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...Okay, it's Advance Wars, IN MEDIEVAL TIMES. Well, that was easy, who's for lunch?

All joking aside, Wargroove is a 2019 Turn-Based Strategy game for PC, Switch, Xbox One, and Playstation 4 by Chucklefish, developers of Starbound and publisher of Stardew Valley. Like its predecessors, it is an intentionally retro-looking game intended to serve as a Spiritual Successor to a previous franchise, in this case Nintendo's venerable Advance Wars series with a seasoning of Fire Emblem added.

The gameplay will be immediately familiar to any Advance Wars fan: Starting out with a headquarters and a few units, players take turns to slowly conquer the map by claiming settlements and defeating your opponent's units in turn-based moves heavily dominated by Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors, buying new units from buildings you claim along the way. You win by either taking the opposing headquarters or by wiping out their army. In addition to the Advance Wars staples the game also adds its own touches with the introduction of commander units, powerful unique units that represent your army's general and will fail you the game if they are defeated, and a built-in turn limit for multiplayer games where the player with the most territory and units will win when time runs out. Commanders each have unique hero powers called 'grooves' (similarly to CO powers) that slowly charge up as the commander fights battles. The game supports 4-player multiplayer games over the internet with cross-platform compatibility, as well as the ability for players to play multiple games at a time and message their opponent when their turn is done instead of waiting around for the opposition's moves in-game.

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The game's included single-player campaign follows Mercia, recently-crowned queen of the Cherrystone Kingdom after her father is murdered by the Felheim Legion in an attempt to weaken Cherrystone for an invasion. Over the course of the campaign Mercia must make common cause with her other neighbours, the Heavensong Empire and the Floran Tribes, and repeal the Felheim Legion's invasion. The game also comes complete with a map and campaign editor that promises the ability for anyone to make (and share) their own stories online with anyone who would like to play them.

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Wargroove provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: All of the Steam achievements have this in full force.
  • Aerith and Bob: A Downplayed Trope. The bandit leaders' real names (Greg, Neil, and Paul) are run-of-the-mill compared to everyone else in the series. However, in a feudal system like Cherrystone, it's not uncommon for the upper castes of nobles and the knighthood to have a different naming culture (see Theme Naming below) to the commoners.
  • Alien Animals: The codex heavily implies the entire Floran race is an introduced species, descendent of a hunting party's spaceship crash-landing and stranding them. Anyone familiar with Starbound probably isn't surprised by this, but the species themselves appear to have completely forgotten this.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: To the point of being a Running Gag in the codex. It's understandable with the Floran Quagmutts, which are classed as a Dog unit, but becomes a bit of a joke when Cherrystone's dragons (units that stand in for bomber aircraft) are described as "really just big dogs".
  • All There in the Manual: The in-game codex has a ton of lore that fleshes out the world and units beyond what the campaign offers.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Eremic, as well as most of the Cherrystone faction units. Spawning any air unit or ground unit note  in the Cherrystone faction will result in randomized skin tones for the human, including pale, skin white, brown, and even darker brown.
  • Anti-Air: Mages, ballistae, harpoon ships, and sky riders are designed to counter air units (being reskinned AA, Missiles, ranged Cruisers and Fighters from Advance Wars, though ballistae can attack ground units as well and harpoon ships can attack water units).
  • Anti-Cavalry: Cavalry being 'tanks' in this game, they are countered by Aeronauts, Giants and attacking Spearmen (Battle Helicopters, Megatanks and Mech) units.
  • Arbitrary Minimum Range: Like in Advance Wars, non-infantry ranged units cannot attack adjacent units. Harpoon Ships and Warships need to be at least two tiles away from a target in order to attack, while Trebuchets and Ballista need only a one-tile clearance (and thus have no trouble attacking diagonally).
  • Army Scout: Dog units. Mobile with a huge vision radius that can clear Fog of War even in rough terrain and a powerful attack, but very little defense.
  • Artifact of Doom: Requiem turns out to be an Evil Weapon that corrupts the minds of anyone who could possibly be tempted into wielding it. Anyone who rejects a simple offer of power is instead assaulted by an Enemy Within until they're weak enough for Requiem to possess outright.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • The AI emphasizes attacking over defending and can be baited into making bad trades by providing them with the right fodder to attack. This goes double if your Commander is on the frontline; the AI will gladly charge them with units who have no realistic chance in heck of making a permanent dent in their HP pool.
    • The AI will often focus on destroying allied villages, even if one of your units nearby is recapturing it every turn. Inversely, an isolated unit will sometimes fixate on capturing a village, even if one of your own units is nearby to demolish it every turn.
    • Wagons receive a disproportionate amount of the AI’s ire, much like the APCs of Advance Wars old.
