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Video Game / The Settlers

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The Settlers is a series of unique RTS videogames from Blue Byte Software, which premiered on the Amiga in 1993. The series was first conceived by German developer Volker Wertich, who designed the first game and has been sporadically involved with other titles in the series.

Missions in the game take place on a large map, with each player and opponent controlling a single castle, the small area around it, and a modest amount of various resources and tools to start off with. Each player's objective is to slowly expand their territory towards the other players, establishing borders which allow sending soldiers over to assault their land and steal it away, ultimately reaching and attacking their castle itself. Expansion is done by building guard buildings (or conquering an enemy's guard buildings), which flip the land around them to the player's control. However, unlike most other Real Time Strategy games, acquiring the resources to construct these buildings - and to train the soldiers to man them - is a highly complicated process which is unique to the series.

Buildings themselves are relatively easy to construct, since they use wood and stone that can be gathered pretty much directly from the land. Conversely, training new soldiers to man your guard posts is significantly more complex; it requires growing a wide variety of foods, and using those foods to feed miners who then acquire iron and coal from limited deposits in the mountains. The raw ores must then be smelted into bars and used to make new weapons. Training soldiers for combat then requires a separate industry for the acquisition and minting of gold. Each new worker in your industries might also require specialized tools, which need to be constructed by yet another industrial chain. Each game in the series also adds its own additional industries to this complicated economy, such as the brewing of beer for soldiers or the manufacture of magical "mana" points for the casting of helpful or deadly spells.

Space within your territory is always limited, with terrain features such as forests or mountains creating additional obstacles to overcome. Some structures require a lot of space, so the decision to place a structure in a specific spot can have a great impact. Most importantly, players must make sure to place related buildings close to each other in order to cut down the time it takes for resources to travel from their production sites to their processing sites and storage facilities. In some of the games, this is done by manually constructing connecting roads, and failure to do so smartly can easily create bottlenecks and lose you the game. This makes the series unique among RTS games: it focuses on logistics and resource management rather than simple military might.

A second unique quality is the series' "high-level management" style of play, which eschews a traditional Command & Conquer Economy in favour of a system where the player decides only what buildings to build and where, which enemy structures to attack, and what the transport priorities for various commodities should be, and the peasants carry out those orders to the best of their abilities. You do not have any direct control over any of your settlers.

Games in the series to date:

  • The Settlers (1993) (known as Serf City: Life is Feudal in North America)
  • The Settlers II: Veni, Vidi, Vici (1996)
    • The Settlers II Mission CD
  • The Settlers III (1998)
    • The Settlers III: Quest of the Amazons
    • The Settlers III Mission CD
  • The Settlers IV (2001) (known as The Settlers: Fourth Edition in North America)
    • The Settlers IV: The Trojans and the Elixir of Power
    • The Settlers IV Mission Pack
    • The Settlers IV: The New World and The Settlers IV: Community Pack (German only expansions)
  • The Settlers: Heritage of Kings (2005)
    • The Settlers: Heritage of Kings - Expansion Disc
    • The Settlers: Heritage of Kings - Legends Expansion Disc
  • The Settlers II 10th Anniversary (2006) (A remake of Settlers II)
    • The Settlers II 10th Anniversary - The Vikings (Germany only)
  • The Settlers: Rise of an Empire (2007)
    • The Settlers: Rise of an Empire - The Eastern Realm
  • The Settlers: Rise of Cultures (Spiritual Successor to The Settlers II 10th Anniversary, includes elements from The Settlers III. Germany only)
  • The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom (2010)
  • The Settlers: Castle Empire/The Settlers Online (2011) (Online Browser Game)
  • The Settlers: New Allies (2023)

The first two games are rather slow. Starting wood production, for instance, means designating a spot for a woodcutter's hut and hooking it up to a road. A leveler will then walk over from the headquarters and prepare the ground. A builder will then walk over and add planks to the hut as a bucket chain of carriers brings them in. Once the builder's done, a woodcutter will walk over to occupy the hut, walk over to a nearby tree, cut it down (then strip off the branches in the first game), carry it back and leave it in front of the hut. Carriers will bring it over to a sawmill, which will turn it into one unit of planks, fresh and usable once the carriers get it where it needs to go. In short, it will take hours. This may be frustrating, yet they have a strong cult following, especially in their native Germany.

