Introduction to Microprose Colonization

Sent in Tips

This game is now 'abandonware' so can be downloaded free from download.htm.

I have searched the web and haven't found any other major English language Colonization site's, so I thought I would write one myself. There seem to be dozens of pages for Colonization's big brother Civilization which seems to overshadow it. Colonization does however have many qualities of it own and is well worth playing, there are some tiresome bits and a few errors given in the suggested improvements and game errors sections, but this aside it is well worth playing once you get into it and learn a few tricks to help you win. Also the game upgrades in the Downloads section fix some of these problems. 90% of people who like Civilization also like Colonization, some even prefer it.

The computer AI as with all games of this type is a bit dim and repetitive, but in my opinion provides a better challenge than Civilization as Cities and Units can not be subverted and must be taken by force of arms, also there are three levels of fortification, and Cities are not likely to get wiped out in the process of being conquered.

A multiplayer version would solve the AI problem but Microprose don't seem keen on writing multiplayer games, probably because they are very complex. A scenario generator would also be welcome. Another power would also be good as the game becomes unbalanced when one power withdraws due to the treaty off..., perhaps the Portuguese or even Chinese/Japanese could be added?

The Java FreeCol project is now developing a successor to Colonization: FreeCol Version 2.0.0, and will implement a multiplayer internet version.

The best thing about the game is all the different skills you must acquire to get a functioning productive Colony, and seeing what happens if you don't get a critical skill in time.

In this game the top level (Viceroy) is actually difficult, it can be won but it is tricky and tedious. Deity, Civilizations top level can be won easily by subverting enemy cities and allowing the advantages they are given to work for you, e.g.. they are stuffed with Military Units particularly on the front line and have large populations, this can't be done in Colonization. I usually play on the next highest level (Governor) which is difficult but can be won most of the time once you know what you are doing. Of course luck plays a significant part.

Colonist's (some with key skills) are transported from the Old World and Commodities like Fur, Tobacco, Cotton and Sugar are sent back to the Old World. You can also sell them for better prices if you convert them in Coats, Cigars, Cloth and Rum. You need to buy Tools (for making things with Lumber or use by Pioneers to clear Forests and Build Roads), Muskets, Artillery and Ships from the Old World to begin with until you can build them yourselves after building Blacksmith's Shop, Armoury and Shipyard. You can pass one skills by building Schoolhouse, College and University. The higher level skills only being taught at the top level institutions. Check link for Pictures of Colonization Buildings with descriptions, costs and minimum population.

You can build factories which produce x1 1/2 the inputted commodity, once you get the founding father Adam Smith. See Continental Congress. There are 25 founding fathers that help you in various ways. for example Henry Hudson doubles Fur production in ever Fur square, Sir Francis Drake gives your Privateers +50% attack/defence bonus... You also take or buy Indian land, go to War with Indian's and other Europeans (sometimes at the King's bequest). Then finally fight a war of Independence when you get 50% Sons of Liberty Membership.

Review, I did for the Amiga Games Database.

Title           Colonization (1994)
Game Type Management Sim
Company         Microprose
Players  1
Compatibility Amiga, PC
This game is one of my favourites, so much so that I have written a Web Site for it at:

This site is actually based on the PC Version, but I played the Amiga Version first, and as far as I can tell they are identical.

You start off as an explorer for the English, Dutch, French, or Spanish (like Columbus), with a small ship, a Soldier and a Pioneer. If you go West far enough you will eventually find the new World, and can found a Colony. There you will compete with the 3 other European Powers, and 8 Indians Tribes at varying levels of development and wealth. There are two ways you can treat the Indians:

Both methods work, but I use the former. You may also wish to fight the other European Powers to gain more Colonies, or be dragged into a War by your King.

The map in huge, covering all of North and South America, plus the West Indies, Europe is not included as such, ships sail to the High Seas, and then arrive in a European Port, where they can buy or sell goods which are taxed, increasingly heavily as the game goes on, until trade becomes uneconomic, and you either trade with other European Powers and the Indians, or fight a War of Independence. Be aware the King builds an Royal Expeditionary Force, paid for by your taxes, which is very formidable. Make sure you have good Colony Fortifications and plenty of Troops before you Declare Independence, or you will lose. Another European Power may send Troops to aid you after a time, depending on what level of internal support your revolution has. Tory Cities, will yield few troops for your cause.

There are also a number of Ships, including Privateers hired by European Governments, and given a letter of Marquee which allows them to pray on enemy shipping. This is what made Britain Great, Francis Drake and his like intercepting Spanish plunder before it reached Cadiz. There are Frigates which can attack Privateers, but they are not always successful, and cost a lot. During the Revolution, Man-O-War, appear which are truly formidable, and can even bombard coastal Colonies. 3 types of transport ships exist: Caravel, Merchantmen, and Galleon, each with increasing defence, speed, cargo holds, and cost.

Each Colony produces Liberty Bells, which increase Revolutionary Sentiment, improve production, and after a while create Founding Fathers that join the Continental Congress. Build Printing Presses and Newspapers in your Colonies to further increase this trend, but be aware the King looks badly on disloyalty and will increase the Tax Rate. There are 25 Founding Fathers from a number of nations, including famous ones like Traitor Washington and Pocahontas, and less well known ones like Simon Bolivar and Peter Minuit. They each have a beneficial effect in the fields of War, Politics, Trade, Religion, and Exploration. This game will increase your knowledge of history.

One fun thing about this game is exploration. When you begin the game the whole map is black. But you soon uncover it. Ships can quickly map out the coastlines, but are expensive and may be needed for defence or trade. The interior is harder to map, as you require scouts with horses. Although the horse evolved in America, it became extinct there, so Indians prize it for War and Hunting, so your Scouts often disappear, and their horse are taken, they may also be ambushed as the Indians well know once a region has been charted Europeans Colonists and Armies will soon follow. Each tribe has different skills to teach, about half the skills in the game can be learned from Indians, some can only be learned from Indians, or other captured Europeans, who also learnt from Indians.

Religion plays a part in immigration, with the Catholics wanting to save heathen souls, and the Protestants wanting to find a new home free from Religious conflict. Missionaries can be sent to Indian Village to make them less hostile, or hostile to another power, and gain converts, who will work in the fields. More Preachers, Churches, and Cathedrals means more European Immigrants, many will be unskilled depending on game level and which founding fathers you have, some will even be Petty Criminals, debtors and such like, sent to clear out the prisons. A few will bring valuables skills, like Lumberjack, Carpenter, and Blacksmith. They can teach others, or work much more efficiently than other Colonists. Each skill is represented by a little man or woman in the Colony.

There are five commodities in demand in Europe that the New World can provide in quantity:

Prices vary with supply and demand, both by you and other powers. The Dutch get the advantage of better prices. Nearly everyone plays them as they start with a Merchantman ship with four cargo holds.

Colonies can build a number of building to increase efficiency in Trade, Lumber, Iron, Muskets, Commodities, and Education. There are three levels of fortification, the Stockade means Colonies can not be disbanded, a Coastal Fort can fire on ships which is great fun, fill it with Artillery and it will decimate them, a Fortress is virtually impregnable when properly garrisoned, of course this doesn't mean a Colony is safe from blockade, siege and starvation. Docks increase food through fishing, Dry-docks repair Ships, and Shipyards can build new Ships given enough Lumber and Iron.

The European powers behave very much as they historically would:

To conclude, the game is highly enjoyable, with the usual Microprose resource trade off problems. It came after Railroad Tycoon, and Civilization I, but before Civilization II. You can see influences from the first two in the game, and influences from Colonization in Civilization II, which is a nice touch. The game does have a few flaws: