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Cossacks: European Wars is a 2000 Real-Time Strategy PC game by GSC Game World, and the first entry in the Cossacks series. The game has an isometric view and is set in The Cavalier Years, 17th and early 18th centuries of European history.

Its Age of Empires-like gameplay originally featured sixteen playable nations each with architectural styles, technologies and units of its own. Cossacks was notable at the time of its release for the very large number of units players could control on the battlefield. It got two Expansion Packs, one that needed the original game to work, Cossacks: The Art of War in 2001, and a stand-alone expansion, Cossacks: Back to War in 2002. A Downloadable Content pack called Campaign Expansion was also added.

GSC Game World released American Conquest in 2003, which was essentially Cossacks on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean (a sequel in all but name), and two official sequels, Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars in 2005 and Cossacks 3 in 2016.

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Tropes:

  • Achilles' Heel: Despite being armored cavalry, Polish winged hussars have only 1 point of protection against firearms. If they won't charge range units instantly, the weakness of their armour will make them suffer significantly higher damage than any other heavy cavalry.
  • Anachronism Stew: Some campaigns of European Wars such as the French one take place entirely during the 17th century (the last French mission takes place during the Fronde civil war, which ended in 1653), yet players have access to 18th century units.
  • Anti-Cavalry: Pikemen, at least to a degree. Since 17th century musketeers don't have bayonets, they need protection of pikemen. In 18th century, musketeers are perfectly capable of defending themselves in melee, since fully upgraded bayonets deal around 70 damage, roughtly four times of what pikemen are capable of.
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  • Anti-Frustration Features: Walls and palisades require truly absurd amounts of stone and wood for their maintance. While lack of those two resources doesn't destroy the fortifications, it makes the side building them utterly unable to construct new buildings, as they won't be able to have more than 0 stone and wood. This was done intentionally, to prevent players from simply walling their bases with few layers of walls and thus leading to protracted sieges.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Completely averted. While initially a global population limit of 8000 existed, it was removed entirely in Back to War.
  • Arrows on Fire: Archers and Tatars shoot flaming arrows at buildings and ships.
  • Baseless Mission: Some of the hardest missions in the campaigns give the player a limited number of units to manage without any base to bring reinforcements.
  • Bayonet Ya: 18th century musketeers and grenadiers (as well as mercenary grenadiers) can attack with bayonets at close range.
  • Blade on a Stick: In Back to War, Switzerland has halberdiers instead of pikemen.
  • Bling of War:
    • The Polish Winged Hussars, who were famous for their huge "wings", a wooden frame with feathers mounted on their saddle.
    • The French King's Musketeers, who wear their iconic blue casaque with a white cross.
    • 18th century Cuirassiers have a pretty shiny armor.
  • Cannon Fodder: The player's units on the battlefield, especially when they are not fully upgraded and going against fully upgraded enemies. Any cavalry or pikemen formation going against a fire barrage of riflemen or artillery (cannons, howitzers or multi-barreled cannons) is also this. Mercenaries are universal cannon fodder, being the fastest-produced and squishiest units in the game.
    • Roundshiers are a literal cannon fodder, representing cold steel infantry of tercio formations, used by Habsburg armies until the 30 years war as shock troops between artillery salvos. Doubly so when they are mercenaries, having a pitiful HP pool.
      • The Light Infantry used by Algeria and Turkey are even weaker and cheaper, having no armour at all.
  • Cast from Lifespan: Ships damage themselves by a few health points when firing. But since they have thousands upon thousands of hit points, its entirely negligible.
  • Classic Cheat Codes:
    • "money" to get 50000 of each resource.
    • "www" to suppress the Fog of War and unlock the editor on any map (control the enemy, create units by simply clicking and so on).
  • Clown Car: Ferries can transport 80 units (and up to 280 in the expansions), artillery included, on seas and rivers. Their size makes them look like they can transport 40 units at best.
  • Combat Medic: Each nation has a chaplain unit with this sole purpose — they heal with prayers somehow. Catholic nations have the priest, Orthodox nations (Russia, Ukraine) have the pope and Muslim nations (Algeria, Ottoman Turkey) have the mullah. Piemont has its own exclusive chaplain unit, the padre, who is twice as good in healing.
  • Construct Additional Pylons: The population limit can be expanded by building town halls, 17th and 18th century barracks, and dwellings. Since each following building gets progressively more expensive, it is often more useful to construct town halls and barracks using captured peasants of other nation than building own structures.
  • Cosmetically Different Sides:
