Cartel Tycoon – Survival: A not so quick but dirty Guide

Cartel Tycoon – Survival: A not so quick but dirty Guide 11 -
Cartel Tycoon – Survival: A not so quick but dirty Guide 11 -
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.


Choice of Capo

Choice of capo: 
I’m gonna propose a capo with whom i think survival should be especially easy. In the beginning we thought it’s easiest with manolo, but the problem is not dirty money. The crucial point is to be able to launder enough LEGAL money. Thus, expansion is important. Hence i chose not to propose Manolo in this guide, but Felix Vijo. 
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: 
Felix Vijo 

  • +3 Power 
  • +30% Cannabis growth 
  • Workshop I 
  • Coordinator 
  • +1 Power

->Felix enables early expansion and can boost cannabis yields during peacetime. Laundering bonus should be ignored for the +3 power for easier expansion. 
An alternative if you wanna go with a strong early economy at the cost of slower expansion: 
Manolo Velasques 

  • Workshop I 
  • Farm II 
  • +30% Cannabis growth 
  • Warehouse II 
  • Aerodrome I

-> With Manolo you only have to research the Dryer to start your exports within the first game week. While you will earn lots of money fast, you should note that it is wise to restart until either at least Soledoso or Foscani and optionally Amado are government controlled, as you won’t have enough power to take a city without excessive amounts of terror. 
I will simply ignore the other capos as this guide is only concerned with winning survival once / for the first time. Maybe the special Capo “Diva” is better, but i can’t use her, so no idea what her abilities are. 

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? 
Building slots: 
You get FIVE building slots in the city. Meaning with your hotel and the obligatory research center you’ll have three slots for laundering money. AFAIK this is more than all other cities. 
Smuggling routes: 
You get a port and a free aerodrome I. While it may seem like the aerodrome is redundant there’s something nice about having it, more on that later. 
You get several 100% cannabis spots (two close to the port), as well as 100% veggies and coffee. Even though i think there’s opium as well, we ignore that. Opium is not worth your time in survival, therefore i will not mention opium again. 
Neighbouring regions: 
Arguably the second best region to own (if starting in Los Grandes) as it gives you access to building the cathedral with launders quite some money and gives gigantic amounts of loyalty and another aerodrome. 
Meh. Needing meth to bribe the mayor makes this not wortwhile at all. Shame. The stadium is quite nice to have. 
Another port, a village and good cannabis fertility with adjacent veggies fertility. A very solid region to expand into. 
Cerro Terracona: 
Bad fertility (apart from coca), only three building slots and an aerodrome I. But IIRC the mayor is quite cheap to bribe and you have direct road access to Los Grandes. This region is the 3.5 Röntgen of Cartel Tycoon – not great, not terrible. We’ll take it cause it’s cheap. 
This region has coca and coffee fertility, but both have terrible access and the building slots have limitations concerning building choice (like in story mode). But if you go with coca you may want this region for the 100% fertility of coca and coffee right next to each other, which makes it a real money maker if handled properly. 

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. Your lieutenants will retreat to your main city. PAUSE THE GAME! Immediately send them to all cities and smuggling points you still control! Check your production chains and repair them. You can get back in the game, don’t give up. 

A point about the Drugs

Stay away from this one. Low value and terrible return of investments will make production chains of this a money sink that will become worthless by the 3rd demand. 
This is (in my opinion) the drug to go for. Rather low research requirements, cheap building cost, before research of dryer II respectable output and after research of dryer II high production volume. Insane return of investment here. This is very easily be the drug that can fuel your whole game. 
While the research time, cost and building cost for the production chain are considerable, you also get huge amounts of money in return. You may choose to go for it, but i never needed it in my games. As you research Dryer II anyway you already have 1/3 need researches, so you may opt to go for it. 
To beat survival you do not need it until dynamic drug prices are added in a future update. 
This one is sadly huge money and time sink. You’ll spend something around 300k of legal money to unlock it and probably research for somewhere between one or two months. In the mean time you can earn millions with cannabis or cocaine and you’d not even have set up the production for it yet. Thus, it’s not worth it in survival (IMHO). The money you can make with it is insane though. Nevertheless, by the time you can afford researching this (and by the time it does actually finish research) it’s redundant. 