The third and fourth game take a different approach. While the basic principles remain the same, roads are no longer placed manually, now appearing on any path settlers frequently use and speeding them up. Maps are no longer tile-based, allowing for more precise placement of buildings. Additionally, soldiers and specialists can be moved freely and emphasis is shifted from individual soldiers fighting duels to skirmishes and battles between larger armies.

Heritage of Kings dropped the quirky, adorable presentation in favor of more realistic looking Settlers. Territory is no longer limited by borders and more emphasis was placed on a story-driven campaign centered around a young prince reclaiming the kingdom once ruled by his father. Hero units with special abilities also become important to combat, and research is introduced to the series. The economy, on the other hand, is simplified - there are only five resources, as well as money, which are stored in pools and no longer need to be refined, thus removing the production chains from the predecessors.

2007's The Settlers: Rise of an Empire has its own page.

See also Knights and Merchants, a game made by a bunch of Blue Byte people who left the company following the second game with a lot of similar mechanics.

Not to be confused with the board game Settlers of Catan.

This series embodies the following tropes:

  • And I Must Scream: At the end of The Settlers IV, the dark god Morbus is turned into a statue due to overexposure to plants.
    • While it is not exactly clear how much time passes between the events of the main game and the Trojan expansion, Morbus remains in this state long enough for him to end up on some island with the Trojans, who haven't had contact with the other races at this point and thus do not know who Morbus is.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: In The Settlers IV, priests can use mana to perform miracles. Unfortunately, each individual miracle becomes more expensive the more you use it, going up to four times the base price.
    • The Settlers III is even stricter about this, with no cap on how expensive a spell can become.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit:
    • Justified in The Settlers IV: Regular settlers and builders require a bed to sleep in, else they will go on strike. This isn't a big deal though, as beds are provided by the houses the settlers spawn from and only exist so players don't just demolish their houses once it has spawned all the settlers it can provide. Most other civilians live in the buildings they work in and soldiers, as well as specialists, don't require beds at all.
      • In the manual, this is explained as specialists sleeping under the night sky and soldiers sleeping in the barracks. Ironically, players rarely need more than one barracks-building, so apparently, hundreds of potential soldiers can be housed in a medium-sized building. And even when the barracks are demolished or destroyed, it won't affect your soldiers.
    • In Heritage of Kings, the limit is as arbitrary as it can get. How many units (both civilian workers and soldiers - only heroes are excluded) you can own depends entirely on how many city centers you own, which you can't even build wherever you want - they can only be constructed on special locations.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • In The Settlers IV, the AI doesn't use certain buildings a human player would find useful. The most notable examples are large towers and fortresses for defensive purposes - if the AI doesn't start with them, it will never have any at all. They also won't build warehouses to store surplus goods or build, let alone use ships unless scripted to do so. This means that if you are on different islands, you don't have to worry about being attacked at all. The AI is also incapable of manning towers to their full extent. This means that if you take an enemy tower and they retake it, it pretty much stops being a threat since they will only put one soldier in there. Ironically, the AI could man towers it captured in the previous game. On the other hand, the AI will make liberal use of priests, special units and squad leaders, the latter of which are often neglected by human players.
    • Allied AI players usually behave very passively in the fourth game's campaign missions. They will build their settlements as usual and can occasionally be manipulated into expanding towards the enemy, but unless it's scripted, don't expect any help from them.
      • In missions where you have to protect your allies, they can be even worse. One such mission requires you to protect a Roman and a Trojan settlement for two hours, which in this case means making sure both of them retain more than ten settlers. Now, the Trojans will actually try their hardest and only require a little military support to make sure their barracks (which are inconveniently placed near Dark Tribe territory) don't get blockaded. The Romans, on the other hand, will not finish building their houses even if you give them the resources to do so, and the two large towers that protect them from the Dark Tribe are manned by one lone archer each, compared to the three each of those towers could house.
