"On the battlefield there is but one commandment: Thou Shalt Kill."
Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War is a Real-Time Strategy game by Relic Entertainment, the same people who eventually would be behind Company of Heroes and who previously brought us Homeworld and Impossible Creatures, and the series is, unquestionably, the single most successful interpretation of the Warhammer 40,000 universe in video game form in the history of the franchise.The original Dawn of War takes place on the planet Tartarus, which is under attack by a horde of Orks that are tearing through the planet's population and Imperial Guard garrison. The player is in charge of the reinforcements, Space Marines of the Blood Ravens chapter, but after a few missions slaughtering greenskins it becomes apparent that things on Tartarus are more complicated than they seem: the Eldar and the Chaos Space Marines of the Alpha Legion are working behind the scenes, and a Warp Storm is incoming and expected very soon.The first expansion pack, Winter Assault, takes place on the icy planet of Lorn V, and expands the Imperial Guard into a full-fledged fighting force of its own. In this story, two factions on each "side" team up temporarily to defeat the other two and secure the power of a massive wrecked Imperator class Titan that is lost somewhere on the planet.The next expansion, Dark Crusade, is set on the planet Kronus, where seven different factions all are all trying to conquer the same world, or in some cases are trying to prevent another side from taking over. What follows is a free-for-all fight for various pieces of Lost Technology and Forgotten Superweapons taking place over a "Risk"-Style Map. Besides the more open-ended campaign, Dark Crusade introduced two new armies: the Animesque and Beam Spamming Tau, and the implacable, robotic Necrons.A third expansion pack, Soulstorm, upped the ante by featuring a nine-way free-for-all campaign over the four worlds of the Kaurava system, in which even the three Imperial factions were at each others' throats (all located right next to each other), and introduced the Sisters of Battle and Dark Eldar as playable armies.The sequel, Dawn of War II, is a reboot of sorts. The player is a newly-promoted Force Commander, leading a few squads of Space Marines against an Ork invasion threatening the Blood Ravens' recruitment worlds, and therefore the future of the chapter itself. Once again, the Eldar are working behind the scenes to instigate the conflict, hoping to buy time against the incoming Tyranid hive fleet to save a Craftworld. While still an RTS, the game eliminates base-building altogether and greatly simplifies resource-gathering, while focusing more on squad-based tactics rather than huge pitched battles, and also incorporating RPG elements in the form of unit experience, wargear, and skill selection. The game is built on the same engine used in Relic's World War II RTS, Company of Heroes, with plenty of graphical enhancements and gameplay tweaks, mirroring the history Dawn of War shares with the Impossible Creatures engine.An expansion titled Chaos Rising adds Chaos Space Marines to the multiplayer and as antagonists in the campaign, along with powerful wargear that can be used by your Space Marines, though they may lead to corruption. A second expansion named Retribution expands on the single player campaign system by reintroducing campaigns for all the playable factions, and brings back the Imperial Guard as a playable faction.Besides these official games, the Dawn of War series has spawned numerous mods, from simple tweaks to damage and health values, to ambitious projects that add new units and factions (complete with voice acting and unit models), or even attempts to make the game more closely mirror the rules of the Tabletop Game it is based on.The franchise's fate following the 2012 bankruptcy of its publisher THQ is hazy: Relic was purchased by Sega on January 22, 2013, and it was confirmed later that month that with it came an exclusive license to produce games based on Games Workshop IPs. Sega has since confirmed they will be continuing the series but it's unknown what form Dawn of War III will take.See Warhammer 40,000 for the tropes used in the universe itself, although Dawn of War naturally has its own spin on many of those.
Tropes are power. Guard them well battle brothers:
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Acceptable Breaks from Canon: Mostly for gameplay reasons. Krull's Blood Legion using Sorcerers despite being descended from the World Eaters (who slaughtered all their psykers on falling to Chaos) is a pretty big example.
Space Marines and the Sisters of Battle are the balanced factions.
Chaos Space Marines are mostly balanced but incorporate some guerrilla elements as well.
Orks are Spammers and Brute Force.
Necrons are Brute Force. Got some of the toughest units in the game but are slow moving and take a while to get up to speed.
Eldar are Elite and Technical. They require a lot of micromanagement to use effectively. Well...in theory. In practice they are easily the most powerful race due to continued tweaking by Relic, with units that hit harder than their counterparts in opposite forces, units that are immune to moral damage, and the ability to build buildings that instantly teleport units around the map, giving the Eldar unsurpassed mobility, durability, and strength in departure from the tabletop.
Tau are the Rangers. If it doesn't involve blasting enemies to pieces with long-range guns it's not the Tau's forte.
The Imperial Guard are a combination of technical and ranger. Ranger in the sense that they have some of the best ranged attacks, including by far the longest-ranged and all-around best artillery. Technical in that they have excellent special abilities, but their main units have lousy base stats.
Tyranids are Spammers and the Gimmick faction (small units get buffs when paired with big ones).
Actually Four Mooks: Imperial Guard Heavy Weapons teams in Dark Crusade are shown as a single soldier burdened with a heavy backpack when mobile, but when deploying a second soldier will suddenly appear to help setting up, reloading, and packing up the weapon. The second soldier vanishes upon packing up.
Adaptational Badass: Some of the units in these games, for purposes of needing something to fit out a role for the game, are much stronger than in the tabletop.
Great Knarloc in the first game, which is turned into a super unit for Tau since Relic couldn't think of much else. While strong, it's still not considered especially useful in here or the tabletop due to it only be able to attack stuff in melee with no abilities.
The techmarine in the second game, which is turned into a commander unit.
Adaptation Distillation: Some believe that the game neatly captures the feel of WH40K without needing a player to get all the sourcebooks. According to some early developer interviews, the Games Workshop people told Relic that they did not have to stick too closely to the word of the rules as long as they captured the spirit of them, and that they should feel free to make any changes that improved gameplay as long as they stayed within that constraint. For players who would prefer to follow the tabletop rules more strictly, several mods have been made to convert the system.
Dawn of War II gets a bit closer to the tabletop, focusing on tactics and combined arms while doing away with base construction entirely. Buildings may still be present on a map as static objectives to capture, destroy or defend, or as terrain to occupy for cover and firing positions (Just as in the tabletop game).
Alignment-Based Endings: Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising has multiple endings depending on the corruption of your squads (which fills in for the Karma Meter in the game) as well as several choices you make over the plot of the story. They range from your Commander replacing Davian Thule as captain of the Fourth Company and helping Gabriel Angelos and Apollo Diomedes cleanse the Blood Ravens of corruption to your Commander fleeing with your squads into the Eye of Terror and joining the Black Legion.
The All-Seeing A.I.: In the first Dawn of War the computer is unaffected by fog of war and will always know where your units are, even the ones that are infiltrated (A.K.A. Invisible). The computer even abuses this advantage by dropping Jump-capable or Teleport-capable units on top of you at any given opportunity.
Dawn of War II A.I. changes this slightly in that they will always go for your resource points, but will go to any lengths to avoid your exact line of sight. Simply placing a unit where they can see the point will deter the computer's efforts until you move, of course.
The opening cutscene for Dark Crusade, as well as a few of the location descriptions on the "Risk"-Style Map.
Chaos Rising has a few creepy ones from the Judgement of Carrion.
The Tyranid ending in Retribution is done like this. Ultimately, the Exterminatus fleet is driven away by the Hive Fleet, 94% of the Imperial Guard stationed in subsector Aurelia die before the surviving forces withdraw, and all loyalist Blood Ravens are killed while making a Last Stand.
In the first game, separate headcounts for vehicles and infantry, as well as caps on various units in Dark Crusade and Soulstorm.
In Dawn of War II and Chaos Rising, the campaign has a limit of four squads per mission (out of a total of six and seven, respectively) and multiplayer has a 100-unit cap that effectively limits your force to about 9-10 squads. Retribution uses the multiplayer system for its campaign, with a lower 30-unit cap that can be increased by capturing certain buildings and/or using Honor Guard units in place of your Hero Units.
The Assassination victory condition causes loss if your Hero Unit dies, so the computer will always attach it to the first squad it builds. However, it never switches them, keeping them attached to their weakest unit for the rest of the game. For that matter, they always let said hero join attack heavily-defended bases instead of hiding them away.
Any unit told to attack a fallen unit will do so in melee, including those that have no business being in melee like Fire Warriors. Similarly, telling them to attack a squad that's been scattered will result in them moving forwards until they can attack the whole squad.
The Imperial Guard and Chaos AIs are prone to getting their tanks stuck behind their own buildings. The Eldar do the same with their Avatar, though in this case it's not as stupid as keeping the Avatar alive gives better bonuses than combat.
Tau armies always send their Ethereal into melee, never give the Commander extra weapons, and never increase their Kroot squads' HP through cannibalism.
The computer abuses their ability to see the whole map by dropping Jump-capable and Teleport-capable units on top of your nearest ones. This is normally devastating if the attacked unit is alone and bad at melee but it becomes a minor annoyance if you have overwhelming superiority in numbers.
The AI also seems to be scripted to jump or teleport to the lowest-health unit it can see as soon as it is in range. This can result in scenes like a Necron Lord completely ignoring a wall of Firewarriors in favor of the lone Earth Caste Builder behind them, teleporting to the Builder, hitting it once, then aggroing onto the Firewarriors.
Your artillery units will gleefully fire into swarms of your own infantry to hit a single enemy scout, scattering your infantry and destroying their morale.
Infantry in II automatically Take Cover on their own to free up some micromanagement. Unfortunately, they may do so even as a ranged squad under attack by a melee squad which is pitiful at range, causes them to waste time running into cover when they should just be shooting continuously... and the cover they choose to get behind can be closer to the enemy melee squad, making it easier for the melee squad to tie up the rest of the individual's squad and force them all into melee combat (which, as a ranged squad, they will probably lose at).
Artistic License - Religion: In-Universe. Fireavous Carron is quite possibly the least knowledgeable Khornate ever, what with building temples to Khorne (Khorne explicitly does not want temples built to him, as time spent building them is time not spent fighting and shedding blood) and claiming that they will choke the enemy to death (a method of killing that results in no bloodshed and no skulls to take). To make matters worse, the aforementioned temples are used to project a shield (because that's totally how to endear yourself to the god of courage, hide behind a shield) that poisons any non-Chaos units that step inside it (again, no blood or skulls).
Ascended Extra: Sgt. Merrick, a Mauve Shirt Imperial Guardsman from the Dawn of War II campaign who was present at the Tyranid incursion at Angel Gate as well as supporting the Blood Ravens during their suicide-mission strike at the heart of the Hive Fleet, becomes a playable hero character for the Imperial Guard faction in the Retribution expansion.
Order the Commissar Lord Hero into a Chimera (an APC) and he will say, "Drive me closer! I want to hit the enemy with my sword!". This is a reference to an image depicting a Commissar waving his sword from atop a Chimera with the line captioned underneath.
One of the Ork's beamy deffguns is called the "Box Smasha", described as being used for taking away the humans' "metal boxes", which means that the meme note (Chaos Lord Firaeveus Carron's hatred of Rhinos, disdainfully referring to them as "Metal Boxes") has gone full recursive.
Retribution also a Tau Crisis Suit Commander as a hero unit in The Last Stand mode, available through DLC. He has a couple of associated Steam achievements, one of which is called "Dynamic Entry", in reference to this popular customized tabletop model.◊ The achievement requires that he duplicate the action in that picture by landing on and killing a hundred different units, and is rewarded with an additional piece of wargear for doing so.
As You Know: Indrick Boreale's memetic speech in Soulstorm has him saying it word for word when reminding his troops about their reinforcements in space, who are prepared to quickly drop onto the battlefield.
A-Team Firing: The Orks of Warhammer 40,000 generally don't really 'aim', but Dawn of War II has an ability for the 'Shoota Boyz' squad called "Aiming? Wot'z dat?" if they are upgraded with a Big Shoota, which allows them to suppress an enemy squad (because their previous aiming abilities, or lack thereof, apparently made their fire not all that threatening. Strangely, it also reduces their damage until the squad is suppressed, so More Dakka was apparently working for them pretty well.)
