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Video Game / Dawn of War
aka: Dawn Of War II

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"On the battlefield there is but one commandment: Thou Shalt Kill."

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War is a Real-Time Strategy game by Relic Entertainment, the same people who would eventually be behind Company of Heroes and who previously brought us Homeworld and Impossible Creatures. Obviously a licensed game of the tabletop game, the series is unquestionably the single most successful interpretation of the Warhammer 40,000 universe in video game form in the history of the franchise.

The original Dawn of War takes place on the planet Tartarus, which is under attack by a horde of Orks that are tearing through the planet's population and Imperial Guard garrison. The player is in charge of the reinforcements, Space Marines of the Blood Ravens chapter, but after a few missions slaughtering greenskins it becomes apparent that things on Tartarus are more complicated than they seem: the Eldar of Craftworld Biel-Tan and the Chaos Space Marines of the Alpha Legion are working behind the scenes, and a Warp Storm is incoming and expected very soon.

The first expansion pack, Winter Assault, takes place on the icy planet of Lorn V, and expands the Imperial Guard into a full-fledged playable fighting force of its own. In this story, two factions on either "side" (as in Order vs Disorder) team up temporarily to defeat the other two and secure the power of a massive wrecked Imperator-class Titan that is lost somewhere on the planet.

The next expansion, Dark Crusade, departs from the mission-based campaigns of the original Dawn of War and Winter Assault and introduces the Tau and the Necrons as playable races. Its campaign is set on the planet Kronus, where the seven playable factions engage in a free-for-all smackdown across a "Risk"-Style Map. The planet nominally belongs to the Tau, but of course the Imperium of Man claims it's theirs by right, so each dispatches armed forces from the Fire Caste and the Imperial Guard to consolidate their authority; the Blood Ravens are back, sent by the Chief Librarian to carry out a purge of the world seemingly to protect the chapter's dirty secrets; an Ork Waaagh! led by Warboss Gorgutz Headhunter, who was also the Ork leader in Winter Assault, arrives on the planet to satisfy their bloodlust; the Chaos Space Marines arrive to claim the world for their dark gods; the Necrons buried in vast catacombs beneath the planet's surface stir from their tombs and rise to stake their own claim to the planet; the Eldar of Craftworld Ulthwé arrive to stop them under the leadership of Farseer Taldeer, another returning chararcter from Winter Assault. Although the Imperial Guard and Space Marines factions are usually on the same side, they fight each other anyway, since following their orders is mutually exclusive with leaving the planet to the other side peacefully.

A third expansion pack, Soulstorm, upped the ante by featuring a nine-way free-for-all campaign over the four worlds of the Kaurava system, in which even the three Imperial factions were at each others' throats (all located right next to each other), and introduced the Sisters of Battle and Dark Eldar as playable armies.

The sequel, Dawn of War II, is a reboot of sorts. The player is a newly-promoted Force Commander, leading a few squads of Space Marines against an Ork invasion threatening the Blood Ravens' recruitment worlds, and therefore the future of the chapter itself. Once again, the Eldar are working behind the scenes to instigate the conflict, hoping to buy time against the incoming Tyranid hive fleet to save a Craftworld. While still a Real-Time Strategy game, the game eliminates base-building altogether and greatly simplifies resource-gathering, while focusing more on squad-based tactics rather than huge pitched battles, and also incorporating RPG elements in the form of unit experience, wargear, and skill selection. The game is built on the same engine used in Relic's World War II RTS, Company of Heroes, with plenty of graphical enhancements and gameplay tweaks, mirroring the history Dawn of War shares with the Impossible Creatures engine.

An expansion titled Chaos Rising adds Chaos Space Marines to the multiplayer and as antagonists in the campaign, along with powerful wargear that can be used by your Space Marines, though they may lead to corruption. A second expansion named Retribution expands on the single player campaign system by reintroducing campaigns for all the playable factions, and brings back the Imperial Guard as a playable faction.

Besides these official games, the Dawn of War series has spawned numerous mods, from simple tweaks to damage and health values, to ambitious projects that add new units and factions (complete with voice acting and unit models), or even attempts to make the game more closely mirror the rules of the Tabletop Game it is based on.

The franchise's future was in doubt in 2012 due to the bankruptcy of its publisher THQ, sending its subsidiary studios either to auction or out of business. Relic was purchased by Sega on January 22, 2013, and it was confirmed later that month that with it came an exclusive license to produce games based on Games Workshop IPs. Relic released a trailer on May 3rd, 2016 confirming Dawn of War III was in development and three races — Space Marines, Eldar and Orks — will be playable in it. The game came out on April 27, 2017 and featured a return to the first game's model of large-scale battles, but ultimately turned out to be a Franchise Killer due to disappointing sales resulting in Relic ending support and indefinitely shelving all plans for future content barely a year after release.

See Warhammer 40,000 for the tropes used in the universe itself, although Dawn of War naturally has its own spin on many of those.

Tropes are power. Guard them well, battle brothers!

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  • Acceptable Breaks from Canon: Mostly for gameplay reasons. Crull's Blood Legion using Sorcerers despite being descended from the World Eaters (who slaughtered all their psykers on falling to Chaos) is a pretty big example.
  • Actually Four Mooks: Imperial Guard Heavy Weapons teams in Dark Crusade are shown as a single soldier burdened with a heavy backpack when mobile, but when deploying a second soldier will suddenly appear to help setting up, reloading, and packing up the weapon. The second soldier vanishes upon packing up.
  • Adaptational Badass: Some of the units in these games, for purposes of needing something to fit out a role for the game, are much stronger than in the tabletop.
    • The Great Knarloc in the first game, which is turned from a cheap monstrous creature into the Tau's super unit due to a lack of Tau heavy ground units in the source material when Dark Crusade was developed. While strong, it's still not considered especially useful in here or the tabletop due to it only be able to attack stuff in melee with no abilities.
    • The Techmarine, Apothecary, Warlock, Warp Spider Exarch, and Kommando Nob were turned from sergeant equivalents in the tabletop to full-fledged commanders in the second game.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Some believe that the game neatly captures the feel of WH40K without needing a player to get all the sourcebooks. According to some early developer interviews, the Games Workshop people told Relic that they did not have to stick too closely to the word of the rules as long as they captured the spirit of them and that they should feel free to make any changes that improved gameplay as long as they stayed within that constraint.
    • Dawn of War II gets a bit closer to the tabletop, focusing on tactics and combined arms while doing away with base construction entirely. Buildings may still be present on a map as static objectives to capture, destroy or defend, or as terrain to occupy for cover and firing positions (Just as in the tabletop game).
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Multiple, simultaneous and devastating defensive deep strikes!
  • Admiring the Abomination: Just before the Imperial Guard fight the Hive Lord at the start of their campaign, Castor calls it "a magnificent specimen". When asked why he's admiring it, he clarifies that he thinks it'll look good on his trophy wall.
  • Advancing Boss of Doom: The second mission in Retribution has you fleeing from a stolen Baneblade until you can find some weapons to deal with it.
  • Alignment-Based Endings: Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising has multiple endings depending on the morality of your squads (which fills in for the Karma Meter in the game) as well as several choices you make over the plot of the story. They range from your Commander replacing Davian Thule as captain of the Fourth Company and helping Gabriel Angelos and Apollo Diomedes cleanse the Blood Ravens of corruption to your Commander fleeing with your squads into the Eye of Terror and joining the Black Legion as a Chaos Lord.
  • The All-Seeing A.I.:
    • In the first Dawn of War, the computer is unaffected by the fog of war and will always know where your units are, even the ones that are infiltrated. The computer even abuses this advantage by dropping Jump-capable or Teleport-capable units on top of you at any given opportunity. It also knows your army composition and specifically picks the proper heavy weapon upgrades for its squads (ie. if it's up against Chaos as Imperial Guard, it will upgrade its Guardsmen with plasma guns instead of grenade launchers).
    • Dawn of War II A.I. will always go for your resource points but will go to any lengths to avoid your exact line of sight. Simply placing a unit where they can see the point will deter the computer's efforts, at least until you move.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Of course it is, it's 40K. The most triumphant example is Isador, who wanted to claim the Maledictum and use its powers for good.
    • Several of Vance Stubbs' AARs indicate the good general sees the whole campaign as an excellent career opportunity.
    • In the first game, the only one who matches Isador's ambition is Sindri Myr, who not only played everyone as a sucker but also achieved his end goal and was only stopped by an entire Chapter of Marines and an Inquisitor's Daemonhammer.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: The ork commentary on the Big Bad Moon Shoota is confused as to it shoots moons that are big and bad, if it shoots moons while being big, or even if it's a big shoota that belongs to a Bad Moonz clan-affiliated ork.
  • Amusing Injuries: Cultists are quite fond of yelling "AUGH, MAH SPLEEN!!!"
  • Annoying Arrows: Wargear Upgrades like the Eldar Runes of Warding reduce the effectiveness of ranged attacks. Some of them are so effective that enemy bullets become nothing more than a trivial danger.
  • Antagonistic Governor: In Dark Crusade and Soulstorm, the Imperial Guard General in both campaigns are the military governors of the places being fought over, playing the trope straight if you're not playing as them. In II, the governor has been stealing Blood Ravens relics for a very long time, and forces his aide to delay them for as long as possible so he can go on vacation and escape their retribution. Having a single bullet from an Astartes-exclusive weapon is punishable by summary execution; he's got four suits of Terminator armor, which is incalculably more valuable.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Your ultimate global ability in the campaign of Retribution becomes free when you have to shoot the final boss with it.
  • Anti-Rage Quitting: In Dawn of War II, there is no save option in the campaign missions, and quitting counts as a loss. note 
  • Apocalyptic Log:
    • The opening cutscene for Dark Crusade, as well as a few of the location descriptions on the "Risk"-Style Map.
    • Chaos Rising has a few creepy ones from the Judgement of Carrion.
    • The Tyranid ending in Retribution is done like this. Ultimately, the Exterminatus fleet is driven away by the Hive Fleet, 94% of the Imperial Guard stationed in subsector Aurelia die before the surviving forces withdraw, and all loyalist Blood Ravens are killed while making a last stand. Presumably, the Tyranids then proceed to consume the sub-sector.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit:
    • In the first game, separate headcounts for vehicles and infantry, as well as caps on various units in Dark Crusade and Soulstorm.
    • In Dawn of War II and Chaos Rising, the campaign has a limit of four squads per mission and multiplayer has a 100-unit cap that effectively limits your force to about 9-10 squads. Retribution uses the multiplayer system for its campaign, with a lower 30-unit cap that can be increased by capturing certain buildings and/or using Honor Guard units in place of your Hero Units.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • The Imperium and the Forces of Chaos. Of all the forces the Imperium fights against, Chaos is fought most often and treated the most seriously. Their relationship with the Eldar and Orks is closer to The Usual Adversaries, while the Tyranids are an Outside-Context Problem.
    • The Eldar and the Necrons. In all three expansions of the first game, the former went on the warpath to stop the latter, and the after-action reports for the Necron and Eldar strongholds in Dark Crusade and Soulstorm (along with that of the Dark Eldar) mentions their conflict during the War in Heaven.
  • The Artifact: Imperial Guardsmen were introduced in Winter Assault, which takes place on an ice planet. Later expansions added every kind of biome, but their models are still seen rubbing themselves to keep warm or with a visible breath.
  • Artificial Brilliance: The AI in the first game is explicitly coded to avoid Suicidal Overconfidence.
    • It only intentionally engages the player in combat if the cumulative cost of its entire army is larger than the players unless the player attacks it first. But when it does, it brings its entire army. And yes, that does mean that taking casualties while attacking one of several AIs on a team will result in the other AIs immediately counterattacking the player's base with their entire army. Dark Crusade's campaign is so notorious for this due to its habit of pitting the player against two AI opponents when attacking high-value territories that battles can drag out for hours due to the player not being able to make any headway unless starting the match with a swift rush to knock one of the AIs out early on.
    • If the player attacks the AI and it moves to defend, any units that take even the slightest bit of damage will run away to the AI's nearest structure (which more often than not is a Listening Post, adding its firepower into the equation) in an attempt to pull the player into a chokepoint.
    • If the AI is on the offensive but takes so many casualties that its cumulative army cost drops too low relative to the player's, it will back off and retreat to rebuild instead of futilely pressing the attack.
    • If the AI has any units queued up for a deep strike, it will keep them on standby until it engages in battle, then drops them right next to the enemy (which is especially dangerous with Necron Flayed Ones which drain morale from nearby enemies and can break a much bigger infantry force's morale in seconds if allowed that close). It also knows how to use units that can jump or teleport and is scripted to immediately drop any such units right onto the nearest enemy unit on ranged stance to tie them up in melee and thus remove their firepower from the battle (and in the case of vehicles, restrict their movement so that they cannot run away). Note that jump units that are ranged specialists themselves such as Warp Spiders and Crisis Suits are specifically excluded from attempting this because they will not automatically engage in melee.
  • Artificial Insolence:
    • Due to units functioning as squads, individual units in a squad will often hold still or move the wrong way as they wait for their squadmates to catch up with them (such as after being blown away by an artillery blast). Unfortunately, this also means they don't attack despite being in range of an enemy until the squad is back together, but the enemy has no problems shooting them. Defeat-in-detail ensues.
    • Units ordered to attack a unit that's fallen down will rush forward to attack it in melee, no matter how suicidal this may be. Only when the target unit is standing up will they shoot at it normally.
  • Artificial Limbs: Lord General Castor of the Imperial Guard has an augmetic right arm, which he uses to hold and operate two-handed guns in one hand while holding an officer's power saber in the other.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • Units in just about every Dawn of War game ever have unbelievably bad pathfinding skills.
      • Trying to move a tank from your base to the front-lines is enough to scatter your carefully positioned defensive infantry line like roaches when the tank barges through them on the most direct route. Alternatively, the tank gets stuck and refuses to move out because the defenders are set to Hold the Line mode, marking them as immovable to allied units.
      • If you do manage to get past this issue, giving combined infantry and armor forces a shared move or attack command results in 1) them getting stuck in each other, again, 2) individual soldiers from stuck squads charging forward without attacking because they're waiting for their squad to regroup before doing anything, 3) units getting into combat with the enemy piecemeal instead of all at once because, well, most of them are stuck in each other somewhere way back, or 4) taking up positions spread out across several screens' worth of the battlefield, forcing you to collect and reposition them one by one to restore some semblance of order. It's so bad that attacking with armor or infantry only, while rarely ideal, still proves to be the most effective approach due to the massively improved control you have over your imbecile forces. Of course, not all factions have the luxury of being able to field infantry/tank units that can deal with anything equally well.
      • Even worse, sometimes this feeds into itself: targeting a squad that's spread out the entire length of the map results in the targeting unit moving towards the middle of the squad instead of killing the isolated units.
      • Ordering a squad to move one way will sometimes result in the units moving in the exact opposite direction.
    • The AI of the first game is set to prioritize more expensive units for production if it has a choice, which frequently results in the AI making nothing but hero units and sending them off to die every couple of seconds if it's backed into its own base.
    • The "jump/teleport everyone who can jump/teleport to the nearest unit on ranged stance" behavior mentioned under Artificial Brilliance does not check for the target actually being a squad better at ranged combat than melee, only its current stance. So setting a squad of melee specialists like Khorne Berzerkers on ranged stance will result in the AI jumping right next to them and getting cut down for their trouble. It also does not check whether the AI's units are actually effective against the target, which results in Predators getting mobbed by Stormboyz that can barely even scratch tanks.
    • The Assassination victory condition results in defeat if your Hero Unit dies, so the computer will always attach it to the first squad it builds. However, it never switches them, keeping them attached to their weakest unit for the rest of the game. For that matter, they always let said hero join attack heavily-defended bases instead of hiding them away.
    • Any unit told to attack a fallen unit will do so in melee, including those that have no business being in melee like Fire Warriors. Similarly, telling them to attack a squad that's been scattered will result in them moving forwards until they can attack the whole squad.
    • Units in melee combat tend to ignore orders telling them to attack a different target than the one they're engaged with.
    • The Imperial Guard, Chaos, and Necron AIs are prone to getting their tanks stuck behind their own buildings. The Eldar do the same with their Avatar, though in this case it's not as stupid as keeping the Avatar alive gives better bonuses than combat.
    • Tau armies always send their Ethereal into melee, never give the Commander extra weapons, and never increase their Kroot squads' HP through cannibalism.
    • The computer abuses their ability to see the whole map by dropping Jump-capable and Teleport-capable units on top of your nearest ones. This is normally devastating if the attacked unit is alone and bad at melee but it becomes a minor annoyance if you have overwhelming superiority in numbers.
      • The AI also seems to be scripted to jump or teleport to the lowest-health unit it can see as soon as it is in range. This can result in scenes like a Necron Lord completely ignoring a wall of Fire Warriors trying to gank the lone Earth Caste Builder behind them, teleporting to the Builder, hitting it once, then aggroing onto the Fire Warriors.
    • Your artillery units will gleefully fire into swarms of your own infantry to hit a single enemy scout, scattering your infantry and destroying their morale.
    • Infantry in II automatically Take Cover! on their own to free up some micromanagement. Unfortunately, they may do so even as a ranged squad under attack by a melee squad which is pitiful at range, causes them to waste time running into cover when they should just be shooting continuously... and the cover they choose to get behind can be closer to the enemy melee squad, making it easier for the melee squad to tie up the rest of the individual's squad and force them all into melee combat (which, as a ranged squad, they will probably lose at).
    • A.I. Opponents in II will also do this aplenty in Multiplayer mode. Difficulty primarily dictates what units the enemy will build. Easy will have the enemy send in their most basic troops to be sacrificed on the guns of your own. Normal lets them use some of the more powerful infantry. Hard starts adding in vehicles (typically, a transport or two, and their top-level, limit 1 vehicle/monster.) Expert has them willing to use all units, and tend to be a bit more aggressive at pushes.
      • Which leads us to the second issue. The A.I. appears to have three combat "strategies". Strategy 1, they trickle units towards your base, one at a time, and form a neat orderly line. Sometimes this is of some concern (Say, Ork Killa Kans, or a Battlewagon). Most of the time though, they'll be content sending an infantry unit, no matter how poorly suited they are for the task, to try and take tiny little nibbles out of your base's H Ps. Say, Ripper Swarms happily accepting the Emperor's fury at small annoying creatures, via two to three Twin-Linked Heavy Bolter Turrets, in less than 5 seconds. Strategy 2, has them run about capturing Power and Resource nodes, then immediately retreating, with no defense left to watch over them. Strategy 3, and perhaps the most annoying especially in Annihilate victory conditions (and one commonly seen when they have allies), is to just sit at their base, and build units, sending only their Commander unit, and maybe a heavy unit or two out to do anything else. It's annoying because it means you'll take heavy losses unless you have a forward respawn unit with them and keeping everyone healed and repaired, but once you bleed the enemy out of a lot of expensive units, it becomes easy to start blasting apart anything that does get called in at their base. Plus they tend to group up so nicely together for Orbital Bombardments.
  • Artistic License – Military: In-Universe, the Alpha Legion are supposed to be pragmatic combatants who are masters of Confusion Fu and stealth. However Lord Bale shows no sign of such, being a General Failure who lets his Hyper-Competent Sidekick Sindri Myr do all the planning. The same applies to Firaeveus Carron mentioned below.
  • Artistic License – Religion: In-Universe. Firaeveus Carron is quite possibly the least knowledgeable Khornate ever, what with building temples to Khorne (Khorne explicitly does not want temples built to him, as time spent building them is time not spent fighting and shedding blood) and claiming that they will choke the enemy to death (a method of killing that results in no bloodshed and no skulls to take). To make matters worse, the aforementioned temples are used to project a shield (because hiding behind defenses is completely and absolutely how to endear yourself to the god of Villainous Valour) that poisons any non-Chaos units that step inside it (again, no blood or skulls. Also, that's Nurgle's thing, so the "sacrifices" would be going to him and not Khorne). And to top it all off, upon his stronghold's defeat, Carron flees like a Dirty Coward while crying about Chaos abandoning him. You know you've failed as a follower of Khorne when your Chaos cultists show more bravery in standing their ground and fighting to the last man.
  • Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?:
    Gorgutz: I got me da skullz of all da warbosses I killed, Sturnn'z skull and dat Farseer'z skull. So who I missin'? Oh yeah! Dat git Crull. I need 'iz skull fer me pointy stik! And you know how I'm gettin' him ta come after me?
    Stupid: ...Yer gonna call 'im a grot?
  • Ascended Extra: Sgt. Merrick, a Mauve Shirt Imperial Guardsman from the Dawn of War II campaign who was present at the Tyranid incursion at Angel Gate as well as supporting the Blood Ravens during their suicide-mission strike at the heart of the Hive Fleet, becomes a playable hero character for the Imperial Guard faction in the Retribution expansion.
  • Ascended Glitch: Due to a bug in the physics engine, corpses in II will occasionally float around the screen for a while before disappearing. Relic proceeded to deliberately use the effect for the Ork Weirdboy's death animation.
  • Ascended Meme: A lot in Retribution:
    • Order the Commissar Lord Hero into a Chimera (an APC) and he will say, "Drive me closer! I want to hit them with my sword!". This is a reference to an image depicting a Commissar waving his sword from atop a Leman Russ with the line captioned underneath.
    • One of the Ork's beamy deffguns is called the "Box Smasha", described as being used for taking away the humans' "metal boxes", which means that the meme note  has gone full recursive.
    • The Last Stand mode introduces a Tau Crisis Suit Commander as a hero unit, available through DLC. He has a couple of associated Steam achievements, one of which is called "Dynamic Entry", in reference to this popular customized tabletop model. The achievement requires that he duplicate the action in that picture by landing on and killing a hundred different units, and is rewarded with an additional piece of wargear for doing so.
    • The term "Magpies", as a way to describe the Blood Ravens and their memetic reputation for Kleptomania, has been used once by way of a side mission against an Ork Force on Meridian during the Space Marine Campaign of Retribution:
      Ork Nob: Keep dese thievin' magpies off da last node!
  • As You Know:
    • Indrick Boreale's memetic speech in Soulstorm has him saying it word for word when reminding his troops about their reinforcements in space, who are prepared to quickly drop onto the battlefield.
    • Also used, with less gusto, by the regimental commissar in the Guard's stronghold intro telling the General that only the best-trained crews can serve Baneblades, and by Or'es'ka telling Aun'royr about the state of their reinforcement fleet. Lampshaded by General Stubbs who cuts off the Commissar to remind him he already knows so explaining it further isn't necessary.
  • A-Team Firing: The Orks of Warhammer 40,000 generally don't really 'aim', but Dawn of War II has an ability for the 'Shoota Boyz' squad called "Aiming? Wot'z dat?" if they are upgraded with a Big Shoota, which allows them to suppress an enemy squad (because of their previous aiming abilities, or lack thereof, apparently made their fire not all that threatening. Strangely, it also reduces their damage until the squad is suppressed, so More Dakka was apparently working for them pretty well.)
  • Attack Pattern Alpha:
    • "Initiating attack protocol 23" (Space Marines) and "Phoenix pattern, initiated" (Eldar).
    • There's even a non-offensive variant from the Space Marine Servitor; "Build routine 721note  initiated."
  • Auto-Doc:
    • Eldar Webway Gates can be upgraded to provide a healing aura.
    • In Retribution, the Imperial Guard can build bunkers, which can be upgraded with medical stations to provide a similar healing aura.
  • Atop a Mountain of Corpses: For a given value of "top". The trailer for Dawn of War 3 begins and ends with a large, hollow mountain being filled by a constant rain of Astartes, Ork, and Eldar corpses of all kinds, ranging from infantry to Wraithknights.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • An undeniable case would be sync kills from Dawn Of War II onwards - they look very cool, and the unit performing it cannot die until the animation is finished, but they still can change your sweeping advance from annihilating to just devastating against retreating units, or make it easier for the unit to be killed by retaliation due to being forced to be completely stationary for a couple of seconds instead of retreating.
    • The Tau's Knarloc is, for all intents and purposes, a T-Rex that eats enemy units alive and makes satisfyingly loud booms as it approaches. Unfortunately, it has the least HP of any relic unitnote , has no ranged attack at all, and is so slow it spends most of its time turning around.
    • A fully upgraded Tau commander has three independently-targeting weapons that can, in theory, all be used against the same target. The overlap between the flamer and the missiles is very small, however.
    • The two heavy Tau battlesuits count as infantry, which means they can't be repaired by worker units, but they're also the only infantry units other than the Chaos worker unit that don't self-heal at all. It's not that much of an issue for the Broadside suits - their huge range and insane damage output should keep them out of harm's way most of the time anyway - but the Crisis suits are generally deployed to the front-line and therefore liable to take a beating that they can never recover from.
    • Autocannons in Dawn of War II look cool and fire explosive rounds but are actually worse than Heavy Bolters because they do not suppress the targeted group. They're something of a Jack of All Stats that can deal with both vehicles and infantry but not as well as dedicated weapons.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: The Orks have the Trukk; the Marines, Sisters of Battle, and Chaos Marines have the Rhino (Dawn of War II and its expansions have the Space Marines using the Razorback variant, and the Chaos Marines stuck to foot-slogging); and the Imperial Guard have the Chimera. Space Marines also have the Land Raider (Redeemer variant in Dawn of War II). Tau Devilfish, while invisible, are decidedly non-boxy, as are the jump-capable Eldar and Dark Eldar transports.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: In the final cinematic for the Space Marine campaign in Retribution, Gabriel Angelos becomes Chapter Master.
  • Ax-Crazy: Chaos Space Marines. They won't even deny it.
    Chaos Space Marines: Sanity... is for the weak!
    Chaos Space Marines: I feel the Warp overtaking me... it is a good pain!
    • Hell, nearly all of the Chaos faction. The daemons are probably sane but still evil.
  • Badass Boast: Everyone, and every single unit. Except for the Chaos Cultists.
    • Space Marine Dreadnoughts in the second game do this a lot:
      "I will endure a thousand deaths before I yield."
      "That thing is no more terrible than I."
      "Faith is what fans the guttering spark of my existence."
    • In addition to the requisite "I fear no evil, for I am fear incarnate!" speech from Space Marines, the Vindicare Assassin unit of the Imperial Guard gets a good one.
      Assassin: They will quake at my shadow.
    • Merrick gets a brilliant one in Retribution, made better for being just a regular soldier preparing to engage the Big Bad.
      Merrick: He might be waiting for us, but he isn't ready for us.
    • Let's not forget Governor-Militant Alexander's opening address to you when you attack his stronghold in Dark Crusade.
      Alexander: Enemies of the Imperium, hear me. You have come here to die. The immortal Emperor is with us and we are invincible. His soldiers will strike you down. His war machines will crush you under their treads. His mighty guns will bring the very sky crashing down upon you. You cannot win. The Emperor has given us His greatest weapon to wield, so make yourselves ready, we are the 1st Kronus Regiment, and today is our Victory Day!
    • The Baneblade gets a lot of these.
      Baneblade: Ready to unleash eleven barrels of Hell!
      Baneblade: Who's DYING NOW!?
    • Pretty much anything the Daemon Prince says:
      Daemon Prince: Despair, for I am the end of days!
      Daemon Prince: They hear their doom approaching.
    • Eliphas, not content to have the sexiest voice in all of DoW, speaks like the fearless Badass he is:
      Eliphas: Can no one offer me a challenge?
    • Check out this exchange:
      Davian Thule: We will send you back to your craftworld in a tomb!
      Farseer Taldeer: I have known my death for ten of your lifetimes, captain. Don't think to scare me with it.
    • Not to mention the Eldar Warlock in Dawn of War II:
      Eldar Warlock: Neither killing nor dying frightens me. Feel my wrath, humans!
      Eldar Warlock: Feel the force of a disciplined mind!
    • Archon Tahril gets a good one:
      Archon Tahril: I am the deadly shadow and the bird of prey! I am the poisoned dagger that brings sweet death!
    • Ork Nobz in the sequel after killing Space Marines:
      Nobz: Angels of Death, me shiny green arse!
    • Or the Nobz getting attacked in melee:
      Nobz: You're gonna chop me?! I'M GONNA KILL YOU!
  • Badass Creed: The Blood Ravens have two. The first, representing the dark, secretive nature of the chapter, is "Knowledge is power, guard it well," which serves as a grim foreshadowing of the corruption running deep in the chapter. Internal reformers like Gabriel Angelos, and later, Apollo Diomedes, have another, which is far more badass, declaring their intention to reforge their chapter into one worthy of respect: "None shall find us wanting."
  • Badass Normal: Sergeant Merrick of the 85th Vendoland in Dawn of War II and its expansions. This guy survived a Tyranid invasion, fought through The Corruption, lived through the next 10 years of constant war, and even survives being mauled by Tyranids and an Earth-Shattering Kaboom in Retribution's Imperial Guard campaign.
  • Badass Preacher: The Space Marine Chaplain and Imperial Guard Priest, who debuted Winter Assault, and the Sisters of Battle Missionary and Confessor, both members of the Ecclesiarchy, from Soulstorm. However, the one everyone remembers best is none other than Eliphas the Inheritor of the Word Bearers Chaos Legion, who debuted in Dark Crusade.
  • Badass Teacher: Cyrus gets VERY angry when the Black Legion starts attacking initiates (many of whom he had personally trained). So angry that not letting him join to kick their ass causes corruption.
  • Bad Boss:
    • Chaos Lord Bale has a cultist that delivers bad news killed.
    • Chaos Lord Crull orders the execution of a Chaos Space Marine that got stepped on by Gorgutz for "embarrassing" him.
    • Abbadon, when he appears in Retribution, also fits, no surprise given all the fluff goes into what a jerk he is, threatening to kill Eliphas every time he talks to him.
    • Eliphas himself counts towards Kain and Neroth. Given that he constantly derides their fighting prowess and he basically kills them in the ending for his campaign.
    • And of course, Commissars can restore morale not only to their squad but surrounding ones as well by executing a random soldier in it.
  • Bag of Spilling:
    • Unlike Dark Crusade expansion released before it, in Soulstorm, all captured points and non-pre-deployed buildings are removed when you beat a map, forcing you to restart almost from scratch.
    • Most of the loot acquired in the Dawn of War II campaign is missing if you import a completed campaign into Chaos Rising. Justified since the Strike Cruiser they were stored in self-destructs during the final mission. You also begin with your Terminator armor damaged and unusable until you acquire Martellus to fix it.
    • In Retribution's Space Marine campaign, Cyrus has lost not only all of his equipment but all of his skills as well. The same goes for Tarkus.
  • Balance Buff: In Soulstorm, Khornate Berserkers were given the Mark of Khorne ability, which scares enemies away when used. The Necron Lord was given the ability to channel the C'tan Deceiver in addition to the Nightbringer (the Nightbringer is invincible Grim Reaper, the Deceiver can temporarily Mind Control an enemy and summon a fake Monolith).
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: In Dawn of War II, your Marines in Terminator armor can destroy cover by just walking through it.
  • Base on Wheels: Fully upgraded Necron Monoliths in Dark Crusade and Soul Storm become mobile artillery platforms, while retaining the ability to produce units.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: Some Strongholds have a secret weapon which you can take control of and use against the defending force. This includes the Titan cannon in the Imperial Guard stronghold and Space Marine Orbital Relay of Dark Crusade and the orbital defense system (which can fire on other planets) in the Tau stronghold in Soulstorm.
  • Betrayal by Inaction:
    • Sindri's last sacrifice to the Chaos Gods is his master, Lord Bale, whom he leaves when Bale is surrounded by the Blood Ravens. This is what Sindri is most remembered for. (Or more accurately, thanks to Bale's cry of "SIIINDRIII!")
    • In Winter Assault, this happens whichever faction you're fighting as in the penultimate level. Both sides consist of two factions nominally allied with each other, and whichever faction you're playing as at the end goes through the gate towards the Titan, leaving the other one fighting off Orks and Chaos/Imperial Guardsmen and Eldar (though if Chaos wins, the Orks turn on each other as well).
    • In Chaos Rising, Eliphas, the Obviously Evil Treacherous Advisor to Araghast, allows him to die at the hands of the Blood Ravens when he refuses to open a portal again. As fans like to say, Araghast was Sindri'd by Eliphas.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones:
    • The Necrons don't have any unit quotes apart from mechanical beeping noises. The Tyranids make a lot of shrieks and growls but only the Hive Mind speaks at all. Both of them can still mop the floor with their opponents.
    • The Necron Lord has all of two lines in Dark Crusade (Tomas Maccabee is usually his Mouth of Sauron). He makes said noises at Eliphas, who is terrified of the first time, and responds with "This Cannot Be!" the second.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Right at the beginning of the original Dawn of War campaign, the Imperial Guard are trying (and failing) to fight off a mob of Orks attacking the Tartarus Spaceport; cue the arrival of the Blood Ravens by mass drop-pods and them mopping up the assailants.
    • In the intro to Dawn of War II; there's a point where the Space Marine Sergeant is being chased by a pair of Eldar Howling Banshees, and then a Dreadnought that wasn't taking part in the early fight shows up out of nowhere (literally bursting through a cliff face!) and kills both of the Eldar.
    • This is based on the opening for the original Dawn of War, where Orks are trying to overrun a Space Marine position down a hill. When jumping up to attack, automatic fire literally blasts them away. Then, a Dreadnought shows up and joins the fight.
    • Gabriel Angelos and the chapter fleet couldn't have picked a better, more dramatic moment for their arrival, really.
    • Lampshaded in an early mission in the same game; one of the squads you pick up introduces himself by dropping in via Jump Pack and slashing up a mob of Orks attacking you from a cliff. He then jumps down and properly joins your force.
      Tarkus: Ork gunners on the ridge! Take cover!
      ???: Fury from the sky!! Cut them down! (THUMP!) Sergeant Thaddeus, reporting for duty, Commander.
      Avitus: Did you have a pleasant rest, waiting for the most dramatic moment to strike?
      Thaddeus: Good to see you too, Avitus.
    • The Force Commander and his strike force pull two epic ones on Meridian. The first being when they arrive to save Angel's Gate from the Tyranids. Rescuing the defenders, and holding back gate until it can be closed. The second coming in Chaos Rising where the player can help defend the capital against chaos forces. Killing hundreds of traitors and chaos marines alongside guard forces at the feet of the Governor's Palace.
    • While the Hive Tyrant isn't exactly difficult unless you're under-leveled, seeing Davian Thule, newly entombed as a Dreadnought, deep striking into the battlefield and absolutely wrecking the Tyrant's shit singlehandedly is undoubtedly impressive.
  • Beneficial Disease: In Retribution, the healing of Chaos units is done through the powers of Nurgle, by means of Nurgle's Rot. The infected units get back to the fight as their senses get numbed to the pain and their wounds get sealed by cancerous growths.
  • BFS:
    • Space Marines usually wield oversized blades one-handed. Even their basic combat knife is pretty big by normal human standards.
    • Imperial Guard Priests and Sisters of Battle Repentia carry oversized two-handed Eviscerator chainswords.
    • In Dawn of War II, the Wraithlord wields a sword about half as big as itself.
    • The Eldar Avatar of Khaine in both games and Chaos's Great Unclean One in II has the biggest swords around.
  • BFG: Heavy weapons in general, like Heavy Bolters and Lascannons.
    • The Assault Cannon used by the Space Marine Terminators deserve special mention.
    • In Dawn of War II, Devastator Marines can have Plasma Cannons, which certainly qualify even by Space Marine standards.
    • The Sniper Rifle Cyrus carries is almost as big as he is.
    • None of these can hold a candle to the Hellstorm Cannon unearthed near the Imperial Guard's stronghold on Kronus in Dark Crusade. It's an Imperator Titan-scaled, gatling-style Energy Weapon with a muzzle bore wide enough to drive a heavy battle tank through with generous room to spare. It can only fire down the giant trench in front of its barrels, but even being vaguely near the discharge will One-Hit Kill absolutely anything in the game.
  • Bigger Is Better: Shoota Boyz actually say this when upgraded with 'Big Shootas', which are clear improvements from their regular Shootas.
  • Big Bad: Generally one or two per game.
    • Chaos Lord Bale for Dawn of War until his role is usurped by SIIIINDRIIIII!!!
    • In Winter Assault, either Chaos Lord Crull, Warboss Gorgutz 'Ead 'Unter, or the Necrons as a whole.
    • Dark Crusade had a campaign for each faction, but either Eliphas the Inheritor, Gorgutz 'Ead 'Unter, or the Necron Lord of Kronus could be considered.
    • No one force is most responsible for the events of Dawn of War II, though the most threatening is probably the Tyranid Hive Mind.
    • Chaos Rising has Ulkair, the Great Unclean One and tainted Blood Raven Chapter Master Azariah Kyras.
    • Kyras is once again the Big Bad of Retribution. It is revealed that he has been collaborating with the daemon released from the Maledictum in Dawn of War, and they both have secretly manipulated the events of the entire series up to that point.
  • Bigger Than Jesus: In Winter Assault, Gorgutz' Number Two tells him he's bigger than established-in-setting Warbosses Nazdreg and Ghazghkull. Gorgutz retorts that no one's bigger than Ghazghkull... yet.
  • Big Good: Gabriel Angelos in Dawn of War II and its expansions. In Retribution's Space Marine campaign, he becomes the new Chapter Master of the Blood Ravens after Kyras is destroyed.
  • Big "NO!": Gabriel Angelos invokes this trope during the final mission of Dawn of War.
  • Bling of War: Some of the higher-level armor that the player can equip in Dawn of War II and its expansions goes into this territory, such as having inlays of elaborate gold sculptures. The Force Commanders from Dawn of War and its expansions have this by default.
  • Blood from the Mouth: The Carnifex horks up a veritable torrent of vomit and blood when killed.
  • Blown Across the Room:
    • Airstrikes, artillery, grenades, and some of the less subtle guns can knock down and scatter most infantry squads.
    • When a Tyranid synapse creature like a Warrior or Zoanthrope dies, it sends out a shockwave that does this to nearby non-synapse Tyranids.
  • Body Armor as Hit Points: In Dawn of War and its expansions, armor upgrades increase unit HP, instead of reducing the damage received outright. Averted in Dawn of War II onwards.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Played straight twice, and subverted once.
  • Bombardier Mook:
    • The Imperial Guard gets a Marauder bomber as its air unit, which can perform bombing runs using incendiary, krak, or smoke bombs, but otherwise uses its guns to defend itself.
    • The ork Fighta-Bomma is a flying artillery unit, slowly firing highly-unaccurate Grot Bombs at targets from very long distances.
  • Bond One-Liner: Dawn of War II forwards, this was a fairly common way for units to announce a confirmed kill. Chaos, with Eliphas in particular, gains bonus points for having the best.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Units with Sniper Rifles can one-shot many infantry targets.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • For all the awesome units the Space Marines can get throughout the series, you'll nearly always find yourself having a use for your Tactical Marines, especially in the campaign of Dawn of War II. Sergeant Tarkus and his Tactical Marines may not have the best weapons or explosives, but they can be upgraded to be the toughest troops in your entire strike force.
    • The Tau get some of the most awesome upper-tier units in the game, but a fighting force composed almost entirely of Fire Warriors led by a Tau Commander with Kroot Carnivores and Vespid Stingwings as support fighters can win a game at virtually every tier, so long as the relevant upgrades are purchased.
    • Certain attachable units like Kroot Shapers for the Tau and Apothecaries for the Space Marines aren't particularly flashy but provide useful general-purpose bonuses that can give the attached-to squad a real tactical advantage.
    • Necron Builder Scarabs have far more uses than the average Worker Unit. They're the only Necron unit capable of capturing strategic points, as well as being one of their only detectors. As such, they're the only worker to become an Honour Guard unit in campaign mode, such is their importance.
  • Boss-Arena Idiocy:
    • In an early level in Retribution, blowing up targeting cogitators causes nearby turrets to fire at the player's enemies. It might not be such a good idea to park your Baneblade in a potential crossfire between them.
    • The Deadly Dodging that helps beat Daisy the Battlewagon more easily, though if you have something that can stun it, you can just keep Cherry Tapping it forever.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Everything that can shoot, can do so indefinitely. Cleverly subverted in Dawn of War II onwards, where units frequently stop shooting to reload (although they still never run out of replacement magazines). Several weapons in the various campaigns do not require reloading and can keep firing indefinitely, though this is usually offset by shorter range or having to set it up. For instance, The Never-Ending Hail of Devastation item never has to reload. There is no good explanation for this aside from making it all the more impressive as an Infinity +1 Sword among heavy bolters.
  • Brain Monster: The Weirdboy in 2 has an upgrade called Bigger Brains, the icon for which shows his brain swelling out of his skull.
  • Break Meter: The Morale Meter. In addition to hit points the player has to manage their squad's Morale points which, if depleted, squads will die twice as quick and deal barely any damage at best. Space Marines can add sergeants who can rally their Battle-Brothers to victory.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Messing around with targeting your ultimate global ability on Daemon Prince Kyras has the main hero of the campaign give you shit for it.
  • Bring It: One of the Space Marines battle quotes.
    Space Marine: Come! Show me what passes for fury among your misbegotten kind!
  • Bug War: The main plot of Dawn of War II. Still happening on a smaller-scale in Chaos Rising, which also has a classic redux of Space Hulk, and Retribution, which also lets you play it from the Bugs' point of view in the Tyranid campaign.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • The Imperial Guard, played seriously. Consistently low/bottom tier in the first game, they have in-game models in the second game but were not playable until Retribution.
    • Chaos Cultists, the only units in the first game to have their role listed as "meat shield".

