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Video Game / Warlords Battlecry

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Warlords Battlecry is a trilogy of RPG/Real-Time Strategy games and the Spinoff of the well-known Warlords franchise and published by SSG/Enlight Interactive/Ubisoft. It was released on the PC in two-year intervals: the first launched in 2000, the sequel in 2002, and the final game was released in 2004.

The series' plot focused on a continuing struggle between the Civilized (Human, Dwarf, Undead), Barbarian (Orc, Barbarians, Minotaur) and Magical (Dark Elf, Wood Elf, High Elf) races, who are all vying for power. In the two sequels, several races end up forging alliances to stop the Horsemen of the Apocalypse from plunging the world into eternal darkness.

The series was created by Warlords founder Steve Fawkner, and predominately featured a mixture of real-time strategy and roleplaying elements, including a customizable hero leveling system, various factions and races to choose from, a wide variety of missions and scenarios, and various special units that players could add to their retinue. In each mission, the hero starts with a small selection of Starting Units and amasses more troops, spells and resources through upgrades, the discovery of special temples (Shrines/Mausoleums) and spellbook. Later installments of the series added more races (including Chaotic Evil factions like the Plaguelords and Dark Dwarves), the ability to travel around a world map completing story missions and bonus scenarios, a multiplayer mode, new upgrades and a Diplomacy system, which allows players to forge alliances with other factions.

The games all shared the same graphics engine and user interface. Players could craft a new hero and level up any one of several different skills and bonuses, complete campaign missions, discover new armor and weapons to augment their strength and take part in skirmish or fan-created missions outside of the main storyline. The series still maintains a loyal fanbase, and modders release new missions and storylines on a regular basis.

All three installments are available for purchase at The third game is also available on Steam.

This series provides examples of:

  • Action Bomb: The Dark Dwarves use this as their standard method of warfare.
  • The All-Seeing A.I.: In particular difficulty levels of the second game this becomes especially blatant, as the game will pretend it doesn't know where your units are if you have no buildings, but then beeline for your position the moment you start trying to build anything.
  • Animate Dead: Used by several races (notably by the Undead) to summon cheap armies.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Averted - it's possible to amass hordes of allied units onscreen depending on the player's level, charisma and number of upgrades, although this runs the risk of crashing the game.
  • Artificial Stupidity: In the first game, enemy heroes can sometimes go on a suicidal charge with a small group of units into the hero's camp if the player controls/destroys enough resources on the map.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: The hero's retinue units can gain XP and level up to a maximum of eight ranks. This gives them a larger command presence (which gives bonuses for units inside that field), more damage and speed.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Disregarding the ability of most units in the game to get exp and increase their power; "General" units are technically meant to be the "best" units of their race and get the ability to convert building like heroes from the get-go (something that is impossible for even the most heavily trained non-general units) but can play the trope straight, downplay it, or subvert it in regards to the "asskicking" part but compensate with a special skill that is useful in general to the playability of their race or become asskickers through that particular skill:
    • Minotaur Kings and Giants seem to play it straight as both are massive monsters with higher resistance and strength than regular minotaurs and ogres plus the ability to inflict fear and hit both air and ground units. The former takes it further by negating the defence of its target (making it able to kill even high level heroes, Dragons and Titans in a few hits) and healing from eating animals that its own race can produce with ease while the later does so by being able to hit in a wide area rather than a single target (making it capable of preventing enemies piling on it while racking up exp faster)
    • Generals that could be considered to downplay the trope would be (among others): The Bronze Golem and Dwarf Lord; the former is technically stronger than the Iron Golem but lacks the ability to hit everything around it and spawn spider bombs but can scavenge destroyed buildings for resources which are specially important seeing the cost for golem and siege machine production. Dwarf Lords on the other hand seem to lack the sheer hitting force and high critical hit rate that Khazrimi Guards have, but they are specially useful in raiding the enemy bases since they have way more defense, take less damage from ranging attacks allowing them to close the distance on towers and siege machine and inflict much more damage to buildings.
