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Freeware Garden: Compact Conflict

As good as Dice Wars?

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.

Looking for more free games? Check out our round up of the best free PC games that you can download and play right now.

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.

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