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Actually Four Mooks

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Looks like you weren't the only one to bring party members...

"Now, Guards, you stand no chance against me, 'cause I'm actually four blokes!"
Bandit thug(s), MARDEK

The enemy version of Party in My Pocket. In video games which have separate maps for movement and combat, "Pre-existing Encounters" are often represented by a single creature, regardless of the number of enemies actually present in the encounter.

Like Party in My Pocket, one monster on the overworld represents a whole "party" and the player can't see the other members until the battle starts. This allows some element of surprise as, even if you know a fight is coming up, you don't know exactly what you will be up against. A particularly nasty Boss in Mook Clothing could be hiding among the enemy's party...

When four mooks are literally masquerading as a single creature, it's Two Men, One Dress.


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    Card Games 
  • Spoofed in Munchkin with the monster card "3,872 Orcs". (Also an example of Ludicrous Precision; who bothered to count the orcs?) However, the game rules say that any monster card represents one monster, even if the card depicts multiple monsters (so you don't have to beat the 3,872 Orcs 3,872 times).
  • Many Monster Cards in Yu-Gi-Oh! actually represent multiple monsters, such as Goblin Attack Force. Inverted with the Mecha Phantom Beasts, however: while their cards depict small squadrons consisting of the Beasts themselves and their Hard Light doppelgangers, said doppelgangers manifest as Tokens summoned by their effects. In other words, even though each card shows its respective Mecha Phantom Beast accompanied by several other monsters, the cards themselves represent only a single fighter!
  • Also the case in Magic: The Gathering, since the good old days of Grizzly Bears and Scathe Zombies, each of which was one card, representing multiple creatures as a single card. The most impressive could be the "Scute Mob" from Zendikar, which represents ridiculous numbers of swarming bugs as a single card that gets massive very quickly.
    • In reference to this, the Unhinged set introduced the "Art Rampage" ability. While the traditional Rampage gave a bonus based on the number of blocking creatures, this version (as the name suggests) is based on the number of creatures depicted in the art.
    • Taken to a whole new level with the "Amass" ability from War of the Spark. Simply put, cards with Amass create a Zombie Army Token and gives it a +1/+1 counter - or put a +1/+1 counter on an already-present Zombie Army Token. Flavor-wise, this represents Nicol Bolas' growing army of Dreadhorde as they invade Ravnica. This is even portrayed in one artwork for the said token, showing multiple Dreadhorde warriors in a single card.
  • Card City Nights has a couple of cards like this, such as "Double skull king" ("there's two of them!") and "One million elves".
  • Aliens Predator/Terminator TCG: Aliens have a mechanic where a card that represents a single Alien can have tokens placed on it representing other mature Aliens of the same type traveling and fighting with it, improving its combat abilities substantially.
  • Some of the minion and environment cards in Sentinels of the Multiverse represent groups — the Blade Battalion and Raptor Pack, for instance, show several members of the group on the card art. Many of them deal damage (or other affects) based on how many hit points they have left to represent how many of their numbers are left. Implied in the case of Grand Warlord Voss's minions — while there's only one shown on each card, the fact that only ten are needed to overrun the world indicates they represent larger groups of his army.

  • In RuneScape this is a strategy for Player Killing. Due to the game's rendering engine, when characters stand on the same square, the only visible one is the top one. People round up 8 of their friends in a multi-way combat area and put the lowest level on top, to act as "Hey, I can kill this!" bait.
  • Star Trek Online will sometimes show an enemy sensor contact titled 'enemy' at a distance, only for it to multiply into 'enemies (3)' and then divide into clusters of enemies as you get progressively closer, sometimes with you ending up facing off against a small armada of enemy ships.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic when you engage enemies in an instance, more enemies will appear to engage based on how many are in your party.
  • Subverted in Final Fantasy XIV. Enemies fought in the normal overworld area (rather than an isolated solo instanced area) appear as visible models on the overworld, which become targetable enemies when you step into a marked ring of dark mist. Occasionally, additional enemies might appear, but only after the initial group is dealt with (which means no suddenly getting overwhelmed by more damage than you can out-heal). And then played cruelly straight in Endwalker with the blasphemies, monsters into which men spontaneously transform when overtaken by terror or attacked by other blasphemies. Where previously rescue victims could be found within the "trigger enemies" ring, to be interacted with after the battle, now the victim could spontaneously transform into another blasphemy.

