In my first game with Colonization I pretty much tried to play it as I would have the old Colonization. I played that one many years and thoroughly enjoyed it. This time around I set about my old tried and true ways on the road to independence, but that stopped when I read a lot of stuff in this forum. I was nervous at facing a 300 strong REF. So I suspended my bell production (I only had 1 elder statesman so it wasn't a big deal) and focused primarily on developing a working economy. My gameplay also changed a bit, usually I'm more of a builder than a conqueror so I tend to be a peaceful neighbor, but the scenario developed by using the play-now option left me boxed in between the english, arawak, apache and dutch, and I only had two cities and no elbow room...time for WAR! I chose the Dutch since they had the nerve to settle a colony south of my position where I was going to settle and so I bought 100 guns, a cannon and armed a citizen and a scout, along with my veteran soldier to go against the dutch. The arawak were apalled and declared war on me as well so I mowed them down. They only had two villages so it was quick. Then I captured three dutch cities, I was sure I eliminated the dutch but it turns out they used their wandering scout to found a new city on the other side of the continent, the dutch were removed as a competitor. The English remained but they were busy with the Indians and the Inca's torched Barbados, so I never really heard from George Washington much. I had like 5 coastal cities and only 1 inland city. I took advantage of the resource in my mountain to generate wealth through the silver trade and used the tobacco to create lots of cigars, my lands were pure grassland for the most part with a hill and woods, so I never really pursued cotton, or sugar. So my trading staples were cigars, silver and ore in the early game. I made my inland city the tool & musket builder and stockpiled 200 in all of my cities. I also hoarded some horses and built up a few cannons, never did get around to building a navy. when I finally went to war over independence, the REF had 25 regulars 9 dragoons, 10 artillery and around 10 man of wars. I actually had around half that force except in dragoons for which I had two groups of 4. I expected them to savage me in the first few rounds but since they came in waves I was able to beat back and weaken them for the most part around some locations but let them have the northernmost city, the REF just garrisoned it for the most part and use the remaining forces (much weaker) to attack me. This was nice since it allowed me to deal with the REF piecemeal. I never had to worry about their soldiers in the garrison. Once I mopped up their forces in the field with no more waves of troops forthcoming I gathered the cannons and retook my northern town winning the war. As other posters have mentioned it's not the size of the REf that counts it's how the computer uses it (how often they amphibiously assault, which in this game they did only once) and how many they land at a time.