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Beast of Battle

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He has the power... and a kick-ass mount!

"Chidren of the Camp are we, Serving each in his degree;
Children of the yoke and goad, Pack and harness pad and load.
See our line across the plain, Like a heel-rope bent again,
Reaching, writhing, rolling far, Sweeping all away to war!
While the men that walk beside, Dusty, silent, heavy eyed,
Cannot tell why we or they, March and suffer day by day.
Children of the Camp are we, Serving each in his degree;
Children of the yoke and goad, Pack and harness, pad and load."
— Parade song of the camp animals by Rudyard Kipling

In Speculative Fiction, especially video games, there's a habit of utilizing animals as full-fledged war machines, rather than just mounts or for pulling. This makes a fair bit of sense, especially in fantasy worlds: if there are three-ton, fire-breathing dinosaurs in your kingdom and they can be trained to follow orders, sooner or later somebody's gonna get the idea to unleash them on people they don't like.

The creature either uses its natural abilities and/or has various platforms and/or instruments of destruction lashed to its side or across its back that human(oid) riders can use in battle (or that it can use itself if intelligent enough and physically capable). This can be as simple as a Howdah or other platform from which your soldiers can fight, but weapons like ballistae, cannons, and other mechanisms are also common. Typically they're as willing and able as their owners to charge into bad odds, discriminate between their side and the enemy while fighting, and die for the cause. Again, this can be fairly well justified, depending on the trainability and/or intelligence of the fictional animals in question; some might even be Sapient Steeds.

Depending on their intelligence, they may be capable of working independently.

See our Useful Notes page on Military Animals for this trope in Real Life.

Supertrope to War Elephants. See also Bioweapon Beast, Dragon Rider, Domesticated Dinosaurs, Horse of a Different Color, Mon, and Weaponized Animal.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kacchū no Senshi Gamu, a series by Yoshihiro Takahashi, features a clan of warriors who are allied to a pack of samurai dogs who have telepathic powers, can speak human language and wield swords better than the humans in the story. Yes, the entire series pretty much runs on Rule of Cool.
  • Fu'unsaiki, Master Asia's pet horse from G Gundam, who isn't just badass and capable of combat on his own, but has his own Humongous Mecha which is ridden by both Master and Domon's Gundams in battle. In one Moment of Awesome, Domon defeats Wong Yunfat in the Walter Gundam by having Fu'unsaiki kick its head off.
  • In the Monster Rancher anime, the series' Mons were originally genetically-engineered pets by an advanced Precursor civilization, then were utilized as soldiers and weapons when war broke out between two rival superstates. The series Big Bad was developed as a type of Superweapon, and you can guess how well that worked out.
  • Naruto:
    • The Tailed Beasts.
    • Many (but not all) of the summoning creatures used have martial uses and most of them are sapient if not a Talking Animal. Some of them are much larger than regular animal would be, such as the boss toad Gamabunta who has contracts with Jiraiya and Naruto; not only is he big enough that a person can stand on his head with ease, he carries an equally giant blade around and isn't afraid to use it.
  • One Piece:
    • Duval tries to employ his massive pet Bison Motobaro to crush his enemies, while he usually shoots them with harpoons or boasts about his might.
    • The Staff of Impel Down also employ monstrous beasts as jailers, such as the massive amphibious apes Blugori and the wild beasts of Level 2.
    • The New Fishmen Pirates have enslaved a massive number of gigantic sea monsters, including a Kraken, and forces them to fight on their behalf, even providing them with drugs to make them more ferocious.
    • The Beast Pirates in the Wano arc are shown using massive animals, mostly local beasts and huge, raptor-like lizards both as mounts and as beasts of battle.
  • Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew showed a number of battle scenes in ancient times, showing that Pokemon were understandably a big factor in armies a long time ago.
  • Zoids dips a paw into this territory, given that the title Humongous Mecha also happen to be part of the local wildlife. There're partially weaponized animals called Organoids but most are artificial creatures derived from the local wildlife. No, we're not quite sure how that works....

    Comic Books 
  • Kurt Busiek's Arrowsmith has a version of World War 1 fought with various fantasy creatures.
  • Supergirl:
  • Star Wars:
    • Tales of the Jedi: The Beast Riders of Onderon from the Tales of the Jedi series. Though primarily used as mounts, the drexl beasts use their fangs and claws in battle.
    • Though not living creatures, the (original design of the) Basilisk war droids used as mobile battle platforms by the Mandalorians are in the style of large, animalistic mounts.
  • In Tragg and the Sky Gods, Tragg befriends a tribe who have learned how to train and ride triceratops, and enlists them as allies in his battle against the alien invaders.

