I’ve mentioned Battle For Wesnoth previously on this blog, describing it as a “great fun and dangerously addictive” turn-based strategy game set in a fantasy world of magic, elves, orcs, etc. As it’s a game that I still enjoy playing immensely here’s a repost of what I said about it on my discontinued The Free Software Files blog.
Battle For Wesnoth can be run on multiple platforms (Linux, MacOS and Windows) and can you can download either a stable release or the current development version. I suggest you go with the stable release in order to avoid any potential problems that might either put you off the game or spoil your enjoyment of it. At time of writing I’m using the current stable release (version 1.6.4) for Windows and you should bear that in mind for the rest of this review.
Once you’ve downloaded and installed the smartest next step is to run the tutorial and read the online Getting Started guide. The tutorial shows you the game basics – movement, recruiting allies, combat – and introduces you to a couple of key characters. It’s a pretty straightforward task to master the game-play which has been kept fairly simple. This is very important as you’ll find that to succeed in the game you need to focus on tactics, strategy and development of the characters the make up your band of followers.
Each character has different abilities determined by their attributes, the terrain they are operating in and the time of day. Yes, you need to pay a lot of attention to the time of day in game as this can have a big impact on how well your characters perform!
Much thought also must be given to how you will move your characters around the game space, as characters can travel different distances during each turn. Keep an eye on the position and possible moves of your opponents characters too otherwise you may find yourself surrounded then overwhelmed when battle begins.
It will take a lot of time and experimentation to get the right tactical balance as you work your way through the scenarios available within Battle For Wesnoth. You will lose the occasional campaign and you will suffer the grief of losing characters who have risen through the experience levels to gain a special place in your heart. But do not loose heart because there are many campaigns to enjoy as standard and there are more to download as add-ons making this a game with a long shelf-life indeed.
As well as being able to download add-ons the game includes a map editor so you can create your own campaigns. You can easily change the game language and configure a range of other settings via the Preferences dialogue. Should you suddenly find you’ve been up half the night immersed in a campaign you can save your game before grabbing a few hours sleep and picking up where you left off. There’s also a Multiplayer option so you can play against your mates over a network or the interweb. What more could you ask for?
Well, as you can see the game has great graphics and take my word that it also has lots of cool sound effects which enhance the whole experience. Horses neigh and gallop, swords clang, bowstrings hum, and magical spells warble. So this is not one to play in the office!
Overall, Battle For Wesnoth is a brilliant game which is all the sweeter for being free. In fact it easily stands comparison with the turn-based fantasy games that you can buy in the shops. I thoroughly recommend it and suggest that you head for www.wesnoth.org and download it for yourself. I know it is a 200Mb+ download but that really isn’t all that much these days – it’s not that much bigger than an album download but will perhaps hold your interest for longer!