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Tim-Tom: We leave the gas on... They go in their sleep, all quiet-like --

Kevin: Aw, I wanted to hear 'em scream!

Tim-Tom: It's not as much fun, but it will look more like an accident.

Everyone loves flashy magic, BFGs, and big, thundering tanks. However, the more interesting something is, the more likely it falls victim to the rule of Awesome but Impractical: You can't use it often enough, it costs too much, or it just takes too much effort to get it. You could even have Cool but Inefficient, where it just looks awesome, but that is about it.

Therefore, we have things that are much more "boring" and normal, but these things often contribute more to your success in the long term than the visually more impressive things.

General examples:

  • Healers in MMORPGs are often this. Fiery doom or big swords are a lot cooler, but you try getting anywhere in a dungeon without a dedicated healer in your group. (However, a lot of video games try to circumvent this by giving healing spells effects just as spectacular as their offensive counterparts, such as big shining lights, summoning gods, or massive plant growth.)
  • Same for medics in FPS games that have them. In addition, ammo limitations often make normal guns more useful than sniper rifles or the BFG, or other restrictions on those weapons may render them impractical.
  • ... and, working backwards through history, healers in almost any pencil-and-paper roleplaying game.
  • Similarly, weapon loadouts that don't require much ammunition or allow you put a ton of ammunition on your vehicle in things like Humongous Mecha combat sims. The bigger guns tend to be unable to stock much ammo and take up more space, besides.
  • Normal attacks in RPGs. Special moves and magic are a lot more flashy, but they are usually restricted by something or other (Mana, Limit Break, etc). And some spells might not even work when you really need them.
  • In platformers, Goomba Stomp or basic moves, as opposed to the things you can do with powerups. Vital since the said powerups aren't always available, and if you lose yours mid-level, what then?
  • In strategy games, the basic combat unit is usually more efficient than the larger (and cooler looking) counterparts. Tournament players will often make heavy use of rather basic units in general. Any type of rush depends on this trope.
  • Again, in strategy games, Worker Units. These guys have little or no combat capability and present easy targets for your enemies, but without them, you have no economy, and without an economy, you have no army.
  • In Card Games, simple and resource cheap cards often reign supreme, with efficiency being more important than raw power.
  • Many action and brawler games with unlockable movesets usually fall prey to this. Players are so accustomed to the initial attacks that most new moves are too foreign to properly use or experiment with.
    • This is often particularly true when button combos are required. By the time the new moveset is unlocked, the enemies are too powerful to take lightly by practicing your new attack on, and your own damage output is high enough that failing to activate your new ability will simply kill a mook outright with a mere jab.
  • The Jack of All Stats can often be this trope; they may lack the coolest, or strongest moves, but are fairly good at most attributes, and lack the glaring weaknesses of other character types.

May border on Game Breaker. Compare Awesome Yet Practical. Contrast Awesome but Impractical, Cool but Inefficient.

Action Game

  • The "Killer Bee" flying kick from Devil May Cry 3 is, considering damage per hit and windup time, the most efficient way of bringing down enemies, as opposed to making full use of Dante's varied moveset. Also, some bosses are all but made for just shooting to death from afar rather than trying to fight them close up while dancing around their attacks. Unfortunately... this is not a game that encourages such methods, what with the "Style Meter" and all.
    • Dante starts every game with a pair of Boring but Practical handguns. Though you may upgrade them to shotguns, grenade launchers, magically charged sniper rifles and pure nightmare, it's rare occasions when you don't want the simple ability to suspend yourself in the air with rapid recoils.
  • Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox: The full Izuna Drop combo will kill any normal enemy that Ryu can launch, even on Master Ninja. It's not the fastest, yes, but unless you're one of those super-gamers who can chain Ultimate Techniques easily, it's the most effective. On that note, Ultimate Techniques. Invincibility during usage and lots of damage, also enough to kill most normal enemies. Off-the-wall attacks provide invincibility when used as well. The Ninpo magic attacks also provide invincibility and good damage. Of course some of those are probably Awesome Yet Practical.
  • Tecmo Super Bowl buffs the enemy AI when against the player in terms of speed so much that regular runs become obsolete and many players who are overpowered in regular play become much less useful such as Bo Jackson. At this stage of the game it is more worth it to simply attempt long range passes and hope they work and attempt Nose Tackle dives as much as possible on defense.

Beat'Em Up

  • Among the moves you can use as God Reels in God Hand are throwing a giant baseball, punching the enemy's head off, and a good old-fashioned Groin Attack. But the most useful? Chain Yanker, which just pulls the enemy in and stuns them—stunned enemies being perfect for building one's God Hand meter on.
    • Of the various guard breaker moves available, the most basic and earliest available, a simple overhand chop, is also the most reliable. Sure, neither it nor its stronger version do much damage, but when all you want is to leave the enemy open, it answers the call.
    • You have a roundhouse move from the start. It has decent power, reach and speed, but best of all it can knock down small enemies and keep hitting them on the ground, keeping them there. By using evade-cancelling to pump it out faster, you can do good damage with this alone. It won't break a guard, but apart from that hiccup it's as reliable as they get.
  • In The Bouncer you could pick up a ton of special moves, but most of them paled to the simple combos, most notably Volt's headbutt, which could chain combo robots. (Yes, that's right: When Volt's skull meets solid steel, Volt's skull wins).
  • In the arcade beat em up of Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon Jupiter could infinite enemies simply by punching twice then turning around and punching twice again (rinse and repeat). She could even do this to bosses but the timing is stricter since they recover from hitstun faster.
  • The backwards elbow in the original Double Dragon is a simple but effective technique, especially against the bosses.
    • It's a downright Game Breaker. It works on EVERYTHING. Very boring, and very practical.

Board Games

  • In chess, most people will try to learn the flashy openings and glitzy combo attacks, but the tactics of piece exchange should come in second place to the logistic considerations of controlling board space. It sounds boring, but it pays to know when to crack open the defense of a turtling player or to suffocate an aggressive attacker with a locked pawn center.
  • In go, there are dozens of standard sequences called joseki, i.e. "best move". Playing them out according to the standard may seem boring to a junior player, but the reason they became standard in the first place is that they provide both sides with usable structures and "fair share" of the area where it is played.

Driving Game

  • Interstate '76. Throughout the game you'll salvage all kinds of crazy weapons from other cars, like Dr. Radar tracking missiles, flamethrowers, lava mines, mortars, cluster bombs, and the dreaded Hades Cannon. But ultimately, nothing is more effective at totaling other cars than the 30cal machine gun you start with. Except maybe two machine guns, or higher caliber machine guns.
    • Averted in Nitro Pack, where you don't salvage weapons; you have access to an unlimited supply of weapons before each mission and can equip your car with as much as it can hold. Formerly Awesome but Impractical weapons like the Dr. Radar missile launcher become Awesome Yet Practical when you can equip three of them, when ammo refills between missions are free, and when there's still room in the car for a heavy machine-gun turret.
  • In racing games that employ Rubber Band AI and upgradeable vehicles, you might find that dropping your car to the lowest settings (and perhaps, even drive around in a lower tier car) is the only way of finishing the race. Need for Speed Underground was notorious for this.
  • Need for Speed: Payback and Need for Speed: Heat reward players who buy a very cheap car (like a Volkswagen Beetle or Honda Civic) and spend a comparatively small amount of money upgrading it through simple means rather than extravagant engines swaps or hoarding money for a Lamborghini.

Fighting Game

  • In the Super Smash Bros series of games, each character has several special moves (three in the first game, four in later games) that use their unique abilities, and the third game provides each character with an impressive Final Smash, some of which cross the line into Game Breaker territory, but the most overwhelmingly useful moves in any mode are the weak but varied standard attacks.
  • Capcom vs. SNK 2 has 48 characters, all with a variety of special moves. Their best attacks? For the most part, a crouching fierce (hard) punch. Out of the top 3 characters (Cammy, Sagat, Blanka), two have ball-busting low fierces and there is almost no time where it is a bad move (Cammy's standing fierce punches and roundhouse (again, hard) kicks generally serve the same purpose).
    • Let's not forget Iori's crouching fierce. It has massive range.
    • David Sirlin, designer for Street Fighter 2 HD Turbo Remix, won a tournament by choosing one character and just spamming crouching strong for a minute straight. He writes about all sorts of boring yet effective techniques to beat people who waste time using slow but awesome looking attacks.
      • Street Fighter and The King of Fighters games are all but shallow - the main difference between just "good" and genuinely great players is their ability to effectively use and mix up the basic light and medium attacks into a chain of heavy attacks and showy specials. In some ways, this is an excellent parallel of real world Boxing and MMA.
    • Similarly, in the Samurai Shodown games few things are better for punishing an opponent's mistake than a simple fierce slash; given the high damage levels used in the series, this often becomes an extreme case of the use of this trope. Oh, and while it's true that landing a disarming desperation attack tends to make the fight easier, there are still several cases when merely causing a good amount of raw damage is much better.
    • In Street Fighter III, you must choose a super special move out of a selection of three. The "best" (to the extent that one could be considered the best) one out of these three tends to be (though is not always) the one that lets you use the meter the most often, either through having a lot of capacity through EX moves (which tend to be like supers but less flashy) or through having a very short meter bar to charge (allowing you to use supers almost willy-nilly, though some of these supers are also not very flashy). An example of the former case is Ryu's Shinkuu Hadou Ken (a super that isn't all that great, but gives you a ton of meter to work with to hound your opponent with plenty of EX moves) Examples of the latter case include Ken’s Shippū Jinrai Kyaku (which is fast, has invincibility frames, has good range, and you get three of them) and Yun’s Gen'ei Jin (which allows for some nice extended combos served up very, very often).
    • The "Man with Two Moves", Guile, has a moveset considered to be this in pretty much every Street Fighter game. He's been using the same two specials, Sonic Boom and Flash Kick (along with super versions of each) since his debut. And it's still a pain to get past them.
  • Ibuki in Street Fighter V uses a simple bomb as her V-Trigger while most of the rest of the cast gets power ups such as faster speed, afterimages, and abilities they usually do not have access to, however combining with her moveset she can cause resets to the damage scaling chart two times in a row and cause a very high amount of damage using these bombs.
  • As of this writing, tiers are still in the air for Marvel vs. Capcom 3, however, current thought is that one character absolutely dominates the game as the absolute best. Who is this character? Dante, with a billion and one moves? Amaterasu, the Physical God who can switch fighting styles on the fly and is said to have no weaknesses? Or Phoenix, who can die and be resurrected as the God Mode Sue Super-Powered Evil Side Dark Phoenix? None of the above. For now, the single best character in the game is . . . Wolverine, who possesses enough raw speed AND power to turn one confirmed attack into an instant death combo against 90% of the entire cast! He has no fireballs, no grapples, and no devastating assists. He simply beats your ass until you can't get up.
  • Many such moves in Dissidia Final Fantasy, and its sequel, Duodecim, from Jecht and Cloud Of Darkness's few brave attacks to Zidane's starting HP move, Free Energy—but the one that takes the cake is Sephiroth's Shadow Flare. It is practical—weak, but ranged, little end lag, good assist charge, quick, virtually unpunishable; people who play competitively consider it the very best move he has—but man alive is it dull: Sephiroth raises his sword in the air, four little darkness-thingies appear by the opponent and move in on them. Making matters worse, a whole lot of matches with Sephiroth consist of persistent, constant, and ceaseless use of this move. Considering how much style the character has in his other appearances, it's very ironic.
  • Most fighting games have a "damage scaling" system, which lessens the amount of damage each successive hit of a combo does in order to prevent combos from killing characters outright. In particularly egregious cases, this can mean that adding more hits to a combo can make it end up doing less damage! So you're sometimes better off doing that 2-hit combo into a Limit Break instead of that super-stylish 50-hit combo that has 2 Limit Breaks in it.
  • In Rumble Roses despite the Humiliation mechanics and varied movesets the atomic drop is an attack lacking flair but deals body damage to the victim and giving the attacking Rose a free attack afterwards without the victim being able to defend herself even via the game's reversal mechanics. Bonus if the Rose delivering the atomic drop is Miss Spencer as she could perform it again afterwards... and then again... then again.
  • In general the "footsies" playstyle is considered boring by spectators due to how it could cause time outs and slows the pace of a fight down with even projectile wars being more tolerated. Still in game a good footsies player could keep opponents out and beat some they couldn't generally beat otherwise such as Rufus vs Zangief in Street Fighter IV.

First-Person Shooter

  • In Team Fortress 2, you can unlock a great many side-grades for the primary/secondary/melee weapons of each class. These often serve to change up the core gameplay style of that class, tweak their effective sphere of operations, or just look flashy. Thing is (and much to the game's credit), when most professional and competitive players need to pick a loadout? They use the "vanilla" starter weapons all the way. Not as flashy, not as neat or novel - but always solid, dependable, and quietly the most powerful choice.
    • (The exception would be the melee slot, where vanilla weapons often lag behind unlocks, but this is overlooked because melee is rarely useful - unless you're a Spy (or to a lesser degree, Pyro or Scout.)
    • It could be argued that prior to the class update, the Engineer class of Team Fortress 2 had three rather plain weapons: a shotgun, a pistol, and his wrench. However, in spite of their plainness, they weren't any less effective at dispatching foes. His shotgun is a reliable standby that can deal a respectable amount of damage up close and is used by a default secondary by three of the main combat classes besides. The Engineer's pistol is just like the Scout's, but literally has more ammo available than any other weapon in the game (The minigun and flamethrower both carry 200 rounds according to their ammo indicators. The pistol? 212.) and was still half decent at damaging targets from farther off than the shotgun. Finally, the wrench is a humble tool, but it can construct, repair, and upgrade the Engineer's buildings, including health and ammo Dispensers, Teleporters to move teammates, and powerful Sentries. It is also handy for cracking heads open, because damage delivered from those same Sentries raise the wrench's already high crit rate, and only the two toughest classes in the game can avoid being beaten to death with one critical swing. Even before the update, Engineers were ubiquitous even if they were not as showy as some their fellow classes.
    • Ironically the only true downfall of any Engie is boredom. Two Engineers can completely lock down the 2fort map and prevent most means of speedy Intel recovery, but most defenses are broken because one of the two engineers feels bored because no one ever makes it far enough to him.
    • Part of being a Medic involves using your Ubercharge to mount an invincible (or Critical Hit-laden) assault on enemies. The other part is what you do to get your Ubercharge gauge up: healing allies. Not the most exciting job in the world, but the presence of a Medic can prevent teammates from having to wait upwards of 20 seconds to respawn.
    • The Soldier can be seen as this, especially among the much more niche-specific classes available. His weapons are literally nothing new. Rocket launchers, shotguns, and melee weapons have been around since Doom, and everyone's seen what they can do before. However, the Soldier is quite tough, surprisingly mobile, and well rounded enough that a good team usually has at least two on hand. Soldier tactics are fairly predictable, but frighteningly effective at turning large numbers of enemies into Ludicrous Gibs. It doesn't hurt that his lines are also extremely entertaining thanks to Comedic Sociopathy.
  • In Doom you will probably use the shotgun a lot more than flashier weapons like the rocket launcher, plasma rifle, or BFG 9000 due to the fact that shotgun ammo is very plentiful and a single blast at close range is enough to kill weaker enemies (sometimes you can even kill two or three weak enemies with a single shot if they're clustered together).
    • In Doom II, this trend is averted with the Awesome Yet Practical Super Shotgun. The single-barrel shotgun remains for dealing with medium to long-range monsters, while the double-barrel shotgun fills the role of short-range-stopping-power awesomely. Ammo remains available enough for the weapon, and for a lot of cases, it can be used as the standard gun. A very handy feature of this weapon is that few monsters can withstand all of the buckshot from the weapon without being stunned in pain.
    • As Doom III went for a more horror themed approach many of the fights you get into are short range ambushes, once again the humble shotgun is weapon of choice for wandering through the corridors.
  • Prey has an impressive amount of very original weapons of creepily biological construction, like an acid-spraying shotgun, explosive crabs used as grenades, a gun that launches those same crabs (no, really) and a bow made of spiritual energy that can kill the soul of enemies. And yet, the weapon you'll be using most of the time is the humble energy rifle with sniper attachment you begin with, because of its good mix of damage, fire rate and precision.
  • System Shock 2, with its RPG Elements, had one or two, especially if you were playing the OSA. Cryokinesis is one of the starting powers and though you get amazing, highly destructive spells abilities at higher tiers, this is still the most-used due to its low Psi-point cost, robot-damaging ability, and scaling of its damage with your PSI stat. The wrench you pick up at the very beginning? Still useful right up to the endgame for whittling down immobilized enemies before you deliver the coup de grace. With Adrenaline Overproduction and the right OS upgrade, it becomes a killer.
    • The wrench is also the only weapon not to suffer from wear and so requires no maintenance, in addition to needing no ammunition. It's also a silent killer that won't attract enemies in nearby rooms. Did we mention it requires no skill training whatsoever, unlike the resonating crystal mace that requires SIX points in exotic weapons for equivalent performance?
  • In Bioshock, you collect a stunning array of weapons, special ammo, and plasmids—but nothing is ever so useful as Electrobolt + wrench.
    • In terms of efficiency, though, telekinesis is king, as it has the lowest resource cost of any attack in the game save the wrench—no ammo, and the smallest mana Adam EVE cost of any plasmid, and can act as a shield and protect you from grenades to boot. And it still does good damage, of course.
    • In terms of play-speed, the revolver (with damage upgrade and anti-personnel rounds later on) can kill all splicers in 1 headshot. While other weapons have better overall damage (crossbow) or better rates of fire (machine gun), the revolver has just the right balance so you don't have to stop moving to fight every single enemy you meet.
    • Hell, you can make the wrench so powerful on its own that using Electro Bolt beforehand is actually a waste of time. With maxed research, both Wrench Jockey tonics, and Bloodlust (also Wrench Lurker if you're a sneaky bastard), you can just bum-rush everything and only need to take out a gun or a plasmid your shotgun when going up against a Big Daddy or Atlas/Fontaine. Note that most of the people that do this are the same ones who complain about how repetitive the game is.
  • Halo 3. Rocket launchers, energy swords, shotguns, gravity hammer. The most efficient weapon to quickly kill most enemies? Battle Rifle or Covenant Carbine, provided the player can consistently hit the head.
    • And don't forget that in the original Halo the simple pistol was practically a Game Breaker.
    • Hell, I think at least over half of any given players kills will be either A: Gunning down an enemy with the Assault Rifle (default starting weapon), B: Hitting someone with a melee, or C: Running at someone firing an Assault rifle, then hitting them with a melee when their shield goes down.
    • And just for completeness, the Battle Rifle in Halo 2 is the do-all workhorse of both multi-player and single-player. Even more so in multi-player when Bungie toned up the accuracy a little.
  • From the equipment in Halo: Reach, the Sprint upgrade, it lets you get behind cover or dodge enemy fire much quicker than normal.
    • It's also useful for rushing up to an opponent to assassinate them, as well as an effective defense against someone else trying to do the same.
  • In Half-Life, you gain access to a wide range of high-powered military hardware and a few alien/experimental weapons. But, even in Xen, your mainstay will be the trusty MP-5 submachine gun you picked up early on. Ammunition is plentiful, reloading fast, firepower decent, rate of fire high, and the underbarrel grenade launcher adds more punch when needed.
    • Don't forget the crowbar.
    • Half-Life 2 doesn't have much leeway in terms of awesome weapons. Even so, the somewhat meek MP7 (or SMG1) is probably the weapon you'll use the most for the same reasons as the MP5 above, plus it's quite a bit more accurate. Until you get the Awesome Yet Practical shotgun, that is.
  • The M82 from Killzone 2. I'm sorry, you mean you don't want an assault rifle that's essentially as accurate as a sniper rifle? But it has a rate of fire to match any other gun. And a high damage per shot rating. And an ammo capacity. And can be fired effectively on the move. And you can beat people with it. And it's your basic weapon. The only real problem with it is that if you run out, you can't salvage ammo for it from enemies.
    • And the recoil forces successful shots UP. If you're hitting the chest, that means headshots. In multiplayer, the M82 is the common weapon found, giving you anywhere from 4 to 180 rounds per corpse.
  • In a game that manages to shove a machine gun, sniper rifle and rocket launcher (among other things) into a single weapon, one gun in Classified: The Sentinel Crisis combines incredible accuracy, stealth and the power to kill most Mooks with a single bullet. That gun... is the silenced semi-automatic pistol.
  • Deus Ex has many powerful and complicated weapons, and most are actually quite effective. However, the stealthy player will find most of his kills coming from the silenced pistol, since headshots are one-hit-kills against almost everything, and the gun can be easily modified into a baby sniper rifle.
    • It's not a flashy way to play; but the number of areas that can be cleared by hiding in the air ducts and shooting people with tranquilizer darts is amazing.
    • Throughout the game you'll get access to rocket launchers, plasma rifles and nanotech swords. But when you're stuck in a situation where you have to fight your way out, the Sawed-Off Shotgun is one of the best weapons in the game, able to dish out a ton of damage at close range while not limiting your mobility like heavy weapons tend to do (and it doesn't take up a whole lot of space in your inventory.)
    • Same thing applies to the prequel Deus Ex Human Revolution. Miniguns, laser rifles, rocket launchers... and not only the weapon you'll be using the most is the silenced pistol, but the entire game can be completed using nothing but that - when it's completely maxed out, a series of fast headshots can bring down even bosses.
      • Similar is the stun gun, which is even the same size. It's low-key looking even compared to the other non-lethal weapons like the PEPS or tranquilizer rifle, but incredibly useful besides. It's a silent short-range weapon that can rend unconscious any human but a boss with a single body shot, stuns bosses and robots, and will even temporarily disable a camera without setting off an alarm. It can't be upgraded at all, but never needs to be because it's just as effective on the 8-foot armored cyborgs with miniguns as it was on the unarmored guy with a pistol.
  • The Power Beam from Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. (and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption to a certain extent) Unlimited ammo, crazy fast rate of fire, yet somewhat weak, you will be using it throughout the entire game. The charge shot sucks in any missile or health pickups that may be lying around too. Oh, sure, you can fire miniature suns, black holes or radioactive acid-goop, but those take lots of ammo (and in the case of the Phazon, health).
    • The Super Missile combo also falls under this. It uses five missiles per shot, but spamming it in a tough opponent's face will bring him down quickly.
  • The UMP in Modern Warfare 2. It's a submachine gun class weapon (which gives it high mobility) with stats that rival most of the assault rifles. It's definitely one of the most popular guns in the game, and thus one of the most commonly used as well.
  • In the F.E.A.R. first generation games, there are guns of all kinds, including laser carbines, miniguns, grenade launchers, repeating cannons... In short, a ton of weapons to choose from. However, if you don't carry an assault rifle and a shotgun on 2 of the 3 slots you have, you're screwed, as these are the only weapons you don't have to worry about saving ammo for. In fact, the most practical combo available is pistols/rifle/shotgun, all of which you get early on.
  • Star Wars first person games such as the Dark Forces Saga games or Republic Commando offer a variety of extremely interesting weapons. However, even with that variety, several recurring weapons patterns turn up.
    • Dark Forces offers very fun, splashy guns like the concussion rifle, the plasma cannon, and the fusion cutter, just to mix things up. However, the most commonly used weapons are often the first three picked up: the blaster pistol, the blaster rifle, and thermal detonators. The first two are a Sniper Pistol and the classic Stormtrooper rifle, respectively, and the third are grenades in all but name. Most of the enemies faced are Imperial troops carrying ammunition for blasters anyway.
    • Later games, part of the Jedi Knight series, obviously allow the lightsaber to predominate, but even in the face of acrobatic slashing, Force powers, and so forth, the utility of the blaster pistol or blaster rifle is rarely diminished, thanks to their accuracy at range and speed, respectively (and again, the ubiquity of their ammo).
    • Finally, Republic Commando offers a number of interesting attachments for the Swiss Army Weapon given to the commandos, as well several fun secondary guns plucked from enemies or supply caches. The starting pistol and SMG-equivalent loadout still dominates use during gameplay, however.
  • In Crysis 2, there are many different ways to kill C.E.L.L. operatives, whether by using a gauss rifle, a rapid-fire taser, and throwing them skyhigh. But the most effective way to kill them? Attach a silencer to your starting pistol and use stealth mode. Aim for the head and you can take out groups of enemies without being detected. The best part? Each shot only uses ten energy, and combined with Nano Regeneration and Stealth Entrance, you can go an entire level undetected. This is less effective on Ceph, however.
  • The Descent games have always had many kinds of awesome, flashy and hyperdestructive weaponry, but due to huge energy consumption and rarity of pickups, you'll probably kill most enemies using the laser - the weapon you start with (albeit suitably upgraded).
  • Tron 2.0 has many weapons, all of which drain from one pool of energy...except the vanilla Disc Primitive, which drains no energy, can deflect other discs with the right timing (and an upgrade allows it to harm enemies that catch the deflected disc) and can make use of the weapon upgrades (which add a drain that is a percentage of the weapon's drain) with no drain whatsoever. Sure, you could derez programs with some awesome weapon, but in the end, you'll go back to the humble Disc Primitive.

