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How to Play Civilization V Multiplayer Mode

Christian Cawley Updated 19-05-2020

Multiplayer has been a part of the Civilization series since 1995’s CivNet, the multiplayer remake of the original Civilization. It enables the player to tackle genuine, human opponents rather than AI, and makes for a far more challenging game.

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If you haven’t played Civilization in multiplayer mode, you’re missing out. Civilization V offers perhaps the best multiplayer experience in the series. It can be time consuming, but always enjoyable. Ready? Here’s how to play Civilization V multiplayer mode.

Civilization V’s Multiplayer Options

There are three ways that you can go up against other players in Civilization V. To begin, launch the game and select Multiplayer, where you will be presented with three options:

  • Standard: Players take turns continuously over the internet or LAN.
  • Hotseat: Players take alternating turns on the same machine.
  • Pitboss: A dedicated server controls the game, either over the internet or a LAN.

These options can all help you to have a great time playing Civilization V in multiplayer mode against other players. Either start your game at 4000 BC, or in predetermined scenarios. Below is the first in a series of videos following an online multiplayer game on YouTube:

As you can see, Civilization V multiplayer can be in-depth—just what the typical Civilization player is looking for. But where do you find other players?

Finding Players to Compete With in Civilization V

A multiplayer game means finding opponents. If you live with someone you can play against, or have a friend who often visits, use the Hotseat option.

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Meanwhile if you’re playing Standard or Pitboss, you have the LAN option, which would be ideal for a LAN party.

Pitboss is one of several Civilization 5 multiplayer modes

For internet play, make sure that you can find players online before starting or joining a game. There are several ways of to find multiplayer opponents in Civilization V:

When joining an online game, check the DLC column to make sure you have the required downloadable content installed. If not, you’ll need to head to Steam and make the necessary purchases.

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If you are not already using Steam, you really should be. There are various benefits to running Steam on your computer, such as easily installing updates and patches.

Civilization V Multiplayer: Play by Email

Want to play Civilization V in multiplayer mode but don’t have the time for a long online session?

The answer comes from the early days of multiplayer gaming: play by email.

In times past you would start a game, take your turn, save the file, and email it to your opponent. Thanks to the Giant Multiplayer Robot (GMR), however, this is now a far simpler process.

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GMR automates the process, collecting the file, launching Civilization, and sending the saved turn to the next player. This is all done with just a few mouse clicks.

Use Giant Multiplayer Robot to handle Civ 5 multiplayer games

Begin by heading to www.multiplayerrobot.com, and signing in with your Steam account. With your profile connected to the site, download the software, and make a note of the authentication key.

Download: Giant Multiplayer Robot for Windows (Free)

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Note that the GMR client is Windows only—Mac users must upload and download save files through the GMR website.

When you install and run the GMR client, you’ll be prompted for the authentication key. Add this, and you’ll be ready to join a game.

Open the Games screen and find a Public Game to start. You usually won’t be able to join an In Progress game, so find one that is looking for players. You can use the filter tools in the top-right column to find games that Haven’t started yet. When you’ve found one that suits, click Join Game.

Any games you join are listed in the My Games tab on the website as well as in the client. By default, only two games can be played concurrently. However, you can increase your game limit by contributing $5, $10, or $15 via PayPal for five, 10, or unlimited slots.

How to Play Civilization V by Email With GMR

With the GMR client running, you’ll be notified when it is your turn. You should also receive an email to the address associated with your Steam account.

Manage multiplayer Civ 5 games with Giant Multiplayer Robot

When the turn arrives, click the corresponding game in GMR to download it. This action will also launch Civilization V, so all you need to do next is take your turn. Once your moves are made, click Next Turn to save the file. GMR will then close Civ V and ask for confirmation to send the save file to the next player.

Play by email can be slow, especially for a full game starting from 4000 BC. However, it is a flexible and enjoyable way to play Civ 5 multiplayer if you’re pushed for time.

If Civilization V is already open when your turn comes around, click the game in the GMR client to download. When you’re ready, open Hotseat > Load Game to load your turn.

Creating a Multiplayer Game in Civilization V

After you’ve played a few multiplayer games in Civ V, you might wish to set up your own. This isn’t as difficult as it might sound.

Set your multiplayer game options in Civilization 5

Begin by selecting your multiplayer game type. You’ll find a wealth of game options, such as map type and size, pace, starting era, and world age. You can also specify the climate, sea level, and volume of available resources.