An undeniable case would be sync kills from Dawn Of War II onwards - they look very cool, and the unit performing it cannot die until the animation is finished, but they still can change your sweeping advance from annihilating to just devastating against retreating units, or make it easier for the unit to be killed by retaliation due to being forced to be completely stationary for a couple of seconds instead of retreating.
The Tau's Knarloc is, for all intents and purposes, a T-Rex that eats enemy units alive and makes satisfyingly loud booms as it approaches. Unfortunately, it has the least HP of any relic unitnote fully upgraded, at least; assuming all relic units fresh out of the box, Knarloc tied for second-highest, has no ranged attack at all, and is so slow it spends most of its time turning around.
Autocannons in Dawn of War II look cool and fire explosive rounds but are actually worse than Heavy Bolters because they do not suppress the targeted group. They're something of a jack-of-all-stats that can deal with both vehicles and infantry but not as well as dedicated weapons.
Awesome Personnel Carrier: The Orks have the Trukk; the Marines, Sisters of Battle, and Chaos Marines have the Rhino (Dawn of War II and its expansions have the Space Marines using the Razorback variant, and the Chaos Marines stuck to foot-slogging); and the Imperial Guard have the Chimera. Space Marines also have the Land Raider (Redeemer variant in Dawn of War II). Tau Devilfish, while invisible, are decidedly non-boxy, as are the jump-capable Eldar and Dark Eldar transports.
In addition to the requisite "I fear no evil, for I am fear incarnate!" speech from Space Marines, the Vindicare Assassin unit of the Imperial Guard gets a good one.
Assassin: They will quake at my shadow.
Merrick gets a brilliant one in Retribution, made better for being just a regular soldier preparing to engage the Big Bad.
Merrick: He might be waiting for us, but he isn't ready for us.
Let's not forget Governor-Militant Alexander's opening address to you when you attack his stronghold in Dark Crusade
Alexander: "Enemies of the Imperium, hear me. You have come here to die. The immortal Emperor is with us and we are invincible. His soldiers will strike you down. His war machines will crush you under their treads. His mighty guns will bring the very sky crashing down upon you. You cannot win. The Emperor has given us His greatest weapon to wield, so make yourselves ready, we are the 1st Kronus Regiment, and today is our Victory Day!"
Bad Ass Teacher: Cyrus gets VERY angry when the Black Legion starts attacking initiates (many of whom he had personally trained). So angry that not letting him join to kick their ass causes corruption.
In Soulstorm, all captured points and non pre-deployed buildings are removed when you beat a map, forcing you to restart almost from scratch. Averted by Dark Crusade, where all buildings and points stay as they are.
Most of the loot acquired in the Dawn of War II campaign is missing if you import a completed campaign into Chaos Rising. Justified since the Strike Cruiser they were stored in self-destructs during the final mission. You also begin with your Terminator armor damaged and unusable until you acquire Martellus to fix it.
In Retribution's Space Marine campaign, Cyrus has lost not only all of his equipment, but all of his skills as well.
In the intro to Dawn of War II; there's a point where the Space Marine Sergeant is being chased by a pair of Eldar Howling Banshees, and then a Dreadnought that wasn't taking part in the early fight shows up out of nowhere (literally bursting through a cliff face!) and kills both of the Eldar.
This is based on the opening for the original Dawn of War, where Orks are trying to overrun a Space Marine position down a hill. When jumping up to attack, automatic fire literally blasts them away. Then, a Dreadnought shows up and joins the fight.
Gabriel Angelos and the chapter fleet couldn't have picked a better, more dramatic moment for their arrival, really.
Lampshaded in an early mission in the same game; one of the squads you pick up introduces himself by dropping in via Jump Pack and slashing up a mob of Orks attacking you from a cliff. He then jumps down and properly joins your force.
While the Hive Tyrant isn't exactly difficult unless you're underleveled, seeing Davian Thule, newly entombed as a Dreadnought, deep striking into the battlefield and absolutely wrecking the Tyrant's shit singlehandedly is undoubtedly impressive.
The Tyranid campaign in Retribution has this done by the Hive Fleet, which comes to the sub-sector with enough force to drive the Ordo Malleus Exterminatus fleet back.
Beneficial Disease: In Retribution, the healing of Chaos units is done through the powers of Nurgle, by means of Nurgle's Rot. The infected units get back to the fight as their senses get numbed to the pain and their wounds get sealed by cancerous growths.
BFS: Usually wielded one-handed by Space Marines. The Eldar Avatar of Khaine has the biggest one of all, though.
In Dawn of War II the Wraithlord wields a sword about half as big as itself.
BFG: Several of them, but the Assault Cannon used by the Space Marine Terminators deserve special mention. In Dawn of War II, the Devastator Space Marines gain access to Plasma Cannons, which certainly qualify (even by Space Marine standards!). Also, the Sniper Rifle Cyrus carries is almost as big as he is.
Chaos Lord Bale for Dawn of War until his role is usurped by SIIIINDRIIIII!!!
In Winter Assault, either Chaos Lord Crull or the Necrons as a whole.
Dark Crusade had a campaign for each faction, but either Eliphas the Inheritor or the Necron Lord of Kronus could be considered.
Chaos Rising has Ulkair, the Great Unclean One and tainted Blood Raven Chapter Master Azariah Kyras.
Kyras is once again the Big Bad of Retribution. It is revealed that he has been collaborating with the daemon released from the Maledictum in Dawn of War, and they both have secretly manipulated the events of the entire series up to that point.
Bigger Bad: Aside from the Chaos Gods, the Nightbringer is mentioned fairly heavily with the narrations with the Necrons in Dark Crusade. Kyras could be considered this during Chaos Rising, we hear about him, but dealing with him is left as a Sequel Hook. Abaddon could also be considered this, being Eliphas' Bad Boss that stays in the background.
Big Good: Gabriel Angelos in Dawn of War II and its expansions. In Retribution's Space Marine campaign, he becomes the new Chapter Master of the Blood Ravens after Kyras is destroyed.
Big "NO!": Gabriel Angelos invokes this trope during the final mission of Dawn of War.
Bling of War: Some of the higher level armor that the player can equip in Dawn of War II and its expansions goes into this territory, such as having inlays of elaborate gold sculptures. The Force Commanders from Dawn of War and its expansions have this by default.
Blown Acrossthe Room: Several attacks deal huge knockback, such as Whirlwinds, Burna Bombs and Fire Prisms.
Near the end of the Order campaign in Winter Assault, your side pragmatically realizes that the other side will probably turn on them once they've found the Titan. Rather than endanger their own people, they leave their temporary allies sealed behind a forcefield facing a tide of enemies and wave good-bye. However, General Sturnn is Badass enough to fight his way out and turns up to help fight the Necrons in the final mission.
When the Eldar stronghold is conquered in Dark Crusade, Farseer Taldeer will have one of these. In a slight subversion, her fate is revealed to the player in all but one case.
Body Armor as Hit Points: In Dawn of War and its expansions, armor upgrades increase unit HP, instead of reducing the damage received outright. Averted in Dawn of War II onwards.
Bond One-Liner: Dawn of War II forwards, this was a fairly common way for units to announce a confirmed kill.
Bonus Boss: The Ork Warboss and Eldar Avatar of Khaine in Dawn of War II. Notable in that they're very hard, far harder than the Final Boss! Also notable in that beating them gives 30 Gamerpoints and a suit of Terminator armor each.
Boring but Practical: For all the awesome units the Space Marines can get throughout the series, you'll nearly always find yourself having a use for your Tactical Marines.
Especially in the campaign of Dawn of War 2. Sergeant Tarkus and his Tactical Marines may not have the best weapons or explosives, but they can be upgraded to be the toughest troops in your entire strike force.
In an early level in Retribution, blowing up targeting cogitators causes nearby turrets to fire at the player's enemies. It might not be such a good idea to park your Baneblade in a potential crossfire between them.
Bottomless Magazines: Everything that can shoot, can do so indefinitely. Cleverly subverted in Dawn of War II onwards, where units frequently stop shooting to reload (although they still never run out of replacement magazines). Several weapons in the various campaigns do not require reloading and can keep firing indefinitely, though this is usually offset by shorter range or having to set it up. For instance, The Never-Ending Hail of Devastation item never has to reload. There is no good explanation for this aside from making it all the more impressive as an Infinity+1 Sword among heavy bolters.
Blood Raven: Come! Show me what passes for fury among your misbegotten kind!
Bug War: The main plot of Dawn of War II. Still happening on a smaller-scale in Chaos Rising, which also has a classic redux of Space Hulk, and Retribution, which also lets you play it from the Bugs' point of view in the Tyranid campaign.
Canon: The Dawn of War series' multiple endings have always been vague with its canon, but a few things are known.
Gabriel Angelos "won" the first game on Tartarus, releasing the Daemon in the Maledictum in the process.
The Eldar won Winter Assault, since Dark Crusade mentions the 1st Kronus Liberators were initially assigned to hunt Taldeer down for vengeance. Gorgutz is defeated but survives to fight in Dark Crusade and Soulstorm, killing Crull and taking his skull in the process.
The Hammer of the Emperor sourcebook for Only War mentions that the 412th were betrayed and driven off the planet by the Eldar after reaching the Titan and fending off the Necrons, according to the few survivors. Sturnn was among the casualties from this betrayal.
The Blood Ravens won in Dark Crusade, and slaughtered pretty much everyone else, including the Imperial Guard, in the process.
The Blood Ravens were defeated and lost half their chapter in Soulstorm, leaving the chapter dangerously undermanned.
The Blood Ravens manage to stop the Tyranids in Dawn of War II.
In Chaos Rising, the Force Commander slayed Ulkair with a Thunder Hammer, then vanished. Avitus despaired at his role in the Kronus campaign and betrayed the Blood Ravens. Tarkus killed him then took a vow of penance. Diomedes is not killed.
The victor of Retribution is uncertain, but we know that neither Eliphas nor the Tyranids won since the Blood Ravens appear in the subsequent Space Marine, which also mentions the Aurelian Crusade.note However, there's nothing stated about when Space Marine happens in relation to the series, and it also does not specify which of the three Aurelian Crusades is being referred to (The First Crusade is Dawn of War II, the Second is Chaos Rising, the Third is Retribution). For all we know, Space Marine might have taken place between Chaos Rising and Retribution, or even right after Dawn of War II.
The Deathwatch sourcebook, Honour The Chapter includes rules and fluff for the Blood Ravens and mentions the events of Retribution and Angelos' ascension to Chapter Master. While a sidebar mentions that the RPG's setting material assumes a campaign set in 817.M41 (at least a century or so before the Dawn of War games), this does make it seem that the Space Marine ending is the canonical one. It would also fix that mis-print in White Dwarf around the first game's release that referred to Angelos as Chapter Master instead of a Captain.
The Blood Ravens chapter of Space Marines were specifically created by Relic for exclusive use in the Dawn of War series. Since the series began, they have been acknowledged as a small part of the wider WH40K canon, being mentioned in a few novels and having their color scheme displayed in the core rulebook.
In a combination of this trope and Defictionalization, Games Workshop produced a miniature for the Eldar Bonesinger, introduced in the first game.
Casting Gag: The fact that the Commissars in the first game are voiced by the same guy who did M. Bison in the Street Fighter cartoon is probably not a coincidence.
Played with in the canon ending of Winter Assault, where Sturnn and the Imperial Guard show up with the full intention of fighting the Eldar, but Taldeer convinces them to help her fight the Necrons instead.
Whenever a Leman Russ is deployed in Dawn of War's expansions:
Eldar Farseers (and other psykers equipped with certain wargear) have powers that work like this in Dawn of War II.
Church Militant: The Sisters of Battle in Soulstorm. There's also the Imperial Guard Priest, who wields an Eviscerator, improves squad attack power, and can temporarily make the squad he's attached to completely immune to damage.
Excluding the intra-Imperium battles, Orks engage in in-fighting in Winter Assault, while the Eldar in Dark Crusade hoodwink some Chaos forces that the playable Chaos faction can take on.
In Chaos Rising, you finally get to fulfill Avitus' dream and smash some traitor Guardsmen (that use equipment identical to that of the loyal Guardsmen).
