2 Ways to Play Civilization On Android

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There is a curious lack of Sid Meier titles available for Android. So just how does a Civilization junkie get his fix courtesy of the little green robot?

Why Civilization?

In 1991 I accidentally bought the original Civilization for my Amiga. I say “accidentally” because I’d intended to buy Sim City after playing it on my uncles’ PC several months earlier, but somehow found myself reading the box and walking, somnambulist-like, to the counter and paying, as if remotely hypnotised by Sid Meier himself.

Ever since I’ve been addicted to the game (couldn’t get to grips with Civ 3, however) and for me one of the pre-requisites of a mobile platform is that it should be able to play a version of Civ.

After recently switching to Android after three years running Windows Phone as my primary mobile device, I was surprised to find a distinct lack of any Sid Meier titles at all.

So how was I going to play Civilization?

Hold On: No Official Sid Meier Games For Android?!

Yes, you read that bit right. There are no Sid Meier games currently available for Android.

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Back in 2012 several press reports gave the impression that Pirates! and Civilization would both be released, but on further examination it seems that these reports were derived from press releases concerning Java games for feature phones.


Perusal of various forums (such as the on found at the wonderful CivFanatics.com) reveals the horrible truth. Somehow, there is no version of Civilization for Android.

Windows Phone and iPhone get Civilization Revolution (pictured above), a game also available on Nintendo DS, PS3 and Xbox 360.

Similarly, Pirates!, Colonization and Railroad Tycoon are all missing on Android, in their various updated forms.

So, how do you play Civilization on your Droid?

Civ-Like Games for Android

Probably the first thing that you should do is look into the possibility of there being Civilization-like games available in the Play Store.

Sadly, the choice is thin on the ground, with the majority of options being of the social gaming dynamic rather than what we know and love. A popular option has proven to be Lords of Strategy: Civilizations but as good and polished as this title is, it is a strategy card game…

Civilization’s appeal lies in the 4X dynamic: explore, expand, exploit and exterminate. There are many other great 4X games but “Civ” (as the hardcore fans call it) has something else.

Something not found in Civ-like games – the combination of 4X with the innate charm of the game design and the urge to accidentally see 3am as you have “just one more turn”.


Perhaps the most accessible option for Android users is FreeCiv, an Android port of the popular Linux version.


Using an isometric view similar to that seen in Civilization II, FreeCiv offers virtually all of the game concepts and marries them with great graphics. I haven’t played this version of the game long enough to know if the Fundamentalist government type is the best to play with in the later stages, but with a choice of game rules (you can choose between rules based on Civilization or Civilization II) this is a good option.

Mindful of the size of some displays, the developers have made some of the buttons quite chunky. This can prove distracting at first, but FreeCiv for Android soon redeems itself!

DosBox and Emulators

If FreeCiv doesn’t fulfil your Civilization pangs – and with its heavy reliance on the game as it was in 1996 (Civilization II) this may not be the choice for you – then there is always the option of emulation.

Perhaps the obvious option would be to install DosBox Turbo (forget aDosBox and anDosBox, things have moved on) and then find a ROM of Civilization or Civilization II to run on your phone or tablet.


An alternative exits, however. Forget about DOS emulation and look instead at getting a modern version of Civilization on Android. There are several Nintendo DS emulators for Android (I’ve been using the free nds4droid) which will enable you to play the Nintendo DS version of Civilization Revolution. This is a good option, and the game plays as well as it does on other mobile platforms. As you can see from the screenshot, however, it lacks the polish of the Windows Phone/iOS version.

Remember, however, that when using emulators you cannot legally use a ROM unless you own the original version on its original disk.

Conclusion: Civilization Cannot Come Soon Enough To Android!

Civ-like games for Android are simply not Civ-like enough; FreeCiv is a good option but rooted heavily in the past; emulation is a good option – perhaps the best for some Civ fans – but comes with the risk of breaking the law. Meanwhile there is also CivJS, but as this JavaScript version of Civilization is in the pre-alpha stage, we wouldn’t recommend it.

What Android-using fans of Civilization really need is an actual release of the game. Perhaps it will be Civilization Revolution. Another wave of mobile releases might come along, who knows?

The truth is, the Android platform is missing the presence of Sid Meier. 2K Games are expected to release Civilization V on Linux through Steam later this year, leaving Android as the only platform where no genuine Sid Meier games can be purchased.

It’s time for this to change.

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Comments (8)
  • OpenyourMind

    Civ 2 was released on the original PS1 , im under the assumption you must own a/the game to be using a emulator soo check that rule out, if its correct buy a second hand version of civ 2 PS1 on ebay and get the PS1 emulator for android, And to think civ fanatics didn’t know it was released on PS1, almost identical graphics same game no drawbacks, cool aye.

  • Justin

    It is not legal to download a rom, even if you own the original.

    • ManOfScience

      Just because Nintendo says something does not make it so. They write contracts not laws.
      In many countries, if you bought something you own it and can do with it what you please… the USA has not invaded the legal systems of the whole world…yet.

  • Alex Dills

    If you’ve got a decent Internet connection and you’re playing on a tablet, Splashtop is a good way to play.

    You’re essentially remote-accessing into your computer at home and playing there, but Splashtop is more than useful for that sort of thing. Especially if you turn on Gesture Mode or use it on a Windows 8 computer.

  • postulio

    Freeciv is great, until you realize the UI in this port is incomplete and missing vital tools like airlifting units between airports and offering resources to the AI in treaties…. but all of that is irrelevant since the AI is horribly broken: knows the locations on every one of your units, cities and defenses and will under no circumstances accept any treaties past the initial 30-turn ceasefire when you first meet them. The game is quite broken. I would pay full retail price for a Civ2 android port.

  • Stoyan Deckoff

    Have I read this right – ciV is coming to Linux????
    God, this month has been awful, and this could really be a turning point ;) What a stunning news for me ;):):) I keep the Windows my PC came with just to play CiV on it ;)
    On the other hand, I prefer to spend more and more time playing on my tablet, so I hope to see later civ versions (and Col II) coming to android as well.
    Spent so much time playing all games, hardcore fan since 1995 o something….

    • Carlton

      There was a linux port of Civ II – I believe it was done by Firaxis Games. I wonder if that version could be made to work on Android…?

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
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