Competitors, also known as AI competitors, AI opponents or expanding characters, are one of the groups of characters in Anno 1800. They are in charge of their own companies and directly compete with players for islands, their space, fertilities and resources. They claim islands, build cities, build and control ships and explore the world. They engage in diplomacy and may become your enemies, trade partners or allies, when at least peaceful they also offer quests.
They may win the game by destroying player's ships and taking over all player's islands or by fulfilling specific victory conditions selected when creating the game. Each competitor has a difficulty level assigned to them: easy, medium or hard, which roughly suggests how difficult it is to defeat or befriend them. They also have their own personalities and preferences so some of them will feel less or more difficult to live with, depending on your playstyle.
There are multiple competitors available in the game. Every one of them is represented on the map by their own unique colour, usually their favourite one unless it is already taken. Only up to 3 of those characters can be selected when creating a new game. For more details about each competitor, including their background, personality, preferences etc., see their individual pages.
Easy competitors are generally friendly, happy to sign trade and alliance agreements, it is difficult to make them angry. Their military fleet is small, they can be defeated rather easily. They always ask for a permission to claim more islands so it is very easy to stop their already slow expansion.
Medium competitors can become your friends if you do not anger them and from time to time make some effort to improve your diplomatic relations with them. However, they can expand rather quickly and might be dangerous opponents.
Hard competitors befriend only those who constantly maintain proper relations with them, and act according to their liking, while avoiding actions they dislike. Their expansion is very quick, their military fleet is large and they are formidable opponents.
Development and expansion
Initially, every competitor starts either with a trading post on an island, or with a flagship, or with both. When having only a ship, the first thing they do is finding and settling on a starting island. Once they own an island they begin to construct buildings, starting with a marketplace, farmer residences etc. Their placement of buildings depends on the layout of the island but also on the character's individual style. Every character develops their company at a certain pace, mostly determined by their difficulty rating - easy competitors are very slow, while hard competitors are fast.
Once a competitor requires more space, access to another fertility or resource, they attempt to settle another island which would suit their needs. Usually the competitors are able to settle another island within the first hour of the game, typically when they require hops fertility for beer for workers. Easy opponents always ask before claiming an additional island, they ask about a specific island they have their eyes on, using go to location button in their request message allows to check which island it is. When refused, they will not settle it, and your reputation with them will decrease. If the request is accepted, they immediately construct a trading post on the island and your reputation increases. Medium or hard competitors never ask you for permission and they claim more islands whenever they want.
Expanding to other regions
Once a competitor progresses far enough, they are able to expand to other regions. Easy opponents should always wait for the player before they can claim islands in new regions. Medium and hard opponents, however, expand at their own pace, regardless of the player's progress (The Arctic being the only exception).
In single player campaign and sandbox modes, the competitors expansion to other regions becomes unlocked at specific moments:
- New World - as soon as a competitor reaches Artisans
- Cape Trelawney - after a competitor is able to build a hospital, which in Old World is unlocked at 900 Artisans
- Enbesa - after two hours from the moment when a competitor is able to build a hospital
- The Arctic - after the player constructs their first airship
For more information, see: Island shares
The competitors, especially medium or hard ones, might occasionally buy shares of islands belonging to the player or other opponents. Eventually, they may attempt to take over an island by buying all its shares and then paying for the takeover itself. However, they generally prioritise securing shares of their own islands first. Buying shares of competitors' islands usually lowers your reputation with them, taking over their islands reduces the reputation drastically.
For more information, see: Diplomacy
Competitors engage in diplomacy - can become enemies, trade partners or allies. If they are at least peaceful, they can offer quests. The reputation with them can be increased by gifting them money, flattering them, completing their quests, trading with them. Each character also has their own preferences, things they like and dislike, and some specific actions can increase or decrease your reputation with them. High enough reputation is required to sign agreements with them, though sometimes your military rating being higher than your opponent's rating can help to agree to diplomatic relations even with slightly lower reputation.
Competitors as trade partners
For more information, see: Trade
All competitors can become your trade partners, though usually unreliable. They can offer and request different goods at their trading posts, depending on their own progression. Their offers and requests can change rather frequently, they do not have stable trade preferences, like neutral traders or pirates do. However, they occasionally send out their ships to your own islands and will trade with you based on what you set up for the passive trade. They cannot buy or sell neither items nor ships (only Dr. Hugo Mercier can trade with items).
Competitors as enemies
When the reputation with competitors is low they might declare war on you, they will do so also if you are at war with their ally. You can also declare war against your competitors yourself via the diplomacy menu. While at war, your enemy competitors can attack your ships, both trade and military, and can also attack your islands in an attempt to cripple your economy or to take them over. Of course, you can do the same against them. It is possible to eliminate a player/competitor by taking over all their islands and destroying all their ships.