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Video Game: Medieval II Total War

Medieval II: Total War is the fourth instalment in the Total War series of strategy games. Like all the other games in the series, it features a mixture of turn-based strategy on a campaign map and real-time tactics on a battlefield. It is essentially a remake of the original Medieval: Total War with updated graphics and the more detailed campaign map introduced in its direct predecessor, Rome: Total War.

As such, the player controls one of many kingdoms in medieval Europe, starting in the late 11th century (shortly before the First Crusade). The goal is to prevail over ones neighbours and carve out an empire to rival Rome. In addition to the lands covered in the first Medieval, this game allows the player to discover America and face the mighty Aztec Empire while expanding his kingdom to the New World.

An expansion pack, Kingdoms introduced four new campaigns in addition to the main European one: The Crusades, the British Isles, the Americas and the wars of The Teutonic Knights. These all focus on a smaller area than the main campaign, while providing greater detail.

This game provides examples of:

  • Absolute Xenophobe: This and it's inversion are possible traits for family members, generals, diplomats, merchants, and priests. It either helps or hurts the person's ability to do their job depending on their role. For example, being a xenophobe helps generals kill other races, it hurts business potential for merchants, it makes priests less susceptible to conversion to heresy, and it hurts diplomats ability to deal with other people's religions.
  • Absolute Cleavage: Implied in some traits.
  • Abuse Is Okay When It's Female on Male: Averted. "Wife is a Bitch" is a negative trait that hurts public order.
  • Accent Tropes: Every nation has their own accents with every agent having their own variation. Even evil generals have different accents from noble and neutral ones. They even throw a few non-English words into the dialogue.
    • British Accents: Sadly the Britannia expansion made the bizarre decision to give Scottish accents to both the Irish and Scottish factions - and the English accent to the English and Welsh. The Norwegians got the generic 'Scandinavian' accent though.
    • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: They throw a few French words into the dialogue.
    • German Dialects: The Holy Roman Empire, for one.
    • Southern Europeans all share one accent. It becomes a little bit jarring when the Byzantine Empire's soldiers (whom are mostly Greek) blurt out lines in Spanish.
    • The Scandinavian and the Eastern European factions all have the same generic accent that's meant to be vague enough to sound either Norse or Slavic. Similar to the Byzantine example above, Viking admirals have an odd habit of saying "Da", when they should be saying "Ja".
  • Acrofatic: You can have a greedy, ugly, cheap pig who loves luxuries (implying fat) and still the general can have enough experience and upgrades to run down an entire platoons with ease (it helps that he is ALWAYS the hardest unit to kill in his retinue).
  • Action Girl:
    • The Delicate Knife retinue is a princess exclusive retinue that indicates she keeps a knife on her at all times. It raises personal security, not that she needs it.
    • If the pope has the trait secretly female, than she can lead armies into battle.
  • Aerith and Bob: England suffers from this a lot; despite ostensibly starting as Norman and Plantagenet England, you can have members of your royal family with Anglo-Saxon names like Tostig, Morcar and Uhtred well into the 15th Century. It gets even worse when you have a general with a very Anglo-Saxon first name and a very Norman surname, such as "Aelfgar Beaufort".
  • Afraid of Blood: This trait gives the general an "unmanly" reputation and decreases soldier morale. The inversion, love of blood, hurts public order by creeping out the citizens.
  • Agent Peacock: You can have assassins and spies like this or you can have their retinue be like this.
  • Aggressive Negotiations: Can be used to force enemies into a settlement if you start conquering them really quickly.
  • Aloof Ally: It is incredibly hard to get an ally to seriously attack a mutual enemy... unless you start a crusade.
  • Alpha Bitch: A princess or wife can be so bad, it can affect a city of thousands.
  • Already Done for You:
    • When someone else finishes a crusade, after you personally head to a city location (that you received through map information trading) and find that an ally conquered it (and now they are mad that you invaded their territory without permission).
    • By the time it takes to ally with every faction, one of them tends to get wiped out and another one or two are in a critical state.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: No matter how much you build up and how high you are ranked in a category, there is probably a faction ranked higher. Especially in unit count and money when the Mongols arrive.
  • Always Someone Better: See Always a Bigger Fish.
  • Ambiguously Evil: It is pretty easy to make a general like this.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Another trait and it hurts popularity and fertility.
  • And Show It to You: Implied when the Aztecs decide to kill their prisoners.
  • Annoying Arrows: It should be noted that it takes skill to use bowmen in Medieval 2 as the arrows are tweaked to do much less damage than in any of the other games in the series. It gets somewhat ridiculous when a peasant walks off the 10th arrow in a row like it was a friendly punch. Nevertheless, the sheer power of their archers gives England an absurd edge over its neighbours, thanks to their longbowmen coupled with reasonably strong cavalrymen and good infantry. See the arrow exploitation in analysis.
  • Anti-Cavalry:
    • Spears, as in other Total War titles, but they have to be good quality spears. Heavy cavalry will just roll straight over weak spear units and you really need pikes or very heavy spears to guarantee bringing a cavalry charge to a grinding halt. Even then, a cavalry cycle might fail, but heavy cavalry will always be a problem for infantry if they are allowed to repeatedly charge them. Spears really come into their own as a counter if the cavalry can become bogged down.
