Follow TV Tropes

Following

We Have Reserves / Video Games

Go To

We Have Reserves in video games.


  • In any Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game, you have a line of constantly respawning "creeps" who are there almost solely to take damage for the heroes (such as damage from towers). Some game actively encourage you to kill your own creeps to limit the amount of gold and experience your enemies get.
  • Many Real-Time Strategy games will end up either encouraging this in their players, or doing so as their AI. Most noticable in the first Command & Conquer game, when using ground troops against the laser towers. Laser tower = one guaranteed dead enemy soldier, or one very heavily damaged enemy vehicle, every few seconds. Infantry = lots of 'em, I can crank them out so fast I can't deploy them fast enough, and eventually.
    • While various factions in various games incur bonuses for sacrificing troops. Examples: C&C Red Alert Yuri's Revenge where Yuri can feed troops (own or mind-controlled enemies) to the Meat Grinder for cash. Starcraft and Warcraft III where Zerg and Undead can 'eat' their own troops for energy/mana.
  • Advertisement:
  • Real Time Tactics games generally avert this trope by giving you fixed units in the game, though this gives another problem of destroyed units being lost for good (except in World in Conflict which allowed reinforcements to replace lost units). Some modern RTS also avoid the "We Have Reserves" type gameplay by taking psychological issues of individual units into account, which makes sending troops into suicide missions tactically prohibitive.

  • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin plays this straight, with everyone you're supposed to dislike being shown treating their troops like, well, pawns in chess. Meanwhile, anyone sympathetic is guaranteed to give Big Bad Caulder a lecture on the importance of human life. (The one character who says nothing either way is decidedly gray in most other aspects of characterization).
    • Hawke directly uses this line of reasoning before the battle Rain Of Fire, fought around an active volcano (to force the heroes into a land battle rather than an aerial one). And he's the most sympathetic of the villains.
    • Meta example: Mech Spam tactics. These tactics involve taking advantage of the fact that each enemy unit can kill at most one of your units per turn by using large amounts of cheap, weak mechanised infantry to block attacks on strong but fragile artillery units, which in turn can be used to kill units who attack the Mechs.
  • Assassin's Creed: Standard operating procedure for the Templars, and their modern-day incarnation Abstergo Industires. It even applies to their higher ups, who they have on occasion been totally willing to leave at the mercies of an Assassin, all for the sake of their plan. Slightly justified in that they really do have reserves.
      Advertisement:
    • This even applies to their best agents. In one of the in-game files of Rogue, Agent Dacosta, one of their Elite Mooks, comments upon one historical Templar being a Sacrificial Lamb. Her immediate superior, who previously criticised his boss for this attitude, responds with "Agent Dacosta, you are all expendable".
  • Assault on Dark Athena does this in a unique way, as Revas' mercenaries have gotten into the business of raiding colonies and enslaving the occupants, converting them into lobotimized cyborg drones that the mercenaries remote control into battle. The drones are all expendable, of course, as their controllers can simply control a new drone whenever the last one is killed.
  • The Joker is like this in Batman: Arkham Asylum, leaving his cohorts in multiple lurches without batting an eyelash, making You Have Failed Me comments as they get taken out one-by-one by Batman, and insulting anybody who fails him, including Harley Quinn. Mad Love, indeed.
  • Advertisement:
  • In Bravely Default, Dr. Qada has no problems with releasing a chemical weapon that can kill hundreds of thousands of people, both friend and foe, in order to win a war.
  • In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, General Shepherd calls in an airstrike on top of his own men to stop Captain Price and Soap from getting to him.
    Price: Since when does Shepherd care about danger close?
  • The City of Villains Mastermind Archetype, 'Traps' has a move that allows you to turn your own minions into walking bombs. If you're using Zombies or Robots, they just plain blow up, while more human minions such as mercenaries, thugs and ninjas - will try to put down the bomb and run away. Which doesn't always work very well, seeing as the bombs have pretty short fuses.
    • Moreover it's the entire point of the Mastermind archetype. Your pets are disposable and easily replaced; you're not, (death may be cheap, but it's still more of a nuisance than summoning and buffing new pets after a near-catastrophe). Later averted when the class switches to a shared health bar between master and pets.
  • Command & Conquer infantry (and sometimes even tanks), thanks in particular to the Command & Conquer Economy, just mass and charge!
    • In Kane's Wrath there is a Nod subfaction, the Black Hand which even encourages this as their main tactic, given how good their infantry is, so you can eventually overwhelm nearly any enemy.
    • This trope is invoked by name in the first level of Red Alert 2's Soviet campaign when you build your first Conscript.
      Lt. Sofiya: Pay no heed to casualties Comrade Commander, for every Conscript that dies in this glorious crusade, there are a thousand more eager to replace him.
