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Video Game / Wintermoor Tactics Club

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Wintermoor Tactics Club is a Turn-Based Tactics game set in the fictional Wintermoor Boarding School in 1981, about a Snowball Fight tournament and a not-Dungeons & Dragons club, the eponymous Tactics Club.

Inspired by the intro battle of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Wintermoor Tactics Club alternates between Tabletop Role Playing sessions end of chapter snowball fights with other clubs.

But meanwhile, weird stuff keeps happening on campus... clearly the result of the main character's overactive imagination.



Wintermoor Tactics Club provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: The snowball fights; those who lose, lose all club privileges, which can be pretty significant for most groups. They include the right to wear non-standard clothes instead of the traditional uniform (very important for the Animal Identification group in particular), the right to use certain rooms on campus as clubrooms, and seemingly even the right to hang out with each other; Principal Enfield is seen repeatedly breaking up groups of students who were club members and banning them from each other's company.
  • Absurdly Powerful Student Council: Members of the Student Council are allowed to carry swords and appear to be omniscient. In paricular, Alicia is terrified of their leader, who has her own unique theme, and she will refuse to approach her- which can interfere with some Quests, since she has a habit of hanging out in plot-relevant areas.
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  • Acceptable Political Targets: The very first opponents the Tactics Club battle are the Young Monarchists, a bunch of goofy flakes who think bringing back the monarchy is a good idea- and remember, this is an American school. Notably, they are the only club the Tactics Club defeats that do not have any member join the Tactics Club.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Jacob. He's clearly not white, but it's also implied he's not black; the black member of the New Wave Appreciation Club identifies Alicia as one of the only other black people on campus alongside Septavia, but doesn't mention Jacob. This is as close to a statement on his ethnicity as we get. The epilogue claims he grew up to become Banksy, which is interesting because Banksy is British and Jacob distinctively isn't.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Rare version where the ambiguous part isn't the gay part. Jania and Baphomet, if you pitch in on their side quests, will eventually strike up a relationship with each other, one that the epilogue confirms lasted all their lives. It's not stated if both are lesbians, or if one or both are bisexual; the only thing known for sure is that both are wlw in some fashion.
  • Animal Mecha: The Equestrian Club lost the funding for its horses sometime before the game started. This is their work around- a rocket powered, fully combat capable robot horse, officially named Sleipnir by the head of the Equestrian Club (and called Buttercup by another member, who liked that name better.) It charges forth and spreads fire behind itself in huge lines, making the battle with the Equestrian Club an almost literal firefight. Sleipnir/Buttercup makes one last appearance in the Gatekeeper boss fight, damaging the beast so it can be harmed.
    • The party argues that this is illegal, but the Principal decides to simply call it "equipment", and allows the Equestrian Club to use it for their battle, while at the same time restricting the Tactics Club to only three members- the only loophole he grants them is that it can be any three members, not just the original trio the Club started with.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Both Justified and played straight. The Principal, upon realizing the Tactics Club has been recruiting, bans them from using more than three members, since he views adding more students to the club after the competition's start as cheating. Thus, it makes sense that the player can't bring more than three people to each snowball tournament fight. Now, why this applies to their games of C&C, or the more obvious life-and-death battles against the Clubless Club and the actual demon, on the other hand...
  • Artifact of Doom: the Gatekeeper statue, which is trying to open a portal for its master to destroy the world.
  • The Atoner: Principal Enfield sees himself this way, atoning for the mistakes he and his friends made in allowing the Gatekeeper statue to influence their minds.
  • Barrier Maiden: Gender Inverted, and central to the plot. Principal Enfield has done this for years, self-inflicted, to save his friends and the world from the Gatekeeper's master. The snowball tournament, and everything he does, is to find a new Barrier Maiden- an entire set of them, in fact, who will have to give up all their futures in order to contain the beast.
  • Big Bad: Principal Enfield seems a shoe-in for the position at first. He's not. The Gatekeeper and its master, Ilemauzar, are the real villains of the piece.
