Years ago, when I was in high school, I remember getting very addicted to turn-based adventure strategy games like the popular Ultima series.
The allure of these games is that they draw you into the plot with an interesting and emotional plot with intrigue and adventure.
It’s been years since I’ve explored the world of turn-based fantasy adventure games like that. This week I did some searching for more. Here at MakeUseOf we’ve covered a few turn-based strategy games like Scorched Earth and space-based Ogame. I was very pleased that I did start looking again, because I discovered another great game called Battle for Wesnoth, that I am sure is going to consume my next few weekends.
There are several elements about this game that I like. The first is the soundtrack. The music is a wonderful orchestra theme that just sucks you right into the story. The second is the plot. You’ve got an evil Queen bent on overtaking the entire land, murder of every true heir to the throne, and the quest of the one surviving heir to the throne – you.
A True Choose-Your-Own-Adventure
The entire point of Battle for Wesnoth is that it is a quest system. Each quest is called a “campaign.” When you install this game, you’ll find a whole list of campaigns already installed with the game. These represent many hours of game play.
The first thing that struck me about this game was, as I mentioned earlier, the soundtrack. I love games with larger-than-life music that’s dramatic and that fits the plot and theme of the game well. This soundtrack does that better than most others that I’ve seen. The second thing that struck me was the unique artistry that you’ll find throughout. For example, this hand drawn scene below was from the Heir to the Throne sequence.
Once the campaign starts, it’s time to get moving. Depending on the mission of the campaign, you’re going to have to situate the players that you control (those you’ve recruited) in a strategic way to either escape from battle, or enter battle in a way that gives you the greatest possible advantage. Along the way, there may be some dialog that takes place to go along with the overall plot. In the first mission, you need to escape the oncoming onslaught of Orcs.
At the beginning of each campaign, you’ll see what represents a successful mission, and what represents failure. The first campaign is easy enough – escape through the attacking horde of attackers and make it to the signpost at the upper left corner of the map.
If you’ve ever played turn-based strategy games before, there’s virtually no learning curve to this game. Once you right-click on any of your characters, you’ll see their stats and the number of moves left in the current turn. You’ll see highlighted map tiles showing how far you can travel in this turn.
Between each of your turns, the enemy has an opportunity to move or fight within their own turn-limits. As you watch, the entire battlefield will light up like a movie. As you watch in this first campaign, your elf defenders try to fend off the attacking hordes of Orcs. Overall, the elves do an amazing job of holding back the enemy long enough so that you can slip through their ranks.
If you are faced with the situation where you have to fight (and trust me, you will be), by left clicking on the enemy rather than a tile where you want to move, you’ll see an option for which weapon you’d like to use. By clicking “damage calculations” you can see the odds for both the attacker and the defender. Try to choose the one where the defender has the least chance of going unscathed.
Aside from moving and fighting, you have a number of other actions you can choose from in the “Actions” menu option at the top. These are useful things like switching between your units (helpful if they’re far apart), or recruiting more units from “friendlies” as you travel through the landscape.
If you make it through all of the campaigns that come pre-installed with the game, the fun isn’t over by far. The first thing you can do is put together your own campaigns with the Map Editor tool that’s built right into the game. If you’re a fan of games like the SimCity series, this editor along is a lot of fun to mess around with.
If you’re all about the game play, then I suggest when you’re done all of the campaigns that you click on “Add-Ons” from the main menu. Once you connect to the game server, you’ll discover an entire list (a long one, I might add) of additional campaigns and other cool map-packs that developers have added for extended game play.
This is the beauty of open-source games like Battle for Wesnoth. The game doesn’t end once you’ve finished the preloaded missions – it goes on and on for as long as there are developers happily creating new worlds to explore and new quests to conquer.
It’s really the open-source nature, the high quality, and the multi-player gameplay (also included) that makes this particular game such a top choice.
Have you ever tried Battle for Wesnoth? What do you think? Are there any other open source turn-based fantasy games like this one that you like as well? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!