    C &

  • The Cameo:
    • The Nightbringer was the only C'tan to appear in Dark Crusade, but the Necron Stronghold featured "beacons" dedicated to the Deceiver and the Void Dragon. The Deceiver later got added to the game in Soulstorm.
    • In Soulstorm Farseer Caerys can obtain a Shuriken Pistol said to have been used by Eldrad Ulthuan, the leader of Craftworld Ulthwé.
    • Some Eldar units which never made it into either game, such as Swooping Hawks, get Aspect Stones in Retribution that Kayleth can equip as Commander items. The same is true of other units that were left out of Dawn of War II, such as Fire Dragons.
  • Campfire Character Exploration: When the Space Marines are trapped onboard the Space Hulk having finally witnessed that their Chapter Master is a servant of Chaos, Diomedes (who's still undergoing a Heroic BSoD) tells them to wait for reinforcements. This causes the Ancient Tarkus from the previous games to break his vow of silence,, and snap Diomedes from his funk.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: Kroot Carnivore squads can eat the flesh of units from other factions (allied or enemies) to gain a health bonus which is then spread to all existing and future Kroot Carnivore squads.
  • Carnivorous Healing Factor: Kroot units gain hit points, including increasing their maximum HP, by consuming corpses.
  • Catchphrase: The Blood Ravens get one in Retribution, even spoken in Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine.
    Blood Ravens: None shall find us wanting.
  • Canon: The Dawn of War series' multiple endings have always been vague with its canon, but a few things are known.
    • Gabriel Angelos "won" the first game on Tartarus, releasing the Daemon in the Maledictum in the process.
    • The Eldar won Winter Assault, since Dark Crusade mentions the 1st Kronus Liberators were initially assigned to hunt Taldeer down for vengeance. Although the Orks didn't win the campaign overall, they still beat the Chaos Space Marines. Gorgutz killed Crull and took his skull, and takes to fight in Dark Crusade and Soulstorm.
      • The Hammer of the Emperor sourcebook for Only War mentions that the 412th were betrayed and driven off the planet by the Eldar after reaching the Titan and fending off the Necrons, according to the few survivors. Sturnn was among the casualties of this betrayal. Bear in mind, however, that Games-Workshop has stated on the record that all codices reports are written as in-universe propaganda.
      • However, Dawn of War II: Retribution claims the Imperium to have won Winter Assault courtesy of lore description on the item Shield of Sturnn, which states "This armor belonged to General Sturnn of 412th Cadian, who heroically led his regiment to recover a fallen Imperator Titan on Lorn V." As this is in-game, it has better canon standing.
    • The Blood Ravens won in Dark Crusade, and slaughtered pretty much everyone else, including the Imperial Guard, in the process.
    • As was revealed in Dawn of War III, Gorgutz triumphed in the Kaurava conflict in Soulstorm. The Blood Ravens were defeated and lost three whole companies, leaving the chapter dangerously undermanned.
    • The Blood Ravens manage to stop the Tyranids in Dawn of War II.
    • In Chaos Rising, the Force Commander slew Ulkair with a Thunder Hammer, then was sent on a hundred-year penitent crusade into the Eye of Terror along with Thaddeus for having been touched by Chaos. Avitus despaired at his role in the Kronus campaign and betrayed the Blood Ravens. Tarkus killed him then took a vow of penance. Diomedes is not killed or corrupted by Galan.
    • The victor of Retribution is uncertain, but we know that neither Eliphas nor the Tyranids won since the Blood Ravens appear in the subsequent Space Marine, which also mentions the Aurelian Crusade.note 
      • The Deathwatch sourcebook, Honour The Chapter includes rules and fluff for the Blood Ravens and mentions the events of Retribution and Angelos' ascension to Chapter Master. While a sidebar mentions that the RPG's setting material assumes a campaign set in 817.M41 (at least a century or so before the Dawn of War games), this does make it seem that the Space Marine ending is the canonical one. It would also fix that mis-print in White Dwarf around the first game's release that referred to Angelos as Chapter Master instead of a Captain.
      • Dawn of War III confirms that Gabriel is now Chapter Master and that Diomedes' remark of no longer being able to serve the chapter in the same manner as before at the end of his campaign in Retribution meant Diomedes becoming a Chaplain. Jonah is also confirmed to have survived the final battle despite his injuries and is now Chief Librarian of the Blood Ravens.
  • Canon Immigrant:
    • The Blood Ravens chapter of Space Marines were specifically created by Relic for exclusive use in the Dawn of War series. Since the series began, they have been acknowledged as a small part of the wider WH40K canon, being mentioned in a few novels and having their color scheme displayed in the core rulebook.
    • Games Workshop has since produced a miniature for the Eldar Bonesinger, introduced in the first game.
  • Cap Raiser: Infantry and vehicles use separate caps, limited to 20 for both (usually). However, each faction uses a different way to achieve maximum cap:
    • Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, and Sisters of Battle use research to increase each cap by 5.
    • Every Webway Gate built by the Eldar increases their cap further. The Avatar of Khaine also increases both caps by 4 (but since it costs 5, it actually only decreases it by 1).
    • The Orks increase their cap by building WAAAGH! Banners. They have a maximum of 100 cap, since unlike other factions, each individual ork in a squad takes up 1-2 population. Some units are only available past a certain amount of units, and a bug allows a player to save and load a game, resetting the cap to zero, allowing them to train hundreds of units.
    • The Tau and Dark Eldar increase their cap via upgrade buildings.
    • Every production building built by the Imperial Guard increases the corresponding cap by 2.
    • The Necrons' cap increases with every Obelisk they build.
  • Cast from Sanity:
    • Psykers lose morale when casting lightning (the original effect, still present in the tooltip, was a possibility of killing the psyker).
    • In Chaos Rising, you can find Chaos-corrupted wargear, which tends to be much better than standard equipment, but causes the character to fall towards Chaos and gain evil traits and abilities, along with determining the identity of the traitor in the team. Conversely, you can find "penitent" equipment that restricts the character's stats, but reduces their corruption.
  • Casting Gag:
    • The fact that the Commissars in the first game are voiced by the same guy who did M. Bison in the Street Fighter cartoon is probably not a coincidence.
    • Certainly no more coincidental than Bluddflagg sharing his voice actor with Garrosh Hellscream from World of Warcraft.
  • The Cavalry:
    • Played with in the canon ending of Winter Assault, where Sturnn and the Imperial Guard show up with the full intention of fighting the Eldar, but Taldeer convinces them to help her fight the Necrons instead.
    • Whenever a Leman Russ is deployed in Dawn of War's expansions:
  • Chainsaw Good: Many units have a Chainsword, but of note is the Eviscerator model wielded by the Imperial Guard Priest and the Sisters Repentia squad from the Sisters of Battle.
  • Character Exaggeration: The Memetic Mutation at the expense of Indrick Boreale — his accent is very obvious and a bit silly, but the jokes about it make it sound like his voice actor was on helium or something.
  • A Chat with Satan: In the Chaos campaign for Retribution, Eliphas talks with Ulkair (a Greater Daemon of Nurgle), offering it a chance to join their fight against the now Khorne-aligned marines. Ulkair thinks this is a splendid idea.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Dawn of War II loading screen introducing Tarkus mentions that he earned a Crux Terminatus badge during the Kronus campaign. During the battle for Angel Forge, he's forced to choose between guarding a stolen collection of chapter relics or abandoning it to Ork looters to go help his fellow Blood Ravens fighting Idranel, who already predicted that Tarkus' sense of honor is too strong to abandon his post. Tarkus instead chose to Take a Third Option and join the fight while simultaneously guarding said relics by wearing them on his person. The relics in question? Terminator armor, which only Space Marines who earned a Crux Terminatus are even trained to operate. This catches the Farseer completely by surprise and she openly admits it as such before Tarkus personally delivers the killing blow.
  • Chunky Updraft:
    • Tau and Space Marine orbital bombardments, followed by a Pillar of Light from the Kill Sat.
    • Eldar Farseers (and other psykers equipped with certain wargear) have powers that work like this in Dawn of War II.
  • Church Militant: The Sisters of Battle in Soulstorm. There's also the Imperial Guard Priest, who wields an Eviscerator, improves squad attack power, and can temporarily make the squad he's attached to completely immune to damage.
  • Civil Warcraft:
    • In Winter Assault, Gorgutz puts his first WAAAGH! together by destroying the Big Bannerz of the five largest ork clans on Lorn V leading to brief skirmishes with the groups in question, and his army turns on him if Crull beats him to the Gate. In Dark Crusade, his followers likewise turn against him if you destroy their banners during the Ork stronghold mission, and the Eldar stronghold shows that some of his men were lured away by Eldar warlocks to serve as cat's-paws and soften up their enemies in the event that someone attacked their stronghold; Gorgutz can stomp them in kind and persuade some of his men to rejoin the WAAAGH!.
    • In Dark Crusade, the Eldar also manipulate a small Chaos cult to fight their enemies for them. They are opposed to Eliphas' Word Bearer Legion, and you still have to fight them if you play as Chaos.
    • In Chaos Rising, you finally get to fulfill Avitus' dream and smash some traitor Guardsmen (that use equipment identical to that of the loyal Guardsmen).
    • Also in Chaos Rising: one mission has you leading your squads against another company of Blood Ravens. How you choose to handle this can have grave repercussions on your corruption rating.
    • In Retribution, you will be fighting your fellow Space Marines or Imperial Guardsmen who have (knowingly or not) turned traitor by following Kyras, or Eldar forces fighting against other Eldar. Chaos fighting against other Chaos forces and the Freeboota Orks fighting against other Orks won't be marked as a spoiler; Chaos is, after all, Chaos, and it's to be expected that Orks fight each other. The Tyranids also fight against fellow Tyranids at moments when the Hive Mind's control over them is broken.
  • Clown Car: Played straight with some transport units in Dawn of War II onwards, which can also reinforce nearby infantry squads. Presumably soldiers are disembarking from the transport to reinforce understrength squads on foot, but those transports never run out of replacements to deploy as necessary unless the player is out of resources.
  • Cold Sniper: Besides the Vindicare, Cyrus in Dawn of War II goes into this... though played with in that Cyrus is clearly the most worried character about the Tyranids.
  • Colon Cancer: Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War: Winter Assault
  • Combat Pragmatist: The Blood Ravens' approach to warfare is very much like those of good RTS players. Unlike the Space Wolves' or Blood Angels' ferocious charges, the Blood Ravens focus on analyzing and targeting weak points in enemy lines, applying pressure where needed to break apart far larger forces with minimal casualties. The best example of this comes from Dawn of War II's campaign, where a strike force consisting of 11 Marines, 3 Scouts, and 1 Dreadnought was able to hold off a sector-wide Tyranid invasion (with Ork infestations and Eldar interventions on top of that) by striking at key targets until the much larger relief force arrives.
  • A Commander Is You:
    • Space Marines:
      • Numbers: Balanced, edging slightly towards Elitist. Their squads are expensive, especially the elite ones, but tend to be slightly above-average in every respect.
      • Doctrine: Generalist with a dash of Brute and Loyal. Overall the Space Marines' combat doctrine can be summed up as Boring, but Practical en masse. They're designed for fighting and as such, their various upgrades tend to be a dozen individual upgrades for squads, sergeants, and Commanders that all add up over time. Basic Space Marine squads can be upgraded to be effective against any units, and most of their units feature at least one optional upgrade that lets them realign their weapons output as needed. Sergeants for basic Space Marine and Assault Marine squads also have the Rally! ability that lets them instantly restore their squad's moral and make them immune to morale damage for a time. Their final building gives them the option of sending units anywhere on the battlefield via Drop Pod, but can also train Space Marine squads and Dreadnoughts, letting them send reinforcements directly to the frontline.
    • Eldar:
      • Numbers: Elitist. Their units and buildings are very expensive, and due to their need to build Webway Gates to spread their control area and unlock the right to recruit any units besides their basic troops and Worker Unit, they guzzle Requisition and can take a long time to get going. That being said, their units tend to be very powerful and adaptable once they actually hit the field.
      • Doctrine: Unit Specialist and Technical, with some Ranger and a little Guerrilla. Eldar units tend to be designed for specific roles, e.g. ranged anti-infantry (Guardians, Dark Reapers), melee anti-infantry and disruption (Howling Banshees, Seer Council), ranged anti-vehicle (Fire Dragons, Wraithguard) and so on; within their role they are very dominant bordering on unstoppable, but they struggle hard when taken out of their specific niche. Most Eldar units are also quite fragile, necessitating copious use of speed and stealth, especially in the early game when they are not well-established. Their Webway Gates can be upgraded to help with this in the mid and late-game, providing transportation, healing and stealth options. They can also be used to teleport Eldar structures around the map, though only near another Webway Gate.
    • Chaos: (Renamed Chaos Space Marines in II)
      • Numbers: Balanced overall, with a tug back and forth between Spammer and Elitist. Their units aren't as expensive as their loyalist counterparts but also aren't as adaptable. While their basic unit is the utter chaff Chaos Cultists squad, every other unit is much more cost-prohibitive.
      • Doctrine: Generalist, with a side-order of Guerrilla. They're less adaptable than their loyalist counterparts but still have units that can answer more than one role on the battlefield. In the first game Chaos has less ranged firepower than their loyalist cousins but more close-combat strength. As they tech up, their Chaos Cultists and Chaos Marines can become permanently infiltrated, making them adept at sneaky tactics.
    • Orks:
      • Numbers: Spammer. Ork units are cheap and have above-average size limits, but individual Orks who aren't part of an elite squad tend to be fragile and easily killed.
      • Doctrine: Brute, with elements of Industrial and Gimmick. Orks are reliant on the exploitation of the Orky Population mechanic, which determines their maximum number of boots on the ground and their progress on the Ork tech tree. Orky Pop is raised by building WAAAGH! Banners, with the more of them built allowing more Ork infantry, more powerful Ork squads, and better upgrades and research to improve existing forces. The number of Orks in a unit or large area also determines a squad's movement speed, attack damage, morale recovery, and health regeneration. In fact, a big enough assembly of Ork infantry within a set radius makes every squad immune to morale damage. Orks also have building that self-repair outside of combat and Worker Units that can reinforce to make building them faster, as well as a lower wait time to capture Requisition points that allows them to expand quickly across the entire map.
    • Imperial Guard:
      • Numbers: Spammer for their infantry, Balanced for vehicles. Their squads of ordinary Guardsmen tend to be massive and inexpensive but squishy, while more specialist units serve specific support roles and are tougher but more expensive. Their vehicles meanwhile tend to consist of tough, slow-moving but hard-hitting tanks that dish out a lot of damage while also taking it, and are less numerous and more expensive.
      • Doctrine: Brute/Ranger/Technical, with a bit of Turtle. The Guard have a very defensive playstyle overall, with strong turrets and the ability to garrison their structures and move between them through tunnels (in Game 1) or build cover that their infantry can take to greatly reduce incoming ranged damage (Game 2). The trade-off is that ordinary Guardsmen squads are very fragile and will drop like flies under sustained fire without the benefits of either cover or supporting fire from their powerful tanks and artillery. Their morale for ordinary Guardsmen is also poor before research and if they break, they will stay broken for at least a minute without intervention. Specifically, in Game 1 the player can attach special sub-Commanders to their squads to strengthen their morale and provide benefits. The Commissar can shoot a Guardsman in the squad he's attached to in the head to instantly restore morale to surrounding squads and increase their damage output, while the Priest makes his squad immune to damage and the Psyker drains the morale of a squad he's attached to for his Psychic Powers.
    • Tau Empire:
      • Numbers: Elitist. Most of their units, especially battlesuits, are prohibitively expensive, but Tau units compensate with their powerful ranged attacks while Kroot units boast superior toughness.
      • Doctrine: Ranger/Technical, with a little Gimmick. The Tau are one of two races in the first game (the other being the Orks) who expand their Tech Tree and population caps laterally instead of through direct upgrades at the main structure, and the only race who do so exclusively. Most Tau units, from the lowly Fire Warriors to the Commander himself, are fragile and very weak in melee but compensate with long-range, hard-hitting guns that make for excellent overlapping fields of fire. Due to most Tau also having limited fields of vision they rely on Pathfinder squads and Kroot units to scout ahead for them. Kroot units meanwhile are generally hardier, with Carnivores consuming the flesh of defeated enemies or dead friendly units to increase the health pool of all Carnivore squads present and future to become even tougher, especially under the guidance of a Shaper. The Tau also have a unique branch in their tech tree where they must choose between advancing under the doctrine of Mont'ka (the Killing Blow) or Kauyon (the Patient Hunter), a choice they can only make once per game. Mont'ka provides powerful direct damage Tau units that excel at cracking heavy armour and buildings, while Kauyon provides even hardier Kroot units and research to make the weapons of ordinary Fire Warriors and Steathsuits even more powerful. Most Tau units only have so-so Morale as well, though it can be boosted by summoning an Ethereal. Just make sure the Ethereal doesn't die, or the entire army falls into a Heroic BSoD!
    • Necrons:
      • Numbers: Elitist. Necrons have heavy population demands for squads, with their basic Warriors squad costing 3 Population. To compensate, they are tough to kill and even if they fall, they can re-animate or be collected by Tomb Spyders to be reconstituted as fresh troops.
      • Doctrine: Brute/Turtle/Gimmick. The Necrons operate on a rolling thunder playstyle, whereby they start with a submerged Monolith for a central structure that produces all their units and gradually restore its power while also unlocking new units with supplementary structures and power generators to fund it, ultimately leading to the Monolith emerging from the ground and becoming a slow but mobile unit in its own right that still produces units. Most Necron infantry is the same — hardy, hard-hitting but slow as molasses — but compensate by being able to teleport to owned structures (or in the Necron Lord's case, anywhere at will). The Necrons also don't make use of the Requisition resource, their monolithic Listening Post structures instead increasing their population caps and the rate at which they recruit units, build structures and process research. On the flip side they can build up to ten Power Generators per Monolith, which increase in cost and build time as more are built, though their basic Warrior squad does not require power to build, instead increasing its build time per existing Warriors squad. (Though it still costs Power to reinforce said Warriors squad.) Another big difference is that all combat-capable Necron units cannot capture Requisition points, a duty that instead falls to their Worker Unit of Builder Scarabs, which are also one of their only way to detect Infiltrated units.
    • Sisters of Battle:
      • Numbers: Balanced. Compared to the Space Marines and Imperial Guard, their numbers and costs occupy an in-between phase.
      • Doctrine: Generalist/Technical/Gimmick. Like the Space Marines, the Sisters come with a variety of units that can be re-armed or multi-faceted in their offense. The difference lies in the Sisters' Acts of Faith. By adding Holy Icons to up to five of their Listening Posts, the Sisters can channel their faith into miraculous abilities that include healing, magic bolters and freezing a target enemy squad on the spot. Their Faith is generated at an increased rate the more Commanders, squad leaders and elite units are deployed.
    • Dark Eldar:
      • Numbers: Elitist. The Dark Eldar have similar building and unit costs to their Eldar cousins, with the added disadvantage of generally lower squad sizes. (For instance, the basic Mandrake and Warrior squads max out at six regular members, plus a squad leader for the Warriors; Eldar Guardians get nine members and a Warlock leader.)
      • Doctrine: Technical/Guerrilla/Espionage/Gimmick. The Dark Eldar are designed around raiding and have the stats to match; their ability to absorb damage is limited but they have a variety of tricks and powers that let them lower their enemies' morale and weaken them to aid their own survival while also strengthening their own damage with poison and other devious weapons. Their main transport, the Raider, lets the squad it's carrying shoot from inside to deal additional damage while providing cover. The Dark Eldar are also the only race who can build their vehicle building without constructing an infantry building, or even rising above tech level one, which can give them an edge in the early game where most races are locked out of anti-vehicle weapons and units. Another major difference is that their Worker Unit does not need to constantly attend structures to build them; instead, Slaves can activate a structure and let it build on its own, which makes it easier to build quickly and also allows them to gather soul essence from the battlefield to use various nefarious abilities.
    • Tyranids: (Game 2 Only)
      • Numbers: Spammer for lowly basic units (Hormagaunts and Termagaunts), slightly closer to Balanced for elite Synapse creatures like Warriors. Just like in the lore, Tyranids have meat to spare.
      • Doctrine: Brute/Gimmick. The Tyranids' main difference compared to all the other races is their Synapse mechanic, whereby basic and weaker Tyranid units receive boosts to their health, damage resistance and damage output when in the presence of specific elite creatures, from their commanders to specific units like Warriors and Zoanthropes. In practical terms this means the player is encouraged to have large hordes of smaller units that travel in concert with a single support creature to increase their damage output.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • On "Harder" and "Insane" Skirmish difficulties the computer doesn't really get any smarter, it just gets bonuses to its resource acquisition rates. On "Hard" campaign difficulty, the computer gets extra HP on its units, although both are reversed in favor of the player in "Easy" or "Standard" for Skirmish and "Easy" or "Normal" for the campaign. This was done because Jonny Ebert, lead designer of ''Dawn of War II'', believes that allowing the computer to cheat is necessary to close the gap between them and the player(s)...
    • The Imperial Guard scanner has an uncanny ability to always hit infiltrators dead on, despite the fact they're, y'know, invisible. Even if you don't have any infiltrators to unveil, the scanner will always land on some of your units or buildings no matter how low the chances are to do so with a Hail Mary shot.
    • Honor Guard units in Dark Crusade and Soulstorm can only be earned by conquering and holding territory, and getting all 12 units requires conquering everything that doesn't confer a strategic bonus instead. That's the rule for the player. AI generals don't need to conquer or hold anything at all. They simply gain one unit per turn even if they never make it out of their stronghold, including units like heavy tier 3 tanks that the player can never have in their Honor Guard. This can lead to extremely nasty surprises when an AI player sits tight and quiet for a while and then suddenly steamrolls your provinces with an unstoppable Honor Guard full of powerful elite units that charge your HQ before you've even had a chance to build some basic infantry.
    • The Tau are the only faction in Dark Crusade and Soulstorm without access to stationary defenses other than their listening posts, which prevents Tau players from applying the game-breaking fortification techniques that make province defense missions a joke. However, if the AI controls the Tau, it can build listening posts absolutely anywhere, not just on control points and relics, and it's depressingly common to attack a Tau base and find it walled in by about a dozen upgraded "listening posts".
  • Conspiracy Redemption: The 'pure' ending of Chaos Rising flat-out states that this will be happening to the Blood Ravens. This being Warhammer 40,000, the ensuing civil war will probably cripple the chapter beyond recovery, but hey.
