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"But there's a problem... X from the sub-zero sector ARC are in Sector 6 (NOC) and they... They've been changed by the cold. If you absorb one, you'll be frozen from within. This seems like a deliberate tactic."
Adam, Metroid Fusion

Some Video Games incorporate maps into the fighting, and the terrain in them can add an element of Home Field Advantage to the unit or monster on it. Whether it's a boost to Power Level, cover from fire, or more exotic things like invulnerability, or even randomly teleporting the character, depends on the game, map, and even color of the tile.

These effects add an element of strategy and chance to the game, making otherwise milquetoast maps and units dangerous and unpredictable as they interact with the environment to great effect, whole strategies can be devised around luring an enemy into a weak spot.

Outside of video games, Comic Books, Film and Literature are fond of assigning a given character or army an edge over opponents if they fight in an area they're familiar with or have had time to trap.

Also Truth in Television. Most military campaigns involve efforts to take advantage of large-scale terrain features like rivers; battles are often fought over high ground; and individual soldiers will routinely try to Take Cover! behind the sturdiest terrain available.

Often overlaps with Weather of War, as weather can further compound the advantages and disadvantages of existing terrain, in some cases even reversing them. That fortified wooden watchtower in the middle of an open field becomes a much less attractive place to make your last stand in a lightning storm, for instance.

Not to be confused with Dramatic High Perching, which only looks cool without having any actual effect. Field Power Effect is a supernatural variant with a bigger area of effect. Mucking in the Mud is a common subtrope. See also Improv Fu.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Sonic X, when Shadow tries to hunt down Cosmo on the Blue Typhoon, Tails uses his knowledge of the layout of the ship to launch Shadow out of a cannon, which actually succeeds in inconveniencing Shadow for about five seconds.
  • In the manga Blade of the Immortal, Magatsu's main schtick is taking advantage of his surroundings to overcome his (usually more dangerous) opponents. An early quote of his is "He who controls the land can conquer Heaven."
  • Likewise for Serpico in the Berserk manga, who tends to attack his opponents on specifically chosen ground that works in his favor. For example, he chooses to ambush Guts (who could cut Serpico in half in a second on an open battlefield) on a cliffside where Guts doesn't have room to swing or even draw his BFS, has very precarious footing and the morning sun in his eyes.
    • Serpico does this again in a second battle with Guts, choosing a room filled with pillars to stop his large sword. Guts cuts through them anyways.
  • Lelouch does this pretty regularly in Code Geass - it's the finishing touch on a maneuver that would have won the war no problems if he hadn't been called away, and is so successful that he does it again in the second series. His preferred tactic is luring enemies into position and then causing structural damage on the battlefield to collapse the ground under the enemy units, or crush them with debris from above.
    • Nothing's stopping his enemy du jour Xingke to use it on him. In a true Xanatos Speed Chess, Lelouch thought about drying the dam before the fight. Unfortunately, the water that is left certainly couldn't flood his army off, but it did make the soil muddy and sticky, reducing them to easy pickings.
  • In the Duelist Kingdom arc of Yu-Gi-Oh!, this is used for certain battles: Water monsters placed over the sea or bug cards in the forest gained attack and defense points. In the French translation of the manga, this was hilariously translated as "Field Power Sauce".
    • This eventually became the basis of Field Spell Cards in both the anime and the Tabletop Games, which give certain monsters (usually ones of a certain Attribute, Monster Type, or Monster Archetype/Name Group) bonuses, regardless of who controls them, and go into their own unique card zone.
  • In Bleach, Hollows and Arrancar are much more powerful when fighting in Hueco Mundo because there is a much higher concentration of spirit energy in the air than in the real world.
    • Uryu and Chad also get a boost for the same reason (the latter moreso because of the particular type of spirit energy and the nature of his powers).
  • Holyland mentions how judo and other wrestling or grappling styles can be very effective on the street because getting thrown or taken to ground on concrete or asphalt is a very different - read: more painful - beast from falling on the mat in training or competition. Also, being on soft ground like grass allows the wrestler Tsuchiya to go all out without fear of hurting himself from a whiff.
  • In Sword Art Online: Alternative Gun Gale Online LLENN achieves this by accident: she made her gear pink because she wanted a cute avatar, but eventually discovered that her choice of armor color also makes for excellent camouflage in the desert, giving her a big advantage over opponents by allowing her to ambush them with ease.
  • Ranma ˝: Invoked by Pantyhose Taro. Water fortress. Beneficial Jusenkyo curse. Enemies with more unfortunate Jusenkyo curses. Said curses are triggered by cold water. This isn't going to end well.
  • Girls und Panzer is all over this, being about tactical tank-on-tank combat.
  • The environments and surroundings was a big factor in battle during the first half of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, as Kira would have to numerous opponents in machines adapted for the current landtype or space, and he would need to adjust his Operating System to do the same.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man:
    • Spider-Man once fought the Lizard on a train, winning by luring him into a refrigerated car and playing keep away until the temperature weakened his cold-blooded opponent enough to take him out.
    • Spider-Man once managed to stop the Juggernaut (who had been simply ignoring Spider-Man's attempts to halt him) by covering his eyes and steering him into a newly-laid foundation of wet cement.
    • In another occasion, Spider-Man tried to fight Firelord, a herald of Galactus, this way, blowing up a gas station around him, hitting him with a subway train, and finally collapsing an abandoned building on him. It didn't work.
  • In Justice Society of America, Wildcat defeated Vandal Savage by goading him into following him across the street, where a fire truck hit him.
  • An issue of Young Justice saw the team trapped on the Death World of Apokolips being pursued by hordes of flying parademons. Robin managed to figure out the timing of the local fire pit explosions, and lured a bunch of mooks into the blast. Darkseid is a big fan of No OSHA Compliance.

    Fan Works 
  • Equestria: A History Revealed Equestria: During the Equestrian Civil War, Princess Luna attempts to take advantage of this in the Battle of the Everfree Plains, with the final battle occurring in a field surrounded by thick forestry. She had made a deal with the habiting monsters beforehand to stay hidden in the surrounding forest, ambush Celestia's forces at the most opportune moment and close them in. However, her plan fails when the pegasi reinforcements from the west arrive just in time, as they assault the monsters from the air and break their entrapment position.

  • Every Home Alone movie gives the preteen protagonist a massive Home Field Advantage as they trap their house.
  • Star Wars: The High Ground arms race.
    • The Phantom Menace: Darth Maul stands over Obi-Wan, as the latter dangles above a bottomless pit. Maul fails to exploit the terrain, and Obi-Wan leaps over his head and bisects him upon landing.
    • Revenge of the Sith: Obi-Wan clearly learned from Maul's mistake: He gains the high ground on Mustafar, and when Darth Vader attempts to leap over him, Obi-Wan slices his three organic limbs off in mid-leap.
    • Return of the Jedi: Darth Vader then learns from his experience: When Luke gains the high ground in their fight in the Emperor's throne room, instead of jumping up, Vader stays where he is and throws his lightsaber at him, severing the walkway's supports and forcing Luke back to normal ground.
  • The characters in Gettysburg constantly talk about the high ground, including Little Round Top, throughout all three days of the battle. The first day both sides fear the other will march on the high ground (the Union did). The second day is the CMOA defense of Little Round Top. The third day they talk about the Union artillery on the high ground commanding the battlefield.
    Buford: When our people arrive, Lee'll have high ground. There'll be the devil to pay.
    • The Union had the high ground at the very start of the battle, but did not possess the strength to defend it. Buford's choice was to defend a position three hills in front of the best ground on the field, so that when he was inevitably driven back, he would reform on the next hill in the line and fight again. It's a delaying tactic known as defense in depth. By the end of the day, the Union forces had been pushed back...all the way to the best defensive positions on the field, where they then fought off the Confederates for the next two days.
  • In Kiss of the Dragon, Li's fight with Raffaelli grinds to a standstill twice when neither is willing to advance and fight where they would be at a disadvantage.
  • The Princess Bride: "You are using Bonetti's Defense against me, eh?" "I thought it fitting, given the rocky terrain."
  • After the first space battle in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the Enterprise is in no shape for a straight-up fight with the Reliant. The solution: head into a nebula that makes shields inoperative and blocks sensors, and lure Khan into following with a bit of head-gaming.
  • Act of Valor features a chase scene where a group of Navy SEALs are being chased by several trucks full of bad guys down a winding jungle road. One of them starts shouting "Water!" and they abruptly drive off a curve in the road into a river, just before a pair of Navy gunboats begins liberally unloading their miniguns and machine guns into the enemy vehicles. US Navy SEALs: Plus 10 to asskicking when wet.
  • In The Rock, the Navy SEALs are ambushed by Hummel's forces when the trembler left behind by one of the Marines alerts them to the SEALs' presence. Hummel's men have the SEALs dead to rights since, as Hummel puts it 'Your unit is covered from an elevated position, Commander. I'm not gonna ask you again. Don't do anything stupid.' The Marines have the higher ground and cover, while the SEALs have none. It doesn't end well for the SEALs.