    • a Subvertion might include the Wood Elves' Dryad, while not exactly the weakest of their units, the Dryad is quite frail and her hits aren't really notorious, her main use comes from her high speed and ability to convert mines much faster than any other general, making her more of a support unit that wins battles by helping the rest of her army as opposed to an unstoppable base raider.
  • Bad Ass Boast: The Doom Knight unit delivers his with much conviction.
    Doom Knight: "I am INVINCIBLE!"
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The most "idealistic" groups are bound to be jerks and the worst you can find are warmongering psychos that kill even their own, even if the player character takes the more "idealistic" route, the most your customization is going to do for your dialog is to make the hero serious, that's it.
    • The WB 3 manual divides the factions into following groups
      • Team Yellow: Knights, Empire, Dwarves, High Elves
      • Team Green: Barbarians, Wood Elves, Fey, Ssrathi
      • Team Red: Minotaurs, Orcs, Demons, the Swarm
      • Team Blue: Undead, Dark Elves, Dark Dwarves, Plaguelords
  • Boring, but Practical: The lowly Pikemen is the second human unit that's unlocked, only gets two upgrades (one of which is unlocked by building a better castle) and is cheap to produce. Yet, the pikemen are reliable and tough units that can carry a skilled player all the way to the end of the game.
  • Bowdlerise: In the Warlords games, the Lord of Plague was called Lord Anthrax. When he made his first appearance in the Battlecry series it was three years after the anthrax attacks of 2001 in the United States, and so to avoid upsetting people his name was changed to Antharg.
  • Chariot Pulled by Cats: The Empire's Titan unit is The Lion Throne, a war chariot pulled by lions.
  • Colour Coded Armies: All factions have unified colours, and enemy heroes carry a flag with the colour of their faction on it.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: In the second, the AI will merrily use Army Setup Points to get units that are unavailable to the player, such as Undead AI getting Doom Knights when the best the player can do in the same situation is Slayer Knights. The above example of being The All-Seeing A.I. also counts. Don't even get started on how Heroes claimed to be Level 7 can have 219 Attack.
  • Command & Conquer Economy
  • Confusion Fu: In III, the Empire has the option to recruit a "Foreign Mercenary", be it a basic unit, something stronger or even a general, from a random faction. This can be done as much as needed (it's slightly expensive unless you research a couple things, which makes them pretty cheap), and neither you nor the enemies have any idea what you'll get each time. Throwing orthodox strategy to the wind and amassing an army of random units from everywhere in the game can be surprisingly effective, not to mention entertaining.
  • Critical Hit: A somewhat odd variation. Blows can be a whiff (Scratch Damage), do half damage, full, twice the damage, crit for triple damage and an effect based on the type of damage, and a lethal blow that's usually a One-Hit Kill, or close, accompanied by a Pre-Mortem One-Liner.
  • Defeat Means Playable: Across the entire series. A player can amass defeated armies from various factions and integrate them into their retinue, where they can then be part of the player's team in future missions or matches. In the first two games, captured buildings can produce enemy units.
  • Defog of War: Some races in II and III can research a series of upgrades that remove the fog of war and eventually expose the whole map.
  • Demonic Invaders: The (Five) Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Demons are also a playable race, and judging from the reactions a Demon hero gets, they're doing this all the time. Pretty easy when there's a whole island turned into a Hell Gate.
  • Dinosaurs Are Dragons: Zig-zagged in III. While they are clearly separate units (every race potentially has access to dragons, while dinos are Ssrathi melee units), the Dragonslayer class has a skill that grants bonus XP to both dragon and dinosaur units
  • Elemental Embodiment: A strange case in that they're a lot more amorphous than usual: earth elementals are mounds of dirt with a huge damage bonus against structures, air elementals are whirlwinds with splash damage, fire elementals are fast floating flame and water elementals are hard hitting blobs of water.
