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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Why RLisp will not support Ruby class variables

Iris by SarahCartwright from flickr (CC-SA)
RLisp tries to be as Ruby-like as it reasonable can. For example it supports Global::Constants, @instance_variables, $global_variables, and self. It does not support semantically ugly features like Constants_Without_Fully_Specified_Scope, public/private/protected distinction, and Perlish magic variables of $~, $1 and family, trying to use cleaner solutions instead.

I'm adding another to the list of officially not supported features - @@class_variables. They simply lack any sensible semantics. The following code:

class Foo
@@xyzzy = 6
def hello

class Bar < Foo
@@xyzzy = 42

p { @@xyzzy }

in Ruby 1.8 produces:
semantics_of_cvars.rb:16: uninitialized class variable @@xyzzy in Object (NameError)
from semantics_of_cvars.rb:16:in `instance_eval'
from semantics_of_cvars.rb:16

On the other hand in Ruby 1.9:
semantics_of_cvars.rb:16: warning: class variable access from toplevel singleton method
semantics_of_cvars.rb:16: uninitialized class variable @@xyzzy in Object (NameError)
from semantics_of_cvars.rb:16

I don't remember ever using class variables, but I had a vague feeling @@xyzzy would mean something like self.class.class_variable_get(:@@xyzzy). Apparently the meaning is much uglier and frankly I cannot see any situation in which it could possibly be useful in Ruby and even less so in RLisp - unlike Ruby def, RLisp fn/defun/method/... do not wipe out surrounding context, so we can use plain local variables.
(class Object
(let xyzzy 42)
(method hello () (print xyzzy))
; xyzzy is a normal lexical variable visible until we exit class definition
; not visible any more
[self hello] # => 42

Token-based syntax highlighter for RLisp

One, two, three.... by cadmanof50s from flickr (CC-BY)

One of the most important parts of language infrastructure is a good syntax highlighter. I'm not claiming the highlighter I just committed to the repository is any good - it simply reuses the lexer, and outputs tokens in appropriate <span style='color: #00FF00'>...</span>. Making it use CSS classes would be nicer, but then I wouldn't be able to use it on my blog :-)

A more serious syntax highlighter should at least recognize what's quoted and what's not, which symbols are standard macros and control structures, and so on. Still, it's much better to have some syntax highlighting than none.


(require "rlunit.rl")

; It's much easier to temporarily replace (gensym)
; with a mock one than to design an assertion system
; which can handle the real one.
(defun start-readable-gensym ()
(let sid 0)
(set! gensym
(fn ()
(let sym [(+ "tmp-" [sid to_s]) to_sym])
(set! sid (+ 1 sid))
(defun restore-correct-gensym ()
(set! gensym (fn () (ruby-eval "$gensym||=0; $gensym+=1; ('#:G' + $gensym.to_s).to_sym")))

(test-suite Readable_Gensym
(test gensym
(assert 'tmp-0 == (gensym))
(assert 'tmp-1 == (gensym))
(assert 'tmp-2 == (gensym))
(assert [(gensym) to_s] =~ /\A#:G\d+\Z/)
(assert 'tmp-0 == (gensym))
(assert 'tmp-1 == (gensym))
(assert 'tmp-0 == (gensym))
(assert [(gensym) to_s] =~ /\A#:G\d+\Z/)
(assert (gensym) != (gensym))
(method teardown () (restore-correct-gensym))

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Regular expression matching in RLisp

fluffy ruff by jiva from flickr (CC-NC)
Ruby copies Perl regular expression matching semantics:

  • If a_string matches /a_rx/, return true and set $~ to match data
  • Otherwise return false and set $~ to nil
  • $~ is "Do-What-I-Mean-scoped". It is not local or global variable. "Do-What-I-Mean-scoping" is different in Perl and Ruby.
  • $1, $2, $`, and related other "variables" are not variables at all - they're simply parser-level macros which expand into $~.do_something.
  • Very often $1 etc. need to be converted to numbers. In Perl strings and numbers are unified and explicit conversion is not needed. In Ruby you often need to follow the match by something like a, b, c = $1.to_i, $2, $3.to_f.
I don't think it would be a good idea to copy all that to RLisp - semantically it's unbelievably ugly. It's also too damn convenient compared to the lengths one needs to go to parse something in Python, so something equally convenient but cleaner is needed instead.

Without any special text processing macros RLisp code to do something as simple as match IP numbers looks ugly, but at least it works:
(defun parse-ip (s)
(let m [s match /\A(\d+)\.(\d+)\.(\d+)\.(\d+)\Z/])
(if m
(let a [[m get 1] to_i])
(let b [[m get 2] to_i])
(let c [[m get 3] to_i])
(let d [[m get 4] to_i])
(list a b c d))
(raise "Cannot parse IP"))
(test-suite Text_Processing
(test parse_ip
(assert (parse-ip "") == '(1 2 3 4))
(assert (parse-ip "") == '(64 233 183 104)))
The solution - macros (who might have guessed that ...). Very simple pair of macros lets us use (rx-match a_string /a_rx/ a b c d) just like a_string =~ /a_rx/; a, b, c, d = $1, $2, $3, $4 would be used in Ruby. It returns true or false just like Ruby =~.

(defmacro rx-results (m . args)
(let res '(do))
[args each_with_index & (fn (x i)
[res push `(let ,x [,m get ,[i + 1]])]
[res push 'true]

(defmacro rx-match (s rx . args)
(let tmp (gensym))
(let ,tmp [,s match ,rx])
(if ,tmp
(rx-results ,tmp ,@args)

(defun parse-ip-2 (s)
(if (rx-match s /\A(\d+)\.(\d+)\.(\d+)\.(\d+)\Z/ a b c d)
(list [a to_i] [b to_i] [c to_i] [d to_i])
(raise "Cannot parse IP"))
That's pretty much as good as Ruby already, but we can do a bit better, integrating regexp matching and conversion to numbers. (i varname) and (f varname) mean convert the variable, while plain varname leaves it as a string.

(defmacro rx-results (m . args)
(let res '(do))
[args each_with_index & (fn (x i)
(match x
('f v) [res push `(let ,v [[,m get ,[i + 1]] to_f])]
('i v) [res push `(let ,v [[,m get ,[i + 1]] to_i])]
[res push `(let ,x [,m get ,[i + 1]])])
[res push 'true]
(defun parse-ip-3 (s)
(if (rx-match s /\A(\d+)\.(\d+)\.(\d+)\.(\d+)\Z/ (i a) (i b) (i c) (i d))
(list a b c d)
(raise "Cannot parse IP"))
By the way it would be very difficult to build such macros in Scheme or Common Lisp, not only due to their lack of builtin Perl-compatible regular expressions (a library can solve that problem), but also due to (let ...) in these Lisps being much more restrictive.

(let variable value) in RLisp sets variable in scope of current function. (let ((variable value)) code) in Scheme sets variable only in scope of code. It makes RLisp code clearer and reduces number of nested parentheses, but it also does something far more important - it makes writing RLisp macros a lot easier than Scheme/Common Lisp macros.

Using home directory as GTD inbox

fighting cats!!! by _Xti_ from flickr (CC-NC)
Here's a bit about my GTD system. It's mostly paper-based, with 85mm x 85mm paper cards, physical file folders and so on, but a lot of information comes in electronic form, and it needs to be managed.

So firstmost I have big directories for all kinds of information:

  • /home/taw/reference/* - electronic equivalent of the general reference system, with thing being in direct subdirectories, one "item" per directory
  • /home/taw/everything/ - checkout of svk (formerly svn) repository of all my software
  • A few directories like /home/taw/movies/* for The Colbert Report etc.
  • Everything else in the home directory or Desktop which is not a dotfile is "stuff" and needs to be processed.
There's a long way between knowing something needs to be processed and actually processing it in timely manner, so I want to be reminded about stuff I leave for too long. First I wrote a simple Ruby script that can be used to notify me about various events. It uses KDE DCOP service KNotify to actually display notifications.
header = "Notification"
msg = ARGV.join("\n")

system 'dcop', 'knotify', 'Notify', 'notify', 'notify',
header, msg, 'nosound', 'nofile', '16', '0'
And now the script which runs on detached screen or something like that to bug me about unprocessed things.
items_whitelist = %w[

max_displayed = 10

big_timer = 5
old_items = []

while true
items = (Dir["/home/taw/*"] + Dir["/home/taw/Desktop/*"] - items_whitelist).sort
items ={|x|x.sub(%r[\A/home/taw/],"* ")}.sort
next if items == []

if items == old_items
big_timer -= 1
sleep 60
next unless big_timer == 0
big_timer = 5

sz = items.size

if items.size > max_displayed
displayed_items = items.sort_by{rand}[0, max_displayed].sort + ["* ..."]
displayed_items = items
system "notify", "Inbox is not processed", "#{sz} items in your inbox:", *displayed_items

sleep 60
old_items = items
One more thing - I use Download Statusbar extension for Firefox and download everything to /home/taw/Desktop without asking any questions. That frees me from thinking about stuff I download - it's all going to the "home directory inbox".

Monday, May 28, 2007

How py2exe made me stop coding jrpg

Rainbow Boa by bsmith4815 from flickr (CC-NC-SA)
That's a simple story but it illustrates something important. jrpg is an SNES RPG style game which helps the player learn Japanese writing system. It is written in Python with PyGame. Well, data preprocessing is done mostly in Perl, and the build system is in Ruby rake, but the game code is pure Python. Unfortunately that means users needed Python and PyGame installed to play jrpg. No problem for Linuxers, but Windows users were really confused by that.

Then I found py2exe - an awesome tool which turned Python programs into standalone Windows executables. Thanks to py2exe and some "marketing" jrpg downloads went into thousands. There was only one problem - py2exe doesn't run on Linux.

That turned rake package; rake update_website into a long and painful task. If I changed anything in jrpg, I had to copy jrpg package onto a pendrive, go to some Windows box (hopefully with Python, PyGame, and py2exe already installed), build the Windows package, copy it back to the pendrive, go back to the Linux box, put it in the right directory, and only then I could upload the package. Knowing that I have to go to such lengths every time I change one line of code in jrpg completely killed the joy of coding.

What could I do ? I couldn't make myself stop updating the Windows package and loss 80% of the users. I tried running py2exe under wine and Cedega (it failed), porting it to Linux (unfortunately py2exe uses too many Windows-specific APIs I don't have a slightiest idea about, and low-level C coding is not a fun thing to do), even hacking the produced exe file. Nothing worked.

I guess I might get back to coding jrpg. Maybe someone will hack a crosscompiler onto py2exe, maybe someone will create easily installable dosbox-alike with Windows on which I'll be able to run py2exe, maybe my desire to hack it will temporarily overcome my disgust.

The moral of the story - hacking must be fun, or people will go hack something else.

Paradox of the poor ignoring their self-interest in democratic countries

begonia by ruurmo from flickr (CC-SA)Yesterday I watched a movie "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" on Google Video. It was about democratically elected president of Venezuela Hugo Chávez and 2002 failed coup attempt against him.

Here's a summary with a some background - Latin American countries like Venezuela have huge income inequalities, but are at least somewhat democratic, so every now and then masses of angry poor voters elect someone who promises to reduce income inequality somewhat. Most of the time nothing changes, but every now and then they elect someone who actually tries to do what they promised, what really annoys the local rich and the USA, so they try to get rid of them as soon as possible by any means necessary, often succeeding like in Chile in 1973. This time they failed.

Like everyone else I'm tired of the leftist bullshit about the poor, and low quality of discussion about politics in general. What we need is hard data, starting from measures of income inequality. We need reliable single number summaries, otherwise everyone will cherry-pick any data to support their chosen in advance conclusion. Some of the standard and widely available statistics of income inequality are:

And of general well-being:

Gini coefficient is the most popular measure of income equality. 0 means perfectly equal, and 100 means perfectly inequal. For vast majority of the civilized world it is somewhere between 25 and 40. Inequality in poor third world countries is usually far greater, sometimes over 60. Here are pictures from Wikipedia.

