How to be a Conqueror With Battle for Wesnoth

When preaching the open source gaming gospel the Quake clones are often cited as the best. But there are other titles which are just as good, if not better. In the realm of first person shooters it’s pretty difficult to beat the Quake series at all,  but Battle for Wesnoth is a horse of a different color entirely.

Battle for Wesnoth is a turn-based, hexagonal, strategy RPG- not a shooter at all. Imagine playing chess, but all of your pieces (termed “units”) can move in any direction. Furthermore, imagine if each unit could gain experience by killing the  enemy and thus growing in power. Now you’ve got the gist of what a strategy RPG is like. If you’ve played such games as “Final Fantasy Tactics”, “Fire Emblem”, and “Advance Wars” then you’ll be prepared for what kind of gameplay to expect  in Wesnoth.

But beware: the battle system in Wesnoth is far from deterministic. That is, when two units engage in combat the outcome is far from certain compared to, say, “Fire Emblem” or “Advance Wars”. You see, the damage that a unit does is  determined by whether or not it lands all its hits. Units with more attacks per-turn are far more likely to deal damage than units that only attack once. If you’ve played D&D then you’re familiar with to-hit rolls and how random they can be.

This is a major sticking point for many players (me) who feel incredibly frustrated when their full-health unit attacks a barely-breathing unit and gets destroyed without landing a single blow. But the developers made an excellent case for their combat system in this forum post. Basically, the combat system in Wesnoth forces you to base your strategy not on the details of picking apart an enemy formation, but on the strategy of maintaining pressure on the enemy, gauging the odds of  overall victory, harrying the enemy flanks, etc.

Despite my preference for deterministic strategy games I found myself sinking some serious play time into Battle for Wesnoth. Delightfully, it’s a pretty easy game to get up and running on Linux:

Install Battle for Wesnoth:
1. install: apt-get install wesnoth or you may wish to use your graphical installer. You’ll find it under the “Games” section.
2. run the game from your system menu (i.e. Applications >> Games >> Battle for Wesnoth)

Making a Multi-player Game:
1. install the multi-player server: apt-get install wesnoth-server
2. find out your ip address: open a terminal and type ifconfig
3. open up wesnoth and hit “multiplayer” >> “Host Networked Game”
4. set up your server and all the map options
5. tell your friends what your ip address is

Your friends/players can join your game by doing this:
1. open wesnoth and hit “Multiplayer” >> “Connect To Server”
2. now type in the ip address of the server they wish to join (i.e. you)

If you’re interested in a review, try this one.

Liches whip @$$

Final Level of the Death Campaign


Q: Is there a way to make this thing full screen?

A: Yes, go into Preferences >> Display >> Toggle Fullscreen

Q: This game gets really really hard, and I’m getting really really frustrated. Is there some kind of difficulty setting I can use?

A: Try starting your single player campaigns on the easiest setting available. If it’s still too difficult for you then look into the cheat codes for the game:

‘:’ will open up a terminal within the game. After pressing ‘:’ you can type the following commands:

debug’ will enter “debug” mode in the game and enable all these cheats

unit hitpoints=###’ = changes the Health of the unit under your cursor

unit moves=###’ = changes how many Moves the unit under your cursor has left

unit experience=###’ = changes how much Experience the unit has

create [###]‘ = creates the unit corresponding to the number identifier

gold ###’ = Give yourself gold

unit level=###’ = Sets the units’ level to the given number if the unit can level up that high (not all units can get up to the same level)

In debug mode you can also right click on a hex and use the “Create Unit” and “Change Unit Side” commands — very useful.


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