The Ancient Art Of War was probably the first realtime strategy game. It was released c. 1984 by Broderbund, and was available for PC and Macintosh (and maybe some other platforms too).

Gameplay involved moving 14-man squads around a map in an attempt to secure victory by capturing the enemy's flags or wiping out his armies. The game required a mixture of strategic and tactical planning for success. A number of historical campaigns were included, as well as an editor for players to generate their own maps. A squad formation editor was also included.

AAOW had excellent graphics for its day. It was easy to learn, addictive and way ahead of its time. Highly recommended for retro-gamers or curious types who want to see where Starcraft et al. began.

Troop types:

  • knight: best hand-to-hand combat, but slow-moving and easy fodder for archers.
  • barbarian: not so good at hand-to-hand, but quick moving and elusive targets for archers.
  • archer: ranged attack, helpless at close quarters.
  • spy: non-combat; used for scouting and reconnaissance.
Map tiles:
  • sea: impassable.
  • river: passage is slow and exhausting, with a chance of troop loss.
  • bridge: of great strategic importance due to the difficulty of fording rivers.
  • plains: easiest terrain to cross; no modifiers.
  • forest: moderate slowdown of movement.
  • mountain: high movement slowdown, also exhausts troops at accelerated rate.
  • hill: of great strategic and tactical importance, as troops with the advantage of elevation gain a combat bonus.
  • fortress: troops defending a fort have a high combat bonus, and only their archers can be targetted. Forts also regenerate troops and optionally function as food sources.
  • village: occupied villages provide food, and are important for securing supply lines and starving enemy troops.
Opponents: Crazy Ivan, Athena, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Geronimo, Napoleon, Genghis Khan and Sun Tzu.

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