[[quoteright:325:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/624_8299.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:325:"''Greetings, sire! Your stronghold awaits you!''"]]

A medieval-themed RTS series by British game developer Firefly Studios. It has a heavier emphasis on economy and base building than some other games. Calling it a "castle sim" would probably be the most accurate term for it, since it's possibly the only strategy game where you can build and customize your own castles and fortified settlements any way you like. Its gameplay can be described as a blend of action-oriented RTS games like ''VideoGame/AgeOfEmpires'' and more management-based strategy like ''VideoGame/TheSettlers''. The devs from Firefly are the original creators of the VideoGame/CityBuildingSeries, and it shows...

!!!Currently, the series consists of these installments:
* ''Stronghold'' (2001) itself, which was set in England and Wales during an unspecified period of the Middle Ages.
* ''Stronghold Crusader'' (2002) [[MissionPackSequel stand-alone expansion pack]] set during [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin the Crusades]], allowing players to play as either Crusaders or Saracens
* ''Stronghold Crusader Extreme'', a version of Stronghold Crusader which features better AI and higher unit limit cap.
* ''Stronghold 2'' (2005), which brought the series into full 3D.
* ''Stronghold Legends'' (2006), a departure into fantasy territory, featuring the characters, creatures and settings of several medieval European legends. The game was rushed to release, many of the series' unique mechanics were underplayed, and it showed - the game [[FranchiseKiller was very poorly received]] by critics and gamers alike, and is considered a DolledUpInstallment or sequel InNameOnly by most.
* ''Stronghold 3'' (2011) The first "real" entry in the series since 2005. It suffered a [[DevelopmentHell poor release despite months of delays]], was devoid of a skirmish mode, crashed frequently, was accused reusing sounds from previous entries, had an unstable multi-player mode, [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking and had wolves climbing ladders]]. The game has since began to recover due to extensive patching from the developers.

Despite relatively poor production values (from Stronghold 2 onwards at least) and [[ArtificialStupidity somewhat daft AI]], the series has a large following and is notable for bucking many RealTimeStrategy gameplay tropes in favor of more realism.

Not to be confused with the early nineties fantasy strategy game of the same name.

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!! This game series provides examples of:

