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Cooperating With the Natives

What does one gain from total cooperation with the native tribes in Sid Meier's Colonization? This article will try to address that question.

Free Goods & Food

The natives will regularly visit you with gifts if your relationship with them is good. If one of your colonies is close to a native village with abundant food resouces, chances are that you will get a lot of food from them. This usually only happens, though, if your colony has a small stockpile of food. If you make an effort to load new surpluses of food onto a wagon train (which makes the AI think that your warehouses are empty), the natives will probably visit you more often with food gifts.

Converts

If you establish missions in native settlements, some of the natives will - from time to time - convert and join your side. Converts are great, especially early in the game and working on outdoor tasks. They have superior knowledge of their ancient lands, and produce more than your free colonists, though not as much as skilled professionals.

Missions do not only provide converts, they also drastically reduce indian alarm. Build missions in ALL indian settlements situated between and among your own colonies, and in settlements in the outskirts of your colonies, but be sure to get this done early. Later on, the natives may not be as welcoming to these new missions. You can build a lot of missions early by blessing free colonists, servants and even criminals on the docks of Europe - you don't need to use those expensive jesuit missionaries.

Missions have two additional advantages. First, they will slowly but surely shift the natives' attitude toward your rivals to be more negative. And second, the more missions you have within a tribe, the less costly it will be when you have to pay them to join forces against one of your adversaries.

Trade

The most obvious advantage is the potential for trade. The great Inca and Aztec civilizations will provide a steady flow of cash if you trade with them regularly. Raw materials such as cotton, tobacco and sugar often plummet in Europe, especially if you are not playing as the Dutch. Sometimes Rum and Cigars as well. And of course, the materials you have the most of will be the ones that pay the least.

The solution could be turning your attention and wagon trains towards the natives. If playing on the original America map, the Inca and Aztec capitals will pay good money for tobacco, trade goods, tools etc. (In general, capitals are the best settlements to trade with)

Though it varies from game to game, they almost always accept tobacco. Tobacco usually trades at 3-5 in Europe. The natives will give you 9-14 -- double or triple the European prices! Even greater is the fact that you can fill your wagon trains with silver (usually really cheap!) on the way back, which you can then ship back to Europe for a great profit.

Of course you can't sell the same cargo twice in a row, so bring something else as well, for example tools, trade goods or something else they need. You find out what they need every time you trade something, or you could send a scout to find out. It is enough to trade one item of something in order for you to be able to trade something else on the next visit. This means that you could bring 100 tobacco and 1 trade goods each turn if you really just want to be trading tobacco.

Training

The natives can teach your colonists very important skills, especially planting/trapper skills, which are difficult to get any other way. Again, the native capitals can be great assets to you because you can train many colonists there, as opposed to only one in regular settlements. If you keep on trading with their capital, you can move in and train an unlimited number of colonists. This is great for two reasons:

1) If the skill is an important one, like Expert Farmer, you have struck gold! You can move in servants and free colonists in great numbers, and will never have to buy an expensive Farmer in Europe. This saves you loads of money!

2) Even if the skill is one that you can only use in some of your colonies (like fur trapper, cotton planter etc), you could upgrade your Indentured Servants. Move an Indentured Servant into the native capital, train him, move him back to your colony and clear his profession. You now have a Free Colonist instead of an Indentured Servant. They don't accept Petty Criminals, though.

Conflicts with rival Europeans

The natives can assist you when you are at war with other nations in the New World. If your enemy is on another continent or far away from you (Playing the Americas map, if you are in the north and your enemy in the south or the other way around..) send ships loaded with horses and muskets and sell them to native tribes near your enemy. The horses will spread within that native tribe. So goes the saying: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

If a native tribe is too close to your own colonies this trick may come back to haunt you. Use this technique only if there is sufficient distance.

Another option is to move your missionaries into native capitals and Incite the natives. They may join you in your effort to crush your enemy! You'll have to pay them for this, though, and the price depends on how their attitude towards you is and how many missions you have within that tribe. Note that if the natives view the other European Power more favorable than you, they may choose to burn your missionary on the stake! But if you are the nice guy, which after all is what this strategy calls for, your chances are good.

During the Revolutionary War, the indians can assist you against the King's forces. If you leave Indian settlements alone, they will be there the day the King lands his troops in the New World. Before declaring independence, make sure you have a missionary near all the Indian capitals you plan to incite against the King. Now, there is always the chance that the King will persuade the Natives to join him, but don't let that stop you. Try moving a missionary in afterwards, and they might switch sides, turning the King's own muskets and horses against himself!

You should also provide your new allies with weapons and horses. And, should you find yourself short on horses after a lot of fighting, you may be able to buy some back from the natives.

What? Give horses and muskets to the natives? Yes, it sounds dangerous, but see it as a part of the larger cooperation strategy. And, you don't have to give them any muskets until the War of Independence is upon you.

By the way, muskets is the only cargo that can be sold or given away consecutive turns. They will always accept muskets, even if that was the last cargo you traded. You may want to give them the horses a little bit earlier though, so they can get the breeding going.

Colonization Score

Your total score will be reduced for every native settlement you destroy, and even more so on harder difficulty levels (minus 1+difficulty level). If you are focused on getting the highest score possible, keeping a friendly relationship with the natives works to your advantage in that regards.

Friendly relations checklist

1. Avoid building your colonies adjacent to native villages. Disregarding this rule gets you into trouble. Be aware of cities (Inca, Aztec), they have a radius of two land squares.

2. Do not use land without paying for it or without having Minuit in you Congress. This will cause immediate anger.

3. Assist them when they are in need. If they come to you asking for some badly needed food, you should help them out. If you don't, they will be offended. Wouldn't you be? But you wanted that food for new colonists? Ok, make sure you store your food in wagon trains or ships. It requires a little more micro-management, but at least you get to keep all of your food. Take notice if some colonies experience this more often than others. They may have a native settlement with poor food supply nearby. It may be enough to store food separately only in these colonies.

4. Get Pocahontas in your Continental Congress.

5. Establish missions in ALL settlements among and in the surroundings of your colonies.

6. Trade with them. If you see a village with a blue exclamation mark, move in fast with a wagon train and trade/give away some goods. If the exclamation mark is yellow, time is even more of the essence. A red one means that an attack is imminent. With missions, this will be less of a problem, if any at all.

7. Try to avoid giving them horses too early. With horses the natives are more mobile and will bother you more regularly, blocking roads and rivers. Once you are nearing Independence -- give them horses. These will be used in the grand plan to counter the King's forces.

8. Don't get caught in the trap of wanting to retaliate. If they take out a Treasure Train or raid one of your colonies, simply count to ten and move along! Some minor happenings are to be expected, but don't let them tempt you to abandon your larger strategy of cooperation. If your relations are friendly, you probably won't experience sneak attacks, but just to be sure, escort you treasures with soldiers or dragoons.

9. Counter rival missions. Foreign missionaries whisper poisonous tales about you and your fellow colonists, and should not be allowed to operate freely, especially not if it's in a tribe that you have a lot of contact with. As soon as you see foreign missions in your area, send your own missionaries to denounce them and install your own mission instead.

10. Be mindful of native capitals. This is an important point. Capitals have great influence on an entire tribe. If you trade with them and send them gifts, good sentiment will spread to the rest of the tribe. If you alarm a capital, this will cause alarm to spread throughout the rest of the tribe. Keeping good relations with capitals will benefit you greatly.


As you can see, cooperation can be a good Colonization strategy and work greatly to your advantage if done right. Not to mention that you actually sleep better at night...

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