    • In Heritage of Kings, the AI pretty much doesn't exist. Everything the AI does on any map is scripted. Which is why unlike the previous game, this one has no random maps.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Promotional material for Heritage of Kings depicts Dario and Ari in such a situation.
  • Bleak Level: In The Settlers IV, pretty much every level featuring the Dark Tribe can turn into this, if you don't stop the Tribe's expansion. Luckily, the damage can be reversed.
  • Bling of War: The handy way of telling unit tier is how flamboyant they look - the gaudier, the higher their level. This was particularly prominent in II, where limited graphics required to make units extra-distinctive.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Amazon units progress through default redheads (Braids of Action included), advanced brunettes and blonde veterans.
  • Central Theme: Often, the new additions of each game also play a major part in the game's plot.
    • For The Settlers II, the portals (although the player does not directly interact with them) that link each mission to the next. The remake in particular ends on the notion that the experience was about the road rather than the destination.
    • The Settlers III introduced divine intervention in the form of miracles performed by priests. As a result, the plot revolves around a feud between the chief gods of the playable civilizations.
    • The Settlers IV introduced the Dark Tribe, a race that was the complete antithesis of the regular settlers.
    • Heritage of Kings introduced the ability to control the weather. The responsibility that comes with such power and the potential to use and misuse it are a major plot point.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Kerberos in Heritage of Kings. And his English voice is actually relatively subdued compared to his German voice actor.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Justified by fact that units of the same race, but belonging to different players would be indistinguishable otherwise.
    • The Dark Tribe in The Settlers 4 is an exception - while they are assigned a regular colour like all other players, their units are all black and grey regardless. In the rare instances of more than one Dark Tribe being present, this makes it impossible to tell which unit is part of which Tribe.
  • Command & Conquer Economy: The player must order any construction project, that's pretty much the point of the game. You do not tell your settlers what to do and where to move though, you only set guidelines and they take care of everything else. Justified because of feudalism: everything in your kingdom is your property, so you call the shots.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: After the first level or two, it always has better troops than you do. Although this only applies in the campaign mode. In Free Play (aka Skirmish), the AI starts with the exact same resources as the player. Computer players don't have an infinite resource pool and will in fact run out of resources if they can't gather them.
  • Construct Additional Pylons: Not only is this trope in effect, it is actually the whole point of the game (at least early in the series), and its application is what set The Settlers apart from its direct competitors (early Real-Time Strategy games as we know them today). Instead of building an elaborate field base, the player is building a whole kingdom from scratch - and the objective is usually to expand that kingdom (often, but not necessarily, through violence) to the point where it edges out all competition. This requires careful placement of a very wide variety of buildings, each of which is absolutely necessary for victory. You must create a long economic chain which slowly converts raw resources step by step into military units. These units occupy guard huts, thereby increasing the size of your territory and allowing you to build more and more buildings. Although military force is often required to actually push your enemies back and eventually raze their castles, the primary skill being tested is your ability to build the kingdom and its economy properly; battles themselves are almost unremarkable in comparison.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: Guardhouses in II. They house more soldiers than barracks and are still a small-size building... but they take 3 stones to construct and still can only have three soldiers inside. A Watchtower, a medium building, costs only 1 stone more, can be built in the exact same amount of time, has almost twice the border radius and houses twice as many soldiers. Meanwhile, if you need just the most basic military building, barracks is more than enough.
  • Copy Protection:
    • Notoriously in The Settlers 7, as part of a humongous DRM program at Ubisoft. It was already bad on Assassin's Creed II, but here, if your internet connection dropped out, it was an automatic quit. Thankfully, Ubisoft has since rectified this issue, so the internet is only required to boot the program. This is still a pain in the ass, but better than before.