  • Construct Additional Pylons: Averted from Dawn of War II onwards (you only ever have the HQ building you start with), but in earlier games, certain support structures need to be constructed to raise the unit cap during gameplay for most factions.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In Dawn of War II various nods are made to the Kronus campaign, which Tarkus, Avitus and Captain Thule were all involved in: Thule now has a scar on his face and is missing one eye, an injury he received while fighting the Necron Lord of Kronus; Avitus can gain a Heavy Bolter which references the battle at Victory Bay against the Imperial Guard, and this battle is part of the reason he hates Guardsmen so much (because he had friends who died there); Tarkus got his scars while fighting a Tomb Spyder, when he stuck a grenade in its mouth and let it go off. Chaos Rising also notes Eliphas' ultimate fate, and Tarkus describes him as having been a "supremely cunning" opponent.
    • In the Space Marine campaign of Retribution, there is a Thunder Hammer called 'Hammer of the Nameless'. Its description implies that this was the weapon the Force Commander used to banish Ulkair.
    • If you defeat the Eldar as the Blood Ravens in Dark Crusade, the narrator notes that the Blood Ravens have had to deal with Eldar machinations before, both in the first game on Tartarus, then in the novels on Rahe's Paradise.
    • Hints at Taldeer's prophecy which compelled her to act against the Necrons during Dark Crusade are mentioned in more detail in the Eldar campaign in Retribution.
    • The Imperial Guard campaign in Retribution has some wargear referring to Imperial Guard commanders from the previous games, namely the Hand of the Governor-Militant, Alexander's Livery (both from Governor-Militant Lukas Alexander from Dark Crusade) and the Shield of Sturnn (from General Sturnn from Winter Assault).
    • The hostile Space Marine, Eldar, Ork and Chaos forces encountered in Retribution's campaigns are primarily from the same subfactions as the ones present in the campaign of the very first Dawn of War (Blood Ravens, Biel-Tan, Bad Moonz and Alpha Legion, respectively).
    • Several units in Dawn of War II and its expansions have some dialogue from the original game. Chaos Heretics even get the iconic "We captured it for Chaos!" albeit stripped of the Narm.
    • Even something as simple as the description of a multiplayer map from Dawn of War gets referenced. Avitus' backstory notes he first met Davian Thule while battling the Chaos Witch Morgana, which directly refers to the rather popular Skirmish map "Fata Morgana".
  • Cooldown Manipulation: Most hero units' ability cooldowns can be reduced by around 20 percent with the Veteran and Hero upgrades.
    • The Imperial Command Squad has a variation: it can have one general and up to four Psykers/Priests/Commissars (five if the general dies and is replaced), having multiples of the same unit doesn't affect the global cooldown (so you can cast the same ability up to five times in a row before the actual cooldown sets in). This seems like just a gimmick, but if you stack five Priests, and time their invincibility just right, you can prevent that unit from ever being damaged. It's poor form, but it's war.
    • If an Eldar Farseer is attached to a Seer Council, her cooldowns are shortened (stacking with the Hero and Veteran upgrades).
    • Every Incubus added to a Dark Eldar Archon's retinue reduces his abilities' cooldowns by 10%.
    • The Dark Eldar have the Rekindle Rage soul power, which resets a single unit's cooldowns (does not work with the soul powers' cooldowns, obviously).
    • Some characters in Dawn of War II have abilities that completely negate the cooldown of others for a short period.
  • Corrupted Contingency: Blood Ravens Chapter Master turned traitor Azariah Kyras manipulated the Inquisition, more specifically the Ordo Malleus, into performing an exterminatus on sub-sector Aurelia in order to use the resulting deaths and destruction to become a daemon prince. Lord Eliphas the Inheritor appropriated the plan at the end of the Chaos campaign.
  • Covers Always Lie: It's impossible to equip any of your Space Marines like the one in the box art for Dawn of War II. Thunder Hammers and Bolters can't be equipped together (or with any other weapons for that matter), the only character who can even use Thunder Hammers is the Force Commander and he never wears a helmet in the base game. And to top it all off, when you finally get a helmet you can equip him with in Chaos Rising it's a different color.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Played straight as an arrow throughout the series. Justified in the case of Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines, as their augmented physiology and decades of training will keep them up and fighting until a mortal blow is struck. Also justified in the case of daemonic units like Bloodthirsters, Bloodletters and the Avatar of Khaine, who are maintained with a warp presence, and once they take a certain amount of damage, their otherwise unharmed physical bodies simply fall apart.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Normally avoided as described in the article but most units have a clear preference of using either melee weapons or guns and won't survive long when fighting in the wrong element. For a demonstration of this, try winning a firefight with Khorne Berserkers or Nobz, or a melee with Dark Reapers or Fire Warriors.
    • Faction-wise, Tau units can destroy nearly anything from afar, but don't last long in melee. While they do have auxiliaries decent at melee, they're not quite as good as the equivalent melee units of the other factions.
      • The Imperial Guard is in the same boat, more or less. Guardsmen squads have good firepower, especially once they have been fully upgraded, as do Kasrkin, but the former are quite poor at melee, and the latter are only a little better. Furthermore, unlike other factions, the Guard has no vehicles that are any good at melee; whereas, say, the Eldar have the Wraithlord, and the Imperial Space Marines have the Dreadnought, the Guard Walker, the Sentinel, is only good at anti-vehicle ranged. The Guard, therefore, has only two units that are any good at melee: one single Ogryn squad, and the single command squad, especially if it has a lot of priests. Pretty much the only time you want to use the Guard in melee is against the Tau.
    • The Eldar Infantry of Dawn of War are almost a pure embodiment of this trope. Come Winter Assault, however, this was no longer the case.
    • Several vehicles in Dawn of War give you the option of upgrading their weapons. They usually start with a set of weapons made for the same target (Anti-Infantry for the Chaos Predator, Anti-Tank for the Ravager) that can be upgraded to do the opposite (lascannons for anti-tank on the Predator, Splinter Cannons for anti-infantry on the Ravager). This allows the players to choose if all of the weapons are specialized against one target, or if they want to bring a balanced mix. The upside and downside of course is that there isn't enough of these units for you to bring an even mix that is also effective, but overspecializing leads to the usual problems.
  • Crosshair Aware:
    • Tau missile barrages leave a big honking crosshair on the ground.
    • Off-map support like artillery barrages or drop pods in the second game usually leave a marker on the ground before they trigger, as do most special boss attacks.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Doesn't usually apply, considering that everyone in the 40K universe is inherently badass to a degree. But Martellus, a minor character from Dawn of War II, earns special mention by becoming a major character in Chaos Rising. In the first game, the most he ever did was pilot Thunderhawk Two to deploy power generators and Tarantula sentry guns for you. In Chaos Rising, it turns out he actually survived the final battle against the Tyranids and held his own against Ork looters for at least a year. If none of your other squad leaders become corrupted he turns to Chaos and serves as That One Boss by driving a huge and powerful tank - which he probably built himself, considering he's a Techmarine. According to Retribution, this is not Canon and Martellus goes on to become a playable character in the Space Marine campaign.
  • Cruel Mercy: Kaptin Bluddflagg refuses to kill Adrastia at the end of the Ork campaign in Retribution. While she is happy about this, not being thought worth fighting is the worst insult in Ork culture. He did steal her hat, though.
  • Culture Clash: In Dawn of War II, this is brought up by Administrator Derosa when you first arrive on Meridian.
    Administrator Derosa: This is not the hinterlands of Calderis or Typhon, Commander, so a certain amount of discretion would be appreciated.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: The pilot of the Sisters of Battle Penitent Engine is constantly in this position. Given that it's the Sisters of Battle, this is probably not a coincidence.
  • Cutscene: Mostly using the in-game engine, but there are CGI cinematics at the beginning of both games and some of the expansions.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: For the first DOW, during the mission where the Land Raiders are introduced, there'll be a number of scripted battles before you can do anything. One of these has an Assault Squad jump to a location where they will be ambushed by a squad of Possessed Marines. The Assault Squad will be eating so much pavement while Possessed Marines would be considered unlucky if they lose a single man. You can prevent the Assault Squad from getting completely massacred if you take manual control of the survivors and flee long enough for your jetpacks to get ready for a jump out of there.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max:
    • Oh, how the intro cutscenes are guilty of this, except in Dawn of War II, which plays out almost exactly like some multiplayer matches might feel.
    • When sync killing, units show abilities not normally seen (like Tau guns being rapid-fire, Boom, Headshot!, etc.).
    • Army sizes are also inflated in the in-game cutscenes, with multiple copies of supposedly-unique units showing up - for instance, when Chaos defeats the Space Marines in Dark Crusade, two or three Obliterator squads appear, despite the fact that the game only allows you to have one such squad in your army.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Some hilarious examples.
    • In the Tau Stronghold Intro of Dark Crusade, the only faction that can single-handedly defeat the defenders are the Orks.
    • When you defeat the Eldar Stronghold as the Imperial Guard in Dark Crusade, you are treated to a scripted fight-scene of their Avatar of Khaine losing to, of all things, a Sentinel.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: Though the first entry and III have linear endings, the rest have faction-specific endings which were declared canon by following works:
    • Winter Assault: The Eldar ending. Farseer Taldeer led the Ulthwe warhost to victory against the forces of Disorder, the Sturnn's Imperial Guard and the Necrons of Lorn V, destroyed the Titan and left the planet. Only War by Fantasy Flight Games confirms the Eldar victory and Sturnn's death at their hands.
    • Dark Crusade: The Space Marines ending. The Blood Ravens successfully purged Kronus to preserve their chapter's secrets. Davian Thule's forces were confirmed to have had a hand in beating the Necrons, the Chaos Space Marines, the Imperial Guard and the Eldar. Tactical Sergeant Tarkus and Devastator Sergeant Avitus were part of this campaign, with Tarkus losing an arm but gaining Terminator Honours after destroying a Tomb Spyder by shoving a grenade inside it and letting it go off while he was still holding it, while Avitus developed an increased disdain for the Imperial Guard because several Marines he called friend were killed during the siege of Victory Bay. The whole affair cast suspicion upon the Blood Ravens.
    • Soulstorm: The Ork ending. Gorgutz 'Ead 'Unter won control of the Kauvara system and his Boyz transformed the entire system into the a massive breeding ground and construction complex, setting the stage for his next conquest. The Blood Ravens under Captain Indrick Boreale suffered a crippling blow in defeat, with three entire companies lost as a result. Scout Sergeant Cyrus, who was part of this venture, began to resent certain members of the Blood Ravens command staff as a result of Captain Boreale's incompetence and unwillingness to listen to him, whle the chapter in general considers the conflict a blight on their history.
    • Chaos Rising: While the fate of the Force Commander and Assault Sergeant Thaddeus is up in the air, it is clear the force in general did not fall to Chaos or join the Black Legion. Avitus was the traitor, and Tarkus took a vow of silence to deal with the guilt of killing his friend.
    • Retribution: The Blood Ravens ending, with a bit of the Eldar ending as well. Some surviving Blood Ravens in Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine confirm the chapter is alive, while III shows that Rohnan successfully recovered Taldeer's soulstone.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul:
    • Subverted: When Davian Thule is revived as a Dreadnought, he initially misidentifies teammates, believes he is fighting somewhere else, and is nearly catatonic outside of combat. This is not because of the cybernetics, however, but because he's delirious from a nearly fatal dose of Tyranid venom. Later in the game, he returns to mostly normal (mostly, since for some reason he has to....pause frequently...when he...speaks).
    • Played straight with Thomas Macabee, a.k.a. the Necron Pariah spokesman from Dark Crusade.
  • Cyborg: One upgrade for the Space Marines is a set of bionic augmentations.
    • In II, Cyrus has an artificial right eye. General Castor has a cybernetic arm that lets him dual-weld with guns that are supposed to be two-handers in one hand, and a sword in the other. An upgrade for the Ork Warboss is "Cybork Bitz".
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: In Dawn of War II, squads deployed in a mission are automatically assigned numerical hotkeys (which the player can override if desired) and placed in positions on a unit selection bar on the right side of the screen (which the player cannot override.) Typically, four player chosen squads are deployed to any given mission. However, there are times when a particular mission might deploy specific squads instead of player chosen ones, or other squads might deploy mid-mission which the player then gets command of. This can be difficult when the player usually assigns certain squads to certain hotkeys and expects them to occupy specific slots on the unit selection bar, confusing the control scheme somewhat.
  • Dancing Mook Credits: Dawn of War has a showcase of the various Finishing Moves in the credits.
  • Danger Deadpan : The Chaos Hell Talon from Soulstorm always talks like this, sounding like a servitor, rather than screaming loudly like every other Chaos unit. Amusingly, this is because it is piloted by a servitor according to its fluff from the Imperial Armor books.
  • Dark Secret: The Blood Ravens have a motto, "Knowledge is power, guard it well." They fulfill this, first by having a scholarly bent that drives them to seek out and record information, particularly as relates to the lost knowledge of their chapter's origins, and second by guarding that information jealously, hence a great deal of secrecy. In particular, some of the uncovered knowledge about their chapter is implied to be things that the Blood Ravens would rather nobody know. Captain Thule, for example, found relics and information about the early days of the chapter on Kronus, which he promptly destroyed and would share with no one except Captain Angelos.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Gabriel Angelos in the original game:
      Gabriel: [standing in front of a Chaos altar] So the good Inquisitor senses no Chaos here. How fortunate for the Imperium that such keen-eyed eagles stand vigil over her gates...
    • Sindri, of course, is not to be outdone either.
      Sindri: Have faith. Have I led you astray... thus far?
      Bale: No. But if you fail me in this...
      Sindri: Yes, yes, then my suffering will be great. Just be ready to move when I instruct.
      [slightly later]
      Bale: SINDRI!!!
      Sindri: [audibly annoyed] WHAT?! lord?
    • Taldeer in Dark Crusade:
      Thule: The Blood Ravens will not be driven back by one such as you!
      Taldeer: Take solace at least in facing defeat at the hands of your betters. There is no dishonour in that.
      Thule: We have yet to meet our betters, alien, certainly not on this forsaken world! All we have seen here are tyrants, heretics and alien scum.
      Taldeer: You should have looked beyond your mirror then.
    • As good as Taldeer is, she can't hold a candle to Eliphas:
      Eliphas: What a rousing little speech, Governor. Unfortunately, your False Emperor can't touch us here.
      Alexander: Cleansing the Imperium of filth like you will be a pleasure.
      Eliphas: Oh, I assure you: the pleasure will be all mine.
    • Also:
      Thule: You won't hold that for long, daemon-spawn!
      Eliphas: Daemon-spawn? One so hopelessly ignorant of his origins should not be so quick to insult another's parentage, "brother".
      Thule: We are not brothers, heretic.
      Eliphas: [chuckles] Of course not. My mistake.
    • And:
      Thule: This fortress shall not fall!
      Eliphas: Such inspiring courage. Perhaps we'll mount your corpse on a golden chair and make an idol out of you as well.
      Thule: You pile heresy upon heresy, traitor! How could the Emperor have ever trusted trash like you?!
      Eliphas: Wonder instead how we ever could have trusted one such as him, brother.
    • Avitus takes this role in the team in Dawn of War II. Most of his lines are one-liners of various kinds, most of them snarky as Warp.
      Avitus: [Upon defeating a Tyranid brood threatening the already small population of Typhon] Those who fear death can emerge from beneath their beds now.
    • Every Eldar character from Retribution seems to be in competition to find out who’s the snarkiest, although Ronahn definitely takes the biscuit. Taldeer's brother is almost as snarky as she was.
      Veldoran: This is the transmission, much good may it do you. Human communication is not far removed from shouting.
      Kayleth: So then, Ronahn, let us see how your mastery of subterfuge stands to solve this riddle with but one victory on Meridian.
      Ronahn: Even now, Kyras' response is likely on-route. But it's encoding may not be as primitive or easily-heard from afar. We strike here, at the source of the message. Slay them all. Then, we wait dutifully for Kyras' message to arrive.
      Kayleth: Hmmm... Deviously efficient, probable success, and an immediate egress. Well plotted.
      Veldoran: Yes, we are fortunate your years of running have gifted you with some wit.
      Ronahn: Do remember your ancestry, Veldoran. The only Eldar that live to this day are the ones who ran.
    • The Tau's Kroot Carnivores.
      Kroot Carnivores: [Upon capturing a strategic point] OK, your little flag is up. Now what?
      Kroot Carnivores: [Ordered to move to new position] Oh, you want me over there now, do you?
  • Deal with the Devil: According to lore, the entire Chaos Marines faction, but to be more specific:
    • Tarkus at least thinks he made one with Ulkair, if he's the traitor.
    • Eliphas asks Ulkair for aid in fighting the Blood Ravens. Ulkair decides he's up for a bit of fun, since while all the Traitor Guardsmen could offer him was rotten meat and worship, Eliphas is being proactive in spreading death and decay (and since Eliphas has already made a Faustian deal with Abbadon the Despoiler, Ulkair can't have him).
  • Death Is Cheap:
    • Eliphas the Inheritor has canonically been killed at least twice, neither of which stuck. He's offed a third time in the Space Marine campaign of Retribution, but that probably won't stick, either.
    • Killing a Hive Tyrant or another vital or large Tyranid creature will disrupt a Tyranid swarm and cost the Hive Fleet valuable biomass. They'll just keep making more large Tyranids to replace them. Very true for the smaller Tyranids.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: While really hard to do, possible from Dawn of War II onwards. Very upsetting should your Terminators get offed by mere Shoota Boyz via Scratch Damage, although it is very easy to retreat from them.
    • The setting is, ironically enough, one of the few places were this trope actually makes sense, as exploding rocket-propelled bullets and high-powered lasers are standard-issue sidearms for at least three factions.
    • Considering the ridiculous amounts of health the final bosses of Chaos Rising and Retribution have, this is probably what you do to them.
    • Daisy the Battlewagon in Retribution is definitely going to have you performing this trope on it, since it has almost as much health as the Final Boss. Luckily, it doesn't do as much damage (and helpfully indicates where and when it makes its big attacks) and isn't periodically invulnerable.
  • Death from Above:
    • Assault Marines (who even shout "Death from above!" when they deploy), and their Ork Stormboy/Chaos Raptor counterparts. Equipped with: pistol, melee weapon, jump-pack, and berzerker rage.
    • Artillery units like Imperial Guard Basilisks or Space Marine Whirlwinds.
    • Some Commanders can call in bombardment of some sort.
    • Soulstorm adds aircraft to each races, which are still capable of hitting ground targets.
    • Dawn of War II and its expansions have a particularly nasty one in form of Tankbustaz, who, if none of your units are in their line of sight but some of them are in a certain range, will rain down rokkitz upon your head until you can engage them directly. One of these tucked away in a hard-to-reach place while you are beset by enemies can easily make a battle much harder.
    • Terminator squads in Dawn of War II onwards can be equipped with Cyclone missile launchers, allowing them to rain down a powerful missile barrage on enemy heads. They keep all their other weapons and armor, so they can still slaughter units without using it.
    • The 'Skyleap' ability for Autarch Kayleth in Retribution.
    • Instead of the Basilisk, the Imperial Guard has the Manticore in Retribution. It can fire 4 missiles, which are all targeted individually within a small area.
  • Death Seeker: As with the general 40K lore, Dreadnoughts are honored to continue to serve the Emperor in death. Chaos Dreadnoughts, on the other hand, feel imprisoned in their walking tombs and beg for death. This is to the point that a Chaos player's announcer will report one's death as "A Dreadnought has escaped into death."
    • Plague Marines, when ordered to retreat respond with "NO!... Death is so close..."
  • Decapitated Army:
  • Defector from Decadence: In Chaos Rising, part of the Blood Ravens' third and fourth companies rebel against their tainted chapter master. If Avitus was the traitor, which canonically, he is, he expresses similar sentiments as a reason for his actions.
  • Defenseless Transports: The Space Marine Rhino APC doesn't have guns, but it does have a smoke grenade launcher. Note that in the source material Rhinos are armed. And even in Dawn of War there are other, armed APCs (for example, the Space Marines' Land Raider super-heavy tank doubles as a troop transport).
  • Degraded Boss: The Daemon Prince (Final Boss of the first game) returns in Dark Crusade as an upgrade to the Chaos Lord, with about four times less HP and half the size.
  • Demonic Head Shake: One Idle Animation for Chaos Space Marines and Khornate Berserkers has their head start shaking uncontrollably.
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    Eliphas: Soulless automatons! You cannot prevail against Chaos!
    Necron Lord: [whispers]
    Eliphas: It... your soul is gone. I will destroy you!
  • Didn't See That Coming: Idranel knew the Blood Ravens would attempt to prevent her from destroying Angel Forge while weakened from Tarkus having had to stay behind to protect chapter relics from Ork looters. Unfortunately for her, she didn't count on Tarkus' squad showing up wearing said relics on their person. Said relics being Terminator Armor.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • Cyrus. Mastering him seems to be required to beat Primarch. Bringing him along makes the last Calderis mission in Chaos Rising MUCH easier if you want to remain pure.
    • It seems like the Eldar were designed to be this — their units can deal incredible damage, but only if you know how to use them right.
  • The Ditz: The Ogryn, if their selection/order quotes and general battlefield chatter are anything to go by.note 
    Ogryn: Sir, yes... uhh... sir!
    Ogryn: [after killing an Ork unit] Bye bye, Ork!
    Ogryn: [after capturing a strategic point] We got the, uh... [Beat] thing!
  • Do Not Run with a Gun: Averted. All but the heaviest weapons can be fired on the move, but expect sharp accuracy drops. The Seraphim unit is notable for not running, but flying while firing Guns Akimbo, and doing it more accurately than anyone else possibly could.
    • Ironically inverted by Avitus, the heavy weapons specialist, and the only Space Marine character (in Dawn of War II and Chaos Rising) with a sprint ability. He can't fire while doing this, of course.
    • A trait that Tarkus can learn allows him to avert this with special weapons like Plasma Guns, though it's still not very accurate.
  • Don't You Like It?:
    • In II, you can find a Frost Axe intended as a gift for Ragnar Blackmane, who turned it down. The implication being it was an intentionally poor gift so the Blood Ravens could ask to have it if he didn't want it.
    • In Retribution, your army must defeat a Khornate Champion who is furious that you're so rude as to turn down Khyras' "gift" of being on Typhon as it's being nuked into space dust.
  • Dual Wielding: Seraphim squads and Death Cult Assassins use twin bolt pistols and katanas respectively. The Kroot Shaper uses two blades in melee.
  • Dub Name Change: The French version renames the Dark Eldar Archon to Great Voivod, since Archon is already used for Eldar Warlocks. And the Reaver Jetbikes are renamed Raptor Jetbikes despite Raptors already being used for the Chaos unit.
  • Dub Pronunciation Change: In the French dub, Lord Bale's name is now pronounced the same as Baal, while O'Kais (Oh-Ka-Ees) now sounds like the word "Okay".
  • Dynamic Entry:

