The Battle for Wesnoth is a free, open-source Turn-Based Strategy computer game, available here. It boasts heavy community development, being almost entirely developed by people who are essentially just dedicated fans. Wesnoth has a large and active multiplayer community, including a competitive ladder, with skirmishes or custom-made scenarios being the main multiplayer game types. Apart from that, there are lots of single player campaigns, both 'mainline' (i.e. shipped with the version available for download) and user-made, available from the add-on server, giving it impressive replay value for a freeware game.It was designed to feel a lot like a console-style Tactical RPG (such as Master of Monsters and Langrisser), but while taking advantage of the PC's inherent user interface advantages. It differs from them notably by having a large luck-based component, and by being extremely well balanced. The game's setting is traditionalHigh Fantasy, heavily Tolkien-inspired, by the admission of the dev team.Wesnoth's main multiplayer "era" features the following major playable factions:
A few of the game's more major mainline campaigns are the following:
The South Guard, a campaign that serves as an "introduction" to Wesnoth. You play as a young knight appointed to lead the South Guard and eventually fight bandits, ally with elves and fight undead (and necromancers). You also have a choice in scenario 5, whether to ally with the elves or the bandits..
Heir To The Throne, the original campaign around which the game was first designed. An exiled prince joins with a group of rebels to overthrow his corrupt aunt, the queen. It turns out that, in fact, he isn't the prince at all, but someone groomed as his replacement, after the original died as a baby. By the time the player wins, the princess, who they have turned to their side during the course of the campaign, assumes the throne instead, eventually marrying him after being told they're Not Blood Related.
Northern Rebirth, in which a group of former slaves form La Résistance, and overthrow their former masters, creating a new power in the world, the Northern Alliance.
The game's community is constantly expanding upon it, by improving its mainline spec, and by developing user-made content. Numerous well-used add-ons exist, including additional campaigns and additional multiplayer eras which add new races, factions and species to the game. As with much open-source software, the game is in continual development in many aspects, including artwork and music, user interface, adding campaigns to mainline and many others.So, welcome to Wesnoth. Enjoy!The game features, among others, the following tropes:
After the End / Crapsack World: Under the Burning Suns takes place long after the fall of men and elves. The only groups fit enough to survive in a world where the days are scorching hot and the nights are hauntingly cold are the orcs, who use brute force to occupy areas with more favourable conditions, small groups of elves, who had to abandon their old habitats and adapt to the climate, the occasional human wanderer who moves from ghost town to ghost town, scavenging whatever one can find and playing a losing game of hide-and-seek with the undead that roam the land, and the dwarves and trolls who may have evaded the suns' wrath in their underground tunnel networks, but have become ensnared in a Forever War against each other. The user-made campaign Invasion from the Unknown and it's sequel, After the Storm, take this Up to Eleven, adding strange biomechanical aliens (the Shaxathal), demons, and a Nigh InvulnerableBig Bad, the Master of Darkness, who is, in fact, only a minion of a greater evil: Uria the ruler of Hell.
Animate Dead: Most of the Undead are supposedly created this way, though for obvious balance reasons it takes gold to raise new undead using your leader unit. The only exception of the Plague ability, which can be used to raise free Walking Corpses from slain enemies.
Anyone Can Die: In the final scenarios of Dead Water, The Eastern Invasion, Liberty, The South Guard (on the outlaw branch) and Under the Burning Suns, you don't need to keep anyone alive except your leader. Even allies you've had to protect for the entire rest of the campaign, such as Nym, are expendable.
Arabian Nights Days: The fan-made downloadable campaign To Lands Unknown let you play as the "Summoners", a race of magical arabs complete with scimitars, flying carpets and summonable djinns.
Arrows on Fire: Primarily used by the Orcs, who shoot incendiary arrows/bolts from their bows and crossbows, often with devastating effect against the undead (primarily ghosts) and Woses. One wonders as to why the other races never thought of using burning arrows and torches (which the Orcs also use) as a simple and easy way of combating the fire-weak undead without having to train expensive and delicate mages...but the reason rears its ugly head before long. And the other reason follows soon after.
Authority Equals Asskicking: Somewhat present. A unit with the leadership ability will only confer bonuses on units of lower level, so a leader unit is stronger than any of the units under its command. However, a combat unit that is not a leader will be stronger than a leader of equal level. For example, a General (lvl 3) is stronger than a Swordsman (lvl 2) but lesser than a Royal Guard (lvl 3).