Gini coefficiet map by Mrnett1974 from Wikipedia (public domain)

Gini coefficiet map legend by Mrnett1974 from Wikipedia (public domain)Funny thing about many of these extremely inequal countries, especially in the Latin America, is that they are at least ostensibly democratic. The poor have majority, and could easily make the state implement policies reducing the inequality. Nothing "radical" would be necessary, simple thing like:
  • free healthcare
  • free education
  • raising taxes on natural resources extraction
  • raising minimum wage
would drastically improve situation of the poor without affecting the economy much. For example in Bolivia with income inequality of 60.1 doubling incomes of the poorest 20% would require reducing incomes of the richest 20% (who earn 42.3x as much) by just 2.3%. That's less than yearly GDP growth anyway. For comparison to do such thing in Germany (Gini index 28.3, quintile ratio 4.3:1), the richest 20% would need to loss 23% of their income - a very difficult thing to do without gravely disrupting the economy.

So what really happened to Venezuela under Chávez ?
  • Statistics from the Venezuelan government. Human Development Index 1998-2005 - a huge jump from 0.6917 to 0.8144.
  • Data from USA Department of State 1998 to 2006 - infant mortality 28.5 to 15.5 - a huge improvement again.
  • From the same source, life expectancy - 73.31 to 74.8, a more modest but solid improvement.
  • I wasn't able to find any source of Gini coefficients for the relevant time period. Unfortunately different sources use different methodologies, so gathering point data wouldn't be reliable.
  • There's a bit of data on income distribution. Income of the "class E", defined as poorest 58% of the society, grew by 53% nominal (30% real) in 2004 and by 32% nominal (16% real) in 2005. Income growths of higher strata of the society seem to increase slower than inflation. That means the poor are getting a lot richer and the rich are getting somewhat poorer (data unfortunately only for two years).
  • There are also some poverty statistics showing major decrease in poverty, but I'm not a big fan of poverty statistics, as the definition of poverty cutoff is quite arbitrary.
So basically in this case the angry poor managed to elect the right (for them) guy, and there is significant transfer of income from the increasing oil prices and from the rich to the poor.

The big question - why doesn't it happen more often ? There are so many countries with extreme income inequality, with a lot of money from natural resources, and with the poor being able to vote and affect income distribution, but somehow they very rarely use that power. The paradox is:
Why in so many cases where the poor could significantly improve their economic situation by voting, they aren't doing so ?
A few possible reasons:
  • If the wrong guy is elected, the ruling elites are able to stage a coup, like in Chile 1973, and like they tried to do in Venezuela in 2002.
  • The poor often vote for someone who promises a lot, but doesn't change anything.
  • The poor can be convinced to accept the status quo. The media, educational system and so on, all frequently side with the ruling elite, and there are no strong organized opposition groups.
  • In particular the poor can be convinced that inequality is required for economic growth. The data isn't conclusive within the civilized range of inequality (Gini index 25 to 40), but it is clear that Latin American style extreme inequality hampers growth.
  • The voters can be sidetracked by another issue. It isn't that difficult to polarize the society, and in two-party and presidential systems it is very difficult for third parties to operate. A good example is USA, where the Democratic and Republican parties have very similar economical policies, and differ mostly on minor ideologal issues like gay marriage.
It would be nice to quantify these points some day.

RPM package for RLisp

let-me-out! by estherase from flickr (CC-NC-SA)
In addition to tarballs, zips, and DEB packages, now you can download RLisp as RPM. I have no RPM-based box, so I have no idea if it works or not, I simply tried to follow OpenSUSE conventions with some help from darix from #opensuse-ruby.

Working with dpkg and rpm felt like it's 1990s. They make it clear that they consider tarballs the right way to distribute software, and aren't too supportive of automatically packaging nightly builds. Nothing a few lines in the Rakefile wouldn't fix.

If you use OpenSUSE or any other RPM-based distribution, please check out the RPMs and tell me if they worked or not. The likelihood of something being wrong is pretty high, as usually with untested stuff. Certainly wrong are dependencies and build dependencies, which are simply missing for both deb and rpm. I'd waiting for patches :-)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Game balance in Mount & Blade

Stretching by Tomas Caspers from flickr (CC-BY)
Mount and Blade is a refreshingly original FPS-like game, which recreates medieval combat - that is with a lot of horses, and without any magic.

It's a bit of an overstatement to call vanilla Mount and Blade a "game" - it's basically a battle engine with a small and not particularly interesting world. Fortunately a large modder community developed around it, and some of the mods like The Last Days feel like complete games. I played mostly vanilla and The Last Days, in which you can take part in the War of the Ring.

What I like most about Mount and Blade is that it has the balls to break with Dungeons and Dragons tradition of fireballs, healing potions, and million-HP player characters. A quick look at players' skillset is shocking. The most useful skills are:

  • Wound Treatment - increases healing speed of you and your army
  • Riding - lets you ride horses faster and lets you use more difficult horses
  • First Aid - partially restores HP lost in battle to you and other heroes
  • Surgery - lets you save some percent of soldiers who would otherwise die
  • Horse Archery - reduces accuracy penalties for shooting while riding a horse (penalties depend on how fast you ride, just sitting on a horse doesn't affect your accuracy)
  • Power Draw - increases archery damage and lets you use more difficult bows
  • Tactics - gives your army better position in fight
  • Leadership - lets you command a larger force and reduces their cost
It's a very different game. The battle engine is also very different from what you've seen so far. With all that said, Mount and Blade is tragically unbalanced.

The strategy which is by far the most powerful is "Horsebowman". It works best with a fast horse, a war bow, two large quivers of bodkin arrows, and some two-hander sword (or some other long slashing weapon), but any horse, any bow, and any arrows - that is equipment you already have if you start the game as a hunter - will suffice. As a horsebowman you don't need any support, you simply wait till the enemies come close, then shoot them in their faces, or legs if they have shields, and ride away a bit. This way as a level 10 character with pretty cheap equipment you can massacre any infantry unit of any size, peasant or elite. You can also defeat most cavalry - as they typically use slow horses, have lower riding skill than you and most importantly - instead of stopping and fighting when they reach you they simply pass by. A two-hander sword is an useful backup for cases where bow is ineffective. After you get a high level your Horse Archery skill will let you effectively shoot cavalry as you ride. At lower levels it's better to maneuver and cut them with the sword or stop the horse to shoot them. The only major danger are enemy archers, whom you can reliably kill from afar only on very high level.

The second most powerful strategy is doing anything else from a horse. Two-hander weapon, one hander and a shield, lance, whatever. You can even try throwing stones or charging with your horse without weapons - it's still far better than the next strategy.

And the least efficient strategy is not having a horse. The main reason is that it's almost impossible to win a fight against multiple infantrymen at the same time. You never have such a problem on a horse, because you're faster than anyone else and the AI cavalry is too dumb to stop and fight when they reach you.

A list of things needed to restore balance follows. Most of them also increase realism, but only as a side effect. I am not a big fan of "realism". In any halfway realistic game the consequence of getting slashed or shot would be a few months of reconvalescence, with high chance of dying of infection like tuberculosis in the mean time, and in any case high likelihood of recovery never being quite complete - in any war there are about three times as many wounded as dead.

The first thing I'd change to give infantry a chance is letting player have 3 infantrymen in exchange for 1 knight. Right now the player has a choice - either build a small but deadly cavalry unit, or equally small but useless infantry. But cavalry is a far greater organizational challenge - you need horses (definitely more than one per knight), support staff and so on.

Another thing that unbalances the game is the slot system. You have 4 weapon slots. Bow and two quivers (one quiver is not enough) take 3 slots, two-hander weapon takes 1, one-hander+shield takes two. That results in people using two-handers from a horse. The slot system should be changed so that two-hander takes as much space as one-hander+shield, and two-handers should be forbidden on a horse anyway. Making two-handers occupy two slots would be a good idea. Then it would be possible to have combinations like:
  • bow, 2 quivers, one-hander sword
  • pike (2 slots), one-hander sword, shield
  • halberd (2 slots), one-hander sword, shield
  • spear, one-hander sword, shield, 1 bag of javelins (popular ancient setup)
  • spear, shield, two-hander sword
  • lance, shield, one-hander sword, 1 bag of javelins
  • one-hander sword, shield, 2 bags of throwing axes
  • heavy axe (2 slots), 2 bags of throwing axes
But not combinations like:
  • bow, 2 quivers, two-hander sword
  • lance, shield, two-hander sword, 1 bag of javelins
And as we're at two-handers, they should simply be impossible to use from a horse.

Another change I'd do is make thrusting attacks blockable only by shields, not by other weapons. It looks really silly when pike is blocked by a sword and gives way too much power to slashing weapons.

Going further with changes, horse charging could be much more powerful, a few knights charging through a bunch of peasant should reliably knoch them all down. Right now horseback slasher is far more powerful than horseback lancer. Reducing horses' maneuvrability and acceleration in exchange for higher top speed would also nerf horsebowman and horse slasher a bit, greatly improving chances of horse lancers and infantry pikemen.

One more thing would be seriously nerfing archers by seriously reducing bow accuracy (the idea of reliably headshoting from 50 meters is absurd) and letting infantry attack using shields. Right now an archer can draw his bow and wait for the enemy to start the attack, then he releases an arrow and headshot kills the enemy.

The details would need to be play-tested, but I think such changes would make more strategies playable, and the game more realistic and more fun.

Strategies that should be balanced after the proposed changes:
  • Horse lancer
  • Horse slasher with a one-hander + shield
  • Horse archer
  • Infantry pikeman (thrust only, no shield), spearman (thrust only, shield), or halberdier (thrust/slash, no shield)
  • Infantry warrior with a one-hander (slash/thrust) and shield
  • Infantry archer
  • Commander of cavalry unit
  • Commander of infantry unit
Dungeons and Dragons notwithstanding, infantry slashers with a non-polearm two-handers are historically highly unusual (and cavalry cannot really use two-handers), so that would be a special-case strategies at best.

And there should be no biorifles in Unreal Tournament !

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Colonization Tips

Aloe polyphylla Schönland ex Pillans by brewbooks from flickr (CC-NC-SA)
This is something I wrote a few years ago. It was published on a few different servers, but it seems it disappeared from them all. I'm reposting it to my blog, now with format changed from plain text to HTML. Other than reformatting I didn't change anything in it since 2005. If you have anything to add, just comment the post.

Here is goes...

Colonization tips

by Tomasz Wegrzanowski <>

I'm writing this document, because Colonization seems to be the only of the classic strategy games without a good FAQ. Master of Magic has a great one, and FreeCiv wiki is one of the best such documents for any game (FreeCiv is technically not one of the classics, but it's extremely close to Civilization I and II in gameplay).

While I'm not aiming at that level of excellence with this document, I want to provide a good set of tips to enhance your gameplay.

This document also includes a description of major portions of the game mechanics, especially those that aren't described well in Colonizopedia. If you're interested in game mechanics, you'll need to crosscheck it with the the Colonizopedia. By the way the Colonizopedia contains a few really awful mistakes (Expert Farmer/Fishermen mod is +2 not +3, minimum population required for some building is wrong etc.).

This document may contain errors and strategies different from those suggested may be successful too. It has been edited chaotically (oh, it doesn't work like that, edit, edit ... then maybe it does, edit, edit ...), usually very late at night, so don't expect coherence or good language from it. I'll fix it when I'll have some extra free time or when the hell will freeze, whatever comes first (probably the latter).

You may do whatever you want with this document (copy, modify, profit), as long as the attribution is preserved. If you publish modified versions somewhere, I'd like to be informed, so we don't end with a lot of versions out of sync. (This doesn't apply to the picture above, which wasn't created by me, and is CC-NC-SA)

Getting started

You start with 2 colonists - a pioneer and a soldier. Build 2 colonies. Because the central square usually produces only 2 food units, you'd have to use one of the colonists as a farmer instead of doing something useful. He wouldn't be able to produce much more than he has to eat anyway, as he's a non-expert working on a non-plowed and probably forest terrain.

