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The free-to-play game FreeCol has moved closer to its model Colonization (1994) in 2011. Strategies that might have worked well earlier may now need revision under FreeCol 0.10.0 and successive versions.
As with all FreeCol games, there are a number of strategies that have general applicability:
- Except for role-playing (RP) purposes, try to site your initial settlements near rivers beside forests and bonus tiles, especially food. Site at least one early settlement near hills to produce ore; for a special case see tundra.
- Purchase horses and begin exploring with a mounted unit as quickly as possible, taking advantage of any rivers you may come across to cover territory even more quickly.
- Visit the Indian villages you come across: none will be hostile unless you've previously initiated hostilies or rejected demands for tribute. Head for the Aztecs and Incas first, since they pay best.
- During 1P games, generally avoid all contact with other European powers to avoid needless wars started by your monarch. (This policy may be discontinued after gaining Benjamin Franklin in your Continental Congress.)
- Likewise, during 1P games, generally avoid accessing goodie heads before you gain Hernando de Soto, since you will often gain nothing and sometimes lose your scouting unit.
- Purchase several privateers as quickly as you can afford them, filling them with cheap trading goods, muskets, and horses to trade with coastal Indian settlements. Use the profits to buy more privateers and goods for sale, as well as expert units.
- Generally place someone in your statehouse from the very beginning of your settlement: if your settlement already has a high percentage of rebels, production receives large bonuses and new units produced by your city will also support independence.
- Keep your statesmen in the statehouse even after rebellious sentiment is 100%. This allows you to move other royalist units into the settlement and produces more liberty bells to give you founding fathers.
- The king's tax demands quickly become ridiculous. If you are not RPing an obedient subject, begin dumping goods at once unless you are heavily invested in producing silver, a good only demanded by Europe; otherwise, the income lost from taxes on your discovered and conquered treasure quickly dwarfs your trade income.
In a 1P game, always get Thomas Jefferson first, since his bonus to liberty bell production speeds your rate of gaining other new founding fathers. Benjamin Franklin and Hernando de Soto are useful for the reasons given above (de Soto much more so, since the income from goodie heads can be so important in the early game).
Unless your settlements are so productive or martial that a galleon is needed, try to get Hernan Cortes quickly, since he will allow your scouts to export your discovered or conquered treasures quickly and cheaply from any corner of the map, including the Great Lakes.
Default maps are mostly similar to previous versions, although new sprites have been used. However, the accessible area of West Greenland has been expanded, while northern Canada has become somewhat more inhospitable.
Some minor improvements include default placement of goodie heads at the sites of the Norse Eastern Settlement in Greenland and Vinland on Newfoundland Island. Discovering a lost colonist then equates to rediscovery of the Norse.
Indian trade has been nerfed, paying much lower rates and offering smaller amounts of goods for sale. Trade goods have become much less profitable (from 2000+ to around 500/cwt.), so horses and muskets are a better bet for early expansion. On the other hand, some previously unavailable items like food and lumber are now available for sale, at rates that make Indian purchases of food (while slower) cheaper than purchasing units in Europe even at game start.
Ships returning to the New World from Europe can now select whether they wish to reappear where the previously left (the top option) or whether they prefer to appear closer to existing colonies, allowing resupply much more easily.
European travel is also possible from the northern and southern map edges, making colonization of the Hudson Bay area more appealing, particularly for Russian players who can take advantage of its many fur bonuses.