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FAQ/Strategy Guide by jez9999

Version: 1.2 | Updated: 07/23/17

Sid Meier's Colonization - guide, strategy and tips
===================================================
v1.2
by Jeremy Morton (jez9999 on GameFAQs)

INTRODUCTION
------------
Colonization can be great fun to play, and it's a very well-made game, but at 
times it can be a bit confusing or frustrating if you don't know some of the 
intricacies of the game mechanics, or the best ways to achieve success in the 
game.  To help with this, I've written this guide to share the knowledge I've 
built up in playing the game over the years.  I hope it helps you enjoy the 
game as much as I enjoyed it!

IMPORTANT
---------
Before making any moves at the start of the game, I strongly recommend you go 
into game options and make sure "End of Turn" is checked.  This makes the game 
pause at the end of each turn, which is very useful tactically if you want to 
examine the game board, or activate a unit (pressing M after un-fortifying a 
unit sometimes seems to allow you to move it), just before this turn would have 
automatically ended.

STARTING OUT
------------
The north-to-south orders of the nations seem to be randomized each game so it 
doesn't matter which nation you pick in that regard; however, it does seem that 
your nation is always one of the "middle two" nations.  The game is usually 
easier if you start out to the extreme south or north, so as to get a peninsula 
there and be able to defend it more easily; therefore, you may want to start 
off by going northwest (if you're closer to the north of the map) or southwest 
(if you're closer to the south of the map) when first entering the New World so 
as to try and quickly establish settlements to the extreme north or south of 
the map.  Of course, this means you'll need to "take care" of the computer-
controlled nation that has settled there too, but better to do that early on 
than let them flourish and have to deal with computer-controlled nations to the 
north AND south.

The first colony or two you found should be situated with a view to producing 
some profitable cash crops, and eventually turning them into more expensive 
goods (tobacco -> cigars, cotton -> cloth, etc.)  Military power, as throughout 
the game, is important, and although it can be tough at the beginning, it's 
still important to make sure your colonies are defended by at least one soldier 
if at all possible.  Also, try not to irritate the native Indians too much, 
unless your game plan is to destroy a lot of Indian settlements and make money 
from the gold you collect (even so, that's a bad strategy until you've built up 
some money and forces!)  Putting missionaries into Indian settlements is a good 
idea.  Although Jesuit Missionaries are ideal (and so should be put into 
important Indian settlements like capitals and nearby settlements that your 
colonies are likely to alarm), it's still also a good idea to just bless 
regular colonists as missionaries and put them into Indian settlements if you 
run out of Jesuits (which is rather likely) - training up Jesuits is possible 
at universities, but not worth the time and effort, especially considering that 
once you get the founding father Jean de Brebeuf (might be worth making him a 
priority), all of your missionaries will function as experts anyway, *even ones 
you've already set up in Indian settlements*.  In fact, blessing 
Criminals/Servants as missionaries (when you need them) is a good idea, so you 
don't need to spend time educating them up to free colonists.

Send out scouts to get the lay of the land and talk to Indian tribe chiefs 
(you'll often get money gifts from them).  Keep one eye on the land, planning 
the layout of your colonies medium-to-long-term; mainly, where you're going to 
build your key specialist colonies (see below).  Also keep an eye out for good 
locations for more potentially profitable colonies (tiles with crop bonuses 
like Prime Tobacco, Beaver, Prime Cotton, etc.)  Talking to Indian tribe chiefs 
with scouts is also useful for finding out what the Indian settlement 
specializes in ("we are known for our..."); in other words, when you later need 
a colonist with that speciality, you can send them there to be trained if you 
don't yet have a colonist with that speciality (if you do, train other 
colonists from that one using a university instead).  Be sure to note down 
Indian settlements specializing in skills that can only be found in the New 
World, which are Master Tobacco Planter, Master Sugar Planter, Master Cotton 
Planter, and Master Fur Trapper.

Also be sure to get some wagon trains built to move materials (mainly tools) 
from your CAPITAL (see below) to the colonies that need them.  You'll need to 
do this a lot because lots of tools are needed for advanced colony buildings.
You can also use these to trade with the natives, but I find that to be a waste 
of time.  Trading with Europe is far easier and profitable enough.  The natives 
are very picky about which goods they will trade.  It's not worth trading with 
them.  Apparently they almost always trade muskets, but it's still more trouble 
than it's worth.  Maybe the odd novelty trade is worth doing (like if you 
capture 100 trade goods from an enemy ship, sell them to the natives rather 
than to Europe).  Use Hardy Pioneers to build roads between your colonies so 
the wagon trains (and colonists) can move quickly.  Roads give nice production 
bonuses in Colonization, too (actually a road OR a river will give these 
production bonuses).  Build roads *around* colonies as well as *to* them, so 
the wagon train can use all of its movement points without stopping at the 
colony (when a wagon train or ship enters a colony's square, it loses all of 
the remaining movement points for that turn!)

COLONY DEVELOPMENT
------------------
In Colonization, unlike in Civilization, the terrain that a colony is built on 
*does* affect the colony square's output.  The colony square gets the food and 
the "special crop" for that square (eg. cotton, tobacco, sugar), so it's 
usually better to chop down the forest on that square (with the possible 
exception of swamp and desert squares, where forest may be preferable) because 
it will increase the production of these resources.  Plow the square for still 
extra resources.  Also note that you can do this with your pioneers *after* the 
colony has been founded; put a pioneer on the colony square, and plow it.
Note, however, that a road does *not* need to be built; any colony square is 
considered to already have a road built on it.  Because the colony square can 
be worked by pioneers *after* the colony has been founded, it can be better to 
quickly get a colony built in the right location first, and improve its land 
later.

If there's a river on a tile, it gives you a bonus to production.  Plowing also 
gives you a bonus to production.  Plowing the tile AND having a river on it 
actually gives you a double bonus, so it IS still worth plowing tiles that have 
rivers on them.  A river gives the same bonus as a road.  A river and a road 
together don't give an extra bonus; just the same bonus as a river or a road on 
their own.

The Oasis special resource can be found both on desert and scrub forest tiles.  
Untouched, both give the same output of food.  Although they look very similar, 
it's very important to check which one you're dealing with.  If the land type 
is changed, you lose the special resource that is on that tile.  For desert, 
the Plow order will simply plow the desert, and increase that tile's food 
output by 1, so a *desert oasis* should be plowed.  However, a *scrub forest 
oasis* should not!  Plowing this will instead remove the scrub forest, turning 
the tile into plain desert, and the Oasis will be lost!  Simply build a road on 
it, and leave that tile's development there.

