Prison Empire Tycoon guide: tips, tricks, and cheats

Everything you need to know about the sim in one easily-digestible Prison Empire Tycoon guide

July 16, 2020 The Iron Fortress event is coming back, so we’ve updated our guide with some new tips and tricks.

Prison Empire Tycoon is like a modern, free-to-play spin on classic sims like Theme Hospital. You’re placed in the boots of a prison warden, and, much like in real America, have to make your prison as profitable as possible. That involves, surprisingly, keeping your prisoners happy, upgrading facilities, ensuring you have enough staff to handle demand, and constant expansion. It’s speculate to accumulate gamified.

Also surprising, is that Prison Empire Tycoon’s challenge actually extends further than merely requiring you to fork out your real life cash on microtransactions that will make life easier for you. Instead, you have to manage your meager profits, getting the balance right between expanding and upgrading and ensuring job security. Get it wrong and it’s not the end of the world though, as you can just fire everyone.

But we want to help save jobs over here at Pocket Tactics, so have put together a massive Prison Empire Tycoon guide, which should help you run the most profitable prison going. Wait, is that something to be proud of?

Everything in our Prison Empire Tycoon guide:

Prison Empire Tycoon Iron Fortress guide: how to beat the event

Prison Empire Tycoon’s Iron Fortress event typically takes place each weekend, starting on a Thursday and ending on the following Sunday, though these days and times may differ depending where you live. It challenges you to rehabilitate as many high security prisoners as possible during the period, earning rewards the better you do. The maximum rewards kick in at 80,000 prisoners, which is no mean feat.

Aside from that, it plays very similarly to Alcantraz Federal Penitentiary, the final prison you unlock in the base game. You won’t make as much money from government subsidies in Iron Fortress, but you can boost your income by setting up Carpentry and Metallurgy Workshops, which allow your prisoners to craft items that you can sell.

We’ve spent a bunch of time with Iron Fortress, using a process of trial and error in an attempt to master the event. Here are a few tips based on our findings:

  • Save gems you earn during the week: as you complete objectives in your prisons, you earn gems that you can spend on boxes. These contain cards, which can provide permanent upgrades for your prisons. If you plan on playing the Iron Fortress event though, we advise you to save your gems for the event box, which can contain a Master Key. Get this item and it doubles your regular and offline profits, which will help an absolute ton during this event
  • Focus on building cells and workshops: you can’t play the long game in Iron Fortress, relying on government subsidies to prove your profit. You have to earn it for yourself by putting your prisoners to work. So, save your income during the start of the event for new cells, modules, and, most importantly, workshops
  • Only upgrade prisoner cells and workshops: once you’ve built all of your workshops, cells, and cell modules you can start upgrading them and your cells, both of which will boost your income further. We’d still recommend avoiding any other unnecessary upgrades at this point

Prison Empire Tycoon Master Key: what it is and how to get it

The Master Key is a special item that you can only use during the Iron Fortress event. You get it as a random drop from event boxes, and it doubles your income and boosts your offline time as soon as you unlock it. It’s incredibly valuable, and will enormously boost how well you do in the event.

Prison Empire Tycoon download: How to get it on iOS and Android

Prison Empire Tycoon is out right now on iOS and Android, and you can grab it right now on the App Store and Google Play respectively.

prison empire tycoon apk: how to bypass the Android app stores

If you’d rather not grab Prison Empire Tycoon from official Android app stores, you can grab the APK directly from APKPure.

Prison Empire Tycoon PC: How to get it on the big screen

Oh, so you fancy playing Prison Empire Tycoon on PC, huh? Well, that’s a possibility thanks to NoxPlayer, an Android emulator that allows you to play mobile games on PC.

NoxPlayer works across PC and Mac, and you can install your favourite Android games by following these steps:

  • Head on over to the official Prison Empire Tycoon NoxPlayer page
  • Click ‘Win’ or ‘Mac’ download, depending on the type of PC you own
  • Once downloaded, click on the EXE file
  • Follow the steps to install NoxPlayer
  • Press ‘Start’
  • Login to your Google Play account
  • Search for Prison Empire Tycoon
  • Find the Google Play page and click on it
  • Hit ‘Install’
  • Once installed, press ‘Open’
  • Enjoy Prison Empire Tycoon on your PC!

Prison empire tycoon icons: what those symbols mean

The biggest challenge in Prison Empire Tycoon is keeping your prisoners happy. That way there’s no chance of a riot forming, which can set your prison back financially as you may lose guards in the scuffle.

You can get an overall indication of your prisoner’s happiness by checking their needs, which you can access by pressing the left of the buttons on the lower right of the screen. There are six different needs, which are represented by icons, or symbols.

Here’s what those icons mean:

  • Bread symbol: hunger
  • Shower symbol: hygiene
  • Cross symbol: health
  • Badge symbol: security
  • Smile symbol: entertainment
  • Feather symbol: comfort

Prison empire tycoon prisoner needs: how to keep your prisoners healthy and happy

Now that you know what these special icons mean, here’s how to take care of your Prison Empire Tycoon prisoner needs:

  • Hunger: 
  • Upgrade your kitchen
  • Upgrade your dining hall
  • Hire more cooks
  • Hygiene: 
  • Build bathroom facilities
  • Upgrade bathroom facilities
  • Upgrade cell toilets
  • Hire more janitors
  • Upgrade maintenance room
  • Build laundry room
  • Upgrade the laundry room
  • Health:
  • Build an infirmary
  • Upgrade your infirmary
  • Hire more doctors
  • Perform all of the steps in the ‘Hygiene’ section
  • Security:
  • Hire more guards
  • Upgrade the guards’ room
  • Purchase security equipment
  • Entertainment:
  • Purchase radios, TVs, and books for cells
  • Upgrade radios, TVs, and books in cells
  • Purchase new prison yard equipment
  • Upgrade prison yard equipment
  • Purchase a TV for the dining hall
  • Comfort:
  • Upgrade cell beds
  • Purchase a desk, ventilation, and light in all cells
  • Upgrade dining hall tables
  • Keep the prison clean by hiring janitors and upgrading the maintenance room

Prison empire tycoon special prisoners: how to get them

Special prisoners are a blessing and a curse in Prison Empire Tycoon. On the upside, they bring in a lot more money, but on the downside, they have a hugely negative impact on your fellow prisoner’s needs.

