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Video Game: Battle Realms
Every warrior has a name and they are all willing to die for you.

Battle Realms is a Real-Time Strategy game developed by Liquid Entertainment and released by Ubisoft in 2001. It follows the story of Kenji, one of the sons of the Serpent, as he unites the land under the reborn Dragon clan, or become a tyrant like his father. Battle Realm's greatest strength is the fact that the player is incapable of purchasing any unit. Instead, peasants (the worker of the game) are trained in a variety of schools, getting the unit the player wants. Sending a peasant to an Archery trains them into an Archer, for instance. Furthermore, the unit can usually be trained again. Sending that Archer into either the Dojo will turn them into the melee oriented Dragon Warrior (though they can still shoot using magic) or sending them to the Alchemist Hut will turn them into the Powder Keg Cannoneer heavy siege units. Couple in the 7 damage types and the inclusion of Battle Gears which allow a unit to change their damage type or initiate some other effect or change their role in combat period (The humble Archer, alone, can go from a Ranged Support Unit to a Scouting Unit with his Zen Arrow Battle Gear to a Demolitions Specialist if you give him the Fire Arrow Battle Gear) and you have a very complex game.

The Expansion Pack, Winter of the Wolf, is a prequel tale that follows the Wolf chief Grayback as he rises against their clan's Lotus and Serpent enslavers and stop the nefarious sorceress Yvaine from unleashing a blizzard.

As of September 20, 2012, the game can be bought together with its expansion from GOG.com.

Tropes found within the game's story and gameplay include:

  • Alas, Poor Yorick: The Master Warlock. Some may say that it's the skull who's the Warlock, others say the holder of the skull, and still others claim it's both as a bizarre partnership.
  • Arm Cannon: Averted; Serpent Cannoneers carry their arm-length cannons with both hands.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted with the Wolf Clan's Shale armor, which increases their resistance to magic attacks.
  • Awesome, yet Impractical: Lacking a "super unit", the Dragon Clan has the Dragon Spirit summon. It rains huge fireballs for non-elemental damage, but there's a huge chance that it can only whittle down high-tiered units or maybe kill a few weakened one-tiered units from an enemy army. The catch is it doesn't damage any enemy buildings at all. Sacrificing 4 Samurais and 3 Yang points to initiate this flashy attack and barely killing anyone is not uncommon.
    • Monks' Zen Trance. It gradually heals the monk to 100% health at a rapid rate. The catch? Defense is reduced to zero, and the Monk must stay in place and can't attack as well, thus it is not recommended in the heat of combat.
  • Badass Mustache: Shinja and Wildeye.
  • Bad Black Barf: Unclean Ones fire this from their weapons.
  • Bad Boss: Budo. His skill forces peasants to work faster and repeated usage may result in their deaths, and that's not getting into what he does to the Wolf Clan in Winter of the Wolf.
  • Bald of Awesome: Otomo, Kazan, Tao, and Teppo from the Dragon; Soban from the Lotus.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: Monks. Similarly, Pack Masters.
  • Battle Aura: Zymeth, under the power of Tarrant's Orb. Yvaine remains invulnerable while within the vicinity of the corrupted White Wolf Totem.
  • Battle Cry: Otomo and Grayback's skill, which increases the damage of nearby allies.
  • The Beastmaster: Pack Masters. Also, Dragon hero Garrin can summon horses from across the map.
  • BFG: Dragon's P.K. Cannoneers, Serpent's Cannoneers, and Wolf's Ballistamen.
  • BFS: The Dragon Warriors' flamberge, Garrin's sword-lance and Otomo's huge broadsword.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Zymeth and the Nightvol.
  • Bilingual Bonus / Meaningful Name: Otomo (companion), Kazan (volcano) and Teppo (gun) are all Japanese words.
  • Bio Punk: The Lotus Clan seems to be transitioning into this amidst all the Warlock antics. Which could explain the gas masks and pseudo-industrial trappings in some of their structures.
