Weather of War
You dumb motherfucker!Weather affecting the outcome of battles. Rain, snow, sandstorms, etc can make a big impact on strategy; used or getting screwed over by. Typical conditions are movement penalties and reduced visibility. For extreme weather, it may damage and even kill units. This is, very commonly, Truth in Television. See also Fog of War, for visibility-reducing conditions, Weather Control Machine, for devices and techniques used in manipulating the weather for this, Battle in the Rain, for more than atmospherics, and Geo Effects for other environmental impacts.
Didn't Napoleon let you know?
When you conquer Russia,
Better pack some fuckin' winter clothes!
Didn't Napoleon let you know?
When you conquer Russia,
Better pack some fuckin' winter clothes!
— Darth Vader, Epic Rap Battles of History, on his rival Adolf Hitler's ill-fated campaign in Russia
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Nami from One Piece, even before she got her Weather Control Machine, had such an intuitive understanding of the weather that she could use it offensively, avoiding storms to which others would fall prey.
- The Semi-final round of the Sensha-do tournament in Girls und Panzer takes place in a howling snowstorm. Oarai team faces the Soviet Russia themed Pravda Academy tank forces on a battlefield where Gen. Winter holds sway.
- In The Belagariad, the Murgos use a literal Fog of War to hide their troops. In The Mallorean, Belgarion causes a lightning storm to start solely to make himself look more impressive to stop an Arend army.
- The aforementioned storm sends Belgarath and his Brother Beldin running around the world for six months, dealing with the fallout. Belgarion gets quite the earful when Belgarath gets done.
- In Belgarath the Sorcerer, during a historical battle, the enemy army sends a dust storm at them. The good guys break off a piece and send it down a nearby river and back, dropping a water spout to settle the dust.
- In Dune a sandstorm not only disrupts almost any activity, but was used to exhaust Deflector Shields with tons of sand "bullets".
- In 1635: The Eastern Front, a heavy rainstorm completely ruins the USE's invasion of Poland, taking away its technological advantages and nearly getting the emperor killed in battle.
- In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Strange makes it rain so that the mud will hinder French cavalry.
- In Judas Unchained, the Planet's Revenge is this taken to an extreme.
- Two 13th century sagas, Jómsvíkinga saga and (with a little less detail) Heimskringla, tell how in the battle of Hjorunga Bay, fought in Norway c. 985 AD, the Norwegians were saved from defeat by a sudden hailstorm that turned the battle against their Danish enemies.
- In the Red Mars trilogy, the Martians frequently practice "guerrilla climatology" such as seeding very prolific and efficient plants in an area to drive up the local oxygen concentration, then starting a wildfire.
- Saruman makes it snow so the Fellowship can't get over the mountain and has to go under it in Lord of the Rings.
- The Reynard Cycle: In The Baron of Maleperduys, Bruin mentions that it is raining the same way that it did before a battle he fought in, reminiscing that the soggy terrain bogged down the heavy cavalry. He personally witnessed one of the chevalier (knight-equivalents) drown in a pool of water. Sure enough, soft ground and a swollen river play a big role during the Battle of the Samara.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: The hint is in the name of the series: we are dealing with a world of some seriously messed-up seasons that mainly hit one continent of it (one other, at least, does get much more mildly affected — but, it's to nowhere near the same degree). And, if that wasn't enough, there are always the words of House Stark: Winter Is Coming. When it does arrive in Westeros, of course people will try to fight in it!
- Watership Down: The storm breaks just at the right time to stop their rabbits escaping from Efrafa from being annihilated by General Woundwort and his Owsla. It's even implied this is due to supernatural causes. However the storm also hampers the escapees, whereas the more disciplined Efrafan Owsla rally and nearly prevent the escape.
- Inverted in the Dirigent Mercenary Corps series. When Lon Nolan is in the DMC's OCS program one of the lessons points out that large-scale battles with chemical firearms are actually known to produce bad weather after the second or third day or so because of the combustion byproducts and such.
- The Weather Channel's When Weather Changed History documentary segments sometimes invoke this trope, although natural disasters are a more common topic.
- Some military board games have weather rules, such as Avalon Hill's The Russian Campaign, which covers the World War 2 Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. The rules depict the difficulties the German invaders had with "General Winter".
- Blood Bowl has weather rules. In most matches, the weather has no effect, but sometimes players can collapse in the heat, drop the slippery ball in the snow, or be blinded by the sunshine — no matter which direction they're facing!
- The Warhammer 40,000 canon features a battle between the World Eaters and the Emperor's Children legions of Chaos Space Marines which took place on a Daemon World. The battle was interrupted by a blizzard so severe it caused the Super Soldiers to take cover. Kharn the Betrayer of the World Eaters did not like this one bit and proceeded to, on his own, burn both the World Eaters and the Emperor's Children out of their cover, breaking the ranks of both legions so severely that neither has fought as a united force in nearly 10,000 years.
- Dungeons & Dragons has a series of spells which affect local weather, ranging from Obscuring Mist to Control Weather to Storm of Vengeance. Even without magic, weather can have an impact in the combat system, but the effect is typically small.
- Warhammer Fantasy Kislev is protected by its leader Tzarina Katarin, who can call upon a massive blizzard against any army that dares invade Kislev. Most of the Chaos Hordes tend to avoid attacking Kislev directly unless their armies are large and powerful enough to survive one.
- Planned for Achron. Which is hilarious when you think about it, because it lets you exploit your ability to observe the future for weather forecasting.
- Rain and snow will limit your movement speed in Fire Emblem. Fog, darkness, and sandstorms also limit vision, though that's technically a different trope.
- Advance Wars:
- In the first two GBA games, rain and snow increase the cost of moving over certain types of terrain. Rain also reduced vision range by one space in Fog of War situations. Drake and Olaf's movement stats are not affected by rain and snow respectively (though Drake still took the rain vision penalty), and their CO Powers utilize them. As of the second game, Sturm's movement (not affected by snow in the first game) also became unaffected by rain.
- In Dual Strike, weather no longer imposes movement penalties. Snow causes all units (except Olaf's) to spend double the amount of fuel to move (but allows them to move their full range), and rain induces Fog of War with the vision range reduction from the GBA games. Sandstorms reduce the maximum range of indirect combat units by one space.
- In Days of Ruin, snow reduces maximum movement range by one space, rain induces Fog of War and reduces vision range to one space for units and zero for properties and fire pillars, and sandstorms significantly reduce attack power. Penny is immune to all of these effects (in rain, she is affected by Fog of War, but her vision range is normal).
- In the later Dune games, a bad sandstorm can seriously damage your base
- Several weather conditions were introduced in Pokémon Gold and Silver. Rain and bright sunlight will change the effectiveness of fire and water-typed moves, whereas Hail and Sandstorm will deal damage to all Pokemon on the field every turn unless they're a type that resists it. There are also several weather-dependent abilities as well as other moves that vary in effectiveness depending on the conditions.
- Any Total War game. Rain and wind affect the accuracy of arrows; soldiers from northern climes fight better in snow; storms at sea can completely wreck an invasion.
- Each faction in Brutal Legend has a guitar solo that temporarily affects the sky above the battlefield: Ironheade's Light of Dawn cancels all enemy buffs and debuffs, the Drowning Doom's Encompassing Gloom stops the enemy from producing new units, and the Tainted Coil's Skies Afire causes friendly units to inflict more damage when they're close to their own stage.
- Company of Heroes 2, taking place on the Eastern Front, has maps with alternate winter versions. In winter, water will freeze to be traversed by infantry and vehicles (and potentially broken through to the misfortune on those on it), some areas will have deep snow that slows units going through it, infantry caught in the wind blowing to the right without the environment to cover them will get colder causing movement and combat penalties at it worsens up to slowly killing them from exposure, and fires appear around some strategic points while also being buildable for infantry to warm themselves by. Temporary blizzards can also happen in winter maps, greatly worsening the effects of the winter wind to infantry, letting infantry be camouflaged in deep snow, greatly reducing all units' ability to see, and preventing many forms of off-map fire-support call-ins from being utilized.
- In Patapon, wind can help your archer's arrows fly farther (and, if they're Arrows on Fire, help said arrows do more damage), while rain extinguishes fire but makes it possible to pass the desert.