Using pioneer for cutting trees, plowing and building roads will be a good idea as soon as you have some 5 colonists in the new world. Your priority should be deforesting colony square (usually +1 food, and free product changed from furs to something more valuable like cotton, sugar or ore), plowing or building a road on each used square (+1 food/product, +2 lumber/furs, but everything except food and lumber gets twice the bonus if used by a specialist), plowing each colony's central square (+1 food) and after that building roads between close colonies (distance 3-6, big projects should wait).

Optionally, you can use the soldier for a quick attack. If someone else's colony is very close to you, and is undefended, think about getting 50 horses, equipping a Dragoon, and attacking him. This is a risky strategy. Its point is not as much the value of what you just conquered, but significantly weakening one of the other powers. By hurting computer players you delay their development by many years. Just because of losing a single population 2 colony in early 1500s, they may in year 1620 have only as much as they'd otherwise have already achieved by 1600.

Buy some horses in Europe and get 2 horses in each of your colonies. They will then multiply on their own. Production per turn is going to be pretty low, but you will have a lot of them by the time you need them.

Keep food, lumber, guns, tools and horses. Sell everything else immediately, including ore (it's much more expensive than tools at this point, so it's counterproductive to process it). Later you may also start selling horses, if you have too many.

Starting ore mining early is a good idea. At first you can sell ore, later you will convert it to tools, and in the late game to guns.


The map generator is quite poor. Playing in America or some other hand-made map is usually a lot more fun than relying on the generator.

Selecting either wet or arid in customize doesn't seem to affect number of rivers.

Large landmass + continents + temperate + normal gets you as close to America-like map as you can get from the generator, but still has too small landmass and is too islandy.

With large landmass or America the land won't be important enough to start wars for. Vast areas of it will still be uninhabited by the time you reach independence.

It would be great if someone took FreeCiv generator (which is much better) and adapted it to generate .mp files.

Difficulty level

There are 5 levels of difficulty:
  • Discoverer - easiest
  • Explorer
  • Conqueror
  • Governor
  • Viceroy - hardest

I don't think there's a list of all differences between difficulty levels.

Quantitatively confirmed differences (details in further sections):
  • Size of the King's army
  • Number of bells for each founding father
  • first Soldier is always a Veteran on Discoverer and Explorer (otherwise only Spanish start with a Veteran Soldier)
  • Tutorial hints are turned on by default on Discoverer (but you can change that in game options menu)

Qualitatively confirmed differences (they're real, but I have no details):
  • Indian alarm rate is greater on higher difficulties
  • Immigration quality is lower on higher difficulties: fewer specialists, more criminals and servants

Definitely no difference:
  • number of bells per population to get revolutionary support
  • strength and speed of armies, production of various goods, cost of buildings etc. The game's "core mechanics" don't seem to be affected in any way.
  • cost of units in Europe

No idea:
  • Indian treasures, volatility of prices, AI's behaviour
  • AI's bonuses - but it has difficulty-dependent bonuses in Civ, CivII and MoM, so they're very likely. AI seems to have at least one bonus of free 20 tools and 50 guns in all new colonies, but I don't know if it's difficulty-dependent.

Playing on Discoverer is pretty boring, Explorer and Conqueror are good for learning game mechanics, Governor and Viceroy for the real fun. Viceroy is a lot easier than Master of Magic's Impossible level, and it should be a comfortable play after a few games.

If you learned the game at lower difficulty, you may be expecting certain things (good quality of immigrants, cheaper founding fathers, low rate of Indian alarm) that don't work that way on higher levels.

Selection of the Power

The Dutch get better prices. They also get better ship at the beginning. As Colonization is all about the economy, the Dutch are probably the best. As I'm not aware of any hard numbers on how much better are the prices, it's difficult to tell if they're really all that better and if so by how much.

The English get more immigration. It's very useful in early game, but immigration will be relatively insignificant way of getting colonists later (Free Colonist costs 600 gold in the Royal University, details somewhere below). You will be relying on immigration more than other powers, so get Brewster as soon as possible (as the first father if you can, even before Minuit), or you'll be getting all the useless criminals.

The French have better relations with the natives. They get a Hardy Pioneer. Hardy Pioneer is useful, but not as much as Dutch Merchantman. If you start in place heavily populated by the Indians, better relations will spare you many problems.

The Spanish have a bonus for attacks against the natives. They get a Veteran Soldier. They're the weakest power if you use typical strategy of early peaceful coexistence with Indians. To exploit their benefits start an early all-out war against the Indians, and get Cortes as soon as possible for huge treasures, then Brebeuf and Sepulveda for converts. Washington would be great, but you can get him only after 1600. Import some horses for your Veterans, equip immigrant Criminals/Servants with Muskets and possibly also Horses, buy an Artillery or two. Use all the money you get from Indians for more raising armies (but don't buy Veteran Soldiers, they're insanely expensive) and getting new colonists. Make Converts work in field (in early game you won't have many experts, and they work better than Free Colonists in farming/planting jobs; get Casas in middle game when your population is already about half-expert and Converts' skills ceased to be that useful). Plan wars as campaigns that end with one of:
  • destroying all villages of one Indian tribe
  • destroying all villages of one Indian tribe on one island (of course don't leave them on an island where you have colonies)
  • destroying a few villages and then their capital

This way you won't be attacked by them when your armies are elsewhere. Because you have much more armies, use them armies against other Europeans early. The Spanish require a different strategy, but aren't necessarily weaker than other powers. Try keeping the Indians you fight away from your colonies. If they ambush armies in field you lose some Horses or Muskets, or maybe an Artillery is damaged (but why would you leave it unprotected). By attacking a colony they can destroy buildings, kill colonists etc.

I think the powers are relatively well-balanced.

Where to settle

General rules:
  • Don't settle on small islands. The bigger the land the better. It's best to have all colonies close to each other, in 1 or 2 turns horseback, or have all colonies in no more than 2 such groups. Vast empires are hard to defend and manage.
  • Don't settle right next to an Indian village. If you do, wipe it as soon as possible. or the troubles will come. Generally try to avoid the Indians, especially the less civilized ones. It's great if you can settle far from Indians, but it's usually not possible.
  • The more special terrains the better. In typical strategy, silver and cash crops are most important in the early game, lumber, ore, food and fish later. Alternatively you can limit your cash crop production and focus on ore immediately and food/lumber soon afterwards.
  • Settle close to your other colonies, but without overlapping ranges. 3 steps (1 turn by non-mounted units) from one colony to another is optimal, 4-6 acceptable (1 turn by wagon trains, 2 turns by non-mounted units), 2 bad because of overlap (but 2 space diagonally, i.e. only 1 square overlap, is acceptable) 7+ (2+ turns by wagon trains, difficult defence) bad
  • If the place you want is already taken, think about conquering it.
  • Minimize number of useless squares. That includes Arctic, overlapping squares, and Desert/Scrub Forest (except for Oasis).

For your first few colonies:
  • Don't settle inland. You need wagon trains, roads and warehouses for it to work.
  • Don't settle on next to too many ocean squares. Only 1 ocean square is optimal, 2-3 acceptable, 4 or more bad. You need Docks and Expert Fishermen to productively use them.
  • Don't take too much time, the faster you settle the better. Remember that it's possible to resettle if you find significantly better place a couple turns later (you can't disband a colony with a stockade, and the investment in roads/plowings would be lost, but in the early game resettlement is a sensible backup plan).
  • Settle in a place with good access to Europe. Don't waste fleet time, as you don't have much, especially if you aren't playing Dutch.
  • Avoid other powers. Later you will dominate them economically, but in the early game they're annoying and even a bit dangerous.
  • Single-colonist silver mining colony may be a good idea, especially if you get an Expert Silver Miner and build a road there. After the deposit is exhausted you may either load everything from the colony to the ships and disband it, or use the mountain for Ore if other squares are good too.

There are 8 climatic zones (total score in parentheses, only important goods included):
  • Mixed Forest/Plains (++++++): +++ great for Food (5) ++ good for Lumber (6) + acceptable for Fur (3)
  • Conifer Forest/Grassland (+++++): ++ good for Lumber (6) and Tobacco (3) + acceptable for Food (3)
  • Tropical Forest/Savannah (+++++): ++ good for Food (4) and Sugar (3) + acceptable for Lumber (4)
  • Broadleaf Forest/Prairie (++++): ++ good for Cotton (3) + acceptable for Lumber (4) and Food (3)
  • Boreal Forest/Tundra (+++): + acceptable for Lumber (4), Fur (3) and Food (3)
  • Wetland Forest/Marsh (++): + acceptable for Lumber (4), and Food (3)
  • Rain Forest/Swamp (++): + acceptable for Lumber (4), and Food (3)
  • Scrub Forest/Desert (-): - it's bad, except for Oasis

Try settling in area full of Hills, Mountains, Plains/Mixed Forest, Grassland/Conifer Forest, and Savannah/Tropical Forest terrains, with fair areas of Tundra/Boreal Forest and Prairie/Broadleaf Forest perfectly acceptable. Desert/Scrub Forest, Marsh/Wetland Forest and Swamp/Rain Forest are bad.

On the map of America it means South Canada, Eastern/Mid USA, Mexico region, and East/South Brazil, North Argentina, North Chile region. Northern coast of the South America doesn't have enough room for development and is surrounded by huge Rain Forests from every direction. The Caribbean region has good climate, but it's hard to develop on small islands. You get the idea what kind of terrain I'm talking about.

Number of colonies

The problem with Civilization is that the only viable strategy in it is the "smallpox", that is a lot of small cities located very close to each other (strongly overlapping ranges).

In Colonization you will typically build 10-20 colonies, slightly fewer on lower difficulties and slightly more on higher, because the Tory corruption -1 bonus is a very benign problem at Conqueror, but a huge obstacle for colony development on Viceroy.

Good things about having many colonies:
  • Big colonies can quickly become corrupt. On highest difficulty level, the limit is mere 5 royalists before you get -1 penalty to everything. That kinda explains current situation in the U.K. ;-) This is very serious because you get -1 bonus even if the rebels are a majority. To get a 20-population colony without -1 bonus on Viceroy you need support of at least 75% population (well, a few % less due to rounding). If you have 70% support there, the colony gets -1 bonus ! (-1 not 0, as +1 bonus for >=50% support is not given if there are too many Tories). It almost doesn't matter on easy levels, but is the main smallpoxing factor on Viceroy.
  • There's a limit of 3 people working in a single building. You're going to need many cities just for the tools, arms and other required factories. Especially for producing bells of liberty.
  • Each colony has 1-2 special squares (3 or more do happen, but rarely, 0-specials is usually a bad site for a colony). More colonies means more special squares.

Good things about having few colonies:
  • It costs less to build all necessary buildings with fewer cities. Every colony should get a Newspaper, a Warehouse, and later some protection.
  • You need a lot of roads and wagon trains to transfer the goods between colonies. The sufficiently big fleet of ships would be even more expensive
  • Less problems with Indians.
  • Less micromanagement. Having 30 colonies functioning efficiently is a lot more work than with only 5.

What doesn't matter much:
  • The free production from the central square is much less crucial than in Civilization. Unlike Civilization growth rates are not inversely proportional to city size (20 food for 1-citizen city vs. 200 for 19-citizen city)
  • As far as security is concerned, distance between your outermost colonies is much more important than number of them. Because the competing strategies are "Few big colonies, far apart" and "Many small colonies, close to each other", the difference in size of your empire is relatively insignificant. Inland colonies won't be attacked by the king, and usually most of your colonies are in a one round of horsewalk (if you build roads between them) from one another, so you can quickly transport armies where they are needed.
  • Every colony produces horses if it has a food surplus, but their value isn't that high.
  • Every colony gets a bit of free stuff from Indians, but it's usually not worth much.

