What is my Motivation to do this : Im a bit frustrated that so many people seem to hate the game. I think its great despite the small flaws that will have to be fixed in an upcoming patch. However the game is already very much fun and completely playable and most of the so called bugs, imbalances, broken concepts etc. result of severe misunderstandings of the game concepts. Well now I think saying to these people :'Just play better !' is a bit rude. Not everbody is an expert and there is nothing wrong with it. A causual gamer should have a decent chance to win at least on the lower difficulty settings. So I think some people might well appreciate this effort and I will be getting less frustrated on how the majority of the players gets almost everything wrong. Since Im not totally familiar with all concepts yet myself, I will update this on a regular base getting to the finer points later on and starting with what I think are the most severe errors keeping some of you from having fun. Chapter 1 : The most common misunderstandings of important game concepts - The Liberty Bells REF Myth : As for those of you who dont know what the REF is - its the expedition force of the King who will go for you when you declare independance. Now how is this related to liberty bells. Every time you produce liberty bells the King will eventually expand his REF. As far as I know (might be not 100% accurate because its nowhere explained officially) there are two factors which will have influence on the Kings decision to expand his REF. First is the absolute liberty bells you produce, that means there is a treshhold and if you go above it the REF will expand and the treshold will be set to some higher amount.The second factor is what amount of bells you are producing per turn, that means the AI checks per round on how many bells you produce and related on how many that is the REF will eventually expand. Now the concequences on the gameplay are huge as you might figured out yourself however what exactly are the consequences : Lets focus on the absolute liberty bells amount thing first. Since you have to get 50% of your people root for independance to be allowed declaring it you have to produce a given amount of liberty bells for each citizen no matter what. That means bigger is not necessarily better, if you have more towns and citizen the REF will be bigger as well. Thus you want to avoid building settlements in really crappy places, they dont help you that much but make your enemy stronger. So why is this a good feature ? You have much less disadvantages when playing a map with a lot of water where you cant build many settlements. Furthermore it allows for enourmous strategic freedom since you dont need to go for some brute force strategy as it was in Col1. Now lets come to the other aspect. Liberty bells per Turn cause the REF to expand. What does that mean for gameplay. Well if you produce liberty bells from the first turn on the REF will be bigger, that means you want to be really careful here. It is tempting to go for some fast founding father path but be aware that you have to make good use of the additional benefits to make it worth that the REF will be bigger later on. That said for the beginning you should probably stay away for this at least for the first 50 turns and produce no liberty bells at all. You might think there is a problem with that because another Nation will capture some founding fathers you wanted to have. Luckily there is a way around this, you can produce political points in your settlements - just switch from the building (e.g. docks) and look at the bottom there, you will find out how to do it. - Schools suck ! Many people are getting pissed that schooling takes so long after you have trained a bunch of students. Well they are right, like in reallife schools suck in this game (A+ for realism ). However there is more to it. You have to think of it as a countermeasure for players getting everything easiely and make like dozens of farming cities shooting their population through the roof. So what is the consequence of that ? You cant train only so many students - huh I guess you figured out this yourself. But what exactly does it mean for your general approach on specialists that you can train only so many of them : You need to focus on schooling skills you cant get otherwise and which are really needed. So for Farmers and Fishers you generally have a bunch of native cities where you can train them. Use those instead of your schools. The more sophisticated specialits are generally not needed in huge numbers (e.g. elder statesman, firebrand preachers) . So to get them it is often enough to rely on what people you get at the european docks - of course that implies that you do build a bunch of churchs which you should most often. So what is left on the list are those kind of specialist that you need many of and cant get cheaply otherwise. Lets think about what this is. Master carpenters : An absolute must to have a lot of them, they are needed for making buildings, wagon trains, political points, cannons, ships and what not. Master Blacksmith : Again tools are needed for many buidlings, to make Muskets and Cannons - so you really need a bunch of them. That said you want to go for those and eventually expand on related things like expert ore minors or expert lumber jacks if you cant get them cheap otherwise. How can the natives be my friend, they always start suprise attacks on me : Well it depends, the different natives tend to behave very differntly. So on what should you be aware off. Montezuma and Huyana Capac are real pests like you might already experienced in Civ4. However here comes the good news, its more profitabel to run them over because you get extra gold when you capture their cities. For your gamestyle this means get rid of them rather sooner then later, you might want to wait a bit if they offer good training possibilities for your workers and other tribes dont have these skills available. Some tribes have the 'Mentor' ability which means you can train people there a lot faster. This is a huge advantage because it will take pressure of your school system, so in general you want to keep those kind of natives and dont piss them of. I found what is extremly bad for relationships between you and some indian tribe is if you steal their food (even if you pay on settling). So if you want to keep this tribe dont use their foodresources at all. What you can further do to strenghten relationshsips with natives is to trade with them, I guess it doesnt have to be a whole lot of things you trade to them but if you do trade at least some goods with them your relatiuonsship will be getting better over time eventually. The I can fight the Kings forces only in the open Myth : Many people claim that you have to retreat out of your cities and let the King capture them. After that you counterattack the troops. Well I guess that impression comes from the very strong artillery the Kings has. If you wouldnt know yet those artillery has a huge Bonus when attacking cities. However it turns out that this locig is totally flawed. The first thing is you can take major influence by what units you build on the composition of the Kings forces. The second thing is some spots are better for defending than others. So what should you do if you plan for a defensiv war against the King : First thing is that you have to use some key spot where his troops need to go along and found a settlement with good defensiv protectives there. Good for defensive is if you can build behind a river or on a hill and thats exactly what you should do if you plan to fight defensive. The second thing is you obviously dont want the King to have many artillery because your defense against those in cities is rather bad regardless how good your city spot is. It turns out that the King tends to build the counter unit on what you have the most exessfully. So what you can do is for example build cannons only and dont much else and the King will react by building many mounted units. That doesnt mean you have to fight with cannons vs Cav however since you can recruit a decent amount of soldiers after you declared independance. Another aspect are the founding fathers, you want to get those which are useful in the context, that is for example the guy who gives +25% defense for all cities. Another good one is the one who gives you free unit promotions for city defense.