An overview of free turn-based strategy and war games


This article will present an overview of 19 free turn based strategy games (empire building or war games).

The games are: FreeCiv, TripleA, Stick Figure Strategy, Weewar, Eight Kingdoms, PhpDiplomacy, C-Evo, Advanced Strategic Command, Project W, Conqueror, The General, TriChromic, FreeOrion, People’s Tactics, Lgeneral, Crimson Fields, 1848, The Battle for Wesnoth, and Risk.

I’m a big fan of turn-based strategy and war games. If pressed I would go on record as saying that Sid Meier’s Civilization series are the best ever created… and while I’m at it let me also venture my opinion that turn-based strategy games offer an inherently better design that real-time strategy games, even when the latter profess to be a better representation of what happens in the real world.

Turn Based Games Screenshot

This posting could have been entitled “19 games I really would have liked to
play had I had the time”; I wanted to present an overview of the many free turn based strategy games that I’ve come across. Note that although I usually personally try all the software I post on Freewaregenius, I only played a sub-set of these. Finally, it took a while to research and write this article, so please Stumble and/or Digg it! This list assumes the following guidelines:

  • Will include empire building and/or war games only; no squad based or shoot em ups (e.g. Worms-style), or role playing games.
  • Turn based: no real-time-strategy (RTS) games will be included.
  • Focus on standalone, playable games rather than game engines.

FreeCiv Screenshot1- FreeCiv: inspired by the Civilization series of games, FreeCiv is a an open source turn based strategy game that most closely approximates Civ2 (although it also includes elements from the others in the series, as for example “national borders” which is equivalent to “culture” in Civ3. FreeCiv has been around for a while and has a large community following and lots of resources on the net. [Open source, single player, LAN or internet multiplayer. Windows, Linux, Mac and a number of others]. Go here to download.

Also check out Longturn, which organizes multiplayer FreeCiv games over the internet where each turn takes 24 hours, for those of us who do not have hours every day to invest in playing but wouldn’t mind spending a few minutes each day to play a single turn.

TripleA Screenshot2- TripleA: is a free, Java-based turn based strategy game based on the popular Axis and Allies boardgame that looks very good indeed. Documentation is somewhat scant but you are familiar with Axis and Allies you’ll be in good shape, or you can find a guide for TripleA newbies on the AAZone fansite. [Open source, single player or multiplayer over the internet. Windows, Linux, Mac].

Go here to download.

Stick Figure Strategy3- Stick Figure Strategy: a turn based strategy game that could be considered a casual game in that it can be learned in a mere 15 minutes. Everything is kept simple, from the handful or rules to the relatively short list of units, but that only serves to enhance the game playing experience. And despite the simple, perfunctory graphics it still somehow manages to look cool [Open source, single player. Windows].

Go here to download.

Weewar screenshot4- Weewar: this is a free browser based multiplayer turn based strategy wargame on a hexadecimal grid. A friend of mine loves this game and I’ll take his word for it that it’s pretty cool. Unfortunately, and although Weewar allows its users to create their own maps, it requires an upgrade to a “pro” version to allow you to play these. All the same there will be a good number of maps for you to play for free at any point in time.

Due to it’s serial turn-based nature some games could potentially take a long time. Once a player finishes his turn others are notified by email, or you can get notified through a number of desktop based tools and widgets. [Free version allows a max of 4 simultaneous games, browser based, multiplayer over the internet, requires registration]. Go here to play.

Eight Kingdoms Screenshot5- Eight Kingdoms: featuring 3D graphics overlaid onto an hexagonal grid, 8 Kingdoms takes you to a medieval world of warring kingdoms. Of note, as I researched this game, was the diverse set of units and downloadable maps. The website lists a number of “significant” features of this game, including the “realistic projection of terrains and surfaces which influence upon movement, realistic model of weather, well-developed computation of fights, including counter-attacks, visibility and experiences, siege weapons and magical units, model of money, taxes, payment to the army, units earn experiences, and artificial intelligence”.

