Videogame: Warhammer: Dark Omen
Warhammer: Dark Omen
"You're going into Hell, Bernhardt!"
"I was born there. And call me Commander!"
—Matthias & Commander Bernhardt
is a 1998 tactical Real-Time Strategy
game set in the Warhammer Fantasy
universe. It is the sequel to the earlier Shadow of the Horned Rat
and features captain Morgan Bernhardt and his mercenary company the Grudgebringers as they seek to defeat the Zombie Apocalypse
of the Dread King
The game takes you through a series of missions, fighting against both the Undead and greenskins. The game is infamously hard, owing mainly to the fact that your army is persistent: Any losses have to be recouped, and since the amount of money you get from completing missions is finite, you can easily end up in a negative loop (where you fail to make enough money to recoup your losses, making it harder to make more money and you sustaining even bigger losses...) Any regiment wiped out completely is also Killed Off for Real
. While the game is mostly linear it offers a few "Side missions", that gives you additional rewards (usually bonus regiments) but usually make various battles harder once you get there (as the enemy has more time to prepare)
See Warhammer Fantasy
for the tropes owed to the universe itself.
Tropes used in Warhammer: Dark Omen include:
- Annoying Arrows: Played with; While the toughest units in the game can shrug of arrows, most units most definitely cannot. And archers will slaughter most infantry.
- Anti-Cavalry: Sorely missed, no pikemen or equivalent units are present in the game; cavalry reigns supreme and the best counter against it are other powerful mounted units.
- Arbitrary Head Count Limit: You can only bring a certain amount of regiments with you into combat.
- No Arc in Archery: Averted by archers and some artilleries and mortars that fire a parabolic shot. Other cannons and machines tend to deliver a more swallow projectile by design.
- Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: Charge / Retreat is often heard on the battlefield. Outmatched units that are losing badly will try to disengage due to low moral, an action that render them helpless if they are pursued by a faster unit. Other units are unbreakable and will fight to the last man (or dwarf / elf / goblin / undead / whatever)
- Black Knight: The Undead Army has fearsome ones.
- BFS: They're not called "Imperial Greatswords" for nothing.
- Bow and Sword, in Accord: Human archers are very poor hand-to-hand fighters. Elves and Undead ranged units are however skilled in melee.
- Calling Your Attacks: CHAAAAAAARGE!!!!
- The Cavalry/Conveniently Timed Attack From Behind: Literal and you can execute it very nicely. The enemy is so numerous that sometimes your worst regiments have to engage a better enemy while your cavalry is busy fighting another foe. Once the cavalry is free it can help their comrades in trouble with a powerful charge from the rear or the flanks and save their day.
- A Commander Is You: The player takes the role of an actual character with lot of lines of dialogue and a presence in the battlefield. You are Morgan Bernhardt, the leader of your Grudgebringer Cavalry regiment. Morgan being killed leads to a Game Over.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The abovementioned Arbitrary Head Count Limit? Doesn't apply to the computer.
- Cool Tank: A steam one!
- Deadpan Snarker: Klaus and Morgan. Both of them. As well as Emperor Karl Franz. Generally the characters are either this, Large Ham or a combination of both.
- Death from Above: Artillery regiments have a incredibly long range and inflict massive casualties when their shots land accuratelly on a target.
- Deflector Shields: A magical object and a spell function as them against ranged attacks, but it's not 100% effective.
- The Dreaded: Some enemies, specially elite undead ones, cause fear to other units. Your captains shout it when this happens and it affects the combativity of their regiments.
- Easy Communication: Partially averted: once in combat your troops will fight until one unit breaks and flees. You can do this manually, but expect to take heavy casualties from the ensuing rout.
- Elite Army: Yours basically, the famed Grudgebringer mercenary company. The enemy gets there eventually, it starts with generic Mooks but his quality gradually grows up.
- Flaming Sword: Among several, Grugdebringer, the sword of Morgan that shoots fireballs and gives name to his mercenary company.
- Foe-Tossing Charge: An overpowering, well executed or ill-defended charge can turn into this. E.g charging a panicked and routed unit.
- Fog of War: Only enemy units within line of sight of a friendly regiment are visible. This applies to the computer too, making baits and ambushes a very effective tactic.
- Friendly Fireproof: Averted, ranged and artillery fire should be watched very carefully (a low flying cannonball will hit anyting in his path) and stopped against enemies in proximity to your troops. The captain of a regiment under friendly fire will openly complain about it
- Glass Cannon: Artillery and cannons die very fast if engaged in melee. Even if they survive the encounter they lose their deadly ranged fire for the rest of the battle.
- Hit-and-Run Tactics: A viable method against the continuous waves is to soften up enemy regiments with ranged units (archers, wizards, mounted pistoliers and siege engines) and to lure enemy archers out of their positions with a fast unit or a teleported wizard.
- Hollywood Tactics: Averted by any sensible commander, combined arms is the way to go, the enemy should be softened from a distance before engaged, the regiment formation is important, head-on charges are disencouraged, flanks and rear should be ideally targeted instead, concealed units can still be area-bombarded... The AI is not that bright though
- An Ice Person: The Kislev Ice Mages.
