I have an answer for you - I had the same problem but I know now :-) Basically as you choose novice when you create a new game - it gets reset to a more agressive level if you make any other property amendments after. Make sure that you choose all game properties first. Then you go back into properties and only change the value to NOVICE. To the left in green the setting must appear as confirmed as the very last command. Now start your game and you are good to win.

Also - if you return to your game and load it -  one again all oppponents get set to EASY level unless you manually reset them to NOVICE. Else your game can get harder half way through.

How to win:

  1. Make sure your opponents remain NOVICE
  2. Research Granary first (workers and granary)
  3. Research Monarchy second (once you are a monarchy research speeds up)
  4. Research Library third (build the library for research)
    Forums: Index > Playing Freeciv > Impossibly Hard


I'm not new to Civ. I played Civ II many hundreds of hours. I was excited when I discovered Freeciv. But after playing, and losing mercilessly, FreeCiv, even on Novice, I have to say that whoever configured this game has no familiarity with what made Sid Myers' game great. The gameplay in FC is so unbalanced - the AI is a freaking death-dealing machine. It bounces back from just about any strategy you present to it. My research is taking FOREVER, even with well-managed cities. And the AI seems to just skip whole genrations of reasearch and come up with 20th century discoveries in the early hundreds AD.

I expect a bunch of you wonks might reply with the same old beginner-strategy tips, but befroe you do, just answer me this: do you actually play and win FreeCiv at a level above novice? Are there documented evidences of this? I'm sorry, but playing a GAME is supposed to be FUN, it's a GAME for crying out loud. Getting the shit kicked out of you time after time is not fun, it's an exercise in frustration. Seriously, is FreeCiv some sort of stealth AI psyops operation? To discover any and all weakneses of the human race's intellectual defensive capabilities, before the robots take over and bomb humans into oblivion?

It's just simply absurd. I play a game on "Novice" and I get treated like an expert. Who designed this thing? The planners of this game eneed to go look the word "novice" up in a dictionary.

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 16:27, April 1, 2010

  • go have a cry... it's FREE
  • the developers have done a great job with the rest of the game
  • if you really want... go change the ruleset to civ 2 and go make a custom AI
  • why don't you just join the developers and help them make it better
  • or go buy civ 4 or 5 if you are too lazy

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 05:23, October 9, 2010

Freeciv is a challenging game, yes. And yes, there are people who beat the Freeciv AI. They key is to get to Republic as quickly as possible. On the other hand, there is a long-standing bug in Freeciv in that the AI's attitude towards human players never recovers once it has started to slide. The good news is that it was just fixed in GNA#16813 so there will hopefully be fewer genocidal AI players in future releases including Freeciv 2.2.4. hima 16:34, October 9, 2010 (UTC)

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Uhm, I see this is almost a year late.

Anyway, I have graphic evidence the AI is cheating with the tech tree. Unless spies don't report what I am supposed to. Some fairly difficult to understand things in my last try: No alphbet nor writing but have banking, chemistry, combustion, electricity. No bronze working, but do have iron working (it was my understanding it's a prerequisite). No construction, but do have bridge building. Have monotheism, but no polytheism. They don't have pottery. But their cities do have granary. Most of their cities do have universities. Which is odd, considering they require philosophy, based on literacy, which they don't have.I have the screenshots, and I am ready to reproduce this as much as you want. What's the deal in walking a directed graph?

EDIT: Ok on closer scrutinity, it looks like embassy reports only tech you don't have. Which makes sense. This is still WAY off. Even after acquiring their whole empire they produce only 63 bulbs, vs my previous 50+ so one still wonder how they managed to accomplish this.

MaxDZ8, 22nd July 2011

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Now I kicked FC off off my computer!!! I'm so done with this game!!! The last time I played it, the AI's hat TANKS in 1600!!!! (in Novice)

I researched republic first. I even had "Leonardos Werkstatt" (Yes I'm German) but when they came with Tanks, Artillery and so on, my Dragonians(????) and Musketeers had NO chance. I loved Freeciv once, but now I HATE IT, HATE IT, HATE IT!!!!!!

You will never again see me here! And I will tell everyone who asks me about FC that it is such a f****** sh** game!!! And the developers don't even get the whole Game translated into German! Curious: Once it was full translated.