    Fan Works 
  • Equestria Divided: Various factions employ large animals and monsters in their armies:
    • House Everfree makes use of its home area's... unique fauna in battle, fielding timberwolves, gigantic hydras, giant wooden spiders, War Elephants and voracious swarms of parasprites on the battlefield.
    • House Moon and Star fields firebirds, as well as magically bound Ursa Minors to tear through enemy formations and to serve as living siege engines.
    • House Stormwing uses rocs as aerial units of immense power.
  • One minor example in the early part of The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World is the quasi-African guy with the tiger trotting by his side.
  • Pokédex: Unsurprisingly, Pokémon have been trained throughout history for use in warfare. Some, such as Charizard, Steelix, Marshtomp and Garchomp, were used as basic attack animals, but others had more specialized roles. Blastoise, Sheldon and Clawitzer were used as artillery, Donphan and Lairon as living siege engines. When the Poké Ball was invented, allowing a much larger diversity of Pokémon to be used by a much larger amount of people, traditional weapons became outright obsolete. However, use of Pokémon in battle faded out with the invention of powerful machine guns, except for Chesnaught, whose shells were quite bulletproof.
    • People tried to use Metagross as this, but the Pokémon were intelligent enough to recognize that War Is Hell and communicate this to the public, making their use rather counterproductive.
    • Trumbeak were an interesting example. Since Pokémon fighting, both in competition and warfare, has always relied on proper use of berries, and since Trumbeak are both adept berry thieves and agile fliers difficult to catch or intercept, ancient Alolan kahunas took to training them as airborne saboteurs to raid enemy berry orchards and to steal berries in the midst of battle and use their boosts themselves.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, like the example above, has established that powerful Pokémon have been used for warfare by various militaries.
  • Shadows over Meridian: Jade and some of Phobos' soldiers use giant shadow snakes as mounts when they take part in the skirmish in the northern mountains.
  • There's No Rule That Says A Wolf Can't Be A Jedi: Swift is easily large enough for a human to ride, and makes use of this at one point to turn himself and Anakin into a highly mobile assault force that breaks the enemy lines. Obi-Wan is exasperated, but can't deny it worked.
    Swift: The fact that Anakin and I also had a great deal of fun doesn't make the fact it was the right choice go away.
  • In Wonderful (Mazinja), Rachel's empowered dogs work as fighters, mounts or both. When Rachel joined the battle against the tanks of the drug-dealing gang known as the Merchants, she was riding her over-sized dog Angelica.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The famba-mounted Shield Generators used by the Gungans in The Phantom Menace.
  • In 300, the Persians used elephants as battle platforms and a rhinoceros as a juggernaut against the Spartans.
  • D-War was full of these, complete with 16th century rocket launchers that could take out Abrams and air support that attacked Apaches.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • The Mûmakil ("oliphaunts"), enormous elephants used by the Haradrim in battle.
    • There are also the Wargs, large and vicious wolves used in battle by the orcs and goblins.
    • The Ring-Wraiths also have flying beasts to ride around on. The Witch-King specifically orders his winged mount to eat Theoden on the field of battle.
  • Dragons: in many films, from Dungeons & Dragons (2000) to Eragon, dragons are not evil flying monsters, but war-machines ridden by attacking forces.
  • In Avatar, the Na'vi charge into the final battle with most of the planet's animal life.
  • As The Chronicles of Narnia takes place in a world of talking animals, this trope is common (especially the rhinoceros in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and the mice in Prince Caspian).
  • Black Panther (2018): The Border tribe uses vibranium-armored rhinoceri in battle.

