First off, a note about this tutorial. It's written by a relatively new player for relatively new players, especially those who have difficulty winning against even just one "novice" AI.

This tutorial still badly needs to be worked on before being complete... instead you might want to check out the Sid Meier's Civ II tutorial which was very well written. Freeciv is extremely similar to Civ II, so it should be useful; only the interfaces differ a bit.

Start of Game[]

I'm assuming that you know how to start the game up. But before you start playing, you'll want to make it easier for yourself to get to know the game. So click on the "game options" button, and use these settings in the various tabs:

  • in Geological:
    "Method used to generate map" set to "3";
    "Method used to choose start positions" set to 3;
  • in Sociological:
    "City size before people become unhappy" set to 6;
    "Number of cities for higher unhappiness" set to 100;
    "Year the game ends" set to 5000 ;
  • in Military:
    "Barbarian appearance frequency" set to 0;
    Uncheck "Whether to enable fog of war".

This'll make it easier for you to figure out what's going on.

Okay, so the game's started. You should see your units circled by a dotted white ring. This means it's selected. To move a selected unit, press G and then move your mouse around--you'll see a blue line going from the unit to your round cursor. The number next to it is how many turns it takes to get there. 0 turn means you can move your unit there this turn, and could possibly move that unit at least once again after going to that destination (this depends on how far your units can travel per turn); 1 or higher turns means your unit will begin going that way but can't reach it until the next turn. (Note that all tiles farther away than the first tile will take two turns of moving to get there.) So click on somewhere on the map--in the black is okay--and your unit will go there.

The cursor then focuses on another of your units--if it has a horse it's an explorer, if it has a pick it's a worker, and if it has a wagon it's a settler. Note that all basic units except the explorer can only go 1 tile per turn. Also note that going diagonally still costs only 1 movement point, and that rivers allow your units to move more steps. All of your units have at least some (but small) defensive ability.

  • Explorers are the best unit for roaming around. They can't attack enemies.
  • Workers are good for irrigation, paving roads, erecting fortresses, terrain conversion, and exploration.
  • Settlers are good for starting your city, joining a city, irrigation, paving roads, erecting fortresses, terrain conversion, and exploration.

If you come across a hut, go into it! There could be something good there (all free):

  • Money, whether 25 gold, 50 gold, or 100 gold
  • Allied units, whether horsemen or carriage
  • Advancements (tech), generally low level
  • A new city with 1 or 2 citizens
  • OR your unit could get killed by "barbarians" (in which case bad luck, but DON'T let it discourage you)

So, first thing to do is to go around looking for the best place to settle. You're trying to look for any "interesting" tiles -- those that have fish, whales, items, shields, animals, oil, and metals. Also of use are coasts, rivers, and grasslands (dark green). When you move your settler around you'll see a 5x5 red rounded square -- this is your city radius should you choose to build here. So, if you find good tiles, try to include as much as you can in that border. Try to place your city on a river, by a coastline, or on grassland, as this will give you a head start. Don't spend too many turns wandering around (turns via the "turn done" button on the sidebar).

If you don't want to move units for extended periods of time, select them and press S.

Building your city[]

Once you have moved a settler to where you want to build, press B, and click "OK". This turns the settler into a city with 1 citizen ("10,000 population"). You can get back to the city dialog box by clicking on any city.

If you start with 2 settlers and turn them both into cities, the first city has 2 citizens and is your capital, while the second has 1.

When you click on a city, it will bring up the city window and display the city Overview tab. This lists the summary and functionalities of the city:

  • The "info" frame tells you what your city is producing. If there's a number in parenthesis, that's the more important number showing net values. So "4 (2)" for food means you're producing 4, but only 2 surplus.
  • Also in the info frame is "granary". The "change in" underneath tells you how many turns until your city gets bigger. Larger cities have more output, and any city with at least 2 population can produce new settlers.
  • The city map tells you which tiles are being worked on. If you want to work on them manually, click on one of the sets of numbers to remove it, and then you can click on an empty tile to set it to work.
  • The "improvements" frame tells you what you have in that city, structure-wise.
  • The "supported units" lists what units the city is supporting. Most units require "upkeep", which drains the city of production points ("prod") every turn and can also make people unhappy.
  • The "present units" frame lists what units are on the city. Aside from 1 military unit, try to keep this box empty, since those units aren't doing anything.

The second tab:

  • The "production" progressbar shows how far something is to completion. "X/Y Z turns" means that there are X shields (production points) input into the project, out of Y total, so that you need Z more turns to finish. Note that if you switch what you're working on, you lose half of all the shields already spent on it if you switch types of production (ie from a building to a unit), so usually you will only switch when something has just been completed.
  • The "target worklist" shows, in order, what your city is going to build. If it's a military unit, "info" refers to the unit's stats (more on this later).

Now, for resources:

  • Food: The more surplus food, the faster your city grows.
  • Prod (production): The more surplus production, the faster your city builds things. These are often referred to as "shields".
  • Trade: This gets divided between gold, luxury, and science.

And for other output:

  • Gold: The surplus gold from each city goes into your national treasury, which is shown in the sidebar. You can then use the gold to buy things and negotiate.
  • Luxury: The more luxury, the more people in your city are content (or if all are content, the more are happy).
  • Science: Each point of science from each city adds up into your national tech research. These are often referred to as "bulbs".