This page is based on a section of User blog: Robin Patterson/Col1 FAQ by Toby Douglass. Comments on it should be on its talk page rather than on the blog.

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Hernando de Soto is IMO the second most powerful Father if he joins Congress while there remain a reasonable number of Rumours. With de Soto, a few of these Rumours will turn out to be Fountains of Youth, and getting 24 or 32 colonists for free reasonably early in the game puts you so far ahead you can't lose. Note that although de Soto makes all Rumour outcomes positive, you can still have the outcome where you trepass on burial grounds and a local Indian tribe goes to war with you.

If you go for de Soto, try to get William Brewster in Congress first. His presence (no more criminals or indentured servants) greatly improves the quality of colonists you receive via Fountains of Youth.

Peter Stuyvesant is important since trading through Custom Houses greatly reduces the rate at which trade good prices drop in the mother country, since one of the triggers for a tax hike is an ship with cargo arriving in Europe.

Pocahontas is useful for getting missions in Indian Capitals. Normally, when a mission is placed in a Capital, the Indians become very unhappy. The solution is to move missionaries up to all the local Capitals and then, the turn before Pocahontas enters Congress, place missions in each Capital. The Indians will be very unhappy, but then Pocahontas arrives and all Indian alarm is reset to zero. This technique can also be used to eliminate awkwardly placed Indian settlements.

Thomas Paine increases Liberty Bell production by the tax rate on the turn that he joins Congress. I originally misunderstood this to mean that the number of liberty bells produced would be increase by a number of liberty bells equal to the current tax rate. What it actually means is that the tax rate (on the turn he joins Congress) becomes a multiplier added to liberty bell production, in the same way a printing press and newspaper work. So if the tax rate is 35% when Thomas Paine joins Congress, a 35% bonus is thereafter applied to liberty bell production. This bonus does not rise as the tax rate thereafter rises; it is fixed at the tax rate in force on the turn Thomas Paine joined Congress. So, for example, a colony producing 50 liberty bells when the tax rate is 72% will then produce 86 liberty bells (50 * 1.72). Best advice for Paine is only have him join when the tax rate is over 50% - that way he's the same as a free Printing Press or Newspaper in every colony, and you get him early enough that he has enough time to produce really significant effects.

Henry Hudson is useful if he joins Congress while fur prices are still high. Fur prices drop based the number of times furs are sold, so increasing the production of furs increases the rate at which prices drop. Accordingly, having Henry Hudson does not increase the total amount of money which is made from furs (well, apart from in the long term, once prices have dropped to one; but the money involved at such a low sell price is small and comes after the critical opening game when money is most useful), but it does enable that money to be obtained in a much shorter period of time.

William Brewster is the most important member of Congress. His presence, by eliminating indentured servants and criminals from Europe, greatly increases the quality of colonists. In my opinion, Brewster is the single most important Father.

Franciso Coronado
Francisco Coronado reveals the map for a certain distance around all existing colonies and also for any new colonies founded after he arrives in Congress. Extremely useful for attacking foreign powers in the early stages of the game.