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"And if that don't work? Use more gun."

Sometimes you just need to pull out all the stops and kill stuff but good. An alpha strike is just the thing to help you accomplish that! An alpha strike refers to a unit attacking a single target with every weapon it has, all at once. When successful, the result is an absolutely devastating bombardment that turns its hapless target into a smoking crater. When unsuccessful, the attacking unit will usually be in for a world of hurt, as overextending itself with an alpha strike usually leaves it vulnerable to Counter Attack (which will be even worse if the attacker is a Glass Cannon).

The phrase "alpha strike" originates from the Vietnam War, where it referred to a US aircraft carrier deploying its entire air wing to attack a single target, unleashing massive firepower at the cost of leaving the carrier basically defenseless for the duration of the attack. The term was eventually co-opted by tabletop wargamers, using the definition presented here.

During an alpha strike, expect to see Beam Spam, Macross Missile Massacres, More Dakka, and any other Spam Attack that the attacker has handy, all used simultaneously. Sometimes a type of Attack Pattern Alpha. Often a form of Death or Glory Attack. See also No Kill Like Overkill. Vulnerable to becoming the Worf Barrage if it's shown to be ineffective.

Examples of Alpha Strike include:


Fan Fics

  • MegaGargomon uses this twice during the Tamers Forever Series, unloading his entire arsenal in an ultimately futile attempt to bring down Daemon


Live Action Television

  • This is the modus operandi of Ultrazords in Power Rangers (and their Super Sentai equivalents). Usually it's part of a Lensman Arms Race against the Sorting Algorithm of Evil, but sometimes a random late-appearing monster gets caught up in the attack.
    • Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger has this with the Gokai Kanzen Super Burst, where Kanzen GokaiOh and all the Legend Mecha blast the opponent at full power all at once.
  • Kamen Rider Zolda and his American counterpart Kamen Rider Torque employ the powerful End of World Finishing Move, in which their beast Magnugiga fires all of its armaments at once. (It's a lot of armaments too: it's got missiles. It's got lasers. It's got some more missiles. And machine guns. And yet more missiles. And that is how More Dakka is done!) This however leaves Zolda vulnerable to a counterattack, and seeing as End of World fails to kill another Rider...
    • End of World is Awesome but Impractical. The time it takes to set it up and the fact that Magnugiga is basically immobile makes it easier to avoid than a lot of significantly less cool attacks. (In Dragon Knight, though, he does manage to take out one other Rider.)
  • One of Kamen Rider Fourze's Finishing Moves involves using the Hee-Hack Gun (A flamethrower), Launcher Module, and Gattling Module simultaneously, and firing them at once.
  • The Excalibur in Crusade has a variation. Rather than firing all her weapons at once, she can pour all her power into one weapon. The effect is the same, as afterwards it takes 60 seconds to power back up again.

Tabletop Games

  • BattleTech: The originator of the term as we're using it here. Firing every weapon a 'mech has equipped has the potential to do ridiculous damage, but also generates enormous amounts of heat, requiring a cooldown period at the very least and at worst destroying the 'mech entirely—either by cooking off its ammo or just exceeding its heat limit by such a wide margin that it spontaneously explodes.
    • Also seen in the (defunct) trading card game, where "Alpha Strike" was specifically an ability of certain units—mostly 'Mechs, but also some vehicles after those were added as their own unit type. Using it let that unit do more damage in a given fight at the cost of becoming temporarily depleted and having to sit out the next turn.
  • Star Fleet Battles: Knowing when to use an alpha strike can win you the game.
  • Alpha Strike is in fact also a term in Magic: The Gathering for attacking with every one of your creatures in one combat.

