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 turns...
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'
'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 players.
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
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 civilisation 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
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
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
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
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 bonus if possible.
Locating cities on defensive bonus tiles such as hills provides any
military unit fortified in the city with additional defenses. Try not
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
When 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.
You 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
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 maximise the
science output of your empire.
When under Monarchy or Communism each city will
support up to 3 units for free - they will not consume 1 shield per
each turn - 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
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
likely to revolt when in war (due to increased unhappiness from
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 civilisation in order to engage in war
your enemies. You will also need to establish communications with other
civilisations 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.
Be 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
from easy invasion.
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.
Then irrigate 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
Keep in mind that if you place a worker of a city on
a hill or mountain tile, 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
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
priority. Specifically concentrate on railroading the mountains and
hills because these tiles will gain bonuses in production while river
tiles will gain bonuses to trade.
Because the AI does not adequately 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
than your units if you employ the building of roads and rails to
Exploit the weakness of the AI. The AI doesn't know
about strategic cities and connected cities. To attack a civilisation
that occupies two peninsulas connected by a land pass you can conquerer
the cities that connect the enemies empire in this “choke point.” The
doesn't understand that this cities are strategic to connect and
the empire, and therefore will not be as concerned about protecting
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,
then the other half.
Trade is an important variable in the game. The
large empires generate important amounts of trade, so they are rich and
powerful. Trade is money, and this is what moves the world!
Each turn, the trade of your civilisation is
divided in Luxury, Science and Tax. This is managed by the tax rates
indicators/controls in the Sidebar of the main map.
The trade that your civilisation generates comes
from the trade you earn from the city worked tiles and the generated by
the trade routes of your cities.
The trade of the tiles can be improved by
building roads in all the city worked tiles, and later, by railroading
the river tiles.
You can generate more trade establishing trade
routes between cities. It's better to always create trade routes
your cities or with the cities of your allies. If you establish one
an enemy city you are giving trade to that opponent.
The best trade routes are those established between
the largest, the far away cities and those in different continents or
When you establish a trade route you will receive
a certain amount of money for that. This will help you to build
improvements, units or wonders, but the most interesting effect is that
it will give a little amount of trade each turn. This will give you a
big boost in your science research in the long term. So, first create
trade routes between the cities in your nation borders. And also,
remember that currently cities only have 4 trade routes available, so
use them intelligently.
When the cities grow, the trade routes give more
taxes. So, keep your cities growing and your trade output will increase
The current AI rarely establishes trade routes,
so its trade will always be least than your. Also, the AI player
know how to increase trade when it needs luxury. You know that, just
build trade routes. Or use ocean tiles instead of land tiles in the
cities where you want more luxuries!
The AI defaults to war when it has the first
contact with an enemy unit. Therefore, the AI player will begin to
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 battle.
You need to neutralise the impending attacks from
the AI. One of the things you can do is to place your capital and
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
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
an advanced unit.
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,
Musketeer, Riflemen, and Mech.Inf. Also Marines and Alpine Troops can
be used in a pinch, but are better utilised when exploiting their
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 cities.
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.
Later 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 sea attacks.
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. A defending diplomat can be very useful
stooping an attacking diplomat from bribing your city or stealing your
You can also use them in an aggressive way 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 civilisation 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
cities and its defenders, and your defensive units to protect the
attacking units and later to fortify in the conquered city. If you
do this the AI will counter-attack and liberate the city, and then
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
And of course, always attack the weakest
civilisation with the least amount of technology first. You can use
diplomats to establish embassies with other civilisations so that you
can investigate its 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.
Exploit AI 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
one turn. Use Naval and Air units to soften up a city or stack of units
before attacking with ground units.
Another trick 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
When there are combats, the units get damaged and
so are unable to survive to enemy attacks another time. Then you have
send the damaged units to a friendly city - owned or allied - for them
to recover its health and its hit points. Also after an attack they
could become veterans if they were not, so a good player will always
to recover the hit points of the damaged veteran units.
Also remember to use the production of the fallen
enemy cities to support the up keep of your attack units. Under
or Communism its very easy, just use the 3 free units of each city to
support your army. Under Democracy or Republic is not so easy but you
can try it because its more effective. That way you can use the
production of your enemies to go against them!
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
form of stacks of barbarian units on ground tiles or on sea tiles - the
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 government.
The best government to wage war with is Communism.
Under Communism and Monarchy, military units outside a city do not
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 content.
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
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,
units already produced by your civilisation reduce the capacity to
generate new ones or to build new improvements.
Under Monarchy or Communism you can upkeep 3
military units for free in each city. 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
maximise your production amongst 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 surprise.
7. Diplomats & Spies
Here, we will not talk about Diplomacy. Currently
the AI has no diplomacy - Freeciv 1.15.0 maybe has it -.
With a diplomat you can do mainly hostile actions
against other players.
With a diplomat you can bribe an enemy unit. To
do it try to enter its square and choose the bribe option. Only try to
bribe technology superior units that yours - if you have enough cash -,
if this is not the case just kill it.
You can also try to bribe the settlers and engineers
that you find when you are invading enemy territory. That way you can
improve the new terrain with the AI units.
You can establish a embassy with another player.
Just take the diplomat to an enemy city, try to enter it and choose
'Make Embassy' from the actions dialog that pops up. Having an embassy
with another player, means that you know which technology has. This is
useful if you want to attack that civilisation. Also, you can see its
currently researched technology and its goal.