I usually set up a few inland colonies for getting lumber/ore/(maybe cash crop). They *should* have food deficit, they're more efficient when they're small, additional farmers would only lower efficiency, and the wagon trains are going back and forth anyway to get their products to the ports (but you may put some Farmers there later, when the support is high enough). Bigger, typically coastal, colonies produce food, have factories and a system of education. It's reasonable to have one or two inland food/cashcrop producing colonies if the places you find are really great.

Terraform. Conifer/Mixed Forests are very useful for lumber, but most other forests without specials would be more valuable cleared and plowed.

Conquest can get you some free colonies, but the computer player mismanages them so much, that you may actually spend more time fixing the colony (which contains mostly criminals, servants and wrong specialists, and is located in a horrible place) than building a better one from scratch. Still, it weakens your enemies a lot, so you may want to conquer just to harm others.


You want to get as many colonists as possible, as fast as possible. There are a few ways of getting them.

You get immigrants if your churches make enough crosses, or if you pay for those crosses. It's the main way of getting colonists at the beginning, but they are often of low quality. Indentured servants should be sent to Indians for education, but petty criminals may be more of a burden than of a value. Get William Brewster to the congress as soon as possible - no more servants and criminals, and you get to select one of 3 available immigrants.

If your scout finds fountain of youth, you get 8 immigrants colonists for free. It's not unusual for this to happen even 2 or 3 times during a game, if you explore a lot and have some luck. I don't think the chances depend on difficulty.

As the game passes, each immigrant costs more and more. Because of that, major church-building programmes are waste of time (and the English are not as great as they seem). If you get a Firebrand Preacher anyway, building a Church for him is reasonable. But better think about the economy. I haven't done any calculations on the crosses, but I've seen some suggesting that each colonist in European port reduces number of crosses you get each turn. That's one more reason for getting them out of Europe as soon as possible.

You can get a free colonist for 200 food in any of your colonies. It's a slow way, but you're likely to have big food surplus, so why not do something useful with that food. It's usually more practical to move all the food into central cities, far from Indians, so it's converted to colonists faster, and the Indians won't steal it from you (and they can even give some food to you).

Paying for educated workers at the Royal University is the right thing.
  • Get an Expert Ore Miner and *clear his specialization*. Free colonist for only 600 gold. That's the way of getting colonists in the later stages of the game. Then you then train him in whatever profession you want.
  • Ore Miners, Lumberjacks and Gunsmiths are so cheap, than getting them there is more efficient than training them in the colonies. Silver miners too, mostly because you only need a few.
  • The rest, except for the last four, are in reasonable 950-1300 price range. It may be cheaper to get them trained instead of training them yourself, especially if you need a lot of them quickly.
  • You need at least one colonist with given profession to teach others. Expert cashcrop farmers can only be taught by the Indians, everyone else you can get from the Royal University.
  • Veteran Soldiers are unbelievably expensive. Get a free colonist for max 600 gold, arm him (arms are cheap early, you'll be making a lot at the colonies later), give him horses (you'd have to even if he was from the Royal University), and attack some Indians. With George Washington, he will be promoted if he wins (and only lose 50 cheap horses if he doesn't). That way you can get almost 3 veteran soldiers for the price of one from the University.
  • Elder Statesmen are very expensive, but sometimes necessary. Teach your statesmen if you can (unfortunately University is required).
  • Jesuit Missionaries are a waste of time. With Jean de Brebeuf all missionaries function as experts, even the petty criminal missionaries.
  • Firebrand Preachers aren't very useful either. Immigration gets more expensive with each immigrant, so their value diminishes quickly.

You can get a few colonists by conquest or by Indian conversions. Converts aren't very useful, except for early game. Bartolome de las Casas turns all your converts into free colonists, but that's just a one time action.

Other powers develop so slowly that you wouldn't get enough colonists from them even if you conquered all their colonies. But small attacks here and there are a good extra source of colonists.

If you combine all strategies - a few churches, paying for immigration or at the Royal University, search for fountains, Indian converts, food conversion, and conquest - you will get flooded by the colonists, and with proper education and organization you can expand at astonishing rate.

Prices at the Royal University

Generally Schoolhouse skills are cheapest, and University skills are most expensive, but there are some exceptions (expensive Farmers and Soldiers, cheap Gunsmiths). Exact calculations in the next section.

Veteran Soldiers get free 50 muskets (at price 6 it means 1700 for Soldier itself) and Pioneers get free 100 tools (at price 4 it means 800 for Pioneer itself), so their "real" price is lower than their listed price.

PriceProfessionRequired school level
600Expert Ore MinerSchoolhouse level
700Expert LumberjacksSchoolhouse level
850Master GunsmithsCollege level
900Expert Silver MinersSchoolhouse level
950Master Fur TradersCollege level
1000Master CarpentersSchoolhouse level
1000Expert FishermenSchoolhouse level
1050Master BlacksmithsCollege level
1100Expert FarmersSchoolhouse level
1100Master DistillerCollege level
1200Hardy PioneersSchoolhouse level
1200Master TobacconistsCollege level
1300Master WeaversCollege level
1400Jesuit MissionariesUniversity level
1500Firebrand PreachersUniversity level
1900Elder StatesmenUniversity level
2000Veteran SoldiersCollege level

Value of education

Because we know price of a Free Colonist (600), prices of already educated colonists, and time needed to teach them (4,6 or 8 turns, depending on level), we may calculate how much is teacher's time worth.

Value of Muskets (6*50=300) and Tools (4*100=400) at some arbitrary price level has been subtracted from Pioneer's and Soldier's prices.

In early game, when colonists are cheaper than 600 gold, teaching is worth even *more*.

Value generated per turn:
0Expert Ore Miner
25Expert Lumberjacks
41Master Gunsmiths
50Hardy Pioneers(depends on price of Tools)
58Master Fur Traders
75Expert Silver Miners
75Master Blacksmiths
83Master Distiller
100Master Carpenters
100Expert Fishermen
100Master Tobacconists
100Jesuit Missionaries(actually 0 after Brebeuf)
112Firebrand Preachers
117Master Weavers
125Expert Farmers
162Elder Statesmen
183Veteran Soldiers(depends on price of Muskets)

For comparison (on good but not ideal terrain):
32Fur trapping (32 tons, 1 gold/ton)
72Tobacco planting (18 tons, 4 gold/ton)
120Silver mining (8 tons, 15 gold/ton)

As you can see, teaching can be extremely profitable (or to put it other way, paying for training extremely unprofitable).

In particular, start training your own Expert Farmers, Expert Fishermen and Master Carpenters as soon as you can (Schoolhouse is cheap, and few other professions create 100 or more gold of value per turn), then Master Blacksmiths in College, and Elder Statesmen as soon as you build a University.

Expert Ore Miner, Expert Lumberjacks, Master Gunsmiths and Hardy Pioneers can be bought - their education is not that valuable.

Veteran Soldiers seem like their education is worth a lot, but that's not really true, as you have a third source of them - Washington and attacking Indians.

Immigrants to select first

Seasoned Scouts and Hardy Pioneer are probably the most useful. Expert Farmers and Fishermen are also very important to have, especially since one such colonist can teach others.

You need specialists in your cash crop. The only feasible way of getting them at that point is taking either a free colonist or an indentured servant immigrant and sending them to the right Indian village.

Get Brewster as soon as possible to improve quality of your immigrants.

Speed of development

You should develop quickly. I mean, quickly. By 1600 you should have:
  • population of 50-75, half of them specialists working in their industry, definitely more population than all 3 (or 2) other powers combined
  • average support of 25%-50%, remember to get Bolivar as soon as possible after 1600 to get 20% for free
  • overproduction of lumber, ore, hammers, tools, food and horses for your needs and for development, done mainly by specialists
  • decent production of at least one cash crop (and not boycotted)
  • a fleet of at least 2 Privateers, and at least 3 Merchantmen/Galleons
  • at least 5 wagon trains
  • at least 50 horses in (almost) every colony
  • roads and plowings on almost all used squares and roads connecting most of your colonies
  • lumber mills and warehouses in most colonies
  • a few printing presses, docks, schoolhouses, blacksmith's shops, stables, maybe also newspapers, warehouse extensions, and other shops

If you miss one or two positions from this list, it's all fine, not everything works the same every time. If you're way behind this schedule (for example with only 30 colonists, or without any tools production), you're playing too defensively.

You can *win* the game, even win with a good score, with far less fighting spirit than necessary for such development speed, but why settle for less than you can ;-)


Before discussing anything about the Indians, I'd like to say that the tribes of the same level of development do not differ in attitude. All "Tupi are friendly", "avoid Arawaks" etc. are baseless.

Indian's attitude depends on game level and your behaviour - how far from them are you keeping your colonist and military, how often do you trade with them, attack them, or steal their land (before Minuit), how many missions have you established, o you have Pocahontas, are you playing French ? These are the basis of your relationships with Indians, not name of their tribe.

As tribes of different level have varying characteristics, it's fair to assume it has some effect on their attitude, but mainly by secondary factors - you're more likely to have big trade with more civilized Indians, take lands from agrarian tribes etc. The difference is however rather minor.

Prepare for a big war against Indians. If they're close to your colonies, they will attack, either because they just don't like you, or because the king pays them to. (Unless you play French, get Pocahontas early, establish many missions, trade with Indians a lot and have some luck, in which case you *may* avoid it, but you probably won't *want* to avoid it)

Many benefits come from attacking Indians.

First, you get the treasures. They're really worthwhile in case of the high-tech Indians (Aztec, Inca), but a bit of free money from the low-techs won't hurt either. Cortes greatly increases amount of treasure you can get, so get before you start a campaign (unless you have to do it earlier to protect your colonies).

Second, if you have a mission in the village you're attacking, there's a big chance that they will join you as converts. Converts are quite useless in mid and late game, as you should have a lot of outdoor specialists, but you can convert them all to free colonists with Casas. Chances for conversion are pretty small without Sepulveda (I think it's more likely to loss a missionary than get a convert), so get him or don't establish missions during attack. I don't know how missionary's expert status (Jesuit or Brebeuf) affects that chance.

Third, attacking Indians is the easiest way of training your soldiers before the war against king. After you have George Washington, every successful attack results in soldier getting promoted to veteran status. And occasional failed attacks result only in loss of 50 horses (50 horses for upgrading 3 Free Colonists to Veteran Soldiers is a good exchange).

Fourth, free land.

So just before the Independence War kill all Indians you can find - you will get money, colonists, train your soldiers, and get rid of Indian problems.

A very important thing is that after you destroy Indian capital, they become calm again. So if you plan a war to get more territory, destroy all small villages you want first, and only then their capital.

Trade with Indians

If the Indians live near some other power, are at war with them, and live far away from you, selling horses and guns to those Indians may be a feasible option.

But always think twice about that - it's like giving weapons to Afghani mujahedeen, for them to fight the Soviets. Even if they actually harm the Soviets, won't they use it against you later ? What if you decide to assimilate those former Soviet lands ? ;-)

After some experimenting I found that Indians usually get enough guns and horses without your help, and ratio of harming your opponents to guns/horses sold is relatively small. Still, they'll pay you a lot (prices in 500-1000 range are usual, unless they already have too much), and you may consider harming other Europeans an extra premium.

When you're sending a scout to a village (that's a good idea, because of the monetary gifts you can get), remember to write down what do they want, what are they selling, and what skill you can learn there. If you won't note it and need that information later, you're going to waste precious scouttime.

Sell them trade goods, maybe tools, buy silver, cloth and coats. And sell them the stuff they want/need, if you happen to have it and they pay better than Europe. Trade with wagon trains, Indians don't like trading with ships. Price negotiations can be risky but very profitable (some people will surely do save/try/load/try again). I don't like the way negotiations work in the game for that reason. If you want to buy and not only sell, send them a Wagon Train, and they will sell you as many tons as you sold them. If you use a ship, you will be offered only 1/4 as much as you sold them.

