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The Ancient Art of War at Sea

aka: Art of War Kaisenban
Moby ID: 188
Apple II Specs

Description official descriptions

The Ancient Art of War at Sea is the sequel to the Ancient Art of War, where the battle campaigns now takes place in the vast oceans of naval combat.

The game is a top-down semi real-time strategy game. The game has different speed/time settings (slower to faster), hence the player may manage strategies while remaining in real-time mode. As its predecessor, the game comes with different difficulty settings, symbolized by several famous naval commanders and also comes with a game editor.

Ship Types

As its predecessor, the game introduces three different types of units in the game:

  1. The frigate, small but fastest ship in the fleet.
  2. The ship-of-the-line, the primary battleship in the fleet.
  3. The flagship, well armed but slow. Flagships are the moving strategic flags that need to be captured in order to win the game.

The aim of the game is to capture all the enemy flagships while protecting flagships under the player's control. As added difficulty, new ships cannot be built, however enemy ships may be captured by boarding them.

Main Map

The main map provides information regarding friendly and enemy unit location, ports, and certain waters that may cause damage to ships that cross it. Reparations and supplies may be obtained in the many ports provided on the main map. Whether or not supplies or reparations may take place depend on the options or rules provided on the scenario setting.

Certain types of waters may be dangerous for ships to sail across. There are two different types of waters: shallow waters and dangerous waters. The larger the ship, usually the more damage they take when they cross those seas. This however also depends on the options or rules provided on the scenario setting.


Sea combat enters a top down tactical map, where the player can control several ships at once. During sea combat, the aim of the game is to sink the opposing fleet by firing cannons or by boarding and capturing the ship.

When to ships collide with each other, the combat screen enters the boarding screen. There are two different units provided when boarding: swordsmen (pirates with cutlasses, for melee) and musketeers (ranged combat). The winner is the last man standing. Certain ports provide different type of pirate units, however this is not explicitly mentioned within the game.


  • アート・オブ・ウォー 海戦版 - Japanese PC-98 spelling

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Credits (Apple II version)



Average score: 60% (based on 1 ratings)


Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 17 ratings with 3 reviews)

This ain't no land duck!

The Good
I didn't like this game at first, probably because I was hoping it would play similarly to The Ancient Art of War (at land). But this old duck's quack grew on me. It is kinda fun. Broadside your opponent's ship into oblivion. Or try to board and take over a untouched (and therefore fully crewed) merchant ship. The interface is very easy to learn.

The Bad
The computer AI was too dumb. The game would have been a lot more fun if it were harder.

The Bottom Line
This game is fun as is, but the real potential is if they remade this game using modern day sound, graphics, and most importantly, multi-player features.

DOS · by Yeah Right (50) · 2000

Say hello to the Great Great Great Greaaaat Grandfather of all Pirates!

The Good
Thankfully the blokes at Broderbund were creative enough to introduce the sailor's way of war and not create just another sequel of Ancient Art of War. (Die ye land lubbers!)

Besides being more complex, from a general point of view, it's still similiar to AAoW I. There are still the village and fort concepts but they changed it for ship repairs. The terrain was much more difficult, as hostile waters can actually sink or damage your ship(s).

The battle's are GREAT! Totally real-time, it's the ancestor for real-time ship battles for games such as Pirates! and Star Fleet Command. The game also introduced "fleets" which are a bundle of ships all in one combat. A unique point worth noting is that the makers of the game gave great trust to the player to control multiple ships, with a little help from AI. The great thing is, they made it in such a way that controlling your own destiny creates a greater difference than letting the AI do all the work. This is what games should always be about! Leaving the critical parts of the game to AI is an insult to the history of all computer games!

If ship battles were not enough, they somehow knew we guys and gals of combat wouldn't feel in a proper battle without some blood n' gore. They also introduced melee combat in this game (shall we board'em sah? - Quote from the Asterix Comic). The melee combat occurs when one of your ships 'collide' or ram into another ship, hence the sailors prepare themselves for melee combat. Where AAoW I introduced 3 melee units, AAoW at Sea introduced only 2 melee unit types (if I'm not mistaken). That is the swashbuckler (with yer sword or cutlass) for close range combat (melee) and the musketman for long range combat.

The Bad
There are a couple of things I recall from the game that I considered lacking: 1. If I'm not mistaken you couldn't create your own ships. But you could capture shps though if you wanted to enlarge yer fleet.

  1. You couldn't control the number of melee units in your ships, or their type either.

  2. There's no formation of combat at melee units. It's pretty much been done for you, unlike AAoW I, where combat formations ultimately decided the fate of a battle. Then again, melee combat was only a secondary form of battle in this game, as you could win the game without boarding any ship, but that would mean you couldn't capture enemy ships either...

    The Bottom Line
    This game give yer some sea legs without going into the water!

"It's the Gau...gau...gau...the Gauls!" - Quotation from a Numibian Pirate from the Asterix Comic.

DOS · by Indra was here (20633) · 2003

probably my favorite game as a kid

The Good
This game had me hooked for years as a kid. It was totally engrossing, which is more than I can say for a lot of newer strategy games. The scenarios were well thought out and often offered the player numerous options. The best was that moment of anticipation when two squadrons would engage, the game would zoom in, and you'd have to make that critical decision in realtime as to how to approach the enemy's line, taking into account the ships involved, wind, damage, opposing commander, etc. The manual was awesome as well. It didn't just tell you how to play the game - it had basically an entire section within the manual illustrating tactics, recountings of famous historical battles, pirates, etc. This game actually got me interested in learning more about old sailing ships...

The Bad
Well after many years mine began to crash - I think that was just because the disk I was using started to become corrupt from so much use (yes this was in the days before most people had hard drives. :) ) The graphics were extremely cheesy too, since it only supported 4-color CGA.

The Bottom Line
An excellent and underrated strategy game, still fun today if you can get past the cheesy graphics.

DOS · by Ben Larson (2) · 2007


Tandy-16 version

A Tandy 16-color version of The Ancient Art of War At Sea exists, but it is extremely rare. It came on a separate 5 1/4 disk from the CGA version, and the executable is named WAST.EXE (instead of WAS.EXE)

Information also contributed by JubalHarshaw

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Donny K..

Apple II added by PCGamer77. PC-98 added by Infernos. Macintosh added by Игги Друге.

Additional contributors: Patrick Bregger, Rik Hideto, Infernos.

Game added August 9th, 1999. Last modified August 14th, 2023.