Also in Chaos Rising: one mission has you leading your squads against another company of Blood Ravens. How you choose to handle this can have grave repercussions on your corruption rating.
In Retribution, you will be fighting your fellow Space Marines or Imperial Guardsmen who have (knowingly or not) turned traitor by following Kyras, or Eldar forces fighting against other Eldar. Chaos fighting against other Chaos forces and the Freeboota Orks fighting against other Orks won't be marked as a spoiler; Chaos is, after all, Chaos, and it's to be expected that Orks fight each other.
Clown Car: Played straight with some transport units in Dawn of War II onwards, which can also reinforce nearby infantry squads. Presumably soldiers are disembarking from the transport to reinforce understrength squads on foot, but those transports never run out of replacements to deploy as necessary unless the player is out of resources.
Cold Sniper: Besides the Vindicare, Cyrus in Dawn of War II goes into this... though played with in that Cyrus is clearly the most worried character about the Tyranids.
Combat Pragmatist: The Blood Ravens' approach to warfare is very much like those of good RTS players. Unlike the Space Wolves' or Blood Angels' ferocious charges, the Blood Ravens focus on analyzing and targeting weak points in enemy lines, applying pressure where needed to break apart far larger forces with minimal casualties. The best example of this comes from Dawn of War II's campaign, where a strike force consisting of 11 Marines, 3 Scouts and 1 Dreadnought was able to hold off a sector-wide Tyranid invasion (with Ork infestations and Eldar interventions on top of that) by striking at key targets until the much larger relief force arrives.
The Imperial Guard scanner has an uncanny ability to always hit infiltrators dead on, despite the fact they're, y'know, invisible.
Conspiracy Redemption: The 'pure' ending of Chaos Rising flat-out states that this will be happening to the Blood Ravens. This being Warhammer 40,000, the ensuing civil war will probably cripple the chapter beyond recovery, but hey.
Construct Additional Pylons: Averted from Dawn of War II onwards (you only ever have the HQ building you start with), but in earlier games, certain support structures need to be constructed to raise the unit cap during gameplay for most factions.
In the Space Marine campaign of Retribution, there is a Thunder Hammer called 'Hammer of the Nameless'. Its description implies that this was the weapon the Force Commander used to banish Ulkair.
If you defeat the Eldar as the Blood Ravens in Dark Crusade, the narrator notes that the Blood Ravens have had to deal with Eldar machinations before, both in the first game on Tartarus, then in the novels on Rahe's Paradise.
Hints at Taldeer's actual prophecy, which compelled her to act in Dark Crusade, are mentioned in more detail in the Eldar campaign in Retribution.
The Imperial Guard campaign in Retribution has some wargear referring to Imperial Guard commanders from the previous games, namely the Hand of the Governor-Militant, Alexander's Livery (both from Governor-Militant Lukas Alexander from Dark Crusade) and the Shield of Sturnn (from General Sturnn from Winter Assault).
The hostile Space Marine, Eldar, Ork and Chaos forces encountered in Retribution's campaigns are primarily from the same subfactions as the ones present in the campaign of the very first Dawn of War (Blood Ravens, Biel-Tan, Bad Moons and Alpha Legion, respectively).
Cooldown Manipulation: Most hero units' ability cooldowns can be reduced by around 20 percent with the Veteran and Hero upgrades.
The Imperial Command Squad has a variation: it can have one general and up to four Psykers/Priests/Commissars (five if the general dies and is replaced), having multiples of the same unit doesn't affect the global cooldown (so you can cast the same ability up to five times in a row before the actual cooldown sets in).
If an Eldar Farseer is attached to a Seer Council, her cooldowns are shortened (stacking with the Hero and Veteran upgrades).
Every Incubus added to a Dark Eldar Archon's retinue reduces his abilities' cooldowns by 10%.
The Dark Eldar have the Rekindle Rage soul power, which resets a single unit's cooldowns (does not work with the soul powers' cooldowns, obviously).
Some characters in Dawn of War II have abilities that completely negate the cooldown of others for a short period.
Critical Existence Failure: Played straight as an arrow throughout the series. Justified in the case of Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines, as their augmented physiology and decades of training will keep them up and fighting until a mortal blow is struck. Also justified in the case of daemonic units like Bloodthirsters, Bloodletters and the Avatar of Khaine, who are maintained with a warp presence, and once they take a certain amount of damage, their otherwise unharmed physical bodies simply fall apart.
Faction-wise, Tau units can destroy nearly anything from afar, but don't last long in melee. While they do have auxiliaries decent at melee, they're not quite as good as the equivalent melee units of the other factions.
The Imperial Guard is in the same boat, more or less. Guardsmen squads have good firepower, especially once they have been fully upgraded, as do Kasrkin, but the former are quite poor at melee, and the latter are only a little better. Furthermore, unlike other factions, the Guard has no vehicles that are any good at melee; whereas, say, the Eldar have the Wraithlord, and the Imperial Space Marines have the Dreadnought, the Guard Walker, the Sentinel, is only good at ranged. The Guard, therefore, has only two units that are any good at melee: one single Ogryn squad, and the single command squad, especially if it has a lot of priests. Pretty much the only time you want to use the Guard in melee is against the Tau.
Several vehicles in Dawn of War give you the option of upgrading their weapons. They usually start with a set of weapons made for the same target (Anti-Infantry for the Chaos Predator, Anti-Tank for the Ravager) that can be upgraded to do the opposite (lascannons for anti-tank on the Predator, Splinter Cannons for anti-infantry on the Ravager). This allows the players to choose if all of the weapons are specialized against one target, or if they want to bring a balanced mix. The upside and downside of course is that there isn't enough of these units for you to bring an even mix that is also effective, but overspecializing leads to the usual problems.
Crosshair Aware: Tau missile barrages leave a big honking crosshair on the ground.
Cruel Mercy: Kaptin Bluddflagg refuses to kill Adrastia at the end of the Ork campaign in Retribution. While she is happy about this, not being thought worth fighting is the worst insult in Ork culture. He did stealher hat, though.
Culture Clash: In Dawn of War II, this is brought up by Administrator Derosa when you first arrive on Meridian.
"This is not the hinterlands of Calderis or Typhon, Commander, so a certain amount of discretion would be appreciated."
Cutscene: Mostly using the in-game engine, but there are rather magnificent CGI cinematics at the beginning of both games and some of the expansions.
Curb-Stomp Battle: For the first DOW, during the mission where the Land Raiders are introduced, there'll be a number of scripted battles before you can do anything. One of these has an Assault Squad jump to a location where they will be ambushed by a squad of Possessed Marines. The Assault Squad will be eating so much pavement while Possessed Marines would be considered unlucky if they lose a single man. You can prevent the Assault Squad from getting completely massacred if you take manual control of the survivors and flee long enough for your jetpacks to get ready for a jump out of there.
Subverted: When Davian Thule is revived as a Dreadnought, he initially misidentifies teammates, believes he is fighting somewhere else, and is nearly catatonic outside of combat. This is not because of the cybernetics, however, but because he's delirious from a nearly fatal dose of Tyranid venom. Later in the game, he returns to mostly normal (mostly, since for some reason he has to....pause frequently...when he...speaks).
Played straight with Thomas Macabee, a.k.a. the Necron Pariah spokesman from Dark Crusade.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: In Dawn of War II, squads deployed in a mission are automatically assigned numerical hotkeys (which the player can override if desired) and placed in positions on a unit selection bar on the right side of the screen (which the player cannot override.) Typically, four player chosen squads are deployed to any given mission. However, there are times when a particular mission might deploy specific squads instead of player chosen ones, or other squads might deploy mid-mission which the player then gets command of. This can be difficult when the player usually assigns certain squads to certain hotkeys and expects them to occupy specific slots on the unit selection bar, confusing the control scheme somewhat.
Dancing Mook Credits: In Dawn of War, if you replace "dancing" with "getting viciously sync-killed".
Danger Deadpan : The Chaos Hell Talon from Soulstorm always talks like this, sounding like a servitor, rather than screaming loudly like every other Chaos unit. Amusingly, this is because it is piloted by a servitor according to its fluff from the Imperial Armor books.
Dark Secret: The Blood Ravens have a motto, "Knowledge is power, guard it well." They fulfill this, first by having a scholarly bent that drives them to seek out and record information, particularly as relates to the lost knowledge of their chapter's origins, and second by guarding that information jealously, hence a great deal of secrecy. In particular, some of the uncovered knowledge about their chapter is implied to be things that the Blood Ravens would rather nobody know. Captain Thule, for example, found relics and information about the early days of the chapter on Kronus, which he promptly destroyed and would share with no one except Captain Angelos.
Thule: "The Blood Ravens will not be driven back by one such as you!" Taldeer: "Take solace at least in facing defeat at the hands of your betters. There is no dishonour in that." Thule: "We have yet to meet our betters, alien, certainly not on this forsaken world! All we have seen here are tyrants, heretics and alien scum." Taldeer: "You should have looked beyond your mirror then."
As good as Taldeer is, she can't hold a candle to Eliphas:
Eliphas: What a rousing little speech, Governor. Unfortunately, your False Emperor can't touch us here. Alexander: Cleansing the Imperium from filth like you will be a pleasure. Eliphas: Oh, I assure you: the pleasure will be all mine.
Thule: You won't hold that for long, demon-spawn! Eliphas: Demon-spawn? One so hopelessly clueless about his origins shouldn't be so quick to insult another's parentage, "brother". Thule: We are not brothers, heretic. Eliphas:(chuckles) Of course not. My mistake.
Avitus takes this role in the team in Dawn of War II. Most of his lines are one-liners of various kinds, most of them snarky as Warp.
(Upon defeating a Tyranid brood threatening the already small population of Typhon) "Those who fear death can emerge from beneath their beds now."
Every Eldar character from Retribution seems to be in competition as to who is the snarkiest, although Ronahn definitely takes the biscuit. Taldeer's brother is almost as snarky as she was.
Veldoran: "This is the transmission, much good may it do you. Human communication is not far removed from shouting." Kayleth: "So then, Ronahn, let us see how your mastery of subterfuge stands to solve this riddle with but one victory on Meridian." Ronahn: "Even now, Kyras' response is likely on-route. But it's encoding may not be as primitive or easily-heard from afar. We strike here, at the source of the message. Slay them all. Then, we wait dutifully for Kyras' message to arrive." Kayleth: "Hmmm... Deviously efficient, probable success, and an immediate egress. Well plotted." Veldoran: "Yes, we are fortunate your years of running have gifted you with some wit." Ronahn: "Do remember your ancestry, Veldoran. The only Eldar that live to this dayare the ones who ran."
The setting is, ironically enough, one of the few places were this trope actually makes sense, as exploding rocket-propelled bullets and high-powered lasers are standard-issue sidearms for at least three factions.
Death from Above: Assault Marines (who even shout "Death from above!" when they deploy), and their Ork Stormboy/Chaos Raptor counterparts. Equipped with: pistol, melee weapon, jump-pack, and berzerker rage. Warp Spiders from the Eldar do largely the same thing, but with teleportation instead. Also, Whirlwinds ("His wrath falls from the heavens!"), Basilisks ("Shatter their sky!") and the various bombardments that commander units can call down.
Dawn of War II and its expansions have a particularly nasty one in form of Tankbustaz, who, if none of your units are in their line of sight but some of them are in a certain range, will rain down rokkitz upon your head until you can engage them directly. One of these tucked away in a hard-to-reach place while you are beset by enemies can easily make a battle much harder.
Terminator squads in Dawn of War II onwards can be equipped with Cyclone missile launchers, allowing them to rain down a powerful missile barrage on enemy heads. They keep all their other weapons and armor, so they can still slaughter units without using it.
The 'Skyleap' ability for Autarch Kayleth in Retribution.
Instead of the Basilisk, the Imperial Guard has the Manticore in Retribution. It can fire 4 missiles, which are all targeted individually within a small area.
Death Seeker: As with the general 40K lore, Dreadnoughts are honored to continue to serve the Emperor in death. Chaos Dreadnoughts, on the other hand, feel imprisoned in their walking tombs and beg for death. This is to the point that a Chaos player's announcer will report one's death as "A Dreadnought has escaped into death."