  • Animorphs: The titular Animorphs are the battle beasts themselves when in morph.
  • The Beast Player: The Aluhan and his army use the Toda, giant amphibious reptiles, to protect the borders of Lyoza.
  • The Belgariad: The realm of Gandahar in southern Mallorea has two exports: incredibly spicy foods, and elephant cavalry. The elephant cavalry is considered more important: the Gandaharans are mercenaries, selling their services to whoever pays best, and their animals are nearly unstoppable in battle. When the main characters see a battle involving elephants, the other side can only stop them with fire.
  • Codex Alera: The Marat treat their Bond Creatures this way, thanks to their Proud Warrior Race Guy culture. It's bad enough to have a horde of screaming barbarian warriors charging you, but a horde of screaming barbarian warriors with terror birds and dire wolves or riding giant ground sloths is another matter entirely.
  • Dark Empire introduced creatures called Cyborrean Battle Dogs, or Nek Battle Dogs, vaguely caninelike and often cybernetic beasts that go out and swarm people. They come up in various later books — in Galaxy of Fear they're part of a Fed to the Beast threat, in Jedi Apprentice a character who loves the kennels says they're nice enough animals and their viciousness is overstated.
  • Destiny's Forge: The evil Kzinti use bio-monsters called rapsari as well as soldiers, including some designed to operate ballistae or dissolve their way through blast doorsnote .
  • Domina: Most of the fey monsters fit into this category. Special mention goes to the gargants, which vary in size from the brick-plated gargants (the size of a very large wolf) to the blind-rammer gargants (which are big enough to tear through buildings).
  • Dracopedia: Siege drakes are a large — five meters long — drake species originally bred for use in battle, where their primarily role was pulling cannons, siege engines and chariots.
  • The Dragon Masters: Both the humans on the planet Aerlith and the alien Greph make use of specialized battle beasts that were originally members of the opposing race. Humans, despite their limited Medieval-era technology, had managed to capture a ship and crew from the multi-limbed Greph and through strange, magitek mutagens were able to breed the barely sapient "Dragons", while the Greph had long been harvesting humans to breed into "ogres" that included riding animals amongst them.
  • Dungeon Crawler Carl: Mongo would normally be considered too small to ride, but he's just right for Donut the cat.
  • The camp animals in The Jungle Book are a downplayed version, being samples of fairly ordinary animals you would find in a nineteenth century Indian Army camp.
  • Scott Westerfeld's series Leviathan have the Darwinists who use fabricated beasts not only in battle as well as in everyday life. See: the Leviathan, which is essentially its own ecosystem based on the back and innards of a flying whale, including things like bats that crap flechettes onto the enemy, and Russia's War Bears.
  • John Ringo's March Upcountry series features reptilian creatures used much in the manner of elephants. Though they're reptilian, they have the temperament of cows. Well, most of them do. One of them is quite aggressive. Also, Prince Roger has a pet Dogzard who is fiercely loyal and more than happy to eat Roger's enemies.
  • In Harry Turtledove's "Opening of the World" trilogy, the main characters, and everyone on their side, were stunned to discover that the invading "Rulers" rode mammoths into battle. Herding mammoths was one thing, but no one had ever imagined riding them. The Rulers also rode deer which they'd trained to jab enemies with their antlers.
    • Turtledove's Darkness Series used dragons as the air force, whale-like leviathans as submarines, and behemoths — drawn on the covers as elephant-sized, shaggy rhinos — as tanks and self-propelled artillery.
  • In Poul Anderson's novel Operation Chaos, it's mentioned that the Allied forces utilized basilisks as war machines during World War II. Also dragons (the phrasing leaves it uncertain whether they're flying dragons or the equivalent of tanks) and, in the Navy, krakens for an amphibious assault.
  • In The Saga of the Bordenlands, of the Argentine writer Liliana Bodoc, Drimus, an Evil Sorcerer at the service of Misainaes the Son of Death, breeds huge dogs to use them in battle (this is a reference to how in the Real Life the Spanish conquerors they used dogs in combat)
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Aegon the Conqueror and his sisters conquered Westeros despite the small size of their army thanks to the overwhelming advantage their dragons gave them. During the series proper, the King in the North Robb Stark's direwolf Grey Wind serves his master well on the battlefield. It is also mentioned how knights' horses are trained to kick and bite in battle.
  • Dragons in the Temeraire series are a major part of every military force in the world, and act as something rather like an Air Force. In addition to fighting each other claw-to-claw, they're used to drop bombs and the like, and breeds with breath weapons like fire or acid are especially valued for their destructive ability. Instead of the usual one-dragon-one-rider type, they have full crews with officers, lookouts, and complements of riflemen, and aerial boarding actions are a common tactic. Dragons are also fully sapient, and the growing realization that they’re basically Slave Mooks is a plotline running through the whole series, as dragons begin demanding things like pay, military ranks, and proper housing.
  • In Transitions there is Arthogate's mount Snort, the fire-breathing, charging Hellboar he got from Jarlaxle. He rides it into battle, when he is facing multiple foes (especially undead ones), but also fights alongside it.
  • Tad Williams' The War of the Flowers features dragons. To give a sense of scale, he was tempted to remove the scene in which they initially appear due to its similarity to an event that occurred during writing; the 9-11 terror attacks.
  • In The Wheel of Time, the Seanchan makes extensive use of exotic beasts that were brought from other dimensions into combat. Besides the s'redit (who are elephants by any other name) they also used the winged beasts raken and the superfast bear-like lopar against their enemies. They also ride Fantastic Mounts that are pretty ferocious in themselves.
  • The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. War megadonts (giant genetically-engineered elephants) have carbon fibre armour, blades attached to their tusks and machine-gun cages on their backs.



