Part of the 0 A.D. Gameplay Manual

This document is WIP (work in progress), hopefully it's already useful, but more info will be added as the game development progresses.

Basic Gameplay

This guide will introduce you to the basic concepts of 0 A.D. If you've played other RTS games much is going to be familiar, and you might want to read the Quickstart Guide for people who've played other RTS games instead of this guide which is aimed mostly towards players who are new to RTSs altogether.

First steps

After setting up a game (and clicking on the Start game button) you'll see your first units and buildings. In most cases it will be something like in the image above: you will have a Civic centre, perhaps a few houses or similar, and a couple of basic units. You may want to take a few moments to experiment moving the units around and selecting things etc. See the HotKeys page for all ways you can use your mouse and keyboard to interact with the game, but here are some of the most important:

  • Left clicking: Selects the unit/building/object under the mouse (see the outline at the base of the object to easier see what is going to be selected when you click).
  • Right clicking: Order the unit to do something. If the mouse is over an empty piece of ground: the unit will move there, if over an enemy: it will attack it etc.
  • Move the mouse towards an edge of the screen: Will move the camera in that direction and you will see more of the game world.
  • Arrow keys: Press the arrow keys (or the w, a, s or d keys) to move the camera in up, down, right or left direction and see more of the game world.

Gather, Build, Fight

  • There are three things which are important to win an RTS game: gathering, building and fighting. All are needed, and they cannot be done separate from each other. To make things easier to understand in this guide they will be listed separately from each other though. To be able to fight you need buildings and units. To be able to build, both units and buildings you need resources. To get resources you need to gather them, so that's what we'll start with.


Gather resources

  • In 0 A.D. you can gather four different resources, food, wood, stone and metal. You can see how much of each you have by looking in the top left of the top bar. To gather food select one or more of your units and move your mouse over, let's say a chicken, and you'll see the cursor change to the food symbol (the same as in the top bar) then right click on the chicken. Then the unit will move to the animal and, after having killed it, start collecting the food. It can only carry so much however, so after a while it needs to drop off the food somewhere, for that there are resource dropsites.

The Civic Centre you have from the start is a dropsite for all resources, later you'll build other dropsites where your units will only leave some types of resources, where the units will go and drop the food they've gathered. Then they will go back to gather the rest, after they've gathered all food from an animal or a berry bush they will try and find another nearby and start gathering from that. If they cannot find any they will return to the nearest resource dropsite and wait for new orders from you there. You gather the other resources in the same way, wood from trees, stone from rocks and metal from metal mines. The cursor will change to the food, wood, stone, and metal symbols when over an object that will give you that resource, so if you have trouble finding metal move the mouse around until you see the anvil shaped cursor for example.

Gather intelligence

  • In order to win a game you need to gather something else as well: intelligence. What that means in this case is: you need to find out where new resources are, where the enemy is and what the enemy is doing. At the start of the game you can only see what's right around your starting Civic Centre and your units, the rest of the map is covered by Fog-of-war and Shroud-of-Darkness. The Shroud-of-Darkness is the blackness that covers most of the the map at the start, and the Fog-of-War is the area where you have explored, but don't have a unit or building so you only see what it looked like the last time a unit/building "saw it". This means that new buildings there won't show up unless you send a unit there again/build a building there (but more on that in the build section below), also you will not see if the enemy units are moving through the area.

To explore the map and reveal where resources are, where the enemy is, what the enemy is doing etc, you send units out to scout. At the beginning of the game this is mostly to find where resources are and to get an idea of what the map looks like under the Shroud-of-Darkness, but as the game goes on it becomes more and more important to find out what the enemy is doing. What kind of units is he building, where does he build new buildings to quickly be able to create new units near you, from which direction is he attacking you, etc. The best unit to do this with is the cavalry unit that the game provides you with at the start- its extra speed not only speeds up the process of covering the map, it can also more easily remove itself from danger if it encounters some unexpected resistance.