I haven’t played this game but it looks like its a very good one. [Open Source, single and multiplayer games, Windows and Linux]. Go here to download.

phpDiplomacy Screenshot6- PhpDiplomacy: a browser based implementation of the board game “Diplomacy” which professes to be “quite self explanatory”, according to the website. Another quote: “Diplomacy is a game which is easy to learn but impossible to master. The rules are all very intuitive, lots of people pick them up just by playing”. In fact all you need to get going is to learn the handful of possible moves and unit types, and the basic rules of Diplomacy. [Open Source, browser based, multiplayer using hotseat or play by email, requires registration]. Go here to play.

C-Evo Screenshot7- C-Evo: another Civ2 inspired game. This one boasts all the elements that you would expect in an empire building game: exploration, war, diplomacy, industry, research, etc. What the creators of this game aspired to do, however, is to create a strong, challenging AI who is out to get you from the get-go. [Freeware, single player or hotseat, Windows]

Go here to download.

Advanced Strategic Command Screenshot8- Advanced Strategic Command: an open source game modeled on the Battle Isle series of games released in the 1990’s, featuring warring units on a hexagonal grid map (what else could you possibly want?).

[Open Source, Single player against the AI and against multiplayer using hotseat or play by email. Window, Linux and Mac]. Go here to download.

Project W Screenshot9- Project W: set 50 years into the future, this game sets you as one of five nations with the objective of controlling a world set . You will need to control the territory you own, manage your army, research new technology, spy/sabotage your enemies, manage your staff (scientists, spies, generals, etc.), and of course manage your resources. Features multiple units, buildings, and techs, variable AI personalities, and an extensive manual.

Project W does not skimp on eye candy and looks pretty good, but requires a decent graphics card. [Freeware, Single player or multiplayer, hotseat mode, on one PC. Windows 2000, XP, Vista]. Go here to download.

Conqueror Screenshot10- Conqueror: a Shockwave based game set on a map of medieval Europe. It can be described as a cross between Risk and Civilization, in that you manage your territories and resources (build structures such as farms, raise/lower taxes, and have to deal with your population and keep them happy lest they revolt). A nice game in general but the AI seems to be very well behaved and non-aggressive in general while human opponents are much harder to deal with. Conqueror employs “ingenious system of simultaneous turns” which means you (mostly) don’t have to wait for the human players to finish their turns (no I don’t really know exactly how this works, if you do please explain in the comments section).

Overall a nice game but the AI players don’t seem to make sense sometimes, and the game will require that you play for extended periods of time to get to grips with it. You can play against up to 16 players (human or AI) and the games can be anywhere from 30 mins to 4 hours or so. [Free, browser based, Single player or (mostly simultaneous) multiplayer. Requires registration]. Go here to play.

The General Screenshot11- The General: a turn based strategy game that despite its somewhat primitive graphics promises to be a “real intellectual treat” and has grown significantly in popularity it its first two years. The General offers simple controls via a tabbed interface, excellent computer AI that “is not confined to some rigid scheme of play”, and is very suited for multiplayer play with other humans (and employs a simultaneous turn processing mode).

A full game with a handful of human players can be completed in 3 to 4 hours, and the game supports “all multiplayer modes”. [Freeware, Single player or multiplayer via LAN, modem, through LPT or COM ports, on the Internet, or hotseat mode on one PC, Windows]. Go here to download.

Trichromic Screenshot12- TriChromic: a fairly straightforward game inspired by the “Advance Wars” series of games where you fight your opponents for control of a map. The graphics are nothing to write home about but the gameplay is fun and somewhat addictive.

TriChormic offers three types of army: Crimson has sophisticated yet expensive/slow units, Cobalt has fairly good units that are faster than Crimson but less powerful, and Pine has few unit types that are cheap yet versatile. Gameplay consists largely of grabbing resources on a map and managing the combat by managing sheer numbers as well as a kind of rock/paper/scissors calculus. The game comes with a map editor as well.

This game is easy to learn and get into with a minimal time investment. The only problem I had with it was its tendency to crash on my Win XP system, although the blame may lie with my PC rather than the game. [Freeware, Single player or multiplayer, Windows or Linux]. Go here to download.

