Civilization II: Scrolls of Ancient Wisdom

Sid Meier's Civilization II has to be one of the greatest computer games of all times. It is seriously addictive and kept me from getting enough sleep many a night. Here I compiled some little-known facts I have found neither in the handbook nor in online strategy guides so far, but which were mentioned on the newsgroup, and some I discovered all by myself. If you need some more basic help, I suggest you immerse yourself in the Apolyton Civilization Site instead. Incidentally, my brother Martin also maintains a page about Civilization II.

By all means, email me if you have any suggestions, corrections or additions.

Airbase Magic

Airbase cheat
Terrain  Typical   Instead   Adds 
Hill M+RR M+A +2F
Mountain M+RR M+A +1F
Desert M+RR M+A +1F
 Oasis (Desert)   II+RR M+A +2S
 Fruit (Jungle)  RR A +2F
 Spice (Jungle)  RR A +1F
M: Mine, II: Farmland, RR: Railroad, A: Airbase, F:Food, S: Shields

This is one of the neatest tricks in Civilization II. If you build an airbase, it counts as farmland and railroad in all respects: two additional food tokens if you have a supermarket in the city, no movement cost, road/railroad trade benefits, and an additional shield where applicable! This works on most terrain types, but it is particularly useful on squares which you would not or could not normally irrigate, e.g. hills or mountains, as you can combine the effects of irrigation/farmland and mining. In the example on the right (the city has a supermarket and superhighways), only airbases were used, and four squares were mined (mountain, hill, coal, oasis), but no irrigation, farmland, roads or raildroads were built.

As you can see, on certain types of terrain airbases add even more food production compared to what would be possible otherwise following normal procedure. These terrain types are listed in the table on the right (the figures assume a supermarket in the city). Airbases also work together well with special squares on these terrain types such as coal, wine, iron, gold, and oil (desert). Unfortunately, they do not have similar beneficial effects on swamp, jungle, or glacier. An interesting side effect of surrounding a city with several airbases is that attacking enemy air units will have a hard time finding a way in. Make sure your own planes don't get stuck in the airbase labyrinth, though!

A few concluding remarks: it is not possible to build an airbase and a fortress on the same square, and Despotism restrictions (no more than two tokens of any kind) apply to airbases also.

Irrigation Anywhere

Irrigation anywhere

This is a very handy settler cheat. Remember those grassland squares for which you would have to transform three mountains in order to get them irrigated? The automated settler can do it much quicker. Press "k" or choose "Automate Settler" from the "Orders" menu, and the settler will first build a road and then irrigate the square, even if there's no water around! However, I have found that this does not work reliably in all circumstances. In particular, it only seems to work as long as the nearby squares don't have too many improvements, otherwise the settler gets confused and wanders off immediately. From my experience it's safest to start with the pesky square right away.

Settler Speedup

If you are in a hurry improving a particular square, you can interrupt a Settler or Engineer that has already been working (but not yet finished) on another piece of land for a while and move him to that square - the number of turns he has already worked are stored and will now be added to the new task. Of course, you can also stack any number of these units to work simultaneously to really speed up terrain improvements.

Gifted Diplomcay

My brother Martin pointed this one out to me:
If you want to improve a computer player's attitude against you, you have the option of offering him military units as gifts. This usually has the drawback that you lose one unit, which the computer player in turn gets in its city which is closest to the one you selected as a source. If, however, you choose as a source a city with only one unit in, you do not lose the unit! (It only gets unfortified.)

The computer player, on the other hand, gets a unit if its closest city has no unit in. Not necessarily the same unit, by the way, often a cheaper and less developed one (eg. Riflemen instead of Armor, Warriors instead of Legion). If you want your computer opponents to receive even less than that, this cheaper and less developed unit can be withdrawn from one computer player again if you offer your same unit to another computer player immediately afterwards. The first computer player will then lose the very unit he just got and the second computer player receives it. Knowing this, maintaining friendly relations with all your neighbours can be very cheap and easy...