  • Strongly averted in Company of Heroes. The costs of getting a unit or vehicle to the frontlines is much, much more than the cost of reinforcing or repairing it (compare 270 manpower units for a basic rifle company, compared to 30 units each for each member of the squad, up to five). In addition, the American units gain veteran bonuses as they survive in combat, and veterancy only survives if the unit does: if your elite unit of riflemen are all killed, they take their elite status to the grave with them.
    • COH does have an example of this trope however. The American armor commander has the "Allied War Machine" ability which, when activated, gives you free tanks to replace any that are destroyed during the duration of the ability (although there is a rather hefty munition cost to use this). Be prepared for more of this trope though when Company of Heroes 2 comes out, which takes place on the Eastern Front.
    • And on Company Of Heroes 2, the Soviet can do this through the following methods. Rapid conscription creates new conscript squads whenever one of your squads is wiped out. The conscript squad can merge with other units to serve as a reinforcement unit, which keeps them from being wiped out but lacks the armor and health stats of the squad they join. The Wehrmacht has the Ostruppen unit, a cheap spammable unit made up of "allied Axis countries to soak up bullets and serve as fodder. Subverted with the American faction which now stresses survival in their vehicle units where the crew actually gain experience and thus encourages you to save the crew as possible. The Ardennes Assault campaign expansion also stresses that further as the companies loses health every time they reinforce or take losses and it's possible to lose the company due to insufficient combat strength.
  • Disgaea encourages you to treat Prinnies this way, what with them exploding when thrown and only ever costing 1 HL to revive after battle. Doing this doesn't even count against "Allies killed" for purposes of determining which ending you get.
    • The Nintendo Hard PSP platformer spinoff Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? uses this in an interesting way: The game has no one-ups, but instead you start with 1,000 Prinnies in reserve, with the player character being whichever Prinny happens to be next in line. You're going to need every single one of those Prinnies too, since they die in a single hit on the hardest difficulty setting (and only get two extra hits on the easier difficulty).
  • Dragon Age: This is, essentially, how the Darkspawn fight. They're a mindless horde born by the thousands, driven by a single will. The Battle at Ostagar was doomed from the start, as their tactics relied on an enemy comprised of trained soldiers, not mindless brutes who don't care whether they live or die. That's why the Blights are so dangerous. The only way to stop them is to eliminate that will by killing the Archdemon.
    • The goal of Ostagar (as far as the Grey Wardens were concerned) wasn't to break the Darkspawn but to stall them for long enough for the Archdemon to show up, so that a Warden could kill him. Unfortunately this tactic was doomed to failure as well; the army that attacked Ostagar was only the front lines of the horde. The Archdemon was still in the Deep Roads, and wouldn't venture to the surface until months later.
  • In Eiyuu Senki: The World Conquest a unit's health is represented by the number of soldiers she has. After a battle, the player can just spend money to replenish all of the lost health/soldiers.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, this is stated to be one of the strengths of the (generally) non-villainous Imperial Legion. While hardly made up of Cannon Fodder, the sheer number of Boring, but Practical soldiers the Legion can put into battle gives it a tremendous advantage, even over enemies with superior-but-fewer soldiers. It should not come as a surprise that the Imperials have a heavy basis in Ancient Rome, who also had this as a major military strength.
  • Enough Plumbers, a free online platform game, has this as part of its gimmick- with the reserves being clones of the protagonist.
  • The "Quantity" Idea in Europa Universalis IV is all about this trope, making you able to have more troops and at the same time reinforcing any losses much faster. Going towards the Quantity side of the Quality-Quantity slider was the same idea in II and III — you get more manpower, quicker reinforcement and faster army construction, but the morale and organisation penalties means that your armies will take more and deal less damage (and likely break earlier), meaning you will need your larger armies and quicker ability to push more bodies into the fray to overcome otherwise equal foes leaning towards the Quality side.
  • In the Fallout mythos, this is how the New California Republic eventually beat the Brotherhood of Steel after a long war. The Brotherhood possessed advanced technology (as the entire point to their order was to preserve technology over human life) but their elitist and isolationist nature meant that replacing their troops was difficult while the NCR was a republic free to conscript thousands of soldiers.
    • Caesar's Legion is a more straightforward example; whereas the NCR values even the most lowly recruit's lives, the Legion regards themselves as expendable and that anyone who tries to capture them will not get them alive.
    • During the NCR/Brotherhood war, Father Elijah employed this tactic against the NCR when trying to secure the HELIOS One power plant, mainly because he could care less about the lives of his subordinates when it comes to the possibility of obtaining valuable tech (plus just not having the military training and experience of your average Brotherhood Elder — as implied above, he tried to use reserve tactics when it was the other side that had reserves). Later on, he attempted to use this very tactic to crack the Sierra Madre, only for many to succumb to Gold Fever and start killing each other out of greed.
