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Colonization FAQ

A run-through of this list will serve as a quick guide to Sid Meier's Colonization. Those who are new to the game will find the short answer to typical questions here.

How do turns work?
When does Colonization end?
What is the maximum number of colonies?
What is the maximum number of colonists in a colony?
What is the maximum number of Wagon Trains allowed?
How do I set up trade routes?
How do I set up trade routes to Europe?
Is there a maximum number for trade routes?
Is there an easy way to check prices in Europe?
Can I starve a colony with a stockade in order to abandon it?
How does the education feature work?
How do I get the master planter and fur trapper skills?
What skills do the natives teach?
What is the point of establishing missions?
How do I trade with the natives?
What will the natives trade?
How do I transport treasures?
How do Privateers work?
How is the Colonization Score calculated?
The Colonization tax rate
I have a Custom House, but no cargo is being sold
Is it possible to train Indian Converts?
How does the Liberty Bell thing work?

How do turns work?

From 1492-1599 one year equals one turn. From the year 1600, each year has two turns: spring and fall.

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When does Colonization end?

The game ends when you have achieved independence or lost the rebellion. You have to declare independence before 1800, and achieve it before 1850, or the game ends in failure. Note: To get the "early revolution bonus", you must achieve independence before 1780. You also fail if you lose your last colony and the year is 1600 or later.

How to win the rebellion: Control all your colonies and significantly weaken the Royal Expeditionary Force. You lose the rebellion if one of the following occurs:
1) The King controls all your colonies
2) The King controls all your coastal colonies
3) The King controls at least 90 % of your population.

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What is the maximum number of colonies?

The maximum number of colonies is 48. The human player can build max 38 colonies, and the remaining 10 colonies are reserved for rival nations. It is possible for the human player to reach the maximum number of 48, but this has to be done by conquering at least ten of them from rival nations.

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What is the maximum number of colonists in a colony?

The maximum number of colonists you can have in a colony is 31.

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What is the maximum number of wagon trains allowed?

You can have one wagon train for every colony. You can build and keep them wherever you want to, but you can't have more wagon trains than you have colonies.

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How do I set up trade routes?

You set up your trade routes from the Trade Menu. For details, including how to set up trade routes to Europe, see Colonization Trade Routes.

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What is the maximum number of Trade Routes?

Colonization does not handle more than 12 trade routes well, and you might even experience some bugs before this. A good rule would be to keep the number of trade routes to a minimum. You have much more control over things if you do them manually anyway -- after all, Colonization does require some micro-management.

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Is there an easy way to check prices in Europe?

Simply press the E key, and you will be taken to the Europe screen. A second choice would be to check your economic adviser screen by pressing the F5 key.

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Can I starve a colony with a stockade in order to abandon it?

A colony can not be abandoned (which is normally done by dragging the last colonist outside the colony fence) if it has a Stockade. It doesn't help to starve the population below three, the Stockade still stands. However, if the colony field can not provide enough food to sustain even one colonist, and the last colonists is not used to produce food, that last colonist will starve to death and this message appears:

"Your excellency! Our colony at [colony name] has vanished! The colonists appear to have starved to death."

Note that this is NEVER possible if you are playing at the Discoverer or Explorer levels. It is ONLY possible if you are playing at the Conquistador, Governor or Viceroy levels, and the colony in question are built on Scrub Forest or Desert terrain. (These terrain types only produce one food on the hardest difficulty levels, and you need two food to sustain one colonist)

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How does the education feature work?

To educate colonists you need a Schoolhouse, College or University in your colony. Put the skilled colonist to work in one of the buildings above, and a Petty Criminal, Indentured Servant or Free Colonist to work anywhere else inside the same colony. After a while, the unskilled colonists will learn the skill of his teacher. Note that Petty Criminals are first upgraded to Indentured Servants, then to Free Colonists, and then they learn their new skill. Schoolhouses can have one teacher, Colleges two, and Universities can have three. One teacher teaches one student, so there is no point in having more than one teacher if you don't have more than one unskilled colonists in a colony. Some specialists require a College or a University in order to teach a skill to a new colonist, for further details check out the Colonization Buildings. Here is a more detailed description the education feature in Colonization.

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How do I get the master planter and fur trapper skills?

There are two ways to do this. You can learn the skill from the natives, or you can hope that one of your Free Colonists will attain that skill by working on that specific task. For further details, see Getting all specialty skills.

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What skills do the natives teach?

To check what skill an indian village teaches, enter the village with a scout. The area surrounding the village gives you a good indication as to what skill they might teach. For further details, see Getting all the specialty skills.

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What is the point of establishing missions?

