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Send colonist.jpg

Colonization is the process of sending a colonist to establish or expand a colony or trading post. Although "colonization" includes both processes, and they share many common features, they are somewhat different and thus it is useful to distinguish between them. We use "sending a colonist" (meaning, to establish or expand a colony), and "sending a trader" (to establish or expand a trading post). The verb form is to colonize. Although it can be used for any instance of colonization, "colonize" usually implies the initial attempt to send a colonist. That is, it is an attempt at colonization of an empty province, or one with only a trading post.

How to Send Colonists and Traders

Colonists may be dispatched from the main map in one of two map modes: the normal map mode, or colonization map mode. Colonization map mode may be turned on by clicking the colonization map mode button (it shows an icon of a small blue ship) in the left-hand-side interface. In colonization map mode, the colonization screen is displayed whenever you select a non-city province. It will display the chances and costs to send a colonist or a trader.

You can also send a colonist in normal map mode, by right-clicking on the province and selecting the appropriate menu option.

Sending Colonists

To create a new colony or expand an existing one, you must have a colonist available, and sufficient funds in your treasury. Other conditions also apply; see below.

Creating and Expanding Colonies

Colonists may be sent to any vacant province, or any trading post, colony or colonial city that you own and control. However, in all of these cases you must have "colonization access" to the province to be allowed to colonize.

A country always has colonization access to a province if it has a land connection to the province via its own cities. Otherwise, it must have a "sea connection" to the province: it must own a port with a land connection to the capital, and one of the following must be true:

  • the province is coastal
  • the province is not coastal, but has a land connection via owned cities to an owned coastal city.

There are two exceptional regions on the map for colonization access:

  • All provinces bordering the Great Lakes (in America) count as coastal.
  • The rules for land connections are relaxed in Siberia, so that you can trace the land connection through colonies and trading posts as well as cities.

In addition to the restriction on access, only one colonization attempt at a time is allowed per province; if some other country (or you) is attempting to build a colony or trading post there, you can't. The rules for the AI are relaxed on this point: it can send multiple colonists at a time to its own colonies.

If all the preconditions are OK, when you select the province in colonization map mode, you'll notice that the "Send Colonist" button is active on the colonization screen. If you click it, a colonist is subtracted, money is spent, and an "man chopping wood" icon appears on the map. The colonist will take a while to arrive, at least a few months and up to two years. If you lose control of the province while the colonist is en route, it doesn't matter: when it arrives it will have the same effect as it would have otherwise.

Upon a successful colonization of an empty province, a new colony with 100 population is created there, owned by the sending country. Upon a successful addition to a colony, its population is increased by 100, and it may turn into a city if is populous enough. On failed attempts natives may rise up in the province.

Costs and Chances

The costs and percentage chances for creating or expanding a colony are based on many factors. A country's percentage chance of success on a colonization send is computed as follows:

 chance = 95% - colonization_attempts_penalty
              - native_aggression_penalty
              - difficulty_penalty
              - early_colony_founding_penalty
              - tropical_climate_penalty
              - culture/religion_mismatch_penalty
              - #colonies_penalty
              + leadership_bonus
              + production_efficiency_bonus
              + expansion_bonus
              + adjacency_bonus

The penalties and bonuses are discussed below. There is a maximum chance for success, which is 95%. Similarly there is a minimum of 1%.

Colonization Attempts Penalty

There is a penalty for the first 20 attempts at colonization a country makes in a game. It is this:

colonization_attempts_penalty = 20 - # of completed colonization attempts

It does not matter whether the earlier colonization attempts succeeded or failed. Note that these must be colonists sends, not traders. Upon the completion of the 20th attempt, this penalty is voided.

Native Aggression Penalty

If there are natives in the province, and they are in their inactive form (i.e. not shown as an army on the map), then there is a penalty based on how aggressive they are. It is this:

native_aggression_penalty = 4 * ferocity_of_natives

The ferocity of natives is a number from 0 to 9, found in province.csv. It is displayed on the colonization screen, as follows:

 0   none
 1   very low
2-3  low
4-6  medium
7-8  high
 9   very high

Difficulty Penalty

Every province has a difficult penalty, as follows:

difficulty_penalty = 4 * difficulty_for_colonization

Provincial difficulty_for_colonization numbers range from 2 to 9; they are defined by province.csv.

Early Colony Founding Penalty

After 1619, or when expanding an existing colony, this value is set at 0. Otherwise it is as follows:

early_colony_founding_penalty = 25 - floor((current year-1419)/8).