  • Black Boss Lady: Septavia, to such a degree that she openly unnerves Alicia, who won't go near her from sheer intimidation. Notably, Septavia never says a harsh word to Alicia in the game; Alicia's just a socially-nervous sort and Septavia is simply that imposing. Septavia is, in fact, quite kind to Alicia when the Tactics Club leader finally manages to work up the nerve to talk; it's apparent that Alicia holds Septavia up on a high pedestal, and Septavia is very gentle with her, encouraging her to find a third option to defeat the demon.
    • Alicia doesn't quite fit this trope, even though she is clearly the leader of the Tactics Club and their strongest advocate, mostly because she's way nicer than the general trope implies. Colin resents this about her, since he's technically the leader of the Club, and it plays a part in his temporary breakdown.
  • Bomb Throwing Anarchist: Jacob would love to be this, and his first Tactics Power revolves around smoke bombs.
  • Casting a Shadow: Combined with Soul Power, this is Baphomet's powerset.
  • Cat Girl: Badass nonbinary version; Avery, who adopts the snow leopard as their animal, is clearly the leader of the Animal Identification Club, being a strong and intelligent combatant, to the degree that they lead the club to the semifinals. This despite being the single smallest club in the school! Even the Tactics Club started out with more members!
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: The Tactics Club members are not actually warriors and mages, but by using their imagination, they can channel their fantasy selves and treat the Snowball Fight competition like one of their games. Given the statue's real, observable power, this... might be less strange than it seems.
  • Cloak & Dagger: The Tactics club is able to engage in activities resembling this genre to scout out the competition beforehand, gaining an advantage in the ensuing snowball battle from their espionage work. This doesn't work on the Student Council, who prepare multiple fake-outs and even a trap for the Tactics club... but finding all of them earns their respect and gives the party bonus Tactics points during their first combat encounter with the Clubless.
  • Dead All Along: The girl in the Quad who talks about insects.
  • Deconstructed Trope: Done gently, but pointedly, to Sadistic Choice and Barrier Maiden. Alicia refuses to go along with Enfield's plan, pointing out that she would much rather take some time to come up with a new way than simply give up her future forever to guard the statue. Sure, it sounds noble... but she points out that doing this is just a stop-gap measure at best; her and her friends sacrificing themselves in this manner wouldn't actually solve the problem, it'd just punt it down the road. She'd have to pass the responsibility on to someone else eventually. She'd rather try for a more permanent solution, even if it's less heroic than just sacrificing herself, and she's proven right when the option to simply battle the damn thing is revealed to be on the table. Enfield didn't have the strength to do it... but the Tactics Club does, and thrashes Ilemauzar and its forces, fixing the problem instead of hurling it down the road into the future.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: One member of each of the disbanded clubs you defeat will join Tactics Club, though not always the member given the most spotlight... Batu is the most surprising, as he literally has no lines of dialogue before he joins the party.
  • Demonic Possession: Bizarre example; the demon Ilemauzar appears to have possessed every single Clubless Club member, all at once, draining and feeding off their pain and loneliness. On a more light-hearted note, Scarlet has apparently been demonically possessed multiple times, as she mentions when Junia breaks her out of it.
  • Easily Forgiven: Colin, after running off during the meeting with Enfield. He didn't do any real harm, and Ilemauzar was messing with his head, so this is fairly well-justified.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Ilemauzar and its gatekeeper. The statue of its Gatekeeper is the main source of all the supernatural weirdness, and Alicia's nightmares.
  • Evil Overlooker: How Principal Enfield appears in the game's promotional imagery.
  • Expy: The most obvious one is the game the Tactics Club formed around, Curses & Catacombs; it's a near beat-for-beat Affectionate Parody of Dungeons & Dragons. Almost everything about the game is a reference in some way.
    • Much later on, the game Baphomet writes is very clearly an Expy of Vampire The Masquerade, though the game never comes out and directly says it.
    • Colin's ultimate challenge for the party is also this- a C&C module called the Crypt of Impossible Terrors, a clear reference to the Tomb of Horrors.
  • Fat Bastard: One of Colin's bullies is quite stout. Colin himself, repeatedly whenever Alicia brings someone new into the group, and then at the game's end, as the statue influences him to take a stand against the others.
  • Fighting Your Friend: How the party gets Colin to give up.
