Colonization (sometimes called "Col1" on this wiki and elsewhere) is a computer game by Brian Reynolds and Sid Meier released by Microprose in 1994. It is a turn-based strategy game themed on the early European colonization of the New World, starting in 1492 and lasting until 1850. It was originally released for DOS, then in 1995 ported to Windows, the Amiga, and Macintosh.
Colonization has many similarities to Sid Meier's previous title, Civilization. Both games pit the player as a godlike leader of an embattled civilization, the objective being to gain supremacy over rival civilizations, primarily through military means and discovery, transformation, and utilization of the land.
The Colonization experience begins in 1492. The player is asked to select one of the four world powers (England, France, The Netherlands, or Spain). The journey begins with two units traveling on a ship; as the ship moves westward into the unknown, the map is revealed. Subsequently, the new world is discovered, land exploration may start, the natives are met, a coastal colony is built, colonists begin to change the land to be more productive, the ship is sent back to Europe to collect more colonists and maybe horses, trade goods, and/or weapons, superfluous items are sold (either in Europe or by haggling with the natives), and the exploration of the world begins in earnest.
The game revolves around harvesting food and other raw materials and manufacturing and trading goods. Resources gleaned from the land may be sold or converted into other goods, which may be either used or sold. The European prices of goods fluctuate somewhat randomly but theoretically depending upon supply and demand. The more of a commodity you and the other three colonial powers sell, the less the markets will be willing to pay for them. With money, a player is able to buy goods, horses, ships, or artillery, speed up production, and recruit or train new colonists.
While maintaining an income, the player is also required to protect his colonies from potential invasion through employing soldiers and/or artillery. Moreover, the player is required to manage his citizens effectively, educating the populace in various skills to increase their productivity in areas such as farming, gathering of resources, or manufacturing. There are three areas of employment in the Colonization world: primary resource gatherers, secondary resource manufacturers, and the more specialized units: soldiers, statesmen, pioneers, missionaries, teachers, and preachers. The geography of the land determines the productivity of a colony. For instance, some squares produce great amounts of food, while others may produce greater amounts of ore, cotton, or silver. Thus it becomes necessary to link various colonies together via roads (for the increased mobility of units) or sea trade routes, to transport goods from colonies where there is excess to those where there is demand.
Specialist buildings and special squares, as in Civilization, have greater output. Specialists, who produce more per turn, can be trained or recruited. Indentured servants and criminals are as good as ordinary colonists in primary production but not so good at manufacturing or statesmanship; but they can be transformed into improved unit types by education or by being sent on military expeditions and winning. Missions established in Indian villages eventually encourage converts to join a colony; they are better than ordinary colonists at most outdoor pursuits, but much less effective indoors.
Horses can be bought and sold, but they also multiply in any colony that has two or more of them and a food surplus. They help any colonist move further in a turn, add to military strength, and allow Scouts (specialists or ordinary colonists) to meet with native settlements or foreign colonies.
Ships of several types (Caravel, Merchantman, Galleon, Privateer, Frigate and Man-O-War) can be purchased or built (though Man-O-War can be built only during the War of Independence). They move goods, horses, and colonists around, and some can attack. Wagon trains (which are built in colonies) move goods and horses on land (travelling faster along roads and rivers).
Relationships must be carefully maintained with Indians and other colonial powers. Waging war, maintaining defenses or recruiting peacemakers (Benjamin Franklin and Pocahontas). Destroying native settlements yields a quick profit and makes land available, but prevents the substantial long-term gains to be made by friendly bargaining and trading. Destruction of native settlements also counts against your final score.
The king of your home country meddles in your affairs from time to time, mostly by raising the tax rate. Occasionally they might force you into wars with your rivals, giving you two free veteran soldiers whom you have to transport from Europe; you can try to make peace immediately if you don't want a war.
The player must also pay attention to political developments and the recruitment of Founding Fathers (roughly corresponding to the Civilization Advances of Civilization), to ensure the best possible chance of success.
