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Enemy Exchange Program

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In Strategy Game, at least the kind where the sides are significantly different from each other, it will often be possible to capture structures that produce enemy units and make enemy unit types for your own use. Pre-scripted single-player scenarios will sometimes make this mandatory or even restrict you to only using enemy units for the duration of the mission. This is an obvious way to add variety, but can easily come off as contrived story-wise.

A variation of this is having units that can take control of enemy units during battle.

Compare Monster Allies. See The Enemy Weapons Are Better when this is limited to the weaponry instead of the soldiers wielding them and Vehicular Turnabout specifically for vehicles. Has not to do with exchanging enemy agents, that's Prisoner Exchange. Related to Brainwashed and Crazy. See also Strategic Asset Capture Mechanic and Lodged-Blade Recycling.

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Gaming Examples:

  • In the MMOFPS PlanetSide 1, each of the three empires has several unique vehicles that only they can build. However, capturing both of said empire's home continents allows the conqueror to freely build those empire-specific vehicles. For example, a Terran Republic player could build, say, a Vanu Sovereignty Magrider and a New Conglomerate Peregrine if his empire is currently in control of all three empire's home continents. Players with the Advanced Hacking certification and a REK tool can hack enemy vehicles to their own side - and simultaneously kick out the occupants - allowing them to get in a gun to wreak havoc, or more commonly, just deconstruct it to prevent the enemy from re-hacking it.
  • World of Warcraft: After killing their enemies, The Scourge's leader, Arthas, is able to rise the corpses to the un-life thanks to Frostmourne. The corpses are also under his complete Mind Control, so while his enemies get weakened, his own army grows in number. Later, the leader of rebelled undead, Sylvanas Windrunner, gains the ability to raise undead who aren't mentally controlled by her but are still loyal to her cause.

