A Trade Route is the route that specific economic units traverse to generate resources for a player.
In the first three games, Trade Routes are essentially the distance caravan/trade-type units must traverse between two Docks, two Markets, or a Market and a Town Center, in order to provide Gold to the player. The greater the distance between the two structures, the greater the amount of Gold provided.
Players must establish fortified structures and train military units along these routes to protect disruption from enemy attacks. Trade Routes are an infinite source of Gold.
By game Edit
In Age of Empires II, trade is possible between Markets with a Trade Cart, or between Docks with a Trade Cog. Players can also trade with enemies' or neutral players' structures, but they risk sacrificing their trade units to an attack, thus emulating the real life practice of smuggling.
- Donkey Caravan (Greeks)
- Camel Caravan (Egyptians)
- Ox Caravan (Norse)
- Llama Caravan (Atlanteans)
- Yak Caravan (Chinese)
Age of Empires III Edit
The trade mechanic in Age of Empires III differs radically to those of previous games and is documented separately.
The Trade Route of Age of Empires III crosses through predetermined paths across the map, to which a gaia-controlled (and completely non-interactable) Travois or Rickshaw (in Asian maps) is travelling.
At specific checkpoints, Trading Post sites can be built to gather experience (or, if the Trade Route is upgraded to accomodate a stagecoach or a train, the other three resources too), to which the trader will provide resources to the player that controls these, each time he travels through.
The amount of resources varies greatly provided depends on the size of a map, but also on the number of checkpoints. If a player manages to control most of the Trading Post sites, including these found on Native settlements, the Trade Monopoly victory condition may be activated.
Two upgrades are available for the Trade Route: Trade Cart, and Iron Horse, both of which upgrade the speed at which you gather resources. They also allows you to choose Food, Wood or Coin from the Trading Posts, rather than Experience.
Note that upgrading the Trade Route will increase the gather rate for ALL players for that Trade Route, not just the player or their allies.
Resources will be wasted if both player and ally upgrade the Trade Route from their own Trading Posts at the same time.