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I've played Freeciv for many years, and plenty of 2.3.3 on Normal difficulty. I don't find it challenging. In fact I entertain myself with all the exploits, such as the AI's willingness to aggressively chase inappropriate units, thereby leaving its cities vulnerable to walk-ins. Or attacking untrained Warriors standing on favorable defensive terrain, where there's a reasonable chance the attacking unit could die. Another free walk-in! You'd be surprised how much you can conquer with untrained Warriors and just spamming, relying on the AI to make lots of mistakes. 2.3.3 on Experimental difficulty is the same way.

I just tried 2.4.0-beta1 on Experimental difficulty and... uuuh... it kicked my ass. What? Piles and piles of Archers from 2 allied countries came at me rather early, when I only had 3 cities. I am wondering if Experimental has become synonymous with Cheating difficulty. I'm not seeing how the AI managed to produce so many Archers in such a short time, although it's not impossible. I will try again and see if it's a pattern.

Hm, not such a big deal the 2nd time. My starting position was rather different. I was far away from immediate threats, with lots of defensible terrain on the way to get to me. I researched Horseback Riding first, which is my opening strategy if I'm feeling violent. I sent my Horsemen over very long distances and killed or took a few cities. So I can't really say the AI on Experimental is cheating, as I didn't see a lot of units being spewed, and the same exploits worked as always. I did notice that the AI eventually starts cranking out a lot of Archers, and moves them in stacks of 3 or 4 at a time. That's not weird if they're coming from a capitol city with good production after 30 turns or so.

For all you newbies who think Freeciv is so hard, here is my "violence" strategy, if I'm in that mood. Before you do anything else, set your research to Horseback Riding. That way if you pop a hut, you'll get that tech first. After founding your capitol (let's pretend that's Turn 1), build a Warrior. Wait 1 turn to get some production into it. Then on Turn 2, buy the Warrior. On Turn 3, buy a Warrior again. Because you bought on Turn 2, the capitol's production goes into the Warrior for the next turn. This means you don't have to pay the "expensive price" for a Warrior that has no production, as you've already built a little bit of it. Similarly on Turn 4, buy a Warrior. Yeah these Warriors are untrained, but you've produced them immediately. Go try to pop huts with them. Popping huts will either get you your money back, or get the Horseback Riding tech you've started researching.

Build Warriors like that until you have 6 and are supporting them from your 2 cities, or until you run out of money. You may have to move them from 1 city to another and then hit "H" to give them a new home, so that you can get free support for them. Once you've got all your "free" supported units, there's not so much advantage in rushing the unit production anymore. 6 untrained Warriors is a good amount for exploration and hut popping.

When you've got enough money, and/or you've got Horseback Riding, build a Barracks in your capitol. If you've got money, rush buy the Barracks as soon as you've got a little bit of production into it. Don't spend all your money if you've got negative cash flow though. Sometimes if you built your cities on forests or hills without any resource specials, you won't have any money coming in. So you need to keep a reserve of money until your cities get larger, or you've got more cities, to get the positive cash flow. If you run out of money your Barracks will get sold out from under you, so no point rushing to buy one you can't afford!

Once you've built the Barracks, build Horsemen with it. Other cities should produce Settlers or untrained Warriors. Don't worry about the Warriors being untrained. Often they work as "bait" ! The AI will often attack them when it shouldn't, think they're so weak. But if they're standing on a mountain, or a hill with a river, or if they're just standing away from a city while another unit is waiting to walk in... well you can put a serious hurting on the AI using untrained Warriors.

Another trick, a cheat really, is you can queue up a move and it'll usually execute before the AI does anything. I use this all the time. I'm shameless, I've played enough Freeciv that I just want to have fun winning. Hit "G" for Goto and then point your unit at whatever you want to kill. This is really good when your Horseman meets an unexpected Archer, and you want to get the first strike. Or moving next to an empty city, then queuing a move into a city before the AI can respond. Ha ha ha! Tell me Freeciv isn't dead easy with all this stuff.

Bvanevery (talk) 20:21, August 17, 2012 (UTC)

This is the exact reason why I left Freeciv, as well. It was playable back in the 1.x days, but now you got to dedicate your life to it even at Novice, to win. Screw that. Adieu Freeciv.