  • Fear Effect. The Shop, the organization Glas used to work for, sent Glas and his entire squad on a mission. Said mission caused the squad to end up in an ambush that left them all dead or captured, except for Glas. Glas tried to order the squad to abort, but it was too late. Glas unexpectedly encounters his brother Drew and Drew shoots him in the back. Drew claims that the Shop knew that the squad would be ambushed on this mission, but it sent the squad on it anyway. Glas and his squad were not informed of this. Does anyone realize how much the idea of knowing that an ambush is going to occur and not warning anyone about it makes no sense at all?
    • In the 2nd game, Baron Tarko has a similar attitude.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy VI, Kefka poisoned the water source that both Doma and sieging Empire troops used to break the siege by killing everyone.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, Heidegger's response to a threat was to throw more troops at it.
      • In Crisis Core, one of the most powerful SOLDIERs escaped from one of Hojo's labs and is heading for Midgar? Send out half the army to take him down! And watch as half the army is completely devastated.
      • By the end of the original game, he doesn't have any more troops to throw at the heroes, and instead has to go into battle himself.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics has this happen a lot. Spells (positive or negative) target everything within a range, either centered on a tile or a character. Since spells have a timer before they are cast, it's possible to do a lot more damage to your own forced than to the enemy.
      • On some maps and party builds, using a "muddle" (bottling up enemy troops in a tight area using your own troops to block tiles moving out) to bomb enemies is considered a valid tactic.
  • Near the end of the 9th Fire Emblem (Path of Radiance), Ashnard purposefuly gives the Crimean Army an advantage by dividing his forces, just so he can fight Ike, because he is impressed by his strength.
    • The Begnion Senators in the sequel are even worse. They forbade retreating, ordered troops into volcanic caves just to see if the enemy was still alive, continued fighting after the majority of their forces retreated in direct violation of orders, so they executed him, their finest general, and when their particular province was attacked the units were more concerned about bounty than, say, living.
    • Even gameplay-wise, the AI-controlled units occasionally behave like this. The AI may send a barrage of units at your Mighty Glacier, only for them to die in one hit, but they managed to inflict 2 damage and free up the space on the map so the next unit could move there and attack. This proves to be exploitable, but annoying to anyone who gets attacked after forgetting to equip a weaker weapon instead of the fragile Infinity +1 Sword or watches ten cavaliers come from out of nowhere and murder the Glass Cannon in a narrow pass.
    • While this approach can be used by the player's side, it's not a very good idea since your forces are typically comprised of a very limited number of units (who are only rarely backed up by an AI-controlled Red Shirt Army) in a game series that features permanent death for playable units that fall in battle. However, the enemy armies will very frequently employ such tactics against you since their forces usually consist of a single named character (who serves as the boss for the given mission) accompanied by dozens of nameless Mooks who show little or no regard for their own survival while charging headlong into your path.
  • Fur Fighters has a bit of fun with this. In the intro to the last level of the game, General Viggo finds out to his horror that as a result of the Fur Fighters going through all the previous areas of the game, only five of presumably thousands of his bear minions are left alive. Naturally, come the level proper, there's far more than five bears for you to deal with.
  • Necromancers in Guild Wars can raise undead minions from the corpses of fallen enemies that constantly lose health. You can heal them, but the longer they live, the faster they lose health. The proper way to use them is to let them soak up most of the enemy melee attacks or using spells to make them explode when they're close to the enemy.
  • Half-Life 2:
    • This is basically how you deal with the Combine in the Nova Prospekt level: Keep sending wave after wave of antlions after them. You don't really even have to do this on purpose for the most part; the antlions will just naturally keep spawning, follow close behind you, and attack any humanoid that's not you. However, if you're feeling particularly lackadaisical, you can also use them to clear out tripmines. (Spoiler Warning had some fun with this; see below.)
    • The Combine themselves seem to treat Civil Protection this way, sending out a "stockpile signal" (as heard from their radios) whenever you've wiped out all the officers in the area. Rarely does this result in actually sending in more troops, and only ever as a scripted event; still, you know a police force is treated as expendable when their reserves are referred to as a "stockpile".