    • Certain archers have an option to deploy stakes pre-battle, which can murder any cavalry that tries to cross them, but are immobile. If the archers need to relocate or the cavalry flanks them, they're useless.
  • Anything That Moves: A taunt often directed at the French.
  • Apocalypse How: You will have so much fun when the plague hits.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Only twenty units can be in combat on a side at once. This can be frustrating if the units you need on the battle field are unable to join by reinforcements, reinforce you as units are destroyed in the order that you DON'T want, or if a few units have a lot of experience but are numbered in the ones (making you lose hard-earned units). All units have the problem that experience is spread to every person in the unit. You could have a unit with five experience, but have only ten men. When you put fresh recruits in the unit, the average experience per person goes down making you lose experience. Also, every experience point is represented by a guy with a unit flag. For every flag bearer that is killed, you lose an experience point.
  • Arch-Enemy/Evil Counterpart/Harmless Villain/The Rival/Worthy Opponent: All are possible and all can be acknowledged.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Comes in the form of dread.
  • Armour Is Useless: Averted for a while. Bullet-proof armor started with plate mail, so guns don't work as well as you would think when they first start off. However, as guns become better, they can ignore ALL armor points.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Longbows, crossbows, axes... it may be a good idea to keep a few unarmoured units around specifically because of the vast range of units who actually get a bonus fighting heavily armoured troopers. This is particularly problematic for nations who invested heavily in upgrading their soldiers armour via the various armoury buildings, as even their militia may be armoured in heavy mail.
  • The Artful Dodger: It's possible for a spy to have one of these as a follower.
  • Artificial Brilliance:
    • Enemy units will end their turn on your watch towers, allowing them to use them instead of you.
    • The AI loves their special agents. Diplomats aren't just going to accept any offer and will make counter-offers that will benefit them. Merchants will try to buy you out and will use very high level merchants to do so. Spies will infiltrate you. Priests will mass convert your population into revolt. Ships will blockade your ports, while armies block your roads, and attack you cities just to hurt your economy.
    • Enemy armies will flee if they spot an army larger than their own. They will also bunch up or combine so that if you attack one, you have to deal with reinforcements.
    • They will hide large armies behind the fog of war and blitz you.
    • The enemy will use terrain and unit placement to easily flee battles they can't win or to fatigue your units.
    • They will attack your siege weapons first (in a city battle).
    • The enemy gets smarter, not stronger when you increase the difficulty.
    • They'll retreat from a battle and as you pursue you'll end up fighting the force you're pursuing and reinforcements hiding in the woods.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • The AI in Medieval II will march a vast army straight across a narrow bridge at you if the battle takes place on one. All you have to do is position at your end of the bridge a pair of Mangonels which are catapults that lob barrels of oil that explode and rain hot death, or if you're lucky, explode on contact with the ground instead, right in the middle of a tightly packed formation of multiple troop divisions in a confined space. It is embarassingly easy to wipe out a 2000 man AI army this way as they keep sending their troops across the bridge until more than half of them die from the exploding barrels and the other half panic and rout.
    • Horizontal-firing artillery is a bit of a liability. Ribault and bombard teams see no problem continuing to fire even when the general himself is standing four feet from the mouth of the cannon.
    • Deploy your longbowmen's stakes behind the gates and watch as the enemy General comes charging through and impales himself, along with all the best cavalry in the opponent's army. This is most fun against the Mongols, since they will inevitably send all of their cavalry through. However, your own cavalry can suffer from this. If you order your cavalry to return back through the same gate (most likely after dealing with enemy catapults or archers), they will happily impale themselves on the stakes.
    • If a Siege Tower is set alight after it reaches your walls but before the ramps drop, the units pushing it will still try to run up to your walls while the siege tower is engulfed in flames.
    • The arrow exploitation in analysis.
    • If a city or castle that's under siege has cannon towers then immediately enter battle with the army waiting outside. They'll stand around waiting for you to arrive while your towers eventually cause them to rout.
  • Artistic License - History: Largely subtle.
    • The presence of Finland in its modern shape with Helsinki as the capital is an anachronism.
    • Scotland is portrayed as essentially "Braveheart Land". Scotland's special units are all highlanders (medieval Scottish armies actually consisted mainly of Scots from the lowlands and border areas) who all seem to be variants on Mel Gibson's William Wallace, complete with ahistorical kilt and facepaint.
    • Rennes (Brittany), Dijon (Burgundy), and Bordeaux (Guyenne/Aquitaine) are generic rebel settlements, while Angers (Anjou) is solidly French. In reality, all three were vassals of the French crown, and "France" itself wasn't really much of a united entity in the High Middle Ages.
    • The Turks are a generic faction, implied to be Seljuk in the earlier period with Ottoman units later on.
  • Ascended Extra: Captains are the commanders when a general or family member is not present and they are vastly weaker. They change depending on what units you have in your army and whether or not the army has been in a city or not. They are also unnamed. HOWEVER, if you win a major battle with one (and he survives, isn't knocked out of combat, or is a reinforcement unit), then he can be given the honor of a name, a offer to be welcomed in the family, and an immediate bonus to commanding skills due to his amazing victory.