Badass Normal: Tallin, The Hero of the campaign Northern Rebirth. Just a young slave-turned-rebel leader who throws off his orcish masters, forges an alliance with dwarves, elves, and a pair of (un)dead mages, and forges the Northern Alliance, one of the dominant powers in the Wesnoth world. His personality fits the role of The Hero perfectly.
BFS: Several melee units, enhanced by the disproportional nature of the sprite artwork.
Bilingual Bonus: Coupled with Genius Bonus for various portraits, particularly the dwarves, for whom the artists often include little messages and jokes in Futhark runes. See Knuckle Tattoos, below. Other real-world scripts are also used, though not so blatantly, including cuneiform. Indeed, a variety of Con Lang fonts and scripts have been created for many of the races and species.
The runes on the armour of Karrag, The Hammer of Thursagan's Big Bad, spell 'hot'.
Blade Below the Shoulder: Used straight by Drake Flares/Flamehearts. Drake Fighters/Warriors use a cross between this and Wolverine Claws - they have a single blade, but it's mounted perpendicular to the wrist like a claw.
Blade on a Stick: Multiple units use these; the most obvious example is the Loyalists' Spearman, and one of its advancement lines (Spearman—>Pikeman—>Halberdier).
Bow and Sword, in Accord: Most Elvish units, the Orcish Ruler line and the Orcish Warlord. Some Loyalist units, like the Duelist, Dragoon and Lieutenant, also use swords and crossbows. And almost every archer in the game has a short sword or dagger for retaliating against melee attacks.
This is a popular combination for leader units, including Konrad in Heir to the Throne, Haldric in Rise of Wesnoth, and Tallin in Northern Rebirth.
Breath Weapon: Drakes. All of them can breathe fire, though the Clashers can't do when wearing full armor, and hence, the Clasher-line units have no fire attack in-game.
Cannon Fodder: Level-1 units hired in campaign missions to draw enemy flak away from your veterans, with any lucky survivors possibly leveling up to become veterans. Also, every unit in multiplayer with the exception of your leader, leveled or near-leveled units, and certain expensive and/or hard-hitting units like Mages or Gryphon Riders whose survival is critical to the success of your attack. Played straightest by the Orc Grunt, Spearman, and Elvish Fighter, all of which are cheap and efficient units that appear in practically any battle which their factions are involved in, taking heavy losses, and frequently being replaced.
This happens in Northern Rebirth, when the player is fighting through the above-mentioned Inescapable Ambush. Krash, after having flown off unexpectedly at the start of the mission with Tallin & co. thinking that he had had enough of them, reappears with a horde of Drakes a few days later, ready to break the siege.
Another Cavalry-moment occurs, literally, in the Legend of Wesmere scenario, 'Human Alliance'. The elves and Wenothian humans have been duking it out non-stop against endless hordes of Orcs for nearly three days in the Battle of Tath, when suddenly, King Haldric 2 arrives with a Paladin, several Knights and a squadron of Horsemen. The Orcs retreat simply out of fear(and have still not managed to break the defenses of Tath), and the scenario ends there and then with victory for the player.
Yet another very similar Cavalry-moment occurs in the Son of the Black Eye scenario, 'Clash of Armies'. Earl Lanbec'h and his elvish and dwarvish allies Thelarion and Durstang have been besieging the Orcish city of Prestim for four days when the Shamans of the Orcish Great Council show up, with the Great Horde behind them ready to steamroll the opposition. Lanbec'h retreats immediately, and the player wins the mission by simply having held out that long.
Character Level: Not only main characters, but pretty much every unit, can go through a few level-ups. In each level-up, units get changed to a more powerful or specialized evolution with new abilities. Eventually, they reach their maximum level, after which they cannot gain any more levels and instead get small HP bonuses and heals upon collecting more XP.
Cincinnatus: Kalenz from Legend of Wesmere has a habit of doing this.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Units have parts of their armor or weapons color-coded to match their faction's livery - which doesn't mean anything except for being able to make out who's who on the minimap.
A Commander Is You: The Wesnoth factions follow the trope to an extent, but most of them are hybrids of the various categories:
Loyalists - Mario faction - completely lawful, terrain independent, highly versatile, but with limited mobility. Stronger than anyone else at daytime, but weaker than everyone else at night, the Loyalist play-style is often characterized by a time-of-day based cycle of attacking and retreating.
