MerchantsEdit
First you will need to build a Trade Center, as you won't be able to hire merchants from a Tavern before building one. Once you have hired a Merchant at your Tavern you can use him/her to start trading and get a lot of gold. There are 2 ways to acquire gold with Merchants:
 Collect items yourself from Collection Points on the world map with a Combat Hero and sell them in a Famous City with your Merchant
 Use your Merchants to buy goods from a Village/Famous City and then travel to another Famous City and sell the goods.
Note: The last way gives you the most gold.
How to use Merchants?Edit
 Click your Trade Center,
 Equip your merchant with collected items from Collection Points or with gold (100k gold is very useful to start travelling with, however it's difficult to equip that much at first due to weight limit).
 Once thats done, click the "Leave" button and click on a point that is selectable to travel to.
If you want to sell stuff, and you cannot reach a Famous City or Capital in one turn, just send your merchant in the right direction. When he arrives at the next location, either buy goods if your weight limit will allow it or continue on your path to the Famous City or Capital. You can only sell goods in Famous Cities and Capitals, you can only buy goods in Villages not sell.
Tip a good way of making early money for your merchants is by selling arena badges with them at famous cities. Load up your charge badges onto your merchants at a trade post then sell them. You can easily gain a few 100k gold with about 60 of them. So save those badges while leveling your heroes. EDIT: this no longer works because of the update that prevents you from loading charge badges onto merchants.
IMO...that's a bad idea, as there are plenty of ways to earn gold and only one way to earn badges...which are extremely useful in aquiring hero items. Better to load collection items onto your Merchant and sell those, which would also require him to carry less gold as he'll make a profit selling them on his first stop in a Trade Center or Capital....
Plundering with a Hero, without troops, if you've not got enough troops to go around to all heros, is a decent way to aquire gold without much effort.... EDIT: you are no longer able to use empty heroes for plundering, instead you can get level 1 white heroes with low command loaded up with t1 troops, as they will be able to carry 10k food.
How to level your Merchant / How to make profitEdit
 Equip your Merchants with gold, the more you have the more you can buy. 150k gold per Merchant would be perfect, but 10k or so is already a nice start.
 Send them to buy goods in a Village/Famous City/Capital, It does not matter which of the 3 you chose. After you have bought the goods, send your Merchant to a Famous City or Capital from another country to sell.
 For example: Buy your goods in Persia, sell it in Egypt's Capital. After that you can recall your merchants to bring the gold home. If you do it this way, it guarantees you good profit and also gives some very nice merchant experience. Very active players can easily gain 3 or 4 million gold per day using 6 or more merchants doing this method. The further away you sell the goods from the country of purchase, the more profit you'll make.
 Merchants gain experience for each 1 gold in profit that they make. If you wish to level up your merchants quickly, don't let your merchants sit idle. You can also level up your Barter skill in your Civic Center to increase the profit from trades which causes your merchants to level up quicker.
 In order to maximize profits and merchant experience, be sure to purchase the items which have the highest price:weight ratio. For example, Silk from the Chinese capital of Changan has a price:weight ratio of 18, which is the highest in the game. In general, nation capitals have an item with a weight:ratio of 18, while regular trade hubs have at least one item with a ratio of 16.
A tip; when recalling your Merchant, to reclaim his gold, always recall him with a full load to sell when you have him leave your city....that way you don't need to load any gold on him, he'll get enough gold selling the load you had him return with on his first stop at a Trade Center or Capital.
Attribute points of MerchantsEdit
Your Merchant gains attribute points each level. In order to increase of them, you must click on the portrait of your merchant, and choose 'Check'. A new window with the profile of your merchant you appear, where you can choose which attributes you can increase.
 Note: You may have an influx of automatic attribute points rising depending on the heroes colour. You also gain one attribute point each level up, which you can allocate yourself.
There are 4 kinds of attributes for Merchants. Those are:
 Capacity: Any collected item has it own weight. Some have only 10 weight, while others may have 1000. The load weight is the max weight your merchant can carry. So the summary of weight of all goods you want to carry, cant be higher then the load weight. You gain 5 max weight per level. Located as Power when intercepted. To maximize profit, get the products with the highest costtoweight ratios, like western swords, elephants, or silk, located in Rome, Babylon, or Changan, respectively. See Persuasion vs. Capacity
 Speed: This increases the travel speed of your merchants. Theoretically, this is a good skill to have, but if you plan on having merchants with high speed, keep them all at the same level or it gets difficult to keep up with them individually. At 1100, the maximum value of a stat possible for any stat of any hero, the marchant can get an 81% increase of speed for journeys. Through math done on seven merchants, which a chart for this will be put up, it will be shown that persuasion will have about three times the amount of profit payoff of the same speed statistic.
 Persuasion: increases the amount of gold your merchant will get for selling goods. Higher persuasion means a higher selling price for your goods. Located as Intelligence when intercepted. It adds a percentage of profit based on basic price (See Persuasion vs. Capacity) This stat gives the highest possible increase to profit.
