“Why can you only open one front at a time? It takes forever to expand territory!” See, that’s where you’re wrong. On both accounts. There’s a trick to it. There’s even a way to open fronts for “free”.
Each corner can expand up to four times (depending on how many adjacent corners there are around it, and will always expand in the same pattern: north, east, south, west. If it can’t expand in four directions, it will still follow the same pattern, starting from the first one it has available.
If it’s on the edge of the map, that counts as unavailable, so you won’t have to pay for a dud corner. It will also skip adjacent corners that belong to a different outfit or a hooligan. It will be listed as “available to expand into” if you look at the Fronts window, but you can’t actually expand into it because it’s occupied by someone else.
Every expansion will cost you anywhere between $6-$15 depending on the traits of both your crew member and the business owner, but $10 is pretty standard. This amount is deducted from the money you collect from the front every month.
Expanding to a corner with no businesses will mean the corner will cost you money but not bring in any in return. If you only have the front on a corner, expanding will mean you have to pay the front, at least until you’ve added a corner with more businesses to extort to make sure the front doesn’t run at a deficit.
Fronts that run at a deficit and that aren’t visited by anyone for two months will feel neglected and shut down. You may lose the whole corner and any adjacent ones attached to it!
Each expansion will take around 3-6 turns to complete, and while any front is working on expanding your territory you can’t open any new fronts. To save yourself some frustration, spend a few turns opening new fronts, followed by triggering all of them to expand in one go.
There is no limit to how many fronts you can open up at the same time. You can open as many fronts at the same time as you want and/or can afford. You’re only limited by a lack of money, Favors, relationship levels, business owner traits, and a lack of businesses on corners you want. Nothing else.
The devil is very much in the detail here: “you can’t open a front while another is expanding” the game says, so make sure you don’t tell a new front to expand as soon as you’ve opened it. Skip that part. Open the front, move on to the next business you want as a front, then the next, and the next, and so on. When they’re all opened, expand them all at the same time. When they’re all finished doing their first expansion (they don’t all complete in the same turn necessarily) you can open new fronts again, or you can wait until they’re all fully expanded.
Expanding territory for “free”
There is a trick to expanding territory for free, which is especially useful at the beginning of the game when your funds are the most limited, or to gain territory in awkward places. A business in your territory which is already paying you protection money can be turned into a front at the cost of a Favor alone.
Sure, you can only expand that corner up to three times instead of four, and removes one business paying the “parent” front protection money, but you’ve also opened a new front for $0. Religious or Upright people will still refuse you, but so will someone who’s Nervous – even though they will happily open a front for you for some extra cash in neutral territory.
If one of those “converted” fronts shuts down (maybe a meddling rival stuck their nose where it didn’t belong) the shut down front will revert to its old self – being an extorted business to its “parent” front. You should be able to convince them to become a front again if you so choose.
A front COULD just be for Christmas
You can open fronts “temporarily” in order to add an awkward corner into your territory. You’ll have to keep paying out for it every month, even when it’s been fully expanded, and keep paying for it for at least a few months.
Once enough time has passed, you can close the front but the territory should stay. This is why you need to let it run for a few months to ensure you don’t lose the territory when you close down the front, because your relationship with that ex-front will take a hit. If it takes too much of a hit, you’ll lose the territory. If you have a high relationship level, it will be dented, but the relationship should still be in the positive.
Shuffling fronts around
If you have a lot of fronts with overlapping territories you might want to eventually look into closing down a few and change the front businesses are paying their protection money to to streamline your operations.
It gives fewer fronts you need to make stops at every month, and means the ones that are left will bring in more money, as more businesses are paying them. See the example below:
Yellow = fronts.
Cyan = extorted businesses, and which front they’re paying.
A is the parent/original front.
B was an extorted business under A turned into a front. It had the ones marked (B) paying it money. (There was no point in expanding to the north because it was a dead end with no businesses. It could only expand south.)
C was an extorted business under B turned into a front. It’s expanded south, and is currently working on expanding west.
Since B was kind of pointless after I managed to get C, the corner I actually wanted, I closed down the B front and let it revert back to paying A protection money. I spoke to the business previously paying B protection money to get them back under my protection, and they’re now paying C instead.