Defector from Decadence: In Chaos Rising, part of the Blood Ravens' third and fourth companies rebel against their tainted chapter master. If Avitus was the traitor, which canonically, he is, he expresses similar sentiments as a reason for his actions.
Degraded Boss: The Daemon Prince (Final Boss of the first game) returns in Dark Crusade as an upgrade to the Chaos Lord, with aabout four times less HP and half the size.
Difficulty Spike: In Winter Assault each campaign is less then half the length of the original (5 levels each in Winter Assault, 11 in the original), but the later levels are equally difficult, i.e, difficulty shoots up very quickly.
The fourth level of both WA campaigns deserves a mention, as in the order version you are under almost constant attack by infinitely spawning enemies and in the disorder version it's a race against time to stop both enemies completing their completely independant victory objective causing you to lose automatically.
Discontinuity Nod: In Dawn of War II it is revealed that the Kaurava system campaign (Soulstorm) is remembered as a shameful and epic failure for the Blood Ravens, and that it should never be mentioned again. If Cyrus turns out to be the traitor in Chaos Rising, he actually mentions this as a motivation for his Face-Heel Turn to Chaos
<Capturing a point> "We got the, uh... *Beat* thing!"
That said, what they lack in minds they overcompensate in brute strength and durability, resulting in some of the toughest troops in multiplayer.
Do Not Run with a Gun: Averted. All but the heaviest weapons can be fired on the move, but expect sharp accuracy drops. The Seraphim unit is notable for not running, but flying while firing Guns Akimbo, and doing it more accurately than anyone else possibly could.
Ironically inverted by Avitus, the heavy weapons specialist, and the only Space Marine character (in Dawn of War II and Chaos Rising) with a sprint ability. He can't fire while doing this, of course.
A trait that Tarkus can learn allows him to avert this with special weapons like Plasma Guns, though it's still not very accurate.
Dual Wielding: Seraphim squads and Death Cult Assassins use twin bolt pistols and katanas respectively. The Kroot Shaper uses two blades in melee.
Drop the Hammer: The Space Marine Force Commanders along with Assault Terminator Squads can get access to Thunder Hammers that can stun victims.
Captain Angelos from Dawn of War gets a special variant called a Daemonhammer, named God-Splitter, which is highly effective against Daemons.
Dub Name Change: The French version renames the Dark Eldar Archon to Great Voivod, since Archon is already used for Eldar Warlocks. And the Reaver Jetbikes are renamed Raptor Jetbikes despite Raptors already being used for the Chaos unit.
The Assault Marine squad has the "combat jump" ability, which allows them to Goomba Stomp enemy infantry.
Early-Bird Cameo: Before the release of Chaos Rising, Dawn of War II received a new game mode called "The Last Stand". Those who managed the feat of reaching the final wave would find themselves facing a Chaos Lord and Bloodletters, which would not make an appearance until Chaos Rising.
Don't forget the final mission of Winter Assault, where you must face off against the Necrons before they became a playable race in Dark Crusade.
Early Installment Weirdness: Among other things, the original Dawn of War let you have four Land Raiders, equip Ork mobs with anti-everything weaponry, and have armies consisting entirely of high-end units.
Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The events of Retribution are kicked off when the Inquisition plans on performing Exterminatus on the whole of sub-sector Aurelia after 10 years of indecisive battles. As most 40K players know, this is a wee bit unpleasant for those still on the surface of a planet subjected to it. Each campaign has stopping the Exterminatus (or hijacking the Big Bad's plan for using it, in the Chaos campaign) as a high priority, though for varying reasons. All of them have you get suckered into speeding it up, and having to make a daring escape from Typhon Primaris while the initial stages of Exterminatus are being carried out.
Cyrene before the events of Dawn of War, thanks to Captain Angelos. Mentioned again, in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it manner, in the sub-sector map in the intro to the Dawn of War II campaign. Which pays off in a Book Ends ending in Retribution.
In the Imperial Guard campaign, the Roklaw Mountains are renamed Stubbs.
Endless Winter: Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising stated that before the Warp Storms claimed planet Aurelia, it was a major commerce hub and home to a monastery to the Blood Ravens. When it finally returned to real-space after millenia in the Warp, it has since turned into a wintry wasteland thanks to the ruinous powers in the Warp. Also, because the warp separated it from the system's sun.
Lorn V in Winter Assault is an Ice World, so naturally the only place not covered in ice is where Chaos set fire to it.
Enemy Civil War: Happens in numerous spots of the games. Destroying the Big Bannerz in Dark Crusades Ork Stronghold mission causes all of the Orks to turn on one another, while the beginning of Winter Assaults Disorder campaign has Gorgutz and a number of other Ork bosses battling each other as Gorgutz brings them all under his heel. Dark Crusades Eldar Stronghold also can be these, if you attack them with Chaos or Orks. Dawn of War II has this in effect with the Tyranids sometimes, as if you take out some of the commander units (Zoanthropes and such) you can see Tyranids turning on one another and fighting for a short time before the Hive Mind adjusts and sends them back at you again.
Dark Crusade and Soulstorm have inter-Imperium fighting, with Space Marines and Imperial Guard then Space Marines, Imperial Guard and Sisters of Battle respectively.
In the case of Dark Crusade, the Blood Ravens and the 1st Kronus Regiment are deployed separately to the same planet with conflicting orders: the Blood Ravens are to purge the planet while the Imperial Guard are to recapture it. The conflict shows just how much of a sore loser the Blood Ravens are: if the Ravens with the campaign (canon), they send the surviving Guardsmen home with commendations of bravery (except for the company that defected to them, which they promptly execute down to the last man). However, if the Imperial Guard win the campaign, the Blood Ravens file a formal protest that Alexander should've withdrawn his forces when asked by Davian Thule, only to be rebuffed that the Governor-Militant was following the orders of Segmentum Command - orders that Thule, a mere Force Commander, had no authority to override. Even the introductory speech of the Space Marine campaign lampshades it, possibly foreshadowing Kyras' corruption.
The Blood Ravens' eagerness to fight fellow soldiers of the Imperium did not go unnoticed. Rumors have started to spread that the relics on Kronus were more damning that holy.
World Eater Sorcerers possessing Guardsmen in Winter Assault, luring them to the sacrificial Blood Pits in, not one, but two different missions in the Disorder campaign. These parts are made annoying by the fact that, once possessed, they can be targeted by enemy units. And they will be.
One of the Essence of the Deceiver's abilities is this, though it's temporary (though in the campaign it can be used to have your hero fight himself, as the hero isn't given back).
Enemy Mine: In both Dawn of War and Winter Assault, the Imperial forces temporarily ally with the Eldar. In Retribution, Inquisitor Adrastia is willing to enlist the help of the Eldar and hire Bluddflagg on as a mercenary in order to prevent the Exterminatus.
Even Evil Has Standards: Regardless of who the traitor is in Chaos Rising, and regardless of the fact that he freely gives Galen the vox codes for his company, he explicitly tells Galen not to use the vox to set up an ambush, saying that if he winds up being exposed, he'll gladly expose Galen (and presumably all the other traitors they know of).
Everything Fades: Corpses will disappear with time; in the first game, there is an option to avert this by turning on "persistent corpses", and in the expansions, some factions can use fallen bodies to their advantage. This option was removed in Dawn of War II to save on memory.
Evil Plan: The campaign of Chaos Rising. Eliphas turns out to have orchestrated the events of the entire campaign to start a Blood Ravens civil war — which would have failed if a daemon destroyed the chapter's recruiting worlds.
Same thing for Retribution. Kyras manipulates the various factions so that their fighting will force the Inquisition to order an Exterminatus on the entire sector. Kyras would then offer the billions of resulting deaths as a sacrifice to Khorne and ascend to Daemonhood.
Evil Is Hammy: And goddamned HOW ! Chaos is by far the hammiest faction in the game, far outhamming even the Space Marines who tend to shout bombastic righteous speech every other time they speak. The Orks are also very hammy, but averted with the Necrons. GLORIOUS exemple right here.
Evil Tastes Good: Ulkair joyfully talks of the tastiness of souls and consuming entire sectors.
The sequel has Chaos Rising, which, as if the name didn't give it away, adds Chaos to the list of playable races, and Retribution, which includes playable Imperial Guard, orks, Tyranids and Eldar, and one campaign, playable as any of the 6 races with different dialog and altered mission details.
Eye-Obscuring Hat: The Commissar is shown like this; all you see of his face is his nose, grim-set mouth, and massive chin.
Faceless Mooks: Pretty much every faction has them, most notably the Eldar, whose only unhelmeted unit before Dawn of War II is the Harlequin, and the Tau, whose only non-Kroot bareheaded unit is the Ethereal.
In Winter Assault both the Order (Imperial Guard and Eldar) and Disorder (Orks and Chaos) campaigns have a Last-Second Ending Choice at the end of the fourth mission: whichever of your two factions first enters the shield around the war machine MacGuffin gets a final mission and ending. Dark Crusade implies that the Eldar endingis canon, albeit with several elements from the Ork ending.
Dark Crusade and Soulstorm have seven and nine different campaigns, respectively: one for each faction. Defeating a faction gets you an After Action Report and a cinematic once every faction is beaten. It may be possible for a faction to be defeated by another computer-controlled faction, but the end cinematic still assumes you were the one to defeat the six/eight others.
Field Promotion: In Dawn of War II, the Blood Ravens' manpower is greatly depleted, so the protagonist has been promoted to the rank of Force Commander by the Chapter Master after an impressive victory under his leadership and expected to save the recruiting worlds of the Blood Ravens in sub-sector Aurelia - despite being on the young side for a Space Marine and has never actually met the Chapter Master in person.
As an in-game loading screen fluff bit elaborates, the promotion actually happened during another campaign, but it didn't go into effect until the events of the game.
In the novelization for Dawn of War II, Sergeant Aramus (the nameless playable Force Commander) is made into the Force Commander for the company, replacing Thule.
Fight In The Nude: Averted. One of the highlights of the series' engine is watching units change their equipment in response to how they are upgraded.
Double extra averted in Dawn of War II onwards. You get equippable wargear in the campaign mode that dramatically changes the look and function of your squads, and as you advance in multiplayer rank, your units get more and more bling.
Avitus is The Cynic (scornful of civilians and Guardsmen, concerned only with killing the enemy)
Thaddeus is The Optimist (considers being a Space Marine to be an adventure, eager to protect The Emperor's subjects)
Cyrus is The Realist (concerned with getting results, tries to keep the group focused on their priorities)
Tarkus is The Apathetic (focuses on executing his duty to the best of his ability, leaves the worrying to others higher up the chain of command)
Davian Thule is The Conflicted (confused at first, coming to terms with his new existence, slower than he used to be)
Foreshadowing: A good case in Chaos Rising. In the opening trailer, the Big Bad shows its horrifying laughing face around the 'depositing untold horrors of the Warp' part, way before you find out anything about it.
Early in the game, the Marines realize that the Orks are actually using strategy, which given these are Orks, tip them off to something manipulating them. Later, Cyrus has an Oh, Crap moment when he hears that an Astropath has been complaining about a "Shadow in The Warp" (he's the only one that knows about Tyranids).
The Ork campaign of Retribution has a playable Kommando Nob named "Spookums." With the right equipment and abilities, he is terrifying in combat.
The super-heavy Ork Battlewagon you fight (and capture, in the Ork campaign) with the ridiculously cute (and un-orkily feminine) name of "Daisy".
Finishing Move: Tons of them, in the form of "sync kills". Some units will even have personalized finishing moves against certain victims. Go ahead, check them out.
Big (size-wise, not number-wise) units are especially prone to doing this. The best ones, however, are the ones big units perform on other big units, for example, a Dreadnought grabbing a Wraithlord's weapon, forcing it away, grabbing it by its neck and crushing it in its power claw - in other words, a Walking Tank strangling a Humongous Mecha.
Or when above Humongous Mecha gets its sword stuck in said Walking Tank when it kills the pilot inside for good, forcibly removes his sword, sees that the Walking Tank is still standing, then gently tips it over.
