What are the best free Mac games? I've spent all my money on Christmas presents.

Apple fans are used to free gaming for the iPhone, and iPad, but not so much thinking about free games for Mac OS X. This is a shame, because the Mac is a great games platform that you shouldn't miss out on.

The Mac App store is packed with free games, and you can pick up some amazing Mac OS X games outside of the app store that are great fun to play without paying a penny. These aren't just hobbyist games, either, but full-blown high-quality experiences.

Read next: Best free Mac software | Best free web browser games for Mac

Alpine Crawler

This cross-country vehicle simulation is actually a great laugh to play. You drive around the Alps in a variety of pickups and vehicles. The off-road setting makes a change from the usual car games that see you flying round the same track again and again.

FREE | Download Alpine Crawler

Best free Mac games: Alpine Crawler

Basketmania

It's not the most visually amazing game, but Basketmania is a giggle to play. Use the dots to line up the beginning of a trajectory and fling the ball. It's easy to pick up but soon starts to offer a more challenging experience.

FREE | Download Basketmania

Best free Mac games: Basketmania

Beneath a Steel Sky

Beneath a Steel Sky is a old science-fiction point-and-click adventure game from back in 1994 (it was originally released on the Amiga). It's been reworked to run on OS X, and while the graphics aren't incredible it does have a real charm. It's like reading a detective novel set in a cyberpunk future.

FREE | Download Beneath a Steel Sky

Best free Mac games: Beneath a Steel Sky

Brogue

Brogue is a roguelike adventure game for the Mac based  upon the classic adventure game Rogue (first developed back in 1980). The levels, characters and enemies are all represented using letters and symbols, which may strike you as a bit odd but it's actually a great representation of a world. It's almost like a cross between a text adventure and an early video game. It's incredibly tough  to play, but Rogue is a classic and Brogue is the best modern representation.

FREE | Download Brogue

Best free Mac games: Brogue

Doodle Hangman Free

The visually nicest version of Hangman we've ever seen. It's free to play and a great way to pass time with friends. There are multiple categories of words to choose from, and it's linked in to reference websites that helps you learn more about any words you didn't know.

FREE | Download Doodle Hangman Free

Best free Mac games: Doodle Hangman Free

Dwarf Fortress

Like Brogue, Dwarf Fortress is another ASCII-based open role-playing game. It's incredibly complex, as you explore the world and build your own fortresses. You get an expedition team of dwarfs, and use them to perform tasks like woodworking, farming and craft-making. You then get to dig up the earth, mine for minerals and begin building your own world. Minecraft owes it a bit debt.

FREE | Download Dwarf Fortress

Best free Mac games: Dwarf Fortress

Fistful of Frags

If you want a great free first-person shooter then Fistful of Frags is the game to get. It's built upon the Half Life 2 engine, so looks the business and plays incredibly well. It's set in the wild west, and you have old weapons like pistols, rifles and shotguns. Players work in teams, and four teams: Desperados, Vigilantes, Rangers and Banditos compete in each online game. Each game is packed with close-range, tense gunfights.

FREE | Download Fistful of Frags

Best free Mac games: Fistful of Frags

Read more: Mac OS X games reviews and iOS game reviews

Full Deck Solitaire

Solitaire is a classic card game that is a great way to while away an hour or two. Full Deck Solitaire is a visually gorgeous card game. It's also easy to pick up and play. Aside from that it's very much the Solitaire we all know and love. A great free addition to the Mac.

FREE | Download Full Deck Solitaire

Best free Mac games: Full Deck Solitaire

Hearthstone

Hearthstone is an online game where  you collect cards. Sounds boring, but it's got around 40 million players so put your preconceived ideas away. You earn cards by playing daily quests, and then battle  your cards in online matches against other gamers (where you can win rare cards). You can't trade cards, you can only win them in battles (this is a good thing as it means there are no scams and fewer robots playing).

It's easy to pick up, quick to fit into your daily life and has an amazing community of players. There are in-app purchases, but you can get by just playing the free game.