  • A-Team Firing/Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Very common with siege equipment attacking units, inexperienced ranged units, and early ranged units (the first guns and peasant archers).
  • Atop a Mountain of Corpses: Fallen and captured units form a nice texture effect of corpses that do not in any way slow down running speed or effect fighting ability among them.
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: Very possible with controlled retreats or when using units that have naturally low morale. A unit can suddenly break and become impossible to command, then they can regroup and charge again. If a unit is surrounded (when being run down), they will go into desperation mode and start a fight to the death.
  • Ax-Crazy: So common that there are SEVERAL traits that describe various types of Ax-Crazy.
  • Bad Ass: Oh where to begin...
    • Badass Bookworm: Generals can have the smart trait, the educated trait, the mentor retinue, the tutor etinue, etc.
    • Badass Bureaucrat: Generals can have nice bonuses to civil keeping while being able to crush their enemies.
    • Badass Princess: The princess can carry a knife to protect them from assassins, not that they need them as 99.9% of assassination attempts against them end with assassin dying.
    • Badass Family: This is a given if you know what you are doing.
    • Badass Grandpa: The more battles a general has won, the stronger he gets even if he's old.
    • Badass Pacifist: This is a possible playing style and is very possible. You can have a horrifically scarred general (+4 to hitpoints) who is a very good peacekeeper who rules through love.
    • Badass Princess: Princess can carry knives to increase security and it's also possible for them to have traits that help them defend themselves.
    • Badass Teacher: A few of the retinue units can count like the seasoned veteran who provides the general with knowledge and command ability.
    • Badass Unintentional: The captains that are caught off guard and pull so awesome a victory that they are offered entrance into the royal family.
  • Badass Boast: Quite frequent.
    • Especially common in pre-battle speeches, for example the Mongol's have "Kill everything who fights you! If a man runs, let him! Cowards die a thousand times inside!"
    • Upon winning a Heroic Battle as a non-Christian faction: "Even the God of our enemies has fled, so great has been our victory".
  • Bastard Husband/Bastard Wife: Ohohohhhh so detrimental to morale and order.
  • Battle in the Rain: Possible and it does effect the units.
  • Beware the Honest Ones: You never expect the trustworthy ones to stab you in the back which makes it jarring when they do. Worse yet, they can ally with your enemy, breaking your alliance without hurting their status.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: If you are excommunicated, even the nicest, most benevolent rulers will sic an huge army on you.
  • Bifauxnen: The secretly female trait for priests.
  • BFG: The monster bombard, also known as the Dardanelles gun, available to the Turks and in mercenary form. Not only it is awesome but it is also the best artillery in the game against fortifications. It however, is horribly inaccurate against troops.
  • Big Bad: If a king or general has high enough dread, they can get a sufficiently intimidating title to match.
  • Big Damn Heroes: A possibility when you bring in reinforcements.
  • Big Eater: A negative character trait.
  • Big Good: If you king has a high piety and/or a high chivalry level, he will receive a appropriate title to match.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: Children of generals that have high dread will get dread as a stating points.
  • Blatant Lies: A prince of a ruined kingdom will offer to reward you if you kill his family. He is Obviously Evil and betrays you if you succeed.
  • Blessed with Suck: There are some. E.g. traits that increases public order at the cost of vastly increasing an assassin's likelihood to succeed at killing you. Another traits that increase combat prowess at the expense of public order due to creeping people out. This is unfortunate if you have way better or younger generals and you need this one to manage a city.
  • Blood Knight: They come in family members, commanders, special agents, traits, and retinue.
  • Blood Lust: A few traits describe this and all of them have some negative effect.
  • Blue Blood: Your generals.
  • Bodyguard Crush: At least one trait is like this.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: A horrifically scarred, battle hardened general still needs to sleep...
  • Bonus Boss: The Aztecs could count as such. Their continent shows up late in the game with several full stacks of units guarding their territory, and unlike real life, those huge armies don't crumble as soon as you get a few horses and guns on the field with them. It helps that the game doesn't simulate their forces being ravaged by European diseases.
  • Book Dumb: A trait you never want ANY of your characters to have.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Rebels are looked down to as scum. Hilariously though, a general with almost no points in loyalty will still give a speech about how "these rebellious knaves" need to be wiped off the face of the earth, then they can become rebels in between turns due to not being in the presence of another loyal general.
  • Border Patrol: Watchtowers and forts are very good defensive structures that provide line-of-sight and defenses respectively.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • English Longbowmen. Not especially great to look at, but until you get hold of some really late-game cannon units, they're unbeatable at range. They're also capable of planting anti-cavalry wooden stakes in front of them.
    • England in general is this. They have a fairly standard mix of archers, spear levies, bill militia, and knights, but can kick ass with impunity.
  • Brainless Beauty: A trait for princesses.
  • Brave Scot/Violent Glaswegian: The ideal talk of enemy Scots is this.
    Scot: I WILL CUT OFF YA HEAD AND SHHHIT DOWN YA NECK!
    • Even the Scots that you control are this.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: While it is possible to turn enemies this way, it is RIDICULOUSLY expensive on the very rare occasions you can convince them to consider it. It's usually easier to just kill them.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Avoid as traits. All of them negative.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: You can't have the royalty of a dozen plus countries not get into this eventually.
