First released back in 1992, Dune 2: The Building of a Dynasty was a groundbreaking title - pun intended. Considered by many to be the godfather of modern real time strategy gaming, it was the first to combine all of the elements that later lead to the success of the RTS genre, which has given us games like StarCraft and Command & Conquer.
Developed by Westwood, who later went on to give us the Command & Conquer series before being swallowed by EA, Dune 2 is somewhat less easy than you might be anticipating. If you're unfamiliar with old-school RTS, be warned. The past decade has brought a whole bunch of 'improvements' to the genre, making Dune 2 far less user-friendly than you might be expecting.
That said, it's a great (free!) game, even if you only approach it from an academic perspective, exploring the title which gave us one of the greatest gaming genres in history.
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Jimmy the Geek