The early game (this contains tips that work for other capos and regions as well)

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: 
Step 1: 
Pause the game immediately and get your bearings: 
Which cities are enemy controlled? Which are in the hand of the government? 
->you can consider restarting if neither Foscani nor Soledoso are government controlled 
But you do not have to, as you’d have 12 Power with Felix, Monstruo and Ahiga combined. 
I advise against trying to stay below the DEA star as it is way harder that way. Just accept it, it won’t end the game. It is annoying at worst most of the time. If the DEA star causes game over for you… 
honestly, then you were actually losing already. 
Even the police start and the federales can be managed, although i understand less experienced players trying to avoid them. 
Step 2 (still paused): 
Select your hotel, disable servicing the city center BECAUSE -> 
Step 3 (still paused): 
Take a loan from the mayor (you have two months to pay it back, that’ll be easy, but first you need to build your economy with your dirty money) as to get the favor-cooldown to start ticking down from day 1, so you can take another loan for demand number one. 
Step 4 (still paused): 
Build your research center and recruit Monstruoand Ahiga. Reina comes at a later time. 
Send Ahiga to the port to keep it under control. 
Step 5: 
Unpause. Wait til your research center is built. 
Early research in this order: 
[For Felix] Farm II>Dryer I (start following step 6 at this point!!!!)> 
Dryer II>(Delay til you have a second city)>Residence I>(Delay until laundered money is no problem anymore)>Residence II>Gravel roads>Warehouse II>Workshop II 
With Manoloyou obviously start with Dryer I>Dryer II>(Delay) 
Don’t worry if legal money drops below 10k, as the cooldown of the mayor should be reset by the time Panfilo wants his money, so we can just get another loan for that (make sure to pay back the first loan though!). 
Step 6 (this is a long one)
You wanna build your cannabis production shortly before the dryer research finished (the second or third week of April). You have cannabis fertility (100%) within range of your hotel AND close to your port. Build where i point out on my screenshot below. 
Cartel Tycoon - Survival: A not so quick but dirty Guide 
Feel free to use this setup, i could afford most of it with my starting dirty money (all except the two blue marked warehouses). Remember Felix’ cannabis cultivator ability! He’ll get the production up to speed in no time! (See the appendix for a plantation-layout) 
It is very important to build as tight as possible so the trucks can almost instantly deliver! See the dryer being built directly adjacent to the warehouse!The two warehouses marked with blue scribbling are to be bought after your first one or two shipments of cana are sold. You’d probably feel inclined to plop veggies or coffee next to it but don’t! 
Cartel Tycoon - Survival: A not so quick but dirty Guide 
Every Farm you place here is worth THREE farms you just wanted to build next to your cannabis farms while also increasing the workload for the cannabis warehouses (which already have high workload). You just plop down two coffee farms built with DIRTY money and either one warehouse II or two warehouse I and connect them to the workshops of your cannabis production. Link them to your hotel and it will send money to build them. You can pay their upkeep with legal money as a measly 200 legal-$ per day won’t hurt the finances at all. After connecting the workshops to the port we also connect a warehouse that only services one drying rack to the aerodrome to use it for export as well. 
Here i will also answer the question why we want to use the aerodrome. It’s a distraction. As soon as we get our first star we want to distract the DEA from our main port, obviously. The ideal way to do this is to export at another smuggling route as well. This way, if the DEA decides to investigate a smuggling route, it may choose to launch the investigation at the aerodrome instead of the port (nifty trick, huh?). 
Cartel Tycoon - Survival: A not so quick but dirty Guide 
Having set up our money making production we can now turn on the port and start selling goods. 
Bonus points if you had Felix and Monstruo transporting some coffee to the port while it’s still turned off, you don’t have to do that tho. This way you just get some quick cash earlier. 
Of course don’t forget to connect the hotel to the port. Soon we should start raking in some serious cash (and i mean really soon). 

