I quit playing Civ4Col quite a while ago because the vanilla (unmodded) game was broken in a lot of ways. The Age of Discovery II mod (1.09) has rekindled my interest in the game. It's a great mod. But I think it suffers from the same problem the unmodded game did: The clear and unambiguously best strategy (for a traditional independence victory) is to refrain from producing any liberty bells at all until you have enough guns for an army that can defeat the REF stockpiled, and then stick a bunch of Elder Statesmen in (with newspapers, etc) to produce enough bells to declare independence in as few turns as possible. I've been playing on the hardest difficulty level under 1.09 and its pretty clear that this strategy will work pretty much every time, and work quickly. The only way to get around this is, in my opinion, to at least partially decouple REF expansion from liberty bell production. I would have the REF also increase based on the number of guns/soldiers you have stockpiled. That negates the incentive to avoid early liberty bells at all costs which would be a good thing; if the REF is going to expand anyway, you might as well get some liberty bells and the benefits they provide. I just can't get around seeing the incredibly tight correlation between liberty bells and the REF size as a fundamental problem with Colonization that AoDII (as awesome as it is) doesn't address. The game has more great bells and whistles now, and since the REF starts at a bigger size you need a slightly bigger empire to produce the $$$/guns to defeat it which is a good thing, but the whole liberty bells = bad thing is still broken. To sum up, the REF needs to expand for other reasons instead of or as well as just liberty bell production or the gimmicky strategy of not producing liberty bells until you are already set to declare independence will always be the optimal strategy for an independence victory.