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When I turn on "Single Player Auto End Turn" in the game options I don't have to hit enter to move to the next turn. Trouble is the game can run on auto for quite a lot of turns (esp. on "marathon").

Sometimes an "exploring" unit finds something and I want to tweak the course that has been set, but I'm powerless until the next user event. Is there some way I can cut in and get control back? A keyboard shortcut? It's not "esc".

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Have you tried Backspace? That's the key used to cancel automation, maybe it will also work in your case. – Oak Apr 30 '11 at 9:38
up vote 5 down vote accepted

As a wise person (computer) once said

"The only way to win is not to play"

There isn't any way to reliably interrupt auto end turn, so I quickly learned to start playing without it. Its simple enough to end the turn manually, especially with the force end turn hotkey (Shift+Enter).

You can also leave one unit without any automated orders so that they always provide a stopping point, but you can quickly pass their turn to trigger the auto-end. This is dangerous though, if you forget and lose this unit or tell it to march to the other side of the world, you're back to not being able to interrupt turns.

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+1 for leaving a single units without automated orders. It means that you retain control while still being able to pass uninteresting turns quickly. However, it's more or less equivalent to canceling automatic end-turn in the first place... – Oak Jun 14 '11 at 9:02
@Oak Agreed. I tried it for a while, and decided it didn't make sense, and just disabled the auto end turn. It needs to turn itself off intelligently before it will be usable in my opinion. – bwarner Jun 14 '11 at 11:22

I don't believe a hotkey for that is implemented. You could hit Control+O to get into the Options, and change it there. I think that's pretty much the fastest option in Civilization...

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