Screenshot from FreeCol 0.5.2
|Developer(s)||The Freecol Team|
|Release date(s)||2 January 2003|
While remaining faithful to the original in terms of mechanics and gameplay, Freecol sports a new set of redesigned graphics. Moreover, in addition to the classical Colonization rules, it features an additional ruleset that incorporates ideas that didn't make it to the final version of Meier's game, requests by fans and original concepts like new European players with new national bonuses.
FreeCol starts in the year 1492. With a few settlers, the player builds up colonies in the New World, struggling for power with other colonies from rival Europeans. The player gradually builds up these colonies with help from the European king until no help from Europe is necessary, meaning that the colonies can stand alone without any exterior aid, and declares independence from the King and, if the colonies are able to resist the attacks of the royal expeditionary force, victory is obtained.
The player may trade with Europe using various natural resources which are collected by cities or acquired from trade with natives. In each city the player can also build up industrial buildings to convert raw materials into processed goods, which sell for more in Europe, providing a significant economic advance. Some industrial buildings will convert materials into goods useful for running the colony, such as converting wood into Hammers and ore into tools.
The player can also assign people to resource gathering through dragging them to the location of the resource on the resource map in a city. The more specialized an individual is at gathering a particular resource, the more quickly the stocks grow. Through assigning more people to work in a city it will grow. However, more people working in a city also requires more food. Assigning people to work in buildings allows for the conversion of raw materials to finished goods; the more people assigned (most people you can add is three), the faster work is done. However, this will only happen when the raw materials needed are available; when materials are unavailable, assigned workers will continue to consume food.
People can also be assigned tools to work or guns to become soldiers (tools and guns can either be produced in a city or purchased from Europe). If assigned tools, the person can be used to plow the countryside (increasing food production) or to build roads (making unit transportation more efficient).
Transportation of goods
Goods can be transported either by boat or by wagon train. Wagon Trains are used to transport goods along land routes. This is useful to move needed materials between cities within the colony, to trade finished goods to port cities for transport to Europe, or to transport goods to Europe, Indian communities, or (sometimes) other players' colonies, for trade. Ships can be used to move finished goods for sale in Europe, or to purchase raw materials in Europe. People emigrating from Europe must also be transported by ship.
Note: while new powers (those not boldfaced below) are allowed in FreeCol, they are disabled by default. They are easily enabled, and can be disabled again for anyone wishing to play with the original four powers (or any combination desired).
|Nation||Color||Default names||Starting units||Advantage (default)|
|Dutch||Orange||Michiel de Ruyter, New Holland||Soldier, Pioneer, Merchantman||Trade (trade bonus -50%)|
|French||Blue||Jacques Cartier, New France||Soldier, Hardy Pioneer, Caravel||Cooperation (native alarm -50%)|
|English||Red||Walter Raleigh, New England||Soldier, Pioneer, Caravel||Immigration (religious unrest needed for new colonist -1/3)|
|Spanish||Yellow||Christopher Columbus, New Spain||Veteran Soldier, Pioneer, Caravel||Conquest (new convert bonus +200%, offense against natives +50%)|
|Portuguese||Green||Dom Manuel I, Land of [the] Holy Cross||Soldier, Pioneer, Merchantman||Naval (naval movement bonus +3)|
|Swedish||Light Blue||Charles XI, New Sweden||Soldier (Master Carpenter), Pioneer (Expert Lumberjack), Caravel||Building (+2 lumber, +2 hammers)|
|Danish||Pink||Frederick II, New Denmark||Soldier, Pioneer (Expert Farmer), Caravel||Agriculture (+2 grain)|
|Russian||White||Peter I, New Russia||Soldier (Master Fur Trader), Pioneer (Expert Fur Trapper), Caravel||Fur Trapping (+2 coats, +2 furs)|
The inclusion of Portugal was always obvious, as its omission from the original Colonization had been criticized from the start. Sweden was also a clear choice, given the history of New Sweden. Denmark was proposed because the Danish West Indies gave it a colonial presence in the New World, though a bit late in game terms. Russia was more problematic as it never reached the New World until around 1800 (roughly the end of the game) and then only from the opposite side of the continent (in FreeCol, Russia begins on the East Coast like other players); however, its colonization of the New World is well-known in North America and it was a very popular proposal on the project's forum, which led to its inclusion.
Two other countries which established colonies in the New World were also proposed: Scotland (Nova Scotia and Darien scheme) and Courland (Tobago). They have not been implemented because while legitimate, they are obscure. Scotland was wholly independent until 1603 but in a personal union through the monarch until 1707. Courland was technically a vassal to Poland and was never powerful or populous. A number of more fanciful powers have been proposed on the SourceForge page, none with any historical presence in Colonial America: Italy, Belgium, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and China, among others.
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