One of the earliest RealTimeStrategy games, ''The Ancient Art of War'' (1984) adapts the world's oldest military treatise, Sun Tzu's ''Literature/TheArtOfWar''.

The player is a NonEntityGeneral whose opposite number is a [[HistoricalDomainCharacter historical]] or [[PublicDomainCharacter mythological]] tactician, such as [[UsefulNotes/JuliusCaesar Caesar]], [[UsefulNotes/AlexanderTheGreat Alexander]], [[Myth/ClassicalMythology Athena]], or the ultimate challenge, Sun Tzu himself. The three unit types follow a TacticalRockPaperScissors model: [[ArcherArchetype archers]] beat knights, [[KnightInShiningArmor knights]] beat barbarians, and [[BarbarianHero barbarians]] literally beat archers. Strategy incorporates many of the topics discussed by Sun Tzu, including supply lines, morale, and GeoEffects.

There were two sequels, ''The Ancient Art of War at Sea'' and ''The Ancient Art of War in the Skies''. The authors, Dave and Barry Murry, along with their sister Dee Dee Murry, would later go on to create the ''VideoGame/{{Manhunter}}'' AdventureGame series.

!! Tropes featured include:

* AnachronismStew: Regardless of campaign setting, from Zhou Dynasty China to Sherwood Forest to Custer's Last Stand, the graphics, gameplay, and possible opponents are identical.
* AttractMode
* CaptainsLog: Introduces "Running the Gauntlet" in ''War at Sea''.
* CaptureTheFlag: Taking all of the enemy's flags is an InstantWinCondition.
* ColorCodedArmies: The black and white sides' soldiers are {{Palette Swap}}s.
* DefogOfWar: Some scenarios give you spies, who can observe the enemy over long distances. They look like barbarians, but can't put up a fight.
* TheDrunkenSailor: Your crew in ''War at Sea''. If you lose, it's "What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor?" If you win, it's "Pass the grog, matey!"
* EasyLogistics: It's up to you how easy they are: supply line length is one of the difficulty settings.
* {{Epigraph}}: Each match begins with a quote from Sun Tzu.
* FogOfWar: Also an optional difficulty setting.
* ForeignLookingFont: The title screen on some platforms used Chinese-esque lettering.
* FriendlyFireProof : Averted. Archers frequently hit their allies from behind.
* TheGameOfTheBook
* GameplayAutomation: The computer resolves engagements automatically, unless you choose to take command yourself with the "zoom" feature.
* GeoEffects: Forests, mountains, and water interfere with troop movements, to an extent determined on the pre-game options screen.
* HereThereBeDragons: The [[OverworldNotToScale overworld maps]] in ''War at Sea'' are fancifully decorated with sea serpents, Neptune, etc.
* HitAndRunTactics
--> GERONIMO uses hit and run tactics but doesn't like to be caught in the open.
* JokeCharacter: Each game has one (with a PunnyName) as its easiest opponent: Crazy Ivan, Thor Foote, and Helmut von Spike.
* LevelEditor
* PublicDomainSoundtrack: "What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor?" in ''Sea''; "It's a Long Road to Tipperary" in ''Skies.''
* UnitsNotToScale: The icon for a unit is a single man, who looks like a giant next to the icon for a village.
* VictoryPose: Surviving soldiers grin and raise a fist in the air.
* WoodenShipsAndIronMen: The setting of ''War at Sea.''
* YeOldeButcheredeEnglishe: ''War at Sea'' has "Ye Olde Options Shoppe."