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Challenge the New World...
Challenge the New World...
Screenshot from FreeCol 0.5.2
Screenshot from FreeCol 0.5.2
Original author(s) The Freecol Team
Developer(s) SourceForge project FreeCol
Initial release January 2, 2003; 14 years ago (2003-01-02)
Stable release
0.11.6 / October 17, 2015; 19 months ago (2015-10-17)
Written in Java
Platform Java platform 1.8 or later, display 1024×768 or more
Available in 54 languages (
Type Turn-based strategy video games
License GPLv2

FreeCol is a 4X video game, a clone of Sid Meier's Colonization. FreeCol is free and open source software released under the GNU General Public License v2.

FreeCol is mostly programmed in Java and should thus be platform-independent. In practice, it is known to run on Linux and Windows, as well as Mac OS X (with some limitations).

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.


Screenshot of the unit selection screen.

In FreeCol the player leads the colony of a European power from the arrival on the shore of the New World into the future, achieving one of a two of possible victory conditions: either gaining independence by declaring independence and subsequently defeating the dispatched royal expeditionary force or by defeating the colonies of all the competing European powers by the year 1600. To be allowed to declare independence, at least 50% of the player's colonists must support independence. This is achieved by producing liberty bells; 200 liberty bells turn one colonist from being a royalist into being a rebel. To be able to defeat the royal expeditionary force the player must train and build a strong enough army of his own.

Another important factor are the numerous settlements of different Native American nations. Native settlements can be traded with to gain gold or they can be conquered for treasure. Native settlements can also teach the player's colonists and turn them into specialist. Specialists are considerably more productive when assigned in their trade. Most specialists can be trained for gold in Europe or come as settlers for free, but certain specialists can only be trained at certain native settlements.

FreeCol starts in 1492 with two colonists on a caravel on the ocean at the player's disposal. The player is the king's proxy and is supposed to lead the caravel to the shore and found a colony in the New World consisting of multiple settlements. The player gets additional colonists by producing food – every 200 food units a new unit, a "free colonist" appears in the producing settlement, by immigration from Europe, by converting the natives and by capturing unarmed units of competing European colonies.

The player may trade with Europe using various natural resources which are produced in settlements or acquired from trade with natives. In each settlement 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.


In February 2007 it was's Project of the Month.[1] Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Alec Meer had in 2008 mixed feelings about FreeCol but still called it: "it’s an remarkable accomplishment, and I’m very glad it’s out there." and "FreeCol, though, is here right now, it’s free, it’s stable, it’s pretty much feature-complete and unlike its parent it has multiplayer".[2] In 2010 Rock, Paper, Shotgun called it the better alternative to the commercial remake Civilization IV: Colonization.[3]

FreeCol became a popular freeware title, which was for instance downloaded alone over Sourceforge between January 2002 and April 2017 over 1,900,000 times.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Project of the Month
  2. ^ Get Ur FreeCol by Alec Meer on Rock, Paper, Shotgun (June 12, 2008)
  3. ^ A Brief History Of Modern Retro by Alec Meer on Rock, Paper, Shotgun "You may be better off with the open source fan remake, FreeCol." (March 01, 2010)
  4. ^ dates=2000-04-16+to+2017-04-22 download stats on

External links[edit]