    Rhythm Games 
  • Gaia Seed: Project Trap has a minor drone enemy that looks like an individual unit... until you're close enough for it to open up into a column of five drones, attacking you simultaneously.
  • Groove Coaster features a variation of this in the charts for "Good Night, Bad Luck." On Normal, the game will throw what appears to be a Dual Slide note (a diamond-shaped note with two arrows that indicate that both Boosters have to be hit in the indicated directions), only to pan the camera at the last split-second to reveal that they're actually two Slide notes (a single Slide means only one direction has to be hit with either Booster) that have to be hit separately. This gets worse on the Hard chart, where the game will throw out what appears to be a triple or even quadruple Slide note and then split it into separate single and Dual Slide notes accordingly; you know that a ≥triple Slide would be impossible with the arcade controller, the real problem is that the reaction time to figure out the correct sequence is so short that this gimmick is effectively Trial-and-Error Gameplay.

    Role Playing Games 
  • Enemies in Albion appear as single sprites of a specific monster while on an Island Map. This is usually the strongest monster in the stack, although one stack may consist of hordes monsters of the same type, sometimes accompanied by stronger versions, or a mixture of different kinds of monsters. In first person dungeons, a single stack is represented by multiple sprites more or less proportionate to the actual composition of the stack (i.e. if you see a large number of Animal Demons coming at you, you can bet they will fill up the entire field - instant doom, or unlimited free XP, depending on your skills). Beware, though, because sometimes the dungeons play it straight too, with several enemies showing but each of them attacking as more than one.
  • Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia has a rare inversion with a boss fight while climbing the tower. The boss comes accompanied by one reyvateil and four Tenba guardsmen in the scripted sequence before the fight, but those four guardsmen suddenly turn into only two when the fight starts. This is due to the nature of the battle system, which maxes out at four characters on each side, and the boss and the reyvateil take up two slots automatically. Maybe the other two guards are Lazy Backup?
  • Born Under the Rain: The enemies in the Kill Enemies to Open-the-escape pit have three sprites as Pre-existing Encounters, but each sprite will trigger the whole battle group of 5. So it's 3 sprites is actually 5 mooks.
  • Bug Fables does this. Makes sense, since it's inspired by the Paper Mario series.
  • In Chrono Cross, you touch one enemy on the map, you're in battle with 2-4.
  • Chrono Trigger is a rare early example of an RPG that goes into battle mode using the current screen as a backdrop. Since there's no Pocket Dimension for battles, they would sometimes avert this trope by having all enemies begin on-screen, but frequently they would play it straight by having them walk in from just off-screen or teleport in exotic ways, and sometimes they played with it by having enemies summon or awaken others when encountered.
    • Does play the trope straight in a couple encounters where one enemy will unexpectedly split into multiples.
  • Destiny Of An Emperor has battles between armies of thousands, but only the generals leading each army are seen.
  • Dragon Quest has shifted into this once it started showing enemies on the overworld (previous entries had used Random Encounters). The first game in the main series to do this was Dragon Quest IX.
    • Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker was the first game to do this overall (predating IX), as it shows individual monsters roaming around the areas which you touch to enter battles, but you might see two or three monsters once the battle starts.
    • Dragon Quest VI does this during a certain sequence, where you can battle a monster sprite that turns out to be two enemies in-battle, despite the game saying it's only one beforehand. Averted by their boss, you do face only one guy there.
    • Dragon Quest VIII has a few special enemies that show up on the map, but generally, you get what you see with those — one monster on the map means one in the battle.
    • Dragon Quest XI plays this straight in the 3D versions of the game, where enemy groups can be encountered as lonesome monsters wandering on the field. The 2D versions on 3DS and Switch, however, have the typical random encounter phases.
  • Enemies in Dragonfable are shown as single monsters on the screen during quests, but when you actually touch them to do battle, you could wind up fighting anything from one to three of them at a time.
  • Happens all the time in Dubloon. Except for Boss Battles however.
  • Averted in EarthBound. With the exception of enemies summoned by enemies in combat, every enemy you meet is represented by an individual (though often generic) sprite, and gather together at the beginning of a battle during the Fight Woosh. Its successor Mother 3 also features the same aversion strategy, but in Mother 3 each enemy does have a unique overworld sprite.
  • A common occurrence in Emerald Dragon. What looks like one or two mooks on the overworld will turn out to be many in battle, and often bosses will have a group of enemies supporting them despite appearing to be alone outside battle.
  • The Epic Battle Fantasy series: In the third, fourth, and fifth games, sprites represent groups of monsters, so that harmless-looking bush could actually contain a four-wave long marathon battle. Fortunately, the encounter usually shows the strongest monster on the map, so there aren't too many bad surprises.
    • In one of the fifth game's secret areas, the final wave of a battle consists of what appears to be one mook...but is actually five overlaid atop one another. Each one is pretty strong, so be prepared for a tough fight.
  • Eternal Sonata: A single sprite represents a battle with up to three mooks, the representative sprite included.
