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 doc/README.

If you have never played the Civilization games, it's easiest to start by reading the Freeciv Manual, available at Manual.

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 the AI.

Q: How do I build a City?[]

1) Select your "settler" unit.

2) Press 'B' key or goto your menus>work>build city.

Q: Can you give me a basic strategy?[]

Strategy depends on the map you're playing on. A player needs to build offensive/defensive units quickly, try to control his borders, research new governments, and destroy the weakest nations.

Initial Expansion:[]

Strategy depends on map size, map generator, land size, and starting units. If this is a standard game with four players on map size one with landmass 70, or similarly size 2 with landmass 30, the player needs to devote his capital to building units while other cities produce settlers. On an island game, a player can freely build settlers at first and research map making to get early triremes to scout.

Read the section how to settle cities. The capital gives a +75% bonus in the classic ruleset, so settle your capital wisely. In this case, your capital at size 2 should have a minimum of 5 shields (which will be 8 after the bonus). This can be easily achieved with a city on grassland with 2 forests nearby, but this is not a good spot. For example, close to perfect would be to settle on a wheat tile with oil and coal nearby so that at size 2 the city will have 15 production, allowing production of 3 horses in 4 turns. Buy a barracks as fast you can. Usually a player starts with 50 gold, so you should buy it in the second turn after settling your capital (unless you are playing on islands or a big map).

When you play against AI just pressure it. AI is very stupid, don't waste time on diplomacy. It leaves cities empty often, just put warrior near his cities and wait until he empties them. In most times those captured cities are built in bad spots, then just sell improvements and set citizens to scientists, leave such city with 1 warrior inside.

Always build military units in city with barracks. Usually first barracks in capital should be enough before reaching 6-8 cities. Also rehome units in other cities to get free upkeep of units.

When you get 5 veteran horses/archers you can go and destroy some AI. AI always is rushing city walls, so its easy target. If AI finishes city walls don't attack such city, just stay with warrior around waiting until it leaves it empty, or wait 10 catapults, also you might consider investigating city with diplomat to check how much defenders is there.

On continental map you should get monarchy quite fast. You can use some extra scientists in cities, especially in those with weak production/high corruption.

On island just go republic. AI has no idea how to play on islands, you can just keep 2-3 catapults, 2 - 3 chariots and kill all landing AI units, keep all coastal cities empty so it wont kill your units with steam engines / destroyers.

On small continental game you should be able to erase 5-10 AI with horsemen only. After monarchy you can research chivalry and build sun tzu academy ( if you have more than 15 cities, then its worth to build it ). Just produce horde of knights like 20-40 and enjoy destruction.

Just be patient, dont attack cities with walls or on mountains. Some heavily defended AI cities you can erase with cannons later. AI can move 5 units out of city and put is straight bereft your catapult. Show no mercy.

Where to settle cities:[]

Average spot for city in despotism is with +2 food surplus, +2 shields, +1 trade. But you should find better. Very good would be +3 food surplus, or +3 shields. Consider capital bonuses eg. capital on pheasant with mined oil nearby would give +0 food, +10 production and +1 trade ( or you could build on oil instead getting +1 food, but on forest you would get +50% defense bonus ). Use such early boosts to get very early horsemen, use scientists in other cities to get horseback riding in 3-4 turns.

Depending on ruleset - terrain gives a lot of defense bonus. Usually hill gives a decent amount - + 100% in classic ruleset. Against AI it doesn't matter much, it looks to do random moves mostly.

Use your cities wisely:[]

If you have barracks in city use such city to build military units, in other cities build settlers, workers, diplomats. On island game make slave / master cities. Slave city build units, master city build improvements to increase farming speed.

How to farm like a boss:[]

You can do it easily on islands. Get republic fast ( use scientists for it ). Get about 7-11 master cities. Build harbors/temples there. In slave cities get some chariots/ catapults to defend. Rapture master cities to size 8. ( Rapturing means - cities grows 1 per turn - you can do it in republic, setting enough luxury so there is more or equal happy citizens than content, city needs to be at least size 3 also ). Then you can make caravans to establish trade routes between such big cities. Each caravan would give around +100 gold/research. If you are beginner skip caravans. Build markets/banks/aqueducts. ( Research only construction and banking ). Rapture cities to size 12 - get libraries - then you can continue farming going to democracy or get universities and start kicking AI asses with musketeers/steam engines/destroyers/marines. If you choose going democracy, then switch to it, get sewers ( sanitation tech ), then rapture as much you can, get universities and research whatever you want, it should be quick.

How to fight like a boss:[]

Just use defense bonuses, be close to your enemy, see what's he is doing. Nothing fancy in beating AI players. Check also if units have any bonuses against other units, eg. pikeman has doubled defense vs mounted units. Attack only if you are sure you have enough army, 20 units is nothing unusual.

In multiplayer games you must do blitz attacks, or risk that your 20 knight army will be annihilated by single catapult. Defend cities in dangerous spots even with 5-10 units, beware diplomats inciting revolution in cities, be unpredictable.

Additional questions:[]

Q. What other strategies are there?[]

There are a number of tutorials and strategy guides available at the Tutorials page.

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 bother people.

Q. What size map should I use?[]

Don't use map size at all. Use tiles per player option. 70 tiles its for fast game, 150 for long game.

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 1, it creates the map using a random height generator, with islands of different (and potentially unfair) sizes.
  • When set to 2 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.
  • 3 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."
  • 0 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.)

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 0. (The default startpos for the fractal hight generator is 3, which means that the generator will try to place all the players on the same continent.

See example maps generated with different options.

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 applies to the "techlevel" and "researchspeed" settings.

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/default/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?[]

  • For Attack:
Horsemen, catapults, knights, cannons, cavalry, artillery, howziters, fighters.
All mobile units are best attackers, because you can hit anywhere and if u have a lot of amount such units there is warranty you will get/destroy city. Catapults and similar offensive units are not good, because even with roads you can hit only some border cities, which are usually heavily guarded.
  • For Defense:

Just keep 1 defender in each city in dangerous spot, use attackers to get rid of incoming units, use goto to hide unit after attacking. Catapult and similar offensive units are best defenders !

Additions to this document are welcome!