle down, build two or three Spice plantations and have your Oriental ship deliver them to your northern island via a Trade Route. This is the main reason you settled this island so early in the first place.
- In longer perspective you want your southern island to start producing Wood (Woodcutters cut palms just like pines in the north!), Stone, and Tools just like your northern island. You quickly want a population of at least 440 Nomads (30 houses) for access to the available buildings (and to get an honor reward). Build Milk farms to increase tax income, but ignore their desire for Carpets for now. Raise their taxes from 'Euphoric' to 'Calm' when the houses are full.
- One Stonecutter's hut is convenient on the oriental island, to upgrade your warehouse, build the Tool chains, and to be ready to build Harbour defence towers if required. The only true oriental building that requires Stone, however, is the Bath house, which will not be required until much later in the game.
Developing the north further
- With steady inflow of Spices from the south, your Citizens will be able to progress to Patrician level, which opens a whole new set of challenges.
- You will need to settle a new northern island, a perfect one will have Brine deposits, a river, and fertilities of Crops and Herbs. It rarely happens all on one islands so you want to quickly snatch two or even three of them.
- Build chains producing Bread (2x Crop Farm, 1x Mill, and 1x Bakery), Beer (1x Monastery Garden, 1x Crop Farm, and 1x Monastery Brewery) and Leather Jerkins (4x Pigs, 1x Salt Mine over Brine Deposit, 1x Salt Works, 1x Charcoal Burner, and 2x Tannery over the river) and set up ships delivering them to your main island. Produce more than you need and sell the surplus.
- This is a good moment to spend Honour points and upgrade the trading fleets of Al Vizir and Northburgh so they come to you more often and purchase more goods. It's also good to have some trade goods production (Jerkins, Weapons, and Linen garments are good but selling any extra goods will add up) on your auxiliary islands just to sell those to passing by ships.
- Set up at least one Peasant village on a new island. Small villages pay more tax per inhabitant, and their tax level can also be controlled independently. An effective size is about 75 houses (can be covered by one Carpenter), served by three Fishermen and two Cider farms. This will net you 600-800 gold/minute.
Upgrading your main Harbor
If you haven't played the Campaign where there's a whole mission about this particular issue, read these tips:
- You need lots of Stone.
- Start with building a Harbor Master's Office by your Warehouse extending your Harbor Area, so long as you have enough coastal area. If the coast by your Warehouse is small, build the Harbor Master's Office on another coast of your island.
- Add a Repair Crane and a Small Shipyard where you will produce and repair your ships.
- Add at least one (better two) Piers (a Patrician level building). It will add additional docking points for your ships that are delivering goods to your main island and also NPC merchants so they don't wait in a queue. You want Piers and Repair Cranes to be built off in the sea to increase the size of your harbor. You can build repair cranes right next to docking places so while your own ships are loading they can automatically be repaired when damaged.
- Add a Harbor Master's Office and maybe a Pier too on the northern end of your island and redirect your northern routes there. Manually adjusting trade routes to go to the north location if closer will uncrowd your main harbor and speed up delivery.
- Build Small Storehouses in your Harbor, increasing your storage capabilities to something around 150-200 units of each good.
- Build some Towers if you're afraid of attack, but only if you're at war.
- While you're at it, build a Tournament arena and start organizing them on regular basis to build your Honour up. This is unrelated to the Harbor but now's a good time for it.
Developing the South further
- The needs of the people here are less numerous than in the North. You want to establish Carpet production on an island that supports Indigo and Silk. You also want to have enough Milk and Dates for your Nomad population.
- Keep building new houses with the Tools and Wood you're producing and keep delivering new Diplomatic Scrolls until you unlock Carpet, Quartz, and Mosaic production. Establish trade routes delivering Carpets and Mosaic to your Oriental Settlement and Quartz to your Northern one. Delivering Quartz will allow Glass to be produced in the North, which allows for building the Church and Debtor's Prison in the North, satisfying some of the final needs of your Patricians.
- Get an Oriental island with Indigo fertility and a river on it. Establish Books production there. You need 2x Woodcutter's Huts, 4x Indigo Farms, 1x Paper Mill, and 2x Printing House per each chain. Deliver the Books to your Occidental settlement. (Alternately, you can just produce Indigo in the South and ship it to a Northern river island to finish the Books production.)
- After all this, go right into upgrading to Envoys. All you should need to do is build a Mosque and make sure your tax level is at 'Euphoric'. Once you have Envoys, ignore most of their needs for now. They only need Milk, Dates, and a Mosque to survive. Later you can think about Coffee and their more sophisticated needs, but for now your Occidental settlement is much more important.
- Block Ascension Rights before you proceed to the Noblemen level. Slowly upgrade your population, satisfying all their needs on the way. The needs of the noblemen are many and cost a lot, so they won't pay for themselves in taxes right away. Therefore, you'll most likely run a negative balance for a while. You better have overproduction of other goods to offer to NPC traders, so they can keep you afloat. Be sure to set up profitable passive sales at all your island warehouses.
- The first needs you will need to satisfy are for Cow Meat and Fur Coats. By this point, you already know how to proceed. Just go slowly and don't upgrade too many Patricians at once. Upgrade them only after all current Noblemen needs are satisfied and you should be fine.
- If you have a surplus of cash, Weapons, and Ropes, you may wish to proceed to waging war with the AI. War can be necessary when AI's claim too many islands causing you to be low on crucial fertilities. However, Venice adds the ability to purchase islands from other players, so war is less important when playing the Venice Addon.
- The strongest navy wins. It is advisable to call Auxiliary Fleets from Al Vizir, Northburgh, or Garibaldi. You can improve the Auxiliary Fleets by spending Honour on specific Attainments. Unless you have heavily upgraded the Occidental Auxiliary fleet, the Oriental fleet may be better as you will get at least 1 Oriental warship (the fastest large warship in the game), which is great for hunting and destroying ships. The Venetian Auxiliary fleet ships are the weakest warships in the game and so are mostly useless outside of trade. Even building Small Warships can be effective early in the game if used in addition to Auxiliary fleets to give extra firepower.
- Use your fleet to blockade major population islands of your enemy so they can no longer ship the necessary resources to keep them going. Eventually this will cause the enemy's cities to revolt and set their settlement ablaze, which in turn bankrupts the enemy. After an AI loses enough gold, they will leave the game permanently.
- While controlling the seas is the number one priority, also be sure to prepare an invasion force to conquer the AI's islands. If you take an enemy's island, be sure to cover all the coastal area with Market buildings so they can't just rebuild there.
- In the Venice expansion, the odd spy attack on their settlements will make them go bankrupt faster.
- You may wish to avoid destroying the AI completely. You do not really need all small islands and they can provide quests and items to purchase if you ally with them.
Ascension rights tips
Anno 1404 by default has no rhyme or reason to which houses upgrade. As long as a house meets the requirements to upgrade, it will do so even if this location doesn't have access to required needs of the next higher civilization class. Hence, denial of ascension rights is a very useful strategy when planning efficient layouts. It prevents the game upgrading houses in areas that may not be serviced by a crucial building (and thus paying less tax). For example, it is illogical to advance a Citizen to Patrician house in an area not serviced by a Debtors Prison (Patrician need) when there is a Citizen house available in an area serviced by a Debtors Prison.
Therefore, the most ideal situation is to manage upgrading houses manually so that you can build the least amount of needs type buildings as possible. If there is a house that ascended accidentally, you can always demolish the house completely and rebuild it and then ascend it manually to the desired level.
It also can just look much nicer to have distinct zones of different civilization levels in your cities.
Taxation level tips
Please refer to the taxation information found on the Taxation page.