FREE | Download Hearthstone

Best free Mac games: Hearthstone

League of Legends

League of Legends is a multiplayer battle arena game and is one of the most popular games in the world. You control a champion, and compete in matches against other  players online. You'll start out at a very low level and gain experience as you play the game. It's a very easy game to get started with, but is ultra-competitive amongst its fans. It's also far deeper than you first suspect, with a huge range of characters. A great free game to play.

FREE | Download League of Legends

Best free Mac games: League of Legends

Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO is a free strategy game based in JRR Tolkien's MIddle Earth. You create a character and get to wander around Middle Earth, going through a main quest story. While there is a bit of combat (against game monsters or other players), it has a huge amount of crafting where you can build objects, artifacts and both farm and cook food. This gives it a charm that fans of Tolkien will love.

FREE | Download Lord of the Rings Online

Best free Mac games: Lord Of The Rings Online

See also:

The best iPhone 5 games

The 60 best games ever

The 47 best Mac games

Infinity Blade III review

Marathon Trilogy

Before Bungie made Halo (originally a Mac game) it built Marathon, a first-person shooter set in space. Halo fans will recognise much that made it into Halo (although it's undoubtedly an older game). Marathon has been updated by fans to work on Mac OS X and a free version can be downloaded. It's a little long in the tooght, but a great piece of gaming history.

FREE | Download Marathon Trilogy

Best free Mac games: Marathon Trilogy

Shadow Era

If you're into card trading then Shadow Era: Dark Prophecies is the game to get. This is a full-scale card trading game played online. You use these cards in battles with other players. It's free to play but if you keep losing cards you'll start being tempted by the in-app purchases.

FREE | Download Shadow Era

Best free Mac games: Shadow Era

Shotgun FunFun

Probably the most fun you can have in five minutes. Shotgun FunFun is a side-scrolling action game in which you have to shoot as many zombies as possible with a shotgun. It's dumb fun, but definitely fun.

FREE | Download Shotgun FunFun

Best free Mac games: Shotgun FunFun

Starcraft 2: Starter Edition

Starcraft 2 is one of the finest games you can get for the Mac. That you can get a full Starcraft 2 game for free is jaw-dropping. This strategy game sees you controlling three different races: Terrans, Zerg and the Protoss. Each race has different weapons, craft and abilities (and each feels magnificently different to play). You wage battles against one or two of the other races. You'd be a fool to pass this one by.

There's a great narrative story, and you can a lot of the missions from the full game in the Starter Edition. Enough for it to warrant being a full game in itself. You can also play other gamers online, and it's a great multiplayer experience.

FREE | Download Starcraft 2: Starter Edition

Best free Mac games: Starcraft 2

Team Fortress 2

This is the gold medal award. Team Fortress 2 is an amazing well-balanced online shooter with a wonderful cartoon style. Even though Team Fortress 2 is a multiplayer, it’s easy to jump in and start playing on your own. It's ridiculously good fun, with a range of genuinely different character types. You’ll soon become utterly addicted to helping your team win each shootout.

FREE | Download Team Fortress 2

Best free Mac games: Team Fortress 2

Teeworlds

If you remember a game called Worms, then you'll love Teeworlds. It's like Worms, but free. Up to 16 players can play at once, and you can meet other gamers online. It's open-source and developed by users who play the game themselves. You can also create your own maps using the in-game map editor.

FREE | Download Teeworlds

Best free Mac games: Teeworlds

Touchgrind

This game from iOS makes its way to the Mac in style. Touchgrind is a skateboarding game where you place two fingers on the trackpad to guide the skateboard around. It's a real test of skill, but also an innovate control style that makes a great change from the usual mouse and keyboard routine.

FREE | Download Touchgrind

Best free Mac games: Touchgrind

World of Warcraft

Slight word of warning: World of Warcraft is genuinely addictive. This online role playing game puts several players together and keeps them building up their characters. World of Warcraft is one of the greatest computer experiences ever made, and has legions of fans. It's free but  you can buy a subscription that unlocks extra content. Most people play the subscription model so it'll only be free until you get hooked and start wanting to play the extra levels.

FREE | Download World of Warcraft

Best free Mac games: World Of Warcraft