Your Continental Congress is very important, as certain members of it are 
required to allow you to do some important things (like building the Custom 
House). To speed up the addition of new members of the Congress, make sure you 
are producing a decent number of liberty bells in your Town Halls (this is also 
important for increasing rebel sentiment, of course, which - when high enough - 
gives you increased efficiency at the colony, as well as eventually allowing
you to declare independence).  It's also very important to get Elder Statesmen
into your Town Halls as quickly as possible because you suffer a nasty 
production penalty if the number of colonists with "Tory sentiment" goes above 
a certain number (depending on difficulty level); from the manual:
Production Penalty: If the number of Tories within a colony
(based on Sons of Liberty membership) reaches a certain number,
all production in that colony is reduced by 1. The critical number is
based on the difficulty level; at Discoverer it's 10, at Viceroy it's 6.

Although there are certain types of cargo you don't want to "max out" at a 
colony, because you can sell them and make a profit, don't be afraid to "max 
out" horses, tools, and muskets at colonies that produce them.  These don't 
tend to sell for much anyway (well, maybe muskets do; it might be a good idea 
to sell them sometimes if you have no need of more troops right now), but you 
want a good stockpile of these sitting around so you can easily create dragoons 
(horses+muskets), and tools are crucial for a myriad of different things.

Major rivers in forested areas seem to give a +4 bonus to furs output, not just 
the +2 bonus of a minor river.  This is useful to remember if you want a colony 
that will produce lots of furs, especially if you have no "game bonus" or 
"beaver" tiles.

Try to get your pioneers (eventually, not as a priority) to build road around 
all of the coastline; being able to move troops around the coastline tiles is 
handy, especially during the war of independence.  However, DO NOT position 
troops on the shoreline tiles of your coastal cities during the war of 
independence - they will be CAPTURED by the Tory soldiers as they land!!!  In 
fact, try to avoid placing any unit where a Tory unit (soldier or ship) is 
likely to "appear" during the war of independence; coastal areas, basically.  
The rule is that if your unit is there when the Tory unit "appears", your unit 
is captured and is simply lost.  Boats and soldiers next to colonies on the 
coast are likely to be lost this way; move soldiers inland, and boats a little 
bit out to sea to avoid this.
In fact, roads over every tile in the general area of your colonies is a good 
thing to aim for.  It's nice to know that you'll only use 1/3rd of a movement 
point moving anywhere around your land, instead of having to worry about what 
path to take (especially given that the game's pathing engine leaves a little 
to be desired).  This will, of course, take many tools and lots of work by 
pioneers - 20 tools per road build on a tile - so it's going to be a long-term 
goal.  Early on, just connecting colonies together with roads is the most 
important thing.

SPECIALIST COLONIES
-------------------
I find that the best strategy to thrive in Colonization (and this is a game 
plan you should be thinking of from the second you start playing the game) is 
to have a core of "specialist colonies" that focus on certain things and supply 
the other colonies, which themselves can be focused on making money or just 
being there and expanding your New World presence.  The core of "specialist 
colonies", though, is the "engine room" for the development of other colonies, 
and it is absolutely crucial to success, self-reliance, and independence from 
Europe.

Because colonies can only utilize the land directly surrounding them, it's 
almost impossible to have one colony that can be developed whilst ignoring the 
rest.  Therefore, your core of "specialist colonies" should consist of the 
following:

  CAPITAL: One colony - for most or all of the game - should be thought of as 
  your capital.  It will be built up and developed as a priority.  This colony 
  should be built next to three mountain or hill tiles so that expert ore 
  miners can get lots of ore out of them; this will be needed to churn out
  tools, which in turn are needed to churn out muskets (and build many other 
  things, including most advanced colony buildings, not to mention pioneers).
  The production of huge numbers of tools is extremely important to gain
  self-reliance and independence from Europe.  You don't want to be spending 
  money buying tools from Europe if you can help it.  Eventually, this colony 
  should have three expert ore miners mining ore, and three expert blacksmiths 
  producing tools in an iron works (Adam Smith needed as a founding father for 
  this).  You should be able to produce 72 tools per turn, with enough ore 
  mining, and with the colony's rebel sentiment up to 100%.  This should also 
  be the colony (at least the first one) where you produce muskets, to make 
  your own soldiers and dragoons.  Musket production requires - you guessed 
  it - tools; one tool per musket.  You'll want a chain of 
  ore mining -> tool production -> musket production.  If you also have a 
  university somewhere, you can be training colonists to become veterans.  Arm 
  them with muskets and horses, and you have Veteran Dragoons.  However, don't 
  produce as many muskets as tools, so that you have some surplus tools left 
  over (you'll need quite a few, actually).  One expert producing muskets in a 
  magazine should be good enough.  Don't worry about founding this colony away 
  from the coast; as wagon trains will be crucial in transporting things 
  to/from this colony, there's no need for it to be next to the coast.  It's 
  actually quite nice to have it away from the coast so it can be surrounded in 
  a circle by other important colonies.
  
  UNIVERSITY CAMPUS: You'll want to get a university built somewhere to train 
  your colonists into specialists in various fields as quickly as possible.  I 
  find that doubling up your CAPITAL as a university campus often works well, 
  especially as a colony has to be size 10 or larger to be able to build a 
  university.  You may find yourself wanting 2 or 3 colonies with universities 
  as the game goes on; teaching skills to new colonists becomes more and more 
  important, and you'll need to do it on a larger and larger scale as your 
  population increases faster.  It's a good idea to leave 2 Elder Statesmen 
  here even once the colony gets up to 100% rebel sentiment, instead of just 1; 
  as you'll regularly be introducing new colonists here to be trained up,
  bringing the Tory sentiment up again, you'll want to quickly get the rebel 
  sentiment back up to 100%.
  
