Sid Meier's Colonization

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Sid Meier's Colonization (suffixed as "Col" on this Wiki) 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, Sid Meier's 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.

Franciso Coronado

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.

Resource productionEdit

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 (requires 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.

European powersEdit

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.


Main article: English (Col)


Main article: French (Col)


Main article: Spanish (Col)


Main article: Dutch (Col)

Founding FathersEdit

Main article: Founding Fathers (Col)

Native tribesEdit

Main article: Indians (Col)

Map of AmericaEdit


Map of America


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 labor. 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

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

Colonization games [edit]
Original version Sid Meier's Colonization (1994)

BuildingsCivilizationsCheatingFounding FathersIndiansIndependenceSoundtrackTerrainUnitsTipsFAQ

Remake Civilization IV: Colonization (2008)

BuildingsCivilizationsFounding FathersGoodsPointsProfessionsPromotionsTerrainTraitsUnitsVictory

Fan created version FreeCol (2003-Present)
Sid Meier's Civilization

Official series:
Civilization (MicroProse, 1991)
Civilization II (MicroProse, 1996) + Conflicts in Civilization (1996)
+ Fantastic Worlds (1997) + Test of Time (1999)

Civilization III (Firaxis, 2001) + Play the World (2002) + Conquests (2003)
Civilization IV (Firaxis, 2005) + Warlords (2006) + Beyond the Sword (2007) + Colonization (2008) (Total conversion)
Civilization V (Firaxis, 2010) + Gods & Kings (2012) + Brave New World (2013)
Civilization: Beyond Earth (Firaxis, 2014) + Rising Tide (2015)
Civilization VI (Firaxis, 2016)

Official related games:
Sid Meier's Colonization (MicroProse, 1994)
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri (Firaxis, 1999) + Alien Crossfire (1999)
Civilization Revolution (2008) (not for PCs)
CivWorld (2011) (on Facebook; discontinued as of May 29, 2013)
Civilization Revolution 2 (2014) (mobile), Civilization Revolution 2 Plus (2015/16) (PS Vita)
Sid Meier's Starships (2015) (PC and mobile)

Other games:
Freeciv (The Freeciv developers, 1996-2016)
Imperialism (Frog City Software, 1997)
Civilization: Call To Power (Activision, licensed from Hasbro, 1999)
Call to Power II (Activision, 2000)
FreeCol (The FreeCol developers, 2003-2016)
CivCity: Rome (Firefly Studios, 2006)
C-evo (Steffen Gerlach, 2006-2016)
NewCol (Frederic Vernier and associates, 2007-2011)

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