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Instant Militia

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In Real-Time Strategy games, Worker Units are typically weak and can't fend for themselves. In some of those games, however, the player has the option to temporarily convert his workers into many basic fighters to fend off an attack until support arrives. However, the player can use this capability offensively in an early game rush by having both cheap units backed up by these temporary soldiers to overwhelm the opponent.


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     Video Games  

  • Warcraft III:
    • Humans can convert Peasants into Militia that have the same amount of health but more armour, move faster and around the same damage as a Footman; this can only be done at a nearby (starting) Town Hall or any Keep or Castle. The effect doesn't usually last long enough to reach an enemy base and do any appreciable damage except at the very beginning of a game.
    • Meanwhile, Orcs can garrison peons into burrows and turn food buildings into temporary towers and the Undead actually use their basic fighters as lumber harvesters so their bases almost always have militia present.
    • As for the Night Elves, their buildings can defend themselves. The Night Elf wisps can also use their suicidal Detonate ability to damage summoned units and drain Mana from heroes and spellcasters.
  • Achron inverts this. Resourcing is automated by "Resource Processors" and all the constructors from all the factions are military units that just happen to have the added bonus ability of being able to drop buildings (or morph into them, in the Grekim's case).
  • Rise of Nations allows the player to upgrade their militia mode(starting with militia, then to minutemen, and finally to partisans) through research available in towers. All nations can convert their citizens into militia mode,
    • Koreans got the technology upgrades for free, La Résistance and turtling being their specialty.
    • Chinese also had literal instant militia, due to their ability to instantly create citizen units (who can then be just as quickly converted into militia).
    • Spinoff Rise of Legends has the "Armed Workers" upgrade, which permanently gave miners sixguns and trade zeppelins a twin-linked machine gun.
  • Age of Empires can usually garrison villagers inside buildings (especially town centres) and let them fire out of them. however the rest of the series as a few examples of this trope being played straight.
    • The "Sappers" technology in Age of Empires II is a specialized version: It gives villagers a quite nasty attack bonus against buildings.
    • Age of Empires has Jihad (Zealotry in the Definitive Edition) which boosts the speed and combat ability of your Villagers at the cost of being worse at gathering resources.
    • Age of Empires II: The Conquerors also gives us the Spanish unique tech, Supremacy, which gives your villagers substantial combat bonuses.
      • The Burgundian civilization from the Lords of the West expansion for the Definitive Edition has the Flemish Revolution unique technology, which turns all existing villagers into Flemish Militia, and unlocks the ability to create more Flemish Militia at your Town Centers.
    • Age of Empires III introduced Minutemen, who can quickly be rallied to defend in an attack, however have an Incurable Cough of Death that drops their HP to 1, and can only be called once without any cards.
      • The first level of the second campaign, Ice, when fleeing colonists reach your town and arrive at your arsenal, they are transformed into Skirmishers, a light infantry unit and something of an equivalent of militia.
      • The Warchiefs expansion for Age of Empires III adds the Revolution feature, which irreversibly turns all your settlers into colonial militia.
  • Age of Mythology allows the Norse to turn Gatherers and Dwarves into Ulfsarks. Because they're Vikings you know. Also the "worker unit" abilities are split between units, Gatherers and Dwarves gather resources, while infantry build.
    • Also, Ragnarok immediately makes all your Gatherers and Dwarves special "Heroes of Ragnarok" for free. Either a "panic button" or a Game-Breaker.
    • If you worship Poseidon, your buildings automatically spawn a group of militia when they're destroyed.
    • In the expansion, the Atlantean civilization can permanently turn any human unit into a hero for a cost, including their worker unit, the Citizen. Hero Citizens aren't that great at fighting anything but myth units, so they are mostly helpful as a defense in case a large army of myth units attacks your town, but they do have the benefit of being more efficient workers.
  • Civilization III and IV let you conscript your populace to quickly crank out some military units in an emergency. The downside is that your city loses population, and it makes the remaining citizens angrier. Also, a conscripted unit is one experience level lower than a unit normally produced in that city.
    • This interacts with your social model in different ways in the two iterations:
      • In Civ 3, conscription is available to any civilization that has discovered the Industrial Era tech Nationalism. The anger created from conscription varies from high (as a Democracy or Republic) to moderate (Monarchy) to relatively low (Communism or Fascism).
      • In Civ 4, conscription is only available to civilizations running the Nationhood Legal civic (available with, wouldn't you know it, Nationalism). Since there are four other categories of civic, your other civics choices affect how peeved your people get at conscription.
    • In the Civ4 mod Fall From Heaven 2, the Doviello civilization has the option to upgrade their workers to (the Doviello equivalent of) Warriors.
  • In Fat Princess, The Worker can damage enemies with his ax that's normally used for building, repairing and resource mining. Once upgraded, he can throw bombs as well.
  • In Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War, most factions have non-combatant worker units. The Imperial Guard faction has techpriests, who are heavily armored, armed with both a laspistol and a power axe, and can garrison in buildings more efficiently than a guardsmen squad.
    • The Orks take the Night Elf route, as almost all their buildings have point defence weapons mounted on them. They also have invisible Grots... but they're probably the most pitiful fighters in the game.
    • The Eldar's basic worker unit, the Bonesinger is actually equipped with a sword that can deal a hefty amount of morale damage if nothing else... the game actually had some players using them offensively (since they could teleport) against starting squads to break their morale or tie them up, which was surprisingly effective. The release of Dark Crusade introduced a bug for Imperial Guardsmen that made them unable to inflict morale damage, so a Bonesinger really could just run up and melee them until their pitifully small morale pool was reduced to 0 and rendered them ineffective.
