It’s good to be Dutch
After literally trying for months to beat the damn game I finally did as the colonial Dutch. Here’s what I did to achieve Independence. These tips requires that you are familiar with the game.
Two goods to sell (plus silver) – I lucked out and found a town with two tobacco squares and an Indian village that teaches tobacco farming. You will need two towns that specialize in maximizing the production of these two goods. Depending on amount of raw material and food you may or may not need to build a sawmill and 3rd tier good production building. Any silver found ought to be exploited as well. This should be enough of an income stream to purchase buildings and specialists.
Inland Empire – You will need one or two inland towns so there are immune to warships bombardment. Ideally, this will be on top of a hill for extra defense. Also, it should be surrounded by…
Farms and forests – These inland bases will be your growth and cannon production centers. You will need them to hold out on a siege. If you have enough food, you can also raise horses there.
Gun production center – Again, preferably inland and surrounded by hills. This will be your primary weapons center. Make sure to distribute your weapons and tools to the other towns.
Watch out for Indians – Occasionally check your relationship meter with the local Indian tribes. Take enough of their land, and they could declare war on you. So watch them carefully.
Road to Independence
Keep population down – Around 10 ideally. Large populations are difficult to build rebel sentiment. Only make your population grow just before you start producing bells.
Armory in every city – Build it or buy it. You will need the extra weapons during the revolution. You will also need to micromanage your wagon train to distribute them to needed areas.
Get elder statesmen early, but don’t use them – Use them in a church before producing bells. Make sure newspapers are in your larger town.
Buy your arms and horses from the motherland – You will need a lot of guns to supplement your army. Horses are cheap so get them as well. Do not purchase cannons and soldiers from your motherland. That will cause her to build up her army.
Bunker Hill Take a contingent of soldiers and fortify them in a wooded hill to ease pressure from your cities. 4-5 will be enough to draw forces away from your cities.
Leave nothing behind – There will be a time when you are about to lose a city. Take your remaining soldiers and citizens and evacuate them out of there. Turn them into scouts if you have extra horses. Leave nothing but one guy in the town.
Yorktown – This is an ideal time to counter-attack captured cities. The computer will take a large force into the city to recuperate. Regroup your army and pound weaken them with your cannons.
Hopefully these tips will make your goal of Independence a lot easier and way faster than the amount of time I took.
Update: Coincidence? Just when I beat it again patch 1.01 comes out which, in my opinion, makes the game a lot more forgiving.