How to beat the ai computer players
This document is intended to teach first time
users some basic strategies of Freeciv. It does not explain the game
mechanics, but instead provides some basic strategies and describes
the best ways to win against the warmongering AI players. At least it
will allow you to not fail miserably during the first few
We also advise new players to read
the manual on the server.
0.1 How do I set up the server?
In order to get a feel for the game, just open
two terminals and type in one terminal 'civserver' or 'ser' (if
you're in the source directory), then in the other terminal type
'civclient' or 'civ' and connect to the server. Then on the server
console type 'start'. This will set up the server with only one
player (you) and barbarians so that you can play a solitaire game
without any AI enemies.
For a game with
some AI players just type 'set aifill 5' before typing 'start' at the
server console. This will set up a new game with you and 4 AI
There is another option which is
the 'generator' option. This chooses the type of world and the start
positions in it. There are five different types of generators. If you
want an easy beginning, it is better to choose the generator options
2 or 3. This will place each player in their own island isolated from
the other AI (or human) players. To do so, just type 'set generator
2' before typing 'start' on the server.
1. AI Levels
There are three types of AI levels: easy,
medium and hard. In the upcoming version of Freeciv, Freeciv 1.15.0,
there will be a novice level to further weaken the AI's abilities.
One of the key things in a game is the amount
of terrain a civilization has control over. More land means more
population, more resources and more trade. So the first thing to do
is to build as many settlers as you can to found new cities. Then use
these new cities to build more settlers. You can use work lists to
build a defender in every city and then begin building settlers.
The best places to settle a city are near
specials. The cities use the tiles around their location (2x2) and
the tile the city is located on to produce food, shields and trade.
So the best places to settle new cities are where these specials fall
inside the 2x2 city radius. Probably, the best specials for fast
growth are Wales and Fish, which are in ocean tiles. Placing your
cities beside ocean tiles will allow your city to grow as fast as
possible, and it will enable you to build a Harbor later for further
increasing food output.
Try to not leave
gaps between cities, and create the necessary cities to fully fill
all of the terrain. Build cities even when there are not specials
within the city radius. You can later improve the terrain within the
city radius and in the later stages of technological advance,
transform the terrain to better suit your cities' needs.
When building cities along the borders of your nation, or where you
know there will be attacks, it's better to locate the city on terrain
tiles which have a defense bonuse if possible. Locating cities on
defensive bonus tiles such as hills provides any military unit
fortified in the city with additional defenses. Try not to locate a
city on a hill if this implies losing out on encompassing a special
tile within that cities' radius. You can then send your best
defensive units to fortify the city.
Continue settling cities until you are surrounded by your opponents.
You can then send “bodyguards” (defensive units) with
your settlers to steal terrain from your opponents by simply founding
new cities within their “borders.” Or you can skip
founding new cities near enemy territory and send the settlers to
other lands that are not yet owned. You can send the settlers to land
not owned by your enemies, you can send your settlers to explore new
islands with triremes or caravels, or you can use the settlers to
irrigate and improve your home land.
you finish your expansion because you cannot expand further without
overlapping city radii, you must let your cities grow. To do so, do
not keep building settlers, but instead order your cities to produce
military units and send them to the borders of your nation. You can
use them to fortify border cities or to attack your enemies. Use
other settlers to improve the terrain within your city radii. You can
even build some caravans to establish trade routes or build some
wonders which can provide very beneficial bonuses to your nation
militarily, culturally, and technologically.
There are four types of government you should be
interested in researching: Monarchy, Republic, Communism and
Democracy. Monarchy and Communism are the most useful when at war
with your enemies, and Republic and Democracy are the most convenient
when at peace with your neighbours.
begin the game in Despotism. Make researching Monarchy or Republic
one of your first goals. Switch to one of these types of government
once you have discovered them. To research Monarchy, set the long
term objective to Monarchy in the science report. There is a huge
amount of corruption in Despotism, and the trade-tax-science of
cities far from the capital will be lost due to corruption.
Surrounding your capital with cities 2-3 tiles distance from it will
maximize the science output of your empire.
When under Monarchy or Communism each city will support up to 3 units
for free and military units don't cause unhappiness. That is why
these are the most beneficial government types for a militaristic
Under Republic or Democracy
each unit needs one shield for upkeep. Each military unit outside a
city causes unhappiness and cities can revolt, which means that
cities cease to produce anything until their revolt is quelled by
adding Entertainers or increasing the Luxury rate. Managing wars with
enemies in these government types is expensive and not very
productive. On the other hand, these regimes are good for trade based
economies. These government types provide trade bonuses unlike the
previous ones. With these types of government your cities will grow
faster because cities celebrating a “We love the King Day”
will grow at 1 citizen per turn. Mainly, the differences between
Republic and Democracy are that with a Republic government you will
suffer some corruption, but with Democracy you do not. In a Democracy
your cities and units cannot be bribed by enemies, but citizens are
more likely to revolt when in war (due to increased unhappiness from
military units being away from cities for extended periods of time).
4. Terrain Improvement
For a detailed explanation of the different
terrain follow this link.
Terrain improvement must be done while you are still expanding and
occupying new land. You will want to connect all of your cities as
quickly as possible. You must be able to send military units to the
border cities of your civilization in order to engage in war with
your enemies. You will also need to establish communications with
other civilizations to establish trade routes. To do this, you must
build roads between cities with Settlers. Roads provide trade bonuses
which will in turn increase your economy.
aware that roading your land makes it easier for an attacking force
to conquer your cities, as they too will be able to use your roads
for faster movement of their military units. Keep some attack and
defense units distributed all around to help protect yourself from
To make your cities grow,
irrigate and road the plains. First the plains, that will give you
food, production and trade (2/1/1). With that production you will be
able to more effectively counter the AI attacks with more defensive
units stationed at each city.
and road the grassland and create mines in hills and mountains. Also
make roads in hills and mountains. A defender or attack in a hill or
mountain tile will have defensive bonuses which makes for good places
to station troops to repel enemy attackers.
Keep in mind that if you place a worker of a city on a hill or
mountain tile that this will slow down or stop the growth of the
city. The AI does not do a very good job of managing this aspect of
city growth, and therefore it is to your advantage to grow your
cities first by irrigating and roading the plains and grassland
tiles, then concentrate on increasing the production and trade of the
hills and mountain tiles within your city radius. This is why the
production/wonder cities of the AI players are usually small cities.
It's always better to have a city of size 8 and production 15 than
the same city with size 3 and production 7.
If you build a harbor in a coastal city the default routine of the
game will choose the ocean tile for the citizens within your city to
work instead of the irrigated tiles. You will lose the production of
the irrigated tiles by allowing the computer to auto-manage your
citizen work orders so rearrange worker orders of the citizens within
your cities manually.
When you discover
Railroad you can railroad the entire countryside. Try to connect all
your cities with rails as a first priority. Specifically concentrate
on railroading the mountains and hills because these tiles will gain
bonuses in production while river tiles will gain bonuses to
Because the AI does not adequetely
understand the concept of supply lines, you can exploit this tactic
to gain an edge over the AI. The supply lines of the roads and rails
that connect your high production cities to the front lines are
important. Normally, your high production cities will be near hills
and mountains, but not near the border lines of your civilisation.
Therefore, you must move your units to the front lines. Being able to
get a newly produced military unit to the front lines in one turn
using rails is significantly better than getting the same unit to the
front lines in 10 turns! The AI doesn't understand this concept at
this stage of the Freeciv development, so AI units will take longer
to arrive at their front lines than your units if you employ the
building of roads and rails to connect your cities.
Exploit the weakness of the AI. The AI doesn't know about strategic
cities and connected cities. To attack a civilization that occupies
two peninsulas connected by a land pass you can conquerer the cities
that connect the enemies empire in this “choke point.”
The AI doesn't understand that this cities are strategic to connect
and protect the empire, and therefore will not be as concerned about
protecting them differently than other cities as a human player
would. Concentrate all your forces in the attack and subsequent
fortification of these fallen enemy cities so that you can conquer
one half of the enemy's empire, and then the other half.
The AI defaults to war when it has the first
contact with an enemy unit. Therefore, the AI player will begin to
build attack units the first time it contacts you. Prior to building
attack units, the AI will build Barracks in each of its cities in
order to produce veteran units that would be more useful in
You need to neutralize the
impending attacks from the AI. One of the things you can do is to
place your capital and border cities on hills or forests. That way
you will benefit from the terrain bonuses and your defensive units
will be more likely to survive attacks from the AI, and will become
veteran units after enough successful battles.
It is important to place veteran defensive units in border cities to
make it more difficult for the AI to win against you when attacking
these cities. A way to stop the AI attacks is to build the veteran
defensive units in the high production cities inland, and then send
them to your frontier cities. It is more useful to use the resources
of your high production cities to fortify your border cities.
Remember to frequently replace your obsolete defensive units as you
discover new technologies. You can upgrade them or disband them in a
city to add shield to its production queue to build an advanced
It is very important to have the lastest
researched defensive units in your border cities. The AI is
omniscient and sees what you have in your cities. If the AI player
sees that you have defensive units that it cannot easily win against,
it will not attack that city and will search for another, hopefully
of another player, and will leave you alone.
The best defensive units are Phalanx, Pikemen, Muskeeter, Riflemen,
and Mech.Inf. Also Marines and Alpine Troops can be used in a pinch,
but are better utilized when exploiting their special abilities.
Another thing that you can do is to build city walls in your border
cities and your capital. Be especially mindful of building city walls
to further fortify cities containing Great Wonders as the AI will
place higher importance on capturing these cities than your other
Also, its a good thing to build
barracks in border cities. In case of an emergency is a lot better to
build a veteran unit than a normal one.
in the game, building city walls in coastal cities can be doubly
useful in resisting sea attacks. When someone researches Ironclads,
Destroyers or Cruisers, build coastal defenses to protect them from
Another good thing to do is to
send attacking units to border cities to protect those cities as well
as inland ones. It is better to attack than to be attacked.
You can also build diplomats and send them to your border cities to
protect them. You can use them to bribe enemy units or incite revolts
in enemy cities. The easy AI will not build diplomats for this
purpose so it is to your advantage to exploit this feature of the
diplomat unit against the AI.
To attack a city of another civilization try to
use the most technologically advanced units available. If these units
are also veteran units, your units will be more likely to survive and
conquer the city.
You can not conquer a
city sending a lone unit to a city. This is a waste of resources. You
must build an army with both defensive and aggressive units, using
the aggressive units to attack the cities and its defenders, and your
defensive units to protect the attacking units and later to fortify
in the conquered city. If you don't do this the AI will
counter-attack and liberate the city, and then steal a technology
advance (if you have more than the AI) in the process.
Also, it's good to know that the Horseman, Chariot, Knights,
Dragoons, Cavalry and Armor are good to attack cities without city
walls. These units are fast units and are useful in killing enemy
units that invade your terrain. To attack cities with walls you will
need strong units like Archers, Catapults, Cannons, Artillery and
In fact, you can check which unit
type is best to build in the work list Tab of the City Window. In the
Info Column you have for each available item a short description of
its properties (Attack, Defense, Movement). Just choose the best
attack unit to build. If you have a unit with equal attack strength
as another with more movement points, it is best to build the faster
unit as it will provide your army with more flexibility in dealing
with situations as they arrise.
course, always attack the weakest civilization with the least amount
of technology first. You can use diplomats to establish embassies
with other civilizations so that you can investigate use your
diplomat to investigate cities and plan your attack strategy in
addition to viewing the enemy units that are visible to you. Do not
attack a city that you can't conquer because your technological
advances are not sufficient enough to provide you with adequate
attack units. Instead, simply send some diplomats to incite a revolt
or sabotage the city.
weaknesses. The AI is vulnerable to coordinated mass attacks. When
the AI sees that is being attacked, it will build defensive units
instead of aggressive units. Therefore, if you send an army of 10
Howitzers into enemy territory it will be easier to conquer the AI
than if you had only sent in a few Howitzers at a time. A very useful
strategy is to attack with Howitzers only once, and return to your
conquered city to recover the hit points lost during battle. You will
be able to do it if the distance between the cities is small and
there is a road or railroad path that connects them.