    • The Soulstorm expansion had the Adepta Sororitas worker unit (another Servitor) able to use an ability that did massive damage to a structure after a short delay. Some people even managed to think of a strategy involving rushing their servitors to their opponents' bases to dismantle their structures for a cheap win.
  • Total War games often have this. Recruiting peasants or militia can pretty much save your neck in a pinch in Rome and Medieval II - dirt cheap, usually with free upkeep inside cities and generally awful units, but you can bulk up your army numbers with 'em. Empire and Napoleon do it automatically by providing you with 'Firelock armed citizenry' in the event that your cities are attacked. Shogun 2 takes it a step further, as well; all castles come with defensive units when attacked, with upgraded castles getting better and more units. This is probably a way of balancing out the cost of upgrading castles; Shogun's Japanese-style castles are somewhat less defensible than the fortresses of Rome and Medieval.
  • Glest takes it a step further with the Magic faction. All of their Battle Mages (except the one you start with) and Archmages are upgraded from Initiates, who are the faction's basic worker unit.
  • Rohan in The Battle for Middle-earth does not have regular swordsmen. Instead, they have peasants whose job is to repair damaged structures. One of the researchable powers arms the peasants, turning them into fairly competent militia. This is not temporary, however. Since armies carry over in the campaign, these militia show up again already armed.
    • This is done away in the sequel, where Rohan and Gondor are merged into the Men of the West, and Gondor's foot soldiers take the infantry slot, while the Rohan are relegated into cavalry (Rohirrim being superior to the Gondor knights). However, every building that reaches level 3 gains a defensive tower.
  • Your civilians do this automatically in the turn based strategy DEADLOCK series when a settlement comes under attack. You can build a bunker for them to hide in instead if you do not want to risk losing civilians.
  • You can conscript your civilian dwarves at-will in Dwarf Fortress. They get rather unhappy from the draft if they have no military skills, and usually aren't terribly effective unless you take the time to arm them. This is mostly done by players who either want to buy some time for another purpose (say, buying time so that the actual military is in place before the invading army arrives), or for players who want to make sure that the dwarves who would run away anyway are more likely to run in the direction the player would prefer.
    • Depending on the armor you equip them with, they can be quite good at resisting attacks that would instantly kill unarmed dwarves. And arming a few dozen civilians with crossbows is often worth it.
    • The big update in 2012 made this process a lot more sophisticated, allowing you to schedule periodic training and create a proper part-time reservist force. It's now possible -albeit extremely hard work- to implement The Spartan Way, and have every adult dwarf in the settlement spend a certain amount of time each year practicing their skill-at-arms.
  • In the X-Universe game, your freighters are typically unarmed (or only with a single turret) Space Trucker-esque haulers designed only to ferry crap between your factories, or to trade with NPC factories. The Split's Caiman-class freighter, however, has forward mounted weapons, allowing it to be used as a (clumsy) attack ship. All freighters can have their massive cargo holds filled with missiles to spam at anything that comes into range. Transporter-Large ships are purpose-built for space station assembly, but their large size allows them to mount weapons traditionally placed on capital ships, allowing them to be used as impromptu patrol craft and carriers. The Split Elephant in X3: Reunion was famous for its ability to kite Kha'ak capital ships across sectors while slowly whittling them down, as the Elephant's rear turrets had more range than the Kha'aks Beam Spam, making the Elephant's pathetic shields and overall weak firepower meaningless as no Kha'ak ship could catch up to it.
    • X: Rebirth has most freighters being unarmed or pathetically armed, though capital ship freighters have enormous storage racks for drones, allowing them to be stuffed with Attack Drones for defense.
  • In Victoria 2, you can normally only recruit pops with the Soldier-profession to serve in your army. However, you also have the option to mobilize your civilian population, which will turn a portion of your laboring pops into basic infantry. This allows you to quickly increase the size of your army at the expense of goods production. Mobilized infantry is identical to regular infantry, other than drawing from a different manpower pool.
  • Supreme Commander 2:
    • The Cybrans have a research option that slaps a laser gun on their Engineers.
    • The UEF has an option that arms their utility structures, and one that puts a repair crane on their generators.
  • One Wermacht tactical doctrine in Company of Heroes has them mount machine guns on all their production structures (research buildings and headquarters are SOL). For all factions, their basic Engineers come standard with a carbine, and usually can upgrade to a flamethrower. Except for the Royal Engineers, they get a P.I.A.T. mortar upgrade instead.
  • Subverted in 0 A.D., in which each faction's first-tier infantry can all build, hunt and mine much like Villagers from its primary inspiration. The closest thing to a dedicated Worker Unit in-game are female villagers, who have no ability to attack but have a passive ability that makes any nearby male units work harder at whatever task they've been set.
  • Red Alert 3:
    • The Imperial ore collector can equip a weak gun that's only really effective against infantry (and even then, best used while the collector tries to run over infantry).
    • The Soviet engineer is equipped with a revolver that can maybe defend him from one attack dog/war bear at a time.

     Tabletop Games  

  • Star Fleet Battles. In emergencies, starship crew units can be converted into militia (a weaker version of boarding parties) for combat purposes.
  • Mentioned in the Shadowrun in-game discussion.
    Shit, what's scary is that some of these places have security hackers and riggers on duty. Nothing worse than getting a team into a place only to realize there's a spider—a security rigger—who can jump into the security system and "become" the building. A few weeks back I got into a lab full of skillwired grunts and an alarm got set off. While our hacker was fighting through the building's system and the rest of us were trying to deal with the security drones, the damn spider downloaded a new set of skillsofts into the grunts. Transformed the bunch from lab grunts to trained security forces. In a matter of seconds, we had 100-plus orks who suddenly knew a hell of a lot about kicking our asses. Needless to say, we left.