Monday, May 29, 2023

The Ancient Art of War: Little Bighorn

After more than a dozen humiliating defeats, and some pointers from Wargaming Scribe, Custer has had his revenge. I finally won, but my victory feels a bit hollow, as my strategy only works if the enemy focuses the brunt of his forces against my useless fort.

You can't see the Indians until they are very close, but I knew from repeat failures that two archer units always attack your flag from the north, either through the mountains or through the hills. It's tempting to guard the hills where you have a tactical advantage, but this exposes the flag to an easy capture through the mountains. The best I can do to prevent a quick loss is just regroup everyone onto the flag. The Indians have every tactical advantage - they're well supplied, they fight better in the mountains, and their archers beat my knights, but it's two units against five.

To win, I send the unit in the southeast quadrant across the northern bend of the river where it's the thinnest, then split them into three and march them close to - but do not capture yet - the villages where the enemy flags are kept.

This doesn't always work. The enemy may ignore your fort and storm your north position with overwhelming forces before you can finish deploying your forces near the villages.

This can also go wrong if Geronimo lingers around the villages before heading north, in which case your own force will be captured easily. This is unusual, but it's happened to me at least once.

But if you're lucky enough that he goes for the fort first, then you can have your southern forces take the villages in one coordinated swoop.

Some other strategies discussed:

  • Send the main force south across the river to get the two northern villages while the spy gets the south one. Scribe can reliably do this before Geronimo reaches the flag, but I can't.
  • Force the enemy to return across the river, weakened, and finish them off there.
  • Leave one unit behind, east of the north flag, out of Geronimo's sight. After he takes it and has to march south to re-conquer the villages, sneak back and retake the flag as he crosses the river.

I feel like that last one may work as a contingency to my own eventually winning strategy, but I'd rather just move on than test it.


  1. Where did you obtain a copy of AOW at? I still have my box and discs from the 1980s... but don't have a functional 5.25" floppy drive at the moment!

    1. I don't want to risk getting flagged by offering a direct link, but a certain, easily Googled abandonware site has a nearly comprehensive set of AAOW versions to download, including the CGA version that I am using, but also an EGA/VGA version, versions for Mac and Apple II, versions for Amiga & Amstrad CPC in French, and a PC-88 version in Japanese.

    2. Good point... I will surreptitiously look for it!

  2. I really like this series, taking Ancient Art of War seriously and trying to win the way people would back in the day.


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