  COMMUTER TOWNs: Once you've really got a good set of colonies up and running, 
  you'll probably want to make sure you have at least 1 of each specialist 
  colonist you need on standby, ready to be moved quickly to teach at a 
  UNIVERSITY CAMPUS when you need another specialist with the same skill.
  Don't be afraid, by the way, to clear specialities of specialists you get 
  from the Old World in order to make them into a Free Colonist to be trained 
  for the skill you need them to have, although obviously it's more efficient 
  if you can find somewhere you need their existing skill.  You should have 3 
  COMMUTER TOWNs near to your UNIVERSITY CAMPUSes, and linked to them by road.
  Unskilled colonists can report to a UNIVERSITY CAMPUS for training, along 
  with a "teacher" specialist that has been fortified in one of these COMMUTER 
  TOWNs, and then move on to where they're needed once trained.  The "teacher" 
  colonist can then be moved back to their COMMUTER TOWN.  Fortify the standby 
  "teacher" colonists in these towns simply to hold them there and keep them 
  quiet; it's not for any kind of defence purpose!
  The reason for having these colonies instead of just putting all your standby 
  "teacher" colonists in the UNIVERSITY CAMPUSes themselves is simply that the 
  game engine isn't very good at displaying lots of colonists fortified outside 
  of one colony.  To avoid the colony screen being too crowded with all the 
  different specialist colonists, it's good to separate them out.  I usually 
  have 3 COMMUTER TOWNs; one for lumberjacks & carpenters to be fortified in, 
  and two others for the other specialists to be fortified in, roughly 50/50.
  The reason I have the former is that I consider lumberjacks/carpenters to 
  generally be needed in colonies for certain periods of time (when you're 
  building what you need to), after which they can move on and build in a new 
  colony, as opposed to other colonist types, which are generally needed in a 
  colony for the whole game.  I therefore keep a "pool" of
  lumberjacks/carpenters (usually there should be the same number of 
  lumberjacks as carpenters, so the former can cut down roughly the right 
  amount of wood for the latter when working in a colony with a lumber mill), 
  and the ones that aren't currently working on building something in a colony 
  can be stationed at the colony dedicated to lumberjacks & carpenters.  If I 
  need a lumberjack/carpenter for building something, I check this COMMUTER 
  TOWN and if there is more than one pair there, I move them to where they're 
  needed; if there's only one pair, I send them to train another 
  lumberjack/carpenter pair.  In other words, always keep one spare 
  lumberjack/carpenter pair here to teach new colonists their skills.
  For all other colonist types, I keep them at one of the other 2 COMMUTER 
  TOWNs depending on whether I categorize them as "outdoor labour specialists", 
  or non-"outdoor labour specialists".  This makes it easier to remember which 
  of the COMMUTER TOWNs to look for a given specialist in.  So, all the
  "outdoor labour specialists" will be fortified at one COMMUTER TOWN: 
  2xFarmers, 2xFishermen, Master Tobacco Planters, Master Sugar Planters, 
  Master Cotton Planters, Expert Ore Miners, Expert Silver Miners, and Expert 
  Fur Trappers (I have 2 Farmers and 2 Fishermen because I find I generally 
  need more of them so training 2 colonists up in these skills at once is 
  desirable).  Then, all the non-"outdoor labour specialists" will be fortified 
  at the other COMMUTER TOWN: 2xElder Statesmen, 2xVeteran Soldiers, Master 
  Tobacconists, Master Distillers, Master Weavers, Master Blacksmiths, Master 
  Gunsmiths, and Master Fur Traders (again, I have 2 Elder Statesmen and 2 
  Veteran Soldiers because I find that I need a lot of them and that training 2 
  at once is often desirable).  In addition, I don't bother training Jesuit 
  Missionaries (they're not worth the time and effort to train; see above) or 
  Firebrand Preachers (I usually only need 1 or 2 of these guys per *game* in 
  my CATHEDRAL CITY's cathedral; no need to train any more up).  By the way, 
  because the purpose of the COMMUTER TOWNs is to help deal with the 
  overcrowding on the colony screen when lots of colonists are fortified there, 
  you should only defend these colonies with some artillery units, which don't 
  show up on the main colony display area.  If you defend them with 
  soldiers/dragoons, they clutter up the main colony display area by being 
  displayed alongside all the other fortified colonists outside the colony.  Of 
  course, towards the end of the game, you should be looking to defend *all* 
  colonies with artillery anyway, and move your dragoons out into the open, 
  where they can get the ambush bonus when attacking Tory troops during the war 
  of independence.
  
  BREAD BASKET: Have a colony dedicated to producing lots of food.  This colony 
  will lend itself to two things; breeding lots of horses, and creating lots of 
  new colonists.  The more horses you have, the more are born each turn, so 
  it's a good strategy to have one colony (this one) dedicated to having lots 
  of horses with a stable, the warehouse, and the warehouse expansion; you can 
  then hold up to 300 horses (not that it's a bad idea to keep a horse herd of 
  size 2 or more in every colony, and just let them tick along and expand 
  slowly).  Horses allow you to create your own scouts or dragoons (with 
  muskets too).  This should be a colony where lots of food can be produced; 
  horses eat a lot of it.  However, only a certain proportion is used to feed 
  the horses; about half the surplus is stored, so it will build up and a new 
  Free Colonist is created when the surplus gets to 200.  The creation of new 
  Free Colonists in this way is important in the mid- to long-term game, as 
  immigration won't grow your population as quickly as you would like, and 
  whatsmore Free Colonists are better than Criminals/Servants because they can 
  be immediately trained into specialist units.  If you get a good population 
  growth going this way, it may even be worth disbanding some Criminal/Servant 
  units as you're likely to have a bunch of free colonists sitting around 
  waiting to be trained at your UNIVERSITY CAMPUSes anyway.  See whether you 
  can turn the Criminal/Servant into a missionary and use them that way first, 
  though.
  For lots of food to be produced, this colony should preferably have some 
  "plains" tiles adjacent to it, or at least tiles that, when plowed, give a 
  decent amount of food (eg. prairie, savannah, etc.)  Fishery tiles are good 
  too, once you build docks and put a fisherman to work on them.
  
  CATHEDRAL CITY: It's a good idea to get a cathedral built in a colony, and 
  have a firebrand preacher or two there.  This generates you lots of crosses, 
  which will get more free colonists to come from Europe.  However, don't 
  bother with more than one such colony; it's not worth it.
  
  PORT TOWN: Choose a colony next to a sea square to make your "port town".  
  This should be located next to a sea square that will be a convenient place 
  for your ships to start from, because when repaired or created anew, they 
  will start from here.  It should also be next to some forests that can 
  provide a lot of timber with lumberjacks working them (mixed forest [on 
  plains] or conifer forest [on grassland], preferably with prime timber; note 
  that broadleaf forest [on prairie], tropical forest [on savannah], wetland 
  forest [on marsh], rain forest [on swamp], scrub forest [on desert], and 
  boreal forest [on tundra] provide less timber) because in the long term, 
  you'll want to build ships here, which takes a lot of timber.
  First, build a drydock in this colony.  It halves the repair time for damaged 
  ships and prevents them having to go back to Europe for repairs, which is 
  really handy.  Then build a shipyard and you can start building ships.  Lots 
  of timber and carpenters with a lumber mill will speed this up.  Make sure 
  it's near to your tool-producing CAPITAL though, as they will also need lots 
  of tools to be transported there for the ship construction.
  Building ships may not be that important if you're making lots of money 
  selling high-value goods through Custom Houses towards the end of the game; 
  you can probably just afford to buy a load of ships from Europe, and you'll 
  probably be able to build up your fleet a lot quicker this way than by 
  building the ships at shipyards.

