Seven Kingdoms made departures from the traditional real-time strategy models of "gather resources, build a base and army, and attack". The economic model bears more resemblance to a turn-based strategy game. It features an espionage system that allows players to train and control spies individually, who each have a spying skill that increases over time. The player is also responsible for catching spies in their own kingdom. Inns built within the game allow players to hire mercenaries of various occupations, skill levels, and races. Skilled spies of enemy races are essential to a well-conducted espionage program, and the player can bolster his forces by grabbing a skilled fighter or give ones own factories, mines, and towers of science, a boost by hiring a skilled professional. Enlight Software decided to release the game to the Open Source community in August 2009. At that time everything, but the music, was released under the GPL v2. The music has a slightly different license.
Ok, first of all this game is free (my favorite price!). Second of all, it was released in 1997; this is a fact that some of the lower-voting rankers failed to take into consideration. For what it is, Seven Kingdoms is fantastic. I only really have two legitimate gripes: SK:AA will just randomly quit after extended play; and some of the earlier "easy" scenarios are impossibly hard. As far as the random quitting is concerned, however, it is rectified by very frequent autosaves.
It's not AoE (although this is a personal opinion), but it is still a steal--there's no reason NOT to download it. I've spent 10+ hours playing off and on, and I know I'll come back to it when I want to kill some time with light gaming. Love it!