FreeOrion Screenshot13- FreeOrion: a galactic conquest game modeled on the “Master of Orion” games released in the 1990s. FreeOrion is a so called 4x game (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit & eXterminate) and incorporates the typical elements of an empire building game, such as nation building, etc., It also supports an open design that allows for the customization of the story elements and the game engine.

[Freeware, Single player or multiplayer, Windows, Mac,or Linux]. Go here to download.

Peoples Tactics screenshot14- People’s Tactics: a wargame on a hex grid modeled on games like Panzer General and Empire Extreme where up to 10 (human or AI) players can play. You will have to deploy land, sea, and air units (including officer units with special abilities), manage logistics and supplies, and issue “highly customizable”. This game has been called “one of the best freeware war games ever made”, and seems to have struck a perfect balance between complexity and playability.

People’s Tactics includes a random mission generator and offers downloadable scenarios (e.g. American Civil War, Spanish Civil War, etc, found in the forums). [Freeware, Single player or multiplayer hotseat or play by email, Windows]. Go here to download.

Lgeneral Screenshot15- Lgeneral: another Panzer General inspired tactical turn based wargame. I didn’t play this one and information was sparse, but will quote the website for some of the features: “Entrenchment, rugged defense, defensive fire, surprise contacts, surrender, unit supply, weather influence, reinforcements and other implementations contribute to the tactical and strategic depth of the game.” Also offers custom downloadable scenarios. [Freeware, Single player or hotseat multiplayer against another player, Windows, Linux]. Go here to download.

Crimson Fields Screenshot16- Crimson Fields: a turn based tactical war game on a hex grid modeled on the “Battle Isle” series of games, and includes a converter that can import maps from games such as Battle Isle and History Line. Crimson Fields offers a range of mission objectives (e.g. defend a location, destroy the enemy, etc), and includes a tool for creating custom maps and campaigns. [Freeware, Single player or multiplayer network or hotseat, or play by email. Windows, Linux, Mac, and a number of others including PDA versions; Zaurus, Palm, PocketPC]. Go here to download.

1848 Screenshot17- 1848: this game is set during the Hungarian Independence War of 1848-49, which apparently was a period during which many revolutions against the Austrian Habsburg erupted and were put down. 1848 is a turn based tactical wargame on a hexadecimal grid, and features 3 nations (Hungary, Austria and Russia), 14 unit types, and 100 generals. [Freeware, Single player or multiplayer network or hotseat. Windows].

Go here to download.

Battle for Wesnoth Screenshot18. The Battle for Wesnoth: is a very addictive turn based strategy game played on a hex grid. What makes this game good is (a) its balance between depth and complexity – a good dose of the former, and not a lot of the latter, (b) its strong AI, and (c) its just fun! Although it has elements of a role playing game I decided to include this game here because in many ways its is a strategy wargame in a fantasy setting (the other reason: its a rather good game). See the full Freewaregenius review of this game. [Open Source, Single player or nework or internet multiplayer. Windows, Linux, Mac]. Go here to download.

Risk Screenshot19- Risk: there are a number of freeware implementations of the famous Risk board game, my favorite being a Java-based version that I previously reviewed on Freewaregenius. Check it out here.

Note: if you know of a good freeware Risk implementation that you like, please let me know in the comments section!.

  • Thomas

    Great list this!
    Brettspielwelt has a boatload of table top games, many of the strategy variety like Carcassonne. The interface is a bit clunky and some things are in german but some of the games are really great!

  • Pedro

    Wow, i’m not at all into strategy games, but i did play risk the other day with friends (who would have thought a fully grown adult would not have played risk before???) and i loved it.
    I’m going to send the link of this post to another friend, thanks, you rock (you conquer?) as always!

  • Jordi

    A good version of risk is ConquerClub, is browser based and free

    • I used to play on conquerclub, it is totally lame compared to

      I havent been back, you can have my conquer club medals if you want 😉

  • David

    Trichromic is a great game, thanks for the heads up!
    I’d easily pay a shareware fee for it, can’t believe it’s freeware.

  • JK

    Nice Post There! I am gonna try out almost each and everyone. I have played wesnoth alredy and I love it! Its one of the best turn based strategy games ever.