Preparing for lategame

Step 7: 
By now ( for me it was around 24th of April) you should have sold the first one or two shipments of cannabis, so we take a look at money laundering, as the first demand for legal money is just around the corner. We could still cover it with our reserves, but those are gonna get burned quickly. Also we allow our hotel to service the city again to pay back the mayor’s loan. And then we take another one immediately to get a nice reserve of money for paying Panfilos 1st and 2nd demand. 
We build a jewelry store and a church, jewelry store is cheap laundering, church is easy loyalty. 
Build priority for pure money laundering later on (if money is not the problem) Bank>Cathedral>Stadium>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. 
For Felix
We build Laundering buildings but keep an accessible reserve of 50k around. 
We recruit Reina and Julio and use them to staff the port and the hotel. This frees up Felix (6 power) Monstruo (4 power as novato) and Ahiga (2 power). 
With 12 power at our disposal we look at the map and our conclusion is: 
Cartel Tycoon - Survival: A not so quick but dirty Guide 
That’s why we send our boys to Soledoso (Foscani and Amado work as well if you research coca early) and start messing up the region. Before fighting in the city we get the village and buy everything. The sole reason being: we want loyalty, now, and buying stuff there gives us some, combined with the church we can easily reach loyalty level “Accepted”. We burn down all the buildings we don’t want with Felix or monstruo. All the other buildings will get roflstomped by our 12-power wrecking crew with minimal terror generation. 
In the case of Soledoso it’s wise to keep the level 2 plantation, the warehouse can burn (we’ll rebuild it closer to the plantation for quicker deliveries). If the church is built: buy the sermon for loyalty. As soon as we fulfill all conditions we take the city and take another loan with the mayor here as well. Boom, now we got ourselves a second port, a plantation II and a FREAKIN BANK. The bank will launder 30k in a short time meaning we’ll soon have no problem pleasing Panfilos greed). 
For Foscani you may want to keep the aerodrome for selling cocaine there. IF you want to keep the chem plants make sure to research cocaine lab II or they’re useless and the extra terror was for nothing. And honestly, if you can afford researching Lab II you should be able to afford researching Chem Plant I anyway, so i usually burn them. Also they explode in a nice fashion instead of burning down. 
For Amado it’s up to you whether you burn or keep the buildings. 
With Manolo
You attack whatever is government controlled. You don’t have the time or power to contest gang controlled cities yet. Same procedure as before, burn everything you don’t need or just to keep your terror low. You can even take a city without attracting the DEA by burning everything if it’s gov. Controlled. Get a another loan and build whatever laundering buildings you can afford. Time is of the essence here. Manolo has lots of money, so you need to get laundering buildings going. 
Cartel Tycoon - Survival: A not so quick but dirty Guide 
Step 8 (If you attacked Soledoso, if not go to step 8.5): 
We build a production around the plantation in Soledoso. The workshops here will pack it into veggies (we have 100% fertility right next to the plantation) and ship it to the port. 
If we have the money we follow our laundering build order and build whatever we can in the city. Additionally we drop two residences in this region. See my screenshot. 
Step 8.5:
If the DEA is bothering you, you should now export your stuff both in coffee and in veggies. Reason: If the DEA decides to confiscate one of those goods you can just keep exporting (optional: disable servicing in the corresping workshop to create a stockpile to export after confiscation ends). 
You may think “why should i keep exporting, i LOSE money!!”. Simple answer: No you don’t. You simply earn LESS money until the confiscation stops. If you lost money, that would mean you pay on top, but you still export the good thats not getting confiscated, right? That means the port generates money. And as any amount of money bigger than the upkeep of your buildings is profit, you still earn money. Conclusion: Confiscation can be less disruptive to your business than investigations. (Did you never think “why are cartels not bothered when the police confiscates a cointainer of drug-filled vegetables? It’s because there’s probably another one with drugs in sacks of coffee just 15 meters down the road.) 
Step 9: 
So now you own two regions, may have two production chains and three smuggling points (if Soledoso or Foscani were conquered) churning out money, which is laundered in the cities. At this point Panfilo will start getting greedy, so it’s time to up the pace a bit. Means it’s time to stomp opposition in Cerro Terracona or Amado. You know the drill here, burn everything to the ground, roflstomp stuff with Felix, Monstruo and optionally with Ahiga (if you don’t need him to staff a city or port), or if you chose Manolo just send every available lieutenant you have, then bribe the mayor. 
If you had a favor free to use and the police aren’t alerted you can use this favor to keep them off you when attacking. 
If they’re on to you: 
If your production chain has buildings full of goods: 
Put Felix ( or any other free lieutenant with 2 power or more) in one cannabis production and Monstruo in the other. 
If none of your building overflow and are not suspicious because of that: 
Here is a trick you should remember! 
Setting a trap: 
Build a farm (with dirty money) at the highway from Los Grandes to Soledoso and put 3k dirty money in it. Now it’s overflowing with money and attracts attention (unless ANY other building in your empire does as well). At some point the police will attack this building, as it is “Suspicious”. Felix and Monstruo are waiting either nearby or inside. As soon as you notice the police coming you send them there. They will curb-stomp the police (6 power) and upon beating them their star will be disabled for a month. Same works for federales (7 power). 
End of the early game. 

