Why You’re Playing Civilization V Wrong: Time For Multiplayer!

Christian Cawley 10-09-2014

Multiplayer has been a part of the Civilization 4X game 4 All-Time Classic 4X Games To Lose Yourself In If you are looking for a little more than just pointing and shooting or mindlessly blowing through hordes of enemies, strategy games, and specifically those of the 4X variety, are perfect for you. Read More series since the release of CivNet, the 1995 remake of the original Civilization. It enables the player to tackle genuine, human opponents rather than AI, and can make for a far more interesting gaming experience.


Basically, if you’ve never played Civilization against one or more real people, then you haven’t enjoyed the game to its full capacity. Multiplayer is a refreshing way to get to know the game all over again, one that is easy to set up – although you may need to block a few hours of time out of your schedule!

Multiplayer isn’t the only way to refresh Civilization V, as Robert recently explained 5 Ways To Keep Civilization 5 Interesting While You Wait For Beyond Earth Armed with these ideas, you'll find hundreds of extra hours of fun in Civilization 5. Read More , but if you’re particularly interested in pitting your empire building skills against others, multiplayer is certainly the answer and will deepen your affection for the game.

Multiplayer Options In Civilization V

There are three ways that you can play 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 from the dawn of time or in per-determined scenarios. Below is the first in a series of videos following an online multiplayer game on YouTube:

As you can see, it can be pretty 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 is often nearby, then using the Hotseat method would seem to be the best option.

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


For Internet play, meanwhile, you’ll have to make sure that you can find players online before starting or joining a game. There are several ways of doing this, from checking the various Civilization forums (especially those found on and the 2K Forums) to simply clicking the Internet option on Standard and Pitboss and selecting a server to join. You can also input an IP address for Pitboss mode.

When joining an online game, it is worth checking the DLC column to make sure your version of Civilization has the required downloadable content. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to head to Steam and make the necessary purchases.

If you’re not already using Steam, you really should be. There are various benefits to running Steam on your PC or Mac (or Linux/Steam OS system Is SteamOS a Good Choice for a Gaming System? Can you rely solely on SteamOS with good performance, or should you still keep that dual-boot with Windows? Let's take a look. Read More !), especially for Civilization V, 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 is to play by email. In the old days, this would involve starting a game, taking your turn, saving the file and then emailing this as an attachment to your opponent who would then take his turn. Thanks to the Giant Multiplayer Robot, however, this is now a far simpler process, as the GMR client automates the process, collecting the file, running Civilization and sending the saved turn to the next player with just a couple of clicks.


Begin by heading to, and signing in with your Steam account. With your profile connected to the site, click Download and make a note of the Authentication key. You can then proceed to Download the client (Windows only – Mac users will need to upload and download their saves 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, which you can do by opening the Games screen and finding a Public Game. You usually won’t be able to join a game that is In Progress, so find one that is looking for player, and click Join Game when you find one that looks like a good starting point. You can use the filter tools in the top right column to find games that Haven’t started yet.

Any games you join can be found in the My Games tab on the website, and will also be listed in the client. By default, only two games can be played concurrently, but this can be changed by clicking the Increase game limit button and contributing $5, $10 or $15 via PayPal for 5, 10 or unlimited slots.

Playing Civilization V By Email With Giant Multiplayer Robot

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.


When the turn arrives, click the corresponding game in GMR to download it. This action will also launch Civilization V. All you need to do next is take your turn and once your moves and options are used up you can click Next Turn to save the file (using the same filename). GMR will then close Civ V and ask for confirmation to send the save file to the next player.

Play by email can be very slow, especially for a full game starting from 4000 BC (rather than a scenario or a later start date) but it’s a flexible and enjoyable way to play multiplayer if time for each session is short!

If you already have Civilization V open when your turn comes around, click the game in the GMR client to download, then 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 setup your own.

This isn’t as difficult as it might sound.


Begin by selecting your multiplayer game type. You’ll find a wealth of game options, such as map type and size, pace, the era to start in, world age, climate, sea level and the volume of resources that are available.


You’ll also see the various victory types that are available, and these can be toggled on or off depending on preference. Also, don’t overlook the Advanced Game Options, which includes things like setting a turn timer and a limit on turns, randomizing AI characters and even forcing the One-City Challenge game type. DLC is also listed here, enabling you to toggle which expansions should be installed by the other players. For maximum compatibility with your multiplayer opponents, select as little DLC as possible. (It’s worth noting that Civilization V has a considerable selection of really good user-generated downloadable content 6 Game-Changing Mods to Reinvigorate Civilization V For Free! You need something fresh and exciting to breathe new life into the game? These mods have you covered. Read More .)

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

Civilization V Multiplayer: It’s Like A Different Game!

Okay, so it’s not so different that you wouldn’t recognize it, but playing Civilization V in multiplayer mode gives you a whole new appreciation of the game. You’re no longer playing the AI – you’re up against someone just like you, someone who loves the game, has developed their own tactics and strategies, their own preferred path through the technology tree, their own Settler production rate, and so on.

Playing against human opponents is arguably tougher than playing the computer. It’s also considerably more rewarding (sure, beating an AI brings its own kudos, but this is something else) so if you haven’t tried Civilization V multiplayer mode before, now is the time – and it’s so simple to get started!

Have you played Civ V against human opponents? Let us know how much you enjoy it in the comments.

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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?

  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.