That is, this penalty 25 in 1419, and it decreases by 1 every 8 years.

Tropical Climate Penalty

If the country is not a tropical country, and the climate in the province is tropical (4 or 6), then there is a flat 10% penalty. A tropical country is one with its capital in climate is 4 or 6.

Culture/Religion Mismatch Penalty

The culture/religion mismatch penalty is as follows:

5 if the province's religion is different from the colonizing country's state religion.
8 if the province's culture is not an accepted state culture.
13 if neither match.

The settlement's culture and religion are used if there is a settlement, otherwise the provincial base culture and religion are used.

Number of Colonies Penalty

This penalty is zero if any of the following are true:

  • expanding an existing colony
  • founding a new colony and there is a land connection
  • the country has fewer colonies than its monarch's effective administrative rating. (You can count how many colonies you have, on page 32 of the ledger.)


#colonies_penalty = 5 * (#colonies_owned - monarch's ADM)

Leadership Bonus

A conquistador or an explorer will add a bonus, if he is present in the province when you send a colonist. If multiple conquistadors and/or explorers are present, only the best bonus is used:

leadership_bonus = 5 * (leader's movement rating)

Obviously, explorers can be in a province only if it is a port settlement. So they cannot help establish new colonies since no port exists before colonization.

Production Efficiency Bonus

There is a bonus for production efficiency, as follows:

production_tech_bonus = floor(production efficiency/10)

Expansion Bonus

This bonus applies when colonizing any province you already own. It is as follows:

5%, if the province contains a trading post (of any level)
+4%/level, if the province contains a colony
+40, if the province contains a colonial city

Adjacency Bonus

The adjacency bonus is a flat 10%, which applies if the province is adjacent to at least one other province owned by the same country.

Sending Traders

To create a new trading post or expand an existing one, you must have a colonist available, and sufficient funds in your treasury. Other conditions also apply; see below.

How to Create/Expand a Trading Post

You can create a new trading post only in an empty province. The province must be coastal, or adjacent to one of your existing settlements or trading posts. Only one colonization attempt at a time is allowed per province; if some other country (or you) is attempting to build a colony or trading post there, you can't. (There is an exception: if a country is attempting to expand or colonize an existing trading post, and it gets burned, then you can attempt to colonize or send a trader; in this case it will be a race.)

To expand a trading post, a country must own it, and a human-played country must also control it.

If all the preconditions are OK, when you select the province you'll notice that the "Send Trader" button is active. If you click it, a colonist is subtracted, money is spent, and an "man stacking blue pots" icon appears on the province to signify that you are attempting to build or expand a trading post. The trader will take a while to arrive, usually several months.

If the attempt is a success, a new level 1 trading post is created, or on expansion the existing trading post is one level larger than before. I.e. a level 3 trading post is expanded to level 4. Level 6 trading posts are the maximum size, and cannot be further expanded. On failed attempts, natives may rise up in the province, but otherwise there is no effect.

Costs and Chances

The costs and percentage chances for creating or expanding a trading post are based on several factors: the difficult for colonization of the province, the presence and aggressiveness of natives, and the admin value of the monarch. More work needs to be done here to quantify this, but generally speaking creating a trading post usually costs about 15 ducats, whereas expanding it costs about 10 minus its level.

In addition, there is a special bonus to the success chance of +50% (yes, it's huge) for a country if, at the start of the month, its trade efficiency was greater than 100%.

Limits on Small Trading Posts

A country may own any number of trading posts. However, when a country owns too many small trading posts (level 1 or 2), it gets penalized on creating new ones. You get a certain number of small posts without causing the penalty. After that, every small trading post not offset by a larger-than-average one (level > 3) will create a -1% penalty on the chance to create new trading posts.

The exact way this works is as follows. The levels of all of your trading posts are added together along with your monarch's administrative rating. Then 3 times the number of trading posts is subtracted. If the resulting number is still less than zero, it becomes the malus on later trading post attempts.

For example, a country's monarch has admin 7, and it has 11 trading posts with the following sizes: level 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 3, 5, and 6. To calculate the malus in this case, we add all the levels up along with the admin rating: 1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+3+5+6, +7 = 30. Then we subtract 3 times the number of trading posts, that is, 33. The resulting number is -3; a malus of -3 applies to the percentage chance of any new trading post creation attempts. This country should expand three trading posts before attempting new ones.