EDUCATION
---------
Colonists should be trained up to have the right specialities, at your 
university city.  This is very important for efficiency - better to have a 
master lumberjack in each colony producing the necessary wood for buildings 
than two or three colonists to do the same, for example!  A lower colony 
population requires less food, and/or you can use those colonists that would 
have been (for example) acting as lumberjacks, for something else.  Don't be 
too afraid to clear a colonist's speciality if you don't need it.  Make them an 
ordinary colonist again, send them to your university city, and put a spare 
colonist of the needed speciality in the university.  After a certain number of 
turns (depending on the speciality being taught), a Free Colonist in that 
colony will turn into a colonist with the speciality of one of your specialist 
"teachers" in the university.  Or, a Criminal will turn into a Servant, or a 
Servant will turn into a Free Colonist.  As colonists are generally at a 
premium throughout much of the game, making the most of the ones you have and 
training them up is extremely important.  Note that when training a colonist, 
you simply need the colonist to be doing *something* at the same colony where 
you have the teaching establishment and teacher; if you're training a colonist 
to be an Elder Statesman, for example, whether or not they're working in the 
Town Hall makes no difference.

The number of turns it takes to "educate" a colonist varies by the type of 
profession being taught.  Schoolhouse-level professions (eg. farmer, silver 
miner) take 4 turns.  College-level professions (eg. cotton planter, veteran 
soldier) take 6 turns.  University-level professions (eg. elder statesman, 
firebrand preacher) take 8 turns.  When a colonist gets "educated", they get 
advanced to the next "level" of colonist.  The "levels" of colonist are:
Petty Criminal -> Indentured Servant -> Free Colonist -> Specialist
So, training a Free Colonist into a particular speciality will have to take the 
necessary number of turns; however, Criminals and Servants should always be 
educated at a colony which has schoolhouse-level professions being taught; you 
want to get them up to Free Colonist status as quickly as possible, and it will 
happen in half the time when they're being taught schoolhouse-level 
professions, rather than university-level professions.  This tactic is even 
more important on harder difficulty levels, where (before the founding father 
William Brewster) lots and lots of Criminals and Servants show up on the docks 
in Europe.
So, try to get 2 university cities up and running ASAP; have one teach the 
schoolhouse-level professions, and one teach the other professions.  Teach Free 
Colonists at the latter colony, and Criminals/Servants (or Free Colonists you 
want to train in schoolhouse-level specialities) in the former.  By the way, 
when a colony gets to 100% rebel sentiment, the game mentions that "colonists 
can be educated more quickly here".  This appears to be a lie.  Colonists seem 
to take just as long to get educated, no matter what the rebel sentiment of the 
colony.

Whilst you can get hold of most specialist colonist types via "Train" on the 
Europe screen, there are a few skills that can only be found in the New World; 
namely, Sugar Planters, Tobacco Planters, Cotton Planters, and Fur Trappers.  
There are two ways to get these specialists; one way is if you leave a free 
colonist doing the job for a while, you may "luck out" and the colonist will 
just become a specialist.  This doesn't always happen though (and it NEVER 
seems to happen on the harder difficulty levels), so I wouldn't rely on it.  
The other way is to find an Indian settlement that is known for its specialists 
in that area and send a Free Colonist or Servant to "live among the natives" 
(if you have both available, send a Servant; it would otherwise take two 
cycles of education to get them to specialist status instead of one).  It can 
be challenging to find the speciality you want in an Indian settlement; you'll 
just have to send scouts out to talk to the tribal chiefs until you find one.  
Of course, once you have one colonist with this specialist skill, you can use 
him to train up as many others as you need.  As it can sometimes be challenging 
to even find *one* Indian settlement that teaches a particular New World skill, 
make sure you *don't* clear the speciality of the colonist that learnt that 
skill, and make sure he stays alive (at least until he's taught it to some more 
colonists)!  The Indians won't let a second colonist "live among them" once one 
already has, so your only way of keeping that skill in your ranks of colonists 
may be that one colonist teaching it to others!  In fact, you may want to make 
sure you always have at least 2 colonists with each New World skill in case 
something happens to one of them.  It's also a good idea to send out a colonist 
to learn that New World skill the second you find an Indian settlement that 
will teach it; those settlements have a habit of getting destroyed by other 
Europeans...
Criminals can't be trained into specialists by the native Indians, but Servants 
and Free Colonists can.
NB. For some reason, you also can't get Seasoned Scouts through "Train".  
However, they (unlike the other New World specialities) will sometimes appear 
on the docks in Europe - usually at least once per game - so you should be able 
to get one there and train other colonists via that one, if necessary.  Of 
course, there are Indian settlements that will train colonists in being a 
Seasoned Scout, and sometimes if you take regular scouts into an Indian 
settlement and talk to the chief, they will train your scouts to Seasoned 
status too, so if you don't get a Seasoned Scout on the docks early in the 
game, put a Free Colonist on horseback as a rudimentary scout, and go around 
talking to native Indian tribe chiefs; your unit will probably get the chance 
to be upgraded to a Seasoned Scout soon enough anyway.

In a situation where there are a mixture of Free Colonists and 
Servants/Criminals in a colony with an expert teaching, it is NOT guaranteed 
that the free colonist will be prioritized; the Servants/Criminals may be 
promoted through education before the free colonist is made into an expert.  To 
avoid this, keep the Servants/Criminals out of the colony until you're ready to 
educate them.  Of course, the best situation is to have 3 teachers in a 
university and 3 Free Colonists to be educated there at the same time.

An important note on recruiting new colonists: the cost of recruiting via 
"Recruit" in Europe fluctuates over time.  At times when it costs 600 gold or 
more to recruit, it's cheaper to "Train" some expert Ore Miners, then just 
clear their speciality to make them a Free Colonist who can get educated 
easily!  Don't waste any more money recruiting Criminals, Servants, or Free 
Colonists from the docks at that price.