Anyhow, looks like the project is dying. Maybe I'm not the only one who said "good riddance" to this turd. 14:24, November 4, 2012 (UTC)

To the defectors or those considering abandoning the game because of the AI difficulty or difference : There are guides out there to beat the game ; there's also the very well documented help section of the game. If you can't be bothered to read one of those or at least ask precise questions about them, then good riddance! Go pay for a game that hand-hold you. DynV (talk) 05:46, July 20, 2013 (UTC)

I don't know how much things have changed since 2010, I'm not really on top of the changelog, but I remember that Novice has always been VERY accomodating to the player, letting you get away with some strategies that are simply absurd. If you can't win on Novice, you probably aren't very good at Strategy games. Games like civ have enough depth to them that you must spend some time analyzing them in order to do well - that's the appeal of the genre, isn't it? I find in most 4X's you should focus as much on your economy as the enemy will allow or you will find yourself quickly falling behind in gold, research, infrastructure and production capacity.

What follows is a heavily tl;dr guide on how to dominate in freeciv without resorting to exploits. You can crosspost this somewhere if you think it would help, although there may be more comprehensive guides out there. However, I have detailed the most important parts of my strategy during the ever so crucial earlygame.

Make sure you have enough land settled, first and foremost. Don't have too many cities on the coast unless you are going for naval domination, otherwise you leave them vulnerable to incredibly obnoxious drive-by attacks by ironclads. Make sure your far-flung cities are connected to your core cities by a road network so you can share units. Hills with coal make superb spots to settle on if you want to expand quickly (city squares receive free irrigation and you can build a mine on them in spite of it), but food resources are also helpful. Don't leave settlers out for too long, they require 1 food as upkeep and this will severely restrict the growth of their origin city. A new city in the initial expansion stage of the game will require three "good" (at least two food and one shield) squares at the most, one for the city itself, another for it's first citizen, and perhaps a third one for the second citizen while you're building a settler!

If you're a beginner, don't start unnecessary wars. SERIOUSLY. Always accept the AI's initial offer of a ceasefire and immediately offer peace if their attitude towards you is positive. If you don't mind possibly giving one of your competitors an early advantage you can "buy" peace with technology or gold. This is easier on maps where you only share land with one nation or so. Once you get a good snowball going you can kick their ass later if you are so inclined. You should not be trading your cities at this stage in the game, and arguably the later stages as well. But you'll probably get involved in a war at some point, so I'll tell you a few secrets on how to win them.

Highly aggressive strategies that require large standing armies are nearly always bad. Every turn you spend producing units is a turn you're not spending developing your cities into the economic powerhouse they need to be to do well in this game, so only produce what you need. Wars in the Civilization series tend to be those of attrition, and you will not often have a quick, decisive victory unless you have a large technology advantage. If you do not your strategy must hinge on using a small, well-trained force effectively to ruin the other player's economy. The Zone of Control mechanic is stupidly useful for defending your borders, put defensive units on favorable terrain (particularly chokepoints created by water) so they can't just waltz right onto your farmland and pillage it. Once you have a safe perimeter you should start scouting to see what the enemy is doing, the type of unit you should use for this depends upon the terrain, it's usually best to have phalanxes are archers travel through the hills and forests. You may encounter dangerous units on the way, it might be a good idea to fortify along the way to create a safe "stepping stone" for more units, or if you're feeling brave you could press on even further. Remember, when the defending unit loses, ALL the units in that stack die unless they are on a city or fortress. If you must stack units, have a strong defender in the stack and be on good terrain, and don't stack too many!

Your first priority is to track down weak or even entirely undefended cities and conquer them. Lowland cities are good for this. Be aware of any defense bonuses the enemy receives, if the odds are stacked in their favor, it is probably not worth attacking them. All you will do is waste more production trying to replace the unit, and perhaps even give the enemy unit another rank of experience. An archer standing on open ground is a good target though! Quality is more important than quantity in this game and you DO NOT want a rampaging elite legion in your territory. Superior units tend to snowball. If the city has a barracks, it's do-or-die - any surviving units will be fully healed next turn, and additional, healthier units can screen them in the meantime. Against a city with walls I would recommend two catapults for every defensive unit garrisoned there, which is an expensive proposition. Placing units on food squares will deny the city those resources and starve the population, making it difficult to launch an offensive against you using the resources of that city alone, and potentially harming that empire's trade as well, an important benefit in the long run. Remember that you don't HAVE to capture that pesky walled-in hill city with a barracks and veteran archers defending it, once you've destroyed all the terrain improvements you can move your forces deeper into enemy territory and look for easier targets. I would leave behind a few units on top of important food and production resources though so your main army can receive reinforcements, and you can pick off any workers the city tries to produce.