  • Elite Mook: Almost every single race gets one and it's acknowledged in the interface to produce it as an "Elite" unit of some form.
  • Evil Counterpart Race: The games, as well as having High Elves and Dark Elves, has Dwarves and Dark Dwarves, the former being the typical ale-swilling axe-bearers, the latter being industrial Mad Scientists.
  • Enemy Exchange Program: Played straight and averted. In the first two games, you can convert buildings and produce enemy units (including special faction-exclusive ones). In the third, you can still capture enemy buildings, but you cannot produce enemy units unless your faction is already capable of doing so.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The imposing Doom Knight from III, as well as demons. Also several player hero voice options use this.
  • Faction Calculus: Twelve factions in II, and sixteen in III.
  • Fairy Ring: The Fey have a Faerie Ring as one of their buildings in III, which holds several lines of upgrades for nearly all Fey units; researching everything in it will strengthen your armies considerably. The building itself, being a simple ring of mushrooms, is very fragile, even by the faction's Glass Cannon standards.
  • Fetch Quest: Visiting a Shrine or Mausoleum will sometimes give the player a quest to obtain a certain amount of resources in order to get unique units or valuable armor/weapons.
  • Final Death Mode: Ironman Mode in II — if you are killed for any reason, your character is deleted and your save file is erased.
  • Glass Cannon: Siege units. Particularly dark dwarven siege engines: an upgraded flame cannon can hit harder than some titans, and hellbores are similarly strong, but both will get pulverized in a couple seconds if anything survives the first volley.
  • Heal It With Fire: The Pyromancy spell "Cauterize".
  • Hell Gate: Sundered Island, where the prince of Dark Elves tried a massive summoning spell to bind and control a powerful demon, and instead killed himself and his army, caused planet-wide earthquakes and tsunamis, and ripped the fabric of reality a new one. A new one large enough for the Horsemen to ride through.
  • Hellish Horse: Nightmare, the horse used by the Horsemen, has no skin and is covered with spikes and glowing red eyes.
  • Hero Must Survive: If the player hero or storyline heroes get killed during a mission, the campaign ends in failure.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: The horseman of destruction, Gorgon, the Big Bad of the third game. Although the player fights his forces multiple times they never actually see him. In the end he's not even fought... his fortress is sealed within the planet, with him inside it. The most we get is a witness account that he sort of looks like Melkor, enough that the witness in question said if they were men, he'd think they were brothers.
  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse: There are actually five of them as of the third game. They are:
    • The Horseman of War, Sartek. He was invincible and could never be beaten in battle, so Bane killed him out of battle in a sneak attack. His chosen people are the minotaurs and pieces of his body are used as magical artifacts.
    • The Horseman of Famine, Melkor. He doesn't have much influence on the plot and lives in the desert with his chosen race, The Swarm.
    • The Horseman of Pestilence, Antharg (originally Anthrax), who also has little influence on the plot. His chosen are the plaguelords, wizards who control poison and pestilence and create horrible monsters to serve them.
    • The Horseman of Death, Bane. His chosen people are the undead. He's involved in an ongoing war with the high elves.
    • The Horseman of Destruction, Gorgon, added in the third game. He doesn't have a chosen people, but he is seen controlling daemons.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Averted. The player character can wield several pieces of armor and one weapon, with a small chest set aside for bonus pieces of armor. These pieces can usually be accessed or changed when the player finds a loot chest during a mission.
  • I Am the Noun: Many of the units in the third game are fond of this. For example...
    Shadow: I am the darkness!
    Minotaur King: I am the avatar!
    Vampire: I am ze chosen one!
  • Interface Spoiler: In the first game, in one mission the little girl you're supposed to protect runs off on her own into a valley swarming with monsters. The first part of the mission tasks you with finding her, except the mission objective actually tells you to "discover" her. Hint: In English the word "discover" is very rarely used in reference to living people.