Hack and Slash

  • God of War does this, but only in concept. While you can mix your light and heavy attacks to make some really cool looking moves, on higher difficulties, the only reasonable way to make progress is with the grapple moves. It instant deaths minor Mooks, sometimes killing others in the area, and you're invincible while you do it most of the time. Granted the grapple moves are pretty cool to watch, but mashing circle seems like a really boring way to fight.
    • Not to mention the best attack to use when you're getting swarmed by enemies that you can't grab is to repeatedly spam your square square triangle attack. Its short enough that enemies have a hard time hitting you out of it or blocking it mid combo, and it knocks enemies into the air, stunning them. Too bad its basically the shortest combo.
  • Koei's musou games generally plays on this trope in term of maximization and effective gameplay. A lot of these effective moves are the one that is available from the beginning. There's few example that stands out :
    • Kunoichi in the crossover relies on invincibility frame special and gaining back the musou bar. How you do it is the catch, you do it by spamming the C1 elemental launcher over and over again effectively juggling your opponent and purposefully ignoring your other flashier moves including the supposed to be follow up of said move.
    • Lu Bu. One of the nastier character in the game, in the fifth game, he's a Game Breaker as well. It also has one of the most boring gameplay. Spam his 360 degree C3 over and over again and use musou once in a while. The usefulness of this move is so much that his other moves are basically filler.
    • Orochi himself falls to this trope. He has spinning scythe move, electric spreader, and jumping slash + shockwave. The most effective way to play him ? Spam triangle button doing a simple dark explosion without continuing the move for peons and add a jumping light attack followed by said move. Yes, you can ignore every other flashy moves the Big Bad offers and use its most basic move and make everything a Curb Stomp Battle.
    • General consensus for the most effective technique on Dynasty Warriors 6 are basic attack 2 time, and Lag Cancel with blocking or dodge rolling and do it again, and use musou thanks to the fact that said moves generally offers better crowd control and the cancelling provides a really safe and effective sequence of moves.
    • The humble sword, when combined with a strong wind based weapon and a double element/element attack up combination are likely your choice of weapons when doing nightmare mode in Dynasty Warriors 7 and extreme legends. Thanks to your health regenerating when you hit with speed weapons due to the title abilities in DW 7 XL, your health goes back up far quickly than it goes down.

Mecha Game

  • In Zone of the Enders you get all sorts of subweapons for Jehuty, such as the paralyzing Geyser, the Halberd large laser and the Vector Cannon, Awesome but Impractical royalty. The majority of the damage you deal will be with your trusty Homing Lasers and sword.
  • Mechwarrior, every and any game of it: PPCs, a cheap, relatively fast and powerful energy weapon. It's pretty much the best general weapon in the game, to the point where 90% of mechwarrior players just load their mech of choice with as many PPCs as it can hold.
    • Perhaps the Large Laser would be a better example. The PPC needs more skill to use because of its lower accuracy (due to projectile travel time) and the insane amount of heat it generates, and the long recycle time encourages making every shot count. Meanwhile, the Large Laser recycles faster, its heat production is more manageable, it's a hitscan weapon, and it's smaller as well (though it also does less damage, but quid pro quo).
      • In at least Mechwarrior 3, a large quantity of bog-standard machine-guns on your mech could wipe out most enemies in a few seconds of sustained fire, while generating virtually no heat. Why? Because in the grand scheme of things, machine-guns have the best damage-per-round ratio, best rate of fire and lowest heat-per-round numbers in the game. It's just that they do so little damage individually that you either equip a whole bunch of them for the death of a thousand cuts, or just one for cleaning up stray infantry. Not nearly as cool as a dozen pulse lasers or LRMs going off at once, but worth it for sheer reliability.
    • In Mechwarrior 3 and 4, the weapons are actually pretty well balanced. The sniper weapons are great for sniping, the close quarters LBX-20s are devastating at close, missiles have lock-on capabilities... overall all balanced nicely, IMHO. What is not balanced are TACTICS. In 3, "legging" a Mech was practically compulsory, being a large easy target that was easy to distinguish from the rest (unlike Center vs side torso, or worse, head). In PVP, jumpjet and shoot is the only tactic worth using on stages with any cover at all.
    • In the source material tabletop game BattleTech, the crown goes to the humble Medium Laser. It occupies a sweet spot in the various attribute balances of all the weapons; It weighs only one ton, occupies only one critical slot, uses no ammo, has a tolerable heat output, has a passable range ("Short range" compared to some, but still a useful range), does a respectable amount of damage. Some mechs' loadouts consist almost entirely of an arsenal of medium lasers, and they can be devastating in a "bleed to death from a thousand cuts" way. When in doubt when designing a mech loadout... cram in some medium lasers. You can't go wrong with more medium lasers.
  • Machine guns in the Armored Core series can be relied on by any player to do whatever gruntwork they need. Not as flashy as the laser rifles, not as powerful as the bazookas, the machine guns nonetheless has copius amounts of ammo, can track even the fastest of enemies and can provide a steady stream of damage that, under certain conditions, can eat away at even the hardiest of tank AC/NEXTs.
  • In the two video games based on the Heavy Gear franchise, there are a number of unusual and powerful weapons available. However, as impressive as rail guns, particle accelerators, and heavy rocket packs might be, the sheer utility of autocannons (and their More Dakka Gatling Good counterparts the anti-air cannons), medium missile packs, and light lasers meant it was just easier and sensible to keep a general-purpose ballistic weapon on hand. It didn't hurt that in both games, the heavy autocannon was a Jack of All Stats that did respectable damage to almost everything a player might encounter.


  • World of Warcraft mages can rain ice and fire on their enemies, freeze them in place and even steal their status buffs. Far less impressive, but nonetheless very practical, is their ability to conjure food and water out of thin air (which restore health and mana, respectively). Not that you can't buy or loot comparable items, but getting it for free is way better. Warlocks can summon various demons, some of which look quite awesome... but in a normal group setup, the most useful demon is the Imp, a weak green creature that is mostly used for its aura and ranged damage. And of course, there is the whole issue with healers.
    • Since the last expansion, the Imp is the best pet only for one talent tree of warlocks (or in a situation where the minion would die easily, as it can stay phase shifted). However the fact remains that one of the most useful abilities the warlock class brings to groups is the Soulstone. It allows one dead person (usually a healer) to resurrect.
    • Taken even further in high-end raiding. You may have eighty different tools and eleven distinctly different ways to kick ass, but at the end of the day you'll be using the same one or two high-damage abilities over and over and over and over and over and over and over...
    • Even healing involves this. The most powerful healing spells heal more for every mana spent and tick of massive numbers, but the casting time means there's rarely a chance to use them in heated combat unless you're using a special ability to speed them up. Most healers will spam a specific spell, interspersed with one or two others as necessary.
    • The next expansion, Cataclysm, aims to remove "boring" talents from the trees and replace them with ones that offer some flair. As is, most players have to spend 10-15 levels adding points to talents that - while practical - are just flat boosts to damage or defense. Those bonuses will remain in some form (integrated into the new meta-talent "mastery" system), but the dev team plans instead to let players create earthquakes, align their chakras for extra healing, and disarm foes so forcefully that they actually cower in fear.
    • Heirloom items fit this perfectly. They look pretty generic because so many people use them and are re-purposed items from the original vanilla game, but will outperform ANY item your character can buy, craft, loot or obtain as a reward until you reach maximum level. Their usefulness nearly reaches Game Breaker level.
  • In Final Fantasy XI, there are thousands of items, many of which are extremely hard to get. However, one of the most effective items for its intended purpose is Earth Staff, an item that reduces physical damage by 20% and is buyable for a pittance.
    • Not to mention as a healer once you get Cure III, Cure II is still more of a viable method to keep your party alive, and once Cure II is no long able to keep up. Your just a few levels from Cure IV, which is only a viable option in a very few strategies since it will mostly likely get the monster to kill you. Some of the best healers in the game are those that make Cure III their primary spell with a little help from Cure V and a very little bit of IV. The worst are those who spam the flashier bigger spells constantly. Just to drive the point home, a White mage gets III at level 21, but still uses it constantly at level 75.
  • Final Fantasy IX: Many attacks do damage not by the user's stats but how much of some supplementary activity they have done aside from battling such as Quina's Frog Drop doing more damage the more frogs she has caught or Zidane's Thievery doing more damage the more he steals, these attacks could be made to deal 9999 damage very early. Steiner's Shock attack works differently but due to it's damage multiplier it will also likely be hitting 9999. This makes late game top players just spam Frog Drop, Thievery, Dragon's Crest, and Shock.
  • City of Heroes manages to double up on this for some of its support classes. Not only are powersets with healing abilities typically Boring but Practical to use, even the showier heals are fairly ineffective compared to the efficient but invisible buffs and debuff powers.
    • To the point where somebody "looking for a healer" will often produce a wince from experienced players. Even the most straight-up "healer" class in the game is more useful for their buffs than heals on anything but a low-level team. You'll more often see teams looking for a "buffer/debuffer" for the more challenging expeditions. This is an awesome sauce subversion of the classic MMORPG interpretation of this trope as mentioned at the top of this page.
    • Also, the Fitness power pool, available to all archetypes. The set consists of inherent boosts to basic attributes, namely running speed (Swift), jump height (Hurdle), health regeneration rate (Health), and endurance recovery rate (Stamina). Stamina is by far the most popular power in the game, to the point where it's rare to see a high-level character who doesn't have it.
      • As of Issue 19, the only people you won't see having any part of the Fitness Pool are those that were already existing before its release and never respeced. The pool has become so popular to the point of 'necessity' (in the sense that it makes certain encounters 'just' Nintendo Hard) that the developers are making them an innate ability like sprint, brawl (a simple punch) or rest. It's still up to the player to add slots and enhancements, though.
    • Even in the manual, it states that characters will usually use their first powers later in the game just as much as they were used when they first rolled the character. They are simply the most basic. Entire attack chains used to be based on this principle.
  • In Ragnarok Online, the most effective weapons for PVP are the most powerful basic weapon with 4 slots. While one can potentially make a 4 slot high power weapon, the cost and risk of losing the weapon (even in private servers) makes the 4 slot basic a good weapon to keep throughout your life as a character. For Mages, Frost Diver and a Lightning Bolt will carry you through most foes without Maya/Garm cards.
    • Two words: Double Strafe. It's the first skill you get as a Archer and it's still the main damage skill Snipers/Rangers use.
  • Eve Online has this and its big brother. Early-on, players will only fly basic T1 frigates for any PVP or low/null-sec ops, since anything bigger might cost too much to replace (as well as the anguish of losing your first BC because of something stupid). However, once you get going, flying T2 Battleships into certain death doesn't become an issue, until you get to Titans.
    • Then there is the attempt to quite literally weaponize boredom: the dickstar. Basically, it is a space station with massive amounts of HP, and electronic warfare that prevents opponents from locking their weapons. This results in players literally being bored off the battlefield
  • Star Trek Online introduces all manner of exotic weapons never used by the Federation in the TV series' or movies, like plasma, tetryon, polaron and antiproton beams, and transphasic, chroniton and tricobalt torpedoes, all with their own special powers like slowing down enemy ships or passing through shields a little better, but their skillpoint cost is very high. Not to mention, all beam weapons do the same base damage anyway; plasma, transphasic and chroniton torpedoes take very long to reload, their special abilities are not that useful and some can even be shot down before they hit. Plain old phasers, disruptors, photon and quantum torpedoes get the job done very effectively, the torpedoes reload quickly and require the least amount of skillpoints invested in them to yield their maximum potential.
    • Mitigated somewhat in a recent update that completely redesigned the skill tree and did away with weapon-type-specific skills, but the fact that the exotic beams are usually harder to find and/or more expensive combined with the fact that their special powers aren't really that special at all means that the trope still applies.
  • S4 League has available a wide variety of special skills to augment your character. While these abilities range from Invisibility and Flight to zipping around on a grappling-chain mounted board, the most effective is simply the ability to have more SP, which allows you to perform your acrobatic techniques.

Platform Game

  • Kirby can absorb a great many abilities, but his basic spitting attack (that can only be used without an ability), is often one of the strongest attacks he can perform.
    • This is probably due to its boringness- and the fact that bosses have a lot of health to cut through. If you lose your awesome sword-swipey attack halfway through, it would be hellish to have to whittle away a boss' hit points with a wimpy attack.
      • Also, because you have to wait for an enemy to attack before you inhale the projectile and shoot it back. A better example would be be abilities like Sword and Fire in Kirby Super Star. Yes, Plasma firing the Wave Motion Gun is cool, and the Ninja's ability to throw knives and disappear is fun, but for the most part, the simplest abilities are the most effective. On the other hand, the hard to master abilities are perfect examples of Lethal Joke Character.
      • The rock ability is also useful as you can turn into an invincible rock to endure the bosses attacks, turn back to Kirby, fly over the boss, and turn into a rock to injure the boss by falling on them.
      • There are some bosses in Kirby Super Star where you can do nothing but curl up in the Mirror's shield and wait for the boss to bounce off you enough to kill itself. Marx included.
  • The second Jak and Daxter game gives us an extremely large lightning-rocket launcher and a rapid-firing machine gun. The most dangerous weapons? The rifle and shotgun equivalents. No long charge times. No blowing up your own car. No risk of locking onto an enemy and tearing them to shreds with More Dakka while its friends jump you. the Final Boss battle only gives you Blaster ammo, too.
  • No matter which game in the Mega Man metaseries you're playing, the plain and simple Buster attack is this trope. It has unlimited energy, and there's very little that can't be at least damaged or temporarily frozen by it. You'll probably make more use of it then all the fancy (but energy-consuming) weapons you get. Except in Mega Man 2, where it's a weapon of last resort for if you run out of Metal Blade.
    • Enker, a near-endgame boss from Dr. Wily's Revenge and one of the DLC bosses in 10, is immune to all of your special weapons, so the trusty Mega Buster is the only weapon that will help you out against him. Of couse, as always you get his weapon upon defeating him in Mega Man 10, which is the weakness of one of the other DLC bosses who is also immune to everything but the buster and Enker's weapon.
    • A looser version occurs in games that provide power ups for the buster; not the armor parts seen in the X series, but the ones that boost stats. Even if the weapons are really good, the buster is the weapon that has the most support, with parts that can power, speed, size of your barrage, reduce charge time, etc.
    • In Mega Man Battle Network and Mega Man Star Force the buster is pretty much useless, even when fully upgraded (50 damage to one foe in an easy to miss attack, or a P.A. that breaks 1000 damage with no set up to everything on the field and is easy to draw), but it has its uses when 1.In an elec style in 2 or 3, where a charged shot stuns enemies and sets them up for otherwise easily dodged attacks 2.Many bosses have summons that your chips/cards are a waste on, making your best option buster spam.
  • In the Castlevania: Chronicles of Sorrow games, the Medusa Head's soul simply allows Soma to hover in place. For a pittance of mana, which basically means it can be used indefinitely. Against bosses with a raised weak point that attack the floor area most.
    • It gets another application in Dawn Of Sorrow, where Soma's jump kick does more damage the longer he is in the air before striking with it-- including the aforementioned hovering. Using one Boring but Practical move to power up another Boring but Practical move?

