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Strategy Game Tropes

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A list of tropes related to Strategy Games.

  • A Commander Is You
    Describing the different types of factions that appear in strategy games.
  • After-Action Report
    A type of Fan Fiction for strategy games that involves a blow-by-blow description of a mission or campaign.
  • A.I.-Generated Economy
    The computer controls the economy of the game's world.
  • All Swords Are the Same
    All weapons of a specific type will look and play exactly the same.
  • Anti-Air
    An attack, weapon, munition, ability, etc. that is really effective against flying enemies.
  • Anti-Armor
    An attack, weapon, munition, ability, etc. that is really effective against armored enemies.
  • Anti-Cavalry
    An attack, weapon, munition, ability, etc. that is really effective against mounted enemies.
  • Anti-Infantry
    An attack, weapon, munition, ability, etc. that is really effective against enemies on foot.
  • Anti-Structure
    An attack, weapon, munition, ability, etc. that is really effective against enemy structures.
  • Anti-Vehicle
    An attack, weapon, munition, ability, etc. that is really effective against enemy vehicles.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit
    Arbitrary requirement that stops you from having too many characters in a party or unit.
  • Area of Effect
    Attacks that hit a wide area, rather than a specific target.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack
    An attack, weapon, or munition that rips through the armor or special shield that your enemies wear.
  • Baseless Mission
    A mission that does not provide you with a base in strategy games where bases are generally required.
  • Civil Warcraft
    A contrived battle where you fight your own side.
  • Colour Coded Armies
    Units are colour coded so the player can tell their units from the enemy's.
  • Construct Additional Pylons
    In Real-Time Strategy games, having to build a base to churn out units right on the battlefield.
  • Command & Conquer Economy
    Nothing ever gets built unless the player specifically orders it.
  • Cosmetically Different Sides
    Although both sides in a battle may be from vastly different technologies, their statistics and attacks will be exactly the same.
  • Crippling Overspecialization
    Units are so specialized that they are completely useless against units that fall outside their specialty.
  • Damage Is Fire
    Whenever a structure is damaged, it's shown as being on fire.
  • Defenseless Transports
    For game balance, units that carry other units have no weapons of their own.
  • Defog of War
    Lessens the obscurity of Fog of War.
  • Dual Mode Unit
    A unit that has two different functions that can be switched between.
  • Easy Communication
    Once you issue an order, it will be carried out instantly without having to go through any channels.
  • Easy Logistics
    You don't need to worry about feeding your troops or keeping up supplies - that all happens automatically.
  • Enemy Exchange Program
    Capture an enemy base, and churn out your own enemy units!
  • Faction Calculus
    Describing the different dynamics of a strategy game depending on the number of factions involved.
  • Firewood Resources
    Resource icons/sprites are simplified at the cost of scale and accuracy.
  • Fog of War
    You can only see the parts of the map where you have units.
  • Garrisonable Structures
    Structures that allow units to take cover.
  • Geo Effects
    Terrain affects tactics.
  • Hard-Coded Hostility
    A faction which cannot be negotiated with and is perpetually at war with every other faction.
  • Hero Must Survive
    One of your units is a NPC that must not be allowed to die.
  • Hero Unit
    A (usually very powerful) unit that represents the Player Character or other important character in the game's storyline.
  • Hold the Line
    A mission where you have to prevent the enemy completing their objective before time runs out.
  • Instant Militia
    An option to convert your workers into basic fighters.
  • Magic Tool
    A universal hand tool whose user can magically fix any machine or structure simply by waving it at the target from close range.
  • Mercenary Units
    Special units that are "hired" instead of "trained" or "built".
  • Neutrals, Critters, and Creeps
    These entities hinder both player armies and enemy factions.
  • Non-Entity General
    The player is a general or commander in a strategy game who may not actually even exist.
  • Protection Mission
    Protect a stationary object from enemy attack.
  • Reinventing the Wheel
    You need to purchase "upgrades" to capabilities in each campaign, even if your forces already had it in the last one.
  • Resource-Gathering Mission
    The main focus is gathering a certain amount of resources instead of destroying the enemy.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction
    All buildings can be produced and military units trained in a ridiculously short amount of time.
  • Ridiculously Fast Population Growth
    Populations grow faster than realistic birthrates could sustain.
  • "Risk"-Style Map
    A map which shows you delineated areas so you can choose which campaigns to wage.
  • Separate, but Identical
    Some sub-factions are said to be different in composition, outlook etc., but really only differ in their color palette.
  • Some Dexterity Required
    In the real-time variety, being able to issue commands to your units more efficiently gives you an edge.
  • Splash Damage Abuse
    Abusing an attack's Splash Damage or Area of Effect to get enhanced performance.
  • Starting Units
    In strategy games, you sometimes have units at the start that you can't train or create more of.
  • Stop Poking Me!
    Clicking too often on a unit will make them insult or nag you.
  • Strategic Asset Capture Mechanic
    Simulating the capture of a strategic asset, either an abstract "Strategic Zone" or a tangible building with a specific bonus.
  • Strong Flesh, Weak Steel
    It's easier to destroy something made of armored steel, like a tank, than to destroy an ostensibly flesh and blood character.
  • Support Power
    The player receives support from things that are not included on the in-game map.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors
    Strategy games divide your units into three types, each of which is strong and weak against each of the other types.
  • Tactical Superweapon Unit
    A unit that is overpowered, hard to deploy and limited in number. Built to break stalemates by virtue of being a Damage-Sponge Boss that can dish out as much dakka as it can take; requiring either a huge army, exploiting its weakness(es), or another unit of equal power to bring down.
  • Tech Tree
    Strategy games let you research new abilities for your units.
  • Turn-Based Strategy, Real Time Combat
    The strategic level gameplay is turn-based but tactical engagements play out in real time.
  • Unblockable Attack
    An attack that always deals damage and can't be blocked or guarded (but in most cases may be dodged or interrupted instead).
  • Units Not to Scale
    Infantrymen appear ridiculously large when compared to vehicles and buildings.
  • Video Game Time
    Fake use of a time scale means that empires rise and fall in the time it takes to take the trash out.
  • Weather of War
    Weather drastically affects units.
  • Worker Unit
    A non-combatant unit dedicated to constructing buildings or gathering resources.
  • You Have Researched Breathing
    Where you have to spend time researching things that should be patently obvious.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas
    Strategy games make you gather resources.
  • Zerg Rush
    Sending waves upon waves of cheap, weak units in order to overwhelm a more tech-aware enemy with sheer numbers.