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The Ancient Art of War (DOS)

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MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.7
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
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Description

The Ancient Art of War is a real-time strategy game based on the very basic elements of war: unit types, formation, and strength. The game is set in ancient battle-style times before the use of gun powder, consisting of the three basic unit types of that period: the light armored but fast 'barbarians', the heavily armored but slow 'knights', and the ranged 'archers'. A fourth non-combatant unit type is also available: 'spies', which is only available under certain campaign rule settings.

The game consists of different scenarios to choose from, each with a different geographical setting, difficulty setting, visibility setting, and victory condition setting. Some settings may be subject to change by the player.

Gameplay is represented in two major areas:
  • The first is the tactical/political map, which visualizes geographical and terrain elements from a top-down perspective. Here the player can coordinate, position, reinforce troops, and also command them to attack, defend or ambush enemy troops in a real-time setting. Time may be set to pause, faster or slower to make battle plans easier.

  • The second is the combat screen where one group of soldiers fight another group of the enemy. A squad consisting a maximum of 14 soldiers will fight according to their set battle formation and will act only on the player's real-time battle commands (e.g. attack, forward, retreat, etc.).
The difficulty levels are represented by eight opponents, which include the Greek goddess of war Athena, a stereotypical Russian-Soviet commander named Crazy Ivan, as well as the historical characters Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Geronimo, and Sun Tzu as the hardest opponent. Each opponent has a different fighting style of combat and strategy.

The game also comes with a construction set which allows the player to create own campaigns: From the story, rules to the map editor. In this game editor, the player can also tweak troops to the player's liking, such as default troop formations.

Screenshots

The Ancient Art of War DOS Attack Status - The Rivalry (EGA/Tandy)
The Ancient Art of War DOS Crawling home in defeat
The Ancient Art of War DOS Choose your opponent
The Ancient Art of War DOS Zoomed battle - massacre on the hill

Alternate Titles

  • "Sun Tzu's L'Art de la Guerre" -- French title

Part of the Following Group

User Reviews

Barbarians kill Archers, Archers kill Knights, Knights kill Barbarians. The forefather of all war-based strategy games! Indra is here (19699) 4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars
AAOW was way ahead of its time. Trixter (8736) 3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars
Take Sun Tzu out for Chop Suey Yeah Right (57) 4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars
It inspired my RTS game Tony Van (2691) 3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars
The FIRST Real Time Strategy Game ... in 1984! Trent Simms (2) unrated
My Childhood x86 solum ARC (2) 3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars
Simplistic, yet Universal...a real tribute to the original. Menschenfresser (2) unrated
Ancient Art of War was my FIRST love in computer games. Rogue Agent (1) unrated

The Press Says

Tilt Dec, 1986 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars 83
Computer Gaming World (CGW) Oct, 1990 3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars 60

Forums

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Trivia

Archers

Probably an unintentional bug, but Archers by default can only kill other blokes via ranged combat and are completely useless in melee combat. However, Archers can kill enemies in "melee" combat. At least, unintentionally.

If you send (march) your archers backward and forward in combat, sometimes (and rarely) the enemies may die when they bump into each other. This works even more so if your Archers have "good/high condition" compared to the enemies. Apparently the Archers can clobber them with the bows...

Characters

  • ATHENA is worshipped for her wisdom as well as her warrior skills.
  • ALEXANDER THE GREAT keeps good food lines but weak when not on the plains.
  • GERONIMO uses hit and run tactics but doesn't like to be caught in the open.
  • CRAZY IVAN isn't a great leader but he has a good sense of humor.
  • CAESAR is a tactical genius but does not always protect his conquests.
  • GENGHIS KHAN and SUBOTAI use surprise and speed to become nearly invincible.
  • NAPOLEON BONAPARTE makes precise plans but can underestimate his enemy.
  • SUN TZU understands every aspect of war and uses it to his own advantage.

Development

Game Designers Dave and Barry Murray, Olympia, WA (from the 1988 Broderbund Software catalog):
We wanted to do a war game based on real tactics and strategies. So we did a ton of research and found Sun Tzu's book. It was written 2500 years ago -- Genghis Khan and Napoleon studied it. Usually, people think the way to win is to destroy the enemy. Not so. Actually, the winning strategy is to get the enemy in a position to surrender. We worked 16 and 17 hours a day out in the woods in Washington...but it's all paid off. We get phone calls and letters every day from players. They're incredibly loyal and involved.

MCGA version

An MCGA version of Ancient Art of War was released sometime around 1987 or 1988. I have played this version, and it appears to have 16 colors, but with a custom MCGA palette.

Origin

The game is based on the The Art of War (Bingfa or Ping Fa in Chinese), the first military treatise ever, written by ancient Chinese warrior philosopher Sun Zi (Sun Tzu) in nearly 5th century B.C. The quotes from it, as well as Sun Tzu himself, appear during gameplay.

Information also contributed by Indra was here, PCGamer77 and POMAH

Related Web Sites

Trixter (8736) added The Ancient Art of War (DOS) on Mar 01, 1999
Other platforms contributed by Jean-Paul Mari (30), PCGamer77 (3028), אולג 小奥 (168737), Orfikus (74) and Garcia (4783)