    • Also present in The Settlers III: If you tried to smelt iron ore into iron ingots with a cracked version of the game, they would be smelted into pigs.note 
  • The Corruption: The literal corruption, designed by Morbus. It is responsible for withering away plants and turning people into the Dark Tribe. Gameplay-wise, it has to be cleaned by gardeners first, or else you can't build over it.
  • Cosmetically Different Sides: In the first game, the only different thing between each side is the colour of units, while in II there are four main culture groups with their distinctive aesthetics, but each playing the same. From III onward, the differences became anything but cosmetic - building taking different amounts of space and resources, nation-specific building and resources, completely different spells and special units and so on and so forth.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Every single game in the series has different means of making and promoting soldiers, which requires different gameplay styles and focuses to pursue.
  • Dark Is Evil: In full effect with the Dark Tribe in The Settlers IV.
    • The same goes with Kerberos and his forces in The Settlers: Heritage of Kings.
  • Decade Dissonance: Heritage of Kings features the cities Cleycourt and Barmecia. While ruled by brothers, Barmecia is much more religious and are mindful of the ecological impact of their economy. Cleycourt simply exploits the local resources with no regard for the consequences.
  • The Dragon: In Heritage of Kings, Kerberos spends most of the game being this to Mordred.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The first game had really, really quirky controls, being made for the Amiga mouse. Playing the game on any other machine (or just with other types of mouse) leads to a serious case of Damn You, Muscle Memory!.
    • In the first game, units promote on their own and only if they are stationed in your starting castle.
    • In the first two games, there is just one leveler and one builder working on each construction. Things can take forever to finish, especially when materials arrive infrequently.
    • Got an entire industry chain set up to produce weapons in II? Even secured gold production for promotions? But did you remember to produce beer to get recruitment going?
    • Resources can't be captured in the first two games and are lost once you conquer enemy territory. And in III, if you gain special resources from another nation, they remain useless for you.
      • Inverted with grain fields. In the first two games, the farm burns down, but the fields remain (and require building a new farm to harvest them). In later games, the fields are destroyed with the building and only already cut bundles remain.
    • The first two games had a detailed tool system, where almost every occupation requires specific tools, including things like crucibles for smelter workers, rolling pins for bakers and separate axes for wood-chopping and butchering animals. Those were either streamlined or removed entirely in later instalments.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The dark god Morbus is banished to Earth in the intro sequence to The Settlers IV - unfortunately for him, he is allergic to nature.
    • At the end of the main game, Morbus is turned into a statue.
    • After being freed and waging a second war against the Settlers in The Trojans and the Elixir of Power, Morbus manages to avoid this fate, though not entirely by his own accord. While Morbus manages to collect all the ingredients for the titular Elixir, which is supposed to cure him of his allergy, the Settlers also managed to manipulate the final ingredient. As a result, Morbus is also cured of his hatred for nature and is last seen tending to his new garden.
  • Firewood Resources:
    • After the woodcutter chops down a tree, he strips it of branches and carries the log on his shoulder to his house. This is carried by other settlers all the way to the Carpenter's house, where he cuts the log into planks, which are then carried off to wherever they are needed. Half the uniqueness of the game comes from actually animating all those things, which most games don't.
    • Much of the other half comes from the gameplay implementation of those animations. Nifty animations aside, the fact that your little animated settlers actually carry resources from A to B forces you to organize a transport network that can handle the flow of resources without getting into traffic jams. This game averts Easy Logistics hard, to the point where logistics is the main source of challenge in the game.
    • This also produces the weirdness that one tree turns into one log turns into one unit of planks; the same amount of planks can be used to build either the frame of a small house, a rowboat, or the handle of a spade.
  • Guide Dang It!: The games do not always provide detailed explanations for advanced concepts, even in their respective manuals.
    • The fact wonders continuously increase in their mana price isn't mentioned anywhere in the manual for III. Hope you didn't just plan to spam a single wonder.
