WINNING AT COLONIZATION
ECONOMIC WARFARE FOR FUN AND PROFIT
"Colonization" is the latest strategic simulation from Sid Meier and MicroProse.
follows in the footsteps of the immensely popular "Civilization" and players of
Civilization will find themselves right at home with "Colonization."
In "Colonization," the player takes the part of the English, Spanish, French or
a colonial power. A colonial empire is developed in the New World that must be
protected from encroachments by the other European powers (and they will because
it's their job). These colonies must become as self-sufficient as possible in
order to win
the War of Independence which must be fought to win the game.
In this discussion of strategies and tips, I give particular emphasis to
player's score. I will pay very little attention to the moral dilemmas posed by
courses of action (this ain't an "Ethics of Empire" course). Before going
player needs to be aware that "Colonization" is fundamentally a game of economic
strategy. Thus, everything the player does should be aimed at increasing his
economic power and decreasing the economic power of the computer players. This
economic basis is reflected in the method of final scoring. Additional points
for having money in the bank (1 point per 1000 coins). Additional points are
for specialists who are about two to three times as productive as the
colonists (consequently more bucks for faster and greater production capacity).
points are awarded for having more Founding Fathers in the congress (a measure
the productive capability of your statesmen colonists). Points are awarded for
declaring independence early and there are bonuses for being first (both are
ments of your economic independence and the speed with which you attain it). In
short, there is an economic basis to almost everything in the game. Thus, these
strategies and hints focus on the development of the player's economic power
though there are a goodly number of game playing tips.
Economics in "Colonization" is pretty much a zero-sum proposition. Basically,
player gets something, he deprives the other players of it. For example, a
has just attacked your caravel and seized a cargo of tools. You have lost not
cost of the tools and the use of your caravel (at least for the number of turns
it will take
to repair it), you have also lost whatever those tools were going to be used for
as the delay imposed in replacing the tools.
So, with these assumptions in mind, let's go colonize a new world.
The first critical choice the player is faced with is which of the colonial
powers to play.
Each of the powers has its own advantage which can be exploited to the player's
benefit, but which can also be somewhat compensated for in the play of the game
should the player choose another power. For example, the French generate alarm
among the Indians at only half the rate of the other powers. Once the player
Pocahantas in the Congress, the player is on an equal footing with France. The
immigration of the English can be compensated for by an emphasis on building
churches and cathedrals in your colonies and obtaining William Penn as quickly
possible. One can somewhat simulate the 50% attack bonus of the Spanish by
obtaining George Washington and receiving the automatic promotion on winning a
combat. There really is no method to compensate for the economic stability of
Dutch. Doing lots of trading with the Indians and the other colonial powers
you to partially simulate this stability, though.
Because this is a game of economic warfare, I have a preference for playing the
Though the prices in Amsterdam will eventually deflate to the same levels as the
powers' home ports, I find that the greatest advantage to playing the Dutch is
having to face them in the New World. Because of their economic advantage they
a truly formidable foe. Most new players, though, will undoubtedly prefer the
The second decision faced by the player is where to put the first colony. There
no hard and fast rule on where to put it. There are some hard and fast rules on
not to put it, though.
First, DO NOT put your colonies immediately adjacent to an Indian village. If
several things will happen. You will immediately trigger Indian alarm which
certainly result in attacks unless you start trading with them very quickly and
trade with them throughout the game. You will also be faced with a lot of your
showing up as Indian lands. This problem will disappear as soon as Peter Minuit
the Congress, but is a major drawback early in the game. Unless you open your
display often or right-click on the village, you will not be able to accurately
state of alarm in that village because you will always see a brave standing
could easily result in a lot of surprise raids by the Indians of that village
didn't know how alarmed they really were.
Second, DO NOT locate your first colony on any kind of terrain which will not
at least 2 food units (i.e. desert, scrub forest, etc) in the town common. You
to leave the initial colonist to do his thing for a while and you will need to
make sure he
doesn't starve while he's doing it.
Third, DO NOT locate your colonies anywhere near the Arawaks if you can possibly
avoid it. These Indians make raids at a moment's notice and are the most
to deal with. You will spend an inordinate amount of time and resources keeping
Arawaks pacified only to have them go on the warpath against you during your War
Independence. The best rule for the Arawaks is avoid them or wipe them out.
