|Doubles the town's Gold income from Taxation and Mineral deposits.|
The Merchants' Guild is a type of Town Building. The Merchants' Guild may only be built by the High Elves, High Men, Nomads, Orcs, Dark Elves and Draconians. A town must already contain both a Ship Yard and a Bank in order to construct a Merchants' Guild (which also means that the town must be adjacent to a Shore tile). The Merchants' Guild's base construction cost is 600.
The Merchants' Guild has only one purpose, but it is quite important: this building doubles the amount of Gold this town produces through Taxation and Mineral deposits. In any town that grows above a certain size, assuming that the Tax Rate is not set too low, the existence of a Merchants' Guild will boost Gold income by an impressive amount. The larger the town, and the higher the Tax Rate, the more profit is made!
The Merchants' Guild requires an Upkeep Cost of 5 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 Merchants' Guild can be sold back for 200 - but this may significantly reduce Gold income in the long run, and is therefore not the best idea.
A growing town, especially one situated on the ocean, will eventually begin to see larger and larger quantities of cargo being brought in, sold off, or just passing through. The logistical complexity of handling all this cargo - as well as the growing number of transactions with this cargo - can become large enough to warrant setting up a new institution completely dedicated to overseeing all business and trade in the town. This is the Merchants' Guild - an association of the town's businessmen responsible for facilitating and improving trade.
The Merchants' Guild is an impressive structure to be sure. It is cubic in shape, and completely covered in fine white marble to show off the wealth of the town's merchants. Columns line the front side, and a sleek staircase leads up to the building's main entry. A green-dyed rug of the highest quality adorns the stairs, welcoming members into the grand hall within. Gold decorations adorn the lintel above the door. Obviously, no expense has been spared to advertise the importance and financial success of this town.
Races and Construction Edit
Of the 7 "advanced races" that have access to the University, only 6 can reach the Merchants' Guild as well. They are the High Elves, High Men, Nomads, Orcs, Draconians and Dark Elves. The Beastmen, who are also quite advanced, fail to reach this structure as they do not develop advanced maritime facilities or trade (which, for the other races, lead to the requirement for a dedicated commerce guild).
A town requires both the Ship Yard and Bank before it can build a Merchants' Guild. The Ship Yard constructs and handles merchant shipping, while the Bank provides support and backing for high-caliber trade. If either of these buildings is missing, the Merchants' Guild cannot be built. In fact, if either building is lost or sold off while the Merchants' Guild is still in construction, the project will be canceled prematurely and cannot be restarted until these required buildings are rebuilt.
Construction of a Merchants' Guild costs 600. It is thus one of the most expensive buildings to construct. However, since it generates so much Gold (often enough to pay for itself and make a hefty profit), it is often recommended to build this structure in any town that can do so, whether sooner or later.
Continuous Effects Edit
The purpose of the Merchants' Guild is to generate Gold. The amount of Gold it yields is exactly equal to the total amount produced through Taxation of the town's citizens, plus the income from Gems, Silver and Gold ores.
Furthermore, while a Merchants' Guild has an Upkeep Cost of 5 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 (unlikely given that a town will take quite a lot of development before it can even construct a Merchants' Guild) or the Tax Rate is set very low. Therefore, the Upkeep Cost should normally be ignored when deciding whether to construct a Merchants' Guild.
Finally, note that the income from the Merchants' Guild is cumulative with that of the Marketplace and Bank that must preceded it. With all three structures together in the same town, the Gold output from Taxation and Minerals is increased by a total of 200% (i.e. it is now three times the normal income).
Unlocked Town Buildings Edit
The Merchants' Guild represents the epitome of financial development in a town. As a dead-end, it unlocks no further Town Buildings for construction.
Unlocked Normal Units Edit
The Merchants' Guild 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 Merchants' Guild - if they can - at one point or another, to capitalize on its Gold output.
For the Races that can reach a Merchants' Guild, this structure further boosts a town's Gold income well above its original levels - even after taking into account the bonuses from both the Marketplace and Bank. As a result, construction of this building is very important - especially in towns that are already producing a large amount of Gold. The more Gold a town is producing, the more benefit there is to building a Merchants' Guild there.
There are two drawbacks of course. One is that the Merchants' Guild can only be constructed in sea-side towns - since it requires the Ship Yard as a prerequisite. This means that there will eventually be fewer Merchants' Guilds in an empire than there are Banks or Marketplaces simply because those structures may be built anywhere. In fact, races that have access to the Merchants' Guild are encouraged to make new Settlements along the shoreline simply to increase the number of potential Merchants' Guilds that can be built!
The other drawback is that the Merchants' Guild is quite expensive and/or time-consuming to construct. It also has such high prerequisites that only well-developed towns can afford to construct it. Sea-side towns rarely grow quickly enough to access this structure early on, so it is best to actually concentrate entirely on developing towards the Merchants' Guild - i.e. work along the naval, financial and intellectual branches simultaneously while skipping all other construction.
If possible, try to construct as many Merchants' Guilds as possible. With several such buildings in existence, you will notice sharp fluctuations every time the Tax Rate is changed. Unless you are spending Gold at a massive rate, the Merchants' Guilds you have constructed may allow you to reduce Taxation without going into debt - and in return reduce Unrest across your entire empire. Empires built on conquest or multi-culturalism will definitely benefit from this. Homogenic empires may prefer to increase the Tax Rate and make healthy amounts of Gold instead.