  • Beware of Chicken: The cultivators of the Shrouded Mountain sect are vastly stronger than those of the Azure Hills, but they're not acclimated to the low ambient qi of the hills, like a mountain climber unprepared for low oxygen levels, and as a result, their techniques frequently fail — making it a much more even fight than they would have expected.
    With a crack-boom of displaced air one man leapt forward like a bolt of lightning, his body transitioning to golden light—for all of twenty steps. His eyes widened as he stopped much earlier than he obviously meant to over an alley. His momentum carried him forward, but he started to drop. His foot caught on the roof and he went spiraling off, slamming into the ground.
  • The Bible:
    • Subverted with the Aramites, who faced a devastating series of losses fighting the Israelites on the hills, banking on this principle working on a divine scale to strike back. Unfortunately for them, they turned out to be wrong about it on several levels, and when they put it into practice, Aram's armies were defeated once again.
      1 Kings 20:23: Now the ministers of the king of Aram said to him, "Their God is a God of mountains; that is why they got the better of us. But if we fight them in the plain, we will surely get the better of them."
    • This HAS proven to be good strategic advice for several enemies of Israel. The Israelis of the time had a decent grasp of guerrilla tactics, but no way to counter chariot charges—except for fighting in places where chariots were ineffective.
      Judges 1:19 The LORD was with Judah, so that they took possession of the hill country; but they were not able to dispossess the inhabitants of the plain, for they had iron chariots.
      • They did go on to defeat the people in the valley, iron chariots included, in chapter four. Their earlier loss was because they weren't right with God.
    • Israelites were also notoriously poor sailors and considered falling into the sea to be instant death.
  • A Dearth of Choice: The dungeon makes use of various environmental effects to boost the danger level of his monsters, such as filling rooms with fog to reduce visibility and make ghostly ambushes easier, turning the floor to mud to limit mobility, or digging claustrophobically narrow tunnels that must be crawled and squeezed through. The third floor is entirely swampy, to thwart foes who rely on raw power.
  • Ender's Game and the parallel sequel Ender's Shadow series both feature terrain in battle as being important for victory. Memorable scenes in EG show the eponymous Ender learning to think in three dimensions for directing dogfighting in space, and the end of one battle in Shadows results from massive flooding of the battlefield.
  • The Wheel of Time: In the eleventh book, we finally get a look at Mat's apparent military genius and he's surprisingly capable, showcasing ambushes from wooded areas and the like.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Ciaphas Cain: The Valhallan regiments he is attached to fight well on cold worlds.
    • Gaunt's Ghosts: The Ghosts are master of stealth, but particularly in forest, like those that had existed back on Tanith. In First and Only, Sergeant Blane makes use of the heights to hold off the Jantine Patricians; he takes care to ensure that none of his fifty men descend from their positions, not to lose that advantage. He and all his men die, but they hold off a vastly superior force for a long time, and inflict enormous losses on them.
    • Ultramarines: In Nightbringer, a PDF company has the high ground, which initially is considered an advantage in their favor. The advantage is mitigated by the fact the PDF troopers are not very well trained and have trouble compensating for shooting down an incline, so most of their shots miss because they are still aiming too high above their targets.
    • Space Wolf: In Grey Hunters, while Ragnar is eyeing the Chaos forces arrayed against him, he factors in on his side that he has the high ground.
  • And Another Thing...: Hillman believes his people have the advantage in the fight against the Tyromancers because they have the high ground. He's not quite certain why having the high ground is advantageous, but the important thing is, they have it.
  • Codex Alera: The series loves to have traps and strategies relying on the ground they're fighting on, in part because Elemental Powers make them a lot easier to do on a massive scale. The final battle in particular involves diverting rivers to bog down the enemy and dragging veins of coal close to the surface, soaking the field in oil, and lighting it on fire. However, the Vord manage to subvert this against the Canim. Their final stronghold is on top of a massive plateau with only one access point making it impossible to break through. The Vord keep sending wave after wave at it while secretly digging underneath it to make a tunnel behind the Canim forces, neutralizing the effect of the terrain.
  • In addition to the standard terrain tactics, Red Storm Rising features a rare seaborne variant for the NATO amphibious fleet off Iceland, which causes navigational nightmares when it stages its landing in a rock-filled harbor. This pays off handsomely when the bombers of Soviet Naval Aviation tries to employ its favorite tactic, the Macross Missile Massacre: the antiship missiles are designed to be used in the open ocean, where the only radar and heat signatures are those of ships. In a harbor filled with volcanic mini-islands, many of the missiles surviving the fleet's point defenses get confused and end up blasting empty rocks instead of NATO ships, with many of the rocks having smoke pots on them to add heat signals to screw up infrared back-up sensors.
  • Star Wars Legends has a form of lightsaber combat devoted to using the geography and surroundings to your advantage. It's called Sokan, if you care. Lightsaber fighting also has a flying style called Trispzest.

  • Baseball features some of these, as, unlike most other sports, ballparks tend to have unique layouts, which can affect a team's performance (like a closer infield fence generally favors hitters, while a farther one favors pitchers, but there's plenty of variability). Additionally, there's the ground-rule double, which treats the ball being hit into a certain feature of the field as being a double (i.e., the batter and any baserunners on base are permitted to advance two bases). These include:
    • A ball that gets tangled in the ivy at Wrigley Field.
    • A ball that lands on a catwalk in fair territory in Tropicana Field.
    • A ball that gets lodged in the sliding garage door in deep center field at Fenway Park (which hides the groundskeeping equipment) is a ground rule triple. It's the only one in MLB, but it's never happened as long as anyone can remember.
  • Cricket, baseball's English cousin, has a number of similar rules, since cricket fields can be just as variable as ballparks in shape and size and sometimes have interesting features in them (including in at least two cases a tree) that affect gameplay.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Geo Effects originate in tabletop and miniatures wargaming. The cardboard chit and hexmap wargames of Avalon Hill, SPI, and others had movement penalties and defensive bonuses for woods, hills, rivers, cities, and so on.
  • Owing to its origins as a tactical wargame simulator, Dungeons & Dragons has cover, concealment, and various modifiers based on terrain, varied in different editions.
    • Player's Options: Combat and Tactics provided more detailed model for tactics, so it considered more terrain effects than core AD&D.
    • The Horizon Walker from 3rd Edition gets "insight bonuses" to various things when he's on a terrain he's previously mastered.
    • An optional class feature for the ranger class introduced in the 3rd edition sourcebook Unearthed Arcana was "favored environment", which did the same thing as the horizon walker's ability. In Pathfinder, this became a standard ability for all rangers.
  • Based on D&D's Unearthed Arcana, "favored environment" was brought in as a buyable feat for anyone in Mutants & Masterminds, although the bonus is capped as with all other bonuses, meaning that a character with it is just as good as everyone else in their given terrain, but a bit worse everywhere else.
  • Magic: The Gathering has a class of creature abilities collectively known as "landwalk", which makes a creature with it unblockable if the other player has a land of that type (plainswalk, forestwalk, etc.). There are also some creatures that can't attack unless the opponent had an appropriate land type (like Sea Monster), but this is much less common. There are some other spells that may fall under this, like Familiar Ground.
    • Because what land a player controls determines what kind of mana he has access to, abilities that only work if the player controls certain kinds of land are often used as a proxy for an actual mana cost, such as in the Hedge-Mages of Eventide and Naya's Wild Nacatl.
    • Given that lands are the basic resource that fuels all your spells, you could say the entire game centers around controlling the right terrain.
    • The Planechase game mode uses Planes which apply a global effect to all players. Naturally, different environments benefit various decks differently, and players have the ability to roll the planar die for a chance to switch to a different random plane... or trigger a spectacular effect tied to the plane itself.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, units get 'cover saves' for being in cover, either in area terrain or behind obstructions that partially block the enemy's line of fire. In addition, most units and vehicles are impeded when moving through certain types of terrain, with a rare few special units that are unaffected.
    • Also, both the Kroot and the Catachan jungle fighters get extra bonuses when fighting in a jungle or forest terrain.
  • In Warhammer units in cover are harder to hit, and ranged units may fire in two ranks if they are at a higher elevation than the target.
  • In BattleTech, terrain is one of the main factors in battle. Most all cover hinders line-of-sight, and in cases involving a series of mountains or valleys between two combatants, advanced rules explain how to draw a graph to simulate whether or not line of sight is present.
    • Terrain restrictions also play a part. For instance, being actually in a woods hex instead of just behind it lets a unit enjoy those woods' defensive benefits without being hindered by them in turn, but not all units can actually enter woods. Part of what makes BattleMechs "kings of the battlefield" is, in fact, their ability to handle virtually every kind of terrain the game has to offer.
  • GURPS has cover, cover DR, concealment, visibility, attack from above/below, g-force gradients etc. Even the effects of fog on the damage done by laser weapons have official stats.
  • In Hero Scape, height advantages are a major part of combat, and one character being just one level higher than another can make a huge difference. Some units, like the Dumutef Gaurd and Marro Drudges, also get special bonuses in a certain kind of terrain.
  • The old hexmap-and-cardboard-chits wargames of the 1960s-80s by Avalon Hill and SPI have rules for improved defense by woods, mountains, rivers, road movement, and so on.
  • Yu Gi Oh has Field Cards, cards that effect the entire field. There are series of cards that will power up various types of monsters (Such as Umi for Fish, Sea-Serpent, Aqua and Thunder Monsters) but since cards don't typically stay on the field very long in the current metagame, Field Cards with more than just attack power ups are typically preferred, such as The Sanctuary in the Sky, which keeps a player from taking damage when their Fairy type monsters are attacked.

