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Colonization is one of the gameplay features available within the game as the setting is within the age of colonization. Nations can explore and colonize the continents of the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australia, as well as Siberia and islands in the Pacific.
- 1 Objectives
- 2 AI colonizers
- 3 Discovery
- 4 Colonists
- 5 Natives
- 6 Occupation
- 7 Colonial provinces
- 8 Colonial nation
- 9 Seven Cities of Gold and the Fountain of Youth
- 10 Strategies
- 11 Footnotes
The essential aim of colonialism is to generally out-perform your other colonizing rivals, through:
- Prestige and influence: To mold a prestigious global empire, befitting of the player's great nation; and
- Trade and finance: To maintain dominance and control of global trade by cultivating and steering trade towards the player's capital and vital trade ports.
You should accept that tax and tariffs from the player's colonies will make up the minority of the player's profits, and that high tariffs will increase colonial liberty desire.
Not all AI nations will gain colonists, and only a limited number of nations will join the colonial race. An AI nation may gain a colonist via their national ideas or unlocking exploration ideas or expansion ideas.
- Aq Qoyunlu
- Golden Horde
- Great Britain
- Kara Del
- Sarig Yogir
This does not mean all the aforementioned countries will actually colonize. Some of them might cease to exist early on or never form, while others may get colonists too late to do any meaningful colonization. Also, the AI will not pick exploration ideas unless it has at least one port.
Although some uncolonized provinces may be visible at the beginning of the game, much of both land and water is covered by terra incognita. Discovering these areas is useful for finding provinces to colonize.
How the player goes about exploring depends on whether El Dorado is enabled or not. That said, the following aspects are true either way:
- A conquistador is required to explore on land (unless the country is at war; see below), and an explorer is required to explore at sea. These are special military leaders that are given pips as though the country had 80% as much tradition as it really does.
- The "Quest for the New World" idea, the second in the exploration idea group, is required to hire explorers and conquistadors. A handful of countries (notably Portugal) have an explorer in 1444 despite not having the idea; these can't explore in ocean provinces until the idea is unlocked. However its possible to go to Americas using Island towards Greenland and then go south without going over open sea so you can explore Americas before getting the Quest for the new World, but this only works for Portugal.
- Exploring a sea province gives the country +1 navy tradition.
- While at war, armies can enter all enemy provinces (assuming movement isn't blocked by forts or blockades). Terra incognita will be revealed if entered this way, but will take much longer to enter.
- Skilled conquistadors have a chance to discover adjacent provinces.
- Undiscovered land provinces have a chance per month to be discovered by owners of adjacent provinces (typically taking 3–5 years). Russia and colonial nations have ideas that make this discovery instant.
- After 25 years, discoveries will spread to other countries of the same tech group as that of the discoverer. A country that changes tech group (i.e., through westernizing) will immediately have all provinces known to that tech group revealed.
Without El Dorado
- An army led by a conquistador can move into terra incognita land provinces and thus discover them. If that land is owned by another country, the conquistador will discover the province instead of moving into it, unless that country grants military access.
- A fleet led by an explorer can move into terra incognita sea provinces and thus discover them. Upon entering a sea province they also have a chance to discover neighboring coastal provinces (increased by explorer skill). Having a ship patrol back and forth will eventually reveal all coastal provinces (typically in 6–12 months). Ships take attrition as normal while exploring; fleet basing agreements can therefore extend your exploration range.
With El Dorado
- An army led by a conquistador can be sent on a mission to hunt for the Seven Cities of Gold. To do this, the army must be within a colonial region. They will then automatically move through terra incognita in the region, uncovering it, with a chance to trigger various random events.
- A fleet led by an explorer and at least 3 light ships or 3 heavy ships (though the tooltip says 3 light ships and 3 heavy ships, only one type is needed) can be sent on an exploration mission. It can be sent to explore a sea region or a coastal region and will do so without player input. While exploring open sea, it will also discover all adjacent sea provinces. While exploring a coastal province, it will discover all coastal provinces adjacent to the sea province they are in. Fleets on exploration missions do not take attrition, but only missions to regions within their country's colonial range can be explored this way. Explorers may trigger certain random events while on missions.
