Dawn of War is a real time strategy game depicting battles between the gothic science fiction forces of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Four factions are featured: the Space Marines, Orks, Eldar, and Chaos Marines. Each army has its own unique strengths and weaknesses leading to different play styles.
Players start with an initial base and must capture and hold strategic points to earn requisition as well as build generators for power. They spend these resources to build production facilities, and to purchase more troops and vehicles to amass their army. Resources are also used research upgrades which unlock enhancements on a faction unique tech tree.
Infantry is controlled at the squad level and may be given special weapons and have leaders attached for special bonuses. Different unit types specialize in ranged, melee, or anti-tank combat. Infantry squads may also be reinforced up to full strength even in the middle of combat. In addition to hit points, infantry also has a morale stat; if a squad takes too many losses and drops in morale, it may lose its combat effectiveness until it regroups.
Vehicles are controlled as individual units. They are more resistant to small arms fire and may be fitted with anti-personnel or anti-vehicle weapons.
Victory may be achieved in a variety of ways such as by holding critical points for a set time or completely destroying opponents.
There are 3 modes of play: an online multiplayer battle, a single player skirmish mode against computer AI opponents, and a single player story mode detailing the Blood Ravens chapter of the Space Marines defense of the planet Tartarus against the Orks, Eldar, and Chaos Marines.
Dawn of War also has an Army Painter feature which allows you to customize the colors and insignia of your force.