OK. Now for a few DO's. DO try to keep your colonies at least 2 squares away
any Indian villages. DO try to make sure that your first colony (at least) has
decent quantities of BOTH lumber and ore. DO try to get a silver deposit into
your first or second colony or find the Incas and Aztecs as quickly as possible
settle near them. (This is especially true if you're playing the Dutch.
zero-sum aspect. If you are the one to deflate the price of silver you can
other players of the higher prices.) DO use your soldier unit to build your
The only thing the soldier unit can do at the start is wander around and alarm
Once you have created your first colony, you are faced with a decision: what
have your first colonist do? Normally you would turn him into a lumberjack and
turn him into a carpenter and start building stuff. If you have started your
near one of the other powers (especially the Dutch), turn your first colonist
statesman. This will accomplish two things quickly.
First, you will gain your first Founding Father quickly (more on which one you
building toward in a bit). Second (and most importantly), you are going to
magic 50% Sons of Liberty number very quickly. This will immediately eliminate
weakest colonial power from the new world. Early in the game the odds are
you will eliminate the Dutch (assuming you're not playing them). Because of
economic advantage they are seldom the power to be eliminated if you wait until
to reach 50%. Remember, the Dutch are pretty tough. Get rid of them if you
in any event you will now only have to deal with 2 rival powers rather than 3.
The Founding Father you should be building toward is going to be the subject of
argument. My recommended strategy is this: get Minuit, Cortez, De Soto,
Drake as quickly as possible and in approximately that order. My reasoning is
Money. Minuit keeps the Indians from charging you for their territory. De Soto
that all Lost City rumors are positive (only if you go investigate them with a
though). Cortez gets the king's galleons to transport for free (remember all
treasure trains you're going to get because you have De Soto?). Drake gets you
50% attack bonus for your Privateers (the only thing better than being able to
muskets is being able to steal them) and Franklin insures that you'll get a
without any conditions.
How, you may well ask, do I get these guys in the correct order? The answer to
question leads to the only method of cheating I've been able to find: Save your
often and reload the saved game if things don't go the way you want them to.
example, on the turn you found your initial colony, save the game. If the
Father you want doesn't come up on the list at the start of the next turn, you
your saved game and try again.
There is a bit of a trick to doing it this way, though. Theoretically the
outcome of each
event is determined by a random number. This is a true statement, but reloading
game does not reseed the random number generator (unless you exit "Colonization"
entirely and reload it from the opening screen). Thus, if you save a game just
your soldier unit attacks a rival colony, the outcome of that attack will be the
you reload the game and attack again. The trick is to do something to engage
random number generator before making the attack. Going back to the example of
soldier attacking the rival colony, if he lost the first time, he would probably
encounter no matter how many times you reload the game unless you do something a
little differently after you reload. Possibilities might include sending a
Scout in to talk to
an Indian village and then having the soldier attack the colony or attacking the
with a different soldier unit. It really doesn't matter what you do differently
as long as
you do something to engage the random number generator before you attack again.
This leads rather nicely into my next topic of how to build an effective
as quickly and cheaply as possible. There are really two workable methods. For
sake of the truly bloodthirsty in the audience, I will go over the more
aggressive of the
In order to make this work you need to have several things done before you
you absolutely MUST have Franklin in the Congress. It would be very nice to
Washington in there, also, but you can get by without him. Second, you must
Scout (preferably Seasoned) within one turn's movement of a rival colony. With
to this, I just usually make it a practice to keep a Scout somewhere near a
of each of the rival powers, especially after Franklin joins the Congress. I
him on a hill or a mountain about 2 squares away from the colony. This is close
enough to keep an eye on things, and he's as well protected as he can be without
dedicating a military unit to protecting him, but he's still one jump ahead of
the posse if
things go down the toilet. Third, you will need a couple or three Dragoon units
(non-veteran). Lastly, you will need a target. A good one would be an inland
colony with no
stockade and a population of 3 or 4.
Once everything is in position, SAVE YOUR GAME! Remember, you can always
reload. Step one is to have your Scout delay his move until the end of the
as their turns come up, attack the colony with the Dragoons. If Washington is
Congress they will be promoted when they win the encounter. If Washington is
the Congress you have to take your chances on their promotion. A good rule to
is to use your veteran units (or at least free colonist Dragoons) to make the
and then use your non-veteran (or criminal/servant) units to clean up. After
captured the colony or achieved the promotion of your units, send your Scout in
make peace with the rival power.