On the easiest level, the action essentially takes place at the speed in which you want it to. You are left to your own devices, learning the mechanics of the game. With each increase in difficulty level, the restrictions that bound successful endeavors become more pronounced. The game is eventually won by seceding from the motherland, signing a declaration of independence, and defeating the armies which are sent to usurp your ‘unalienable rights’. Successful navigation through the game requires the player to strategize and to effectively make use of what resources are provided, to explore and cultivate the land, and to negotiate with rivals.
While the military aspect of the game is important, it is less so than in the Civilization series, focusing more heavily on aspects of trade and the inter-relationships between peoples and colonies, which make up the new-world community. In doing all these things the player is required to develop certain fundamental notions which influence both the game world and the real world, such as: infrastructure restrictions and requirements, methods for increasing productivity, the importance of economic and civic growth, the centrality of trade, that some resources are more useful and more valuable than others, the importance of education, that newspapers and diplomats influence public opinion, that religion can affect people's allegiances, even that it's sensible to use as soldiers those member of your population who aren’t proficient in a trade or profession, the influence of historical figures on colonial New World societies, and the list goes on.
Basic production (obtainable by any free colonist who is not a specialist in that resource):
- Arctic nil
- Boreal Forest 2 food, 3 fur, 4 lumber,1 ore
- Broadleaf Forest 2 food, 1 cotton, 2 fur, 4 lumber
- Conifer Forest 2 food, 1 tobacco, 2 fur, 6 lumber
- Desert 2 food 1 cotton 2 ore
- Grassland 3 food, 3 tobacco
- Hills 2 food, 4 ore
- Marsh 3 food, 2 tobacco, 2 ore
- Mixed Forest 3 food, 1 cotton, 3 fur, 6 lumber
- Mountains 4 ore, 1 silver
- Ocean 4 fish (with docks)
- Plains 5 food, 2 cotton, 1 ore
- Prairie 3 food, 3 cotton
- Rain Forest 2 food, 1 sugar, 1 fur, 4 lumber, 1 ore
- Savannah 4 food, 3 sugar
- Scrub Forest 2 food, 1 cotton, 2 fur, 2 lumber, 1 ore
- Sea Lane 4 fish (with docks)
- Swamp 3 food, 2 sugar, 2 ore
- Tropical Forest 3 food, 1 sugar, 2 fur, 4 lumber
- Tundra 3 food, 2 ore
- Wetland Forest 2 food, 1 tobacco, 2 fur, 4 lumber, 1 ore
Additional amounts can be obtained by specialists and/or terrain improvements and/or colony productivity bonuses.
There are four European powers available. The player may pick to play as a colonial leader of any one of these powers, and the remaining three powers will be the computer-controlled competitors. Each power has certain bonuses.
The English get a bonus on production of Crosses, which is what prompts new free colonists to appear on the European docks. This will make it a little easier to expand the colony and build up the cities. This bonus alludes to "religious unrest" in England in the 1600s, such as that which led people such as the Puritans, Quakers, and Amish to come to America.
Your player color is red (which will be familiar to players of Civ2).
Your default player name is Walter Raleigh.
Your default territory name is New England.
The French have a reduction in the rate at which they generate tension with the Natives. This leads to easier negotiations, trade, and coexistence with the natives, which can be cultivated as a military alliance as well. Also, all French fur trappers are experts.
Your player color is deep blue (which will be familiar to players of Civ2).
Your default player name is Samuel de Champlain.
Your default territory name is New France.
Your non-military start unit is an expert pioneer.
The Spanish have a 50% military bonus against native villages. Using this skill leads to a lot of treasure and maybe converts, and eliminates a potential threat (but also potential ally and trading partner). This bonus alludes to the aftermath of the Reconquista, which left the Spanish with a huge eager military with nothing to do; they were then sent to colonize the Americas, ultimately wiping out some of the land's most legendary tribes.
Your player color is yellow (which will be familiar to players of Civ2).
Your default player name is Christopher Columbus.
Your default territory name is New Spain.
Your military start unit is a veteran.
The Dutch have a more favorable fluidity of prices on trade with Europe; the prices are more stable (when large quantities of a certain product are bought or sold) and most return to their usual levels more quickly. This ultimately results in better profits and more money.