    Video Games 
  • In Advance Wars, each type of terrain provides a different amount of cover. For example, units take full damage when on roads (0 stars of defense) and the least damage when on mountains (4 stars of defense). Also, many characters are more effective in certain terrain. For example, Kindle has higher attack in cities, while Koal operates better than others on roads, terrain bonuses are increased with Lash, and Jake has the edge on plains. Weather works similarly. Everybody has much lower mobility in the snow, except for Olaf, whose attack, defense, and mobility are all increased. Fog of War puts everyone in a bad situation but Sonja, as well. Finally, bonuses of this type (such as stronger attack on the sea) can be given to any character with the abilities system used in Dual Strike.
  • The Age of Empires series takes into account cliffs (projectiles are more lethal if fired from the top), high ground (same), makes units slower when going uphill and faster when going downhill, and allows units to take cover in some buildings like town centers and castles (which, if they are villagers or archers, will boost the building's attack against the enemy).
    • In some campaign scenarios of III, units' health will decrease from the cold and only recover after taking shelter in a cave or near a fire.
    • Imperium III reduces the health of units and eventually kills them unless they are routinely provided with food wagons. In the Egypt scenario, several places in the Nile Delta carry malaria and will also damage your troops if you march them through there, and keep damaging them after.
  • In the Age of Mythology expansion The Titans, choosing Gaia causes "lush terrain" to grow around your buildings, which provides a Status Buff to your units fighting in it.
  • Terrain is a major strategic consideration in Ancient Empires, affecting movement and defence. Bare ground and wooden bridges have no effects, grass/snow slightly increases defence, forest and hills moderately increase defence but also slightly reduce movement, mountains greatly increase defence and reduce movement, water greatly reduces movement (except for amphibious or flying units), and buildings greatly increase defence and (if an allied building) heal units each turn.
  • In Age of Wonders (at least second and third) games unit standing higher/lower than target gets to-hit bonus/penalty for ranged attacks. But sometimes standing behind elevation may be safer due to miss chance for cover. Also, different attack abilities use different trajectories, so catapult can lob stones at ballista while completely shielded from its javelins.
    • Also, if playing for the elves, it is better to build your city in a wooded area and then add a structure that hides the entire city from the enemy. The only way to find it is by dumb luck or by looking if any roads are leading to it. You can build a dozen cities in the enemy's backyard, and they wouldn't even know it.
  • Archon is (partly) a virtual board game version of this trope. In the original version and Archon Ultra, light-side pieces are stronger on white squares, dark-side pieces are stronger on black squares, and on top of that, about a third of the tiles on the board cycle back and forth between white, black, and shades of gray. Archon Ultra spiced things up further in the real-time combat sequences - swamps on a gray square would slow down non-flyers, lava would injure most units, and if you were fighting for a power point, you could park yourself over the power point to regain health.
  • Bahamut Lagoon: Structures heal, swamps and spikes hurt, and a ton of stuff slows the characters down. And they all be affected by the right element.
  • This is one of the major factors in Battle for Wesnoth, which has varying defensive bonuses and movement rates for each unit type on each terrain type. Elves are best deployed in forests, merfolk really have no business being out of the water, and may the Gods help you if you try to fight a dwarf on a mountain tile!
  • BattleTech has a host of various terrains with positive and negative effects for either moving through or being in a space with that particular terrain under your 'Mech. For instance, Swamp terrain decreases your movement speed, but to compensate you take less stability damage from missiles and ballistic weapons. Being in a forest or sand cyclone gives you partial cover, but also prevents you from scouting as efficiently by reducing your line-of-sight. Some terrain is universally positive (high ground in general, ice) while some terrain is universally negative (rough terrain, lava). Managing the battlefield you're on and knowing how to control the various terrains is a large part of doing well in the game.
  • Using the high ground in Blitzkrieg is a very good strategy. First, units on top of a cliff can attack units below without being seen. Second, to be attacked, an attacker would have to circle around the cliff and come up the back. The only drawback is cliffs are such obvious places to base ambushes from, the enemy can respond to this by shelling the area with artillery fire.
  • Brigandine has a few such effects, including better defense in the forest (IIRC), but the powerhouse placement is during sea battles... especially one in which the ocean tiles take up almost the entire map, and the land units are restricted to a couple small connected islands. On ocean tiles, water-class creatures can heal over time, have boosted stats (again, IIRC), and can make use of some abilities that they can't make use of on land. You do not want to be sitting next to a Hydra unit who's found a piece of water to camp on.
  • Civilization:
    • Since the first game, certain terrain types slowed down units and granted defensive bonuses, and strategic resources like oil or luxuries like silk can only appear on certain types of tiles. Civ IV introduced the notion of unit promotions, allowing veteran units to gain bonuses when fighting in hills, or negating the penalty for attacking across a river. And depending on the game, some units like chariots or catapults cannot enter terrain like jungles or hills unless there's a road built through them.
    • The similar Colonization made terrain types about the most important factor in building a colony. To simulate the asymmetrical warfare of the American War of Independence, in Colonization the player's units are all much weaker than the regulars and cavalry of the expeditionary force sent by the King, but they gain large terrain-related bonuses, while the European troops have difficulty fighting in the wild frontier of the American continent. This forces the player to get his units out of his cities and fight a terrain-conscious guerilla war, which is different from what fighting a defensive war in a Civilization game is like.
    • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri has a whole bunch of terrain modifiers. Xenofungus makes Mind Worms faster and stronger; on the other hand, ground units moving through xenofungus become painfully slow. Rover units get an attack bonus on open ground. Infantry get one when attacking a base. Artillery gets one when on higher ground. Bases get more or less rainfall depending on which side of a mountain you put them on... the list goes on. Terraforming units ("Formers") can construct a whole bunch of additional structures to give squares extra bonuses (or remove their penalties).
  • In the Command & Conquer games, units that are on higher terrain tend to be harder for enemies to hit, although the exact percentage this is isn't revealed in the game or manual. It can be a source of annoyance, though, as sometimes putting a unit or defensive structure by what looks like a small enough rock or some other terrain feature renders it blind to attacks coming from that direction since the programming of game has said feature be tall enough to be a blind spot, visuals be damned.
    • In Tiberian Sun, GDI has amphibious units that can attack on land and then retreat to water, while Nod has burrowing units whose advantage lies in being able to bypass terrain completely for sneak attacks.
    • Likewise again in Red Alert 3 where each faction has at least two amphibious units and practically all mobile structures are amphibious as well; the Empire of the Rising Sun's virtual entire military force is amphibious in some form or another.
  • Infantry in Company of Heroes use the "cover dots" system. Any place chosen as a destination is rated for the cover it provides, indicated by a colored dot. As in real ranged warfare, it's absolutely vital.
  • Dave from Cosmic Star Heroine has a skill "Envirohack" which effects an effect that depends on the area you're in, such as healing your party in jungles of Rhomu, poisoning enemies on dirty streets of Araenu or electrifying them inside high-tech facilities.
  • In Dark Souls II, one disadvantage of using an Ultra Greatsword is that it's just too big to wield in confined spaces. The Royal Rat Vanguard and his pack of rats' boss arena is full of unbreakable statues that deflect your attacks. In addition, getting wet (walking through water, standing in rain, breaking water-filled jars) will reduce your lightning resistance while increasing your resistance to fire effects. Similarly, in some places you can be covered with tar or pitch, which will make you burst into flame if you come in contact with fire... like the torch you might happen to be carrying.
  • Disgaea
    • The series uses the term literally. Spaces on the field can have a color assigned to them (referred to as Geo Panels), and Geo Symbols/cubes on Geo Panels will provide a specific effect to any unit that is standing on those colored zones, which can range from any sort of effects like increased attack range, increased XP gained by the unit when killed, invincibility or instant death if hit. When a Geo Symbol is destroyed (or thrown at another geo symbol), it changes all squares the geo symbol was on into the color of the symbol, dealing damage to anyone standing on those tiles when they change color. Stages can pose a puzzle to solve with Geo effects by putting enemies in geo effects that make them very hard to deal with, but the solution is to remove the geo effects themselves, making them vulnerable, or moving the geo effects to your advantage instead. Though sometimes stages will set geo symbols in a way that you simply have to deal with the effects as there might be no way for you to actually clear the effects. Additionally the player can set up a chain reaction of geo effects, dealing constant damage every time the colors of the tiles change, and if they manage to empty the entire stage of geo panels, a large explosion occurs, dealing damage to the enemy team and giving a large point bonus.
