Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War - Dark Crusade

aka: DoW:DC

Description official descriptions

The second expansion to 2004's Game of the Year Dawn of War is set in Game Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 universe and adds two new playable races, the Tau and the Necrons:

  • The Tau Empire - a younger race that has recently conquered Kronus, they fight for what they call the Greater Good. They excel at long range combat, however alongside them fight two allied races which are effective in close combat: the Kroot and the Vespid.
  • Necrons - having laid dormant underground for the last 60 million years, the Necrons have awoken at the sound of battle above. Their ultimate goal is to obliterate all living beings so that their master gods can feast on the souls of the slain. This faction is special because they don't rely on requisition to acquire troops or to build structures. Being made of living metal their units are capable of regeneration and can reassemble themselves after death.

Besides that each of the existing races have received an additional unit: the daemon prince (Chaos Space Marines), harlequin (Eldar), heavy weapons team (Imperial Guard), flash gitz (Orks) and the grey knights (Space Marines). Dark Crusade also features a new campaign mode where you choose one of the five past races, or two new ones and compete with the other six for domination of a planet called Kronus. Each race has its own story and reason for being on Kronus adding motivation for players to play the campaign with each race at least once. Along with the campaign Dark Crusade adds some new maps for skirmish, and online play.

The main campaign introduces a novelty for the franchise--a global map depicting the planet Kronus divided into 25 provinces. Every one of the seven races controls a number of these provinces at the beginning and the gameplay follows mechanics similar to a game of Risk, albeit without any dice rolls. During their turn, the factions can attack a bordering enemy province, move to a friendly region or do nothing. It's also possible for them to reinforce any of the territories already under their control or recruit Honor Guards, but this doesn't waste their turn. The army moves around the global map as a single entity represented by the force commander and it cannot be divided. To defeat a faction you must conquer their stronghold province and the ultimate goal is to crush all enemies. From time to time you will be forced to defend a region against attacks during the opponents' turn. If your army is in a nearby province when this happens then you will start the battle with the force commander and the Honor Guards already present.

Every province held generates planetary requisition at the end of your turn. This can be used to either train available Honor Guards or reinforce a province of your choice. Honor Guards are unlocked as a bonus when conquering a specific region. By reinforcing a province during your turn you make sure that it already has the trained unit or the selected building at the very start of a defensive battle. Another innovation for the series is the force commander's wargear. It is a sort of achievement system that rewards additional pieces to the commander's suit for reaching different milestones, such as conquering your first province or getting 2000 kills. The pieces you choose will add specific bonuses or abilities for the force commander on the battlefield.

After attacking a province or when defending one the game switches to the usual Dawn of War battle map where you control different units and structures directly. The gameplay here is identical to the original. The main focus is on tactical combat, base-building, capturing strategic points and researching. Every strategic point under your control, along with your HQ, relics and critical points generate requisition, which is the main resource in the game, allowing you to build new structures and train more units. Another type of resource is power, produced using generators. It's used to create or upgrade units and buildings that rely heavily on technology. The order in which you research the tech tree and construct the necessary structures can help you decide on a strategy for the combat part of the game. Attacking is done by simply clicking on an enemy, the challenge lies in choosing the right units to exploit the adversary's weaknesses. Infantry squads have health bars for every member, so it's possible to replace fallen soldiers during the battle, thus saving the squad from total annihilation. Vehicles are organized as single units and are destroyed once their health reaches zero, however they can be repaired during combat by the faction's builder unit. Some combat units and structures, such as listening posts have different upgrades available that increase their firepower. For example the space marines can receive flamethrowers and grenade launchers in addition to their regular weapons. Upgrading the HQ unlocks new technology and units.

Unlike the original and Winter Assault, most of the battle maps in this campaign are simple skirmish maps, as they have no story element except an introduction or an entry about the province in the archive, and victory is decided by completing the main objective, usually annihilating the enemy or another one of the Skirmish mode victory conditions. The factions' stronghold provinces are the exceptions, since conquering them involves multiple main and secondary objectives driven by a central narrative much like all the campaign missions in the original Dawn of War.