    Tabletop Games 
  • Although rarely seen in the game, BattleTech has rules for beast-mounted infantry, including horses, elephants, kangaroos, killer whales, the flying, venom-spitting Branth, and finally the semi-aquatic 30 ton Hipposaurus, which is powerful enough to mount heavy artillery on its back and damage Battlemech armor with its melee attacks.
  • Chronopia, almost all of the non-human races uses these. The Elves have the reptilian Dragonbane, Swamp Goblins have their mosquito-like Drones and Arachnid cavalry, and so forth etc. Only the Stygians lack these, having no cavalry or mounts (though arguably their whole army might count), while humans are stuck with horses and, in one case, a stag.
  • Exalted subverts this trope with the siege lizards. People have tried to train them for war, hence the name, but the foul-tempered and stubbornly independent reptiles almost inevitably end up killing their handlers.
  • Iron Kingdoms: One of the main differences between HORDES and WARMACHINE is that the forces in the former game utilize various creatures instead of the Mechanical Monsters of the latter.
  • In Splicers, the Human Resistance uses War Mounts, genetically-engineered creatures used to take the place of the tanks and other military vehicles they can no longer use. For instance, there's the Behemoth (a rhino-like creature used for artillery support), the Draco (a huge dragon used for troop transport), and the Leviathan (a crab used for amphibious assault).
  • Warhammer has several of these:
    • The Dark Elves use a variety of monsters, including Hydras, Cold Ones (essentially featherless raptors), half-snake Medusae, manticores, vicious black dragons and the monstrous, multi-headed Kharibdysses.
    • The Ogres have Thundertusks (massive beasts that can control ice and snow), enormous Stonehorns, catlike Sabretusks and Rhinoxen Scraplaunchers.
    • The Skaven use Giant Rats, Rat Ogres and Skaven Abominations.
    • For the Greenksins, the Night Goblins use Cave Squigs, vicious, hopping ball-shaped creatures with More Teeth than the Osmond Family, while the Orcs favor large, ill-tempered boars and wyverns. Meanwhile regular Goblins like to use spiders, including the colossal Arachnarock Spider.
    • The Lizardmen have a variety of dinosaurs, including Carnosaurs, blind cave-dwelling Troglodons, Razordons covered in spikes, fire-breathing Salamanders, tank-like Bastiladons, Cold Ones and Stegadons, in addition to swarms of poisonous jungle creatures.
    • The Beastmen, unsurprisingly, use plenty of these in the form of mutated animals, including Tuskgors and the larger Razorgors (vicious boars covered in spikes), horned Chaos Warhounds, and the Jabberslythes, toadlike and dragonlike beasts so horrible that even looking at them invites madness. Arguably, all their army could be said to be Beasts of Battle, and the line between Beastmen warriors and war animals does get a tad blurred sometimes.
    • When the High Elves go to war, they do so alongside phoenixes, giant eagles and dragons.
    • While Bretonnians limit themselves to horses and pegasi, the Empire can use gryphons and demigryphs as well.
  • Warhammer 40,000 keeps the tradition alive, with most of its armies having the option to field some or several monstrosities on the battlefield.
    • The Orks get various varieties of Squigs, from the dog-sized Attack Squigs carried around by high-ranking greenskins to the Squiggoths, gigantic tusked monsters the size of Titans, fitted with howdahs and ridden into battle by the technology-shunning Snakebites clans and Feral Orks. There are also the rare Orkeosauruses, basically Squiggoths but even bigger.
    • The Kroot, a species of bird-like aliens that gain new abilities and forms based on what creatures they eat, use strains of their own species that have degenerated into beasts as war animals, including the huge, T.rex-like Great Knarlocs, the hulking and simian Krootox and the agile, quadrupedal Kroot Hounds.
    • For the Imperium, some Imperial Guard regiments use Grox, ill-tempered giant lizards mostly used for food, as cavalry. Space Wolves ride tank-sized cyberized wolves.
    • All the Tyranid units are this. As their entire army relies on this, they cover a broad range of Beasts of Battle — swarms of tiny Rippers all fangs and bad attitude, disposable rank-and-file forms that overwhelm the enemy through raw numbers, massive tank-sized beasts with armor that can stop laser blasts, towering horrors the size of buildings, floating psychic powerhouses with dangling atrophied bodies...