CONQUEST, ATTACK, AND DEFENCE
-----------------------------
The enemy AIs start out as a nasty threat to you, but as time goes by and you 
get richer and more powerful militarily, conquering their colonies becomes a 
great way of quickly expanding your empire and your population.  You should aim 
to exterminate the competing AIs if possible, though on harder difficulty 
levels this is very difficult and awkward coexistence may be the least-bad 
option.  Your diplomatic status with the AI opponents makes no difference to 
the foreign Intervention Force that you may receive after declaring 
independence; you get that no matter what.  When I say "exterminate" above, I 
really mean "reduce to minimum": you can't completely obliterate the 
opposition, but you can get them down to a population of 1 with a single ship 
remaining unsunk.  Then, keep some ships near the edge of the board and 
immediately attack that AI's ship when it comes onto the map, damaging it and 
sending it home again.  Every time they land a colonist, attack and capture it 
too.  I'll call this situation "pseudo-extermination".  There is another good 
reason to pseudo-exterminate the computer AIs; there is a relatively low limit 
on the total number of units allowed in the game.  At some point, if all 
nations have lots of units, you'll find yourself unable to create any more 
units.  If you want to expand to be very large, the way to do it is to take out 
as many opponents' colonies as possible and disband them (or at least reduce 
them to size 3) so they're not using up unit slots.
One point to note, by the way, is that one of the AI opponents will always 
"withdraw from the New World", probably around 1640-1660, when you get up to 
51% rebel sentiment in your colonies, usually handing their colonies over to 
the other AI player who is weakest.  You can't make any other enemy AIs 
officially withdraw from the New World; only one ever will.  All you can do is, 
as described above, pseudo-exterminate them.

See, here's how things normally go down.  You'll start with one major rival AI, 
the other one that colonized to the north if you colonize to the north, and the 
other one that colonized to the south if you colonized to the south.  You'll 
want to pseudo-exterminate them as quickly as possible so you have the whole 
north/south of the map to yourself.  Then, at some point around 1640-1660 (when 
you get up to 51% rebel sentiment in your colonies), one of the AIs will 
withdraw from the New World; probably the one you pseudo-exterminated, because 
they'll probably be the weakest.  This leaves you with two AI opponents, but 
they should be concentrated on the other side of the map to you.  I find that 
it's generally more trouble than it's worth to try and pseudo-exterminate them, 
so generally the best practice is to leave them to their own thing on the other 
end of the map, and concentrate on getting your colonies working well and 
defended well, ready for your declaration of independence.  Otherwise you'll be 
moving your forces all the way to the other end of the map to try and pseudo-
exterminate the one or two remaining major European forces other than you.  It 
can be done, but it drags you behind and isn't really necessary, unless they 
are causing you major irritation (and they shouldn't be because they should be 
at the other end of the map; south if you colonized to the north, and north if 
you colonized to the south).  Basically, you should have one half of the map to 
yourself and hopefully you can mostly ignore the opposition at this point.  If 
they found the odd colony too near to your borders, take it quickly and disband 
it, allowing you to capture some of their colonists and fending them off from 
coming too close to your territory.

Defend your colonies well, with stockades and eventually forts and fortresses.  
Unfortunately, the computer AI players will do this with their colonies quite 
quickly so it can be exceedingly difficult to take them over; however, if you 
defend yours, at least your colonies will be equally difficult to take.  
Getting the founding father Sieur De La Salle should be a priority, as he will 
give every colony of size 3 or above a free stockade.  This saves quite a bit 
of onerous stockade building!  It does mean you can't disband colonies once 
they get to size 3, so don't build colonies in bad places whose population you 
increase to size 3!  Actually, there is one way you can disband such colonies - 
get the native Indians to destroy them.  This can be quite difficult, though.  
It helps if the colony to be destroyed is near the Inca or the Aztecs because 
their cities can take more hits before your troops burn them.  You need to get 
the colony down to as small a size as possible by starving it, which is 
probably size 1 or 2, remove all military units from the colony, then really 
anger the natives by attacking their cities (try not to attack them so often 
that your troops burn them... you want to anger the natives, but destroying 
them stops them from destroying the colony you want to get rid of!)  They 
should attack your colony and if they win, the colony's size will reduce by 1.  
If its size is already 1, the natives will burn and destroy it!  Quite an 
arduous process just to get rid of a colony, and of course, not possible unless 
there are some strong natives nearby.

There are two circumstances in which it's a good tactic to use artillery: 
defending a colony, and attacking a colony.  If an artillery is involved in a 
fight outside a colony, it has a 75% "artillery in the open" penalty; if it's 
defending a colony, or attacking a colony, that penalty does not apply.  Note, 
however, that the penalty DOES apply if attacking units adjacent to a colony 
from within a colony.
When attacking units (or defending) out in the open, it's best to use Veteran 
Dragoons.  Obviously, they also move quickly because they're on horseback.  
However, some artillery pieces can be nice when besieging a fort(ress), and you 
should aim to get artillery defending all of your major colonies in the late 
game - certainly before declaring independence, to make them very hard to 
capture.  Seriously, though - avoid attacking units in the open with artillery. 
It will probably lose the fight.  Artillery in the open is SO bad it usually 
loses to UNARMED colonists instead of capturing them!  It's totally designed 
for defending and attacking settlements (colonies, and Indian settlements).

When attacking a well-defended colony, you'll probably want to use lots of 
artillery units.  However, you should also isolate the colony by blocking off 
all the paths by which the opponent may get defensive units into the colony.  
Nothing worse than working hard to beat a couple of dragoons, only to see the 
AI slip a couple more dragoons into the colony next turn!

Once you get to the point in the game where you have a large naval force, 
position frigates and privateers in the ocean areas throughout your sphere of 
settlement.  Fortify the frigates (in case they get attacked), and sentry the 
privateers (so you can quickly wake them and attack a passing vessel).

Once the various nationalities have achieved their independence:
The English become the United States of America.
The French become the Republic of Quebec.
The Spanish become the Republic of Mexico.
The Dutch become the Republic of Surinam.

TRADE, TAXES, AND TEA PARTIES
-----------------------------
The founding father Jan de Witt makes trading with other European colonies 
possible, and you can trade with the native Indians from the second you meet 
them, but here's my advice: don't bother.  Not only is selling stuff directly 
to Europe (via ship, and as soon as possible, via the Custom House) a lot 
simpler because you avoid having to go all over the place finding Indian 
settlements that actually want your goods, or travelling long distances to 
other European colonies, but you'll probably earn more money as well.  One 
example was when I tried to sell 100 coats.  The Indians would pay me 230 gold 
for them, another European colony would pay 612 gold for them, and when I 
finally sold them through my Custom House, I earnt 837 gold (gross 100@9 = 900, 
minus 7% tax).  I guess the prices that the Indians or other European colonies 
are willing to pay you might fluctuate and end up paying you a bit more than 
Europe from time to time, but with the amount of stuff you're going to be 
selling throughout the game, trading with anything other than Europe just isn't 
worth the time and the hassle.  Let the Custom Houses take care of it 
automatically and you won't really lose out financially.