    • In III and IV, thieves have the passive ability to appear to other players as their own carriers as long as they avoid getting too close to enemy soldiers. When it comes to fooling AI players, however, they are not as consistent. Terrain appears to play a role in this, but there can be situations where a thief can walk right past an enemy tower without drawing attention, while most of the time, the AI will immediately send a soldier to dispatch any thief who crosses the border.
      • The latter behavior can actually be used to deprive the enemy of their swordsmen and thus much of their offensive potential (especially since the AI will not attack if they do not have any swordsmen, even if they have special units like axemen which could be just as devastating). A handful of thieves, paired with a group of archers (the more, the better), can cause great damage without provoking the AI to actually attack properly.
    • In Heritage of Kings, Ari has the ability to cloak herself as well. However, the ability does not explain which situations need to be avoided to prevent the ability from ending prematurely. This is a little infuriating since a few segments, notably the one where she is introduced as a player-controlled hero, require this ability.
  • Green Aesop:
  • Idle Animation: The first four games used these to give the settlers more personality. Carriers in II can be seen reading newspapers and jumping rope while waiting for goods to cart about. The fourth game has settlers wiping their noses, juggle with stones or blow bubble gum, among other things.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence:
    • In the third and fourth game, settlers can cross rivers (which are also used as a source of water) without any issue. Thin lines of seawater, however, cannot be crossed by any unit (aside from the Dark Tribe Manakopter), since they are part of the ocean as far as the game is concerned.
    • In Heritage of Kings, units cannot cross knee-deep shallows or rivers that would take all but one leap to get over.
  • Killed Offscreen: The original Big Bad of Heritage of Kings, Mordred, is murdered by Kerberos off-screen. Since he is never actually seen in the game, this makes him practically non-existent as a villain.
  • Market-Based Title: The original game The Settlers was renamed Serf City: Life Is Feudal in the United States. All subsequent games went out under the Settlers banner.
  • Master of All: Amazons from III are the most balanced faction ever introduced to the series. Their buildings have highly optimal sizes, they use a very efficient 13:7 wood:stone ratio, their spells are some of the most useful in the series and their alcohol production is highly-effective, while also providing a food source. Their war machine not only doesn't need ammo, but also can attack civilian buildings. They also can make use of all the special resources in the game, producing surplus iron and gold. Their only "weakness" is the fact they have 2nd best transport ships.
  • Mook Chivalry: In the first two games and their remakes, all fights are one-on-one, and the rest of the knights will simply stand around waiting for the opportunity to step in and pick up where the previous one left off. Since standing knights occupy space, bum-rushing the castle with low to mid-level units can be enough to clog up the area and stop them from moving goods and people around, crippling their economy.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: At the end of the "Cleycourt" mission in Heritage of Kings, the heroes assist in the construction of a weather machine. It was supposed to be used to end a year-long drought, which it did. Unfortunately, the summoned rain simply doesn't stop, eventually causing a flood. To make matters worse, the first weather machine was not made to withstand water, so it breaks down before it can be used to reverse its effects when it becomes apparent that the rain won't stop on its own.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: III introduced residences that spawn new settlers, but once all of them are out, the buildings are useless and thus players were simply demolishing them to regain space and half of the resources - often going as far as instantly building new housing in the same area using the left-over materials. IV added a sub-rule of beds for settlers, provided by residences, solely to force players to keep the housing around (settlers refuse to work if they don't have a bed).
  • One-Man Army:
    • A fully-upgraded soldier in II can plow through dozens of freshly conscripted ones. Higher evasion, kills with a single hit and any attempt to Zerg Rush against them is bound to fail - they can easily put down entire offensives of 15+ soldiers on their own. Of course, this only works when they face the most basic soldiers - the smaller the tier disparity, the fairer the combat.
    • The Squad Leader in The Settlers IV. While his raw stats are only very slightly better, he also has an armor stat which reduces all incoming damage to him. High-level soldiers won't have much trouble with him, since the damage reduction is a flat value rather than a percentage, but early on, even one can be devastating. Fighting is not their primary role, however. They are slower than most units and cannot capture towers like regular swordsmen can, and are instead intended to help control larger armies and provide a buff to their attack power. Paired with their high cost, they are rarely used.