    Real-Time Strategy Games 
  • Achron: The CESO Heavy Tank has the ability to infect enemy units and structures with nanites. The subverted units still retain the colour and the ability to take orders from their original faction, but you can give them orders whenever you want to too. Instant spies and/or traitors!
  • Age of Empires
    • In Age of Empires II, you play Aztecs defending against the Spanish invasion. In the final scenario, completing certain objectives would give you some Conquistador units (the Spanish special unit: mounted musketeers wearing plate armour) and a Turtle Ship (normally available only to the Korean faction).
    • Within the normal game, I and II have Priests/Monk, which can convert enemy units. The priest in I constantly chant "Wololo", turning it into a Memetic Mutation. It surprisingly isn't actually Speaking Simlish like the rest of the quotes, it actually meant "I want him" in ancient Latin.
      • In Definitive Edition, Mesoamerican civilizations that normally are unable to build stables can actually gain a benefit for converting one. It allows them to train Xolotl Warriors which resembles the Knight from captured stables (their campaign appearance is to downplay this trope: replacing an instance in earlier versions of gaining non-Aztec cavalry units for fulfilling a condition).
    • Age of Mythology mostly averts this, but in the Titan expansion, playing as Kronos or Gaia gives you the choice of worshipping Rheia, who provides you with the Traitor god power, which lets you take permanent control of an enemy unit. However, you only get two uses of said power. And in the Tales of the Dragon expansion, the Chinese monks function similarly to the Priests/Monk.
    • Age of Empires: Castle Siege: Joan of Arc is the third Frank hero and has the power to convert nearby enemies to her cause.
  • Age of Wonders is another TBS fantasy game that allows you to mix units of any faction once you capture a city of theirs, but it generally causes issues due to morale penalties if you try to mix different alignments. Units might abandon your cause, and cities might rebel unless a sufficient force is garrisoned in it. However, the game also gives you the option to convert cities to allied races or just pillage and burn them.
  • Aztec Wars: Each of the nations has a different set of buildings and units. If you conquer a different nation's base, you can construct their buildings and units there. In fact, some of your own units can only be built if you control a building that can only be constructed by a different nation.
  • Command & Conquer:
    • It's done so frequently in the franchise that it sometimes becomes a quick-victory tactic. The oldest and most common method is to send an Engineer into an enemy building, allowing you to produce side-specific infantry and equipment with it. Newer games bring newer methods. Tiberian Sun introduced abandoned vehicle hijacking, Generals expanded this to include killing the pilots of enemy vehicles, Red Alert 2 had varying strengths of wireless mind control, and as of Red Alert 3, there's bribing.
    • Certain scenarios can also trigger capture in ways that are not conventionally possible. For example, several times in the Tiberium series, Nod stole a GDI Ion Cannon by cracking into GDI's network infrastructure. Another type of scenario-triggered capture happens in the Red Alert: Counterstrike mission, "Sarin Gas: Down Under": an Allied Spy can hijack vehicles by infiltrating Soviet War Factories.
    • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: The Allies' IFV changes its weapon depending on the type of infantry loaded inside. This includes non-Allied infantry, who get their own unique turrets and effects.
      • The Yuri's Revenge expansion introduced the Battle Fortress from which the infantry could fire their guns. You want Tesla Fortress? No problem. Mind Control Fortress? Oh boy, it's more effective than the Mastermind. And there could be multiple types of infantry in one Battle Fortress.
    • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3: Capturing and using enemy buildings and units is often a vital part of gameplay, as non-faction units can often cover weaknesses in the faction's units (such as the Imperial fighter being better suited for escorts as it doesn't need to retreat and reload, or the Soviet ground-attack chopper being suited for both anti-infantry and anti-vehicle, or the Allied IFV providing vehicle repairs on the move).
      • The game has several missions where this is expected of the player, and in one Imperial mission it's a requirement to the point where you can't build any Imperial units.
    • Quite possibly due to software limitations, unit quotes from Red Alert and beyond can be quite jarring if they are side-specific like, say, a GDI commander producing a Nod Militia squad whose one of many lines is "Down with GDI!" or an Allied commander's Ant whose response is "Vehicle reporting." Granted, the last one isn't so much Enemy Exchange, as much as it is a Game Mod.
  • Company of Heroes
    • Many weapons like mortars and heavy machine guns require crews to operate. If your troops manage to kill the crew of a weapon without destroying it, they can pick it up and turn it against its original owners.
    • Company Of Heroes 2 extends this to vehicles, which may be abandoned by their original crews instead of being destroyed outright. Any infantry unit of sufficient size may then capture them, though they then require significant repairs before once again being battle ready.
  • In Cossacks: European Wars, you can capture an enemy peasant (or artillery piece, or civilian building, or military building under special circumstances) when your military units are nearby and the enemy's aren't. Enemy peasants, however, retain their home nationality, allowing you to build up their tech tree as well as your own. This is less useful than it first appears though, since not one single piece of research you've done crosses over, requiring you to build the new civilisation from the ground up.
  • Dawn of War Dark Crusade: It introduces the Necron Lord Destroyer, which could "possess" enemy vehicles and convert them to your side. When these vehicles are destroyed, the Lord Destroyer pops out damaged but "alive". Seeing as you could only build a maximum of two of these, though, using this is situational.
  • Dune II:
    • The Ordos faction's "Deviator" tank could temporarily turn enemy units to Ordos control.
    • Capturing an enemy factory allows you to build that enemy's "unique" unit (Atreides sonic tanks, Harkonnen Devastators, etc).
    • Weirdly, combining the above two examples did not work as you would expect. Some versions (and mods) allowed non-Ordos to capture an Ordos factory and produce their own Deviators, but no matter who owned the Deviator, it always turned its victims into Ordos.
    • Of course, taking over a unit for as short a period as you could didn't really do that much good...except against Devastators, which could be ordered to self-destruct.
  • Dungeon Keeper: Enemies can be converted in the torture chamber, but neither they nor your creatures will enjoy each other's company, and will likely require separate dungeon areas. They each have a set enemy. Whilst they won't enjoy being in the company of most of your units they can tolerate it if you keep them well-fed and amused. However, if you put a guard next to a dark mistress, the lady who tortured him, expect conflict.
  • Empire Earth
    • The original game has Priest units that convert enemies to their side ...unless those units are near a university.
    • The sequel adds the caveat that the converted unit is immediately turned into the converter's era-appropriate version if they're at different Technology Levels (e.g. a prehistoric priest converting a modern mortar soldier gets an archer, a modern priest converting a spearman gets a machine gunner), with cavalry/tanks being replaced by their highest/lowest tech level equivalent. Even more jarring is the fact that they take on the appearance of the converter's civilization as well, most dramatically seen with the all-black African civilizations and the paler-skinned Far East / Middle East / South American / European civilizations.
  • Globulation is an extreme example, as converting all enemy "globes" is a more standard way of winning than killing them.