  • Friendly Ghost: One you don't know about until the epilogue. The girl in the Quad who keeps the same three lines of dialogue for the entire game- the only character who never changes dialogue- turns out to be the ghost of a girl who died hunting insects on the school grounds forty years beforehand. You get an achievement for figuring this out.
  • Furry Fandom: In-universe, this is basically what the Animal Indentification Club is. Weirdly, they're portrayed as one of the most powerful clubs in the school, despite consisting of literally only two people; they do scouting just like the main characters do, and are the penultimate challenge in the semifinals.]
  • Future Badass: The epilogue states that multiple characters become this; while many fade into the background, others ascend to take their place in history. Some become famous jewel thieves and scientists, but of the side characters, Armando fits this best- despite his curse, he ends three wars, raises millions to fight hunger, and even briefly brings back opera.
  • Framing Device: One that's not revealed until the epilogue. The entire game is Colin telling the story to Alicia's daughter, Danielle, in the future.
  • Geek Physiques: Jacob is the skinny, Colin the fat. The rest of the party doesn't really fit these stereotypes.
  • Geo Effects: Combined with Standard Status Effects. As there is no such thing as a status effect that can be applied to a person, those are instead applied to ground tiles, and whoever steps on them gets the effect.
    • The three most recurring are Fire, Magimist, and Brambles; Fire lowers the target's Physical Armor by 1 and deals 1 point of Magical Damage each turn, Magimist lowers Magic Defense, and Bramble deals Physical Damage and limits movement. Magimist, the most useful of the three, has a secondary effect; attacks that Chain can use Magimist tiles to extend their range, potentially allowing a savvy player to blast every enemy onscreen at once with a single well-placed attack. Batu is the best character at spreading these effects; his first Tactics Power creates a huge area of Fire, and he can get an upgrade that makes his default Trample attack leave behind Magimist squares. Duncan's first Tactics Power spreads Brambles, as well as creating stationary turrets.
  • Goth Girls Know Magic: Baphomet. Admittedly, it's stated that she's Wintermoor's only Goth student, but it's further stated she's at least as powerful as four Goths; apparently, this is enough Goth to use demon magic. Her C&C character, Hecate, is a Nephilim, and she spends most fights sucking the souls out of her opponents. True to this trope, she mostly does Magical Damage.
  • Happily Married: Junia and Baphomet are a realistic take on this for the time period; it's clear they stayed a happy couple, and even raise foster kids together, but they're never said to be married. The game takes place in 1981, after all, and marriage between people of the same gender was not legalized in the United States until 2015. Assuming Baphomet and Junia were 18 during the game, they'd be 52 before they could legally get married.
  • The Heartless: Ilemauzar feeds off of loneliness and suffering; in particular, its ability to hurt people can be at least partially negated by reminding its victims that they are not alone, and that others care about them. Isolation seems to be the main gimmick Ilemauzar feeds on.
  • Hero of Another Story: Isabella gives off this vibe; a tall, powerful student Alicia can talk with from the first chapter on, she never joins the party, but is apparently busy in underground kickboxing tournaments and, with Alicia's encouragement, can join a private detective office to put her ass-kicking skills to good use.
  • Hordes from the East: Batu, who is a Mongolian, is annoyed that this is all Americans know about him and his people. He points out that Mongolians also gave the world great philosophers and artists. This misunderstanding forms the basis of his sidestory with the Historical Re-Enactment Club.
  • How We Got Here: The entire game turns out to be Colin, now Wintermoor's principal, telling the story of Alicia and the Tactics Club to Alicia's daughter, who is fretting over which clubs to join.
  • "Instant Death" Radius: The final boss has one, which is made worse by the fact that he can "grab" characters and drag them into the Abyssal zones around himself. Most characters can't do anything about it, though Jacob can use his grappling hook to rescue those characters if he's not been grabbed himself, and Batu can save himself by using Trample to move out of the attack's radius.
  • Kid Detective: Basically what the Psychic Detectives Club is, combined with Police Psychic. It's clear that Scarlet, at least, has some real power, though it's up in the air if the other two do. They do. Jania is probably the weakest member of her club, and she can mind-control her enemies!
