Video Game: Colonization

Colony screen.

Sid Meier's Colonization is a turn based strategy game from 1994. In Colonization you colonize the New World as either England, Spain, France or the Netherlands.

In many regards it resembles its spiritual predecessor, Civilization, as you build cities, grow your population, wage war with other factions and in general guide your faction towards an end goal, in this case independence from the mother land. However, the main difference with the Civilization games is that your population consists of different specialists. You have lumberjacks, elder statesmen, fishermen, blacksmiths, indentured servants, gunsmiths and tons and tons of other types. To get a productive empire, you need to have a combination of all these specialists. Another important feature is that the player can get "founding fathers" like Washington, Cortez or Simon Bolivar, who give unique benefits to your country.

In 2008 a remake named Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization came out.There's also an open-source Fan Remake of the game, called FreeCol (you can switch between "Classic" and "FreeCol" rules).

This game presents examples of the following tropes:

  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Key manufactured goods do get more expensive over time, but this is probably the game's not-so-subtle way to force you to develop your own economy. Furthermore, the price you get for selling goods is always lower than the price you pay for buying them.
    • Adam Smith's own appearance in the game, however, averts this; he enables you to build very useful factories in the original or increase your production rates in the remake.
  • Adventurous Irish Violins: Featured in a number of tracks from the original release, which includes renditions of traditional tunes such as the Fisher's Hornpipe.
  • Artistic License – History: All four colonial empires begin the game in 1492, the year Columbus discovered the New World. At that time, the closest thing to an independent Dutch state was the mass of principalities known as the Burgundian Inheritance, whose nominal ruler (the Holy Roman Emperor-elect's grandson) was only 14.
    • Avowedly Protestant Dutch and largely Protestant (and certainly Anti-Jesuit) English Empires sending Jesuit missionaries to convert natives? Jesuit order itself was not founded until 1540.
  • Benevolent Alien Invasion: If you decide to not go with the Conqueror/Manifest Destiny route, you can try to peacefully co-exist with the natives — trading and sending your colonists to live with them, actually paying them for the land that you occupied, and using your missionaries to covert part of their population to live with your colonists. However, no matter what you do, you will still end up destroying their traditional way of life as your borders expand and eventually push out their settlements while your missionaries lure their young men out into your own colonies.
  • Boxed Crook: Petty Criminals, also a nod to indentured servitude.
  • Command And Conquer Economy: A better-justified example than most, considering that you're a viceroy governing on behalf of a mercantilist empire.
  • Easy Logistics: Mostly. Equipping troops pick up Muskets and/or Horses, Pioneers carry Tools and spend them when doing any work, but that's all. While a colonist eats food, it stops eating the moment it steps beyond the colony's stockade, and there's no ammo to spend even for ships and artillery.
  • Faction Calculus: They don't exactly map to any of the archetypes on the trope page, but each of the four factions possesses a certain global bonus that affects their playing style. The Spanish receive Field Promotions more quickly and are better at attacking native settlements, the English get more immigrants at the docks, the French have better relations with native factions, and the Dutch get bonuses to trade.
    • Additionally, the French start the higher difficulty levels with an experienced pioneer (making infrastructure development that much faster for you), the Spanish start with a veteran soldier, and the Dutch starts with an upgraded ship. The English get nothing, though.
    • FreeCol has selectable advantages and adds optional nations with their own defaults — Portugal (Naval: ships get +1 move, the starting ship is Merchantman), Sweden (Building: Lumberjack and Carpenter bonus, first settlers are these experts), Denmark (Agriculture: farming bonus, first settlers are expert farmer and colonist) and Russia (Fur trapping: Fur Trapping and Fur Trading bonus, first settlers are these experts).
    • Later in the game, once you declare independence, it becomes a game of your Subversive Rebels trying to lure the Powerhouse Loyalists out of the settlements so you can take advantage of the terrain bonuses your Continental soldiers get in the field.
  • Field Promotion: If a unit wins a combat, there is a chance that it improves in social/skill rank (petty criminal -> indentured servant -> free colonist -> expert specialist / veteran soldier).
    • The highest soldier and dragoon rank, unlocked only after declaring independence (Continental Army and Continental Cavalry, respectively), can only be obtained by field promotions, not counting those converted from veteran soldiers and dragoons as a one-time deal immediately after declaring independence.
  • Fog of War: As with many turn based games. What makes the fog a bit more special is that there are ruins hidden randomly in the fog, offering goodies or problems when explored by a unit.
  • Fountain of Youth: You can explore ruins in the fog of war, each giving a random bonus or calamity. One bonus is that the ruins were a fountain of youth, causing a rush of colonists to come to the New World.
  • Gameplay And Story Integration: Your colony's interaction with your European homeland. The king will keep on increasing your taxes until eventually, your colony can barely turn a profit, making independence your only choice. The various army's modifiers also reflect their historical situation. The REF have better equipment that the colonist don't have access to in order to reflect their economic and economical superiority, forcing you to think outside the box and employ unconventional warfare tactics such as using the terrain to your advantage and weaken the enemy using hit-and-run ambushes, just like the Americans did in the actual Revolutionary War.