Rebels - Mario/Ranger faction - slightly lawful, Forest-preferring, with extensive ranged combat abilities, also fairly versatile. Among the Rebel units, the elves are neutral, while Woses, mermen and magi are lawful. All Rebel units except for the Wose have ranged attacks.
Drakes - Elitist/Ranger faction - mixed lawful/chaotic, terrain independent, excellent mobility, follows a hit-and-run style of combat utilizing the day-night cycle, with great attack strength but poor defensive ability. Heavily immersed in Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors. The Drakes all have some aspect of Glass Cannon and are lawful, while the Saurians all have some degree of Fragile Speedster and are chaotic.
Knalgans - Brute Force/Elitist faction - somewhat chaotic, with terrain independent Outlaws and Hill/Mountain-preferring dwarves. Has a duality between the chaotic outlaws and the neutral dwarves. Possesses no elemental weaponry, no poison and no magic, but does have units possessing unique abilities, like the backstabbing Thieves and the relentless attack of the Dwarvish Ulfserkers. Except the Ulf, all of the dwarves have some aspect of Mighty Glacier, while the Outlaws are faster and cheaper, and are sometimes played as an independent sub-faction in themselves, called "Hodor".
Northerners - Spammers/Brute Force faction - highly chaotic, somewhat hill-preferring, melee-oriented, utilizes cheap yet tough units to overrun the enemy force with sheer numbers. Except for the Archer and Assassin, all Northerner units are melee-focused, and are thus easily attacked by enemy ranged units. The Northerners have a time-of-day based attack-retreat cycle, but are not as heavily dependent on it as Loyalists and Undead, and can often use their numbers to simultaneously put pressure on different fronts and wear down the enemy.
Undead - Technical faction - completely chaotic, terrain independent, slow-moving, and highly resistant to some attacks, while being very weak against others. Very deeply immersed in Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, with a complex system of weaknesses and strengths and a variety of special abilities. All units except for the Bat and Adept have the "undead" trait, which means they are immune to poison, draining attacks, and zombie-plague. The Undead are, like the Loyalists, heavily time-of-day dependent, very strong at night and correspondingly weak at daytime.
Of course, this all is at best a generalization, with many individual units and different match-ups altering a faction's play-style. The Loyalists certainly have Brute Force units, the Rebels can be quite Technical (using Slow, Ambush, etc.), and so on.
Court Mage: Several, though Delfador is easily the most famous.
Crippling Overspecialization: Largely averted by most melee-only units, which tend to make up for what they lose in ability to return ranged attacks in kind with an edge in toughness and raw damage potential over their "mixed" counterparts once their turn comes up. Played rather more straight with the ranged-only Dark Adept (which thus instead has no ability to strike back at attackers in melee) and the Horseman and Dwarvish Ulfserker (plus their higher-level Lancer/Berserker counterparts) with their respective exclusive death-or-glory type attacks, however.
Crutch Character: In Heir to the Throne, it's best to just avoid giving Delfador experience ever. Easier said than done in the beginning where he kills most things in one turn.
Curb-Stomp Battle: The Pebbles In The Flood mission in The South Guard, where you're just trying to hold off an unbeatable infinite swarm of undead for as long as possible.
Dark Is Not Evil: Helicrom, one of the allies you find in Liberty, is a firm believer in this, and helps you out against necromancers despite being a dark magician himself. His unit description, however, says that few mages manage to remain in the dark arts without completely insane.
Dark Lord: There are quite a few across the various mainline campaigns, and most Lich Lords would probably qualify, especially Mal Ravanal of The Eastern Invasion.
Death Isnt Permanent: Averted. Even vital game-loss units cannot be brought back to life, let alone generic units. Two White Mages in the Northern Rebirth campaign, however, play this one straight, though, resurrecting one another if they're killed.
Decapitated Army: Killing the leader(s) of an enemy force usually automatically wins the game, though on some occasions mission-specific conditions still need to be fulfilled.
In games with more than two players, killing any of the leaders doesn't stop their forces from harassing you. It is only when you kill the final enemy leader that you instantly win.
Depending on the Writer: As an open-source project, development is decentralized, and so pretty much all the campaigns are user-created by a fairly wide variety of people who may not be directly collaborating. Although campaigns that blatantly contradict established facts are generally not admitted into the canon, there are still several things within the canonical campaigns that vary depending on the writer, such as the portrayal of Orcs and Trolls, and the extent to which they are or aren't Always Chaotic Evil.