  • Bamboo Technology: The Empire of Heavensong. Unlike the other factions, Heavensong is all-human and compensates using advanced puppet-based technology to substitute giants, turtles and dragons. This has no effect on gameplay, naturally.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: What the Epilogue consists of, as Requiem tries to convince Mercia to accept its power, while attacking her in the form of an Enemy Within.
  • Beast of Battle: Instead of vehicles, most heavy units in Wargroove are monsters, from dogs as recon units to gigantic dragons that serve as bombers.
  • Bling of War: The Heavensong Empire's units are heavily decked out in golden elaborate masks and armour.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The Floran, as usual. This complicates diplomacy during the campaign, though it's downplayed as their Greenfinger is a Reasonable Authority Figure, and Nuru is friendlier than your average Floran thanks to being part of a multicultural protectorate. This also creeps into their unit lore; for example, they don't traditionally domesticate their scouts and mounts, as it's a rite of passage to tame a wild one.
  • Boring, but Practical: In a game where you can summon dragons, purchase gallant knights, call in harpies, and utilize massive, unit killing golems, what will usually be your most important, most valued, most pivotal unit? The humble Pikeman (with perhaps a ballista or witch around for handling aerial units) will often be the key to your success. At a cheap 150 gold cost, they are easily spammed, and unlike most of the units worth less than 600 gold, can actually tank really well. The majority of ground units simply can't break through them in a single hit, and often can't do it in two, either. And unlike the swordsman, Pikemen can give just as good as they get. The biggest reason to use Pikemen, however, is the way money is handled in this game. Both you and your opponent will be jockeying for a lot of money to start purchasing heavy hitters like Golems, Trebuchets, and Dragons. However, given that there's rarely more than fourteen properties on a map (and that's being generous), the simple fact of the matter is that even late into a campaign you can't crank out a dragon every turn. This is compounded by buying Knights and Harpies and Archers- all fantastic, usable units, but expensive. In general, until mid-to-late into a campaign, it's far more cost effective to spam Pikemen as a defensive wall so that, at most, you're only losing around 300 gold a day (as later maps will often have multiple army deployment centers) at a point where that will give you a net gain on money, allowing you to save up for Ballistae and the heavy hitter units much more effectively than futilely spamming Knights. Spamming expensive units is often the AI's greatest flaw to exploit as a result.
  • Buffy Speak: Many of the Floran Tribe's units are named like this ('Slasher', 'Stabber', 'Shooter', 'Floaty Thing', etc.).
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": The codex has a handful of oddities like this. One that stands out is a mention of cinnamon mines that apparently waft their scent quite far. (In the real world, cinnamon is the inner bark of its namesake tree, which doesn't smell much stronger than any other tree.)
  • Colour Coded Armies: Cherrystone's units are red, Felheim is blue, Heavensong is yellow and the Florans are green. Requiem’s forces are purple.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The AI has no respect for Fog of War. It knows where your units are at all times, and doesn't need to spot them before it can attack, rendering hiding places useless.
  • Cosmetically Different Sides: Beyond sprite differences, the four factions' units are identical in abilities. Even the commanders are equal combatants. The only difference is their Grooves.
  • Coup de Grâce Cutscene: Both Sedge and Sigrid are killed by the victorious player commander in cutscenes after their final encounters in the campaign, even if in-game they merely lost their fortresses or were struck down by generic units. Sirgid's case especially, as the cutscene immediately opens with her fatally impaled upon Mercia's sword, without actually showing the attack.
  • Crapsaccharine World: A Downplayed example, as the setting of Wargroove remains a lighthearted Adventure-Friendly World, but the Codex isn't afraid to point out some of its darker elements. For example, it comments on how Cherrystone appears to have a bandit problem and speculates on what the wider socioeconomic cause could be.
  • Critical Hit: Each unit has a Critical Hit mechanic that increases its damage provided a particular requirement is fulfilled when it attacks. For example, the humble Swordsman deals Critical Hits if it attacks while adjacent to your side's Commander.
  • Crossover: The Florans are originally from Starbound. One of their commanders (Nuru) is stated to be a "visitor", and drops numerous hints she's the Nuru from that game. They appear to be slightly less stabbing-happy than their spacefaring counterparts this time around (in that they keep it to within their own borders).
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Despite the fantasy coat of paint, the games wears its inspiration on its sleeves, which can lead to tripping up when a couple of crucial mechanics are very slightly different. In particular:
    • For Advanced Wars veterans.
      • Properties use a completely different set of mechanics that bares not even a passing resemblance to AW.
      • Grade in Campaign mode is exclusively based on your speed (How many turns it takes for you to win). Players are used to scoring high on Power and Technique for grade (killing enemy units and preserving your own) will find it awkward.
