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In Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord, there are two types of passive income: workshops and caravans. Both types of businesses are available to any player at any time in the game. They are costly, especially at the beginning of the game, so it’s worth thinking twice before investing the first 15-20 thousand dinars in your business. This short guide on workshops and caravans will help make the right investment.
What’s better for a beginner: a caravan or a workshop?
It’s no secret that caravans in Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord usually generate more income than workshops. This is particularly noticeable in the early stages of the game when the feudal economy has not yet been disrupted by wars and looting.
Having a companion and 15,000 dinars at your disposal, you can form a caravan in any city, which will start bringing you 250-500 dinars a day. The risk is that the caravan can be looted by bandits or lords of a kingdom that is at war with the kingdom where you formed your caravan. And even if you pay 22,500 dinars to better guard the caravan, this doesn’t guarantee it won’t be looted, although it does reduce the chance. On the other hand, in the early stages of the game, this is unlikely. The caravan’s return on investment is 30-60 days (assuming it is not looted).
Workshops are a safer investment, as they can’t be looted. They generate much less income (at least in the early stages of the game) and strongly depend on the city’s economy. If you open the wrong business, it might not generate income at all. In most cases, at the beginning of the game, you can expect 80-150 dinars per day. Since a workshop costs around 15,000-30,000 dinars depending on the city, in the early stages of the game, it will pay for itself on average within 3-6 months.
Whether a caravan or a workshop is better depends on how much time has passed since the start of the game. If you’ve already spent half a year of game time or more, it’s better to open a workshop. However, if you’ve earned your first money in 2-3 months or just don’t know where it’s more profitable to open a business, it’s worth forming a caravan. Either way, it’s better to do this in a wealthy city closer to the center of the map. A good choice is a caravan or a forge in the city of Epicrotea.
How to open a workshop
The cost of workshops varies from 12 to 30 thousand dinars and higher.
To open a business, you need to either walk around the city streets or talk to a specific NPC-craftsman in the city interface. There can be 2-3 workshops in each city. For example, there are 3 in the city of Epicrotea.
To quickly find workshops in the city, hold down the “Alt” key, which highlights the names of locations, NPCs, and items on the ground. Workshop icons are usually sand-colored. Find the workshop you need and speak with one of the merchants inside.
Choose the option “I wish to buy your … Smithy (for example)“. The merchant will tell you the purchase price of the business. Click “Yes” to agree.
Next, you need to choose what the workshop will produce. This choice directly affects its profitability. If the selected workshop already produces the product you need, you can leave it as it is.
If something goes wrong, the products can always be changed for 2,000 dinars. To do this, you should visit your workshop in the city and in the dialogue with the Shop Worker choose “I would like to change what you are producing here“.
You can also sell the workshop (also through a dialogue with the Shop Worker).
What workshops to open and what affects profitability
Every city in Mount & Blade: Bannerlord has several villages. Each village produces a specific resource. For example, the village of Marathea, which belongs to the city of Epicrotea, produces iron ore.
Since a smithy uses iron ore as raw material (this can be learned from the city’s workshop merchants), it will bring more income if the city’s villages produce this raw material.
Here is a list of workshops, the resources they use as raw materials, and the products they produce:
- Smithy – Iron Ore → Melee Weapons, Medium / Heavy / Ultra Armor, Tools;
- Brewery – Grain → Beer;
- Wine press – Grapes → Wine;
- Olive press – Olives → Oil;
- Velvet weavery – Cotton → Velvet;
- Linen weavery – Flax → Linen;
- Wool weavery – Wool → Garment;
- Pottery shop – Clay → Pottery;
- Tannery – Rawhide → Leather;
- Wood Workshop – Hardwood → Tools, Ranged Weapons, Shields;
- Silversmith – Silver → Jewelry.
Caravans can also deliver raw materials to the city.
There is a common misconception that the most important factor in profitability is the presence of raw material production in the surrounding villages. My tests show that the most important factor is DEMAND (as we remember from school economics, demand creates supply).
This is easy to prove, here’s a simple example: I opened a Smithy, Brewery, and Tannery in the city of Epicrotea. Since the adjacent villages produce the most Grain and Iron Ore, the Smithy and Brewery should bring the most income, but they don’t. Instead, the Tannery brings in the most income because the demand for this product in the specific region is higher.
To check the demand for a product in a region, simply visit the market and check the prices. For example, if Wine is sold at high prices and in small quantities, it means there is demand, and you can open a Wine press in this city. At the same time, you need to consider how far away the source of raw materials is (I suppose the further it is, the lower the profitability will be).
I tested this theory on several workshops, and as you can see, every time I got average and above-average profitability (200-350 dinars).
Here is a list of factors that I believe affect the profitability of workshops:
- Trade caravan routes and the number of caravans visiting the city (export / import of raw materials and goods);
- Needs of nearby cities and villages;
- The cost of the produced resources themselves,
- The prosperity level of the city (the higher, the better);
- The condition of the surrounding villages (intact / looted);
- The city’s location (from the center of the map it’s equally close to reach any city for caravans, so I suppose this is the most advantageous place to open workshops).
Since the game strives for realistic simulation of medieval economics, anything could potentially impact production. And considering all the potential factors I’ve listed, I currently don’t have clear ideas on how to accurately predict profitability. When (and if) I fully understand how the game’s economy actually works, the guide will be updated. If you have any thoughts, feel free to write comments. At the moment, the best way to find out the profitability of workshops is to personally test each one, taking into account the factors described above.
How to Form a Caravan
To form a caravan, you need a minimum of 15,000 dinars and a free companion. A companion can always be found in the taverns of cities, and their hiring cost is around 400-600 dinars. Next, in the city interface, select any NPC with a profession in their name – for example, Voleos the Smith.
If your game version is 1.5.4 or higher, you can choose the “Quick Talk” option or just “Talk” if it’s older – you will have to run around the city on foot searching for one of such craftsmen.
In the dialogue, choose the option “I wish to form a caravan in this town“. The NPC will mention that it will cost 15,000 dinars. There’s an option for 22,500 with enhanced security, so if you can afford it, feel free to choose it. Next, select the companion who will head the caravan. After this, the caravan will start earning money for you.
You can view active caravans in the “Clan” → “Parties” section.
It’s also advisable to form caravans in affluent cities closer to the center of the map. The location allows the caravan to reach other states’ cities faster, and a high prosperity level means good prices for goods. Consequently, the caravan will operate more efficiently and earn more. Also, it is presumed (though not tested) that the presence of several caravans in the city where your workshops are located can increase their profitability due to increased export / import of raw materials / goods.
How to Quickly Save Up for Your First Workshop or Caravan
To quickly accumulate the first 15,000-20,000 dinars at the beginning of the game, it’s recommended to actively engage in trade (especially horse trade) and fight bandits in auto-combat mode. To do this, it’s essential to maximize your party’s speed, choose an optimal trade route, and trade while simultaneously destroying bandit parties.
One of the best starting schemes (trade route) looks like this:
- Car Banseth (Battania),
- Dunglanys (Battania),
- Pen Cannoc (Battania),
- Marunath (Battania),
- Seonon (Battania),
- And then repeat.
In the process, you should buy and sell horses as well as some resources. You can check the prices at your stage of the game by visiting the listed cities yourself. This method allows you to earn money very quickly and buy a business in some affluent city, after which things will move even faster.