    • Geo effects also appear in the other Nippon Ichi tactical RPGs, including La Pucelle Tactics, Phantom Brave, and Soul Nomad & the World Eaters.
    • The Geo Effects get amped up in the Item World, where it is usually easy to set up a combo that wipes out all enemies and maxes out the bonus gauge. The main difference from plot maps is the randomness - plot maps are either set up for an easy chain, or an impossible chain. Item world maps average on being possible, but still requiring a lot of movement, with easy chains or useless short chains being the extremes.
  • In Divinity: Original Sin, player and enemies are all affected by terrain. Be it via a spell (like Midnight Oil) or natural, its effects will affect every unit. Both can also interact with the terrain condition using spells or scrolls. A puddle of water could be turned into a static cloud if one were to use a lightning spell on it, whereas using a fire spell on an oil puddle will set it ablaze, damaging units that stand in the fire.
  • Placing enough terrain block tiles in an area of The Isle of Awakening in Dragon Quest Builders 2 will change the terrain shown on the minimap. This has a function other than looks: It also changes what type of monsters will spawn on those tiles. This can be used for getting resources.
  • Dune II is one of the first strategy games that feature these kind of effects. Buildings can only be built on rock, and if they aren't built on concrete they take damage upon being built on the eroding ground. Also rocks are a safe haven from Sand Worm attacks.
  • Eternal Sonata has this in the form of its light and dark battle system. Standing in a lighted portion of the arena gives you access to different special attacks than when standing in shaded portions, and some enemies change forms when moving between light and dark areas.
  • As the name implies, the Geomancers from Final Fantasy are based entirely around this.
    • Final Fantasy XI allows the weather to affect spells. It's most apparent in Dynamis or Limbus, where double dark weather can cause 400+ HP healing Cure 4's to get cut down to about 310...
      • The day of the week and the moon phase can also affect spells. Especially since, during a full moon, a certain werewolf boss can singlehandedly fend off 30 players and over 40 allied NPCs (which are actually stronger and last longer than players in this game) while not breaking a sweat, due to being able to fully heal every few seconds. This turns campaign battles into a Luck-Based Mission in the San d'Oria areas, because an attack by the werewolf squad is either a moderately easy win or a nearly guaranteed loss depending on the moon phase.
    • The battle grids of Final Fantasy Tactics include elevation. Furthermore, weather affects some elemental attributes: if it's raining, use Thunder spells (which do more damage) rather than Fire spells (which do less). If it's snowing, use Blizzard spells for a similar boost. Further furthermore, weather can grant penalties for moving through already-rough terrain, namely slogging through swamps in the rain.
      • Furthermore one class, the Geomancer, actually had an attack that was different depending on what terrain he or she was standing on.
      • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 also has its own version of Geomancer. Not only the terrain type, but the weather also influences what they can do.
      • Elevation has a very large effect on common magic, summoning, and ranged attacks. Crossbows, while having higher damage than bows, have a range limit. Bows receive better range the higher you are, but fire in an arc. A limit to the height difference between where one is standing and their target is a given with most spells. The game has many less obvious ways to turn things to your advantage. This is before glitches or a certain One-Man Army are added to the mix...
      • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance doesn't deal with weather, but the elevation of certain locations can be a real problem depending on where you are. There are some battlegrounds where all the opponents are at the top of a mountain, and you're stuck at the bottom, out of range for nearly everything, even with magic and ranged attacks.
      • Not as much of a problem if you had the right skills. Jump has the same accuracy regardless of your height (but sadly nerfed in the later games for no reason). A lot of your weapons don't work but combos never miss. Illusion magic is also quite powerful (especially when combined with Magic frenzy in later games) with Totemas rounding it out. You always can use Assassins that are fast enough to always go first and can have their movement range increased. With the right skills, Assassins can evade and kill everything in the first game (but sadly, not the second).
    • In Final Fantasy XII, the weather in a given area can affect the effectiveness of certain weapons and spells. During rainy weather, for example, bows and crossbows are less accurate, while thunder and water spells do more damage and fire does less.
    • Mog of Final Fantasy VI is based around this. But his Dance ability, instead of conforming to the local environment, simply changes the background to the relevant one. ie: You're fighting in a cave? Mog wants to fight underwater. ...and now you are. There is a failure chance for these background changes, so there's an advantage for using the dance native to the current terrain, which will always succeed.
  • In Fire Emblem, units receive defensive bonuses for standing on terrain features like forests, towns, and mountains. For other cases:
    • In Fire Emblem: Thracia 776, Forts, Gates and Thrones all gave extra avoid, health regeneration and +10 defense, making anything on one of these practically impossible to kill with physical attacks (the very first boss in the game has to be killed with magic damage or a ~20% accuracy hammer hit). The last 2 chapters also have Magic tiles, which give +10 Magic, meaning status staff users become that much more dangerous.
    • The final levels of FE 10 has only effectual cover terrain—some that gives mad defense bonuses, some that give mad evasion bonuses, and some that increase magic resistance.
    • Fire Emblem Fates adds the Dragon Veins: the characters with Heroic Lineage (like the Avatar, the Royal Siblings, their children and those without Royal Blood but who have consumed the First Blood item, and their kids whose other parent isn't a Royal either, as long as the kid's recruited after the FB was consumed) are capable of using some specially marked parts of the maps to alter the outcome of the battle, as effects vary from creating new paths, drying up rivers to create more terrain, creating regeneration spots, freezing enemies, or consuming their weapons.
  • In the Freelancer backstory, the Gas Mining Guild managed to defeat the entire Rheinland military by using their knowledge of their home nebula against the Rheinlanders. The nebula's explosive gas pockets took out more Imperial ships than the GMG itself did.
  • Front Mission does this with terrains. There are three leg types (bipeds, quads, hovers), and each goes with inverse suitability in terms of terrain navigation vs. jumping ability (eg, bipeds suck at navigating swamps but can jump to top of buildings etc.)
  • Gadget Trial has similar effects with Advance Wars above, but with the addition that air units also receives terrain defense bonus.
  • Different units gain different defensive bonuses in Genjuu Ryodan. Foot units is advantageous in most ground terrain and marine units are very strong in water. Castles, summoning circles and mana crystals give defensive bonuses to most units.
  • In the Elemental Lighthouses in Golden Sun and its sequel, any party member who matches the lighthouse's element will recover some PP at the end of each turn in battle.
  • Used in Ground Control and more so in its sequel, where certain icons light up to tell you if you have extra cover provided by trees or buildings. Additionally, ground vehicles in the first game have weaker armor on top, meaning units firing on them from a higher elevation do extra damage.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic has something like this, as different troops have different native terrains and have no penalty when moving on them.
    • The third game of the series, troops actually have an extra movement point on their native terrain, in battles. As movement also decides in what succession the units get their turn, this can be crucial even in the late game, because somehow it seems as if Angels are just one point faster than devils, and other such ridicules.
  • In League of Legends, there's the concept of "brush" or "bush", which are patches of vegetation that confer invisibility. And a few characters can also fiddle with the ground itself, to hinder opponents, benefit themselves or both. The prime example of this is Trundle the Troll King, who can freeze the ground in a targeted area which gives him massive movement speed and attack speed buffs as well as bonus health regeneration when he stands in it. He can also summon a pillar of ice on a target area, which blocks the area and slows units around it, as well as disrupting the movement of enemies standing on the area the tower is placed at. This makes Trundle exceptionally deadly to fight in tightly enclosed areas as he can completely block of access points and makes getting away from his frozen domain incredibly difficult.
  • In Legend of Mana, each Artifact has an inherent mana level that spills over to its neighbors when planted onto the map. Good luck figuring out what this actually means for gameplay without a walkthrough.
  • In the Majesty spinoff (and Master of Magic Spiritual Successor) Warlock: Master of the Arcane, the environment of the normal plane has all the usual effects - being in a forest grants you a defensive bonus, unless you're fighting wild beasts. Attacking uphill gives you a penalty. Walking across either slows you down. However, the environment is far more important to your cities' production - desert terrain is best for producing Mana, and icy terrain is best for producing Gold (for some reason), while neither are very good at producing Food (which is what you want the basic, Green Hill Zone terrain for.) However, if you find a portal to Another Dimension, watch out - the terrain there can be MUCH more hostile, including a Lethal Lava Land, a Dark World or a Death World. Fortunately, being a master of the arcane, you can alter terrain to suit your needs - to a somewhat limited degree normally, but if you find favor with the gods, you can even make hell freeze over...