    E - G 
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • In the original Dawn of War campaign, squads of Imperial Guardsmen and the Leman Russ tank appeared in some missions and were even playable in four of them; that was before they became a full-fledged playable faction in Winter Assault. Similarly, the Necrons made a non-playable appearance as enemies in the final mission (for either side) in Winter Assault, a full expansion pack before they became playable in Dark Crusade.
    • Before the release of Chaos Rising, Dawn of War II received a new game mode called "The Last Stand". Those who managed the feat of reaching the final wave would find themselves facing a Chaos Lord and Bloodletters, which would not make an appearance until Chaos Rising.
  • Early Game Hell:
    • The campaigns of Dark Crusade and Soulstorm. You start out with only a hero and a single builder unit and no resources, with honor guard and defensive units added at great cost, so it's not unusual to spend a turn or two doing nothing to accumulate enough requisition to survive an attack, while enemy heroes start maps with full squads and immediately go for your HQ.
    • The Chaos Rising campaign is a weird case. Its first mission is fairly relaxed overall, as are more or less all others from the third onwards, but its second mission is absolutely brutal even on the lowest difficulty setting. Your most powerful asset, Dreadnought Davian Thule, gets replaced by the not particularly useful Glass Cannon Jonah Orion after the first minor skirmish. Then you must fight through a map that is crawling with top-tier Eldar units including their devastating Fire Prism Hover Tanks that get endlessly reinforced from a base in the far north. Once you cut off these reinforcements, you must rush all the way back to the starting point under a very tight time limit while even worse Eldar units with Cycle of Hurting abilities try to prevent you from doing just that, and once (if) you arrive, you have to fight another major battle against more alien armor and elite infantry. Talk about being thrown in the deep end. It's exceedingly difficult to make it through this mission with a good rating due to how easy it is to lose squad leaders to ridiculous enemy firepower.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Among other things, the original Dawn of War let you have four Land Raiders, equip Ork mobs with anti-everything weaponry and have armies consisting entirely of high-end units. There was also no (relative) limit to the size of Ork squads, meaning that even squads of Nobz could be up to 15 strong, not counting Leaders. It also let you deploy however many turrets you felt you could get away with. Relic/Specialist units and turrets gained caps when Dark Crusade was released.
    • For the sake of simplifying the animation work in Dawn of War I, all characters are right-handed (they always use guns or melee with their right-hand). This is highly unusual as characters who wield a pistol and a melee weapon at the same time are implied to be left-handed (they're supposed to use the melee weapon with their strong, dominant arm instead of their weak, non-dominant arm).
    • In a franchise-wide sense, the Necrons in Dark Crusade and Soulstorm follow their original characterization as Terminators in space, robotic undead purging all life in the galaxy on behalf of their C'tan masters. Their 2011 tabletop revamp gave them more distinct personalities and an Ancient Egypt motif, with more intelligent leaders ruling rival "dynasties", while the C'tan are reduced to a fraction of their power, having been overthrown by the Necrons. As such, the Necrons in Retribution follow their post-revamp characterization.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Maintaining full purity in Chaos Rising is necessary to get the Golden Ending, and by the Emperor, this game will make you earn that ending. You'll have to accomplish essentially every optional objective during the campaign, some of which are punishingly hard, or require very specific character deployments. As the cherry on top of the pain sundae, the traitor is revealed to be Martellus, who is quite possibly the hardest boss in the game since he faces you at the wheel of a Chaos Predator and rushes you with Dreadnoughts, which means this path results in you facing 3 of the hardest bosses in the entire series.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The events of Retribution are kicked off when the Inquisition plans on performing Exterminatus on the whole of sub-sector Aurelia after 10 years of indecisive battles. As most 40K players know, this is a wee bit unpleasant for those still on the surface of a planet subjected to it. Each campaign has stopping the Exterminatus (or hijacking the Big Bad's plan for using it, in the Chaos campaign) as a high priority, though for varying reasons. All of them have you get suckered into speeding it up, and having to make a daring escape from Typhon Primaris while the initial stages of Exterminatus are being carried out.
    • Cyrene before the events of Dawn of War, thanks to Captain Angelos. Mentioned again, in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it manner, in the sub-sector map in the intro to the Dawn of War II campaign. Which pays off in a Book Ends ending in Retribution.
  • Easy Level Trick: Enemy forces in Dark Crusade always spawn in the exact same locations both in capital assaults and in regular provinces. Once you've figured these out, most of the campaign becomes trivial due to options this behavior opens up. The most obvious one is to simply make a beeline for the enemy HQ buildings the moment the mission starts, defeating the enemy before they can build up their forces. Another, even better approach is to trap the enemy in their base (most starting positions only have one or two narrow entrances), conquer the entire map, max out your tech tree, build turrets around the enemy base entrances, then destroy the HQ. Buildings remain on the map when you leave, and if the province is attacked later, you already own the whole map while the enemy either can't leave their base at all or suffers horrendous casualties in the attempt, slowing them down enough for you to move in with minimal fuss. Just be careful not to build too close to the enemy base - it has an "Instant Death" Radius of sorts that will remove any of your buildings inside the perimeter.
  • Eating the Enemy: Squiggoths and Greater Knarlocs from avert this: while many of their melee animations show them chomping down on enemies, they don't actually eat them, just toss their corpses far off (in canon, of course, it's a different matter).
  • Egopolis:
    • The Lands of Solitude are renamed Borealum in the Space Marine ending of Soulstorm.
    • In the Imperial Guard campaign of Soulstorm, the Roklaw Mountains are renamed Stubbs' Peak.
  • Elite Mooks:
    • Elite squads for each faction, such as Terminator Space Marines and Imperial Guard Kasrkin and Ogryns. They have limits imposed on their numbers from Dark Crusade, but one or two of these squads is often all you need to turn the tide of a battle in your favour.
    • Honour Guard units from Dark Crusade, Soulstorm and Retribution play the trope straighter. In the first two, Honour Guard squads and vehicles are unlocked by holding certain territories on the map and bought with Planetary Requisition. They have lower squad numbers than their regular counterparts, but have better stats and don't contribute to their respective population caps. In Retribution, each playable hero has a corresponding Honour Guard unit who can replace them in the field. These units often get secondary benefits from choosing particular abilities for their counterpart hero, are free to replace if they die, have short build times and as above, don't contribute to the population cap; in fact, choosing them increases the population cap by 10 each.
  • Enclosed Extraterrestrials: The only Tau unit without a face-concealing helmet is the Ethereal, who wears robes anyway.
  • Endless Winter:
    • Lorn V in Winter Assault is an Ice World, so naturally the only place not covered in ice is where Chaos set fire to it. Crull and his men hate it.
    • Chaos Rising stated that before the Warp Storms claimed planet Aurelia, it was a major commerce hub and home to a monastery to the Blood Ravens. When it finally returned to real-space after a millenium in the Warp, it has turned into a wintry wasteland thanks to the ruinous powers in the Warp. And because the Warp separated it from the system's sun.
  • Enemy Civil War: Happens in numerous spots of the games.
    • Destroying the Big Bannerz in the Ork Stronghold mission from Dark Crusade causes all of the Orks to turn on one another.
    • The beginning of the Disorder campaign in Winter Assault has Gorgutz and a number of other Ork bosses battling each other as Gorgutz brings the boyz all under his heel. Ironically, he wins by destroying all the Big Bannerz of the other Ork clans, the same tactic he tried in Dark Crusade.
    • The Eldar Stronghold in Dark Crusade has this if you attack them as Chaos or Orks, as Taldeer lures Feral Orks from Gorgutz' Waaagh! and a schismatic Chaos cult led by a mouthy Sorcerer to divide and weaken your forces.
    • Tyranids in Dawn of War II will go feral and fight each other for a bit if a synapse creature like a Warrior or Zoanthrope is killed nearby.
    • Dark Crusade and Soulstorm have inter-Imperium infighting, with Space Marines and Imperial Guard then Space Marines, Imperial Guard and Sisters of Battle respectively.
      • In the case of Dark Crusade, the Blood Ravens and the 1st Kronus Regiment are deployed separately to the same planet with conflicting orders: the Blood Ravens are there to purge the planet in order to protect their chapter's secrets, while the Imperial Guard are there to reclaim the planet for the Imperium, as well as hunting down Farseer Taldeer for her actions on Lorn V. Captain Thule and Governor Alexander offer each other the chance to withdraw when attacking each other's strongholds, not wanting to fight each other, but their mutual determination to follow their superiors' orders prevents them from accepting.
  • Enemy Exchange Program: Possessing enemy vehicles with Necron Lord Destroyers. In Dark Crusade the Necron stronghold features a Beacon of the Void Dragon which can replicate the effect.
    • The Chaos Sorcerer possessing Guardsmen in Winter Assault, luring them to the sacrificial Blood Pits in one mission from the Disorder campaign, which is later done again with enthralled Imperial psykers. These parts are made annoying by the fact that, once possessed, they can be targeted by enemy units, and will be.
    • One of the Essence of the Deceiver's abilities is this, but in this instance it's temporary.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • In both Dawn of War and Winter Assault, the Imperial forces temporarily ally with the Eldar. In Retribution, Inquisitor Adrastia is willing to enlist the help of the Eldar and hire Bluddflagg on as a mercenary in order to prevent the Exterminatus.
    • In Dark Crusade's Imperial Guard stronghold, killing Commissar Gebbet causes one of their companies to mutiny and ally with you. The Space Marines reward them appropriately while giving an official commendation to those of the loyalists who fought and survived.
  • Escaped from Hell: Azariah Kyras was on the Space Hulk Judgement of Carrion when it was sucked back into the Warp. He spent centuries in there, fighting daemons and other horrors, and when it returned to realspace he was rescued and became Chief Librarian and Chapter Master of the Blood Ravens. Shame he only survived by turning to Chaos while in there.
  • Epic Fail: In Soulstorm, the Alpha Legion after action reports have the banner of the Word Bearers legion. One of the more clear indications on how unfinished the game was and how deep Iron Lore was in it's dire straits when it was handling development of the game.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • At the end of the Chaos stronghold mission in Dark Crusade, Eliphas claims to his Daemon Prince master that he lost the battle because his men weren't good enough to defeat the enemy. The Daemon is not fooled, spotting immediately that Eliphas is just pointing the finger at his followers to avoid responsibility for his own failure; he is disgusted by this.
      Daemon Prince: It is a poor shepherd who blames his flock, Apostle.
    • Regardless of who the traitor is in Chaos Rising, he freely gives Eliphas the vox codes for his company, but also explicitly tells Eliphas not to use the vox to set up an ambush, saying that if he does, their agreement will be over.
    • Orks see Chaos Marines as a thundering horde of "mean craziez". This is from a species that considers chopping/shooting up your family and friends in front of you hilarious, by the way.
  • Everything Fades: Corpses will disappear with time; in the first game, there is an option to avert this by turning on "persistent corpses", and in the expansions, some factions can use fallen bodies to their advantage. This option was removed in Dawn of War II to save on memory.
  • Eviler than Thou: Often the motivation for evil factions to clash with each other, as per the source material.
  • Evil Is Easy: The selling point of the Chaos Rising expansion to Dawn of War 2 is the player choice between having their troops stay loyal to the Imperium or join the Ruinous Powers instead. While the former does have a few merits (some very powerful equipment, and you don't lose two of your seven squads as the story progresses), the latter offers gear and abilities so hilariously overpowered that only the toughest superbosses still pose a real challenge. Most missions become easier to play as well because the path that leads to corruption is always the less challenging one - you don't have to sneak, don't have to worry about preventing allied losses, don't have to put up with most time limits, don't have to refrain from using certain abilities, don't let the game dictate which squads to take on missions, and so on.
  • Evil Is Hammy: And goddamned HOW! Chaos is by far the hammiest faction in the game, far outhamming even the Space Marines who tend to shout bombastic righteous speech every other time they speak. The Orks are also very hammy. GLORIOUS exemple right here.
  • Evil Plan:
    • The campaign of Chaos Rising. Eliphas turns out to have orchestrated the events of the entire campaign to start a Blood Ravens civil war — which would have failed if a daemon destroyed the chapter's recruiting worlds.
    • Same thing for Retribution. Kyras manipulates the various factions so that their fighting will force the Inquisition to order an Exterminatus on the entire sector. Kyras would then offer the billions of resulting deaths as a sacrifice to Khorne and ascend to Daemonhood.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Almost a rule of thumb for Chaos units, particularly Daemons. The higher an Ork unit is on the tech tree, the deeper and gruffer his voice gets. What little the Necrons say is spoken in an impossibly deep Machine Monotone.
  • Evil Smells Bad: Chaos Space Marines in general. Ironically, this is complained about most often in-universe by the Orks, of all people. First, in the original campaign Warboss Orkamungus refers to the Chaos Marines as "smelly"; then in Skirmish or Multiplayer mode, Orks making first contact with Chaos may lampshade this. ("Stinkin' Chaos boyz!") Then in Chaos Rising, the introduction of the Plague Champion is prime time for another moment of this during the campaign, where one member of a mob of Orks attacking him complains he "smells ripe" and makes a disgusted noise. Even the Loyalist Space Marines get in on this, with Avitus complaining that not even the Tyranids were so unpleasant to fight, which Martellus agrees with.
  • Evil Tastes Good: Ulkair joyfully talks of the tastiness of souls and consuming entire sectors.
  • Expansion Pack:
    • Three of them for the original: Winter Assault, Dark Crusade and Soulstorm, as much as some would like to forget that last one.
    • The sequel has Chaos Rising, which, as if the name didn't give it away, adds Chaos to the list of playable races, and Retribution, which includes playable Imperial Guard and one campaign, playable as any of the 6 races with different dialog and altered mission details.
  • Expy: The Space Marine who is shown on the box art of Dawn of War I but never appears in the game looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • Eye-Obscuring Hat: The Commissar is shown like this; all you see of his face is his nose, grim-set mouth, and massive chin.
  • Face–Heel Turn: In Chaos Rising, the most corrupted member of your team will do this. If none of them are corrupted, Martellus does instead.
    • Retribution confirms Avitus was the traitor.
  • Faceless Mooks: Pretty much every faction has them, most notably the Eldar, whose only unhelmeted unit before Dawn of War II is the Harlequin, and the Tau, whose only non-Kroot bareheaded unit is the Ethereal.
  • Faction Calculus: In the first Dawn of War it was Space Marines (Balanced), Eldar (Subversive), Orks (Horde) and Chaos (Powerhouse). Winter Assault added the Imperial Guard (Cannons). With Dark Crusade came the Tau Empire (Cannons) and the Necrons (super-Powerhouse) and from Soulstorm came the Sisters of Battle (Cannons) and the Dark Eldar (super-Subversive).
  • Faction-Specific Endings: The expansions have this in various combinations:
    • In Winter Assault both the Order (Imperial Guard and Eldar) and Disorder (Orks and Chaos) campaigns have a Last-Second Ending Choice at the end of the fourth mission: whichever of your two factions first enters the shield around the war machine MacGuffin gets a final mission and ending. Dark Crusade implies that the Eldar ending is canon, albeit with several elements from the Ork ending.
    • Dark Crusade and Soulstorm have seven and nine different campaigns, respectively: one for each faction. Defeating a faction gets you an After-Action Report and a cinematic once every faction is beaten. It may be possible for a faction to be defeated by another computer-controlled faction, but the end cinematic still assumes you were the one to defeat the six/eight others.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Eliphas sends a telepathic Breaking Speech to the invading enemy commander. The only one it really works on is General Alexander, as Taldeer and Thule insult him right back, Gorgutz tells him to get out of his head, O'Kais can't even hear him, and the Necron Lord terrifies Eliphas just by talking back.
  • False Reassurance: In Dark Crusade's Chaos stronghold ending.
    Eliphas: No! I will not go to the Basilica of Torments again!
    Daemon Prince: Fear not, Apostle. The Basilica is reserved for those who may redeem themselves.
    Eliphas: No... no!
    Daemon Prince: You will have no such chance.
  • Fantastic Underclass: Tau society supposedly treats its human citizens (AKA Gue'vesa) quite well, sometimes to the point of Better Living Through Evil. However, the Tau ending of Dark Crusade indicates that human populations that don't surrender of their own accord are given a much frostier reception, being subjected to extensive re-education or even forced to migrate in order to make way for Tau and Kroot colonists. Ten years after the Dark Crusade, humans make up less than 5% of the population on Kronus, a possible sterilization program has caused their birth rate to plummet, and the few we see have been reduced to living in ruined slums.
  • Fear-Induced Idiocy: Like in the source material, units have a morale meter. When depleted, the unit will break and retreat to the nearest rally point or defensible position in an attempt to reform their lines. If they happen to already be in cover, they'll abandon said cover and retreat to the nearest point where they aren't at risk of enemy attack, meaning they might be under enemy fire all the way to their rally point. Luckily, broken units gain a bonus to evasion and defense, ensuring that generally some of the unit members will reach a rally point and rally, allowing the player to replenish their ranks and bring it back up to full strength.
  • Field Promotion: In Dawn of War II, the Blood Ravens' manpower is greatly depleted, so the protagonist has been promoted to the rank of Force Commander by the Chapter Master after an impressive victory under his leadership and expected to save the recruiting worlds of the Blood Ravens in sub-sector Aurelia — despite being on the young side for a Space Marine and never having actually met the Chapter Master in person.
    • As an in-game loading screen fluff bit elaborates, the promotion actually happened during another campaign, but it didn't go into effect until the events of the game.
    • In the novelization for Dawn of War II, Sergeant Aramus (the nameless playable Force Commander) is made into the Force Commander for the company, replacing Thule.
  • Fluffy the Terrible:
    • The Ork campaign of Retribution has a playable Kommando Nob named "Spookums." With the right equipment and abilities, he is terrifying in combat.
    • The super-heavy Ork Battlewagon you fight (and capture, in the Ork campaign) was given the ridiculously cute and surprisingly feminine name of "Daisy".
  • Final Boss:
    • Dawn of War:
      • In the original campaign, main objective of the final level is to defeat Sindri, who ascended as a Daemon Prince.
      • Regardless of whom you're playing as, you would need to defeat several Necron Monoliths going for your base in the final mission in Winter Assault.
    • Dawn of War II:
      • The final level of original campaign ends with you fighting the Hive Tyrant Alpha.
      • The final level of Chaos Rising campaign ends you with fighting the Grean Unclean One named Ulkair.
      • Regardless of whom you're playing as, at the end of Retribution campaign, you would fight a massive Daemon Prince (Azariah Kyras and the Maledictum daemon).
  • Finishing Move: Tons of them, in the form of "sync kills". Some units will even have personalized finishing moves against certain victims. Go ahead, check them out.
    • Big (size-wise, not number-wise) units are especially prone to doing this. The best ones, however, are the ones big units perform on other big units, for example, a Dreadnought grabbing a Wraithlord's weapon, forcing it away, grabbing it by its neck and crushing it in its power claw - in other words, a Walking Tank strangling a Humongous Mecha.
    • Or when above Humongous Mecha gets its sword stuck in said Walking Tank when it kills the pilot inside for good, forcibly removes his sword, sees that the Walking Tank is still standing, then gently tips it over.
    • The Force Commander's sync kill against the Bloodthirster in Dawn of War and its expansions deserves special mention. He performs a Colossus Climb on the thirty-foot daemon by grabbing it by the horns and swinging up, stands on its shoulders, pounds it into the ground with repeated whacks from his hammer, then vaults over its disintegrating corpse (which is on fire).
    • Perhaps one of the most epic sync kills from Chaos Rising onwards is the Avatar of Khaine vs the Great Unclean One. If the Avatar is sync killing the GUO, it will stab it in the chest; causing it to laugh and use its puke of doom on the Avatar, which responds by shoving its gigantic sword into the Great Unclean One's mouth and out the back of its head. If the GUO is sync killing the Avatar it will jab its meat cleaver sword into the Avatar's back, turn its sword upright and lift it into the air and use gravity to impale the Avatar all the way through the sword
      • In Dawn of War and its expansions, the humanoid Relic Units also had their fair share of epic sync kills. If a Bloodthirster sync kills an Avatar, the Bloodthirster gets smacked around by the Avatar, but bats the Avatar's head off with its axe in the end. If the Avatar is the sync killer, it gets knocked down, but before the Bloodthirster can capitalize on this, the Avatar impales it with his giant sword. If the Nightbringer sync kills the Avatar (never the other way around due to the Nightbringer's invulnerability) after a brief fight the Nightbringer scythes the Avatar's head off. While technically not a Relic Unit, if the Daemon Prince defeats the Greater Knarloc (pretty hard to do considering the differences in DPS and HP) it will leap up into the air with its sword pointed downward and impale the Knarloc's head and pin it to the ground before pulling its sword out and walking away.
    • In Dawn of War II, if a Chaos Aspiring Champion of Khorne or the Spare Marine Force Commander sync kills a Carnifex (really hard to do) he will perform a Colossus Climb and stand on the Carnifex's tusks, holding on to his melee weapon impaled in the side of the Carnifex's head, and blast it repeatedly in the face with his pistol before finishing it off with a blast to the mouth. This sync kill is featured in Retribution in the mission where you have to escape Typhon as Exterminatus is being performed on it. When you get to a certain point the Deranged Chaos Champion, will start roaring to the sky, enraged by the fact that people would be trying to escape from Kyras's gift of death before doing this in the Typhon Arena.
    • While not a sync kill, this is undoubtably epic. In the last mission of Retribution; after you have hammered at Daemon Prince Kyras for quite a while and brought him down to one last sliver of health, your commander (Bluddflagg for the Orks for example) will note that he's weakened and tell you to finish him off with your big damaging global power (Rok bombardment, which drops a bunch of Asteroids, for the Orks to continue this example.) Bluddflagg will say "Look, 'es reelin boys. Now it's time ta zap 'im wiff da biggest rok we 'ave." and you'll get one free usage of Rok bombardment. Once you target Kyras with this, you'll get a cutscene where Roks will start raining on Kyras, causing him to shudder until an absolutely massive rok falls on top of his head and completely destroys it. Once the dust clears you'll see the bloody stump where his head used to be and watch his corpse slump back into the lava pit. A similar thing happens with the other factions (with the Space Marines using orbital bombardment instead, for example.) But man is it satisfying to watch Kyras's head explode.
  • Flamethrower Backfire: Done in the intro of Dawn of War, when the flamethrowers exploded when hit by an axe.
  • Fog of War: The map is initially black and explored areas not within a unit or building's line of sight are covered in grey fog.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In Dark Crusade, some plot elements are hinted at by the flavor text for the territories, like the identity of the Necron's Mouth of Sauron or the fact that there's a Nurglite daemon bound to the Hellstorm cannon (though this is only revealed in the Chaos campaign).
    • Dark Crusade gets another one that acts as a Sequel Hook. After the credits have rolled, the camera zooms out from Kronus until it captures the whole star system, showing huge explosions going off on multiple planets along the way. Then Soulstorm rolled around which... lets you blow up shit across multiple planets that're even arranged roughly similarly to the ones from DC's extro.
    • Early in II, the Marines realize that the Orks are actually using strategy, which given these are Orks, tip them off to something manipulating them. Later, Cyrus has an Oh, Crap! moment when he hears that an Astropath has been complaining about a "Shadow in The Warp" (he's the only one that knows about Tyranids).
    • A good case in Chaos Rising. In the opening trailer, the Big Bad shows its horrifying laughing face around the 'depositing untold horrors of the Warp' part, way before you find out anything about it.
    • The first expedition into the Judgement of Carrion sees gradual warp exposure steadily wear on your squad's sergeants (and they steadily gain Corruption points if you allow a timer to keep ticking down). Pay close attention to what they say, however, and you'll realise that they're outlining their reason for being the traitor.
      • Thaddeus cries out that "I have done what you asked! No more!" His treachery comes from a Deal with the Devil with Ulkair to allow the Third Company to come to the strike team's aid at the end of II.
      • Cyrus complains "He leads us in circles! Why does he command!?" His treachery is born from an inability to tolerate the incompetence within the Blood Ravens' leadership any longer, having started with Boreale's disastrous mishandling of the Karauva Campaign in Soulstorm.
      • Avitus yells "KILL THEM ALL! Let there be BLOOD!" in a frenzy. His treachery stems from his despair at his Chapter Master's own Chaos allegiance, feeling that nothing he did mattered and seeing the galaxy for the Forever War filled Crapsack World that it is, with the only thing he has left being killing.
      • Tarkus rants about how "It must be mine! Then we can make it right." His treachery stems from his morals being twisted under the influence of The Blighted Bolter, which promised him the power the save the Chapter from its dire straits.
      • Jonah screams "Get out! GET OUT GET OUT!!" in a seeming panic. His treachery stems from Demonic Possession, with the daemon taking advantage of his wounds from battling the Tyranid Hive Mind in II, plus Kyras selling off the access rites to his Psychic Hood, to steadily take control of Jonah.
  • Freudian Excuse: Part of Avitus' hatred towards Imperial Guardsmen is due to how he grew up with his settlement being oppressed by a corrupt Imperial Guard regiment. The other half is having his two best friends killed by Guardsmen during the assault on Victory Bay.
  • Friendly Enemy: If Tarkus is the traitor, he constantly refers to your strike force as "brothers" and offers tactical advice while you're making your way to him, and quotes from the Codex Astartes during the actual boss fight. He's basically acting completely normally, which utterly infuriates your sergeants.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Averted and inverted—not only can your artillery and/or other explosive weapons (grenade launchers generally) harm your own troops, but if you, as the Imperial Guard, attach a Commissar to an infantry squad, you can actually have him execute one of your troopers to raise the morale and accuracy of all nearby soldiers. You can still pour small arms into a chaotic melee without any harmful consequences to your troops, on the other hand (though all units engaged in melee combat take 50% less ranged damage). This is one of the most obvious breaks from the tabletop game, where this is disallowed for the most part.
    • The Ork's Burna Bomb unleashes a massive explosion that turns nearly everything around it into a flying corpse. However, the Mad Dok who plants it also has an ability that makes a friendly unit invulnerable, so in the right conditions the bomb can be Friendly Fireproof.
    • Horribly averted if you don't back Cyrus far away enough from his Remote Detonator, which can kill him and his squad in one hit, even at full health, if the blast so much as wings him! It can also do the same to your other squads.
  • Frontline General: Taken even further than the base game: the Imperial Guard's general is literally their only melee unit until the later tech tiers.
  • Game Mod:
    • Lots, with some truly ambitious ones like Dawn of Warhammer 40k: Firestorm.
    • Lately the most popular mod is Ultimate Apocalypse The Hunt Begins which not only brings many improvements from other mods such as Firestorm but also adds many of it's own features such as massive army sizes, maps, and even gigantic units such as Titans and greater Daemons. It also tries to balance the game so that pretty much all factions have a viable chance of winning.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: A minor example. The Ancient from Retribution's Space Marine campaign has taken a vow of silence. He never speaks, not even to confirm the player's orders until The Reveal of his identity on the Judgement of Carrion. Tarkus talks differently from his Dawn of War II and Chaos Rising self, but that is to be expected since he hasn't used his voice in a decade.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • Initially played straight with the Nightbringer, the god of Death, worshipped by a race that specializes in killing everything. The Necron Lord can let the Nightbringer possess him for a short period of time, during which, he is invincible and floats around chopping up enemies good. It seems a shame that he's not actually all that good at killing things - he doesn't have the raw killing power that some other units have. However, upon inspection of his in-game stats, he does vastly more damage to heavily armored vehicles and monsters... which includes every top tier unique unit in the game. While he won't be laying waste to entire armies, his damage output is such that during his brief stint on the battlefield he is capable of killing any single unit in the game that doesn't run away from him.
    • In fluff, Necron Gauss Weapons (which are not Gauss weapons at all) are capable of eating through any kind of armor, and can inflict damaging blows on even the sturdiest target. In the game, they're about as effective as regular guns against armor.
    • The Eldar Avatar of Khaine requires a sacrifice to be summoned in the form of an Exarch being chosen to host him. In-game, he's built at the portal like any other unit (although this sacrifice is depicted in Dark Crusade's stronghold and Retribution's Eldar campaign).
    • A zigzagging example: in fluff, teleport homers and drop pod beacons are very necessary to avoid Tele Fragging. In the game, all you need is another unit around to remove the Fog of War.
    • Space Marine players will most likely go through a far larger number of Astartes in a single battle than will have been brought to the battlefield. By the end of a campaign, you may have gone through several Chapters worth of them.
    • Angelos gets trapped in the Warp towards the end of DOW II, including being unable to communicate. However, he still gives briefings for side missions like killing large Tyranids.
    • The Tau's primary commander unit is an XV22 Battlesuit, intended to make them distinct from their more rank-and-file XV8 Battlesuits. However, in the fluff, the XV22 is a one of a kind Super Prototype utilized only by the legendary Commander Shadowsun.
    • Tau railguns are supposedly one-hit-kill weapons against vehicles- the fluff bit describes how the tank had only two little holes in it... and a spray of gore sixty feet long from the crew's liquefied remains when the projectile passed through the tank so fast it sucked out everything not nailed down. In game, they do lots of damage to vehicles and that's it.
    • The Thur'abis Catacombs are, well, underground. Doesn't stop things like orbital bombardments or airlifted buildings from dropping in.
    • In Soulstorm, the Dark Eldar's special ability is that they can move through any ancient gate, giving them the ability to strike at any planet they want (and the archive for their stronghold is written by an abducted Fire Warrior). When facing them, it's extremely likely they'll move like the other armies, sticking around Kaurava IV and fighting only the Chaos forces there.
    • During Retribution's campaign, your heroes are trapped on a Space Hulk and need to fight through hordes of Tyranids and orks to escape. Not only are you expected to use teleporters strewn around the map to bring troops in, General Castor can still call in his Leman Russ reinforcements via Valkyrie.
  • Gas Mask Mooks:
    • Imperial Guard Kasrkin and Stormtroopers wear gas masks - Kasrkin have a small gasmask built into their helmet, while Stormtroopers have full face-covering masks. Some regular Guardsmen in the first game may also have a mask instead of just a helmet.
    • All of the Space Marines' heavy infantry wear standard Astartes helmets - except for their heroes, naturally.
  • Garrisonable Structures: Originally used for transportation in Dawn of War; an Imperial Guard specialty from Winter Assault onwards. Useful in Dawn of War II and its expansions, but beware of units bearing flamers, demolition charges or frag grenades.
    • The Imperial Guard have an ability that air-lifts in a bunker in Retribution.
  • Gathering Steam: In the first game, there are several upgrades that exist solely to slow the player down, meant to represent Non-Entity General slowly escalating their engagement in response to other Non Entity Generals doing the same.
    • Orks use a unique third resource that counts how many orks are present and requires a certain amount of orks present to build the more powerful units. This is meant to reflect the In-Universe growth of the Ork Ecosystem to the point it can support the more powerful Ork units - though Gork and Mork knows why it is needed for looted tanks.
    • The Necrons' Greater Summoning Core is a building that produces and researches nothing, but is needed to get their final units.
    • The Eldar, likewise, need to research upgrades which do absolutely nothing before they are able to field their more powerful units. Aptly named 'Mobilization For War' and 'Annihilate the Enemy'.
    • Kroot squads have an ability that lets them eat corpses (allied and enemy) to increase their maximum health (by up to 300 per Kroot).
  • Geo Effects: The cover system. Units in cover move slower but take less ranged damage.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The Necrons will come off as this in the Winter Assault Disorder campaign. While they're mentioned earlier in the Order campaign, in Disorder they essentially show up out of nowhere.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • The Dark Eldar's Dais of Destruction in Soulstorm. Extremely high firepower plus a beam capable of literally wiping out an entire army in one shot. Not exactly "glass", but still by far the most fragile of the Relic Units.
    • On a smaller scale, Necron Immortals, with very long range and devastating anti-vehicle/structure firepower, but low HP and a small squad size that can see them wiped out in seconds.
    • All set-up weapons in the sequel are powerful anti-infantry and/or anti-vehicle counters at range. At melee range, you'd have better had them start retreating before the first hit gets in.
    • Eldar of Dawn of War II are, comparatively, the Glass Cannon faction (they even have near-literal glass cannons).
    • In the Chaos Rising expansion this role is easily fulfilled by the traitor House Vandis militia (using Imperial Guard equipment) you encounter in the beginning and the droves of Chaos cultists. Both of them can bear weapons with high damage output, but tend to die from a poke. They try to compensate by walking around in big numbers, but it doesn't help them much, it simply gets them cut down by the dozen.
    • The Tau faction (not including their Kroot auxiliaries) have high speed, high damage output and very poor resilience, which means that knowing how to micromanage them is essential to win.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Sub-Sector Aurelia is on the verge of being invaded by an Exterminatus fleet in the campaign mode of Retribution. Having seen the true extent of the threat posed by the Exterminatus and Kyras himself, the Tyranid Hive Mind resorts to summoning the Swarmlord, who's basically the grandaddy of all Hive Tyrants, because the stakes really are that high.
  • Go-Go Enslavement: The Dark Eldar Dais of Destruction has two half-naked Sisters of Battle chained to it.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: In Chaos Rising, you can find a recording of Kyras confirming that he betrayed everything he stood for. Listening to it gives the entire team 5 corruption points.
  • A Good Way to Die: The Imperial Priest that can be attached to Imperial Guard squads in the expansions for the original holds to this trope, if his battlefield lines are anything to go by:
  • Goomba Stomp: Most melee units that are capable of flying or leaping. The Assault Marines in the Dawn of War II intro do it with such force that they shake the camera.
    • The Assault Jump in Dawn of War II actually causes damage and also breaks various things usable as cover, making it much more effective.
    • Skykilla, one of the first bosses in Dawn of War II does this, but his version stuns him momentarily. It also has a massive tell in the form of a glowing rune on the ground before he takes off, giving you time to re-position.
  • Gorn: Dawn of War II's 'sync-kills'.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • The last image a non-Eldar player sees of Farseer Taldeer is her charging down a slope, surrounded by enemies. Then the camera tilts up into the sky...
    • Subverted by the first few seconds of the intro movie for Dawn of War II. And throughout the intro movie, for that matter, with one of the tamest deaths being a Warp Spider taking a Bolt Pistol round to the face.
  • The Great Exterminator: Inquisitor Adrastia gave the "Exterminatus" order on the planet Typhon Primaris, where plants and animals had become mutated by Tyranid organism infection, killing the human settlers' livestock. This act of last resort to prevent spread rendered it a "Dead World", no longer able to support life. The notorious order draws the ire of a Chaos Champion who must then be defeated.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Aside from the Chaos Gods, the Nightbringer is mentioned fairly heavily with the narrations with the Necrons in Dark Crusade. Kyras could be considered this during Chaos Rising, we hear about him, but dealing with him is left as a Sequel Hook. Abaddon could also be considered this, being Eliphas' Bad Boss that stays in the background.
  • Grim Reaper: The Essence of the Nightbringer, which is a 40 foot tall metal reaper that shoots green lightning.
  • Guilt-Based Gaming: Quit, and the "are you sure?" dialog box is headlined COWARDS DIE IN SHAME. About as subtle as you might expect, given the source material; sadly, it was not kept for the sequel.

