[ Except for the virgin Islands in the Caribbean which were unsettled. ]
After first contact, European disease spread throughout the hemisphere. It has been estimated that a pre-Columbian population of 40 or more million Indians, was reduced by 1600 to only 8 million ( a decline greater than that of the Black Death in Europe). Given time the native population probably would have recovered. They were not given time. They were invaded by European settlers, moving into the now largely vacant land. (Consider what the game would be like if there was 5 times the number of Indian villages.)
[ This is NOT the basis. The basis is too found colonies for people fleeing religious unrest. I don't know whether your 40 million refers to the whole of the America's or what is now just the USA. I thought the numbers where about 3 million Indians in what is now the USA with an English home population of 8 million. I am aware that disease killed many Indians; and Spanish forced labour even more, but even if there were 40 million Indians in the 'USA' then that only makes about 10 million on the eastern seaboard of many ununited tribes. I don't think it was that great though as Indian civilization in this region was less developed than central America. The eastern seaboard now has a population of around 100 million, so even if no Indians were killed or displaced there would still be room for everyone, and African slaves might not have needed to be imported.
You can win the game without destroying a single Indian village, it's just a bit more difficult and you sometimes have to buy land. I think the village density / number goes up with level, disease is unmodeled unless Microprose assume disease has already been introduced. A higher proportion of Indians died than the Black Death because multiple diseases were introduced. The penalty for destroying villages represents the difficulty of finding good village locations in unpopulated areas. Also Indians come as converts to live in your colonies so you are not trying to create a European country, only a Christian one, as present day Mexico or Brazil show. ]
It was also the policy of English and later American settlers to exterminate the Native Tribes. The last large scale massacre of Indians, Wounded Knee, occurred as late as 1890. This policy began early in the colonization of North America, when it became clear the settlers' militia could not find, or defeat war parties of Indian Braves. Instead, the militia struck at the villages, including the women and children. Later, in the wars against the Plains Indians, the U.S. Army conducted winter campaigns with the express purpose of destroying Indian encampments. Thus depriving the warriors of the supplies needed to survive and fight. I want to make it perfectly clear, I find these actions to be completely despicable. The concept of killing helpless people, whose land this was, is so abhorrent to me that I'm ashamed to be descended from such people.
[ The English policy was only to attack Indian tribes allied to the French. They also tried to prevent colonization of the interior by American settlers, as they were less easy to tax and control; and threatened Indian land. This was one of the causes of the War of Independence, the British knew they could never rule the American colonies unless they remained mostly near Atlantic ports, which were also good for trade. Canada a part of America that did not become independent until much later has a lower population density and more Indian rights than the USA. ]
The point is, Colonization is a GAME! And it is the goal of the game to create as large a country as possible. This is reflected in the bonuses awarded for the number of colonists. In this context the Native Tribes in the GAME should be viewed in the same manner as any other factor trying to limit your growth.
[ You should note no new Indian villages are founded in the game, and you get points for Indian converts as well as European Colonists, and also for training people. The point would seem to be to develop. There is enough space one the map to retain villages and have colonies. ]
I feel the penalty is merely an attempt to put "Political Correctness" into what is in reality a war game. After all, why not a penalty for capturing the colonies of the other European powers?
[ Because they are your Religious, Economic and Political enemies in Europe. Although I think the lack of African slaves is due to "Political Correctness". ]
Is it all right to make war against one people and not the other? (True, the settlers in a European colony weren't as a rule killed off. However, there is a theory that the missing English settlers of Roanoke were either massacred or sold into slavery by the Spanish.)
[ That was at the very beginning, they probably hoped to keep the English out for good in this way, by making them think the Indians got them or they died out. ]
Indian villages with the exception of the Incas and the Aztecs rarely yield more than a 1000 gold pieces, an amount I don't consider important enough for the penalty. As for freeing up the land for colonies, the whole point of the game is to steal Indian lands, I don't feel the designers are being consistent if they then penalize you for doing this.
[ I do, it makes the game more challenging and rewards people for looking after the Indians. Remember many Indian tribes were allied to Europeans. the real reward for destroying villages is not gold but land. I think you should be able to capture the big cities instead of destroy them. ]
Having said all this, I should point out that as a rule I don't attack the Indians unless provoked by repeated and damaging raids. Only then do I do as the computer messages demand and administer retribution.
[ I find retribution does little good, it just makes Indians more mad. It's better to send in missionaries, keep as far from their land as you can, and trade with them. ]
[Most people build a population 1 colony straight away and use a second colonist to either plow the central square or take up muskets and become a soldier thus making some extra production. This also works in Civilization if you build on a swamp/jungle and get a settler to convert it.]
