Battle For Wesnoth hits Steam with new campaign

The fine freeware turn-based strategy game Battle For Wesnoth has launched a big update adding a new singleplayer campaign and fiddling with plenty, and made its Steam debut after fifteen years too. Our boy Brendy has declared it one of the best free games and the dearly departed Adam called it one of the best strategy games so… it’s good. Hitting Steam will bring it to a new audience, eager to chat about it and square off in the multiplayer, so now’s a good time to get in.

“The Battle for Wesnoth should be one of the first programs you install on a new PC,” Brendy said. It’s a turn-based strategy game in a fantasy world of elves, drakes, mermen, liches, and all that. Battles go down on a hexy grid, looking like this:

Version 1.14, the “New Horizons” update, has brought a new player-made campaign (the game has many), new multiplayer maps, UI improvements, some new unit graphics and animations, and plenty of other changes and tweaks. See the changelog for full details.

You can download Battle For Wesnoth free for Windows, Mac, and Linux from its site and on Steam.

It’s open-source too, so you can poke in its guts and chip in if you really want.


  1. DeepSleeper says:

    This is one of those games I only know because for a long time it was held up as “the best Linux could do”. You’d ask a Linux user about games and they’d go “Oh, well we’ve got Battle for Wesnoth! And… Tux Racer? And some emulators.”

    And then they’d stand there looking sad until it was time to download a new kernel.

    Anyway the game’s probably good.

    • Tobasco da Gama says:

      I haven’t played it in probably half a dozen years, but it is good. At least, the systems and interface and units are good. The real problem with the game is that campaigns are highly variable in quality, and I never quite found one I liked enough to finish it.

      • SuddenSight says:

        Moreso than the variation between campaigns, I’ve found that the various missions within each campaign can vary widely in quality and difficulty.

        That said, if you haven’t played in a long time, I would encourage you to revisit the “primary” campaigns. These have received steady updates and some improvements, though the story is still pretty dull fantasy fare.

    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      Everyone I know that touts Linux all the time also has a Windows partition that they boot to when they actually want to do something other than tinker with their OS.

      Linux gaming is pretty sad. There’s been a bit more support lately, thanks Steam, but until last year it always felt like “We’ve got a crappier, open-source version of stuff Windows did ten years ago” was the answer to everything.

      • raptir says:

        Hi, I use Linux and do not have a Windows system/partition at all.

      • Thankmar says:

        I take a crappier, open-source version of anything over datagreedy commercial “services” any day. Bonus: its not crappier 99% of the time.

      • vand says:

        I spend most of my free time gaming on Linux, we’re fine. OS supremacism is embarassing :P

        • Premium User Badge

          Drib says:

          No no, Windows has its problems. It has huge, smelly piles of problems.

          I was mostly just saying that Linux gaming scene isn’t as robust as Windows, rather than any kind of generalized OS superiority.

          • mac4 says:

            other than tinker with their OS.

            How many hours have we all been spending banging Windows’ latest Creator’s Update or whatever it’s called back into shape the way you want and therefore already had it, btw? Me personally, rather a few more than I cared to, once again. Grrr. Yes no I don’t want my wireless adapter switched on, which is namely why I had turned it off, thank you very much. Etc. Oh and how come with each of these major updates, system restore points get switched off by default. Aargh :(

      • mac4 says:

        Er, my only reason to return to Windows was admittedly this gaming nonsense.

        Other than that, give me Linux any time, please. Yes I have a dual-boot set-up.

        Also, Wesnoth on Steam, eh? My is nothing sacred. OK downloaded, could come in handy. And on Windows ;-P (And no, yes, I always found the game way too hard to persist for very long. Which doesn’t mean it may not merit another try.)

      • Shacklestein says:

        Well, you don’t know me (I think), but for what it’s worth I haven’t dual booted in more than half a decade. And I cannot remember the last time I used Wine to run a game.

        As for available games: It may be related to the type of games I prefer, but it’s a rare occasion when something I really want is unavailable for Linux. And it’s been that way for several years now. If they stopped making Linux games tomorrow, my existing backlog would keep me entertained for years. And unless they stopped selling the ones already made, there are enough to last me several lifetimes.

      • MajorLag says:

        I’m going to back up your assertion: there’s a large segment of the linux desktop crowd that seems only use their desktop as a browser and for posting to /r/unixporn. That’s fine, except when they get all evangelical and try to tell everyone how their distro (and not any of the 200 others) is the bestest OS of all time and is clearly superior to whatever you’re running. When you point out to them how WDDM is at least 10 years ahead of Wayland (not to mention Xorg), or how inferior the driver support is, or how awful the power management is, or any of a dozen other areas where linux is still woefully inadequate for whatever your use case is, you get a few variations of non-response: “It works for me!”, “You’re using the wrong distro!”, “Well, uh, Windows sometimes has problems with that too!”, “You just have to do more research about hardware!”, or my personal favorite “normal users don’t do/care about that!”.