I think the Indians won't buy the same thing twice, so you may think about alternating between 100 units of something profitable (tools and trade goods) and 1 unit of something you're selling at loss (cloth, coats, rum).

The whole Indian business is just some extra money - maybe even quite a bit of extra money, but it's not going to be your main source of revenue.


The easiest way of transporting treasures is to get them to the coast, set a temporary colony with a scout or a soldier, have the king transport the treasure for you, and disband the colony. After Cortes it's for free. Before just pay the Galleon fees, as you don't have any other option.

Going with the treasure all the way to your colonies is a huge waste of time, and there's a very big chance of it getting attacked by the Indians, even if escorted.

If you have a Galleon, king won't offer you a transport, so send it to get the treasure (no need for a temporary colony).

Founding Fathers

Bells of liberty are extremely useful. They make your cities a lot more productive, get founding fathers into your Congress, and improve your bonuses in the War on Independence (they will get you a few free units in the war too).

The fathers are (pluses mean importance):
  • Adam Smith (+++) - lets you build factories, very useful in middle and late game; factories 50% more output than their input (so you put in 20 ore and get 30 tools); Iron Works is the most important such building
  • Jakob Fugger (++) - cancels all boycotts, a very useful but one-time effect
  • Peter Minuit (+++) - all Indian lands are free, get as soon as possible; You can probably play without it (in Spanish "screw all Indians" strategy Cortes would be more useful), but it doesn't seem like a particularly good idea. Indians want too much money for their land and taking as little as 2 squares for free is enough to make them attack you. So take only no-Minuit strategy I can think of is an early war against the Indians.
  • Peter Stuyvesant (++) - lets you build Custom House, important but not urgent
  • Jan De Witt (+) - trade with foreign colonies becomes possible and foreign reports are become more detailed. I usually don't trade with others, but it seems to be a viable special case strategy.
  • Ferdinand Magellan (+) - all vessels get +1 free movement point, travel time from western map edge to Europe gets shorter
  • Francisco de Coronado (-) - all colonies become visible; completely useless (some Readme says "no more Indian ambush [bonus ?]" with Coronado, but I haven't verified that)
  • Hernando De Soto (++) - results of exploring Lost City Rumors are always positive and all units have extended sighting radius; It means at least twice as many Galleons full of treasures and fountains of youth
  • Henry Hudson (++) - doubles output by the fur trappers; useful, but not as much as it seems because the fur prices fall due to increased supply
  • La Salle (+) - all colonies of size 3 get free Stockade; useful, but it also means you can't get rid of such colonies. You will need a Stockade in each colony, so with 10 colonies that's 640 free hammers. It's not much.
  • Herman Cortes (++) - conquered native villages get you more treasure and the king transports it for you for free; free transport is not very useful - when you get to the stage when big wars with Indians are sensible, you already have at least 1 Galleon Bigger treasure, on the other hand, is great.
  • George Washington (++) - all soldiers become Veterans after a won fight, useful in middle and late game.
  • Paul Revere (-) - if a colony with no army but stockpiled guns is attacked, colonists take the guns to defend themselves; probably the most useless
  • Francis Drake (++) - all your privateers get +50% strength
  • John Paul Jones (+) - you get a free frigate. That's only 512 free hammers and 200 free tools, and spent on something that's not very useful. Building or buying a Frigate may be a better idea (if you actually need one, as you probably don't).
  • Thomas Jefferson (++++) - your liberty bells production increases 50%; very important and urgent
  • Pocahontas (++) - tension level between you and the natives decreases to normal and alarm is generated half as fast; having French and Pocahontas makes the Indians calm even when their villages are in center of population 100+ empire
  • Thomas Paine (+) - liberty bells production is increased by the current tax rate; may be useful in late game, depending on the tax rate, but Bolivar and Jefferson are much better
  • Simon Bolivar (++++) - sons of liberty membership increases by 20% in all colonies; very important and urgent
  • Benjamin Franklin (+) - all other powers always offer peace in negotiations; they do it most of the time even without Franklin, as long as you agree to get your armies and privateers out of their colonies.
  • William Brewster (+++) - no more criminals or servants in the docks and you get to select 1 of 3 available immigrants; it's probably not a good idea, but you can play without Brewster; any number of servants can be upgraded to specialists and then downgraded to free colonists in any Indian capital, criminals can work as missionaries, especially after Brebeuf (but Brewster is usually much more useful than Brebeuf), or you can educate them to servants and then send them to Indians
  • William Penn (+) - production of crosses increases by 50%
  • Father Jean de Brebeuf (+) - all missionaries function as experts; so you can turn useless criminals into about as useless converts.
  • Juan de Sepulveda (+) - increases chances that Indian convert after their villages are attacked
  • Bartolome de las Casas (++)- turns all Indian converts into free colonists, a very useful but one-time effect

Get Minuit and Brewster immediately. Time one-time effects (Fugger, Casas, Pocahontas has one-time effect, but her future effect is more important) very carefully. If you don't know whom to select, get those with more pluses on this list.

Washington, Bolivar, Fugger, Jones and Casas can only appear after 1600.

In some versions of the game if you press escape instead of choosing one of the fathers you will get a different selection next turn. That's borderline cheating, don't do that.

Each father needs more and more bells. It's nothing like Civilization's "invention every 2 turns". Cost of fathers on lower levels is significantly lower than on higher levels, and each father costs more than the previous one, so if you play Conqueror you can actually take every useful father (Drake, La Salle, Penn) without much thinking, but on Governor/Viceroy you must be more discriminating.

You need a lot of bells for colony efficiency, so you will eventually get all the important fathers, but probably not all until very late game. Detailed calculations in the next section.

Summary of the table:
  • As soon as you can: Jefferson, Bolivar (only after 1600)
  • Then, unless you have some unusual strategy: Minuit, Brewster
  • Extremely useful: Smith, Stuyvesant, Washington (only after 1600)
  • Very useful, but depends on your strategy: Fugger, Soto, Hudson, Drake, Casas, Pocahontas, Cortes

Bells of Liberty

You're going to need a lot of liberty bells.

Unfortunately, Elder Statesmen are very expensive (1900 gold), and you need an University to get them.

So use other means - use free colonists and colonists with useless specializations to work as Statesmen, build Printing Presses and Newspapers, and get Jefferson and Bolivar as soon as possible.

Buying 1 Elder Statesmen is necessary (so he can teach others). You may even want to buy a second one, but it's probably better to invest some labour in building an University early.

If you have a few Statesmen, think about using them as a "Bureaucrat Rapid Reaction Force". If you quickly need to increase your support in some colonies, put one or more Elder Statesmen on horses (see "the fundamental rule of colony management"), and move to those colonies.

Bells accumulate in colonies (there's no such thing as Rebel/Tory colonist, only Rebel/Tory colony). 200 bells are needed per unit of population to get full support (without Bolivar).

So if you have accumulated 800 bells, and there are 10 colonists in a colony (2000 bells required for full revolutionary support), you will have 40% support, that is 4 Rebels and 6 Tories, or 60% support (6 Rebels, 4 Tories) with Bolivar.

Number of bells required for each father is growing in a regular pattern, except for the first one.

  • Viceroy: 56, 225, 225+112, 225+2*112, 225+3*112, ...
  • Governor: 48, 193, 193+ 96, 193+2* 96, 193+3* 96, ...
  • Conqueror: 40, 161, 161+ 80, 161+2* 80, 161+3* 80, ...
  • Explorer: 32, 129, 129+ 64, 129+2* 64, 129+3* 64, ...
  • Discoverer: 24, 97, 97+ 48, 97+2* 48, 97+3* 48, ...

So total cost of the first N fathers on Viceroy is:
  • 1-5: 56, 281, 618, 1067, 1628
  • 6-10: 2301, 3086, 3983, 4992, 6113
  • 11-15: 7346, 8691, 10148, 11717, 13398
  • 16-20: 15191, 17096, 19113, 21242, 23483
  • 21-25: 25836, 28301, 30878, 33567, 36368

On Governor:
  • 1-5: 48, 241, 530, 915, 1396
  • 6-10: 1973, 2646, 3415, 4280, 5241
  • 11-15: 6298, 7451, 8700, 10045, 11486
  • 16-20: 13023, 14656, 16385, 18210, 20131
  • 20-25: 22148, 24261, 26470, 28775, 31176

On Conqueror:
  • 1-5: 40, 201, 442, 763, 1164
  • 6-10: 1645 , 2206, 2847, 3568, 4369
  • 11-15: 5250, 6211, 7252, 8373, 9574
  • 16-20: 10855, 12216, 13657, 15178, 16779
  • 21-25: 18460, 20221, 22062, 23983, 25984

On Explorer:
  • 1-5: 32, 161, 354, 611, 932
  • 6-10: 1317, 1766, 2279, 2856, 3497
  • 11-15: 4202, 4971, 5804, 6701, 7662
  • 16-20: 8687, 9776, 10929, 12146, 13427
  • 21-25: 14772, 16181, 17654, 19191, 20792

On Discoverer:
  • 1-5: 24, 121, 266, 459, 700
  • 6-10: 989, 1326, 1711, 2144, 2625
  • 11-15: 3154, 3731, 4356, 5029, 5750
  • 16-20: 6519, 7336, 8201, 9114, 10075
  • 21-25: 11084, 12141, 13246, 14399, 15600

For a population 100 empire (only colony population, no soldiers/pioneers/etc.) you will need 200 * 80% (Bolivar) * 100 = 16000 bells. That means about 16 (18, 20, 22, 25) fathers just as a side effect of building revolutionary support. Unfortunately most of them will come late.

There seems to be a pattern:
  • first few fathers are cheap, so they come quickly
  • then you build industry, but have no (or 1-2) Elder Statesmen, and only a few Printing Presses/Newspapers, but they are much more expensive now so they come slowly. Jefferson helps in this phase.
  • after you build an University, number of your Elder Statesmen skyrockets, you probably have enough Printing Presses/Newspapers, and the cost of fathers grows only slowly, so they come quickly again.

The cost growth is linear, so the relative growth is very fast at the beginning (the second father costs 300% more than the first, the third 50% more than the second, the fourth 33% more than the third), but small at the end (the 16th is only 6% more expensive than the 15th). On the other hand your growth patters are more like exponential (each doubling of bell production takes approximately as many turns).

Relations with the home country


The Crown want to raise taxes from time to time. You have 3 options:
  • Boycott, but pay the taxes back. You have to pay as much as if you bought 500 tons of the boycotted good.
  • Boycott, and don't trade with the king (until Fugger).
  • Accept the tax rise.

All options cost a lot. Let's analyze exactly how much.

Let's assume that the goods in question is cotton, and its price is 3/5. Payback cost is 3500. You need to sell 700 just to break even (assuming no production cost, no transport cost, no fall in prices due to selling so much in Europe and 0% taxes), and you need to pay that money in advance.

Because you must sell 700 tons just to break even, or rather 1000-1500 tons counting all the costs, it may be much more profitable to use that 3500 gold that you mysteriously had in your treasure for something else, and trade with Indians and other powers until Fugger comes. The only goods which are reasonable to payback are mass-produced goods, like furs after Hudson. You probably won't ever produce 1000 tons of silver, so just forget there is such thing as silver if you boycott it (and throwing out up to 100 tons of silver during silver party also hurts).

The analysis is similar in case of other goods. Payback cost is 500 times the ask price, which is slightly higher than bid price, so selling about 550-700 ton is required just to break even (but as much as 1500 tons for 1/3 price goods).

Accepting tax rate is something that you may not like, because it's irreversible. But the cost of 1%-2% tax rise is relatively small. Let's assume that during the development phase you will sell goods for 100000 gold. The crown will take 1000-2000. It's a reasonable assumption, as 100000 gold gets you 5 Privateers, 5 Galleons and 150 colonists, much more than enough for building a great empire. Later it doesn't really matter how much the king taxes, as you will be self-sustaining and focus on heavy industry and army.

And the best part is that you don't have to pay it all in advance (as you have to with boycott+payback method), but gradually as the money comes.

  • reject the tax if it's something you don't care about (food, trade goods)
  • reject the tax if Fugger is about to come (obviously)
  • accept the tax if it's small (1%-2%) and you need that goods, it's not mass produced or you don't have free money (that is - it's early game)
  • reject and pay back if it's some mass-produced goods, for which you can break even after 10-20 turns (production of at least 50 tons per turn).
  • reject and pay back if the tax is huge (>=5%), you really need that trade, and you can get money for the payback somehow (in very early game you may be unable to find 3000 gold even if you think it's very profitable in the long term to pay back)

It's hard to tell whether specialization in just one cash crop makes you more or less vulnerable. If you produce just one crop simply include cost of regular payback in your calculations. If you produce a lot of goods, you will have to shut down part of the industry each time the king proposes new tax, as the payback would be too expensive.


Ore is initially much more expensive than tools and guns. So buy the tools and guns and don't bother with producing them.

You're going to need a lot of tools for roads, plowing and buildings. Roads for the used fields are obviously important, but roads between the colonies are even more crucial, even though it may not seem that way at first (see colony management below, they're also good for defence).

Remember to deforest and plow squares used by the colony. Forests in the colony square produce only furs, not lumber, and without Hudson multiplier. After the forest is cleaned you get more food and some nice cashcrop.

Colony management

The fundamental rule of colony management - transfer all your colonists *only* on horseback. (unless you can go faster on ships, or they aren't going further than 3 squares, so the horses won't help any, but you already know that)

This way you can get the colonists you need - Elder Statesmen for improving sons of liberty membership, carpenters for building things, free colonists for education, graduates for work, pioneers for building roads, armies for defence etc. in just one turn.

You need roads, or at least rivers or plain terrain for that. You'll also need a lot of horses, warehouses and wagon trains (as the transport in one direction may be bigger than in the other, you may have to move the horses back).

That's a lot of infrastructure, but as you can transport colonists quickly, you won't waste precious labour and you can very quickly get everyone to work in the skill he's good at (no more experts wasting their skills just because they're in a wrong place). As the local labour allocation will be close to optimal for given workforce, you will be able to get or train colonists with necessary skills to improve global labour allocation too.

Good colony management is going to double your efficiency.

Don't bother with producing everything in the place where it's consumed (food, lumber, ore). You can transport a lot quickly if only you have roads, warehouses and wagon trains.

In the mid game set your aim at producing as much lumber and tools per turn as you can, and turning all that into buildings (the most important ones are: lumber mill, warehouse, printing presses, docks, newspaper, warehouse expansion, stable) and roads. Plowing, clearing forests, making guns, stockades and cash factories are a secondary but also important task.

Get Master Carpenters (on horseback) into each new colony to build the lumber mill and warehouse as soon as possible, with imported food and lumber. Then maybe make a printing press and get some Elder Statesmen to work there. You should make it your priority for at all your colonies to operate at +1 bonus (50%-99% sons of liberty), +2 bonus (100%) is nice, but may be too costly. You start with 20% support after Bolivar, so you can get three colonies +1 in the time it takes to get one colony +2. Remove all unnecessary colonists (horseback of course) if they interfere with that goal.

Because you need a lot of Master Carpenters and Elder Statesmen, train as many colonists as you can in those skills. You need an University for the latter, so you will have to use untrained statesmen until relatively late game, but the Carpenters are cheap and need only a Schoolhouse, so get them fast.


You can get a free colonist for only 600 gold from Europe, you're also going to get a lot of them from food and from Indian converts after Casas. You need to educate them to get decent performance.

Note what skill is being taught in every Indian village you visit, even if it's relatively far away (you can use ships, but unfortunately not horses, to get there). If it's something useful, send a colonist (or even better a servant) there. Even if the skill is useless, you can send a servant there and then clear their profession to get a much more valuable free colonist.

Remember that you need to get some skills (Master Sugar/Cotton/Tobacco Planter) from Indians before you can have your colonists teach the others - those plants don't grow in the Old World. Sometimes a Free Colonist doing such job for a long time can become an expert spontaneously, but don't count on that.

Each Indian village except for capitals can educate only one colonist. Capitals can educate as many as you want.

Some people reported that Indian villages sometime change their specialty or teach different skill than they report. I haven't observed a single instance of this, but I haven't tried too hard. Maybe it's a bug in some versions.

Build schoolhouse as soon as possible. You can train extremely important Farmers, Fishermen, Carpenters and Pioneer there. You probably won't need many scouts, so it's usually easier to get them by immigration.

Ore Miner and Lumberjack are easier to get from the Royal University in the late game, but it may be cheaper to train them while the immigrants are still inexpensive.

College is also very useful - it doubles your teaching capacity and lets you train Master Blacksmith and Master Gunsmith. It will probably be easier to get you soldiers veteran by fighting Indians (after getting Washington), but you can teach them too.

The only good skill taught at the university is one of Elder Statesmen. Forget about the other two. The other useful thing is that you can teach 3 students at the same time.

Professions other than those specified above are less crucial, but of course it's better to have specialists work on other things too.

Time of teaching is independent of revolutionary support and buildings in the city, but depends on teacher:
  • 4 turns for Schoolhouse-level teachers
  • 6 turns for College-level teachers
  • 8 turns for University-level teachers

It depends on who's *teaching*, so Elder Statesmen teaching a Criminal/Servant will take 8 turns, while Farmer teaching a Criminal/Servant will only take 4.

You can "accumulate" the teaching. The student only has to be in the colony when the counter hits whatever it's supposed to.

Think of it as 3/5/7 turns of "doing research", and 1 turn of actual teaching. If there's nobody to teach when the counter hits, the research is lost. Every teacher has his own counter, so 2 Statesmen will teach 2 colonists in 8 turns, not 1 colonist in 4 (you can move second Statesmen in when the first's counter is on 4 if you want this behaviour). I'm not sure how moving teachers in/out affects their counters, or how to get the teacher with lower counter out of school if you have 2 of the same kind that started in different terms.


Eventually, your main products should be lumber, ore and food. Everything else is just cash. The only thing you will be paying for instead of building locally are free colonists (600 gold).

Producing a bit of all cash crops is more profitable than specializing in just one - the prices aren't going to fall that quickly and the king won't have that strong threat.

Do not keep large sums of gold in treasury (500 is a large sum of gold in early game, 1000 is a large sum in mid/late game). Invest everything - buy ships (Privateers, Merchants, Galleons), tools (at least until you can produce enough), colonists (immigrants early, from the Royal University later). A few units of Artillery may be useful, but their prices rises too fast, so it's better to build you own. Frigates cost too much, as do mercenary armies from Europe (if you're even getting such proposals it means you aren't investing your money fast enough).

Don't forget to seed every colony with 2 horses. Horses are important for transportation of colonists and for raising army. If one of the colonies has too many horses, put 50 or 100 on a wagon train and transport them somewhere else, so it can keep producing them.


There's a major mistake in Colonizopedia - Farmers and Fishermen produce only +2 more, not +3 more food.

  • Tundra: 3 food, 2 ore
  • Desert: 2 food, 1 cotton, 2 ore
  • Plains: 5 food, 2 cotton, 1 ore
  • Prairie: 3 food, 3 cotton
  • Grassland: 3 food, 3 tobacco
  • Savannah: 4 food, 3 sugar
  • Marsh: 3 food, 2 tobacco, 2 ore
  • Swamp: 3 food, 2 sugar, 2 ore
  • Boreal Forest: 2 food, 3 furs, 4 lumber, 1 ore
  • Scrub Forest: 2 food, 1 cotton, 2 furs, 2 lumber, 1 ore
  • Mixed Forest: 3 food, 1 cotton, 3 furs, 6 lumber
  • Broadleaf Forest: 2 food, 1 cotton, 2 furs, 4 lumber
  • Conifer Forest: 2 food, 1 tobacco, 2 furs, 6 lumber
  • Tropical Forest: 3 food, 1 sugar, 2 furs, 4 lumber
  • Wetland Forest: 2 food, 1 tobacco, 2 furs, 4 lumber, 1 ore
  • Rain Forest: 2 food, 1 sugar, 1 furs, 4 lumber, 1 ore
  • Arctic: nothing
  • Ocean: 4 fish
  • Sea Lane: 4 fish
  • Mountains: 4 ore, 1 silver
  • Hills: 2 food, 4 ore

Remember that rivers give bonuses to almost everything, so seemingly inferior terrain with a river is usually better than otherwise superior but dry terrain.

Hills/Mountains are great for ore (12 ore with Expert Miner, road and 50% support) without any specials. It shouldn't be hard to find a place with 3-4 hills/mountains (and with some luck 5-8), and that's 36/48 ore per turn in each such colony. Unfortunately you can't build a colony on a mountain, but you can on hills.

Other terrains can be good for ore, but only with specials. You're not likely to find a place with 4+ specials, but 4+ hills/mountains are easy. Ore deposit on hills gives you +2 (16 ore with Expert Miner, road and 50% support, 18 ore with 100% support). That's just too great. Hills/Mountains also don't exhaust, unlike Swamp Ore deposits.

Such places usually need food supplies from outside.

Only Conifer and Mixed Forests get 6 lumber. Only Conifer and Tropical Forests can get +4 Prime Timber special. Try putting your Lumberjacks only on Conifer/Mixed/Tropical+Prime Timber/Any Forest+River squares.

Road/river and revolutionary support gives you +2, not +1 bonus, to production of lumber (and furs). It's weird, but it seems the road bonus for lumber is not affected by the expert multiplier (but the support bonus and road bonus for furs is), so Expert Lumberjacks get less than 2x the production of a non-expert.

The best sources of lumber are conifer forests with specials. 2 Conifer+Prime Timber specials and 4 other Conifer/Mixed Forests will get you 2x26 + 4x18, that is 124 lumber.

You can get more lumber than you need even with a lot less optimal colonies. Because the forests, unlike hills, are everywhere, you probably won't need to build a lumber industrial center.

Food is everywhere - use Fishermen on Oceans (they produce satisfactory amounts without specials, and fishflood you with specials), Expert Farmers on either plowed lands or forests with specials (Game is dual use fur/food special, Beaver is a fur-only special). Food production can also be distributed, food transport is necessary mostly because some places have food deficit, not because you need a food making center.

On the other hand, such a food center could be used for creation of free colonists. You need 200 food for 1 free colonist, or 600 gold to get him in Europe. That makes food a 3 bid price good (or rather 3.5, transport both ways and taxes cost too). Food production requires relatively little terrainwise compared to cashcrop production, no warehouses, transport or processing are needed and only basic education, some plowing and building of revolutionary support have to be done. Production in tons is slightly higher than that of most cashcrops (except for the furs).

Overall it's not very impressive, but it may pay off if costs of goods in Europe are low and many are boycotted.


The user interface for managing is rather crude. FreeCiv has got a much nicer one (but you have many more cities in FreeCiv than colonies in Colonization). That means more micromanagement than there should be.

There are 3 kinds of transport problems:
  • One colony produces something, and another consumes it, or is used to send it to the ports. You have to send some transport vehicle back and forth between those colonies.
  • There is locally too much something in one place and too little in another, but not on regular basis (food, tools, guns or horses typically). You need to transport on an ad-hoc basis.
  • There is globally too much or too little something, and you try to minimize the damage (like spoiling). If you have too much something, sell it. But in case of some goods, like lumber or boycotted product, that may not be an option.

I just realized that selling lumber is not such a bad idea as it seems to be, 1 lumberjack on no-special square (Conifer/Mixed Forest + road, 50% support) produces 18 lumber. Cotton planter on plowed Prairie + 50% support produces only 10 cotton (and likewise for Sugar and Tobacco). If prices of other commodities have already fallen to 1 per unit, lumberjacking for export may actually be quite profitable.