    • Many nations share the same pikemen, heavy cavalry, riflemen and ships, and artillery is the same for everyone (bar those who can't get multi-barrelled cannons), but each nation has at the very least one or two specific units with their own stats. 17th century units from Russia and Poland and all units of Ukraine, Algeria and Ottomans are entirely different compared to the other nations. By 18th century, almost everyone is using the same units, although the expansions toned this down with the likes of Prussia and Bavaria.
    • Every nation has its own architecture save for mills — Western European nations have all the same stone windmill, Russia and Ukraine have the same wooden windmill, and Algeria and Ottoman Turkey have a non-wind powered mill.
  • Creator Provincialism: The amount of special attention Ukraine has in terms of gameplay and campaigns really stands out. However, the game was originally planned as something for the internal Ukrainian market rather than wide-release export.
  • Damage Is Fire: Buildings catch fire when their health bar is below 15 per cent.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: European Wars was not as polished as The Art of War and Back to War. It didn't have any music upon release, and units didn't have sounds as various, realistic and reverberating as The Art of War and Back to War.
  • Easy Logistics: Averted, because while you don't have to micromanage the provision of food, pay and ammunition to your soldiers in the field, these are deducted from your resource stockpiles constantly to support your armies. Hence you need to maintain a consistent supply of resources, rather than just stockpile enough to train an army.
    • All units need food to survive. If you run out of food, the game will warn that you have met with famine and your units will rapidly start dying off.
    • All gunpowder and artillery units need coal and iron to fire their weapons. If you run out, they will be unable to shoot at the enemy.
    • Some units need gold for upkeep, and if you run out they will mutiny and attack you. This includes extremely powerful ships of the line!
  • Enemy Exchange Program: Unguarded civilian buildings (bar religious buildings), unguarded military buildings under upgrade loading, unguarded artillery pieces and unguarded peasants (save for the Ukrainian ones) can all be captured. Half the time, civilian buildings will be set on fire and explode, artillery pieces will be destroyed and peasants will die instantly.
  • Escort Mission: Some of the most dreaded missions in the campaigns are purely this.
  • Fog of War: Only buildings can keep a zone discovered, otherwise it blackens again when the player's units move away. Drummers and bagpipe players have the largest visual field. The whole map can be revealed through the hot-air balloon research at the academy (or through cheats).
  • Fragile Speedster: Light cavalry units (Cossack mercenaries especially) are useful for scouting or fast raids against underdefended enemy bases, but don't last very long against pikemen, heavy cavalry or riflemen. One exception to this is the Polish winged hussar, which is both as fast as light cavalry and just as armored as the other nations' heavy cavalry units.
  • <Hero> Must Survive: Most campaign missions give an officer to the player. Should he die, the mission would fail instantly.
  • Hero Unit: Downplayed. Even if a campaign has an unit that represents a specific character, it's just bog-standard unit, either an officer or some cavalry. However, they usually either have slightly better stats or can gain stat increase via killing other units.
  • Hired Guns: Mercenary units can be recruited at the Diplomatic Center. They cost only gold and are produced faster than any other unit in the game, making it easy to create a makeshift army in no time. The other side of the coin? Their presence makes the gold counter decrease, thus requiring a steady production of gold otherwise they will rebel against the player (and that spells disaster if the player has a huge number of them in his base), they have weak hit points, weak defense, and cannot be upgraded. On top of that, the more you produce 18th century dragoon mercenaries the more their price increases, and they require more iron and coal to fire than normal dragoons while having weaker hit and HP points.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: What light cavalry is for, especially the extremely annoying Sich Cossacks, who are the fastest units in the game. The sole existence of light cavalry forces players to train additional units and spread them all over his bases to protect peasants and mines, lest they want to suffer the consequences of raids that will wipe out the workforce.
  • Hollywood Tactics: For the most part, the game punishes players for using blind charges and ignoring tactical advantages formations and armour can provide. On the other hand, using literal cannon fodder is almost expected, because someone has to soak the artillery barrage during assault.
  • Horse Archer: Ottoman Turkey's Tatar units are mounted archers. Unlike typical game with such units, they are one of the weakest cavalry that can be trained and their aim is terrible.
  • Loud of War: Drummers (or in the case of 18th century England, bagpipe players) are required alongside officers to create infantry formations.
  • Made of Explodium: All types of buildings, regardless of how they have black powder inside or not, explode once they reach 0 health points. Bringing a building below the 15 per cent health bar will set said building on fire and it will explode after a few seconds if not repaired.
    • The same about transport ferries that don't carry artillery.