  • Blade on a Stick: Spearmen's naginata and Kabuki Warriors' magical polearms being the best examples.
  • Blood Sport: Wolfball is considered a dangerous sport (to the point that only Wolves are capable of surviving. No outsider has ever made it past the first round) - so much so that its players, the Hurlers, are used as units.
  • Boom, Headshot: The Musketeers' Sniper Scope can even kill horse-mounted units directly by sheer accuracy.
  • Boring, but Practical: Wolf Clan's Shale Armor Battle Gear (i.e. unit enhancement). A unit cannot simultaneously have this armor and a Blessing from a Druidess, so player has to choose one or the other. Blessings grant flashy special abilities like calling wolves, damaging multiple enemies, extending field of vision etc. Shale Armor just passively increases defense, especially defense against magic. Yet in many cases players prefer the Armor to all the other options.
  • Bow and Sword in Accord: The Dragon Clan Samurai (sword and composite bow) and the Serpent Clan Bandit (sword and hand crossbow).
  • Breath Weapon: Lotus Shadow Steeds; Kazan can breathe fire via a toxic brew.
  • The Butcher: Kenji's alias in the Serpent Path.
  • Caltrops: The Raiders can leave a trail of this against his pursuers.
  • Calvinball: The Wolf Clan's wolfball. According to what little we glean from it in the manual it involves a pack of rabid wolves, a solid iron ball and a walled-in arena. No non-Wolf Clan player has ever survived the first round and even spectating is supposedly dangerous.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: Devouring peasants grants second tier Lotus units a new ability.
  • Catch Phrase: Nightvol: I am the dark and I am always here.
  • Cast From HP: The Shale Lord can grant Shale Armor to any Wolf unit at the cost of his health. See also Dangerous Forbidden Technique for other unit examples.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The Serpent Clan.
  • Command And Conquer Economy: While the game uses the standard "make peasants to build and harvest" mechanic, it features its own take on unit creation, by making military units simply upgrades of the peasants.
  • Contest Winner Cameo: Teppo is created by James Malcolmson, the winner of Battle Realms' Design-A-Zen-Hero contest by UbiSoft. As depicted in Teppo's profile, he came from the land of Malcolmson.
  • Cool Sword: A lot, but the Dragon Warrior's flamberge and the Blade Acolyte's Reverse Grip-held grooved swords top the list.
  • Cosmetically Advanced Prequel: Winter of the Wolf comes first chronologically, wherein each clan's town squares are upgradable and new units and heroes can be employed. However, even with the expansion intact, Kenji's Journey does not carry over the said upgrades, units and heroes.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Played straight by most units, but averted by some, like the Samurai.
  • Damage Is Fire: Ineffective against units, most potent against buildings. See also Kill It with Fire.
  • Damsel in Distress: Gaihla. In the Dragon and Wolf campaigns, you have to save her for her to join your ranks.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Many Battle Gears are like this, like Glass Sword, which can kill any non-boss opponent but inflicts critical damage or even death to the Swordsman himself.
    • The Dragon Geisha's Sacrifice completely heals nearby allied units at the cost of the Geisha's life.
    • In-universe example is the Lotus Clan. They are a once-benevolent civilization befallen by greed for arcane power via the Tree of Corruption. The Three Brothers Lythis, Sehk, and Tausil are their ancestors who tend the tree and are revered in the clan's three training buildings. The brothers are also embodied by the 1st level warriors: Blade Acolyte, Leaf Disciple and Staff Adept respectively.
  • Darker and Edgier: The Serpent Clan are an in-game example, compared to the Dragon Clan.
    • The Lotus Clan is a corrupt version of the Wolf Clan as well, both dealing with nature.
  • Determinator: Guardians, with their Last Stand ability.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: In the Serpent Path, you can permanently recruit Utara or Koril by destroying her keep or after damaging them to danger level, respectively.
  • Dirty Coward: Taro.
  • Double Weapon: Utara's dual-blade sword.
