There are several things you must know before playing a multiplayer game, especially with people you do not know over the internet.
First of all, if you are playing over the Zone or Gamespy, each room has a name and description. If the name is something like "Experts Only", it probably isn't for you. Unless you win most of the games you play easily, you are not an expert, and should not ruin other's games. It is also important to read the game description. It will tell you extra rules, etc.
Once the game starts, the in-game Multiplayer Game screen will be shown.
The first thing you should do is select your civilization. Sometimes the host (the person who started the game) will require everyone in the game to play with Random Civilizations. This means to select Random in the Civilization box.
Next, you should make sure the colored number under Player is not the same as anyone elses. The only case where it should be is if you are playing a cooperative game. (abbreviated "coop") Cooperative games have two (2) or more players controlling the same civilization.
The next category is the one that garners the most confusion. It is the Team category. It is very important to select the correct thing in this box. If there are an even number of players, ie four (4), this box should be used. On a one player vs one player match, it is not neccesary. The host (the person who started the game) will usually state who should be on what teams. If the host says "tvb" (or TvB), this means Top VS Bottom. This means that the first two (2) players on the player list should select team 1, and the second two (2) should select team 2. The host may also say "ove". (or OvE) This means Odd VS Even. The top player on the list and the third player should select team 1, and the second and fourth player should select team 2. Sometimes the host will also specify the exact teams. It is important to read the chat to understand who should be on what team. It is extremely important you select a team - if not, there may end up being two (2) or more players allied against you. A common mistake for rookies to make is to change the Player box instead of the Team box. Make sure you do not make that error.
Lastly, in order for the game to start, you need to click the box to the left of the words "I'm Ready". This turns your name green on the list, and signifies you are ready to begin the game.
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