Trading between the various populated worlds in the galaxy is a valuable source of income for most Civilizations reasonable enough to engage in such civilized affairs, with some more inclined towards commercial endeavours and capable of making a healthy profit than others.
Trade Routes are setup by first constructing a Freighter in a Shipyard, and then sending the Freighter over to the target world designated as the end-point of the intended Trade Route. A Freighter is a non-combat vessel and are thus vulnerable to attacks from Pirates, Precursor Guardians, Space Monsters and the fleets of hostile Civilizations.
Each Civilization can set up one Trade Route for each Trade License they own. The maximum number of Trade Licenses available to the Civilization can be increased by researching into the yellow Trade branch of the Governance Tech Tree.
A Trade Route can be setup between any Civilization and any other Civilization or Minor Race world the originator is not at war with. The further the distance between the two worlds, the more Credits the Trade Route will be worth, and one Core World can have more than one Trade Route. It is entirely possible for one Core World to have dozens of Trade Routes, and multiple Routes can be setup between the same two worlds with no penalty, ensuring that even small Civilizations with only a handful of Core Worlds can greatly benefit from Trading.
Once the Freighter arrives at the destination, a Trade Route is setup between its originating Core World and the destination.
Once setup, a Trade Route is visible on the game-map as a short, slowly moving dotted line in the color of the initiating Civilization. These can be seen by clicking on either Core World at the origin or destination of the Trade Route.
- Note: please do not mistake these with the longer, faster moving comet-like lines that show which Colonies are connected to the Core World. Trade Route indicators have smaller line segments and move around half the speed of the Colony connection indicators.
Trade Routes will immediately bring in revenue for both participating factions. The amount of Credits gained each month is determined by the Income (Planetary Input) level of both worlds, by the physical distance between the two worlds, and by the age of the Trade Route, with older and longer established Trade Routes bringing in significantly more Credits per turn. The initiator of the Trade Route will get 33% extra Credits, so it pays to be proactive about setting up Trade with your neighbours.
- Note: Trade Route is a contributing value to Revenue, and is therefore subject to the Tax modifier. So if youâ€™re making 100 Credits from Trade Routes and the Tax Rate is set at Normal (25%), youâ€™re actually netting just 25 Credits. Trade focused Civilizations will want to find ways to increase Approval enough to support higher Tax rates.
Mutually beneficial trading is an indicator of trust between two Civilizations will grant a bonus to their Diplomatic negotiations. Since age is a factor in determining how profitable a Trade Route will be, this Diplomacy bonus can help in keeping good relations between the two Civilizations, which will ultimately bring in more Credits. Trade focused Civilizations such as the Corporate Sector and Drath Legion, will want to carefully pick their trade partners to maximise their profits.
- Note: that any Civilization with the War Profiteers Civilization Ability, such as the Drath Legion, will gain a +100% Credit bonus to Trade Routes with any rival Civilization who is at war with any other as they sell them weapons and other wartime necessities.