Dark Crusade is a stand alone expansion meaning that it does not require the original Dawn of War, or its first expansion Winter Assault to play. Both Dawn of War and Winter Assault are required to be installed if you want to use all of the other races besides the Tau and Necrons online.

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Credits (Windows version)

179 People (168 developers, 11 thanks) · View all

Original Music
Voice Talent
Airwaves Sound Design - Director of Sales and Marketing
Sharpe Sound Studios - Title Movie Mix
Sharpe Sound Studios - Studio Manager
Art Director
Lead Designer
Lead Programmer
Lead Audio
Senior Animator
Senior Artists
[ full credits ]



Average score: 85% (based on 31 ratings)


Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 28 ratings with 1 reviews)


The Good
Ahem. Since I first took the step from messing about on Creative Writer to purchasing, playing and being completely addicted to Age of Empires I have been a fan of RTS. It may be an inflated sense of megalomania, it might be the satisfaction of leading vast armies into battle, whatever, it's always held a place in my heart.

But almost all RTS games suffered the same problems. Here were you leading a righteous army in domination over another civilisation. And with a "yes sir" etc in recognition they would proceed to... stand in front of each other and wave their weapons about a bit until the other fell over. Even Warcraft III, with all its pretty animations, had the same problem. You were left with only your imagination to fill in the gaps.

Now picture the scene. My squad of Space Marines are blasting away at the approaching Dreadnought, tracer rounds alighting the air (why has THAT never been in an RTS?), bullets ricocheting off its armour. Then it charges. And my squad is THROWN backwards. It picks an unlucky member in its claw and renders it limb from limb, crimson blood splattering through the air and on the ground. And the squad don't just stand there. They pick themselves up, draw knives and charge the unholy thing, screaming oaths and battle cries. And this is ONE minor, incidental combat!

This is a culmination of animation, sound and unit design all thundering towards each other, leaving cracks, craters and bodies on the ground in their wake. And it blasts all your senses. Even though you are restricted to a similar number of units as any other RTS, every unit in Dawn of War is superbly imagined. Watch as men are gobbled up by behemoth monsters, scorched and sent scampering by flame throwers, cut in half by metallic fiends or blasted to pieces by artillery and tanks the size of buildings. This is a WAR not a morris dance.

All the strengths of the series are represented in Dark Crusade. Rather than individuals you control squads, and each individual squad is a normal RTS army unto itself. In its selection screen you reinforce and re-arm them, as well as activate whatever special moves they have. This makes the swift game play much easier to manage. And with a hero unit in tow the list of finishing moves, psychic blasts, orbital bombardments, bombs etc etc is dazzling. And this is ONE unit!

The gameplay itself is revolutionary, actually doing justice to the S part of RTS. No longer is it a case of chucking hoards of whatever at the enemy. You’ll come up against well-entrenched troops that exploit your weaknesses and jump-pack packing reinforcements that’ll break your troops down and scatter them in the wind. Then you’ll notice an unseen flanking force making mincemeat of your resources and base (a very popular tactic from the computer I may add). This coupled with the idea of requisition points that must be captured rather than simple resources creates a dynamic battle with multiple clashes and engagements all over the map, rather than the almost universal sieges seen in other games.

The key problem with the original Dawn of War’s single player was its linear, play-once-then-discard campaign. This is now replaced with a Total War style turn-based strategy map representing the provinces of the planet you’ve set out to conquer. And it works rather well, setting the mood of the universe perfectly. Designate global requisition (earned from captured provinces) in reinforcing provinces or pimping your commander with equipment.

A neutral province essentially plays like a standard skirmish. Have to defend a friendly province? All the buildings you created when capturing it are there ready, giving you an advantage. The reverse is true if you attack a province owned by the enemy.

Each side has a “stronghold” that they began on and attacking these becomes a more choreographed affair with various extremely daunting objectives. Invading the Imperial Guard’s home is a key example, with artillery and air bombardments to contend with from the get-go, bridgeheads to storm, reinforcements to cut off and more that I won’t spoil. All in all a thrilling experience that’ll leave you genuinely exhausted from the pumping adrenalin.

In conclusion Dark Crusade is a genuinely fun and exhilarating gameplay experience, just as every RTS should be but isn’t.

