Civ 2, or Civilization II, is a turn-based strategy game. At the beginning of the game, players assume the role of the leader nomadic band who is tasked to build an empire. Players bring their people into civilization, and the game covers the era of the Stone Age, advancing to the Space Age. Players win the game by doing one of the following: use technology to place a colony on the star Alpha Centauri, or conquer the world using military tactics. The game comes with a step-by-step tutorial to guide users in how to play.
The game challenges players to apply skills in planning, policy-making, building structures, and developing tools geared towards scientific development. Players must learn to identify good locations for cities, where resources such as food and building materials are abundant. These can be developed through road construction, allocating farmland, making irrigation canals, and other industrial improvements.
In addition to building structures and making technological advancements, players also have to look out for other civilizations keen on conquering the world. For this, players must also develop military units to defend their civilization and also for facing others in combat for the top spot. Players in scores in Civ 2 based on their performance in the various aspects of the game, such as population, structures built, and even the amount or duration of peace time.