The player is Chauncey, a peasant orphan Raised By Cows (yes) who lives in the kingdom of Franzpowanki. While serving at a royal banquet, he saves King Winthrop the Good from choking and is knighted, awarded with the deed to the Shimto Plains and the sword Grimthwacker. Chauncey then builds the plains into thriving village, frequently having to defend them from the titular Horde. After building a prosperous village and wiping out enough of the Horde, he is given the deed to other areas. Each of the additional areas contain gimmicks, for example the desert level requires you to irrigate the land (build a moat) to be able to get the grass needed to build anything.
The Horde provides examples of:
- Acquired Poison Immunity: Played with. Kronus Maelor poisons a drink that he gives to Chauncey, but all it does is make Chauncey comment on its unusual flavor. It turns out that the reason the poison didn't work was because it only works on the Horde. Cue Maelor trying a tiny pinch, then falling to the floor gagging.
- Anachronism Stew: Despite the game's medieval fantasy setting, several event cut-scenes are news reports from FNN (the Franzpowanki News Network), King Winthrop has an answering machine, and Kronus steals Chauncey's bank card during the "bonus for the chancellor" event.
- Bookends: The story starts with Chauncey saving the king from choking to death on a piece of chicken. The story ends with Chauncey killing the Horde King by throwing a piece of chicken into his open mouth, choking him to death in short order.
- Celebrity Power: Kirk Cameron plays Chauncey.
- Evil Chancellor: Kronus Maelor. Not only does he let the King nearly choke to death and impede Chauncey at every opportunity, he turns out to be the Horde King.
- Green Hill Zone: The Shimto Plains are plain plains, devoid of any gimmicks, and are fairly easy to earn money in.
- The Horde: The Hordlings.
- Hostage Spirit Link: Of a sort. In the Tree Realms of Alburga, cutting down trees after the first year reduces your max HP, as well as increasing the number of Hordelings in every season (because they're now homeless). The Chancellor, of course, tries to convince Chauncey that when the going gets tough, the tough get chopping!
- Infinity -1 Sword: The Trident of Wimbli; to acquire it, you need to get water to a unique sapling in the Kar-Nyar Desert that doesn't show up on the overhead map. It lets you call down meteors from the sky to bombard the Horde, which is as deadly as it sounds... but it also costs a lot of money every time it's used, and it's easy to bankrupt yourself beyond the level's tax requirement without carefully policing how you use it.
- The Lost Woods: The Tree Realms of Alburga are just such an area.
- Mook Horror Show: A few random cutscenes are shown from the point of the hordelings, who see Chauncey as a monster.
- Mythology Gag: Wimbli's Trident previously appeared as a Joke Item in Star Control 2, made by the same developer.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Some of the cutscenes show the Hordlings wearing extremely flimsy human disguises, like Groucho glasses or a polka-dot dress.
- Raised by Wolves: Chauncey was raised by cattle.
- Unexpected Successor: Chauncey inherits the king's throne at the end.