An interesting side note on using Scouts in this manner: Experienced
players will recall that peace treaties are about worthless. Maybe you get a
turn or two,
but it's iffy. In "Colonization", treaties will buy you at least a few turns of
peace. I've never been attacked within 5 or 6 turns of making the treaty and
10 or so. Apparently treaties are binding for at least a few turns. So take
this: attack your enemies unmercifully, plunder and pillage, make peace and
with impunity. Just keep a Scout handy to make peace at the end of the turn.
OK, for the less bloodthirsty in the audience: building a military machine in a
which is more or less conducive to peaceful coexistence. For this you do not
particular Founding Fathers, although Jefferson and Bolivar are handy. What you
need is a colony which is firmly established at 100% Sons of Liberty membership
which has a College or University. Clear out all indentured servants and petty
from the colony and replace them with free colonists. Put two soldiers into the
as teachers (3 if you have a university). Then start shipping free colonists to
to be trained. If the colony is at 100% SOL membership, it should take 3 turns
out as many soldiers as you have teachers, 6 turns if you are at less than 100%.
caveat at this point: rumor has it that the faster education feature will be
later versions of the game, so don't count on this working in every case.) The
remaining problem is equipping your new veterans with muskets and horses.
What follows here is what I like to call the old "Tool Switcheroo". Eventually
boycott tools and be unable to buy them in Europe or the price will climb up
enough that it's not worth the expense. There is still a way which you can buy
though. It requires building some building which requires tools to complete and
a fair supply of coins in your treasury, but no tools in the colony. When you
message that the project requires a certain number of tools to complete, but you
have enough, open the colony display and click the "buy" button to complete the
project. You will notice that the requisite number of tools have appeared in
warehouse. You can then equip someone outside the colony as a pioneer or put
in the cargo bay of a wagon train or ship and purchase the tools again. Add
the pioneer or cargo and buy them again. It's expensive (about 1000 for 100
you have not boycotted tools and about 2000 if you have), especially early in
but it's quick and it gets the job done.
As you approach the end of your War of Independence, you need to start
on maximizing your score. Believe it or not, genocide can be one way of doing
You need to have Cortez in the Congress (and this works especially well for the
Spanish player who gets the 50% attack bonus against Indian villages) and be
relatively unbothered by the REF. Go wipe out the Aztecs and Incas. For those
recoiling in horror at the thought of this, let me point out a few things to
you. First, you
get 1 point for every 1000 coins in your treasury. Second, you are penalized
destroyed Indian villages (a sliding scale depending on the difficulty level).
Cortez in the Congress, you are going to get a tremendous amount of treasure out
burned Aztec and Inca cities. If you get 12000 coins (12 points on your final
are penalized 5 points for the destroyed city, you are still 7 points to the
good. Don't do
this with the agrarian or nomadic tribes, though. You won't get enough treasure
offset the penalty unless you're playing at the lowest difficulty levels.
Another technique for putting money in your treasury toward the end of the game
have your Customs Houses sell everything in the colonies. Have your carpenters
making hammers so your lumber starts to pile up (hey, it's money), but keep
tools and horses in case you have any last-minute problems. Strip your
pioneers and scouts a couple of turns before you win the war and sell
first time I tried this I watched my treasury jump from about 25,000 to well
in three turns.
To keep the REF off your back while you engage in creative genocide and product
dumping, here's a great trick. Just before declaring independence build a
on a little island somewhere. Don't put any more colonists into it and do not
The REF is about 90% likely to attack that little undefended colony first and
concentrate on your main colonies. After you have wiped out the rest of the REF
forces, you can go do your genocide thing, sell off everything, educate any
non-specialists and work really hard at jacking up your score. After this, you
take back the little colony (maybe it will have a stockade around it by this
probably not--the REF is not very concerned about improving any colonies it
You will have to fight 1 cavalry, 1 artillery, and 5 soldiers, so take enough
forces to do
the job and remember that you will get the bombardment bonus (assuming that
intervention has come) as long as you have a Frigate, Privateer or Man O' War,
As a general rule, the REF will try to occupy the best (in their eyes) terrain
comes to attack you. If there is a mountain adjacent to your colony, they will
occupy it. Let them. If you attack them with units outside the colony, you get
ambush bonus. One method to help make sure they wind up on the terrain with the
best ambush bonus is to put units on every other piece of terrain EXCEPT the one
want them on. Be sure to leave them one square to occupy, though. If you have
square occupied and they really want to attack a colony, they will just capture
pieces in order to make room for themselves.