- The Touhou Fighting Games, starting with Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, has a mechanic where weather would change during a match, creating different effects. For example, Typhoon removes flinching and blocking, River Mist makes the distance between players go wonky, and Scorching Sun damages any player who flies too high.
- Advanced Strategic Command has wind and weather status. Some units (mostly planes) are killed if the wind is too strong and they aren't hidden in a hangar or transport unit. Snow changes the terrain and can affect unit movement. Also, paths suffer from bad weather, while proper roads — more costly to build — don't. Output of solar and wind powerplants depends on the weather.
- During the fight with the Hydra in Glory of Heracles DS, black rain comes down. As a result, you take damage at the end of each round.
- High windspeeds affect aircraft performance in Earth 2150. Rain slows down ground units. Storms and meteor showers, on the other hand...
- High windspeeds improve the performance of wind-power generators in Total Annihilation.
- At least two separate planets and one of the moons you fight on also have meteor showers. Which can trigger units that would otherwise not have attacked yet, or destroy resource collectors. Fortunately, it's an equal opportunity damage maker, hitting player and AI alike.
- This is one of Myth's major selling points. Strong wind can make arrows go off course, rain and wet ground might put out dwarven explosive cocktails, etc.
- In Star Wars: Empire at War, every planet has its own weather conditions which can affect the range or accuracy of your ground units.
- Among the natural disasters that can cause problems for you in Outpost 2 are electrical storms and vortexes, which can and will cause extensive damage to your base and any units they hit.
- Weaponized in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, where the Allies had a Weather Control Satellite superweapon. Believe it or not, this was the most regular of them...
- Meanwhile, in Tiberian Sun, Ion Storms afflicted some campaign maps and could strike at random in skirmishes. Not only did they occasionally lightning-strike random points of ground, they shut down radar, aircraft, and hovering units.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has a weaponized version in the form of a shout that creates an instant thunderstorm, which strikes down your foes with lightning. Another shout lets you invert this by clearing the sky, in case you want to fight under a starry sky with an aurora
- The third playthrough of Mini Robot Wars has the enemy machines screwing around with the planet's ecosystem, causing weather hazards in every level that harmfully affect your units. Oh, and enemy units are completely unaffected.
- Green Fields: A periodic shower of acid rain damages all topmost minirobots.
- Waste Sands: Earthquakes occur periodically, damaging any minirobots on the ground.
- South Ocean: Whirlpools will rise from areas without floor, damaging up to two entire columns of minirobots.
- Glacier Land: A non-damaging blast of wind pushes back all your air units in a row. If your air units get pushed into the ground or off the right side of the screen, they are instantly destroyed.
- Iron Fortress: "Meteors" rain down on the field, these are actually Mooks sent down from space. If a meteor lands on a minirobot, it destroys that minirobot instantly.
- In Mass Effect 2, the weather occasionally has an impact - on several sidequests, the player encounters fog and sandstorms they cannot see through, on Tali's recruitment mission direct sunlight frys shields, and on the Shadow Broker's Base the player can use biotics to throw enemies outside the ship's environmental shield, resulting in them being flung into oblivion by the slipstream or struck by lightning.
- In the Warlords Battlecry series, various races get various bonuses and penalties depending on the weather and time of day. Most evil races like to fight at night or in the rain (or both, e.g. the undead), while most good races like to fight during the day or with clear skies.
- Resident Evil 6: the thunderstorm in the background plays an important role in Leon and Helena's battle against Derek Simmon's One-Winged Angel form, as he will be struck by lightning if he absorbs a zombie impaled with a lightning rod.
- Valkyria Chronicles: Certain battles might be complicated by sandstorms (hinders visibility) or snowstorms (incapacitated soldiers die quickly).
- Infamous 2 has one mission featuring a nasty looking thunderstorm overhead. This is fortuitous for a player character who can absorb electricity to power his abilities. In fact, it uniquely allows the the player to recharge their super move ammo as well, turning a late game mission full of high level enemies into a Curb-Stomp Battle.
- Endless Legend has heavy winters which occur semi-regularly (and their length increases as the game goes on due to the planet's climate collapsing); Winter causes units to move 50% slower and have their vision radius reduced by one hex. Cities produce 50% of their normal food output; The Roving Clans suffer even more; their thin tent-based cities burn Dust during winter to stay warm. However, Heroes assigned to armies or cities can reduce the penalties from winter.
