One day there will be a tag, 'indie games that Adam honestly intends to play for hours and hours but hasn't had a chance to yet'. It'd cover all the hundreds of exciting projects people write to me about, or that I discover on my many nocturnal voyages around the internet, but never quite find the time to become properly acquainted with. I've played Warbarons, a browser-based strategy game inspired by Warlords, but I've certainly not explored Warbarons. Maybe it'd be easier if I didn't insist on enjoying this sort of thing and plumped for games that have a more obvious and concrete narrative route instead. Maybe now and then, but here's to all the stories that are mine and mine alone. Warbarons might provide a few.
If you've played any of the Warlords series, Warbarons will looks instantly familiar. A smattering of castles/settlements are spread across a map and the rival barons, controlled by either or other humans or AI, set out to conquer them all, taking turns to do so and dispatching one other while they're at it. The multiplayer has
As with its spiritual precursor, Warbarons isn't the most complex of strategy games. Every campaign is simply a case of building units, which are all armies of one sort or another, and then seizing preset locations that are essentially factories to create more armies. What was so satisfying about the Warlords series was the fact that the simplicity of objective and control was made elaborate by the variety of units, hero types, sidequests and map types, and it was easy to read precisely where each faction stood at any point due to the clean interface, which Warbarons has modeled its visuals around.
With its multiplayer focus and intent to work across various platforms, the game's existence in browsers is understandable, even if I would rather have a version squirrelled away on my desktop. It's entirely free to play, although there are gold and silver memberships available, which allow for the running of more games simultaneously, and allow the use of more maps and more AI slots among other things. Games will also lead to an automatic surrender if left running without a response for too long.
I'd recommend taking some time to learn the layout and location of all the possible commands, but for anyone comfortable with wargaming it shouldn't be too hard to grasp. The main problem I have with any of this is that it's yet another reminder that Warlords 3 isn't available to buy through digital distribution, unless it is in which case tell me where to go immediately.
Oh, and Warbarons recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign, just about raising its target of $6,000. Maybe that's what's keeping it free for people to play and see if they want to buy a membership, in which case it seems like a splendid thing to have happened.