Puzzle Game

  • For the most part, in Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, players will abandon their first three or four spells for the more powerful version learned later or for learned spells... with two exceptions: The Knight's Stun spell (L1 spell, low mana cost, quick recharge time, and sets up beefier spells nicely—and you can't learn it from captured Knights) and the Druid's Gemberry (L1 healing spell that grows stronger with Blue Mana levels).
    • Not necessarily. The Druid can eventually abandon all normal spells in favor of board manipulation and Entangle (Or Web) and create an infinite loop that ensures that no enemy player will ever take a turn after you take your first, turning those powers into ones a lot better then plain old Gemberry. Boring but Practical is eventually replaces with a pretty extreme gamebreaking build which pays off in the long run
  • The T-Block from Tetris. Sure, the I-Block grabs all the headlines with its ability to form Tetrises, and it may be the L-Block that won the 6th GameFAQs Annual Character Battle, but what piece saves you when the Ss and Zs start piling up? What piece can be spun into awkward gaps? What piece neatly fits into more holes than any other piece? T-Blocks are pretty much the Hypercompetent Sidekick of the Tetris world.
    • The key to a high score in Tetris Friends and other games compliant with the current Tetris Guideline? Making combos of single-line clears and T-Spin Doubles instead of Tetrises. That's also not made up. Look at any replay of the top 10 on the Tetris Friends Marathon leaderboard. The top player makes 443 Singles and a mere 14 Tetrises.
    • The Arika Rotation System in Tetris games and fan games, particularly when the Super Rotation System is also an option. It doesn't have all the crazy kicks of SRS—there's only 2 directions a non-I piece can kick, and the I-piece will either kick upwards once or not at all depending on what variation of ARS you're using. However, this is where ARS becomes practical: you can predict where a piece will go when you rotate it. In comparison, SRS is extremely complex (to the point where extensive studies have been done on it), and you have a much higher chance of a piece doing something unexpected, such as popping out when you didn't intend to make it do that.
  • While there is an incredible variety of things one can summon in Scribblenauts, glue, rope, and baskets (and all their variants) are astoundingly indispensable items.

Real Time Strategy

  • Age of Empires series has all sorts of cool units—war elephants, ballistas, suicide bombing petards, bombard cannons, guys who throw axes etc., but the best units are the cheap and efficient archers, cavalry archers, and catapults.
    • A line of thirty or more Longbowmen supporting a siege weapon is always a winning tactic. Good ol' Britons.
      • That pales in comparison to the later Sappers upgrade. Leading an army through their town? Cool. Leading a peasant uprising against their reinforced iron-bound walls and crumbling their castle with knives and giving their king the Julienne Ceasar treatment? Priceless.
        • In The Conquerors Expansion, upgrading the Spanish unique technology (Supremacy) will make your villagers exceptional at combat, combine with sappers technology, stone to build castles and towers and siege weaponry that can be repaired by your soldiers.
      • Similar to the Longbowmen/siege weapons combo, when playing as the Mongols I'd always try to get a handful of Trebuchets escorted by two groups of about 20-25 of the elite Mongolian horse archers. A bit challanged for range, but they could get out of the way of any attack because of their speed. One group of horse archers escorts the Trebuchets, the other scouts and eliminates small threats, and they can combine for larger assaults. Of course, their production is also queued up to replace any lost horse archers, so by the time each of the two original squads is reduced to 10 units, a new squad is there to replace them; combine the decimated units into one and wait for reinforcements. They didn't work so well against large amounts of Knights, and wouldn't be able to take advantage of their speed in segmented terrain, but on the steppes (and similar map types) they had no equal.
    • Age of Mythology features various mythological units from a simple valkyrie all the way up to the Titans themselves. But due to their favor costs and vulnerabilities to heroes, their numbers will be limited in comparison to the basic human units. Speaking of heroes, those aren't without limitations either.
      • Research the myth unit healing effect (as an Atlantean player) and your Titan immediately goes from Awesome but Impractical to Boring but Practical, as the Titan slowly marches its way to your enemy's base and proceeds to turn it into rubble in slow motion.
      • Really boring. A determined attack will still cut its health in half, and it regenerates at exactly the same rate as other units- about 4hp per second. It has over five thousand of them. If you want your titan to be up to full power, you'd better be ready to let him just stand there for a couple hours.
        • Well, doing the math, just over ten minutes.
  • Command and Conquer features units that literally erase enemies from existence (making them helpless while they're doing so), evil geniuses who can mind-control enemy units, giant battle bases that can literally run over enemy tanks, giant tanks armed with AA missiles, commandos who mow down infantry and destroy buildings singlehandedly, and of course the Ion Cannon and other superweapons—yet the best force for destroying ground units/buildings is dozens upon dozens of standard tanks.
    • Subverted in RA2 (the one with the battle bases, troopers who eliminate enemies from existence, and mind control) where if you combine the Battle Base with either the erase-from-existence troopers OR the Genius mind controllers you get a pretty badass unit that can either instantly erase anything it hits or mind control an entire legion of enemies, while being extremely hard to kill without a similar Awesome but Impractical Unit, making them very practical actually.
      • Except against aircraft. But a battle base tank filled with four anti-air infantry (Guardian G Is) and a Commando (unit that instakills infantry in massive quantities) is even more practical. The Guardian G Is can destroy tanks and aircraft with surprising speed, and the commando is all you need against any amount of infantry. You can substitute the commando for the sniper if you're afraid if mind-controlling infantry. The only thing this combination needs support for is a mind-controlling tank.
    • In Command and Conquer Renegade, the most useful GDI tank is the plain medium tank, as opposed to the Mammoth. Also, the elite version of the sniper is a huge overkill in the hands of anyone that is good at sniping, so a good player will stick to the cheaper basic sniper.
    • Tanks and something that can shoot bullets is all you need for any C&C mission. Infantry in the game dies way too easily because the enemy is smart enough to run your guys over. And anything else would just fry them in groups.
  • Starcraft is the RTS king of this trope. The humble Zergling is a feared Zerg unit throughout the game against a wide variety of tactics; its upgrades ultimately make it three to four times as effective as the initial version, and they still only cost 50 minerals for two. The mighty Zealot is the mainstay of the Protoss army, able to absorb massive blows that would fell lesser units of other races. While the Terran Marine isn't quite as valued, it is an indispensable tool against the Zerg when paired with Medics and is the only basic unit that can take on air. But the true winner for this trope is the humble Terran SCV. A worker unit with enough Hit Points to actually be used in combat offensively in rush strategies. There's nothing more humiliating than getting killed by an RTS worker unit.
    • For those who doubt the humble SCV, I give you The Emperor Slayers_Boxer's infamous SCV Rush.
    • And of course there's the Zerg Overlord, notorious for raining Zerglings into the core of your base if you've left any gaps in your defensive network.
  • Meanwhile over in its sequel Starcraft II because medics can now heal at range, in the campaign the most cost effective solution to every problem is now a X medics, X marauders and 2X to 3X marines. Vehicles are too prone to wear and tear, but so long as a soldier still clings to an inch of life he'll be good as new again in no time.
    • Starcraft II rides this trope just as hard in the competitive scene, as well, with most of the duration of the open beta being marked by excessive use of the above formula, just replacing medics with medivacs. Much of the metagame seems to be a war of cost-effectiveness, as early iterations of the Zerg Roach demonstrated so successfully.
  • Total Annihilation has a tiny scout unit called a flea, with the weakest weapon and fewest hitpoints of any. Because it's small and fast, though, and the game allows for huge numbers of units, the Flea Bowl AI was created, which builds only fleas (and supporting resources), yet is surprisingly hard to beat.
    • This is in large part due to the AI system being rather limited, so tuning it to the exact specifications needed for a specific unit made it very effective, and a computer can handle the huge number of units.
    • It should be mentioned that, aside from exceptions like this, the game spectacularly averts the trope. With a no-early-rush gentleman's agreement (because Thou Shalt Not Play TA Like Starcraft), after the first few minutes of gameplay tactics usually switch from basic tanks to badass robots with rayguns and nuclear weapons. At that point, Boring but Practical basic tanks very quickly become Boring And Dead.
      • Even then, once you get to tech level 3 your basic level 3 units are better then nukes and the more expensive units.
      • This is somewhat averted by its spiritual sequel, Supreme Commander. Tier 3 units are awesome, no questions asked, but they have trouble dealing with high tier defensive structures. These structures however cannot keep up with a huge swarm of cheap, fast, tier 1 units who are way too numerous for the guns' slow rate of fire to keep up with them. Similarly, of the game's mega units called experimentals, the cheaper ones tend to be the most useful (if only because you have a reasonable chance to be able to build one at all) as you can use them as beefed up tier 3 unit to reinforce groups of tier 3 units.
  • Homeworld allowed you to produce some truly amazing and all-powerful cruisers and heavy destroyers, but due to the types of enemies and AI found in the single player mode, using nothing more impressive than ion cannon frigates, a few multicannon and salvage corvettes, and basic interceptors is not only a very effective strategy, but generally the best use of resources available. The most impressive looking ships can be taken down by a few salvage corvettes you had to build for level 1, albeit slowly and quite boringly. The non-canon canonical spinoff averts this, though, as the various mothership superweapons and upgrade paths make non-upgraded acolytes little more than cannon fodder.
    • This troper has found that the extremely difficult second to last and last missions (destroying an asteroid with an engine strapped on it and its escort before it disintegrates your mothership and defeating various waves of incoming Imperial ships without any message telling you of what's happening to your ships) become much easier if you have a group of mine-layer corvettes. Small, cheap, and their minefields do an helluva damage to any enemy ship unlucky enough to stumble in them.
    • In Homeworld 2, this trope is used straight, especially with the Vaygr race. An example amongst many is that while the Hiigarans use the corvette class ships for nothing but defense (and minor offense), a specific type of Vaygr corvette is known to be a nasty carrier and destroyer killer.
    • A further point is that while the giant carriers and capital class ships are immensely powerful in Homeworld 2, the humble bomber with a single, instantly available upgrade can cripple them completely in groups of five. Nothing funnier than pinning the enemies' best capital ship in place with five small one-man fighters.
  • In Hearts of Iron 2, you have your tanks, motorised infantry, paratroopers, mountaineers and the like, but the most cost-effective strategy remains to crank out masses of foot infantry and militia.
  • Probably deliberately averted in World in Conflict with the Support role. With slow-moving, fragile AA and repair vehicles, Support players see very little flashy action, like the Armor and Air players (and the role doesn't get any considerable attention in the single-player campaign). However, without good support, the team will lose pathetically. No exceptions. And it just so happens that since the recent patches, Support role nets the highest scores in 90% of online games. Quite fitting, seeing how the game is ALL about teamwork. Interestingly, Support also has the most Awesome but Impractical units in the game - the artillery.
  • In the original Commandos, it was often possible to get rid of most of the enemies on a map by studying their paths and placing a spring trap on them, repeat ad nauseam. It took forever and was boring as shit, but its efficience was rather impressive.
    • Not so practical, considering that the game scores you based on Health Lost and TIME SPENT.
    • In Commandos 2 you can often wipe out scores of enemies by getting all your commandos into a room with one or two doors, having your men aim at them, shooting once and then just letting them shoot every soldier as they ran in one by one. Then just take their machine guns and repeat until everyone is dead. Depending on the objective this won't always work though (and you'll get a terrible score if you care about that sort of thing).
  • The Defense of the Ancients sub-genre of Warcraft maps: While the main goal of the game is for your heroes to go through mooks like hot knives through butter and fight each other with big flashy spells, even the most heavily armored of foes will fall under the weight of numbers. Particularly apparent in the ones that allow you to build siege units like catapults: high splash damage, long range and slow speed ensure that while melee units move in front to heroically sacrifice their lives, the enemy finds himself with a dozen catapults firing at his towers while safe from retribution.

Rhythm Game

  • Pop'n Music has a number of normas, with the harder (and higher-point) ones doing interesting Interface Screws, disabling certain note judgments, etc. But the best way to get Challenge Points is to use the simpler point-, combo-, and miss-based normas; if you can do songs in the level 33-36 range, using normas such as "Over 90,000 points", "Max Combo over 150", and "Less than 30 Bads" should be enough to get you extra stages.


  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red/Blue, Sticks/Iron Thorns/Silver Spikes/etc. were a bit overpowered. They're ranged. They're common. You can carry 99 of them in one toolbox slot. At level 100, one of them can deal hundreds of hit points in damage. If you didn't care about the experience bonus you got for using actual moves, throwing weapons were the way to go. The sequels gave them a much-needed nerfing.
    • Heck, your basic attack was highly useful if you didn't need EXP, it had no maximum uses, and did decent consistent damage; And IQ skills would make it even better, such as never miss (Good for pokemon who spam double team, etc.) and double attack, where you would hit twice (Allowing it more damage than most basic moves).
    • Meanwhile, if you did need EXP, it's usually best to use weaker moves like Water Gun, Confusion, or even Tackle, since they usually do sufficient damage to knock out enemies in one hit and had plenty of PP to use, meaning you wouldn't have to go to your Max Elixirs too quickly.
    • If you enter a dungeon that forces you to be at level 1, you need to level fairly quickly in order to keep up with the enemies, since they scale rather quickly. Your PP is limited (especially is you also can't bring items in) and you don't start out with your optimal moves, but you can get some good mileage out of a stat-reduction move like Growl, which does no damage but still triggers the extra experience, so you can finish out with normal attacks. Growl itself is perhaps more useful than many other alternatives because it hits an entire room in one use, meaning if you play your cards right you can get bonus experience from several Pokemon without spending too much PP.
  • Nethack is made of this trope. Being a Roguelike, where death is unrecoverable, defense is a much higher priority than offense. One of the most coveted items for early-game Wizards, who start with no food, is a ring that stops you from getting hungry. A wand of fire is more useful for burning "Elbereth" into the ground than zapping at monsters. Out of the six attack spells available to the player, "magic missile" is the only one that scales to your level, and it's the second-cheapest to cast—an important consideration considering how slowly Mana regenerates for most characters.
    • Elbereth deserves special mention here. E tiles will prevent most (an important distinction) enemies from crossing any floorspace with an item on it, and will actually cause enemies to flee rather than attack physically if they suspect the player is standing on a square with "Elbereth" carved into it. Experienced players get their fingers dustier than a thousand libraries of congress just writing "Elbereth Elbereth" into the dirt. Wizard characters pursue a certain easily acquired artifact dagger simply because it can rapidly scritch the E-word in a semi-permanent manner (it also absorbs 95% of curses thrown at the wielder, but that's just a bonus). No amount of fancy resistances, unicorn horns, and dragon scale armor can provide as much protection as a hurridly scrawled eight letter word.
    • Everything can be made useful in a Nethack game. Yes, even worthless peices of glass ( near unlimited ranged ammo) and a wand of nothing ( melee with disenchanters).