  • Knife Nut: Alicia thinks Jacob is this, but he just has a Swiss Army Knife that he uses for other tasks; he himself states he barely uses the blade. Baphomet, on the other hand, not only has a switchblade, but expresses tremendous confidence in her ability to use it for self-defense.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Colin's C&C character is a paladin, so he's supposed to be this... but he's not. He's repeatedly shown to be very distrustful of other characters and to be almost mono-focused on plowing through battles, only finally being decent when pressed. Batu's character, Sir Ardiemme, fits this trope much better, being eager to assist even a literal hellspawn when they need help and polite to everyone he meets. For bonus points, he's a literal knight, being a Cavalier, the class C&C uses to represent mounted combat. (Not coincidentally, Cavalier is also the class D&D uses for the same thing.)
  • Light 'em Up: Alicia's first Tactic Power, Brilliant Beam, which does tremendous damage in a line to every target between her and its end. Upgrades can let it set those squares on fire.
  • Mad Scientist: The Equestrian Club has evolved into this by the time the game starts, due to losing all their horses to school funding cuts; they've taken over the science lab and use it to build a combat-capable Robot Horse named Sleipnir (or Buttercup, according to Mindy.)
  • Limit Break: Tactics Powers fill this role, building up through normal attacks until they can be used. Ultimate Powers, meanwhile, take twice as many points as Tactics Powers, but are even more extreme versions of this... albeit most are Awesome, but Impractical, since you're giving up the right to use two normal Tactics Powers for one Ultimate.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: And women. And one non-binary person. The Clubless Club consists of every other student in the school, wearing creepy white masks, and determined to bring down the school. Jania outright calls them a cult. Ilemauzar's influence has warped them into both more powerful combatants, but also given them serious mental issues; the descriptions of their attacks and nature on the Examine screen make it very clear that the Clubless are in a bad place, mentally and spiritually speaking.
  • Mind Control: What Jania brings to the table for her Tactics Power- confusing enemies to attack each other. Upgrades make this even deadlier; it's one of the best forms of crowd control in the game.
  • National Stereotypes: Batu, who's an immigrant from Mongolia, is part of the Equestrian Club... but this trope actually makes up a good chunk of his personal storyline. Many people, particularly the Historical Reenactment Club, hold to the stereotype of Mongolians as Hordes from the East; Batu points out, in his usual calm and gentle fashion, that his people have done a lot more than just that. He even notes that, despite being named after one of Genghis Khan's relatives, his own interests revolve around art; he does like horses, but it's not his only interest, and his Equestrian Club activities have nothing to do with using horses to invade other nations.
    • This extends to his in-game C&C character; while he does go into detail about the breeding of his character's horse, White Falcon, his character isn't a Horse Archer but a more European knight focused on running his foes over with charges. He's dressed like a proper Mongolian rider, though, including his period-accurate helmet, and and his Tactics Power involves being a Horse Archer with Arrows on Fire- though his Ultimate Power is a massive bull rush, which is back to being in more European territory.
  • Nephilim: Baphomet's character, Hecate, is this, and it forms a big chunk of her backstory and motivation.
  • Playing with Fire: Most of Alicia's upgrades turn her attacks into this; Batu's first Tactics Power does this as well, combined with Arrows on Fire.
  • Not Just a Tournament: The driving action of the plot is a Snowball Fight tournament, with the survival of the clubs on the line. The tournament is just a side-effect of the real main issue of the plot- it's Enfield's attempt to find a successor.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Baphomet, beyond namiing herself after a demon once she discarded the name Sarah, writes a backstory for her character Hecate that deals heavily with Hell, demons, and their particular quirks. Ilemauzar is apparently a real-world demon, crossed with Eldritch Abomination, that feeds on fear and pain and uses hatred to make its victims into weapons; Colin at one point calls it a demon god, though Scarlet and Enfield, the two characters with the most understanding of the situation, only refer to it as a demon.
  • Politically Correct History: Downplayed example. Alicia is remarkably open-minded about Baphomet and Junia being a couple, something that would not be expected of a highschool girl from 1981... but it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility, either, particularly for someone so well-read.