  • Genocide Backfire: If you destroy the capital of a native tribe, but they still have some settlements left, they will surrender and give you all the land you have conquered. However, when you finally declare independence, there is a very high chance the natives will throw their lot in with your king, who will in turn provide them with muskets and horses.
  • Genocide Dilemma: Do you try and peacefully cooperate and coexist with the Native Americans, even if it means you will have to spend lots of money paying them for their land and limit where you can build your settlements, or do you go with the conquistador route and exterminate them all with your military might?
  • Genre Savvy: When you first made contact with the natives, they will be happy to buy European trade goods (which are basely worthless trinkets) from you and sell silver to you at a bargain price, allowing you to make a nice profit selling it back to Europe. However, they will quickly figure out that you are ripping them off, and by mid game, they will most likely sell things to you at only slightly below market price, and not longer accept trade goods, instead, they demand you sell them other more useful European products, such as guns and horses.
    • Another example is your king. As your colonists' rebel sentiment rises, he will start adding troops to his expeditionary force.
  • Genre Shift: For the most part, the game is largely a economic-sim, with you managing the production and trade of your settlements. However, the moment you declare independence by the end game, it becomes a full on war game.
  • Geo Effects: Just like most Sid Meier games, you get combat bonuses or penalties depending on the type of tiles your troops are located on. And there are upgrades that gives you additional bonuses. The Native Americans (and later on, your Continental Army) tends to have this as one of their biggest advantage against a technologically superior foe.
  • Global Currency: Gold.
  • Going Native: When a free colonist unit visits an Indian village, they can ordered to stay with the natives for a turn to learn useful skills, like tobacco planting.
  • Grey and Grey Morality: The colonists want to create a build a new nation for their people free from the persecution and oppression from their homeland, while the Native Americans are trying to defend their ancestral lands and way of life from the stranger from across the sea.
    • Averted for the conflict between the colonists and the crown. In Real Life, there were at least some legitimate reasons for raising taxes, but here, the king raises your taxes and demands random tribute for the most bizarre if not outright nonsensical reasons.
  • Guilt-Based Gaming:
    • All of the Native Americans greet you with friendly, unbridled joy (even the ones that were historically aggressive).
    • Every time you kiss the Smug Snake King's ring, the audience will groan loudly in disbelief.
    • There are score penalties for every Indian village you wiped out.
  • Here There Be Dragons: The intro movie for the original game shows your ship crossing the Atlantic ocean on a Ye Olde Map, which is populated with all kinds of fantastic sea monsters.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Several founding fathers and prominent colonial figures take a seat in your Continental Congress.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: Every time your king (or stadtholder) rises taxes, he demands that you kiss his pinky ring to comply. You can hold a {insert trade good here} party and refuse the tax raise, but then you can no longer sell that particular good in Europe.
  • Indentured Servitude: Criminals and indentured servants emigrate from Europe. These people are ineffective at any skilled job, but may eventually become a free colonist through education or military service (criminals become indentured servants first before turning into free colonists).
  • Indian Burial Ground: Can anger nearby tribes if ransacked, but can function as the trope under this, too.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Lost Cities, which are this game's take on the classic "goody huts." With the founding father Hernando de Soto, the Indian Burial Ground pretty much functions like this, too.
  • Instant Militia: You can arm any unit with muskets for a quick military force, and / or give them horses to make them Scouts or Dragoons. Of course, they don't perform as well as Veteran Soldiers or Seasoned Scouts in these roles. Also, if a colony with no garrison but a musket stockpile is attacked the citizens will automatically arm themselves and "Man the stockade!" Only happens if you have the founding father Paul Revere, however.
  • La Résistance: When you declare independence, this is essentially what you become.
    • If you waged war on a native tribe but didn't exterminate it, the survivors will likely team up with the king after you declare independence. This will leave you on the receiving end of theis trope.
  • Les Collaborateurs: If Tory sentiment is high in a colony and you've declared independence, there's a chance of a royalist militia uprising occuring.
  • The Missionary: You can use missionaries to set up missions in native settlements, which will reduce their alarm rate and occasionally provide you with converts to work in your colonies. The expert-level unit is the Jesuit Missionary, even for the English and Dutch.
  • Money Spider: Aztec and Inca settlements will always yield a galleon's worth of treasure when sacked.
  • Naming Your Colony World: When you first land in the New World, you can name it.
  • Nintendo Hard: The original game and especially the remake.
  • Noble Savage: All natives start out as friendly, and will give you a small piece of land when you first arrive. However, they sometimes can't resist the temptation to attack your treasure train... and it doesn't count as a hostile act.
  • Oppressive States of America: See Video Game Cruelty Potential below. When writing your constitution that determines your new nation's future in the 2008 remake, you can make America a brutal and backwards monarchy from the very beginning, without even the pretense of freedom and liberty.
  • Politically Correct History:
    • Even for an old and abstract game, its version of events leaves big hole. A gaping hole. A black hole, if you will, with no mention of the role that slavery played in the European colonial development. This is an Enforced Trope brought by Executive Meddling, as Sid Meier had planned to include slave labor in the game, but was overruled by Microprose for fear of offending black people.
    • Averted in the 2008 remake. When you first declare independence, you will have to draft a constitution and make key decisions about what are the values and ideals that your new country will stand for. When it comes to your stance on slavery, you have the option to allow it instead of declaring that all man are free. Doing so gives you a considerable boost in your resource gathering rate, presumably due to the extra labor that you get from imported slaves.
      • Although you didn't get any bonuses BEFORE you declare independence, and none of the colonists received are any different race wise than the European immigrants. So either you just attracted new people by your pointless liberalness, because there were no slaves, or you enslaved Europeans who didn't do any work or eat any food until you freed them.
    • Also averted in the manual for the original game, in which it clearly states in no uncertain terms, about how evil and unjust the historical treatment of the Native American by the European colonists were.
  • Privateer: For the owner, Resource Gathering. For everyone else, unidentified pirates, shoot on sight.
  • Randomly Generated Levels: While it is possible to use a map of the Americas, you can also play with a randomly generated New World.
  • Refining Resources: Most of your economy is based on this. You can sell unrefined resources back in Europe but they won't bring in a lot of money. If you can produce muskets early on though, you're guaranteed to be swimming in money pretty soon.
  • Settling the Frontier: Colonizing the New World is the whole point of the game.
  • Shout-Out: In the Expert Lumberjack's Civilopedia entry for the remake, it states that "they were lumberjacks and they're OK."
  • Summon Bigger Fish: As the Americans did in Real Life via France, in the original DOS version of the game you can summon a bigger fish during your Revolution (exactly which country supports you is somewhat random, and you could conceivably summon a second bigger fish with enough Liberty Bell production). Sadly, this is left out of the modern remake.
    • Then again, with enough Arm Twisting and dealmaking, the Natives can lend a hand to your Revolution, as well as other Players jumping in on the fun...
  • The Promised Land: What immigrants from Europe view the New World as. Especially if you discovered a Fountain of Youth which will automatically attract a large number of immigrants. Goes double for the English, who need to generate fewer Crosses than other factions to attract immigrants.
  • Took a Level in Badass: While the natives start out as musket fodder for the colonists, later on once they manage to get their hands on guns and horses through either raids against European settlements or trade, they will become a legitimate threat that you really need to watch out for and can turn the tide of a war depending on who they allied with.
    • In the 2008 remake, when you write your constitution after declaring independence you have have make a decision on the issue of land security. If you give all your citizens the right to bear arms, all units will get extra strength in combat. Making it possible for even non-combatants (fisherman, blacksmith, statesman, etc) to take on enemies attacking them and actually stand a chance of winning.
  • Tech Tree: Surprisingly for a 4X game, averted. There is no research in the game. The Founding Father mechanism could be seen as a substitute, as you get Founding Fathers who give you various bonuses.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Build a prosperous colony with great wealth and economic opportunities. Make your colonies a place in which everyone who was driven out of Europe due to their unpopular religious or political views get to start a new life. Be good to the natives, peacefully interact with them through trade and cultural exchange, allowing those who were converted to live with along side the rest of your citizens as equals. Produce lots of liberty bells, then adopt values such as the separation of church and state, emancipation of slaves, and support native rights, making your new nation a paragon of enlightened democracy with peace and justice for all. The natives will reward you with tax free trade opportunities and teach your citizens useful skills that cannot be learned from anywhere else. The people will reward you with increased productivity and combat bonus.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Construct an imperialistic outpost for your homeland, with an economy based on extorting and looting from the natives! Utterly and thoroughly exterminate all native Americans and plunder their land! Use new immigrants as cannon fodder in your conquest! Burn the settlements that belong to other European colonists to the ground! After declaring independence, make your new nation a slavery-based theocratic monarchy that believes in its Manifest Destiny, with a government that is even more oppressive than your European homeland! The natives will try to fight back, but with your superior technology it will only be a matter of time before they get wiped out. As for your people... well, they actually will not do much to protest your actions.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: There are score penalties for every Indian village you wiped out.
  • Zerg Rush: Since the King's army from the homeland will always have superior equipment and training compared with what the colonists have, once you declare independence this will be your only viable strategy.

Alternative Title(s):

Sid Meiers Colonization