The setting of the game was a hybrid of sci-fi and fantasy, taking place on an alien world of Yavaun, home to no less than four sapient species. The first one of them were the Tha'Roon, purple-skinned snakelike humanoids who were quite intelligent but preferred to have underlings to do most of the dirty work for them. To that end they struck an alliance with roughly humanoid (but with some beastlike features) Proud Warrior Race Guys called the Obblinox, who became their empire's military wing, and enslaved the half-plant, half-animal Eaggra to become their workers and architects. This went well for the Tha'Roon for quite some time until the Eaggra managed to rebel against their oppressors led by a few capable leaders and began to wage a guerrilla war against the Tha'Roon and the Obblinox. The Obblinox, too, grew unhappy with the conflict because at first they thought the Eaggra too weak to be considered a worthy opponent for them. They also began to question the legitimacy of the Tha'Roon's rule. The fourth side in the conflict were the Shama'Li, a race of cute, tribal humanoids that preferred to stay out of conflict and instead preserve ancient teachings. Their goal is to make sure that all the intelligent races of Yavaun survive. To that end they want to summon a mysterious god named NagaRom.
The gameplay was, for the most part, similar to Warcraft II, but with some notable differences. For example, instead of "training" your units at the barracks, you had to build an inn and wait until someone appeared there to be hired. Only three types of units could be hired from an inn - workers, mercenaries, and heroes. All other unit types - namely, advanced workers, scouts, warriors and spellcasters, as well as their advanced versions - had to be created by upgrading your workers. Yes, instead of the easy and convenient system employed by most RTS games, where once an upgrade is researched, it is automatically applied to all units able to receive it, here you had to upgrade each of your soldiers manually. This means that your army is bound to be very small and takes a lot of time to train. Mercenaries - something like non-upgradable melee cavalry - were only effective in early missions.
The game's single-player scenarios and campaign missions were often designed to play like puzzles. There was always some kind of obstacle to your goal - limited tech tree, scarce resources, or a maze full of monsters or traps, and it was your goal to figure out a solution. Unfortunately, many missions were quite unforgiving to mistakes, and you could easily end up in an unwinnable situation if you made a wrong decision.
The game also introduced the concept of Clan Leader, a unique unit that was present in every mission and basically represented the player on the battlefield. If the Clan Leader died, the mission was lost. Each race's Clan Leader had some unique special abilities, for example, the Eaggra Clan Leader could harvest resources and construct buildings like any other worker, and the Shama'Li Clan Leader could learn the same spells as their race's spellcasters. The Clan Leader also had some other abilities to manage your economy.
The game also introduced a lot of neutral monsters. Some attacked you on sight but stayed in plain view, like the Snipethorn, others disguised themselves as trees or rocks before attacking you. The Dinge Vermin did not attack you but stole resources from your courthouse (read: Town Hall). Then there were the rhino-like Bonca, who were normally non-aggressive, but packs of their young often roamed nearby and could attack your buildings. If you retaliated, they started to squeal, and any adult Bonca nearby also charged you.
In 1997 a sequel to War Wind was released, called War Wind II: The Human Onslaught. The Shama'Li failed to summon NagaRom, but the Eaggra managed to overthrow the Tha'Roon and the Obblinox. The two races allied to form a faction called S.U.N. (Servants Under NagaRom). The Tha'Roon managed to come to terms with the Obblinox, and together they also created a faction called the Overlords. Over time, the Overlords managed to gain an enormous technological edge over the S.U.N., and once again they went to war with them. The defeat of the S.U.N. seemed assured if not for the sudden arrival of humans from Earth, who proceeded to fight the Overlords, giving the remnants of the S.U.N. time to escape. The humans also split into two factions, the Marines who wanted to conquer Yavaun, and the scientists (called the Descendants) who wanted to return to Earth.
The second game did not gain a lot of popularity because at that time other, more advanced RTS games were released, as well as an incredibly dumb new feature, which simply made every unit irreplaceable, removing the Inn which spawned new units. Needless to say, it was received very poorly.
Tropes featured include:
- Awesome Personnel Carrier: The Incinerator used by the Marines. The vehicle has decent armour, can carry up to four units, and is armed with a double-mounted flamethrower. However, it is vulnerable to enemy units with Deconstructor ability, and can easily massacre your own troops (if the friendly fire option is activated in the options menu).
- Angry Guard Dog: Available for the Marines after building a kennel. As you could suppose, it is not very useful on a planet inhabited by all kinds of monsters and alien races using heavy weaponry.
- A Commander Is You:
- Tha'Roon - Elitists
- Obblinox - Brute Force
- Shama'Li - Rangers (the magic kind)
- Eaggra - Spammers
- Badass Biker: The equivalent of cavalry in Obblinox army, recruitable at an inn.
- Bio-Augmentation: The units of all four races use so-called Bio-Upgrades to enhance their combat abilities. The Tha'Roon, the Obblinox and the Eaggra all use some variants of Tha'Roon technology to enhance themselves - the Tha'Roon themselves use so-called "organic cybernetics", the Obblinox simply cut off their limbs to replace them with mechanical ones, and the Eaggra use chemistry. The Shama'Li, on the other hand, use magical artifacts to enhance themselves.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: While the computer is fair enough not to see through fog of war, it still has ungodly reaction time that lets it cast spells and spot masked units faster then you can react.