Difficult but Awesome: Drakes, and Undead, if played well in multiplayer, generally for the very same reasons that lead to them being Poor, Predictable Rock otherwise. All the factions have potential for awesome, but some are more straightforward and generally easier to get used to than others.
Elite Tweak: Some unit level-ups, instead of just improving the unit's existing stats & abilities, dramatically change the role and function of that unit, and are often priorities to level-up in campaigns. For example, the Level 1 Mage can level-up into the White Mage, going from being a magical Glass Cannon to an Undead-dispellingmedic. Or the Ghost upgrading into the Shadow, going from a low-damage draining support unit to a skirmishing, nightstalking, backstabbing killer.
Endless Game: Descent Into Darkness ends in an infinite loop of the last scenario, appropriately titled "Endless Night". The player character even hangs a lampshade after this scenario is finished a few times.
Enemy Civil War: Various campaigns, including Northern Rebirth(where you exploit one) and Legend of Wesmere(where you cause one).
Evil Is Deathly Cold: Three base-level units and (in the last case some of) their advanced versions are capable of inflicting cold damage — the Dark Adept, the Saurian Augur, and the Ghost. In other words, two practicioners of "dark" magic and one type of undead, all of chaotic alignment...
Experience Meter: Even color-coded for how much experience a unit needs to level, and whether it can level further or not. If it cannot go further, collecting experience will result in an After Maximum Level Advancement (AMLA), which is nothing but a small HP gain and an on-the-spot heal - significantly less powerful than a true level-up.
Fantastic Caste System: The Drakes. The Glider caste are hunters, the Fighter caste are warriors, the Clasher caste are law-keepers, and the Burner caste are leaders. Sometimes the distinctions are blurred, though - the highest-ranking members of the Glider caste, the Hurricanes, fulfill military roles instead of hunting, and the Thrashers and Enforcers, while still technically part of the Clasher caste, prefer to act as shock-troopers on the battlefield instead of being law-keepers.
Fantasy Gun Control: Averted by the dwarves, who, in this instance, are mostly technologically-oriented and possess very little and very rare magic in form of runecrafting. They have mastered steel-making and gunpowder technology, and the Thunderer unit line wields a hand-cannon similar to the early gunpowder weapons from real-world history. Realistically, it does more damage per shot than any bow or crossbow unit of the same level, but due to the long time it takes to reload and prepare, it can only fire once per turn. It is never actually confirmed whether the "Thundersticks" are guns - the in-game descriptions vaguely make them out to be some kind of magical device - but it can be assumed that said in-game descriptions are made from the point of view of an in-world Wesnothian scholar who wouldn't know what guns are.
Fictional Document: The hints and tips on the main game page are attributed to in-world tactical manuals and character journals, though some of them refer to game mechanics which the writer shouldn't have known about.
Field Power Effect: lawful units fight better at day, and chaotic units fight better at night (and both fight worse at the opposite daytime). As well, the Mage of Light unit can illuminate an area with their presence, being a Field Power Bonus for lawful and a Field Power Drain for chaotic units at the same time.
Force Versus Discipline: Within the Drakes' Clasher caste, Thrashers and Enforcers embrace Force, while Arbiters and Wardens embrace Discipline. The former are blood knights who arm themselves with all manner of melee weaponry and spend their time fighting or training for war, while the latter act as strict and pious keepers of the law, training exclusively with a single weapon, the halberd.
Back Stab: This is actually a special ability in-game available to a few unit lines like human thieves and undead shadows, in which if you or an ally (or an enemy of your enemy) has a unit next to your target, then a backstabber can go around to the back of the enemy unit (so as to get the target between itself and the ally) and deal double damage upon attacking.
One-Hit KillDeath Or GloryFinishing Move: This is how the Charge ability of the Horseman line is generally used - it does double damage when attacking, but also takes double retaliation. Therefore, Charges are either used against units which are weak in melee (so that even doubled retaliation amounts to negligible damage) or units which are injured enough to be brought down in one hit. Of course, it sometimes backfires catastrophically if it misses and the enemy's retaliatory strike hits, or if the enemy unit has the Firststrike ability and gets to attack first even in defense.
Even worse with Berserker units attacking melee-weak units. When their victim completely lacks melee attacks, berserkers will cackle with glee before going to town on them for a virtually inevitable unopposed kill, since where most units get one round of attacks per turn, Berserkers keep fighting until one unit has died or 30 rounds of combat have passed. Unfortunately, they're expensive and have somewhat below-average damage for a melee-only unit, making them victims of Crippling Overspecialization.
