Warbarons is a great turn-based strategy game based in a medieval world with knights, dragons and castles. It is multiplayer, runs completely in your browser, and costs nothing to play.
With all the real-time strategy games out there, and so many of them being so popular, many great games that fall into the category of ‘turn-based’ strategy tend to fall by the wayside, un-noticed.
The unfortunate part of this is that many of these games are actually lots of fun and can be educational in some ways as well. Warbarons is one such game and, as with all the best games, it is a multiplayer game that also costs nothing to play.
Now, before there are people up in arms arguing with me, I will note here that just like many free games, Warbarons does have the option to pay real money to gain certain advantages and options within the game but this is not required and the game is loads of fun without ever paying a dime. It is not a demo, not a preview, it is a complete and totally playable game.
The first thing you’ll do when going to play Warbarons, as with any online game, is to create a free account. The registration process simply asks for an email address so they can send your account info as well as send notifications of things that happen in the game when you’re not logged in. That’s right, it’s a live system.
That means that once you join a live human populated game session, things can and will progress while you are not actively at the game window. Your armies and your kingdom will be active even while you are at your boring day job, and you can choose to get emails about important events, such as when one of your cities is captured, plundered or destroyed. There are options to play against computer AI opponents as well, which may not be quite as much fun to some of us, but it certainly is a good idea since it will allow you to learn and hone your kingdom and army management skills before heading into a game versus real live opponents.
Now, you can just jump in and start playing if you want (and in fact that is the method the game’s creators suggest) but if you want to take it slower and easier, you can study up on the whole game process at the web site and in the community forums before you even start a single player AI game. Personally, I’ve never been one for reading instructions to a game before jumping in, so I started one up immediately.
To begin, you’ll choose a ‘Hero’ to lead your armies. There are a number of different choices like “Dread Knights” and “Assassins” and you’ll be able to gather more as time goes on, depending on your desires and resources. Each hero can lead a certain number of troops, and provide certain bonuses or advantages to the troops under its command. Additionally, each hero (and each standard unit) will have a specific cost to hire or produce, as well as maintain. The objective, of course, is to take over the world, either by hook, crook or diplomacy (which some would say falls under the crook category but let’s not fuss over semantics) depending on your own decisions and methods. Each unit has it’s own strengths and weaknesses, and each town has to be maintained and directed to grow, develop and produce at your discretion.
There’s a lot of micromanagement in Warbarons so if that kind of thing is not your cup of tea you might want to try a different game. Personally, I really enjoy these kinds of games and Warbarons is an excellent example of a good one. The pace is determined by you, to some extent, since it is turn-based instead of a frenzy of mouse clicks. Even combat is based on numbers and probability rather than how fast and accurate you can be with the mouse. This is what could be called a thinking man’s strategy game, and could be compared in many ways to Sid Meier’s Civilization series. The major differences here are that Warbarons is a browser based game, has real live opponents, and costs nothing. That being said, if you enjoyed Civilization or any game similar, you might find a lot to attract and keep your attention in Warbarons. While the graphics may not be entirely cutting edge, the complexity and the available choices in how you choose to make the world your own more than make up for the lack of flashy eye candy.
The Verdict: Warbarons is an excellent example of what can be accomplished with a free game that runs in your browser and offers the option to play against real people. Gone may be the days of turn by turn chess matches over email, but Warbarons is here to fill that gap and, in my opinion, does so quite well. Until next time, my friends!
Play Warbarons here.