  • The Heroes of Might and Magic series have always had somewhat of this mentality underlying it - after all, your troops are highly disposable, and another few hundred will pop up in your cities next week anyway. Of interest, however, is the sixth game, which simultaneously discourages this (by giving you a score bonus for minimizing or entirely eliminating losses), and allows you to re-enact the classic scenario practically detail-by-detail if you're a Might-based Haven hero. The 'Reinforcement' skill adds a number of temporary members to a chosen squad - these won't stick around after the end of the battle anyway, and thus are eminently expendable, perfect for canon-fodder. As long as the squad doesn't drop below its original numbers, you effectively suffered zero losses. And it just so happens that your upgraded ranged unit, the Sharpshooter, has a powerful attack that hits all units in a line, including your own. If firing into a melee, some of your own units are liable to be in the line of fire too. But hey - we've got Reinforcements, so it doesn't matter, does it?
  • Kaiserreich: Legacy of the Weltkrieg: In the Second American Civil War, this is the strategy of the Combined Syndicalists of America. The Federal government have better-trained troops and the American Union State has more competent generals, but the CSA's territory consists of the highly populous and industrialised Rust Belt, and it also enjoys the backing of syndicalist Britain, France and Italy. For every one soldier that goes down, there is always another one ready to step in and take his place.
  • Near the end of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the almost-last-boss summons dozens - even hundreds - of minions, with the sole purpose of stalling the player until the boss can revive Demise, the actual last boss, using Zelda's life force. Technically, he doesn't actually have reinforcements, as he throws all his might against the player at once, but he still treats his troops as expendable.
  • The indie title Life Goes On has this as its central gameplay mechanic. You play as a knight going through a dungeon trying to get the treasure at the end. However, it's impossible to make it through any of the levels without dying at least once. So instead you have to die in such a way that it helps later knights to progress.
  • In The Lord of the Rings Online, this is actually done by the good guys. If a player wants their character to run skirmishes, they have to undergo the Skirmish Tutorial. When explaining the use of your accompanying Skirmish Soldier, Chief Watcher Heathstraw cheerfully advises you "If he falls, simply call another one."
  • In Lords of the Realm 2, peasants essentially amount to this in battle. They are extremely weak and die really easily, so are often best utilized to soak up damage for your other troops. The AI tends to make extensive use of this trope as well, particularly the Bishop.
  • Mass Effect:
    • A rare example of this trope in play with a military that does value its personnel's lives. According to the Codex, fighter groups that launch torpedo bombing runs on larger ships will always suffer casualties due to virtual intelligence-controlled GARDIAN laser point defense; the only way to defeat these defenses is to overwhelm them with sheer numbers until they overheat. As a result, fighter wings always take heavy casualties when attacking an enemy fleet. Though while the first fighter waves are always hit, it's not as if everybody in the first wave dies. Indeed, because the strength of the lasers drops off the greater the distance to the target due to beam diffusion, it's rare for the GARDIAN systems to score more than a few actual kills. What generally happens instead is that the first waves of fighters take a bit of damage and are forced to return to base.
    • This is implied to be the krogan military strategy in a nutshell. There are always more krogan, forever—the only way that the Council was able to defeat them was by reducing the rate of viable pregnancies to one in one thousand, and it was still enough to sustain their population. Warlord Okeer gives us this wonderful quote, which summarizes krogan battle tactics:
      Okeer: I say let us carry the genophage with us. Let a thousand children die for every one that lives. We will climb to victory atop a mountain of our dead — for that is the krogan way.
    • Geth don't place much value on individual mobile platforms; if one is destroyed, the geth in that platform transmit their memories and experiences to the nearest carrier, and that data is uploaded to the total gestalt geth Mind Hive, effectively making the geth immortal. However, they aren't stupid - they will still try to preserve mobile platforms if possible in order to maximize combat effectiveness and resources. Plus what happens to the programs within mobile platforms not connected to the geth collective.
      Legion: No carrier, no carrier, no carrier, no...(*thunk*)
    • If Commander Shepard has the 'Ruthless' background, his/her military claim-to-fame is being the Butcher of Torfan, where s/he ordered his/her men forward, knowing many would be gunned down, also knowing it would ensure victory. Torfan was a base used by batarian slavers responsible for hitting human colonies, and the attack is a response meant to curb this trend: Ruthless Renegade Shepard makes no apologies, as part of the "get the job done at any cost" mentality. Ruthless Paragon Shepard is somewhat haunted by the experience, but s/he believed sending a message to discourage repeats of Mindoir and Elysium was more important. Even then, Ruthless Shepard crosses (or came very close to crossing) the Moral Event Horizon anyway - s/he also killed the batarians that had surrendered.
    • Harbinger's thoughts on losing his own troops:
      Leave the dead where they fall.
      The dead are useless.
      Ignore the fallen.
      Kill one, and one hundred will replace it.
      This form is irrelevant (to his current host)
    • Interestingly, Mass Effect 3 gives us an example from a scientific perspective. A Cerberus scientist is trying to decipher the secrets behind huskification and indoctrination, some of the most advanced and dangerous examples of Reaper tech. Even though the technology is thousands if not millions of years beyond them, the fact that they have tens of millions of test subjects and a complete disregard for the lives of said test subjects allows them to make steady progress regardless.