Scouts: These are units with a lot of movement points, used to scout out enemy positions, capture villages, threaten the enemy's flanks, etc. They usually pay for their mobility by having high price, low durability, and/or poor offensive abilities. The Vampire Bat, Drake Glider, Elvish Scout, Gryphon Rider and Wolf Rider fit this trope. Loyalist Cavalrymen are an exception though; they are unusually tough and strong in melee for scouts. However, they can only move and fight effectively on plains, and get slowed down everywhere else.
"Elusive" Units: These are units who rely on evasion to survive instead of armor. They are usually quicker than normal infantry in terms of movement points, and are much harder to hit. However, if they do get hit, they take a lot of damage because of their poor resistances and low hit points. This leaves them vulnerable to magical attacks, poison, and marksmanship(i.e, units skilled at hitting moving targets, like Elvish Sharpshooters). The Fencer, Footpad, Thief and Orcish Assassin fit this trope.
Game Level: Nearly always linear, with a single beginning and a single ending, although there are frequent portions which become a bit more lattice-like with various options.
Game Mod: Lots. Unsurprising, since they can be made with a text editor and Gimp.
Geo Effects: The terrain occupied by a unit affects how easy it is to hit. In fact, almost nothing else does. Exceptions include the Marksman ability, which gives at least a 60% chance to hit, and the Magic weapon descriptor means that that particular attack will always have 70% chance to hit. Various abilities in various add-ons affect that too.
Glass Cannon: Several different kinds of units fit this trope. This includes all the Squishy Wizards listed below, overspecialized extreme-damage units like the Ulfserker/Berserker, and slippery Backstabbers like the Thief and Shadow units. The Deathblade and Gryphon Rider are also examples of this. Drakes are also considered to be Glass Cannons since they have impressively high offensive power yet, despite having high hitpoints, have difficulty holding a battle line because of their pathetic evasion abilities, high price(and thus low numbers) and glaring weaknesses to Cold, Arcane and Pierce damage.
Global Currency: Gold, which works for recruiting new units, recalling veterans, paying for upkeep, and even in magically raising undead units. Silver also apparently exists as a currency(as shown in The Scepter of Fire), but is lore-only and has no effect whatsoever on the game mechanics.
Inescapable Ambush: During a particular scenario in Northern Rebirth. Of course, you eventually do escape it anyway, after killing a huge number of Trolls.
Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: The human Assassin unit (the level-3 version of the Thief), which both looks and works like a ninja, with the ability to bypass enemy zones-of-control and backstab or poison it's opponents.
Leeroy Jenkins: Expect to see a lot in multiplayer, as it takes some experience to learn that because I can is not good enough a reason for attacking. One has to take into account the day/night cycle, terrain, formations and the overall tactical situation. Also, the AI tends to be somewhat of a leeroy itself, at times.
Lethal Joke Character: Although the balancing of the game prevents any units that can obviously be used like this, some units are much more powerful than they would appear at first. The Elvish Shaman has negligible attack power, but has the "slow" special ability that renders enemy units much easier to attack and largely incapable of retreating.
Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: In Eastern Invasion, Mal Ravanal eventually challenge Gweddry to a duel along with six of his champions. Miraculously he keeps his words, though when he summons some dead soldiers he reminds that reanimating corpses wasn't against the rules.
On a similar note in Under the Burning Suns Yechnagoth challenge Kaleh to a duel in her temple. Thankfully, Nym, Zhuul and Grog decides to go inside and help him against the creature.
Level Up Fill Up: Being healed is a tactically useful side effect of taking a level. AMLAnote After Maximum Level Advancement has no effect except this and giving you a negligible three more hitpoints.
Lightning Bruiser: Loyalist cavalry on the plains, Dwarves in the mountains and underground, Elves in the forests, Mermen in the seas.
Lost Forever: Various loyal characters throughout the single player campaigns. A few (Burin and the three Heavy Infantrymen from TRoW) render the remainder of the campaign essentially Unwinnable.
Lowest Cosmic Denominator: Development policy has been to avoid specific mention of religion in the mainline game, which leads to a situation somewhat akin to this. The replacement of the 'holy' damage type with 'arcane', however, was not an example of this but instead was a balancing decision, to allow wider use of anti-magic type attacks than just on the paladin and white mages. Various campaigns have more religious depth (particularly Under the Burning Suns), and user-made content authors are welcome to do what they want, within the bounds of decency.