The Force Commander's sync kill against the Bloodthirster in Dawn of War and its expansions deserves special mention. He performs a Colossus Climb on the thirty-foot daemon by grabbing it by the horns and swinging up, stands on its shoulders, pounds it into the ground with repeated whacks from his hammer, then vaults over its disintegrating corpse (which is on fire). In other words, a most excellent Crowning Moment of Awesome.
Perhaps one of the most epic sync kills from Chaos Rising onwards is the Avatar of Khaine vs the Great Unclean One. If the Avatar is sync killing the GUO, it will stab it in the chest; causing it to laugh and use its puke of doom on the Avatar, which responds by shoving its gigantic sword into the Great Unclean One's mouth and out the back of its head. If the GUO is sync killing the Avatar it will jab its meat cleaver sword into the Avatar's back, turn its sword upright and lift it into the air and use gravity to impale the Avatar all the way through the sword
In Dawn of War and its expansions, the humanoid Relic Units also had their fair share of epic sync kills. If a Bloodthirster sync kills an Avatar, the Bloodthirster gets smacked around by the Avatar, but bats the Avatar's head off with its axe in the end. If the Avatar is the sync killer, it gets knocked down, but before the Bloodthirster can capitalize on this, the Avatar impales it with his giant sword. If the Nightbringer sync kills the Avatar (never the other way around due to the Nightbringer's invulnerability) after (now this troper is just going off of memory) a brief fight the Nightbringer scythes the Avatar's head off. While technically not a Relic Unit, if the Daemon Prince defeats the Greater Knarloc (pretty hard to do considering the differences in DPS and HP) it will leap up into the air with its sword pointed downward and impale the Knarloc's head and pin it to the ground before pulling its sword out and walking away.
In Dawn of War II, if a Chaos Aspiring Champion of Khorne (or the Force Commander) sync kills a Carnifex (really hard to do) he will perform a Colossus Climb and stand on the Carnifex's tusks, holding on to his melee weapon impaled in the side of the Carnifex's head, and blast it repeatedly in the face with his pistol before finishing it off with a blast to the mouth. This sync kill is featured in Retribution in the mission where you have to escape Typhon as Exterminatus is being performed on it. When you get to a certain point the Deranged Chaos Champion (since this is his full title he must be crazy even by Chaos' standards...eep), will start roaring to the sky, enraged by the fact that people would be trying to escape from Kyras's gift of death before doing this in the Typhon Arena.
While not a sync kill, this is undoubtably epic. In the last mission of Retribution; after you have hammered at Daemon Prince Kyras for quite a while and brought him down to one last sliver of health, your commander (Bluddflagg for the Orks for example) will note that he's weakened and tell you to finish him off with your big damaging global power (Rok bombardment, which drops a bunch of Asteroids, for the Orks to continue this example.) Bluddflagg will say "Look, 'es reelin boys. Now it's time ta zap 'im wiff da biggest rok we 'ave." and you'll get one free usage of Rok bombardment. Once you target Kyras with this, you'll get a cutscene where Roks will start raining on Kyras, causing him to shudder until an absolutely massive rok falls on top of his head and completely destroys it. Once the dust clears you'll see the bloody stump where his head used to be and watch his corpse slump back into the lava pit. A similar thing happens with the other factions (with the Space Marines using orbital bombardment instead, for example.) But man is it satisfying to watch Kyras's head explode.
Flamethrower Backfire: Done in the intro of Dawn of War, when the flamethrowers exploded when hit by an axe.
Fog of War: The map is initially black and explored areas not within a unit or building's line of sight are covered in grey fog.
Freudian Excuse: Part of Avitus' hatred towards Imperial Guardsmen is due to how he grew up with his settlement being oppressed by a corrupt Imperial Guard regiment. The other half is having his two best friends killed by Guardsmen during the assault on Victory Bay.
Friendly Enemy: If Tarkus is the traitor, he constantly refers to your strike force as "brothers" and offers tactical advice while you're making your way to him, and quotes from the Codex Astartes during the actual boss fight. He's basically acting completely normally, which utterly infuriates your sergeants.
Friendly Fireproof: Averted and inverted—not only can your artillery and/or other explosive weapons (grenade launchers generally) harm your own troops, but if you, as the Imperial Guard, attach a Commissar to an infantry squad, you can actually have him execute one of your troopers to raise the morale and accuracy of all nearby soldiers. You can still pour small arms into a chaotic melee without any harmful consequences to your troops, on the other hand (though all units engaged in melee combat take 50% less ranged damage). This is one of the most obvious breaks from the tabletop game, where this is disallowed for the most part.
The Ork's Burna Bomb unleashes a massive explosion that turns nearly everything around it into a flying corpse. However, the Mad Dok who plants it also has an ability that makes a friendly unit invulnerable, so in the right conditions the bomb can be Friendly Fireproof.
Horribly averted if you don't back Cyrus far away enough from his Remote Detonator, which can kill him and his squad in one hit, even at full health, if the blast so much as wings him! It can also do the same to your other squads.
Frontline General: Taken even further than the base game: the Imperial Guard's general is literally their only melee unit until the later tech tiers.
Also Dawn of Steel, which among other things adds the Imperial Guard as a playable faction.
Some would argue that mods like the above make Soulstorm actually playable.
Gameplay and Story Integration: A minor example. The Ancient from Retribution's Space Marine campaign has taken a vow of silence. He never speaks, not even to confirm the player's orders until The Reveal of his identity on the Judgement of Carrion. Tarkus talks differently from his Dawn of War II and Chaos Rising self, but that is to be expected since he hasn't used his voice in a decade.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: A Daemon Prince should, fluff wise, be basically immortal towards everything. It would not be balanced if building a Daemon Prince resulted in the Chaos player being undefeatable.
Initially played straight with the Nightbringer, the god of Death, worshipped by a race that specializes in killing everything. The Necron Lord can let the Nightbringer possess him for a short period of time, during which, he is invincible and floats around chopping up enemies good. It seems a shame that he's not actually all that good at killing things - he doesn't have the raw killing power that some other units have. However, upon inspection of his in-game stats, he does vastly more damage to heavily armored vehicles and monsters... which includes every top tier unique unit in the game. While he won't be laying waste to entire armies, his damage output is such that during his brief stint on the battlefield he is capable of killing any single unit in the game that doesn't run away from him.
In fluff, Necron Gauss Weapons (which are not Gauss weapons at all) are capable of eating through any kind of armor, and can inflict damaging blows on even the sturdiest target. In the game, they're about as effective as regular guns against armor.
The Eldar Avatar of Khaine requires a sacrifice to be summoned (in the form of an Exarch being chosen to host him, as in the Eldar fortress intro in Dark Crusade. In-game, he's built at the portal like any other unit.
A zigzagging example: in fluff, teleport homers and drop pod beacons are very necessary to avoid Tele Fragging. In the game, all you need is another unit around to remove the Fog of War.
Space Marine players will most likely go through a far larger number of Astartes in a single battle than will have been brought to the battlefield. By the end of a campaign you may have gone through several Chapters worth of them.
Imperial Guard Kasrkin, and the Stormtroopers (in the sequel) wear gas masks - Kasrkin have a small gasmask built into their helmet, while Stormtroopers have full face-covering masks. Some regular Guardsmen in the first game may also have a mask instead of just a helmet.
Genre Savvy: The Blood Ravens in Dawn of War II decide that to beat back a planet-wide invasion, they only need one Player Character, a few squads, and no additional companies. Partially justified by the chapter being dangerously undermanned at the time, but seriously, it's spelled out in the first campaign loading screen - they expect you to turn the tide.
Also, considering that one of the first things that they do is suggest that the Orks might be being manipulated or directed by some other power, this quickly enters Dangerously Genre Savvy territory on the Space Marines' part.
Farseer Macha: "You can never ambush a Space Marine. They expect treachery around every turn. You can only validate their suspicions."
Geo Effects: The cover system. Units in cover move slower but take less ranged damage.
Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The Necrons will come off as this in the Winter Assault Disorder campaign. While they're mentioned earlier in the Order campaign, in Disorder they essentially show up out of nowhere.
The Dark Eldar's Dais of Destruction in Soulstorm. Extremely high firepower plus a beam capable of literally wiping out an entire army in one shot. Not exactly "glass", but still by far the most fragile of the Relic Units.
On a smaller scale, Necron Immortals, with very long range and devastating anti-vehicle/structure firepower, but low HP and a small squad size that can see them wiped out in seconds.
All set-up weapons in the sequel are powerful anti-infantry and/or anti-vehicle counters at range. At melee range, you'd have better had them start retreating before the first hit gets in.
Eldar of Dawn of War II are, comparatively, the Glass Cannon faction (they even have near-literal glass cannons). In the Chaos Rising expansion this role is easily fulfilled by the traitor House Vandis militia (using Imperial Guard equipment) you encounter in the beginning and the droves of Chaos cultists. Both of them can bear weapons with high damage output, but tend to die from a poke. They try to compensate by walking around in big numbers, but it doesn't help them much, it simply gets them cut down by the dozen.
The Tau faction minus the Kroots units and Eldar vehicles all have high speed, high damage output and very poor resilience, which means that knowing how to micromanage them is essential to win. In the sequel, the entire Eldar faction save one Mighty Glacier unit is this.
Go-Go Enslavement: the Dark Eldar Dais of Destruction has two half-naked Sisters of Battle chained to it.
A Good Way to Die: The Imperial Priest that can be attached to Imperial Guard squads in the expansions for the original holds to this trope, if his battlefield lines are anything to go by:
Gory Discretion Shot: The last image a non-Eldar player sees of Farseer Taldeer is her charging down a slope, surrounded by enemies. Then the camera tilts up into the sky...
Subverted by the first few seconds of the intro movie for Dawn of War II. And throughout the intro movie, for that matter, with one of the tamest deaths being a Warp Spider taking a Bolt Pistol round to the face.
Grim Reaper: The Essence of the Nightbringer, which is a 40 foot tall metal reaper that shoots green lightning.
Guilt-Based Gaming: Quit, and the "are you sure?" dialog box is headlined COWARDS DIE IN SHAME. About as subtle as you might expect, given the source material; sadly, it was not kept for the sequel.
Ham-to-Ham Combat: Gorgutz vs. Crull in Winter Assault. Pretty much every scene the two appear in turns into a scenery-chewing contest.
Units in Dawn of War II can occasionally throw lines related to whatever they're doing. If in battle, this has the potential to turn into a literal example of ham-to-ham combat.
As they do in the first. Watching Khornate Berserkers screaming "BREAK THEM IN HALF!!!" answered by Grey Knights proclaiming "HERE IS THE JUDGEMENT OF THE RIGHTEOUS, YOU SCUM!!!" is a thing of deafening beauty.
Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Most Imperial squad leaders and commanders fight bare-headed, just like in the source material. Ogryn Boneheads, Tau troops and Sororitas Sisters Superiors are the only exceptions. The other factions have a mix of bare-headed and helmeted leaders.
Heroic BSOD: In such a Crapsack World, this is only to be expected. Angelos has one when Isador falls to Chaos, Taldeer has another when the (much larger) Necron second wave appears in Winter Assault, and most of the commanders in Dark Crusade or Soulstorm have one as you batter inexorably through their stronghold.
At the end of Dawn of War II, your Space Marines seem a little affected by the Armageddon being critically damaged and sacrificing itself, leaving them on the ground in the middle of an endless Tyranid swarm. That is, until the chapter fleet comes out of the Warp just in time to save the day.
Diomedes has a major one in Retribution's Space Marine campaign. After finally realizing Kyras was a villain the whole time AND barely surviving the start of the Inquisition's Exterminatus campaign, he's ready to just sit down and die, figuring the Blood Ravens are officially doomed anyway. It takes the Ancient (actually Tarkus) threatening to kill him and providing a Rousing Speech for him to return to his senses and start bringing down Kyras.
Carron has a bizarre one: as you destroy his temples, he expresses indifference, fear, bloodlust, and finally fear.
Heroic Mime: The Force Commander in Dawn of War II, in-game at any rate. He gets lines in the trailer and in multiplayer, and in the campaign of Chaos Rising he gets a few small bits of dialogue during the mission briefings. All text, of course.