  • In the Exile series world map, enemy clusters would be represented by a single unit regardless of size. Worse, in games with multiple-tile units (say, giants, which would take up two squares vertically), these units were ineligible for display on the overmap and were always shown as whatever smaller escort they had. It wasn't uncommon for an ogre on the world map to turn into a squad of ogres and bears, or ogres and ursagi (intelligent bears), or ogres and giants, what have you.
    • Likewise played straight (typically) by their 3D remakes, Avernum series. The largest overworld sprite graphic can only hold four people. Good enough for your party, not for the empire or wandering tribalists. Exceptions: Stationary guardsmen and triggered encounters.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy had Bikke the pirate, who had only two henchmen visible on the map. When the fight starts, there's suddenly nine pirates.
      • And that's only in the remakes. In the original NES version, all you see on the map is Bikke, so his team just sort of appears out of nowhere.
    • Final Fantasy IV had several, including:
      • A set of 4 doll sprites that were actually 6 that could combine into a boss.
      • Hooded enemies that attacked you but were often nothing more than a couple of imps, soldiers or other weak enemies.
      • Red Dragons in the last floors of Lunar Subterrane can pull this off with three overlaying in battle due to being too big to fit on the screen.
    • Final Fantasy V plays it straight with the battles against Gilgamesh's mooks at the Great Bridge and Xezat's fleet, but actually inverts it when you leave castle Bal for the first time; three monster sprites come charging at you, but only one enemy is actually fought.
    • Final Fantasy VI does this at times, such as the beginning battle between the Moogles & Locke against the Narshe soldiers, and again when Kefka and the Imperial Forces invade Narshe for the Esper, among other examples of scripted fights.
      • Even worse when you fight the Vector Lythos enemy in Kefka's Tower, who actually manage to pull this off in-battle. Whenever you fight them, it looks like there's only one, which seems fortunate since they are among the weakest enemies in the entire tower, contrast to Red Dragons in IV. But there's actually four, overlaid on top of one another.
      • The reborn incarnation of the Ice Dragon does this in the GBA-exclusive Dragon's Den, too.
      • The Rom Hack, Pony Fantasy VI uses this in the Phoenix cave with a stack of Chaos Drgns
    • Averted in Final Fantasy XIII, but in a sneaky-like way. Every last enemy you will face on the battle screen is represented on the map screen, and for most fights this is fairly straightforward, where running into a group of monsters means that you fight the group of monsters. In later areas, though, the game delights in placing the monsters on the map in such a way where the player may think they are avoiding the Demonic Spiders by engaging low-level monsters, but once the battle starts they are revealed to be engaging the low-levels and the 'Spiders in the same fight. Two notable (and notably cruel) examples: Sneaking alongside the edge of the area to avoid a Behemoth King...just makes the player more vulnerable to the Man-Eating Plant coming up out of the greenery they're sneaking in and prompting an encounter with both, and there is one case where sneaking past an Adamantoise will result in meeting up with its wimpy wolf escort.
  • Stable in the Grandia series; even though you only see 1-3 mooks onscreen there are suddenly more of them in the actual battle.
  • In Haven (2020), most non-boss encounters, represented by single roaming entities in exploration mode, contain at least two mooks, sometimes up to five. Several bosses bring along mook allies as well.
  • This is a common occurrence in The Last Remnant. Enemies appear as a single model in the world, and you can link multiple enemies into larger fights, but each single world model may represent multiple units with multiple members in each unit. It's especially noticeable with insects, wherein a single bug encountered on the map turns into three groups of three in the actual fight.
  • This is standard in the The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel games, though unlike the above example, the strongest enemy will generally appear.
  • In Lords of Xulima, an encounter sprite on the map can represent from one to ten actual enemies.
  • Both Lunar games for the PS1. Enemies are visible on the map as somewhat indistinct figures. Touching one of them starts a battle with up to 8 monsters.
  • The Trope Namer is a Flash RPG called MARDEK, which lampshades many RPG tropes. Early in Chapter 2, you fight a bandit who, just before attacking you, says, "Now, Guards, you stand no chance against me, 'cause I'm actually four blokes!" Cue a battle with four bandits.
    • And further parodied in Chapter 3 when Muriance sics his "bandits hiding in the shadows" on you.
  • Both the Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario series have this. One enemy on the map can easily be between three and five enemies in battle, including those that only show up alongside other enemies in battle.
    • Interestingly, Mario has the ability to jump on enemies before a battle starts. However, if you try this on a spiky enemy, you'll get hurt. However, if the enemy on screen isn't spiky, Mario can jump on it and damage every enemy in battle, even if said battles happen to include spiky enemies after the Fight Woosh.
    • Inverted at the beginning of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. You're attacked by two Grombas, yet when the fight starts... There's only one.
    • Played straight in other parts, where you see so many enemies on the overworld... and then in battle another one flies in via the background and starts attacking from there. Or the dream world enemies or viruses, where one mook on the overworld means up to SIXTEEN mooks in the battle, along with another random guy of a different species who appeared from absolutely nowhere.
    • Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam has three playable characters, so enemy formations are typically larger to match. Sometimes this gets taken to a slightly ridiculous extent; one Paper Paratroopa on the overworld can be (and often is) two Paper Paratroopas plus four Biddybuds in battle, for a total of six enemies.
    • Pretty much every single fight in Super Mario RPG, as you'll only see one sprite on the main map, then go into battle and see a lot more, including numerous enemies that had no map sprites and only appeared in battle. You could run into a Goomba and find yourself fighting one Goomba and two much larger, nastier monsters.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network, any Mook with a generic appearance will, instead of fighting you, send out viruses. Deleting them often deletes the master as well. The exception to the rule is Battle Network 4, in which the generic bad-guy Navis actually get to do their own fighting, and the number of them you see is the number you'll fight (Though the solitary ones more often then not are assisted by viruses).
    • The sequel series, Star Force, also works this way sometimes — but not always (Jammers, for instance, will fight you personally).
  • In Miitopia, most battles against monsters found in the overworld map are this. Look no further than your usual Snurp-hunting quests where trying to fight what appears to be a single Gold Snurp actually has you fight three of them when the battle screen is shown.
  • Mount & Blade does this, but the actual number of troops + prisoners is displayed alongside the sprite, and as you get closer, you can see the number and type of troops in each party.
  • Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom: On the overworld map, one enemy represents a group of enemies, usually of several types. In dungeons, all enemies are shown individually.
  • Octopath Traveler:
    • Inverted Trope; most of the Chapter 1 Flunky Boss humans will have 4-6 lackeys behind them, only to enter battle with two (though admittedly they can summon more if those die first.) When Olberic confronts a half-dozen bandits guarding the entrance of their hideout, he only fights half of them.
    • Played straight for both players and enemies during some story battles, where it looks like a one-on-one battle until the battle screen has the rest of the party show up along with additional enemies.
  • In Okage: Shadow King, enemies always appear as ghosts on the map. When you touch one, it will split up into multiple monsters.
  • Okiku, Star Apprentice: The Pre-existing Encounters' sprite in the Mountain Pass can represent 2 or 3 orcs.
  • Persona:
    • Persona 3 and Persona 4 have an... interesting version of this. Shadows always appear on the map as a single creature... but in 3, its size changes depending on how many enemies will be in the fight, and in 4, its size changes based on the enemies' level. The larger the Shadow, the more difficult the fight. (Be careful - in 3, the tiny Shadows have a tendency to be solo Demonic Spiders.)
    • In Persona 5, Shadows on the map appear in various forms depending on the location they manifest in, such as armored knights in Kamoshida's castle, or security guards/secretaries in Madarame's art museum. Once you begin a battle with one, it'll split apart into multiple enemies like in the previous games.
  • The first Phantasy Star showed only one monster on screen for all battles. You could only tell how many there actually were by their Hit Point counts. Also, one shot of Odin's guns or Noah's Thunder spell damaged them all, maybe they were really lined up... The final boss is actually two monsters as well, but in that battle the HP is not shown. (You can tell because it normally attacks twice per turn but towards the end of the battle it sometimes attacks just once because you killed the second monster.)
  • Justified in Pokémon. Any trainer you meet could have a team of up to six Pokémon, because they're usually carried around in Poké Balls.
  • In the Macintosh RPG series Quest of Yipe, the second and third games can do this. A single sprite can be up to three monsters. In the third game, they can even turn out to be different types of monsters, so you could end up having to fight a much stronger one and two weak ones.
  • Prayer of the Faithless: The human enemy sprites in Verigo Castle are usually a group of more than one human.
  • Played straight in Radiant Historia.
  • Rainbow Moon averts this by conveniently displaying above the sprite how many enemies it actually makes up; kind of nice of the hero to relay what he's seeing back to the player for once...
  • In The Reconstruction, the Pre-existing Encounters on the main map are only one sprite but usually trigger a few monsters in battle. However, all unavoidable Preexisting Encounters have you fight exactly the number of enemies as there are sprites. This includes boss battles, almost all of which have flunkies that you can see clearly on the map pre-battle. (Except for the boss of chapter 1 and chapter 2, whose flunkies come out of nowhere)
  • Remnants of Isolation: Each enemy encounters is represented by a single sprite of a shadowy being, and most of them are groups of two or more monsters.
  • Most of the SaGa games not on the Game Boy use this trope. While the original releases of Final Fantasy Legend II and Final Fantasy Legend III have Random Encounters, the Nintendo DS remakes instead show enemies on the map screen who hardly ever represent a single monster. If you run into one of them and there are other enemies close enough, the result is a linked encounter. More enemies in the link will result in more enemies in battle.
  • Science Girls!: The Pre-existing Encounters in the alien world are represented by sprites of only their most numerous member, but hold up to four enemies.
  • Septerra Core. When you pick a fight with a cluster of enemies, there are about 50% odds that there's at least one more hiding offscreen.
  • Shin Megami Tensei I, II, and if... represent multiple instances of one enemy demon with a single sprite and a counter above the sprite showing how many of that demon is remaining. You can't target specific instances, only the frontmost one, although you can use multi-target skills to affect the entire lot.
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth: Generally averted in most battles (a group of Mooks you see will be what you fight), but there's an inversion with the Mongolian Horde boss- what appears to be four Mongolian warriors on horses is not a Wolfpack Boss, but is actually fought as a single target that attacks in unison.
