How to Play

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The Freeciv playing HOWTOEdit

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?Edit

1) Select your "settler" unit.

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

Q: Can you give me a basic strategy?Edit

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
Technological sub-phase
The Second Expansion phase
The Production phase
and The Utter Annihilation of Your Enemies phase

Initial Expansion:Edit

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 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 Expansion phase.

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:Edit

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 automatically).

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:

Production Phase:Edit

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:Edit

This can happen at any time, but it's more fun with the advanced weapons.

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 else.]

Additional questions:Edit

Q. What other strategies are there?Edit

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?Edit

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?Edit

The map size depends upon how many players there are, and how fast you want the game to end. The default map size (4000) 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 a 6000 map. If you have five or more people, you probably want to consider one that contains 10000 fields.

Q. What is that "generator" option?Edit

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?Edit

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?Edit

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?Edit

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?Edit

For Attack:
Armor (tanks), Helicopters, Cruise Missiles, Battleships, Transports, Nuclears, Howitzers, Bombers.
For Defense:
Armor (tanks), Mech Inf., Howitzers, Battleships, Cruise Missiles, Nuclears.

Remember, the best defense is a strong offense.

Additions to this document are welcome!

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