Created by Coldwind Games and available on the Nintendo Switch, PC, and Xbox, Merchant of the Skies is an addictive real-time trade game, which also throws in elements of base building, tycoon, and strategy around the central story of adventure and discovery.
Highlighted by enchanting artwork and easy controls, the energy and expenditure mechanics make Merchant of the Skies a trickier game than it appears. You’ll need to plan each voyage and calculate the costs of doing so, lest you go bankrupt twice over and lose the game.
Here, we’ve assembled some top tips and tricks to help you navigate the Merchant of the Skies campaign, including some easy ways to get coin, the best airships to buy, and the best upgrades to get at the Workshop of Curiosities.
Plan your routes and always make stops
Particularly in the early game, when you have the basic ship and a clouded map, the most difficult aspect to manage is energy consumption. As you don’t know which islands have Recharge Stations until you’ve docked, every voyage into uncharted territory is risky. So, you shouldn’t pass up any opportunity to recharge.
If you’re off to a part of the map that you have visited before, use the right analogue on your controller to look around before you move. Every time you move, you consume energy and time passes, so it’s always best to scout ahead with the camera to locate the objective island or the ones with the best trade prices before moving.
It’s also best to not use the auto-route function – by selecting an island in the distance – as your ship will fly directly to the target, regardless of if there are storms in its path. Using the auto travel will likely slow down the journey and cost you a lot more energy.
Need some quick cash? Take on Octo MC
One of the easiest ways to make a decent amount of cash quickly is to take on Octo MC in their mystery melody game.
To activate the mini-game with the giant sky octopus, you must travel to one of the islands with a Statue of Griette. You can find these on the map by bringing up the quick navigation tab (marked by an arrow on the left side of the screen), clicking on ‘Select Island Filter,’ and then picking ‘Statues of Griette.’
When you’ve made your way to one of these floating islands, you can select the statue of Griette and then ‘Challenge the Skies.’ You’ll hear a crack of thunder, but nothing else will happen while you’re on the island. Shortly after, when you’re travelling on the map, your ship will be stopped by Octo MC.
The ensuing mini-game is simple: guess the three-note song that the octopus has in its head. You should note that Octo MC will never be thinking of a note sequence that contains two of the same notes. So, punch in three different notes to start with, and then see how many you have guessed correctly.
A green tick means that you have a note in the right place, a yellow question mark shows that you have the right note but in the wrong place, and the red cross means that a note is incorrect. You have five attempts to get the combination right: when you win, you get an easy 500 coins.
Get the best airship in Merchant of the Skies
Early in the Merchant of the Skies campaign, you won’t have many choices for buying a new ship, with the Pink likely lasting you several voyages. However, when you start to stack coins, you’ll want to invest in a new ship that has greater storage capacity, holds more energy, can be upgraded further, and is faster.
None of the superior ships are cheap, so you’ll want to complete the Shipwright questline ‘Resource Delivery Order’ first. Completing these quests will grant you a 30 per cent discount on global airship purchases. After that, your attention can turn to the Caravel (4,234 coins), Carrack (8,015 coins), Orembai (8,610 coins), and the gigantic Atakebune (11,550 coins).
Each ship has a different set of pros and cons to go along with its hefty price. For example, the Carrack can store 24 stacks of items, but can only hold 250 units of energy while having a maximum speed of 30. Many will see the Atakebune as the ultimate airship due to its price, storage, crew capacity, and decent energy storage, but in the campaign, using the Atakebune would be a mistake.
The colossal airship is far too slow and requires too many crew members to run at its still-lacking top speed (even with upgrades) to be cost-effective. Being so slow, you can’t complete quests or attain and trade items fast enough to counter its own hefty costs – let alone the costs of running your resource-farming islands.
With its huge energy capacity (500), incredible speed (70), ample storage (10), low necessary crew requirement (12), and low energy consumption rate (1.25), the Orembai is easily the best airship for the Merchant of the Skies campaign.
Get the best upgrades at the Workshop of Curiosities
As you progress in the campaign and complete more Trade Guild quests, you’ll accumulate more Guild Tickets – which are shown as the red-and-white stub next to your coins at the top left of the screen. Guild Tickets can be used to unlock an income tax reduction, but their best uses come at the Workshop of Curiosities.
Found on the World Market island, the Workshop of Curiosities is filled with premium airship upgrades, known as ‘Modules.’ They’re all quite expensive, but each Module is very durable and carries between airships if you upgrade to one with as many or more upgrade slots. Two of these upgrades stand-out as the most useful to acquire: Lightning Catcher and Magic Sails.
The Lightning Catcher, which costs eight Guild Tickets, allows you to gather batteries from storms. So, whenever a cloud slows you down, you can harvest it for batteries which can later be used to power your ship if you ever run out of energy. Gathering the batteries from the storms also removes the storm cloud from your path.
Applying the ten-cost Magic Sails upgrade to your airship makes a tremendous amount of difference, especially if you also install the Stronger Sails module from a regular Ship Workshop. It allows your ship to move 25 per cent faster on its own, and if you add Magic Sails to the Orembai airship, you can do several laps around the entire map before needing to recharge.
Establish a wood farm to stack coin
A significant part of the Merchant of the Skies campaign is farming your own resources from islands. Setting up these farms allows you to complete quests without buying items, and they generate tradable goods. While wood is one of the cheaper resources to acquire, buying a Forest (425 coins) and establishing a wood farm will make you a lot of money.
You’ll find that wood is one of the main resources that you need in quests and when building other resource farms. So, you need a good amount of storage (level four or five should suffice) to allow your wood farm to stack the resource continually. To maximise the potential of your Forest, you should also build the Sawmill.
One unit of wood creates two units of lumber, via the Sawmill, which stacks at 60 units. Not only is lumber used in a lot of the more advanced constructions in the campaign, but it also sells at a higher minimum price than raw wood at the Bazaars; you’ll be able to carry more resources to sell on optimum Bazaar days and make more money from each sale.
Visit the Bazaar at the best times
On each generated map in Merchant of the Skies, you should be able to find a couple of Bazaars. As you can see above, the Bazaar islands have a different map symbol, and when you hover over them, you can see the Bazaar’s peak times.
The Bazaar’s list of peak times is reflective of the time dial in the top left of the screen. On the time dial, the small green gem that runs around the circle tells you which day of the week it is at that moment. As your movements advance time in Merchant of the Skies, you’ll need to plan your route to the Bazaar to hit the opportune times for selling goods.
The more visitors that there are at the Bazaar, the more likely you are to sell goods at higher prices. As such, the optimum times to arrive at a Bazaar are those which are shown as having ‘A swarm of visitors’ or ‘A horde of visitors.’ You can still sell your goods on the other days, but you’re much more likely to sell your goods for a higher price or sell more of your listed goods when there’s a swarm or a horde of visitors.
Whether you need more money or a more efficient way of getting around the map, these tips should help you to master the campaign of Merchant of the Skies.