Always try to conquer a city in 1 turn. The AI can attack in the next
turn and kill all your units if you do not conquer in one turn. Use
Naval and Air units to soften up a city or stack of units before
attacking with ground units.
is that the AI does not use it's units in a planned two or more turn
counter-attack, per se. If there are Knights or Alpine Troops in a
city, they will not attack an Armor unit that is 2 tiles away. If you
want to attack a city, place your fast units 2 tiles away and the AI
will not attack you!! This also works for Diplomat units.
Barbarians can be turned off ( 'set barbarians
0' on the server console).
If you leave
huge masses of unexplored land or unsettled land, barbarians will
appear randomly. They will appear in the form of stacks of barbarian
units on ground tiles or on sea tiles - the sea raiders!!!
Barbarians are AI controlled, but they are considered a special
player. Barbarians only build aggressive units and send them to
attack your cities without any defensive unit backup. To liberate
your fallen cities, just build an army of fast attackers - Knights or
Dragoons - and attack your former cities. Barbarians will almost
never build defensive units within a conquered city, so it is
relatively easy to reconquer a barbarian controlled city.
6.4 War under different governments
There are differences in the level of
unhappiness that the military units cause under different types of
The best government to wage war
with is Communism. Under Communism and Monarchy, military units
outside a city do not cause unhappiness, and you have limited martial
law. Military units in a city reduce unhappiness, and up to 3 units
can be used to keep citizens content. A side benefit of using
military units to constrain citizen unhappiness is that you won't
have to build as many Coliseums or Cathedrals to keep the people
Under a Republic or Democracy, each
military unit outside a city causes unhappiness. You will have to
increase the luxury rate of your empire - which will cost you money
or science - or you will have to build improvements in your cities to
increase citizen happiness.
Another thing to keep
in mind, is that military units are not free. They cost shields to
build and maintain. You must use 1 production point - 1 shield - to
upkeep a unit each turn. Therefore, the units already produced by
your civilization reduce the capacity to generate new ones or to
build new improvements.
Under Monarchy or
Communism you can upkeep 3 military units for free. This is very
useful because you can use the defensive military units to impose
martial law and defend the city, and you can produce military units
in your high production cities, send them to the destination city,
and assign the unit to the new home city to increase the defense and
happiness of the destination city freeing up the production point
used to support that unit for further production in the high
production city. This way you will maximize your production amoungst
all of your cities.
Under a Republic or
Democracy you have to support the upkeep of each military unit.
Therefore, only produce the necessary units when you want a defender
for a known threat because most attacks will not be a complete
7. Diplomats & Spies
In general, you want to be ahead of all other
civilizations technologically. Note however that it is sometimes only
necessary to have the right techs, not necessarily all of the techs.
You can steal technologies by capturing enemy cities when the enemy
has technological advances that you do not, or techs can be stolen by
diplomats using the “Steal Technology” command.
Technology is one of the most important variables in the game of
Freeciv. If you're the most productive civilization, but you are last
in technology you will end up being killed. A huge army of Warriors
can't stand up to a veteran Cavalry.
see that you're in the lead technologically and need money for buying
City Walls, Coastal Defenses, or other improvements, stop researching
and generate money; however don't do it for a long period of time as
you still want to maintain your technological superiority.
The strategy in choosing the long term objectives for developing
technology differ whether you are alone on an island or on a
continent surrounded with enemies.
you're alone in an island you can research attack technologies first
and then defensive technologies. You must research technologies to
build naval units as a priority (Automobile, Combustion, Steel,
Magnetism, Navigation, Map Making) and naval defenses (Metallurgy).
You must also develop technologies for ground units, however this is
not as important as the ability to move your ground units across the
expanses of ocean that seperate you from the other civ's. The most
successful strategy in this scenario is going for Republic, Map
Making, Horseback, Magnetism, and Steam Engine.
If you are in a continent with enemies, it is better to research
defense first and then technologies that provide attack units. If you
are in the beginning of a game it is recommended to first research
'Horsemen' and 'Bronze Working' to be able to build Horsemen and
Phalanx's to resist the AI attacks. Concentrate next on researching
Monarchy, and then focus on 'Iron Working' and 'The Well'. Finally,
begin developing the technologies that will provide more advanced
ground attack units.