Role Playing Game

  • Brian from Quest 64 can learn a wide variety of magic spells from the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water. However, each element has to be leveled up separately, and spells are learned and powered up based only on their individual element. Since the power of your staff attack is based on all four elements combined, it is frequently more powerful and useful than any of the attack spells you learn.
    • That doesn't include the fact that said smack also regenerates one MP, which is obviously required for those fancy, toss-around spells which cost a range of one to three MP with a hard cap of 500 (And that's if you're patient).
  • The Elder Scrolls games have an almost infinite variety of possible character builds and spells. But the best way to beat powerful enemies has always been to hit them very hard with a big melee weapon.
    • In Oblivion, Azura's Star is arguably the most useful item in the game, and can be used to game breaking effect. What does it do? It's a rechargeable soul gem.
      • ...that you can get as early as Level 2!
      • ...and it just so happens to be a Grand Soul Gem, this means from Level 2 you're able to trap the souls of anything not classed as an NPC train up Conjuration and Summon a high leveled creature and you'd be able to make enchantments with a Greater Soul at Level 2.
      • Also, that healing spell you start with has the best MP-to-HP conversion ratio in the entire game. Carry some potions for emergencies, and it's literally the only healing spell you will EVER need.
    • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has the Hand to Hand Skill which deals damage to an enemy's Fatigue, when trained up to high levels you can knock down almost every humanoid enemy in a single punch, you'll need a weapon to finish them off because the Health damage when they're on the floor is terrible, but with low Fatigue everything has a lower chance to hit and anything with below 0 Fatigue just collapses incapable of doing anything until enough time passes.
    • The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall uses a spell creation system that applies additional points of damage or chance of success per character level. Due to the leveling system The Elder Scrolls' games use, that "1-2 + 1-2 per 2 level(s)" spell you created at the beginning can remain useful over the course of the game.
    • In terms of the Dragon Shouts of Skyrim, there's the Fus Ro Dah, which is almost certainly the first Shout the Dragonborn completely masters. It is not nearly as impressive as some of the other fully-upgraded Shouts, but thanks to its utility in battle and relatively fast recharge rate, many melee players use it by default.
      • The "Throw Voice" shout is basically glorified ventriloquism. Useful for luring enemies to certain locations to throw them off your trail or to set them up for an ambush. Especially useful against the Falmer, who are blind and rely entirely on sound to find their prey.
    • Bashing in Skyrim. Smacking an enemy in the face with a shield or the hilt of your weapon may not be very exciting, but it's a lifesaver in melee combat. It can even interrupt a Dragon's breath attack. Investing a few perks in the Block skill tree gives you a chance to disarm enemies with bashing too.
    • Also from Skyrim, daggers. They aren't as big or as flashy as the giant warhammers or the greatsword, but if you invest points in the Sneak skill set you can do x15 damage with a sneak attack with a dagger. Get the Ancient Assassin Armor and equip it's gloves? That adds another x15. A whopping x30 sneak attack damage. So, if you had a glass dagger, you could do 690 points of damage in a single strike.
      • Also a good moneymaker. Iron Daggers are cheap to buy the components for, if you can't find them in the field, and with a filled Petty Soul Gem, they can be enchanted with something (best bet: Banish) that will increase their sell value severalfold.
  • Renting out property in Fable 2 or Fable 3 can automatically add money (in-game) to your pocket every 5 minutes, which can prompt players to spent more time building up money to continuously save up to rent out more property than on the actual quests, obviously a very boring chore, but very profitable in the long run.
  • Increm, the second level red spell from Skies of Arcadia, is probably the only non-healing spell you'll ever need—it boosts attack and defense by 25%, which makes boss fights oh-so-much more bearable. Only one character can make good use of attack magic, but Increm works just as well when cast by anyone.
    • Aika's Delta Shield counts as well. It's only her second special ability and by far her least-flashy, but it's the one you'll be using every single turn for the rest of her life to protect yourself against bosses who spam instant-death spells at you.
    • And Aika's third special ability, Lambda Burst, will destroy most Random Encounters as your first action, once your party starts gaining 8 sp per round.
    • And Enrique's second spell, Justice Shield, halves all damage dealt to you for one round. Most medium to late and Bonus Bosses are basically fought by having Aika and Enrique cast Delta Shield and Justice Shield every round while you use the other two characters to accrue SP, until you can unleash an Incremed Pirate's Wrath at your enemy, rinse, repeat. It should be noted that trying to fight most of the Bonus Bosses from the Updated Rerelease without this strategy increases the difficulty many-fold.
    • Sylenis, the silence spell. This understated status effect spell can shut down cold the offense of the entire Valuan airship fleet!
    • Combining Boring Yet Practical with Awesome Yet Impractical, often the best way to beat bounty bosses are to spam Delta Shield and Justice Shield every round to protect yourself from attacks while everyone else focuses and heals until you max out your Spirit gauge in order to use Prophecy, the Awesome Yet Impractical attack of the game, to bring everything to near death in a single turn.
  • In-Universe example in Dragon Age: The Grey Wardens are an old order of warriors who possess supernatural powers to fight the Darkspawn and are the only ones who know the secret to permanently destroy an Archdemon. They never tell exactly what those powers are and what kind of training it includes, and even tell the new recruits only that there will be a ritual in which they will gain their new abilities. The ritual however, is purely symbolic and there is no training involved at all. All it takes to gain the powers of a Grey Warden is to drink a full cup of darkspawn blood. You either drop dead immediately, or you become immune to the taint and gain the ability to sense all darkspawn creatures nearby. That's the whole thing.
    • In a gameplay example for Mages, however: While mages are able to unleash all of the powers of the universe straight at their enemies, the spells that will see the most use will be Stone Fist(a powerful attack that knocks most enemies off their feet), Stone Armor(which can give a mage decent armor depending on their spellpower), Lightning(which has incredibly high damage considering it's an early-game spell), and Fireball(an area-of-effect spell that few enemies are immune to that can basically knock ANYTHING down).
  • In Golden Sun: The Lost Age, if you are at a considerably high level with good equipment (which isn't that hard to get) and proper classes, normal attacks are simply stronger than the flashy Psynergy. Especially with super-swords like the Sol-Blade or Excalibur, which have the potential to "unleash" even stronger attacks. This tends to result in caster-type characters getting permanently benched in favor of less spectacular but more reliable warrior-type characters.
    • It's actually a flaw in the game system. When attack power is increased by level grinding, you have to raise "elemental affinity" to boost your Psynergies. Which requires the use of the Awesome but Impractical summons, and it isn't worth it anyway, given the fact that the game is rather easy.
    • Defensive Djinn like Flash, Granite, and Shade create an aura that for one turn drastically reduces all damage your party recieves in any form. Therefore, by carefully timing and alternating to use one such Djinni per turn and summon with it the next, while remaining or recovering party members chip at the enemy's HP, you can go through the most difficult boss fights while taking very little damage.
    • Another variation of this takes place in Super Smash Bros Brawl, where Isaac is an assist trophy, causing him to appear randomly and perform a specific action when a certain item is picked up. People were expecting him to use something fancy, such as what would be considered to be his signature attack, (Ragnarok, a gigantic sword falling from the sky that explodes on impact) but instead he was given Move, his most basic Psynergy spell that has zero combat use in the actual game and is only used for moving objects over a distance as the name would suggest. People were suitably initially disappointed. However, what they didn't consider was that in a game like Brawl, the ability to move objects over distances would be far more useful than fancy exploding swords: this is because Move manifests itself as a gigantic palm that pushes the opponent off the stage, and since it doesn't damage them, it doesn't allow them to use their recovery attack(s) more than once. Not only that, but Isaac fires it off 3 times, just in case the opponent is somehow able to survive after being hit by the first one.
  • Fallout 3 has power fists, nuke-firing mortars, flamethrowers, missile launchers, and miniguns, yet the most useful weapon is the trusty hunting rifle due to a combination of accuracy, power, durability, and literally every third or fourth mook holding one to fix it with.
    • The hunting rifle in the earlier games is pretty much the mainstay of your arsenal for the first half of each game. It's only in the late game that the exotic stuff (plasma guns, Gauss rifles, and so on) becomes necessary and even then a cut-down pistol version of that rifle is very effective.
    • And you can find that with maxed Unarmed, your practical bare fists (which never need repairing and which you don't need to scavenge parts for) will deal more knock-downs and crippling and lethal criticals than your Power Fists, Shocker or Deathclaw Gauntlets.
    • While a shotgun might not be considered the sneakiest weapon in a game, combat shotguns become somewhat ridiculous when taking into account how Fallout 3 handles critical hits (per projectile rather than per shot,) and shotguns fire nine projectiles. With relevant perks and the proper-name version, shotguns can do more damage from a sneak attack than the Fat Man.
    • "Lincoln's Repeater" is a favourite among players for being light, having good range and accuracy, satisfactory reload speed, fantastic damage, and it's easy to maintain because it's repaired by the aforementioned Hunting Rifle. Some people are put off by it's somewhat rare ammunition, though. Also, the fact that it has a pimpin' gold finish and it was the personal weapon of Abraham Lincoln might make it count as Awesome Yet Practical.
    • For those preferring energy weapons, the easily acquired Laser Pistol deals decent damage, is perfectly accurate, and makes use of those oh-so-common (and relatively cheap) energy cells you will never use for anything else ever. Supplement (or replace) with a plasma pistol when the Enclave starts showing up, and you will never run out of cheap firepower.
    • For those who play the role of sniper: The Sniper Rifle. It is nearly as common as the Hunting Rifle, the ammo is everywhere, it has a very nice scope which makes it more efficient than V.A.T.S. and it does Massive Damage on head shots. If you are after Stopping Power: The Gauss Rifle, which you can literally access at lv 2 is easily in the top 5 weapons for damage/shot, and knocks enemies over on critical hits. And you can easily get an unbreakable Gauss Rifle from completing a very nice sidequest also available at Lv 2.
    • The Lever-Action Rifle from the Point Lookout DLC. When nearly fully repaired, it's quite powerful and uses cheap and plentiful 10mm ammo. It's not as common to repair as the hunting rifle or as accurate, but it holds more ammunition and gives you a very nice reason to use that 10mm ammo that has been piling up since you got that hunting rifle while still being a long distance threat.
  • Fallout: New Vegas grandfathers in most of the above, but has a substantial number of Boring but Practical Perks that the player will get a lot of mileage out of. Since the player gets half as many Perks as in Fallout 3, it's a tougher choice.
    • For example, Intense Training is the metric most other Perks as measured against; it provides a single point in one of the player's 7 primary stats. This means +2 to 1-3 skills (or +1/2 a point, rounded up, to all of them, in the case of Luck), as well as any derived stats that are governed (More hit points for Endurance, more carrying capacity/melee damage for Strength, etc.). However, despite all the passive bonuses, it doesn't actually do anything noticeable.
    • Educated and Comprehension grant extra, often much-needed, skill points. And that's it.
    • Jury Rigging becomes available at level 14, competing with Perks that do things such as doubling the blast radius of explosives, causing shotguns to knock enemies off their feet, reinforcing the strength of all your limbs, or giving you a pistol-packing Guardian Angel. Jury Rigging allows you to repair any item with any remotely-similar item, meaning that while the Perk itself is Boring but Practical, it turns a great deal of Awesome but Impractical gear into Awesome Yet Practical.
    • In terms of weapons, New Vegas' Cowboy Repeater can serve for almost the entire game.
    • A fully-upgraded Varmint Rifle has night-vision targeting capability, and a suppressor, making it a fantastic entry-level long-range stealth weapon. The parts are also much easier to find than the suppressor for the Sniper Rifle. A critical stealth hit to the head can bring down or seriously damage almost any low-level enemy, and even higher level enemies will feel it's sting until you can get a hunting rifle or sniper rifle fully upgraded.
    • The Luck statistic. It aids with critical hits and the feature mentioned above, as well as giving you an edge in the random number generator. Now, in most games this wouldn't mean much, but at maximum Luck you essentially never, ever lose at the casino games, especially blackjack. If you're looking for a way to get money to pay for those expensive, pretty guns or stimpacks, the casinos are where to go. Only downside is that if you win too much, the casinos ban you. All this in addition to critting almost every other hit.
  • Rookies to the Pokémon series may fall prey to the lure of the Awesome but Impractical moves like Frenzy Plant and Hydro Cannon, which have crazy power but often have catches (stat decrease, low PP, unreliable accuracy, recoil damage, turn loss...). More experienced players know to keep moves like Razor Leaf and Water Gun, which are learned fairly early on but are still capable of dealing reliable (if relatively low) damage if you battle smart. Plus, you can muscle through a long dungeon area without having to go back and heal PP at the Pokemon Center.
    • Moves like Flamethower, Ice Beam, and Thunderbolt are all used frequently in competitive play because of their high PP (the amount of times one can use it), relatively high damage, and they have a chance to inflict status effects. At some point, people are given the chance to pick between these moves and their stronger counter-parts (Fire Blast, Hydro Pump, Blizzard, and Thunder), which do more damage, but have very low PP and are inaccurate.
    • Soloing the game. One of the most interesting aspects of the game is catching and adding pokémon to your team to cover a diversity of types, but by using only one pokémon throughout the whole game will make said pokémon so overleveled that most enemies will be KO'd by one move from your beast and, if they ever get an opportunity to attack, unless the move hits a galring weakness it will roughly deal 10% of your HP.
      At least until Pokémon Black and White, as changes to the way experience is earned have made it very difficult and time-consuming to raise the level of a Pokemon much higher than the level of what it can train against while raising the level of several that are on a lower level than that became much easier.
    • While Pokémon found later in the game may be more interesting, the Pokemon used to defeat the Elite Four and Champion at the end of the game are likely to be the evolved versions of Pokemon found towards the beginning of the game.
    • Even though the move Flash has about as much use in battle as Sand-Attack, there's no way you can go through one of the dark caves without it or a strategy guide. Especially one that resembles a maze.
  • In Parasite Eve 2, it's often better for the most part to stick with single shots if the gun has that option. And even highly recommended to use a pistol for a good portion of the game for regular mooks. Why? Critical hits increase when firing rate decreases. In fact the highest critical hit rate weapon is actually the boring looking P8 (which looks like a pea shooter). It's also noteworthy to know that you get infinite basic pistol ammo throughout the game.
    • While some of the more exotic attachments for the M4A1 might seem to be useful, a lot of them (the M203 and the Pyke for instance) are difficult to use or use expensive ammo. The two most useful attachments in the game are the magazine clip, which adds another 30 rounds to the magazine and the Hammer, which can paralyze enemies and knock them out of their attack animations. The ammo is free to boot. In the Nightmare Mode, the later is practically a requirement to your continued survival.
  • You have to defend Fort Condor in order to get the Phoenix materia in Final Fantasy VII. This leads to a mini game where one can put together a very elaborate defense strategy to defend your base. You can get a variety of units, everything from birds to fire catapults to tri-stoners. But the second most easiest method to win? Get 20 fighters together and march them down the hill. They'll kill everything and halt the attack before the boss shows up. The easiest method? Lose the mini game and have your team win one very easy battle.
  • In Final Fantasy VIII, Zell's Limit Break consists of a series of Action Commands to trigger various martial arts moves, with the more complex the button sequence, the flashier and more damaging the attack. However, the most effective overall combination is to alternate the two most basic moves, Punch Rush and Booya; because they're also the quickest moves and have the simplest button sequences, it's possible to get in many more hits this way than is possible with the fancier moves, adding up to greater damage overall. The combination has acquired the Fan Nickname "Armageddon Fist."
  • In Paper Mario, the normal jump, the most basic attack you have, doesn't require any FP, and any attack-increasing badge will raise its power by two if you time the attack right; the hammer only gets + 1 if timed correctly. In other words, in a game where most enemies don't have more than 10 HP, you can kill them in a single hit just by using two attack plus badges. With the Soft Stomp (2 FP) and the Spike Jump, you can virtually defeat any regular Mook around just by pressing button A with a proper timing.
    • In Super Mario RPG Mario's Jump attack gets a permanent + 1 damage bonus when you use it twice, up to a max of 250. It costs 3 FP to use, you can wear an accessory to jump on The Spiny, and you'll have it from level 3 onward. This renders all his other attacks but Super Jump useless (if you're good at Super Jump.)
    • Super Jump will let you keep jumping on the enemy as long as you can time the button press correctly. There are challenges to perform 30 and 100 consecutive Super Jumps for some crazy strong equipment. There are maybe a handful of enemies who can actually survive a 100 Super Jump, usually due to Event Flags.
  • In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, normal attack cards are typically the best way to defeat enemies, especially when combined with Card Soldier or Maleficent enemy cards.
    • In Re:Coded there's finish commands that let you summon pillars of light and also transform your keyblade into a BFG, but the most efficient one seems to be Mega Flare which simply makes your screen goes blank and everything is burning with all the enemies dead.
  • Final Fantasy games, especially the early ones, fit the "normal attacks in RPGs" to a 'T', as do a great many other older console RPGs. During extended dungeons or open world travel, and even just level grinding, using magic often is typically unsustainable. Often the only way to restore MP is to use rare/expensive items, if it even CAN be restored. The result is that frequently you're better off with a party of brawlers who rely on the considerably cheaper HP restoring items than you are with a party slot wasted on a mage who dies quickly, is targeted by enemies frustratingly often, spends most of his MP keeping himself alive, and contributes very little offense in the majority of fights, for the sole benefit of being a nuker/healer when you get to the boss (assuming he has MP left to nuke/heal with). Completely subverted in FFVI, where MP is infinitely sustainable with the Osmose spell and mages reign supreme.
    • Final Fantasy VI. Magic spells have a damage cap of 9999. That's all good, but what about giving a high-end melee fighter the Offering, so he can deal 9999x4 in a single turn? Suddenly that Ultima spell doesn't look so.... ultimate. Or, get a party full of imps and deck them out with Imp Armor and Imp Halberds. Then you got an army of people who kill everything (including the last boss) with nothing but the Fight command, because, well, Fight is the only thing they can do, except use potions.
    • Averted by Final Fantasy X, eventually. Assume your average physical attack can do 99,999 to one enemy, the maximum damage. You can't get better than that, surely? Try doing 2 X 99,999 to the entire enemy team. The only way to do that with your average character is to Doublecast Ultima. Admittedly, it's MP Expensive, but by the time you have access to Ultima, your black mage should have access to '1 MP cost', which is what it says on the tin.
      • Aeons are also very powerful in the game. They cost no MP to summon, and they replace your team, doing and taking damage for you. They probably won't attack as frequently as your whole team, but they'll do more damage, they'll stop you from being killed, and some of them are frighteningly powerful. Yojimbo, for example, can kill anything in the entire game in one hit.
    • Final Fantasy XII makes this more apparent. Melee attacks are executed quickly while magic takes time to cast and there's a slight delay between the finished charged and the animation playing. Because of this, most players by the halfway point of the game will rely on melee attacks to damage most enemies and bosses (unless the enemy makes themselves immune to physical damage). Very flashy spells like Holy and Flare are so grapics/animation intensive that they actually delay other moves that require a flashy animation while melee attacks can still be executed. Strategtic players can use this to their advantage by having one character cast a big spell to force the enemy's spell to wait while the other two characters slice up the target.
    • Final Fantasy, the first NES game. The easiest party to beat the game with, is also the most boring: Two fighters who will turn into Knights to act as tanks, one Black Belt who will become a Master who is your primary Damage Dealer, and a White Mage. The White Mage is only there for Harm Spells earlier in the game, and Life in case someone dies during the last dungeon to an untimely Death attack. The occasional Cur4 also helps. Otherwise, the Heal Staff, and the 2 Heal Helms do 80% of the healing during the last dungeon.
  • Arcanum has the Harm spell. It's a humble first level spell with alomost no visual effect, but you can kill almost anything with this baby.
  • Final Fantasy XIII averts it with the paradigm system. Ravagers, Commandos and Medics are the Boring but Practical classes, but the other 3 classes are all vital to success in the game (although the Sentinel will probably see less use). For once, the debuffing abilities of saboteurs actually work on many bosses (even Death!), and the removal of magic points coupled with the automation of team-mates makes the Synergist class a lot more viable than manually casting a bunch of buffs every battle. Played straight when the game opens up, and every weak enemy is a 10-second chore for your Commandos and Ravagers.
  • In Dragon Quest IX, some of the rewards for the level 40 class / maxed out skill quests are Awesome but Impractical. One exception is the reward for completing the maxed Shield skill quest. It's a scroll that allows the party member who holds it to automatically block any critical hit with a shield. It's no flashier than any other times you block with a shield, but combine it with a Paladin's Forbearance and your party will never have to worry about any enemy criticals ever again.
  • The Soldier class in Mass Effect 1 and 2. None of the "flash" of other classes (outside of bonus powers, but you only get one of those) but its versatile selection of weapons and ammo types means a properly-leveled soldier can handle any conceivable situation in the game, bar none. Also, the pistol. Doesn't have the range of the sniper rifle, the fire rate of the assault rifle, or the stopping power of the shotgun, but doesn't have any of the major drawbacks of those weapons either. There's a reason every playable class has one.
    • The Bastion specialization class. It improves your Barrier, for one thing. More important, when maxed out, the Bastion skill allows you to hurt enemies you've locked in Stasis. Master Stasis allows you to lock an enemy down for 21 seconds. That's 21 seconds where you can attack them without them fighting back. This makes even Thresher Maws a piece of cake.
    • Also happens in-story with one of the DLC weapons for ME2. The Illusive Man sends you a few of the old, reliable Mattock rifles on the recommendation of the ship's AI. He mentions that the AI warned him against ignoring "older, proven technologies" in his obsession for the latest cutting-edge advancements. The rifles themselves fall under Awesome Yet Practical.
    • Mass Effect 3's Crusader shotgun. It fires a single slug round, but it's almost perfectly accurate and packs a hell of a punch.
    • Similarly, you have the Disciple, the asari shotgun. It's not as flashy as the Graal Spike Thrower or the Geth Plasma Shotgun, but it's the lightest and most accurate shotgun (not counting slug shotguns), and can fire fast enough to make up for its rather low damage.
  • Non-gameplay example: In The World Ends With You, one quest has Ken Doi's ramen shop getting shut out by a new ramen shop, and Neku and Joshua have to (indirectly) help him whip up a bowl of ramen that will attract customers again. Neku can make him whip up things like curry ramen and dessert ramen, but the dish that ends up making him popular again? An ordinary ramen bowl.
  • Might and Magic, especially VI and VII - the humble bow (Longbow in VI, Crude Bow in VII) allows you to engage enemies from a safe distance and never runs out of ammunition. In terms of affecting play balance it's of far bigger impact than all the artifacts in the game: by the time you're strong enough to loot artifacts off dead dragons, you're tough enough not to need them, but a party equipped with bows can breeze through many an early-game challenge that would be a killer otherwise.
  • The combination of a bow (preferably the Black Bow of Pharis, which has the highest range), a ton of arrows(Particularly poison arrows), the Hawk Ring (which increases bow range), and the Fog Ring (reduces your visibility) will allow you to slowly but surely kill any non-boss enemy in Dark Souls (the bosses don't give you enough breathing room to snipe them) without any fear of retaliation. It's also incredibly boring.
    • A regular spear and shield is incredibly effective due to its ability to block and attack at the same time. Even though there are swords and other weapons that are enchanted with lightning and fire, the regular +15 spear is more effective late game than the +10 lightning spear due to the way damage is calculated.

Shoot'Em Up

  • The computer game Raptor: Call of the Shadows. You fly a fighter jet that you can accessorize with a number of different guns, missile launchers, laser cannons, etc. These are all very useful, but a necessary secondary gun is the basic machine gun. Infinite ammo and a rapid firing rate, so even if the actual damage inflicted is minimal, you can erode away anything in the game perpetually.
  • A melee class in a Shoot'Em Up game? Yep, there is nothing cool about headbutting your enemies while other players can just shoot them from afar. But granted the ability to deflect bullets, they are extremely necessary in Valkyrie Sky (a Shoot'Em Up MMORPG, and no, it's not the first one) because, let's face it, starting from level 10+ , you definitely, desperately need someone to deflect those damn bullets while you shoot the boss.
  • The Twin and Back Shots in the Thunder Force series, as they are the only weapons you don't lose when you die. In later games where only the weapon you're holding vanishes if you die, a common strategy is to switch to Twin or Back if you fear that you're about to get killed.
  • In Battle Garegga, if you don't have a full bomb in stock, you'll use a smaller weaker bomb if you have little bombs in your inventory. Seems like a waste, right? Well, bombs are the only way to destroy ground scenery, which often hides powerups and medals, so a common strategy is to forego using bombs as a uber-powerful weapon and instead blow up scenery that isn't attacking you.
  • Raiden has the Spread Shot. Though it's a bitch to fire continously prior to Raiden III, and it doesn't look as cool as the laser weapons, at higher levels the spread shot attacks at nearly a 180-degree arc in front of you; you can concentrate on dodging bullets and still damage nearly anything that's in front of you.
  • Some modern shmups like Gradius V allow support for analog movement via the analog stick. However, the basic 8-way D-pad still has its charm. Yes, you move at a constant speed with digital input. Yes, you only move in 8 directions. But it's these properties that make using a D-pad or arcade stick easier for some players—no having to gauge how hard to press or the precise angle to push at.
  • In Touhou games, while the shot types vary from game to game, there are always firing options that seem really cool (such as magical lasers, missiles, homing knives, spirits, sword beams, the list goes on) but there's one shot type that's been in almost every game and consistently manages to be either the best or second-best shot type in the game: needles. Ordinary needles that do solid damage, on a character with good movement and a small hitbox. Most experienced players immediately go for the needle shot type for a serious run for its simplicity, reliability, and power.