  • Butch Lesbian: There are three levels of the lesbian trait for princesses. It goes without saying that marrying them off to a general is harder and makes the pair unfertile.
  • Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards: Moorish Christian Guard, French Scots Guard, Papal Swiss Guard, and Byzantine Varangian Guard.
  • Cain and Abel: Can happen if one family member is very unloyal and turnscoat and you decide to kill the rebel.
  • The Caligula: You don't want your generals to be this.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Averted. The French are the bane of anyone playing the Moors or the Holy Roman Empire. They're always able to pull armies of elite heavy infantry out from nowhere and butcher your forces with ease, and they're very hard to counter early-game. They're also one of the most aggressive factions in the game, sending huge armies against Muslim factions during Crusades and waging war on neighbours for no reason at all.
  • Church Militant:
    • Priests and imams are available as units on the campaign map. As well as improving piety and happiness in the kingdom's provinces, they can also burn heretics at the stake. Having a priest in your army increases conversion rates of the area you army is in. The priest will not say anything about slaughtering civilians (which is not as inaccurate as it sounds).
    • The Pope is fully capable of leading armies into battle like any other king or general. But where a king or general is depicted in armour and a fancy surcoat and carries a sword with which to attack cities on the map, the Pope appears in full Papal regalia. When he besieges a city, instead of hitting it with a sword he hits it with his crucifix-topped scepter. If a faction falls out of the Pope's favour and gets excommunicated (or simply doesn't belong to the Catholic church), be prepared for Crusades to such far off lands as... France.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Possibly. A priest's Piety rating not only affects how good he is at conversion and killing heretics, it'll also protect him from assassins. That's right, in this game, quite literally Jesus Saves (or Allah, for the Muslims). It's implied that he's so widely considered a saint that people don't dare attack him for fear of reprisal. It's also shown in assassination attempt cinematics that your agents travel with retinues of armed guards who may or may not stop your assassins. Since more pious priests would be considered more important, it can be assumed that their assigned bodyguards would be better and/or more numerous.
  • Crazy-Prepared: There are many traits for this.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: The "Foreign Fruitcake" who will sometimes join your generals' retinue. On one hand, it increases Dread, but it also decreases Authority, Command, Piety, morale, chance of having children and public order. A general without many other redeeming qualities who gains this retinue member can become totally useless.
  • The Crusades: Naturally, these play a major part in the game. Even if you're a Catholic faction that gets excommunicated, they can happen to you. On the other hand, if you control the Pope, you can do this to others.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: In the Kingdoms expansion, the super-intimidating Teutonic Order can also have Chivalrous generals.
  • Death from Above:
    • The English longbowmen are pretty much the epitome of this. You'll be hard-pressed any ranged unit that can consistently cause as much damage at long range short of extreme late-game artillery units like the culverin. Longbowmen can get into shooting matches with multiple artillery units and consistently win. Taken even further in the Stainless Steel mod, where the longbowmen have range comparable to most artillery units. And in that mod, Scotland can use them, too. Given the longbowmen's historical successes, this is pretty much Truth in Television.
    • God help you if you need to face the Mongols and their THOUSANDS of archers, many of which have compound bows and are mounted, making them impossible to run down. It's not a matter of if they surround you, it's when.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • Homosexuals are scorned, tomboys are hated, being bigoted is considered a good trait, and a whole lot of other things that are contrast with today's values.
    • There is no possibility of female military leaders, even though it happened (admittedly rarely) in history.
    • No matter how good of a diplomat a princess is, she'll retire to the life of a married woman and disappear as a deployable agent when you marry her off.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything:
    • Nearly anything your generals do can earn them one form of trait or another. Have a general visit or become governor to a town with a brothel? He might pick up a trait about becoming a womanizer. Leave a general between cities at the end of a turn? Might gain a trait regarding logistics. Have a general regularly fight armies of a particular faction, and they'll earn a trait that has them hate that particular faction and get a bonus commanding against them. Hire mercenaries and get a mercenary captain in the retinue, visit a town with an artist's studio and the general becomes a patron of the arts, visit a region with high Pagan religion and get a pagan astrologer or magician in your retinue, and so on. This even applies to agents; for example, a diplomat from an area with majority of one particular religion will be religiously intolerant, while ones from mixed-religion regions will be religiously tolerant.
    • If you're trying to get your cavalry back behind your front line, don't charge them through your bracing pikemen in shieldwall formation. They'll kill your cavalry just as easily as they kill the enemy.
    • Depraved Homosexual: Traits for Generals that imply homosexuality also increase their dread rating.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu??: While difficult, it is possible to destroy the Mongol Faction. If you succeed in such a monumental task, it will feel like this trope.
  • Dirty Coward: Commanders and agents can have traits like this. Obviously, it makes them less effective.
  • Disc One Nuke: The basic English longbowmen have low-tier construction requirements, but have high-tier value. With maxed out armor, they are a capable check against almost any enemy, and highly cost-effective.