  • Dragons Up the Yin Yang: The Motif of the Dragon clan, obviously. The Serpent clan, too.
  • Drop the Hammer: Sledgers.
  • Dual Wielding: Brawlers, Blade Acolytes and Ronin. Vetkin has a pair of sai, and Shinja notably dual wields poisoned blades.
  • Education Through Pyrotechnics: Alchemist Huts train units with explosives and similar magics, deploying the Chemist and Musketeer.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Nightvol IS the dark.
  • Elemental Nation: The Dragon is associated with Summer, the Serpent with Fall, the Lotus with Winter, and the Wolf with Spring.
  • Enemy Detecting Radar: Monks can detect a scouting invisible Ninja and attack him immediately.
  • Epic Flail: Maulers and Enforcers.
  • Everything's Better with Samurai: Complete with katanas and shortbows.
  • Evil Sorcerer: The Lotus Clan is ruled by a cabal of Warlocks and Master Warlocks.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Dragon and Serpent Clans are blatantly modeled on feudal era Japan combined with Chinese influence. The Lotus and Wolf, on the other hand, don't really have any (obvious) real world analogy.
    • To elaborate, the Dragon Clan is modeled on an idealized version of medieval Japan mixed with elements from China, ala the Heian Period. The Serpent meanwhile are very reminiscent of both Sengoku Jidai and Edo Period Japan with a dash of Darker and Edgier, reflecting the less romanticized parts of the era. And while the Wolf have no clear parallel in the real world, they do seem to incorporate elements of the Inuit and Ainu in their emphasis on nature.
  • Fertile Feet: Gaihla. This also works for your food supply if you place her near the rice fields.
  • Five-Bad Band: The clans under Yin.
  • Five-Man Band: The clans under Yang.
  • Flechette Storm: Lotus Leaf Disciples; Powder Keg Cannoneer's Shrapnel Keg blasts an area with huge fletchettes for wide-area damage.
  • Golem: Soban's earthen creations, who act as peasants.
  • Gatling Good: Teppo's crude wheel-gun strapped on his back can fire bursts of three explosives at a time.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Musketeers, Cannoneers and P.K. Cannoneers use gunpowder weapons. They're not particularly more damaging than their non-gunpowder using equivalents, nor cheaper or easier to train.
  • Headbutting Heroes: Otomo and Shinja for the Dragon/Serpent clans during Kenji's Journey.
    • The Lotus has Koril and Issyl. In Winter of the Wolf, the player must take advantage of the rift between the Archmages of Space (Koril) and Time (Issyl). Upon killing either one, failure to destroy the remaining archmage within the time limit causes him to seize control of the other faction's army.
  • Healing Factor: The Wolf clan can recover health to full by standing still.
  • Hellish Horse: The Lotus Shadow Steeds.
  • <Hero> Must Survive: Kenji and Greyback in their respective campaigns, until you unlock the keep.
  • Hero Unit: Each clan has around four, plus one in the expansion pack.
  • Hostile Weather: Rainfall plays an important factor in the game, giving circumstantial (dis)advantages during combat. Rice grows faster, burning buildings are doused, and Lord Zymeth becomes even more powerful when it is raining. Therefore, assaulting your opponent's camp with burning weapons won't work too well during rainfall.
    • Played straight with Winter of the Wolf. Once Grayback gets out of the Shale Mines, the Wolf clan has to contend with a blizzard instead of rain. During a snowstorm, rice growth rate is diminished and units gradually take small damage (fortunately circumvented by the units' natural Healing Factor).
  • An Ice Person: Mistress Yvaine.
  • Idle Animation: All units have them, and some are actually beneficial. The Kabuki Warrior's is a juggling act that entertains peasants and speeds up their work, while the P.K. Cannoneer's is a sumo wrestling style salt-throwing ritual that temporarily increases allies' defense.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Issyl's weapon is a giant hourglass with blades on them.
    • The Wolf hero Grayback uses a pickaxe. But then, most of the Wolf clan use the very tools during their enslavement as their prized weapons.