  • Mega Man Battle Network has various elemental panels which, depending on your element and chipset, may cause you to heal, slide around, take ongoing damage, etc. Using a rock attack on a scissors panel increase the damage dealt, and usually removes the panel effect as well.
    • Panels range from grass panels, on which wood-elementals regenerate, ice panels where non-water types slide, sand, which slows movement, lava which damages non-fire types, poison panels which drains the health of anything on them (including anything wearing Float Shoes), holy panels which halve the damage intake of anything on them,and gates to hell that let you use powerful dark-related chips.
  • Mindustry has these not for units, but for structures, which get efficiency bonuses when built on specific type of terrain: snowy/icy for Water Extractor, fungal for Cultivator, and petroleum-soaked for Oil Extractor.
  • Minecraft:
    • The game has various weather effects and day cycles. When it is daylight outside, monsters can't spawn and undead monsters (zombies and skeletons) catch fire from the sunlight. When night falls, all the baddies come out to play, making exploration in the fields more dangerous. When it rains, the sky grows dark enough for undead not to burn up, and the rain also extinguishes wild fires. Thunderstorms do the same thing, but make the sky even darker, to the point where hostiles can spawn, and the lightning bolts can strike mobs for damage (including you), set flammable blocks on fire, change pigs into zombie pigmen, or make a creeper super charged for more explosive damage to everything.
    • The landscape can be a hindrance or an advantage to the player. With enough height, you can strike mobs below you while they cannot reach you. If there's a huge drop off nearby, you can attack a mob and push them off a cliff for major damage or outright kill them.
    • Endermen simply hate water. If they are outside when it is raining, they will teleport all over the place trying to seek shelter. Rainstorms are good if you want the Endermen to stay away.
  • In Nectaris, rough terrain restricts movement range, but it also gives units defensive bonuses. Mountains provide a whopping 40% bonus, though they're inaccessible except to infantry, artillery and aircraft.
  • In Noita, biomes in the main path of the game have a chance of spawning with a modifier whileome biomes outside the main path have guaranteed modifiers. Modifiers can change some material behaviors, spawn additional materials, change enemy spawns, or cause something more esoteric.
  • Paradox Interactive games:
    • Most titles have this to a greater or lesser extent, ranging from attack penalties in forested or mountainous terrain or when crossing a river in Europa Universalis, to the detailed system in Hearts of Iron 2, where most terrain types except flat plains inflict penalties on the attacker and benefits to the defender. Said penalties vary from the fairly minor (a 10% or so penalty for attacking forest terrain) to the extreme (50% penalties for attacking jungle terrain, 66% penalties for attacking urban terrain). Furthermore, the latter game also had a penalty for night combat. The weather penalties are even more unpleasant (-80% for frozen). Woe betide you if you end up fighting in, say, mountains in the winter, making your units essentially worthless without specialised troops and some very good commanders.
    • Stellaris implemented this in an update that restricted FTL Travel to Hyperspace Lanes, which made picking which systems to fight in or fortify much more important. Nebulae block sensors, allowing fleets to spring ambushes or hide their strength. Black Holes greatly reduce damaged ships' ability to withdraw from combat before being destroyed, leading to more losses in battle. Neutron Stars cut ships' sublight speed in half, allowing fleets to capitalize on their weapons' range. And Pulsars completely negate any Deflector Shields within their system, which can cripple fleets that neglected to invest in armor or hull points. Space Storms can also occur, disabling shields and halving ship movement for all impacted systems for the duration.
  • In Pokémon, the terrain affects very little in battle (just a few moves, like Nature Power, Secret Power and Camouflage). What does affect battle is weather. The weather at the start of the battle is determined by where you are (clear is the default), but it can be changed by certain moves and abilities. A full list of weather effects can be found here, but the most common ones are damage to certain types of Pokemon and increased or decreased damage from certain move types.
    • One particularly weird one is the move Moonlight in generations III and IV having its effect boosted by bright sunlight (because moonlight does not have a weather condition).
    • The fact that moonlight is really just sunlight reflecting off the moon makes this a case of Fridge Brilliance. note 
    • The environment also determines Burmy's form (and the form that female Burmy will take when they evolve into Wormadam).
    • And there's Castform, a Pokemon with the special effect to change type (AND appearance) depending on the weather (Sun, Rain, or Snow). It also comes with the attack Weather Ball, which works the same way (and its power doubles during weather). Strangely, Weather Ball becomes Rock-type during a sandstorm but Castform's appearance doesn't change to reflect this.
    • In the Pokémon Black and White games, you can make your own geo effects, by using three specific moves in different combinations.
    • Pokémon X and Y added a new class of terrain moves that work similarly to weather, but their effects can only be used by non-flying Pokemon. Each terrain is associated with one of four types: Grass, Electric, Psychic and Fairy. Attacks of the same type as the terrain are boosted and certain moves and status conditions have their effects reduced or negated when used on the terrain. Pokémon Sword and Shield introduces the move Terrain Pulse, which is the terrain equivalent of Weather Ball.
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, these show up in treasure rooms and randomly in any dungeon once you've cleared the main story. Effects include causing thrown items to pierce targets, causing heavier Pokemon to get a boosted critical rate, or causing attacks to be used twice in a row.
  • Prayer of the Faithless: Trill can use element-based drives to buff the party, but each one requires specific environmental conditions or terrain. However, her personal gear can give her constant access to one element regardless of location. The Tower of Sinners gives her access to all elements, due to this location containing the power of the entire world.
  • In Rimworld, the biome and climate of your colony is a very important gameplay element that dictates much of your strategy. Temperate Forest offers fertile soil for crops, abundant lumber and lots of small and big game to hunt as well as cool winters and pleasant summers, ensuring thriving conditions for any colony. Tropical Rainforest has abundant resources but also combines intense heat, choking undergrowth, thick mud, conducive conditions for disease and aggressive venomous snakes combine for a "Green Hell" that will put any survivors to the test. Tundra represents sweeping grassland with few trees, along with cool summers and freezing winters; food will mostly come from hunting migratory megafauna and the predators that prey on them, and any farming will require greenhouses. Extreme Desert represents an extremely hot and dry area devoid of life or arable land, where farming is a pipe dream without hydroponics and moisture pumps. The silver lining to living in harsh conditions is that it is also harsh to any invading tribes or raiders, who will likely be half dead of hypothermia or heatstroke by the time they reach your defences.
  • In Rise of Nations, rocky terrain provides a 33% defenisve bonus to infantry units standing on it, and can't be built upon (with the exception of oil wells). It also has an "attrition" mechanic that deals damage to forces inside enemy territory, unless they have a supply unit nearby - the Russian special ability, "Russian Winter," boosts this damage by 50%.
  • SaGa Frontier 2 allowed you to use the terrain you were standing on for magic. Standing on grass allowed you to use tree magic, snow allowed you to use water magic, etc.
  • Skylanders gain boosts when they're in an area corresponding to their elemental types. (Though there isn't always a clear reason for an area to take on a particular type; you just have to watch/listen for the announcement.)
  • Songs of Conquest: Units standing on raised sections of land gain bonuses to both offense and defense against enemies on lower ground, and ranged units will also gain a bonus to their attack range.
  • The core of Splatoon's gameplay involves shooting ink in your team's color to cover as much as the map as you can. While spreading ink alone is the objective in the game's main Turf War mode, players can also walk freely on and swim through their own ink while having their movement slowed down on enemy ink (as well as causing chip damage) making it essential for mobility in all game modes.
    • The ink also serves another purpose in the Clam Blitz mode, making all clams on a team's ink appear on the map for that team only. This gives a strategic upper hand to teams that can better control the stage.
  • StarCraft:
    • In StarCraft, higher elevation increases a unit's range when striking at lower terrain. The expansion Terran campaign displays this very well, since one mission has higher terrain forming "gates" to your starting zone. Camp a few Siege Tanks on the higher zones, give them some Anti-Air support, and they'll never get anywhere near your base.
    • In the Wings Of Liberty campaign for StarCraft II, several missions have hazardous terrain effects which can be used to one's advantage. In one, The Devil's Playground, there are periodic lava surges, which will quickly kill anything on the low ground. One of the game's achievements is to use one of these lava surges to kill a Brutalisk.
  • Super Robot Wars loves these. They even have tiles of the HP/EN-regenerating sort. Mostly, however, they're there to discriminate against ground units - anything without a flight system has to spend an extra turn or two slogging through mountains or water, and winds up not being able to kill as many enemies once they actually get to the fight.
    • In later games, the movement penalties are mitigated somewhat by the units' own terrain ratings - a unit with an overall S-rank in a terrain isn't as bogged down - or their movement types.