For example, we’ve had riots kick off in our otherwise perfect prison solely because of these troublemakers. Solitary confinement can only help so much.

But, given that your goal is to, ultimately, make a profit, having these guys around is a necessary evil. Now, there is no way to currently game the system so that they show up, but you can check to see if you have any in your prison by following these steps:

  • Tap on the prisoners icon, which is located on the bottom right of your screen. It’s the left of the two icons
  • Tap on the skull icon
  • This shows your list of prisoners

At a glance, you can see what negative impact these guys will have on your prison. Frank Underock, for example, will have a negative impact on your prisoner’s hunger levels. When we looked at our prisoner’s needs, funnily enough the hunger need was the lowest of the lot.

So if you do get one of these prisoners, make sure to prioritise upgrading the part of the prison that they affect the most.

Prison empire tycoon gems: How to get gems for free

Gems are the premium currency in Prison Empire Tycoon, and allow you to speed up the amount of time that it takes buildings to pop up, and to purchase special cards.

There are currently only two ways to get gems:

  • Purchase them from the store
  • Complete missions

The first of these costs your actual hard-earned cash, while the latter are free, provided that you can complete them. You can check your missions at any time by tapping the tickbox icon at the top right of the screen. We’d recommend prioritising any of these missions that you can to boost your gems.

Prison Empire Tycoon cards: how to get them

Now that you know how to get gems, it’s time to take a look at what you can expect to do with them. The primary use of gems is to do one of two things:

  • Build stuff faster
  • Purchase card packs

Now, we’re going to advise you to steer clear of the former, as you should plan around being impatient. We’ll get into specific tips below, but, provided you have a sound strategy, you should never get yourself in a position where you’re so desperate for something to finish that you have to speed up a building.

Instead, you’re going to save up all of the gems you earn from completing missions so you can purchase chests. Not just any chest though, you’re going to get the expert chest. In this instance, it’s worth saving up for.

Purchase a basic chest and you’ll get 34 cards, four of which are rare. Advanced gives you 120 cards, 20 of which are rare. Expert, though, gives you 546 cards, 96 of which are rare, and 50 of which are epic. That’s nearly 20x more cards than you’d get for a basic chest at only six times the price. It’s also the only way to currently get epic cards, and 50 to boot.

But wait, what even are cards? Well, these are collectible items that provide you with permanent buffs for your current, and all future, prisons. You unlock new cards each time you go to a new prison, and they boost stats in almost every area, including speeding up building times, increasing profitability, and improving food.

Prison empire tycoon tips, tricks, and cheats

We’ve covered a lot of ground at this point, but we still want to provide you with a few more specific tips, tricks, and cheats that should help you run a more successful prison.

Plan your upgrades around your prisoner’s needs

When looking where to spend your money next, the first place to check is your prisoner’s needs, which you can check by tapping on the leftmost portrait on the bottom right of your screen. Depending on what is the lowest need (and you can check what these icons and symbols mean in the section above), we recommend upgrading accordingly. Again, you can get tips on exactly what you need to purchase to manage needs in the needs section.

Take every loan you can and double earnings whenever you return to the game

You will routinely get offered a loan while actively playing Prison Empire Tycoon, and we thoroughly recommend accepting this each and every time. The term loan, in this case, is actually very misleading as no one expects you to pay these back. It’s free money, and all you have to do is watch an ad to get it.

Don’t hire too many staff members and never fire them

Hiring new staff members is cheap, and has an immediate impact on your prisoner’s needs. As a result, you will likely be tempted to do this as often as possible: don’t.

Remember, that you’re only a profitable business while you actually have prisoners. While your prison is full, the money will come rolling in and you can afford everyone’s wages and then some. But then prisoners get rehabilitated and leave your prison, which means lower income. You may even end up in debt, which requires you to cut on staff members.

Don’t get yourself in this position. Cutting staff members is a good way to save a bit of cash in the short term, but, as is the case in most instances, prevention is the best remedy. Why? Because hiring to replace those staff members later is actually a lot more expensive than keeping them on.

Instead, just watch your inmates during each of the phases of their day. While they grab food, is there a long queue that drags on for ages? Hire a new cook, and see what impact it has. Does it take ages to process new inmates? Hire a new guard and see if that does the trick.

It’s tempting just to buy everything and leave it, but actually, resisting and seeing the effects of your spending is a lot safer in the log run.

Save your big building projects for later on

Not every prison will have all of the facilities you need when you first start. You might be missing an infirmary, or a place to wash clothing. When planning building projects, it’s important to ask yourself what you need. How do you figure that out? Go to your prisoner’s needs tab again.

Now, it isn’t simply a case that if their hygiene is low building a washing room will solve the problem. That costs a lot of money to build alone, but then you’ll need new janitors to staff it and you’ll have to purchase new equipment for them. Instead, take a look at what else you can do to boost those needs.

Can you upgrade the bathroom facilities? Or add a toilet to the cell? Can you hire another janitor to ensure that your prison is cleaner? Consider doing these things before starting a new building project.

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