  • Fred Thompson


    Also, Railroad Tycoon and Steel Panthers – World at War 8.40 which are now freeware. Steel Panthers might be real-time. I don’t think so, I’ve only played it for a little while and don’t remember that. I thought it took orders similar to Close Combat then executed them but there might be a timer to enter the next turn’s details.

  • I linked to your review in my most recent newsletter. Great job!

    Best wishes,


  • Samer

    Thanks Clif!

  • ken

    Another vote for Brettspielwelt. If you know the games, the minimal English support is no problem.

    I’m not sure Carcassone belongs in the same group as Civ, but it is a good game, and Brettspielwelt has many others with good reputations.

  • Peter

    What a great list, I will need to look a this list a bit more closely when I get the time.

    Kdice is very loosely based on Risk. each game lasts about 5 -20 mins, it’s very addictive.

  • vinayak

    Hey, I had n-gage once, and i had played Pathway to Glory on it. I loved the game. Is there similaar type of game available on the net for free.
    If there is then please let me know.
    By the way a great list……..


    I gotta pump up Wesnoth. It gets really addicting as there are plenty of units and challenging campaigns, plus you have to think ahead because your units “evolve” over time and gold carries over to the next level.

    Great post, Samer!

  • knuckleball ned

    steel panthers is the best freeware strategy game. it’s turn based, no time limit. depending on the scenario, time limit can be up to 6-7 hours. campaign games are many multiple sessions. don’t play the random campaign, the designed campaigns are where it’s at. they also have megacampaigns that are purchasable (but pricey).

  • Losferwords

    Steel Panthers MBT is the best freeware strategy game on the net as far as war games go. It is turn-based and you can play any army from the years 1949 – 2020. It rocks, and is one of my all time favorites.

  • alexey

    Just thought I’d let you know that Conqueror has been updated to have much more aggressive AI’s since this post was written; and you can now play single player games offline with no registration.

  • Why haven’t you listed FreeCol? It’s a great free/open source turn based strategy game based on Colonization (a Civilization-like game) 🙂

    • Samer

      @FreeCol addict: its a strange omission on my part, as I’ve known of the game for some time before writing this posting. My apologies.

      But is it a good game? From your choice of username it seems that you like it 😉

  • sigh … don’t exist a tbs game -warhammer style- ?

    hi all

  • Free browser-based multi-player game like axis & allies, but with Conquers “ingenious system of simultaneous turns”.

  • Sasha

    Good Risk like war game with diplomacy and leaders. Browser based and free.

  • Sasha
  • People’s Tactics has moved here:

    Please update this page to remove the dead link.

    – Sam

  • try for Axis And Allis online game in browser-based form!!!!

    This is absolutely true to the original game. you have got to try this!!!!

  • bob

    Nice list I’ve been looking for this for a while. I love turned based games.

  • There are lots of places to play risk online.

    You can find reviews and ratings of the best sites here,

  • Dorne

    May I suggest Anacreon? It’s a pretty neat 4x Space Conquest Game.

  • Paul Miller

    Very nice article with great games!

    Another free turn based strategy board game (TPS) is – Battle of 1815 – Waterloo (also called Kriegsspiel, “Le jeu de la guerre” or “Game of War”) which I found during my research for free strategy board games:

  • Ralph

    Hello; I am interested in turn base war games. Such as Panzer General,Allied General,Civil War.Civil War Games I like most. I have tried Sid Meier’s Civil War games., I did not care to much for. I prefer Civil War turn base, much like board play. I am now running Windows 7. I Have Hasbro Axis & Allies for PC but It Will Not Work on my computer. I Just built this computer. It has an i7 processor with a Radion 5780 video card. I also Have a computer with doulcore2 with Windows XP Home. Can I get some help from anyone that is fimillar with my situation. Thank You

  • Thanks for post good games… i am busy with my GTA…so no time to search new games..your blog give me a nice information…..

  • There’s an excellent new free online Risk game called Art of War:

    Beautiful maps, different styles of gameplay, massive multiplayer, different eras and trooptypes. It offers a lot more than other Risk sites.

  • We are currently working on new 3D Turn Based Strategy. It is not done yet, but we have made a good progress and you could be interested in this as well.