Your player color is orange.
Your default player name is Michiel de Ruyter.
Your default territory name is New Netherlands.
Analogous to technologies in Civilization, social and industrial advances are achieved by the addition of "Founding Fathers" to your "Continental Congress", which are gained by generating a sufficient number of "Liberty Bells" through the colonial pride of your settlers. These are all named after real figures in the histories of American colonies. Having colonists (especially Elder Statesmen) working in the Town Hall greatly increases the Liberty Bell production, as do some of the Founding Fathers themselves.
- Francisco Vázquez de Coronado - Makes all existing colonies (of all European powers) in the New World visible.
- Henry Hudson - Doubles production of fur trappers.
- Sieur de La Salle - Any colony with 3 or more people automatically gains a stockade. (This is sometimes undesirable, as it makes colony removal impossible, as noted above)
- Ferdinand Magellan - All ships gain one extra move point, and travel from the Pacific to Europe is supposedly sped up.
- Hernando de Soto - All land units gain 2 sight points, and - most important - colonists will no longer be lost on "Lost City Rumor" (goody box) squares but will get a positive result, which may be virtually worthless or may be a huge treasure. Some players go all out to get De Soto first and beat the other powers to as many LCRs as possible.
- Hernan Cortes - Conquering native villages always results in treasure, and all treasure is transported to Europe for free. (Treasure must be taken to Europe to be cashed in, normally you must use your own galleon, or pay the Crown a hefty percent.)
- Francis Drake - Increases combat strength of privateer ships by half.
- John Paul Jones - Receive a free frigate unit.
- Paul Revere - Non-soldiers will defend a colony under attack, if there are no soldiers but there are 50 muskets in the colony stores.
- George Washington - Non-veteran soldiers are promoted to veterans upon winning their first battle (which is normally not guaranteed but can happen without Washington).
- Benjamin Franklin - Colonial powers will no longer go to war with you simply because of the political situation in Europe. Negotiations with other colonial powers are more favorable, and peace is always an option. (Normally, when the European nations go to war, their colonies go to war as well.)
- Thomas Jefferson - Increases liberty bell production by half (rounded down in each colony, therefore having no apparent effect in most ordinary colonies).
- Thomas Paine - Liberty bell production is increased by a percentage equal to the current sales tax rate of your European parent power.
- Pocahontas - Reduces tension between your colonies and native villages, and reduces the rate at which it grows.
- Simon Bolivar - The percentage of independence-minded colonists in all of your colonies increases by 20.
- Jean de Brebeuf - All missionaries from now on become Expert Missionaries and supposedly produce converts faster.
- William Brewster - Player can select from a short list of colonist types whenever new colonists are to appear on the docks in Europe, and they will not include criminals or indentured servants.
- Bartolome de Las Casas - All natives (currently) working in colonies become regular colonists (This can lead to a decrease in effectiveness for agricultural tasks.)
- William Penn - Increases cross production by half.
- Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda - Attacks on native villages are more likely to "convert" and join colonies.
- Jakob Fugger - All European boycotts on your goods (the result of "tea parties") are forgiven.
- Peter Minuit - Native land is free to use. (Until he arrives, natives demand one-time payment for any development of their land and simply don't allow production from tiles adjacent to their settlements except colony centers.)
- Adam Smith - Allows factory buildings, which generate 1.5 tons of processed goods per ton of raw material (compared to non-factories 1:1).
- Peter Stuyvesant - Custom House can be built, which automatically sends any amount of selected materials over 50 units straight to Europe, without need for manual shipping; very useful if enemy ships are a problem or your colony is far from the High Seas.
- Jan de Witt - Allows you to trade with foreign colonies, and adds information to your colonial intelligence screen.
Aside from European colonial powers, the NPC powers include eight Native American tribes, in three main categories. Aside from the lifestyle/sophistication categories, some tribes, such as the Arawak, are more prone to unrest and preemptive attack than others.
Nomadic tribes live in teepees.
Agrarian tribes live in longhouses.
