Freeware Garden: Compact Conflict

It does admittedly look a bit like Risk and Defender of the Crown, but it's better than both.

Have been looking for a turn-based, strategic time-sink for quite some time, but I honestly never expected to find one crammed in the 13 kilobytes of the aptly named Compact Conflict. To say I’m loving this would be a criminal understatement, but, yes, I am honestly and deeply loving it.

Compact Conflict is a superb strategy game. A masterfully designed and wisely balanced offering, that allows for a variety of play-styles, despite only granting you 12 turns to conquer as many regions of its procedurally generated map as you can. The player (either AI or human) with the most regions at the end of the twelfth turn wins.

Each region produces faith, the in-game currency, though those containing temples also provide you with one new soldier every turn and can be upgraded to help with your faith production, the defensive or offensive capabilities of your soldiers or even grant you more moves per turn. Without any upgrades, you see, you can only make three moves. Considering than an army that has already invaded a region can’t move before the rest of your opponents do, you really must think before you act. Everything in this game is a precious resource.

But, trying to explain the rules in a way that makes proper sense is an exercise in futility.  Everyone knows that writing instructions for wargames is an undiscovered art and, so, I guess I’ll just urge you to give it a try and admit that I consider it one of the most elegant abstract wargames I have ever played. Besides, you’ll probably get it in a couple of minutes anyway.

As for me, provided I do find the time, well, I am seriously considering coming up with a proper, physical version of the thing. I am pretty sure my tabletop gaming friends will love it.

[UPDATE:] You can find the latest and feature-complete version of the game here.

30 Comments

  1. Jomini says:

    It’s an eight years late Dice Wars clone.

  2. tormos says:

    I really liked this game. It seemed very expressive (?) in the way that the better sort of strategy game was. My green empire was mine, damnit, and it was different and superior to all the other inferior, non four moves a turn getting empires. That said, its puzzle game aspects were also pretty apparent yet enjoyable (especially in re deciding the relative value of the various temple upgrades). My only complaint was that I would have quite liked to play some maps beyond the 12 turn limit, but they unfortunately were gone (and there’s no way to restart a game with the same seed). Still a worthy effort, and almost an essay on form for strategy games.

  3. Skulmuk says:

    Thanks for bringing yet another time-sink to my attention – how I get any work done is beyond me. Great little game, though :)

  4. KoenigNord says:

    So, here is another great time sink in similar style: kDice is a game, that sucked nights away.

    • dontnormally says:

      Everyone, everyone must try kdice. It is amazing.
      http://www.kdice.com

    • GenBanks says:

      Amazing, I have played a ridiculous amount of Dice Wars, which is the same game but single player. I didn’t know there was a multiplayer version…

      • KoenigNord says:

        The mind games are the best in it.

        Three players remain and one is almost out, let us call him teal. Teal then offers the current second brown to crown him first in the game. Purple doesn’t like that and tries to crush teal, has the worst luck while brown eats purple away…
        Some rounds later, teal backstabs brown and goes first after all… Those games make it tense, strategic, intriguing, compelling. :-)

        Also: If you get into the #100 (?) at the end of the monthly season, you get a table named after you for the next season :D

  5. Serpok says:

    You can’t really call something so heavily reliant on dice rolls a strategy game.

    • BooleanBob says:

      You can base a strategy game around the management of risk and probability. Doing so is kind of dependent on knowing the maths, though, which unless I missed something important was hidden away in this game.

      I still enjoyed it a lot, though.

      • tormos says:

        I actually kind of enjoyed playing the combat based more on feel than hard numbers. if you’d like to get very intimate with the maths for it, read this file starting around line 1600
        link to github.com
        Also congrats to the author for some surprisingly readable code

      • Baines says:

        It does get annoying when you realize that you lost because your luck was worse than your opponent, though. Arguably realistic, but annoying.

        You can make all the strategies that you want, but if luck decides that you just aren’t taking an enemy army, then strategy becomes meaningless. And with randomness, you are eventually going to get such a game.

        • dontnormally says:

          Well, you shouldn’t have put all your eggs in that one basket then, eh? :P

        • blind_boy_grunt says:

          “You can make all the strategies that you want, but if luck decides that you just aren’t taking an enemy army, then strategy becomes meaningless.”
          This might be if you get only unlucky rolls but randomness usually doesn’t work that way. Isn’t it even more strategic, because you can’t just plan for the outcome you want but need to plan for the worst case scenarios. “ok i probably can crush this guy, but what happens if i don’t”, etc.
          “More strategic” actually just as more, that’s not meant as a quality judgement, and if you don’t like it you don’t like it but saying it’s not strategic seems wrong (Fuzzy may be the word, because you don’t just have 1s and 0s but probabilities)
          edit: fighting in that game isn’t just a coinflip, it’s weighted depending on how many more troops you have, and how upgraded your relevant temple is(fire or earth). Maybe you felt like you lost too often because the enemy had a green temple(defense bonus and one of your guys dies before it starts)?

    • tormos says:

      Backgammon relies much more heavily on luck than this game does, and yet skilled players can regularly outplay beginners. Are they not exhibiting strategy?

      • Brinx says:

        This is an excellent example, because Backgammon ist essentially a puzzle game too. There’s an optimal move for every dice roll and you either know the game enough to see it or you don’t.
        I haven’t played Compact Conflict but what I gather from the comments here, it seems to be similar in that regard.

    • Thrippy says:

      In the FUTAH, games will make much, must better use of stochastic processes to mimic real world complexity. “Procedurally generated” algorithms are randomness shaped by a few rules. Rolling a die or two is boring but a crude, little slice of Nature emerges when a computer rolls thousands or millions of dice.

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      Phasma Felis says:

      What a silly thing to say. Strategy–real life strategy, which games seek to mimic–is invariably subject to random factors that are outside of total control. It’s deterministic games, games with zero random factors, that are “un-strategic.”

  6. ahmedabdo says:

    Good stuff!

  7. Shar_ds says:

    This is genuinely great! Has a really nice feel and just enough power balance to make each game different, Thanks!

  8. alexheretic says:

    Good pick, a slick little game

  9. MartinWisse says:

    Reminds me a little bit of Dicewars which really is a dumb but just addictive enough “strategic” Riskesque game to while away five minutes with.

  10. karthink says:

    Well, the AI absolutely trashed me on the middle difficulty.

    I’m going to be playing this a lot.

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    Aerothorn says:

    Is Konstantinos new, or did I just miss him before?

  12. Charles de Goal says:

    Great little game. Too bad for the random component…

  13. Charles de Goal says:

    Another annoyance : the last players to play automatically get an advantage.

  14. zarniwoop says:

    This doesn’t seem to work for me. It doesn’t register me clicking on any new regions after one move. Then I have to press ‘end turn’.

    • blind_boy_grunt says:

      “An army that has conquered a region cannot move again this turn.”
      (if that is your problem)

  15. krajzeg says:

    Hi there, author of the game here!

    Just wanted to let you all know that there is a newer version you can play here: link to wasyl.eu

    I’m still working on the game, and the version under this link is guaranteed to be the most stable and up to date