Sword of Aragon from SSI is often considered to be the grandparent of a whole series of strategy games from that company. However, it still remains almost unique for a number of reasons.
This is a turn-based fantasy strategy game played on two maps - a larger map of the continent of Aragon, and individual battle maps for the actual combat sequences. Units are recruited and can be equipped and trained (at a cost). The level of detail here is very detailed for a game of this age.
Weapons, armour etc all have costs for purchase and maintenance, and directly effect units speed and abilities on the field.
Special 'Character' units may have other abilities (such as magic), but although these can be strong in early battles during the game, they are no match for the sort of huge and experienced army you will control by the end of the game.
The continent includes a number of cities - you start off in command of one, and must eventually control almost all of them to win the game. There is a logical route to progress through the game, as various 'must do' missions appear throughout, though the game itself is quite open - you can spend years just building up the
cities you control and training an elite army if that's the way you want to go. Managing cities is rather like old 'King' sims - manage taxes and food supply, solve local disputes and try and keep the people happy whilst getting in enough cash to maintain your troops.
The plot may seem a bit forced in places, but the storyline is solid enough and doesn't detract from the overall game. The AI is not so clever by modern standards, but in most battles you will probably be heavily outnumbered, so it all balances out.
The graphics are poor, the game itself can be unresponsive, and there are bugs (if your army gets too big, you can have problems deploying it successfully). It's best probably not even to mention the sound effects. But the ability to micro-manage your units gives a real sense of ownership of the army, and makes you actually care about the results. Many a time the 'Silver Swords' of Alladda swept in at the last moment, bravely slaying Giants to the left and Giants to the right and storming the citadel for victory.
This is a great game, and one I spent far too long playing.