* ZeroPercentApprovalRating: The peasants' opinion of the player really is expressed as a number out of one hundred, and the workers will begin to desert if you impose high enough taxes or refuse to feed them.Even though torturing and menacing them with certain decoration will make them so afraid to opposed you that they will increase in productivity, as long as you have enough positive boosts to balance it.
* AnimalMotifs: The four main enemies in the original Stronghold are called "[[WarmupBoss The Rat]]," "[[SmugSnake The Snake]]," "[[TheDragon The Pig]]" and "[[BigBad The Wolf]]." The Wolf has a growly voice and paces around, The Rat has a squeaky voice and is twitchy, The Pig actually oinks and grunts and The Snake uses SssssnakeTalk. Each required much more varied tactics than the last.''Crusader'''s most difficult battles pit the player against King Richard ''Lion''heart.
** Continued on, though other motifs and sobriquets have crept in as well. For example, in Stronghold 2 you have Lady Seren, "[[TheChick The Lamb]]"; and Angus McLoud,"The Bull", while Stronghold 3 has "[[TheDragon The Jackal]]".
* AnnoyingArrows: Both played straight and subverted:a small squad of archers can only take down weak, single targets, but [[ZergRush make some dozens and station them on top of a tower]] to mow down pretty much anything not wearing metal armor.
** A garrison of crossbowmen is more expensive, has a shorter range and slower fire rate, but can take down any unarmored soldier in one shot, and heavily-armored ones in two-three.
** In Stronghold 3, archers tend to really get kills going once they're firing. Which can cost you many a tight mission when the enemy Archers are all firing as a group while your own are... [[ArtificialStupidity well, not reacting to getting shot at.]]
* AntiPoopSocking: Your scribe (advisor) would occasionally say things like "How about a snack my liege?" or "You have been playing for a long time." depending on how long you have played.
* ArtificialStupidity: The AI doesn't seem to understand that when you tear down its village's hovels, it should ''build new ones.'' Sigh.
** Even more when you destroy buildings by [[KillItWithFire torching the enemy castle]], as they will rebuild their facilities on the same spot ''while it's still burning'', fueling the fire further until they have no resources left.
** Or how about stopping when a unit they are ordered to attack dies, even though the rest of his buddies are still firing loads of arrows at them?
* AuthorityEqualsAsskicking: The Lord is by far the most powerful melee unit, although his usefulness is limited because he moves ''[[MightyGlacier very]]'' slowly and [[InstantWinCondition you lose if he dies.]]
* BadassGrandpa: In ''Stronghold 3'' [[spoiler:The Wolf]] is looking noticeably older ''and'' badass this time round.
* BadassMustache: Sir Longarm.
* BearsAreBadNews:
** Bears can be quite annoying, especially if you haven't had time to recruit soldiers yet. However, if you have enough resources you can TakeAThirdOption and wall them in. Voila, a zoo!
** And then there are the dancing bears, which you can place in order to raise the morale.
* BewareTheNiceOnes: In ''Stronghold Crusader'', if you have your fear factor set to the happiest, your soldiers fight far more fiercely in your defense...
* BlackComedy / GallowsHumour: Plenty of it, especially in the briefings and {{cutscene}}s. It's rather appropriate and nicely fits the down-to-earth portrayal of life in the Middle Ages offered by the game.
* BloodlessCarnage: In Stronghold 2 and onwards. Averted in the original and in ''Crusader'', which featured bloody death animations for every sprite that were different depending how the unit died.
* BoobyTrap: For players to set up for each other.
* BookEnds: Loosely for the first game. Your first and last enemies in the original Stronghold's campaign that you will fight? [[spoiler: Wolves.]]
* TheBrute: Macemen in the original and ''Crusader'' and Viking mercenaries in ''Stronghold 2''.
* CitadelCity: The game allows you to build a somewhat realistic version.
* CommandAndConquerEconomy: You expect the villagers to hunt for food on their own? How silly! Now build them a hunter's post!
* ConstructAdditionalPylons: Or rather, construct additional hovels (to increase the number of your possible population).
* CoolOldGuy: Sir Longarm.
* CreditsGag: Sort of. After every map you kill one of the Four Tyrants the "victory feast" screen shows an item associated with that villain (such as the Rat's helmet being used as a candle holder and the Snake's eyepatch impaled with a dagger).
* CriticalExistenceFailure
* TheCrusades: The setting for ''Stronghold Crusader'', specifically the era of the Third Crusade.
* DeadpanSnarker: The Tunnelers. "Let me guess. Digging." Ask them to attack someone for extra fun.
* DragonInChief: The Hawk in Stronghold 2. His power and influence rival Barclay's, and he has a much more direct and significant role in the story. He's the one who came up with the whole plan to overthrow the King in the first place, as well as the one who put it into action, i.e. hiring the Viking Warlord Olaf to attack the country, poisoning the King, orchestrating the capture of Sir William, and disbanding the King's army.
* DumbassHasAPoint: In the first game, the other villains talk the Rat into trying to betray you, than threaten him into overextending himself against a lord who rises in your support when he hears about the betrayal. His plan was to pull his forces back to his own stronghold and wait for reinforcements instead of smashing his armies against your walls, which probably would have worked.