Lampshaded in the loading screen text for the first mission which describes him as a man of few words.
Heroic Sacrifice: The guy who plants the flag in the opening cutscene of Dawn of War.
Averted in Dark Crusade, where you plant a bomb in the Necron base... then run like hell. The soldiers who get the honor of covering your escape however...
Averted in a different way by how the mini-epilogue plays out if you won the battle as the Orks. A lot of Ork boyz did get left behind because they were slow or stupid or unlucky, and the survivors think that's pretty funny.
Hero Unit: Especially in Dawn of War II, where the commander unit you pick determines what renown powers you get to use in a multiplayer game.
Implacable Man: Eldar Fire Dragons in Dark Crusade and beyond. Mass of Baneblade + Fleet Of Foot + Decent health = Imba base wreckers that can't be disrupted.
The Librarian in Dawn of War and the Apothecary in Dawn of War II both have a power that can temporarily render their troops invulnerable, as do Ork Mad Doks. ("I'LL BRING DA FIGHTIN' JUICE!") and the Priests of the Imperial Guard ("Rise up and strike them down!"). Necrons of course go without saying.
Injured Vulnerability: In Soulstorm Farseer Caerys can get a pistol that may automatically kill units whose health is below a certain percentage.
The text for the Mad Dok's fighting juice ability implies this was the case in earlier versions, reading that using it on a friendly squad makes it invulnerable to death (they still take damage but don't die), but once it ends orks whose health is too low die.
Dawn of War II gives out several buffs (as well as certain weapons like Castor's DLC rifle) that are only able to instantly kill an enemy with less than 20% of their health.
Insane Ork Lojik: The Nob piloting "Daisy", exclamation point. When told that the needle is in the red, he shakes it off by saying that "Red goez fasta!" and when told that Daisy hit something it wasn't supposed to hit, he says there's nothing Daisy isn't supposed to hit.
"Control Area" and "Take and Hold" victory conditions. The default mode of play for multiplayer in Dawn of War II is "Victory Point Control". Players can attempt to destroy the enemy's HQ(s) instead, but that is very unlikely if they aren't winning already as said HQs are very durable.
"Destroy HQ" can count, especially in campaign missions; if you can send a small force of jetpacking Lightning Bruisers into the (handily marked) centre of the enemy's massive base to destroy their HQ, you're done. No matter if it was a Suicide Mission, the remainder of your forces are outnumbered ten-to-one, and the enemy have enough resources to build 50 more HQs.
"Assassination", especially against the computer. When the victory condition is killing hero units and keeping yours alive, maybe he shouldn't lead the charge against an enemy base.
Interface Spoiler: Played with in the base campaign for Dawn of War II. You'll start being awarded equipment for a Dreadnought long before you actually unlock it. Unlike other squads, this equipment doesn't refer to its wearer by name, simply reading "Dreadnought." It isn't until the Dreadnought is unlocked that you learn it is Davian Thule, your commanding officer, and this is the "healing" the apothecaries have been struggling with.
Irony: Sindri Myr ascended to Daemonhood by pledging himself to Khorne. Azariah Kyras ascended to Daemonhood by pledging himself to Khorne. The problem here is that Sindri and Kyras are Psykers and Khorne HATES PSYKERS.
The Ancient in Retribution. He is a Tactical Marine after all and fully capable of utilizing any weapon used by Tactical, Devastator or Assault Marine squads.
The Eldar have Autarch Kayleth, who functions similarly, able to shoot, jump, and assault depending on how you kit her out.
To be fair, she is always able to jump and can utilize weapons used by Dire Avenger, Howling Banshees and Fire Dragon Aspect Warriors. She can also wear "mark" of Warp Spider and Dark Reaper Aspect Warriors.
Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Just about everyone will go to lengths to achieve what they want, even if it's means crossing the line or to lose their sense of morality.
A number of factions have access to flamethrowers, though it is featured more prominently with the Sisters of Battle, in much the same way that sunlight is featured more prominently on the surface of the sun.
The most spectacular skill of the Librarian in Chaos Rising is throwing fireballs as big as himself that incinerate and scatter infantry about as effectively as the Dreadnought's Assault Barrage.
Melta weapons, though not technically fire, tend to qualify as "fire" weapons in-universe, given their thermal properties allowing for the burning of witches.
Kill Sat: Tau and Space Marine bombardments are delivered by the orbiting Air Caste / Battle Barge.
Large Ham: Nearly every main character (except Eliphas and Taldeer), but especially the narrator. Dawn of War II makes everyone a bit more sedate and sinister (witness the new badass-sounding Eldar), but which angle is better comes down to personal preference.
Chaos Rising compensated for that with the new villains (Eliphasremaininghis old self) packing a ton of ham. The leader of the Chaos warband, Araghast, seems incapable of saying anything without hamming it up to ridiculous levels. The true Big Bad, in turn, takes this to unholy lengths - every line packs twice the ham compared to Araghast's.
Soulstorm's Sisters Of Battle are particularly bombastic, and none more so than their flame-thrower tank:
"Behold...THE IMMOLATOR!" "It all goes down in FLAAAAMES!"
Scout sniper rifles in Dawn of War have them... so that a human player can spot them when cloaked.
Lootas Beamy Deffgun in Retribution.
Laughably Evil: No matter how evil Gorgutz and Ulkair are, you can't help but laugh at them due to the good acting associated with their characters.
In Retribution Kaptin Bluddflagg and his crew take the cake.
Laughing Mad: Sanctioned Psykers and Chaos Marines will spontaneously burst into fits of crazed laughing when idle.
Left Hanging: Gabriel Angelos and the daemon in the Maledictum. He doesn't tell us when he appears in Dawn of War II, and no-one asks him about it.
It apparently was responsible for much of the Blood Raven's problems, and is now presumably very unhappy after you blow up Chapter Master Kyras and purged the chapter in Retribution.
Leitmotif: Especially noticable in Dawn of War II, where every faction has a few different tracks (almost all with Orchestral Bombing when the on-screen action heats up) dedicated to them, and each of those faction-particular tracks shares elements among themselves:
Loads and Loads of Loading: While all games in the series have Loading Screens, and quite long ones for the largest Dark Crusade campaign maps, Soulstorm is just guilty of this. On a computer able to operate the previous games at the middle mark of visual settings seamlessly, Soulstorm will take nearly twice as long to load the poorly programmed campaign map, than it will to load any level.
Dawn of War II at least gives you some pretty pictures and helpful advice to look at while you wait for your opponents to finish loading.
Love Makes You Evil: In a non-romantic example, the traitor in Chaos Rising if it's Thaddeus explains that Ulkair began whispering to him a long time ago, and he was perfectly happy to completely ignore it...until the final mission of the campaign when it looked like a Bolivian Army Ending was inevitable and it told him, "Pledge yourself to me for later, I'll open the Warp right now so the Litany of Fury can get through the Tyranid interference." Given that this isn't a part of anyone else's reason for turning should they be the traitor, it's likely this is a flagrant lie and the fleet made it through on its own, but Sergeant Thaddeus believes it, and believes his bargain saved his friends.
Ludicrous Gibs: A number of sync kills leave these, while even normal shooting results in quite a bit of bloodshed.
There was a chance that when the Imperial Guard Sanctioned Psyker uses one of his special abilities that it will backfire with messy results.
A bit silly for the Tyranid Carnifex, who will tumble onto its stomach, curl up into a ball, explode outwards, and leave a wreck. (The game engine treats Carnifexes as vehicles.)
The summoning of the Bloodcrushers (Dawn Of War II) and Bloodthirsters (Dawn Of War), the latter of which doubled up as the death animation for Eliphas the Inheritor in the Chaos stronghold defeat in Dark Crusade.
When the Great Unclean One dies, his ribcage explodes outwards.
As a relatively mild example, the simple Space Marine bolter in 'Dawn of War II'' tends to cause huge splashes of blood or blow off limbs when they kill enemies, unlike the original game where they act more like generic firearms. This is actually more faithful to the lore.
And of course, Gorgutz Deffscreama Bloodspilla Deffkilla Ragescreama Ghostkilla Gunsmasha Daemonkilla 'Ead'unter.
Macross Missile Massacre: Provided by Tau Skyray Missile Gunships and their Missile Barrages, Sisters of Battle Exorcists and Space Marine Whirlwinds.
In Dawn of War II, Tankbusta Boyz and Cyclone Missile Launchers.
In Retribution, the DLC Tau commander character can use (at a certain level) an ability called Sky Ray Barrage, which fires a missile at any (and EVERY) marked target on the screen. Combine that with the markerlight drone, which automatically fires marker bullets at squads, and all you have to do is wait a bit before turning the entire arena into flashy blue lights and ludicrous gore.
Magikarp Power: Imperial Guardsmen. They begin the game as weak as Cultists and more expensive, and with terrible morale to boot, but upgrades give them a bigger squad limit, great weapons and temporary morale immunity and double damage after a Commissar Execution. Priests can make them temporarily invulnerable, and Psykers annihilate the morale of the enemy. Fully upgraded, plasma slinging guardsmen with any of these leaders are truly a sight to behold. Also, arguably, Heavy Weapons teams.
The Heretics from Chaos Rising onwards can sacrifice themselves to summon large and powerful Bloodcrushers.
Also, every Ork squad. Every Ork you add into a squad/have standing about nearby improves the morale and, eventually, combat stats of all your other Orks. Pile O' Gunz enables you to add Nob leaders cheaply, and a mere two fully reinforced Slugga Boy squads can cause significant disruption to any enemy. Obviously, there are MANY examples of this kind of upgrade.
However so far they only managed to fail horribly doing this every single game. They did manage to win using conventional warfare in Winter Assault and possibly in Retribution.
Marathon Boss: Some of the bosses, especially in Dawn of War II and onwards, have a lot of hit points, and unless there are easier ways to take them out, expect to take a while killing them. Daemon Prince Kyras takes the cake, with his ability to summon infinite waves of Bloodletters and Bloodcrushers, along with his ability to summon three towers to shield his life bar from damage.
The Great Unclean One from Chaos Rising. He has 2 million hit points at maximum, has several one-shot attacks, can flesh hook and throw characters out of the battle area and get them stuck and has a bug that can reset his hit points in full. He also comes after an extremely boring grind mission that takes upwards of an hour to get through, and the way the game works, if he kills you, you have to do the entire mission from scratch.
Maximum HP Reduction: From Dark Crusade onwards, Necron Pariahs reduce maximum HP with every melee attack until they or the target are dead.
Meaningful Name: Important characters or places may have these. Leading the lineup, we have Brother-Captain Gabriel Angelos. Coming in second place, with a much less subtle Meaningful Name, we have Warboss Gorgutz Ragescreama/Tankbusta/Deffkilla/etc. He's big on titles.
Merging The Branches: Installments of the series set after Winter Assault imply that the latter's true ending contains elements of both Ork and Eldar campaigns (Taldeer survives the Orks, Chaos and Necrons on Lorn V but is taken out by the Blood Ravens on Kronus in Dark Crusade), while Crull is defeated and his skull taken by Gorgutz 'Ead'unter (the Chaos faction takes it back from him in Dark Crusade).
Morale Mechanic: Most infantry units in the series have a morale score, and certain weapons, among them sniper rifles and flamethrowers, do less physical damage but massive morale damage. Demoralized troops won't run away on their own, but they can't shoot straight and they run faster. Space Marine sergeants have the ability to restore squad morale, and so do the Imperial Guard Commissars — though the latter usually includes summarily executing a member of the squad in front of the others.
More Dakka: An actual upgrade you can research for the Orks in Dawn of War, while also applied to some weapons. The sequel instead has 'More Dakka' as a multiplayer ability you can use if you chose the right Ork commander which makes weapons have no fire cooldown (but still have to reload, sadly), and an ability called 'Luv da Dakka' for Kommandos, whose tooltip is: "Hold down da trigga fer maximum carnage! Knocks over enemies hit by your shots.". It still does more damage.
Musical Assassin: In Retribution Slaanesh's followers finally make an appearance in the form of Noise Marines, Chaos Marines who fight anyone and everyone with The Power of Rock.