  • Improvised Golems: Soban can create small golems out of mud, who can therefore act as free peasant units. Sending them charging to enemy ranks will cause an explosive Suicide Attack.
  • I Owe You My Life: The majority of heroes who join Kenji and Grayback are recruited this way, as long as these newcomers don't die on the stage they join you or the mission will end or (worse) they just won't appear in the Keep in subsequent stages.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: A lot of Dragon and Serpent units and heroes use variants of Oriental swords as melee weapons.
    • Subverted with the Ninja, who is armed with a ninjato (melee) and shuriken (missile). A one-on-one encounter against a Monk is a Curb-Stomp Battle in favor of the Monk.
  • Kill It with Fire: Subverted; since almost all units are resistant to fire, except the Necromancer, Werewolf, Zombies and Shamblers, who are extremely weak against it.
    • Played straight with buildings. Along with hit-and-run tactics, upgraded siege units that deal fire (Raider) and explosive (Pitch Slinger) damage are guaranteed to set a camp ablaze within seconds.
  • Kill Sat: The aforementioned Dragon Spirit summon.
  • Large and in Charge: The enemies in the final battle only consist of black Hordelings who walk on fours. Once you see something big, scary, and walking on twos, you know that it's Nightvol.
  • Laser Blade: The Dryad from the expansion employs a magical blade from thin air as her basic weapon.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The Shale Lord, despite his size and the fact that he's made of shale, can run really fast, easily hurt men and buildings and is highly damage-resistant.
    • Kenji has good strength, speed and selection of resistances, a ranged attack in his second and third forms, and his battle gear allows him to One-Hit Kill most non-hero units in the game. Since you lose the campaign if he dies early on, employing him becomes a high risk/high reward type of affair.
  • MacGuffin: The Serpent Orb aka Tarrant's Orb.
  • Mad Scientist: Soban. Other than being described as such and actually showing a bit of his skill know-how with the golems, he's also responsible for turning the Shale Lord into what he is.
  • Mana: The game employs stamina, which units expend to run or use their specific Battle Gear.
  • The Man Behind the Man: While you have killed the apparent Big Bad Zymeth or Grayback in Kenji's Campaign, you still have to face the one who had manipulated them in the first place: Nightvol and his Horde.
  • Multiple Endings: An odd variant, as you choose which path to take in the very first mission.
  • The Musketeer: Kenji, once he reaches Serpentholm, gains a pistol he will draw and fire when not engaged in melee. Thus, his Critical Strike gains even more versatility in melee and missile.
  • Nature Hero: Most of the wolf clan, with a mix of Barbarian Hero thrown in.
  • Ninja: Can be employed by the Serpent and Lotus Clans in multiplayer. Can also be employed in the Dragon campaign.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Tao is half monk, half ninja.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: Actually subverted in that you can choose to go down the "evil" path in Kenji's Journey, although played straight with the other campaign featuring only the Wolf clan, thus leaving the Lotus the only faction without a campaign.
  • Noble Savage: Compared to the rest, the Wolf are the most primitive faction in the game, bordering on Stone-Age levels if not for all those repurposed mining tools. Then again, they're also shown to be well meaning in general and just want to be left alone.
  • Older than They Look: Issyl is an unsettling 12-year old boy physically, but is actually suffering from Merlin Sickness.
  • One-Hit Kill: The Serpent Clan Swordsmen's Glass Sword does this to any non-hero units (at the cost of their own lives) and the Wolf Clan Brawlers do this to heroes with their Zen Counterpunch.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: While the Necromancer's Zombies are Voodoo type, the Reaper's Shamblers are the Construct type.
  • Paper Fan of Doom: Fan Geisha.
  • Poisoned Weapons: Shinja, Utara, Gaihla, and Diseased One's melee breath. Bandits and Crossbowmen's weapons can also be upgraded to this.
  • Power Fist: Wolf Clan Brawlers attack with knuckledusters made from shards of shale.