Video Games

  • The term Alpha Strike is frequently used in City of Heroes to refer to the initial barrage of attacks any given mob is capable of using. This is because, with the exception of gimmick abilities tied to health or a timer, an AI opponent can and will throw everything' it is capable of throwing at you at the beginning of the fight. "Taking the Alpha Strike" is a common enough term in the game that one defense set has "difficulty taking Alpha Strikes" as its only weakness, and an issue and task force were named after the trope. Naturally, players also can perform alpha strikes.
  • MS Saga: Several boost attacks qualify. There's Gatling Body, which requires at least three fixed (ie, not hand-held) weapons, and fires them all at once. Gatling Fire is an upgraded version, which requires at least four weapons, but includes hand-held weapons in the barrage. Ultimate Weapon is an upgrade of that, which fires every weapon you have equipped (like Gatling Fire), but follows up with a melee attack for good measure.
  • Warcraft III: The "hero nuke" tactic involves acquiring three heroes with powerful single-target attack abilities, and having all three attack a single target in quick succession. This is usually used to take an enemy hero from "slightly damaged" to "dead" without any time in-between to heal.
  • Mechwarrior, being a Spin-Off of BattleTech (mentioned in the Tabletop Games section) makes use of alpha strikes. All weaponry installed on the mech fires, regardless of grouping. Mechs loaded with high heat weapons usually find themselves glowing like the sun, or just outright exploding.
  • In Galactic Civilizations II's expansions, Dark Avatar and Twilight of the Arnor, the Arceans specialize in alpha-striking with their Super Warrior ability. Normally, in ship-to-ship or fleet combat, both sides' fleets attack simultaneously in a series of combat rounds, with ships getting eliminated on both sides until one side is completely destroyed. The Arceans' Super Ability however gives them a first strike upon initiating combat, allowing them to eliminate some or all of the enemy fleet before they get a chance to return fire, and as such their ships are generally designed for all-out offense with no defenses. If they fail to destroy or cripple the enemy in the first round, or the enemy gets the drop on them, it's generally bad news.
  • Quite a few units in Super Robot Wars have this, such the Astelion, the Valhawk and most notably the Alt Eisen's "Trump Card". It's always their strongest move and has few ammo uses. Even when the other attacks still have plenty of ammo, or even run on Energy. Don't ask.
  • Eve Online: Fleet commanders that have command of at least one sniping battleship squadron will often tell the pilots of these vessels to move to the optimal range of their guns—away from the rest of the fleet. The tactic being that any hostile vessel that comes near the fleet gets utterly erased from existence from the powerful first strike capability of the combined long-range heavy cannons. The reload time of said heavy cannons make them a liability in close combat so moving the snipers out gives them another line of defense, being able to see if anyone is coming for them and running for it. The Fleet Commander will usually call "Target name - Alpha this target" The target usually dies instantly.
  • In Iji, the "Alpha Strike" is a special-purpose weapon installed on certain warships that automatically synchronize with each other, allowing thousands of ships to Strike a planet's surfaces simultaneously. Even a low-power Strike (like the one in the intro cutscene) ranks as a class 4 biosphere-destroying disaster, and a more thorough one can go up to class 6.
  • Metal Wolf Chaos has this as a chargeable Limit Break, where Michael fires all his carried weapons wildly and at once while screaming "HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW?!". As a Limit Break, it has no downsides.
  • In Mass Effect 3, Shepard unleashes one of these against the Reaper on the Quarian homeworld of Rannoch. Using a special device synced with the Normandy's targeting system, Shepard "paints" the Reaper as the target. When the Normandy's weapons prove unable to bring it down, Shepard has EDI sync the entire Quarian fleet to the device. Even then, the Reaper is only severely damaged, not destroyed. (Shepard has the option of finishing it off after a conversation with it.
  • League of Legends has what appears to be a slight parody of the term, in Master Yi's ability "Alpha Strike", which launches him forward like a ghost at a target, dealing impressive damage to multiple targets as he ricochets between them at the risk of potentially landing you in the middle of five irate enemy team members and getting you slaughtered.
    • There is however a build for him (effectiveness debatable) that focuses on building AP and amping up the abilities damage to ridiculous levels, effectively playing this straight. To a lesser extent all the "Burst Casters" are meant to do this, champions like Malzahar are most effective when they use all of their abilities at once to utterly destroy a single target.
  1. Zendan Hassha, lit. "Fire all bullets"