  • In StarCrawlers, enemies will appear on the exploration map as a single robot, soldier, or creature, but they could be anything from a single hapless mook to an entire squad of hardened soldiers when you transition to the battle map. Worse still, they don't always display the most powerful unit in the group, meaning you think you'll be fighting a lowly robot walker and it's actually being flanked by a pair of hulking Xiphos war-mechs.
  • Star Ocean:
  • Used in Tales Series games that lack random encounters.
    • Generally, some bosses will inexplicably have some minions with them, despite clearly being alone in the cutscene beforehand.
    • Even worse in Tales of Symphonia, where most enemies on The Overworld are represented as either a puddle of dark goo, or an Armless Biped creature, instead of actual enemy types. They are shown correctly in dungeons, though.
    • Tales of Berseria uses it as usual, but if you're attacked with more than one enemy group, the game will acknowledge it, and the resulting fight would be far harder than usually.
    • Finally averted in Tales of Arise, where all enemies are visible before you engage them. The game even allows the player to split non-essential encounters by luring monsters away from the main group, and dealing with them one-by-one.
  • Several enemies in TCT RPG turn into multiple foes, but they are all represented as single units.
  • Touhou Labyrinth takes this one step further: even in battle, there are some rare enemies that literally stack their sprites on top of one another, preventing you from seeing just how many there are. Isn't it suspicious to just run into a single mook in this otherwise difficult dungeon?
  • Ultima III, IV, and V, stack groups of up to sixteen into the same sized square as the player party - which itself can consist of up to (respectively) four, eight, or six members - whether it's a group of subterranean slime, food-devouring gremlins, human rogues or human-sized orcs, or freakin' dragons, sea-serpents, or two-headed giants, with the odd Eldritch Abomination thrown in for good measure. Better still, a troop of up to eight or sixteen guards can stand in the same space that a single townsperson occupies; one wonders how all those ridiculously overmuscled brutes stand so close together. Units Not to Scale indeed.
    • In case of Ultima IV, combatants can't normally enter a square occupied by another creature, but that doesn't prevent stacking multiple daemons in a single square at the start of combat. This is demonstrated in the Great Stygian Abyss level 3.
  • Undertale: Multiple:
    • Inverted at one point: When the playable character is exploring Hotland's Core, they may be approached by two shadowy silhouettes which triggers a battle with one monster.
    • It's implied that Shyren is this. She appears to be some sort of mermaid-like creature, but her overworld sprite only shows her "Head," and if you kill her, her "Body" will be left behind, implying that they are two different monsters.
  • Visions & Voices uses tiny white clouds to represent enemies. Touch one and you're suddenly in battle with 3-5. Since almost all boss battles are optional, bosses are also represented on the map as a single sprite that you need to walk up to to fight...most of which turn out to be Dual Bosses.
  • In The Way (RPG Maker), on-screen enemies on the map will usually turn out to be a large group of enemies when the player walks into them for a battle, especially when Rhue currently has other characters in his party.
  • Played straight in Xenosaga 2 and 3. What appears to be one mech on the map can turn out to be up to 7 different enemies.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Space Hulk, genestealer monsters start out as "blip" counters until a Space Marine gets them in their line of sight. Each blip is between one and three individual genestealers.
  • In BattleTech, Battlearmor and infantry come in squads of four and up, and are represented on the tabletop by one unit - some miniatures will have the correct amount of units on it (for example, 5 Elementals on the same base), but some don't. The actual count for the amount of (surviving) infantry or armor in a squad is kept on a separate record sheet.
  • Every so often a tabletop RPG will end up modelling a group of creatures as a single "monster" for combat purposes. This is most common for swarms of bugs, rats, bats, or similar small critters that would be too much of a bother to track individually, but especially games with more abstract combat systems can also treat humanoid mooks in this way.
    • Pathfinder contained a strange example in the Reign of Winter campaign, which deals with an insane conspiracy, Baba Yaga, and Rasputin. When the adventuring party finds itself in WWI-era Russia, massive troops of rifle-toting early 20th century Russian infantry are modeled this way in a sharp Genre Shift from High Fantasy.
    • Fantasy Flight's Star Wars: Roleplaying Game has a specific rule about this, where the weaker minion type adversaries act as a one single group when it is their turn, sharing the same wound threshold whilst also allowing them to add skill ranks to their skill checks.
  • The Logomancer: What is represented by one sprite for Pre-existing Encounters, can be more than one, like one of the White Raven sprites being three of them.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • In Advance Wars, every unit is depicted as a single soldier or vehicle on the map, but (unless it's a particularly big unit like a bomber or megatank) is shown to contain between one and five units in battle animations, depending on how much HP the unit has left. This is a touch of realism: In actual military, a "unit" is usually a group of people.
  • Seen in Nectaris (aka Military Madness). In fact in the original version of the game this held true, even for the big units! Quite strange seeing so many "Giant" tanks when the movement, sprite, and statistics would lead you to believe it would be a single unit. In the PlayStation remake and PC version, however, units even more powerful than the HMB giant appear, and they DO contain only one unit.
    • Played mostly straight in the sequel, Neo Nectaris; the only exception is the Bio-Weapon units, such as the Bio-Spider, which are displayed as single units both on the map and on the combat screen.
