|Increases a town's Gold output by 50% of the current amount generated from Taxation and Minerals.|
The Bank is a type of Town Building. The Bank may only be built by the High Elves, High Men, Nomads, Orcs, Beastmen, Dark Elves and Draconians. A town must already contain both a Marketplace and a University in order to construct a Bank. The Bank's base construction cost is 250.
The primary purpose of the Bank is to boost a town's Gold production rate, which it does fairly well. It generates 50% as much Gold as the town collects in Taxes from its citizens and from nearby Minerals, each turn. This effect is naturally most important for towns that already produce a lot of gold, but can be a useful bonus in small towns as well. This effect is cumulative with that of the Marketplace, giving a total 100% boost to the town's Gold output when both structures are present.
For almost all races that can build it, a Bank constructed in a sea-side town (in conjunction with the Ship Yard) can eventually unlock the Merchants' Guild. This structure boosts Gold production even further, potentially turning a town into a veritable fountain of gold.
The Bank requires an Upkeep Cost of 3 per turn for its maintenance - and will usually pay for itself even when placed in a rather poor town. If you're pressed for Gold, a Bank can be sold back for 83 - but this may significantly reduce Gold income in the long run, and is therefore not the best idea.
Financial theory is a very complex concept - almost as complex as the workings of the magical world. When a civilization reaches the conclusion that a bartering system is too limited and inefficient, it begins to switch to a currency-based system where a certain token or set of tokens represent actual wealth and can be traded for the same value in any transaction. The Bank is that institution: backing up essentially valueless property with actual gold and other precious materials.
In the game, Banks are not nearly as impressive as they are in our world. A Bank is represented by a wooden structure with a small front door but a large loading platform at its side - reminiscent of the banks that appear often in western films and television series. It is unknown how such banks maintain security, but the availability of magical defenses may or may not be performing that important task.
Races and Construction Edit
Each of the 7 "advanced races" that have access to the University also have access to the Bank. This includes the High Elves, High Men, Nomads, Orcs, Beastmen, Dark Elves and Draconians. Other races lack the intellectual ability to develop such a complex economic system that relies on currency.
A town requires both the Marketplace and University before it can build a Bank. The Marketplace illustrates the need for currency, while the University provides a place to study alternatives to the barter system and work out the complex theories behind currency-based systems. If either of these buildings is missing, the Bank cannot be built. In fact, if either building is lost or sold off while the Bank is still in construction, the project will be canceled prematurely and cannot be restarted until these required buildings are rebuilt.
Construction of a Bank costs 250, making it a rather simple building to construct. All but the poorest towns will get a net benefit from construction of a Bank, and should do so if possible - though the development required to reach Bank construction often prohibits small towns from doing so early in the game.
Continuous Effects Edit
The purpose of the Bank is to generate Gold. The amount of Gold it yields is equal to 50% of the total amount produced through both Taxation of the town's citizens and bonuses from Minerals. This is then rounded down.
For example, if a town's population produces 9 due to Taxation, a Bank in this town will produce an extra 4 (9 * 50%, rounded down). If a nearby Gold Ore tile adds +3, the total produced Gold is 9 from taxation + 3 from minerals = 12 total, so the Bank will now yield 6 instead.
Note that only Taxation and Minerals affect the amount of Gold produced at the Bank. Bonuses from Roads, Rivers and Shore tiles are ignored completely, as are bonuses from other Gold-producing structures like the Marketplace. On the other hand, if a town has access to Gold-producing Minerals and has a Miners' Guild, the effect of the Miners' Guild is taken into account when calculating the total output of the Bank, since it is seen as directly affecting the value of those Minerals.
Note that while a Bank has an Upkeep Cost of 3 per turn, it will usually pay for its own maintenance - and will often make a profit above this unless the town is completely dirt-poor. Therefore, the Upkeep Cost should normally be ignored when deciding whether to construct a Bank.
Finally, note that the income from the Bank is cumulative with that of the Marketplace. With both structures together in the same town, the Gold output from Taxation and Minerals is increased by a total of 100% (i.e. doubled). This is displayed correctly in the town's total Gold output display, but when the breakdown menu is brought up each structure may appear to be producing less than 50% on its own due to rounding errors. Fortunately the fractions are added together, so these two buildings do actually double a town's Gold output as they should.
Unlocked Town Buildings Edit
On its own, the Bank unlocks no new construction. However, in a sea-side town that also contains the Ship Yard, the Bank will unlock construction of the Merchants' Guild. Sadly, this is not possible for the Beastmen, as they do not have access to the Ship Yard.
The Merchants' Guild provides an even larger boost to Gold output. While it only applies to the Gold acquired from Taxation, the Merchants' Guild yields 100% of that amount (essentially doubling the income from Taxation). Mineral bonuses are ignored entirely.
Unlocked Normal Units Edit
The Bank unlocks no new units for any race, not even in conjunction with other Town Buildings. None of the structures in the commercial development branch unlock any units either. Nonetheless, even unit-producing towns will generally want to build a Bank at one point or another, to capitalize on its Gold output.
To those races that have access to it, the Bank is nearly indispensable. A building that normally pays for its own maintenance and usually yields a large profit on top of that is quite useful in any respect. Only the tiniest, poorest towns produce so little Gold that a Bank would generate a net loss (up to -3 per turn, for its maintenance). For any established town however, a Bank is definitely going to pay for itself - and will almost always generate a net profit. Even a few extra Gold coins are worth the trouble of building it.
On the other hand, the requirements to construct a Bank are relatively high. Towns would have to proceed all the way down the intellectual development branch to reach the University - a total of 3 buildings for which the town may have little use - before constructing the Bank.
As a result, towns that can build Banks will have a general imperative to construct a University at one point or another, but should not let this interfere with their normal development unless absolutely necessary. Intellectual and Financial centers, of course, will want to proceed towards the Bank with some urgency - especially if nearby Gold-producing Minerals are available.
If possible, try to eventually put a Bank in each and every town you own that is not ridiculously under-populated. The income boost from several Banks can be extremely beneficial - especially if the Tax Rate across your empire is high.