    H - L 
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat:
    • Gorgutz vs. Crull in Winter Assault. Pretty much every scene the two appear in turns into a scenery-chewing contest.
    • Units in Dawn of War II can occasionally throw lines related to whatever they're doing. If in battle, this has the potential to turn into a literal example of ham-to-ham combat.
    • As they do in the first. Watching Khornate Berserkers screaming "BREAK THEM IN HALF!!!" answered by Grey Knights proclaiming "THIS IS THE JUDGEMENT OF THE RIGHTEOUS, SCUM!!!" is a thing of deafening beauty.
  • Harmful Healing: The description for the Imperial Guard General's healing ability in Dawn of War II: Retribution states that it doesn't so much heal the recipient as fill him with a sense of well-being. It is also explicitly stated to have long-term side effects, but very few guardsmen live long enough to experience them.
  • Have You Seen My God?: The Ascendant Daemon-Prince Azariah Kyras claims that the Emperor's "soul was picked clean centuries ago." Captain Angelos states that daemons are liars, and that slaying them is the only way to avoid their influences. The Dark Imperium storyline proves Angelos correct, since the Emperor is still cogent enough to speak with Guilliman.
  • Healing Boss: During Araghast the Pillager's bossfight in Chaos Rising, he summons squads of cultists which he attacks to regain health and pulls back through a portal when he runs low on health and cultists. The fight ends when Eliphas (who's opening the portals) betrays him and leaves him to die.
  • Hearing Voices: Chaos, naturally. Chaos Space Marines in Dawn of War and its expansions will occasionally ask you when you select them:
    Chaos Space Marines: DO YOU HEAR THE VOICES TOO!?
    • Dark Crusade features Eliphas doing this to the player's commander during the Chaos stronghold. Gorgutz and General Alexander are freaked out by it, but Shas'o Kais only hears it as "a buzzing in my comms".note 
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Most Imperial squad leaders and commanders fight bare-headed, just like in the source material. Ogryn Bone'eads, Tau Shas'ui/Shas'vre and Sororitas Sisters Superiors are the only exceptions. The other factions have a mix of bare-headed and helmeted leaders.
    • Averted by the Eldar, as every one of their units wears a helmet
  • Heroic BSoD: In such a Crapsack World, this is only to be expected.
    • Angelos has one when Isador falls to Chaos, Taldeer has another when the (much larger) Necron second wave appears in Winter Assault, and most of the commanders in Dark Crusade or Soulstorm have one as you batter inexorably through their stronghold.
    • At the end of Dawn of War II, your Space Marines seem a little affected by the Armageddon being critically damaged and sacrificing itself, leaving them on the ground in the middle of an endless Tyranid swarm. That is, until the chapter fleet comes out of the Warp just in time to save the day.
    • Diomedes has a major one in Retribution's Space Marine campaign. After finally realizing Kyras was a villain the whole time AND barely surviving the start of the Inquisition's Exterminatus campaign, he's ready to just sit down and die, figuring the Blood Ravens are officially doomed anyway. It takes the Ancient (actually Tarkus) threatening to kill him and providing a Rousing Speech for him to return to his senses and start bringing down Kyras.
  • Heroic Mime:
    • The Force Commander in Dawn of War II's campaign, though he does gets a few small bits of dialogue during the mission briefings in Chaos Rising. All text, of course. Lampshaded in the loading screen text for the first mission which describes him as a man of few words.
    • The Ancient in Retribution, though justified in that he took a vow of silence in penance for unspecified past failings.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • The guy who plants the flag in the opening cutscene of Dawn of War.
    • Averted in Dark Crusade, where you plant a bomb in the Necron base... then run like hell. The soldiers who get the honor of covering your escape however...
    • Averted in a different way by how the mini-epilogue plays out if you won the battle as the Orks. A lot of Ork boyz did get left behind because they were slow or stupid or unlucky, and the survivors think that's pretty funny.
  • Hero Must Survive: Subverted for the most part, getting a hero killed only means you have to re-train them (and most Necron Lord strategies involve him reviving in the middle of the enemy base). The only exception is the Necron stronghold in Dark Crusade, where your hero personally plants a bomb in their catacombs and needs to escape alive to win.
  • Hero Unit: Called Commanders, they generally have special abilities and superior damage reduction against all types of attack.
    • In Dawn of War and its expansions, you can train one Commander of each type and several of each Semi-Commander. They are as follows:
      • Space Marines: Force Commander, Librarian and Chaplain. Apothecaries function as Semi-Commanders.
      • Eldar: Farseer and Seer Council. Harlequins function as Semi-Commanders.
      • Orks: Warboss and Big Mek. Mad Doks function as Semi-Commanders.
      • Chaos: Chaos Lord and Sorcerer.
      • Imperial Guard: The Command Squad, led by the Imperial General, and the Vindicare Assassin. The Command Squad can be reinforced with any combination of the three Semi-Commanders: Commissars, Psykers and Priests.
      • Tau Empire: Tau Commander and Ethereal. Kroot Shapers function as Semi-Commanders and can only join Kroot units.
      • Necrons: The Necron Lord is the only true Commander. Lord Destroyers are technically Commanders as well, but are counted as vehicles.
      • Sisters of Battle: Canoness and Confessor.
      • Dark Eldar: Archon and Haemonculus.
    • In Dawn of War II, you get to pick a single commander unit, one of three per race; which one you pick determines what global abilities you get to use in a multiplayer game. As follows:
      • Space Marines: Force Commander, Apothecary and Techmarine.
      • Eldar: Warlock, Warp Spider Exarch and Farseer.
      • Orks: Warboss, Kommando Nob and Mekboy.
      • Tyranids: Hive Tyrant, Ravener Alpha and Lictor Alpha.
      • Chaos Space Marines: Chaos Lord, Plague Champion and Sorcerer.
      • Imperial Guard: Inquisitor, Commissar Lord and Lord General.
    • In Retribution's Tyranid campaign, the Hive Tyrant is the only hero, with the other slots occupied by standard unit squads.
    • In The Last Stand, each race is represented by a single one of the hero units listed above; not always the one you'd expect either. They are Force Commander (Space Marines), Big Mek (Orks), Farseer (Eldar), Hive Tyrant (Tyranids), Sorcerer (Chaos Space Marines) and Lord General (Imperial Guard). Additionally, the Tau and Necrons make their only DoW II appearances in this mode as DLC characters, represented by the Shas'O Commander and the Overlord respectively.
  • Hired by the Oppressor: Winter Assault: Lord Crull hates needing to use stealth units like cultists (as a follower of the Blood God Khorne, anything more subtle than Attack! Attack! Attack! gets his disapproval) but even he recognizes the need for battlefield intelligence and scouts.
  • Hold the Line:
  • Hollywood Tactics:
    • The Dawn of War intro, in which a squad of Space Marines with Heavy Bolters charges into melee with Orks.
    • Commander Boreale's much-parodied stronghold speech lays out his plan, holding his units in reserve to allow for quick insertions from orbit onto the enemy advance, a tactic the Codex Astartes calls "Steel Rain". The idea of exposing a small portion of one's force at a time against the entire enemy force already has a name, though: Defeat in detail.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: Certain Chaos units seem to believe the player is one of their dark gods.
  • Humongous-Headed Hammer: Dawn of War was the first work in 40k to depict Space Marines wielding thunder hammers outside of Terminator armor (or the Salamanders chapternote ), let alone two-handed ones. This inspired Games Workshop to create a line of tabletop models with that kind of equipment in subsequent editions.
    • In gameplay, Space Marine Force Commanders along with Assault Terminator Squads can get access to thunder hammers that can stun victims.
    • In the campaign, Inquisitor Mordecai Toth gives Brother-Captain Gabriel Angelos a Daemonhammer called God-Splitter, whose head is almost as big across as Gabriel's shoulders in his Powered Armor. It becomes his signature weapon throughout the rest of the series.
  • Hunter of Monsters: Used in gameplay via Weapon of X-Slaying and thematically used by the Tau.
    • Anti-Air: Averted in most cases; apart from the fact that aircraft only appear from Soulstorm onwards, any ranged unit can hit a flyer, so there's no need for a dedicated anti-air unit. Necron Attack Scarabs are the exception, as they can only hit air units from Soulstorm onwards, and certain listening posts come with optional upgrades designed to hit enemy aircraft where it hurts.
    • Anti-Armor: Anything effective against Heavy Infantry. This is an important distinction from...
    • Anti-Infantry: Most early-game units are this, particularly starting infantry, which necessitates waiting to attack enemy structures with any armour value other than low until you get...
    • Anti-Vehicle: Most anti-vehicle infantry only pops up in Tier 2, which is usually no problem because on the whole, vehicles only appear in Tier 2 anyway, Dark Eldar being the only exception. Doubles as Siege Engines, doing decent damage to buildings compared to anti-infantry units.
    • As for the Tau, they often mention hunting phrases and motifs, as well as using the hunter-type playstyle of putting emphasis on ranged combat and working as a team to defeat their enemies. Justified because the fluff of 40k states that the Fire Caste bases its combat doctrines on ancestral Tau hunting rites.
  • Idiot Ball: The Eldar get two of these in Retribution's campaign when they fight... the Eldar. Kayleth goes to greet the Biel-Tan Eldar, they try to kill her, vaguely saying something about her being prophesied to kill them. Kayleth decides they're working for Kyras. At the end of the level, you've destroyed their Seer council, which was conducting some kind of ritual, which Kyras gleefully informs you was slowing the Exterminatus fleet. Kayleth having successfully ensured the annihilation of both Typhon and the buried Craftworld's Infinity Circuit, she investigates the site again when the rest of Biel-Tan announces they're going to retreat and blow up the access tunnel. Instead of, y'know, calling them to ask that they wait, Kayleth once again slaughters her way through the Eldar, the mission ending when the fatally wounded Biel-Tan exarch turns into the Avatar of Khaine.
    • It's one for the Biel-Tan Warp Spider Exarch even moreso. At least Kayleth tries to reason with him. Rather than try to explain himself properly — even the Tyranids would have the wherewithal to recognise the danger Exterminatus poses — he just turns his warhost against you and orders your forces killed.
  • I Let You Win: The entire campaign of Dawn of War was orchestrated by the Maledictum daemon, causing as much bloodshed as posible to power itself up.
  • Implacable Man:
    • Eldar Fire Dragons in Dark Crusade and beyond. Mass of Baneblade + Fleet Of Foot + Decent health = Imba base wreckers that can't be disrupted.
    • One of Eliphas' pieces of wargear in the Dark Crusade Chaos campaign is a pair of boots that make him immune to knockdown, letting him charge through absolutely anything without slowing down.
    • The Librarian in Dawn of War and the Apothecary in Dawn of War II both have a power that can temporarily render their troops invulnerable, as do Ork Mad Doks. (I'LL BRING DA FIGHTIN' JUICE!) and the Priests of the Imperial Guard (Rise up and strike them down!). Necrons of course go without saying.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Units firing while moving can only shoot roughly in front of them and to their left while hitting less than half the time. Seraphim squads retain full accuracy when shooting on the move, while Dual Wielding, suspended from jetpacks, and can shoot behind them as they move.
  • Inappropriate Pride:
    • Khornate Berserkers leaving a transport vehicle will sometimes happily claim they murdered the pilot.
      We need a new driver, this one is dead!
    • Gorgutz' henchman grins happily because Gorgutz named a plan after him. Said plan consists of calling Crull a grot, and was named Plan: Stupid by Gorgutz (and led to the fan belief that the henchman actually is named Stupid).
  • Inevitable Mutual Betrayal: Winter Assault has this in both campaigns. The Imperials are violent xenophobes, while the Eldar are known to happily allow billions of humans to die if it can save a handful of their own. The forces of Chaos and the Orks, on the other hand, end all their conversations cheerfully reminding the other that they will kill them as soon as they're no longer needed.
  • Informed Equipment:
    • Averted. One of the highlights of the series' engine is watching units change their equipment in response to how they are upgraded.
    • Double extra averted in Dawn of War II onwards. You get equippable wargear in the campaign mode that dramatically changes the look and function of your squads, and as you advance in multiplayer rank, your units get more and more bling. And yet, played straight in multiplayer, as the better looking rank unlock armor is purely decorative.
  • Injured Vulnerability:
    • In Soulstorm Farseer Caerys can get a pistol that may automatically kill units whose health is below a certain percentage.
    • The text for the Mad Dok's fighting juice ability implies this was the case in earlier versions, reading that using it on a friendly squad makes it invulnerable to death (they still take damage but don't die), but once it ends orks whose health is too low die.
    • Dawn of War II has several traits and weapons that instantly kill an enemy with less than 20% of their health.
  • Insane Troll Logic Insane Ork Lojik:
    • The Nob piloting "Daisy", exclamation point. When told that the needle is in the red, he shakes it off by saying that "Red goez fasta!" and when told that Daisy hit something it wasn't supposed to hit, he says there's nothing Daisy isn't supposed to hit.
    • Kaptin Bluddflagg also pulls one in the beginning of the first mission in the Ork campaign in Retribution.
      Kaptin Bluddflagg: YAHAHAHA! Dese gits just made da classic blunder: Attackin' an Ork who 'adn't found 'im already! Now we'z can stomp dem fasta!
  • Instant-Win Condition:
    • "Control Area" and "Take and Hold" victory conditions. The default mode of play for multiplayer in Dawn of War II is "Victory Point Control". Players can attempt to destroy the enemy's HQ(s) instead, but that is very unlikely if they aren't winning already as said HQs are very durable.
    • "Destroy HQ" can count, especially in campaign missions; if you can send a small force of jetpacking Lightning Bruisers into the (handily marked) centre of the enemy's massive base to destroy their HQ, you're done. No matter if it was a Suicide Mission, the remainder of your forces are outnumbered ten-to-one, and the enemy have enough resources to build 50 more HQs.
    • "Assassination", especially against the computer. When the victory condition is killing hero units and keeping yours alive, maybe he shouldn't lead the charge against an enemy base.
  • Interface Spoiler: Played with in the base campaign for Dawn of War II. You'll start being awarded equipment for a Dreadnought long before you actually unlock it. Unlike other squads, this equipment doesn't refer to its wearer by name, simply reading "Dreadnought." It isn't until the Dreadnought is unlocked that you learn it is Davian Thule, your commanding officer, and this is the "healing" the apothecaries have been struggling with.
    • In Chaos Rising, mousing over certain battle-brothers Chaos abilities gives away their reason for becoming the Traitor (Thaddeus calls in his Deal with the Devil, Avitus succumbs to his Blood Knight tendencies, Tarkus is corrupted by the Daemon Bolter, etc).
  • Irony: Chaos Sorcerer Sindri Myr and Fallen Librarian Azariah Kyras ascend to Daemonhood by pledging themselves to Khorne. That shouldn't be possible — Sindri and Kyras are Psykers, and Khorne Does Not Like Magic. This lore discrepancy can be explained as part of the Acceptable Breaks from Canon mentioned above.
    • This can be Hand Waved for both of them however. Sindri is heavily implied to have been a member of Chaos Undivided and only used pledges to Khorne since the Daemon of the Maledictum is of Khorne as well, and the Daemon pretty much admits that he ate his soul. Kyras, on the other hand, is not a Sorcerer but a Librarian, an important distinction in the use of their powers (as Khorne despises the former, but would at least tolerate the latter), and even then Kyras is rarely shown using any sort of psyker-based ability and his planned sacrifice of billions of souls to Khorne in the Exterminatus apparently is enough to let it slide.
    • Chaos Lord Crull, who is in charge of a World Eaters warband on Lorn V, has a Sorcerer to serve as his advisor. No true chaos warband that is utterly devoted to Khorne would permit a Sorcerer to be in their presence with their head still on their shoulders.
    • And then there's Carron, who despite serving Khorne repeatedly acts contrary to the most elementary tenets of Khornate worship in his Stronghold battle:
      • His base is invulnerable and automatically kills enemies inside it with poison (Khorne wants blood spilled in combat, both from his servants and their enemies).
      • He put up shrines dedicated to Khorne to power the killing field (Khorne emphatically does not want anything more complicated than a pile of skulls built in worship of him, as time spent building structures is time that could be spent killing).
      • As the shrines fall, Carron starts whining, cringing, and even demanding Khorne do something about it before claiming that he and his forces will strangle the enemy (Khorne does not like the following: cowards, complainers, those who aren't willing to do the job themselves, and methods of killing that don't involve bloodshed).
  • It Can Think: The Tyranids are hungry animals coerced into a horde, but you should not underestimate them, because the Hive Mind all Tyranids obey is highly intelligent and adaptable. Cyrus repeatedly reminds his fellow Marines of this during Dawn of War II. In the first mission of the Tyranid campaign in Retribution, the Imperial Guard are taught this the hard way. Sergeant Merrick claims they're harmless if you know what you're doing moments before the Hive Lord appears and chomps him. Not long afterwards, a Guardsman expresses shock and horror at the sight of Tyranids going for cover, complaining that they're supposed to be dumb beasts. General Castor himself reaches the same realisation after you beat him.
    General Castor: These creatures are not simple beasts...
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: A Dark Eldar yells "Look what crawled out of its cage. And now, it will die." during their stronghold mission. Of course, the Dark Eldar view everyone as beneath them, including other Dark Eldar.
  • Jack of All Stats: Imperial Army autocannon teams in Dark Crusade and Soulstorm provide a solid middle ground between the fast-firing anti-infantry heavy bolter and the slow-firing anti-vehicle lascannon, being effective against both but not quite as much as either. Their usefulness is compounded by their enormous range that enables them to outrange absolutely anything that isn't an artillery unit, and even most of these must advance into autocannon range for indirect fire. Yes, that includes any and all of the notoriously long-ranged Tau unitsnote , which consist almost exclusively of heavy infantry and light/medium vehicles, both of which are particularly vulnerable to autocannon shells. Generally speaking, assaulting a position defended by multiple autocannon teams will incur heavy casualties no matter how, or with what faction, you approach the battle.
  • Jack of All Trades:
    • The Ancient in Retribution. He is a Tactical Marine after all and fully capable of utilizing any weapon used by Tactical, Devastator or Assault Marine squads.
    • The Eldar have Autarch Kayleth, who functions similarly, able to shoot, jump, and assault depending on how you kit her out.
    • Both are justified since Tactical Marines have to learn the tactics of all other marine types first and Autarchs have to learn the combat disciplines of sundry aspect warriors as part of their own training.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Just about everyone will go to lengths to achieve what they want, even if it means crossing the line or to lose their sense of morality.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The cause of Imperial factions being at each other's throats. Shared goals aren't enough to unite them because their broader agendas and/or reasons for getting involved are usually too divergent.
  • Karma Houdini: Gorgutz, who has managed to escape in each game upon defeat rather than face death, perhaps due to Popularity Power.
  • Karma Meter: A 'Morality' meter in Chaos Rising, which affects what abilities and wargear are available to your squads. The campaign also has multiple endings, based on your choices in-game.
  • Kick the Dog: To be expected of a game set in the world of Warhammer 40,000. Even the Tau Empire have their moments. Of course, since the motivations of all the playable forces are so different from game to game, the frequency and depravity of these deeds varies greatly. Playing the campaigns as a Human/Imperial faction brings with it a large amount of contractual Lawful Stupidity and fighting your would-be allies due to Jurisdiction Friction, playing as the Eldar entails redundant hostility to people who may have nothing against you, playing as the Orks means attacking and killing people just because they're there, playing as Chaos means copious levels of Evil Is Petty etc.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: The treatment the Dark Eldar get at the end of their Stronghold mission if you're playing as Chaos or Orks, both fates involving being put in their own cages. Carron and his men subject them to their own torture methods; Gorgutz' boyz make sport of throwing those cages around the low-gravity moon to see how far they can throw them.
  • Kill Enemies to Open:
    • One of Dark Crusade's special campaign abilities lets you move/attack twice per turn. This ability is represented as a favor granted by a Khornate daemon that's bound to the battlefield, so naturally gaining it requires killing a specific number of enemy units before losing the same number of units to the enemy. The actual number depends on who you're fighting on the map - Zerg Rush armies like the Imperial Army or Orks require more kills than elite armies like Space Marines or Necrons.
    • When trapped on Typhon in the Deranged Chaos Champion's arena in Retribution, the barriers around the arena will only fall once you kill the Champion, and he only emerges after you kill a sufficient number of orks, chaos forces and tyranids that continuously pour into the arena.
  • Kill Him Already!: Avitus gets fed up with Araghast taunting you over the comms very quickly and wants him dead, sooner rather than later. In fact, he gets corruption if you don't bring him along for the associated mission.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • A number of factions have access to flamethrowers, though it is featured more prominently with the Sisters of Battle, in much the same way that sunlight is featured more prominently on the surface of the sun.
    • The most spectacular skill of the Librarian in Chaos Rising is throwing fireballs as big as himself that incinerate and scatter infantry about as effectively as the Dreadnought's Assault Barrage.
    • Melta weapons, though not technically fire, tend to qualify as "fire" weapons in-universe, given their thermal properties allowing for the burning of witches and torching vehicles.
  • Kill Sat: Tau and Space Marine bombardments are delivered by the orbiting Air Caste Fleet/Space Marine Battle Barge.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: The Blood Ravens have a habit of recovering, or otherwise "finding" relics from other chapters, among other sources.
  • Large Ham: Nearly every main character (except Eliphas and Taldeer), but especially the narrator. Dawn of War II makes everyone a bit more sedate and sinister (witness the new badass-sounding Eldar), but which angle is better comes down to personal preference.
    • Chaos Rising compensated for that with the new villains (Eliphas remaining his old self) packing a ton of ham. The leader of the Chaos warband, Araghast, seems incapable of saying anything without hamming it up to ridiculous levels. The true Big Bad, in turn, takes this to unholy lengths — every line packs twice the ham compared to Araghast's.
    • Soulstorm's Sisters Of Battle are particularly bombastic, and none more so than their flame-thrower tank:
      Immolator pilot: Behold...THE IMMOLATOR!
      Immolator pilot: It all goes down in FLAAAAMES!
    • Retribution has the beefiest ham of all. Chapter Master Kyras gives a spine-chilling speech praising Khorne and urging his followers to let the galaxy burn.
    • Everything the generic Daemon Prince says. Literally.
    Daemon Prince: I have ascended - NONE may challenge ME!
    Daemon Prince: All pale before my might.
    Daemon Prince: They. Hear. Their. DOOM. Approaching!
    Daemon Prince: DO NOT TRIFLE WITH ME, WORM!
  • Large Ham Title: Apollo Diomedes, Captain of the Honor Guard! When selected, on of his lines is "You have Captain Diomedes".
  • Laser Sight: Sniper Rifles in Dawn of War II have them emitting from underneath the barrel, in addition to a scope, for no logical reason other than it looks cool.
  • Laughably Evil: No matter how evil Gorgutz and Ulkair are, you can't help but laugh at them due to the good acting associated with their characters.
  • Laughing Mad: Sanctioned Psykers and Chaos Marines will spontaneously burst into fits of crazed laughing when idle, for much the same reason.
  • Left Hanging: Gabriel Angelos and the daemon in the Maledictum. He doesn't tell us about it when he appears in Dawn of War II, nor does anyone ask him about it. It apparently was responsible for much of the Blood Raven's problems, and is now presumably very unhappy after you blow up Chapter Master Kyras and purged the chapter of corruption in Retribution.
  • Leitmotif: Especially noticable in Dawn of War II, where every faction has a few different tracks (almost all with Orchestral Bombing when the on-screen action heats up) dedicated to them, and each of those faction-particular tracks shares elements among themselves:
  • Lemony Narrator: The Narrator for Dark Crusade and Soulstorm was a bit of a Large Ham, and had INDEED an unusual way of intoning his monologue.
  • Let's You and Him Fight:
    • The Blood Raven Space Marines and the Imperial Guards in Dark Crusade are allies fighting for the Imperium of Man, but due to the Mêlée à Trois nature of the campaign where all factions want each other dead to completely control Kronus, the two are pitted against each other. In the campaign, they Handwaved the conflict as the two were given conflicting orders that prevent them from backing down. The Space Marine were ordered by their Chapter Master and Chief-Librarian (the sequel named him Azariah Kyras) to purge the planet so that they can possess relics that hold secrets of their unknown origin, while the Imperial Guards were ordered to secure the planet so that they can control the planet from the clutches of the T'au Empire. The two commanders respect each other but they must follow orders thoroughly, so they must submit the other by force. Since the Space Marine campaign is canon, people become suspicious of the Blood Raven's actions...
    • Like Dark Crusade, the Blood Raven Space Marines, the Imperial Guards, and the Order of the Sacred Rose Sisters of Battle, three armed forces in service to the Imperium of Man, are in a Mêlée à Trois conflict against all of the alien forces and each other for control of the Kaurava System. Unlike Dark Crusade, their reasoning against each other is lacking and unexplained, with only the Sister of Battle reasoning that they are tainted by corruption. With the former, they might have a point.

