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Did You Know Anno 1800 Can Teach You Personal Finance?

Anno 1800 is a game that allows you to build a city and tend to the needs of its people by incorporating some finance education lessons. Not many games have this much “Real Life Skills” educational value.

Image: Ubisoft

Anno 1800, like its predecessors, puts you in the role of an island owner. You are responsible for the welfare of the residents, fulfilling their needs, and making them happy.

You start with a reasonably generous amount of money to build things. While you may have money to spend, you are also in charge of your monthly balance. The people of your island will push back if you make less money than what you earn.

The Newspaper

Aside from potentially losing the game when you’re out of money, the game also poses a form of shaming when you’re doing badly with your finances — a newspaper. Granted, you can pay with Influence — a particular currency in the game — to put propaganda instead of the actual news. Influence points are hard to come by, and world leaders will respect you less for using them. It’s a hint from the game that there is a better way than covering up your misdeeds.

The newspaper triggers timed effects that occur between published issues, in addition to the “shaming” effect. Your people react to the news as we do. Their reactions are the actual effects. One outcome may lower the expenses of a particular factory for a while, and another may trigger higher (or lower) happiness requirements.

Managing Your Money

The game has multiple venues for making more cash. The primary method of earning money is taking care of your people’s needs (not to be confused with happiness). More people come to live on your island when you meet more needs.

In previous games, there were no happiness requirements to meet. The demands were all that mattered. This time around, needs and happiness are separated. For example, a farmer needs a marketplace and fish as two basic requirements. But the farmer can be happier if there’s a pub near home and a steady supply of drinks for the pub.

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Expenses And Their Impact

The game also makes you understand the intricacies of temporary expenses. For example, at some point in the game, you need to make 500 workers available to work on constructing a courthouse for the queen. That is a temporary situation. Once you finish building the courthouse, you will not need them anymore.

The smart player will build more homes, upgrade more farmers to workers, make sure to meet their needs, and start construction. This way, you still make more money, even after finishing construction. And it also allows you to advance closer to the next population level.

The other smart move (and faster) is to shut down factories temporarily. You will have to make sure you still meet your population’s needs. You can do that by buying supplies from other players or picking factories that don’t deal with needs directly.

When you don’t prepare for this expense beforehand, you will still be able to start construction. If you do, 500 workers will reduce from your vital workforce, and the development of everything affected by the move will slow down to almost a halt. This workforce shortage can cause you to miss your people’s needs, and they may even riot.

This game offers extreme educational value for teens and young adults just starting in life and managing their finances on their own. You don’t learn about managing your money in High School or College.

Advanced Finance Features

Aside from necessary finance management, there are also more advanced features. For example, you can sell a share of your island. That will make you instant money but at the risk of losing control of your island and the game.

Instant money is never a long-term solution, and the game ensures the point is made by making certain shares are always a dangerous route.


Overall, I feel Anno games and Anno 1800 are excellent ways to educate people about personal finances. The most important rule of personal finance that thousands tend to ignore daily — Spend less than what you owe — comes across entirely by the game mechanics. Oh, and there’s also a story campaign. Just so you know.

Disclaimer: This personal opinion-based article was not sponsored by Ubisoft or any other third party. I just like video games!