Luck-Based Mission: While luck can be managed to an extent by smart recruiting, positioning, and timing, the outcome of each individual clash between two units is still entirely up to the whim of the Random Number Gods with no further player input possible until both units' attacks have been fully resolved.
Save Scumming helps. Little-known fact is that one can save and load games during the enemy turns, allowing for obvious replays of individual attack resolutions (making retaliatory kills and survivals manageable).
Magic Staff: All mage-like units have these, except the White Magi and Magi of Light (who use morningstars) and the Dark Adepts (who don't have a melee attack).
Magikarp Power: Horsemen are next to useless when fighting undead. They are very vulnerable and their only attack is terribly weak against most undead. They become only slightly better when they become Knights - but Knights in turn can upgrade to Paladins that can simply devastate anything the Undead faction has to offer.
Magitek: The cave entrance doors in The Scepter of Fire, and heck, the entire underground civilization of Knalga itself. All this is possible with modern technology, but the dwarves did it through their rune magic. Activating 6 glyphs to close the cave entrance is effectually the same as entering a password into the security computers.
Mauve Shirt: Most of your units are Redshirts, but certain units have a bit speaking part when they join up. They can still die like any other. In addition, many campaigns involve a kind of floating "Advisor" (only referred to as such in the code) speaking part. A Loyal unit or one of your higher-leveled ones usually fills this spot, and if they die the lines will be spoken by another unit, now likewise the "Advisor".
Mirror Match: Difficult to balance in multiplayer. Some may consider mirror matches to be boring, as they reduce strategic depth to an extent; for example, in Drake-Drake mirrors, Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors makes Drake Clashers and Saurian Augurs significantly more useful than any other units, and thus are often the only two units used at all.
Necromancer: Many, many of these. They show up as minor villains in just about every campaign, major ones in many of them, and as the Anti-Hero protagonist in one of them. The entire Dark Adept line, including the actual Level 3 "Necromancer" unit, represents this, though of course, only your actual leader unit (when playing as the Undead faction) can raise all forms of The Undead using gold, while other Necromancers under your command can only raise walking corpses during melee kills.
No Cure for Evil: The Undead campaign, Descent into Darkness, is the only one to have no playable healers whatsoever. Even the Orc campaign has healers in the form of Saurian Augurs, while every other campaign has Elvish Shamans, White Mages and/or Mermaid Priestesses.
No Experience Points for Medic: Largely averted since all healers (even the superficially weak-looking Elvish Shaman) can usefully engage in combat and XP are awarded for both simply going a round with an enemy unit and for actually being the one to finish it off.
Noodle Incident: The reason for Malin Keshar's expulsion from Alduin. Apparently had something to do with Malin cursing someone who taunted his 'up-country accent' with boils. Naturally, no one believes that once he gets banished.
Our Elves Are Better: True to form: they are supposedly unwarlike(despite the fact that they've taken part in many conflicts and have several times even been the aggressors), long-lived, pointy-eared and forest-loving. They are excellent archers and also have their own form of magic, Faerie magic, which humans cannot understand (and do not try to). They tend to be somewhat frailer than humans in combat, though, generally lacking resistances and actually being more vulnerable specifically to arcane attacks.
Our Fairies Are Different: The elves who get better at Faerie magic and harness it to it's full potential grow Faerie wings and gain a limited flight ability. The maximum-level advancements of the Elvish Shaman are the only units in-game who undergo this change.
Our Dragons Are Different: The Drakes and their ancestors, the rarely-seen Fire Dragons, are western-style dragons (miniaturized in case of the Drakes).
Dem Bones: Standard-fare Undead in this case, wielding axes and bows and completely under control of the necromancer who raised them. Largely immune to piercing weapons (spears, arrows) and cold elemental attacks, and highly resistant to bladed weapons, but are vulnerable to fire and arcane elemental attacks and impact weapons.
Our Zombies Are Different: Walking Corpses are Type-P zombies - slow, shambling, falling apart, and converting anything that they kill into another zombie.
Our Ghouls Are Creepier: Mutant-type Ghouls, converted from regular humans into Ghouls by necromancy, and not raised from dead corpses/spirits like the other Undead. Thus they're not weak to arcane damage, unlike other undead, and are used to hold positions and poison opponents.
Our Ghosts Are Different: The ghosts in Wesnoth are semi-incorporeal ectoplasmic types enslaved by necromancers against their will, although some have been seen to break free and exist independently in the various campaigns.