  • The Dreaded: A character can keep order with a high Dread rating. Dreaded characters lower the morale of entire enemy armies by their mere presence. This is very annoying when fighting the Mongols, who all have high Dread generals. Use Chivalrous generals to balance it up... or use a general of your own with even higher Dread to make the Mongols break first. With a general whose Dread is maxed out, it's possible to break an entire enemy army by simply charging them. You don't even have to hit them; simply charge the entire army straight at them, and there's a pretty good chance that the lower-morale units break immediately, starting a chain reaction of routing that sends the entire army fleeing. With your faction leader, if you push the Dread high enough and execute enough prisoners/exterminate enough populations, he'll end up with the moniker ''"The Lord of Terror."'
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: A possible trait which increases moving speed on the world map, but decreases morale on the battle field.
  • Elopement: Can be the result of a failed (or successful) proposal by a princess.
  • End of an Age: The Americas campaign for Medieval II: Kingdoms is essentially this for the Native American factions: you could successfully fight off if not outright force out the encroaching European arrivals from the New World...but life would never be the same.
  • Enemy Civil War: Catholic factions who have been excommunicated may suffer from widespread hostility from Papal loyalists, which can be seen as an Enemy Civil War from the perspective of any Muslim factions holding the Holy Land at that point. When the French are sending crusaders to Frankfurt, they're not sending them to Jerusalem...
  • An Entrepreneur Is You: See Good Feels Good on the Analysis page.
  • Evil Pays Better: Instead of occupying a settlement with a minimum of fuss, you can choose to exterminate it, looting and tearing up the place while eliminating part of the troublesome population. This kills off lots of people, gives you the same amount of money as occupation and brings the settlement's public order up a lot due to fear and a large reduction in squalor. See analysis for more detailed information.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Even if you max out a character's chivalry rating, you can still go the other way and max out his dread by making him preform wicked deeds.
  • Fail O Sucky Name: English princesses can be "Maggote" — it's a Middle English variant of Margaret, but come on.
    • French characters can be called "Vilain". It means "Peasant".
  • False Friend: The Papal States. You can be allied with them and have maximum approval, but that won't stop them from throwing a wrench in your campaign with a ceasefire ultimatum, nor will it prevent inquisitors from killing your generals.
  • A Father to His Men: It provides bonuses in morale and makes units less likely to flee.
  • Four-Star Badass: Standard issue.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: A successful campaign sees this happening with your faction. In the beginning, your faction will likely be a piddly backwater. By the end, it will be a magnificent empire that all the other factions are struggling to overcome, or simply resist.
  • Game Mod:
    • The Stainless Steel mod adds new units, retexturing many of the units, adding more historically accurate troops, a wider range of traits and titles, a realistic ageing system, and including several of the Kingdoms factions while adding a few others (including the Mongols!)
    • Third Age: Total War, a total conversion that places the game in the Lord of the Rings setting.
    • Call of Warhammer
    • Westeros: Total War
    • The Thera campaign mod places the campaign map in an alternate Low Fantasy universe.
    • 'De Bello mundi' essentially recreates the world of Rome: Total War with the Medieval 2 engine, adding in Princesses, new factions and a bucket load of historical accuracy.
    • Broken Crescent, which moves the game to the Middle East.
  • Giant Mook: Cavalry can have some fun with the peasants. Also, the elephants, OH GOD THE ELEPHANTS. The only thing worse than elephants is elephants that have SIEGE EQUIPMENT ON THEIR BACKS.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: If a princess has lower-tier lesbian traits, it raises her charm. Inverted if it progresses into a higher tier. If it's obvious than her charm will lower a lot.
  • Gladiator Revolt: The Thera mod has this as part of the background for the Uruk Dominion.
  • Going Down with the Ship: The results of having units stored on a boat. In sea battles, it seems meaningless if you have a few dozen units of spearmen that can board the enemy...
  • Good Is Not Soft: Even the most chivalrous generals are perfectly willing to fight to the death.
  • Good Pays Better: Making your people happy and keeping chivalrous generals around can be very profitable in the long run, as it reduces the chances of revolts and allows higher taxation. See analysis for more detailed information.
  • Going Native: During the Americas expansion campaign, it is possible to invoke this by playing as a native faction and bribing a European General to join your side.
  • Government in Exile: Taking control of Rome and defeating the Pope will result in the immediate election of a new Pope, who generally appears right next to Rome with a sizeable army.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Played straight initially. Early gunpowder units are woefully inaccurate, underpowered and only really good at scaring enemy units. Averted later on, since arquebusiers and musketeers can make mincemeat of whole armies when positioned right. Averted with the Prototype Gun retinue for assassins which make them more likely to succeed in assassinations (they provide no bonuses to sabotage).
  • Guttural Growler: Spies from the Southern European factions speak like this.
  • Handsome Devil: Combine the beautiful traits with dread and you get this.
  • The Hashshashin: Islamic factions can recruit them.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Even if you maxed out a character's dread rating, you can still go the other way and max out his chivalry rating by preforming good deeds.
  • Hello, Sailor!: If you leave a general on a ship for too long, he can turn gay.
  • Hired Guns: Mercenaries are available from the get-go (for a price), ranging from cannon fodder to high-tier units like landsknecht pikemen. On the other hand, they tend to have higher upkeep and grow increasingly irrelevant by the late game as fully professional armies come of age.