Build/create units

  • Just using the units you have at the start of the game will not get you far, so you need to create more. At the Civic Centre you can build female citizens as well as three of your civilizations Citizen Soldiers which will be useful in the beginning of the game when you haven't built any other buildings. The Citizen Soldiers can both fight and gather/build. To create a new unit, simply click on its icon which will appear in the bottom area of the screen. Marked by a in the image above, that one shows what the game window looks like when you have a unit selected, but it will look similar when you have a building selected. To be able to train the unit you need to have the necessary resources, if not a message will appear that tells you how much more of the resource (or resources) you need to gather to be able to create that unit.

Building buildings

  • One of the first buildings you should build is a house, the Civic Centre you have from the start will provide some housing, but you will soon need more. Housing, or as it's often called: Population, is provided by houses, the Civic Centre, and a few others, and you can see how many units you can support as well as how many units you currently have right next to the resources in the top bar. In fact it can be argued that population is the fifth resource, so be sure to always have enough housing for the units you have + a couple more. To build a house click on the house icon, it's the first among the icons in the list of buildings a unit can build, after you have clicked the icon you'll see a representation of the final building that you can move around with your mouse and you are able to left-click somewhere to place it. Buildings need enough space, and cannot be built in some places, to show you that the representation of the building turn red when you move the mouse somewhere the building can't be built. If you decide you don't want to build the building after all right click to cancel the building process. If you don't have enough resources to build the building it will be cancelled automatically and you will see a message in the middle of the screen telling you how much more you need of each resource needed for the building. To construct the building faster you can use more units.

Building defences

  • Once you have built a few buildings you may want to defend them from being destroyed by the enemy, to do that it's a good idea to build walls and towers. Eventually the game will have a more intuitive system to make wall building easier, but for now you need to build each individual wall piece and wall tower by itself. Walls hinder the enemy from entering, and takes a lot of time to destroy with ordinary units which means the enemy will either have to move around the walls or build expensive siege units.

As a last resort, it is quite possible to garrison ordinary buildings with your workers and soldiers, but this is to be avoided when possible. while it does protect your workers and allow them to more effectively defend themselves, it takes them out of the fields and mines, slowing down and even stopping the resource-gathering that is necessary for victory. Walls and towers do more than delay the enemy- they force the enemy to stop and defeat your defences rather than leave them able to strike directly towards your centers of production.


  • To attack an enemy unit or enemy building right click on it with one of your units (or one of the buildings which are able to attack) selected and it will move into attack range and start attacking it. Units fighting with swords they will have to move right next to the enemy while units shooting or throwing a weapon only needs to get close enough to be able to shoot their arrow etc, they cannot get too close however, so it's best to both have some ranged units and some melee.

While each civilization has its own specifics, as far is its individual units are concerned, they can generally be broken down into a number of specific types. Swordsmen are effective against spearmen, but suffer when fighting cavalry. Spearmen are useful against melee cavalry, but generally do poorly against swordsmen. Missile troops can come in both infantry and cavalry varieties, and their effectiveness against other units can vary on whether they are bowmen or javelinists. While it is best to check the particulars of the units from our own particular civilization, but it is always a good idea to cover all of your weaknesses and also remain unpredictable- leaning on one unit for all your duties invites disaster.


Stances are purely for behavioral purposes, the game currently lets you choose between five different stances for military units.

Stance Icon Description
Violent Attack nearby opponents, focus on attackers and chase while visible
Aggressive Attack nearby opponents
Defensive Attack nearby opponents, chase a short distance and return to the original location
Passive Flee if attacked
Standground Attack opponents in range, but don't move

Repair buildings

  • After an attack by the enemy you may need to repair your buildings, to do that right click on it with one of your citizen soldiers, or female citizens, selected and it will move there and start repairing the building, as long as you have enough resources to repair it and until it's repaired or you give the unit another order.
Last modified 3 years ago Last modified on Feb 23, 2021, 6:12:16 PM

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