      • The Archer unit, while filling the same niche as Artillery, is a very different beast, being able to move and attack in the same turn, retaliate and range, and attack point-blank.
    • For Fire Emblem veterans.
      • Archers even being able to attack and counter more than 2 spaces and at point blank, which was only recently added in Shadows of Valentia.
      • FE players are used to selecting a unit or structure with the A button, as well as entering the menu by selecting an empty tile with A. It's now B on the Nintendo Switch version. You'd end up pressing A and, instead of selecting a unit or bringing up the game menu, you bring up the unit and tile information menu.
      • Worse is if you're playing on Xbox (Or using an Xbox controller) and played FE before. The tutorial actually ends up displaying "A" every time it wants you to select, further motivating you to press the rightmost button rather than the bottommost, since A and B are switched on Nintendo and Xbox. a picture to help you understand if you're not aware.
  • Developers' Foresight: Downplayed. Eremic warns you not to attack Valder in Act 1 Chapter 4 and just escape with the villagers. At the point he appears you're usually overwhelmed by enemies, but if you decide to do it anyway, he'll just laugh it off and heal back to full health.
  • Do Not Run with a Gun: The Ballista and the Trebuchet cannot move and fire in the same round. Downplayed with Archers, who can move and fire in a turn, but deal a Critical Hit if they fire without moving. Both ranged ships can move and fire with no penalties.
  • Dramatic Irony: Mixed in with Tomato Surprise. The prologue of the game clearly shows Sigrid killing King Mercival, restarting the conflict between Cherrystone and Felheim. However, only near the very end of the game is it shown that Valder hadn't sanctioned the assassination. Mercia held Valder responsible for her father's murder and Valder wasn't even aware that one of his own had done it. When Sigrid reveals she started the war, Valder is outraged.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Playing the campaign on easy mode will limit given stars from 1-2, which won't provide the needed amount of 100 stars to access the Epilogue chapter.
  • Expy: All the units are basically classic Advance Wars units reskinned, with much the same strengths and weaknesses.
  • Fog of War: An optional rule to battles. Act 2 of the campaign also features it, to represent the dense, obscuring foliage of the Gloomwoods.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: In a reflection of the final battle being all in Mercia's head, the objective given is to give in, in purple, wavy text just like how the final boss speaks. It doesn't show the actual objective until the battle is nearly over (and the boss is considerably weaker then).
  • Fragile Speedster: Wardogs and Turtles both have very good movement but die quickly to counterattacks, the turtles also having very good offense on top of it. The transport units are also very fast, but have no offensive power at all.
  • Geo Effects: Weather effects are present and accounted for. Sunny is normal, fair winds give movement bonuses on land and sea and attack bonuses for air units, and bad weather applies penalties to the same.
  • Glass Cannon: Archers, Ballista and Trebuchets can deal incredible damage at range but take 50+% damage even from the most basic melee troops and suffer a One-Hit Kill from Commanders or Giants if they're mostly unharmed.
  • Harping on About Harpies: Harpies form the basis of the Aeronaut units (which fill the role of Advance Wars' battle helicopters). Cherrystone's are outright called Harpies, and actually defy most aspects of the trope - the live peacefully up in the mountains, regularly help rescue miners, and the ones in the army are there because they voluntarily enlisted to defend their nation.
  • Hero Unit: Commander units. Each faction has three, each with their own unique groove.
  • <Hero> Must Survive: If your Commander is defeated in battle, you lose the match. In addition, much like in Advance Wars, losing your HQ is also an instant loss.
  • Heroic Dog: Caesar, who is a skilled commander in the Cherrystone army despite being a Big, Friendly Dog wearing what appears to be samurai armor.
  • Interface Spoiler: Downplayed, as Felheim are obviously the main antagonists, but the fact two of their commanders have pages upon pages of campaign-progress-locked data in the codex confirms there's much more going on than meets the eye.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: The Mage's stats are all-around decent on top of its incredible bonus damage against flying units. While it will fall quickly to specialized late-tier units it has decent matchups against most low-to-mid-tier units it can attack.
  • Lost Superweapon: Requiem. The entire events of the story eventually revolve around trying to prevent its unearthing.
  • Leitmotif: Each commander has their own theme, which will play when they are taking their turn.
  • Level Editor: The game comes with not only a map editor, but also scripting tools, a cutscene editor, and a campaign maker. The system is robust enough to re-create the entire story campaign - in fact, according to a developer's tweet, it's just a more user-friendly version of the team's mapmaking toolkit.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Both the Giant and the Dragon have incredible offensive power, decent staying power and some of the highest movement for their class (the Giant having 5 walking speed and the Dragon 8 flying). The Giant can even enter mountains to attack, unlike its Advance Wars equivalent.
