Wesnoth Crushing: Battle for Wesnoth V1.6 Out

By Kieron Gillen on March 24th, 2009 at 1:23 pm.

I'm the best at hex-based games. In fact, you could call me - Hex Luthor. Ah! Ah! Ah!

I used to love Amiga Power. They had a splendid letters page, which they kept splendid through a variety of methods – like giving occasional guidelines about how to write ‘em letters. Of course, some people got uppity about that – but they wrote rubbish letters, so who cares, eh? Anyway, one of them was to not write “I bet you won’t print this”, because – really – that guarantees they wouldn’t. In a similar way, there’s a series of CODE RED phrases which make RPS scowl at their letterbox. For example, “Why no love for [Game I quite like]” or “Shame On You”, which makes us print out letters just to get the pleasure of lobbing them in the bin, cackling all the while. Just don’t.

Of course, I’m a big old hypocrite, because when Pedro Lopes’ asked about the location of Battle for Wesnoth’s love, I took it as a reminder that I always wanted to give it a shot. You’ll find Love below…

And enough that. Battle for Wesnoth, just in its latest stable edition, also manages to be pretty lovely, despite a total absence of Arthur Lee. It’s a turn-based Strategy/RPG game in the vein of Age of Wonders, Fantasy Battles and Advance Wars. It’s a long-running Open Source game so it’s impressively developed. If you haven’t been there before – like yours truly – it almost doesn’t matter what they’ve added in this new just-released edition. Yeah, there’s a whole new campaign to play. Yes, the prose has been improved. Yeah, there’s new multiplayer stuff. Yeah, there’s more animations and unit stuff. Yeah, the map editor’s been improved. Who cares? It’s already got more content than it knows what to do with. I played the Tutorial and started the beginners campaign, and soon found my turn-based instincts clicking in. I’m aware that it’s the sort of thing I’d lose the rest of the day to if I didn’t just stop now and get on with what I’m meant to be doing.

When that’s over though, I look forward to returning. Anyone who doesn’t shiver at the sight of a hex-grid should go keep Battle for Wesnoth company when I’m away.

Oh – here’s a trailer from 2006, which is before all the graphical updates and changes, but should give you a sense of what sort of the cut of its jib.

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44 Comments »

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  1. Alan says:

    Hooray, tanky-tanky.

  2. yutt says:

    My friends and I have been playing Wesnoth for years. Excellent game, at least the multiplayer. The interface has always been the biggest hindrance, but they are slowly getting that up to the task.

  3. Kieron Gillen says:

    Yeah, interface didn’t trip me up actually. Not hyperslick, but reasonable.

    KG

  4. vader says:

    ah.. wesnoth.. oh how many times thee has saved me from dying of boredom on businesstrips.

    One of the few games that my laptop, a cold war relic kindly provided to me by the it-staff, can actually run.

  5. ascagnel says:

    BfW is one of two games I would always immediately install whenever I had to run Linux for any extended period of time. This game is a shining example of F/OSS game development. This is also the one game I’ve voluntarily donated money for, just because its so damn good. Now if only I didn’t suck at MP. :(

    I do want to mention, though, that this game is great for those with laptops, especially those with el crapo vido cards. Since everything is 2D, chips like the Intel GMA stuff won’t have a problem with it.

    On a side note, I think the Intel GMA series of chips is the single biggest hindrance to PC gaming in the past 5 years. Say what you will about the ‘P’ word, but when a consumer puts down money for a game, and then discovers that it won’t run on their >3 month old system, they get pissed at the game, not themselves for buying a crappy system.

  6. Cooper says:

    I played this a couple of years back, and, though I usually hate hex games, I loved this. On an easy setting it plays more like a hybrid RPG than anything super tactical braininess. Very, very pretty – some of the best pixel art I’ve seen outside of commercial games.

  7. Will Tomas says:

    Speaking of games worth mentioning, GOG have just released Cannon Fodder…

  8. gbarules2999 says:

    If your computer doesn’t have Wesnoth, you haven’t finished installing Linux yet.

    I wish the fervor and talent of Wesnoth would rub off on some of those other Open Source games. Bloody wonderful.