Research either Monarchy or Republic as soon as you think is wise, the corruption under a despotic goverment is probably the greatest obstacle your economy will initially face, especially if you like to give your cities some space. Not only that, but building mines in the hills will become feasible, since the penalty to resources exceeding 2 is removed, and you can grow crops in fertile grassland to make up for the meager 1 food hill mines provide. That way, you can benefit from their production value and your cities will continue to grow. The benefits provided from a non-despotic goverment are helpful under ALL strategies.

As for developing your cities... BUILD MORE WORKERS! Unless you have more immediate priorities your workers should outpace the population growth of any given city, letting them stagnate at 1 or 2 citizens is harmful to your economy in the long run. How large your cities can grow is bottlenecked by the happiness of your citizens, you can grow no larger than that cap without losing control of the city. You want to grow your cities to this cap, and ideally, increase the cap using either martial law or buildings that increase happiness. Which method you use first depends on the current needs of your empire, but I usually use both in the long run. Martial law requires 1 shield for every unit (under Monarchy the first 3 units are free, and under despotism there is no shield upkeep period!), whereas "happy" infrastructure tends to cost 1 roughly one gold per citizen it pacifies. An irrigated plain with a road, one of the most common squares you will work, will provide either a net gain of 1 shield or 1 gold at best depending on which method you used. "So what," you're thinking, that's nothing. But oh no, it's something, and every shield counts when you've ran out of land to settle. If your empire falls on hard times you may use coinage to support a high research ratio and stay militarily competitive with the other nations. Modifiers provided by marketplaces and libraries allow you to get more out of a single trade point, and of course caravans are highly useful when you have some high population cities. If you went with the "naval superiority" strategy, you better damn well build some harbors and take advantage of that awesome two trade points per ocean square it provides!

Eventually you will want to switch over to Republic (if you didn't rush it first, a strategy that I personally, strongly disfavor.) in peacetime for the +1 TP bonus per square, this gives you an enormous advantage, but I like to use Monarchy at least initially to get rid of damn despotism and prepare myself for possible early wars. Don't underestimate how big of a transition this is, you will not be able to rely on Martial Law any more to enforce order in your cities, and once you're under Republic the disorder caused by excess population, even by a single city, could send you straight back into Anarchy. You'll want to take some workers off food squares in high population cities to either control growth or starve the city. You can also prepare for your new goverment by building more happy infrastructure. If you're fighting any wars that require a large standing army ALL your units including the first three will require 1 shield of upkeep, and this must also be taken into account. Units that cannot be supported will be DISBANDED in a rather unpredictable fashion, which could prove disastrous if they guarded a key strategic point. Your cities will also produce units and buildings at a slower rate if they are supporting units, so you may want to take advantage of your current production capacity while you still have it. Once you have accounted for all these things you must switch over. Note that if your cities are not very large the extra 3 upkeep could cripple those city's production. In this case, switching may be entirely infeasible until they grow larger.

You actually read all that? Wow. Hopefully, that should at least get you out of the medieval period if you're having trouble.

If you have a life and you play computer games only to relax, you should not download this game.

I have played previous release of this game and had a lot of fun playing the Novice & Easy level. Sadly, the group of developer has decide to make the game accessible only to expert. On the latest revision, I'm not able to compete against Novice AI.

Good luck at the developer's team, soon you will be developing only for yourselves...

At the same time experienced players are complaining that there's no point at all in playing aginst AI as it's boringly trivial to win - often viewed only as resource to harvest in a game against other human players. The main problem here is that there's not enough difference between difficulty levels - novice AI is not that much easier than hard, and hard is not that much harder than novice. Maybe you are neglecting some aspect of the game? I've seen players who were not establishing trade routes at all and losing their games due to very poor economy to turn unstoppable in the next game once they were taught the importance of international trade (with default rules route with another player yields twice what national route does, and route to another continent doubles it again for total of 4x). You could also try to disable diplomacy between AI players in case your problem is the way they deal techonology with each other. See server setting 'diplomacy' ('/explain diplomacy' in client chatline) --Cazfi (talk) 12:40, September 23, 2013 (UTC)


Winning at FREECIV can be easy.  If you have such a small map that you meet your enemies in the first turn, you will have problems by turn 32.  If you have a map in the thousands of tiles, you can build up and then beat the computer.  Then it becomes all about strategy, and less about tactics.  I have one on small and big maps, however prefer the bigger maps, so that I am still discovering the world in the 1700's like real life.

