Well, let me see if I can point the way for future users to try what's worked for me.
I have always had intermittent crashes with AACW in Vista, particularly when I had programs like AOL running in the background. Sometimes (gasp) my computer would actually shut down all by itself. By shut down I mean the power would stop and the computer turn off. Never had that happen before. Now understand that I have a fairly new dual core computer and I was not used to this. Ever.
After having lost hours of time spent and having had to back up and do turns over, I resolved to save games often so I had saves to go back to. I now know there are other ways to go back a turn. But I just used save often to prevent rerunning my turns.
Then I upgraded to 1.13b. The problems increased. It culminated with me crashing, losing my saved game completely (it wasn't recorded in my save game file after saying it was) and being unable to even get past program start up. Panic!
The error messages other users have cited occurred for me, too, without any apparent changes to my system on my part. I came out here to get ideas on how to approach the problem. I know enough about computers to be dangerous.
I started with the theory that I had a virus since I had been running naked a bit. NO, multiple scans from different vendors said I was clean.
I next started with Pocus' idea that it was a sound or video driver. After much investigation and downloading I ruled that out.
Next I tried multiple uninstalls and reinstalls, rebuilding my game, patch by patch. 1.05 always worked but 1.10, 1.12 and 1.13 would rarely (but sometimes) get me into the program. When it did allow me in, trying to load a save game would always crash it.
Next I tried manipulating the saved game files. I destroyed the save games files (after copying them elsewhere).Mine are out there in the "app data-virtual store" path already cited. Once again....no dice.
Next I tried turning off spyware programs (both Windows Defender and the other third party ones). I had forgotten I had multiples of these one over another. I turned them all off and for safe measure turned off AOL. my Virus protection and Vista firewall as well. A clue previously for me that I missed
was that with AOL in the background I had had more problems running AACW than when I ran AACW with AOL down. My AOL has programs for firewalls, and spybots, you see.
At first it seemed to be unfruitful as AACW crashed anyway on entry. But knowing that computer insanity works (ie that trying the SAME thing at different times CAN produce different results) I tried again and again. The second time the program went deeper before crashing. The third time I was in. I experimented with loading prior games, starting new games, saving games and going in and out of the program and voila, all of them worked again. I then moved my saved games back to the original save computer location and they worked fine.
To test my theory (as someone earlier had alluded to here as a potential culprit) I turned my spybot programs back on while I was in AACW. Voila. The program (1.13b, which I was in) gave me some ActiveX jargon and crashed while I was in it. It did this for both Spyware Terminator and Windows Defender with the same results. So at last I found my problem. I think. If it changes I will keep all informed out here.
I am so grateful to be back playing
I wish no one to go through the laborious efforts I have for 48 hours to get back to playing. For your dining and dancing pleasure may I suggest tinkering with your spybot protection.
Here's to your happy hours of continued addicted pleasure with AACW like me.
(Just north of SouthWest territory which has somehow again fallen into Confederate hands when I thought Sibley was incompetent)