Simulation Game

  • In the X-Wing combat sim games, the starfighter of choice on The Alliance side is... the X-wing. Durable, well-armed, nimble, and fast, it's an excellent multirole craft, more dangerous all around than the more heavily-armed B-wing, the faster A-wing, or the tougher Y-wing. This holds true in Rogue Leader as well; it's the ship of choice for getting gold medals.
    • The X-wing and Y-wing can be seen as interchangable versions of this trope. The Y-wing has the less impressive design, is slower, harder to control and only has 2 torpedos more than than the big all-round X-wing. It's often mentioned as being a deathtrap when having to take on enemy fighters. While it never got the iconic status of the X-wing it's a respected machine among gamers. If you get the hang on it and know how to use it you can even take out TIE Avengers with it.
    • In TIE Fighter, the Imperial solution to Zaarin's faction getting their hands on the TIE Defender is to make the Missile Gunboat, whose secret special power is ... loads and loads of missiles.
  • Sim City 4 has several power plants to choose from including nuclear and fusion power which have extra requirements to unlock. The most cost effective power plant by far, however, is coal, which is available from the start. It is true that the advanced ones produce no pollution, but the effects of coal pollution are tolerable if well-placed in the city limits and will save a lot of money.
    • One problem with coal when building a gigantic (as in whole-region), dense metropolis: space. Not wishing to have an entire small-tile city devoted chiefly to coal power plants for its power-guzzling metropolis neighbors, I once elected to run the whole town (i.e. one large-tile district of the megalopolis, pop. ~2.1 million) on a few nuclear plants in the far corner of the main city. It worked (and got a good chunk of extra Industrial zone—from where I had put the old coal plants back when the town was much smaller) as a bonus. Hydrogen, on the other hand, is just silly.
    • Also, transportation options play along this as well. Although many argue that rail takes up real estate on the surface and requires well placed stations as opposed to subways (which in 4/Deluxe, are the Game Breaker), however, they're cheaper, very efficient at passenger travel, and ideal for industries as usage for freight travel, since trains don't often have to put up with as much traffic as freight trucks, plus, they do not contribute to pollution.
    • Also, roads and avenues as opposed to highways. Indeed, highways can handle more traffic volume and have higher speed, but, they're enormous and difficult to make maneuver around obstacles (say a building or ocean), however, avenues, being a bit smaller and more maneuverable (can be built in 90 degree corners), and roads being declared "standard" amongst dense zones for movement, allow for a better flow of transportation. Likewise, either early in the game or for smaller cities and suburbs, streets actually prove to be ideal for lighter zones. The game even points this out to you quite often with having "not enough streets".
      • And you can combine both the advantages of avenues and roads (in the expansion) by building the roads one-way...which is incidentally what most major real-life cities do anyway.
  • Most Ace Combat games give you special weapons that range from bombs of varying sizes to long-range air-to-air missiles to Frickin' Laser Beams, but 90+ % of your kills will come from standard missiles and maybe guns. This is mostly because you get 50-80 regular missiles and (nearly) unlimited bullets and usually less than 20 shots of special weapons.
  • Warship Gunner 2 gives the player access to Wave Motion Guns, Macross Missile Massacres, Frickin' Laser Beams (with Beam Spam option), and UFOs, but standard big guns are still the go-to weapon because of their combination of power, range, rate of fire, magazine size, and the ability to fire in almost any direction.
  • In the SNES game Captain Tsubasa 5, there are all sorts of incredible "shoot at the goal" moves, like Tiger Shot, Drive Shot, Flame Shot, etc etc. The most effective way to score? The special pass moves. The "shoot" specials automatically give the goalee a chance to save the ball, whereas the "pass" specials will go to cutscene for a second, then the ball will more or less teleport to the destination you set. If this destination is the extreme left or right of the goal, the poor goalkeeper will basically have no chance to react as the ball bounces off the ground and rolls into the goal. This is in fact a Game Breaker and unsatisfying to boot.
  • Buster force from Alien Soldier. It doesn't have the insane power capabilities or flame force or lancer force, and lacks any special attributes. However, it's perhaps the most useful gun in many situations; it uses low energy, has fairly decent power, and a good firing rate.

Stealth Based Game

  • The Assassin's Creed series offers a wide variety of ways to violently murder your opponents, many of them difficult and flashy. Then there are the super stealthy kills such as the Poison Dart and the Crossbow. Nothing fancy, just instant long-range death that nobody sees coming. In Assassin's Creed Brotherhood and Assassin's Creed Revelations, you gain access to Assassin Recruits, whom you can summon at almost any time to deliver a quick death to your opponents without any risk of detection at all.

Third-Person Shooter

  • Total Overdose: A Gunslinger's Tale in Mexico subverts this trope with gameplay style: though your starting pistol is the weakest weapon, impossible army-beating action stunts are only possible with the pistols, which by the end of the game have unlimited ammo. This is facilitated, only in part, by a high volume of Explodium in the environment.
  • For the most part, the only weapon worth a damn in Freedom Fighters is the basic AK-47. Nearly everything else suffers from horrible accuracy, problems refilling on ammo, or both. Also slightly averted in that the strongest and most accurate weapon, available after you have enough squad members at your disposal to conserve ammo reasonably, also has a large enough ammo capacity that you can safely keep using it provided you can aim.
  • John Woo Presents Stranglehold can be entirely completed using only the pistols up to medium difficulty.
  • Dead Space also has several fairly original and interesting weapons, but it's perfectly possible (and not all that hard) to end the game with the Plasma Cutter - the weapon you start out with. Even if you're not going for the related achievement, you'll still find yourself using the it very often, as ammo is plentiful and damage is high.
    • In fact, it's probably easier to beat the game with just the Plasma Cutter, simply because buying a weapon from the store means its ammo can now be found. If you didn't have the weapon, you would only find Cutter ammo and therefore have a lot more.
  • Most Gears of War fans rave about the chainsaw bayonette melee kill, but the simple fact is that the long-winded kill animation leaves you wide open. On the insane setting, this is certain death for the player. The less flashy Hammerburst has a faster melee knockback that won't paralyze you like the Lancer would while also offering decent damage and higher firing accuracy.
    • The Hammerburst being the Locust primary weapon choice will also let you find ammo everywhere.
    • In multiplayer, using anything but the shotgun will get you mocked relentlessly.
      • If by "mocked" you mean "yelled at and called every offensive name in the book by frothing angry Jerkasses," then yeah.
    • Gears of War 3 adds the Sawed-Off Shotgun, which a player can opt to spawn with instead of the original Gnasher Shotgun. It's a power weapon in PvP, but in the cooperative "Horde" multiplayer mode it's much less attractive; it has to compete against rocket launchers, bows with explosive-tipped arrows, sniper rifles, and even a weapon that tunnels under cover before (literally) exploding out of the ground (all of which are present in PvP, but much rarer). That said, the Sawed-Off is very simple to operate and can One-Hit Kill most non-boss enemies until wave 41 (of 50). Since it's classed as a "spawned" weapon, you'll also have your ammo topped up to 4 rounds at the start of each wave, meaning you'll always have enough on hand to make an impact.
  • S4 League has the Detector skill. It doesn't grant special moves or grant you some sort of defense like many of the other skills do. However, it's still mighty useful: in addition to showing invisible opponents, it also indicates the locations of enemies behind walls (by showing their nametags above their on-screen locations), allowing you to launch some surprise attacks or avoid running into some sort of trap set up by enemies. Additionally, it's a passive skill (you never have to activate it) and costs no SP to use.
    • The HP +30[1] skill also works wonders, especially in Chaser mode where survival is a VERY high priority.
  • Red Dead Redemption takes place at the sunset of the old west, 1911. The best gun your going to get is the Evans Repeater, not because it's super strong or has a special effect, but because it has good range, good damage, good speed, quick reload, and a large magazine. It might as well have the word PRACTICALITY stamped on the side.
    • One of the best pistols in the game is the FN M1903, or High Power Pistol. Not because it's fully automatic, or a fancy lever-action museum piece, or a 9-shot revolver, but because it's clip-fed for quicker reloads, semi-automatic for fast shooting, and does high damage.
  • Just Cause and Just Cause 2 give players access to all sorts of nifty toys, most notably the grappling hook, which are all good and fun. However, at the end of the day, you're going to be using the pistol and SMG more than a good bit to wipe out your enemies. In the sequel, the fairly common assault rifle and grenades are pretty solid bets for both utility and effectiveness. Not as interesting in the face of rocket launchers, sniper rifles, or hooking some poor Mook to the back of a fighter jet that's taking off, but extremely efficient.
  • Despite the vast array of weapons available for use in Resident Evil 4, a combination of a handgun, knife and Action Commands is enough to deal with many enemy encounters. Only for large groups, shielded enemies or bosses will you ever need to break out something more powerful, meaning that the majority of the weapons you have will end up not being used nearly as often.
  • Star Wars Battlefront gives you a bewildering array of improbably spectacular weaponry to choose from, including a laser-based Sniper Rifle, a Chaingun, a literal Sniper Pistol, a "arc caster", a flamethrower, a Grenade Launcher, a rocket launcher, a wrist-mounted semiautomatic rocket launcher, and a semi-auto pistol that shoots homing rockets from a 30-round magazine. But when it really comes down to it, all you're gonna need is a basic shotgun or assault rifle.[2]

Turn-Based Strategy

  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, you have the option to equip yourself with impressive summons and fantasic magic spells. But nothing is as damaging as making Ramza a monk and just punching your way to victory.
    • The ninja works well here too, because of its ability to dual wield. Or you could learn the dual wield ability and give it to the monk, at which point they start using their quite painful punch attack twice.
      • The second punch has the added bonus of bypassing the game breaking defensive ability of Shirahadori/Blade Grasp.
    • The Knight and the Archer are the first two warrior classes you unlock and have relatively mundane abilities of breaking equipment and charging attacks respectively, which pale to the flashy things that geomancers, and ninjas can do. However, equip an archer with Knight powers and concentration and you have a unit who can reliably strip the enemy of his equipment from a distance.
    • At least in A2, a Time Mage is at top efficiency when it spends most of its turns using Haste, its most basic spell.
  • The Worms series is famous for its more outlandish weapons, but the simplicity and utility value of weapons like the Shotgun (fires in a straight line, two shots, a maximum of 25 damage each with a correspondingly small blast radius) frequently outweighs this. Particularly given that big, flashy weapons have a higher chance of backfiring or at least damaging the shooter. The Bazooka and Grenade also demonstrate this, but nothing fits the description of Boring but Practical quite like the Shotgun.
    • Strangely enough, A Space Oddity turns this into Awesome and Practical by having the Shotgun as the weapon in the final minigame, where you take down UFOs with it, because the Worms have decided that their high-tech weaponry isn't working, and they decide to get out "the trusty shotgun".
    • The Shotgun is practical because it actually subverts many conventions of the game, which is the "you cant move after you shoot" and "You can only hit one target per turn". With a Shotgun, and aiming skills, you can either bunge two Worms in one turn, push two onto landmines, blow up two Oil canisters, knock two opposing worms into very bad positions, do any combination of those, or just one and go back into hiding. The tactical flexibility of the Shotgun is what makes it practical.
    • The Fire Punch and the Dragonball. They're melee attacks that inflict a consistent 25 and 30 damage, respectively—keyword being consistent (contrast other weapons, which inflict varying damage), so hitting an opponent that has less health than either weapon will take off is a guaranteed kill. Alternatively, you can use these attacks to knock your opponent into a mine, or better yet, off the screen or into the water.
  • In the Fire Emblem series, due to the high cost and limited usage of stronger weapons, the basic iron and steel weapons remain an important part of your arsenal throughout the entire game thanks to their low cost and better durability.
  • In the Nintendo Wars series, basic Infantry spam backed up by some artillery is extremely viable in most installments. And the light tank is much more cost-effective against other units than its bigger brethren, and is faster than them to boot. There's a reason one of the most widespread tactics is known as the Mech Rush.
    • Game Boy Wars 3, however, avoids this problem. It's more susceptible to car spam, but at least cars are far more fun due to being fast in return for infantry class defense. A list of reasons:
      • Materials. This hinders spams in general because the price gaps are considerably smaller.
      • One-Hit Kill potential against foot soldiers. The third cheapest unit out of about 50 units (granted, some are stronger or more specialized rehashes), can kill the basic Infantry on Roads. That says a lot, especially when the AA Tank can One-Hit Kill the Mech on a Forest.
      • Inexpensive cars up against the infantry's low movement. Enough said, explained above if necessary.
      • Cars also share the same armor class as infantry. This does make them susceptible to units that also deal heavy damage to them, but weapons like the Mech's bazooka are rendered useless against the aforementioned 3rd cheapest unit, which happens to be such.
      • Most units have a machine gun anyway. Convoys, which are used to transport infantry and can be used as meatwalls for sponging attacks from spammed units, also can smack infantry, even if they can expect some punishment in return.
      • Indirects, the main crutch of infantry spamming's overpoweredness in the series, are generally expensive. This is to stop them from abusing their ability to move and fire on the same turn that they have here, so that they have to be saved up for, and building one has them possibly put on the bad end of an Anti-Tank shot from any number of units, particularly bad for them when the Humvee and IFV can One-Hit Kill them on Roads and a Convoy-delivered Mech still doesn't need to use adjacent liberties to attack them.
    • Scratch that. Even Game Boy Wars 3 isn't exactly immune. Watch as a Mech flood staves off a ridiculous property advantage for a while before indirects come in and start obliterating them.
  • In the Original Generation Super Robot Wars games, one of the best weapons to upgrade is the M95 Machine Gun, a basic weapon that a dozen or so of the Real Robot units get. Why? A few reasons: One, it's the cheapest weapon to upgrade in the game, this means it can be fully upgraded at a much lower cost than some of the pricier, flashier attacks. Fully upgraded its base damage is 4950, which while isn't as powerful as many of the super strong attacks, is still a very respectable amount of damage. Plus, fully upgraded weapons have a higher Critical Hit rate, not only that but they have 15 shots in them each, and can be used after moving. Throw these on the Real Robot Mauve Shirt characters and have them clear the way with ease.
    • Similarly, the "Steel Knife" is the blandest, boringest, but most practical of the melee weapons to upgrade. It's the cheapest for what you get, works well in any terrain, AND has some impressive to-hit and crit modifiers.
  • If you're trying to go for a rush strategy in Lords Of The Realm 2, an army of around 50 peasants (50 being the minimum army size) makes for an effective battle of attrition starter, as armies can destroy fields that take several turns to reclaim. If you want something more armed, Macemen are great as they are the second cheapest unit to make and are the second fastest. They can also hold their own pretty well.
  • Game mechanics cause this to be very prevalent in Tactics Ogre. From beginning to end, one of the most effective units in the game is the humble archer, a low level female unit with very high dexterity (ranged attack), the ability to traverse watery terrain, and amazingly high avoidance. Ranged attacks are at a great advantage because any time a melee class attacks an enemy, the enemy will be allowed a counterattack while ranged units never get counterattacked, resulting in far less damage taken by ranged units. Not only that but the game extends bow range according to terrain height so that archers can easily achieve the longest range if they get into a high spot (far longer range than mages, at least until you get the gamebreaking spells at the end of the game), shoot over obstacles, and their avoidance means they will even dodge a great many attacks against them! Even when an army of angels, dragons, hydras, golems, and terror knights are at your disposal end game, many players opt for a full third of their attack party being archers.
  • In Sword of the Stars, the simple Assault Shuttle buildable from the very start will remain your primary option of anti-planet attack for a long while. Bio-missiles can be vaccinated against, the really large anti-planet weapons like the Siege Driver are Awesome but Impractical because they are too far up the tech tree to be available quickly and the majority of ship-to-ship weapons aren't too good for bombardment, leaving the Assault Shuttle as the most reliable option - at least until Argos Naval Yard introduced the Advanced Assault Shuttle.
    • The Armor Piercing Mass Driver is a strong example. A medium-mount weapon that only requires you to research two technologies, and can be a major part of the armament of an endgame dreadnought. It needs a few upgrades to keep up with the flashy energy weapons, but the same exact turret can be the backbone of your arsenal throughout most of the game. It doesn't have any of the specialties of various energy weapons, or the sheer damage and impact of non-piercing drivers, but it's reliable against most targets and easy to get.
    • Medium mounts in general might qualify. Except for missiles, they're generally blander than others. Most medium mounts simply deliver moderate damage at moderate range. Small mounts have a monopoly on point defense and tend to have long-range precision weapons. Heavy mounts range from being like the medium version, but all-around better, to a number of more exotic possibilities. Exotic special mounts are often the entire point of a dedicated ship. Nonetheless, many ships carry enough medium mounts that they comprise a substantial fraction of the ship's damage output.
    • Out of the 6 species, this is a theme for the Tarkas. Their hyperdrive is the simplest FTL method to use (Other species methods can be faster, but require certain conditions to do so), they don't get any unusual bonuses or mechanics other than cheaper cruisers, and their ship designs emphasize the "basic" sections rather than sections associated with special weapons, in addition to general toughness.
  • In Vanguard Bandits, there's the Turbulence attack. It's easy to get stat-wise and time-wise, its attack costs are very reasonable and it has a large range. Used wisely, it can completely incapacitate anyone, even the Final Boss. But it does embarrassingly low amounts of damage even with high attack and is one of the dullest looking moves in the game.
  • Sensei's CO Powers in Advance Wars 2 and Dual Strike, which airdrops infantry (or Mech in the case of the SCOP) units with 9 HP on all cities under your control. They're the most basic units in the game, but depending on how many cities you have, it can easily turn into a widescale Zerg Rush.
  • In Stars!, the Colony Ship hull with extra fuel tank (both zero Tech Level) instead of colonization module has both the greatest fuel/mass ratio and engines/mass ratio among the cargo-carrying hulls. This means the best ability for brief bursts of speed needed both in interceptor fleets (carry fuel for warships, collect salvage, split as few as needed to carry it to colony) and to catch fast incoming mineral packets, very lethal in early game, as there are races with advantage in this area, but no defence other than freighters. It's small, very fragile and cannot mount anything upgradeable but engines. Early on, there's also not much cargo anyway and short detection range leaves little time to intercept packets or ships. The result: usually it's a good idea to mass produce ships on the weakest and least functional of common hulls, from the start and at least until fuel-producing ships and/or economical fast engines are available.

Wide Open Sandbox

  • Prototype has the Musclemass power. No fancy deviation from unarmed combat... except maybe boosting those attacks' damage outputs to endgame-useful levels once maxed out. Even the Awesome Yet Practical Cannonball move benefits from this, yet overuse will make it fit this trope eventually, since it's one of the more surefire(read: attacking while dodging attacks) ways to quickly down anything amidst the chaos except the game's Dragon.
  • Cobblestone in Minecraft. Not very fancy, but it's durable, incredibly common (all your stone automatically turns into it upon mining), and very important when it comes to crafting.
    • Farming crops. Farming isn't the most exciting thing to do in Minecraft (as opposed to going around slaughtering pigs and cows), but with a reasonably-sized, well-lit, and hydrated farm, you can easily produce enough wheat to constantly feed yourself with bread, at a fast enough rate that you'll never starve to death again (unless you by chance allow Creepers or Endermen to wreck your farm).
  • In a game loaded with air strikes, tanks and helicopters, the weapon that will see the most use in the Mercenaries series will be some variant of the basic Assault Rifle and RPG combo. When you crash the helicopter, blow up the tank or miss the airstrike, whatever you need dead (including a building) will eventually fall with this comparatively humble combo applied in the correct manner. The best part is that you will trip over ammunition for them, so you don't need to worry about cash or fuel costs.
  • The sledgehammer and mining charges are easily the most versatile weapons in Red Faction: Guerrilla. The sledgehammer can tear through almost any structure in a couple swings, and mining charges provide great building destruction, crowd control, traps, and vehicle control. They're also the first two weapons you have access too, and the sledge is a permanent fixture in your equipment.
  • The 3D Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row series have plenty of high-powered machine guns, shotguns, rocket launchers, and gatling guns. More often than not, the standard pistols can carry you through most of the game thanks to their plentiful ammo and excellent accuracy.
  • The Smuggler's Run dogfighters of Grand Theft Auto V Online lack the explosive firepower of previous aircraft but maneuver better and could generally beat older dogfighters despite their less damage potential.

Non-video game examples

Anime and Manga

  • Although Naruto makes extensive use of all two of his advanced jutsu, he's ended most of his fights in the entire series thus far by just punching the guy.
    • Then again, in some cases, this was necessitated by him using up most of his chakra using his advanced jutsu.
    • There's also Shikamaru's shadow manipulation jutsu, which never changes its basic function throughout the series (ensnaring and controlling people with their shadows), yet Shikamaru uses it efficiently and in a variety of methods. Overall, he's definitely a boring fighter, but far more practical at getting the job done than many others.
  • Bleach has Ichigo, who in a world where shikais and bankais give elemental abilities to weapons, turn them into entirely different weapons, summon giant poison baby familiars, win most fights by simply slashing and shooting blasts with varying levels of power.
    • Kenpachi Zaraki is a beast who relies on brute force but his ace in the hole is to hold his sword with two hands and swing nromally.
    • Hanataro's zanpakuto is pretty much useless for fighting, but its ability to heal any wound it "slashes" makes it the perfect medical device. Course, this pretty much summarizes Hanataro's boring yet greatly underappreciated character; not a fighter in any form of the word, yet one of the best healers in the Gotei 13. For example, he was the one who brought Renji back to full form after the latter was beaten and nearly torn apart by Byakuya several times over.
      • But if the gauge on the side is full, it turns into Awesome but Impractical because now the next one slash takes all the injuries the sword absorbed and launches them out into a single attack.
  • The Taiyouken/Solar Flare technique from Dragon Ball. It's probably the most generally useful technique in the entire story, even if It Only Works Once, and the Z-Fighters were more pragmatic a whole lot of story arcs would be about half the length.
  • Most Holyland fights end after the second or third exchange and a character (Izawa) constantly reminds everyone else that basic movements are the best option, although the fact that he one-hit KO's most of his opponents can be considered Awesome Yet Practical; he claims that he doesn't do it because it looks cool, but because it's the safest way to go. Also, there's a fight that Yuu wins by using only left straights because his opponent was bigger, stronger and had longer reach than him, so using anything but a left straight would be too dangerous. A character even complains about this because he was expecting more from the fight.
  • Soul Eater: Black Star and Mifune deciding to finish their final fight on even ground as swordsmen (just ordinary katana, or as close as Tsubaki could make herself) makes for one of the best and worst moments in the series.
  • The advice of Gavrill from Franken Fran for the school students is a combination of this, Brutal Honesty, and Family-Unfriendly Aesop.

