The Battle for Wesnoth: Freeware at its best

NAVIGATING THROUGH THE TRENCHES OF ANDREWS DEEPEST THOUGHTS — Rarely do you find a freeware game with as much polish and detail as the turn-based strategy The Battle for Wesnoth. Published under the GNU General Public License, Wesnoth is available for Windows, Mac, and tons of Linux distributions.

Boasting a strong 200+ unit count, 16 races, and 6 factions, Wesnoth provides a deep and rewarding experience.

A fantasy based strategy game, it has players recruit armies from a myriad of races, the usual Tolkien influenced bunch, to battle for control of a hex based map. Within the default era, the available factions are Undead, Rebels (Elves), Loyalists (Humans), Knalgan Alliance (Dwarves), Northerners (Orcs and Goblins), and finally Drakes (Dragons).

Each race as a bunch of units, each with it’s own specialty and traits. Additionally, each unit can gain experience which will allow you to level up your base units into more distinct and powerful units as they fight and survive battles. You must learn their units and utilize their strengths against their enemies weaknesses if you ever hope to be successful.

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Battle between armies

Several players battle for control of a critical village(Click for full image)

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The basic aim of the game is to protect your commander while you navigate the hex grid map, seizing control of villages that not only provide you with gold, but a stronghold to defend key points on the map. Featuring a vast collection of land types, all with heir own movement modifiers that limit a unit’s ability to travel distances, the playable maps always provide an interesting change in tactics and you move to position your units to the best vantage points.

It also boasts a robust and complex battle system, which is balanced precisely while maintaining very asymmetric factions. However, it may take players a while to grasp the full complexity of the system.

Wesnoth provides players with both single and multiplayer modes. Not only does the game come with six excellent default campaigns, but players can easily download hundreds more from the official add-on server, easily accessible from the main menu. User-created content is one of the most compelling reasons to play this game. Not only can you download more campaigns, but you have access to new eras (which provide more races and units), tons of multiplayer maps, and even total conversion mods. Wesnoth was built from the ground up to be modular, user friendly, and encouraging to the community to help contribute. In fact, the developers welcome new additions to the game and usually include high quality content in future releases.

Finally, the game looks beautiful and can be run on almost any machine, old and new alike. The sprites and animations are detailed. Taking a look at the screen shot archives on the website, you can see how the game as progressed visually over the years, and thankfully for the better.

PROS:

  • Tons of units and factions.
  • High-quality user-created content.
  • Complex, balanced battle system.
  • CONS:

  • Steep learning curve.
  • Games may take a LONG time to finish.
  • PURCHASE IF:

  • It’s free, just download and try it already.
  • AVOID IF:

  • Your name is Jason and you suck at it.
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