wesnoth: a turn-based fantasy strategy game

April 13th, 2008 edited by Tincho

Article submitted by Vasiliy Faronov. Guess what? We still need you to submit good articles about software you like!

The free software community makes games, too. Among the more well-known ones is the Battle for Wesnoth — a turn-based strategy game with a fantasy setting. It doesn’t have shiny 3D graphics or cut-scenes, but it is an interesting and original game and is fun to play.

This game is often simply called “Wesnoth”, and the package name is “wesnoth”.

A typical Wesnoth action
A typical Wesnoth action.

Wesnoth is played on a map divided into small hexagons. Each player controls a number of units which move over the map and attack enemy units. Different units possess different abilities and weapons. An important tactical element in Wesnoth is terrain: it determines the defensive ability of the units. For example, an Elvish Fighter can defend himself better in the forest than on open grassland, so enemies are less likely to harm him in the forest. As you kill more and more of your foes, your followers advance to higher levels, improving their skills and other characteristics. Careful positioning, movement and advancement of units is the key to victory.

The game’s interface is quite nice and usable. Among other things, Wesnoth ships with a complete in-game help reference where you can find detailed information as well as general overviews.

Wesnoth help
The in-game help, complete with pictures and hyperlinks.

The game ships with a number of campaigns that pit you against an artificial intelligence (AI). Of course, you can also play against other people. There is a dedicated multiplayer server where you can compete with your friends or strangers (note that direct connectivity with your opponent is not necessary, so you can play even from behind a NAT router or similar obstructions). For users of the stable Debian distribution, there is a server at — it lets you play with the Debian’s version of the game even after the developers release a newer one.

The virtual “lobby” of the multiplayer server
The virtual “lobby” of the multiplayer server.

Wesnoth can also be expanded: you may create your own campaigns, maps, units and all other sorts of things. A special add-on service has been developed to make it easy for players to find and install such enhancements. Just connect to it, pick what you like, click a button, and you are ready to go.

The add-on installation dialog
The add-on installation dialog.

The game is actively developed, has a well-maintained web site and a thriving community on the forums. Wesnoth has been available in Debian since release 3.1 “sarge”, and in Ubuntu since release 6.06 “Dapper Drake”.

Posted in Debian, Ubuntu |

10 Responses

  1. Florian Ludwig Says:

    Only thing missing for wesnoth is a apt-like system for add-ons with updates, etc ;)

  2. rm Says:

    apt-like? :)

    $ apt-cache search wesnoth
    wesnoth - fantasy turn-based strategy game
    wesnoth-all - fantasy turn-based strategy game - complete suite
    wesnoth-aoi - An Orcish Incursion official campaign for Wesnoth
    wesnoth-data - data files for Wesnoth
    wesnoth-did - Descent into Darkness official campaign for Wesnoth
    wesnoth-editor - map editor for Wesnoth
    wesnoth-ei - Eastern Invasion official campaign for Wesnoth
    wesnoth-httt - Heir to the Throne official campaign for Wesnoth
    wesnoth-l - Liberty official campaign for Wesnoth
    wesnoth-music - music files for Wesnoth
    wesnoth-nr - Northern Rebirth official campaign for Wesnoth
    wesnoth-server - multiplayer network server for Wesnoth
    wesnoth-sof - Sceptre of Fire official campaign for Wesnoth
    wesnoth-sotbe - Son of the Black Eye official campaign for Wesnoth
    wesnoth-thot - The Hammer of Thursagan official campaign for Wesnoth
    wesnoth-trow - The Rise of Wesnoth official campaign for Wesnoth
    wesnoth-tsg - The South Guard official campaign for Wesnoth
    wesnoth-ttb - A Tale of Two Brothers official campaign for Wesnoth
    wesnoth-utbs - Under the Burning Suns official campaign for Wesnoth

  3. Vadim P. Says:

    The only thing missing from the Wesnoth front page is Linux support.

  4. Vasiliy Faronov Says:

    Vadim, it wouldn’t make much sense to provide a generic “GNU/Linux” option on the front page, because there is a plethora of distributions and each has its own approach to package management. A GNU/Linux user should themselves know where to get software for their system.

  5. theythinki Says:

    This game is very fun, i found an article that said this game mimics Master of Monsters, i played MoM on my PS1 and loved it. This game seems well put togeather so far cant wait to play all the campains.

  6. Vadim P. Says:

    New users don’t know where to get it, and your argument fails. They think they need to boot into Windows or Mac OS to get it going.

    If they’re curious enough, at worst, they’ll attempt to compile and fail horribly.

    Imo, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with actually bothering to support Linux on the front page, and then for the major distributions say, you can go here, click this and that, to get the game.

    Oh wait, is it “If you aren’t smart enogh, Linux isn’t for you” thing again? Yes, if you go by that (which Wesnoth does), then it’s true. But they’re just screwing themselves over (a little. Wesnoth is quite popular on windows, so I doubt they care).

  7. BigBopper Says:

    I agree that they could “advertise” the Linux compatibility more. However, they do instruct where to get the binaries if you look, and you don’t even have to look that hard. I then found out about, which will prove very useful. Thanks for the neat game.


  8. Vasiliy Faronov Says:

    Vadim, I believe that one of the first things a new GNU/Linux user must learn, is that software is primarily acquired from the distro’s archives and not from the developers’ web sites. In GNU/Linux, this is basic knowledge; and if a user does not know this, then yes, I believe they are not qualified enough to use the system. They need not be smart, they just need to learn some simple rules, else GNU/Linux will inevitably face the many problems Windows faces nowadays.

    On the other hand, maybe you are right that GNU/Linux support should be noted on the front page, just for publicity’s sake (obviously, not all visitors of that page are GNU/Linux users).

  9. Florian Ludwig Says:


    nope, not like that i know about that :) There are lots of addons you can install from within the game… but no option to update or remove them.

  10. Jozrael Says:

    It’s quite easy to remove add-ons. Just go to the add-ons tab, click the add-on, and then click ‘remove’.

    …not rocket science.