    Video Games 
  • Age of Wonders: A mainstay throughout the games, as almost every race can field some sort of large monster as a high-end unit and several get other sorts of war beasts earlier in their unit progression. Dragons of various sorts are common, the tigrans have sphinxes, manticores and beholders, the Lizard Men can field giant turtles with catapults or ballisats mounted on their backs and several more beasts are present as unaligned summons.
  • Aztec Wars has one or two of these for every nation. The Aztecs have big cats and spy eagles, the Russians have war bears, and the Chinese use yetis and War Elephants. They are available after specifically building a nest, a cave or a stable in your base.
  • Command and Conquer show-cased explosive cows so often that by the time the game was released it was an expected tactic.
    • The Red Alert sub-series featured attack dogs (one bite kill against infantry), giant squids, and dolphins armed with sonic weaponry. In the third game, the Soviets start fielding tamed bears instead of dogs.
    • The Tiberian Sun manual mentioned that the Forgotten have managed to tame tiberium fiends to use as guard dogs. This comes into gameplay as well; in any map where Umagon is a playable character, having her approach a fiend will automatically recruit it as a playable unit.
  • In Dino D-Day, Those Wacky Nazis develop cloning technology which they use to bring back a wide variety of dinosaurs to use in the war, often with armor and mounted guns they can control by biting on a trigger. The Allies also get in on the action by taking in a Triceratops cast off by the Nazis for a deformed leg.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, Fereldens use mabari hounds as war dogs. Originally bred by a mage, they are incredibly strong and intelligent. As one solider puts it, a well-trained "mabari hound" is as dangerous as any sword. You can recruit one of these massive dogs into your party.
    • The dwarves utilize large rhino-like creatures called brontos as pack mules and living battering rams.
    • The darkspawn themselves use "ghouls" — creatures that have been corrupted by the darkspawn taint — as beasts of battle. The most popular of these are wolves, bereskarn (corrupted bears), giant, corrupted spiders and dragons.
  • Side-scroller beat'em up Dragon's Crown has your characters capable of riding on sabretooths and dracolisks.
  • Dragon Force gave a number of its Ninja generals a frog-mounted cannon they could use to attack enemy generals.
  • In Dune II and Updated Re Release Dune 2000, the Fremen can use a thumper and maker-hooks to catch and ride Sand Worms to battle.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In the series' background lore, the Khajiit have 17 different sub-species dictated by the phases of Nirn's two moons under which they were born. The largest of these sub-species, the Senche and Senche-raht, can be as tall as two men and weigh updward of four tons. Built like apes and moving as quadrupeds, they allow their kin to ride them in battle. Imperial Legion troopers have nicknamed them "battle cats" as a result.
    • Various Goblin tribes have managed to tame some of Tamriel's vicious wildlife for use in this role. For example, the Shadowsilk tribe managed to tame giant spiders for this purpose.
    • Likewise, the Rieklings (a race of diminutive blue-skinned humanoids native to Solstheim) tame Tusked Bristlebacks (Solstheim's native wild boars) to be this and as mounts.
    • In Skyrim's Dawnguard DLC, the Volkihar Vampire clan raises Death Hounds, monstrous undead dogs, for this role.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Happens from time to time across the series, where a group of human enemies may be accompanied by a monster or two.
    • In Final Fantasy VI, the Narshe troops that oppose the Imperial raid include attack wolves, ice-breathing mammoths, and a giant snail.
    • In Final Fantasy XIV the Garlean Empire’s canis pugnaces are armored war dogs the size of bears.
  • The Force-sensitives Felucians at The Force Unleashed used Rancors as war beasts against Galen Marek and the Imperial forces who attacked their homeplanet Felucia. The rancors were still nothing compared with Marek, who usually curb stomped every one of them. Not even the Bull rancor, the alpha male of Felucia's rancor community, could defeat him.
  • The Locust Horde in Gears of War are pros at adapting the underground fauna for battle purposes.
    • Bloodmounts: Exactly What It Says on the Tin, a Horse of a Different Color that Beast Rider Locusts ride on while shooting at you. They also possess a mean bite themselves.
    • Reavers: Large, flying squid-like beasts. Usually affixed with mounted guns. Skorge has his own personal Reaver called the Hydra which is somewhat larger than average.
    • Seeders: Towering insect-like creatures. Used as artillery/mortar launchers by firing Nemacysts out of their thoraxes.
    • Nemacyst: Sort of like a mini-Reaver. Leaves a trail of ink as it flies through the air. Used effectively both as ammunition and to block out communications by covering the sky in ink. Baby Nemacysts are used as ink grenades.
    • Corpsers: Giant, spider-like digging creatures used to make Emergence Holes for Locust ground troops to funnel out of.
    • Riftworm: A GIANT WORM! that appears in Gears of War 2. There is only one, and the Locusts used it to sink entire cities. Then you kill it from the inside.
    • Brumaks: Big honkin' dinosaur-like things with chainguns and rocket launchers strapped to them. Basically the Locust's tanks.
    • Leviathans: Giant fish-like monsters that live underwater. May not be tamed by the Locusts as they chuckle and retreat when you get close to their lairs. Anvil Gate confirms that there are more than one, and that they can go Lambent.
    • Siege Beasts: Huge grasshopper-like creatures in Gears of War 3 strapped to a device that uses their powerful hind legs like a catapult.
    • Gas Barges: Giant blimp-like puffer fish with gondolas attached underneath. Used for transportation.
  • In the backstory of the Geneforge series, the Shapers used their ability to create and alter life to conquer the world. Creations commonly used in battle by the Shapers include kyshakks (think of a stegosaurus that spits lightning), battle alphas (humanoid, but big, strong, and very tough), and glaahks (Armless Biped with a paralytic sting).
  • The Golden Axe series was famous for adding mounts to the action, from fire-breathing dragons to giant scorpions and those weird little parrot-beaked lizard things from Altered Beast that whipped with their tails.
  • Guild Wars 2: The End of Dragons expansion added the siege turtle to the list of mounts. These huge turtles can carry two player characters (one "driving", and one gunner) plus cannons and jump jets.
  • The Heroes of Might and Magic series features trained animals as recruitable creatures in many of the factions. Rampart/Sylvan generally has unicorns and dragons as high-tier creatures. From III onwards, Castle/Haven tamed the griffins, which helped them avert Humans Are Average in-universe. Dungeon has various beasts across the games like hydras, raptors, manticores, and always the ever-powerful black dragon. Stronghold often has tamed wolves, but has also featured Roc Birds, wyverns, and behemoths. Even Necropolis has bone dragons as their highest-tier creature. The Fortress in III was the most extreme, with 5 of their 7 creatures all being swamp-dwelling animals.
    • The Horn of the Abyss mod has a more sinister take with the Factory. In their quest to master nature with science, they've taken animals like Sand Worms, giant armadillos, and coautls from their natural habitats and are breeding them to be as efficient in war as possible.
  • In Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders, along with Heroes, the Dark Legion uses giant mammoths from swamps that fire larva out of their bellies and use giant scorpions and flying beasts in battle.
