The Freeciv playing HOWTO
Originally by Michael Hohensee (aka Zarchon)
If you're looking for how to install Freeciv, look in INSTALL.
If you're looking for how to get Freeciv running, look in README.
If you have never played the Civilization games, it's easiest to
start by reading the Freeciv Manual, available separately at:
If you're looking for ideas on playing Freeciv, then keep reading!!
Now that you have Freeciv running, you'll want to play your
first few games. It is recommended that you try playing solitaire a
few times, so that you can get a feel for how things work, but this is
not necessary. You can also learn by playing with others or against
Q: Can you give me a basic strategy?
First of all, this isn't a *perfect* strategy; it's not
even a very good one. But it will get you started playing Freeciv.
Part of the appeal of Freeciv is in developing new strategies.
The game is divided into several stages:
The Initial Expansion phase
The Second Expansion phase
The Production phase
and The Utter Annihilation of Your Enemies phase
This phase is the most critical. The first thing you want to
do is build cities and explore your island. You want lots of cities,
seven or eight at the least.
The name of the game is to tie down as many squares of land as
possible. When building a city, make sure that you don't overlap too
much with territory from one of your other cities. You can see which
squares are being used by a city by clicking on it. The map of the
city and the surrounding area contains that city's territory. Keeping
this in mind, try to keep your cities fairly close together. The
further apart they are, the more difficult they are to defend and
administer at this stage. (Tip: Try to build on horses or near fish.)
Now that you have a city or two, you'll want to set the science
rate as high as your government type will allow. Don't worry about
the tax rate, since you won't be building any improvements to drain
your cash; you'll be building settlers. Every city should be churning
out settlers. The more settlers you make, the more cities you can
have; the more cities you have, the faster you gain tech; the faster
you gain tech, the faster you win. After you have built as many
cities as your corner of the world will hold, turn the settlers to
irrigating and building roads.
(Note: If the food surplus in a city drops to +1 from supporting
too many settlers, and you can't rearrange people to increase it, then
switch them to building temples. Unless you make contact with another
player, don't worry about building military units just yet.)
All this time, you have been gaining techs as fast as
possible. What you should be shooting for is first "The Republic",
then "Democracy", then "Railroad", and then "Industrialization".
(Some people go for Monarchy before The Republic). As soon as
you've researched a new government type, start a revolution and change
over to it. Cities operate much better as Republics than they do
under Despotism, but note that it's much harder to keep military
units outside of city limits under a Republic. Also, don't forget to
recheck your rates after you've changed governments, as the maximums
vary for each type.
When you get Democracy, you are equipped to go into the Second
Expansion phase. This is accomplished by changing the government to a
Democracy, making all cities build temples, and setting the luxury
rate to 100%. When you do this, all cities will immediately begin
celebrating, and will grow at a rate of one per turn as long as
there is surplus food. When they've gotten big enough, set the luxury
down to a reasonable level of 20-40%. This places you in the Second
The down-side to this is that setting luxury to 100% means
that your science research will all but stop. After your cities have
grown, and you put science back up to 50% or so, you will again gain
techs, but at a slightly slower rate. If you have done some
exploring, and are not immediately threatened by another player, it
can be a good idea to keep science at maximum until techs start to
take too long to generate.
Second Expansion Phase:
When you get your cities to a good sized population, wean them
off luxuries gradually and increase taxes. Once they're down to 30%
luxury or so, put as much of the taxes as you can into science, while
maintaining a positive income. When you get railroad, turn all your
roads into rails, or at least the squares used for production, or
those that form part of a transport network. (Tip: turn every square
used by a city into a road/rail, it increases that city's output.
There's no need to upgrade the very centre square - that's done
Now is the time to develop industrialization, and military
technologies. You should also begin building cities on other islands,
and do some serious exploring if you have not already done so. You
need to find out where your enemies are. Go for techs good for ships,
and try to build Magellan's Expedition. When you feel ready, go into:
Now you're building factories and power plants in your cities.
You want to get as much production as possible out of each city.
Pollution becomes a problem. As soon as you can, try to research Mass
Production for Mass Transits, and Recycling so you can build
Recycling Centers. Once you've got all your cities going strong, you
must build military units. (Note: If you come into contact with
another player, you should immediately build a few attack units, and
at least one defense unit per city.)
When you want to begin thinking about attacking someone, set
science to 0%, and put raise taxes as high as you can without
provoking disorder. Remember, money can build units too!