  • Psychic Powers: The Psychic Detectives claim to have them. They're right. Their youngest, in particular, is stated in the epilogue to have literal world-breaking power, though he doesn't use it for evil- he just takes comfort in knowing he could.
  • Psychological Torment Zone: Ilemauzar throws all of its cultists into the deep end of this trope, convincing them that their lives are meaningless, no one loves them, and everyone else is out to get them. Its Gatekeeper uses the same tactics to hurt the party during their boss battle with it, inflicting bizarre status effects like Isolated and Paranoid, which have very non-standard effects.
  • Rebel Without a Cause: Jacob, in essence. This is the major reason Baphomet holds him in such contempt. Given that he became Banksy, this apparently is still an issue for him.
  • Running Gag: The (almost certainly terrible) picture the game has you draw to distract Jessie during the Scouting mission against the Equestrian Club shows up three times in-game; first in its intended purpose, second during an otherwise serious conversation with Jessie when they're a Clubless Club cultist, and third when Jessie has it during the epilogue.
  • Satellite Character: The last party member, interestingly. Duncan has no lines of dialogue that don't revolve around Avery, and even his epilogue states that he mostly spent his life backing up Avery. Fittingly, he's the last Tactics Club member, and the one with the fewest connections to the party; even Baphomet, who joined the chapter beforehand, finds a girlfriend in Jania and has had a few scenes even before she joined. Duncan hasn't. Jacob even jocularly states that he "just joined half an hour ago" when the party arrives for the final confrontation with Principal Enfield.
  • Smoke Out: One of Jacob's tactics powers, and an ability he keeps in real life; he stashes smoke bombs on himself in case the Tactics Club gets in over their head, to give them a chance to escape.
  • Shock and Awe: Alicia's default attack in her Mage form. Not that powerful, but it chains from enemy to enemy, and upgrades can make it a nasty group attack. Other upgrades can turn it into lobbed balls of dragonfire, losing the chain property but going up in attack power.
  • Shown Their Work: In three areas; fantasy novels, tabletop gaming, and Mongolian culture.
    • Alicia is familiar with a fairly large number of real-world fantasy novels, all published prior to 1981. She repeatedly tries to get Colin, who is a bit of a stick-in-the-mud about fantasy and only really respects Lord of the Rings, to read Left Hand of Darkness; he in turn has apparently decided she should read the Silmarillion. Colin brushes off Alicia's complaints about the lack of women in his favorite books, but does, reluctantly, agree to give her suggestions another try if she'll do the same.
      • Given later events, Colin's inability to accept new fantasy literature, and that the Lord of the Rings has flaws, is foreshadowing his eventual rage at Alicia for bringing in new club members, and his betrayal.
    • As to tabletop gaming, not only is C&C a fairly spot-on Affectionate Parody of Dungeons&Dragons, but there's a fairly Genius Bonus joke in the epilogue; Baphomet is stated to have been one of the original writers on "that other game", one popular with theatre kids and drama students that's about tortured fallen angels. It's abundantly clear they're talking about White Wolf and their flagship title, Vampire: the Masquerade- this even fits the real-world timeline, since the game takes place in 1981 and the first Vt M edition came out in 1991.
    • As to Mongolian culture, Batu is a walking reference to his homeland, and spells out a lot of truths about Mongolia that most Westerners wouldn't know from a U.S. history course. He also accurately points out the invention of stirrups as Mongolian, and the thing that allowed for the big, heavy charges that European knights were famous for. His character, Sir Ardiemme, is also shown wearing a very accurate Mongolian helmet, alongside correct Mongolian armor, though the character's main focus is more European.
  • Shrinking Violet: Batu of the Equestrian Club is a very sweet, shy guy, with a gentle personality and a love of art and horses both. He has great trouble talking to others at first, only opening up after Alicia puts in a great deal of effort, though he's quite personable once he's past his shyness.
  • Snowball Fight: The main plot arc is about a series of these between all the school's clubs, with each club that loses getting disbanded, all with the supposed goal of finding the Ultimate Club. It's clear from the start that something else is going on...