Multiple Endings: One for each campaign/sub-campaign. That means four in Winter Assault, seven in Dark Crusade, nine in Soulstorm, six in Retribution.
Chaos Rising has several, depending on how far you slid down the slippery slope, if you did at all. It also depends on some of the actions you take during the campaign, such as killing Diomedes or Eliphas.
Never Found the Body: In the Eldar campaign of Retribution, they mention that despite their defeat on Kronus, the Eldar's subsequent mission to discreetly recover the soulstones of the dead around the Vandea region was a resounding success, with the Space Marines never suspecting their presence and all fallen Eldar accounted for except for the spirit stone of Farseer Taldeer, of whom no trace could be found...
Nice Hat: Kaptin Bluddflagg◊, in Retribution. He also demands Inquisitor Adrastia's badass inquisitor hat as payment for a merc job, but she refuses. He then mugs her for that same hat when she hunts him down to kill him in the Ork campaign's ending cutscene. The achievement for winning the Ork campaign? Nice Hat, of course.
When a certain named Commissar is killed by an Ork player assaulting Victory Bay in Dark Crusade, Gorgutz will exclaim "I liked dat Kommissar's hat. Too bad it blew up with his 'ead!"
For players who preordered Retribution with the Imperial Guard bonuses, General Castor gets a very spiffy hat that he can equip. When you see the bonuses it gives him, you'll never want him to take it off.
And true to form, it does come to bite them in the ass many years later, with Adrastia saying to Diomedes that Angelos' confessing what happened there is actually damning evidence against the Blood Ravens.
Pretty much all the factions when they put an end to the Biel-tan Eldar ritual on Typhon, big time. Special mention goes to the Eldar of Alaitoc when they inadvertently cause the Infinity Circuit of a dead craftworld they were trying to save to be destroyed by the Exterminatus fleet.
Before the final battle of Retribution, Kyras proudly declares that the senseless violence committed by the followers of Khorne is the only way to truly be free, as life and the universe is ultimately meaningless.
Nintendo Hard: So you tried 'Hard' mode in the campaign mode of Dark Crusade and Soulstorm? Good. Now try Dawn of War II's Primarch mode; the first few missions intended to get the player adjusted to the campaign's gameplay have the potential to kill you outright if you're not careful. And it only gets worse...
The Dark Crusade campaign is absolutely merciless on any difficulty above Easy. Structures you build during a battle remain on the map if you win and will be present at the start of the next battle on that map... but this applies to the AI too. Territories at strength 8 or above start with multiple fully-built bases and since the AI is scripted to attack you the instant its military rating is better than yours, it will rush you with vehicles before your first structure even finished building. If the AI's commander is also present, expect a full honor guard visiting your base within 30 seconds in addition to whatever else is already on the way.
No Campaign for the Wicked: In the vanilla versions of Dawn of War and Dawn of War II, only the Space Marines are playable. Averted in the campaigns for Winter Assault, Dark Crusade and Soulstorm, where all factions are playable in some form.
Mega Armored Nobz will occasionally lampshade this when clicked on:
"Why's you givin' me orders?"
Averted big-time, however, by Dawn of War II's singleplayer. There, the Force Commander is explicitly stated to be the player's character.
Dawn of War II's multiplayer still play this trope straight however. If you are playing as the Eldar, your units still refer to you as "Farseer" (even if the commander you chose, that is on the field, is a Farseer); the Force Commander in the multiplayer acts if you are commanding him; while Orky players are still da Boss of all da boyz.
Played straight by the Tyranids, who obey the Hive Mind.
Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Imperial administrators of Meridian take this all the way into Genre Blindness territory. Seriously, the Tyranids are about to ravage the sector and you only want to spare one tenth of one percent of factory production?! Administrator Derosa does get better once she realizes the gravity of the situation however.
It's hinted at being more than that once you find out the Governor had Blood Ravens relics hidden near Angel Forge. Chaos Rising goes on to confirm that Governor Vandis has connections with Chaos.
Obviously Evil: Chapter Master Kyras. His portrait even has a demonic red aura around it along with the impression that something just isn't right with him. Captain Diomedes is oblivious to this for a good chunk of the campaign. To be fair, though, this is the 41st millennium.
About half of Isador's cutscenes consist of him listening to voices, surrounded by hallucinations of Sindri, and once orders a squad of Marines to follow him on a secret path without telling anyone because "It's a surprise".
Off Model: Some commanders look rather off without pieces of their iconic wargear. Gorgutz without his bosspole just seems short.
Oh, Crap: One of the Orks in the intro movie of Dawn of War, right before he gets shot in the face. Also Necron Pariah Thomas Macabee in Dark Crusade, when he spots the bomb that your troops have planted at the heart of the Necron tomb complex.
Everyone shares this moment on Typhon when it's subjected to Exterminatus.
Mr. Nailbrain:"Not a good place to be! Not a good place to be!"
Eliphas has one when Abaddon decides to have a word with him the first time.
"Lord Abaddon, it cannot be you!"
Imperial Guardsmen react very calmly to meeting most enemy forces. Examples: "Orks inside the perimeter." and "Those are Eldar? I thought they'd be taller." However, on bumping into Necron forces, they respond with a terrified "Oh no! Not them!".
One-Winged Angel: Considering that this series involves at least two seperate attempts of characters ascending into daemonhood this is pretty much inevitable for some Final Boss sequences.
Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Kaptin Bluddflagg's accent veers all over the place, floating somewhere between the classic pirate accent and a quite stereotypical irish accent.
One-Handed Zweihänder: In the first game, Force Commanders wielded a normally two-handed thunder hammer with one hand and a gun in the other. The sequel now limits the thunder hammer to a two handed weapon, with the one-hand version limited to Terminator armor.
One-Hit Kill: The Vindicare Assassin can one-hit-kill almost any infantry unit with his Exitus Rifle. Some Commander units and some super-heavy infantry like the Crisis Battlesuit can survive the first shot, but few can survive the second.
The Space Marine Force Commander has an Orbital Bombardment power, which has the Astartes' orbiting Battle Barge fire multiple Pillars of Light into the general area of the selected location. In Dark Crusade, you can hijack the Orbital relay, letting you use the ability on the Space Marines (they fire one on their own base in the ending).
The Tau have the Orbital Strike ability, which fires a single massive beam on one point, which then spreads out. In Soulstorm, the Ethereal orders the Air Caste to fire into their base as a desperate maneuver. The Ar'ka cannon could be considered a variation, since it serves as a lunar-based planetary bombardment system (it can strike any of the four planets in the system).
Papa Wolf: Cyrus. Gods help you if you mess with his initiates.
Pistol-Whipping: The Vindicare Assassin uses his Exitus pistol as a rapid bludgeon in melee combat. It's very powerful, more so than many melee-oriented units. Activating the Assassination Scope ability makes it do even more damage, somehow.
Planetville: Averted throughout the first three titles of the series. Dawn of War and Winter Assault both take place on one single planet and in Dark Crusade the Narrator will describe just how the defending faction was defeated and killed/driven off the planet once you conquer their stronghold. Soulstorm plays it partially straight with the factions traveling through the webway between four planets and three moons, although the planets admittedly have multiple large, separately-captured zones each.
Dawn of War II has you leaping between three different planets to choose your missions. Played pretty straight, as your fight to save entire planets (and the rest of the game's events) are taking place on a small patch of land on a side of said planets. It is justified since you're leading a small strike force against important targets like enemy commanders and the like, while your brother Blood Ravens and the Imperial Guard Hold the Line.
Castor:"A guardsman's life is to die. I take them to a place where they may die. I am not afraid to spend their lives, but I will not waste them." [...] "Now, you may continue with your attempt to kill me, but as I said, I will not waste the lives of my men, and executing you for insubordination would be... wasteful."
Red-Headed Hero: Popular among Eldar Farseers - Macha in the original, and Taldeer in Winter Assault (although hers is literally red rather than auburn). After that long hair seems to go out of fashion so you can't tell for the helmets, but the trope makes a return in Dawn of War II where the Eldar Farseers again have red hair.
Reliable Traitor: Sindri explains this trope in the first game, that Orks can be relied on to betray them as soon as they defeat the enemy in front of them. Cue a Gilligan Cut to the Ork leader explaining that exact plan to an underling.
The Remnant: In the Tau campaign of Dark Crusade, when the Imperial Guard are defeated, the narrator mentions that many of the survivors continued to stage guerrilla attacks against the aliens. Also, in the actual game, the forces remaining in any enemy-controlled province after their main headquarters on the "Risk"-Style Map has been captured probably count.
Destroying all of an AI player's builders and H Qs will leave them building only basic troops in large numbers. They go around the map capturing points, but they really have no hope of being anything but a mild annoyance.
Ret Canon: Dawn of War introduced and popularised the use of two-handed Thunder Hammers by Space Marine Commanders in power armor - at the time, not even doable in the tabletop.
Ridiculously Fast Construction: Hand Waved in that most factions airdrop, teleport or otherwise summon more or less complete buildings into the battlefield, which simply need some final adaptations to become functional.
Dark Crusade and Soulstorm both feature a strategic map where the different factions fight for territory. Whenever a faction moves into another faction's territory, a battle starts.
In Dawn of War II and Chaos Rising, the player is tasked with traveling to different hotspots scattered across three different planets, as well as a Space Hulk in Chaos Rising. Some of these have time limits attached, so it's the player's call as to what takes priority.
All campaigns except for those in Dawn of War and Winter Assault feature character customization to some extent. Dark Crusade and Soulstorm feature wargear that changes how a particular hero plays in the field, while Dawn of War II and its expansions, Chaos Rising and Retribution are as much about character customization as they are about strategy: squads gain experience and can choose talents and traits over the course of a given campaign, and certain enemy squads will randomly drop wargear color-coded by rarity and value. This combined with co-op play can make Dawn of War II and its expansions feel like a very strange session of an MMORPG.
Keeping units alive is central to the multiplayer in Dawn of War II, as both hero units and normal units gain experience and become more effective as they gain levels.
Chaos Rising adds a Karma Meter to its campaign. Depending on what the player has done and how high it is, the last few missions play out differently, and the ending changes.
Road Cone: The events of the Winter Assault, Dark Crusade, Soulstorm and Chaos Rising expansions are all dictated by later expansion packs in the series. Winter Assault was won by the Eldar, Dark Crusade by the Blood Ravens, and Soulstorm was a SPESS MEHREEN, er, Blood Raven defeat with an unconfirmed victor, widely believed to be the Imperial Guard. Diomedes survived the events of Chaos Rising, and The Ancient aka Tarkus reveals that Avitus was the traitor.
Rousing Speech: In Dark Crusade several leaders give you one of these in response to you attacking their stronghold (often doubles as a Sedgwick Speech, as you usually defeat them regardless). Same for Soulstorm, though with a higher chance of Narm. Indrick Boreale gives an especially bad speech wherein his accent (and liberal use of As You Know) dulls the intended effect.
In the Retribution expansion for the second game, 'Inspiring Speech' is actually an equippable item for Imperial Guard campaign heroes. It restores energy to all nearby units.
Royal Decree: The Exterminatus in Retribution is initiated with one of these.
"We have arrived, and it is now that we perform our charge. In fealty to the God-Emperor (our undying lord) and by the grace of the Golden Throne... I declare Exterminatus upon the Imperial world of Typhon Primaris. I hereby sign the death warrant of an entire world, and consign a million souls to oblivion. May Imperial justice account in all balance. The Emperor protects."
Rule of Fun: "The Last Stand" mode in Dawn of War II and its expansions, which has you and two other players survive against waves of enemies of... many different species, while the players themselves don't even need to be from the same faction. Relic doesn't even try to justify it, it's just for fun.
Running Gag: In Dawn of War II, using drop pods to squish Orks.
Scenery Gorn: Dear Emperor does this series love this! Explosions leave scorched craters, heavy firepower chews up cover, objects are crushed beneath the treads of massive units, buildings get bits of masonry knocked off them before eventually collapsing... The aftermath of a big battle in the game can drastically alter the look of the terrain, bearing all the scars of war proudly.
Eldar Howling Banshees canonically weaponize this trait. "Our cries herald the coming of great pain!"