- Spec Ops: The Line takes place in a fictionalized version of Dubai beset by the most violent sandstorms in recorded history. Firefights are frequently interrupted by intense storms which have all combatants running for cover.
- In the Soviet Union, a teacher asks the students: "Who can name a great strategist?"
Ivan: "General Kutuzov."Teacher: "Yes, and what exactly did he do?"Ivan: "He baited Napoleon to go as far as Moscow, waited until winter came, and defeated him."Teacher: "Very good. Another one?"Boris: "Comrade Stalin."Teacher: "Yes, and what exactly did he do?"Boris: "He baited Hitler to go as far as Stalingrad, waited until winter came, and defeated him."Teacher: "Very good. Another one?"Chaim: "Egyptian president Nasser."Teacher: "Yes, and what exactly did he do?"Chaim: "He baited the Israelis to go as far as the Suez Canal, and now he's waiting until winter will come."
- The British defeat of the Spanish Armada (which was nicknamed "the Invincible Armada") was initially a relatively standard fleet action between Men 'O War, with only two ships being sunk by enemy fire. What made it decisive was a powerful storm that swept through as the Spanish tried to regroup after the battle at Gravelines. The British merely returned to port, but the Spanish fleet was devastated—50 of their 130 ships did not return. With them, went any hope of invading England.
- One famous quote from Spanish king Phillip II after the battle was "I didn't send my ships to fight the elements". The Dutch (allies of the English), meanwhile, had medals struck with the inscription "Flevit Jehovah et dissipati sunt" — "God blew, and they were scattered".
- As ships at the time were still relatively small and only capable of relatively slow speeds, and as the Spanish ones on the whole were much less manoeuverable than the English ones, many of the skirmishes and battles during the passage of the Armada through the English Channel were also significantly affected by tides and currents. Also by the English admirals knowing at what times of day the wind could be expected to turn in which way in different places.
- The English victory at Agincourt. Due to terrain and the fact that it had rained for a few days before the battle turning the earth soft, the French heavy cavalry were sitting ducks for English longbows. More French soldiers died of drowning at the battle than from wounds.
- The Normandy invasion was nearly postponed almost a month (at a minimum) except that a storm that was moving through the area was predicted to break on June 6th. This allowed them both a day of good weather and a moonless night for the paratroopers. The bad weather caused many German officers to believe that an allied invasion was unlikely and that it would be okay to leave for a planned wargames. The rest is history.
- It's a long established Running Gag that one of if not the most effective members of the Russian military is General Winter (and his trusty aides, Colonel Slush and Major Mud). The Russian winter is so severe that all historical attempts to invade the country in that season fell dead in the water while the Russians just backed away from the enemy and holed up in their homes for the season. Even the rasputnitsa (the wet period that precedes winter) can cause problems for invaders by turning many roads into impassable quagmires. The only invaders to have success here were the Mongols who came from a place with even colder winters, among other advantages.
- Some commanders have been Wrong Genre Savvy in this regard. For instance, Napoleon's retreat would have been a lot easier if the weather had not become suddenly warmer after he ordered the army's pontoon train to be burned to alleviate the transport problem. Thus the Berezina river no longer was frozen over and its crossing became a much more challenging operation.
- Somewhat the same problem affected the Germans in 1941. During the decisive autumn months, the main problem was the rain and the mud which prevented wheeled vehicles from keeping up with tanks (and German tanks of the time did not have necessary cross-country mobility to deal with the situation, at any rate). While the wintry cold was a serious challenge, German mechanized forces could operate over frozen ground better than they could on mud and were able to launch their final assault on Moscow, although it did eventually fail.
- During the Mongol invasion of Russia, the wintry weather actually gave the Mongols a decisive advantage over the Russians. Most major Russians cities stood near great rivers, especially the Volga. Frozen rivers acted as virtual highways for Mongol invaders, providing easily traversed routes for Mongol horsemen to the doorsteps of these cities.
- During the opening stages of the battle of Eylau (8 February 1807) there was a snowstorm, which caused a French corps to lose its way. It ran into the greater part of the Russian artillery and was almost immediately blasted to smithereens at close range.
