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.Material copied from http://45mercystreet.com/computing/col94/index.html with specific (e-mail) permission of author (Toby Douglass)
The economy passes through four stages;
- Production of raw goods to sell at home
- Development of tool production
- Manufactured goods production
- Military production
Initially, the most profitable produce of the economy are raw, un-manufactured goods, such as furs, ore, sugar and cotton. This is because in the early stages of the game, home market prices are high and because it only takes one colonist in one colony to produce a lot of raw goods, if the colonist is an expert and is working a prime tile.
In the early stages of the game, before the first church is built, there are only a few colonists available, so two-man colonies producing plenty of raw goods is an excellent way of obtaining lots of money.
However, once a few colonies have been reasonably established, the flow of raw goods is likely to be of such size that prices in the home country begin to drop to the point that it isn't really worth selling these raw goods any more (taxes will also have been rising during this time). Accordingly, the flow of cash from home will dry up, while at the same time, there now exist enough colonies that the demand for tools is strong (and the home market buying prices for tools will have been rising).
Once tool production has been secured, it becomes possible for the economy to develop the capacity to produce manufactured goods, which become the staple source of cash; although in a minimalist game, this supply of cash isn't really needed and the effort to develop it actually distracts and slows progress towards Revolution.
Finally, it is necessary to enter into large scale military production - cannons - so that the attack of the Expeditionary Force can be resisted.
Stage One: Raw GoodsEdit
At the very start of the game, it is important to check the prices for goods at the home country, so that the choice of which raw goods to begin producing is correctly made.
Note however that Furs are particularly resistant to price drops and as such are almost always the preferred choice. Sugar is probably the next best choice, since productivity is high and many Tribes offer Sugar Planter as their skill.
It is occasionally possible to produce Silver early on in the game. Silver is extremely valuable but the price drops extremely rapidly. Note that the number of trades performed, rather than the quantity of goods traded, is the determining factor of when home country prices fall. Accordingly, only ever send back full cargos; never sell less than 100 units at a time.
Remember, though, when placing your early colonies, either they are money colonies, which will be disbanded, or they are permanent colonies which you will keep. For those you will keep, remember their locations with regard to cannon movement so they are mutually self-supporting.
Stage Two: Tool ProductionEdit
Tool production can sometimes be started very early by establishing a blacksmith in an ore producing colony. However, for bulk production of tools, as will be required for ships, forts and cannon, it is necessary to have separate ore colonies and blacksmith colonies.
An ore colony has, ideally, five mountain or hill tiles around it, which leaves three other tiles; two should be for food, one for wood. A blacksmith colony isn't so restricted, since it merely needs to support three blacksmiths.
When Adam Smith is present in Congress, such that factory level buildings can be produced, one full ore colony produces exactly or nearly exactly the amount of ore that can be turned into tools in one turn by a blacksmith colony with three blacksmiths.
A combination colony can be useful if established early in the game, but this colony should really be for a different purpose, as its tool producing capacity will sooner or later be superseded by the ore and blacksmith colonies.
Stage Three: Manufactured GoodsEdit
In the same way that bulk tool production requires an ore colony and a blacksmith colony, bulk production of manufactured goods requires raw goods colony and a processing colony.
The raw goods colony should produce as much of the good in question as possible. So for example a sugar colony should have, ideally, of its eight surrounding tiles, two prime sugar tiles, three normal sugar tiles, two food tiles and one wood tile. Even better is if a river passes through the sugar tiles.
The sugar produced here is sent, by wagon train, to a processing town which produces rum. This town merely needs to support three distillers. This town in turn ships the rum into the Custom House colony, where it is finally sold.
There is only ever really a need to build a single Custom House. The colony with this building should be central, to optimise transportation of goods. It needs the largest warehouse, so that wagon trains can normally unload.
It is not really possible to have the three processing colonists in the same colony that produces the raw goods. There are two reasons for this; firstly that such a colony has a large population and needs many liberty bells, to an extent that only comes to pass towards the end of the game, secondly that the food supply from only two tiles can be insufficient, even irrigated and with farmers.
Stage Four: Military ProductionEdit
Only cannon and fortifications are really worth the effort of making, with regard to defending against the Expeditionary Force. Dragoons are useful however against Indians and in the earlier stages of the game before cannons are produced.
Almost all of these goods depend, directly or indirectly, on two things; production of hammers and tools.