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OK, so I was a fan for years of the Age of Empires series and spent several years in multiplayer. One of the problems with AOE though was the matchmaking or lack thereof. Basically me and my clanmates would spend literally hours in a room waiting for the right amount fo players to be brave enough to stay in the room and click ready. For random team games, players could simply drop within the first two minutes and the game won't count against them.
I recently downloaded and have been playing Company of Heroes Online. I never played the original version. For a free to play game it is a fun, challenging alternative to forking out $60 for similar games like Starcraft 2.
The battles are very strategic and there is a learning curve before you fully understand how to deal with the different tactics your enemy can employ.
Among free to play games I highly recommend checking this one out.