  • Instead of vehicles, the Evolved tribe of Krush Kill n' Destroy and its sequel employ massive mutated gun-toting animals. Eamples include War Mastodon, Death Hippo and Pteanodon.
  • Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 has armored war dogs.
  • Minecraft has Ravagers, hulking quadrupeds with oddly similar faces to their Illager masters. They only spawn during Illager Raids where they help the invading Illagers attack and kill villagers, fight their Iron Golems, and trample their crops. Sometimes, an Illager will be riding them as well.
  • ParaWorld is built around this trope. In a World… where dinosaurs stroll through villages, and no one sees it as weird, someone is bound to have come up with the idea of using them as mounts. From regular wagon-pulling reptiles to massive armored Titan-class T. rex, seismosaurus, and triceratops used as ultimate war machines. The Norsemen, living in colder climates, tend to use mammals such as sabertooths and mammoths, although they do use a few dinosaurs such as their triceratops titan. They also have Steampunk technology, allowing them to field steam tanks and ironclads. The Dustriders (Bedouin-like nomads) are the faction that tends to use the dinos the most, given their low technological level. The Dragon Clan (an East Asian isolationist culture) has gunpowder and Bamboo Technology which they mostly use for traps.
    • Due to the mechanics of the game, the different units from the three factions hardly differ aside from cosmetic differences. For example, a Norse steam tank is about as powerful as a dinosaur with a catapult on its back.
  • In Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous, it's possible to get a triceratops as an animal companion, serving as a beast of burden (adds its considerable strength to the party's weight limit), a mount for its owner, and an extra party member in combat.
  • Phoenix Point: The Disciples of Anu do not field vehicles like the other human factions. Instead, they have the ability to produce Mutogs, mutated war-beasts the size of an APC. Depending on their body part variations, Mutogs can have a variety of abilities like spitting poison, leaping from one elevation level to another or over obstacles, and an armor-breaking mace head at the end of their tail.
  • Pokémon:
  • In Portal Runner, There are a few levels that are played entirely from Vikki riding atop Leo. Other levels typically have Leo following alongside Vikki and acting independently.
  • Roaming Fortress from Brisk Mobile, is set in a fantasy world where cannons exist but not personal guns and humanity has been overrun by goblin-kind. To take back their territory, the humans mount a fortress on a giant, dinosaur-like creature. This beast of burden can carry various kinds of fortresses that have slot spaces to house various weapon users such as spears, bows, catapults, cannons and magic users. Your "roaming fortress" then rampages through the conquered kingdoms, pushing back the goblins.
  • Shellrazer from Slick Entertainment has a giant turtle carrying a band of heroic orcs who are searching for their brethen. Initially you only have a machine gunner on the giant turtle, but later on you can stack up to three different gunners who range from a guy with a cannon to a mad wizard and a dragonrider.
  • Total War:
    • As the main series is based on Real Life (mostly), it features warhounds, incendiary pigs, and elephants, including elephants covered in armor and elephants with freaking cannons mounted on them.
    • inTotal War: Warhammer: War beasts feature rather prominently, where most factions have the ability to field some type of animal or monster on the battlefield.
      • The Empire can mount units on gryphons and demigryphs (flightless gryphons), which are generally far more dangerous than the soldiers who ride them. With the right DLC, you can recruit Amber Wizards who can use the Lore of Beasts to summon and control a manticore in battle.
      • The Greenskins can tame the house-sized Arachnarok spiders and ride them into battle, mounting artillery on their backs for good measure, and squigs, essentially giant fanged mouths provided with taloned legs and nasty attitudes, which are then sent in herds in the general direction of the enemy.
      • The Vampire Counts get two types of giant batlike beasts, the Vargheists and flightless, tank-sized Varghulfs, which are vampires that have been warped and mutated into insane monsters after succumbing to their bloodthirst. The Vampire Counts can also raise Terrorgheists, undead bats the size of dragons. Some units also gain undead dragons as mounts, which like the gryphons above are often far deadlier than their riders.
      • The Warriors of Chaos get Chaos War Hounds, mutated wolf-like beasts with scales and horns, which also come in a poisonous version. High level heroes and lords can ride two-headed chaos dragons as well. They also have manticores, both as mounts and as individual units.
      • A spell available to hero units from a number of factions who use the Lore of Beasts allows them to summon a manticore to fight on their side for the duration of the battle.
      • The Beastmen bring in the Razorgors (spiky mutated boars) and their own warhounds, along with technically all units being beasts of battle.
      • The Wood Elves can send giant eagles and forest dragons after their enemies.
    • Total War: Three Kingdoms: In The Furious Wild DLC, the Nanman tribes have access to a number of trained war animals. Lady Zhurong can recruit animal handlers who come to the battlefield alongside packs of trained tigers that they can unleash on their foes, which can later be upgraded into the tiger warrior unit, with more heavily-armed handlers and armored tigers. In both cases, once the tigers are sent off towards their target they go wild and become uncontrollable, while the handlers become an otherwise regular ranged or melee unit.
  • Warcraft:
    • II has the dragons enslaved by the Horde. For the Alliance, dwarves throw hammers from the back of trained gryphons.
    • III has the Kodo Beasts used by the Horde, which carry huge drums into battle and can eat enemies. Also the Chimerae, Hippogryphs and Faerie Dragons used by the Night Elves, as well as the Frost Wyrm (skeletal dragon) used by the Undead. In Frozen Throne, the Naga use a variety of non-sapient creatures to swell their ranks including Mur'guls (cannon fodder), Snap Dragons (ranged fire support) and Couatls (air support).
    • In the backstory the initial orc invasion of Azeroth was quickly routed by Azeroth's mounted knights. The orcs were unprepared to face the fearsome armored warriors riding what Garona described as "great beasts of muscle and sinew who did almost as much damage to our troops as their riders".
    • Hunters in World of Warcraft can tame nearly any beast and use it in battle. Turtles, lions, wolves, moths; they can all be used as a pet in battle. Beastmaster specialized hunters can even tame special pets such as Devilsaurs (they shrink to a fraction of their original size on being tamed) or powerful Spirit Beasts.
  • In Microid's Warrior Kings, the Pagan faction can summon demons to fight for them. Among these demons are the Fomorians (giant lizard that slings boulders with its tail) and Deathwyrms (giant maggot that spits lethally gross things). Pagans can control these two beasts by putting howdahs on them and riding them.
  • War Tortoise from Foursaken Media has this premise , you field a small force of heavily armed animals which are spearheaded, by an armoured giant tortoise piloted by a mouse. The tortoise initially only has a machine gunner on a howdah, but you can upgrade the tortoise to be equipped with a sniper cannon, a multi-gun carousel, multiple mortars and a howitzer. The sequel has your tortoise and its helpful lackeys return to try and resurrect humanity while wreaking havok along the way.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Mor Ardain uses smaller titans with cannons lashed to their sides as battle tanks.

