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"This isn’t your daddy’s Age of Empires."

"We're building 0 A.D. – Empires Ascendant because we love strategy gaming and we think the current state of the strategy genre is abysmal. While there have been some great strategy games released recently, we feel like the essence of old-school Real-Time Strategy has been lost. We'd like to recapture that."

0 A.D. is a historical Open Source Real-Time Strategy game in the vein of Age of Empires that is currently being developed for Windows, Linux, and Mac by Wildfire Games, "an independent game developer, made up of a community of volunteers from all over the world". The game strives for a balance of historical accuracy and interesting gameplay.

The first installment, called Empires Ascendant, features civilizations between 500 B.C. and 1 B.C., and includes Athens, Sparta, Macedonia, Britannia, Gaul, Iberia, Carthage, Persia, Republican Rome, Mauryan India, Ptolemaic Egypt, the Seleucids, the Kushites, and the Han Dynasty as playable factions. The planned second installment, Empires Besieged, will focus on the following five hundred years of history.

The official site can be found here. The current release is Alpha 26: Zhuangzi. Downloading and playing is, and always will be, completely free.


0 A.D. provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Iberians and Mauryans can research Toledo Steel and Wootz Steel respectively: both techs will grant them 20% additional damage of melee soldiers and an extra 20% bonus damage to all swordsmen.
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: It's possible to plant and harvest crops on snow-covered maps and in the desert sands.
  • Action Girl:
    • The Mauryan Maiden Guards are the only female elite troopers and, being elite, are stronger than common soldiers. They come in both archers and swordswomen flavor.
    • One of the Britonnic heroes is Boudicca, who fights with a javelin from her chariot. The Ptolomeias have Cleopatra, fighting on foot with a bow.
  • Adapted Out: Earlier versions of the game tended to have unique buildings for certain civs meant specifically to hire a single type of unit (for example, the Tavern for the Gaulish Naked Fanatics and the Kennel for the Briton War Dog). As of the latest installment, the building list is streamlined and some of the early unique building are no longer avaible, the units are now hired in already-existing buildings (in the two mentioned cases, Temple and Stables).
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • A mild (and intentional) example in that each empire in the game is from somewhere in a 500-year period of time and is featured at the height of its power for the sake of fun gameplay.
    • The Iberian civilization's gameplay music is far too modern, dominated by guitars and trumpets. Of course no actual Ancient Iberian melodies have survived, and the few musical scenes represented in Iberian art show instruments common in the Ancient Mediterranean like lires and flutes. The Iberian units and buildings also used to have Spanish names in the first versions of the game before the programmers switched to Basque, which is at least a non-Latin derived language (the actual relationship between Basque and the poorly understood Ancient Iberian language(s) is debated; on the other hand, the game's Iberians are a stand-in for all peoples in the ancient Iberian Peninsula, including the Iberians but also Celts, Celtiberians, proto-Basque/Aquitanians, Lusitanians, Tartessians and Balearics).
  • Arrows on Fire: The Iberians have access to mounted javelineers that throw flaming projectiles. Their extra anti-building damage compensate for the Iberians' lack of siege weapons.
  • Attack Animal: The Britons train war dogs.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Just to give you an idea, Spartans are unable to build walls at all. To compensate, they have the best infantry of the game.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Walls and Gates can be garrisoned with soldiers, so that they can unleash javelins, darts and arrows on incoming soldiers. However, unlike the soldiers garrisoned in towers, these soldiers are more exposed to enemy fire and can be easily eliminated by attackers if not backed up by priests and micromanaged.
    • Certain civs can research a special technology that gives a massive boost to the attack of all military units, including siege ones. However, it also costs around 1500 units of resources for each resource.
    • Wonders take a lot of space, are very expensive and takes a lot of time to be constructed. Unlike Age of Empires though, these Wonders don't grant you a victory, but rather a useful (if costly) tech.
  • Color-Coded Armies: If you simply set the diplomacy colors on then your troops will wear blue, the enemies will be in red and allies in yellow. Otherwise, players can choose between blue, red, yellow, green, teal, violet, orange and black, while Gaia-controlled units will always be in white.
  • Command & Conquer Economy: The core of the gameplay is this, as with its inspiration.
  • Church Militant: All civs can hire priests/druids/priestesses in the temples to heal their forces, but some, like Gauls and Carthaginians, can even hire special Champion units in them.
  • Decapitation Presentation: The Celtic civilizations (Britons and Gauls) decorate their military buildings with the heads of their enemies.
  • Easy Logistics: As with its inspiration, you only have to worry about gathering the resources and pay the units once for their maintenance.