 Gavrill: (to a gonky boy) You wanna be popular with the girls? Get plastic surgery and transfer to another school. Also, practice talking to people a lot. And if you need to, lie to women or buy them off with money.

  • Fate/stay night, where generally massively destructive attacks rule supreme, and where the main heroine has a Sword Beam that can wipe out a city you have fakeAssassin and (to a lesser degree) Lancer. Both their Noble Phantasms (read weapons and special attacks) do one thing: attack one, and only one person infront of them. Nothing else, not even environmental damage. Not very much compared to Saber's speed-of-light Wave Motion Sword, Archer's Field of Blades, Rider's 430kmph Pegasus, Caster's over-the-top Beam Spam, Berserker's stockpile of 12 lives, and immunity to all attacks below building-buster levels and Gilgamesh's Reality ripping, world-destroying sword or his rain of legendary weaponry. HOWEVER, Lancer's Noble Phantasm uses so little mana that he can fire it off 7 times in quick succession without draining himself completely, as opposed to most of the other attacks mentioned above. And though his attack isn't flashy or earth shattering, it will probably kill you in one shot. And Assassin's attack doesn't even use mana at all. It's just a very good sword technique that's undodgeable and instakill if he manages to set it up. It's not flashy, nor is it No Kill Like Overkill, and it's not even really magical, but it damn well works.


  • Mystery Men. Early on, some of the heroes try to infiltrate a mansion with an array of gimmicky but mostly useless powers. When they come across a group of disco-themed villains guarding the mansion, they ridicule them for bringing pistols, junction pipes, switchblades, etc to the fight which have nothing to do with disco. A Curb Stomp Battle ensues.

 Blue Raja: (incredulous) There's no theme at all here!

  • Star Wars:
    • The YT-1300 Corelian Light Freighter when compared to an X-Wing or Star Destroyer is one of the most boring ships in the universe. It is, however, one of the most popular. Reliable, durable, easy to modify and repair in an emergency, the YT-1300 is a favorite of smugglers throughout the galaxy. The most famous example, of course, is the Millennium Falcon, the best example of what a resourceful spacer can do with the design.
    • This trope, combined with Undying Loyalty for Palpatine, is General Pryde's reasoning that the First Order should align with the Sith Eternal in The Rise of Skywalker. What the First Order needs is more Star Destroyers that would allow them to patrol and conquer multiple star systems simultaneously, especially after they lost so many resources in Starkiller Base.
  • The Hunger Games has both the trainers and Haymitch stress that smart tributes learn wilderness survival and forgo getting glamorous weapons at the start before bolting for high ground and water to give themselves a good chance of survival.


  • In World War Z, once the nations of the world decide to go on the offensive after the Zombie Apocalypse, they get rid of their flashy tanks, jet fighters, machine guns, body armor and indeed most modern tactics. Instead, the average infantryman carries a highly-accurate, semi-automatic rifle that is designed for pulling off headshots quickly and consistently, they form up in lines and open fire. These old-school tactics kill zombies better than anything. Do Not ask how realistic this is.
    • Additionally, the melee weapon of choice in later chapters is the Lobotomizer, "Lobo" for short. It's described in-book as a cross between a shovel and a medieval battle axe. Dig a trench, bury a fallen comrade, decapitate a zombie.
  • The French novel Malevil features the eponymous castle. Built by the invading English during the Hundred Years War it was built solely for function and has little aesthetic value unlike its opposing neighbor, the French castle Les Rouzies.
  • Discworld uses this trope to lampshade the trope where MacGuffins which are swords are most often shiny and cool looking (as described: shiny that lights up with a ting!) At the end of the book in which Carrot joins the Watch, Vimes ponders, perhaps the sword of the last king of Ankh-Morpork isn't shiny and lights up with a ting!. Perhaps the sword of the king is a boring old sword that was simply very, very, very sharp. Carrot has such a sword.
    • In the same vein, Cohen and the Silver Hoard (a group of octogenarian barbarian heroes) carry notably notched and beat-up swords that are STILL sharp enough to cut a die in half in mid-air. (At one point, Cohen internally reflects that a simple, plain non-magical sword in the hands of a truly brave man will cut through a magical sword like suet. He's looking at Carrot's sword while thinking this, which has previously been determined to not merely not be enchanted, but to have no magic in it AT ALL, which is quite a feat on the Discworld.)
  • In The Dresden Files the "Eebs" work like this. When trying to kill an extremely powerful wizard they shoot at him with a silenced pistol from inside a car. When it fails they just drive away. They hire a local killer to attack him. They chuck a firebomb into his building while he sleeps. All things that don't take a scrap of supernatural power to achieve. They are also the Red Court's two most successful assassins. The reasons being that while these individual attempts don't have a particularly high success rate, they also expose them to barely any risk and take little effort, and sooner or later they get lucky.
  • Parts of the Star Wars Expanded Universe have "slugthrower" weaponry - these are firearms, guns that fire bullets. This is a 'verse where blasters are fairly easy to come by. But Luke Skywalker trained with slugthrowers as a kid on Tatooine, and a character in Shatterpoint has this to say about them.

  "Slugthrowers. I hate 'em. But they're easy to maintain. Day or two in the jungle and your blaster'll never fire again. A good slug rifle, keep 'em wiped and oiled, they last forever. The guerrillas have pretty good luck with them, even though they take a lot of practice — slugs are ballistic, y'know? You have to plot the trajectory in your head."

    • That and they're the perfect Jedi-killing weapon: a blaster bolt can be easily deflected back with a lightsaber, but if a Jedi intercepts a slugthrower round it will only melt it without deflecting or slowing it, resulting in the defending Jedi getting hit with a less letal but much more painful slug. And making him defenseless due the pain, if the bullet didn't kill him outright.
  • There's a short story by Arthur C. Clarke called Superiority about a space empire that keeps inventing one incredible superweapon after another—until they get overrun by their enemies who directed their resources towards making huge numbers of plain, old-fashioned torpedoes while the other side was busy updating their ships.

Live Action TV

Believe it or not, Television in general has some great examples.

  • The CBS logo, introduced in 1951, was based on the designs seen on barn walls. It was a simple round shape with an eye-like depiction in the center. When William Golden began work on another logo about a year later, his boss Frank Stanton worked like crazy to have the logo plastered on anything and everything he could think of. Stanton's reasoning? "Just when you're beginning to be bored by what you've done is when it's beginning to be noticed by your audience." (Even if that's not exactly what he said, the wisdom applies.) More than six decades later, it remains one of the media world's most recognizable symbols.
  • The core of the (American) ABC network logo has remained practically unchanged for five decades. Like the CBS eye, it is a highly recognized corporate symbol.
  • Top Gear seems to regard Audis as this. An Audi may not be as visually striking and extravagant as other cars in its price bracket but an Audi is just as fast, has better fuel economy, better value for the price tag, a four-wheel drive system that can tackle any environment and will remain usable if bad weather strikes.

Reality Television

  • Survivor has a strategy known as "Pagonging" (named after the Pagong tribe, who fell victim to it way back in the first season). Partway through the game, the two teams merge and it becomes every man for himself - but the players hold on to the "us vs. them" mentality, and if all goes well the larger team will stay together and eliminate the smaller team one by one, only turning on each other when (1) they've run out of targets or (2) the last member of that other tribe has won immunity. It's very efficient for those members of the larger team, but predictable and not nearly as fun for the home audience to watch as a chaotic Gambit Pileup.
    • Then there's the strategy of being The Quiet One or Obfuscating Stupidity. Unless pretending to be stupid involves doing something that's funny, you won't get much screentime by staying out of harm's way. That being said, if you can convince the players in control that you're not a threat at all (Natalie White, anyone?), they'll take you to the end under the assumption that you're no trouble to beat.
  • In Hell's Kitchen season 3, one of the top performers was Julia, a Waffle House line cook from Atlanta. The professionally-trained chefs (especially those on her own team) tended to treat her like crap and denigrate her skills,[3] but it turned out she had precisely the skill set Gordon Ramsay was looking for (including good teamwork, promptness with her cooking, and staying cool under pressure). So much so that when she was eliminated near the end, Gordon praised her potential and dedication and then paid for her to go to culinary school
  • One episode of Food Network's Celebrity Chef Cook-Off had as its Elimination Challenge... grilled cheese. Cheech Marin and Lou Diamond Philips made fancy sandwiches with unusual breads and extra bits thrown in, while Joey Fatone made a basic grilled cheese sandwich, the only embellishment being a smiley face made of sliced tomatoes and a pickle. However, Cheech's sandwich was greasy and LDP didn't melt the cheese, while Joey (who said he makes grilled cheese all the time for his kids) ended up winning immunity because his no-frills sandwich was perfectly made.
  • Plenty of episodes in both the U.K and U.S versions of Kitchen Nightmares had chefs making extremely flashy food that was especially difficult or time consuming to cook, or had managers decorate their restaurants with flashy but gaudy styles and using tacky gimmicks to draw in customers. Gordon has them change to fit this trope. Some of the best examples of the former and the later respectively are Rococo's and The Curry Lounge.
  • Go onto almost any message board for America's Next Top Model. You'll probably find no shortage of support for Nigel Barker or Jay Manuel (Mister Jay) while It's All About Me Tyra hardly gets any. Part of that comes from their dry delivery, which is almost always in plain simple English rather than the Tyraspeak she is ever so fond of. Hell, even with his silly accent imitations, the flamboyant J. Alexander (Miss Jay, also a fan favorite) can get his point across with next to no mumbo-jumbo. And love or hate him, Rob Evans was a professional model who was doing exactly what the contestants were here for.
  • In the American Big Brother, there's similar strategies to Survivor. However in this game, it's individual from the very start - so as a result, you want to make yourself appear to be much less of a threat that people won't target you. You want them directing their sights at someone else, not you. Thus, a fair amount of Obfuscating Stupidity is involved in making yourself appear much less of a threat than you actually are. Naturally this leads to a lot of sitting around and letting someone else strategize, so that they make themselves appear to be the threat, not you. (Little hint: this is how Maggie won Season #6.)


  • Hand-to-hand fighting.
    • Certainly martial arts styles like Tae Kwon Do and Capoeira seem very visually appealing, with all the fancy flips, cartwheels and jump kicks, but even these flashier ones usually cut the crap in serious situations.
    • In most competitive martial arts sparring, 95% of the points are scored with the most basic moves.
    • In Mixed Martial Arts, basics have dominated, and coaches will often chastise their fighter if they try to go crazy. Exotic submissions and acrobatic striking moves rarely work, though some fighters have developed reputations for the efficacy of their flashier moves.
    • Grappling and wrestling overall are often regarded as this trope in MMA fights. Fighters often manage to simply control their opponents for the duration of the fight en route to a safe decision victory than take a chance with more exciting offensive moves for a stoppage.
  • The neutral zone trap in hockey. Essentially, it's a very heavy defensive strategy that prevents the attacking team from getting close to the net by pinning them in the neutral zone with no way to get around the defense. Critics complain it is extremely boring to watch (neither team really gets a lot of scoring chances as a result,) but if done effectively it is very difficult to beat.
  • In baseball, the majority of runs are scored as a result of "boring" things like walks and singles. Home runs are great when they happen, but even the most prolific home run hitters can hit a home run only about once every thirteen plate appearances on average. Plus watching a baseball team play as a team, emphasizing practical base hits and competent fielding and generally playing baseball rather than playing prima donna is a pleasure in itself.
    • Walking in itself could be considered this. For most of baseball's history, no one paid much attention to the ability to draw walks, and batting average, which did not take walks into account, was by far the most widely-used statistic to measure offensive output. With the rise of sabremetrics, or objective statistical analysis, in the twenty-first century, the value of the base on balls has since come to be recognized, to the point where it's no longer an undervalued skill.
  • American Football: Big passes and fancy trick plays are crowd-pleasers. But teams can often get even more mileage out of quick passes to the center of the field. It's not difficult to get 5 or 6 yards minimum per pass this way, and if you have a good tight end or receiving tailback, or a wideout that runs a lot of short patterns to the middle, they can rack up yardage while the big-play players are given more coverage. A team who can get consistent gains on boring runs up the middle will quickly wear out the opposing defense, which will leave their opponent helpless to stop either their running or their passing attacks in the late stages of the game. This is why there were so many Super Bowl routs from the mid-'80s to '90s: the AFC teams, with their flashy passing attacks led by quarterbacks from the 1983 draft class and their light 3-4 defenses, were physically dominated by the power running games and smash-mouth defenses of NFC teams of the time.
  • In basketball, two of the most reliable sources of points are layups and free throws. Also, the shot clock was introduced largely to eliminate the viability of the "four corner offense", actually more of a defensive tactic which consisted mostly of passing the ball around without even trying to get a shot for as much as five minutes at a time.
  • Played straight (and later subverted) in Association Football, which suffered from an overdose of Boring but Practical heavy defensive tactics during the early 2000's.
    • Johan Cruijff's quip: "Football is simple, but the hardest thing there is, is to play simple football."
    • The catenaccio or counter-attacking family of tactics falls under a similar category. The aim is for the team to defend with as many as 10 men, whilst only one or two players remain in attacking positions, hoping to get to a loose ball and create an opportunity from it. Due to the difficulty of attacking a team that is defending with many players (especially when done well, like Inter in the 50s/60s) added to the lack of attacks created by a team using this technique, many pundits now call this "anti-football". It is however extremely effective in levelling chances between teams of different level, so most teams that expect to lose a game will play in this fashion.
    • In football, heavy defense tactics are meant to frustrate the opponent team by preventing it from scoring in any way possible. This goads the opponents into attacking your goal more desparately, while you wait for a "lucky break" for a surprise attack on their weakened defenses. At this point, the heavy-defenders then usually go into an even heavier defensive to protect this advantage in score, making it even less likely to see more goals later in the game. The result, for everyone but the diehard fans of the defensive team, is that the majority of the game is itself extremely frustrating and usually promises a very small final score (1-0 and such). The period culminated in the 2002 World Cup, where the German team made extremely effective use of this technique for the majority of the tournament, winning the first three elimination rounds at exactly 1-0 each. However, this was subverted when they lost the final to the Brazilians, against whom defensive tactics don't usually work.
    • Boring but Practical came back with Greece's performance two years later, at the UEFA Euro 2004, winning the whole tournament in the process.
    • Also, Chelsea beat the flashy and seemingly undefeatable Barcelona in the 2012 UEFA Champions League with this extreme defense (at times, 9 or 10 players would be next to the goal...).

Tabletop Games

  • Among the mage spells in Dungeons and Dragons, "Magic Missile" is one of the first and most basic ones you have access to. Although the damage is deals is sub-par, it always hits. It ignores both damage and elemental resistances, ignores incorporeality and does not allow a saving throw to reduce or negate its effect. The only things that can stop Magic Missile are spell resistance/immunity (not common at low-mid levels), a specific spell (Shield) or a specific consumable item (Brooch of Shielding). But Wait, There's More! As you level up, it scales with your level and becomes able to target multiple foes at once. And as a 1st level spell, you'll always have plenty of spell slots available for it, and later it becomes prime material for metamagic feats. The utility of this spell is so high that Mr. Welch mentions this spell by name.

 #69: There is more to wizardry than magic missile. Even if I can do 200 damage automatic with no save.