Missions are good for many reasons. First, they will provide an even flow of indian converts to your colonies. Converts are good for outdoor work such as fishing, farming, planting, lumber cutting, ore/silver mining, and fur trapping. Second, missions will dramatically reduce the alarm created in that indian village. Third, your missionaries will slowly but surely convince the natives that the other European Powers are no good, assuring a more hostile attitude towards your rivals. And finally, every mission you have within a tribe contributes to lowering the amount of gold that tribe will demand when you ask them to join forces against one of your rivals.

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How do I trade with the natives?

You can trade with the natives on land or from the sea. On land, simply enter a village with a wagon train with some goods in it (make sure it is something they want) and sell it. You then get the option of buying the same amount of something else back. Note that you must have made contact with the tribe before you can trade with them from the sea. Another difference when trading with ships: Even if you sell 100 of a cargo, you only get to buy 25 of another cargo back from the natives.

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What will the natives trade?

Enter an Indian village with a scout to find out what they need. They will tell you what they will pay you the most for. You also get this information after each trade. Note that one commodity can only be sold once, you then have to sell something else they need the next time. So if you sell some A, you then have to sell some B, and then it’s ok to sell some A again.

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How do I transport treasures?

If you move a treasure into a coastal city, the King will offer to transport it back to Europe if he gets 50% of the share. This isn’t really a good option. Galleons are the only ships that can carry treasures, and one treasure takes up all the cargo space of a Galleon. If you have a Galleon, sentry the treasure in a coastal city (Press the S key when treasure is active). The Galleon will then automatically pick up the treasure when moved out of that port, and you can ship it back to Europe. Of course you can also move the treasure on to an empty Galleon off the coast, it doesn't have to be in a city, but the Galleon must have all 6 cargo holds available. If Hernan Cortez is in you Continental Congress, treasures will be shipped to Europe for free when you move them into one of your coastal cities. If you are far away from any colonies and have Cortez, build a temporary coastal colony using a scout. Move your treasure into that colony (it gets shipped to Europe) and then abandon colony and move on. Do it in one turn: Build colony, move in treasure, abandon colony.

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How do Privateers work?

Privateers are special because they sail under a “neutral” flag, meaning that you can attack the other European Powers without declaring war. Be aware, however, that on harder difficulty levels this may backfire, as the AI isn’t totally stupid.

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How is the Colonization Score calculated?

+1 for every Petty Criminal/Indentured Servant
+2 for every Free Colonist
+4 for every skilled colonist
+5 for every Founding Father in your Continental Congress
+1 for every 1000 gold
+1 for each point of rebel sentiment (which means max 100)
+1 per liberty bell produced after foreign intervention during War of Independence
- (minus) difficulty level +1 for each native settlement you destroy

100% bonus if you are the first European Power to declare independence
50% bonus if one European Power declares independence before you
25% bonus if two European Powers become independent ahead of you
In addition, if you declare independence before 1780, you get a bonus. The sooner you declare, the better your bonus will be.

Hall of Fame ranking :

To get the ranking, the Colonization score is modified by a factor based on the difficulty level you play on. So if you get the same score on two different difficulty levels, the ranking would be higher for the game played on the hardest difficulty level.

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The Colonization tax rate:

From time to time, the King will impose taxes on your colonies. The rate added to the total tax rate varies each time, but usually ranges from 1-7 %. If you refuse to accept the new tax, stockpiles of one cargo type will be thrown into the sea at one of your ports, and trading of that cargo will no longer be allowed in Europe until a back tax is payed. Pros and cons: If you accept a tax, trading of all cargos may continue, but a percentage of your sales profit (for all cargo!) will go to the King. When Thomas Paine joins the Continental Congress, rebel sentiment increases with the same percentage as your current tax rate. However, rebel sentiment always increases when you reject a new tax, and you still earn 100 % of all sales. In other words, there are both pros and cons, so in the end it is up to the individual player to decide what suits them best.

Note: Backtaxes can be paid from the Europe screen, but is very expensive. A Custom House (Peter Styvesant in your Congress) allows you to sell all cargo to Europe, including boycotted items, without having to ship the cargo. This makes it one of the most powerful buildings in the game. You can't buy boycotted items from Europe with Custom Houses, though. When Jakob Fugger joins the Congress all boycotts are dropped, you may buy and sell all items again.

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I have a Custom House but no cargo is being sold:

It may be that no cargo types have been selected for trade through the Custom House. To correct this, click on the Custom House (in the colony screen) and a list of all cargos will appear. Select which cargo to sell and which cargo not to sell. Note that in the colony screen the cargo numbers at the bottom turns green for the cargo types selected for trade through the Custom House. No cargo can be bought through the Custom House, it is only an arrangement for selling cargo.

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Is it possible to train Indian Converts?

No, this is not possible. However, when Bartolome de Las Casas joins your Congress all existing converts become Free Colonists.

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How does the Liberty Bell thing work?

Read our article on Liberty Bells in Colonization.

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