    • The Reapers rely heavily on this for their ground troops, who are typically indoctrinated, cyborged victims of Reaper attacks; you will encounter a lot of examples where the main strategy they use to try and take a location or kill Shepard, assuming they can't have an indoctrinated agent open the doors for them, is "throw more husks/Cannibals/Marauders/Brutes at the problem until it goes away". They don't use it as often with Ravagers or Banshees, however, since after Attican Traverse: Krogan Team they have a limited supply of Ravagers, and Banshees can only be created from asari with a very rare genetic defect.
    • The kett of Mass Effect: Andromeda. Making it worse, they see it as a religious duty to "Exalt" other species and turn them into more kett, seeing it as a blessing... but their military doctrine is still "throw wave after wave of troops at the enemy". In the final fight of the game, a high-ranking kett even tries boasting to Ryder that as many kett troops Ryder and their allies kill, the kett will just go exalt more.
  • A recurring theme in the entire Metal Gear series, where the Patriots, an Ancient Conspiracy, have a tendency to view anyone as disposable. Although ironically, if you do kill enough soldiers and backup units in 2 & 3, you can stop worrying about getting an alert raised.
    • Liquid Ocelot is depicted as such in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, particularly when he hacks the System yet again in Act 2. When Vamp warns him that they don't know what could happen, particularly after what happened the last time they tried it, Liquid nonchalantly states that he's "willing to make a few sacrifices"; the end result is that several of his mooks suffer brain damage and become Technically Living Zombies. During the Act 3 mission briefing, Naomi states that Liquid in fact knew from the very beginning that said test would be a failure, and yet he chose to go through with it anyway.
  • In Metroid, this is one of the things that makes the Space Pirates a serious threat. Absolutely everyone is expendable, from mooks to commanders, as long as the goal is accomplished. They will blow up entire planets just to kill one person, and the troops down there are even ordered to stay so they can stall.
  • Mordheim: City of the Damned basically does this to the player in the main campaign. The AI generates random warbands for each mission which often contain some very strange lacklustre troops like one-armed dagger-wielding Marksmen, no match for the optimised characters an experienced player can build. However since the AI builds new warbands each time, they don't have to be concerned about casualties and risks, so they'll do a lot of underhanded bullshit intended purely to screw you in the long run like stealing your best equipment or Zerg Rushing your MVP Hero Unit to injure him badly.
  • The Wyrm Master demon from Nexus Clash can summon wave after wave of disposable Imps, who are forced to take shots or blows aimed for their master. Stygia shows no signs of running out of Imps, and the Wyrm Master just has to Mana Drain the enemy to keep summoning them.
  • Notably averted in Original War from Altar Interactive, a RTS with RPG elements. In the single player game (and multiplayer with the right settings), every person who dies is actually Killed Off for Real. Each of them has a name, skills and a face. You know them. When any of them dies, it's a loss not just for the war cause (the reinforcements are very limited) but for you as the commander personally. Over the whole storyline - if you let four guys die in the first mission, you are going to have to do without them for the rest of the game. The Russian/Soviet faction in the game employ this trope quite a bit though and the Arabians even more so - even then though, the losses are permanent and the soldiers are not very happy about it.
  • In Overlord, this is your attitude towards your own Mooks. Fun ensues.
  • Okumura of Persona 5 takes this attitude to his workers. His Palace represents them as mindless robots where they work all day, get melted down into scrap and only get lunch breaks lasting thirty seconds. His boss battle is just him sitting back and throwing progressively-stronger foes at you. When he runs out, he can't do a darn thing and only takes a few basic attacks to finish off.
  • In [PROTOTYPE], the Blackwatch explicitly state that they are using the United States Marines as the "shock troops" for the occupation of Manhattan and the war against the infected. Their purpose is to take casualties and take the blame for the destruction of the city to cover up Blackwatch's operations. At one point, one of the Web of Intrigue nodes indicates that Blackwatch anticipates Marine casualties per week to be between one thousand to two and a half thousand. Putting that in a perspective of modern military terms, total Coalition casualties during Operation Iraqi Freedom - a full-scale war against a country - were less than a thousand over a month-long period.
    • The US casualties list from March 2003 to September 2009 was 4,334. That's over 6 years. Blackwatch figure the Marines will lose that many in about three weeks.
    • The Marines are thrown a bone in the end when they get all of the credit for saving what's left of Manhattan from the Infection and a nuke.