- It's Personal Bernhardt's reaction to the kidnapping of Countess Isabel. Lampshaded
"See to it that she comes to no harm it's... "
"Yes, yes, I know, it's personal."
- Kill It with Fire: The tough mummies are vulnerable to fire. As Luther Flamestrike the Bright Wizard puts it.
"Stand firm men! Flesh that is dead may still burn!"
- Knight Templar: Matthias.
- Large Ham: Just about everyone, but especially Volkmaar.
- Level Grinding: The game is so hard that is very advisable to level up all your units, specially your wizards. Optional misions and detours make the game longer and some missions harder but are provide a good source of experience and sometimes magical items.
- Long-Range Fighter: Archers and specially cannons and artillery, very powerful units that pose a great danger as they can hit and mutilate a regiment in a single shot while sitting safe behind the first line of combat. Weak in melee combat
- Lost Forever: Magical items are very scarce and often creatively hidden or carried by an enemy regiment that can flee the battlefield if panicked, taking the object with them.
- Ludicrous Gibs: Not as bad as more modern games, but the bloody corpses of your enemies WILL be strewn across the battlefield.
- Magic Wand: Wizards can use one. It provides Reduced Mana Cost.
- Mana Meter
- Mighty Glacier: The steam tank
- Mook: Enemies are this in the beginning of it. They then get serious...
- Mounted Combat: One of the smartest tactics is to charge the enemy from the rear or the flanks with your cavalry, while preventing the enemy from doing the same against you with his mounted units.
- Multi-Mook Melee: The basic gameplay in the campaign.
- No Campaign for the Wicked: While orcs and undead are available in multiplayer, the single-player campaign is for good guys only. There is a mod to avert this.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: Some elite enemies are only vulnerable to magical weapons, otherwise your captains will shout "Our weapons pass through them"
- Nintendo Hard: Combine the fatal consequences of loss (either entire regiments or just enough men) with the fact that the very FIRST MISSIONS start you outnumbeered about 2-to-1. By the end-game you'll be facing 10-to-1 odds... OF MUMMIES! The game has a horrible tendency to spawn enemies in the worst possible direction, too. Save Scumming is not an option because you can't save the game during battles and neither is giving orders while the game is paused.
- One-Hit Kill: Artillery fire, deadly when accurate and with a huge range.
- Put on a Bus: The Emperor's leased troops and other autonomous forces temporary join your army from time to time and then depart. Some return in the final missions.
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Numerous
"These towers are plagued by a pestilence that I'm here to cure! WITH STEEL AND FIRE!"
- Pyrrhic Victory: Losing a regiment often calls for a mission restart.
- Rousing Speech: Bernhardt does some of it, admittedly some of them boil down to "HACK! SLASH! KILL!"
- RPG Elements: In addition to unit veterancy, the regiments can be equipped with magical items and can purchase upgrades.
- Save Scumming: Not possible during battles, the mission should be completed in one go.
- Screaming Warrior: Omnipresent.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Routed units will try to regain morale and regroup, but will often flee the battlefield if they are surrounded by enemies and the overall situation looks grim.
- Shock and Awe: One of the best magical items (Banner of Wrath) invokes a spell that drops lightnings over the enemies.
- Siege Engines: Ballistas, catapults, rock lobbers, mortars, steam tanks... the deadliest non-magical units of the game; great range and great destructive power.
- Squishy Wizard: The wizards break havok among enemy lines, but a volley of arrows or a lucky artillery shot kills them quite often.
- Take Your Time: You can swerve from the main course and take on side missions, but the enemy bulk will be on their way, so when you finally arive to the site of the next grand event, you'll find the enemy force much stronger then you could've otherwise or even that the castle you were to defend was taken and now you have to take it back. You also get chewed on by your mentor for your lack of determination. Those quests give precious experience and rare items, though.
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs Both Bernhardt and Matthias insist on being addressed by their proper titles. Bernhardt wins
- Unstable Equilibrium: Lose a critical unit in any battle, and you are royally screwed. In fact, the very instant you see your Fire Wizard drop dead, you might as well restart the battle. Also, having high casualties in one battle and being short of money to refill the ranks usually means that your army won't be at full strength for next battle, leading to heavier casualties, etc. It can degenarte into a downward spiral, where your best option is to restart the campaign and self-impose yourself some "acceptable casualty limits". On the other hand very skilled players who somehow manage to minimize casualties (getting every magical item, specially "Banner of Wrath" is the key) end up having Money for Nothing in the last levels.
- Veteran Unit: Your precious units get experience, gain levels and get more deadly the more enemies they vanquish. ensuring their survival is a vital aspect of the game because if the last man perishes the whole regiment is Killed Off for Real, and that can happen even to a robust regiment if an enemy cannon gets a lucky shot or heavy friendly fire rains on them.
- Villain Teleportation: The computer often executes it masterfully, one of its brigthest moves; a conjurer pop-ups near your army, casts a very harmful spell on one of your best troops and then teleport backs to safety in the blink of an eye. You can try and replicate it with your own wizards, but bear in mind that unlike yours, their ranged units do not need to be given targets manually and will open fire on sight.
- When Trees Attack: But not you, Treeman hates greenskins and is your ally.
- Zerg Rush. The enemy sends wave after wave against your really small army.