- An explorer can also be sent to circumnavigate the globe.
A colonist is required to start a colony.
(The Mayan, Inti, and Nahuatl religions grant an extra colonist with the appropriate reforms.)
The range where you can establish a colony from a core province of your own nation is called the colonial range. It expands depending on your diplomatic technology level, modifiers, other bonuses, events and mission. It also limits how far your explorers can go on exploration missions.
To check the range to a given province, change the map mode to "colonial range", and hover over the province of interest. The range will show, green for in range and red for out of range.
AI nations also receive a +25% colonial range bonus, as they are not smart enough to colonize staging areas for future expansion.
The speed in which your colonists travel to claim and establish colonial territory is completely unrelated to the travel time of merchants and diplomats. It is primarily based on distance from your capital but, unless the target province is directly land connected to your capital, colonists travel by sea. The little wagon/ship graphic that travels across the map from your capital to the colony does not follow the route that determines the colonist's travel time. It just goes in a straight line. The actual route taken is the shortest sea distance from either your capital's port or if it is inland a port that is directly connected to it to either the target province's future port location or your port that is closest to the target. So if your capital is in Europe your colonists must first travel around Cape Horn to get to the west coast of the Americas (until the Panama Canal is built, though most colonization will be done by then), but if your capital is in inland in North America your colonists can travel from either a west coast or an east coast port, whichever is quicker (if both are connected to your capital). However, if your North American capital has a port, colonists will only travel by sea from your capital, so sending colonists to unconnected provinces on the opposite coast requires traveling around Cape Horn. As a result, it may be prudent to move your capital inland as travel times can increase tenfold. Inland provinces that are only in range via colonial nations can be a little weird about determining what port colonists will arrive by and may pick one on the wrong coast.
For port provinces not directly connected to your capital, colonists always travel by sea to where the port will be located even if it would be faster to travel overland from another port (or the province borders both coasts like in Central America). For inland provinces not directly connected to your capital, colonists always travel to the closest non-blockaded port to the target province even if it would be quicker to travel cross country from a port on a different coast. Somewhat counter-intuitively, colonists will still travel by sea to ports you haven't actually discovered the connecting sea route to (the province could be in range via a land connection to ports you can reach).
Colonists travel across open sea much faster than through land or coastal sea provinces. For example, European colonists can reach the Caribbean faster than Sub-Saharan West Africa even though it is physically much farther away.
Colonist travel time is a fixed value based on the rules explained above; no events or ideas modify it. Colonists return instantly the day after either the colony becomes a city or you recall them.
Once a colonist arrives in an unowned province the population starts at 10. Colony populations grow at a base rate depending on administrative technology, further modified by some ideas. In addition, as long as a colonist remains in a colony, they have a chance each month of bringing in 25 additional population, speeding growth greatly. Once a colony reaches a population of 300, it will become eligible for a random event that assigns it a trade good appropriate to the region it is in. A colony becomes a full city when its population reaches 1000, and is destroyed if its population reaches 0; this can be done by natives spawning, events and colonies being destroyed by other countries in a war. These means you will have to resend your colonist.
Colonies grow by a steady addition each month. This number is derived from settler increase, which is the number of additional colonists per year. For example, if the country's global settler increase plus the province's local settler increase is 15 per year, the colony will get one settler most months but two settlers every fourth month, for a total of 15 for the year. Diplomatic technology provides additional global settler increase:
|Diplomatic technology|| Global settler increase|
Global settler increase is further improved by the following bonuses:
and the following static modifiers:
|Modifier||Settlers per year|
|Colonial maintenance||-125 to 0|
|No adjacent province controlled||-5|
| Treaty of Tordesillas
(Catholic country settling a colonial region assigned to them by the pope)
| Violation of Treaty of Tordesillas
(Catholic country settling a colonial region assigned to someone else by the pope)
The development of a colony through growth will continue unabated even if the colony is under occupation. An aggressor attempting to seize colonies during a war should keep this in mind, lest a colony be seized too late in a war, thereby precluding the possibility of converting its culture and religion with a colonist, as well as incurring an added coring cost.
New settlers chance
If a colonist is in the colony there is some probability that 25 settlers reach the colony. So each 1% of probability is equal of 3.0 settlers per year (0.01 chance/month x 12 month/year x 25 settlers). The New Settlers chance is determined by the following:
|Base + Base Value||10%||30|
|Per 100 population ("colony level")||4%||12|
|Per percentage point production efficiency||0.2%||0.6|
|Per point native aggressiveness||-0.5%||-1.5|
|Trading in Cotton||5%||15|
|Same culture group||1%||3|
There is some policy that can increase the chance of new settlers
Colonists will no longer be able to attract new settlers when a colony is under occupation, even if there is no indication of such on the interface. Aggressors attempting to steal a colony nearing completion should keep this in mind, less a colony is occupied too early in a war.
This section considers how quickly colonies will grow into a city of 1000. The terms "colonists" and "settlers" will be used interchangeably here. Also, the steady "Growth" and random "New Settlers" contributions will be combined.
We can see that each colony has three important variables (population, base growth and chance of new settlers). For now on when we talk about of "base chance" we consider the chance independent from the population.
First at all we analyze an approximate model so we consider an equivalent growth of 3 settlers/year for each point of chance of new settlers. For example, if your colony has Growth of 50/year and New Settlers 10.0% chance, then your colony receives an equivalent growth of 80 settlers per year (50 + 3 x 10).
The Colony Level modifier for New Settlers is set to +4.0% for new colonies (which start with 10 settlers), and this Level increases by +4.0% for each hundred settlers, starting at 200. Stated another way: divide your number of settlers by 100, drop the fraction, and multiply by 4 to get your Colony Level modifier, with the exception that it's also 4% under 100.
In early games (without dropping colonial maintenance) we at least have 10 base growth (25 from tech -5 no adjacent controlled -10 arid) and 10% base chance (10% base -5% from aggressiveness +2% from production +3% from culture and religion), if we have an base equivalent growth of +40 settlers/year or an initial equivalent growth of +52 settlers/year
We can say that the extimate time to reach 1000 settlers is
so in our example 30 Base Equivalent Growth we have
then to complete a colony with 30 BaseEqG we need 11 years and 10 months.
There is a more precise model to estimate the exact growth of a colony but since the difference between the real and the approximate model is only a couple of months, we don't describe it here. For example, in our test scenario with 10 base growth and 10% base chance the real mean time to finish the colony is 12 years and 1 month.
- Adds the modifier "Colonial Enthusiasm" for 5 years:
If a mission to colonize a province is available, but all colonists are currently busy, consider recalling one and sending it to the mission target, then abandoning the target colony as soon as the mission is completed. This grants the Colonial Enthusiasm modifier while avoiding the expense of maintaining too many colonies.
There exist also some mission in which the player discover some region of the New World, these missions are quite easy but remember that you can not have two identical modifier.
Treaty of Tordesillas
With El Dorado DLC the first Catholic nation to form a colonial nation (that is, to core 5 provinces in a colonial region) while the Papal State's opinion of them is at +50 or more, will be assigned that region. They and their colonial nations will receive a +10 increase to settler growth within the region. A single nations can have multiple colonial regions assigned to them by the Pope.
If another Catholic nation colonises a province in that region, they will receive severe penalty for "Violated the Treaty of Tordesillas":
Natives Encountering our Colonies
When a Christian state establishes a colony in the New World with at least 300 natives it triggers the Natives Encountering our Colonies event. All the options enable events that lead to temporary boosts to Global Settler Increase and Colonist Chance.
- Adds the modifier "Disregard Natives" for 2 years:
- Lose -40 ducats
- Adds the modifier "Aid Natives" for 2 years:
If the kill the savages option was chosen and:
- Ruler's military skill is at least 2
- Own a neighbor province
- Adds the modifier "Restrict Colonial Expansion" for 2 years:
- Lose -30 ducats
- Adds the modifier "Expand Colonial Borders" for 2 years:
- Casa de Contratacion
- Adds the modifier "Casa de Contratacion" until the end of the campaign:
- Colonial Policy
- Governor Martim Afonso de Sousa in Brazil
Colonial maintenance is the money that you spend in maintaining your colonies. At 100% maintenance, the cost of the -th active colony per year is given by
As shown above, a country can support a number of colonies equal to its number of colonists at the base maintenance cost. After this the marginal maintenance cost starts rising swiftly (the tooltip claims exponential growth but the formula is actually quadratic, not exponential):
|Colony over cap:||Cost multiplier for that colony:|
Note that unlike force limit, this is applied to each colony individually in the order that they were founded, so the more recent colonies will be saddled with the higher cost multipliers.
Colonizable provinces are usually occupied by natives, who may attack a colony there. If an army is not stationed there, they have a chance to reduce the colony's population of settlers. Otherwise they will attack the army, sparing the settlers. Natives are also very likely to attack land units passing through their province regardless of whether the province is colonized.
The size of the native population determines how many native regiments attack at a time. The native population can be reduced using the Attack Natives military action. However, when the colony becomes a full city it will gain a discount to further development cost, so it is usually beneficial to leave the native population alone if the colony can be protected by an army.
Aggressiveness ranges from 0 to 10. It determines how likely the natives are to attack. It is not known what exactly each point of aggressiveness represents but it can be assumed that each point of aggressiveness represents an extra 10% chance of a native uprising happening.
|Aggressiveness||% chance of uprising|
Ferocity ranges from 0 to 10. Natives get a +5% damage bonus per point of Ferocity.
Natives use low-tech units:
|Americas||Native American Archer||1||0||0||0||1||0||2|
|Asia||East Asian Spearman||1||0||0||0||1||0||2|
During a war a colony can be occupied like any province. The development of a colony through normal growth will continue unabated but colonists will no longer be able to attract new settlers. An army standing in an occupied colony gets two additional options:
- Seize colony - for 25 military power points. The colony ownership goes to the aggressor. The colony keeps culture and religion of the previous owner until a colonist from a new owner reaches the colony.
- Burn colony - for 5 military power points. The colony is completely destroyed and the province becomes again an uncolonized land.
Since a colony keeps growing under occupation it is possible that it will become a full colonial province while being occupied. Note that if a colonist has been present in the colony at that moment it is not recalled automatically and will become unavailable until after occupation is lifted (e.g., after the war ends).
- A province can only be colonized if the province is coastal and within the colonizers colonial range, or adjacent to a province already colonized by the nation.
- A colonial province is assigned the primary culture and religion of its owner when a colonist arrives there.
- A colonial province is assigned a trade good sometime after it reaches 300 population.
- Since patch 1.4 colonial provinces are autocored once they became a city. Since Patch 1.9 colonies on the same continent as the colonizer, or to that are connected to their capital by their provinces through land or straits, don't receive free cores, but instead a highly reduced coring cost - approximately 1 admin per development. Overseas colonies have a similar coring cost.
- Since Patch 1.10 colonies do not give over-extension, even if they are not cored.
- Main article: Province#Overseas_provinces
Colonial provinces will in the overwhelming majority be subject to distant overseas penalties.
- Main article: Colonial nation
Colonial nations, introduced in patch 1.4, are a form of subject state available to any colonial power, that can form in America and Australia . They are not playable without the Conquest of Paradise DLC.
If you core 5 provinces all from the same colonial nation group (Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Louisiana, Australia etc.), they will automatically form a new colonial nation, which you can then name and, in 1.12, rename at will. Non-core provinces in the same region will not join the colonial nation unless cored.
Moreover, since Patch 1.10, if any of your colonial nation own at least 10 provinces you will earn a .
Seven Cities of Gold and the Fountain of Youth
This section may contain outdated information that is inaccurate for the current version of the game. The last version it was verified as up to date for was 1.11.
- Main article: El Dorado
El Dorado expansion introduces 8 special places that you can discover by sending conquistadors to hunt for the Seven Cities of Gold in the new world.
This section may contain outdated information that is inaccurate for the current version of the game. The last version it was verified as up to date for was 1.11.
Early in the game when colonial range is short, island hopping is necessary to cross oceans, especially if not a European nation. Base colonial range is 160 at Diplomatic Technology level 3 and 275 at Diplomatic Technology level 7. Overseas Exploration (Exploration Ideas) gives +50%. Thus, important range numbers are 160, 240, 275, and 412.
West Africa and the Central Atlantic islands are the fastest route across the Atlantic. Without this it will almost certainly take until Diplomatic Technology level 7 to reach the New World.
|Iceland|| Reykjavik (Iceland) to Vestbygden (Greenland): 324
Vestbygden (Greenland) to Naskapi (Canada): 99
|Iceland is controlled by Norway in 1444.|
|Central Atlantic|| Azores to Bermuda: 325
Azores to Trinidad: 301
Arguin to Rio Grande: 204
Cape Verde to Alagoas: 164
|Cape Verde is typically colonized by Portugal early.|
|South Atlantic|| St. Helena to South Georgia: 283
St. Helena to Paraiba: 270
South Georgia to Falklands: 210
South Georgia to Rio Grande Do Sul: 196
Alaska in the far north from Siberia is the fastest route across the Pacific. Failing this, it will require Diplomatic Technology level 7 to cross the Pacific. The other route is directly across the Pacific, hopping from island to island.
|Alaska|| Kagyrgyn to Aleut: 150
Aleut to Kenai: 237
| Kagyrgyn is controlled by Chukchi in 1444.|
Be careful that counter-intuitively Aleut-Kodiac is 246.
|Central Pacific|| Ryukyu to Guam: 243
Hawaii to Pomo: 386
|Once on Guam distances on the way to Hawaii are short.|
|South Pacific|| Fiji to Society Islands: 186|
Society Islands to Tahiti: 160
Tahiti to Rapanui: 295
Rapanui to Galápagos Islands: 323
Rapanui to Coquimbo: 366
The Indian Ocean can be crossed to Africa with level 3 Diplomatic Technology and Overseas Exploration (Exploration Ideas).
|West|| East Africa to Mahe: Less than 160
Antananarivo (Madagascar) to Mauritius: 94
Mauritius to Diego Garcia: 185
Mahe to Diego Garcia: 220
|Central||Maldives to Diego Garcia: 85|
|East|| Christmas Island to Cocos Island: 86
Cocos Island to Diego Garcia: 187
Reaching the East Indies
Reaching India, the East Indies and the rest of Asia is a historical achievement for European colonizers. European nations with exploration idea group unlocked will receive the missions "Get into India" and "Establish a foothold in China/Spice Islands" in the mid- to late-game.
Reaching this area will give the player access to valuable trade goods such as spices and tea. Reaching these territories may be challenging especially in early game but may be worth while because of access to goods. The most effective way is to colonize territories in Africa "hopping" all the way around the Cape of Good Hope (which is valuable for trade as well). Then the player must cross the Indian Ocean which can be done by taking land in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula or by island hopping by using Diego Garcia, the Maldives and other islands in the region. From there the player may chose to stay and conquer India or move on to the Spice Islands and Asia.
Colonizing America can be beneficial to most any power with the ability to colonize. The American continent is rich in resources and trade goods. For Europeans, the first step may be to colonize islands in the Caribbean, Brazil, Canada, or Greenland, depending on the player's starting location. For colonizers from Asia, the Alaska and California regions are closest, with Mexico a good choice if the Europeans haven't taken it yet. Then, it is best to conquer small native states before any other colonial power has the opportunity. The player should generally be careful when conquering the Mesoamerican or Incan nations because the large amount of gold provinces acquired may result in crippling inflation. Lastly, the player should try and unite colonial territory to ensure maximum stability and protection against rebels and foreign aggression.