  • The Punic Wars, a little-known game by the creators of Tropico, has this as the best strategy (may have been rebalanced in the sequel). Play as Carthage, train tons of the cheapest unit in the game, research an upgrade that pays you if they get killed. Your first army will be traded evenly with that of the enemy. You will come back with two armies instead, then four... you see where this is going. On large maps with many enemies, it's common to have columns of unmanaged, starved soldiers connecting your own city and several enemy towns, it's easier to recruit more than to feed them or pay for a commander to get them in formation.
  • Section 8: Prejudice: When Thorne calls in a bomber to try and kill you, it might frag some of his own troops. One of your allies points out his nonchalance about this.
  • Mouri Motonari from Sengoku Basara refers to his soldiers as "pawns" and will sacrifice as many of them as needed to fulfil his plans without batting an eyelid. He even has the ability to attack his own troops in-game.
  • Can be invoked by the player in Sins of a Solar Empire, especially early on. If an enemy player or CPU invades one of your planets, and you don't have a sufficiently sized fleet yet to meet them, you can start cranking out ships and send them into battle one at a time in an attempt to delay the enemy forces until your main fleet arrives, or you can build enough defenses to whittle them down. Can get expensive over time, which can be painful early on as you don't have a lot of resources coming in yet to keep making the units.
    • Alternatively, players can split their forces, and send the bulk of their forces to invade an enemy planet, while keeping a small portion behind to deal with enemy invasions, or in case their main fleet needs assistance. Which can prove to be useful should you end up fighting a multiple-front war.
    • Also, story-wise, the TEC's main strength is its ability to outproduce the Advent and the Vasari, since they are lagging far behind technologically. There is a fanfic where a TEC admiral is gleeful to discover that newer flagship models are predicted to have a loss rate of only 2-to-1 (i.e. 2 TEC ships for every 1 equivalent Vasari ship), as opposed to the previous loss rate of 4-to-1. The admiral muses that, with the TEC having a huge industrial and population base, the Vasari will soon be ground down by attrition.
  • In the "Chronicles of the Sword" mode in Soul Calibur III, your player character's emperor, Strife, becomes increasingly paranoid by your character's military successes and growing popularity, and decides to throw your character around to increasingly suicidal or demeaning battles, trying to both deny your character's unit any glory and to get them killed, despite being his empire's version of a Special Forces Unit. Ironically, the replacement he finds to oversee the battles you were commanding before he starts to try to get you killed screws the pooch on it so badly he'd probably have lost the war and gotten himself killed if your unit wasn't worth a damn.
  • StarCraft: Zerg Rush! The Zerg have done enough to apply this trope as a military tactic to the point that they got their own subtrope. Ironically enough, the actual Zerg don't count as this as their troops are mindless drones under a Hive Mind.
    • The Infected Marines however fit the bill, they are created merely as human bombs to do serious damage to the enemy.
    • Starcraft's Terrans - Marines had an average of 2 seconds combat time before death, which was considered acceptable until sheer numbers of losses started to cost more to replace them all the time. Stimpacks decreased that further. The use of Medics increased that time to a respectable 5 seconds! However, the Terran Dominion considered it acceptable since their Marines are Boxed Crooks.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In Knights of the Old Republic, Darth Malak orders the destruction of Taris despite the presence of his own troops occupying the planet (cut content would have established that the Sith organized a hasty evacuation, but no reference to it remains in the final game).
      • Another example from Malak, at the finale when he learns the heroes are rampaging through his base, he orders all of his troops, including apprentices, to attack. A surprised admiral asks if he really thinks that will work, to which he scoffs and says it is only to slow them down.
    • In Star Wars: Battlefront, there's a game mode called Galactic Conquest where either 1 player faces off against the computer or 2 players face each other trying to conquer planets one by one across the galaxy. Each planet conquered will give a different bonus that a player can use in battle. One of these is called secondary reinforcements and it has some elements of We Have Reserves. The way it works is that at several points in the battle when your troop count falls to a certain number you will suddenly get new troops added to the count, imitating a new wave of troops coming into battle. These troops seem to be even dumber and, (believe it or not) have worse AI than usual, but sheer numbers will often overwhelm an opponent or at least give the player a chance to kill off all the enemies or capture all the command posts by themself. (Nothing sucks more than being in a close battle, glancing up at the troop counts for both sides, seeing that both sides have about 40 troops left and thinking to yourself Hey, I can still win this only to see the other side suddenly get another 20 men added to their count. Cue the Oh, Crap!).
    • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed sums up Darth Vader's policy this way:
      Juno Eclipse: I don't understand. Why would Vader allow us to destroy so many Imperial targets?
      Starkiller: To sell the deception. Credits, starships, Imperial lives... they're all meaningless to Vader.
      • In the second game, Baron Tarko has a similar attitude.