  • Large Ham: More than a few units can be quite loud and dramatic in anything they say, especially some of the stronger ones. The Knights and the Undead have a particularly high pork index among their units:
    Lich: So much DEATH!
    Doom Knight: Judge Not.
    Knight Lord: Forces of darkness, BEWARE!
    Archon: In the name of Truth!
  • Leprechaun: The Fey faction, which uses leprechauns as a basic unit.
  • Level-Up Fill-Up: Stronger undead units are created by "evolving" lower level ones, which also completely refills their HP. Waiting until a unit is almost dead to evolve it can be a very useful tactic.
  • Light Is Not Good: Among the "light" races you have the High Elves, who suffer from the typical elven arrogance, and don't care about the fate of other races as long as they can serve their idea of a greater good; the Empire, whose main trade is invading other countries for treasure; the Dwarves, who like the Empire, are driven by greed; the Knights, who usually like to act chivalrous but still see orc-slaying as a sport and aren't above trying to invade the Empire themselves and finally, the Fey, who are kind of the only (maybe 2) not invasive or highly arrogant races, but enforce Good Is Not Soft and have some in-universe Nightmare Fuel
    • Actually, in the game data the Dwarves are marked as neutral race. The fifth "Good" race are Barbarians. Yes, the guys who scream about razing and burning and have slavery.
    • High Elves actually ARE the good guys here. There have literally one character who can be described as arrogant and dismissive - and even that was kinda understandable. And in WBC 3 they are portrayed as rather pleasant people. Not to mention that they are the main reason Lord Bane's Undead hordes are sitting at north pole instead of killing everyone. Fey, on the other hand, are said to sometimes hunt humans for sport.
  • Massive Race Selection: WBC1 had nine races (Human, Dwarf, Undead, Barbarian, Minotaur, Orc, High Elf, Wood Elf, Dark Elf), arranged on a chart whose columns were "civilized", "barbaric", and "magical" and whose rows were "good", "neutral", and "evil". WBC2 added three new races, which can be unofficially sorted into a new "chaotic" column: Fey, Dark Dwarves, and Daemons. WBC3 almost completely abandoned the theme, splitting Humans into Empire and Knights and adding Ssrathi (Mayincatec Snake People), Swarm, and Plaguelords. By the end of the series, that's a grand total of 16 almost completely unique factions drawn from 11 races (of which there are three kinds of human, three kinds of elf, and two kinds of dwarf), with hardly a shared unit or building to be found.
  • Mana Drain
  • Mayincatec: The Ssrathi in III, right down to the part where they're invaded by a colony-craving empire.
  • Mighty Glacier: The Dwarves and Dark Dwarves, both in individual units and strategy as a whole. While neither get very good units in the first two stages (dwarven warriors are average and stone golems are slow), their generals can tear down bases without much trouble (dwarven generals can plow through bases easily, and bronze golems can punch down anything that doesn't shoot lightning).
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: The latter installments of the series were built on an upgraded version of the engine used in the original game - they look, play and function almost identically.
  • No Fair Cheating: In the first game, players who enter a cheat code during a mission will not gain any experience at the end of the level.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Not a single one of the five horsemen actually rides a horse.
  • One-Steve Limit: There's the Knight faction, which also has a Knight unit...and then there's the Paladin hero class while the Knight faction also has the Paladin upgrade.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: The Orcs in the series are of the Tolkienian type, who fight each other as often as they fight civilized people.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: In the first game they're big humans who chuck rocks. In the second and third games, they're "merely" seriously huge orcs, as tall as a tower and three times as wide, that double as their army's generals. Oh, and they're also hungry as hell, as they'll constantly remind you. There's also the Minotaur King, who is a giant minotaur and apparently an avatar of the Horseman of War, Sartek.
  • Our Minotaurs Are Different: An entire faction, serving under the horseman of war. They're fans of fighting, hard hitters, and have what's possibly the strongest general in the game, in the form of a huge minotaur with an axe that could chop a tower in half.
