Empire: Wargame of the Century

DOS Specs [ all ]
Buy on Amiga
Buy on Apple II
Buy on Commodore 64
Buy on DOS


The object of the game is simple - gain control of the entire world by using your armies to crush your opponents. You'll start off with a city, which must then produce armies, that are used to conquer more cities. The array of unit types is limited to eight, including various ships, fighter planes, ground units and a submarine. This is more than made up for by the significantly different abilities each of the units possess, and the game will mostly likely appeal to the Chess and Risk player's of the world.

Groups +



Credits (DOS version)

Original Concept
Cover Art



Average score: 73% (based on 3 ratings)


Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 19 ratings with 3 reviews)

A simple yet engaging turn-based strategy game

The Good
This game was a nicely balanced strategy game. I usually played against the computer, rather than human foes, as it took several hours to finish a game.

At the outset, you had one city that would produce one army every six turns. After six turns your army could go forth to explore and hopefully conquer a nearby neutral city, which could then be used to produce further armies.

The entire world would start blacked out when you first started, and would come into view slowly as you explored.

It was always spooky to get your first view of the enemy - usually a red or yellow destroyer coming to sink your transport ship, or worse, a transport ship about to put armies into the heartland of your war production machine :)

The best feeling in the world was when you finally got your first battleship and aircraft carrier completed (60 turns and 48 turns respectively)

In the endgame, hopefully after many long battles and counter-attacks, you would finally get the computer foes to capitulate. Or you could choose to annihilate them, in which case they would gang up on you for a massive final battle. Fun!

The Bad
Early in the game there could be a number of things that could cause you to have significant setbacks that would affect the outcome of the game later on.

A couple of things that could occur: You would start out on an island with only one city. So you had to produce a few armies, then switch city production to transport ships and wait more turns for that to be built. Then you could send armies forth in the ship to locate and occupy cities on other continents.

Another thing is that if you initially didn't manage to conquer a second city after several tries, you were hopelessly behind the computer foes already. If you didn't knock off a second city within a few tries it was best to just start over.

The Bottom Line
Dated graphics, simple units, no resource gathering or diplomacy - just warfare like chess, but with random maps. Great replay value!

DOS · by ex_navynuke! (42) · 2005

Just playing the game teaches strategy, tactics & logistics.

The Good
It makes you think & keeps you mentally agile & flexible with it's almost infinite possibilities. I created about 100 maps to play on. I got good enough that maps that came with game I played at 75-80 % difficulty with little trouble, but by map 100 had to lower difficulty to 45 just to survive (and that's just after making map).

The Bad
Could not find anyone to play against me. Got 2 cousins to try, but they didn't have a chance & gave up after about a half hour. Haven't been able to find version for IBM compatible. (The "Orkin" man sprayed junk in my Atari drives & my wife did not tell me until 3 months later) Game was in 4 colors & medium resolution, but I figured a way to have 6 players.

The Bottom Line
It's the greatest turn based wargame ever. Anyone who likes turn based strategy games would like it. Anyone who works/uses strategy, tactics & logistics on a steady basis could use this game as a training aid. (military, warehousing, transportation, ect)

Atari ST · by Joseph Kirkpatrick (2) · 2008

Empire was where it all began

The Good
I was a would-be PC programmer with Turbo Pascal and an IBM AT with an EGA monitor and Empire was the first computer game which played on its screen. Empire was amazing. Many copies of it could fit on a single diskette, and it was remarkably stable. This version did not support a mouse, but you could keep up to three players very busy. Virtually the entire genre of turn based strategy games began here, with the "Planetary Task Manual" (a photo copy of which was required to answer the security questions) :).

In our best game, my opponent used the "Blob" strategy, a single giant, growing mass of armies and cruisers. On the other side, I used the Carrier Task force strategy. (planes could not fly over ships...nothing could pass through each other, there was absolutely no stacking).

The Combined Forces ate up the blob.

The maps were the best graphics I'd seen up to that time.

The Bad
Ultimately, Empire had no other tricks it could play. It was already using everything it could...so...it couldn't restrain unit production. The AI was so 1987. It just came at you in eternal strings of units separated by their build times. The worst flaw was that it was still so simple compared to say, Civilization I, which was still 4 years away. We lost interest in Empire when we saw Warlords I, which though proving as difficult to finish, was far more complex.

The Bottom Line
I describe this as it described itself--"The Wargame of the Century". I'm happy to say I still have it. In addition to being a seminal computer game, this was one of the earlier DOS applications which employed computer graphics rather than text mode. On machines which went but 4mhz, Empire played quickly, and maintained as much data as I'd ever seen my machine put through.

DOS · by Simon Haller (16) · 2004


Subject By Date
Wrong grouping? MZ per X (3010) Nov 12th, 2009



Many regard this turn-based militaristic strategy game the most influential strategy title ever released. The original was created in 1978 by Walter Bright and though he repeatedly tried to sell it to publishers, he didn't succeed until 1985, when Interstel accepted the game, and hired Mark Baldwin to create a graphical user interface (not a graphics artist at heart, Bright had been using various letters and ascii characters to represent units and cities)

Freeware release

Walter Bright has updated the game to work like a charm under Windows 95/98, and has released it as freeware - you can find the game and various information and historical facts at www.classicempire.com.


  • Computer Gaming World
    • October 1988 (Issue #52) - Game of the Year
    • April 1989 (Issue #59) - Introduced into the Hall of Fame
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #8 in the “150 Best Games of All Time” list
  • GameSpy
    • 2001 – #49 Top Game of All Time

Information also contributed by nullnullnull and PCGamer77

Related Games

Released 1983 on TRS-80 CoCo
Released 1990 on Amiga
Wargame Project
Released 2012 on Windows
Wargame Designer
Released 1988 on TRS-80 CoCo
The Pure Wargame
Released 1995 on DOS
Dark Century
Released 1990 on DOS, Amiga, Atari ST
Twenty Wargame Classics
Released 1996 on DOS
Wargame Construction Set
Released 1988 on Atari ST, DOS, Amiga...
Wargame: European Escalation
Released 2012 on Windows, Macintosh, Linux

Related Sites +

Identifiers +


Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history!

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Isak.

DOS added by Trixter. Amiga added by JRK. Atari ST added by Rebound Boy. Commodore 64, Apple II added by Terok Nor.

Additional contributors: Patrick Bregger, Jo ST.

Game added February 7th, 2002. Last modified August 30th, 2023.