  • Loads and Loads of Loading: While all games in the series have Loading Screens, and quite long ones for the largest Dark Crusade campaign maps, Soulstorm is just guilty of this. On a computer able to operate the previous games at the middle mark of visual settings seamlessly, Soulstorm will take nearly twice as long to load the poorly programmed campaign map, than it will to load any level.
    • Dawn of War II at least gives you some pretty pictures and helpful advice to look at while you wait for your opponents to finish loading.
  • Love Makes You Evil: In a non-romantic example, the traitor in Chaos Rising if it's Thaddeus explains that Ulkair began whispering to him a long time ago, and he was perfectly happy to completely ignore it... until the final mission of the campaign when it looked like a Bolivian Army Ending was inevitable and it told him, "Pledge yourself to me for later, I'll open the Warp right now so the Litany of Fury can get through the Tyranid interference." Given that this isn't a part of anyone else's reason for turning should they be the traitor, it's likely this is a flagrant lie and the fleet made it through on its own, but Sergeant Thaddeus believes it, and believes his bargain saved his friends.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: A number of sync kills leave these, while even normal shooting results in quite a bit of bloodshed.
    • There was a chance that when the Imperial Guard Sanctioned Psyker uses one of his special abilities that it will backfire with messy results.
    • In Dawn of War II, a number of ranged weapons (notably Assault Cannons and Web Spinners) turn anything they kill into giblets.
    • A bit silly for the Tyranid Carnifex, who will tumble onto its stomach, curl up into a ball, explode outwards, and leave a wreck. (The game engine treats Carnifexes as vehicles.)
    • The summoning of the Bloodcrushers (Dawn Of War II) and Bloodthirsters (Dawn Of War), the latter of which doubled up as the death animation for Eliphas the Inheritor in the Chaos stronghold defeat in Dark Crusade.
    • When the Great Unclean One dies, his ribcage explodes outwards.
    • As a relatively mild example, the simple Space Marine bolter in 'Dawn of War II'' tends to cause huge splashes of blood or blow off limbs when they kill enemies, unlike the original game where they act more like generic firearms. This is actually more faithful to the lore.
  • Luke Nounverber: Most major Ork characters have them.

    M - R 
  • Macross Missile Massacre:
    • Provided by Tau Skyray Missile Gunships and their Missile Barrages, Sisters of Battle Exorcists and Space Marine Whirlwinds.
    • In Dawn of War II, Tankbusta Boyz and Cyclone Missile Launchers.
    • In Retribution, the DLC Tau commander character can use (at a certain level) an ability called Sky Ray Barrage, which fires a missile at any (and EVERY) marked target on the screen. Combine that with the markerlight drone, which automatically fires marker bullets at squads, and all you have to do is wait a bit before turning the entire arena into flashy blue lights and ludicrous gore.
  • Machete Mayhem: Ork Gretchins have big Choppas in the shape of machetes that they use to very poor effect as they're grots and builder units.
  • Magikarp Power: Imperial Guardsmen. They begin the game as weak as Cultists and more expensive, and with terrible morale to boot, but upgrades give them a bigger squad limit, decent staying power, great weapons, one of the highest morale values in the game, and temporary morale immunity and double damage after a Commissar executes one of their squadmates. Priests can make them temporarily invulnerable and Psykers annihilate the morale of the enemy. Fully upgraded, plasma-slinging guardsmen with any of these leaders are truly a sight to behold. Squads equipped with grenade launchers outrange almost any other infantry unit and even some static defences, making them a pain to deal with even for the Tau. Also, arguably, Heavy Weapons teams.
    • The Heretics from Chaos Rising onwards can sacrifice themselves to summon large and powerful Bloodcrushers.
    • Also, every Ork squad. Every Ork you add into a squad/have standing about nearby improves the morale and, eventually, combat stats of all your other Orks. Pile O' Gunz enables you to add Nob leaders cheaply, and a mere two fully reinforced Slugga Boy squads can cause significant disruption to any enemy. One of the last ork upgrades makes Sluggaz free to train.
    • The Tau Kauyon path features less easy-access firepower than Mont'ka, but unlocks slow-moving but durable melee units (always nice in a primarily ranged army) and special upgrades which include passive boosts to the durability of various units and to the range and damage of Fire Caste units. Due to emphasizing endurance over speed and firepower, it makes the passive boots of the Ethereal that much more valuable.
    • Cyrus of II's campaign starts out very fragile, dealing pitiful damage and being the epitome of Useless Useful Stealth. With a good sniper rifle, various explosives and the right traits (especially the ones that improve his stealth), he becomes the single most versatile and useful character in the game. Careful and skilled players have used him to solo missions, and many strategy guides declare him outright mandatory for beating the hardest difficulty.
    • Every campaign hero starts out weaker than their multiplayer equivalent. But as you collect wargear, they end up able to hold off entire armies on their own. Especially O'Kais/Or'es'ka, who get a permanent stealth ability that makes them last much longer.
  • Make an Example of Them: After executing Isador for betraying the Blood Ravens and falling to the temptations of Chaos, Gabriel delivers a warning to a squad of Marines arriving at the scene that he will do the same thing to any of them that stray from the Imperium of Man.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Eldar enjoy doing this. However, so far they only managed to fail horribly doing this every single game. They did manage to win using conventional warfare in Winter Assault and possibly in Retribution.
  • Mark of the Beast: In II, Chaos upgrades involve etching or tattooing chaotic runes on a unit, channelling the favour of the Dark Gods. They also come into play with Tarkus and Jonas' ultimate chaos abilities in the campaign, both which are obtained by way of faustian pacts.
  • Marathon Boss: Some of the bosses, especially in Dawn of War II and onwards, have a lot of hit points, and unless there are easier ways to take them out, expect to take a while killing them. Daemon Prince Kyras takes the cake, with his ability to summon infinite waves of Bloodletters and Bloodcrushers, along with his ability to summon three towers to shield his life bar from damage.
    • The Great Unclean One from Chaos Rising. He has 2 million hit points at maximum, has several one-shot attacks, can flesh hook and throw characters out of the battle area and get them stuck and has a bug that can reset his hit points in full. He also comes after an extremely boring grind mission that takes upwards of an hour to get through, and the way the game works, if he kills you, you have to do the entire mission from scratch.
  • Mass Resurrection: The Necron Lord can bring back a large number of Necron infantry in an area around him, using an ability 'called' Mass Resurrection.
  • Maximum HP Reduction: From Dark Crusade onwards, Necron Pariahs reduce maximum HP with every melee attack until they or the target are dead.
  • Meaningful Name: Important characters or places may have these. Leading the lineup, we have Brother-Captain Gabriel Angelos. Coming in second place, with a much less subtle Meaningful Name, we have Warboss Gorgutz Ragescreama/Tankbusta/Deffkilla/etc. He's big on titles.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Dawn of War II's campaign features several of these moments, such as the Orks briefly fighting the Eldar trying to manipulate them when the Space Marines unexpectedly drop in to join the fight. Most notable of these is the mission "Angel Gate", featuring Tyranids, Orks and the Imperial Guard frantically attempting to massacre each other in the city surrounding Angel Forge, while the Space Marines run around the map reactivating the defences so they can close the titular gates and stem the tide of enemies. The pre-mission briefing outright encourages players to take advantage of Orks and Tyranids fighting each other to do the most damage.
  • Merging the Branches: Installments of the series set after Winter Assault imply that the latter's true ending contains elements of both Ork and Eldar campaigns (Taldeer survives the Orks, Chaos and Necrons on Lorn V but is taken out by the Blood Ravens on Kronus in Dark Crusade), while Crull is defeated and his skull taken by Gorgutz 'Ead'unter (the Chaos faction takes it back from him in Dark Crusade).
  • Meta Power: Joining a Farseer to a Seer Council reduces the cooldown for her abilities the more Seers are present.
  • Meteor-Summoning Attack: Retribution, The orks' ultimate attack, is to drop a crapload of asteroids from orbit into the target area.
  • Mood Whiplash: Following the Exterminatus of Typhon, most factions who aren't the Orks have a Darkest Hour cutscene, where motives are questioned, secrets laid bare and loyalties stretched to the very brink of shattering. This is immediately followed up by a battle against the gut-bustingly hilarious and hammy Mad Mek, who is basically a living reminder from the game that it's okay to laugh again.
  • Mook Commander: The Tau faction features the Ethereal Commander, which provides a morale bonus for all Tau units. The Imperial Guard allows squads to purchase Commissars, Priests and Psykers that provide similar assorted bonuses.
    • In the second game, the Tyranid Hive Lord is a giant killing machine but boosting nearby Tyranids is his (its?) real strength. Once he learns to summon Elite Mooks... let's say the Tyranid campaign is probably the easiest of the six.
    • Having a sergeant (or assimilated unit) in a squad gives a bonus to morale (Space Marine and Imperial Guard Sergeants, Ork Nobs, Eldar Exarchs) or health (Chaos Aspiring Champions). In Winter Assault, a mission requires you to brainwash Guardsman squads, which can't be done if there's a Sergeant in it. Orks also get a morale bonus by attaching a Big Mek (who can be upgraded to have a damage reducing aura) or Warboss, while Space Marine Force Commanders and Chaos Lords get upgrades that passively increase the damage of friendly units around them.
    • The role of Commissars in the Imperial Guard is to ensure morale, accuracy, and general enthusiasm by blowing out the brains of panicking soldiers. It instatly restores morale and gets the units to fire better for a short period but you lose one squad member.
  • Morale Mechanic: Most infantry units in the series have a morale score, and certain weapons, among them sniper rifles and flamethrowers, do less physical damage but massive morale damage. Demoralized troops won't run away on their own, but they can't shoot straight and they run faster. Space Marine sergeants have the ability to restore squad morale, and so do the Imperial Guard Commissars — though the latter usually includes summarily executing a member of the squad in front of the others.
  • Moral Myopia: The entire reason the story of Dawn of War II happens. The Eldar manipulated the Tyranids into attacking the Imperium's worlds to safeguard an Eldar craftworld. This isn't even the first time they've done so, either.
    • It also bites them square in the ass in Retribution as all the Imperial attention they've drawn to the sector results in the Inquisition declaring Exterminatus. Said process obliterates the Infinity Circuit of a buried Craftworld, consigning millions, possibly billions, of Eldar souls to being devoured by Slaanesh.
  • More Dakka: An actual upgrade you can research for the Orks in Dawn of War, while also applied to some weapons. The sequel instead has 'More Dakka' as a multiplayer ability you can use if you chose the Ork Mekboy commander which makes weapons have no fire cooldown (but still have to reload, sadly), and an ability called 'Luv da Dakka' for Kommandos, whose tooltip is: "Hold down da trigga fer maximum carnage! Knocks over enemies hit by your shots.". It does still more damage.
  • Moral Pragmatist:
    • In Winter Assault, the Imperial Guard and Eldar work to keep the Titan out of Chaos hands, though the first to the gate leaves the other to be torn apart. The orks and Chaos forces have an evil version where the mass landings of the Imperial Guard causes Crull and Gorgutz to stop fighting, though they have no illusions that it's out of convenience and intend to kill the other as soon as possible.
    • In Retribution, the ork campaign is kicked off when Inquisitor Adrastia shoots down Bluddflagg's ship and hires him to take out Kyras, pointing out that if he ascends and destroys the entire sector, there'll be nothing left for the orks to fight and steal from.
  • Multiple Endings: One for each campaign/sub-campaign. That means four in Winter Assault, seven in Dark Crusade, nine in Soulstorm, six in Retribution.
    • Chaos Rising has several, depending on how far you slid down the slippery slope, if you did at all. It also depends on some of the actions you take during the campaign, such as killing Diomedes or Eliphas.
  • Musical Assassin: In Retribution Slaanesh's followers finally make an appearance in the form of Noise Marines, Chaos Marines who fight anyone and everyone with The Power of Rock.
  • Mutually Exclusive Power-Ups: Dawn of War II and its Chaos Rising expansion rate your performance on missions in three categories: kill count, speed and endurancenote . The former two are largely mutually exclusive because you can either kill everything on the map, which takes far too long to get a good speed rating, or make a beeline for the mission target, which is the only way to play speedily but naturally precludes you from depopulting the AO. Only a small handful of missions allow for accomplishing both. Fortunately, the reward for speed-running is just a minor amount of XP while you get the same plus all the XP and gear from the enemies you killed if you go for a five-star kill rating, so gameplay-wise it's mostly a no-brainer. Also, killing tons of bad guys in style is kind of the point of the game, so running past all that juicy cannon fodder means you miss out on 80% of the content.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: The Avatar of Khaine's recruit quote.
    Avatar of Khaine: I am Khaela Mensha Khaine.
  • Myopic Conqueror: In the last two expansions, every faction can fortify a conquered province by leaving guards and structures, which makes defending the province easier (in Dark Crusade, every building constructed by the player remained on the map, making defense much easier, in Soulstorm this was limited to a few preset buildings). Garrisoned units and structures can also be refunded to free up units from safe provinces to contested ones on the "Risk"-Style Map.
    • In both games, the Eldar simply leave once their purpose is achieved (taking out the Necrons, as well as the other enemies present on the planet/system), though leaving behind a few hidden waygates if they should need to return.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Eliphas' Co-Dragons from Dark Crusade, the Sorcerers Amphion and Zathus, are named after the twins Amphion and Zethus from Greek mythology.
  • Never Found the Body: In the Eldar campaign of Retribution, they mention that despite their defeat on Kronus, the Eldar's subsequent mission to discreetly recover the soulstones of the dead around the Vandea region was a resounding success, with the Space Marines never suspecting their presence and all fallen Eldar accounted for except for the spirit stone of Farseer Taldeer, of whom no trace could be found...
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The ending of the original Dawn of War.
    • And true to form, it does come to bite them in the ass many years later, with Adrastia saying to Diomedes that Angelos' confessing what happened there is actually damning evidence against the Blood Ravens.
    • Pretty much all the factions when they put an end to the Biel-tan Eldar ritual on Typhon, big time. Special mention goes to the Eldar of Alaitoc when they inadvertently cause the Infinity Circuit of a dead craftworld they were trying to save to be destroyed by the Exterminatus fleet.
  • Nintendo Hard: So you tried 'Hard' mode in the campaign mode of Dark Crusade and Soulstorm? Good. Now try Dawn of War II's Primarch mode; the first few missions intended to get the player adjusted to the campaign's gameplay have the potential to kill you outright if you're not careful. And it only gets worse...
    • The Dark Crusade campaign is absolutely merciless on any difficulty above Easy. Structures you build during a battle remain on the map if you win and will be present at the start of the next battle on that map... but this applies to the AI too. Territories at strength 8 or above start with multiple fully-built bases and since the AI is scripted to attack you the instant its military rating is better than yours, it will rush you with vehicles before your first structure even finished building. If the AI's commander is also present, expect a full honor guard visiting your base within 30 seconds in addition to whatever else is already on the way.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: In the vanilla versions of Dawn of War and Dawn of War II, only the Space Marines are playable. Averted in the campaigns for Winter Assault, Dark Crusade, Soulstorm and Retribution, where all factions are playable in some form.
  • No Canon for the Wicked:
    • The official winners of Winter Assault and Dark Crusade are the Eldar and the Space Marines. Averted in Soulstorm, where it is revealed in III's loading screens that the Orks under Warboss Gorgutz won canonically.
    • The campaign for Chaos Rising officially ended with the second best ending, in which Martellus isn't the traitor, since he is a playable squadmate alongside Cyrus.
  • No Indoor Voice: The vast majority of Chaos units yell, and only yell. Even the Orks don't yell as much.
  • Noisy Guns: The Commissar's standard-issue bolt pistol makes a Dramatic Gun Cock every time he uses it to do a summary execution.
    • Orks are all about their noisy guns, particularly the Kustom Shootas used by Flash Gitz. Orks consider the noise a gun makes to be a vital part of it's functionality.
    • The Vindicare's gun makes a very loud noise when using the scope for no real reason except to tell you that you're about to see some Pretty Little Headshots.
  • No One Could Survive That!: In Chaos Rising, Eliphas the Inheritor isn't quite as dead as his fate in Dark Crusade seemed.
    • One ending cutscene in Chaos Rising might count as well. If you killed Eliphas in the final campaign mission, he apparently can regenerate his body somehow.
      Ulkair: His refusal to accept death is an insult to Grandfather Nurgle.
    • The Blood Ravens also get rather exasperated by Eliphas' ability to come back from the dead twice so far. Davian Thule lampshades this as he and Eliphas fight in Retribution's first Chaos mission.
      Davian Thule: I've grown rather adept at killing you, Eliphas.
  • No Range Like Point-Blank Range: The Imperial General and Commissars in the first game have a finishing animation where they use their sidearm and deliver a point-blank headshot to humanoid enemies.
  • No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: Most levels in Retribution. Thought you could use jump-capable infantry to Sequence Break? Think again.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: The Tau commander in Soulstorm is somewhat unnerved at the Sisters' fanatical zeal, as it is uncomfortably close to what the Greater Good demands of the Tau.
  • Non-Entity General: Some commander units, such as the Warboss and Farseer, will address the player when you select them.
    • Averted (possibly) by the Chaos units, who seem to believe you to be one of the Chaos Gods.
    • Mega-Armored Nobz will occasionally lampshade this when clicked on:
      Mega-Armored Nobz: Why's you givin' me orders?
    • Averted big-time, however, by Dawn of War II's singleplayer. There, the Force Commander is explicitly stated to be the player's character.
    • Dawn of War II's multiplayer still play this trope straight however. If you are playing as the Eldar, your units still refer to you as "Farseer" (even if the commander you chose, that is on the field, is a Farseer); the Force Commander in the multiplayer acts if you are commanding him; while Orky players are still da Boss of all da boyz.
    • Played straight by the Tyranids, who obey the Hive Mind.
  • Non-Health Damage: All attacks deal damage to morale (except units with no morale bar, like vehicles, buildings and the more faithful/fanatic/batshit insane footsoldiers), while some are specifically noted to deal a lot of damage to morale (such as flamers and snipers). Several abilities deal more damage to an enemy's morale than their health, or even no health damage at all. A demoralized squad has lowered accuracy and damage, but moves faster.
    • The Chaplain's Demoralizing Shout greatly reduces an enemy squad's morale and speed.
    • The Khorne Berserkers' Mark of Khorne ability demoralizes nearby enemies and makes them run away.
    • Some Dark Eldar buildings deal damage to nearby enemies' morale, while Chaos buildings slow its regeneration.
    • Psykers deal morale damage to themselves when using their abilities (which are themselves highly demoralizing to the enemy).
    • Inverted with Commissars, whose Execute ability instantly restores squad morale at the cost of, well, executing a squad member.
    • The Priest's Fanaticism ability restores morale and temporarily makes the squad immune to health and morale damage.
    • The Necron Lord's Nightmare Shroud ability utterly destroys any morale in nearby enemies, and makes them run away from him.
    • Necron Flayed Ones deal constant morale damage to enemies around them.
    • Dark Eldar Horrorfex grenades cause high morale damage and cause units to flee, while their Screams of the Damned ability causes all enemies to lose half their morale.
    • The Avatar of Khaine makes nearby Eldar units immune to morale damage.
    • Killing the Ethereal deals massive amounts of morale damage to all Tau units on the map.
  • No, You: Macabee, the talking Necron Pariah in Dark Crusade, delivers this twice.
    Governor-Militant Alexander: The Necrons are here! Drive them back to their tombs, men!
    Macabee: It is your men who go to their tombs, Governor!