  • Champions of Far'aus: Several factions have animals/creatures that aid them in combat:
    • Galemore as a whole is noted to have more beast masters than summoners, which is reflected in their military with the Sky Force, which consists of Wyvern Riders, and on a smaller scale, their cavalry units, which ride horses or rams, depending on what unit they are.
    • Sarengal's cult has rams which are trained to fight, as well as carry riders.
    • The protagonists end up stealing two rams from Sarengal's cult, and name them Thunders and Showers.

    Web Original 
  • Hamster's Paradise: The Bruterider harmsters specialize in breeding powerful Brutes, bestial creatures bred from the other, defeated harmster species, as attack animals and war mounts.

    Western Animation 
  • The Fire Nation's Komodo-Rhinos in Avatar: The Last Airbender. During the Siege of the Northern Water Tribe, a number of them are shown with small catapults strapped to their sides as mobile artillery.
  • The series Dino-Riders, where humans and aliens fought each other using Dinosaurs strapped with missiles and Slow Lasers. Think Zoids without the mecha.
  • On Fangbone!, Skullbanians who earn enough Battle Trophies can turn them all in to get one. Fangbone himself manages to get one in the episode "The Thundercrush of Responsibility" in the form of the eponymous creature, a massive rhino-like monster able to chew through a car.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) and its reboot: He-Man and Skeletor had Battle Cat and Panthor respectively.
    • Similarly She-Ra from She-Ra: Princess of Power had Swift Wind, a winged unicorn perfectly capable of out flying Horde fighters as well as kicking his way through solid stone. It helps that, unlike Battle Cat, Swifty's normal form was Spirit, an actual army horse. Not to be outdone, Hordak also had a robotic mantis named Mantisaur he could ride into battle, though that rarely showed up in the series.
  • SilverHawks: Big Bad Mon*Star rides an armored space-squid named Sky-Runner.