Another tactic is placing all your colonies as close to each other as possible and trying not to overlap any squares. I normally try to create a ring of colonies that can support each other rather quickly.
[Clearly you don't want overlap with only 9 squares per colony but want them close so dragoons can move between colonies quickly. It is also preferable to have port colonies so commodities can be taken away quickly.]
Venturing off for some resource leaves you spread too thin to hold all the colonies against the King who will divide and conquer your forces.
[Most people build temporary colonies to get silver etc... to make cash then disband them before they declare independence.]
I probably don't have to say this but when settling a Colony do not settle right next to an Indian Village. Because not only will you have to pay for most of your land but eventually you will make them so mad that they will attack you every turn.
Make sure there are trees near the Colony. This is very helpful, because that way you don't have to Ship the Lumber by Wagon Train to the Colony.
The Colony does not necessarily have to be near an Ore square (Hills, Mountains, Plains, Tundra, Swamp, etc..) because by the time that you start building inland Colonies you have enough money so that when it asks you for the required Tools, you can just buy them [or ship them in by Wagon train]. Still, if you can possibly settle near an Ore square, do it.
Never settle right next to an Indian Village. The computer does this most of the time for some reason. If you do this, once your Colony starts to grow, and more military units come to your City, you will find many, many red exclamation marks on that Village. In short, if you do this the Indians, get really mad, really fast. The only way I recommend doing this is if you don't expect the Colony to go beyond two in population.
Always build roads between your inland Colony, and the closest coastal Colony. This enables you to move Units between your Cities very fast. This is also helpful when you find one of your coastal Colonies in need, now you can quickly use the Units in the inland Colony to come to it's aid. Make sure that every one of your Colonies has at least one Soldier, and at least two Horses to start with [for breeding]. Remember, there is nothing worse than finding your best Colony surrounded by Dragoons, and defended by Fishermen. Before you build the Colony, make sure that you buy a Farmer, a Hardy Pioneer, a Free Colonist, a Master at whatever you plan to produce at the Colony, and, of course, a Soldier. Build roads and plow using Pioneers at least two squares to farm on and one or two squares to plant the money crop, if you are going to Plant and not Trap Fur or Mine.
The first Colony should be located near a specialized tile of land, in some fashion. This could be a Mineral Deposit or a Beaver Tail. You get much better results by locating the Colony so.
It is most important to allow at least 2 squares distance between any Native Village and the first Colony. This gives you room to grow without paying for Native land.
After you get the first Colony located, move the Soldier around a bit while your Ship is returning to Europe. This gives you a full view around your Colony, and allows you to make peace with the Natives right off if they are close by.
Once your ship returns to Europe, you should procure, in order, a Scout, 52 horses, and an Expert Farmer. Carry these to the new world with all due haste. The Scout will allow you to explore the Continent and see where the other competing Colonies are. The 52 Horses allow you to use 50 to change the Soldier you have in the New World to a Dragoon, and leave 2 Horses as 'seed' for developing a Horse Herd. The Expert Farmer will get the Colony off to a good start Food wise, so you can use the next Colonist or two as a Lumberjack and Carpenter.
Once you have the Scout and Dragoon in the New World, use the Scout to locate the competing Colonists on your Continent. Then use the Dragoon to conquer the competing Colonies. This accomplishes two goals. First, you keep them from attacking you which they will surely do. Secondly, you capture their Colonists and stored Goods. You can use the Ship to sell their goods for much needed Cash. You can send the captured Colonists overland to your first Colony to build it faster. If fact, by leaving the Dragoon in the general locale of their first Colony, you can capture more as they disembark from the Enemy Ships. Thus, you build up your Populace faster. It is also a cheap way to get those skilled Carpenters and such that are expensive to train at the start.
Once you have the initial Colony up to 3 population with at least a Farmer, a Colonist as a Lumberjack and someone working in the Carpenter Shop, you can start on the buildings in the Colony. In order, you should build a Lumbermill [Docks first if Food is in short supply], a Warehouse, a Stockade, then a School [None of these require Tools]. You are now ready to move past the start of the game. An aside which may be most important of all. You need to build Colonies fast and furiously. Thus until your City/Colony count is 10-12, you should not increase the Population of first Colony above 3-4. You can start new Cities with the extra Colonists, which increases Liberty Bell and Cross production, which are most important towards successful game completion.