Our Gryphons Are Different: In this case, they are used by the dwarves as mounts, and they are sentient, although they have difficulty speaking due to obvious physiological constraints.
Our Mermaids Are Different: Merfolk are common inhabitants of the oceans and rivers of the Wesnoth-verse. They prefer shallow water instead of the deep sea, and mostly live in coastal settlements.
Giant Spider: These are a rarely-seen but irritatingly powerful campaign monster often found in underground missions. In some of the larger and more elaborate cave missions of a few campaigns, you can expect to walk into a room infested with these things.
Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: Another very powerful but rarely-seen Level 4 campaign monster. Good thing is that Yetis usually attack your enemies too. Best engaged by mobbing one with ranged units and/or Slowing it. If you do kill one, they are worth a ton of XP.
Our Ogres Are Hungrier: Another infrequntly-seen campaign monster. Sometimes they are tricked into working for the Wesnoth army, in a manner not very different from how Orcs recruit Trolls into their forces.
Sea Monster: Cuttle Fish/Kraken, Water Serpents, and Sea Serpents, who prefer the deep seas and are somewhat hindered even in shallow water, and are very vulnerable on land.
Muck Monster: Mudcrawlers, yet another kind of campaign monster.
Parabolic Power Curve: Played straight in that each successive level-up is about equal in terms of strength increase but costs an increasingly large amount of XP, and once you hit max level, the AMLAs you get from additional XP are negligibly small gains. So it's easier to assemble an army of leveled characters than to blow large amounts of XP on a few units.
Path of Most Resistance: In campaigns, when faced with a choice between which way to progress, the more difficult path will usually be the most rewarding.
Poor, Predictable Rock: The main example is the Drakes, whose pretty easily-exploited weaknesses (pierce, cold, arcane damage) make them Glass Cannons when combined with their low evasion, despite actually having high HP. They can try to avert this by exploiting their mobility and their mix of Drake and Saurian units. The Undead also count, especially in campaigns, where you can specialize your recruits/recalls more easily to deal with them, and have better access to arcane damage.
Power Gives You Wings: Once an Elvish Shaman advances fully to a Shyde or Sylph, she gains a functional pair of faerie wings.
Praetorian Guard: Level 3 units like Royal Guards, and sometimes Iron Maulers, are often found defending Wesnothian royalty in the campaigns. The Northern Alliance takes up this tradition too, with the Lord Protector having a personal company of Royal Guards and Gryphon Masters.
Prestige Class: Several common Level 1 units can advance to prestige classes upon reaching Level 2, instead of following their regular advancement paths(which usually go up to Level 3/4). This gives them more power and/or more specialized abilities at an earlier level, but sacrifices the long-term potential of full advancement. This includes the Lancer, Javelineer, Deathblade, Goblin Pillager, and Troll Rocklobber. Prestige classes are generally more useful in multiplayer games, which usually aren't long enough for full advancement.
Punctuation Shaker: The most prominent is Li'Sar, the Princess from Heir to the Throne. Son of the Black Eye has various characters with Punctuation Shakers, including Kapou'e, Flar'Tar, Al'Brock and Earl Lan'Bech.
Purely Aesthetic Gender: Most classes are all male, and there are a few that are all female , but there are also a few that overlap. There is absolutely no difference between a male of one class and a female of the same class aside from the sprite and voice clips.
Not exactly: if it's true in the mainline, in addons you can code different level-up for a unit that depend on its gender. You can also code abilities and/or attacks that work in a different way depending on the unit being male or female.
Random Number God: The chance to hit is a percentage, governed by a random number generator, which can either be the cause of unexpected joy(when your 30% chance Thunderer scores a kill) or frustration(when your 80% chance Sharpshooter misses all 5 shots). Needless to say, it has a lot of superstitions attached to it...
The RNG has its own explanation on the forums and FAQ as to why the results don't seem to tally up with the percentages - because our weak, human brains only remember the bad anomalies.
Royal Rapier: Played straight with the Fencer line and Princess Li'sar.
RPG Elements: All recruited troops can gain levels, and pretty much all have names. Only the Undead don't have names.
You can name them if you want, though.
Save Scumming: Older versions actually had no in-battle save to prevent this. Now the game does it for you. Which is good, because your treasured high level units are always at the mercy of the Random Number God.
Spikes of Villainy: Inverted. The Undead almost never use spikes. Instead, the higher level forms of the Loyalist Heavy Infantry unit have black spiked armor and spiked flails/maces, which are used to intimidate the opponent and have no evil connotations whatsoever. In fact, Heavy Infantry is often used for bashing skeletal opponents into submission with it's impact attack.