    • Star Wars: The Old Republic: This appears to be standard policy for Imperial officers, Darths, and Empire officials in general. The officers shrug it off; they're just "common soldiers." The Sith don't give a bantha's rear about much else other than themselves and their power games (the Emperor is an Omnicidal Maniac who wants everything in the galaxy except himself dead), and Empire officials follow the lead of the military and Sith. Couple this with Klingon Promotion being the preferred method of advancement (it's just gauche for a non-Sith to not be sneaky about it), and the Empire does more damage to itself than it does its enemies. Manditory conscription and extensive use of slave labor is likely the only reason they managed to get off Dromund Kaas. The fact they caught the Republic by surprise (thanks to Revan and Exile having no backup plans and walking into an obvious trap) is the only reason they had any success at all.
  • Suikoden II: Luca Blight kicks off the game by slaughtering his troops under a false flag.
  • This trope is generally the basis for most battles in Supreme Commander and its sequels, due to the fact that most units are very cheap and quickly built with a decent economy. They're also exclusively robotsnote  assembled en masse in automated factories, which means the only limit to your numbers really is the aforementioned decent economy, with manpower being a complete non-issue. End-game bases can churn out hundreds of giant tanks/mechas/planes/ships every minute this way, indefinitely.
  • A variation in Sword of the Stars. During battles, each side has a command point limit that determines how many ships and of which size it can bring to bear at the same time. The number of command points depends on a number of factors, but it's generally a must to have a command ship with you to increase it by a large factor. Furthermore, the game provides a command point bonus to the side with a vastly higher number of ships in the fleet, encouraging armada fights. This doesn't necessarily mean the ships you bring with you have to be combat ships, since you still need support ships (e.g. fuel tankers, repair), which count towards this number. So your fleet of 30 cruisers might only have 12 actual warships with the rest being support ships (they can fight, but not as effectively). But the game will still treat your fleet as having 30 cruisers. For a different effect, the Morrigi have a unique form of FTL travel that increases the fleet's interstellar speed based on how many ships are in that fleet, even if some of those ships are significantly slower on their own (i.e. they're the only race where slow ships help speed up the rest of the fleet instead of bogging it down). According to the fluff, only one ship in the fleet is actually using its void drive, with the rest pumping their power into the lead ship to boost the void drive's performance and everyone else "riding the wave". So, you can bring those obsolete ships you have from the start of the game and use them to provided that little boost of speed your new, more powerful ships need.
  • The Total War games run on this trope, up until Rome, you didn't have any city population so as long as you can pay for them you can just keep pumping out a never ending wave of weak cheap units you can just throw at anything until it dies (in fact in the 2D game the enemy will often run away rather than agree to a fight if you have a large enough army invading). The Newer games however do, so early on your going have to use your forces wisely but once you get your economy going and a good population grow you can just send waves and waves of green peasent solders to weaken the other nations so your vets (which you want to live) can break them.
    • That said though, avoid getting the green peasants to rout. Too many units rout at once and your Vets will break quite easily.
    • Without heavy-duty, specialized siege equipment like catapults, you're going to be forced to use these tactics when assaulting cities. Heavy infantry will need to move under constant arrow fire to bring ladders, rams, and siege towers to the walls, and then storm the walls where enemy defenders, likely including their own heavy infantry, will likely be standing and ready to chop apart the first wave to get atop the walls. Defenders also get a defensive bonus while fighting on the walls, and their arrow towers will be firing into the attackers the whole time. In short, you're going to have to commit a lot of troops to take defended walls. it's easier with siege weaponry, which can knock down walls and open up a large breach, but a strong defending force can still bottleneck the attackers and inflict heavy losses.
    • Hilarious example in Total War: Rome II. Due to a typo in the game's coding, sub-saharan African provinces had massive income, which resulted in in non-playable minor African factions steamrolling historical powers Egypt and Carthage (and occasionally annihilating Rome as well) with endless waves of cheap disposable units in campaign mode.
    • Total War: Warhammer and its sequel introduced the 'expendable' trait to illustrate the trope. In most historical Total War games, seeing friendly troops flee causes a morale debuff in other troops, causing your army to chain-rout once enough troops were fleeing. Expendable units, meanwhile, do not cause a morale debuff when they flee, allowing you to freely throw them into the jaws of hell to soak up the enemy's arrows without worrying that it might affect your more valuable troops. The trait is commonly seen in low-tier infantry, like goblins, zombies, skavenslaves and Bretonnian peasants.
  • Tyranny: The Scarlet Chorus operates on this principle. New recruits are forced to pick up whatever they can use as a weapon and are pointed at the enemy to die in droves. Anyone who survives their first battle gets the chance to loot better stuff from the corpses, and gets to watch enemy survivors recruited into the Chorus to replace the fallen. The Chorus' leader, The Voices of Nerat, designed the Chorus to work this way and has no regards as to its casualties: The fact that the Chorus has such a disregard for anyone's life makes it a potent weapon of terror against Kyros' foes, especially as being beaten by it means you get forcibly conscripted into it.