- Construct Additional Pylons: The game requires the player to set up living quarters for every couple of units, which they then hire from elsewhere or recruit from people in the overworld.
- Drill Tank: The Burrower. Unfortunately, the vehicle has a limited range, slow travelling speed, and can transport only two units at a time.
- Dressing as the Enemy: There is a unit modification which allows to disguise as an enemy unit. This can be applied both by you and your computer opponents.
- The Empire: The Tha'Roon empire in the first game, and the Overlords faction (consisting of the Tha'Roon and the Obblinox) in the second.
- Energy Weapon - A few elite units use laser weapons, which do considerable damage and have a long range of attack. The latter advantage makes them very useful in softening the advancing enemy before he reaches your main defence force, especially when you place the laser-equipped unit in a watchtower.
- Fire-Breathing Weapon: Flamethrower is one of the most powerful weapons in the game, used by a Tha'Roon infantry unit (Executioner) and mounted on the APCs used by the Marines.
- Fusion Dance: A planet-wide one occurs after you summon NagaRom at the end of the Shama'Li campaign, with all four of Yavaun's sentient races merging into one.
- Garrisonable Structures: Type 3. Almost all building have space for at least one unit to hide inside. Since the enemy cannot hurt you unless he destroys the entire structure, hiding weaker units like workers is a useful tactic while defending your base. However, mounted troops and some special units are just too large too seek shelter inside a building.
- Gender Bender: Apparently, this is a standard part of military training for the human factions in the second game. Even if there are no female recruits available for hire in the game, they become women when trained as Grunts (if they are Marines), or as Professors or Zoo Keepers (if they are Descendants).
- HeelFace Turn: The Obblinox rebel against the Tha'Roon in their own campaign in the first game, as they view fighting against the Eaggra as dishonorable. In the second game, the player can also choose to side with the Righteous subfaction in the Overlords campaign, who overthrow the Overlords' old warmongering leaders and lead the faction to peace with the S.U.N.
- Jump Jet Pack: The Tha'Roon have an elite unit called Jump Troop, powerfully armed an wearing a power armour, but also able to make short jumps using a jetpack. This may be useful when you want to go through an otherwise unpassable terrain and create a diversion among enemy ranks. Unfortunately, since Jump Troops are an elite unit, they require so much resources that you'll probably afford only one of them.
- Klingon Promotion: You may kill the Prime Minister of Death as an optional objective at the end of the Tha'Roon campaign, and thus succeed him as the ruler of the Empire in a special ending.
- La Résistance: The Eaggra's goal in the first game is to overthrow their Tha'Roon and Obblinox oppressors.
- Mass Teleportation: In the sequel, a human military base is teleported from the Arctic to Yavaun.
- Master Race: Both the Tha'Roon and the Marines consider themselves to be this, actively trying to subdue all other factions.
- Plant Aliens: The Eaggra are a plant species that was used for slave labour by the Tha'Roon until the inevitable uprising.
- Proud Scholar Race Guy:
- The Shama'Li represent the Mystical version, as they live in harmony with Yavaun's ecosystem, have natural magic abilities, and genuinely strive for peace and harmony among all races on the planet (including humans in the second installment). All this doesn't mean they cannot be a dangerous foe in combat, especially when it goes about the weak and oppressed.
- The Tha'Roon represent the Scientific version, and also a more evil one, with their imperialistic attitude and the fact that they live off slave labor.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy:
- The Obblinox are pretty much defined by this trope, which is why they became the Tha'Roon empire's military wing. They don't like the idea of fighting against defenseless slaves, though, which is why they eventually rebel.
- The human Marines in the second game are also like this.
- Romanticism Versus Enlightenment:
- The first game sides overwhelmingly with Romanticism, as the Tha'Roon, the race known as being Yavaun's best scientists (and whose buildings have names like Laboratory, Academy, and University) have been consistently portrayed as absolutely evil. Meanwhile, the setting's main good guys, the Shama'Li, eschew technology entirely, relying instead on magic. Both the Shama'Li and another "good guy" race, the Eaggra, talk a lot about preserving or reclaiming old traditions and reuniting with Yavaun's nature.
- The second game is somewhat more balanced in this regard, as it introduces a good science-themed faction (the human Descendants), and you have an option to make a HeelFace Turn when playing as the Overlords (the new faction comprising the Tha'Roon and the Obblinox).
- Super Drowning Skills: No matter which race you choose, almost all of your units will need bridges, boats, or flying/hovering vehicles to cross even the smallest water obstacles. Should the bridge or vehicle be destroyed, all passengers die instantly. Averted by the Frogmen, specialized diver units used by the Marines, which can swim and even stay underwater for an infinite amount of time.
- Translation Convention: Averted in the first game, with all the game's units speaking their own languages. Played straight for the most part in the second game for all races except the Eaggra.
- Units Not to Scale: Infantry units are about twice too large in comparison with buildings, vehicles and some beasts.
- Weaponized Car: The Descendant faction uses ordinary civilian cars with mounted machine guns.
- We Have Reserves: Averted. Since the player cannot just produce or breed units, it is necessary to hire basic worker units in an inn, or find a neutral settlement with possible recruits, and then train them as specialists (soldiers, scouts, etc.). Advanced units require talented recruits, which are rather hard to find. Due to this, the player quickly learns to value every single unit, even the weakest one.
- Xeno Fiction: Humans are completely absent from the first game. Averted in the second game (it isn't called Human Onslaught for nothing).