  • Mask Power: Each Heavensong unit wears a golden animal mask that the Codex explains is symbolic of their role in the Heavensong army and associates them with the virtues of that creature. Heavensong's Commanders also wear masks, but in their cases they're not face-covering.
  • Mighty Glacier: The Spearman has the lowest movement rate in the game, but can deal frightful damage in packs thanks to its Critical Hit mechanic and has decent defenses against melee attacks. Its best counter are ranged units, who avoid fighting it in the first place, or flying units who they can't attack back against.
  • Morph Weapon: Requiem takes the form of a cello in Princess Elodie's hands, but when Dark Mercia takes it, she turns it into a sword and shield. It's possible it has more forms to suit different wielders.
  • Not Playing Fair With Resources
    • In the hard mode of the arcade, the AI gets twice as much money per structure than the player does.
    • Inverted of course on easy. The computer gets half as much money per structure than the player.
  • One-Man Army: Commanders are the most powerful units in the game and have good match-ups against practically every unit in the game; most low-tier units will, at best, deal around 10-15% damage to them. This is balanced by the Commader's defeat being an instant loss to its faction.
  • Palette Swap: One of Dark Mercia’s voice lines has her insisting she isn’t one.
  • Red Shirt Army: Everyone except the commander, especially since the game doesn't penalize you for losing units.
  • Risking the King: Commanders may lose the game when defeated, but they are powerful combatants, heal passively, every Groove has its effective range centred on the user (if they're not a direct action outright), and Groove charge is built faster when the Commander is in combat. Taking measured risks using them as a Frontline General is greatly rewarded compared to taking a Too Awesome to Use approach and leaving them sitting next to HQ.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Mercia takes up the Cherrystone throne after the death of her father and becomes her faction's main commander in war. She's eventually joined in her quest by the royal family of Heavensong.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Storming the Castle: Unlike in Advance Wars, buildings act more like units and have a health bar and the ability to counter-attack. A building reduced to zero health flips to neutral and can be instantly captured by any faction's infantry or commander.
    • In the campaign proper, the battle against Valder (and later, the True Final Boss) involves invading a castle using a relative handful of units.
  • Straight for the Commander: A very viable strategy, and if you can pull it off, it'll often win you an A or even an S-rank in Campaign mode. Just be careful since the enemy can do it to you, too.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: The game is heavily based upon the idea of countering opposing units with good match-ups, preferably cheap ones. Like Advance Wars, not all of these matchups are immediately obvious.
  • Theme Naming: The Cherrystone characters have Latin names (Mercia, Emeric, Caesar and Mercival), Felheim's have Germanic/Nordic names (Valder, Ragna and Sigrid) and Heavensong's have Japanese (Tenri, Ryota and Koji). Averted with the Floran, who avoid their Starbound tendency of being named after plants or botanical terms (though Sedge is a type of grass). Cacophony and its citizens seem to have had music-themed names, judging by Elodie (spoken to rhyme with "melody").
  • Turns Red: The Critical Hit mechanic for giants triggers when they're below 40% health. This makes them capable of dealing considerable damage to anything on the ground at almost any health level. They're the least dangerous at 10% or less.
  • The Undead: The Felheim Legion practices necromancy and practically all their units are one manner or another of undead. This has no effect on gameplay, however.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: In both campaign and arcade, any defeated Commander is hale and healthy in subsequent cutscenes (even if you defeated them in-game), and usually escape off-screen with no hindrance. Averted in Ryota's spotlight side-mission in the Campaign, where he corners and executes Sedge, and in the last battle against Sigrid, which ends with the vampire skewered by Mercia.
    • Averted by Elodie and Dark Mercia in Arcade Mode, who outright kill their opponents after each battle.
  • War Has Never Been So Much Fun: Every bit as colourful and optimistic-looking as its spiritual predecessor (Days of Ruin excluded), and with plenty of joking cutscenes before and after campaign maps.
  • We Have Reserves: Downplayed, especially compared to its spiritual progenitors. Maps tend to be designed with far more income than deployment buildings, disincentivising waves of cheap Cannon Fodder (a rampant tactic in Advance Wars et. al.) in favor of tactically deploying more expensive units.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: While most units die in combat, dog units instead just run away. In earlier builds of the game they did die, but the dev team felt like it would've been a hollow victory.
  • Zerg Rush: The encouraged usage of dog units. Thanks to their relatively low cost, large movement range, high attack power, and a crit that activates when other dogs are surrounding the target, it’s generally a good idea to send out a large pack of dogs to disrupt enemy defenses or overwhelm the enemy commander, assuming they have the backup needed to deal with threats they can’t take on.
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