  • Halo Wars gives the UNSC access to SPARTAN Super Soldiers, who have various abilities. One of these includes the power to hijack enemy vehicles, just like they can in the Halo FPS games. They can't capture "elite" units such as the Vulture gunship (UNSC), which is an air unit anyway, and the Covenant Scarab (which is normally controlled by many beings).
  • Hegemony Series: Every city has a culture and can only recruit units of that culture. They'll cost extra, but you'll have enemy units.
  • Homeworld:
    • The Salvage Corvette can pick up small enemy crafts or latch onto larger ships and drag them back to your Mothership, where presumably the enemy crew is subdued (or worse). The enemy ship is then re-launched with a friendly crew, allowing you to control it. The Game-Breaker is that this allows you to exceed the Arbitrary Headcount Limit, potentially giving you a fleet far larger than you could possibly build on your own and making later levels trivial.
    • Over-using the Salvage Corvettes can lead to problems in the last level of the single-player campaign. In a previous level, you are faced with a large number of enemy ion cannon frigates. By themselves, ion cannon frigates aren't dangerous to fighters and corvettes, so you can fairly easily capture one. Then rinse and repeat. However, once the final mission starts, you are immediately besieged on three sides by a force whose strength is directly proportional to yours. So if you happen to have captured 30 or so ion cannon frigates, thinking that this will make your endgame a cakewalk, you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed by a much stronger enemy force.
    • The main antagonist of Cataclysm aka Emergence, the aptly-named Beast, has this as its hat and it's horrifyingly good at it. As the Beast is a nasty combination of The Virus and Grey Goo "exchange" here means less dragging the vessel back to a shipyard for retrofit and more bombarding the vessel with Beast particles until the vessel is assimilated and controlling it with bio-circuitry made from the bodies of the crew. The effect is treated more like Demonic Possession, both mechanically and in-universe.
    • Homeworld 2 also allows for capturing with the Hiigaran Marine Frigate and its Vaygr equivalent. The frigate flies up to an enemy vessel and launches a boarding party to take over the ship. However, this is much less useful than in the first game as it's a lot harder to capture enemy ships since the marine frigates are easily killed, not to mention that any ships you've captured will lose their upgrades and you you can't bypass the unit cap.
  • Machines: Wired For War: Its features allow you to take over enemy buildings as well as steal unit design plans, also the Judas warlord that can convert enemy units to your side.
  • Men of War thrives on this trope. Every vehicle requires a crew of one to five soldiers. You can shoot down the crews of machine gun emplacements, mortars, field guns, and artillery, obviously. However, you can also force crews out of tanks with a well-placed shot or anti-tank grenade (if it disables the turret), then repair it, put in your own crew and turn it loose on the enemy. In the case of open-topped vehicles, you don't even need specialized munitions — simply chuck in a standard frag grenade. The series should be called Grand Theft Tanks, to be honest.
  • 8-bit Nether Earth may be the Ur-Example, as it was released on 1987. The whole plot of the game is about capturing alien bases and factories to build robots to capture more bases and factories to kick aliens off the asteroid.
  • Original War: Taking over buildings or vehicles is a very frequent mechanism, with a few missions being centered around it.
  • Populous II: It allows you to place "baptism fonts" with water magic, which convert troops from one side to the other (and back). The prequel, Populous: The Beginning (the earlier Populous games are god games, and this one is a straight RTS where the plot involves becoming a god) has the enemy-converting priest as one of the basic troops.
  • Rise of Nations: The Spy is capable of converting enemy units to the other side using the ability Bribe. However, the normally invisible Spy is revealed after the ability and is partially revealed during the casting (usually during this time they are insta-killed by the Counter Intelligence ability). Apparently, the vanilla "Rise Of Nations" had the Russians produce spies that don't reveal after using Bribe, so it was kind of a Game-Breaker.
  • Seven Kingdoms allows you to easily reproduce each race's buildings and units, with the exception of the powerful Seat of Power, which can only be built if you have the respective scroll (and each human nation starts with only one). However, human players can't build any of the demonic Frythans structures even if they control some of their units, but it works the other way around. (Getting a large enough number to operate the structures is another issue entirely, as well as keeping them from rebelling).
  • Star Trek: Armada:
    • Initially averted. To capture an enemy ship, its shields must be disabled, and then boarding parties must be beamed onboard, taken from the capturing ship's crew complement. The boarding crew will invariably take casualties as well, and ships have a minimum crew requirement before they will operate at full efficiency.
    • The Borg, however, play it straight by holding ships in a tractor beam and transporting the enemy crew off to be assimilated, though they can also capture ships the standard way.
    • Also played somewhat straight in that capturing an enemy construction ship allows you to access the entire tech tree and build a complete fleet of ships of the construction ship's original race. They will, however, be crewed by members of your own race, often with hilarious results such as a Romulan-manned Borg cube responding with, "Warbird reporting..." when selected because the sound bites for a given unit type (in this case "battleship") are simply transferred straight across (in this case from the Romulan Warbird to the Romulan-manned cube) to all "battleship" type units manned by your race without regard to whether they are fitting or not... Also, by the way, only the Borg's Assimilator unit transports the enemy crew off their ship to be assimilated (where they are either added to the Assimilator's crew or added to your general crew pool if the Assimilator has a full compliment) and it does not actually hold the enemy ship in place. The Borg cube's holding beam does hold enemy ships in place, but it just does exactly what the transporter does except on a larger scale (more Drones are transferred per second than with the transporter) and able to do it through enemy shields... Incidentally, capturing an Assimilator as another race does not remove its special ability. This has the hilarious side-effect of having, say, a Federation-manned Assimilator "assimilating" enemy crew, including the Borg player you stole it from in the first place.
    • The sequel averts this with the Species 8472, which have all their bio-ships piloted by a single being. They're also immune to assimilation. Played straight with everyone else. In fact, the game introduces raider ships, whose function is specifically to capture enemy ships. They have a special type of attack command that fires weapons at the enemy until their shields are down and then starts transporting elite marines aboard. A Klingon ship also has boarding pods that bypass shields.
  • Star Wars:
    • Star Wars: Empire at War:
      • Mara Jade and Emperor Palpatine have a special ability that will convert nearby (non-hero) enemy units to their side. However, said units will automatically die off after a short period of time.
      • Similarly for the Rebels, Chewbacca can take over nearly any enemy vehicle (including AT-ATs), and R2-D2 can hack into enemy turrets to convert them.
      • In skirmish mode, players will occasionally come across capturable buildings which can build units from the non-playable pirate faction.
      • This is taken a step further in the Forces of Corruption expansion, where the new Zann Consortium faction has multiple heroes that can "bribe" enemy units to fight for you, and their corruption mechanics in the campaign and Galactic Conquest can make some enemy units buildable.
      • And as if that wasn't enough, there are several mods for the game which feature units that can capture enemy starships, and some of them even let you keep the captured units for future battles in Galactic Conquest.
    • Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds: Jedi and Sith Knights and Masters (well, Sith Lords anyway) can convert units and buildings. Of course, because 75% of the differences between the sides' units are cosmetic, this is only really useful for stealing unique or expensive units, protecting the Jedi in question, or taking advantage of racial special abilities such as the Gungan frigate's ability to submerge. Unlike the Age of Empires priests and monks upon which the engine is based, however, Jedi and Sith are durable enough to see front-line combat, though their prohibitive cost limits their effective use.
  • Starcraft:
    • Starcraft I
      • The Protoss Dark Archon has a Mind Control ability that can capture enemy units and convert them to your side. If it's used on an enemy worker unit, you can then use it to build that race's units - and since the three races all have separate Arbitrary Head Count Limits, it is then possible to raise up 200 units of each race in your attack force.
      • Additionally, the campaign editor lets you set any unit to "rescuable"—including units whose race doesn't match the player's (or you can cut to the chase and implement triggers that give players units of other races, either by spawning in additional units or changing control of existing ones). The first game, where Dark Archons weren't available, makes use of this in the official campaign. In the final mission, you control two races (the Terrans and Protoss) at the same time.
      • Even then, in Brood War during one Protoss mission you are given a free Zerg base from Kerrigan to aid your troops, and various missions have a limited use of units from different races under your control.
      • The Zerg get an aversion though: an infested command center is acquired by beating an enemy command center to the red, then getting a Queen unit to the building before it explodes. For your trouble, you get an entirely different building that makes Infested Terrans, a unique unit which is also far different from what a Command Center usually produces.
    • StarCraft II: There is an achievement called Zerglot. While playing as Zerg against a Protoss opponent, use an Infestor unit's mental parasite ability to take temporary control of an enemy probe, which is the Protoss worker unit. While the probe is still under your control, build a Nexus, the Protoss Command Building. Then continue building Protoss buildings with probes built at the Nexus until you can build a Zealot, and then build it. This earns the Zerglot achievement. It is possible to do this in any game mode, but playing against the AI makes it much easier. It is also possible to do this with Terran units by capturing an SCV, but it will either have to be captured again by different Infestors, or multiple ones will have to be captured sequentially to build a Command Center.
  • Supreme Commander, Total Annihilation's Spiritual Successor:
    • Any unit that can build or repair can capture enemy units and structures, though is generally easier to just salvage them. Becomes extra fun when you manage to steal an enemy's engineer when they're a different faction than you. Since a single engineer with some resources can construct everything needed to make an entire army, one can then build practically ANYTHING normally reserved for your enemies with a bit of time.
    • Supreme Commander 2 has a mission where an an AI has gone insane and builds engineers and turrets nonstop. Staying in control of your base is surprisingly hard until you get the hang of it.
  • Total Annihilation: Commander units can capture enemy units, including construction units. Core has a resurrection unit that can raise enemy units. In the sequel, Total Annihilation: Kingdoms Elsin, the Aramonian monarch, can resurrect enemy units, and Zhon's Harpy and Taros' Mind Mage can capture enemy units.
  • Warcraft:
    • Warcraft II: While it's possible to do this according to technical mechanics, but it's not a situation that ever occurs during the campaign mode. In custom scenarios, it's possible to confuse the game's soundbytes by abusing the mechanics, resulting in the Command & Conquer situation where human footman would start grunting like orcs. The expansion for Warcraft II, however, has such scenarios in each campaign (Alliance and Horde).
    • Warcraft III: The Undead Banshee unit can possess a single enemy unit, sacrificing itself to give you control of itnote . The Death Knight hero can temporarily raise up to 6 dead units regardless of former allegiance to fight for him, although without any special abilities or spells that the unit might normally have. The Frozen Throne Expansion Pack adds the neutral Dark Ranger hero, who can permanently take control over a single enemy unit, abilities and all, with her Charm level 6 spell. Blood Elf Spell Breakers can convert summoned units.
  • Warlords:
    • Played Straight and averted in the first two games. Once you occupy an enemy city (without pillaging or sacking it) you can produce any units that the enemy could in that city, including special units that are specific to the enemy side and otherwise unavailable to you. In the third game captured cities cannot produce those special units unless your side is already capable of doing so.
    • Warlords Battlecry 2: Subverted: Whereas the hero can convert enemy buildings, the buildings cannot be used to build units. They add to your army limit though.
  • Warzone 2100 has the NEXUS link turret, which infected enemy units with a virus that made them fight for your side. Somewhat subverted that in single player, it's mostly the enemy NEXUS faction using it on you, and by the time you research the link turret yourself, NEXUS has the Resistance Circuits tech (also obtainable by the player) that makes the link turret ineffective.
  • World in Conflict:
    • In the single-player campaign, there are several missions in which you can take control of abandoned enemy units by repairing them, though this isn't possible in normal gameplay.
    • There is also a ludicrous mission in which Soviet special forces have seized control of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis island, and Governor's island. They use a large number of captured US vehicles against the player. One character lampshades this by remarking that the number of vehicles available to them is very high, and another replies that the post was oversupplied and undermanned. It is not explained why these islands had any heavy vehicles on them at all.
  • Z:
    • This is a major component seeing that you have to capture territory to gain additional factories to create your robots. Slightly annoying as the clock doesn't reset when the territory has been captured; meaning that heavy tank that took 5 mins to build and was just about to be completed before you lost the territory is now in the enemy's hands. You can use this against them too, setting the factory to build the weakest unit just before losing it. Probably justified because they are robots, all they need is slightly different programming to switch sides.
    • Z Steel Soldiers has an early level where plot-wise you're attempting to build up your forces and technology (as command hasn't sanctioned your actions) by using a hacker to take control over a small enemy base before assaulting the larger one. In general gameplay, the hacker can be useful but they're weak and easily destroyed by gun emplacements.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • In the Baldur's Gate series, charm or dominion spells are common, and as the enemies might use them against you, you can use them as well against your foes - but they won't be really effective against the most powerful opponents.
    • Occasionally you will meet some monsters that will temporarily join you, like Korax the friendly ghoul.
  • Games in the The Elder Scrolls series let you summon various daedra and undead that would normally be enemies. But they turn on you if you attack them enough. There are also spells that place enemy NPCs under your control, making them fight on your side.
  • Mount & Blade: Most units are recruited from villages. These villagers are then trained into the specific soldier class of the kingdom they belong to. However, their birth does not change, even if the country that rules them does. Therefore, it is possible to hire recruits of an enemy nation's soldier type once you conquer parts of their kingdom. There are also a few more complicated ways, such as capturing them in battle, crushing their morale, then offering them a second chance by joining you.