Configure advanced multiplayer game options for Civ V

Toggle victory types on or off depending on your preference. Don’t overlook the Advanced Game Options, a menu that includes options like setting a turn timer and a turn limit. AI characters can be randomized (characters switched, essentially) while the One-City Challenge game can be enforced.

You can also enable Civilization V’s downloadable content (DLC) in this menu. However, for maximum compatibility with your multiplayer opponents, select as little DLC as possible.

When you’re done, click Host Game, choose your civilization, invite opponents, wait for them to join, and enjoy the multiplayer ride!

Civilization V Multiplayer Is So Much Fun!

Playing Civilization V multiplayer mode gives you a whole new appreciation of the game. You’re no longer playing the AI, but someone just like you, who loves the game. Someone who has developed their own combat tactics, and strategies for building settlers and researching technology. You have three multiplayer options for Civilization V:

  • Standard (over internet or LAN)
  • Hotseat (local turn-based multiplayer gaming on the same machine and play by email with Giant Multiplayer Robot)
  • Pitboss (a dedicated Civilization V multiplayer server)

Playing against human opponents is arguably tougher than playing the computer. It’s also considerably more rewarding, so if you haven’t tried Civilization V multiplayer mode before, now is the time.

Playing a different version of Civilization? Learn how to win at Civilization VI 11 Tips and Tricks to Bring You Victory in Civilization VI Civilization VI is the biggest, most intricate game in the series so far! Here are a few tips that will put you ahead when you start your civilization! Read More .

Explore more about: Multiplayer Games, PC Gaming, Steam, Strategy Games.

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  1. Mike
    April 14, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    I was to join too!!

    • Christian Cawley
      April 15, 2016 at 8:12 am

      Try the play by email option!

  2. noHiPSTER
    January 19, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Which is the differences beetwen the two "Pitboss" selection in the "Standard" and "Pitboss" tipe of game?

  3. Anonymous
    June 14, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Hey guys, i would like to play with you if any1 feels to play with me add me on skype kdavid112

    • Tony
      March 12, 2016 at 1:23 am

      check you on skype? wtf

  4. Anonymous
    March 15, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    The problem with human players is they quit all to easy because things don't go their way. They get a bad start, or something early goes wrong, like getting beat for a wonder. Plus people don't work together. Alliances are a key part of history. People will let one player dominate instead of trying to form a strategic alliance. Hell the frickin' AI Does this in single player...

    Also, no one can commit to playing a game to its natural conclusion. If after 5 hours someone needs to go, then just agree to meet up at a specific time later. This is impossible.

    • Christian Cawley
      March 20, 2015 at 8:57 am

      Finding the right opponents is definitely a major element in getting a good multiplayer game going.

  5. Alejandro
    February 11, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    Guys when I am on the Multiplayer option I only have the option of choosing "LOCAL NETWORK" but I want to play online with internet.
    Does anyone know why the game is not giving me the option of playing with internet?
    Thanks

  6. Lord Rocker
    December 2, 2014 at 8:51 am

    I'm different to most people....I've only ever played Civ V multiplayer....never Single player. We've been playing Civ V as a 4 player game since it came out every Friday night. Recently in the last couple of months it has grown to 6 players. Now 7 starting this week ;-). Strangey, I never play Civ 4 single player either...we always played Civ 4 multiplayer since the beginning. ;-)

    • Tony
      March 12, 2016 at 1:24 am

      You still playin??

  7. Anonymous
    September 13, 2014 at 2:33 am

    You know... if no unit stacking is an issue.. they have an easy mod for that, lol.

  8. KT
    September 11, 2014 at 2:42 am

    I think I'm the only Civ fanatic that doesn't like any of the Civs after 3. The screen gets too muddied up with all the non-stacked units and 3-d effects. Make no mistake, the first 3 civs and their expansions have eaten more of my time than all other games combined, I just can't get into the 3-d scheme. I feel bad, because my brother got it for me a few years ago, and I've played it less than 20 hours before I quit trying to like it.

    • XeoKnight
      November 4, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      Civ IV has unit stacking.

    • Eamon
      November 14, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      If you don't like 3d you should try strategic view

    • jerome
      November 21, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      whatabout freeciv?

    • sccrxer
      November 21, 2014 at 4:51 pm

      Dude Civ 3 is by far my favorite too. i miss being able to create armies of cavalry and stacking units on a city or key area when fighting the enemy. Civ V really is a great game once you get used to it though. give it another shot and try to learn the nuances. The AI is much smarter now.

  9. Lobo7922
    September 10, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Great article, I didn't knew Giant Multiplayer Robot.