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A Strategic Start

Dev Diary / Jul 16, 2020

Starting Empire of Sin has a familiar cadence boss to boss. You’re going to run into someone you know on your way into Chicago, and between the two of you, you’re going to come to some kind of decision about the best way for matters to proceed.

Out on the street, it’s now time for the early-game strategy to begin.

Lay of the Land

When I arrive in Chicago, there are two primary things that I am concerned with. First, I want to get a lay of the land. I immediately zoom to the world map from street view to get an idea of where I am and who else is here. For me, it is also one of the most exciting times in the game. I’m discovering who else is here, what they might already own, and what is nearby for the easy taking. The locations of other safehouses also gives me an idea of the level of security I need in the early game. If you’ve played any games that take place on a map (and I have a feeling most of you have), the survey of the starting map is equal parts discovery and “ass on fire.”

When I first arrive in the game or in a new neighborhood, I am looking for these things, and I’ll cover these in this post.


Obviously, I’m here, but who else is? A look at the map reveals nearby safehouses. The quantity and location of said safehouses is critical. It’s important for me to learn who owns these safehouses. Each boss has their own personality which means they might be more aggressive with their territory and thus have a desire to roll over mine. If there are no safehouses (unlikely), I’ll have a good start getting this neighborhood to myself. If there are two, but we’re spaced out, I feel like I have a chance to get a foothold. If there are three or another close to mine, however, it’s time to hustle. From this early lay of the land and the quantity of safehouses, I am making decisions about putting money into security to protect my budding empire vs. putting money into production to up either the quantity or quality of alcohol I’m making. For my rackets, I need to think about drawing people into my rackets with a word of mouth upgrade vs putting people by the door to keep the other faction riff raff out. I might play a bit more risky because I’ve been playing since milestone 1, but I tend to take my chances early on, getting more cautious as the game progresses and I have more to lose.

Chris King views this slightly differently. For him, knowing who the other bosses are isn’t as important. He tries to hold back and waits to find out who the other factions are when he has grown in power. The turtle strategy has you shy away from areas with other safehouses and instead focus on growth in other areas.

In the image below, you can see that I have a busy start. There are two other bosses here. When I figure out who they are, I’ll decide how I want to act. One advantage of taking out a boss before they really get going is that you can quickly grow your empire (the disadvantage being that they can quickly grow theirs, and it’s game over).



Whether you’re on the world map or the street view, before long, you’ll see others checking out the world just like you are. Often, it’s people exploring (the binoculars icon). Sometimes, however, it’s people who are out for blood like the gang below.


In this start, I am concerned firstly because the other safehouse isn’t too far from mine and they are already expanding close to me. They’ve sent out an extermination squad which I’m willing to bet are coming for me. I can head them off before they get to my racket or trust that I have set up a sufficient number of guards so that they can hold the place on their own.

As the game gets more advanced, I often use the world map to monitor what my enemies are doing and to avoid people who it might be a challenge for me to run into.


Having a brewery early in the game is absolutely critical to your survival. Prohibition relies on a healthy supply of illegal hooch. You can get a brewery one of two ways: buy one or take one over. Breweries are pricey, however, and this results in the first interesting decision a player needs to make.

  • Do you spend your money on a brewery, but have to scramble for rackets or gangsters?
  • Do you take over a thug’s racket and pay to convert it into a brewery? This costs less than purchasing one outright. With every fight, though, there is a risk of injury or death.
  • Do you take over another faction’s brewery thus saving a bunch of money but starting off your career with an early enemy? It doesn’t cost you anything to convert like for like (take over a brewery, and it’s free to open it as your own brewery.)
  • Do you go the pure vice route and opt to build your early empire with brothels? Brothels are profitable without alcohol?
  • Do you opt to build a small collection of rackets like casinos and speakeasies while beefing up the small brewery in your safehouse to supply them? Do you make an early trade deal with another faction?

Each player has their own opinion of an ideal starting state. In a perfect world, I am really hoping that I’ll roll a brewery nearby run by thugs. This is a reoccurring pre-game fantasy of mine: I’ll jump into the game, and there will be a small brewery right next to my safehouse that I can take over with just a gangster or two. If it’s owned by thugs, I can take them out, and it’s mine for free. If it’s owned by another gang, I might still be able to take it over. Sure, it won’t get me off to the best start with that faction, but I hope I’ll be able to improve that or form an alliance with someone more powerful. The key is to get yourself a brewery to power your empire, however you do it.

Look for the Bonuses

Scattered throughout Chicago are caches left behind by other criminals hoping not to get caught. If you get to these first, they are yours for the taking. The way I usually spot them is to look for groups of thugs who seem to be guarding something.

The caches range from a bit of cash or alcohol to something more game changing like $50K. Because of the amount of thugs surrounding this cache, I decide to hire a couple gangsters rather than going it alone.

Clear em out

With the enemies cleared, the cache is mine, and fortunately, it turns out to be the €50K I was hoping for. The other bosses in my neighborhood are toast.

Back to Breweries

Up to this point, and if you looked at the screenshots earlier in this article, you might notice I haven’t actually gotten the brewery that I have been raving on about. With $50K, now it’s not going to be a problem! I could purchase a building and convert it thus saving life and limb, or I could take over another racket pay less than market price to convert it into a brewery which is precisely what I decide to do.

Next Up

Hopefully, this gives you a good idea of how to get your criminal empire off the ground.  In our next Dev Diary, we’ll cover more gameplay! Stay tuned!

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