  • Embraced with glee in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters. Units in the map are represented by a single "Unit Leader", but may have as much as 9 characters. Leader unit determines many things, such as unit bonus and movement type, but is also the weakness: if the leader is killed early, the entire group is defeated. You also play by such rules, with an added flavor: You literally summon whomever it is you placed on your grid by way of a pocket dimension, courtesy of Gig.
  • In the Heroes of Might and Magic series, groups of enemies on the map are represented in the form of a single sprite. The game lets the player view the size of the enemy, though.
    • Heroes of Might and Magic actually takes this a step further as the images on the battle screen don't represent single monsters either, but whole stacks of them. This can lead to situations where you see a picture of a single green dragon on the map decide to engage it and suddenly find yourself in battle with five pictures of green dragons that actually represent 10 dragons each at which point you probably wished you had checked the size of the enemy group before attacking it. To make matters worse armies aren't always solely composed of the enemies that are shown on the map since sometimes a small number of upgraded versions of the monster is mixed into it.
    • This can get ridiculous if you find a stack that you'd ignored for (in-game) months or years, and has steadily grown in that time. If the monsters are weak enough to spawn in great numbers, you might be facing thousands of them, or more!
    • In Heroes VI it's possible now to have neutral armies comprised of several different types of troops (they're basically uncontrolled Heroes). So you could see a lone Timber Wolf who is actually a stack of Timber Wolves, a Stack of Dire Wolves, and a stack of Air Elementals all bunched together, who then have different stacks when you go into battle. Thankfully, when this happens, the individual stacks themselves no longer split up or spontaneously upgrade, so you know how many troops are in each individual stack before engaging.
  • Master of Magic averts this for everything except overland map. Both in tactical combat and the unit status window, you can see the number of "figures" in the unit. The game even tracks health for each figure individually. On the overmap though, the trope is played straight. A single skeleton can mean nine six-strong units of undead, which can surprise you if you're not careful enough to check what's really there. In a more cruel way, the game also informs you only of the strongest unit type guarding a monster lair/node, omitting the packs of lesser (yet sometimes more dangerous) units that accompany it.
  • In Age of Wonders a squad was composed of one to eight creatures. On the game map the current strongest creature in the squad, a Wizard (e.g., you, Merlin) or a hero unit if that was the case, was the only member visible and represented the whole.
    • Though by clicking on the creature you got a look at the whole stack and see what and how many enemies there were.
  • Utilized to save on hardware calcing time in Big Time Software's Combat Mission, which due to being 3D instead of top-down like other ww2 strategy games, meaning limitations require this trope to exist. However, averted with single or dual-man units like observers and tank hunter teams. They represent from 3 to 5 soldiers each depending on setting. (as many as 8 for large conscript/fusilier groups, small groups may have a 2:1 ratio) Sometimes gets confusing with large mixed weapons columns. Also works with open-topped transport vehicles, especially double-packed transports.
  • On set-piece style strategy games, typically it's 1:1 on direct combat units and mortars, but a lot of the time artillery actually represents a grouping, represented by replacing the ammunition slots with the pieces themselves. For battalion-level artillery, each listing also represents a separate group. May also occur with stationary anti-air units.
  • Ogre Battle (and its successors) displays groups of units as a single sprite on the overworld, represented by the lead member of that group. This means quite a few nasty surprises, such as battling a seemingly-normal unit only to find yourself getting stomped by a cockatrice or elder dragon.
    • In Ogre Battle 64, though, it is possible to just examine any enemy party you can see and see their classes and levels.
  • In the Space Empires series, you're only going to see the icon of a single ship on any given tile. Unless they're in a fleet, in which case you'll see that race's fleet icon instead, no matter the size or composition of said fleet.
  • Super Robot Wars Alpha 2 and 3 have the Platoon System, where you can make a team of up to four mecha (depending on the size of the unit). This goes double for your opponents. So, what will look like a single mook (or even boss character), will actually be up to four mooks (though, thankfully, not four bosses.)
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In Fire Emblem Gaiden and its remake, Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, enemy squads will simply be represented by their commanders on the world map. The same goes for random dungeon encounters; one enemy will suddenly be 2-4 once the battle starts.
    • This is also done in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones with the random monster encounters on the world map.
    • The same is true of random battles against Risen in Fire Emblem: Awakening.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Units can be assigned Battalions, which give stat boosts (and sometimes penalties) and have various attacks and effects on command called Gambits, which the enemy has access to them too. A Big Badass Battle Sequence accompanies the actual fight between the squad leaders, but the entire Battalion leaves if either the leader has taken enough damage without dying (and losing all the stat boosts and Gambits in the process), or if the squad leader is defeated. Luckily, they can be replenished outside of battle in the Battalion Guild if you have the gold. Only a few characters in the entire roster actually don't want Battalions assigned to them to activate their personal skills, those being Felix and Catherine.
  • Songs of Conquest: The game follows the classic formula of unit stacks. Each unit has a number that represents the amount of creatures in that unit who act like one.

