Industries in Pride of Nations play a major role, to say the least. Great Britain is well into the Industrial revolution at the start of the game, and it shows! France and other countries are to a lesser extent industrializing; while other major nations (and many minor ones) are totally backward, like Russia or Japan.
Industries are able to process raw merchandise into manufactured goods. First and foremost is the Steel Mill that is a real necessity for your nation, if you want to build advanced structures. We took some provisions though to prevent a deadlock of the game. First, you can rather easily build mines that will produce the raw resources necessary to operate a steel mill. Then each major nation has a nice feature called ‘intrinsic production’. This production is the abstraction of the work of the thousands of craftsmen each nation had. In game terms, it means that every major nation will receive a few advanced resources each turn, like for example 1 steel unit, 1 mechanical part. By hoarding these resources, you’ll be able, even if nobody wants to sell steel, to create your first structures.
But this is just an extra arrow in your quiver anyway, as international trade is your friend here: No nation was self sufficient historically, even Great-Britain. So you’ll see many countries in the world constantly selling products, including steel. Perhaps not as much as you want, but there will be always a proposal somewhere to check. To succeed or not in acquiring the product is another matter; that will depend of your skills in commerce, and perhaps your willingness to pay a high price… Or you can try securing a commercial treaty, to double your chances. There are several approaches possible.
Foreign investment in Chile as Great Britain.
Selling is a necessity, anyway, for you or the other countries, because selling means net profit. Whether you sell to your own population or to other countries, in the end you’ll always get a bit more in capital than it costs you to produce the goods. So autarky is really not a good idea as it is the slow way to expand: you can succeed this way, but this is not very historical and PON reminds you of that. You’ll want to have production surpluses to earn capital, and rely on international trade to get what you miss, most of the time.
And then we have another feature that differentiates PON from many other games: You can build structures in other countries! Not all, as you need to target a country which is not under protectionism (and forget Closed Japan for a while!), plus it costs more, but this is quite feasible, if you really want to produce a specific resource. The British had interests in cattle ranches in Argentina, but nothing stops you from acquiring a gold mine in Alaska too!
Then there is also the possibility of uncovering new resources, with prospectors. We will talk about that with regional decisions.
In the end, opportunities abound in Pride of Nations, that, you can be sure about…