  • Battlefield: None of the tanks and helicopters in the games spawn locked, so although each side has its own vehicles, you need to rely on the color of the player's name above the vehicles to determine which vehicles to shoot at.
  • In Operation Flashpoint and its spiritual successor, the ARMA series, you can literally use any vehicle that isn't locked, so this can and does happen. The Resistance expansion campaign puts heavy emphasis on capturing enemy equipment and weapons to outfit your militia, with captured gear being retained in subsequent missions. One mission even involves an attempt at stealing several enemy tanks.
  • PAYDAY 2 has a skill, called "Joker", that allows the player to convert a captured cop/SWAT/FBI unit to the player's side. Acing the skill will give buffs to the converted unit and another skill on the same tree "Partner in Crime" gives various buffs to both the player that converted the unit and the converted unit itself and another skill, called "Confidence", when aced allows for a player to have 2 converted units at the same time.
  • Star Wars: Battlefront: Although vehicles that double as command posts like the AT-AT are off-limits to the other side, everything else is fair game and spawns unlocked. In the second game, you can even use an Engineer's fusion cutter to boot out a tank's occupants in order to take it for your side. This gets particularly ridiculous with the CIS, since most of their "vehicles" (including all of their starfighters) are different models of droids, and thus don't have an actual pilot. And yet, the Republic's clone soldiers can drive or fly them just fine.