  • In Starcraft II, workers and flying units are capable of occupying the same space or passing through each other in a way that combat units on the ground cannot. In fact, it often happens by accident if you have them all selected and give them a move command, since they will all try to move to the exact point you clicked on. For workers it's presumably an Acceptable Break from Reality to make resource gathering more efficient (i.e. prevent them from getting in each other's way as they go to and from the mineral patch or gas geyser in a straight line), while with flyers it can be Hand Waved by imagining that they're floating over the same spot on the ground but at different heights. Although having units stacked up like this makes them terribly vulnerable to splash damage (hence the need for micro tricks such as the "magic box" technique which keeps a flock of mutalisks spread out), it does have the upside of making it difficult to tell how many there are. For example, Protoss player can finesse a bunch of probes into the space of one probe so that they overlap perfectly, and since probes have no animated limbs or moving parts, you can move them as one so that they’re almost indistinguishable from a single probe. The only giveaway is the different appearance of the energy trail behind them. If you send these probes to attack the opponent’s mineral line, they will see this mass as just a harmless single scouting probe until the probes attack, resulting in a hilarious cheese win if it can be pulled off.
  • In Hearts of Iron this can be either upheld or subverted. If you play with sprites, you see only one sprite representing the most dangerous unit type (hard/soft for land, carrier/battleship/cruiser/destroyer/submarine/transport for sea, and a one-sprite-fits-all for air) in that province. Switch to counters, and that one infantry sprite turns into a 4+ divisions army of motorised infantry, backed up by half a dozen single-division units of light tanks and mechanised infantry.
    • It's also affected by comparative Intelligence level. If you have advanced decryption and the enemy only has basic encryption, with a mouse-over you'll see an exact breakdown of the stack. If you've both got similar encryption/decryption levels, you'll be lucky if you're shown more than the enemy country's name.
  • In Europa Universalis III (also by Paradox), all land armies (which come in 1000-troop blocks, and which powerful nations can muster in very large numbers by mid-game at worst) are represented on the map as a single, gigantic infantryman.
  • Certain versions of Civilization. In IV, for instance, you could stack units on top of one another and only one would be visible (the strongest, unless you had a unit selected, in which case it would be the one that best countered your unit); however, it was nice enough to give you an icon representing how many other units existed, and you could mouse over them for more information. In II, you couldn't tell; only when they attacked would you see if it was one unit or a massive column. In V, you simply can't stack units any more.
  • In Dillon's Rolling Western, Grocks appear as giant foes on the main stage map, but once you engage them in combat, they are smaller and often attack in groups.
  • Like a Dragon does this. Thugs and other yakuza you run into probably have a bunch more hiding somewhere for you to beat up (using them as the weapon of choice, potentially).
  • Ikari Warriors: All of the mooks die in 1 hit. When you get further in the game, the computer will send multiple mooks with identical sprites that are stacked on top of each other. Thus you have a pile of mooks that are look like a single mook. When you shoot the stack, you would see one of the sprites go into the death animation, but the rest of the stack was still coming toward you. There was no way to know exactly how many mooks were stacked like this until after you started shooting.
  • The Assassin's Creed series uses red (and in some games, orange) minimap dots to indicate hostile (or potentially hostile) soldiers. These dots can stand for a single soldier or a squad of up to eight, so you are advised to look before charging in.
  • On the main stage map of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, black silhouettes of individual monsters will attack Link on the overworld map, revealing themselves to be crowds of mooks, or if they encounter you on roads, absolutely nothing at all. The Adventure Time game Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!! as well uses the exact same system, in a direct reference to Zelda II.
  • In the X-Universe series, the Khaak Cluster is a literal example, a single M3 fighter and several M5 scoutships that travel docked together, then break apart and attack when an inviting target comes close. They then concentrate a hailstorm of hitscan weapons fire on the target. Faced with the bigger Clusters (one version contains 26 ships), most players prefer to hit them with a big missile at extreme range rather than risk their kyon emitters.
  • Invoked in Star Wars: The Old Republic. The Mountain, a gang leader on Nar Shaddaa, turns out to be a set of Quintuplets.
  • In Minecraft, a skeletal horse can spawn. When you approach it, lightning will strike (regardless if it's raining or not) and summon 3 other skeletal horses and (if the difficulty isn't on peaceful) will spawn skeletons riding each one. The skeletal horses can be rode without saddles.
  • Persona 5 Strikers is similar to Persona 5, but as it has hack-and-slash combat the shadows split apart into even more enemies.