OK, a few hints on attacking Indian villages. This can be a very good method of
new colonists. First, establish a mission in the village you want to burn.
should preferably be with a Jesuit Missionary, but any kind of missionary will
do if you
have Brebeuf in the Congress. Second, after you have Sepulveda in the Congress,
before you add de Las Casas, attack the village. You will get several converts
this. If you try to coordinate your attacks with attacks on other villages in
the same tribe
which also have missions, you can get a bunch of converts in just a few turns.
careful not to destroy any of the villages, though. As soon as the first one is
all other missions in that tribe are burned and the natives go on the warpath.
If you are
careful not to destroy the villages, this strategy can be repeated later on with
success. You will need to do a lot of sucking up to the natives in the interim,
Another thing to keep in mind is to avoid attacking and destroying the capitol
tribe as long as possible. If you manage to provoke the natives to the point
go on the warpath against you, there are only three ways to calm them down.
can do a massive amount of sucking up. Give them everything, pay exorbitant
for their goods, and don't provoke them further. They will calm down
Second, you can get Pocahantas into the Congress. This will immediately reduce
tensions to content. The problem with this is that it's a one-shot deal. Your
is to attack and destroy the capitol. When the capitol is destroyed the tribe
surrender and go back to being content. This can only be done once per tribe,
After their capitol is gone, there is no quick solution to a tribe on the
During your War of Independence, but before foreign intervention occurs, you
that your Frigates are frequently a fair match for a Man O' War. After
so. I don't know if this is a glitch in the program, a specific feature, or
that will be fixed in later versions. But after intervention occurs, try not to
Frigates to attack the REF Men O' War unless you're truly desperate (not an
uncommon state of mind during the war).
You can build up your navy fairly quickly if you can build a colony or two which
your lumber suppliers. By placing 3 Master carpenters to work in a colony which
shipyard, a lumber mill, and 100% Sons of Liberty membership, you can crank out
Frigate in just a few turns as long as you can keep those carpenters supplied
lumber. Often you can find terrain with two lumber resources within the area of
colony. Build a colony and put two lumberjacks to work on those resources. You
find that they are cranking out enough lumber to supply the 3 Carpenters and
some. This is also a good way to beef up your artillery in your coastal cities
war of independence. Remember, artillery only takes 40 tools, but it takes
hammers. 3 carpenters in a 100% colony with a lumber mill crank out 48 hammers
One last thought on Lost City rumors. Don't be afraid to build a colony at the
start of a
turn and abandon it at the end of the turn. If you have Cortez and de Soto in
Congress, you're sitting pretty. If your Scout stumbles across a treasure train
investigating a Lost City rumor, get him and the train to the coast as quickly
as possible. Use the scout to build a colony, move the treasure train into the
colony (the king's
galleons will pick up the treasure for free [well, less the tax rate, but who's
track of that?]), and then abandon the colony.
I am a firm believer in temporary colonies. I'll build them to mine a silver
then abandon them when the silver runs out. I'll build them to get a treasure
train out of
harm's way (the Indians will attack them if you don't get rid of them pretty
build them for a variety of reasons and abandon them just as quickly. This is
reason I do not like to be La Salle in my Congress. Once that stockade goes up,
cannot abandon the colony. For this reason I am very choosy about which of my
colonies I attack. Once you've got the colony, you're often stuck with it.
Until you get William Brewster into your Congress, you are going to be plagued
indentured servants and petty criminals, especially at the higher levels of
only thing I can suggest is to keep an eye on what's happening with the
pool. Once the passage fee gets close to 100 coins, you're about to get a new
immigrant. It can often be better to spend the 100 coins or so to take your
pick than to
get stuck with a colonist who won't be much help. Petty criminals make great
early in the game (you'll find that's what the rival powers are doing with
great missionaries if you can get Brebeuf in, but are about useless for anything
than outdoor jobs. Indentured servants should be dropped off at the nearest
village and trained. Even if you have absolutely no use for the skill, you've
brought them up equal to a free colonist.
Towards the end of the game you should be concentrating on educating any
who is not a specialist of some sort. You get more points for specialists. You
also be saving de Las Casas until the end of the game so you can get as many
converts converted as possible.
With these hints and tips in mind, you should be able to maximize your score and
a thoroughly enjoyable time playing a wonderful game. Please feel free to pass
tips on to others. If anyone from MicroProse gets this, you guys made a
product and I'm available to play test your next game .