  • Steampunk turn based strategy game Windoze MacOSX or Linux. Java platform.

  • Deathlot

    threshwars is free to play and no downloads involved. good graphics and very tactical. please give it a try you wont regret it.

  • Brian

    Great list. Thanks for the links.

  • please add free col

    Hi, I also wanted to recommend you add freecol in the page. Since it is always mentioned together with freeciv. It’s like colonisation, not civilization, but the same people will usually like it. I saw another person also mentioned it here, so why not add it. 🙂 I didn’t see any new ones I want to play here, but I have played, civilization, 2, civilization call to power, freeciv, and freecol, and the general. And they had all been good at some time. I only have freeciv and freecol installed now. I don’t play often (freeciv is less enjoyable for me, and harder since the last update), but I don’t play anything else either.

  • sem

    SOmeone can help me. I was a fan of The general but I Have lost the website where download it. Who can help me ?

  • Perra

    Panzer General is reborn as PG Forever:

    The goal of PG Forever project is to preserve game mechanics and characteristic look-and-feel of the classic Panzer General, and improve all the other areas of the game: compatibility with modern hardware and Windows versions, UI, usability, multiplayer, AI and customizability of all game aspects.

    Veteran players will feel themselves at home with PGF, because it is a very faithful remake. Even the most obscure game rules were carefully researched and preserved to make sure the gameplay is as close as it gets to the original. 99% of the time you will see no difference at all. At the same time, you can enjoy all the new features and benefits provided by the remake.

  • You might also want to add Shadowmere ( ) to your list.

  • Stellar Forces:

    It’s a squad turn-based strategy game played like a PBEM. Free to play with a great online community.

  • ham_solo

    If you want something on the less hardcore end of things you can try Victors United It’s sort of like risk but they have different maps. I like it cause you can change all the game options and it’s free.

  • One of better turn based games Ive played is

    This list has alot of good game though.

  • Stef

    In Flash, there is Sensou as well. It looks like Risk, evenso it isn’t at all: The strategy is more defensive.

  • Anyone know where to find games like Visual Utopia?

  • Jim Owens

    For Risk-like game action I recommend – they have the basic Risk like boards but also about a hundred others spanning everything from global warfare to arcade games to pretty much anything you can think of. It’s turn based and it’s free:

  • Stellar Crisis is an excellent browser based simultaneous turn strategy game. It is a bit complicated to learn at first, but is very deep.

  • TripleA has been updated to at least version,
    go get it here:

  • Nice post! But: I guess “hexadecimal grid” is not what you mean. You may or may not be aware that the word ‘hexadecimal’ refers to the number 16, (hexadecimal is a positional numeral system where letters A-F as well as all numbers are allowed in one digit.) It has nothing to do with the shape of the cells, this grid or the number 6. What you most likely mean is a “hexagonal grid”.

  • jinxx82 is a good risk style turn based webiste

  • I like playing the general..simply makes your mind sharper as you played..I guess thats the benefit of playing strategy game (risk game), becoming fast thinker.

  • Dave

    Thanks for the info! I have played and continue to play ‘People’s Tactics’ and ‘Battle for Wesnoth’, but although I enjoyed ‘8 Kingdoms’ it would crash frequently.

    As with Ralph, I really enjoyed the original ‘Hasbro Axis & Allies’ but it was not compatible with my upgrade to ‘Windows Vista’ and the newer version, with the real-time tactical, wasn’t true to the board game, as the original was. I will check out your choice.

    Thanks again!

  • For reviews of all the top places to Play Online Risk I recommend checking out

  • I played Freeciv for quite a long time. The beginning is great, but in Multiplayer modus you soon have simply to much to do. It seems to be even more stress than a realtime strategy game. Building up big cities unfortunately is no way to success. Civ should be more balanced for multiplayer games.

  • Panzer
  • Great list. I’m going to have to try at least a couple of these since the commercial versions I have will no longer work with the latest windows.
    I think the most awesome free game I’ve ever tried is Steel Panthers: World at War. In fact, I’d say it ranks above most of the commercial wargames I’ve played. If you haven’t tried it, check it out!