  • Sour Supporter: Colin slowly grows into this role, since he hates the new additions Alicia keeps bringing in. The statue capitalizes on this to make him betray the party at the last minute.
  • Sucky School: Wintermoor, which only has the funding for one extracurricular club (including sports teams and the Student Council), and will only give that funding to the Snowball Fight tournament's winners. This is not actually the case.
  • Tabletop RPG: The Tactics Club plays one of these, and a significant amount of character development occurs in them.
  • Take a Third Option: Alicia's good at these. This is actually why Septavia stepped down as the Ultimate Club and gave the win to the Tactics Club; she thought Enfield's option, of becoming the Gatekeeper statue's guardians and giving up their futures to stop it, was a no-go, but couldn't figure out a way around it herself. She hoped Alicia could... and she was right.
  • That Man Is Dead: Baphomet gets enraged if you call her Sarah- well, even more enraged than she normally is.
  • The Quiet One: Batu is a realistic take on this trope- he's quiet at first because he's shy and doesn't know any of the Tactics Club members. Once he gets to know them, he talks as much as anyone. Armando of the Student Council, however, is an Exaggerated Trope version of this; he never once says a word in the entire game. The epilogue reveals that it was because he was cursed to die on saying his 1,001 word.
  • The Unfought: Frustratingly, you never get a chance to put the Student Council to the test; the fight is interrupted by the Clubless Club cult first.
  • Token Black: Alicia is one in the Tactics Club, and is damn close to one on campus in general. This is both lampshaded and Discussed; there is a black member of the New Wave Appreciation Club, Joey, and he openly states to Alicia that he's glad there's at least one other black person on campus. Alicia brings up Septavia, but Joey demurs, pointing out that the almost inhumanly skilled and perfect Septavia comes across more like a robot than a person.
  • Tournament Arc: One half the plot, though unusually it's even done properly, with brackets and everything.
  • Trans Nature: Members of the Animal Identification Club don't identify animals. They identify as animals. For bonus points, Avery uses they/them pronouns, since "she" never felt right to them.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Alicia is both a woman and black- one of the only black students on campus, in fact, as Joey points out. She's also the Tactics Club's real leader, despite Colin technically being the one in charge; Alicia is the one who makes all the decisions and gathers people together, as well as being a powerful Mage combatant herself.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The Equestrian Club. The Young Monarchists were a joke, and most of the C&C stuff up until this point were just all fun and games... but the Equestrian Club shows up with a non-combatant Robot Horse that spreads Fire panels everywhere, and they're a Wolf Pack Boss, each of them with high movement and multi-hit Trample attacks. Winning is a matter of the player realizing that they don't have to beat the Robot Horse, just the Club, and concentrating fire on the Club while paying attention to formation so they don't eat multiple attacks to multiple party members at once.
  • Welcome Back, Traitor: Justified example. Colin, for all his dickery, was under the influence of Ilemauzar, and goes out of his way to apologize and "work on himself" after his betrayal. It probably helps that he didn't do any real harm with his last-minute treachery.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Principal Enfield always intended to give the clubs back to the school; he just needed to find one with willpower strong enough that it could take over as a Barrier Maiden for the Gatekeeper statue. Given how tired and exhausted he admits to being, and his plans to make things right afterwards, the snowball tournament and the sheer amount of dickery he gets up to in the meanwhile can be chalked up to desperation and to his attempts to keep the tournament going.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: And a surprisingly extensive one; every named character gets at least a line dedicated to their future success/failure, and more often several. Most are hilarious, or reference bizarre Future Badass scenarios.
    • As for where the party ended up... Alicia became a world-famous writer whose daughter attends Wintermoor. Colin becomes Principal, succeeding Enfield, and is the one who tells Alicia's daughter of her mother's great feats. Jacob became Banksy. Junia and Baphomet stayed a couple, raising foster kids together; Junia continued her psychic endeavors, while Baphomet was one of White Wolf's early writers. Duncan assisted Avery in their political endeavors, and Batu returned home to Mongolia, where he stays involved in art.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The justification for why the party can use their C&C abilities in real life against the demons and the Clubless; their imagination and spark of creativity is, in fact, the one weapon they have against the demon.


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