The Bad
The gameplay is fast and dynamic. Some would say TOO fast. I’ve become accustomed to clicking and moving around the map at a meteoric rate. You need those resource points as quickly as possible. But as soon as your attention is else ware the enemy is on you like a rash and your main army is on the other side of the map. Whilst not bad in itself it is a pretty steep learning curve from the usual sit back and relax style RTS play. Plus you are moving around so much you often miss the beautiful animations of your men in combat. They can handle themselves reasonably well to a degree (never as well as with your guiding hand of course) but it’s a shame not to BE THERE and see the carnage unfold.

This speed gives a very strong sense of immediacy. You are essentially playing at squad level in medium to small sized skirmishes most of the time. Even the campaign map fails to bring a "larger" feel to the game. This of course isn't a negative reasoning as such, especially considering that most RTS' have you storming a city with about thirty men.

Climbing the technology ladder is just as swift. In no time at all (with enough resources of course) you’ll have built every building and have access to the cream of your units. So should an enemy attack that province you’ll be able to hammer them completely almost instantly (although you do have to re-learn all the research). Also when the proverbial face hits the proverbial demonic axe having to zoom back to your base to keep those upgrades coming can be a pain.

The strategy map is a superb and well thought out addition, but isn’t perfect. There are several bonus resources handed out for capturing certain provinces, which does add some flavour to the whole thing. But they can overpower you somewhat. Playing as the Space Marines you can easily reach the Industrial Production resource granting extra crucial requisition points every time you fight a battle, the Frenzy resource that lets you attack twice in a turn (VERY deadly) and the Space Port, which lets you invade ANYWHERE on the map apart from Strongholds. With all three you become nigh unstoppable.

I’m being a bit picky but in a galaxy with personified War Gods, Demons, holy warrior monks and where the basic Space Marine melee unit carries a chainsaw; the Imperial Guard feel a bit lax. I love their voice acting and giant tanks but their almost contemporary looking infantry and buildings are a bit prosaic, although it does give them a more “human” feel. Also they have a great big enormous tank with like eight guns.

I’m not sure if the difficulty levels are cleverly worked out. I’m playing through on medium difficulty and the standard battles become a cake run. Whether this is a testimony to my skill (haha) and my observation and exploitation of the enemy’s weak points-i.e how you should play- or a genuine fault I’m not sure. Even the Stronghold battles, which are truly intense experiences, aren’t always that hard, particularly after about the halfway point. That said playing a Skirmish battle on hard seems almost impossible. The enemy seems to have created a suitable force for annihilating your base before you even have your power generators up.

That’s all I can think of really…

The moral system, while relatively innovative, doesn’t always seem that realistic. Sometimes units break where it seems illogical and once they do they become next to useless. That said it does add to the flow of battle when your overwhelming troops, having nearly reduced a Demon’s health, are sent scattering and butchered when it sends out a spine-tingling roar.

Oh and whilst pretty much all the upgrades for your general look cool they don’t always seem to have much affect on his or her performance in battle (bar a Chaos one I could mention...). And the Space Marine Commander’s leg upgrades look a bit daft.

Also the narrator for the various big battles and key positions on the map, whilst dramatic, seems to emphasis all the wrong words in every sentence. You'll see what I mean. It's not bad, rather just odd.

The Bottom Line
This is a raw and brutal real time strategy that tests every skill you own, whilst looking and sounding and FEELING universally brilliant. Buy it, play it, love it.

Windows · by Curlymcdom (44) · 2007



After winning a campaign and watching the credits, there is another outro, in which several planets are passed and heavy explosions are shown. There is a fade-out, and the number 2007 is displayed.

It's the first sign of the next Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War game - Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War - Soulstorm, which was planned for 2007 but released in 2008.


  • 4Players
    • 2006 – #2 Best Add-On of the Year
  • GameSpy
    • 2006 – #7 PC Game of the Year
    • 2006 – PC Expansion of the Year

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Talonfire.

Additional contributors: jaXen, DarkDante, Dave Mednick, Patrick Bregger, Plok.

Game added October 15th, 2006. Last modified June 13th, 2023.