Early on, it may be desirable to create one or two sea-based trade routes to 
automate ships taking cargo back from the New World and selling it off.  
However, I find the game engine doesn't deal with them very well (sometimes 
failing to load or unload a cargo, for some reason), so once you get Custom 
Houses built in colonies, you should delete all trade routes.  They shouldn't 
be needed.  I usually try to avoid them altogether.  When doing sea-based 
trade, I'd recommend avoiding buying a merchantman and going for a privateer 
instead.  Although they only have half the capacity of a merchantman, they're a 
lot faster and should be good enough for the small amount of early trading 
you'll be doing.  In the long run, you'll want to be using the Custom House for 
trade, and you can move privateers on to exploring and attacking enemy vessels, 
whereas merchantmen are pretty much useless, with no attack capability and a 
terrible sighting radius.  You're probably best off just disbanding merchantmen 
once you're using the Custom House for trade... or better still, never wasting 
money on any merchantmen in the first place.

One very important aspect of the game is the avoidance of taxes from Europe.  
Every now and then, the King will try to impose a new tax and invite you to 
kiss his pinky ring.  At first, you'll have to accept these tax increases, but 
hopefully not for long.  You should aim to be avoiding any tax increases before 
you get into the double digits by hiring the trade adviser Peter Stuyvesant, 
who allows you to build the Custom House in your colonies.  This is very 
important. It basically allows you to avoid any further tax increases from
Europe, because goods get sold through the Custom House automatically *even if 
they are currently under parliamentary boycott*!  Without the Custom House, 
you'd have to either accept these tax increases (making you much less profit),
or not be able to trade in the boycotted good.  So, when the tax increase comes 
along and you have Peter Stuyvesant, don't accept it.  You're always given the 
option of holding a kind of "tea party" (mirroring the historical Boston Tea 
Party), protesting the new tax (and meaning you don't actually have to pay it). 
However, in Colonization, you're never actually throwing tea into the sea 
because it isn't one of the goods you can trade.  You'll be offered the option 
to throw a different kind of good into the sea.  Do this every time there is a 
proposed tax increase, and your taxes will stay nice and low for the whole 
game.  I'll call this procedure "throwing a pseudo-tea party" (PTP).

As quickly as possible, you should try to build up a stock of at least 1 of 
each good in two coastal colonies.  This is so that you'll always have 1 of 
each good to hold a PTP for.  In order to hold a PTP for that good, you need to 
have at least one quantity of the good in one of your coastal colonies.  Why 
have at least 1 of each good in two of your coastals?  Well, as time goes on, 
you'll find that most of your goods are under parliamentary boycott.  
Eventually, all goods will be, and you won't be able to hold a PTP anymore (to 
hold one, at least one good that you have one of in a coastal colony must not 
currently be under parliamentary boycott).  You usually need to pay a hefty 
amount of gold in "back taxes" to get the boycott forgiven.  This is where the 
founding father Jakob Fugger comes in.  About halfway through the game (or when 
most goods are being boycotted), you'll want to get him, because he causes all 
existing boycotts to be forgiven, without your having to pay back taxes!  So, 
having at least 1 of each good in *two* coastal colonies means you'll always 
have 1 of that good to throw into the sea in your PTP, both for the PTP that 
happens before Jakob Fugger forgives the boycotts, and for the PTP that happens 
after, and you can then forget about worrying whether you'll be able to hold a 
PTP for that good; you will, for every good.  Avoiding higher taxes by always 
being able to throw a PTP at each proposed tax increase is very important, so 
this is an exercise worth doing.

I find that silver and muskets are the opposite of each other in terms of price 
trends.  Silver starts out very expensive and is great to raise cash quickly at 
the beginning of the game.  However, over time, if you flood the market with 
it, it will literally drop down from 19 to 1.  Muskets, on the other hand, 
start out relatively cheap and will probably cost 19 by the end of the game; it 
seems you can sell a ton of them and their price just increases.  Long-term, 
then, a good tactic would seem to be to get several colonies producing lots of 
ore -> tools -> muskets, and sell the muskets.  They're not just useful for 
creating your own troops - they're great for making money too!

With all the self-sufficiency you'll have from your own tool and horse 
production, as well as training up your own colonists, what to do with the 
money you make from those Custom Houses and trade with Europe?  Well, you still 
want to buy some stuff from Europe like ships (and buying artillery from Europe 
is often a good idea, even if you can make them yourself).  Also, buying 
trained colonists from Europe is useful, even if they are extremely expensive.  
And don't forget you can rush production in colonies with the "Buy" 
functionality, if you have the money to spare.

Towards the end of the game, you may be selling so much stuff that it feels 
like you're getting more money than you know what to do with.  This is a false 
impression.  You'll be wanting to spend large sums of money on navy vessels - 
buy loads of frigates - because you'll probably lose a bunch in fighting with 
other European powers (outrageous battle outcomes happen all the time in 
Colonization), and also you'll want a *large* stock of them for when you 
declare independence!  Also, rush-buying buildings is useful but takes lost of 
cash.  Oh yeah, and you'll want to buy a ton of artillery too (though this can 
be built in colonies with an armory).  Finally, don't forget that having lots 
of money in the bank at the end of the game contributes significantly to your 
Colonization score, so just stockpiling lots of cash is a good idea too.

Finally, another word on the Custom House; I think this gem is seriously 
underrated in the Colonization manual, as well as the "colonizopedia", which 
states that it allows you to "streamline trade with Europe".  Streamline?!  
What it allows is the hugely important ability to avoid paying higher taxes 
when trading with Europe, as mentioned above, such that as soon as the founding 
father "Peter Stuyvesant" (trade adviser) becomes available for selection, you 
should select him *immediately*.  In fact if you don't get him early on you'll
basically have to accept really onerous tax increases.  I would recommend
"gaming the system" to get him as the first founding father.  Just after you
build your first colony, save the game.  At the beginning of the next turn you
will be prompted to select a founding father; the ones that appear are
randomly selected.  Keep loading your save game until Peter Stuyvesant appears 
as a Trade advisor.  You want to be able to build Custom Houses as soon as
possible.  Why is it so good?  Several reasons.

