Freeciv is a world domination strategy game along the lines of Sid Meier's Civilization - in particular, it closely resembles the first two editions of that series. Players, computer or human, develop their technology, expand their empire and beat back hordes of bandits while vying with each other for title of world leader.
Freeciv was originally created to provide multiplayer games across the Internet; single-player games (against computer players) were added later. Freeciv is free and open source (under the GNU General Public License): anyone is free to download and play it, and anyone is free to modify and redistribute the game, as long as the license is adhered to - which implies that such modified versions must use the same license.
Freeciv has a full wiki, including the download source, extra maps (including a topologically accurate map of the world) and extra tilesets to allow the player to play in an alternative view of the game.
Freeciv is available for many OSes, including Microsoft Windows, Mac, and Linux.
A human player starts the game with the choice of local or network game. Choosing a local game allows the human player to play only against computer players while a network game allows that player to start or join a hosted game. The game comes with the server program, allowing players to establish network games themselves on a local area network, or to allow others to join a game via the internet.
When a player starts a new game, he or she may pick a nation, a leader and the type of buildings the city will have (whether european or asian, among others), or to pick from a pre-set list of settings.
In an uncustomized game the player starts off with two settlers, a warrior, an explorer and two workers. Using these characters, the player must decide where to establish his/her first two cities and where to start improving the land. Each tile has a resource value for food, production and trade, making the decision as to where to lay the first city an important one - cities built on a high food value tile can grow bigger, faster while a tile with a high production value tile can produce units and assets more quickly.
The player uses his/her cities to build units, buildings and Great Wonders, each asset adding to the wealth and utility of the player's domain.
During the game, a certain portion of the player's resources are allocated to research, allowing technologies to advance as cities grow. Technologies such as "The Alphabet" and "Pottery" start the tech tree, higher levels allowing for things such as "Feudalism", "Monotheism", "Democracy", and "Rocketry".
Typically, the game ends when a single player has gained control of or destroyed all opposing cities or when one player reaches the space age.
There are numerous types of characters, each with their own purpose and value. Units may be combatants, workers, explorers, or settlers, each one providing a vital asset to the studious world-dominator-in-training. Several types of characters are listed below.
Explorers, as the name suggests, seek out new areas and peoples, a more sure-footed stride allowing the explorer to move over mountains and hills as easily as plains. Explorers cost 30 production points and have one move point but are able to treat all tiles like roads, which cost only 1/3 of a point each to move through. Explorers cannot attack and have only 10 hit points.
Settlers fill a vital role in Freeciv, allowing for the settlement of new areas. Settlers cost 40 production points and have only one move point, allowing them to move one space per turn over rough terrain. They cannot attack and have only 10 hit points.