Set six years after the events of Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, where the Orcish invaders have conquered the kingdom of Azeroth and driven the Human survivors out through the Great Sea, the game pits the Orcs (now allied with trolls, ogres, and goblins) against the Human kingdom of Lordaeron (now allied with the high elves of Quel'thalas and the dwarves and gnomes of Khaz Modan).
The game received an expansion pack by Cyberlore, titled Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal, on April 30, 1996. This expansion added a new campaign for each faction (a prologue campaign for the Orcs and an epilogue campaign for the Humans), new multiplayer maps, and a new setting (the hellish world of Draenor), while expanding the use of powerful Hero units.
The game (combined with the expansion) was later ported to the PlayStation and Saturn consoles and released by Electronic Arts on August 31, 1997 as Warcraft II: The Dark Saga. The PC version was also re-released (combined with the expansion) on September 30, 1999 as Warcraft II: Battle.net Edition, adding native Windows capability, online multiplayer via Blizzard's Battle.net service, and a variety of new gameplay enhancements (some of which borrowed from StarCraft). The game later received a sequel, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.
The Horde and Alliance units were near replicas of each other, sharing nearly all stats. This did not hold true for late game caster units, who differed due to the spells available to them. The two ranged units also differed, with the Alliance rangers receiving a damage bonus and the Horde axe throwers receiving slow health regeneration.
Advanced gameplay for the Horde is generally focused on mass producing Ogre-Mages with bloodlust. Advanced gameplay for the Alliance focuses almost exclusively on micromanaging Mages. Early rushes in the game proved so effective that most players will not use the Medium resource setting as rushes are the only viable strategy.
Standard resource gatherer. Produced at the Town Hall/Great Hall "Yes, Milord?"
Early game melee unit. Useful for rushes and dieing quickly. Produced at the barracks.
Ranged unit. Heavily upgraded and in large numbers these can prove to be a valuable asset. However, they will be easily torn to pieces in melee by the later game units. Produced at the barracks.
Upgraded version of the Archer/Axe Thrower. Cool war paint. Produced at the barracks.
Late game melee unit and the core of most armies. Good at everything. Produced at the barracks.
Upgraded version of the Knight. Produced at the barracks.
- Holy Vision: Illuminates small portion of the map for a limited time. Detects invisible units as well.
- Healing: Heals wounded units. (Shocker I know) Requires research.
- Excorcism: Damages undead units. IE Horde Death Knights and Skeletons. Requires research.
Upgraded version of the Ogre. Produced at the barracks.
- Eye of Kilrogg: Floating eye that can move about the map quickly and scout. Detects invisible units
- Bloodlust: Enchantment on a friendly unit that doubles the amount of damage it deals for a short time. The most useful spell for the Horde. Requires research.
- Runes: Enchantment on the ground that causes units to take great damage when crossed over. Also damages friendly units. Requires research.
Long range siege unit. Useful for destroying towers and buildings. Produced at the barracks.
Alliance spellcaster unit and their most important unit. Produced at Mage Tower.
- Fireball: Sends a fireball that damages everything in a straight line.
- Flame Shield: Surrounds a unit in fire and causes it to deal damage to all nearby units. Useful for damaging clumped units. Requires research.
- Slow: Slows and enemies movement and attack speed for a period of time. Requires research.
- Invisibility: Renders a unit invisible for a time or until he attacks. Invisible mages Blizzard = Great Success! Requires research.
- Blizzard: Powerful area of effect damage that needs to be constantly channeled. Requires research.
- Polymorph: Turns an enemy unit into a sheep. Permanently. Requires research.
Horde spellcaster unit. Produced at the Temple of the Damned.
Death Knight spells:
- Death Coil: Drains enemy units health and adds it to the Death Knights.
- Haste: Increases a units movement and attack speed for a short time. Requires research.
- Unholy Armor: Makes a unit invulnerable for a very short time at the expense of health. Requires research.
- Death and Decay: Powerful area of effect damage that needs to be constantly channeled. Requires research.
- Whirlwind: Randomly moving "whirlwind" that damages anything it touches for a time. Also damages friendly units. Requires research.
- Raise Dead: Raises the corpses of dead enemies as skeletons that last until their time runs out or until they are destroyed. Requires research.
Demolition Squad/Goblin Sappers:
Gnomish Flying Machine/ Goblin Zeppelin:
Fast flying unit useful for scouting the map. Detects invisible units. Produced at Gnomish Inventor/Goblin Alchemist.
Powerful flying unit that deals area of effect damage in a straight line. Also damages friendly units. Produced at Gryphon Aviary/ Dragon Roost.
Basic warship. Able to attack flying units. Produced at the shipyard.
Holds up to six units. Can be turned invisible by Mages.
Advanced warship. Slower but capable of dealing much greater damage. Unable to attack air units.
Invisible naval unit. Very low on health but deals large amounts of damage.