  • The Horde: The Mongols and Timurids each arrive from the east in great numbers at allotted times in the main campaign, requiring those factions already present to refocus their defences and fight them off, or else be completely overrun.
  • Horny Vikings: While the main campaign takes place well after the heyday of the Viking raiders, the warriors of Denmark (and Norway, in the Britannia and Teutonic expansion) still bear a good deal of resemblance to the Norsemen of old. However, they correctly do not wear horned helmets.
  • Hunk: Attractiveness can help improve a general's command ability and popularity.
  • In the Blood: If a character has a high enough dread rating, than his sons will also start out with a good amount of dread. The same principle applies to those whose fathers have high chivalry.
  • Involuntary Battle to the Death: When a unit is routing, the enemy will capture them instead of killing them. However, if the routing unit is surrounded and can not escape, then they will fight to the death forcing the other side to kill them.
  • Join or Die: This is a possible option to give enemies, but they will VERY rarely accept to becoming a vassal. You can get offered this choice as well, but it's never really worth it.
  • Kavorka Man: It's possible for unattractive princesses to have high Charm stats.
  • Karma Meter: Medieval II has a Chivalry-Dread axis. Being nice to prisoners, keeping your cities on a low tax rate when your general is governing them, and honorably attacking the enemy head-on builds Chivalry points, which makes characters better administrators and boosts their armies' morale on the battlefield. Dreaded characters aren't much use in cities, but enemy armies who face them will have lowered morale. Dread points are built by performing heinous acts such as butchering prisoners, using assassins, keeping the tax rate high when governing and running down fleeing units... and also by using spies and "fighting dirty".
  • The Knights Templar: Not only do the original Templars show up, but The Knights Hospitallers and The Teutonic Knights make an appearance as well. It's random whether or not you get them (see the Thieves' Guild example below), but to start, they'll approach you about setting up a small Chapter house in your province. Accept, and you can recruit from the order in limited numbers. If you're really lucky, the Grand Master will set up his order's HQ in your kingdom.
  • Lady and Knight: Kind of given in a medieval game.
  • Last of His Kind: The Teutonic campaign in the Kingdoms expansion allows you to play as the Lithuanians, the last pagan people group in Europe. While this grants them access to uniquely pagan units, it also makes them a primary target of the Teutonic crusaders. You can defy this trope by converting to christianity, which is as easy as pressing the yes button when the option comes up.
  • Large Ham:
    • Dreaded generals, regardless of nationality. "ORDAH ME NOT!!! I'M BUSY TORTAHING CAPTIVES!" Chivalrous ones as well, sometimes. "GOTT EHRE VATERLAND! TO BATTLE!"
    • When you send a priest to execute a heretic or witch: "MAY GOD EXPOOOOSE THE UNCLEEEEAAAN!"
    • The video that plays when a crusade is called: "It is time for the armies of Christendom to put aside their differences and unite under one banner, the sign of the Cross, and give back God's children what is rightfully theirs... OR DIE TRYING."
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Some infantry units will charge without being ordered. Most of the time this is what you were planning to do in the first place but sometimes it will mess you up like a unit charging to the other side of the battlefield up a hill and arriving tired or opening the gate to charge opponents on the other side instead of letting archers take potshots at them first.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Even before the formal invention of gunpowder, the Mongols in Medieval II have access to crude rocket launchers.
  • Magikarp Power:
    • Portugal. In the early game, they have good militia and skirmisher units, but that's about it. By the end, they have the best unit roster in the game along with Spain.
    • Scotland starts off very poorly to say the least. One impoverished town province at the start, bad archers, bad cavalry, no gunpowder units at all and respectable but not exactly remarkable melee infantry. The Scotland faction at first resembles the half-finished barbarian factions from Rome: Total War, and usually under the AI, they just get steam-rolled by England in the first few stages of the game. However, if you hang in there, the rewards are great. Highland Nobles are amazing heavy infantry for a low price tag, Noble Swordsmen are Dismounted Chivalric Knights but cheaper and on steroids, Noble Pikemen are the second-best pikemen in the whole game, Highland Noble Archers provide decent ranged support once you have the industrial and logistical base to make a good number of them, and Scotland's decent cannon options blow gaping holes in enemy lines and render the mightiest wall a joke.
    • The Russians. They start off with a handful of relatively poor territories close to the map's edge and early unit roster that isn't all that special. This also makes then potentially easy prey for the Mongols once they show up unless the player really builds up their defenses. But should they persevere, Russia proves to be a force to be reckoned with. In addition to having much more solid soldiers later on like the Boyars, they also have access to musketeers automatically the moment they max out their city walls.
  • The Magnificent: Generals can gain these type of epithets, dependent on their character traits (and, indirectly, success as a leader). They range from the embarrassing ("the Cowardly" or "the Cuckold") to the admirable ("the Just", "the Kind") to the impressive ("the Brave", "the Great", "the Mighty") to the hilarious ("the Lewd", "the Queen", "the Idiot") to the downright terrifying ("the Bloody-Handed", "the Tyrant", "The Lord of Terror"). Sadly, the game only ever uses the most recently acquired epithet, making it entirely possible that a general goes from "the Conqueror" to "the Mean".