- In August 1813 a rainy bad weather front affected the outcome of several battles during the Napoleonic Wars, as the rains were so heavy that flintlocks became almost totally unusable. This helped to offset the disadvantage of the hastily equipped and sketchily trained Prussian militia (Landwehr), e. g. at Großbeeren (23rd) and the Katzbach (26th), because now it did not help their foes that they were quicker shots. At the battle of the Katzbach part of the defeated French army was driven into a river which in normal conditions was too small to be an obstacle, but which because of the rain was seriously swollen. At Dresden (26th and 27th) the rain also resulted in unusual situations because while the infantry was largely unable to fire, the cavalry was slowed down almost to a walk by the mud, so there were instances where French infantry made successful bayonet charges against the allied cavalry.
- Another Napoleon example is the battle of Austerlitz, which started out in the morning in dense fog. Both the French and the Austro-Russian Army spent considerable time trying to figure out where the enemy was. The situation literally cleared up by afternoon.
- Both Mongol invasions of Japan were thwarted by (extremely unlikely) hurricanes, known as kamikaze (divine winds). It's can be presumed that after two consecutive failed attempts, the Mongols decided that Japan was personally protected by the forces of nature and weren't to be screwed with.
- In the age of black powder before the introduction of percussion caps, many a battle was ruined by the rain, which forced the infantry to rely on pikes or bayonets and often put musketeers totally at the mercy of cavalry or pole-armed infantry.
- Sometimes it was believed that the battles may have affected the weather to some extent, the explosions and smoke acting as a catalyst that set off a rainy downpour under certain conditions.
- The infamous gas attacks during WW1 success was often dependent on the wind. A gentle breeze towards the enemy line would make sure the gas stayed over their trenches till they died. On the other hand, the wind was often known to change and blow the deadly gas back to friendly lines.
- The Netherlands traditionally relied to a large extent on the multitude of rivers, canals, wet moats and deliberately flooded areas in the defence of their countries, but these did not help them at all in the cold winter of 1794/95 when even the branches of the Rhine froze over, enabling the Revolutionary French Army to overrun the country and force the Dutch, Austrian, and Anglo-German armies to retreat. A body of French cavalry even managed to capture a Dutch fleet frozen in place at anchor by riding across the ice.
- During the Russo-Swedish War for Finland (1808-1810), a Russian army marched across the frozen-over Baltic Sea to take the war from Finland to Sweden itself.
- Part of Wellington's victory at Waterloo is owed to the heavy rain of the early morning. Not only it postponed the start of the battle, giving the Prussians more time to reach the battlefield, but the vastly superior French artillery was greatly hampered by the mud, both due the increased difficulty of repositioning the gun after each shot and the ineffectiveness of the grenades fired at Wellington's infantry behind the hilltop (the grenades would explode as usual, but the mud slowed down or even stopped the fragments that did the actual killing, thus causing many less casualties they should have done). Without that rain, chance is that Napoleon would have overwhelmed Wellington's army with the strength of his artillery well before the Prussian arrived, and then would have taken them out too.
- One famous example from British history is the Battle of Plassey during the Seven Years War. Robert Clive's forces faced an Indian army almost twenty times its strength and won. Largely because of a heavy rainstorm which soaked the enemy's muskets and powder, giving Clive's smaller force superior firepower by default.
- The Battle of Inkerman in the Crimean War. The Russian attack began at dawn, with visibility compounded by a light rain and heavy fog that persisted throughout the day. Visibility was so bad that neither commanding officer (Menshikov or Raglan) exercised any real control over the fighting. On the ground, artillery was unable to find range, several units became lost, and friendly fire incidents occurred on both sides. In an inversion of Plassey, several British regiments went into action with unloaded muskets, as the rain soaked their powder. One historian termed the battle "like fighting in a nightmare."
- The American Revolution had several notable examples. Probably the most consequential: the fog which allowed George Washington to extricate his men from Long Island after a decisive defeat, preventing the British from destroying the Continental Army. A similar fog aided Washington's attack on the Hessian garrison at Trenton, allowing Washington to establish the initiative again after being on the back foot since Long Island.