  • Elaborated Equals Effective: The units you can hire will usually start with paltry equipment and lack of armor and decorations. If they survive long enough to level up, they'll sport cuirasses, helmets and better-looking equipment. Champion units usually start up already more armored than their worker counterparts.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Champion units are specialized for combat and will generally be stronger than regular units, but they are much more expensive and are unusuable as civilians, thus they can't gather resources nor build stuff. At least, Champions are fully powered up, while Citizen Soldiers need to train and fight first.
  • Elite Mooks: Each civilization has its unique elite soldiers that can't be put to work like the others but are better at fighting.
  • Full-Boar Action: Boars are commonly encountered in the countryside, but are aggressive and will attack units nearby.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: The Gauls have the Naked Fanatic unit, a Champion who fights almost in the nude save for a long cape, a massive shield and a spear.
  • Gender Is No Object: Averted. Women gather resources faster and cannot build military buildings, only civilian ones. Male "Citizen Soldiers" can gather resources, build all structures and be called to arms. The professional soldiers that don't gather resources are nearly all male as well, with the Mauryan Maiden Guards being the only exception.
  • Hero Unit: Each empire has three specific historical heroes to send into battle. Aside from being very strong, Heroes can grant massive bonuses to all troops or to nearby troops, and by putting them inside a squad of soldiers or a building, you can increase the bonuses.
  • Hired Guns: Certain buildings allows you to hire mercenary troops: Mercenaries usually appear already levelled up, but cost metal to hire and gain exp slower than regular troops. Carthaginians in particular can build three different embassies to hire Iberian, Celtic or Italic mercenaries for their cause, giving them access to units typical of those civs.
  • Historical Domain Character: all of the hero units, which includes the likes of Alexander the Great, Cyrus the Great, Hannibal, Scipio Africanus, Viriato, and Vercingetorix.
  • Horse Archer: They are rare, but tend to be quite powerful units as they're usually produced by civs which can also research "Archery Tradition" (which boosts the range of archers). They can be built by Persians, Seleucids and Mauryans. Persians and Mauryans can also build archer chariots, Ptolomeians can hire camel archers and Mauryans can also train Elephant Archers.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each alpha release is named after an appropriate subject, with the first letters following an alphabetical order (Argonaut, Bellerophon, Cerberus...)
  • Kukris Are Kool: Iberian troops can hire swordsmen armed with the deadly falcata sword. With the Toledo Steel upgrade they can become a force to be reckoned with.
  • Molotov Truck: The only "warship" available to the Iberians is the Fireship, a fishing ship that is on fire.
  • Mundane Utility: Javelin-armed cavalry is actually pretty good at hunting, as they can cover more ground to hunt their prey.
  • Perpetual Beta: The game development is still ongoing after many years.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: Being a RTS game, all buildings are erect at fast speed, though in a variation, bigger and more expensive buildings such as fortresses and town centers will take longer to construct, even with plenty of people manning the construction.
  • Siege Engines: As expected, the player will eventually gain access to siege weapons, including battering rams, siege towers, scorpio and catapults (which are correctly depicted as a scorpio-like machine throwing massive rocks): some need to unpack and pack to be used in combat, others must be garrisoned with infantry to boost them. In the early editions of the game, Iberians and Mauryans lacked siege weapons, forcing them to rely instead on other unique units (such as a fire spear-throwing cavalry or elephants), but as of the Y release, every civ can build the Arsenal and craft, at very least, a siege ram to take down enemy structures.
  • Tech Tree: Certain requirements must be met before you can upgrade you town and build more advanced structures.
  • Threatening Shark: If you thought wolves, boars and bears were the only natural threat, think again! Some ocean areas host Great White Sharks who roam the waters and may sink your fishing ships.
  • Veteran Unit: A unit's stats improve through combat experience, and they also gain graphical upgrades such as better armor, shield and weapons.
  • War Elephants: Available to Carthage, Egypt, Persia and India. They tend to be very expensive but also quite powerful and hard to counter. Plus, unlike the [[Age of Empires game source]], these elephants can actually move pretty fast.
  • Worker Unit: Female citizens and Citizen Soldiers. The latter can build structures, gather resources and has decent fighting skills. However, the more they fight, the less effective they become with their domestic tasks.
  • You Are the Translated Foreign Word: Rather than having generalized units (Archer, Swordsman, Spearman...) they have skins unique to each civilization with names in the local language.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: You need to gather food, lumber, metal and stone to sustain your economy. You can also trade them with non-hostile factions.