    • Erec in Heritage of Kings. Hero units are already quite formidable, fully capable of taking on smaller forces on their own, but Erec takes things to a whole new level. He can double the attack power of himself and all allied units for quite a generous duration, and while his spin-attack is a bit hit-or-miss, it has the potential to kill over a dozen enemy soldiers in a single strike.
  • Painfully Slow Projectile: In Settlers II, a catapult may fire on an enemy building, only for that building to have been captured by the player by the time the boulder lands, resulting in loss of the building to friendly fire.
  • Picky Eater: Miners in III and IV have favourite foods, and by default, only that food type is being delivered to their respective mines (bread to coal, ham to iron and fish to gold mines). If they receive other types of food, the mine operates at lower efficiency, so they might bring out an empty sack, rather than coal or ore. To make matters worse, in III, this also decreases the amount of resources in the mine's location, treating the empty sack as if actual output were gathered.
  • Refining Resources: Virtually every resource in the game either must be refined in order to be useful, or can be refined to make some other resource. Some resources can go through two or more levels of refinement.
    • A good example of one of the longest chains of refinement is the process of turning water into weapons. Firstly, water has to be collected from a well and transported to your farms. With water, farms can grow wheat, which is sent to the windmill. There it is refined into flour, which is sent to the baker's. The baker combines flour with more water to make bread, which is sent to the iron mines and coal mines. The miners eat the bread and dig out iron ore and coal. Both are sent to an iron smelter, where they are combined to make iron ingots. These are sent to the weaponsmith (along with more coal) to be turned into weapons. The weaponsmith makes swords and shields separately, and one of each is needed in order to train one soldier. The process can take a very long time, as you can expect, especially if the roads become congested...
      • Not only that, but you also need beer to recruit soldiers, and guess what you need to combine with wheat in order to make beer...
    • In Heritage of Kings, resources are no longer refined to create other resources. Instead, buildings like the sawmill multiply resources you already have and allow for research related to it.
  • Interfaith Smoothie: In III, the Romans explicitly follow Jupiter, who is trying to win a competition between gods as the most efficient and powerful. One of the Roman priest spells is "Convert", turning enemy units into Romans... which has a Christian cruicifix as its icon.
  • Resource-Gathering Mission: In the mission "Barmecia" from Heritage of Kings, you have to deliver 10000 stone-resources to the eponymous city so they can complete their cathedral. You must do so before their rival city Cleycourt attacks so the two of them can make peace. You also have no means to defend any city, since both of them are your allies.
    • The mission "The Flood" requires you to collect a variety of resources for a scientist, so he can build a weather machine. This combines this trope with Stealth-Based Mission, since the only way to get enough sulfur resource is to sneak into your rival city and get a key for a sulfur merchant, so he can trade with you.
  • Shields Are Useless: In The Settlers II, low-ranking soldiers carry shields. High ranking soldiers do not.
  • Shipwreck Start:
    • In The Settlers II, the opening cutscene depicts a Roman ship captain named Octavius as his ship, the Tortius, is wrecked while crossing the Sea of Storms and he and his crew wash up on an uncharted island. The single-player campaign then picks up from there.
    • A handful of missions in III and especially IV start like this. The shipwreck is either implied or explicitly mentioned in the briefing.
  • Sixth Ranger: The add-on races as a whole: The Amazons in The Settlers III, the Trojans in The Settlers IV, and the Vikings in The Settlers II 10th Anniversary.
  • So Last Season: III introduced the concept of multiple levelers and builders working on the same project. It also removed roads, so goods are always transported in the shortest way possible and en masse. This speed up the entire game significantly.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: The plot of the third game revolves around 'Him', the god to whom other gods are subservient, trying to stop mortals developing monotheistic religion.
