Yes, Linux 64bits might be the trick here , good luck !
It is now working. Here is what I did leaving out the gory details.
I decided to start afresh.
I completely removed wine from my system.
Downloaded the source for wine 1.3.7.
made sure I had both the 64 and 32 bit libs for openal installed as well as other deps needed for wine that were already installed from last time.
Changed my compile environment to 32 bit.
compiled and installed wine with defaults. (I was not expecting this to work...)
ran the 'winetricks corefonts allfonts tahoma gecko gecko-dbg vcrun2005' as suggested.
Installed AI War, TZR, CON.
It worked! Sound! Music!
AI War..... On Slackware....!