    Aun'el Shi'Or'es: Return to the tombs that spawned you, monsters!
    Macabee: Gladly... but first, we must help you to yours.
  • Oblivious Astronomers: Subverted. The Tyrannid fleet is only invisible because the Eldar are mucking with the data.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Imperial administrators of Meridian take this all the way into Genre Blind territory. Seriously, the Tyranids are about to ravage the sector and you only want to spare one tenth of one percent of factory production?! Administrator Derosa does get better once she realizes the gravity of the situation however.
    • It's hinted at being more than that once you find out the Governor had Blood Ravens relics hidden near Angel Forge. Chaos Rising goes on to confirm that Governor Vandis has connections with Chaos.
  • Obviously Evil: Chapter Master Kyras. His portrait even has a demonic red aura around it along with the impression that something just isn't right with him. Captain Diomedes is oblivious to this for a good chunk of the campaign. To be fair, though, this is the 41st millennium.
    • About half of Isador's cutscenes consist of him listening to voices, surrounded by hallucinations of Sindri, and just prior to his betrayal, he orders a squad of Marines to follow him on a secret path into the storage of the Maledictum without telling anyone because "It's a surprise".
  • Obvious Villain, Secret Villain: The main threat is invading orks, but as the game progresses the forces of Chaos take precedence, and ends in a fight with a Daemon Prince.
  • Off with His Head!: Kyras' final fate in all campaigns is to take your race's biggest gobal power to the face until it decapitates him.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • One of the Orks in the intro movie of the original first game, right before he gets shot in the face.
    • If you choose the Chaos path at the end of the Disorder campaign in Winter Assault, Crull does a double-take when a third army arrives on the field.
    Crull: Necrons! Here?!
    • Necron Pariah Thomas Macabee in Dark Crusade, when he spots the bomb that your troops have planted at the heart of the Necron tomb complex.
    Macabee: My lord! The living have - BOOM
    • Dawn of War II: This describes Cyrus' reaction when he realizes that communications are being impaired.
      Cyrus: A shadow in the warp? Those were his exact words!?
    • Everyone shares this moment on Typhon when it's subjected to Exterminatus.
      Mr. Nailbrain: Not a good place to be! Not a good place to be!
    • Eliphas has one when Abaddon decides to have a word with him the first time.
      Eliphas: Lord Abaddon, it cannot be you!
    • Imperial Guardsmen react very calmly to meeting most enemy forces. Examples: "Orks inside the perimeter." and "Those are Eldar? I thought they'd be taller." However, on bumping into Necron and Chaos forces, they respond with a terrified "Oh no! Not them!".
      • If the Necrons attack his stronghold in Dark Crusade, the normally mouthy and defiant General Alexander loses his nerve more and more as they push farther into the base.
    • In Dawn of War a Blood Raven sergeant looks on in horror at the massive fire in humanoid shape while an wary Gabriel Angelos responds:
      Sergeant: What is that thing?
      Gabriel Angelos: A deamon conjured up by the Eldar. They call it an Avatar.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Exaggerated with Chapter Master Azariah Kyras in Retribution.
    • Honorable mention goes to Eliphas in the same game, who lets Kyras's plan go through, just with him in Kyras's place in the end of the Chaos campaign.
  • One-Man Army:
    • Played straight by most Dark Crusade commanders once you've given them a few upgrades. The Necron Lord and the Tau Commander in particular can tie down, often even destroy entire armies single-handedly once fully upgraded. On Easy they can solo most missions, provided you use them cleverly.
    • Played with by Space Marine honor guard units in Dark Crusade. Whereas all other factions' honor guard units have the same size as their regular versions (read:squads of 4-10 in case of infantry), Space Marine honor guards mostly consist of just one seriously souped-up Super-Soldier that can wield the whole range of SM wargear. Equip one of these guys with a heavy bolter and watch him hold a chokepoint against entire Imperial Guard companies all on his lonesome, piling up exploded corpses by the train load. It usually takes heavy vehicles or massive numbers to overcome such a unit once it has established its kill zone.
    • Averted by Dawn of War II and Chaos Rising: rather than a single Space Marine facing hundreds of attackers, you're in control of nearly a dozen Space Marines facing thousands of attackers. This is still enough for the job at hand, as long as you use the same combined arms and defeat-in-detail tactics as the "real" Space Marines.
  • One-Winged Angel: Considering that this series involves at least two seperate attempts of characters ascending into daemonhood this is pretty much inevitable for some Final Boss sequences.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Kaptin Bluddflagg's accent veers all over the place, floating somewhere between the classic pirate accent and a quite stereotypical Irish accent.
  • One-Handed Zweihänder: In the first game, Force Commanders wielded a normally two-handed thunder hammer with one hand and a gun in the other. The sequel now limits the thunder hammer to a two handed weapon, with the one-hand version limited to Terminator armor.
  • One-Hit Kill: The Vindicare Assassin can one-hit-kill almost any infantry unit with his Exitus Rifle. Some Commander units and some super-heavy infantry like the Crisis Battlesuit can survive the first shot, but few can survive the second.
  • Orbital Bombardment: On both tactical and strategic levels.
    • The Space Marine Force Commander has an Orbital Bombardment power, which has the Astartes' orbiting Battle Barge fire multiple Pillars of Light into the general area of the selected location. In Dark Crusade, you can hijack the Orbital relay, letting you use the ability on the Space Marines (they fire one on their own base in the ending).
    • The Tau have the Orbital Strike ability, which fires a single massive beam on one point, which then spreads out. In Soulstorm, the Ethereal orders the Air Caste to fire into their base as a desperate maneuver. The Ar'ka cannon could be considered a variation, since it serves as a lunar-based planetary bombardment system (it can strike any of the four planets in the system).
    • Dawn of War II: Retribution demonstrates Exterminatus on Typhon Primaris.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: The Tau-allied Vespid Stingwing Strain are shorter than most species in this universe, yet they're classified as a Commander squad and in melee they can take on heavy infantry troops several times their own size.
  • Pistol-Whipping: The Vindicare Assassin uses his Exitus pistol as a rapid bludgeon in melee combat. It's very powerful, more so than many melee-oriented units. Activating the Assassination Scope ability makes it do even more damage, somehow.
  • Planetville: Averted throughout the first three titles of the series. Dawn of War and Winter Assault both take place on one single planet and in Dark Crusade the Narrator describes just how the defending faction was defeated and killed/driven off the planet once you conquer their stronghold. Soulstorm plays it partially straight with the factions traveling through the webway between four planets and three moons, although the planets admittedly have multiple large, separately-captured zones each.
    • Dawn of War II has you leaping between three different planets to choose your missions. Played pretty straight, as your fight to save entire planets (and the rest of the game's events) are taking place on a small patch of land on a side of said planets. It is justified since you're leading a small strike force against important targets like enemy commanders and the like, while your brother Blood Ravens and the Imperial Guard Hold the Line.
  • Power at a Price: In Chaos Rising, there are some very powerful items. The catch is that they are tainted by Chaos and corrupt their users.
    • Interestingly, this also applies to maintaining full purity in the same game, since it grants you ludicrously powerful abilities, though at the expense of forcing you to work very, very hard at maintaining that purity.
  • Power Crystal: Eldar plasma generators and thermo-plasma generators have large crystals.
  • Power Echoes: Eldar (both regular and Dark) and certain Chaos commanders tend to speak with a reverb. Daemon Princes and Living Saints take it even further.
  • Power Up Letdown: In Dark Crusade, Eliphas's last upgrade is daemonic ascension which permanently makes him a daemon prince and requires having all nine wargear pieces acquired. The problem here is that by accepting daemonic ascension, Eliphas loses the effects of the Helm of Lorgar (Detects Infiltrated Units) and the Banner of Chaos (Damages enemy morale), making the upgrade a step backwards in usefulness.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Both games and their expansions, to an entirely justified extent. The sheer size of each 40k army and the overlapping roles between various units meant that some had to be left out of either version to prevent unit redundancy. This is also reflected in the different subfactions of each army being little more than Palette Swaps of their parent army, as representing all the different units and types would make the game's size huge.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Plenty of it to go around, especially in Dawn of War II.
    • Discussed when Araghast allows your squads to leave the battlefield alive during an early skirmish with the Black Legion in Chaos Rising.
      Eliphas: You allow them to escape, Lord Araghast?
      Araghast: Because it serves me, Eliphas! If we kill them now, we waste the value of the traitor in their ranks. Your vengeance can wait.
      Eliphas: Of course, my lord.
    • Lord General Castor, who is otherwise heroic, makes use of while talking down Sergeant Merrick:
      Castor: Merrick, a guardsman's life is to die. I take them to a place where they may die. I am not afraid to spend their lives, but I will not waste them. [...] Now, Sergeant-Major, you may continue with your attempt to kill me, but as I said, I will not waste the lives of my men, and executing you for insubordination would be... wasteful.
    • In Retribution the Tyranid Hive Mind recognises the threat Kyras poses to the system and sets out to stop him and the inbound Exterminatus fleet. After all, how can it unite the hive fleet splinter and have the sub-sector consumed if every living thing is reduced to ash and everything else of value destroyed?
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: ACCEPT OUR DOMINION. *Cue More Dakka*
    • Jonah Orion also delivers one when he makes his entrance.
      Jonah Orion: No more Blood Ravens fall this day, NO MORE!
    • Araghast responds back to one of these with a one-liner of his own.
      Tarkus: Your end is at hand.
      Araghast: Fearsome words, Blood Raven! Now show me deeds!
    • Eliphas arguably gets the single most epic one in the series at the end of the Typhon Exterminatus.
  • Prophecy Armor: Dark Crusade has Farseer Taldeer responds to Captain Thule's taunts by telling him she already knows when she's going to die, so his threats fall a little flat (however, this is in the non-canon mission where the Eldar beat the Blood Ravens). In canon, she's captured by the Blood Ravens, "interrogated" by chapter master/chief librarian Kyras, and killed at some point within their custody, with Kyras keeping her spirit stone.
  • Punched Across the Room: Special melee attacks can send people flying just as effectively as an explosion.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: In Retribution, as you wait for the Tyranids to attack on a mission on the Judgement of Carrion, the Space Hulk's machine spirit will point out: They. Are. Here.
  • Railing Kill: In Dawn of War I, infantry that are hit with heavy knockback will still adhere to the boundaries of the map which prevents them from flying into water or over cliffs. However, if the explosion caused them to lose their last remaining hitpoints and die, then their body will be allowed to fly freely without restriction before hitting the ground/water.
  • Rate-Limited Perpetual Resource:
    • The main resource is Requisition, which is obtained by capturing Strategic Points around the map (up to a maximum of 400 per tick). These points can then be fortified with Listening Points, which increase the amount of Requisition obtained per second, but they eventually degrade, providing less Requisition over time.
    • Power is obtained by building Generators, with a limit of 6 generators per HQ building (and some factions limit the amount of HQ buildings as well) and a total limit of 350 per tick.
    • The Necrons don't use Requisition, only Power. However, the more Obelisks they build on Strategic Points, the faster their units are built, getting a 20% production increase for every one (up to 100%). To prevent them becoming a runaway juggernaut (somewhat), every generator they build takes an increasingly long time to build.
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: Rather infamously, official Russian dub for the first Dawn of War "translated" the animal-like noises Kroot troopers makes as... actually voiced phrases "animal noises" and "aggressive Kroot sounds", likely taking the script too literally and not bothering to check.
  • Red Herring: Virtually every enemy faction from campaign mode in Retribution that isn't aligned with the Big Bad is superfluous to the plot, excluding the Biel-Tan Eldar.
  • Redshirt Army: The Imperial Guardsmen are ordinary humans in a world filled with genetically engineered Super Soldiers, omnicidal robots, and aliens with high technology and/or terrifying Psychic Powers. They are surprisingly aware of this, meaning that infantry have crap morale because they know exactly how expendable they are. Fortunately, these morale problems can be solved by using superior numbers, propaganda and Commissars executing soldiers to motivate nearby troops to fight harder. Once fully upgraded however...
  • The Remnant: In the Tau campaign of Dark Crusade, when the Imperial Guard are defeated, the narrator mentions that many of the survivors continued to stage guerrilla attacks against the aliens. Also, in the actual game, the forces remaining in any enemy-controlled province after their main headquarters on the "Risk"-Style Map has been captured probably count.
    • Destroying all of an AI player's builders and H Qs will leave them building only basic troops in large numbers. They go around the map capturing points, but they really have no hope of being anything but a mild annoyance.
  • Required Party Member: In Chaos Rising, each corruptible squad leader (apart from the Force Commander) has a mission he feels passionate about going on. You don't have to bring them, but failing to do so will incur a hefty Corruption penalty for the specific sergeant, making them necessary to bring along for full purity runs.
    • Thaddeus wants to join you in retaking Spire Legis on Meridian, because it was his home and is being occupied by Chaos cultists.
    • Cyrus wants to be part of a mission on Calderis involving rescuing scouts, many of whom he personally trained.
    • Tarkus wants to partake in a mission on Typhon to take on the Eldar and an Avatar of Khaine, wanting revenge on them for their actions in the previous campaign.
    • Jonah wants to join a mission into the Judgement of Carrion to recover gene-seed, seeing it as a part of his sacred duties as a Librarian.
    • Avitus wants to be part of a mission to Aurelia to face Araghast the Pillager, having been driven to murderous fury by Araghast's taunting.
  • Resource-Gathering Mission:
    • Dark Crusade has a mission where the object is to start up a massive manufacturing complex. The winner is the first to reach 2,000 energy (or to destroy their enemy). Once this province is taken, you start with extra resources on all subsequent missions.
    • The Pavonis mission requires you to gather six Servitors at your HQ so you can use the starport by moving a unit close to them. However, this also works for the enemy, and servitors can be seen gliding back and forth as they run into opposing armies.
  • Ret-Canon: Dawn of War introduced and popularised the use of two-handed Thunder Hammers by Space Marine Commanders in power armor - at the time, not even doable in the tabletop.
  • Reveling in the New Form: A Chaos Lord transformed into a Daemon Prince (a Big Red Devil bigger than a tank) will make his satisfaction known. Loudly.
    "I have ascended — none may challenge me!"
    "All pale before my might!"
    "They are but gnats before me!"
    "None can stand before me!"
  • Riddled and Rattled: Many sync-kills (seen when a unit dies to melee damage) involve lots of rapid attacks, with the victim's corpse trembling and shuddering accordingly before falling down.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: Justified, as most factions airdrop, teleport or otherwise summon more or less complete buildings onto the battlefield which simply need some final adaptations to become functional.
  • "Risk"-Style Map:
    • Dark Crusade and Soulstorm both feature a strategic map where the different factions fight for territory. Whenever a faction moves into another faction's territory, a battle starts.
    • In Dawn of War II and Chaos Rising, the player is tasked with traveling to different hotspots scattered across three different planets, as well as a Space Hulk in Chaos Rising. Some of these have time limits attached, so it's the player's call as to what takes priority.
  • The Reveal:
  • RPG Elements:
    • All campaigns except for those in Dawn of War and Winter Assault feature character customization to some extent. Dark Crusade and Soulstorm feature wargear that changes how a particular hero plays in the field, while Dawn of War II and its expansions, Chaos Rising and Retribution are as much about character customization as they are about strategy: squads gain experience and can choose talents and traits over the course of a given campaign, and certain enemy squads will randomly drop wargear color-coded by rarity and value. This combined with co-op play can make Dawn of War II and its expansions feel like a very strange session of an MMORPG.
    • In the Retribution campaign, you choose between different rewards for completing each mission — a random piece of wargear, a new squad/vehicle or an upgrade for a specific existing squad/vehicle. There are achievements both for acquiring all available units and for obtaining all available upgrades for any squad, unit or vehicle, since you can't specialise specific squads and get all available units.
    • Keeping units alive is central to the multiplayer in Dawn of War II, as both hero units and normal units gain experience and become more effective as they gain levels.
    • Chaos Rising adds a Karma Meter to its campaign. Depending on what the player has done and how high it is, the last few missions play out differently, and the ending changes.
  • Road Cone: The events of the Winter Assault, Dark Crusade, Soulstorm, Chaos Rising and Retribution expansions are all dictated by later expansion packs or games in the series. Winter Assault was won by the Eldar, Dark Crusade by the Blood Ravens, and Soulstorm by Orks. Diomedes survived the events of Chaos Rising, and The Ancient aka Tarkus reveals that Avitus was the traitor. Dawn of War III reveals that Space Marine campaign in Retribution was canonical.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: In Soulstorm, if you capture the Dark Eldar base while playing as one of the three Imperium Factions then all the tortured and enslaved humans are rescued and all but one of the Dark Eldar are slaughtered to a man.
  • Rousing Speech: In Dark Crusade several leaders give you one of these in response to you attacking their stronghold (often doubles as a Sedgwick Speech, as you usually defeat them regardless). Same for Soulstorm, though with a higher chance of Narm. Indrick Boreale gives an especially bad speech wherein his accent (and liberal use of As You Know) dulls the intended effect.
    • In the Retribution expansion for the second game, 'Inspiring Speech' is actually an equippable item for Imperial Guard campaign heroes. It restores energy to all nearby units.
  • Royal Decree: The Exterminatus in Retribution is initiated with one of these.
    Decree: We have arrived, and it is now that we perform our charge. In fealty to the God-Emperor (our undying lord) and by the grace of the Golden Throne... I declare Exterminatus upon the Imperial world of Typhon Primaris. I hereby sign the death warrant of an entire world, and consign a million souls to oblivion. May Imperial justice account in all balance. The Emperor protects.
  • Rule of Fun: "The Last Stand" mode in Dawn of War II and its expansions, which has you and two other players survive against waves of enemies of... many different species, while the players themselves don't even need to be from the same faction. Relic doesn't even try to justify it, it's just for fun.
  • Running Gag: In Dawn of War II, the drop pods are tend to squish Orks by falling right on top of them.

    S - Z 
  • Sapping the Shapeshifter: The Necron Lord is invulnerable while in the shape of the Nightbringer/Deceiver, so killing him requires you to wait for the transformation to end. Unfortunately, the Necron Lord has a self-repair function, so he won't stay down for long.
  • Say My Name: When Bale gets cornered, he screams Sindri's name on top of his lungs, realising that he got exploited and discarded. When Sindri confirms that he's not gonna help, Bale, already mortally wounded, says his name one last time, with much weaker voice, and gets killed.
  • Scenery Gorn: Explosions leave scorched craters, heavy firepower chews up cover, objects are crushed beneath the treads of massive units, buildings get bits of masonry knocked off them before eventually collapsing... The aftermath of a big battle in the game can drastically alter the look of the terrain, bearing all the scars of war proudly.
  • Schrödinger's Canon: Soulstorm was not well-liked by the fans (especially the Marine campaign), so many assume the Blood Ravens lost (the Imperial Guard is a fan-favorite winner). Dawn of War II reveals the Blood Ravens did indeed get thoroughly trounced in Soulstorm, though it doesn't mention who actually won until a Dawn of War III loading screen tip unceremoniously says that it was Gorgutz.
    • The traitor in Chaos Rising. During any given playthrough, the traitor will change based on the relative corruption ratings of your squad leaders. Retribution reveals a canonical traitor, Avitus.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: In Chaos Rising. There's a traitor amongst you — who it is won't be decided until the mission when he reveals himself.
  • Screaming Warrior: Every single unit.
    • Eldar Howling Banshees canonically weaponize this trait. "Our cries herald the coming of great pain!"
  • Sealed Evil in Another World: The planet Tartarus actually serves as a prison for a Bloodthirster. Ironically for a daemon serving a War God, it's The Unfought, encountered only as an ominous floating head, and instead the Daemon Prince Sindri Myr serves as the final boss.
  • Separate, but Identical: Players are distinguished from each other with "army schemes". The default ones reflect existing sub-groups of the different factions, but the in-fluff differences between these groups are not reflected, not that this has stopped fans trying to make mods that reflect the proper way things are. In the first Dawn of War however, playing a skirmish match against the computer resulted in all the players of a faction using the same scheme.
  • Shapeshifting Heals Wounds:
    • A variation occurs with the Nightbringer's transformation of the Necron Lord : while the Nightbringer takes no damage (being completely invulnerable), the Necron Lord's HP percentage is transferred over the Nightbringer's and the inverse is true as well when he reverts back to the Necron Lord. But any damage inflicted by the Nightbringer is transfered to its health and the Nightbringer didn't have a natural health regeneration.
    • The Deceiver's transformation of the Necron Lord plays it straighter : while it shares the some of same properties (invulnerability and health percentage transfer in both ways) as the Nightbringer's, the Deceiver gradually regenerates health instead of regain it by attacking. This can be downplayed if the Necron Lord is equipped with the Phylactery upgrade which triples its regeneration (but not the Deceiver's), making it more effective than the Deceiver's transformation but vulnerable.
    • Chaos Champions and Sorcerers can be sacrificed to summon a Bloodthirster of Khorne, a humongous Big Red Devil who is summoned at maximum HP due to having negative HP regeneration when out of combat.
    • The Chaos Lord can similarly be transformed into a Daemon Prince at full HP, no matter how low their HP was before transforming.
  • Shared Life-Meter: As of the Soulstorm expansion, the total health of squads is visible (the earlier games only showed it when the squad was down to a single unit), though individual unit's lifebars are still visible.
  • Shoot the Messenger: During the Dawn of War campaign, a Chaos cultist brings warning to Lord Bale and Sindri that the Space Marines approach. Bale goes out to meet them, telling Sindri:
    Bale: And dispose of this idiot!
    Cultist: Why? How have I failed!?
    Sindri: You were stupid enough to personally deliver ill news to Lord Bale, and we cannot abide stupidity...
  • Short Range Guy, Long Range Guy: Played straight in several regards.
    • Basic infantry generally consists of a melee unit and a ranged unit, with the player's number of each being determined by playstyle. The Crippling Overspecialization of each unit means that it's best to take out melee units at range and vice versa, typically by tying up enemy ranged units in melee and blasting them to bits from a distance.
    • The Tau Empire plays this straight with their Fire Warriors and allied auxiliary units from the Kroot and Vespid. While Tau units are excellent ranged attackers, they are even more worse off in melee than other races' ranged units, while Kroot Carnivores and Hounds and Vespid Stingwings come with clever disruption abilities but deal less overall damage than other melee specialists, thus creating a need for both, especially since melee units can act as spotters for longer-ranged Fire Warriors.
    • The Force Commander and Tarkus are initially kitted out to be melee support and a ranged tank respectively. However, players with enough patience at the start of the game can switch their positions and make the Commander ranged- and Tarkus melee-orientated through separate points investment.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To Prince, of all things, in the original game. Mouse over Sindri in the final mission and look at the bulletpoints in the description box.
    • In Chaos Rising, if the Ork Weirdboy gets a kill with the Foot of Gork ability he'll usually say this.
    • Bloodletters also say the above after killing a unit or a squad.
    • Some of the loot you get in the Ork campaign in Retribution has names and descriptions similar to certain memes, and they're all written in Orky English, which at times bears more than a passing resemblance to kitty pidgin.
      Chopped Up Armour description: Dis looks chopped! I can tells from some of da hack marks, and from seeing quite a few chops in me time.
      Double Shootah Description: Double Shoota All Dah Wayz! Worr, that's so intense...
    • The Slap Choppa is one to the Slap Chop kitchen gadget commercial. "You'll be slappin' your troubles away with the Slap Choppa!" Another one tells you "Stop havin' a boring rumble, stop havin' a boring life."
    • When being issued new pieces of gear, Imperial Guardsmen may advise their comrades that, "It's dangerous to go alone! Take this!"
    • Inquisitor Adrastia makes the obligatory reference: "My chief weapons are surprise and fear."
      • This may be a bit of a stretch, but Lord General Castor also, at some points, says that perhaps the enemy will appreciate their Devotion to the Emperor, and ruthless efficiency. Notably, he says this right after saying that they have lost the element of surprise and that the enemy doesn't fear them.
    • II's Catachan Devils in retreat: "Get to da Valkyrie!". On occasion, Catachan Devils also utter "I love it when a plan comes together!" upon killing an enemy unit...and finally, they have an upgrade named Demolition Man which is a slightly-less obvious reference due to it being a Sylvester Stallone film and the Catachans being a Planet of Rambos.
    • When an Ork vehicle kills a human, they sometimes say Humie killed, dat's five points!
    • This one is a stretch, but the Eldar Avatar of Khaine in Dawn of War II has an ability called "Khaine's Wrath".
    • When Stormboy Nob Brikkfist is downed, he sometimes mutters, Urge to kill fading... fading... gone.
    • Retribution has a Tau commander as a playable hero character in The Last Stand available through DLC. When reviving another player's hero, he sometimes says "Even a broken sword can still cut." This phrase was used to describe Shas'la Kais in the Novelization of the franchise's earlier game Fire Warrior.
    • One of the items Space Marines can unlock in Retribution is a Power Fist called Polaris Fist. Unfortunately, it's just a shout out in name only without any special abilities.
    • The title of the first expansion pack of the sequel was likely a shout out to a certain Cirith Ungol song. Further emphasizing that Chaos is the very definition of Heavy Metal.
    • Retribution adds 'Barbarisater' as an equippable weapon, noted in its item description as being the very same blade once used by Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn.
    • One Bile Thrower from the Chaos campaign of Retribution is said to be filled with the bile of the Great Unclean One Botulaz, who debuted in the Space Wolf novels.
    • Dark Eldar Ravens, when selected, may say, "Nevermore."
    • Upon destroying a vehicle, a Khornate Bloodcrusher in Retribution will occasionally brag that its victim "...has suffered terrible, terrible damage."
  • Shotgun Dance: Referenced by Flash Gitz who have "Dance, humie! Dance!" as a quote. Of course, they're not shooting at their targets' feet, but Ork shooting being what it is, they might as well be.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!/Shut Up, Kirk!: In Dark Crusade, everyone seems to be in a competition to see who can shut everyone else up the most, as seen under Deadpan Snarker. Here are some more highlights:
    Aun'el Shi O'res: Your Emperor does not rule here, human.
    Davian Thule: The Emperor rules all, alien. You'll learn that soon enough.
    Aun'el Shi O'res: You have nothing to teach me, zealot.

    Macabee: [after reaching the final base] The Nightbringer has come for you, Governor.
    Governor-Militant Alexander: Hold the line, men! Push these metal monsters back to the hell they crawled out of!
    Macabee: So much fear. So much noise.