    • Recovery and defense tiles are actually invaluable in any of the several missions that start you out with a few units and ask you to survive until your Cool Ship shows up with your proper army. The Mazinger Z and Great Mazinger team is routinely subject to this.
    • The game also uses this against you as well. One of the final missions in Original Generation 2 had two boss-level characters appear on tiles that gave a 30% restoration to their HP and EN.
    • Super Robot Wars Destiny and Judgment have small battle puzzles that task you with surviving and/or destroying a few enemies within one or two turns. In many of them, half the puzzle is finding out exactly where you can stand that lets you soak/evade the enemy attacks and counterattack.
    • Flying units (at least from the third game onward) aren't always better. Flying units won't receive HP and EN bonuses from the aforementioned regen tiles or gain valuable cover, and moving a unit in the air will drain a bit of the unit's energy, while moving along the ground will not. And to top it all off, it traditionally costs flying units 5 EN per turn to stay in the air, plus 1 EN per flown square.
    • And then you have space battles, where it typically costs everyone 1 EN to move a square, there are fields of debris, and the occasional terrain with HP/EN regeneration. Alpha 3 even includes one space stage with a large -%20 EN (thanks a lot, Buff Clan!).
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Steve's unique gameplay style requires him to mine resources from the stage itself and what items you get are dependent on what materials make up said stage. For example, mining on Corneria, which takes place above the spaceship Great Fox, will almost always result in large quantities of iron, which can be converted into durable blocks and weapons. Conversely, a place like Kongo Jungle that entirely consists of wooden platforms will only hand out weak, basic wood. This gameplay aspect is averted in the Omega and Battlefield variations, where every material type is accessible in a preset order, keeping things fair.
  • A less conventional version appears in Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis. In this game, every single terrain tile has an effect on your party members. Lakes and rivers increases the effectiveness of Water spells, while reducing Fire. Standing on rough rocky terrain increases Earth power, and can boost your physical attacks. Each tile affects the power and resistances to each of the four elements in some way, and certain tiles can increase your offensive and defensive output overall.
  • In Team Fortress 2, map environment fully defines the fight. Small chokepoints put fragile and mobile classes at a great disadvantage while making explosives, an good entrenched sniper, and sentry guns extremely powerful, while wide areas put all of those at varying levels of disadvantage against fast, mobile attackers. And high ground can make taking a capture point fiendishly difficult because it lets the defenders fire from cover without exposing themselves for too long, whereas attackers need to rely heavily on Zerg Rushing fireteams with sniper support or sustained bombardment from rocket-jumping Soldiers and artillery-like stickybomb spam. This is even more brutal with multiple levels instead of a single slope, as exemplified in maps like Egypt and Badlands, both of which have capture points raised well above the battlefield and with scant cover on the way up.
  • In Ten Minute Space Strategy, where you fight can easily decide on the outcome of the battle; fighting above your colonies (especially ones that have ancient defences on them), fighting within a radius of your military space stations and fighting in deep space with "space aces" trait all add to your effectiveness in battle.
  • From Touken Ranbu's era 6 onward, battlefield conditions are introduced. "Nighttime" buffs small swords (tantō and wakizashi), debuffs big ones (tachi, ōdachi, yari and naginata), and has no effects on uchigatana; all swords have the ability to evade projectiles. "Urban areas" disables horses. "Indoor areas" disables horses, disable archers and catapults, and narrow the ranges of ōdachi and naginata. "Rain" disables musketeers.
  • Total War:
    • Mountains, forests, rivers, bridges, fords, etc. all play a big part in positioning, both on the strategic or battle map. Entire armies, or individual units in them, can hide in forests to launch ambushes. River crossings form chokepoints on the world map and bottlenecks on the battle map, and units can try to bypass them through fords, but will move slowly as they wade through the water and will be more vulnerable to missile fire.
    • Elevation has marked effects on battles. Units will move faster when charging downhill, and will slow to a crawl when marching uphill - telling a unit to run up a steep slope will rapidly deplete their stamina. Height advantage allows archers to shoot farther, and more importantly shoot over intervening units to deal direct damage rather than arcing their shots over the battle line. Telling units like slingers or musketmen to shoot through your lines without a hill to stand on is a good way to cause casualties in the rear of your own units.
    • On the strategic map, marching your armies through the winter snows or blistering deserts is a good way to take attrition damage... though the latter can be traversed safely by factions like the Numidians, Egyptians or Moors. On the battle map, some units like Woodsmen or Desert Cavalry receive a combat bonus when fighting in their favored terrain.
  • Depending on what Electronic Countermeasure/Support Aircraft or Facilities are snooping around the airspace in Vector Thrust, the battle conditions can change significantly. Aircraft can be hidden with a 'stealth barrier', mirrored to grant the illusion that there are more of them than there really are, receive targeting information from an allied scout, receive detection range boosts and take advantage of other electronic support systems. Negative effects can range from mild inconveniences like having your map taken out to catastrophic events during the heat of battle like having their missile targeting systems taken offline or their IFFs disabled.
  • One of Total Annihilation`s innovations was doing this before its Blizzard and Westwood counterparts - units on higher ground can shoot and see at a longer range, and mountains can also block the sight range of a unit on the ground.
  • In the Touhou fighting spin-offs Scarlet Weather Rhapsody and Hisoutensoku, each weather type has a specific effect that can turn the tides in a fight. Example? Typhoon: all knock-back is ignored.
  • In Valkyria Chronicles, your conscripts have various attributes that give them bonuses (or penalties) depending on various conditions, and the type of ground they're walking on is one of those conditions.
  • In Warcraft 3, ranged units who are at a lower elevation than the units they are attacking have a chance of missing said attacks, though spells and whatnot are exempt from this rule.
  • Warhammer 40,000 video games:
    • In the Rites of War turn-based strategy game, terrain affects both defense and movement. Interestingly, the effect on movement varies based on the movement mode of the unit in question. Flying units ignore terrain altogether, while hovering units ignore most terrain, except hills or mountains, which force them to divert power to lift, slowing them down. Large walkers can simply stride over most obstacles, but still have trouble with swamps, and cannot pass over lakes or seas. Heavy infantry has to move in formation, which is generally the slowest and most impeded by terrain, while light infantry can more easily negotiate obstacles.
    • In ther RTS Dawn of War, units take less damage and regenerate morale more quickly when in cover, using an alternate crouching animation. They take more damage when in 'negative' cover, such as crossing a river. Several units take advantage of this by having weapons that ignore cover or move through it without losing speed. Dawn of War II uses a system closer to the one in Company of Heroes.
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane has variety of effects. There are standard movement and vision limits, but also some special areas that provide special resource and/or damage the units on the tile.
  • The wave patterns in Wave Race 64 are essential to know to make the track work in your advantage. Wave Race: Blue Storm takes this up a notch with weather patterns and more randomly-generated waves.
  • Wintermoor Tactics Club uses this and combines it with Status Effects; since individual characters don't have a "status", the status of the hex they're standing on fulfills this role instead. There are Fire, Bramble, and Magimist tiles; Magimist is the most interesting, since it not only lowers Magical Armor, but attacks that "chain" between enemies can also chain between Magimist tiles, meaning that with proper setup one character's attack can hit the entire field.
    • The Final Boss has its own unique Geo Effect: Abyss. It instantly kills any character who starts their turn on it.
  • World in Conflict is actually all over this trope. Not only can infantry hide in houses (giving them crazy defense, as long as it stands) and woods (rendering them invisible as long as they don't open fire), but tanks can shoot further and more precisely down from slopes; all units move faster downhill (and vice versa); anti-air batteries, while unable to enter the forests, can stand on its edge, rendering them invisible from one direction. Obstacles are also correctly limiting the shooting range (even mobile units: a heavy tank can easily take a shell for an AA unit just by standing in front of it), so it's actually a good idea to hide your AA in the depths of a nuclear blast crater once the radiation dissipates.
  • In Wrath Unleashed, each character has a specific "element", and each stage has at least one element associated with it. Characters whose elements match the stage they are fighting on are damaged less by stage hazards and receive greater bonuses from powerups.
  • In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, having height advantage over the enemy - whether from standing on a roof or hovering with a Jet Pack - grants your unit bonuses to accuracy and evasion. This effect can be boosted by Snipers' "Damn Good Ground" ability or, in the Enemy Within Expansion Pack, by "Depth Perception" gene mod.
  • In Yggdra Union, some units have a "specialist" terrain type (e.g., forest specialist). Units gain an advantage when fighting on this type of terrain and are much more likely to win duels.
    • Some maps have stationary catapults on them. The army that includes catapults in their formation gains an advantage and their units are more likely to win duels.