The second this to do is to make sure you get some of the wonders going right away.  Then build quality cities and expand.  Do not build settlers until you have a granary, even if it means you are building a wonder or some other unit until you discover the tech.

EXPLORE THOSE HUTS!  I prefer to use diplomats and then spies.  They do not cause upset when they are outside your territory, nor do they have any upkeep.  The best to discover is the first explorer as any units he finds have no home city to drain resources.

Finally, read the manual and their suggestions about how to play.

Most importantly, have fun!  Winning is fun.  Even if it takes a week of 1 hour evenings to get to the end of a game.

January 11, 2015


Novice and easy AI should be no problem as of current stable version (2.4.4). They only ever build like 3-5 cities max and can barely walk and chew a gum at the same time.

Normal and upwards however play in a very specific manner (this is called ICS - Infinite City Sprawl or smallpox), and unless you play in the same fashion and know what to do, you will most likely lose by midgame (possibly even earlier in a non-island game) since it grants the AI unfair uncounterable by any other stratategy advantage. Right now as of 2.4.4, smallpox is a nuclear bomb in a game of rock paper scissors of freeciv strategies for the better (most?) part of the game.

This is indeed a problem. There were suggestions as to dealing with smallpox, and some were even implemented (empiresize unhappiness) but as was noted in a different thread, these are bandaid fix attempts, not solutions for the core of the problem.

The core of the problem with smallpox lies in the fact that it costs one population to build a settler but a resulting city will work 2 tiles from the get go or support a specialist for free. So while you could grow your city to 2 and work (center tile + 2 workers = 3 tiles) you might as well build a settler there, move it twice in any direction from city and build a new city there. This results in you having 2 city center tiles worked + 1 worker in each of 2 cities = 4 tiles worked) OR in a city that has only 1 tile worked but assuming it's built on grass on plain you could make the sole citizen a scientist and receive instant +3 bulb/turn from that city. As a bonus you now also get free road and irrigation bonuses in your city tiles. As it stands now, the smallpox strategy with city sizes 4 and usage of specalists is the strongest early and midgame strategies, and this is an absolute abomination.

To solve this problem, several options are available.

1. Make it impossible in default ruleset to build overlapping cities (this is different from citymindist 5 since that also prevents a completely legit non-overlapping diagonal stacking).

2. Make settler a lot more expensive to build (2 population and at least 60 in production units); 

3. Get rid of free production from city center tile and free improvements from there).

If it was up to me I would implement all of these. But alas it's not and probably freeciv developers have very different outlook on how things are right now. Oh well. Edmund usercutter (talk) 02:29, January 27, 2015 (UTC)

"if it was up to me" ... "But alas it's not" ... "...freeciv developers have very different outlook..."
Putting so plainly that "it's not my problem, and I'm not going to do anything" does not increase the chances that someone else will pick it up as something important for you. Not everyone is a software developer, but it's ridiculous to claim that you don't have the same power to make changes to open source software (and in this case even to the volunteer project itself) as everyone else.
There's not going to be big changes to classic ruleset, but AFAICT civ2civ3 ruleset (available in 2.5 and 2.6, default in 3.0) is an improvement in this respect. At least it has Settlers to cost 2 population. --Cazfi (talk) 04:16, January 27, 2015 (UTC)
"There's not going to be big changes to classic ruleset" <- this is my point exactly about the outlook. This problem has been brought up countless times over last many years. It is obviously a position of developers that everything works as intented and does not require any fixing. Even if someone did submit a patch to default rulest to permanently kill smallpox once and for all and allow players to play the game in more than one way, that patch would probably not get accepted. Because obviously reasons. --Edmund Usercutter (talk) 08:41, January 27, 2015 (UTC)
So you are sure civ2civ3 ruleset, default starting from 3.0, does not help? --Cazfi (talk) 17:27, January 27, 2015 (UTC)
I am following the development of civ2civ3 ruleset, but while it does significantly reduce the overwhelming strength of smallpox, it also introduces a large amounts of changes in many different fields that I am still not convinced I like. Time will show. Right now I most likely stick to default ruleset games wth citymindist=4. --Edmund Usercutter (talk) 15:45, January 28, 2015 (UTC)