It automates selling of whichever goods you select, in a colony.  When a Custom 
House is built, you check/uncheck which goods you want to be auto-sold, or not. 
Once that's done, the goods chosen to be auto-sold (this can be reconfigured 
whenever you want) have their quantities change to green (from dark blue) at 
the bottom of the colony display (I'll call them "green" goods).  How does this 
automation of selling work?  I don't think this is explained very well in the 
official documentation, either.  Here's how the documentation's laughingly-
described "streamlining" works.  When a particular "green" good reaches a 
quantity over or equal to 100, that quantity minus 50 is sold.  This means that 
after the auto-sell, you'll be left with 50 of that good in stock until it gets 
to 100 or more again, and the auto-sell happens, etc.  The price you receive 
for the good(s) sold is the same price you would've received if you'd shipped 
them back to Europe and sold them, either manually or via a trade route.  So, 
when you have 100 or more of a good in a colony with a Custom House in at the 
beginning of a turn, you'll see something like this appear automatically in the 
header bar:
  "Fort Orange sells 56 Tobacco for 224. 4% Tax: 8. Net: 216"
In this instance, the colony was Fort Orange, and it had 106 tobacco in stock 
at the beginning of the turn (there was 96 the previous turn, and I produced 10 
tobacco that turn).  At the time, the bidding price for tobacco was 4 gold, so 
the gross price was 4*56 = 224.  The tax rate was 4%, which results in a net 
income of 224-8 = 216 gold.  Exactly what you'd expect.
NB. Note that this sale happens even if no production of the good occurred that 
turn.  So, say you had no warehouse expansion built and so the limit of that 
colony's capacity per good was 100.  If you reached that limit with auto-sell 
OFF, and turned it ON, 50 of that good would be sold next turn even if there 
was no production of the good; there was 100 of the good in stock, and so that 
triggered the auto-sale).

This is awesome.  It has several HUGE advantages.

For one thing, you no longer need to bother using your ships to transport goods 
back to Europe; just make your profits via a Custom House.  You probably only 
need 1 or 2; just use wagon trains to ship goods from colonies that don't have 
a Custom House to ones that do, and they will be sold at that colony's Custom 
House.  This removes a major headache, and allows you to concentrate on using 
your ships to defend/attack against enemy ships, as well as transport 
colonists, instead of shipping goods about.

As an aside, I usually set all Custom Houses to export all goods except for 
Food, Horses, Trade Goods, Tools, and Muskets.  However you may want to tweak 
this from time to time; for a colony producing lots of lumber you may wish to 
export this via the Custom House, or if you're churning out tons of muskets and 
have no more new soldiers to make, you might want to export muskets.

And as we've covered: it lets you can trade in goods *even if they are under 
parliamentary boycott*.  This is why it's worth it to throw a PTP at every 
proposed tax increase.  You'll make much bigger profits with taxes staying 
preferably below, say, 10%.

One cool feature is that it also makes the warehouse size of a colony not 
matter, as long as you want to sell the goods immediately, and not store them.  
You can drop, say, 350 of a good (which is set to auto-sell) into a colony with 
a Custom House in and no warehouse extensions, and you'll get a warning saying 
that some of the goods will probably spoil as you don't have the space to store 
them.  The number at the bottom of the screen indicating the stock level (350 
or more, presumably) will turn red.  But, next turn, that number minus 50 will 
still be sold; no spoilage will occur!  So, if there was 0 tobacco in a colony 
with a Custom House in, and that colony had no warehouse expansion, and you 
dump 350 tobacco into the colony that turn (via ships, wagon trains, donations 
from the Indians, etc.), next turn 300 tobacco will be sold at the going rate, 
and there will be 50 left in stock!

As if all that weren't enough, they ALSO allow you to trade goods after you've 
declared revolution, when you can't obviously trade with Europe.  You may have 
to pay some hefty taxes for these trades, though, as they're considered 
"smuggling".  :-)

It pretty much goes without saying that you need to defend your colonies with 
Custom Houses in fiercely, because if you lose them and you're relying on them 
for profit, you're pretty much screwed.  Build forts, fortresses, lots of 
troops for that colony, etc.

The one thing to be careful about is that if you throw a "tea party" owing to a 
tax increase that causes a parliamentary boycott of horses, tools, or muskets, 
you won't be able to make colonists at the European dock into scouts/dragoons, 
soldiers, or pioneers.  Hopefully, though, you've been working to build your 
CAPITAL colony into one that churns out lots of tools, muskets, and horses 
(actually I'd recommend having a horse herd in every colony if possible, so 
it's convenient to create scouts or dragoons as long as you have over 50 
horses), and so you don't need to buy these things at the Europe dock.

In short, you'll need to "play the king's game" at the beginning; you can't 
really afford for parliament to boycott goods because you can't trade in them 
if they do, and you'll have to accept onerous tax increases.  But build a 
Custom House or two ASAP, and never accept another tax increase again, as well 
as remove the headache of sea trade routes and shipping goods back to Europe 
yourself.  You won't regret it!

Having said above that you probably only need 1 or 2 Custom Houses, it's easy 
enough (once you're churning out lots of tools) to just build a Custom House in 
every colony.  That way you don't need to define any trade routes; the trade 
route system in Colonization doesn't work very well and it's best to try and 
not have any trade routes defined and just move units manually.

THE INDIANS
-----------
Generally you will either have a strategy with any one Indian tribe of 
attacking them and getting lots of booty that way (requires strong military 
forces) or - more likely at the beginning of the game - living peacefully side-
by-side with the Indians.

Living peacefully with the Indians, at least at the start of the game, has 
large benefits:
- you can learn specialist skills from some Indian settlements that can't be 
  trained in Europe (eg. master sugar planter)
- you can get some free converts from settlements near to your colonies that 
  have missionaries in them
- you don't get attacked by the Indians (or if you do, very rarely, and Indian 
  chiefs deny involvement)

When a missionary is sent into an Indian settlement, a cross will appear there 
the same colour as the nation whose missionary it is.  A Jesuit Missionary unit 
will be more effective, and the cross that appears will be brighter than for 
any other type of unit that's made into a missionary.  If you send a missionary 
into an Indian village that already has another nation's missionary in it, you 
can try denouncing the heresy of the foreign missionary and they will either 
burn their missionary or yours at the stake.  Interestingly, if they burn their 
missionary at the stake, yours will be installed as a *regular* missionary, ie. 
the cross color will not be bright.  If you later get Jean de Brebeuf as a 
founding father, the cross will be turned bright.  Note, however, that (as with 
Jesuit Missionaries before you get Jean de Brebeuf) *after* you get Jean de 
Brebeuf, if you *then* send a missionary into a settlement that already has a 
foreign missionary in, denounce their heresy, and their missionary is burned, 
then your missionary will still be installed as a *regular* missionary, and not 
a Jesuit one!  Any future missionaries installed into Indian settlements that 
*don't* currently contain any missionaries, though, will indeed function as 
Jesuits.

DECLARING INDEPENDENCE
----------------------
After independence is declared, the higher the rebel sentiment in the colony, 
the more military units in the colony will turn into continental army units.  
Below 50%, no units in that colony will; however, this does NOT mean the colony 
will immediately be a "Tory" colony.  It will still be a rebel colony until 
captured.  Note that even when rebel sentiment in the colony is over 50%, only 
*veteran* units will turn into continental army units; non-veterans will not 
(however, they will still get the ambush bonus against crown troops).  
Continental army/cavalry units are slightly stronger than veteran dragoon 
units, but that's about it.  All of your types of unit (continental, veteran, 
and even non-veteran) get the "ambush" bonus when attacking crown troops in the 
open.