    • In 4th Edition, all classes have "at-will" powers (magic missile being one), which are all examples of this trope—they can be used as many times as desired, where the flashier, more powerful abilities can only be used occasionally. As such, boosting the power of these abilities is a boring but practical way to make your character stronger.
      • Also in 4th Ed, magic missile is one of the few wizard powers that count as a ranged basic attack, meaning it gets bonuses from a lot of equipment AND can be used for extra attacks granted by certain leader classes.
    • For a 3rd Edition wizard, many of the most powerful spells are not flashy direct-damage spells like fireball or lightning bolt, but spells that weaken the enemy, like ray of enfeeblement or web, which can turn a potentially deadly fight into a cakewalk.
    • And for all the melee classes, Power Attack is probably the feat of choice and is a core book feat can be taken right off the bat for most melee builds. Take a few advanced feats to go with it (Leap Attack, Shock Trooper) and throw in a good solid martial weapon and it can become a Game Breaker. Beam emitter is simply too powerful for the task.
    • The 3rd Edition cleric lacks the finesse of the rogue, the combat prowess of the fighter, or the impressive offensive magic light show of the wizard. Furthermore, it is expected to fill the thankless, inglorious task of healing and supporting the party.
      • Keeping your allies alive so they can finish the fight is the epitome of Boring but Practical. The fighter may be thrilled when his Critical Hit downs the dragon, but if it weren't for the cleric healing him, the dragon would have mulched him by the second round. This has been the cleric's job since the class was first created, with 4th Edition changing it a bit.
    • With 3rd edition clerics, wizards, and druids, much of their usefulness stems from the variety of useful utilitarian spells, from endure elements, water breathing, and plane shift, to oddities like rope trick, which gives a party a safe place to rest.
      • This was the case in earlier editions as well. Many of the spells available to such classes were entirely practical, useful for dealing with quite mundane problems. Every spell mentioned above was in the Core Rulebook of earlier editions as well.
    • The most important magic items in 3.5 are the ones that increases your stats. They take precedence over anything else that uses the same slot. Also, items that does cool or unusual things are often priced too high to be useful by the time you can get them.
      • If you're buying magical items, which is certainly not the favoured method.
  • The armies of Warhammer 40000 offer loads of appealing units to select, be they super soldiers encased in powered armor that can punch holes in tanks and survive being stepped on by mecha, battlesuits unleashing volleys of plasma fire while darting in and out of cover, tanks the size of bunkers that can annihilate entire squads in a single shot, genetically-engineered warbeasts that spit fire and toss around enemy armor like toys, speed-crazed alien brutes on crude motorcycles loaded with guns, teleporting shock troops firing monofilament threads, and so forth. But at the end of the battle none of these units will matter unless you have some humble Troops choices, the rank-and-file of your army, to hold mission objectives.
    • However, the above-mentioned speed-crazed alien brutes can take motorcycles as troops choices simply by taking a cheap special character.
    • For that matter, the average Guardsman's lasrifle, so weak that they're commonly nicknamed "flashlights" but extremely low maintenance and can be recharged anywhere. And a thousand of them can bring down an army of 'nids.
    • The bog-standard model of the Leman Russ Main Battle Tank, both in-'verse and on the tabletop. It lacks the flash of the more specialised models of the same chassis, and the sheer power of super-heavies like the Baneblade, but they're cheap, plentiful and can perform well (if not excel) in almost any role.
    • Indeed, for most armies in any of the Games Workshop big games (Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000, and Lord of the Rings), it's generally a good idea to cross off the most expensive units in their force from attempts to build serious armies. The reason is fairly simple; any extremely powerful unit is going to take up a lot of the points an army gets, leaving the rest of the army weaker. It'll get blasted by canonballs, a hero killer, or tanks because it is such a big investment on your part, leaving your force crippled. Even if your opponent doesn't have a powerful answer to kill that behemoth, he maybe can tie it up so it doesn't damage anything important while the rest his army crushes your force. For example, one solution to facing a dragon in Lot R is to feed it a mook every turn; sure, the mook is pretty much doomed, but the dragon is likely impotent to do anything else and cost so many points the rest of your army can sweep the enemy with little trouble. Likewise, if a new player insists on a huge squad of assault terminators you can't kill, skating around them will mean that incredibly expensive unit does too little damage to justify its massive cost. Boring but practical wins cutthroat games.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, some of the best cards in the game have completely generic effects, but for cheap.
    • Sadly, the cards linked above are also banned from most tournament formats, possibly for exactly that same reason.
      • In the beginning, Magic tournaments were often dominated by big, flashy spells, things like dragons, angels, and demons. Then one player got the idea of using small, crappy creatures that most players ignored for a fast beatdown, with the idea being that a big, flashy spell is no good if the other guy is too dead to cast it. A few nearly one-sided tournaments later, the "weenie" archetype that we (Magic players) all know and love was born.
      • Cards don't get much simpler than Lightning Bolt, yet it's so good that it wasn't printed in a tournament legal set for 14 years. It only returned due to Power Creep, Power Seep, which is remarkably small considering the games enduring nature.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!!'s metagame is faced with a similar situation. Finally summoned your almighty Dragon Master Knight? Or maybe Elemental Hero Divine Neos? Too bad, they're just as vulnerable to traps like Mirror Force as Kuriboh is. Unless you're summoning something that is immune or can shut down traps, it's usually much better to go with something simple, like Cyber Dragon, whose effect is simply: "Summon for free if you don't have any monsters out and your opponent does".
    • For example, the most effective tactics on one point of the game, is manage your card advantage, and abuse advantageous monster like the Disc Commander, Monarch and LADD. A very boringeyt highly effective strategy
    • This has changed to a degree since the introduction of Synchro Monsters. Shooting Star Dragon for instance, is possible but difficult to summon, but amazing when you do. Same goes for Red Nova Dragon. Also, Synchros have higher ATK than the stars of previous metas, so managing to summon that Dragon Master Knight might actually do you a tiny scrap of good.
    • Nowadays, theres a notable amount of deck that strategy revolve around summoning big flashy monster every single turn effectively. The game have gone so far that something that seems Awesome but Practical before become Boring but Practical
  • In Exalted the most cost effective charms are the excellencies, they either add dice, add successes or allow you to re-roll. No flashy attack flurries, no golden beams of magic light.
    • Oh, it gets even better. Whereas the first few excellencies cost motes (Mana) on a per-use basis, several Exalt types have an excellency which allows them to commit motes and then use the earlier excellencies at reduced cost (or no cost at all) for the rest of the scene. End result? Basic multi-action attack flurries boosted by free excellencies are one of the most efficient means of dealing damage in the game.
    • Perfect Defenses. They're cheep, only serve to negate one attack, but they're pretty much needed to survive attacks being enhanced by other Boring but Practical charms.
  • BattleTech has two examples that stand out.
    • First, there's the medium laser—modest range and damage, but lightweight, compact, heat-efficient and can fire all day long without running out of ammo, which makes it a great weapon for light 'Mechs that can't carry much in the way of weapons tonnage anyway and a great backup weapon for the big guns on heavier designs. It's just perhaps the most ubiquitous 'Mech weapon out there, period.
    • And second, one of the most basic items of the 'modern' era: the double heat sink. It's perfectly boring—all it does is funnel heat (one of the main limiting factors on how many weapons you can safely use in one turn) out of your 'Mech or other eligible unit at twice the rate of the plain old single heat sink for the same one-ton weight. However, because using DHSs on a design also doubles the base heat dissipation capacity it gets for free with its fusion engine before explicitly installing extra sinks and because the game was not originally balanced with this in mind, this item arguably ends up edging right into Game Breaker territory; single heat sinks certainly have generally fallen out of favor as a consequence except on units that explicitly cannot use doubles, or for background flavor reasons.
  • A lot of the stuff in Traveller is like this. Three thousand years in the future and they are 'still fighting with rifles. Most commerce is carried, not on Cool Starship s but on great big hulking Megacorperate abominations that fly unadventurously on scheduled routes. The Imperium is ruled, not by a mysterious Ancient Conspiracy but by a caste of the decendants of successful industrialists and soldiers. And so on.
  • In Mage: The Ascension, the core rulebook highlights how every single tradition has developed a simple "heal my injuries" technique. Some magi blast foes with arcane bolts, some call forth ancient spirits, some invent sapient computers, but everybody finds some way to close their wounds quickly.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • Hank Hill from King of the Hill embodies this trope.
  • Darkwing Duck: Darkwarrior Duck, rather than use a flashy or dramatic way to defeat Megavolt and Quackerjack, just beats them with... a garden hose. No overkill missile launchers, no gas guns (he doesn't even use them anymore), just a garden hose.
  • The Venture Brothers: Brock Sampson and his knife. It's all the weapon he needs.
  • Justice League: How Green Lantern John Stewart tends to use his powers in earlier episodes (somewhat justified by the fact that he's a military man). Katma Tui calls him out on it in Season 2, and from then on he gets a somewhat more creative with his constructs.
  • Connie from Steven Universe. While Steven prefers to operate on the Rule of Cool, Connie's plans are grounded in reality and work.
  • Grand Admiral Thrawn in Star Wars Rebels spent much of his screentime pushing for the production of the TIE Defender. Unlike other Awesome but Impractical Imperial projects, namely the Death Star, the TIE Defender was cheap to build, could be mass-produced by the millions using the existing TIE factories and could be sent out across the Empire. It was stated more than once that if the Defender had been mass-produced, it would have crushed the Rebellion. Even Tarkin and Vader gave their support to the project. While the Defender was never put into mass-production, the First Order ultimately recycled much of its blueprints as the starting point for their own TIEs.

Real Life

  • Humans are often praised for their high intelligence compared to any other animals. However, this is only the second best superpower humans possess. Even more important and providing humans with an advantage over almost any other animals of the plain was the ability... to walk! And keep walking for hours. Many animals are a lot faster than humans but also tire much faster. Humans can travel over very long distances with relatively short amounts of rest and their ability to carry water with them extended this even more. To capture a horse alive, you just had to follow them until they were too exhausted to take a single more step.
    • One of the few other animals with a similar ability to travel over long distances is the trusty dog. The beginning of a wonderful partnership.
  • Shields. Rocks, pieces of wood, animal hide, a convenient wall, and metal shields are damn useful. Modern day shields can be bulletproof so that a gun is rendered silly before them. It functions well with armor and strap shields can be used with any one handed weapon. If you need a smaller one to have an open hand, you can use a buckler. Someone trained with a shield can easily defeat someone without one. Or with one, really.
  • The "Wash" method of shuffling cards. It's not pretty, it's slower than other techniques, looks decidely amatuerish and is the natural shuffling technique of people who can't otherwise shuffle cards (including small children), but when it comes right down to it, spreading the cards around on the table with the palms of your hands is simply the best way to achieve truly random results, so-much-so that proffesional dealers will typically "Wash" a brand-new deck of cards (which will, of course, start-off ordered by suit and by number) in order to properly randomise them before flashier and faster but less random shuffling techniques such as the Riffle take over.
  • Healthy food. While eating a variety of foods and spices will probably be the best way to get all your nutrients, plain food can keep you reasonably healthy (providing you don't leave out any important food group.)
  • Regular, comfortable clothes. Spend a few months rehearsing/acting in a corset, hoop-skirt and high heels if you don't believe me.
  • The humble spear. Basically the next step of weapons development after inventing the knife (or sharpened rock), and has been in use for thousands of years by almost every single culture that has ever existed. It has equipped entire armies, and even now exists in the form of a bayonet attachment for guns.
    • So practical, that it coined the name of an entire nation. The germanic word for spear is "ger". So a spearman is a "german".
  • Roman equipment:
    • The humble short sword and shield of the Roman legions. Compared to the massive swords and axes of their opponents, these seemed sadly undersized but, combined with Roman tactics, it easily carried the day in thousands of engagements. There's a reason it's known as "the sword that conquered the world".
    • The roman shovel, even more boring, but even more practical as the Tool that conquered the world. The Roman legions were trained even more rigorously with their shovels than with their swords. Why? With their shovels, they could construct earthworks around their camps, making them much harder to assault while at rest. They could dig latrines for sanitation. They could build roads so that the legions that would follow them could arrive faster. They could dig underneath walls during sieges, then collapse the tunnels, causing the walls to weaken and fall. You can also improvise a shovel as a polearm or a club. The average roman soldier would use, over a lifetime, his shovel nearly a thousand times more than his sword. After all, you could only use a sword to fight, but you can use a shovel for ANYTHING.
      • To this very day, many armies train their soldiers in the use of shovels (or Entrenching Tools, shortened to E-tools) as weapons. Specific examples include the Green Berets, who are trained in using their E-Tools as hacking and stabbing weapons, and the Spetsnaz who are trained in how to throw them like hatchets.
        • The Spetsnaz Combat Shovel also makes a decent frying pan.
  • Discipline : sure, being a huge fellow with a large sword that can shout loud is impressive. Sure, being the maverick hero who doesn't answer to anyone and save the day by going against everyone's expectation looks cool. But in the end, these expectations exists because following order in a disciplined fashion is just goddamned efficient.
  • How about the bow and arrow? The first truly effective projectile weapon (after the primitive sling). Used and improved upon for thousands of years and only finally outclassed by gunpowder weapons.
    • In fact, the English longbow was arguably the most effective weapon on the battlefield and definitely more effective than guns/cannons for years after their appearance. It simply required LOTS more training (about a lifetime's worth) than a gun or even crossbow.
      • The training is the reason that gunpowder weapons replaced bows and crossbows on the battlefield. You could train a recruit to use the early smooth-bore black powder guns acceptably in a few weeks, but it would take at least 10 years to get a longbowman up to standard. Crossbows were more difficult to learn than early guns, but much easier than longbows.
    • During the feudal era of Japan, arrows took the lives of far more soldiers than any other type of weapon, roughly 70% of the casualties of any major battle, even after the introduction of firearms into the Japanese arsenal. Why? Japan never used metal armor during this time period, the most advanced armors were instead made of lacquered wood, meaning that against a steel-headed arrow coming down from above, they had roughly the same deflective power as tissue paper. Yeah, katanas are cool and all, but they're not much use against a weapon that can kill you before you come within 50 ft of your attacker.
  • By the way—that "primitive" sling? A weapon of terror. Ammo is basically infinite, you can use either specially-made shot or anything small and hard. The Romans dreaded sling-masters because they could kill armored soldiers through concussions. Reloading is extremely quick and trained sling wielders only needed one swing to get to full power. The slingshot is actually a step backwards in lethality. The Spanish armies included slingers until the 16th century - they could easily kill an unarmoured Moslem horseman at distance. Slings were considered so deadly there was a time where their use could be considered a war crime.
  • Recently deceased Norm Borlaug is quite possibly the exemplar of this trope in Real Life. He saved about 10 times more people from death than died in World War Two. He spent decades interbreeding plants in a process even he admits damn near drove him insane with tedium. However, the result was the Green Revolution which, increased crop yields to such an extent as to save more than a billion people from dying of starvation.
  • During the Second World War the de Havilland Mosquito was made of wood and canvas, old fashioned and low tech for the time. However whereas repairing a Spitfire took time and effort, a Mosquito could often be patched up by glue and canvas. To quote the Reichsmarschall:

 In 1940 I could at least fly as far as Glasgow in most of my aircraft, but not now! It makes me furious when I see the Mosquito. I turn green and yellow with envy.

The British, who can afford aluminium better than we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is building, and they give it a speed which they have now increased yet again. What do you make of that?