Non-Game Examples

    Anime and Manga 
  • The Slicer Brothers of Fullmetal Alchemist.
  • In Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin Wolf Arc Raiga has his brothers Sakon and Ukon living inside his body. They can leave it, but it makes them vulnerable to attacks so usually they just pop their heads out before impact to bite the opponent. How it works is never explained and even their enemies who should know this power are surprised when they see it.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Steel Ball Run exaggerates this. It features a group of eleven henchmen the Big Bad sends after Johnny Joestar and Gyro Zeppeli, all of whom share a single Stand named Tatoo You!, which allows them to phase into each other through the tattoos on their backs. Thanks to this, all eleven of them can practically exist in the same spot at once by hiding inside a single mook. Our heroes eventually learn that the hard way during a shootout with the group in a casino, when they find themselves trying to fight off mooks emerging from dead ones like a deranged game of Whack-A-Mole.
  • Naruto has conjoined twins also named Sakon and Ukon, part of a team called the Sound Four that should be closer to "Sound Six" between the conjoined twins and the group's leader.
  • Inuyasha's enemy Jurōmaru is a pro at this trope. His "brother" Kageromaru lives inside his stomach, and can join the melee when necessary. They are actually independent, anyway.
  • In Battle Girls: Time Paradox, Ieyasu's minion Hanzo is actually a squad of identical ninjas who typically only appear one at a time.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Top Gun does this on two separate occasions when pairs of MiG-28s in close formation are read as a single plane by the F-14s' radar. Truth in Television and a genuine tactic used by several air forces throughout history. Works particularly well if two small fighters are pretending to be a bomber in hopes of drawing enemy interceptors into a dogfight.
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: During the Russian infiltration on the government black site, the huge Colonel Dovchenko steps out of his vehicle to address the personnel in the guardhouse outside base, before he suddenly moves aside to reveal four armed Russian soldiers, all standing in a single file, who then gun down all personnel in an instant.
  • In Star Wars, sand people are known to travel in single file to hide their numbers.
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows uses this near the beginning, where Sherlock points out that three people have been following Irene for some time when it turns out to be four.

  • A similar incident to the Top Gun example occurs in the Star Wars Legends book Starfighters of Adumar. Adumari Blade fighters read incoming enemy squadrons as single objects until they get close, due largely to antiquated sensors when compared to the current galactic standard. This is inverted by the heroes: they reprogram the IFF codes on their heavy aircraft, including bombers and escort gunships, to respond as though they were fighters. Only when the enemy Blades engage do they realize the contact isn't four mooks at all — it's one Giant Mook.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: Enterprise does this on an occasion in the Xindi arc; the Enterprise NX-01 captained by Archer and a (older, and modified) copy of the NX-01 from a different timeline captained by T'Pol and Tucker's son Lorian fly in close formation so that the second vessel is seen as a sensor reflection by the enemy Kovaalan, enabling the two vessels to surprise and disable a Kovaalan vessel.

    Web Comics 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Actually Four Blokes, Four Mooks One Sprite


MARDEK - Actually Four Blokes

Actually Four Mooks was originally titled "Actually Four Blokes" which originates in the video game MARDEK RPG. In this scene, Mardek and Deugan confront two bandits who're threatening the miners to look for a Magic Crystal. One of the bandits, Gope, is sent to inform his boss while the other bandit reveals to actually outnumber our heroes or as the thug puts it, "[he's] actually four blokes!"

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / ActuallyFourMooks

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