You are going to need a lot of Warehouses, Wagon Trains (one per road between any two colonies plus a few backups), later some Warehouse Extensions and Custom Houses. Each colony has different abilities to produce raw materials, but they have no preference for kind of industry they support. So try locating iron industry near iron factories and textile industry near cotton plantations. It doesn't mean they need to be in the same city, just don't introduce completely weird setups.

After Adam Smith, when factories get +50% free production, industry needs to be centralized. Factories are too expensive to have only 1 person work in them. Level 2 buildings are quite cheap, so it's not that relevant. Compare 64 hammers + 20 tools for Blacksmith's Shop with 240 hammers + 100 tools for Iron Works. Likewise Textile Mill and Rum/Cigar/Fur Factories cost 160 hammers + 100 tools compared to 64 hammers + 20 tools for respective level 2 buildings (or only 56 hammers + 20 tools for Fur Trading Post.

Trade Routes can help a bit, but not much. Indians and foreign units blocking your roads are also really annoying. Would be nice if some idea of borders was introduced, just to keep others out of your roads (or if the wagon trains could pass in spite of other units being on a road, as long as you're not at war).

Cost of buildings

Cost in hammers and tools, and requirements in minimum colony population and buildings that must be present (dependencies on free buildings not listed).

You can make level 3 buildings (Factories) only if you have Level 2 buildings of the same kind and Smith.

Stockade64 hammers, 3 population
Fort120 hammers, 100 tools, 3 population, Stockade
Fortress320 hammers, 200 tools, 8 population, Fort
Armory52 hammers
Magazine120 hammers, 50 tools, 8 population, Armory
Arsenal240 hammers, 100 tools, 8 population, Magazine
Docks52 hammers
Drydock80 hammers, 50 tools, 4 population, Docks
Shipyard240 hammers, 100 tools, 8 population, Drydocks
Schoolhouse64 hammers, 4 population
College160 hammers, 50 tools, 8 population, Schoolhouse
University200 hammers, 100 tools, 10 population, College
Warehouse80 hammers
Warehouse Expansion80 hammers, 20 tools, Warehouse
Stable64 hammers
Custom House160 hammers, 50 tools
Printing Press52 hammers, 20 tools
Newspaper120 hammers, 50 tools, 4 population, Printing Press
Weaver's Housefree
Weaver's Shop64 hammers, 20 tools
Textile Mill160 hammers, 100 tools, 8 population, Weaver's Shop, Smith
Tobacconist's Housefree
Tobacconist's Shop64 hammers, 20 tools
Cigar Factory160 hammers, 100 tools, 8 population, Tobacconist's Shop, Smith
Rum Distiller's Housefree
Rum Distillery64 hammers, 20 tools
Rum Factory160 hammers, 100 tools, 8 population, Rum Factory, Smith
Fur Trader's Housefree
Fur Trading Post56 hammers, 20 tools
Fur Factory160 hammers, 100 tools, 6 population, Fur Factory, Smith
Carpenter's Shopfree
Lumber Mill52 hammers, 3 population
Church64 hammers, 3 population
Cathedral176 hammers, 100 tools, 8 population, Church
Blacksmith's Housefree
Blacksmith's Shop64 hammers, 20 tools
Iron Works240 hammers, 100 tools, 8 population, Blacksmith's Shop, Smith

Colonization configuration files seem to contain some extra buildings (like "Capitol") costs of free buildings (you can remove them only by editing a save file, in normal play every colony has all the free buildings), and size/upkeep data, that serves no obvious purpose.

The population figures are taken from DOS Colonization's configuration file names.txt I remember something about certain buildings (Cathedral) having different requirements in other versions.

Cost of units

You need an Armory to build Artillery and Shipyard for ships.

Wagon Train39 hammers
Artillery192 hammers, 40 tools, Armory
Caravel128 hammers, 40 tools, Shipyard
Merchantman192 hammers, 80 tools, Shipyard
Galleon320 hammers, 100 tools, Shipyard
Privateer256 hammers, 120 tools, Shipyard
Frigate512 hammers, 200 tools, Shipyard

Costs in Europe:
Artillery500 gold + 100 gold for each Artillery you bought
Caravel1000 gold
Merchantman2000 gold
Galleon3000 gold
Privateer2000 gold
Frigate5000 gold

Initially cost of Artillery in Europe is much smaller than cost of the ships, but it gradually raises. In the colonies Artillery is relatively expensive compared to ships.

I used to think that fortresses full of Artillery are the way to fight the Royal Navy, but I was thinking in terms of early European prices (Artillery for 500-1000 gold, Frigate for 5000 gold), and assumed that colony prices have similar (10:1 - 5:1) proportions. They happen not to, and Frigate costs about as much as 3 Artilleries (8:3 in term of hammers, 5:1 in terms of tools).

Frigate attacking a Man'o'War has reasonable 50% chance of winning (16+50% attack bonus strength against plain 24) and is mobile, so it can protect a few colonies.

A lot of Artillery in a Fortress has higher firepower, doesn't get damaged in case of a loss and protects against land attacks as much as against naval attacks, but you need to build those Fortresses everywhere (or at least Forts), and you need a lot of Artillery in *every* coastal colony, because it's extremely immobile (only 3 squares per turn on roads, and it's very vulnerable in travel, use a Privateer or some other ship to transport them if you can).

Making Artillery is still probably a better idea than building Frigates, but not by as big margins as I once thought.

Building Galleons and Privateers is a good idea, unless all your Carpenters are too busy with their buildings (during development of the industry you need so many buildings that you're very likely to have too few Carpenters)

Total cost of advanced buildings

Cost of buildings + their dependencies.

Fort184 hammers, 100 tools (with normal Stockade)
Fort120 hammers, 100 tools (with free Stockade, that's 35% fewer hammers)
Fortress504 hammers, 300 tools (with normal Stockade)
Fortress440 hammers, 300 tools (with free Stockade, that's 13% fewer hammers)
Magazine172 hammers, 50 tools
Arsenal412 hammers, 150 tools
Drydock132 hammers, 50 tools
Shipyard240 hammers, 100 tools
College224 hammers, 50 tools
University424 hammers, 150 tools
Warehouse Expansion160 hammers, 20 tools
Newspaper172 hammers, 70 tools
Textile Mill224 hammers, 120 tools
Cigar Factory224 hammers, 120 tools
Rum Factory224 hammers, 120 tools
Fur Factory216 hammers, 120 tools
Cathedral240 hammers, 100 tools
Iron Works304 hammers, 120 tools

Here's a total cost of an example industrial base for 5 coastal and 5 inland colonies, without free Stockades. Only final buildings are listed (but with the full cost of course). I'm not suggesting this is optimal (or even reasonable) set of buildings, but it should give you a general idea what costs to expect.

5x Fort (for inland colonies)920 hammers, 500 tools
5x Fortress (for coastal colonies)2520 hammers, 1500 tools
2x Arsenal824 hammers, 300 tools
4x Docks208 hammers
1x Shipyard240 hammers, 100 tools
5x Warehouse400 hammers
5x Warehouse Expansion800 hammers, 100 tools
5x Stable320 hammers
2x Custom House320 hammers, 100 tools
10x Newspaper1720 hammers, 700 tools
1x Textile Mill224 hammers, 120 tools
1x Fur Factory216 hammers, 120 tools
10x Lumber Mill520 hammers
1x Church64 hammers
3x Iron Works912 hammers, 360 tools

And some units (I assume you got 5 Artillery and most of the ships in Europe):
20x Artillery (5 in each coastal colony)3840 hammers, 800 tools
50x Guns for Dragoons2500 tools
2x Privateer512 hammers, 240 tools
2x Galleon640 hammers, 200 tools
20x Wagon Train780 hammers

Add to that about 200 tools per colony - 40 tools in the center for cutting forest and plowing, on average 1 enhancement (20 tools) per used square (0 on ocean, but often you need 2 and sometimes even 3 - woodcut + plowing + road) and about 400 for extra roads between colonies. That's additional 2400 tools.

Subtotal for buildings10208 hammers, 3900 tools
Subtotal for units5772 hammers, 3740 tools
Subtotal for terrain enhancement2400 tools
Total15980 hammers, 10040 tools

That means you need hammer production of 160 and tools production of 100 if you want to get that in 100 turns (50 years). That requires lumber production of 160 and ore production of 67. Proportionally more if you want to get that much earlier.

Example of population requirements

Let's assume the same configuration as for the buildings. All colonies have 100% support. Production values are only approximates.

9 Blacksmiths20 ore -> 30 tools each, 180 ore -> 270 tools total
13 Ore Miners14 ore each, 182 ore total
15 Elder Statesmen28 bells each, 420 total
3 Fur Traders16 furs -> 24 coats each, 48 furs -> 72 coats total
3 Master Weavers16 cotton -> 24 cloth each, 48 cotton -> 72 cloth total
6 Gunsmiths32 tools -> 32 guns each, 192 tools -> 192 guns total
4 Cotton Planters12 cotton each, 48 cotton total
2 Fur Trappers24 furs each, 48 furs total
15 Carpenters20 lumber -> 20 hammers each, 300 lumber -> 300 hammers total
14 Lumberjacks22 lumber each, 308 lumber total
10 Farmers10 food each, 100 food total
10 Fishermen11 food each, 110 food total
10 colony centers5 food + 5 something each, 50 food + 50 something total
104 people in colonies-208 food
50 Veteran Soldiersno production
2 Hardy Pioneerno production

+52 food(for horses or new colonists)
+50something (usually cotton, tobacco, sugar, ore, maybe fur)
+8lumber (production within approximation error)
+2ore (the same here)

Total population: 156

Relations with other powers


AI is extremely dumb. The same thing can be said about AI in all the classic strategies except FreeCiv (Master of Magic on Impossible level is difficult too, but that's because AI gets so much for free).

You can easily win any war against other powers even with greatly inferior military force. Don't even bother keeping armies to defend your colonies, Indians are a much greater problem than all the 3 other forces combined.

Another great thing about AI is that it very eagerly signs peace treaty with you, and very rarely breaks it (but remember that attacking a colony where Privateers stays does not break peace treaty). So one bad-ass strategy is to find a small enemy colony, extort money from them, attack the colony anyway, and sign the peace treaty after you capture it.

The AI cheats. At least one confirmed cheat is that it gets free 20 tools and 50 guns in every colony it starts (but I'm not sure if immediately or after a couple of turns, and I'm not sure how does it depend on level).

As a proof of AI stupidity, I've seen AI deforesting 2 Prime Timber squares next to a single colony.


Very useful way of getting valuable goods, tools, weaponry, and at the same time defending yourself and weakening your opponents is getting one or two Privateers to loot on others' merchant fleets.

With Drake they get +50% strength bonus, and a ship loaded with cargo (your target) gets a negative bonus, so you aren't likely to have much troubles.

You can attack even if you're not at war. If one of the other powers demands that you back all your privateers to Europe, you may as well do that. They'll be back in a couple of turns.

Privateer is also a decent transport ship (it's small, but very fast) and an excellent vessel of exploration. Investment in privateers is going to return multifold.

Unless you need to get rid of boycotted good, don't bother trading with other powers, it's better to take what you want and assimilate their colonists. In Colonization it's the Borg way which wins.

Remember to sign a peace treaty when you don't need a war (it's always an option after Franklin). You don't want your colonists attacked by reinforcements sent by their king. They aren't going to significantly harm you, but may be annoying and it's a waste of resources to keep a standing army everywhere where your colonists are just because someone may get an idea of striking there.

One word of warning - it's legal to attack any city with a Privateer inside without breaking a peace treaty. So don't dock your Privateer in a city with no defense and enemy Dragoons nearby.

You can probably do the same thing, but why bother if you can sign a peace treaty again afterwards ?

I don't think this is documented anywhere, as even one of the Colonization FAQs available online seems to be unaware of this and calls it a "Colonization quirk". Just don't worry :-)


In middle game, others' colonies will become hard to conquer.