    Simulation Games 
  • Black & White 2: The Siren epic miracle causes every enemy soldier and civilian in its area of effect to switch sides permanently and join your city.
    Siren: Look into the light. Join with me. You belong to me now. My love is everlasting.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The game allows evil-aligned clerics (as well as neutral-aligned clerics of evil deities) to use the Rebuke Undead ability to permanently take mental control over an undead creature. This doesn't work anymore as of the fourth edition.
  • Neuroshima: It is entirely possible to hijack Moloch heavy war machines and use them. They're most effective against other machines. The Outpost specialises in both stealing and reverse-engineering Moloch's weapons and weapon systems
  • Warhammer 40,000: Horus Heresy, this is the Alpha Legion's calling card, using the Rewards of Treason special rule to be able to use any other legions' unique units as Elite choices (not counting special characters).

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Lords of Magic has multiple ways of doing this. You can trade with other factions so long as your relations aren't too bad, and one thing that can be traded for is their units. Liberating a faction's Great Temple while they're neutral or better gives control of the faction to you. There are villages on the borders between two factions' starting places that can have a barracks, mage tower, or thieves guild of either faction built there. Finally, capturing a capital city gives you control over its unit-producing buildings. As long as they haven't been demolished they also retain any training they've already received, although even a max-level mage won't know any spells until you research them for yourself.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic:
    • You can start training new troops to reinforce your army the moment you conquer an enemy city, so even if you have an army of do-gooder forest elves, you can still add Demonic Invaders or The Undead without anyone trying to gut the enemy they've hated for generations. That said, mixing creatures of different alignments under the command of one hero gives them morale penalties.
    • The fifth game in the series hangs a lampshade on this. There's a scenario where the demonic commander captures some forest elf cities and builds an army of elven troops. He then has a limited time in which to capture a demonic stronghold before the massive and predictable desertion rate leaves him with no forces at all. The same character later turns the other heel and finds that demonic forces will thereafter destroy their own cities rather than let them fall into his hands.
  • Master of Orion:
    • Boarding and capturing enemy ships can yield valuable technology when you scrap them if they have systems or weapons you haven't researched.
    • Many of the leaders your can hire come from races you may be at war with. This never comes up.
    • Master of Orion II had several features centered around capturing alien ships and populations. Capturing Antaran ships in particular would provide a major technological advantage. Some players would even exterminate their own population units and replace them with captured aliens that had superior environmental tolerances or resource-production!
  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri
    • It introduces native Mindworms to replace the barbarians of the Civilization games. However, players could also capture Mindworms and even breed their own.
    • With enough energy credits, your probe teams can attempt to mind-control enemy units, even those fielding equipment not used in your workshop (or that you didn't even research).
    • You can also trade bases with rival factions, including everything that's inside of them. However, the AI is very bad at this, and will happily exchange a huge economic and industrial center (filled with buildings, secret projects, and powerful high-level units, and with nearby tiles having special resources) with your 1 pop god-forsaken sea base founded in the middle of an oceanic rift where there are no resources at all.
    • Its Spiritual Successor Civilization: Beyond Earth, meanwhile, features a covert operation in which you can recruit defectors from another faction's army and thereby be given free military units.
    • Beyond Earth's DLC 'Rising Tide' gave Harmony-aligned Explorer units the ability to 'leash' alien units, putting them under the control of the same player as the explorer. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on what biome you're playing on), once harnessed, an alien loses any biome-based buffs or debuffs applied to enemy aliens. note 
  • Medieval: Total War:
    • While there are a few provinces that specialize in a unit and will produce them for anyone, most troop types are tied to the factions. So if your English crusader army captures Egypt the locals suddenly figure out how to grow yew trees in the desert but forget how to herd camels.
    • The British campaign in Medieval II: Total War: Kingdoms changes this to allow you to recruit this province's native units for as long as the native culture is dominant there. After it is assimilated into your culture, it can only produce your normal units. This gives you a choice of whether you want certain cool units you can't normally get with the risk of rebellion in the province or safety but losing out on the units.
  • Space Empires IV allows a player to capture enemy ships, steal enemy blueprints, and reverse-engineer enemy technology. So it's downright easy to get someone else's ships—though only capturing them outright will produce ships that follow the enemy design.
  • Sword of the Stars has boarding pods that can be used to take control of the guns of enemy ships, turning them into immobile weapons platforms for your side (presumably, the bridge crew disables the ship's central control before being overrun). Ships 'captured' in this way are destroyed at end of combat.