  • Timed Mission: While it is not explicitly stated anywhere, II operates on strict time limits to keep up with the AI. But in practical terms, unless the specific locations and size of the economy are reached within exact time-frames (there is less than 5 minutes of mistake for campaign missions), the AI will snowball to the point where it will be simply impossible to keep up.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Since you don't directly control civilians in most games, you cannot order them to flee from the few threats civilians can actually face. Also found a few times in the behavior of some factions, story-wise.
    • The Dark Tribe featured in the fourth game uses Shamans to enslave civilian settlers. That alone can be quite a pain in the ass, especially since the tools these settlers used are lost, but it's particularly infuriating when you see how your settlers will not even try to avoid these shamans. Builders who just worked near your borders, where you may have built defenses, may still be standing there if they weren't assigned another task, and will simply allow themselves to be enslaved.
    • The Trojan expansion to the same game has a mission where the Vikings and Mayans have turned on the Trojans and Romans, believing that the Dark Tribe was defeated. As you would expect, the Dark Tribe is still very much present (and is actually scripted to destroy the Romans and attack the Vikings and Mayans later on, though the tribe is hidden in the statistics menu), and upon viewing the entire map, you will realize that the Dark Tribe was sitting pretty much next door to the Mayans and Vikings.
    • In the "Norfolk" mission of Heritage of Kingsyou arrive to help protect the important city of Norfolk. Norfolk's inhabitants are confident that their walls will protect them, and their defenses are actually quite formidable - unfortunately, they completely fail to realize that in winter, the sea around their main fortress will freeze over, completely exposing it. Unfortunately, while the protagonists are aware of this, they don't bother pointing it out.
    • Leonardo (not da Vinci) is the genius behind automated turrets and weather control (although the technology apparently existed before, he is just one of the few who could reverse-engineer it), but is also frequently captured and requires rescue. Somewhat justified since he is an old man unable to fight anyone, but it doesn't help that he is somewhat absent-minded.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: Two of the tutorial missions in IV, as a result of the expansions to the game. One of them introduces the player to Eyecatchers, decorative items that improve settler morale; one of the expansions added a gold bar cost to building them without changing the amount available in the mission, making it possible to run out. The other mission is the one that introduces the player to the Viking race, which also introduces the player to shipbuilding and naval combat; a later mechanic introduced the ability for tools and weapons to be produced in infinite amounts, the mission's metalworks start with this turned on, and tutorial missions prevent the player from interacting with any menu option that isn't relevant to the current objective (so the infinite production can't be turned off), making it likely that the AI will exhaust the supply of iron bars before the player can build their ship.
  • Useless Accessory: In Heritage of Kings, Erec carries a second shield on his back, which is never used (although it could serve to protect his back from arrows). Ari carries a small crossbow with her, but never uses it, instead favoring her bow.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Destroying the last enemy storehouse, harbor, or headquarters in The Settlers II will cause the settlers, workers, and donkeys within to flee. Usually, they'll head toward the closest storehouse they can hide in—but without one, they'll aimlessly wander around with nowhere to go and nobody to save them. Eventually, they starve, let out death knells, and collapse, turning to skeletons.
    • The Settlers III has dying settlers turn into coloured smoke. The Settlers IV advances this to angels (or demons for the Dark Tribe), who then rise towards the sky.
    • The first four games do not allow soldiers to attack non-specialist civilians (even the Dark Tribe adheres to this, though they can still enslave them instead). In the fifth game, soldiers will not automatically attack workers, but can be ordered to do so.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: In fact, this is more the point of the game than fighting is, but at least you can plant more trees.
    • In The Settlers IV, sulphur is pretty much uselessium. The Mayans and Trojans can use it as ammo for warships and catapults, which are rarely useful. The Trojans can also convert it into iron using magic. The Romans and Vikings have no use for it at all, making you wonder why the devs put sulphur on maps where you play as any of those two (or where the Mayans are completely absent). Even the AI doesn't use it.


Video Example(s):


The Settlers II Intro Cutscene

On booting up The Settlers II, the player is shown a cinematic in which Roman ship captain Octavius narrates the sinking of his vessel, the Tortius, setting in motion the events of the single-player campaign.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / ShipwreckStart

Media sources: