main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Kickstarter Message
TV Tropes Needs Your Help
Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
View Kickstarter Project
Video Game: Stronghold
"Greetings, sire! Your stronghold awaits you!"

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

Currently, the series consists of these installments:

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

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

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

This game series provides examples of:

  • 0% Approval Rating: The peasants' opinion of the player really is expressed as a number out of one hundred, and the workers will begin to desert if you impose high enough taxes or refuse to feed them.Even though torturing and menacing them with certain decoration will make them so afraid to opposed you that they will increase in productivity, as long as you have enough positive boosts to balance it.
  • Animal Motifs: The four main enemies in the original Stronghold are called "The Rat," "The Snake," "The Pig" and "The Wolf." The Wolf has a growly voice and paces around, The Rat has a squeaky voice and is twitchy, The Pig actually oinks and grunts and The Snake uses Sssssnake Talk. Each required much more varied tactics than the last.Crusader's most difficult battles pit the player against King Richard Lionheart.
    • Continued on, though other motifs and sobriquets have crept in as well. For example, in Stronghold 2 you have Lady Seren, "The Lamb"; and Angus Mc Loud,"The Bull", while Stronghold 3 has "The Jackal".
  • Annoying Arrows: Both played straight and subverted:a small squad of archers can only take down weak, single targets, but make some dozens and station them on top of a tower to mow down pretty much anything not wearing metal armor.
    • A garrison of crossbowmen is more expensive, has a shorter range and slower fire rate, but can take down any unarmored soldier in one shot, and heavily-armored ones in two-three.
    • In Stronghold 3, archers tend to really get kills going once they're firing. Which can cost you many a tight mission when the enemy Archers are all firing as a group while your own are... well, not reacting to getting shot at.
  • Anti-Poop Socking : Your scribe (advisor) would occasionally say things like "How about a snack my liege?" or "You have been playing for a long time." depending on how long you have played.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The AI doesn't seem to understand that when you tear down its village's hovels, it should build new ones. Sigh.
    • Even more when you destroy buildings by torching the enemy castle, as they will rebuild their facilities on the same spot while it's still burning, fueling the fire further until they have no resources left.
    • Or how about stopping when a unit they are ordered to attack dies, even though the rest of his buddies are still firing loads of arrows at them?
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The Lord is by far the most powerful melee unit, although his usefulness is limited because he moves very slowly and you lose if he dies.
  • Badass Grandpa: In Stronghold 3 The Wolf is looking noticeably older and badass this time round.
  • Badass Mustache: Sir Longarm.
  • Bears Are Bad News:
    • Bears can be quite annoying, especially if you haven't had time to recruit soldiers yet. However, if you have enough resources you can Take a Third Option and wall them in. Voila, a zoo!
    • And then there are the dancing bears, which you can place in order to raise the morale.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: In Stronghold Crusader, if you have your fear factor set to the happiest, your soldiers fight far more fiercely in your defense...
  • Black Comedy / Gallows Humour: Plenty of it, especially in the briefings and cutscenes. It's rather appropriate and nicely fits the down-to-earth portrayal of life in the Middle Ages offered by the game.
  • Bloodless Carnage: In Stronghold 2 and onwards. Averted in the original and in Crusader, which featured bloody death animations for every sprite that were different depending how the unit died.
  • Booby Trap: For players to set up for each other.
  • Book Ends: Loosely for the first game. Your first and last enemies in the original Stronghold's campaign that you will fight? Wolves.
  • The Brute: Macemen in the original and Crusader and Viking mercenaries in Stronghold 2.
  • Citadel City: The game allows you to build a somewhat realistic version.
  • Command And Conquer Economy: You expect the villagers to hunt for food on their own? How silly! Now build them a hunter's post!
  • Construct Additional Pylons: Or rather, construct additional hovels (to increase the number of your possible population).
  • Cool Old Guy: Sir Longarm.
  • Credits Gag: Sort of. After every map you kill one of the Four Tyrants the "victory feast" screen shows an item associated with that villain (such as the Rat's helmet being used as a candle holder and the Snake's eyepatch impaled with a dagger).
  • Critical Existence Failure
  • The Crusades: The setting for Stronghold Crusader, specifically the era of the Third Crusade.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Tunnelers. "Let me guess. Digging." Ask them to attack someone for extra fun.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: The Hawk in Stronghold 2. His power and influence rival Barclay's, and he has a much more direct and significant role in the story. He's the one who came up with the whole plan to overthrow the King in the first place, as well as the one who put it into action, i.e. hiring the Viking Warlord Olaf to attack the country, poisoning the King, orchestrating the capture of Sir William, and disbanding the King's army.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: In the first game, the other villains talk the Rat into trying to betray you, than threaten him into overextending himself against a lord who rises in your support when he hears about the betrayal. His plan was to pull his forces back to his own stronghold and wait for reinforcements instead of smashing his armies against your walls, which probably would have worked.
  • The Dung Ages: Subverted. This trope is more often than not affectionately parodied.
    • In some gametypes of Stronghold 2, dung will actually start piling up in your town, and you have to hire sanitation workers to clean it up.
  • Easter Egg: The narrator has a certain number of preset names to call you with if you use them.
    • Vader, for example.
      • Or Flying Poo!
    • During Christmas time, in a team match, your allies will wish you a merry christmas.
  • Easy Logistics: Mostly averted or at least subverted (except for building, since all structures appear instantly after you place them in the desired location). You generally need to set up a lot of basic production chains to get your economy and army up and running. Example: You need to send woodcutters to chop down trees, then wait till they bring it to your stockpile, then you use the wood to construct a farm, mill and bakery. Now your peasants will be fed and relatively happy. You can set the amount of rations for them anytime you like, depending on the situation. The amount of rations increases or decreases morale. Now, you want to train, say, a crossbowman? You first need to build a tanner's and fletcher's workshop and a dairy farm. The tanner will occasionally visit the dairy farm, take a cow back to the workshop, slaughter it and start working on 3 new padded leather armors for the archers. In the meantime, the fletcher manufactures the crossbows and bolts. Both craftsmen put their products in the armoury (but only if you've already built one!). And that's not all: Finally, you have to build a barracks and have enough gold and unemployed (unoccupied) peasants, so you can train them into soldiers. Quite a lot of work for a strategy game, eh?
    • Except, curiously, that as soon as your peasants are drafted into soldiers they no longer need to eat. Or need a place to live in.
  • Evil Gloating: The Four Tyrants are fond of this.
  • Evil Laugh: The Pig is really fond of this. The Wolf gets an opportunity to do this near the end, too.
  • Explosive Breeder: "Rabbits are breeding at an alarming rate, liege! Our crops are threatened!"
  • Feudal Overlord:
  • Five-Bad Band: The four Tyrants in the first game, although they lack a Dragon.
    • The Big Bad: Duc Volpe (The Wolf)
    • The Brute: Duc Truffe (The Pig)
    • The Evil Genius: Duc Beauregard (The Snake)
    • The Dark Chick: Duc DePuce (The Rat)
    • Stronghold 2 has:
    • The Big Bad: Lord Barclay, AKA "The Hammer".
    • The Dragon / The Evil Genius: Pascal Devereux, AKA "The Hawk"
    • The Brute: Shared by Viking Warlord Olaf Grimtooth and Scottish Clan Leader Angus Mcloud, AKA "The Bull".
    • The Dark Chick: Edwin Blackfly, AKA "The English Traitor". Rather similar to the Rat.
    • Stronghold 3 has:
    • The Big Bad: Duc Volpe (The Wolf)
    • The Dragon: The Jackal, who also serves as a Warm-Up Boss as you face his men early on.
    • The Brute: Shared by sons of Duc Truffe (The Pig), Bishop Redham and Earl Swinefoot.
    • The Dark Chick: All three of the Rat's sons; Rupert Silverback, Greytail, and Rodger Scabcoat
    • The Sixth Ranger: The Archbishop in the Blackstaff Campaign.
  • Fourth Wall Mail Slot: The Wolf's Twitter account.
  • Fragile Speedster: Arabian archers.
  • French Jerk: The Hawk. Even though he's Sir William's brother and lives in England.
    • Perhaps he's simply being more of a Norman?
  • Glass Cannon: Archers and slingers.
  • Ye Goode Olde Days: Once again, affectionately parodied - to hell and back.
  • Hello, Insert Name Here: In Stronghold Crusader, naming your profile after any of a couple of hundred common English names (or "Vader") causes the narrator to refer to you by that name out loud (otherwise, he just calls you "my lord.")
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Rat is all but forced by the other lords into attacking a lord that's allied with you, just when you're about to attack his castle. Finding it incredibly underprotected, you quickly take it over, beef up the defenses, and attack him when he's coming back from his unsuccessful siege. Given the fact that he was retreating to his castle with his defeated forces, he doesn't put up much of a fight.
  • The Jester: One of these goes around entertaining/annoying your people. At one point in the military campaign between missions your jester sings a song about your victory over the Rat's troops to the tune of Greensleeves.
  • Kill It with Fire: In Stronghold Crusader, slaves or ballistas can be used to set fire to the castle of any computer opponent one doesn't actually feel like fighting. The brilliant AI replaces the destroyed buildings while the rest of his castle is still on fire, until eventually he runs out of resources.
  • La Résistance: Your faction in the original Stronghold.
  • Large Ham: Pretty much everyone. Most notable is the narrator in Stronghold Crusader. The narrator was, um, quite enthusiastic about his job, narrating pretty much everything.
    • SAVING!!!
      • LOADING!!!
    • EAT STEEL!!
    • Also the Wazir when he's defeated: "This was not foretold, I should not die, noooo..."
  • Laughably Evil: The Rat.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Knights and lords, when on horseback.
  • Man on Fire: Igniting pitch ditches will result in a spectacular display of pyrotechnics and people running around screaming as fiery silhouettes.
  • Medieval Morons: The armed peasants and spearmen from Stronghold 2, whenever you give them orders; "I'm confused." "What's going on?"
  • Mighty Glacier: Knights and lords when not on horseback.
  • Never Found the Body: You impaled the Wolf, twisted the blade, and he fell down from his keep. But did you ever recover the body? No. Now, guess who is back for Stronghold 3...
  • Obvious Beta: Due to frequent crashes, lacking features from previous games, and the sheer number of bugs, Stronghold 3 could be argued that it's more of an Obvious Alpha.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: The original's main menu background music.
  • Oop North: Your soldiers' accents in Stronghold 2.
  • Real Time with Pause
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: One of the few completely unrealistic aspects of the series, for pretty obvious reasons. Enemy troops coming? Just click and drag and you have a wall (if the enemies aren't already too close to its location).
  • Savage Wolves: They come in packs, and they kill your villagers. As well as in human form as your most dangerous and enduring adversary.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Implied with the Wolf from the original.
  • Shown Their Work: Though some of the graphics and aspects seem a bit cartoony, the workings of an average medieval castle (production chains and features like morale and army building) are depicted fairly realistically.
  • Shout-Out: Naming yourself Lord Vader in Crusader causes the narrator to refer to you verbally as Lord Vader.
  • The Siege / Storming the Castle: The most usual military activities of both you and your adversaries. The attacker has a limited number of units, and the defender only has to outlast the siege to winnote . This is true for you as well: player sieges are as much an exercise in efficient unit use as they are about killing everyone in the target castle.
  • Smug Snake: The Snake, fittingly enough, is vain, snide and sneering, and utterly full of himself, even though he's not that much of a threat. He's also prone to panicking and pleading for mercy when things don't go his way. The Rat would probably qualify if he were only a little more confident...
  • Staying Alive: The Wolf is back for Stronghold 3.
  • Suicide Mission: During siege those running in first rows are highly unlikeable even to come close to the walls. If defending castle have tar pits, then its whole first groups.
  • Technology Levels: introduced in Stronghold 2, but it's optional, and most players set the option to off for multiplayer mode.
  • Tin Tyrant: The Wolf. The Rat and the Pig also wear plate armor, but the Snake prefers fancy clothes instead.
  • Too Dumb to Live: In Stronghold Crusader, the Rat sometimes builds access stairs on the outside of his castle walls.
  • Troll: The Wolf has a twitter account, where people can ask him questions. His replies aren't very nice, and he doesn't answer questions which he finds stupid. He is also an Internet Tough Guy, and threatens people with torture and sieges.
  • Tower Defense: A more complex version than most; "Castle Defense," really, but still, 80 percent of the time, you're on the defense rather than on the offense. Rarely, you play a siege mission where you use your own troops to destroy an enemy castle; ever more rarely, you can have a castle-vs-castle section where you can keep building your own troops to throw at the enemy.
  • Tunnel King: Tunnelers.
  • Vague Age: The Rat is an Unexpected Successor obviously unsuited to the job and gets bullied by the other three lords, he's also scrawny with a high-pitched voice and acne. According to the official strategy guide, he is nineteen years old.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: The player can improve the peasants' happiness by building "good things", mostly entertainments like gardens, maypoles and dancing bears. The drawback is that these features make the castle's citizens work less efficiently.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Conversely, the player can also build "bad things" like gallows, gibbets and dungeons to make the peasants work harder (at the cost of popularity).
  • Villain Ball: The Snake in the first game liked Wine, which led directly to the survival of the resistance and the downfall of the Tyrants, including himself.
  • Villainous Glutton: The Pig. Justified, though: when he was younger he was underfed, and after he took control of the bandit gang that raised him he made sure to always get the best food for himself.
  • Warrior Monk: "We are the Black Monks."
  • You Killed My Father: The Snake tricked your father, and the Wolf killed him (which he really likes gloating about.)
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Or rather, "You require more wood, stone, gold, honour, swords, spears, pikes, armor, and/or bows."
    • "Not enough iron, mylord..." "Wood needed..." "You do not have enough gold to train this unit."
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: In the original, seagulls would fly down into the ocean for fish before flying back out.

Sid Meier’s Pirates!Creator/Take-Two InteractiveWWE Video Games
StrandedConstruction And Management GamesTheme Hospital
StartopiaSimulation GameStyle Savvy
Strike Suit ZeroWebsite/GOG.comSudeki
StormriseReal-Time StrategySuper Robot Wars
Strange Adventures In Infinite SpaceUsefulNotes/Apple MacintoshSummoner

alternative title(s): Stronghold
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy