Codex Gamicus

Battle Realms, released by Ubisoft in 2001, is an Asian themed real-time strategy computer game and is the first game created by Liquid Entertainment. Ubisoft released the stand alone expansion pack Battle Realms: Winter of the Wolf in 2002.


Battle Realms follows the basic formula for many real-time strategy games. All of its factions have similar buildings with similar uses and workers. However, unlike in most real-time strategy games, the peasant worker unit is not just used for resource gathering and construction, but also for training into military units. Thus, military buildings in Battle Realms are not used for making units, but for transforming and upgrading them. Peasants gather the two resources in the game: rice and water. They also round up horses, which can be used to enhance military units in the game and can be outfitted as pack horses for peasants. Only one type of builder unit is required.

Peasants are the only units the player can produce outright. Most of the buildings available are training structures where peasants are trained into a plethora of other units. All the factions start off with 3 basic central training structures, which produce units along different paths of warfare, such as melee or ranged combat. In most cases, units can be trained at up to 3 structures to produce higher tiers of infantry.

Another difference in unit generation is that peasants are produced automatically, at no cost. However, the rate at which new peasants are produced is inversely proportional to the current population of the player's army.

Certain buildings can teach special techniques, or Battle Gears (commonly abbreviated to BGs), to units to improve their combat ability for a certain resource cost. This can allow units to defeat higher tier units they would normally struggle with or be defeated by. BGs also allow the player to further define the role a unit will play in a combat situation, such as damage absorption, building destruction, or reconnaissance.

One of the key elements of Battle Realms is the Yin/Yang system. Each army obtains points of Yin or Yang when in combat, depending on their moral alliance to the forces of light or darkness. The Battle Realms hero units, or Zen Masters, require Yin/Yang to be summoned and to improve their damage. Yin and Yang are also used at structures in the faction's base for military upgrades. The rate of Yin/Yang growth depends on the military strength and flair of the army and how far they are from the main base.

There are four available clans in Battle Realms, and each have a different philosophy towards life and combat. The Dragon clan favours honourable and valourous combat, while its offshoot, the Serpent clan, uses stealth, trickery and brutality to further its goals. The Lotus clan is an ancient group of sorcerers that delves deeply into the corrupting aspects of magic. The Wolf clan is a race of formerly enslaved miners. Their clan members live basic, healthy lives.

Game details[]

Unlike in most strategy games, all units in Battle Realms have a melee attack. However, missile units typically have drastically weaker melee attacks. Units are very detailed and have distinct fighting animations. Units can dodge projectiles if they run fast enough, and projectiles have different speeds and fire at certain angles.

A unit's attack has a property - either cutting, piercing, blunt, explosive, magic, or fire, as well as a bonus damage against buildings. The property of a unit's missile attack may also differ from its melee attack. Most units have resistances to particular properties, and weaknesses to others. For example, the Dragon Samurai has excellent resistance against cutting attacks, but a poor resistance to explosive damage.


In singleplayer, the plot mainly revolves around Kenji, last heir to the Serpent's Throne. When he returns from exile, Kenji comes across bandits raiding a peasant village. He can choose to either kill the bandits and save the peasants, or, he can side with the bandits and kill the peasants. If he chooses to save the peasants, he will follow the path of the Dragon clan. If he aids the bandits, he will follow the path of the Serpent clan.

In Kenji's Journey, the player may choose which territories he or she wishes to attack first. Taking specific territories might give benefits, and other Zen Masters may join Kenji. Later on, the player can summon these Zen Masters from the Keep.

In the Battle Realms expansion Winter of the Wolf, the player follows the story of Grayback, a wolf miner who started a rebellion to free his fellow wolf clansmen from the clutches of the Lotus and Serpent. In the process, Grayback must defeat the sorceress Yvaine to stop the snow blizzard from killing his clansmen.

The Four Clans[]

Dragon Clan: The Path of Righteousness[]

The ancient Dragon Clan prizes honor above everything else. They are Yang followers with honor as their symbol. Their warriors seek to become one with their weapons. Due to their devotion to honor, the Dragon deity assists them during times of great peril.

Serpent Clan: The Way of the Wicked[]

A derivative of the Dragon Clan, the Serpent Clan have forgotten their honorable ways and have resorted to thievery and deceit. Serpent clansmen are Yin followers. Unlike their Dragon ancestors, they do not scorn the use of firearms; instead they have learned to employ its use in many of their fighting arts. Even though the Dragon Clan knew how to use gunpowder, it was the Serpent Clan which uncovered its secrets. Stealthy, flexible,and cunning, the Serpent Clan uses a plethora of battlegears to disable their opponents and produce an advantage.

Wolf Clan: The Spirit of Might[]

The wild Wolf Clan prizes freedom above all else. They are Yang followers with freedom as their symbol. Unlike the other clans, they have no cavalry, nor do they have healers. They feed the horses to their wolves, which accompany them and partake in their battles. Their wounds knit surprisingly fast, even more so with the use of herbs. They know some magic, and much of what they do know is tied to nature. Wolf Clansmen are down to earth, hardworking people, and take a delight in nature. They are also known for their use of shale as their armor.

Lotus Clan : The Essence of Darkness[]

The Lotus Clan is the remnant of a Yang Clan of old, but it is now a Yin Clan. Lotus clansmen are Yin followers with corruption as their symbol. They follow the Forbidden Path, which focuses on death and decay. Their religion centralizes around three ancient brothers, now long gone, who tended the Tree of Corruption. The Lotus Clan's strategy is based on their immense understanding of magic, which translates to unit abilities and Battle Gear.

Zen Masters[]

Zen Masters take the role of heroes in this game. Zen Masters are the leaders of the clans, who make certain each clan's survival. They are summoned at a cost of Yin/Yang, as well as rice and water. You also need a keep to summon Zen Masters. Their Battle Gears are unique, and can turn the tide of a battle in an instant. To balance this out, these heroes can only be purchased near the end of the tech trees. Usually, these heroes assume the role of lords, mercenaries, wizards, semi-gods, and even monsters. Monks are enlisted for the Dragon and Wolf clans, while Ninjas are hired for the Serpent and Lotus clans.

Dragon Clan[]

  • Otomo - This swordsman can, with a battle cry, inspire troops to hit harder and BECOME stronger. Otomo's innate ability allows him to regenerate the stamina of his allies when fighting as well. Otomo awaits the return of Kenji, last heir to the Serpent's Throne.
  • Garrin - This horseman can summon a steed to aid him in battle. He is a specialist at the art of horseback riding and is immune to height advantages.
  • Arah - Arah is a skilled marksman. She has long since achieved the unity with her weapon Dragon Clan archers pray for, and can use her bow and arrows to see distant terrain, paired with her incredibly vast attack range. Her expertly aimed shots rarely miss.
  • Kazan - A large traveling monk and occasional circus performer, though a bit slow-moving due to his size, Kazan constantly drinks a toxic brew of his own design to set buildings aflame and burn his foes. With all other weapons out of reach, Kazan hits his foes with his drinking gourd. It is the closest thing at hand.
  • Tao - The master of yin and yang, he uses the balance to his advantage, and reflects the strength of his foes back upon them. With him in play, players can summon two extra monks (or two ninja in the campaign).
    • Teppo (only available in the Battle Realms expansion "Winter Of The Wolf") - A genius from the far-off land of Malcolmson, he uses his dragon wheel invention to hurl several rockets a second at his enemies, which is effective against units. It is far more effective against buildings, though. He is also durable and agile.

Serpent Clan[]

  • Shinja - Ruthless and warmongering, this cunning warlord can intimidate all warriors around him, sapping them of attack strength. To further prove his dominance in the tide of battle, he uses twin poisonous blades, giving him the ability to do more damage along with slow poison effects to his attacks. He is a realist and magic attacks do him no harm.
  • Budo - Fat and none too handsome, this lumbering slavedriver uses his whip to speed up peasant movements. However, this drains the peasant's health, and after a few whips, a wounded peasant can die. After so much eating, he has the highest endurance of all zen masters, paired up with a fast-moving whiplash attack.
  • Utara - After killing a group of bandits similar to the ones that murdered her parents, she returned from self-exile as the strangest weapon in the Serpent Clan's arsenal. Her songs can sap her enemies strength and kill them, while creating poison attacks similar to the Serpent warlord Shinja. Her powers extend into the arcane as well, and she stuns all units when taking harm.
  • Vetkin - A young handsome womanizer, this sai master can sap the will of his enemies, unleash a flurry of sai attacks and run faster than a horse can gallop. Tireless, he can go to the whole map without spending stamina. He also can drain his foes energy, and then run away, unharmed.
  • The Necromancer - An undead sorcerer that has lived for ages and is older than all, aside from, perhaps, Lord Koril and the Dragon deity. He summons spirit warriors to do his bidding and summons the fallen corpses of his enemies to follow suit.
    • Taro (only available in the Battle Realms expansion "Winter Of The Wolf") - A cowardly prince and Kenji's older brother, he makes to occupy the Serpent Throne when Lord Oja fell victim to a murder and Kenji exiled himself. He uses an arcane curse to make others vulnerable to his enchanted blade.

Wolf Clan[]

  • Grayback - The noble Grayback is the heir to the Wolf Clan's 'throne'. In Winter of the Wolf, he is constantly called 'lord', a title that he dislikes. Grayback is a skilled fighter, and can often outlive his fellows. He can give a loud, vibrant howl, which increases the attack power of his allies. He is also one of the greatest and toughest hard-hitters among the Wolves, due to his spiked bracer and great pickaxe.
  • Longtooth - Back in the shale mines, Longtooth astonished his Lotus and Serpent masters with his extreme agility and athleticism. During the Revolt of the Wolf Clan, he donned durable armor and boomerangs to slaughter his foes. Longtooth has the longest ranged attack of any other Wolf units, and aside from that, he can climb slopes and mountains with ease. His boomerang is coated with a strange alloy that allows it to pierce through multiple foes or buildings.
  • The Shale Lord - This shale monstrosity was once an eloquent, young speaker of the Wolf Clan slaves turned into an experiment gone wrong by his lord Soban. He can flake off part of his shale flesh and give it to his fellow Wolf clansmen, at the cost of a small amount of health. When fighting, he regains stamina, and despite his large size, can run very quickly. His brawny, shale-infused physique, paired with his huge flailing arms, allows him to crush all buildings with ease and impunity.
  • Gaihla - It is said that this nymph of the woods did not truly come to fight. She is gentle and kind-spirited, but if she is angered, she will wield a wreath of thorns against her foes, enchanting them all with Nature's wrath. She has a number of useful innate abilities. One allows her to walk unimpeded through forest terrain, and the other allows rice paddies to grow quickly, even if it is not being watered'
    • Wildeye (only available in the Battle Realms expansion "Winter Of The Wolf") - This Packmaster can beat out a tune for summoning sacred spirit wolves, or, use his drum and club to harm his enemies. He can distribute his sacred wolves amongst his fellow clansmen, and has a swift, powerful cutting attack.

Lotus Clan[]

  • Zymeth - Lord warlock and leader of clan Lotus, Zymeth's sphere of sorcery is weather. He blasts spheres of lightning onto his foes as a ranged attack, and can call heavy storms to his fields at the cost of much stamina. When raining, he calls lightning from the sky to sear his foes asunder while rice paddies regrow and regenerate faster.
  • Koril - The eldest of all warlocks, this swordsman can warp space itself, and with a wave of his hand he can teleport anywhere. He also uses his powers for defensive effects, as any archers or ranged attackers will become furious at the way he shimmers and diverts nearly all ranged attacks.
  • Issyl - Some may wonder why a young twelve year old boy sits at the Lotus high council, an evil grin playing across his mouth. None feel better when they learn that this is Issyl, master of time, who has aged backwards since an accident long ago. Swift, powerful, and unforgiving, he has the ability to increase the movement speed of his troops rapidly with his ability, called 'Haste', while mutilating his foes with his hourglass/weapon. He can also regenerate his flesh at an incredible rate.
  • Soban - Once dismissed as a mere tinkerer, this odd, quirky scientist has no equal in terms of brilliance. He creates animated golems, using them as workers and self-destructing bombs, convenient for crowd control and gathering.
  • The Three Dead Brothers (Lythis, Tausil and Sekh) - These three brothers are dead, yet their spirits somehow live on. It was they who once tended the Yin side of the Tree of Life, the Tree of Corruption. Lythis pruned the roots, Tausil guarded the trunk, and Sekh cut the leaves. They often return to give allies their blessings (battlegears), and may also suck out the energy of an enemy, sustaining their stamina.
    • Yvaine (only available in the Battle Realms expansion "Winter of the Wolf") - Zymeth's mistress and lady of the shale mines, this old ice hag can freeze enemies with a gale of freezing air. Despite the fact that she looks frail, she can fend for herself, and has ranged prowess to match Arah and Longtooth.


The initial unpatched release of Battle Realms was met with criticism due to enemy AI that was seen by some to be almost impossible to beat on certain levels, though later patched versions were better-received.[1]


Battle Realms endured a brief popularity, mainly due to its 'Living World' system. It was also noted for its strategies, and many players and Battle Realms community members have fun talking about the newest strategies and tactics as well playing the game itself. There are still quite a lot of players left, the majority playing through the internet gaming service 'GameRanger'.


  1. Rubenstein, Glenn (2001-11-21). Battle Realms (PC) Review. Retrieved on 2008-09-23

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