How To Colonize the New World in FreeCol

FreeCol is very very similar to FreeCiv, but that’s only because both games imitate Sid Meier‘s excellent Civilization series. They actually don’t share any code or even descend from the same base.

Under the surface similarities of its tile-based graphics FreeCol’s units, upgrades, and overall balance are very different from FreeCiv.

Where FreeCiv emulates the grand empire-building of Civilization, FreeCol is focused on playing through the history of the American colonies starting in the year 1492 anno Domini. You’ll get some support from your parent nation, trade with the native Americans, and you’ll need to pick the location of your colony carefully to take advantage of nearby resources. As with almost all strategy games, FreeCol is deep, complex, and takes some time to truly appreciate the deeper stratagems.

FreeCol is written in Java, so it will run smoothly on your system providing you have Sun’s Java installed. Installation is, as usual, easy under Ubuntu:

1. Use apt-get: sudo apt-get freecol. This will install Java automatically if you don’t already have it.

2. Run the game through your system menu.

If you don’t use Ubuntu you can still get FreeCol, just do things the hard way:

1. Go here and download the appropriate installer for your system.

2. If it was a compressed archive and not the .jar installer then you’ll need to extract everything.

3. Run the installer (i.e. ./freecol*installer.jar)

4. Run the game through your system menu or by executing it from a terminal: freecol

It looks like FreeCiv, or like Civilization II, but it’s not. Really, it’s not.

Same isometric tiles, turn-based, strategy. But there the similarity ends


Q: I’m playing multi-player, and I can’t save the game. Is this a bug?

A: It’s not a bug. Only the person who started the multi-player game (the server) can save it. So ask the server guy to save the game so that everyone else can get some sleep!

Q: I installed from the generic installer (the .jar installer) and now the game won’t start. What gives?

A: You picked the wrong system bit-depth during installation. If you’re running a 64-bit OS you’ll need to install the 64-bit version. Of course, a 32-bit OS needs a 32-bit install. Also, be sure you’re running Sun’s Java not Kaffe, IcedTea, Jikes, or any other Java implementation.

Q: Where can I find instructions on how to play this thing?

A: Try looking through the User Manual first; if that doesn’t teach you enough you might also try looking through the FreeCol forums.


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