  9. wviperw says:

    Ah, good old Wesnoth. I haven’t played it since the version that’s exhibited in that ’06 trailer. Looks like it’s been all purtied up since then. Seems like only yesterday when you were *this* tall, Wesnoth! *Makes hand gesture down at knee-level*

  10. duel90 says:

    I used to play a game like this called Age of Wonders, it looks like it takes alot of inspiration from it

  11. marilena says:

    I’m glad this is getting some love. It’s a great game and I always found it very strange that it’s free. It shouldn’t be, honest, it’s too good for that.

  12. Helm says:

    I also really enjoy Battle for Wesnoth. I had to restart the main campaign 3 times before I learned how to play the game properly (“oh! Commanders influence the stats of the comrades about them!”, “oh, you can upgrade soldiers through experience!” “oh you can recall soldiers from previous battles!”) and that I didn’t mind replaying the first 5 maps x3 times shows just how good this is. It is deep, quite pretty (strange for an indie game) and it will reward sound strategy.

  13. Markoff Chaney says:

    With all this talk of Linux, don’t forget she runs perfectly on Windows as well. Such a wonderful game, this is. Scratches virtually every turn based itch I get. I’ll have to check out 1.6 since I’ve neglected her in the last year and a half or so since I built my new computer.

  14. Unlucky Irish says:

    I saw this on “Play This Thing!” a while ago and I’ve been playing it, on-and-off, ever since. Aside from the game-play the one thing that keeps me coming back is the art-work which, as Cooper said, is excellent. It especially goes well with the cliched ridden plots of the player made campaigns; helping to sate my shameful addiction to low-grade Fantasy.

  15. ascagnel says:

    @Markoff Chaney: Macs too!

  16. gbarules2999 says:

    Did I mention this game is amazing? Because it is.

    I’m fiddling with 1.4.7 while my hokey Internet tries to download the new, 200 MB super deluxe new stable version.

  17. gbarules2999 says:

    It runs on Solaris as well. I know this after using the extremely pathetic OpenSolaris build for an hour. I’m pretty sure it can be made to run on nearly any platform if you tinker with it enough.

  18. Markoff Chaney says:

    Doh! That’s what I get for starting with DOS. I get too centric in my focus some times, especially with my silicon beloveds. I wonder what would have happened if my dad had bought a IIe instead of my 8088 for my second box. The TRS-80 doesn’t count. Never did except for an exercise in futility while learning how to start with BASIC. That and I still have an 8 inch floppy here in the office…

    Regardless your platform – Play this if you enjoy Turn Based games. Even if you don’t it’s free, so try it!

  19. gbarules2999 says:

    I think it runs in DOS, too. Just throwing that out there.

  20. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    I wish I was better at this game. And it’s at a phenomenal price given it’s quality. ;)

  21. Tei says:

    BFW shows that good graphics can do for a OpenSource proyect. If you have graphic talent, no dounbt.. theres a open source proyect out here that is waiting for YOU.

  22. Danny says:

    Ok people, I have time to play one strategy game. On the one hand I have Kohan II, on the other this Wesnoth thing that’s oozing potential.

    What should I play? You decide.

  23. Evan says:

    How coincedental. Ive just switched my work OS to 8.1 and the first third party download was Battle for Westnoth. Nifty.

  24. Rakysh says:

    Has anyone here played the desert-future-elf campaign? It’s really, really weird- no idea why it’s in the game.

    Wesnoth is good, but a fair few of the story lines are a bit samey.

    (Also, it’s the cut of its jib, not jig. Sorry.)

  25. suibhne says:

    “Cut of its jib”, perhaps? ;)

  26. Cooper says:

    Also, I’ve always wondered what it is about BoW that makes it such an amazing game in an Open Source development model, when most others are either good because they riff of of existing ideas or even code, or really limited, or just plain awful.

    BoW is not only fairly original (to the extent that any game in such a fantasy setting with hexes can be) but incredibly extensive and really well polished. Have they managed to monetise it properly? Or are there just lots of very talented people dedicated to it?

  27. VPeric says:

    Just a note, there have been some AI troubles with this release line. As far as I’m aware, it has been partly resolved, with more fixes being worked on, but just as a warning: if you notice the AI is silly, know that that’s not usually the case.

    Re: interface: There is a planned “GUI II rewrite”, but it’s not going to be for a while (obviously not before the next stable release line, 1.8, and maybe not even then).

    As for the game itself, I’ve naught but praise. Other than being pretty, the gameplay has quite a lot of depth, so it’s going to take a while to master (which is probably why people suffer even with the easiest campaign).

