Sid Meier’s Colonization
Sid Meier’s Colonization isn’t the only strategy game focused on the Age of Discovery, but surely it’s the 4x game you should look if you’re interested. Colonization was made by Microprose, the great PC game developer and publisher from the 80s-90s.
- Classic 4x strategy like Civilization but this is economy oriented, almost all units are meant for economic purposes.
- Made by Microprose. That alone means that is going to be a complex and fun game, which is great when a game is meant to be played for a long time.
- There are many terrain types with various resources, so colony placement matters for efficiency.
- The game has some unique features:
- Founding fathers: player can choose them as game progress and they grant a benefit, a unit bonus or even a frigate.
- Interactions with natives, those may be friendly by gifting/trading or hostile by conquer.
- Scouts can negotiate with villages/colonies and are good at exploring ruins on land. On the sea, privateers are fun to disrupt and damage the enemy trade power.
- The background music has many themes of the epoch: european, revolutionary and from native tribes.
- Dated VGA graphics but well made, look ok.
- The ingame Colonizopedia is great but it’s particularly useful with the F1 key to quickly check terrain bonuses.
- It’s a game fairly easy to get into (if you can handle a 4x) and not so hard to master or to win on hardest difficulty. Master of Magic or Master of Orion, on the other way, are considerably harder but in a good way.
- Very simplified wargame strategy: few war units types, squared terrain tiles (less positioning).
- Carpenter production (to make buildings) depends on wood, which almost is everywhere but still may be missing on some plains and islands. Making trade routes isn’t too effective, which in the end means: no wood, no colony.
- AI tends to make bad choices when building colonies: bad locations like small islands, wrong specialists, lack of wood, colony spreading, etc. This also makes conquering other nation AI less interesting, turtling waiting for enemy dragoons instead of going offensive.
- It isn’t possible to abandon a colony with a stockade. This is probably meant to avoid cheating because your objective, during revolution, is to protect the colonies from the king troops.
- Trading needs a lot of micromanagement, piled on top of other micro like colony management and units.
- Native tribe alarm mechanism is a bit annoying and the main reason to just colonize away them, if possible. All near villages are going to send constant raids every turn, sooner or later. Sending gifts and Pocahontas are only a temporary patch for the problem.
- Portugal is missing from the game. It’s totally absurd, as Portugal had a big role during discovery.
- The game simplifies or directly lies about historic matters like the English and Spanish colonization, both ingame and manual. Read more.
- The game does little to difference between the plains tribes from NA, the Caribbean tribes, the Aztec empire and the Inca. All tribes behave the same. Only difference is the wealth from the conquered settlement.
Why to play?
If you like 4x games, Colonization is an easygoing but still fun strategy game. If you just like strategy games and you’re interested on the period, then this game may be a nice introduction, with all that information about the “founding fathers” and other stuff. Just be warned: in this world, not everything is what it seems or what you’re told. If you look for truth, don’t stop here.
You may want to hear the soundtrack synthesized with the Roland CM-500. It’s more melodic.
How to acquire
As usual, gog.com is the right answer for your retro PC gaming. It works perfect.
There is a Steam version but, as far as I know by the comments, it was flawed/unpatched on non-english versions. So I just wont support it this time.
Version / Platform
Colonization was released for MS-DOS and also for Windows 3.1, but I’d just recommend the DOS version (english or localized+patched) that works perfect emulated with DosBOX.
The game was also remade on the Civilization IV engine as a stand-alone mod. Sadly, the game tweaks many gameplay features, so it’s a different experience.
Given Microprose isn’t developing games anymore, we can just forget a new game like the good old Colonization will come.
Games like Colonization
Other 4x games worth playing:
- Master of Magic : if you look for more action on a 4x and you’re ok with tactical battles, Master of Magic is your game. Less economy management and negligible diplomacy but lots of military options. A masterpiece.
- Civilization 2: If you like more balance between military and economic development in a classic 4x game, Civilization 2 is a great game. Alternatively, you may play Civ 3, still classic but more complicated.
- Master of Orion: 4x on the space is usually interesting. As MoM, this game has tactical battles and a lot of action, but better diplomacy options.
Other games about the age of Discovery:
- The seven cities of gold. An adventure game that focuses on the exploration and trading of the first new world Spanish expeditions.
- Europe Universalis 3 Complete. An grand strategy game that it’s far more more complex goes beyond the discovery age but it’s worth your time.
- Sid Meier’s Pirates!. Other adventure game but this focused on the piracy on the Caribbean.
- Civilization IV: Colonization. Remake of Colonization with Civ 4 engine.
Sid Meier’s Colonization is a fun strategy game that specializes on the age of Discovery and focuses on trading, native interaction and independence war. The first turns are great and the game feels solid.
The game states that “spanish conquest is the story of conquest, plunder and destruction”. Which is not wrong but a plain lie. Of course, there were wars against other empires like Aztec. There were abuses but those were SPORADIC acts of evil INDIVIDUALS. There were also GOOD acts of spanish individuals like Bartolome de las Casas and catholic dominics .
- Spain extended the language and catholic faith between natives and built universities in the new world. Spanish Catholic kings also made laws to give indians the same rights as spanish empire citizens. Spanish colonists mixed themselves with natives and these mixed natives were also free. This was thanks to Bartholomeus de las Casas as he requested to Spain monarchs that the natives should be considered persons and citizens with same rights. And so it were. Most of natives just died because of Viruela, a disease. The wars were the usual stuff and English did them too. Anyways, there are still today lots of natives living on Mexico and South-America and the rest of population is often mixed.
- In the other hand, England … well, let’s leave it in that it was more complicated than just religious freedom.
Of course, I don’t want to convince anyone, you can research on our own or just happily believe what you’re told.