With a city you can also do all the following
activities: investigate a city of an opponent or ally, sabotage a city,
steal technology, incite revolt of that city and take ownership and
poison a city.
When you research Espionage you will be able to
build Spies, and upgrade your diplomats. The spies are faster than
diplomats, and often they survive to its missions in enemy territory.
The current AI in Freeciv 1.14.0 is not able to
attack you with diplomats, but will build defensive diplomats in border
cities. The next version will be able to send you diplomat to do some
hostile action against you.
In general, you want to be ahead of all other
civilisations technologically. Note however that it is sometimes only
necessary to have the right techs, not necessarily all of the techs.
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 civilisation, but
are last in technology you will end up being killed. A huge army of
Warriors can't stand up to a veteran Cavalry.
If you 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
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.
When 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
(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 separate 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
Anyway, try to be in the first to research or
obtain Gunpowder ( Musketeers ) and Conscription (Riflemen) as this
will give you good defensive units and will disencourage the AI players
to attack you.
One of the most annoying things of the game is
the obsolescens of Barracks. When you research Gunpowder this will
obsolete all your existing Barracks, but you will be able to produce
Musketeers. You will have to build it another time, even though you can
use the money earned when selling them. And this will happen another
time when you research Mobile Warfare. This event will obsolete
II, but will give you the possibility to build Armor, which is a
powerful fast ground attack unit.
For a detailed explanation for each of the
Wonders follow this link.
Well, although there are a lot of Wonders that do
useful things, here we will only talk about some of them, only the most
Also, note that the AI doesn't know when a
technological discover will obsolete a Wonder, so it will happily build
a Wonder even though it's doing to be obsolete in the next turn, and
also, it will not try to research an obsoleting technology to stop the
effects of a Wonder owned by an enemy. And, again, it will not stop
researching a technology which obsoletes an owned Wonder.
These are the useful Wonders (in my opinion):
Grants the benefits of a granary to each of your cities. So, you don't
have to build granaries in each of your cities. This is useful for the
periods in which you don't want to keep your cities celebrating in a
republic or a democracy ( war? ).
Obsoleted by Theology. Doubles the effect of each of your temples.
The AI hardly will research Theology.
Great Library: Obsoleted by Electricity.
You can try if you're lucky! If the two civilisacions that the server
chooses are the ones in tech lead you can stop research and generate
cash and luxuries to make your cities grow, if not bad luck!
Sun Tzu's War Academy:
Obsoleted by Mobile Warfare. You don't have to
build Barracks and Barracks II. So, it means that if you conquer a city
with that Wonder you can sell your barracks. It also means, that you
must build Barracks III!
Magellan's Expedition: Gives all your
sea units +2 movement points. This is a winner's Wonder.
Michelangelo's Chapel: Grants the
benefits of a Cathedral to each of your cities. If you are in a
Republic or Democracy you'll want that Wonder.
Shakespeare's Theatre: Makes all
unhappy citizens content in its own city. This is very useful to place
that Wonder in a production city. That way, you can build huge armies
from that city under Republic or Democracy to crash your enemies.
J.S. Bach's Cathedral: Makes two
unhappy citizens content in each of your cities. Another democratic
A.Smith's Trading Co.: Pays the
upkeep of all of your buildings that otherwise cost one gold per turn.
Very useful for large empires.
Darwin's Voyage: Immediately delivers
two free advances.
Women's Suffrage: Grants the benefits
of a police station to each of your cities. If you want to make wars in
a Republic or Democratic government you need that Wonder.
Cure For Cancer: Makes an unhappy
citizen content in all of your cities. Another democratic Wonder.
Hoover Dam: Grants the benefits of a
hydro plant to each of your cities. This is a winner's Wonder.
Increases production and reduces pollution.
Manhattan Project: Want to make World
Apollo Program: Want to begin the Space
For a detailed explanation refer to cities.
People needs to be happy to live. So, one of your
missions in the game is to keep your population happy or at least
There are tree types of citizens: happy, content
Your first task in the first stages of the game
is to avoid your cities falling in disorder. If a city revolts it will
not produce food, shields and trade. So, you will loose for this turn
taxes, trade and production.
To avoid this you can do three things:
- You can increase the luxuries of that city. You can do it
modifying the main city dialog. You
can do it clicking on a worked tile of the city to free it and make an
- You can increase the luxury rate of your nation. You can do it
modifying the rate taxes in the rates
indicators/controls at the Sidebar of the main map.
- You can build improvements in the cities that turn unhappy
citizens content, for example temples, coliseums and cathedrals.
- You can build Wonders that keep the unhappy citizens content, so
build Oracle, Hanging Gardens, Michelangelo's Chapel,
Shakespeare's Theatre, J.S. Bach's Cathedral,
Women's Suffrage and Cure For Cancer. This is the
- If the city or your empire is generating luxuries, you can try to
increase the trade that generates the city, because this will increase
the luxury output. You can exchange land worked tiles for ocean tiles (
this will reduce your production) or you can build marketplaces, banks
or stock exchange buildings ( this will increase your gold ).
Later in the game you will want to make your cities
grown as large as possible. You can do it waiting for natural grow or
you can make celebrate your city by increasing luxuries. You can only
put a city in rapture if you're in a Democracy or Republic. Basically,
its the same as above, but have in mind, that the only way is to
increase the luxuries, which will reduce the science and tax output of
your cities. You can try to build improvements to turn unhappy citizens
content, but this will not help you if there aren't unhappy ones.