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In keeping with the theme of world domination, it's time to indoctrinate Linux users in our quest by beginning their training in various ways of taking over the world. Strategic conquest, of course, is horribly addictive, and ever since the first world-conquering games started appearing several years ago, take-over-the-world power gaming has practically taken over the world. Indeed, it seems as if the two genres of computer games these days are strategic war games and 3-D Wolfenstein descendants. Since we're so sophisticated, let's have a look at the former.

Craft—The Vicious Vikings

One day can actually change the course of your life. For example, a bit too much to drink, a quibble with your chief, and suddenly you find yourself out to found a new nation with two of your drinking buddies. Craft author Uwe Breyer adds, “since you are obviously even too lazy to work, your companions vote you to be King.” So that's how it happens—the path to world domination begins with three drunken Vikings. Craft features up to four players, human (with network support) or computer, wandering about in a world which is a bit Warcraft, a bit Civilization, but rather less cluttered and faster-paced, with a minimal learning curve. You've got access to knights, archers, scouts, workers, merchants, scientists and pawns, as well as town halls, farms, camps, mills, smiths, universities, forts, markets, docks, ships and catapults. All in all, you can really go nuts killing things if you like (and if you want to win). This game is a Linux gem, fast-paced (real-time as opposed to turn-based) and it doesn't degenerate as quickly as so many strategic conquest games. Look for it at http://borneo.gmd.de/AS/janus/craft/.

FreeCiv—'Cause Civilization Should Be Free...

Open-source developers are truly amazing. This time, they've managed to create a free and improved Civilization I/II for Linux that's more fun than the originals. The graphics are really nice, a bit on the dark side, and the game feels more serious. FreeCiv supports AI and network play with 32 nations; the newest release should support an infinite number. Maps can range in size from very small to very large, and one could, if so inclined, devote a weekend or longer to a massive clash of civilizations over the Net. There are 47 different units available, as well as several different tile sets, so that you can choose your graphics (even in different sizes). It's a typical client-server model, easy to set up and play. Here it is, only one download away—you don't even have to buy it: http://www.freeciv.org/.

Anachronism—Magic, Blood and Action

Anachronism is Nikos Vasiliou's contribution to Linux gaming, made when he felt Linux didn't have enough games. If steep learning curves are discouraging, check out this one. There's very little to worry about except for troops and killing, so you can concentrate on war. It has rendered graphics (characters and terrain), two civilizations with ten armies, multiple scenarios (and a map editor), multiple player support, sound effects and music. The happypenguin.org site says, “just take your troops and slaughter.” Quite right. Find it at students.ceid.upatras.gr/~nbasili/anachronism.html.

In Development

Developers who hope to contribute to global conquest might want to get in contact with the Boson development team. Released under the GPL, Boson is a real-time strategic war game with absolutely fantastic graphics, only it's not quite playable yet. Right now the developers are looking for more people to help with graphics, documentation and the like. It looks really neat, especially the machinery: http://aquila.rezel.enst.fr/boson/.

TUD (The Urgent Decision) is another very promising game which may need some developers. It's another take-over-the world game, but it's network-playable and has a very military approach. For example, if you want to lead Viking settlements or win a victory of civilization by controlling all elements of society, Craft and FreeCiv are for you, but if your brilliance is limited to the military sphere (or you just like it better—fast planes, heavy machinery), TUD might excite, as it's quite mechanical and very close to that magical 1.0 version. Check out the web page, maybe it's just the project you're looking for: www-ti.informatik.uni-tuebingen.de/~thiele/tud.html.