Commander: Conquest of the Americas


posted 8/18/2010 by Tom Bitterman
other articles by Tom Bitterman
One Page Platforms: PC
Most of the time when people think about the conquest of the Americas, they think about hardy pioneers moving westward, scraping a tough living from the land and killing Indians.  Or maybe they think of stalwart pioneers rebelling against European rule, and killing Indians.  Europeans might even think of the French and Indian War (though they would call it the Seven Years War) in which the British killed a lot of French and Indians.

Now that I think of it, most games about the early years of European presence in the Americas seem to revolve around killing the native inhabitants.  Not so with Commander: Conquest of the Americas.  The point in this game is to do what the Europeans originally (and still) came to America to do: make a buck.

You start off in control of a European nation's colonization program.  All the favorites are here (Britain, France, Spain) along with some more unusual choices (the Netherlands, Portugal, and the Holy Roman Empire).  Each nation has its own advantages (e.g. more colonists, better trade opportunities), so you can pick one to suit your style of play.

The basic game mechanic is simple and easily recognizable to anyone who has played East India Company.  You have a home port and establish colonies in a distant land, then build ships that carry colonists and finished materials to the colonies and bring raw and exotic materials back home.  The price of stuff in the colonies is less than its sale price back home, so you turn a profit.  You can use this profit to buy more ships to settle more colonies to do more trading.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

Different colonies produce different materials.  The distribution seems to be geographically based.  A colony in the Caribbean might supply spices and sugar, while one up in Canada could produce furs, gold and gems.  Your home market can only absorb so much of a particular import in any time period – import too many furs too quickly and you won't be able to sell them any more.  This is a handy push to get you to diversify colony locations.

In addition, some resources can be refined in your colonies by building the appropriate building.  For example, a colony that mines silver can build a Silversmith and then produce refined silver bars.  Refined products sell for more than raw ones (and often take up less cargo space) so it is worth it to start up these mini production chains.
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