  • Great list, however it would be nice it you will add Mytholia to this list, I love that browserbased strategy game , their url is , have fun John.

  • Could I add the following freeware games. Dwarf Fortress (complex but satisfying “empire-em-up”) Aurora – Space empires with uber complex ship design 90% text based interface, The original Minecraft (still available, and great for just “building”), Atlantica, tactical fantasy turn bases strategy (free but with some payware options).
    Popping along to Sourceforge now and again proves very enlightening. However it takes a decent site like this to sift through the hundreds of games on there that never get past Alpha

  • Zac the best free “RISK” game out there.

  • Tj

    Thanks for the GREAT post. One of the worst things about Windows seven is that it is VERY hard to run great games like Imperialism, CivII, Master of Orion I & II. Hopefully, some of these will run on Windows 7.
    I just wish I could buy those old games that WOULD run on Windows 7.

    Thanks for the GREAT post

  • wow… iv been looking for games like these forever, and now i stumbled onto 19 of them… ur awesome!!!!!!

  • is a great turn based strategy game.

  • Dead Earth is a great turn based strategy game set 100 years in the future were corporations are vying for total control of the asteroids to supply an ever more desperate Earth. Play against thousands of people online and cunning AI controlled forces.

  • Dave

    Just a question to those wanting to play old games, do you ever try an XP virtual machine or other type of emulator?

  • petr

    It’s a pity Freeciv is dieing. Both the browser variant and its online forum are offline since a long time. It’s a mess as of now. Fortunately at least the forum has been mirrored to the temp address while it’s waiting to be moved back again to its former official domain.

  • Sweet, a nice long list to try out. I love turn based gaming, these sites might keep me busy for a while. Thanks


  • I’ve made a free to play online risk and stragety game at which features custom maps, custom rules, and community forums. We have extremely large maps and capacity for massive multiplayer, which a lot of other sites don’t offer. Drop by if you’re interested.

  • I’ve made a free to play online risk and stragety game at which features custom maps, custom rules, and community forums. We have extremely large maps and capacity for massive multiplayer, which a lot of other sites don’t offer. Drop by if you’re interested.

  • I was tired of “old style” strategy games and that’s why me and my colleagues created Stratis Imperia hex-based game. Take a look on It’s free.

  • I was tired of “old style” strategy games and that’s why me and my colleagues created Stratis Imperia hex-based game. Take a look on It’s free.

  • has reviews of all the best places to Play Risk Online – worth checking out before diving in.

  • gord

    Fields of Battle is a good WWI turn based strategy game. There is a freeware limited version and you can sometimes find the discontinued full version. It requires 16 bit color but if you set your video to 16 bits it will even run fine on windows 7. Shame that development stopped.

  • mike

    How do you load 1848 pc game..after saving it. There appears to be no load prompt to resume your progress only the ability to save it. Can someone please help…. thankyou…

  • Shane

    Battle of Wesnoth second last? That has to be the best on this list by FAR.

  • masteroftactics

    Master of Tactics is work a line item?

  • Dude

    If Freeciv is your bread, you ought to check out Greatturn too. Kinda like Longturn perhaps.

  • CivilizationFanatic

    These days, “strategy games” are games like tower defense, and RTS, MMO, or RPG. All of them are extremely boring. As a little child I was introduced to CIv II, and boy was my mind blown. Ever since, I cannot play any games but TBS. Thank you very much for this list. I’ve been hunting for TBS games since forever.

    • sdfbghmjmnbgfvcx

      Most of flash games made lately unfortunately are clones of an simple RTS unknown for me. Its rules were:
      -Cities producing armies
      -Drag and drop sends half of an army to another city
      Cloning never ends and nobody wants to come up with any new idea…

  • CivilizationFanatic

    By the way, C-evo 7th place? No way!

  • CivilizationFanatic

    I liked C-evo much better than Freeciv for example.

  • One piece game

    Pirate King is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game that utilizes a turn-based combat system. In this game you have the opportunity to find your favorite One Piece characters in the world of Anime Pirates and build your own personal pirate crew.

  • Prince

    cant download the general

  • donovan!