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I’m used to making a review for each of the new major Wesnoth release, and so it is no exception with the latest version. It’s been almost two years since the last stable release, which was Wesnoth 1.8 released on April 1st, 2010, and 1.10 brings a whole bunch of new features, new graphics and tons of improvements regarding every aspect of the game over the previous versions.

I think 1.10 is probably the most awaited release, and those of you who are fans of Wesnoth could follow its development by trying all those alphas and betas put out by the team behind it. Although I’m quite a regular player and I love this game, I preferred to stay back with 1.8.x and wait for the stable 1.10 to come out before having the real pleasure of playing it as a polished version (by the way, here is a review of an earlier alpha release).

Well, since it’s been out for over two weeks now and I couldn’t get the time to write a review, here it comes.

The main window stays unchanged in 1.10

For those of you who have no idea what Wesnoth is, it’s a 2D turn-based strategy game which takes place by default in a fantasy universe, offering six default factions, campaigns, single and multiplayer (both Internet and hot seat) modes. Players control armies and the battles take place on maps made up by hexagonal tiles. Various add-ons modify the game using the WML language (Wesnoth Markup Language) offering new maps, new factions, different game play,provides single and multiplayer modes. The possibilities are practically limitless, and the user-made content is great. There are popular maps like Creep War (with dozens of variants), Conquest (which modifies the gameplay completely), or eras that put the player in a an even more dynamic, more fantasy-like universe (take the Era of Magic for example). These are only few examples though, hundreds or maybe thousands of them are available on the add-ons server. If you ask me though, with few exceptions, I always preferred the default maps and era for a serious game. A ladder for statistics is also available, and the same goes for user registration, which can be done via the forums – you can register on the forum and use the same username and password in-game too.

Now let’s see what exactly changed in 1.10, and what new features were introduced.

There is a new mainline campaign, called “Dead Water”, which raises the number of official campaigns bundled by default to no less than 16, and that is without the introductory tutorial and the hundreds of campaigns available via the add-on menu. Dead Water revolves around the mermen race, and you will have to lead a young merman to ascend to his kingdom’s throne. This campaign is rated as intermediate difficulty level and contains 10 scenarios.

The new Dead Water campaign introduces mermen to the main line

New unit animations are available for the Saurians, part of the Drake faction. Also, new graphics for several terrain tiles were made and new terrain types were introduced. The new graphics include revamped grassland, bridges, as well as several new tiles. These new improvements really make maps and lightning look a lot more appealing to the eye. Slowed units are now tinted light blue.

A new feature called Planning mode has been introduced, and it allows to simulate unit movements and attacks, without actually doing it. You can toggle it by pressing P or set it in the Preferences to be enabled by default when the game starts.

A new option when creating a new game has been implemented, “Shuffle sides”, to let Wesnoth assign random sides to players when the game starts.

Except for those already known from previous versions, four new default maps come with Wesnoth 1.10, including 2p – Aethermaw, 2p – Arcanclave Citadel, 2p – Thousand Stings Garrison and 6p – Volcano. Maps which are already well-known from 1.8 and before have also received fixes and minor modifications.

The new 6p – Volcano map – notice the new terrain graphics making it more pleasing to the eye

The in-game editor also received improvements, like the possibility to open several maps at a time.

You can remove several add-ons at a time by using the new window that allows to check each add-on should be removed. This saves time compared to the old method, which only allowed to remove an add-on and then rebuild the cache each time.

Mass-removing of add-ons can be done easily now and in a fast manner

The music was also enriched with two new tracks.

Content creators will be glad to find out that major Lua and WML (the two scripting languages used by Wesnoth) improvements have been made.

There is also a WML plugin for the Eclipse IDE, providing features like syntax highlighting and autocompletion.

It looks like in Ubuntu 12.04 Alpha at least, the configuration directory is located inside ~/.local/share/wesnoth/1.10, while the preferences file can be found inside ~/.config/wesnoth/preferences. I don’t know if this is a Ubuntu-specific modification or this is how Wesnoth stores its configuration files now (as opposed to the usual ~/.wesnoth1.6 or ~/.wesnoth1.8 directories). At least for me, this doesn’t make it easier to access it, and the old style seems to be better.

The multiplayer server

I think that it’s impossible to list all the changes from 1.8 here, and I’m sure there is a good deal of them I’m not even aware of.

Wesnoth already built itself a great deal of popularity, and the community is great. There are the forums, the IRC channel (#wesnoth @ Freenode), the ladder third-party project, the user-made content and much, much more.

Wesnoth 1.10 is really an impressive release, with tons of improvements and new features. This can only add to the delight of the long time players and make new players curious to try it out.

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dakira says:

It is bad practice these days, to store application-data directly in $HOME. There are open standards that all applications are supposed to use on where to save stuff.

user-specific app-data goes to .local, user-specific app-configuration goes to .config.

Don’t you know the problem of applications and games littering all over your $HOME?

Hilare says:

Despite some good work on music and graphics, wesnoth is the most annoying game ever invented. One of the biggest deceitfulness is the clueless claim to be a strategic game, while it is only a chance based board, something between gambling and card games.

And no more interest can be added trying the online game, because the worst is the ‘community’, you have the feeling that this is some social experiment to measure how much impolite thing can go on. What can be the usage of a social experiment is another question ;-)))

davidovitch says:

Hilare: I have to disagree, Wesnoth is not only a change based game. The random element is only a part of the game and your chosen tactics should take that into account (as it is in real life btw). In my opinion, the element of change is greatly reduced when planning your attack/defence carefully while bearing in mind that each unit has his/her own strengths and weaknesses. That requires some knowledge of the many units and experience though.

As for the online community: as everywhere you have polite and not so polite characters. Not sure why the Wesnoth community is any different than elsewhere.

ES says:

Good to see another stable version. I first played Wesnoth about six years ago and occasionally check in. It’s almost the only game in town for serious turn-based strategy.

I think most of the bad rap that Wesnoth gets are from players who simply aren’t used to games that don’t try to play nice. I once read a guy who was convinced that Wesnoth was cheating because an enemy unit with a 10% chance to hit successfully struck three times in a row. Basic understanding of statistics is apparently not taught in schools. Once you realize that the game will not try to help you win and that the AI wants to destroy you, you either love the game or ragequit.

whitie says:

I tried this game for the first time this week and im entranced. The artwork and atmosphere is beautiful, without requiring dazzling graphic effects, so the game runs very well on an old machine – it is all about the story and art rather than 3d fps effects. The control is simple to begin but movement constraints are more subtle than previous strategy games i have played. The AI is ruthless and inventive. I have not tried multiplayer yet, i have to restrain myself; last saturday i played this game through the night until i was a physical wreck :/

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