Anno 1701, like the other six Anno games, is a game based mainly on the economics of the settlement created by the player. The more skilled a player is at maintaining a balanced economy the more successful their settlement will be.
As with other Anno games, the player starts as an unnamed country which has to colonize and expand in the game world. While the player expands, other computer controlled rivals are expanding and strengthening. As the player progresses through the game, players have access to lodge activities and troops which allow them to invade and ultimately to defeat other players.
The game is divided into five social stages: Pioneer, Settler, Citizen, Merchant, and Aristocrat. At the start of the game, all of a player's citizens are pioneers. They pay little amounts of taxes, and require only food and a town center. As a player's empire develops, so does his population. They begin upgrading (provided they have sufficient goods), paying more taxes, but also requiring more goods, such as tobacco products, perfume, lamp oil, and much more. It is crucial for a player to develop quickly, as not much profit is attained until reaching the merchant stage.
Players can trade with other opponents settling under the Queen's name, or with foreign cultures. All foreign cultures are on small or medium islands, and cannot leave their island.
Liang Wu and his Asians are found on islands in the north of the island world. They trade the colonial good Jade, and purchase food.
Poxacoatl and his Aztecs live on islands in the southern zone, are few in number and believe in the infinite power of the gods. They trade the colonial goods Talismans, and purchase cloth and horses.
Amin Sahir and his Indians have a small settlement on one of the islands in the southern end of the island world. Their Indian Ivory is a desirable colonial good.
Tetonka and his Iroquois are situated in a dense forest on one of the islands in the northern zone of the island world. The Iroquois trade furs, and purchase tobacco products and weapons.
Ramirez and his Pirates take refuge in expertly concealed hideouts in the southern zone of the island world. Due to their aggressive nature they take rich rewards from raids, therefore they can offer you all colonial goods.
Anno 1701 is almost entirely focused on trade and economics, leaving little left over for war tactics. The combat has been simplified in some respects compared to the previous Anno game (Anno 1503), which makes it less involved and less difficult for new players.
1701 AD has a wealth of enhancements that distinguish it from its two predecessors (1503 AD, 1602 AD). These developments include:The Queen
Now, players are settling the island world in the queen's name. Thus, she expects subservience and respect. Late in the game, she will begin demanding for tribute, giving you the choice to pay thousands of gold coins, or being attacked by her royal fleet. Either option will eventually lead to independence. Different opponents have different relationships with the queen. Deciding to attack the queen can upset many honorable opponents, while paying tribute can upset others.Trader Assignments
The Free Trader, a neutral merchant who sails his fleet around the world to trade, can offer players opportunities to assist him in matters. The assignments are optional, but the reward is immense, and sometimes crucial to financial success. In some assignments, players have to deliver select goods, while in others, players have to destroy ships.Guests of Honour
Traveling dignitaries can now visit your city and enhance the quality and power of a player's empire. For example, when the smith arrives, he replenishes tool supplies. The entertainers can brighten the moods of the populace, leading to increased tax revenue. Guests of honor come at random times during each social stage of the game, and can also be called to visit once the senate is unlocked.Tax Control
Unlike in the previous game in the series, Anno 1503, players can choose how much to tax their people, bringing back an old system that was featured in the first ANNO game. Low taxes are required for a social upgrade and please the people, while higher taxes lead to revolt and a lower population.New Goods
The new goods available include chocolate, perfume, and colonial goods (Ivory, Jade, Talismans, Furs). Also, goods can now be purchased in a village center, instead of at individual stands that had to be built individually in previous Anno games.Lodge Activities
Lodge activities are accessed at the beginning of the game, although only the spy is available for use. All the other lodge activities are researched throughout the game at either a school or a university. Some of the very powerful activities available to players include the deployment of the poisoner (who introduces the plague to an opponent's settlement) or the demagogue (who can rally workers to walk away from their jobs).Natural Disasters
Players are now subject to Mother Nature's wrath. Hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions all have the power to destroy settlements. Diseases are also rampant in the 1701 AD world, specifically the plague, which can wipe out hundreds, or even thousands, of people. The plague of rats can ruin tons of goods as well.
On March 23, 2007, Sunflowers announced an add-on called Anno 1701: The Sunken Dragon. It includes new features, new missions, and a map editor. The add-on has an Asiatic look, as well as a campaign with 11 missions centered on the new player profiles.