Even after independence has been declared, veteran units can still "harden" 
into continental army units upon winning a battle against crown troops, so it's 
nice to have them in the colonies when declaring independence to immediately 
get them, but you can leave a few veteran units defending key outdoor areas 
(like mountains) and harden them later by winning battles.  Veteran units are 
still pretty good; just not quite as good as continental army units.  
Whatsmore, non-veteran units can "harden" to veteran units upon winning battles 
against crown troops too, so just before declaring independence it's still a 
good idea to turn as many units, even free colonists, into dragoons or 
soldiers; they can fight and they can "harden" into much better units quickly 
if they win.  The chain goes like this:
Soldiers -> Veteran Soldiers -> Continental Army
Dragoons -> Veteran Dragoons -> Continental Cavalry

Generally speaking, army units do best out in the open, and artillery units do 
best fortified in the colonies, defending them.  As long as you have a decent 
number of quality army troops (NOT next to the coastline or they will be 
captured when crown troops land!), and some artilleries fortified and defending 
at least your most important colonies, you will probably win the war of 
independence comfortably.  Attack the crown troops out in the open which gets 
you an ambush bonus (if that terrain would normally have a terrain *penalty* - 
the ambush bonus reverses this into being a penalty for them / bonus for you!), 
and let them try and attack your artillery-defended colonies (if they even get 
round to doing that after your outdoor onslaught).  Obviously, there is no 
ambush bonus if the terrain you're attacking their troops on would not normally 
have a terrain penalty associated with it, as there is no penalty to "turn 
around" in your favour.  So, it's actually best to attack crown troops that are 
on a mountain for the max bonus, whereas you'll get no bonus when attacking 
them on, say, plain prairie where there's no normal terrain disadvantage.

Try to get all the colonies you want to have during the War of Independence 
founded by the year 1650.  This gives you time to work on them, get forts and 
fortresses built, get good artillery/dragoon defenses in them, and of course 
get a high rebel sentiment in the colonies (preferably 100% for every colony!) 
These are crucial for winning the war.  Usually, one of the AI opponents gets 
independence by about 1720, so you need to be ready to declare before then to 
get the doubling of your final score that you'll get if you declare 
independence first and win.

You might get to a stage late in the game (especially if you have one or two 
"food cities") where you have such a large number of untrained citizens and you 
don't know what to do with them all.  Train them up into veteran soldiers and 
make them dragoons.  It's hard to have too many - they'll all make winning the 
final war of independence more likely!

Just before declaring independence, it's a good idea to make sure all your 
major colonies have large horse herds, warehouse expansions, and stables built 
- especially if the royal Expeditionary Force is particularly large.  When 
fighting the war of independence, a lot of dragoon units will get routed, and 
it's good to be able to quickly move them to a colony and convert the soldiers 
straight back into dragoons.  This will use up a lot of horses (50 per time), 
so you'll want lots of big horse herds available and preferably growing quickly 
(stable built, lots of surplus food being produced).  By the way, turning a 
continental army unit into a "dragoon" actually turns it into a continental 
cavalry unit; it won't lose its "continental" status.

It can be useful to have roads around all of the coastline to be able to move 
your troops around the "edge" of your territory easily; however, DO NOT 
position troops on the shoreline tiles of your coastal cities during the war of 
independence - they will be CAPTURED by the Tory soldiers as they land!!!  The 
same applies to ships - don't position ships next to colonies during the war of 
independence either, because - you guessed it - if they happen to be on the 
same square as Tory ships when they arrive, your ships will be captured!

THE BATTLE ENGINE
-----------------
Colonization's battle engine is one of its weakest areas.  It can come up with 
some bizarre results, so you should be ready when assaulting a non-veteran 
soldier unit with your veteran dragoons to lose from time to time.  You might 
attack a non-veteran dragoon in a colony with 5 artilleries and lose, only to 
see your damaged artillery win against it.  Basically, the best advice I can 
give is get good numbers of troops, try to make them veterans (or artillery 
when assaulting a well-defended colony), and be prepared to take lots of 
casualties.  Dragoons can be rebuilt with 50 horses if routed once, and an 
additional 50 muskets if routed twice, but artillery just stays damaged for the 
rest of the game if it loses a battle.  Having numbers is key in Colonization.

As for naval combat, it's equally strange; sometimes it seems almost random.  A 
caravel can win against a frigate and sink the frigate, from time to time.  
Galleons seem particularly difficult to beat, even though they're not offensive 
units, and can even sink your attacking ships too.  Again, numbers is key, so 
expect to take some rather unlikely casualties, and just keep throwing more 
ships into the attack.  Once the Man O' War comes along after the declaration 
of independence, they're stronger than any ships you can buy/build up until 
that point, so defeating them will be even harder.  You don't actually need to 
to win the game, though; it just might be helpful to get rid of them as they 
give a "bombard" attack bonus to the crown's troops attacking your colonies.  
By the way, a great way to deal with the Man O' War ships is to make sure your 
coastal colonies are all fortresses (note that the colony does NOT need to 
contain artillery unit(s); a fortress "generates" its own artillery unit to 
attack ships); if the enemy turn ends with one of their Man O' War ships next 
to such a colony, its fortress will open fire on the Man O' War and has a good 
chance of damaging or sinking it!  This is often the best way to deal with 
them, rather than standard naval combat.

FOUNDING FATHER PRIORITY LIST
-----------------------------
Note that you can "game the system" to get the founding father you want by 
saving your game on the turn just before the dialog pops up for you to select 
the next founding father.  The ones available for selection are randomly 
generated.  Keep loading until the one you want appears on the next turn.  The
easiest time to do this is near the beginning of the game just after you've 
built your first colony as you know that the dialog will appear on the next 
turn.

Peter Stuyvesant (trade adviser) - (get him *first*) Custom Houses
William Brewster (religious adviser) - (importance depends on difficulty level) 
  no more Criminals/Servants on docks and you choose which immigrant is next to 
  move to the docks
Jean de Brebeuf (religious adviser) - (importance depends on Indian strategy) 
  all missionaries function as experts
Sieur De La Salle (exploration adviser) - gives a free stockade to every colony 
  that is size 3 or larger
Francisco de Coronado (exploration adviser) - this guy's a nice-to-have if 
  there's no other founding father you need as a priority; every colony and the 
  area 5 tiles in every direction around it are revealed on the map (including 
  colonies built in future)

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