** Probably might be being generous, considering the tactical skills of the player. However, it's *also* notable that he by all means should have killed you off and singlehandedly destroyed the resistance earlier, with you only surviving because [[VillainBall The Snake wanted wine, and]] [[TooDumbToLive made a deal with you- his arch enemy- by trading troops to defeat the rat for Wine.]]
* TheDungAges: Subverted. This trope is more often than not [[AffectionateParody affectionately parodied]].
** In some gametypes of ''Stronghold 2'', dung will actually start piling up in your town, and you have to hire sanitation workers to clean it up.
* EasterEgg: The narrator has a certain number of preset names to call you with if you use them.
** Vader, for example.
*** Or Flying Poo!
** During Christmas time, in a team match, your allies will wish you a merry christmas.
* EasyLogistics: Mostly averted or at least subverted ([[AcceptableBreaksFromReality except for building]], [[RidiculouslyFastConstruction since all structures appear instantly after you place them in the desired location]]). You generally need to set up a lot of basic production chains to get your economy and army up and running. Example: You need to send woodcutters to chop down trees, then wait till they bring it to your stockpile, then you use the wood to construct a farm, mill and bakery. Now your peasants will be fed and relatively happy. You can set the amount of rations for them anytime you like, depending on the situation. The amount of rations increases or decreases morale. Now, you want to train, say, a crossbowman? You first need to build a tanner's and fletcher's workshop and a dairy farm. The tanner will occasionally visit the dairy farm, take a cow back to the workshop, slaughter it and start working on 3 new padded leather armors for the archers. In the meantime, the fletcher manufactures the crossbows and bolts. Both craftsmen put their products in the armoury (but only if you've already built one!). And ''that's not all'': Finally, you have to build a barracks and have enough gold and unemployed (unoccupied) peasants, so you can train them into soldiers. Quite a lot of work for a strategy game, eh?
** Except, curiously, that as soon as your peasants are drafted into soldiers they no longer need to eat. Or need a place to live in.
* EvilGloating: The Four Tyrants are fond of this.
* EvilLaugh: The Pig is really fond of this. The Wolf gets an opportunity to do this near the end, too.
* ExplosiveBreeder: "Rabbits are breeding at an alarming rate, liege! Our crops are threatened!"
* FeudalOverlord:
** Several of the villains.
** [[VideoGameCrueltyPotential The player can also opt to oppress the peasants]] by adding gallows, [[BurnTheWitch burning stakes]], and various torture equipment. The workers' productivity increases, but the soldiers suffer a morale penalty.
* FiveBadBand: The four Tyrants in the first game, although they lack a [[TheDragon Dragon]].
** The BigBad: Duc Volpe (The Wolf)
** TheBrute: Duc Truffe (The Pig)
** The EvilGenius: Duc Beauregard (The Snake)
** The DarkChick: Duc [=DePuce=] (The Rat)
** Stronghold 2 has:
** The BigBad: Lord Barclay, AKA "The Hammer".
** TheDragon / TheEvilGenius: Pascal Devereux, AKA "The Hawk"
** TheBrute: Shared by Viking Warlord Olaf Grimtooth and Scottish Clan Leader Angus Mcloud, AKA "The Bull".
** TheDarkChick: Edwin Blackfly, AKA "The English Traitor". Rather similar to the Rat.
** Stronghold 3 has:
** The BigBad: Duc Volpe (The Wolf)
** TheDragon: The Jackal, who also serves as a WarmUpBoss as you face his men early on.
** TheBrute: Shared by sons of Duc Truffe (The Pig), Bishop Redham and Earl Swinefoot.
** The DarkChick: All three of the Rat's sons; Rupert Silverback, Greytail, and Rodger Scabcoat
** The SixthRanger: The Archbishop in the Blackstaff Campaign.
* FourthWallMailSlot: [[http://twitter.com/askthewolf The Wolf's Twitter account]].
* FragileSpeedster: Arabian archers.
* FrenchJerk: The Hawk. [[FridgeLogic Even though he's Sir William's brother and lives in England]].
* GlassCannon: Archers and slingers.
* YeGoodeOldeDays: Once again, [[AffectionateParody affectionately parodied]] - [[PlayedForLaughs to hell and back]].
* HelloInsertNameHere: In ''Stronghold Crusader'', naming your profile after any of a couple of hundred common English names (or "[[Franchise/StarWars Vader]]") causes the narrator to refer to you by that name out loud (otherwise, he just calls you "my lord.")
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: The Rat is all but forced by the other lords into attacking a lord that's allied with you, just when you're about to attack his castle. Finding it incredibly underprotected, you quickly take it over, beef up the defenses, and attack him when he's coming back from his unsuccessful siege. Given the fact that he was retreating to his castle with his defeated forces, he doesn't put up much of a fight.
* TheJester: One of these goes around entertaining/annoying your people. At one point in the military campaign between missions your jester sings a song about your victory over the Rat's troops to the tune of [[PublicDomainSoundtrack Greensleeves.]]
* KillItWithFire: In ''Stronghold Crusader'', slaves or ballistas can be used to set fire to the castle of any computer opponent one doesn't actually feel like fighting. The brilliant AI replaces the destroyed buildings while the rest of his castle is still on fire, until eventually he runs out of resources.
* LaResistance: Your faction in the original ''Stronghold''.
* LargeHam: Pretty much everyone. Most notable is the narrator in ''Stronghold Crusader''. The narrator was, um, quite enthusiastic about his job, narrating pretty much everything.