Utter Annihilation of Your Enemies Phase:
This can happen at any time, but it's more fun with the
Pick a relatively weak enemy, and send over a few ship-loads of
troops. Take over his cities, and use them to build more units to
take out the rest of them with. Show no quarter! To the death!
Repeat as often as necessary! ;-)
[Note for pacifists: Freeciv also allows a player to win by building
and launching a spaceship which arrives at Alpha Centauri before anyone
Q. What other strategies are there?
There are a number of tutorials and strategy guides available at
the Freeciv wiki:
Plus, the Freeciv online help describes another strategy.
Q. In multiplayer games, what timeout should I set?
That depends upon the number of players. If there are just
two of you playing, you can usually get away with using timeout 0. If
there are more than two, or if one of the two is going to be away from
his terminal at random intervals and you don't want to halt play, a
timeout of 60 seconds is usually sufficient. Later in the game,
however, as things get more complex, you may want to extend the
timeout to 240 seconds. In general, the more players you have, the
longer a timeout you will need. Feel free to set whatever timeout
seems comfortable, but remember that going above 300 will tend to
Q. What size map should I use?
The map size depends upon how many players there are, and how
fast you want the game to end. The default map size (80x50) is big
enough for a fairly quick two player game, but will result in a *very*
fast game if any more than three people are participating.
Fast games tend to be frustrating for everyone but the winner,
as nobody has really had any time to develop any defense. If you have
more than three people playing, you should use an 80x80 map. If you
have five or more people, you probably want to consider one that's
Q. What is that "generator" option?
It alters the map generation process. If you play Freeciv
a few times without changing this setting, you are sure to hear of (or
experience) the horrors of a tiny island. Tiny Island Syndrome (TIS)
is known to make people go insane. To fix this, our kind and loving
coders installed the generator option.
- When set to RANDOM, it creates the map using a random height generator,
with islands of different (and potentially unfair) sizes.
- When set to FRACTAL it generates the map using a pseudo fractal height
generator. This means that the mountains and the hills will be
placed according to everlasting mathematical figures.
- ISLAND generates islands of equal size (sometimes with some smaller
islands thrown in). This way, nobody can whine about losing "on
account of that d**ned island."
- SCENARIO is used for premade maps. (Load a map by typing in
/load /dir/savegame.sav.gz in the input field at the bottom of the
screen, in this way it is possible to change the settings of a game.
Use the map editor to change a map.)
- FAIR is the most fair of all generators for the multiplayer games.
It gives all users or teams identical islands.
Below the generator option there is the startpos option. This setting
determines how many players are placed on the same continent. Each
generator option has its own default startpos value. Which is loaded
when startpos is DEFAULT. (The default startpos for the fractal height
generator is ALL, which means that the generator will try to place all
the players on the same continent.
Q. Should I make the game easier by increasing the starting gold?
If you are inexperienced, and are playing with inexperienced
people, probably no one will object to an increase in the amount of
gold they start with. This is, however, not a good way to learn how
to play. Starting out with lots of money makes the game much easier,
and makes it more difficult for you to learn how to cope with the
default amount. Most experienced players don't increase this setting,
and if they know how to cope with it and you don't, you are going to
go the way of Atlantis.
Note: The same thing applied to the "techlevel" and "researchspeed"
Q. What about those other settings?
The rest of them mainly have to do with what sort of world
will be generated and game mechanics. Increasing "specials" gives you
a high chance of resources/square, and huts determines how many
freebie huts there are. Increasing the amount of settlers or
explorers one starts with makes the game go faster, and allows people
to survive "those $#@! barbarians" which sometimes live in huts.
The rail-related settings determine how much more a square
will produce in food/trade/production with a railroad on it, and the
foodbox setting determines how much food each person in a city has to
have before a new person can be added.
As for the rest, higher "mountains" means a more mountainous
map, higher "deserts" means more deserts, etc.
Q. How do I get _____ tech?
Look the tech up in the online help. It will show you the
technologies you need to get first.
You could read the technology ruleset in
'data/classic/techs.ruleset'. It shows a list of all the techs,
and what techs are necessary to get them.
Q. What kinds of military units are the most useful?
Armor (tanks), Helicopters, Cruise Missiles, Battleships,
Transports, Nuclears, Howitzers, Bombers.
Armor (tanks), Mech Inf., Howitzers, Battleships,
Cruise Missiles, Nuclears.
Remember, the best defense is a strong offense.
Additions to this document are welcome!