    Davian Thule: You defile all that you touch, Ork!
    Gorgutz: If'n you liked dis thing so much, humie, you shoulda kept it safe instead of leaving it out 'ere.
    • Outside of banter, the Necrons tend to do this through silence in Dark Crusade. The after-battle report for the Space Marine stronghold discusses how they responded to the marines' hammy and zealous Battle Cries by remaining quiet and firing their weapons at them. During the Chaos stronghold, Eliphas tries to Break Them by Talking, but instead gets creeped-out by the Necron Lord, who doesn't say a word.
  • Smoke Out: In Dawn of War II and its expansions, Cyrus can be upgraded to have this as an ability, dropping a smoke bomb that stuns enemies as he enters and exits stealth mode, making this both a Smoke Out and a Smoke Entrance.
  • Smug Snake: Lord Bale from the first game. Despite being from the Alpha Legion, he's focused more on strength than the manipulation that his Legion is famous for, which leads to his downfall by Sindri's hands and eventual death by Gabriel Angelos.
  • Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: In Dark Crusade, the ending cutscene of the Necron stronghold mission has the pariah discover the (faction-specific) explosive just before it goes off, obliterating him and collapsing the tomb.
  • Sour Supporter: Some units will complain about doing your bidding (or at least certain tasks) but will still do it regardless.
    Ork Nobz: Wot? Dat's a GROT'S job! *Beat* ...Oh, fine!
  • Space Marine: An entire faction of them, with their Evil Counterparts making up most of another faction.
  • Space Jews: Kaptin Bluddflagg's accent has distinct Irish elements to it.
  • Spare a Messenger: Soulstorm: If the Dark Eldar defeat the Sisters of Battle, they leave a single Sister alive, driven mad by the Dark Eldar's tortures.
  • Special Effect Branding: Zigzagged: while most races have unique projectiles (the Tau have blue plasma, the Necrons have green lightning), the Imperial Guard and Sororitas have very similar building animations while the Ork Flash Gitz use the same projectile as Ogryn Rippers, but then it's possible their kustom shootas were Rippers before falling in the hands of the local Mekboy.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Certain Ork buildings in the first game — Da Boyz Hut, for instance.
  • Squishy Wizard: Most caster commander are less durable than the average melee specialist, but benefit from powerful abilities. The Space Marine Librarian, the Eldar Farseer and the Tau Ethereal are all examples.
  • The Starscream: Sindri Myr is one, to a painfully obvious degree — which is partially because he's amusing himself by dropping hints that he knows will go over Lord Bale's head. Archon Tahril is this to Asdrubael Vect in Soulstorm. In fact, it's a good rule of thumb for every single member of the Dark Eldar faction.
  • Starter Villain: Warboss Orkamungus from the original campaign of the first game. His WAAAGH! is only relevant to the plot for the first few missions and the Orks spend most of the campaign on the sidelines once he's beaten; from there, you fight the Eldar and the Chaos Marines.
  • Static Role, Exchangeable Character: The traitor in Dawn of War II. A member of the Blood Ravens turns traitor over the course of the game, providing information to Eliphas and the Black Legion and eventually abandoning you to join them; encryption rites prevent you from seeing who he is. The Karma Meter determines who turns out to be the traitor. Once you obtain the means to decrypt a recorded statement made by the traitor, he'll turn out to be one of several potential perpetrators. After you find out, the next mission is to chase him to the surface of Planet Aurelia and kill him, though not before he reveals Kyras' secret allegiance to Chaos. If one or more of your sergeants have corruption ratings, the guy with the most corruption turns out to be the traitor; if all five playable candidates have full purity, Techmarine Martellus becomes the traitor instead.
    • The nature of the Risk!-esque campaigns in Dark Crusade and Soulstorm essentially means that the faction the player takes control of will win by driving every other faction off the map — even if they're an Imperial and supposed to be on the same side as the people they're attacking. The after-action reports which describe the missions afterwards are where the biggest differences appear.
  • Stealthy Mook: Every faction has one type of invisible unit, often the most basic one for game balance: Space Marine Scouts and Skull Probes, Dark Eldar Mandrakes, Tau Stealthsuits (and the Devilfish, an invisible APC) and Chaos Cultists. Others use their invisible units as assassins, like the Eldar Rangers, the orks' diminutive Gretchin (the ork Worker Unit) and Tankbustaz, Sisters' Death Cultists or the Imperial Guard's Vindicare. The Necrons don't have an invisible unit, as one of the Necron Lord's wargear choices makes all units and buildings around him invisible.
  • Storming the Castle: Stronghold missions in Dark Crusade and Soulstorm. Also the final missions of Dawn of War II and its expansions.
  • Straight for the Commander:
    • The "Assassination" victory condition in the first game; as soon as the enemy hero dies, they lose. Some A.I.s make an effort to keep their commanders alive, others... don't.
    • Conquering a province in Dark Crusade or Soulstorm has a variant: you win the battle the moment the enemy's last HQ building explodes, regardless of how many hostile units and other buildings were still active at the time. It's entirely possible to finish some missions in about a minute if you have a powerful Honor Guard and fight on a small map.
      • Both games also have stronghold missions that end when the enemy commander is killed. This includes the Ork and Tau strongholds in Dark Crusade, as well as the Dark Eldar stronghold in Soulstorm. In fact, although it's difficult to pull off, you can sneak an Imperial Vindicare assassin all the way to the Tau's main fortress in DC and snipe the patrolling Ethereal without any of your other soldiers ever leaving your base.
    • In Dawn of War II, this is represented by having the Tyranids start attacking each other.
  • Strategic Asset Capture Mechanic: Shows up over all three games.
    • The first game features three types of capture points: Strategic Points and Relics, which can be secured with Listening Posts, and Critical Points, which can't. Listening Posts can also be upgraded with emplaced weaponry, and project a Control Zone around themselves. These capture points are incentivised by granting you bonus Requisition resource income (unless you're playing the Power-only Necrons, which gives you a 10% bonus to build/research times for each "Obelisk" built on a capture point instead). Owning Critical Points gives more, and a certain Victory condition involves holding half of them. Owning at least one Relic is nescessary for deploying a factions Tactical Superweapon Unit. There are also Slag Deposits, which don't have to be captured, but are the only places where Thermo-Plasma Generators can be built.
    • Several game modes use the Strategic Points as a victory condition:
      • Sudden Death: A player who loses a Strategic Point is eliminated instantly.
      • Control Area: The first player to capture two thirds of the points on the map wins.
      • Take and Hold: Controlling half the Critical Locations on the map starts a countdown, the player wins if they still hold that amount at the end of the countdown.
    • Dark Crusade's campaign features several:
      • The strategic map features several provinces that provide requisition and an extra starting unit or bonuses to their owning player thanks to the structures present there: extra resources (a manufacturing region), a higher unit cap (an Adeptus Mechanicus facility), starting structures (a mining complex), attacking any non-stronghold province (a starport) and attacking twice in the same turn (a demonic artifact).
      • The campaign features capturable structures that give extra abilities for that mission: capturing the Tau communication tower gives a Defog of War ability, the Space Marine Orbital Relay gives orbital bombardments, the Imperial Guard fires a Titan Hellstorm Cannon...
      • Soulstorm uses a similar system to Dark Crusade, though the bonuses are now granted to stronghold provinces. Because the game takes place in a system rather than a single world, disconnected provinces give less requisition.
    • Dawn of War 2 makes Strategic Points teleport beacons (which allow your squads to reinforce, and in the Retribution expansion include a mini-base to produce new units), and expands to have capturable structures as well, such as Imperial Shrines (an extra charge of the Refractor Field item, which makes your soldiers invincible for 30 seconds), Tacticae Uplinks (An extra charge to the Signum item (which grants an Artillery Barrage power to whoever's wearing it), and Manufactorums (an extra charge to the Tarantula Turret item, which lets you place sentry guns). In Multiplayer, there are also power relays and (if you're playing a Point Capture match,) Victory Points, which take the form of large sattelite uplinks.
    • Dawn of War III goes back to strategic points capped with listening posts, some of which have sandbag nests (or rarely, a Void Shield) around them as well.
  • Straw Nihilist: Before the final battle of Retribution, Kyras proudly declares that the senseless violence committed by the followers of Khorne is the only way to truly be free, as life and the universe is ultimately meaningless.
  • Suddenly Shouting: Chaos Lord Carron, during the Space Marine stronghold mission in Soulstorm.
    Carron: Look! Rhinos, RHINOS! Our enemies hide in METAL BOXES, the cowards, the FOOLS! We... should take away, their metal boxes.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Squads Broken! will Keep Firing, Keep Firing! nevertheless and won't Fall Back And Regroup! without player intervention. However, in Dawn Of War II, a suppression mechanic was added, meaning that while the unit may be staying in the same spot, when under heavy firepower, they'll be pretty much ducking their heads and looking like they wish they'd be allowed to run. They will also move slower and attack less often. Some campaign heroes in Retribution add even more debuffs.
    • Parodied by the Baneblade in Winter Assault and Dark Crusade when attacked:
      Baneblade pilot: I think some fool just shot at us!
  • Superboss: The Ork Warboss and Eldar Avatar of Khaine in Dawn of War II. Notable in that they're very hard, far harder than the final boss! Also notable in that beating them gives an Achievement and a suit of Terminator armor each.
  • Super Mode: In the final tier of the Necron tech tree, the Necron Lord can gain the ability to transform into the Essence of the Nightbringer. Soulstorm also allows him to transform into the Essence of the Deciever.
  • Supernatural Fear Inducer:
    • The Space Marine Chaplain can break an enemy squad with a Demoralizing Shout, while the Librarian prevents it from rising with his Weaken Resolve spell.
    • Chaos buildings project an aura that increases their units' morale and decreases enemy morale when nearby.
    • The Imperial Guard commissar inverts this: he instantly restores his squad's morale (even from zero) by executing one member.
      "Fear ensures loyalty!"
    • Necron Flayed Ones cause nearby enemy morale to drop steadily. The Necron Lord can take an ability that causes all units to run like hell away from him.
    • Eldar Howling Banshees can use their War Shout to demoralize all nearby enemies.
    • Dark Eldar: this might take a while. Terrorfex and Horrorfex grenades are squad and vehicle versions of a grenade that does morale damage; the Haemonculus can broadcast the sound of a tortured slave across the battlefield, causing enemies to fire slower; Slave Chambers can be upgraded to deal continuous morale damage and attack enemy units' souls for more morale damage; and then there's their Soul Powers: Rend Soul causes morale damage to enemy leaders, while Screams of the Damned instantly reduces the morale of every enemy on the map at once.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Taldeer's opinion of the Imperials' efforts at the start of Winter Assault. This leads to two short sections playing as the Eldar where she "fixes" their problems for them.
    • Taldeer uses this mindset again as a justification for Ulthwe Eldar taking to the field of battle in Dark Crusade: the other forces on the planet already aren't going to be able to defeat the Necrons, in her not-so-humble opinion.
    • Gorgutz's and his Number Two's helpful suggestions.
      Gorgutz: We'll call dat wun "Plan: Stupid". I named it after ya! [...] Hey! Why's you grinnin'?
      Mega-Armoured Nob: Because you named a plan after me!
    • Mek Badzappa from the sequel feels this way too.
      Ork Driver: Uh, Boss? I think we threw a gear-y thing!
      Mek Badzappa: What?! You gits can't do anything right! I'll 'ave t' fix it meself!
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Dark Crusade mentions both an Apothecary Gordion and the Blood Ravens chapter master Azariah Vidya. Come Dawn of War II, Apothecary Gordian is a minor but key character in your fight against the Tyranids, and Chapter Master Azariah Kyras drives much of the plot of the expansions.
  • Sword and Gun: By many troops made for close-combat, though some use things other than swords...
  • Tactical Superweapon Unit: In both games.
    • Dawn of War has its top tier of units locked behind the ownership of a "Relic," a special Capture Point. These include squads of heavy infantry and super-heavy tanks. In the original and in Winter Assault, you could build as many as you'd like, but from Dark Crusade onwards, they are restricted to one each.
      • The Space Marines have Terminators (Highly decorated, elites-among-the-elite Space Marine heroes with extremely tough Powered Armor and double-barrelled Hand Cannons, which they can swap for miniguns or double-barrelled flamethrowers), Assault Terminators (the same tier of Bad Enough Dude, just with electrified warhammers and tower shields), and the Land Raider APC (which sports two laser cannon batteries and a pair of machine guns).
      • Chaos have the Bloodthirster, a Big Red Devil brandishing a battleaxe the size of a car. He literally wastes away from boredom if he's not fighting something.
      • Orks have the Squiggoth, best described as "an alien War Elephant armed with several normal cannons and a Lightning Gun." Its attacks are as powerful as they are inaccurate, even in melee, and can theoretically charge through infantry mobs (but usually gets stuck on said infantry).
      • The Eldar get the Avatar of Khaine, the manifestation of a dead god with a Flaming Sword. He regenerates in and out of combat also lets them build more units and speeds up their construction time and makes them harder to demoralize (many of these traits being common fan complaints about the Eldar being overpowered).
      • The Imperial Guard get the Baneblade Super-Heavy Tank, which sports no less than eleven seperate guns and is the size of their HQ building.
      • The Necron get the Monolith, a teleporting Base on Wheels with a huge particle cannon and a Mook Maker. It has to be killed twice to be destroyed; first as a tank, then as a building. They also have the Nightbringer, the invulnerable manifestation of Death itself! In the Soulstorm expansion, they also get the Deceiver, basically "alien Satan."
      • The Tau get, regardless of which Mutually Exclusive Power-Ups they choose, the Greater Knarloc, a terror bird the size of a T Rex. It can have more HP than a Squiggoth (due to being a Kroot and therefore sharing in their Cannibalism Superpower), but is slow-moving not very graceful, and due to the Ethereal's ability to create holographic dummy units, they technically can have two, though the hologram doesn't do damage and has less health.
      • The Dark Eldar have the Dias of Destruction, a combination party boat/ giant Hover Tank which sports huge dark energy blasters, Disintegrator Rays, and some sexy ladies (not a euphamism for anything). It's piloted by Asdrubael Vect (leader of the entire Dark Eldar race, not just the faction present in the game) himself.
      • The Sisters of Battle get the Living Saint, an actual angel with a flaming sword. She has Resurrective Immortality, teleporting back to the Shrine building when killed, and the ability to spray a jet of holy flames from her sword.
    • Dawn of War II: Retribution: The campaign lets the player face against every faction's super unit as well as their own (and claiming it in the latter case).
      • The Space Marines get a Land Raider stolen from the traitors before the can desecrate it.
      • The Imperial Guard get a Baneblade, also stolen from traitors. Unlike the previous game, the main gun has to be fired manually.
      • The Orks get a battlewagon, a Mad Max-esque vehicle that combines the roles of tank, troop transport, and road roller. The one faced in the campaign is called Daisy.
      • Chaos gets Ulkair, a Great Unclean One of Nurgle and the Big Bad of the previous game.
      • The Eldar get the Avatar of Khaine by activating the one they fight after a completely avoidable misunderstanding leads to them fighting their own troops.
      • The Tyranids get the Swarmlord, a melee monster that lets nearby Tyranids reinforce themselves.
  • Tactical Withdrawal: Units whose morale has been broken in the first game have to resort to this — their damage-dealing and absorbing capabilities are impaired beyond usefulness and they'll almost certainly die if they don't get some backup or defeat their assailant(s) very quickly. Dawn Of War II gives most infantry a button to retreat back to their base with, a system from Company of Heroes. However, now you have to make sure melee units don't get too close to your retreating units, since retreating causes them to take extra melee damage. In Retribution, the Imperial Guard have an option for their basic squads with a Commissar attached to take a casuality via headshot to halt their retreat. Amusingly, said word for word by the Space Marine Force Commander if his morale is broken:
    Force Commander: Brooothers, initiate a tactical withdraaaaaawal!
  • Take Cover!: Certain types of terrain provided defensive 'cover bonuses' in the first game and it's a major feature of the series. Directly drawn from the tabletop game.
  • Tank Goodness: The Imperial Guard Leman Russ and Baneblade, and the Space Marine Predator and Land Raider. The Orks have a Looted Tank variant of the Leman Russ.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Your units will definitely take notice if, in Dawn of War II's multiplayer, you're allied with a faction they, by all rights, would never, ever consider fighting alongside.
    Tactical Marine: Emperor forgive us for making common cause with fiends such as these!
  • Tele-Frag: Two examples in Chaos Rising.
    • One of Jonah Orion's psyker abilities weaponizes this by teleporting him into the same space an enemy infantry unit is already occupying, delivering a One-Hit Kill to the unfortunate target.
    • A heavily corrupted Thaddeus wearing Terminator armor gains the Warp Assault ability, one of the game's most powerful offensive skills, and although it's not outright stated to be tele-fragging, it certainly has the effect down pat: ludicrous damage to everything in the area around the teleport destination, usually resulting in a fantastic show of Ludicrous Gibs if the target was a bunch of clustered infantry. His squad's passive short-range charge also transforms into this once Warp Assault is unlocked, with the same extreme damage and gory results.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Various units get teleportation abilities.
    • The Eldar get warp gates, which can be built almost anywhere and can be used to transport units. Their builder units can also teleport long distances. Their Warp Spiders attempt to weaponise this for in-and-out strikes.
    Warp-Spider: We sting, then disappear!
    • Space Marine Terminators and Assault Terminators can be given Personal Teleporters. If Thaddeus is given Terminator Armour in Dawn of War II, his Assault Jump ability is replaced by Teleport.
    • The Ork Big Mek has a "Kustom Tellyporta" that lets him join and teleport squads of infantry. The Mekboy from the sequel has such a device as well.
    • The Imperial Guard have a similar-in-spirit ability: their infantry units can be moved from one of their Garrisonable Structures to another, though there's a delay. It's not actually teleportation though. They're crawling through tunnels they dig to connect all their structures.
    • In Chaos Rising, Jonah can gain the ability to teleport from his Will tree and starts the game with a Tome which allows him to kill enemy infantry instantly via Tele-Frag.
    • Villain Teleportation: The Necrons take this to new heights. Necron Warriors, Flayed Ones and Immortalsnote  can teleport to structures their player owns (apart from turrets), and the Necron Lord commander can teleport around the battlefield at will. Worse, their extremely powerful but hideously slow Monolith can also teleport a generous distance, and the thing still counts as a building eligible as an infantry teleportation target. The only thing in Dark Crusade or Soulstorm that screams This Is Gonna Suck more than a flippin' Necron Monolith suddenly materializing in your base, followed by several squads of powerful infantry, is the same thing being preceded by an invisible Necron Lord that turns the entire assault force invisible as well when it arrives.
  • Teleportation Rescue: In Dawn of War II, losing a mission due to all heroes being downed at the same time results in a game over screen reading Emergency Extraction, allowing you to keep all the wargear and experience you acquired.
  • Tempting Fate: In the very first part of the Tyranid campaign in Retribution, Sgt Merrick says this before he is mauled by the Hive Tyrant:
    Sgt Merrick: If you're careful, these Tyranids are no more dangerous than Meridian razor slugs.
  • That Wasn't a Request: Inquisitor Toth from the first game knows how it's done.
    Inquisitor Toth: Colonel Brom, the Captain and I must attend to matters of faith. If you would leave us, please.
    Colonel Brom: But surely this involves me as -
    Inquisitor Toth: Forgive me for being unclear on the matter. I said "please", when in fact I meant "now".
  • Theme Naming: The squad leaders you get in Dawn of War II campaign all have their names end in -us: Tarkus, Cyrus, Avitus, and Thaddeus. Not so much with the single hero units though: Davian Thule and later Jonah Orion who was introduced in Chaos Rising.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Some of the sync kills, most notably one where the Ork Warboss grabs an enemy and repeatedly slams it head first into the ground.
  • Thin Dimensional Barrier: In Retribution, the Chaos faction uses Warp rifts as their method of getting from planet to planet (the others use teleporters or upload their consciousness to their Hive Mind).
  • Throw the Pin: The Orks have to remind themselves not to do this.
    Tankbustaz: Hold on to the pin. Throw the other part.
  • Token Minority: Inquisitor Mordecai Toth in the first game, and Librarian Jonah Orion in the second, are both black, making them the only identifiable non-Caucasian humans in the series.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Invoked by Sindri as the reason to kill a Cultist who delivered bad news to him and Lord Bale. Anyone stupid enough to bring news of a Spanner in the Works to their Bad Boss and then loiter within range of a Doombolt is clearly not worthy of serving Chaos.
    • The Cultists and Marines in the first game whom Gabriel Angelos drops an Orbital Bombardment on in a scripted cutscene, who see the blasts falling on their friends in front of them but don't so much as get out of the way.
    • Similarly if Tarkus is the traitor, once you reach him he turns around and blasts the Chaos Space Marines assigned to help him... and they just stand there and let him do it! They don't even try to resist.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The hilarious cultists that no one could take seriously of the first game transform into the cold, grim, and downright badass Heretics in Dawn of War II.
  • Tragic Villain: No matter who the traitor is in Chaos Rising, he always comes off as a tragic figure.
    • Tarkus feels he is being Necessarily Evil in order to save the Blood Ravens from extinction and has obtained an Evil Weapon to accomplish his goal. This causes a major Tear Jerker when he's questioned by Thaddeus.
      Thaddeus: Explain yourself, Tarkus! What power could possibly be worth betraying us all?
      Tarkus: The power to save you.
    • Thaddeus made a deal with Ulkair to help defeat the Tyranids by helping the chapter fleet arrive and is being forced to uphold his end of the deal. He's not proud of this, but insists that he did what was necessary to defeat the bugs. Jonah on the other hand is convinced the daemon was only lying to him.
    • Jonah is possessed by a daemon and not truly in control of his own actions; Kyras gave away the secret to overcome his psychic hood to the daemon in question as part of an unspecified bargain. He's still Fighting from the Inside and holds his captor back from healing his flesh long enough for the loyalists to kill him.
    • Avitus, all but named as the canon traitor, fell into despair after learning that Chapter Master Kyras was corrupted and that he was fighting in the name of a minion of Chaos; he is convinced the entire galaxy he lives in is a complete dump beyond any hope of saving — which it is, sadly. His actions are strongly implied to be Suicide by Cop.
    • Cyrus grew disgusted with the incompetence of the Blood Ravens' command staff, and wants to reform it by any means necessary. Like Tarkus, he is afraid the sub-sector will be destroyed by Eliphas and the Black Legion if he doesn't act.
    • Martellus was only trying to survive, and was found by Eliphas on Typhon and offered a way out. Kyras also persuaded him to join the side of Chaos
  • Treacherous Advisor:
  • Uniqueness Rule:
    • In the original game and the WinterAssault expansion, there were very different squad limits, leading to endgame armies consisting solely of top-tier units (even relic units). Later expansions greatly restricted this both by lowering the units' cap to 1-3 and increasing their food cap cost (such as the Leman Russ tank going from costing 3 cap without a limit to costing 5 cap and limited to 2 at a time). Much complaining ensued among the fanbase.
    • Commanders and Worker Units are limited to either one at a time or in small numbers, but cost no food cap.
  • Units Not to Scale: To a degree, although from Dawn of War II onwards, you get a much more believable difference in size. Transports are always apparently Bigger on the Inside, but the scale offset is consistent with the tabletop.
  • Unorthodox Reload: Scout Marines in Dawn of War II and its expansions equipped with Combat Shotguns use the typical action hero reloading method with Sawn Off Shotguns: using the weight of the shotgun to pump it.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The narrator in Dark Crusade is an Imperial scholar. For some reason, fans of the series disregard this (and the fact that this particular planet has a history of rebellion) and take his alarmist speculations about the human population drop on Kronus in the Tau victory movie as absolute proof that the Tau sterilize the non-Tau populations of their worlds.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: You get resources for taking points. So whoever can take more points, for example by pushing his opponent off a point and capturing it for himself, has an advantage. Justified in that were this not the case, matches could very well go on for hours, given two combatants of roughly equal skill.
  • Useless Spleen: In the first game, Chaos Cultists sometimes yell "Ow! My spleen!" if sent airborne by a heavy blow.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: The Commissar squad leader for Imperial Guard squads in the first Dawn of War has the ability to execute a Guardsman to restore squad morale. Considering that Guardsman squad morale is abysmal even with upgrades, and the fact that the ability also makes the squad and any adjacent IG infantry do double damage, IG players are practically encouraged to kill their own men as often as possible. Fortunately, their squads reinforce quickly and cheaply.
  • Video Game Delegation Penalty: Dark Crusade and Soulstorm both allow you to auto-resolve invasions of your territory. This can fail even if you left the territory brimming with turrets and troops, as the AI doesn't follow the Straight for the Commander strategy of throwing all troops at the enemy HQ for an instant win.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Lord Bale after being betrayed. ("SSSSINDRIIIIII!")
    • Most of the evil commanders during their stronghold missions.
    • Araghast the Pillager, after being left alone with your very, very angry Space Marines by his 'second-in-command' Eliphas.
    • Carron has a bizarre one: as you destroy his temples, he expresses indifference, fear, bloodlust, and finally fear.
    • Kyras has a mocking speech against every enemy before his boss battle except the Orks and the Tyranids, who instead cause him to lose his cool epically.
  • Villainous Rescue: The Tyranid campaign in Retribution has this done by the Hive Fleet, which comes to the sub-sector with enough force to drive the Exterminatus fleet back. Of course, they only did that so they could consume what was left of Sub-Sector Aurelia.
  • Villainous Valour: The After-Action Report for the Dark Eldar defeating the Chaos stronghold mentions that the Chaos forces resisted heroically.
  • Violent Glaswegian: The drivers of the Imperial Guard APCs and tanks in Retribution.
  • Wall of Weapons: The Orks' Pile O' Gunz!
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Factions who share similair goals instead fight each other for little reason except personal bias and racial prejudice against the other faction.
    • During the original Dawn of War campaign, the Biel-Tan Eldar are just as opposed to the Orks and Chaos Alpha Legion as the Blood Ravens but fight the Space Marines anyway out of pure arrogance; in their defense, though, the Blood Ravens are card-carrying extreme xenophobes who would probably treat their benevolence as skeptical at best — when Colonel Brom notes the Eldar are no friends of the Orks or Chaos worshippers, Gabriel and Isador scoff that this doesn't make them allies of the Imperium.
    • A more extreme example occurs in Dark Crusade and Soulstorm where Imperial sub-factions — the Space Marines, the Imperial Guard and the Sisters of Battle — fight each other to the death because of Jurisdiction Friction, separate command structures and the hands-off approach of those high ranking enough to make them all stop. This also happens because their goals are very different and in many ways mutually exclusive.
  • We Can Rebuild Him:
    • Necron Tomb Spyders can collect the bodies of fallen Necron troops and bring them back as re-purposed squads. This is also the backstory (à la Was Once a Man) of Necron Pariahs.
    • The after-battle reports that play after defeating the Space Marines and/or Imperial Guard if playing as the Necrons imply they turned some of their opponents into Necrons.
  • We Can Rule Together: In Chaos Rising, if Cyrus becomes the traitor he will make this offer to your team when you confront him, though it will be quickly rejected.
  • We Have Reserves:
    • The Imperial Guard General in Retribution is so cavalier about the massive casualties his army suffers constantly that it's occasionally shocking. Although, as he tell Merrick, he's certainly sent men to their death in droves, but he's never wasted them.
    • In Winter Assault, there are several points where this is implicitly encouraged as a gameplay tactic. Which is perfectly in line with how the Imperial Guard tends to be used in the Warhammer 40k lore.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Most units in the first game have two to four lines for each action (movement, attacking, morale loss, et cetera). Averted in the sequel and its expansions, where units have significantly more lines depending on action and context.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Tarkus, if he becomes the traitor in Chaos Rising.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Thaddeus and Elena Derosa are given no mention in Retribution. Subverted with Tarkus, who is actually The Ancient.
    • Davian Thule does show up in the Chaos campaign, where he is the first boss and is killed, but otherwise makes no appearance.
      • Ironically, this results in a similar moment for Captain Diomedes, who is the only commander never fought as a boss in Retribution.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: In Dawn of War II and Chaos Rising, the only "losses" you get flak for (represented by a lower post-mission rating) are squad leaders getting knocked out, but their nameless squad mates go completely unmentioned. You can get the entire Blood Raven chapter's worth of Space Marines killed and no-one will bat an eye, as long as all the named characters stayed on their feet.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?:
    • The Chaos Cultists of the first game had such an accent, which coupled with a hilariously squeaky voice has become one of the memetically narmy things of the game.
    • Not to mention Indrick Boreale and his oft-mocked pronunciation of "spess mehreens."
  • Who Dares?: Tyrea, when you attack the Eldar getting ready to bury the dead Craftworld.
    Exarch Tyrea: You... you dare violate this tomb! You pathetic, soulless savages!
  • Who's Laughing Now?: Imperial Guard infantry start off weak, but then they start to roll out the bunkers, plasma guns, morale upgrades, and lots and lots of tanks.
  • Why Won't You Die?:
    • Gorgutz to Davian Thule in Dark Crusade once bantering with the "humie" stops entertaining him.
      Davian Thule: We'll fight to the last man!
      Gorgutz Headhunter: Aw, shut yer maw an' die, already!
    • Eldar Guardians in melee combat can yell this in battle, with appropriate venom.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist:
    • Brother-Sergeant Thaddeus. Yes, really. The other Space Marines do find it a bit naive. Understandable, since he's very youngnote  — one of the youngest leaders to be promoted to squad leader — and doesn't even have a single service stud yet. Ironically, he's also a former ganger.
    • The Tau, as usual. Other groups look down on them for it, especially in Dark Crusade. When attacking the Tau stronghold as the Eldar, Taldeer calls Aun'el a "naive child" for protesting her attack on them; when O'Kais gives Gorgutz a chance to surrender while attacking the Ork stronghold, the warboss grunts that Kais must not know much about Orks.
  • Wolfpack Boss: Individually, the Imperial General in the original Dawn of War is the weakest Commander of all factions. However, they come as the Command Squad, which you can customize to a certain extent. A Commissar is almost always included to boost Health and Morale, but after that all bets are off. Attaching multiple Psykers to the squad grants them multiple-use spells that can quickly deplete enemy heroes, weaken vehicles and terrorize entire armies. Attaching multiple Kasrkin Elites (campaign-only elite) turns them into Long Range Combatant which can fire before the enemy even get close. Attaching multiple Priests and rotating the Priests' Fanaticism gives them ludicrous staying power, even when surrounded, and you can even order Orbital Bombardment on your very location and remain unscathed.
  • Wolverine Claws:
    • Imperial Guard Generals in Winter Assault to Soulstorm, and Space Marine Assault Terminators.
    • They come as equippable items in Chaos Rising, with sets both for normal and Terminator armour.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • Dark Crusade and Soulstorm open with movies of Necrons wiping out Space Marines and Battle Sisters ignoring Tau pulse fire respectively.
    • Chaplain Varnus establishes his credentials by smiting a Bloodthirster single-handed.
    • There's non-cutscene case of this in the final Imperial Guard level in Winter Assault. When the Necrons show up, they will outright slaughter the Chaos and Ork bases, giving a pretty good idea of what will happen if you try and fight without the Titan's guns.
    • This also happens to certain characters in Retribution depending on which campaign you play, as a main character from one of the other races will appear as an appropriately weak tutorial boss.
  • Worker Unit: They do exist, but are far less of a crutch (and consequently, a burden) than in other RTS games. They build your structures and Listening Posts, repair damage and facilitate the gathering of resources, but as of Dark Crusade they don't take up any population cap but have a cap on how many of them you can build. The standard cap is 4, but the Imperial Guard have a cap of 3 and the Necrons a cap of 5 due to their greater dependency on their workers. Some Worker Units get quirky abilities which can be very powerful given the chance.
  • World of Badass: It's Warhammer 40K, so this is kind of a given.
  • World of Ham: Nearly every unit that talks is as hamtastic as possible. Dawn of War II toned it down a bit, which some fans were disappointed by. Fortunately for them, the villains in Chaos Rising bring the ham. It's like a Saturday morning cartoon with blood and gore!
    • Let's just say this is the hammiest RTS ever.
  • Worthy Opponent: Crops up a few times in Soulstorm.
    • The Blood Ravens take no retributive action on the surviving Guardsmen. The Imperial Guard return the favor to the Blood Ravens: the small number of survivors they return to Segmentum Command, while burying the dead ones, whom they themselves just killed, with full military honors.
    • Commander Or'es'Ka, the Tau commander, apparently views the Space Marines this way; after defeating them, he praises their valour in battle and admits his troops would probably have lost, if it weren't for the Greater Good.
    • Inverted by the Dark Eldar Tahril, who sees every enemy but Chaos and the Eldar as idiots.
  • Would Not Shoot a Good Guy: One mission in Chaos Rising involves having to go up against another company of Blood Ravens to destroy a specific building in order to expose a mole, and those other Blood Ravens have orders to shoot-on-sight. The player is encouraged to avoid unnecessary bloodshed during this mission and play this trope straight. If the player averts this trope and gets aggressive, it results in corruption points.
  • You Call That a Wound?: Trope Namer by way of General Sturnn in Winter Assault, who says it when revived.
  • You Have Failed Me:
    • Eliphas' fate when his stronghold is destroyed. Which doesn't stop Popularity Power bringing him back in Chaos Rising (luckily this can be hand waved by death being cheap in the Warp). He lasts all the way up to Retribution.
    • In Winter Assault, a meeting between Gorgutz and Crull ends with Gorgutz casually tripping a Chaos Space Marine as he leaves, just to show he can. Crull orders his Sorcerer to "execute that pitiful excuse for a soldier for EMBARRASSING ME!"
    • A random cultist who's the Bearer of Bad News, as noted under Shoot the Messenger.
  • You Get Knocked Down, You Get Back Up Again: Units who get knocked down can't be targeted directly until they get up again.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Although the exact dependence on the various resources varies between factions, there are two resource types that form the basis of the first two games' economies: Requisition and Power. Requisition is directly tied to the number of Control Points the player holds, as well as how developed the controlling structures are, and is generated quickly. Power is generated by building generators, and is generated slowly. Requisition is typically spent in far greater quantities than Power, although Power is required in ever-greater amounts as the player accesses the more advanced parts of the technology tree; as a result, there is rarely enough Power to go around for everything.
  • Zerg Rush: Much like the tabletop game the Imperial Guard and Orks focus on sending waves of bodies but does it in different ways:
    • The Imperial Guard focuses on having large squads of weak guardsmen 10 strong supplemented by commissars, sanctioned psykers, and priests for extra strength. They also have specialized vehicles like the Hellhound for building destroying and Leman Russ tanks as their main vehicle attack. A single squad will be quickly torn up... but three of them can tear apart other squads and a whole army is very hard to beat on a head-on fight.
    • The Orks' main unit is the Slugga Boyz, weak Orks with cheap pistols as their measly ranged weapons. However, you can build specialized Boyz that destroy vehicles or provide covering fire and with the Warboss, you can summon the WAAAAGH! for a boost in your massive (as in 100 Population max) army's attack power.

    The Last Stand 
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Absolutely blatant. Players can play as Hive Tyrants, Chaos Sorcerers, Ork Mekboys alongside Space Marines, Imperial Guard Generals, and Eldar Farseers. Outside of your faction announcer commenting when one of your comrades goes down, none of the characters so much as acknowledge they're working with their mortal enemies.
  • Glass Cannon: Several of the playable heroes have builds that emphasize extreme mobility or damage output at the cost of survivability.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: Wave 16 of the Bloodied Colosseum is a Mirror Match against the players' own heroes; the clones have the same weapons and abilities and significantly boosted HP over the originals; they can even revive one another if not taken down quickly. Depending on matchups, this can make it nearly unbeatable, as the AI use your own superpowered abilities to take out your best heroes before you can get a shot off, or else keep picking each other back up faster than you can kill them. Woe betide you if you have a Lord General armed with a sniper rifle. This goes double for Tyrants equipped with Toxin Sacks; since the damage of Searing scales off your HP, your clone will do much more damage than you will.
  • Mirror Match: The infamous Wave 16 of Bloodied Colosseum. 3 AI-controlled copies of your team that are even stronger than the originals. The only way to beat them is to use trickery, massive burst damage timed for the instant they spawn, or A.I. Breaker moves (such as the Farseer's Confuse ability, which screws with the AI but has no effect on human players). The clones are revived for a rematch on Wave 20.
  • Nintendo Hard: There are two arenas, each with fixed waves of enemies. These enemies start easy, but scale up VERY quickly; new players, with limited Wargear options, likely won't survive long without help from better equipped, more skilled players; however, even for veterans the higher waves can be punishingly-difficult.
  • Stone Wall: The Hive Tyrant and especially Space Marine can be built this way; tons of health, armor, and (in the Marine's case) health regen, at the complete sacrifice of speed or mobility. The recently added Necron Lord blows them both out of the water though. With the option to build insane armor, or health regen, and the ability to self revive a short while after being killed.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Multiple variants, but a speciality of the Ork Mekboy. One possible build combines a knife that can teleport the player or enemies when it hits, an armor that can teleport the player or enemies when the player is hit, and an accesory that causes anything teleport to explode. Combine with an accessory to make the Mekboy immune to knockdown and the end result is multiple random teleportations followed by explosions; none of which will harm the Mekboy.


Alternative Title(s): Dawn Of War II, Dawn Of War Dark Crusade


Dark Crusade

The major powers of the galaxy clash over the planet Kronos.

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