** SAVING!!!
*** LOADING!!!
*** EXIT STRONGHOLD CRUSADER?!?!?!
** EAT STEEL!!
** Also the Wazir when he's defeated: "This was not foretold, I should not die, noooo..."
* LaughablyEvil: [[PunchClockVillain The Rat]].
* LightningBruiser: Knights and lords, when on horseback.
* ManOnFire: Igniting pitch ditches will result in a spectacular display of pyrotechnics and people running around screaming as fiery silhouettes.
* MedievalMorons: The armed peasants and spearmen from ''Stronghold 2'', whenever you give them orders; "I'm confused." "What's going on?"
* MightyGlacier: Knights and lords when ''not'' on horseback.
* NeverFoundTheBody: [[spoiler:You impaled the Wolf, twisted the blade, and he fell down from his keep. But did you ever recover the body? No.]] Now, guess who is back for Stronghold 3...
* ObviousBeta: Due to frequent crashes, lacking features from previous games, and the sheer number of bugs, ''Stronghold 3'' could be argued that it's more of an Obvious Alpha.
* OminousLatinChanting: The original's main menu background music.
* OopNorth: Your soldiers' accents in ''Stronghold 2''.
* RealTimeWithPause
* RidiculouslyFastConstruction: One of the few completely unrealistic aspects of the series, [[AcceptableBreaksFromReality for pretty obvious reasons]]. Enemy troops coming? Just click and drag and you have a wall (if the enemies aren't already too close to its location).
* SavageWolves: They come in packs, and they kill your villagers. As well as in [[BigBad human form]] as your most dangerous [[spoiler: and enduring]] adversary.
* SelfMadeOrphan: Implied with the [[spoiler:Wolf]] from the original.
* ShownTheirWork: Though some of the graphics and aspects seem a bit cartoony, the workings of an average medieval castle (production chains and features like morale and army building) are depicted fairly realistically.
* ShoutOut: Naming yourself [[Franchise/StarWars Lord Vader]] in Crusader causes the narrator to refer to you ''verbally'' as Lord Vader.
* TheSiege / StormingTheCastle: The most usual military activities of both you and your adversaries. The attacker has a limited number of units, and the defender only has to outlast the siege to win[[note]] Not as easy as you'd think, as the only safe places are ''within'' the castle walls, and you rarely have enough space or stone available to protect your farms. The only thing that devastates morale/happiness more than not have ''anything'' to eat is prohibitively excessive taxes, and if you can't get to your farms, you also can't get to the tree you need to harvest to make more bows...[[/note]]. This is true for ''you'' as well: player sieges are as much an exercise in efficient unit use as they are about killing everyone in the target castle.
* SmugSnake: The [[AnimalMotifs Snake]], fittingly enough, is vain, snide and sneering, and utterly full of himself, even though he's not ''that'' much of a threat. He's also prone to [[VillainousBreakdown panicking and pleading for mercy]] when things don't go his way. The Rat would probably qualify if he were only a little more confident...
* StayingAlive: [[spoiler:The Wolf]] is back for Stronghold 3.
* SuicideMission: During siege those running in first rows are highly unlikeable even to come close to the walls. If defending castle have tar pits, then its [[RedShirtArmy whole first groups]].
* TechnologyLevels: introduced in ''Stronghold 2'', but it's optional, and most players set the option to off for multiplayer mode.
* TinTyrant: The Wolf. The Rat and the Pig also wear plate armor, but the Snake prefers fancy clothes instead.
* TooDumbToLive: In ''Stronghold Crusader'', the Rat sometimes builds access stairs on the outside of his castle walls.
* {{Troll}}: [[http://twitter.com/askthewolf The Wolf has a twitter account]], where people can ask him questions. His replies aren't very nice, and he doesn't answer questions which he finds stupid. He is also an InternetToughGuy, and threatens people with torture and sieges.
* TowerDefense: A more complex version than most; "Castle Defense," really, but still, 80 percent of the time, you're on the defense rather than on the offense. Rarely, you play a siege mission where you use your own troops to destroy an enemy castle; ever more rarely, you can have a castle-vs-castle section where you can keep building your own troops to throw at the enemy.
* TunnelKing: Tunnelers.
* VagueAge: The Rat is an UnexpectedSuccessor obviously unsuited to the job and gets bullied by the other three lords, he's also scrawny with a high-pitched voice and acne. He could be a rather pathetic young man or he could be a teenager.
** According to the official strategy guide, ''he is''. He was nineteen years old.
* VillainBall: The Snake in the first game liked Wine, which led directly to the survival of the resistance and the downfall of the Tyrants, including himself.
* VillainousGlutton: The Pig. Justified, though: when he was younger he was underfed, and after he took control of the bandit gang that raised him he made sure to always get the best food for himself.
* WarriorMonk: "We are the Black Monks."
* YouKilledMyFather: The Snake tricked your father, and the Wolf killed him (which he really likes [[EvilGloating gloating]] about.)
* YouRequireMoreVespeneGas: Or rather, "You require more wood, stone, gold, honour, swords, spears, pikes, armor, and/or bows."
** "Not enough iron, mylord..." "Wood needed..." "You do not have enough gold to train this unit."
* TheDevTeamThinksOfEverything: In the original, seagulls would fly down into the ocean for fish before flying back out.

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