A few weeks ago, one of my friends got me to try out the web-based strategy game called Tribal Wars. Since I had been looking for some more games beyond One More Level's flash games, I decided to give it a shot. It's been a fun experience so far, and it's a great alternative to MMORPGs or other graphic-intensive games.
In Tribal Wars, you start out with a single village. As you harvest wood, clay, and iron, you can upgrade your buildings and construct new ones like a smithy or a stable or a workshop. You also have to build soldiers to send out to steal resources from other villages and defend yourself against villages trying to do the same thing to you. Eventually, you are able to educate nobles who are able to take over other villages for you.
Doing that all on your own though is pretty challenging and not very engaging. The fun aspects come from joining or founding a tribe. Tribes are groups of villages that are allied together who help defend each other, share resources, and coordinate attacks. Tribes are able to discuss strategies and plans in private forums on the site, and they are also able to organize however they see fit.
There are some tribes who take a little bit of a role-playing theme including the one that I founded on World 6 called the Legions of Heimdall (HMDL). Heimdall is the Norse god who watches the Rainbow Bridge for when the giants attack Asgard. One of the other fun things about tribes is the world-wide atmosphere. We have members from Indonesia, Scotland, Slovenia, Australia, and probably other countries as well.
While diplomacy plays a role in the game, it is certainly a survival of the fittest and wisest. Players who do not understand the strategy may be able to make their own village strong, but they will not be successful at taking over other villages. One of my tribe's members was attacked by a village almost twice as big as he was, and he was able to use diplomacy to rally some allies together to make a counterattack and eventually take over his aggressor himself.
The web-based Massively Multiplayer Online game genre is an interesting one, and there are lots of other games out there with different themes. While I have not tried any of them, there are space conquest games, vampire vs. werewolf games, mob games, and detective games all built around the idea of having lots of people in the same world using web browsers to play. All of them are free, but you usually get some additional benefits by paying. For example in Tribal Wars, you can pay to get rid of banner ads as well as get a higher quality interface for playing the game.