I have never played any Civilization-series games before. But i love strategy games. I have already played some turn base strategy games. But Civilization 4 looks different for me. In the other games, there will be some initial workers. I use them to get food/metal/wealth/build. Then build an army. But in Civilization 4 I am not able to do any of the things that I used to do in other games. I am not able to build anything, not able create workers/warriors. I am not even able to move the existing worker who comes with the game start up.

What do I need to know to start with this game? Is there any online material kind of documentation for this game.

Any help/links would be appreciative!

  • 1
    Voting to close as this question is too broad - a book could certainly be written about how to play Civ 4. In addition, a more narrow version of the question already exists. Mar 8, 2012 at 15:53

3 Answers 3


The first thing you'll need to do is find a nice spot to build your first city with your Settler unit. You should also have a warrior unit which you will use to secure the surroundings, as your city is quite vulnerable at first, mostly if some barbarians are close.
Then, you will have to choose what to build in your city (as well as city organization). You can build units and buildings. Each of them with their advantages and drawbacks. use and abuse the Civpedia to know all the units.

You will also have to choose which path you will take on a science point of view. You will decide if you want to learn things which will help build better army units, units for discovering the area (land and sea) or for better buildings.
The main things is that there are several ways to win the game. You can choose which way you want to look after depending on the opponents, their proximity, their aggressiveness, etc... Then diplomacy enters in the game...

Yes, it's quite a lot to master upfront. Play some games on easy level, focusing on one direction (units, science, buildings, discovering, diplomacy, city management, etc). You will lose but you will learn!
And as I said before, know your Civpedia to know the units and buildings and how to have them available (science). Then you'll be able to decide which way you want to go and how to achieve the goals you will set yourself.
Then come back with more specific questions to master all the different aspects of the game.

There are also some videos available, like this one (and the following parts of the series) which shows the first turns and how to start a game.

  • Great answer! Thanks. I'll check out the video in my spare time.
    – Mugen
    May 29, 2012 at 4:52

Go to Civfanatics WarAcademy and start reading up on strategies. They are neatly grouped by skill level and type.

Here is the most important points on running a Specialist Economy:

Definition of Specialist Economy:

A civilization in which the majority of research is funded by Scientist specialists supported by 1-2 farms or other high food resources. Since this approach tends to generate Great Scientists more quickly than other economies, another source of research is the lightbulb option.

Benefits Optimized regrowth of population from slavery/drafting. (Note: this sacrifices research until regrowth is complete.) Less danger from pillaging since farms are much easier to rebuild than cottages which have matured to towns. Independence from the Slider increases flexibility to divert commerce directly to gold for upgrades or to Culture/Happiness if the slider is used. More effective at higher difficulty levels (Emperor and above).

Limitations May require more micromanaging compared to Cottage Economy (CE). Specialists require supporting food resources or farms. In cases where food resources or fresh water for farms are unavailable this may be a limitation on early city placement. After Civil Service this becomes less of a consideration. Specialists can only be assigned if certain buildings exist (e.g. Library enables two Scientists). Caste System eliminates the restrictions for item 3, but conflicts with Slavery as well as other labor civics. This may later become critical if Emancipation is adopted by another civ, since the unhappiness generated by failing to adopt Emancipation can be a serious drain on productivity.

General Tips and Advice Prioritize food resources and farms in new cities. New cities only need Granary, Library and possibly Courthouse. Any other buildings are secondary. (This doesn't apply to Production cities which will be the same as for CE). You may drop the Slider to 0 when Alphabet has been researched and trade for any techs you do not yet know. This is to maximize cash for other purposes -- usually military upgrades or high maintenance costs due to conquests. However, it may be wise to keep the slider up at the maximum that is still generating a positive income for certain critical techs such as Literature and the Paper-Education-Library sequence (if there is no GS available for lightbulbing these). Alternatively, if dropping the Slider from 100% to 0% results in only a factor of 2 or 3 increase in the number of turns for your current tech, then it is about time to drop it. If it is much more than 3, you probably need to focus on getting more scientists up. Philosophy, Paper and Education are prerequisites for Liberalism and can be lightbulbed by a Great Scientist. Consider saving a GS or three for these techs.

  • Yes, CivFanatics is clearly THE place to be if you want to learn advanced things about Civ games. I was more used to the forums and didn't see those lessons in the War Academy part.
    – LudoMC
    Mar 8, 2012 at 8:33
  • Can you post some relevant snippets? If that site were to go away this answer would be useless.
    – fredley
    Mar 8, 2012 at 11:41
  • "Snippet" added. Hard to be specific about anything without racking up several pages of text. It is a quite complex game after all. @LudoMC Mentions "good city location", but at civfanatics there is several articles on what a "good city location" is.
    – Qw4z1
    Mar 8, 2012 at 15:11

Civilization has a very steep learning curve but if you like strategic games with a lot of depth you really should get through that and you find a really amazing game behind it. It has tons of depth and almost an endless amount of options to finish the game.

Civilization is a turn based game. Every turn you can move your units. Cities will generate production and from that they will construct buildings and units. When you start a new game you usually end up with a single settler (at least on default settings). You need to find a suitable spot to settle your first city with this settler.

Most of the time your settler already starts on a sweet spot since start locations for you and the AI heave increased bonus resources. I would not worry that much about your start location now but the best to have near are food like corn and wheat to grow your city quickly. Also gold is nice, it adds happiness and commerce once being mined.

When you build a city with this settler you get the options what to build there. You usually want to start with a worker to improve your land. A extra warrior is also nice to explore a bit around you. If you enter your city by double clicking you can set the workers on the map area to work specific tiles. Now your city is only "1" big and you can only set a single worker. In this window you can also change production and see what has already been build.

Hammers stand for production, gold stand for income and beakers stand for research. The more hammers you produce the faster things get build (except for settlers and workers which also speeds up by food). Likewise, the more beakers the quicker research goes.

To improve your land you should build workers and let them build mines(mining) on hills and farms(irrigation)/cottages(pottery) on grassland and plains. Later on you get much more options to improve land due to research. You should improve the bonus tiles first. Improving a grassland corn tile yields 5 food (along a river you get an extra commerce coin).

Once your first turn passes you get to pick a technology to research. You start with 2 of the first 5 technologies. Depending on what bonus tiles you have you should start picking the ones to improve those as soon your first worker pops out. When you hover over a research it tells you more about it. For instance animal husbandry reveals horses on the map as iron working will reveal iron and those resources might pop near you. It also opens up more building, units and much more. For instance, once you researched writing you can make a open boarders pact with the AI.

Back to the city screen, here you'll also see the happiness and health of your city. The amount of unhappiness should never exceed the happiness or your town is going to revolt. Buildings like temples produce happiness as well as lots of resources hooked up to the city. For health it's the same, pollution should not exceed the total health or you will lose food equal to the amount it exceeds. Later in the game you wont be having that much problem with the happiness but you will find cities stagnate due to pollution.

It has already been said here that civfanatics.com is a really good place for learning the game. There are some really good players on there that offer great help. You can also join the "nobles club", here a interested map gets picked and distributed to the participants and you can post updates on how you progress through that map. You can select your own difficulty but difficulties above noble should be edited with the world editor since the AI "cheats" there by starting with more units and techs.

Once you get the hang of it you should go to hof.civfanatics.net where you can participate in the all time hall of fame.

Good luck with this awesome game!