    Web Original 
  • Fire Emblem On Forums: As in the game franchise the games are based on, these play a huge role with class abilities:
    • The Bandit, Pirate and Fighter class lines have bonuses when fighting in Mountains, Seas and Forests respectively, allowing them to traverse them faster (or at all in the case of Bandits and Pirates) and have significant advantages over their enemies in them. Fighters can also negate these through the use of Clear A Path for their enemies.
    • Great Knights can ignore Geo Effects entirely through War Horse. Wanderers have a similar ability through Omni-Movement.
    • Some games have access to the Pioneer class, which specialises in extending Geo Effects through building fortifications, and the Elementalist class, which uses geomantic magic to cast spells based on the terrain.
  • In Whateley Universe story "Ayla and the Birthday Brawl", the supposedly unstoppable Team Kimba does a simulation where they get blown to pieces by ordinary baseline soldiers who use geo effects and sound tactical planning against them.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • The Air Nomads relied on the mountainous terrain their temples were built on to protect them, since they reasoned nobody could get there without a glider or flying bison. Unfortunately, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.
    • The Fire Nation were themselves using a comet to increase their natural firebending ability. It's only close enough to the world to have an effect for one day every hundred years, so that goes a long way towards explaining why they still hadn't conquered the world a hundred years later.
    • The Water Tribes live in the polar regions, and the North's capital is a city entirely made of ice. It's understandable that they'd settle where there's so much of their native element. Amazingly, Zuko still tries to fight Katara, a waterbender, while they're both standing on a glacier. And it's a full moon, which boosts waterbending abilities.
    • Exploited by the Fire Nation with the prison platforms they built to hold earthbenders: The platforms are entirely metal, which earthbenders can't manipulate (at least not yet), and miles offshore from any land. Lucky for the prisoners they run on coal, which is a form of earth.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars, "Trespass": The Talz's main advantage in ambushing the Republic forces is their extensive knowledge of the terrain, and that they are much more suited to survive in the extreme cold weather conditions.