1 Artillery in a Fort (+150%) has strength 12.5 Even something as week as a Non-Veteran Soldier in that Fort has strength 5.

So if you attack a Fort with 1 Artillery and 4 Soldiers (or more likely 2 Soldiers and 100 stockpiled guns) your expected loss is damaging of 3.8 Artillery or horse loss by 6.6 Veteran Dragoons.

If they have 2 Artilleries and 5 Veteran Dragoons the expected loss is 12.1 damaged Artilleries or horse loss by 21.2 Veteran Dragoons (that is - expect to lose 1062 horses).

It's very unlikely to be worthy.

You may think that fortifying Dragoons around a city to starve it may be a good idea (the squares on which you fortified can't be used), but 1 Expert Fishermen can provide food for 4-7 citizen and 2 are fed from the central square, so if the colony had 3 ocean squares you will fail, and in case of smaller colonies just a single such square is enough.

So don't attack bigger colonies unless you really have to. Privateering (with Privateers or even Frigates), attacking small colonies and troops/colonists in the field, money extortion and maybe even trade are usually worth much more.

War against the King

The King is weak.

At the toughest level his Expeditionary Force consists of (size on lower levels in parentheses):
  • 47 Regulars (15, 23, 31, 39)
  • 25 Cavalry (5, 10, 15, 20)
  • 26 Artillery (2, 8, 14, 20)
  • 14 Man'o'Wars (2, 5, 8, 11)

He's going to increase that force by a few units later in the game.

After you have the industrial base, the war is trivial. I think that an army of 30 Veteran Dragoons + 20 Artillery, 100% support and at least a Fort in all your coastal cities are enough not to get conquered by the King.

But the fun would be lost. Colonization is an economical strategy, and the fun is in building a thriving economy, not in defeating those pathetic royalists.

You can easily get 100% support and a fortresses everywhere at production levels of 2-5 units per turn. If you're interested in the economy more than the fight start the revolution when your army is big enough to invade the home country, not the other way around.

Remember to have all your veteran dragoons/soldiers in the cities with 100% rebel sentiment when revolution starts. Only then will they get free upgrade to continental army and a +1 strength bonus (those in cities with 50%-99% support also have a chance of upgrade).

Unit strength are:
  • 2 Soldiers
  • 3 Veteran Soldiers
  • 3 Dragoons
  • 3 Damaged Artillery (defending)
  • 4 Veteran Dragoons
  • 4 Continental Army
  • 5 Continental Cavalry
  • 5 Regulars
  • 5 Artillery (defending)
  • 5 Damaged Artillery (attacking)
  • 6 Cavalry
  • 7 Artillery (attacking)

Artillery defending in open gets -75% bonus in addition to having 2 points of strength less.

Some quick simulation. You need:
  • 25 wins against Cavalry (6)
  • 72 wins against Regulars (5)
  • 26 wins against Artillery (7 or 5)
  • 26 wins against Damaged Artillery (5 or 3)

If they're attacking, and you defend with Artillery or Continental Cavalry, they have +50% attack bonus against your +200% Fortress bonus:
  • 26 times: 10.5 vs 25
  • 25 times: 9 vs 25
  • 98 times: 7.5 vs 25

If you're attacking with Continental Cavalry and they're on a forest square, you have +50% attack and +50% ambush bonus (Artillery gets -75% if attacked in open):
  • 25 times: 10 vs 6
  • 72 times: 10 vs 5
  • 26 times: 10 vs 1.25
  • 26 times: 10 vs 0.75

I'm not sure how the battle system work exactly (in particular I'm not sure if two +50% bonuses mean +100% or +125%). Quick experiment with only 30 samples seems to indicate that probability of winning is roughly proportional to unit's strength. If there is any deviation it's quite small, but as it's unlikely that a system with just a small deviation from something as simple would be introduced, I will assume probability of winning is exactly proportional to unit strength.

Probability of your win in various attacks:
  • 10.5 vs 25: 70%
  • 9 vs 25: 74%
  • 7.5 vs 25: 77%
  • 10 vs 6: 62%
  • 10 vs 5: 66%
  • 10 vs 1.25: 89%
  • 10 vs 0.75: 93%

Because every unit that can attack with p% probability will cause no loss with probability p, and 1 + as much as itself loss otherwise, expected number of losses is: ELoss = p * 0 + (1-p) (1 + ELoss) ELoss = (1-p) + (1-p) ELoss p ELoss = (1-p) ELoss = (1-p) / p

Expected number of losses from unit fighting its way (at least in "chance of winning is proportional to strength" model, expected number of loses is equal to exactly proportion of strength, so strength 5 unit will on average defeat 0.5 strength 10 units before losing):
  • 10.5 vs 25: 0.42
  • 9 vs 25: 0.36
  • 7.5 vs 25: 0.3
  • 10 vs 6: 0.6
  • 10 vs 5: 0.5
  • 10 vs 1.25: 0.125
  • 10 vs 0.75: 0.075

So in (almost) pure defence strategy expected number of losses is:
  • 26 times 0.42: 10.92
  • 25 times 0.36: 9.0
  • 98 times 0.3: 29.4

Total: 49.32 (each means 1 Dragoon loses his horses or 1 Artillery is damaged)

So if you have 30 Dragoons and 20 Artillery you will destroy all king's forces before he gets to attack your damaged Artillery or Soldiers, without using any extra horses, without foreign armies etc.

Some things increase and some things decrease this estimate, but I don't think they change it by more than +-10.

That of course means you can probably win against the king with half as much (15 Dragoons + 10 Artillery), but there's not much point unless you like war much more than economy.

Note: random number generator is horrible. Some people who investigated it claim the game reseeds random number generator too often and there's even a binary patch available somewhere online to make it work better. So most of the voodoo relationships like "probability of loss increases when you have more ships" are probably a result of people trying to see patterns where there's nothing except of bad random number generator's artifacts.

Dealing with the Royal Navy

Don't bother making own navy.

A Fortress with a decent number of artillery units is going to sink or at least heavily damage every Man'o'War that comes close. You may even want to get the artillery out of the fortresses, because you can't win the war if you sink all king's ships before they transport enough of the Expeditionary Force (it's a bug in some versions of the game).

The main problem with Man'o'Wars is the bombardment bonus they give to attacking land units. Just fortress-sink them (it happens automatically every turn) or attack the land units.

Dealing with land units

You're like the Indians now, if you attack in heavy terrain you get the ambush bonus instead of the defender getting defence bonus. But - it only applies if you attack from out of a city.

If king's army lands in a Forest or on Hills (Mountains would be simply too good), get your Continental Cavalry and crush them. With ambush bonus (+150% mountains, +100% hills, +50% forest) and +50% attack bonus they stand no chance, especially as you have a lot of free horses and more numerous armies.

Don't fight with units that lost horses, they're already weaker and on next loss they'll lose their continental status. Better get them those horses.

If you can destroy all Cavalry and Regulars from the stack, attack the Artillery with everything you have, even the unmounted soldiers. These are king's most annoying units, and you should destroy them when they're so defenceless.

It's a bit of a problem if the king lands on 0%-ambush-bonus terrain. Remember that you're still going to have an advantage whether attacking (your +50%+ambush attack bonus) or defending (king's +50% attack bonus versus your +200% fortress bonus), and you can win by outnumbering the king (just keep resupplying the horses faster than they're being lost and the loses will be minimal).

Dealing with Indians

King may give Indians guns and horses to attack you. Better get rid of all nearby Indians in advance.

Dealing with the royalists

If one of the colonies is dominated by the royalists, they may start a counter-revolution. Just get majority everywhere. Decrease size of the royalist colonies if necessary.

Even if a colony is 99% rebel, the remaining 1% traitors are going to help the king, giving bonus to his attacking units. Simply get 100% support in every coastal colony.

The final word

Because Colonization is an old game, it doesn't work that well with newer operating systems. Saving game often for crash protection may be prudent. You may also want to get a more recent version, as some bugs have been fixed. Don't abuse save/load though, that's lame.

Under XP, setting compatibility to Windows 95 may help. Or it may as well do nothing. That's voodoo, I won't pretend to understand Windows.

Colonization is effectively an abandonware, so just p2p it if you can't get it through official channels. Because widespread legislative corruption made the copyright last unreasonably long (de facto "infinity minus one day", due to prolongation legislation being bought every time something might actually enter public domain), it might be technically illegal. You're extremely unlikely to get into troubles for that, and there are no moral issues wrt p2ping abandonware.

Colonization II

Colonization has a great concept, but it's old, incompatible with modern OSes (both Linux and XP), buggy, unpolished, and with really bad AI. It's very unlikely that a for-profit remake will be made. It would be really great if someone made FreeCiv-style enhanced clone, but 2 (at least) projects with this aim don't seem to be going anywhere.

I'm just thinking ... wouldn't it be easier to cut the original Colonization into pieces like images, sound files, fragments of disassembled code, upgrade it to work on modern OSes, remove arbitrary limits, fix bugs etc. ? That thing would probably even be legal for people who own the original.

Quick grep shows that DOS version uses some proprietary compression system (MADSPACK 2.0), but Windows version keeps everything in uncompressed DLLs, so it's probably easier to hack the Windows version.

Guys who break copy protection on every popular software package seem to be doing much more difficult work of similar kind, wouldn't one of them be so nice to use his l33t n!Nj4 5k!1!z for the greater good ? ;-)

I think something like that has been done for Frontier. Something similar (but for data-only, not data+code) was also done for Warcraft.

Or at least someone could take the FreeCiv map generator and make it generate .mp files.

Another alternative would be a package of some kind of VMware + something Windows 3.11-like (if it actually runs fine on it, I don't know it for sure), but unless both emulator and Win16-replacement are free, it may be even more legally dubious (but the package wouldn't have to contain the actual Colonization).

Actually it seems FreeCol project is doing much better than the last time I checked. But please, please, please, do NOT use "isometric" tiles.

My opinions on Colonization II

These are just random thoughts, it's all subjective. All these enhancements should of course be possible to turn off.

Ships should be able to use rivers. In all Civilization-derived games the navy is too weak (Invisible Flying Warships in Master of Magic notwithstanding). Maybe the ships could be faster. Or to make everything faster, but with stronger slowing down by terrain and enemy ships/forts. Imagine speed 2 Colonists, speed 6 Dragoons and speed 16 Privateers (and 3 points to enter Forests, 6 Mountains). Artillery/Treasure Trains can be left slow.

That could also affect Docks, Fishermen etc.

Expert Teachers make little sense. Teaching is already overvalued. Only 4 turns to turn a Criminal into Servant, by mere Expert Farmer in cheap School ? And you want to make this number even smaller ? That would damage game balance.

There's too much micromanagement, and some reports that I usually have to compile by hand (total Lumber/Ore production vs processing capacity, misused skills, approximate monetary worth of various actions etc.) should be made available.

Trade routes don't work too well. Maybe make a screen with all cities with a wagon train and their goods. You could drag'n'drop goods from one city to another and press Commit, and then the Wagon Trains would take the requested goods, move, and drop them.

Of course it would be nice to have more powers, but other powers are not really players, more like some fancy Indians.

Indian price negotiations should be scrapped.

Smallpox-promoting Tory corruption on higher levels should be redesigned. Making it depend on the difference between number of Tories and number of Rebels, not on the number of Tories, would be much more balanced.

Given relatively small importance of all the cash crops combined, adding more wouldn't make much sense. Some way to make them important would be interesting. Certainly one can find some believable uses for coats and cloth, maybe less so for cigars, rum and silver. But it's difficult to do at the same time:
  • make them important for colony development: cloth+rum for building ships ? (getting enough material for sails was actually historically important), coats+guns for soldiers ?
  • not make them too important (you may find yourself without one of those things, should it be fatal ?)
  • not turn the game into something completely different
  • not increase micromanagement too much

Using gold for anything except trade would suck. All ideas like upkeep/paying your armies are bad.

Colonies with range 2 would be totally unbalanced.