The “late”game

Why call it lategame? Why not midgame? Well, i couldn’t really think of where to draw the line for the midgame, so i just divide the game in two phases. The early game was about setting the foundation and about surviving. At first we saw rapidly increasing demands, but at a certain point Panfilo’s greed becomes less pronounced and he shows some patience. We see this through the timer of the demands getting longer. Where at first you only had one or two weeks, suddenly you start to have 30 days, 40 days, 50 days. This means we can shift our focus from frantically taking loans to meet the demands and being scared to spend legal money to expanding into new regions and managing our terror. So what do we do now? 
Step 10: 
Crush. Kill. Destroy. 
The late game is very straightforward. Whereas in the early game mistakes could cost our capo’s life quickly, suddenly we have some time to breathe and our expansion is only slowed down by the amount of lieutenants we have. So at this point the guide actually gets boring. Because here i can only present you a loop that will lead you to eventually become “too big to fail”, earning you the ending dialogue of the survival mode. 
All you do is as follows: 

  • burn enemy buildings 
  • attack cities 
  • bribe mayors 
  • increase loyalty / reduce terror

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 or just research stuff to level 3. 


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). 
Cartel Tycoon - Survival: A not so quick but dirty Guide 
This shows road placement as well (see the random tips section for an explanation for this). 
Cartel Tycoon - Survival: A not so quick but dirty Guide 
Here you see whats serviced by warehouse one. 
Cartel Tycoon - Survival: A not so quick but dirty Guide 
And the serviced buildings of warehouse two. 
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. 
Cartel Tycoon - Survival: A not so quick but dirty Guide 
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. 
Random tips 

  • You can silence the police and federales stars by defeating them in combat. Their combat strength is 6 and 7 respectively 
  • Buying from villages gives a nice amount of loyalty 
  • Loyalty is valuable, but only if it is spent on something! Use it to reduce terror (but only right before attacking new regions) or freeze a terror star to stop them from botherin you! 
  • 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. Look at the graphic below to see what i mean. 
    Cartel Tycoon - Survival: A not so quick but dirty Guide 
    An example for short roads is the picture of the plantation layout i showed earlier. Scroll up to see what i mean.


A big thank you

To @Zero on the official discord for proof-reading and feedback! 
As well as @Guardinger for being my guinea pig to test my guide! 

Written by Rouhmann

I hope you enjoy the Guide we share about Cartel Tycoon – Survival: A not so quick but dirty Guide; if you think we forget to add or we should add more information, please let us know via commenting below! See you soon!

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