The Battle for Wesnoth

Battle for Wesnoth is a top tier strategy game. I'd pay $30 for it.
Turn based strategy games are few in number, and it's small wonder. Whether it's Civilization, Advance Wars, or Fire Emblem, they don't have much room for competition. Turn based strategy games are slow and inexorable in their approach. You sit down with the intention of playing just a few minutes and before you know it hours have swept past.

Battle for Wesnoth is one of these. This is not a game to play when you have only a small amount of time. Wesnoth is a deeply strategic experience, but with room for everyone from the barest newbie to the sharpest veteran.

Lets start with the basics. If you aren't familiar with turn based strategy games, here's the gist. They play out like a board game, with each side taking turns deploying their forces, seizing territory and pitting their forces against each other. Of course, there is much more to it then that. While strategy board games have to play things fairly simply to keep players on the same level, computers allow designers to create far more intricate rules, which leads to more advanced play and a more complex experience. If this sounds good to you, keep on reading.

Getting your units caught in a bottleneck can be a disaster
Battle for Wesnoth is a fantasy game developed first by David White, and then by a whole host of people who have continually developed the game over the years. It has continually been balanced, modified, enhanced and built upon, even up to this day, and as a result features a whopping fifteen campaigns, many of which are longer then most campaigns in full stand-alone retail releases, as will as dozens of units spread across the games six playable factions.

Wesnoth also features multiplayer modes, allowing you to play the game over a local network or an online server, as well as against the computer. Sadly, the games AI isn't exactly the greatest and is really only meant for the single player campaigns or as a primer for training, but it's more then enough to challenge a casual player.

Time to recruit some more Dragon Warriors for the cause!
Combat in Wesnoth visually isn't the most exciting affair. If you're looking for fully animated units battling to the death, Wesnoth will not deliver. What it does deliver is highly detailed units with the occasional animation and more tactical options then you could shake a stick at. While most turn based strategy games keep combat somewhat light, Wesnoth takes the approach of the Advance Wars series...and then runs miles further with it. Units defensive and offensive values change based on the type of terrain they are on, but they also change based on the unit itself. For example, Elves have a natural defensive bonus (70%) in a forest, while most of the dragon race suffer severe combat and defensive bonuses in the same location. There are almost a dozen different types of damage (ranging from slashing to blunt to arcane) as well as melee and ranged damage (which means of course that each unit has defensive variables for each type). To add to that, each individual unit has it's own name and randomly chosen RPG stats which effect combat as well. All units can level up and most have at least one class they can progress to. Many have several, complete with branching paths. As a result you quickly get attached to your units, and you'll start carefully shepherding your units, keeping them alive over the course of campaigns until they become epic warriors or mages.

Battle for Wesnoth is a rock solid and competent turn based strategy game on the level of any other turn based game out there with dozens of hours worth of play. If you're in the mood to command an army,. Wesnoth is a great choice.

You can get it here!

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