  • The generals leading the good guys in Valkyria Chronicles. The aristocratic generals really don't give a damn about the "peasant" militia and generally palm off all of the suicide missions to them. Fortunately, Welkin's superior tactical planning manages to overcome this and the generals suffer a well deserved Karmic Death.
    • The heroes aren't much better, what with not giving a rat's ass about the thousands of their own countrymen dying in a blink of an eye.
  • Both the undead and the demons in the Warcraft series follow that line of thinking. The undead because they can raise the casualties of both sides, the demons just don't care.
    • Especially in the case of the undead, the cannon fodder would get slaughtered and the necromancers would raise twice their number worth of skeletons. By the time the elites showed up, they'd be little left to do other than mop up.
    • The human commander who sends the Blood Elves to face the Undead with no support, because "The only good nonhuman... Is a dead nonhuman", even though the Alliance is already desperately short against the Undead already.
    • World of Warcraft features the Battle for Light's Hope Chapel, where Arthas ordered his death knights to attack in order to draw out Tirion Fordring, and when he appears explains he expected them to get cut down. As death knights are his few free-willed servants, they were not pleased.
    • And then there's the Battle of Wrathgate. Horde and Alliance finally came together to fight the Lich King at the Wrathgate, but the Lich King slew Saurfang, the leader of the Horde's army, though the rest of the fighters were holding their own. Grand Apothecary Putress interceded in the fight, launching barrels of plague at the armies, forcing the Lich King to retreat...and utterly decimating the armies of both the Horde and the Alliance, as Putress walks away saying "Death to the Scourge...and death to the living." Naturally, no one's happy about that, so along with Wrynn/Thrall, you siege the Undercity and take out Putress/Varimathras (depending on faction). This act alone severed any possibility of the two factions working together, even if the Horde had nothing to do with it.
    • The Titans showed a version of this attitude towards planets they had terraformed and created life on: if they thought a planet had become corrupted by the Old Gods, they usually wouldn't hesitate to destroy the planet and everything on it rather than let it fall into the Old God's tentacles. In one expansion, we even learn they created a machine on Azeroth that could be used to destroy the planet if this happened. Luckily, no one has turned it on yet.
  • Warframe:
    • At the end of the Gravidus Dilemma event, the Corpus board of directors pulled Alad V's funding not out of concern for the lives he wasted but the money he was throwing away. The Corpus fields robots and brainwashed soldiers, so manpower is a non-issue to them, but they worship the concept of Profit and will not chase a sunk cost.
    • The Grineer are very prone to this, due to being an entire faction of Expendable Clones. Their technology and tactics are nothing to write home about, but they have unlimited soldiers to throw at the problem.
    • The Infested can assimilate both living flesh and machines, making it very easy for them to increase their numbers. Even in a game where you'll face hundreds of enemies in every mission, they stand out as having the most bodies to fight you with.
    • The Sentients used to be this, with the added benefit of each Sentient being quite powerful and nearly impossible to completely destroy. But traveling through the Void, the only method of FTL travel, destroys their ability to reproduce, meaning they can't take advantage of their Explosive Breeder status. The few Sentients in the Origin System are forced to remain behind the scenes since they can't just steamroll the enemy with unlimited numbers any more. That is, until some Sentients arrive in the Origin System with their wombs intact, having taken centuries to make the journey in realspace.
  • Averted in both installments of the WarWind series. 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.
  • X-COM plays with this concept. Both the original and the 2012 remake, Enemy Unknown reward the player for keeping their troops alive by making them more effective in combat. In the original, as they level up, their skills improve. In the remake, as they level up they get new classes and combat abilities, so highly trained and well-equipped soldiers will absolutely devastate late-game missions. The problem is that the road getting there is paved with the corpses of the soldiers who didn't make it that far. Rookies start out with piss-poor aim and equipment, plus you're always outnumbered by aliens, making it necessary to have reserves and Red Shirts given how death is a fairly common occurrence. To drive the point home, losing one out of four squadmates still gives a "Good" mission rating.
    • Ditto for the fan-made remake Xenonauts. No matter how hard you try or Save Scum, losses are unavoidable.
  • The military tactics of Thomas "Stonewall" Flathead in Zork Zero seem to match this. He routinely took 90+% casualties in military operations (Mainly suppressing tax riots against his brother the King's 90+% income tax, which was generally spent on utterly pointless projects to boost his already excessive ego), and held unit strength up with unlimited conscription powers.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report