     Visual Novels 
  • Fate Series:
    • When a Master is defeated but the Servant is still around for some reason —usually, they are in that little timespan between the Command Spells having been used up and the Servant disappearing—, a different Master can bind them with their own Command Spells if both parties agree. Command Spells can also be transferred between Masters and, in some cases, even stolen.
    • Fate/Zero: Berserker's second Noble Phantasm, "Knight of Owner" allows him to appropriate stuff and turn it into low-ranked Noble Phantasms — basically, anything from a street lamp to a stolen fighter jet. The only requirements for this to work are that Berserker regard said stuff as a weapon and that he has to physically touch it (his combat tentacles come in handy by extending his reach).

     Other Games 
  • Defend Your Castle:
    • The Temple upgrade allows you to convert enemies to your side by dropping them inside the castle.
    • One spell allows you to directly convert an enemy to your side.

Non-Gaming Examples:

     Anime & Manga 
  • Naruto:
    • In a sense, this is what the Nara Clan's Shadow Manipulation techniques do. The Kagemane doesn't override the victim's sense of self, it just forces them to mimic the caster's movements because it latches on their chakra system. This is mostly a capture & containment tactic but can also be used to make the target fire projectiles or attack their allies.
    • The Summoning: Impure Reincarnation technique summons any dead person's soul and inserts it into a living vessel, thus restoring the deceased person. The next step is to insert a special talisman into the reincarnated person so they obey the summoner's commands. Orochimaru, the man who improved it, uses this to summon the past Hokages of the village he betrayed to deal a heavy emotional blow to the current Hokage (by forcing him to fight his mentors). Kabuto, Orochimaru's disciple and the person who perfects the technique, takes this to a massive scale. Not only does he summon elite ninjas such as the Akatsuki's members (a terrorist organization he never belonged to) or the traitor Madara Uchiha but also a massive army of dead people. Kabuto then proceeds to declare war on all of the ninja villages.
    • The Rinnegan's Six Paths technique allows the user to reanimate six corpses that work as extensions of the user. On top of granting each corpse a unique, overpowered ability, they also retain their original skillset.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Zigzagged as it's not done to an actively hostile party but a neutral, non-allied one. Due to the lack of offensive potential of her magic, Homura steals all sorts of weaponry (and even vehicles) from Japan's Armed Forces and Yakuza to use against the witches. She's commonly seen with pistols and assault rifles, but if the necessity arises, she pulls out grenades, machine guns, rocket launchers, and even tanks from her Bag of Holding.

    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman (1987): While the vehicles are the most notable of the things Diana's rebels have stolen from the Empire's armies to use against them pretty much everything they have was taken from the Empire, and one of their most useful propaganda spreading and disguise items is a hologram projector which H'Elgn was able to make much more versatile, flexible and believable than the Sangtee Empire hologram projector they originally stole. Also, while Diana's core group doesn't contain any kreel they managed to inspire several groups to join their cause and turn on the Empire.

     Films — Animation 
  • Big Hero 6: While Hiro only becomes Yokai's enemy later, the latter still steals the former's microbots and transmitter to control them. Throughout the movie, he tinkers with them to make them look more menacing and be controlled in way greater numbers. He also hides the transmitter behind a Kabuki mask.

     Fan Works 
  • I Don't Run An Orphanage:
    • Kyosei Midoriya's Quirk, Symbiote, is a mix of this and Brainwashed and Crazy. The baby boy needs a host to survive since he's made of black goo. Once he has entered someone's body, Kyosei starts eating his host's internal organs in exchange for a boost in the person's Quirk and physical capabilities. The problem is, eventually the host's body decays too much, causing them to go berserker. It's a little bit zigzagged because Kyosei's first host was his mother, who didn't know what her son's Quirk could do. Therefore, she isn't exactly Kyosei's enemy. His second host is willing and his adoptive brother Fu, so, an ally.
    • Aka Midoriya's Quirk is called Assimilation. She can rip pieces of her body off and then insert them into a person's bloodstream via a cut. Once in there, she completely takes over her victim's body — they are not brainwashed, they are controlled by Aka's conscience like puppets. During villain attacks, she uses her Quirk to turn the tides in her family's favor by assimilating the most powerful Nomus and villains.
    • Saber's Quirk is a mental Hyperspace Arsenal of imaginary copies of swords named Infinite Blade Works. This means that, as long as she has seen a sword (or a sword-shaped object) in real life, she can add it to her mindscape, from where she can summon it. This is exploited to circumvent her Quirk's limitation, as she can copy cool swords that can explode or are made of special materials.
    • The Sky Pirates debut the criminal scene by infiltrating the Midoriya Foundation to steal a Chaos energy-fueled, flying ship from the facility's labs. Other than serving as the villain team's namesake, the purpose is to obtain a base of operations that cannot be reached by Quirks and is undetectable by radars. In truth, this is a subversion because the Sky Pirates were created and funded by none other than Izuku Midoriya, so the villain team and the Midoriya Foundation are only enemies in the eyes of the public. This move is meant to thwart any suspicion about the two organizations being related.
    • Also concerning the Sky Pirates, their main goal is to raid some specific criminal organizations' bases. They steal their weapons, money, and whatever special equipment they might possess. As a result, the targeted villain groups get severely weakened.
    • Engineer Rorou Con's Quirk is called Ownership and grants him the ability to "own" any nonliving object. In other words, Rorou gains complete control of the object's properties and functions. This gets especially useful when the Sky Pirates are raiding some rival criminal organization's base.
  • Tiberium Wars: Defied. A soldier from the Brotherhood of Nod is reprimanded for not properly checking an incoming convoy. The soldier's reasoning is that the convoy's vehicles are the models the Brotherhood employs. However, he doesn't think either Dressing as the Enemy or this trope could possibly be in play, so he and his checkpoint get blasted by a car bomb.

  • Tour of the Merrimack: In Wolf Star, the Romans figure out how to hack the Merrimack's command-and-control computers and take great advantage of it.

  • Art of Domination: Once the Saramis Alliance takes control of a human-populated Region, they can start recruiting human militia.
  • Erfworld: What unit types a city will produce is decided by the current Signamancy note  of the owning side's capital when that city site is built up into a higher level city. If that city gets captured by a different side, they can raze it back to level zero for schmuckers, or keep it in its current shape to produce the same unit types it did before.
  • Paranatural: Welcome to Hitball ('Cause your wimpy parents banned Dodgeball - dodging wasn't the most important part anyway)! Now sit down while you're sitting down and take notes from Coach Oop about the Golden Switch:
    Oop: Only thing happens when ya catch this puppy is yer WHOLE TEAM gets OFFA THE BLEACHERS an' BACK IN THE GAME. NO. BIG. DEAL.
    Isabel: Why would we ever throw it at the other team then, Coach Oop?
    Oop: Good question, you impatient buffoon. Score a clean hit with the Golden Switch, an' the chump you bonked SWITCHES TEAMS. Lil' tip: AIM FER THE ENEMY'S ACES.