  • Power Glows: The Samurai's Yang Blade and the Ronin's Yin Blade, where both generate respective Yang or Yin points. The former's damage output increases as does his Yang, while the latter steals the target's stamina to create Yin. Kenji also does this when he unlocks his Eleventh Hour Superpower in the Dragon campaign.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: Longtooth, the Wolf hero.
  • Reverse Grip: Lotus Blade Acolytes hold their weapons like this.
  • Right-Hand Attack Dog: Wolves in this case. The Wolf Clan raises pet wolves from horse meat, while Wildeye can summon three Spirit Wolves at a time.
  • "Risk"-Style Map: In Kenji's Journey.
  • Ronin: With double swords.
  • Sai Guy: Vetkin
  • Shock and Awe: Lord Zymeth.
  • Shout-Out: The Sledgers (face, physique, accent) are reminiscent of a certain Austrian governor.
  • Simple Staff: Staff Adepts.
  • Sinister Scythe: Reapers.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Each clan has one female unit and one female Zen Master, and the former can be upgraded in the expansion.
  • Staff of Authority: Tao the Monk/Ninja; Soban, the Archmage of Matter.
  • The Starscream: Zymeth is formerly Lord Oja's advisor. And depending on which path you took in Kenji's Journey, Shinja or Otomo will betray you as well.
  • Stout Strength: Sumo wrestlers carry cannons as personal weapons, and are specifically recruited because no-one else can lift the things or remain standing when they fire. Serpent Cannoneers also carry heavy cannons made from hollowed logs.
  • Super Speed: Vetkin. Issyl's Battle Gear endows nearby allied units with mass haste for a limited duration.
  • Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: There are 6 damage types: slashing, piercing, blunt, explosive, magical, and fire. Each unit deals a specific damage type in melee (missile attackers also have a weaker melee damage type) as well as around 2 weakness types and 2 resistance types. As a rule of thumb, never build an army consisting of a single unit type.
    • The clans' respective units mostly have common strengths and weaknesses, it is good to know which clan is good at countering which; Dragonnote <Lotusnote <Wolfnote <Serpentnote =Dragonnote .
  • Taking You with Me: Samurais commit seppuku upon loss of his last hit point, damaging any opponent within his vicinity. Ronins stab the ground with their katanas upon death, cursing nearby opponents with an attack power decrease for a short duration.
    • Upon death, 2nd tier Lotus units also cause direct/gradual damage or envelop enemies with darkness.
  • Teleport Spam: Koril's Battle Gear, being the Archmage of Space.
  • The Unintelligible: Diggers.
  • The Vamp: Utara and Yvaine.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Dragon-Kenji, in between his father's death and his return... and once again before Serpentholm, where he recruits some additions to the army, gains a gun, and loses the funny hat.
    • Took a Level in Jerkass: Serpent-Kenji becomes driven by bloodlust to eradicate the Dragon clan rebels and the Wolf clan.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: The entire point of the game.
  • Tunnel King: Diggers
  • Villain Protagonist: Kenji in the Serpent campaign.
  • Walk It Off: All units heal up to around 80% of their max health when idle. Wolf Clan units can heal all the way up to 100%.
  • Whatevermancy: The Serpent Clan's Necromancer. The Lotus Reapers also have this ability.
  • Whip It Good: Overseers.
  • Wolf Man: Berserkers when they use the Lycanthropy ability.
  • Wutai: There are heavily predominant Chinese and Japanese influences among both the Dragon and Serpent clans.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: "I am Tao. I am both Monk and Ninja. Half Light, half Darkness. I serve Yin and Yang, and the balance of all things."
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Both rice and water are Gold-type, as water is required to build all but the simplest structures.
    • Yin and Yang on the other hand are of the Power-type. They can only be earned by killing enemy units and buildings, and are the costs for upgrades and heroes.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The Lotus Clan all have white hair, which were used as a means to scare the Wolf Clan who fear something called the white wolf.

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alternative title(s): Battle Realms
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