 Charm: increases the amount of goods a merchant can carry, but this time it does not depend on the load, like it is on weight. This time it's just the amount itself, the "number" of goods. Located as Command when intercepted. IMPORTANT! > This is a very, very useless skill.
Persuasion vs. Capacity: Which stat receives higher profit?Edit
This is based on the results of July 25th, 2011
THIS IS ALL FROM BARTER BONUS!
 After doing research on Merchants within the game, the calculations of persuasion and capacity provide the evidence that persuasion will always deliver more profit to the player than capacity. The calculations for persuasion go thusly:
 Every 50 points embedded into a merchant's persuasion will give a +1% increase to the BASIC PRICE of the item being sold, that is, the price AT the town you are selling it. This is the same as the bonus the barter skill gives. This means that with a barter skill of 3, giving +2% every skill level, means a total of 6%, or 300 points to persuasion. It is better to invest at least 32 points into capacity to get that extra 160 weight item. Of course, you could go up to 200 capacity and get the better price weight ratio items, giving an extra 1000kg. to buy the elephants, or western swords, or whatever it is you buy. That 200 capacity points you put would be much better into persuasion. You can check this out with simple algebra, shown below.
 The Math
 This is an example (This is all theoretical):
 We have a merchant Lv. X with No persuasion, No capacity, and all of his points are in charm and speed, and 200 free points to spend. He is making stops from Babylon to Baghdad. The distance bonus price does not matter, since it is constant for both items in this experiment. With 10000kg. capacity, he loads up with 10 elephants, a purchase of 170000 gold. Let's say we have a barter skill of four, or +8% to sell price. When he stops, he can sell all of those elephants for x, the amount of elephants, multiplied by the amount, 10, and multiplied by 1 plus the % barter bonus to decimal, so:
 170000 X 10 = 170000
 170000 X (1+0.08) = 183600
 183600  170000 = 13600, our profit.
 He decides to journey back, but this time with 200 in capacity, raising his total capacity to 11000. Now he can carry 11 elephants. This time, we do the same process, but substitute x for the new amount.
:*170000 X 11 = 187000
 187000 X (1+0.08) = 201960
 201960  187000 = 14960, our profit.
This is a gain of 1360 from no skill bonuses
 Now he deicdes to reset the skill points, and dump it all into persuasion. The 200 points divided by 50 gives us +4% bonus to sell price. Now we can insert the persuasion bonus with the barter bonus:
 170000 X 10 = 170000
 170000 X (1+0.08+0.04) = 170000 X 1.12
 190400  170000 = 20400, the profit
This is a gain of 6800 from pure capacity
 This means that persuasion gives 5 time the profit that capacity would give.
 This is using only purchase price. BASIC PRICE of the item would give a much larger bonus to sell price. The distance from Babylon to Bhagdad, a total distance of about 55 units, gives a bonus of about 15%. With this travel bonus, the selling price and profit is much, much higher.
 The calculation for basic price , APPROXIMATELY with a margin of error of .05%1%, for the BASIC PRICE of the item will be shown. The variables, buying price, the price you buy the item at, will be represented as B, and distance between towns will be shown as a lowercase d. Bonus is the % added to the buying price that you recieve due to distances between the towns. The formula is this:
:#Bonus = ( 1 + ( ( 2 / 3 ) ( d / 1000 ) ) )
 BASIC PRICE = B ( Bonus )
 You can test this out in game, and you will it it works within the margin of error, just about.
 In other words, it doesn't matter what your route is,
 You get the same amount of profit from all route lengths
 Distance can be found by using coordinants (x1, y1) for the first location, and (x2, y2) for the second, and this formula:
 sqrt ( ( x1  x2 ) ^ 2 + ( y1  y2 ) ^ 2 )
Experience ChartEdit



 Experience resets to zero after each level up.
 Merchants gain 1 experience for each 1 gold in profit that they make.
 From level 1 onwards, EXP required to gain a level is: 100 * (lvl^{2} + 2(lvl) + 2).
 Merchants gain 1 extra journey leg every 10 levels. Therefore a level 40 merchant can take 5 steps before you have to manually move him again.
Merchanting GuideEdit
You can find a Guide on how to merchant at Merchant_Tutorial and Merchant_Tutorial_2
Merchant raidingEdit
Whether merchants can be raided is up for debate. As for evidence, here is a screenshot of my merchant who got raided. So far, raids have all been unsuccessful.
Although you cannot 'plunder' a merchant, whenever you attk one it will be redirected to the nearest village, provided you win. This will give nothing to you, except 1 exp point, however, it will totally disrupt your enemys merchanting plans. An enemy with low or less gold and more time spent redirecting his merchants, is a weaker enemy...imo. It only takes a moment to attk them...do it with unused heros or as opportunity allows. Attk only enemy civ merchants...as this would harm your own civ doing it to their merchants, and perhaps your civ would retaliate against you.
Also, if your hero contains an army....a merchant can kill quite a few of them, giving that player free carnage points, so, either place your troops on standby, or attk merchants only with bare heros (without troops).