    Real Life 
  • World War II:
    • Both sides used captured enemy equipment for various uses during WWII. This could include simple R&D (the Americans studied captured Japanese equipment to figure out and exploit their weaknesses) or repainting them in the appropriate team colors and using them for recon or combat (the Luftwaffe would use Allied aircraft painted in German markings for recon, knowing the Allied aviators would hesitate to fire on them, while the Japanese military used a handful of captured American P-40 Warhawks in combat).
    • This was an integral part of the German war strategy. On field level, German forces often captured and used enemy tanks, cars, and cannons (even horses were used). But it was also extended to a larger scheme with strategic resources: Germany produced most of light tanks in Czechoslovakia, and heavy tanks were produced in France after both lands were captured. Also, additional planes were constructed in the Netherlands' existing factories, not to mention Austrian ones, which supplied antitank cannons. This explains how Germany was able to fight successfully against the Allies while having much fewer resources. While initially this was helped by the fact that several of their neighbors used rifles and ammunition basically identical to Germany's own, but as the Nazis spread further they ended up with a dizzying array of non-standard weapons in their arsenal.
    • The Soviets did the same — the 5th Guards Tank Brigade even got their first T-34/85 by capturing it from the Germans who had previously captured it from some other Soviet unit.
    • The Wehrmacht made heavy usage of captured enemy equipment, particularly against the Soviet Union due to the inability of Germany to provide enough arms, particularly submachine guns and semiautomatic rifles to give its soldiers sufficient firepower to face the Zerg Rush. This eventually led to the logistics becoming a quagmire, since each gun would only work with its own ammunition (German and Soviet guns only had one caliber that was technically interchangeable - 7.63mm Mauser versus the more powerful 7.62mm Tokarev - but they kept capturing and using guns of any caliber from every enemy nation and were able to use them because they often captured large stores of ammunition), and likewise, each engine could use only its particular parts.
    • The Nazis also recruited a sizable amount of soldiers from the occupied territories. Volunteers, that is. If they hadn't been so blindingly stupid (and, you know, racist), they would have had a much easier time in the Soviet Union, where they were initially welcomed by the populace. Though they were not necessarily volunteers. Stories exist where the 'volunteers' turned side at first sight of Allies.
    • The Waffen-SS was the only branch of the Wehrmacht which recruited outside Greater Germany. A great deal - perhaps a full half - of the SS was non-German when the war ended. The last troops defending the Reichstag were from a French SS unit.
      The Waffen-SS also relied significantly on captured weapons, especially in the early stages of the war. Despite their politically exalted status as the armed wing of the Nazi Party, the Wehrmacht controlled the production and issue of rifles and machine guns, and gave low priority to the upstart Waffen-SS.
  • The story of Yang Kyoungjong, a Korean recruited into the Japanese army who was captured in Manchuria in battle against the Soviets in 1938. After spending four years in a Soviet labor camp, he was then pressed into the Red Army to fight the Germans. He was then captured in Ukraine by the Wehrmacht and sent to occupied France. On D-Day, he was then captured by American forces and sent to a POW camp in Britain. After the war, he settled down in America.
  • During the Yom Kippur war the Israelis captured many of the Arabs' T-55 and T-62 tanks which were abandoned by their crews. The tanks are still being used by the Israelis in some modified form to this day.
  • During WW1 the British first deployed the Mark 1-5 tank on the Western front. However, this tank was regularly abandoned by its crew in the next counter-attack (as it was a deathtrap when not used during an assault) which resulted in the German army getting nearly twice as many battle-ready tanks from battlefield capture than from their own factories.
  • The Ottoman Turks used janissaries, who were originally forces composed of enslaved Christian children trained to fight for the Ottoman side.
  • Alexander the Great used some Persian troops alongside his Greek ones after he conquered the Persian Empire. These soldiers were of lower quality, but they helped to replenish his army and aided his march into India.
  • The Ancient Romans tended to recruit from both recently conquered nations, be they "allies" that were subordinate to Rome or outright conquered, and part-time hostile Germanic tribes to supplement their forces and, after Marius' reform turned Roman citizen forces into heavy infantry only, provide badly needed specialists in other fields of warfare (Balearic slingers were particularly appreciated, as Rome had learned the hard way how lethal they could be when they were on the other side of Punic Wars). This also had the benefit of having the soldiers exposed to Roman culture for years until they are culturally assimilated, increasing their control of conquered areas and weakening Germanic will to fight them - assuming the Germanic mercenaries didn't decide to ditch their original people and live in Roman land after earning citizenship through their service.