Squishy Wizard: The Mage, Dark Adept, and Elvish Shaman all fit this trope. Even their leveled forms are somewhat more fragile than main-line troops of the same level.
The Dark Adept is a pretty extreme example in that he has no melee attack at all.
Standard Status Effects: Poison, slow, plague(which turns your unit into a zombie on death) and petrification, though this is rare.
Stone Wall: The Dwarvish Guardsman/Stalwart/Sentinel line are an example of this, with their high resistances, relatively low attack damage and Steadfast ability. The Merman Hoplite is the aquatic version of a stone wall unit, sacrificing the speed and attack power of it's alternative, the Triton, in favor of sheer toughness.
Strategy Guide: Most of the mainline campaigns have detailed walkthroughs on the game wiki.
Suicidal Overconfidence: The AI is like this, although, it isn't completely spiteful. It'll try to attack wherever it gets the highest chance to kill, or if that's not possible, try to hit targets that can't retaliate well. Still, it doesn't do very well in terms of unit choice, tactical maneuvering, or defense.
Taken for Granite: Happens to Zhul during the "UTBS" campaign when she defies Eloh/Yechnagoth, but gets better.
Taking You with Me: During The Hammer of Thursagan you can equip one of your wizard unit with a staff that will one-shot all the hostile units around him. In the Dead Waters campaign the Silver Wizard escorting you to the Flaming Sword will destroy you with a similar staff if he's killed. In Tale of a Mage this is how Dillon takes out his lich-brother while destroying the Icestone.
Talking Is a Free Action: From opposite sides of the battlefield, no less. Justified in that turns are four in-game hours long.
Un-Person: The dwarvish witnesses can do this to other dwarves, casting them out of the race and stripping them of the name:
Angarthing: "The Law speaks: you are cast out. You are un-dwarf. I AM A WITNESS!"
Units Not to Scale: The scales of the game are very abstract, with hexes varying depending on situation from miles to metres across, and units on the map similarly varying from possibly representing squads or more, to single units. The unit graphics are the same size as the ship graphics and the mountain graphics, all of which fit into 72* 72 squares. A common adage is HAPMA (Hexes Are Possibly Miles Across.)
Universal Poison: Poison from giant spiders, ghoul claws and poisoned daggers all affect everyone in exactly the same way (except for undead and mechanical units, both of which are not affected).
Chantal: If I were human, I think I would be in love with him. Kalenz: If you were human, you would be quite right to be.
Unstable Equilibrium: Bad performance early in campaigns can render them Unwinnable at later stages thanks to limited funds and low-level units from over-recruiting, bad XP management, and not finishing quickly enough. Similarly, early good performances can render later levels very easy, even on harder difficulty levels.
In skirmish battles, controlling more villages yields more income, which allows a larger army which makes it easier to take and hold territory. Of course, it's possible to overextend and concentration of force is important.
The Usual Adversaries: Almost every campaign has you fighting orcs or undead at some point. They're freaking everywhere, it seems. Even the undead and orc campaigns have other orcs and undead as enemies in a few missions.
Video Game Caring Potential: This generally happens a lot with high-level units, because they are difficult to replace, and take effort to train into their powerful max-level forms. Even more so with Loyal units, which cannot be replaced.
Warrior Monk: The Paladins, which are described as such in-game.
Weakened by the Light: Chaotic units. It doesn't have to be sunlight; strong illumination from lava or a powerful light-magic aura will achieve the same effect.
We Cannot Go On Without You: In addition to your general being critical to the survival of your faction as discussed above, certain other units may also be marked as essential to the storyline. If one of those dies, game over. This is lampshaded near the end of Heir to the Throne.
Konrad: (hushed) Our soldiers will defend us as we rush across the field. Sorry to be blunt, princess, but you and I are the only ones who need to make it across alive. Delfador: … Konrad: ...and Delfador, of course. And Kalenz... and.. Li’sar: Ach! I understand, Konrad. I am no stranger to the burden of command. Onward!
White Mage: Um.. White Mages, and their advancements, the Mages of Light.
Zombie Apocalypse: What happens whenever a huge number of Walking Corpses are deployed at once and overwhelm their opponent in a Zerg Rush. Quite impossible in multiplayer given the frailty and weakness of zombies by themselves, but doable in certain campaign missions and a few custom scenarios.