Freeciv is a multiplayer, turn-based strategy computer game, inspired by the commercial Civilization series. It is free software under the GNU General Public License and developed collaboratively -- code, graphics, sounds etc. have been contributed by many people from around the world.

Players take the role of a tribe leader in 4000 BC and have to guide their people through the centuries. Over time, new technologies are discovered, which allow the construction of new city buildings and the deployment of new units (mostly military). Players can wage war on one another or form complex diplomatic relationships.

The game ends when one civilization has eradicated all others, when one people has accomplished the goal of space colonization, or at a certain deadline. Unless only one civilization remains at the deadline, otherwise the winner is the player with the highest score. Points are awarded for the size of a civilization, its wealth, and cultural and scientific advances.

Freeciv is quite configurable, so it can be played in Civilization I, Civilization II or Freeciv mode, or in a custom mode. Graphics and sounds can be replaced; there are both isometric and two-dimensional graphics packages (tilesets).

Freeciv uses TCP/IP networking. Players have to connect to a server, which can be run locally but is usually remote. Freeciv can be played solo against AI opponents, or as a multiplayer game against other humans. Playing solo is done as a special case of multiplayer where only one human player connects to a locally run server.

One or several players act as game administrator and can configure the game rules. Typically modified rules are:

  • Number of players required before the game can be started
  • Speed of technological development
  • Whether there should be computer controlled players
  • Whether (computer controlled) barbarians should invade player settlements
  • How close to one another cities can be build
  • How continents and islands are supposed to be distributed over the map

While the game is turn based, players move simultaneously. Computer players move separately.

In releases before the coming 1.15.0 release, AI players cannot engage in diplomatic relationships with human players. This means that AI-controlled players can either be ignored or fought.

Freeciv has a map and scenario editor called Civworld available as a separate download.

Freeciv runs on Unix variants with the X Window System and some other platforms, including Microsoft Windows and Amiga.

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