These tribes live in cities. Conquering them is harder, but yields more treasure, and trading with them can yield huge profits if they offer you cheap silver while its price is still high.
While popular, the game received criticism because it completely ignored the fact that slavery was a major component of the European colonization of the Americas. While it is possible for players to bring in indentured servants and petty criminals, these settlers can be progressively educated into a free citizen and then specialists.
Also, while Native Americans can join colonies if they convert to Christianity, the game does not address the Spanish hacienda system, which effectively pressed native tribes into slavery.
It has been speculated that this is the reason why Colonization, unlike Civilization, took so long (14 years) to be re-released.
More practical reasons why this might be also include:
- Inability of the player to adopt a goal other than independence to "win" the game. Warfare is not equally enjoyable by all players of strategy games. The Civ series offers at least a few other options to the player, and independence from the Mother Country was not necessarily the goal of all, or even most, colonies at the time. In short, the option to remain part of the Mother Country is not open to the player who might want a more diplomatic or trade based game.
- The treatment of the native Americans in-game has given some critics cause for concern. The game tries to represent them humanely, because the in-game Indians resent large-scale European settlement in the New World. If playing as Spanish, it is usually in the players interests to defeat or subjugate them or convert them to use as cheap labour. If playing as the French, it is usually beneficial to trade with them and treat them as allies.
- Restriction on founding of colonies is limited to a maximum of 38. While possibly more historically "accurate", this causes "empire builder" player types to become disenchanted when the computer players start to erode their previously huge lead as the computer player adds more and more colonies, while the builder is limited to only fiddling with their existing colonies. There is another limit (as in early Civ games): the total number of units. Once this is reached, new units simply vanish. During the war of independence, converting a soldier to a dragoon can cause the unit to vanish, so you are left with neither soldier nor horses.
- Inflexibility in salvaging colonies needing relocation to more profitable terrain once the consequences of the previous limitation are realized. It is so cumbersome that it is generally far easier to simply start the game over, but the loss of time and effort is discouraging and undoubtedly contributed greatly to the lack of popularity of the game, which is otherwise quite a pleasant Civ variant. The only way to delete a colony once a stockade is built is to starve the inhabitants to death. You cannot destroy buildings.
- The creators omitted the Portuguese among the European colonial powers, claiming in the manual that Portugal was under Spanish control for much of the period the game takes place in. In actual history, the dominions of Portugal in the Americas (and also in Africa and Asia) were far larger than those of France or the Netherlands (which did not exist in 1492), yet it is excluded from the game. Due to this, Colonization was strongly resented in Portugal and Brazil. It should be noted that the existing nations can be switched to others by editing some text files in the game folder, but historical figures and civilizational strengths/weaknesses are not customizable.
- Developer(s) Microprose
- Publisher(s) Microprose
- Designer(s) Brian Reynolds, Sid Meier
- Release date(s) 1994, 1995
- Genre(s) Turn-based strategy
- Mode(s) Single player
- Platform(s) Amiga, DOS, Windows, Macintosh
Amiga version Edit
- Release date: May 31 1995
- Media: 3.5" floppy disk
- System requirements: 1 MB RAM (also AGA)
- Input: Keyboard, mouse
DOS version Edit
- Release date: 1994
- Media: 3.5" Floppy (x2) and CD-ROM
- System requirements: 80286 CPU, DOS 4.0-7.0, 640KB RAM, major soundcard
- Input: Keyboard, mouse
Macintosh version Edit
- Release date: 1995
- Media: CD-ROM
- System requirements: Mac OS, 5MB free RAM
- Input: Keyboard, mouse
Windows version Edit
- Release date: May 24 1995
- Media: CD-ROM
- System requirements: Windows 3.1 or higher
- Input: Keyboard, mouse
Windows version (Colonization)Edit
Release date: September 2008
System requirements: Windows XP or higher
Input: Keyboard, mouse, microphone
- System behind Colonization
- How the FreeCol developers summarize the game
- Colonization-tips by t-a-w (Tomasz Wegrzanowski)
- Category:Game reports (Col1)