Freecol is an excellent version of Colonization (for being free), and is fairly true to the original game. The only bugs I encounter are in scrolling down the menus during gameplay–sometimes the game freezes after I have used the mouse to scroll down. I remedy this by just using the “up” and “down” keys instead.
I have developed a strategy for this game that helps me win big. At the start of the game, I travel around to find a single location in the New World with as many needed resources as possible, then build just a few colonies there to make goods. When I build colonies, I only build a couple on the coast, and build the rest inland and connect them with roads–the fewer coastal colonies I have, the less targets there are from the Crown’s invasion and from other sea invaders.
Make friends with the Indians near you, if at all possible: you can make much more $ from them in trade, than you can destroying their villages. Give them small gifts from time to time, and keep your troops away from them to keep them happy. Surround your colonies with extra colonists, to make it harder for Indians or anyone else to attack your cities. At the very least, keep troops or other units covering all your roads to make sure no Indians or other nation’s units block up your trade routes.
I maximize production and make lots of $ in trade with the mother country. I use the proceeds to build a big military. Once the increasing Crown tax rate diminishes my profits, I start trading with Indian villages (right-click on the village to see what that village is in demand for, trade-wise). Eventually, even the Indian villages will start paying less for the same goods if you’ve traded a lot with them. At that point, prepare your colonies for Independence and use your large military to raid other nation’s colonies–big money there!
Then, the battle for Independence…
If you have colonies spread all over the map, defend your most centralized and most profitable trade colonies–disband any small, remote towns you may think too difficult to defend, but keep the townspeople there under escort of soldiers. After you win Independence, it will be easy to rebuild that town (easier than having the town taken, then having to send troops to re-take it later). Cannons are GREAT for killing off the Crown’s units when the attack a city–so keep lots of cannons in your coastal cities. Just make sure that you have all your troops in position, and all your ships at home before you declare Independence. As soon as you declare Independence, the Crown’s forces immediately invade. Any ships you’ve left at sea will be taken by the Crown!
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