  • Mata Hari: A princess that makes a family member or a general elope.
  • Mayincatec: Refreshingly averted in the Kingdoms expansion, where it's repeatedly shown that the Mayans and Aztecs are two very different cultures (the Incas don't appear).
  • Mercy Rewarded: Releasing captives after a battle gives a general chivalry points, which help improve popularity and morale.
  • The Middle Ages: As the title suggests, this game mainly takes place in this period.
  • Mighty Whitey: You can do this in the Americas Expansion. Play as a native faction, bribe a European General to join your side, lose all your other relatives, and suddenly a European General is in charge of your native faction.
  • Military Mashup Machine: For a Middle Ages variant, there is the Timurid rocket elephant, an armored war elephant with a hwacha in the howdah. The description for it runs along the lines of "what sort of sick person would add a rocket launcher to an elephant?!" The Timurids also have cannon elephants. Who would do such a thing? Ditzamer Spofulam would.
  • Mistress and Servant Boy: Implied with the Secret Lover retinue for princesses and the "Cuckold" trait that the general gets when marrying a princess with the Secret Lover.
  • Mister Muffykins: A possible retinue member for princesses.
  • More Dakka: Apart from building your entire army out of ranged troops (a poor choice, by the way) there are 2 units who are this.
    • The monster ribault. 36 guns on a wooden chassis. Which is very nice against enemy infantry charges, by the way.
    • The hwacha rocket launcher. Yes, it's historically accurate. It is however very much Awesome, but Impractical in which it doesn't do really much damage.
  • Multi-Melee Master: If caught in close combat, pikemen will drop their spears and engage the enemy with side-arms (albeit not especially effectively).
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Ordering a chivalrous general to massacre a town or execute a sizable number of captured soldiers causes them to become discontent with their ruler and lose loyalty.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Chivalry points.
  • One-Man Army: While generals and their bodyguards are strong free heavy cavalry a very high dread general can cause entire larger and less disciplined armies to rout through charges before they even close to melee.
  • Parental Neglect: It doesn't always have to be a parent, but the Feels Unappreciated perk which lowers loyalty.
  • Pedophile Priest: May or may not be implied by the Choir Boy retinue that adds piety, though castratos were an important part of the society at the time.
  • Pretty Boy: A possible character trait... which can be passed from father to son.
  • Princess Classic: Very possible for high-charm princesses.
  • Proper Lady: Provides some nice negotiating points to Princesses and nice bonuses when married to generals.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy:
    • Your general's pre-battle speeches may give this vibe especially with the right traits. (Brave, Driven by Rage, Bloodthirsty, Berserk).
    • The Danes, according to their enemy banter. Fitting since in this game they're borderline Vikings.
    • The Mongols. You know when an admiral says "Come ! Let us stain the seas red !" he is one.
  • Rags to Royalty: Captains who win amazing victories can be adopted into the royal family and even inherit the crown. Even if the unit that they were in charge of was a peasant mob.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Implied with certain traits. Most of them give positive effects (being too trusting can give you a decrease to personal security).
  • Rebellious Princess: An eloping princess.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Playing as the Aztecs (along with other Native American factions in Kingdoms) can definitely give this impression. Especially since your likely enemies are heavily armored and brandishing swords, horses and guns.
  • Royally Screwed Up: The highest level the trait Incest can get is Betrothed to Mother.
  • Rule of Cool: Rocket launcher elephants ! Too bad it is pretty impractical and a cheat unit.
  • Running Gag: The two guards who are always there whenever you fail an assassination/infiltration/sabotage attempt.
  • Schizo Tech: In the spirit of the Renaissance, many late-game armies will have high medieval archers and knights backed up with late medieval militiamen, arqubusiers and culverin teams.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Having an enemy join a crusade, but taking too long to get to your destination can cause units to start becoming disgruntled and abandoning your army. Making a crusading army abandon the cause or taking the general out of the crusade will put all your units (in the crusade) in danger of abandoning you in the next few turns if you don't reinstate their crusade status. If you are attacking a far off place, you probably should use a boat, but units can still abandon you at sea.
  • Scripted Event: Medieval II has five: the Mongol Invasion, the Black Death, the invention of gunpowder, the Timurid Invasion, and the discovery of the New World.
  • Servant Race: The option to become another kingdom's vassal.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: The Delicate Blade retinue for princesses.
  • Sinister Minister:
    • It is possible for a priest to become more and more corrupt. This obviously lowers their piety rating, and if you are a Catholic Nation than it makes them more likely to get executed by the inquisition.
    • Some heretics and witches also fit this description.
  • Storming the Castle: If you're a Catholic faction fighting another Catholic faction, you pretty much have to do this if your Papal favor isn't very high, lest you face excommunication next turn when you either don't lift the siege or assault the walls. This is, of course, why packing siege equipment with your army is always a good investment, so you can snatch the city/castle before the Pope gets noisy.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Just like Rome: Total War, the campaign AI takes this Up to Eleven. Factions with no chance of even winning a single battle against you will declare war on your continent-expanding empire and will refuse even the most reasonable ceasefire treaties. The battle AI tends to avert this, however.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Priests with the trait "Secretly Female". This raises her Piety rating, as she is so devoted to her faith that she would risk discovery and death for it. With careful maneuvering, you can even get her elected Pope! This actually reflects a medieval legend about Pope Joan.
  • Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: Somewhat. However, morale, experience, equipment, positioning and numbers (especially numbers) affect things.
    • Heavy cavalry completely slaughters light cavalry (if it can catch it), most infantry, as well as most units in the game. It does less brightly against spearmen and even worse against a pike wall. However, the hard counter to heavy cavalry is missile cavalry.
    • Light cavalry is best used to flank, capture routing enemies, charge archers, peasants or poor quality militia. Do not expect them to survive much against anything else.
    • Spearmen have the edge over cavalry and can hold their own against most infantry. Pikemen, if deployed into pike walls, will completely negate cavalry charges, but are generally poor against anything else.
    • [[Mooks Light infantry]] are generally poor on their own, but are cheap, quick and good for flanking enemy infantry and running down heavy infantry and archers.
    • Heavy infantry beats most other things, except for good gunpowder infantry and charging heavy cavalry.
    • Early ranged infantry are offensive support units, they will wear down anything that doesn't reach it : however when melee units DO reach them in melee...
    • Late-game gunpowder troops is specially effective against heavy armour, although they still die if they enter melee against a dedicated melee unit. Or good archers.
    • Peasants are just plain bad. However, they are effective at being Cannon Fodder, restricting your opponent's movement and harassing ranged troops mostly because they are cheap, numerous and expendable. Basically, they're made to be Goddamned Bats.
    • Missile cavalry is essentially fast archers and light cavalry in a convenient package. Very Difficult but Awesome in that they can completely shut down heavy cavalry and most melee infantry, but need a lot of micromanagement to do so effectively. They do very poorly against enemy archer infantry, though, due to the fact that they'll be outnumbered greatly man-for-man.
  • Talk to the Fist: Oh so possible and oh so satisfying after a diplomat offers you a ridiculous treaty like becoming a vassal.
  • Tempting Fate: The description of the Turks: "After all, how likely is it that an even more fierce and formidable race of nomads sweep down from the steppes?"
  • Tomboy Princess: A possible trait that's usually negative given the Deliberate Values Dissonance. She can still have a yappy dog, though.
  • Upper-Class Twit: A trait you never want your generals to have.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Pay your captured soldiers' ransoms and hear them sigh in relief and cheer, or free captured enemies to earn Chivalry points...
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: ...or refuse to pay for your underlings' failures and butcher captured foes so they may never oppose you again. Assassinate your own family members. Order your princesses to marry their brothers. Deny adopted sons and distant relatives freedom to marry in order to purify the bloodline. If the Pope excommunicates you, order him assassinated. Sack your neighbors' cities or exterminate the population. Order a Spy from a plague-infested town to spread his contagion through your enemy's empire as one final act of spite. Send units or family members you don't want in charges against vastly superior forces. Conquer and sack a city in the Middle East between two Muslim nations, sell it to the Papacy for a few thousand florins and watch the hilarity ensue. Bribe an enemy army to join you and then send them on a suicide assault against their former masters. It's sometimes quite a bit harder to not be extremely cruel and effective than it is to become globally notorious and effective.
  • Vestigial Empire: The Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire, although it's possible to avert its fate in real life. Also notable in that while it has access to strong and outright formidable units early on (like the Cataphracts), it's almost wholly lacking in late game technologies and units, which can put them at a disadvantage unless they're sufficiently trained.
  • Video Game Time: The discrepancy between time scales and character aging. As Medieval II was built on Rome's engine, characters still age by one "year" every two turns (the same as in Rome), but for balance purposes each turn lasts two years. Thus the impression that characters only turn a year older every four years.
  • Violence is the Only Option: The AI never seems to learn. You'll be thrashing it, then either the Pope will make you stop or they will offer you a substantial amount of gold to let them go. Then a few turns later, they seem to forget this and attack you again. This can lead to several long and costly wars throughout the campaign. The AI in general is famously stubborn. At times, it will not even accept a gift of all the territories the player has seized in a war, and that is a gift, with no ceasefire. You enemy will NEVER accept becoming a vassal even when their last city is surrounded and you decide to spare them. You can offer them (using a diplomat with the highest negotiation level) so much in return that the offer can become "very generous" and they will still refuse.
  • Women Are Wiser: A rare combo, but it is possible. You can have the general have an idiot trait and a trait for a smart wife. Having a smart wife increases tax revenue.
  • Zerg Rush:
    • Zerging is a viable strategy against the Mongols and Timurids. When they first appear, they're just unsupported armies with no cities backing them up, which means that any Mongol or Timurid warrior you kill stays dead and cannot be replaced. You can replace your losses; they can't.
    • During tactical battles, zerging is an effective way to quickly end a siege if you're willing to trade a lot of casualties for a decisive assault. Pour everything you've got into a breach in the walls to force the defenders back due to the sheer mass of your troops. Then, send entire units of heavy infantry to charge through the enemy lines at full speed. This will usually result in heavy losses, but if you send enough men charging through the enemy formation, they will eventually break through, causing a general rout.


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alternative title(s): Medieval II Total War; Medieval 2 Total War
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