  28. Devan says:

    Yay, I love Wesnoth! This article brings back memories of frequent saving and reloading every time my important units died :P
    Hey, where TBS skill is lacking you’ve gotta find other ways to win.

  29. LionsPhil says:

    @gbarules2999: Probably not—IIRC SDL has no DOS backend.

    Of course, Open Source applies. The only obstacle is someone caring enough to put in the effort to implement such support, despite the fact that it’s fairly pointless. ;)

  30. Down Rodeo says:

    Argh! Apparently I hadn’t reinstalled this since the last time I’d upgraded :(
    Rectifying now… I did thoroughly enjoy this – I was impressed as there’s even been a Let’s Play of it (not many FOSS games in there). Wow, impressed by a Let’s Play. That’s not good.

    Well I haven’t tried it for a while so I’ll definitely get in there again. I do so enjoy strategy-funs.

  31. Corbeaubm says:

    Wesnoth is probably the best open-source game that I’ve ever played. I keep coming back to it, particularly the multiplayer.

  32. ACardboardRobot says:

    >If your computer doesn’t have Armagetron Advanced, you haven’t finished installing Linux yet.

    Fixed:)

    No, but I never really kept Wesnoth on my hard drive more than a month, always started out loving it then just realising how bad I thought it was. \

  33. Fumarole says:

    Cannon Fodder you say? Done and done.

    Oh, I suppose I’ll download Wesnoth again too.

  34. yutt says:

    Yeah, I suppose “hindrance” isn’t the right word. The interface was just less than modern. Especially dealing with the lobby, or with dealing with players leaving and joining and whatnot.

    In fact, for much of it, there was no interface, just a bunch of text commands to memorize. :P

  35. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Man, I love Wesnoth. I also love save-scumming in the single-player campaigns, too. Am kind of lame, I admit.

    Time to pick up the updated version.

  36. Hank says:

    I’m another Wesnoth fan, having been introduced to it in 2004 by my lab-mate in gradschool. Watching the level bar flash white… so satisfying.

  37. Matthew says:

    I am shocked that Stuart N Hardy hasn’t posted yet.

  38. Kieron Gillen says:

    God, that name’s the proverbial past-blast.

    KG

  39. Jeremy says:

    Install fails.. sad days.

  40. Half Broken Glass says:

    I remember Wesnoth. It’s that silly game where the authors tried to apply “Keep It Simple, Stupid” to a turn-based strategy game and failed utterly, because that’s like making an FPS in 2D with one gun only.

    Highlights included casters and archers having same range as melee units which meant they were slaughtered instantly, inability to put more than one stack on a tile, terrain being only factor in unit’s performance and unlimited counters. The last two were especially hilarious since you could lose an entire army trying to kill one dude in a castle, or kill him on your first turn and be on your merry way with zero casualties.

    Hell, original Civilization had more battle strategy.

  41. NotMyName says:

    This game is too luck based.

  42. whomever says:

    Wesnoth itself has its moments, but you really have to play the “Under the Burning Suns” campaign, which adds all these genius flourishes that the original is (or at least was in 2006 or whenever it was I last tried it, so now you know how not all that serious I am) too open-source to know how to do. Although they then incorporated it in the main release, because they realized how rad it was. But maybe you missed it, because it’s buried in with all these half-finished robber baron things. And it encourages compulsive save-reload action even more than the main campaign, which is really saying something. But it really brings the *sauce* in a way that ordinary Wesnoth did not.

    Also, everything “Half Broken Glass” says is more or less true, but sometimes you just want to push the little mans around and have them gain xp.

  43. Hmm-hmm. says:

    Late with this comment, I know, but I couldn’t help but add my voice to this here topic/news item/blog post?

    Just to say that Wesnoth is a pretty good game, made by pretty cool people.

    @NotMyName No it isn’t. There is chance involved, but consider how you can use your race (which units) and how terrain factors into things.. it’s more intricate than it appears, while the core gameplay is simple and easy to grasp.

    That, and it all balances out in the end.

  44. mark says:

    Oh, the letters page from Amiga Power – how I miss thee. I remember after reading a great submission on the problem of how double sets of firedoors ALWAYS have one door locked (and the twisted minds of people who do this), they introduced another rule that somewhere, letters submitted had to include at least some small detail relating to computer games. Happy days.