Fighting in the New World
Sooner or later you will bump into some problems in the New World. On harder difficulty levels this will probably occur sooner rather than later. Other nations and/or the natives can cause you trouble. If you are playing as France you get a bit more leverage with the natives, as alarm is generated half as fast. So, how can you best defend yourself?
THE NATIVES: The first and best rule is to be preventive, meaning that you try to generate as little alarm as possible. Don't use land unless you have Minuit or pay for it, don't walk your soldiers too much around their villages. Trading is good for relations, and it can prove to be quite lucrative as well. Nevertheless, you should think about getting some defense in place at some time. Your best defense is Artillery.
When you start producing some goods and the cash flow is decent, you can fill up a Galleon for 4500 gold. That pretty much secures 6 colonies. With an artillery and a Stockade in a colony, your colony should be rather safe from native raids. You get a 100% defense bonus from the stockade, and a 75% defense bonus for an artillery defending in a fortified colony. Be sure to secure colonies adjacent to indian villages first (note: colonies adjacent to indian villages should be avoided), as they are often attacked at some point.
If a lot of Petty Criminals appear on the docks in Europe, making Dragoons out of them is a good idea. They aren't very effective working in colonies and take a long time to educate. If they see some combat, there is the chance that they will be promoted to Indentured Servant, Free Colonist, and finally to Veteran Units. If Washington is in your Congress, they will always be promoted when winning a battle.
Also make a note of the native ambush bonus in the New World. They get a bonus equal to the defense bonus of the terrain type both when attacking and defending.
RIVAL NATIONS: The first basic rule would be this: If you encounter one of your rivals nearby early on, you should really consider attacking him straight away. The advantages of attacking early are many:
First, his defenses will be very poor early on. When his ship returns with new colonists from time to time, usually in the same area as the colonies you captured, these are easily captured and added to your working force. Second, you get a really good start because you now have double the amount of colonists early on. Third, you now have the ability to abandon a colony you captured if its location doesn't suit your long term strategy -- this will be impossible later on if he has built stockades. If there is valuable cargo inside the colony, move your ship in to pick it up first, then abandon the colony. Tools and muskets can be used to equip the colonist(s) who abandon the settlement. Fourth, you now don't have to worry about inevitable future encounters, soldiers surrounding your colonies etc. Why wait until he gets stronger? Finally, there is the great advantage of having eliminated (or at least forcefully set back) one of your adversaries, effectively increasing your chances of being the first to become independent and get the 100% bounus.
The computer players tend to use a strategy of placing (during peacetime) and fortifying (when at war) units outside your colonies. To prevent this, a good trick is to in fact fortify your own soldiers and dragoons around your colonies. Now your pioneers can get to those fields and improve them. Be sure to fortify undeveloped fields first, because these are the ones your pioneers need to get to. Usually the computer players don't send any soldiers to your colonies if you haven't made contact, so avoid doing so for as long as you can. This gives you time to prepare and getting a decent number of soldiers in place.
If you find yourself constantly harassed by other nations placing units outside your colonies and blocking roads/rivers, the best option may in fact be to take them out. Amass a large army and attack! Block his colonies from the sea by placing your ships (preferably warships) outside his colonies, preventing him from receiving reinforcements.
If you get the message that one of your rival European Powers is on the way to Independence, you HAVE to attack, because if two of them achieve independence ahead of you, you will only get a 25% bonus. (Scoring details here).
If your adversaries are far away from you, peace may be the best way to go (except when attacking early with the option to abandon conquered colonies). This for the simple reason that you have to think about how to most effectively defend yourself when the War of Independence is upon you. You don't want a couple of colonies way up north if your main colonies are in the south. In this case, some privateering would be quite useful. Privateers sail under a "neutral" flag and consequently lets you attack rival ships without declaring war. Privateers also function well as escort-ships. Let's say your colonies are in Argentina and you have to get that Master Tobacco Planter skill up in North America: Load your Privateer with a colonist and send it up north. Wait for your colonist to learn his skill and escort him back to the south. This saves a lot of time.
INDEPENDENCE: Here are the basic rules when preparing for the Declaration of Independence.
1. Make sure all your cities have a 100% rebel majority (population number turns blue). This way all the soldiers in that colony become upgraded to Continentals when declaring Independence. If the population number is green, only 50% of the soldiers in that colony become upgraded. Another point to be made is that once you declare Independence, you start earning Liberty Bells towards your intervention force, so it is probably a good idea to have 100% Independence, 3 Statesmen (max), and a newspaper in every colony. You also get +1 point in your Colonization score for every liberty bell created after you have received your intervention force, which means that liberty bell production is important in every step of the game.
2. Be sure to have fortresses and artillery in your coastal cities (preferably in all your cities). And think about the fact that having only one coastal city could be dangerous, because if you lose all your coastal cities to the King, the game is lost!
3. Have as many muskets and horses (especially horses) as possible stockpiled in your colonies, even in wagon trains and cargo ships. Fill them up -- you will need them!
4. Finally, try to establish your colonies relatively close to each other so that you can reach all of them with good roads. This ensures that you can move your units around to cover any colony that may be under attack.
Tip: If one of your colonies is situated far away from the other colonies and is by the coast, you can be sure that the King will land troops there. Make sure you are ready for them. The best thing would be to avoid outlying colonies in the first place.
This is the final step of the Basic Guide. Good Luck!
Back to Colonization Strategy Guides