    Real Life 
  • Take Cover! is essential to modern infantry tactics.
  • The Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union in 1939-40, which ended with a ceasefire and Finland losing only a small part of its territory to the Soviet Union while retaining its sovereignty, is a prime example of how this trope can be applied in real life. Despite being outnumbered 3 to 1, the Finns made full use of the winter season, forested terrain and long nights to wreak havoc on the Soviet troops, who were more used to fighting in warmer climates and were still reeling from a lack of leadership and morale due to Joseph Stalin's Great Purge two years earlier. An additional bonus was that the Finnish soldiers wore white snowsuits to blend in with the terrain and were excellent cross-country skiers.
    • The Swedish plans against ground invasion relied on Finnish tactics. Just like the Soviet's overwhelming advantage in tanks was cancelled out by forcing them into narrow roads which were the only way through the forests so the Finns only faced a few at any one time, the famous Swedish S-Tank was designed around that strategy: a low profile that made it hard to hit, a fixed gun designed to deal with tanks forced into narrow forest roads, and the ability to drive backward just as fast as forward (and a second driver specifically for that task) so the tank could engage an enemy force, then quickly scoot back to another position and do it again.
  • The greatest Russian military commander of the Napoleonic and Second World Wars was General Winter, ably assisted by his cousin Major Mud. Crossing the Russian countryside in winter, late fall, or early spring without the use of a paved road was essentially impossible, and played havoc with the movement of troops and supplies for both the Grande Armee and the Wehrmacht.
    • General Winter did not always help Russians. Mongols were able to crisscross the Russian plains and conquer at will thanks to frozen rivers and swamps. Even during World War II, frozen ground on which tanks could maneuver easily gave the Germans an excellent chance to capture Moscow at the end of 1941, during which they penetrated into outskirts of the city, even if they failed at the end.
    • Ironically, the mud season that helped defend the Russia from invasions would backfire on the country during the Russo-Ukraine war of 2022. As the war started in late February, the invading Russian forces found the otherwise passable plains of eastern Ukraine turning into impassable mud, resulting in their vehicles getting stuck and abandoned. While the Russians attempted to bypass the muddy plains by traveling on paved roads, doing so left them in bottleneck positions vulnerable to Ukrainian ambushes with no room to escape or dodge attacks.
  • Much of Switzerland's ability to remain neutral is based on being surrounded by mountainous terrain and training its army to specialise in mountain combat (even the tanks they use are more or less perfect for defending Switzerland and nothing else). It also controls a large amount of the water supply for several countries.
    • The main reason that Switzerland has been able to remain neutral for so long is savvy diplomacy; this trope really only gives insight as to why they've been able to fight off or at least deter anyone whom diplomacy couldn't placate (with the exception of Napoleon).
  • Knowing the terrain and using guerilla tactics in Vietnam gave the Vietcong such an advantage that the US was unable to gain a conventional victory. Combined with pressure at home to leave, rising costs and lack of local support, the US was forced to withdraw and leave the south Vietnamese government to fend for itself... and perish.
  • Sun Tzu's The Art of War, the oldest tactical and strategic manual in existence, includes chapters on how to use terrain to best military advantage.
  • One incident during the wars between the Spanish and the Dutch saw a Dutch army led by William the Silent breaking the Spanish siege of Leyden by destroying the nearby dikes and flooding them out. (He later founded the University of Leyden to commemorate his victory.)
    • The above situation was inverted just over two centuries later when the French invaded the Netherlands during the wars of the First Coalition, taking advantage of a cold winter and the resultant frozen rivers/harbours to not only counter the above Dutch tactic, but also take the Dutch navy with cavalry.
  • Often a common tactic used by Alexander the Great in the Persian campaign. The use of a small passage surrounded by coast and hills was exploited in The Battle of Issus, with Alexander flanking the Persian troops from the hills and solidly defeating them; in the Battle of the River Hydaspes, Alexander used the rain and the raging river to keep his movements secret from the Indians and maintain the element of surprise. Also subverted by Alexander in the Battle of Gaugamela, a battle Alexander won, despite the Persians deliberately choosing the large, flat plain because it benefited their larger numbers.
  • At the Battle of Thermopylae, 1500 Greeks (including the famous 300 Spartans) held off 250,000 Persians for three days and recorded almost 100,000 casualties by bottlenecking them in the eponymous cliffs.
    • Also, the Athenian-led Greek navy pulled their weight as well. Despite a rout at Artemision at about the same time as Thermopylae, they met Persian navy shortly thereafter at Salamis, holding a narrow strait in much the same way as at Thermopylae. This kept the Persians from bypassing the Greek defenses for southern Attica and the Peloponnese, allowing the Greek alliance to win the war despite the destruction of Athens.
  • Britain is an island kingdom, which saved them from having to devote resources towards defending land borders (especially after the union with Scotland). They could instead using those resources to build up a formidable navy, and as late as World War II, the Royal Navy was feared worldwide.
  • Terrain was most likely the largest factor that contributed to the Union victory at Gettysburg. Not only did the Union hold the high ground, giving their artillery a huge advantage, but the Confederates were forced to attack across a large, open plain with no cover from Union artillery and gunfire.
  • Much like the Gaugamela example, the Romans tried this one on Hannibal at Cannae, selecting a wide open plain where the Roman heavy infantry could just roll over Hannibal's outnumbered forces, and where any ambush would surely be spotted. This didn't work as the Romans plowed straight into the middle of a Carthaginian encirclement anyway. The only survivors were the ones who cut through the Carthaginian centre... and kept on running.
    • The guy who organized the Roman retreat happened to be Scipio Africanus, the man who eventually defeated Hannibal. Needless to say, the Romans learned their lesson.
    • It took them awhile. Hannibal was a master of geo effects and used them in two earlier battles to defeat Roman armies. First at the Trebia, where he encouraged the Romans to charge through an ice cold river. Second at the Lake Trasimene, where he caught a Roman army in an ambush between the lake shore and the wooded hills where his light troops were hidden.
  • The Battle of Bunker Hill during the American Revolution was this in textbook form. It all started when relatively small group of colonial militia had taken their (semi-legal) cache of arms and supplies atop a small hill, and a troop of regular soldiers was dispatched to disarm them. Command hoped that the militiamen wouldn't resist the attempt to confiscate their weapons, and if they did it was hoped that they would quickly give themselves up or scatter when things got serious. As it was, they were determined to resist and had the discipline to hold a line and pick the regulars off in droves as they attempted to scale the hill. The rebels inflicted several times their own casualties on the government forces by the time the hill was taken. It showed that the situation was truly beyond the diplomatic solution everyone had been hoping for, and that the rebels' militia could prove more than a match for the government's troops. General incompetence was astoundingly common throughout the war on both sides, but the most important lesson of the battle was apparently half-remembered at best as time and again British colonials tried directly assaulting the government's fortified positions.
    • It was remembered in Boston, at least. When Washington took command, he took the identical tactics: send men over the isthmus in the night to entrench on one of those hills and bring along your cannon. The British forces took one look and made plans to evacuate the city. Anyone who has studied Anglo-Irish relations and who is passingly familiar with the large Irish-American population in modern-day Boston will be amused to learn that the evacuation was ordered on St. Patrick's Day.
    • The general incompetence of the British Commanders was a large factor in this, both allowing the rebels to dig in and then opting for a frontal assault on the hill due to underestimating the rebel forces.
  • Altitude has an effect on breathing; thus, performing in sporting events in higher regions can be more difficult than in lower. People from the high ground (who are more used to less oxygen per breath) have the advantage everywhere, but it's much more noticeable in the mountains.
    • The United States took advantage of the Rockies to train men for the Alps. This resulted in some Italian soldiers being quite shocked by the sight of these men running uphill in the Alps.
    • Speaking of Italy, the reason conquering it was so difficult was the terrain: expecting sunny plains, the Allies deployed normal troops and tanks in a country largely composed of hills and the Apennines mountain range (they could have avoided it, had they listened to the Italians on their side), while the Germans, having listened to the Italians on their side, took full advantage of the terrain, and were effectively invulnerable until the Moroccan mountain troops supplied by the Free French and the Italian Royal Army (that knew the terrain but was short on numbers) could be supplemented by British Highlanders and the above-mentioned troops trained in the Rockies (trained to fight in the Alps too but originally raised to fight in the Apennines), after which the difficulty improved from "impossible" to "hellishly difficult but doable" (they finally conquered Italy, including the sunny plains of the north they expected at first, on May 2, 1945, the same day the Soviets conquered Berlin and two days after Hitler's death).
  • Common tactic of AH-64 Apache choppers when dealing with tanks. The idea is to hide under the treeline, pop up to launch a Hellfire, then duck back down under the cover of the trees or other terrain features. If they have someone else spotting the shot (a forward controller on the ground, or an aircraft flying over the battlefield, for example), they don't even need to come out of cover to launch the missile.
    • This tactic proved so effective that the AH-64D (the Longbow) was specifically designed to do it even better. The helicopter's fire-control radar was relocated to a sensor pod above the main rotor, allowing it to track targets and fire missiles without ever having to leave cover.
    • Also used by the 160th SOAR, the Night Stalkers. These pilots use helicopters with terrain mapping radar to fly in canyons to avoid radar. Used in the 2011 raid against bin Laden's compound in Abbottobad, Pakistan.
  • The US and Canada are immune from massive invasion forces due to being far away across the sea from most of the rest of the world. Still, if the warring party wants to make the long trek across the sea, both of them are two of the largest countries on the globe with a wide variety of terrains. Not that modern warfare has much need for invasions anymore.
    • On top of the long distances involved, potential invaders would also have to deal with the fact that large numbers of the civilian populace of both countries are armed, or have access to firearms through friends or family. On top of this, many of those people hunt, and know the terrain like the backs of their hands. So, to put it in perspective, assuming your fleet gets out of its harbor and doesn't get bombed to oblivion by the Air Force, or sniped from the depths by US submarines, or meet any one of the eleven US Supercarriers (which is at least seven more than any other nation can put to sea), and the force actually DOES land on a US beach, the invaders will very quickly find themselves facing 300 million people who have access to firearms and most likely know how to use them... it's Nightmare Fuel that convinced Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto that invading the United States would be a very bad idea.
    Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto: I will never invade the United States, there would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.
    • Also worth noting that if Japan had invaded the U.S., they'd have had to do so from the west coast, which would have meant fighting their way through a very broad system of mountain ranges and desert basins, which wouldn't have made it any easier.
  • All three of Canada, the US (in the case of Alaska) and Russia have their northern borders essentially undefended, and no plans to move troops there to defend them, except for radar coverage for the simple reasons that it's the Arctic, so hard enough to do anything in to begin with; none of the countries have anything strategically critical for their survival in the region to be captured should someone be stupid enough to try an invasion; and finally, getting anywhere important from the Arctic coasts with a ground force would be essentially impossible due to lack of infrastructure. For example, for a country with the world's longest coastline, and by far the world's longest northern coastline, there is exactly one all-season road connecting Canada's Arctic coast to the rest of the country, and it only finished construction in 2017. The way of dealing with any force stupid enough to try an attack is to leave them there until they're bear food.
  • Japan was protected by the Mongolian invasion of their islands by the same situation regarding the sea and the weather that saved England (mentioned above in the Britain example). These events are the origin of the term kamikaze (divine wind).
  • Cultures who were well-known for ambush or skirmishing tactics frequently lived in regions of "hard" terrain, with many trees and/or hills/mountains around it. Such features made it easy for warriors to pre-emptively surround their enemies unbeknownst to them, and also make it difficult to chase them with how easily they could go out of sight and how horses would be hampered from running in the area. The cultures who still did such tactics regularly despite living in open terrain were surely Born in the Saddle instead, relying on their horses' speed to outmaneuver their adversaries.
  • George Washington applied this against himself in French and Indian War with Ft. Necessity. The entire fort was surrounded by hills and the attackers had easy shots into the fort, and eventually rainwater collected into the fort, ruining the gunpowder.
  • The Earth chapter of Miyamoto Musashi's Book of Five Rings discussed taking advantage of terrain types and altitudes, with more emphasis on the marshaling of troops, drawn from his own experiences in command.
  • The reason why thousands of American soldiers died when invading Germany at Omaha beach. The Germans had a gigantic beach, followed by high hills filled with bunkers, while the American forces had boats that put them straight into the open the second they would leave. Additionally, the Germans had placed multiple obstacles on the beach (including thousands of land mines mounted on sticks just tall enough to be functional but invisible in the waters, which exploded when landing craft or emerging troops hit them) to avoid the soldiers simply charging for the hills, resulting in a brutal bloodbath.
    • The Rhine was a natural obstacle for the western allies while invading Germany. German forces destroyed multiple bridges, hoping to block off the invasion or at least slow them down considerably. The plan might have been successful, if it weren't for certain bridges not breaking upon the explosions getting activated.
  • As demonstrated here, the memetic case with Obi-Wan and Anakin is not actually the advantage in a one-on-one fight that the film (and pop culture) suggests.
  • The famous Battle of Myeongnyang during the Japanese invasion of Korea in the late 16th century (dramatised in the film The Admiral (2014)) saw Admiral Yi Sun-sin, possibly the greatest naval commander in history, take on a fleet of 133 Japanese warships (plus even more standing by that didn't end up making it into the battle) with only 13 Korean ships, the last remnants of the once-mighty Korean fleet following a crushing defeat. Yi was aware that the narrow Myeongnyang Strait had a unique current that would flow strongly in one direction before reversing and flowing back the other way every three hours, and lured the Japanese fleet there to stage his Last Stand. After holding off the Japanese assault for long enough while they tried to overwhelm him with sheer numbers, the current reversed and threw the Japanese fleet, crowded in close in the narrow strait, into disarray, causing ships to collide against each other and preventing them from maneuvering, while the Koreans used the new current to launch a blistering counterattack. The Japanese were smashed, losing more than 30 ships, while Yi did not lose a single one.


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Alternative Title(s): Terrain Bonus


"You were the Chosen One!"

Obi-wan Kenobi defeats Anakin "Darth Vader" Skywalker on Mustafar, and mourns his role in the Jedi Purge and the apparent failure of the prophecy of the Chosen One.

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Main / ThreadOfProphecySevered

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