Help with playing Civ1

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Where to start? The manual is a hundred pages long!

Choice of initial city siteEdit

Most rivals build where they find themselves. You may do better by taking a step or two if it gets you into a much better position.

If you are on a special tile, building on it is probably a good idea unless it's

If you are next to a special tile, there's a fair chance that others are in the standard relationship to it (3S 1W; 3W 1N, 3N 1E, 3E 1S). Work out which tile would have a chance of using four, and move to it unless it's jungle or mountain or ocean or swamp.

If on resource grassland and going to move, there can be value in building a road there first, because the two-turn delay may be well compensated by faster early trade and later faster movement.

Generally better on a river than beside one, because you can't build roads across rivers until you learn Bridge Building, but you can use a city as a bridge.

First unitEdit

Start building a Militia. Nothing worse than having a rival walk into your only city. Switch to phalanx if Bronze Working is available in time (unless rivals or barbarians have appeared).

Send that first unit out exploring while you build a second one. First moves should be to the four squares that are due north, due east, due south, and due west of your city so as to expose all of the squares from which you can extract food, resources, or trade. Then move further away, diagonally where possible so as to see the maximum number of new squares per turn.


Village (Civ1)

Enter villages that are in the farmable area of a city (in other words, the 20 squares around a city that the city could farm or mine). These villages will never produce any barbarians. Avoid entering further-out villages that are close to any of your poorly defended cities. Do enter any that are much closer to rivals' cities than to yours, for two reasons:

  1. Barbarians will more likely damage the rival
  2. Good results will accrue to you, not the rival explorers

Once your cities are well defended, send a strong defensive unit to enter nearby villages if any are left.

If a barbarian enters a village, nothing happens.

What to build nextEdit


Once you have a phalanx in your capital, build a second settler unless you started the game with two.

Calculate the build carefully so as not to waste much if any food when the settler builds. For example, if your city is size 2 (with food box able to contain 30, and actually containing anything from about 20 to 29 sheaves), at the time when "end of turn" will add the 40th resource and produce the settler, the food box will shrink to 20 and any surplus food will be wasted. If the food box is completely full, however, you have got it just right: the population increase (with enlarged food box, and half full if you have a granary) will happen first, then with the settler creation you will revert to the population you had before, with a couple of sheaves of food below the "empty" line or several (usually more than five) below the "granary" line.

Your new settler is costing you food (and possibly resources) until it dies or creates its own city, so:

  1. don't spend time irrigating or mining with it
  2. do generally try to build roads on two or three easy squares on the route to the new city site for quick movement of troops in future emergencies and (particularly on grassland, but also on plain or even desert) to earn more early trade.


When you have discovered Pottery, you can build a Granary in any city.

Its value appears mainly when your population grows, leaving your foodbox half full instead of empty, so you can grow almost twice as fast. Its other value is in preventing famine, a rare event.

But it costs 60 resources. Almost certainly not economic when your city size is 1 and maybe not when it's 2. Work out the savings and costs. Costs include consideration of what else you could do with the resources: stronger defense, more explorer units, another settler, a library for faster scientific advancement, ... .

As with the settlers, calculate the build so as not to waste costs: plan to have it in place just before your foodbox fills.


Some versions of the game have bugs, but most appear only at a fairly advanced stage.

Unloading ship kills air unitEdit

When you press "U" to unload a ship, you may get a message saying your air unit has run out of fuel. Sure enough, one of your bombers that had flown out and was waiting will have disappeared without trace. To avoid that, just plan your turn so that all bombers that were out are back in a city or on a carrier before you do any unloading, and finish your unloading before sending out any bombers that are not going to be safely back in the same turn.

Embarking on a ship with railroadEdit

If a ship is standing on a square where a railroad is built (to increase production), any unit stepping onto it may cause the square to seem quite empty. As the panel at bottom left shows the ship and any other units that were on it, clearly the game thinks that the moved unit still has movement points left (as often happens on a railroad)! Press "W" or click on some other unit to proceed.

Undeserved pollutionEdit

In the turn on which you complete a building that reduces your pollution level to zero, the program may then tell you that you have new pollution near that city. It would be acceptable if you were told about the pollution first, but you are told of the building's completion first. Annoying.

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