    Real Life 
  • Many historical armies used War Elephants in battle. They were trained to be more than passive on the battlefield — aside from the obvious trampling and flinging of enemy soldiers, and carrying archers and spear men on their backs, some elephants were taught more horrific techniques. The Mughals for example taught their war elephants to take an enemy combatant, pin one of his legs to the ground with the elephant's foot, grab hold of the other leg with the trunk, and pull in two different directions, to disturbing effect. It's certainly slower than simply trampling the man to death, but the psychological effect more than made up for this.
    • The cliche that elephants are afraid of mice come from the time of the Punic Wars; according to folklore, Romans learned that the Carthaginian war elephants were confused by, and became scared of, things that were smaller than them and moved quickly and erratically. Thus, they began to deploy hordes of mice on the battlefield to render the war elephants useless. Squealing pigs are said to be effective as well; see below.
    • That said, after the first two encounters in battle against Pyrrhus (he of the Pyrrhic Victory; it was the second encounter, where the elephants were the only thing that saved Pyrrhus' army from annihilation) the Romans developed an uncanny ability to either scare the elephants into trampling their own army (what usually happened since the third battle against Pyrrhus, who at this point went back home with the survivors) or just plain murder the poor beasts (as happened at Zama, the decisive battle of the Punic Wars. The Roman troops there had something to prove, hence why they killed them), leading to the abandonment of war elephants on the Mediterranean for proving Awesome, but Impractical (at least in combat, as they were very useful to just carry things for the supply chain).
  • During the Roman conquest of Hispania, native tribes were said to sneak into Roman camps at night, kill the sentinels and then dump captured wolves and even wild bulls inside the walls to wreak havoc.
  • Horses weren't always just mounts — they've also got a fearsome kick. Contrary to popular belief, they don't just do it with their back legs, and a rearing horse giving you a jab with a steel-shod hoof is something you aren't going to forget in a hu— actually, you probably will have lasting memory problems.
    • They were also trained to bite enemies: knights' steeds had to be fitted with iron muzzles when not in battle.
    • See the Lipizzaner Stallions' "airs above the ground". Those cool tricks were originally developed for use in battle.
  • Dogs: Romans used dogs for war, while Germans were famous for it. Even after WWII, war-dogs would have to be gassed, or else they would continue attacking and killing people as they were trained to do.
    • Iberian war dogs, especially those of the Alano Español dogo-mastiff breed, were a more decisive force on the battlefield than horses in some parts of the Spanish conquest of the Americas. The dogs that the Pre-Columbian peoples knew were small, quiet and harmless and usually served as food, but the dogs that the conquistadors brought were sometimes bigger than a jaguar and perfectly capable to overpower and kill one, and their nose and intelligence made them fearsome assets (some of them were reputed to be able to distinguish between an indigenous ally and an enemy one). Being so powerful, they could become a threat to the livestock if by chance they ended up free and wild, in whose case special hunting parties had to be deployed after the conquests to kill or recapture them.
    • Conversely, the army of the Inca rebel Manco reportedly included pumas trained to counter the Spanish dogs. This might be the original reason why Hispanics began breeding dogs specifically suited to hunt pumas, which in modern times resulted in the renowned Dogo Argentino.
  • A darker side is the use of animals as disposable explosive delivery systems, such as anti-tank dogsnote  and bat bombs.
    • That's just the tip of the iceberg. There have been such things as exploding rats, nuclear depth charge armed killer whales, incendiary monkeys, attempts to develop pigeon guided missiles, and the horribly misguided effort to use cats to guide munitions onto ships (under the logic the cat would prefer to land on the dry boat rather than the water around it). Of course, humans have also been used for all of these purposes, so yeah...
  • While there is dispute on the truth of this matter, it’s once said the King of Sweden tried making a Calvary division comprised of the native moose populations. Even if this was true, like the war elephants before it this is a case of Awesome, but Impractical for a variety of reasons, the big one being moose are more easily susceptible to livestock diseases.
  • The Romans also used pigs as a weapon of war. Smear a pig's backside with tar, roll it in straw, set the straw on fire, and watch as a squealing ball of flame charges and scares the crap out of ANYTHING on the other side.
    • The historical accuracy of the use of flaming pigs is in question. Normal war pigs however are said to have been used to counter war elephants (they supposedly frightened them).
    • Large, strong, fast, fairly intelligent, aggressive... don't mess with pigs.
  • From China's Warring States period was the general Tian Dan, perhaps best remembered for a tactic known as the "Flaming Cattle Columns" - which is almost exactly what it sounds like. It worked spectacularly, because of all the things the enemy in that battle may have expected, a stampede of angry oxen with their tails on fire was probably not among them.

Alternative Title(s): Beasts Of Battle