Which files must I have if I want to play CtP2 and what other must-have info is there?
Every CtP2 player should download and install 2 or 3 files, regardless of how you play the game or what mods you want:
(1) The official Activision patch (v1.11, sometimes referred to as v1.1). This fixes some bugs and makes your savegames compatible with everybody else's, it makes it possible to play with mods, etc. The advantages are numerous, these days playing any commercial videogame without the latest patches is a no-no, so this should be a no-brainer. Should for some reason the installer of the patch not work for you (a known problem, particularly (but not exclusively) on WinNT, Win2k and WinXP), you can also download the 'manual patch' that Maquiladora made from the Directory (no direct link provided as what file you need depends on what language version of the game you have).
(2) ModSwapper (v1.12, sometimes referred to as v1.5). Note that there is also a Civ3 tool with the same name that does the same thing for Civ3 'mods' (), so make sure you get the correct version (the link provided here is the correct version). ModSwapper makes it possible to switch between mods for CtP2, so you can play with as many mods as you like (as well sa the original game) without having to make changes to the text files. ModSwapper is a tool which you run instead of ctp2.exe. When started, it gives you a dialog window in which you can choose with which mod you wish to play this session and then let's you launch the game with that mod. Important note: you can't swap mod mid-game: once you started a game with one mod, you normally can't just start your savegame with a different mod and continue to play with that other mod. You'll have to either finish that game with the mod you started it with or start another game with that other mod. Having different savegames that work with different mods is okay, but you'll have to quit and restart CtP2 and switch mods if you want to play a savegame that works with a different mod.
(3) If you plan on playing MP, you will need a recent copy of servers.dat:
Once you have these files, you should be good to go. However, it would be advisable to read the CtP2 Forum FAQ, which answers many common questions on gameplay/bugs/mods/etc, some of which you'll never know you even wanted answers to until you read them. If you're into MP, you'll also want to sign up for the CtP2 MP CivGroup, as well as the MP Registry.The servers.dat file is used by both CTP and CTP2 to connect to the game servers ariound the world. They are the IP addresses of the game servers. When you connect to the server system using the game, it picks up a listing of current good servers and adds new ones to the dat file. The problem with the servers.dat file included on the game CD is that the two servers listed, activision.us1 and activision.uk, are no longer active or do not respond with updated server listings. The game will keep looking for those servers and will not update until it connects to a server listed in the dat. So, players who want to play online must get a server.dat file from a player who has connected recently so that there is at least one active server in the dat file. This file is an one such file of this and will be kept up-to-date.
One final comment: some people think that CtP2 is completely unplayable and a horrible game in it's original form, and that it only becomes playable after you've installed some mods. Others think a little higher of the game and think it *is* playable without mods, just a little buggy and unbalanced. Either way, everyone, from the worst critics to the greatest fanboys, agrees that the mods make huge improvements to the game and are well worth the download. So you haven't really played CtP2 if you haven't tried the mods See the next section for more info on this subject.
In addition to these files, there is now the CtP2 Source Code Project, where new patches and versions of the game are being developed that may well prove to be must-have in the future. For now it's still a bit too early for that, but the results are already quite impressive. You can check them out in the Source Code Project Forum. See the Source Code Project FAQ for details.