The Civilization series of games is famous for having a way to play by e-mail. This allows people to take a long time on their turn without holding up the other players, as you do in a real-time game. Yet, I can not find any method to play by e-mail in the game menus. Does it exist? If so, how do you do it?

4 Answers 4


You can use a service like Giant Multiplayer Robot which automates the handling and sharing of CIV 5 save game files.

  • Been using this for a week or so now and its working really well
    – Justin
    Jun 17, 2013 at 12:17

Yes, it's possible.

Although Civilization V does not support it directly, it supports it indirectly since June 2011 by using the hotseat multiplayer mode and just sending the save file to the other player(s) by e-mail.

So how does that work?

  1. In the menus go to the multiplayer section and select Hotseat mode.

  2. Select the game details and choose to "Host". In the next screen you could select civilization information, and who is played by a human and who by the AI. hosting

  3. Launch the game and play the turn (it's simplest if you set yourself as the first player).

  4. After you end your turn, you will see the following dialog: continue
    Do not click "continue"! Click on Save to save the game.

  5. Quit the game. Unfortunately there's no option to quit the game from that dialog, so just hit Alt+F4 (or equivalent on a Mac) to bring up the exit dialog: exit
    Click Yes to exit the game. This unfortunately quits to desktop, but it works.

  6. Locate the save file and send it to the other player(s) by using e-mail, file synchronization services, USB stick on carrier pigeons, whatever.

    • On Windows, the save file should be located in
      My Documents\My Games\Sid Meier's Civilization 5\Saves\hotseat
      (full path is typically C:\Users\<your user name>\Documents\My Games\Sid Meier's Civilization 5\Saves\hotseat).
  7. The other player should choose hotseat mode as well, and choose to Load Game instead of hosting it (the button at the bottom of the screenshot at step 2 above).

  8. The other player will see the same dialog from step 4 above, but now instead of "Save" he should click Continue and player his turn.

  9. Go to step 4 (as the other player).

I was able do play this way myself and it works fine.

One final tip - you can also play hotseat with custom mods, if you like; see this question about it here on Arqade.

Thanks go to Rapida for helping me here :)


Civilization 5 does not yet support Play by Email

However, they would like to add it soon. Source

About a month after release, we’re going to add Pitboss. Pitboss will be accompanied by two extraneous modes that we weren’t originally planning, but the fans keep asking for: play-by-mail and hot-seat.

A quick search of the Manual shows the only play modes supported right now are:

  • Local Area Network
  • Internet/Steam

Now you're thinking you can just start a multiplayer game and email the save file? There's a big problem preventing that:

Simultaneous Turns Games

A multiplayer game is a “simultaneous turns game.” In this style of game, you and your opponents take their turns simultaneously. Everybody moves units, conducts diplomacy, maintains their cities all at the same time. When everybody’s done everything they want to do, the turn ends and another begins. You can use a Turn Timer when playing in this format as well. Simultaneous Turns games can be a whole lot of fun, but they’re not for everybody. We recommend that you get a bunch of practice in turn-based Civ V before you jump into a simultaneous game.

You won't both be able to take turns. As far as I can tell, you'll have to wait till they add support.

  • I remember hearing about adding in hotseat multiplayer eventually as well. Sep 27, 2010 at 19:19
  • 1
    @Raven Hot-Seat would work the same as Play By Email from the game's point of view, making Play By Email all the more likely. So if that is true we should definitely find a link saying as much. Sep 27, 2010 at 19:23
  • Space Empires IV, which was released over 9000 years ago, had both regular turn-based AND simultaneous as options. Simultaneous certainly is more fun and challenging, but to think that in 2010 we have to beg for support for either in Civ V is a little ridiculous... and why I haven't bought it yet.
    – Drew
    Sep 27, 2010 at 22:13
  • 1
    @WillfulWizard has this been added yet?
    – GWLlosa
    Mar 7, 2012 at 15:20
  • 6
    Your answer is outdated now :)
    – Oak
    Jun 26, 2012 at 8:11

They actually added Pitboss mode in this month. Here's some instructions:

How do I create a Pitboss game?

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