  • Pieces of God: Various pieces of the Lord of Minotaurs, Sartek, are collected over the course of the series. In II, the Skull of Sartek is the minotaur's titan unit. In III, collecting the Hand of Sartek gives the player bonus combat power and a minotaur faction ally.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse:
    • Dwarf Lords are no bigger than any other dwarf, maybe even smaller than Berserkers, and yet those axes of theirs can easily outdamage most of the other generals in the game, especially when buildings are concerned.
    • Fey units, without upgrades, are fragile, easily squished, and only a danger by dint of swarming, which is certainly possible, as they're fast and cheap to train. Let the player run away with the Orb of Wonder upgrades, however, and they'll each start to get cranked out with several levels right off the assembly line, their health still not being too impressive, but their formerly pitiful damage turning into an actual menace in smaller groups. Toss in the fact they haven't lost any of their speed or cheapness, and you realize why the prime strategy to deal with Fey is "Kill them as soon as possible".
  • Poisoned Weapons: Used by the Dark Elves.
  • Praetorian Guard: Khazrimi Guards are not only the dwarves' best fighters, they also act as the bodyguards for King Khalid.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Particularly powerful blows come with one, depending on the unit. And even workers have some.
    Quasit: Bite my tail, monkey boy.
    Doom Knight: DOOOOOM IS AT HAND!
    Bronze Golem: I squaaaaash...!
    Khazrimi Guard: Hail the king!
  • Regenerating Health: Heroes can regenerate lost HP, even if they're down to just a few points.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction
  • "Risk"-Style Map: II and III did away with the linear story in favor of a world map that players can travel around, allowing them to attack different regions or try bonus scenarios.
  • Scorpion People: The Swarm includes two of these; Scorpionmen are the pincer-armed variant and are the Swarm's cavalry unit, while Scorpionpriests have humanoid arms and are the faction's main spellcasters and generals.
  • Snake People: The Ssrathi, who have the lower bodies of snakes.
  • Spider Tank: The Dark Dwarves' Firebomb unit.
  • Square Race, Round Class: Any class can be combined with any race, producing many different variants.
  • Straight for the Commander: A valid tactic in Warlords Battlecry 3 is to go straight for the commander- since he's the initial builder unit and able to capture resource sites, taking him out will seriously hamper the enemy activities, possibly even crippling the AI side completely, if they have no alternative builders or heroes.
  • Stock Weapon Names: In III, the titan (a unique powerful unit) of the Dark Dwarves is a giant mithril golem named Grond.
  • Suspiciously Small Army: All three games have many missions where both you and the enemy start most missions with a pitifully small unit of soldiers and/or builders. Even at its peak, you'll usually see a cap of around 50-60 units on each side on average.
  • Tactical Superweapon Unit:
    • Each race has a unique Titan unit at the top of their tech tree. A Titan can only be built once per match and has a high resource cost, but each one is incredibly powerful. All players are informed that "A Titan walks the land" whenever one is built. Also, when they are killed, they rain down multiples explosions around them, which can destroy whole armies and/or badly damage a base.
    • Dragons are not quite as strong as Titans, but they are another top-tier super unit available to every race and can be built in limitless numbers.
  • Token Evil Teammate: The Gildine Order of Knights. According to the loading screen lore, they're known for their treacherous nature and openly refuse to follow the knights' code of conduct. The only reason the other knightly orders even allow their continued existence is because they're so good with money and they basically bankroll the knights' entire civilization.
  • Villain Team-Up: War and Death in III.
  • War Elephants: Serve as elite cavalry for the Empire
  • Weather of War: Certain races get bonuses and/or penalties depending on the type of weather and time of day.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: The four elements (Gold, Metal, Stone and Crystal). Some races have a reliance on one element over the others, leading to the game announcing that they need more elements when they try to build a new structure.

Alternative Title(s): Warlords Battlecry III, Warlords Battlecry II