The amount of trade and the bonus payment you get for establishing a trade route between two cities with a caravan or a freight depends on quite a few factors. The formulas below contain all the details; they are based on an post by Robert Lancaster:

  Trade = ( trade of home city + trade of destination city + 4 ) / 8

Note that it does not directly depend on city size or distance. The following (cumulative) modifiers apply:

  Both cities are yours   -50%
  Freight instead of caravan   +50%
  Cities connected by road   +50%
  Cities connected by rail   +50%
  Cities on different continents   +100%
  Airports in both cities   +50%
  Superhighways in home city   +50%

The one time bonus payment is calculated as follows:

  Payment = ( ( distance + 10 ) x ( trade of both cities ) ) / 24

It increases if the destination city demands one of these goods (double these figures if the city is not yours):

  Silver, Cloth, Wine   +50%
  Silk, Spice, Gems, Gold   +100%
  Oil +150%
  Uranium +200%

The final bonus payment figure is then doubled during the first 200 game turns or until both Navigation and Invention are discovered. It is reduced by one third after the discovery of Railroad, and by another third after the discovery of Flight.


The cost for bribing an enemy city depends on a number of factors. The formula below contains all the details; it is taken from an post by Daniël Proost:

  Cost = ( ( enemy gold + 1000 ) / ( distance + 3 ) ) x citysize

I am not sure which distance is meant in this formula. It is probably the distance between the city and its capital. However, the cost depends on the square your Diplomat or Spy bribes from. It often pays to try to bribe from different squares - I have observed the cost vary by as much as 20%. At any rate, the distance is also influenced by the following factors:

  Courthouse in city     half distance
  Enemy government is Communism     max. distance is 10
  Enemy has no palace     distance = 32

The following (cumulative) modifiers apply to the cost for bribing:

  City in disorder   -50%
  No units in city   -50%
  City was yours before   -50%
  Spy is bribing   -16%
  Veteran unit is bribing   -33%

Spaceship Shuffle

 Components   Structurals   Years 
6 15 15.7
8 17 13.2
10 21 10.0
12 25 8.3
14 29 6.7
16 33 5.7

Have you ever been producing your spaceship and wondered if you needed to build any more structurals, or how many propulsion units would be enough? This little table summarizes these data for a spaceship with one habitation unit, one solar panel and one life support. The number of components given always comprises an equal number of propulsion and fuel units (i.e. 8 components means 4 of each). The number of years in the table already includes the 25% boost from the discovery of fusion power.


The following table is based on posts by Robert Lancaster and Jeffery S. Jones.

Approval Rating % Ratio of happy to unhappy people
GNP million $ Based on trade and tax/luxury rates
Manufactured goods Mtons Total number of shields (including unit support)
Land Area sq. miles Number of squares that your units have been the last to move through
Literacy % Based on number of Libraries, Universities, Research Labs; discovery of Writing, Literacy; science rate
Disease % Based on number of Aqueducts, Sewer Systems; discovery of Medicine, Sanitation
Pollution tons Total number of "smoke stacks" times 10
Life Expectancy years  
Family size children Based on average food surplus
Military Service years Number of military units in relation to population
Annual Income $ per capita  
Productivity   Shields (minus support) per square in use (?)

Time Warp

The number of years that pass each turn depends on the difficulty level: playing the easier levels gives you more turns to finish the game. The tables below contain all the details (this information is based on an post by Jon Nunn; I have only partially confirmed the figures). Note that as soon as a spaceship is launched, the game will automatically switch to one-year turns.

Years/Turn Chieftain Warlord Prince King Emperor Deity
4000BC-2000BC 20 40 50 50
2000BC-1000BC 20
1000BC-0001AD 25 25
0001AD-1000AD 20 20
1000AD-1500AD 10 10 10
1500AD-1750AD 5 5 5 10
1750AD-1850AD 2 2 2 2
1850AD- 1 1 1 1

Total Turns Chieftain Warlord Prince King Emperor Deity
until 2000BC 100 50 40 40
until 1000BC 150 100 60 60
until 1AD 200 150 100 100
until 1000AD 250 200 150 150
until 1500AD 300 250 200 175
until 1750AD 350 300 250 200
until 1850AD 400 350 300 250
until 1900AD 450 400 350 300
until 1950AD 500 450 400 350
until 2000AD 550 500 450 400