  • Medieval Stasis: Ukraine, Algeria and Ottoman Turkey don't have access to the 18th century upgrade and thus don't have 18th century units. Until Back to War when it got the Bedouin, Algeria did not even have access to its own native gunpowder units, with its only musket-armed units being mercenary grenadiers and mercenary dragoons. Ukraine has access to some 18th century technological upgrades, but doesn't have multi-barrel artillery, and the only war ships it can produce are galleys.
  • More Dakka: The multi-barrel artillery piece functions like a 17th century machine gun. It's particularly effective against lightly armored infantry and cavalry.
  • One-Hit Kill:
    • Any fully upgraded unit can kill non-cavalry mercenary units in one hit.
    • Once upgraded, 17th and 18th century officers can kill any infantry unit in the game in one hit. The Ukrainian Hetman cavalry unit can as well even without upgrade, dealing enough damage to murder absolutely every single unit in the game in one hit aside other hetmans.
    • French King's Musketeers have the highest hit points of any range unit in the game, and thus can kill any infantry unit in one shot. However, they take longer to reload compared to dragoons.
  • One-Hit Polykill: Cannon canister shots can mow down the entire first ranks of infantry or cavalry formations when they are close enough. It takes a long time to reload however. Regular shots, along with those fired from ribauldequins, still deal enough damage to kill substantial amount of units due to hefty splash damage
  • Pirates: The English campaign in European Wars is all about piracy. More specifically, the player controls English corsairs who attack or ransom Dutch and Spanish ships or colonies in the Caribbean, and also fight against pirates.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Downplayed, given the technology advances within the game. Ukraine's only infantry unit, serdiuks, are armed with primitive, lockless arquebuses. They outrange everyone but two other, special units from 18th century and are the 4th hardest hitting ranged unit in the game. All while being standard, cheap infantry with fast recruitment and ability to start production within first minute of the game. Their sheer range makes them absolutely murderous already, but once fully upgraded, serdiuks can laugh at everything that is not artillery.
  • So Last Season: Cavalry charges toward musketeers turn into suicide the moment bayonets show up on the battlefield and training of musketeers gets faster than that of 17th century pikemen.
  • Starting Units: 17th century units are this for most nations.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Heavy cavalry slaughters most infantry units, pikemen slaugter cavalry, archers and mortars are great against buildings but suck badly against other units and so on.
  • Technology Levels: After finishing the required buildings and gathering enough resources, players can get to the 18th century at the Town Hall (the only exceptions being Ukraine, Algeria and Ottoman Turkey). It gives access to new Academy upgrades and 18th century barracks units and 18th century cavalry, as well as 18th century ships in The Art of War and Back to War.
    • Most units have seven levels of offensive and defensive upgrades. Officers and drummers only require one level of upgrade.
    • Cannons and howitzers have upgrades to reduce their cost and increase their production rate.
  • Tower Defense: All nations except Ukraine can build cannon towers than can engage enemies from afar. They can be upgraded to improve their rate of fire and range, but said upgrades are long, and if the tower is not guarded while upgrading, it can be captured by the enemy. They are absolutely useless at close range.
  • Units Not to Scale: Mostly averted, though some buildings such as French dwellings or cathedrals still look not to scale compared to the units' size.
  • We Have Reserves: The high population cap and the fact that some units (eg the 18th century pikeman and the Algerian archer) can be trained in literally less than a second means that this is a perfectly viable tactic. Even high-powered late-game units like the 18th century musketeers and grenadiers only take a matter of seconds to train, and can be used to swarm the enemy in a long game with ample resources.
  • Worker Unit: Every country has peasants to build buildings and gather resources. Russian serfs are the slowest builders, and Ukrainian peasants are the only ones that cannot be captured.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Resources are not just needed to build units and research upgrades. Iron and coal are needed for firearm units, artillery and ships to fire. There must be a constant production of food otherwise human units will starve and die. Similarly, the more expensive ships of the line, artillery and mercenaries there is, the more the player will need to produce gold so they will keep firing or just obey him (running out of gold with a huge number or mercenaries causes mutinies). Both wood and stone fortifications also require maintance, rapidly decreasing the counter of both resources even with extensive gathering operation.
  • Zerg Rush: Algeria, in particular, has to rely on this tactic to overwhelm the enemy with their weak, but cheap and quick-to-produce archers and light infantrymen in the early game.
    • European nations have 18th century pikemen, which are melee units with a relatively low attack compared to other 18th century units. However, they are incredibly cheap and can be massed in the thousands in a matter of minutes and used to flood the enemy base.

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