Separate, But Identical: Players are distinguished from each other with "army schemes". The default ones reflect existing sub-groups of the different factions, but the in-fluff differences between these groups are not reflected, not that this has stopped fans trying to make mods that reflect the proper way things are. In the first Dawn of War however, playing a skirmish match against the computer resulted in all the players of a faction using the same scheme.
Shared Life Meter: As of the Soulstorm expansion, the total health of squads is visible (the earlier games only showed it when the squad was down to a single unit), though individual unit's lifebars are still visible.
Shoot the Messenger: During the Dawn of War campaign, a Chaos cultist brings warning to Lord Bale and Sindri that the Space Marines approach. Bale goes out to meet them, telling Sindri:
Shout-Out: To Prince, of all things, in the original game. Mouse over Sindri in the final mission and look at the bulletpoints in the description box.
In Chaos Rising, if the Ork Weirdboy gets a kill with the Foot of Gork ability he'll usually say this.
Bloodletters also say the above after killing a unit or a squad.
Some of the loot you get in the Ork campaign in Retribution has names and descriptions similar to certain memes, and they're all written in Orky English, which at times bears more than a passing resemblance to kitty pidgin.
Chopped Up Armour description: Dis looks chopped! I can tells from some of da hack marks, and from seeing quite a few chops in me time.
Double Shootah Description: Double Shootah All Dah Wayz! Worr, that's so intense...
This may be a bit of a stretch, but Lord General Castor also, at some points, says that perhaps the enemy will appreciate their "Devotion to the Emperor, and ruthless efficiency." Notably, he says this right after saying that they have lost the element of surprise and that the enemy doesn't fear them.
Sissy Villain: The sorcerer, not so much in the way he is dressed but his voice (in some versions).
Smoke Out: In Dawn of War II and its expansions, Cyrus can be upgraded to have this as an ability, dropping a smoke bomb that stuns enemies as he enters and exits stealth mode, making this both a Smoke Out and a Smoke Entrance.
Smug Snake: Lord Bale from the first game. Despite being Alpha Legion he's focused more on strength than the manipulation that his Legion is famous for, which leads to his downfall by Sindri's hands and eventual death by Gabriel Angelos.
Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: In Dark Crusade, the ending cutscene of the Necron stronghold mission has the pariah discover the (faction-specific) explosive just before it goes off, obliterating him and collapsing the tomb.
Space Irish: Kaptin Bluddflagg's accent has distinct Irish elements to it.
Space Pirate: Kaptin Bluddflagg, complete with pirate hat and pirate accent.
The Starscream: Sindri Myr is a painfully obvious one in Dawn of War (although this is because he is entertaining himself by dropping hints that he knows will go over Lord Bale's head). Archon Tahril is this to Asdrubael Vect in Soulstorm. In fact, it's a good rule of thumb for every single member of the Dark Eldar faction.
Suicidal Overconfidence: "Squads Broken!" will "Keep Firing, Keep Firing!" nevertheless and won't "Fall Back And Regroup!" without player intervention. However, in Dawn Of War II, a suppression mechanic was added, meaning that while the unit may be staying in the same spot, when under heavy firepower, they'll be pretty much ducking their heads and looking like they wish they'd be allowed to run. They will also move slower and attack less often. Some campaign heroes in Retribution add even more debuffs.
Parodied by the Baneblade in Winter Assault and Dark Crusade when attacked:
Surrounded by Idiots: Taldeer's opinion of the Imperials' efforts at the start of Winter Assault. This leads to two short sections playing as the Eldar where she "fixes" their problems for them.
Taldeer uses this mindset again as a justification for Ulthwe Eldar taking to the field of battle in Dark Crusade, realizing that the forces on the planet already aren't going to be able to defeat the Necrons, in her not-so-humble opinion.
Gorgutz's and his Nobz' helpful suggestions. "I'z gonna call that wun Plan: Stupid. I named it after ya'! [and then later] Oi! Why's you grinnin'?" "'Cuz ya' named a plan after me!"
Tactical Withdrawal: Units whose morale have been broken in the first game are only good for this. Dawn Of War II gives most infantry a button to retreat back to their base with, a system from Company of Heroes. However, now you have to make sure melee units don't get too close to your retreating units, since retreating causes them to take extra melee damage.
Said word for word by the Space Marine Force Commander in Dawn of War if his morale is broken:
Take Cover: Certain types of terrain provided defensive 'cover bonuses' in the first game and it's a major feature of the series. Directly drawn from the tabletop game.
Take That: Apparently the team that did Dawn of War II shared many players' opinions about Soulstorm. Not only is Brother-Captain Indrick "SPESS MEHREENS" Boreale confirmed as being killed in action, but Scout Sergeant Cyrus calls the entire Kaurava campaign a "mistake" that dangerously depleted the chapter's manpower.
There's a slightly more subtle strike on one of the loading screen tips: Cyrus' highly successful tactics - based on ambush, planning and precision attacks - were fiercely resisted by Indrick Boreale, but Captain Thule ignored Boreale's complaints.
And yet... Boreale is namechecked in a specific piece of wargear in Dawn of War II; a Sniper Rifle called Cold Mercy used by the man himself during his Scout Marine days, with the flavour text mentioning how Boreale remained unmoving for days in sub-zero temperatures for the opportunity to (successfully) take out his intended target. Perhaps it soured his view on such tactics, or he could have been a better commander had he learned more from Cyrus and that experience.
In Chaos Rising, Cyrus uses this as an explanation for his turn to Chaos, if he is the most corrupted unit in your force.
If you look closely, nearly all the trophies taken from Space Marines (Pile O' Gunz, helmets on the Knarloc and Warboss) are taken from the Ultramarines chapter, considered a Creator's Pet by many 40k fans. invoked
Tank Goodness: The Imperial Guard Leman Russ and Baneblade, and the Space Marine Predator and Land Raider.
Avitus cracked after learning that Chapter Master Kyras was corrupted and that he wars in the name of a minion of Chaos. His actions are implied to be Suicide by Cop. Avitus is all but stated to be the canonical traitor.
Cyrus grew disgusted with the incompetence of the Blood Ravens' command staff, and wants to reform it by any means necessary.
"SIIINDRIIII!" has become a catch-all term for Tzeentchian backstabbing in 40K fandom, as it's Lord Bale's last words to Sindri as he runs off, leaving him to fight the Blood Ravens alone.
Eliphas in Chaos Rising leaves Araghast to die while surrounded by angry Blood Ravens.
Units Not to Scale: To a degree, although from Dawn of War II onwards, you get a much more believable difference in size. Transports, however, are always apparently Bigger on the Inside (The scale offset is consistent with the tabletop, though).
Unorthodox Reload: Scout Marines in Dawn of War 2 and its expansions equipped with Combat Shotguns use the typical action hero reloading method with Sawn Off Shotguns; using the weight of the shotgun to pump it.
Unreliable Narrator: The narrator in Dark Crusade is an Imperial scholar. For some reason, fans of the series disregard this (and the fact that this particular planet has a history of rebellion) and take his alarmist speculations about the human population drop on Kronus in the Tau victory movie as absolute proof that the Tau sterilize the non-Tau populations of their worlds.
Unstable Equilibrium: You get resources for taking points. So whoever can take more points, for example by pushing his opponent off a point and capturing it for himself, has an advantage.
Justified in that were this not the case, matches could very well go on for hours, given two combatants of roughly equal skill.
Useless Spleen: In the first game, Chaos Cultists sometimes yell "Ow! My spleen!" if sent airborne by a heavy blow.
Villainous Breakdown: Lord Carron takes the destruction of his temples very badly. If you ever wanted to hear a Chaos Space Marine cry...
Villainous Valor: the AAR for the Dark Eldar mentions that the Chaos forces resisted heroically.
We Can Rule Together: In Chaos Rising, if Cyrus becomes the traitor he will make this offer to your team when you confront him, though it will be quickly rejected.
We Have Reserves: The Imperial Guard General in Retribution is so cavalier about the massive casualties his army suffers constantly that it's occasionally shocking.
Welcome to Corneria: Most units in the first game have two to four lines for each action (movement, attacking, morale loss, et cetera). The Sisters of Battle in Soulstorm have one line per action on all their units. Averted in the sequel and its expansions, where units have significantly more lines depending on action and context.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Thaddeus, Davian Thule and Elena Derosa are given no mention in Retribution. Subverted with Tarkus, who is actually The Ancient.
Thule does show up in the Chaos campaign, where he is the first boss and is killed.
What the Hell Is That Accent?: The Chaos Cultists of the first game had such an accent, which coupled with a hilariously squeaky voice has become one of the Memetically Narmy things of the game.
There is also Indrick Boreale and his oft-mocked pronunciation of "spess mehreens."
Who's Laughing Now?: Imperial Guard infantry start off weak, but then they start to roll out the bunkers, plasma guns, morale upgrades, and lots and lots of tanks. One of the responses of the Baneblade, their most powerful unit, is literally "Who's dying now?!"
Wide-Eyed Idealist: Brother-Sergeant Thaddeus. Yes, really. The other Space Marinesdo find it a bit naive. He's very young (he doesn't even have a single service stud yet) - one of the youngest leaders to be promoted to squad leader. Ironically, he's also a former ganger.
Do note though that "very young" is relative. Thaddeus left Meridian to join the Blood Ravens over eight decades ago.
Wolverine Claws: Imperial Guard Generals in Winter Assault to Soulstorm, and Space Marine Assault Terminators.
They come as equippable items in Chaos Rising, with sets both for normal and Terminator armour.
The Worf Effect: Dark Crusade and Soulstorm open with movies of Necrons wiping out Space Marines and Battle Sisters ignoring Tau pulse fire respectively.
Chaplain Varnus establishes his credentials by smiting a Bloodthirster single-handed.
There's non-cutscene case of this in the final Imperial Guard level in Winter Assault. When the Necrons show up, they will outright slaughter the Chaos and Ork bases, giving a pretty good idea of what will happen if you try and fight without the Titan's guns.
This also happens to certain characters in Retribution depending on which campaign you play, as a main character from one of the other races will appear as an appropriately weak tutorial boss.
World of Badass: It's Warhammer 40K, do you really need further elaboration on this?
World of Ham: Nearly every unit that talks is as hamtastic as possible. Dawn of War II toned it down a bit, which some fans were disappointed by. Fortunately for them, the villains in Chaos Rising bring the ham. It's like a Saturday morning cartoon with blood and gore!
Let's just say this is the hammiest RTS ever.
Worthy Opponent: The Blood Ravens take no retributive action on the surviving Guardsmen in Soulstorm. The Imperial Guard return the favor to the Blood Ravens: the small number of survivors they return to Segmentum Command, while burying the dead ones, whom they themselves just killed, with full military honors. Inverted with the Dark Eldar Tahril, who considers every enemy but Chaos and the Eldar as idiots.
Would Not Shoot a Good Guy: One mission in Chaos Rising involves having to go up against another company of Blood Ravens to destroy a specific building in order to expose a mole, and those other Blood Ravens have orders to shoot-on-sight. The player is encouraged to avoid unnecessary bloodshed during this mission and play this trope straight. However if the player averts this trope and gets aggressive, it results in corruption points.
Eliphas' fate when his stronghold is destroyed. Which doesn't stop Popularity Power bringing him back in Chaos Rising (luckily this can be hand waved by death being cheap in the Warp). He lasts all the way up to Retribution.
In Winter Assault, a meeting between Gorgutz and Crull ends with Gorgutz casually tripping a Chaos Space Marine as he leaves, just to show he can. Crull orders his Sorcerer to "[e]xecute this fool for EMBARASSING ME!"
You Require More Vespene Gas: Although the exact dependence on the various resources varies between factions, there are two resource types that form the basis of the first two games' economies: Requisition and Power. Requisition is directly tied to the number of Control Points the player holds, as well as how developed the controlling structures are, and is generated quickly. Power is generated by building generators, and is generated slowly. Requisition is typically spent in far greater quantities than Power, although Power is required in ever-greater amounts as the player accesses the more advanced parts of the technology tree; as a result, there is rarely enough Power to go around for everything.