My fondness for Warcraft 3 tower defense maps having long been established, I direct your attention to my latest obsession, DotA. It is more or less a new game, using Warcraft’s pieces. Waves of enemies appear automatically and crash against each other, while you are a hero who leads/supports your troops and fights your enemy counterparts. It is kind of like being Captain America in the World War II comic days.
It is a great LAN game, seating up to ten players (and not really coming into its own unless you have at least six). Each game takes about an hour, so you can try a few different teams, heroes, or strategies in a normal gaming binge. You can also download bots for solo play (or to fill empty seats), which feels preferable to braving the wilds of Battle.net. I am mostly interested in playing with friends, and I am using the bots map to help me see which heroes I enjoy.
There are about 80 heroes, so you could play for a long time just trying them out. If it takes a game to get the swing of a hero, another to see if you like it now that you understand it, and maybe a third if you liked that one, you could play for months just doing that. Your heroes include swordsmen and mages, a giant scorpion, Zeus, a druid who awakens trees to fight for him, suicidal goblins, invisible assassins, the skeleton of an elvish archer, a two-headed dragon, and Pudge the Butcher.
The game rewards an odd playstyle called “last-hitting and denying.” You get gold only for deathblows, so the ideal is to follow your NPC troops and killsteal. If it looks like an opponent is going to get a deathblow on your NPC, kill your own troops. Early success is dangerous, because it brings you in range of enemy towers, so your early “lead and support” campaign involves delaying and murdering your NPC allies so that the fight happens closer to your own defenses. Perhaps not so much Captain America.