        The only reason Linux gaming ever moved beyond Tux Racer is because Valve stepped in and gave developers a base system to target, because the community couldn’t even manage that.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Trollin’ Trollin’ Trollin’, rawhiiiiide!

      • DeepSleeper says:

        I can understand where you’d think this, as I am a notorious trolling jerk.
        However this was completely sincere. I’ve had this exchange a number (three) times in memory.
        Although the third time, the other party was VERY excited about SteamOS bringing a wider market to Linux gaming.

        Which … sort of happened? A little bit? So I suppose that conversation is now obsolete.

  2. drezworthy says:

    Wow this game is back from the dead. How many years ago do I remember seeing on its website that the creators were dropping development. Guess it went open source? What happened after that I dunno but the fan base is certainly strong with this one.

    • Janichsan says:

      I‘m not sure what you are remembering there, but BoW never was „dead“ and always has been open source.

      • Chromatose says:

        He’s likely referring to the fact that Wesnoth hasn’t really had much in the way of big releases over the past few years, and IIRC a lot of the key devs shifted over to developing Frogatto And Friends instead.

        Your guess is as good as mine on the open source point though :P

        • Banyan says:

          I struggle to think of what “big releases” people would be looking for. There was a regular stream of new art assets for most of the years that I paid attention and the occasional campaign, but the core gameplay has ranged from “rock solid” to “HELL YEAH” since at least 2007 or so. And there were always way more mod campaigns than someone with a regular job could get through. I can’t think of a better turn-based tactics game with persistent unit progression at the moment; if that’s your jam, Wesnoth is your s**t.

          • Chromatose says:

            To be more specific, the Wesnoth devs considered 1.12 to be the ‘major’ release previous to the current one, and that was released 3 and a half years ago.

      • drezworthy says:

        Oh, my bad, well I thought I remembered once going to the website years ago and seeing some message about how it wasn’t being developed anymore. I’m clearly not remembering correctly since its always been open source but it could have had something to do with active developers vs. community developers…

  3. kud13 says:

    This game is scary addictive. I tried it once, and then suddenly it was 3 AM.

    I basically haven’t tried it since. This is one of those “if I ever clear even 40% of the ” must-plays” in my backlog” list games.

  4. H. Vetinari says:

    this game is THE SHIT, and has never left my hard drive – I’m in it for the campaigns.
    putting to shame a lot of games one needs to pay for – the fact that they’ve managed to keep it free is beyond awesome.
    it’s the only game my gf plays, literally – consequently the ass kicking I get when we play together is not even funny anymore.

    Because of the sheer number of singleplayer campaigns included in Wesnoth, it has become increasingly difficult to get a sense of the in-universe chronology of the stories they tell. To address this, the Campaigns menu now provides the option to sort campaigns according to their position in the timeline of Irdya’s history, as well as the option to sort them alphabetically should one so desire.

    quality of life improvement if ever saw one.

  5. Syrion says:

    BoW is really very, very good, I loved playing it years ago. Great fun in multiplayer, too! My only problem was that after a while of playing, the RNG would always get on my nerves, as it usually does in such games. But, maybe they have softened that up a bit with rule changes or so.

    It’s a bit of a shame that there isn’t an official Android version, as years ago there were several ports with none being really good. Although, that has apparently changed and there is currently a very good, free one available.

    • khamul says:

      The RNG is *why* Wesnoth is great.

      The skill in the game is not about lining up your attacks so you have the best chance to succeed: it’s about planning ahead, so you can succeed if it all goes well AND you can still survive if (WHEN) it doesn’t.

      Everything in the combat system is designed around that – to the precise damage a troll does, at night-time, against the hitpoints of every other unit. It’s all really rather clever.

      I’ve never played another game that teaches that skill quite so brutally – and it’s a useful skill to learn. It’s a great game, and well worth your time.

  6. teije says:

    Awesome game, a real gem. Many good (and challenging!) campaigns have been created for it. Something my son and I both go back too every couple years.

  7. Throwback says:

    I can confirm this game is very, very solid.

    Last I remember was bitching about how OP drakes were – even though they weren’t.

  8. April March says:

    I really liked this game, even though I usually don’t like anything medieval fantasy. I might take the plunge again – between Warlock 2 and Eador, I’ve been playing a lot of turn-based medieval fantasy (tempered by Hard West for a little turn-based non-medieval fantasy).

  9. Captain Narol says:

    Yeah, a new campaign !

    This is the first game I re-install everytime I get a new computer, a real turn-based-tactics gem and a now a classic. AND TOTALLY FREE.

  10. BewareTheJabberwock says:

    I played the living heck out of this game in the early ’10s. Glad it’s still going, and thanks for the reminder of its existence!

  11. Phenoca says:

    He’s right. Every time I get a new PC I install Chrome, Battle for Wesnoth, and Daz Loader.

Comment on this story

HTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>