    • I wouldn't call the Mosquito 'boring', given its high performance and usefulness, and its innovative construction (it wasn't 'old fashioned', as it used old materials in a new way). I think it's more properly defined as interesting and practical!
      • More like Awesome but Practical. It was at the time the fastest plane ever built. But it was also large enough to carry bombs and take heavier weapons. The brits often sent them in to bomb Berlin during the day. By the time the Germans had scrambled their planes it was already over the canal. But what if they ended up in a dogfight? Well you're just facing a fighter plane with heavier weapons than you. Oh and it's also a lot faster. And since it used wood and canvas they were easy to repair and really cheap to produce. That meant that you had lots of planes that were in short awesome at everything.
        • Production had the advantage that, being made of wood, canvas, and glues, there was much less pressure on the supplies of raw materials from other war production, making it much easier to get raw materials. Because it was made of materials not being used in most other war production, it was also easier to get people already skilled in their use (it was pretty easy for cabinet makers and carpenters to learn to make parts, for instance, since cutting and shaping wood is cutting and shaping wood). It was also generally easier to train people in woodworking than metalworking needed for metal designs. In combat, the fact that the thing was made of composited wood and canvas held together with adhesives made it a LOT tougher than it looked like it should be.
    • The Hawker Hurricane is a better fit, tube-stell body and wooden wings, with the whole thing covered in canvas. A bit slow and unmanouverable for the bad, but it'd take hundreds of rounds easily, and often survived because the canvas wasn't tough enough to trigger explosive rounds. Also, the Fairey Swordfish torpedo bomber, underpowered, underarmed, and wouldn't look out of place in WW 1, yet 20 of these claimed 1 battleship sunk and 2 damaged at Taranto.
      • The mighty Bismarck. Sank the H.M.S Hood in only a few minutes with nearly every hand aboard. One of the most high tech, powerful naval vessels around. Brought down by a torpedo launched from a Swordfish.
      • Swordfishes were later fitted with radar and used for anti-submarine warfare. Once that happened, the North Atlantic wasn't safe for any German ship or submarine.
    • The Gruman F4F Wildcat and Brewster F2A Buffalo also deserve honerable mention. The Wildcat couldn't beat a Mitsubishi A6M Zero in a dogfight, but with proper tactics was tough enough to fight them to a standstill. Unlike the Allied fighters that outclassed their Japanese counterparts, an F4F could operate from an escort carrier. The F2A was less capable The F4F and, the 44 that the Finns got their hands on were the backbone of the Finnish Air Force until they got Messerschmitt Bf109s. The Finnish Buffalos shot down roughly twice as many Soviet aircraft than the Finns lost during the entire war.
    • The old Chinook transport helicopters are easily discernable by their unique shape with two large rotors and no tail, but are otherwise not much to look at. However they have a very large storage compartment and can even lift field artillery right to their employment location, while also being able to operate at altitudes where most other helicopters can no longer generate enough lift to keep rising. In addition, when escorted by Apache combat helicopters, the Chinooks have to slow down as the Apaches can't keep up. It's actually suprising that's its an American design and not made by Russia.
      • Speaking of Russian helicopter designs, there is the Mi-8. It's an ugly thing to be sure, with a rail-thin tail and a huge bulbous body. But it is also nearly endlessly customizable, carries twenty fully-armed combat troops and can take a beating. It's been in service with the Russian military for over fifty years, and while the Ka-60 was intended to replace it, it's looking like the "Hip" is going to be around for quite a while longer.
    • Another WW 2 example is tank warfare on the Eastern Front. The Nazis wasted resources coming up with bigger and better tanks, while the Soviets simply mass-produced their existing T-34. The T-34 was so simple and practical with a decent sized gun, sloped armor and an efficient diesel engine that almost never quit, that it would've made much more sense for the Nazis to copy it. Instead they wasted time and resources overdesigning and building expensive monster tanks with huge guns, thick vertical armor, and underpowered gasoline hungry engines that were prone to breakdown, but were made specifically to take the T-34 down - but they simply could not pump out the numbers to make it worthwhile. The T-34 itself does have its own awesome aspects, mainly due to being Made of Iron and The Determinator.
      • Funniest fact with the T-34 is the poor quality control due to parts being produced at hundreds of factories with varying standards, which exacerbated the fair share of problems the unpolished design had as is. As a result, Soviet tank corps had to deal with steering and braking levers which stuck and could only be released with a hammer, rubberless treads, poor transmission design derived from an abandoned American project (Which still, however, proved to be more reliable than elaborate layered disk treads of Panthers and Tigers). Most T-34s lacked radios. Compared to any Pz-IV or Panther it was a mule against a thoroughbred. But it could still pack the same firepower or even greater, hold its ground with thick sloped armor and most important, it could be churned out by tens of thousands. You can forget any faults when there are a few hundreds of them charging at you, guns blazing.
        • It also came as standard with a 76 mm main gun (later upgraded to 85mm), an aluminium engine block, and tracks that didn't bog down so badly in rough Russian terrain.
      • The Sherman also fit this category. Against a Tiger or a Panther one on one a Sherman would get its turret handed to it. But the allies used its superior speed and production to overwhelm the enemy in large groups. While they shot at one or two Shermans the rest got behind and started blasting away at the weaker backside.
      • In any case tanks aren't mainly for fighting other tanks as if they were battleships. Tanks are for digging a hole through the enemy lines, and getting through and destroying supply lines. Do the math. A good tank is only worth two or three poor tanks at best. It is worth any amount of trucks. That is what people forget when they compare tigers to shermans; they are thinking of heroic duels. But having more and faster tanks means they can dominate the roads while the Tigers simply run out of gas. In other words the real use of tanks is if not boring but practical, at least possibly more boring and definitely more practical then having great battles between tigers and shermans as if shermans were meant to fight tigers in the first place.
    • General Dwight D. Eisenhower once said that the "equipment ... most vital to our success in Africa and Europe were the bulldozer, the jeep, the 2 1/2 ton truck, and the C-47 airplane. Curiously enough, none of these is designed for combat." The point being that the preparations prior to battle are just as important as actually fighting them. Even though the Germans' best weapons were technologically far better than that of the Americans, Brits, and arguably the Soviets, they 1) couldn't get enough of them to the front, and 2) couldn't keep them fueled and maintained for long enough for them to be useful.
      • There is a school of thought that says the C-47 cargo plane was the single most important vehicle that helped win the war for the allies.
        • The civilian version of the C-47, the Douglas DC-3, was very successful in its own right. Several hundred of them are still flying today in active commercial service around the world, simply because nobody ever really designed an aircraft better suited to rugged conditions. The common saying among pilots is that "the only replacement for a DC-3 is another DC-3."
      • While the U.S. provided the Soviet Union with a number of tanks, bazookas and planes as part of the lend-lease act, many Soviet commanders were most grateful for the thousands of Jeeps that came with the deal since the Soviet union's main method of having its infantry keep up with the tanks was riding them (and you can only fit so many guys on top of a T-34 before the first AT shell blows them to pieces). Tens of thousands local copies of the Jeep would be made during and after the war and were much beloved by their owners.
      • Napoleon once said an army fights on its stomach. All forms of cargo transportation in essence is the evolution of this. The most practical and boring thing in wars are the supply lines. Well, boring until they are attacked.
        • It was Julius Caesar who said an army marches on its' stomach. Napoleon said "The outcome of the battle is incidental to the decisive question of supply." He lost his campaign in Egypt, for instance, because the British Navy destroyed the French fleet that was providing Napoleon's army with supplies. The supplies on hand allowed him to operate for a time, but he left before things inevitably went south on him.
      • "Amateurs study tactics. Professionals study logistics."
  • Late in WWII the US stopped painting their aircraft. Why? Several reasons: The Americans were building aircraft faster than they could be shot down; The Axis couldn't keep up with the losses the Allies were inflicting; radar made camoflage useless; and the Americans didn't care if they were intercepted.
    • The D-day stripes painted on aircraft? It's also this trope because it reduced damage from friendly ground fire.
  • Bruce Lee pretty much loved this trope, up to the point where he developed his own fighting style based entirely around it called Jeet Kun Do (way of the intercepting fist). However, in practice, everything he did off-screen pretty much ended up falling under Awesome Yet Practical, anyway.
    • Lee developed his ideas after observing the stop hit of fencing, which can best be described as follows: when your opponent winds up for something big, stick your sword in him. The rules are a bit more technical.
  • Regular, ordinary cars. They lack the ruggedness of an SUV or pickup or the power and sleekness of a sports car, but are more efficient with gasoline, are usually the cheapest new cars you can find, and they won't make your insurance rates sky rocket. Newer such cars also come with various safety features that will raise your chances of surviving an accident more than a sports car will, as sports cars sacrifice safety features and other luxuries in order to achieve optimum performance. Unfortunately, some people will hate you for choosing practicality over style...
    • The 2011 Mediocrity. [1]
    • This is Toyota through and through, not the best in any field, except maybe reliability.
    • On that note: Older cars amongst regular cars are generally cheaper and still have a good amount of efficiency, even if they have over 100,000 miles on the engine. All it really takes to maintain this car is a decent understanding of mechanics and keeping an eye on your car's fluids.
  • On that note, even the ordinary pick-up truck qualifies. While some you have your "crucks" and your "Oversized pickups for fashion and compensation", the majority of them are massed produced utility vehicles designed take a decent amount of cargo and one or two people and move them from one place to another. The basic design of the pick-up truck hasn't changed in over half a century. It's safer then many other vehicles in most types of common collisions because Sir Issac Newton is the deadliest SOB on the road. It's so damn utilitarian that if an ordinary pick-up truck is properly maintained and driven normally you can even get more mileage and years of usage out of a good truck then a car and have average to better than average gas mileage.
  • The Sturmey Archer AW internal gear hub: Originally designed in the 1930s as a mix of parts from their other hubs to provide a low-cost seller, the hub became the standard gear system for bicycles up until the 10 speed fad of 1970s. Unbelievable reliability has kept it in production for over seventy-five years.
  • Walking. The simplest and most reliable way to close a short distance. Your own two feet can work in any weather, can't be stolen (easily), costs nothing, doesn't need (much) maintenance, can take short cuts cars and bikes can't, never have to worry about running someone over, needs no garage to store, helps you get fit and still work reasonably well if you're drunk.
  • The basis of Collegiate wrestling. Most common takedowns? High Crotches or Double Legs (Because you can't go wrong with basically spear tackling a guy and trying to throw him off to the side.) First taught and commonly used Escape? The stand-up. Pin? Half nelson. All of these moves are some of the first taught to new wrestlers and seasons.
  • The jerry can (or jerrican). Its simplicity betrays a sophisticated nature. It was designed to be operable without pump or funnels, and the multiple handles mean it can be easily carried together. And that 'X' mark you see on the side? That's not just for show. It reinforces the sides, and it allows the content to expand without warping the container. It's one of the first German technology adopted by the British in World War I. Even now, the jerry can design has been used in more civilian goods, like liquid detergent.
  • The AK-47 rifle is the most widely used rifle in the world, it ain't flashy but it can be left in a puddle of mud for months and still be usable afterwords.
    • Not to mention you can make one in your backyard with some metal scrap and a barbecue if you know what you're doing.
    • Bringing the two rifles up on a shooting forum is pure Flame Bait, but the AR-15 family is arguably even more boring and practical. The bullets aren't as big, and you can't show off by smearing the rifle with mud and shooting it anyway, but it's lighter, has about three times the range, extremely accurate and modular enough for the same rifle to be used for any mission or competition.
    • Topped by the even older SKS and Sten, weapons which can and were built in people's sheds.
      • Somewhat coupled with the M3 "Grease Gun", made by General Motors (yes, that General Motors).
        • Also the M-1911. It is often times called an American masterpiece of firearm design, and was only replaced by the American Army after Vietnam. With very few to no changes the design is still popular today among police officers and civilians, at least in the country of origin. It's also used in the Marines (See the MEU(SOC) Pistol) and by many American Special Forces groups, who prefer it to the M9 for the .45's excellent stopping power and the gun's world-class reliability. A near-100 year old gun is still the beloved favorite of soldiers generally considered to be at the cudding edge of modern warfare.
    • This trope applies to a whole lot of guns. There may be incredibly complex and detailed Fabrique Nationale pistols, but really a Colt .45 still does the same job it did 100 years ago. There are bullpup auto shotguns which only have an advantage of using more ammo more quickly, and there are assault rifles that are almost sophisticated enough to look like a HUD from Halo, but as mentioned above, the AK-47 still pretty much does the job.
      • Most assault rifles fall under this class. They aren't as big and powerfull as sniper rifles, as small as pistols, as as dakka...y as machine guns, or as cheap as submachine guns. But they can mow down a group of hostiles, and you can stow most in a backpack. Although since the AK 47 tends to be more Awesome Yet Practical, being lightweight, powerful, and reliable, such as the H&K G36 or the FN SCAR-L
    • Glock pistols fit this. A very plain looking black pistol, sometimes ridiculed by old timers as a "plastic gun," it's nevertheless one of the most reliable firearms in the world, easily on par with the AK-47's famed reliability and tolerance of abuse and neglect. And to top it off, it has very simple mechanics, lacks a traditional safety, is very simple to clean, and costs about half what most 1911 clones or high end revolvers cost. There's a reason why nearly every police department in the US has adopted this as standard issue.
    • Revolvers in general. They don't carry as much ammo or look as flashy as automatics, but they're compact, deadly, and almost impossible to jam.
    • While we're still on the subject of firearms, how about the lowly .22 Long Rifle cartridge? It's rimfire, meaning it's low-pressure and awfully weak compared to other ammunition, and thus is not recommended for striking down anything larger than a rabbit. Then again, the proven design is older than any human alive, has less shock than a pellet rifle, and is so ubiquitous that you can buy hundreds of rounds for a few bucks. It's what competitors use in the Olympics. And yes, it can kill someone.
      • Also, being a "weak" rimfire, it escapes most restrictions on what types of guns you can buy in urban America, meaning you can legally possess an "assault weapon" even in gun-phobic states like California, as long as it is chambered for a .22LR
    • How about ridiculously commonplace 12 guage pump action shotgun? Reliable, Accurate, relatively lightweight, Conserves ammo while still being rather fast-shooting. Most models are pretty much the build-a-bear workshop of guns- you can pick any type of stock, any capacity(through extenders), any barrel length, and any sighting arrangement. Not to mention the fact that the ammo comes in dozens and dozens of variations, from Jack of All Stats buckshot to more specialized ammunition like slugs, flechettes, and even crazy things like Dragon's Breath. All of this is for less than a quality handgun.
    • Heck, you can put guns in general under this trope. Sure, a lot of them have complex features with a lot of parts, but they all function around the same simple principle: accelerating a chunk of metal to a speed at which it can hurt someone or something.
  • True castles, as compared to palaces or houses "Inspired By" castle architecture. Being built for defense and protection means that they're usually cold, dark, and not very nice to look at. But hey, it withstands a siege really well!
    • Trenches. Bad guys have guns? Big guns? Artillery? Dig a ditch and use it for cover. Foxholes are an even simpler version, literally just being a big hole you dig up and hide in. You can even put a smaller deeper hole in the middle of it in case the bad guys chuck a grenade at you. Just kick the grenade into the hole and your chances of surviving just went up considerably.
  • The cargo container has radically transformed shipping over the last 200 years. Instead of moving dozens of boxes or barrels one at a time, you just put them into a single cargo container and move that. Standardize the size of cargo containers and you can have trucks, ships, and traincars specifically designed to carry them, and infrastructure to transfer them from one to another. Simple, boring, and so useful that it is difficult to imagine doing it another way.
  • Pencils and paper. Incredibly simple, lightweight, and almost 100% reliable in all conditions as long as it's not wet. And a lot cheaper than those i- and e- items.
  • A book. Although it may or may not be about to be replaced by e-readers, for the last few thousand years there has been no more economical and efficient means of containing information.
    • The comparison to e-readers is particularly appropriate... the book may not be electronic or have an internet connection, but it never runs out of batteries, doesn't have problems with funny formats or DRM, doesn't break when dropped, doesn't cost $200 to replace, and if your friend borrows a book, you can still read your other books. E-readers have a lot of advantages, but books definitely fit this trope.
    • To quote Carl Sagan: "For the price of a modest meal you can get the history of Rome".
  • Rice. Not counting flavored, spiced, salted, egg, or with a curry/sauce. Just plain rice. For its size it is incredibly rich in nutrition and energy.
    • They happen to be an excellent flavor buffer for a lot of saucy foods. That or they just go good with saucy foods (or with sauce in general).
  • Noodles. Just like rice, they go well with a whole host of sauces or seasonings. Anyone for spaghetti and meatballs?
  • Potatoes, as well. They don't look like much, but they did save Europe from continous famine for quite some time.
    • Potatoes also grow in a lot of places where cereals won't. This allowed massive population expansion in countries like Ireland where a lot of land isn't suitable for cereals but potatoes like it just fine. (Until you hit the problems of monoculture agriculture in a pre-chemical environment...)
  • Tap water. Doesn't look very fancy and tastes pretty bland. But it's far less expensive than juice, far healthier than alcohol or soft drinks, and is far better at keeping you hydrated. And is readily available at home whenever you want it.
    • And if you live somewhere where there is no reliable source of clean water, the old fashioned beer takes that place. Since it gets boiled during production, it's usually much cleaner than any unfiltered water. Calories and carbs in tasty, drinkable, preserved form. Staff of life, potable water, and recreation all in one.
      • Depending on one's opinion, this could make beer Awesome Yet Practical instead.
      • Tea and coffee also serve(d) the same purpose, although they have neither calories nor carbs in quantity unless you add sugar. In fact, if you're drinking good enough coffee, you don't even need condiments to make it taste good.
      • In the same vein, boiled water. Boiling water clears away most (but not all) of the bad stuff in any local sources by killing it through extreme heat. It can cook food for you while making sure that (provided you drink the resulting broth) very little of the nutrients are lost. And all you need for it is to make a campfire and gather some water.
  • The vibrate option on cellphones. Sure, it doesn't let you show off your personalized ringtone that everyone is dying to hear, but it's very useful in noisy environments and, in places that demand reduced noise levels such as libraries and inside smaller stores, it'll notify you of a call or new message without pissing off everybody around you.
    • Not only that, but if you put the cellphone on the right surface, it can be suitably loud enough to get your attention.
  • For all the focus most writers and the general public place on bold high-risk operations, the majority of useful intelligence has been and probably will continue to be gathered through open sources. To quote General Anthony Charles Zinni, USMC (Ret.), former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Central Command (CINCENT): "80% of what I needed to know as CINCENT I got from open sources rather than classified reporting. And within the remaining 20%, if I knew what to look for, I found another 16%. At the end of it all, classified intelligence provided me, at best, with 4% of my command knowledge."
  • Boring old tactile keyboards over cooler, more "advanced" touch screen keyboards. Why? Because you can navigate a tactile keyboard solely by feel while keeping an eye on the display. Touch screens are, well, flat and more time goes into looking at finger placement than would on a tactile keyboard.
    • While we're on it, boring old PCs over flashy tablets, for similar reasons. Marketing for certain tablets can go on and on about how it's the "post-PC" era, but their relative cheapness, mass producability, and tactile input means that they'll likely stick around for a long time.
    • Don't forget computing power. Even a basic laptop will outperform a tablet, to say nothing of a high-end gaming desktop.
      • Plus, just try writing a term paper, essay or novel with a tablet sometime. Yes, you can buy a keyboard for your tablet, but at that point you just have a laptop that costs more and does less than a regular one.
      • Until the day comes that someone creates something that can replace the tactile input of a PC, we really won't be in the post-PC era for awhile.
  • Microsoft PowerPoint and its clones allow for fancy presentations involving colorful backgrounds and exciting text effects and slide transitions. However, the best way to get your point across tends to be a simple, plain background with few (if any) text and transitonal effects and tasteful use of images and clipart, rather than something out of a typical My Space page. Unfortunately, many students up to high school (and in many cases, even in university or even after schooling) don't get the hint...
  • For hobby-grade r/c boats, constructing the hull out of wood rather than fiberglass or carbon fiber. Wood does not carry the same cachet of a hull made of high-tech composites, and are often sold in kit form, requiring you to build it yourself (Glass hulls are almost always sold ready to accept their hardware.) However, wood is cheap, and, if built correctly, just as strong as fiberglass (though not carbon fiber, although its use is largely limited to large scale boats.)
    • For gas r/c boats, the humble Homelite and Zenoah engines. Converted Homelites (they are typically used for yard equipment) powered the first gas r/c boats, while Zenoah released the first dedicated marine engine, the G23. Its successor, the G 260 PUM, is the most popular engine in the hobby. Stock, they will reliably power most hulls at a respectable speed. When modified by a skilled engine builder, the G260 can chuck out about 6 hp (increased displacement and/or aftermarket top ends can further increase that,) up from a claimed 3.2 hp, and can push the fastest hulls up to 100 mph, depending on setup, hull, and conditions. The Zenoah is so ubiquitous, that every other brand of gas r/c engine is designed to fit in the same footprint, and parts commonality is, well, common. The only realistic challenger to the Zenoahs crown are the RCMK engines, which are sold for not much more than a stock G260, but can develop 5 hp, in addition to far better after-sale support.
  • The humble .csv (comma separated value) file. It is a plain text file, with rows of data, and each value separated by a comma. Doesn't have fancy formatting, tabs, or other genuinely useful tools that an Excel file can have, but is loved by IT Admins and programmers everywhere for how easy it is to have a script read. In addition, there are a variety of programs specifically designed for editing .csv's, for those who don't like working with plaintext, and spreadsheet applications like Excel and OpenOffice Calc have .csv support.
    • By extension, any and all utilitarian IT standards. ASCII text, f'rinstance, doesn't come with fonts, or nifty accents, but every Goddamn computer in the world can read it. Dial-up internet access is slow and inconvenient, but everybody who has a phone can use it for low cost.
    • This article on The Daily WTF argues that application programming in general is made of this trope when done properly.
  • The knife. Sure, it's probably mankind's oldest tool, but it has that title for a reason. It's a tool you can use to cut, make new tools, and can be used as a weapon, which is probably the only melee combat weapon still widely used by a modern military
    • Really, a knife is this in spades. It almost falls into Awesome but Practical territory when you take into account the sheer versatility of a good knife. It has literally countless uses, even around the average home (Cutting open packaging, use as an impromptu screwdriver or hammer with the butt, use in place of scissors, and thats saying nothing of it's culinary applications), and if you ever ask a survivalist what three things to take into any survival type situation, they'll list off "Knife, fire or way to make fire, and clean water" in that order. If your stuck in the woods with just a knife, with a little thought you have it made—a knife can net you all the tools you need to make fire, get food, and get the resources to make clean, drinkable water. Saying nothing of it's self defense applications, a knife is probably the single most versatile tool ever created.
  • Skis and the slightly more awesome dog sled for moving across snow. One of the reasons Amundsen won the race to the South Pole (and, you know, survived) was the use of these two simple methods of transport. Scott on the other hand wanted to use high tech mechanical crawlers that soon broke down due to the extreme conditions. There have been claims that Scott and his men didn't even know how to ski, usually with the implication that they would have survived had they known.
  • Penicillin. It kills most bacterial infections and saves lives. There's a reason it used to be considered a military secret.
    • While we're on the topic of medicine: modest exercise, a good diet, rest, avoiding alcohol in excess, tobacco altogether, buckling your seat belt, reading the directions of every medication you take, sanitation, hygiene, basic screening tests, and vaccination. This sounds as sexy as saw dust and yet if followed rigorously by a population would dramatically reduce the burden of disease. Even the half-assed implementation in the modern world has lengthened life expectancy by many years.
  • The Times typeface.
    • Courier and Courier New as well. Clean fixed-width fonts used by many programmers and those who work with documents where positions of characters matter greatly.
    • Verdana is also a common and effective typeface for Net text.
    • This site uses Trebuchet.
  • The humble sandwich. It makes any foods taste good together, in a portable, no-silverware package that can often be an entire meal that fits in your pocket. It can be made for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and is almost always one of the healthiest things you can eat.
  • Medieval alchemists spent a great deal of time looking for a "universal solvent," capable of, well, dissolving anything. It took a very long time before anyone realized that you'd have trouble finding a more versatile solvent than plain old water.
  • In the days when the Cool Train was hauled by steam, the most common and useful steam locomotive was the 0-6-0 goods engine (think Donald and Douglas from The Railway Series). The long boiler allowed the locomotive to build up a lot of steam and conserve it, so the locomotive would not need to be cold-started every time it needed to move. As all the wheels were driving wheels, the locomotive had a lot of tractive effort for its weight. It had more adhesion than the 0-4-0, but could go more places than the 0-8-0. The 0-6-0 was not fast, but it was a powerful little machine, and pretty much every country that used steam locomotives used the 0-6-0. Examples would be the New South Wales Z19, the Prussian G 3, the Caledonian 812, the LMS Fowler 4F, the GWR Dean Goods, the North Eastern 1001 class, the North British C Class, and the USRA 0-6-0.
    • In North America another example is the 4-4-0. It wasn't as flashy or fast as later engines but it handled rough terrain well and was very simple mechanically, making repairs easy.
  • Ground-based Anti-Aircraft systems are pretty boring compared to sleek and sophisticated jet fighters going missile-to-missile, but planes are expensive to manufacture and pilots are expensive to train and difficult to replace, especially the best ones. A well-utilized Surface-To-Air missile network and anti-aircraft artillery is a very cost-effective way to establish air dominance, as both the Vietnam War and the Yom-Kipour War proved. This is primarily the reason why stealth aircraft are becoming popular, because many nations are shrinking their Air Forces and widening the use of their ground-to-air systems.
  • The Infantry. As noted by Robert Heinlein, while technology may evolve to include incredibly dangerous tanks, bombs, aircraft carriers, missiles, nuclear weapons, and everything else that can conceivably kill a thousand people inside a nanosecond, there has only ever been one branch of Armed Forces remarkable in it's consistency; a man, trained or untrained, between fourteen and fifty years of age, and a weapon in his hand. This man, or in recent times this woman, has endured the scorching jungles of Tenochtitlan, and the unbearable hell of Stalingrad. When a Tank rolls across his path, he puts a bit of fuel in a bottle, sets a light, and throws it underneath. When a plane flies overhead, he finds a ridge and hides under it. When poison gas lands near him, he pisses on his handkerchief and covers his mouth. He can fight in damn near any conditions, run on, in comparison to other forms of warfare, miniscule amounts of fuel, cross any terrain, in time, and defeat any foe given enough of him. He is the Duckfoot, the Mehmet, the Tommy, the average infantry soldier. He is the most boring arm of any Armed Force, to the point that many of it's members are forced to be there. But, boy, is he the most practical
    • "You can bomb it, you can strafe it, you can cover it with poison, you can turn it into glass, but you don't own it unless your infantry's on it and the other guy's isn't."
  • This is one of the reasons why Western martial arts have been downplayed or ignored in most media compared to Eastern martial arts. The latter is known for being exotic, with often thematic naming of forms and styles and some level of mysticism fused with the styles themselves—making them excellent for flashy media depictions. European martial arts, however, had more straightforward names of both schools and techniques, and as such don't seem quite as impressive-sounding for media depictions.
    • Some Eastern Martial Arts get the same treatment as well. About ten or fifteen years ago, people were more likely to have heard of Karate and Kung-Fu (which are often used as umbrella terms for a variety of Japanese and Chinese Martial Arts) than Judo or Muay Thai. However, with the popularity of Mixed Martial Arts growing over the years, the later two are becoming more well known. Ironically, their popularity in MMA has to do with the fact that they largely ditch the flashy posturing for practicality.
      • Brazilian jiu-jitsu is probably the single best example of this trope in the martial arts world, as it is extremely effective and extremely boring to the vast majority of people. Those who don't train don't really understand the complex positional battles or the attacks, counters, etc. being used; so while one combatant may be dangerously close to getting their arm broken or being choked unconscious, most of the audience sits there wondering when the action is going to start. Watch a match or two on YouTube and you'll see what I mean.
  • The medical dressing. In use for thousands of years, incredibly straightforward to apply, easily capable of saving wounded people from various horrible deaths, cheap to make, quickly obtained from clothing or other nearby items, it's perhaps one of the most enduring elements of medical technology ever. Now it exists in thousands of different variants, from the humble Band-Aid to Awesome Yet Practical complex and fancy dressings intended for severe trauma victims, but it certainly seems like it's not going anywhere soon.
  • Soviet/Russian military clothing is an example. This was especially apparent in World War II where the rougher-looking, more utilitarian gear of the Soviets was contrasted with the snazzy Hugo Boss-made uniforms of the Nazis. Soviet winter clothing was considerably warmer during winter than German clothing, even their winter gear, and it was common for German troops to loot such clothing from slain or captured Soviets. This even extends to today as attempts to phase out the old greatcoat in the military with newer more body-fitting modern winter gear was stymied by the fact that the new gear just wasn't that good during the really cold spots, resulting in cases of hypothermia and frostbite.
    • They were also so thick, they could be considered a form of low-grade body armor. The WW 2-era Commando knife's seal of quality was it's capability to pierce a Soviet-issue greatcoat. U.S troops in Korea also reported that their M1 carbine's .30 Carbine round could not reliably penetrate the thick winter greatcoats of Chinese troops which were identical to those used by the Soviets.
  • Despite having an arsenal of high-tech weaponry, the ability to call down airstrikes at the ready, the very latest in military vehicle technology and the best equipment available to a soldier, U.S Special Operations forces in the early part of the Afghan war found the best way to get around in isolated, mountainous country was the same one that the Afghans had used for centuries; the horse.
  • This is one interpretation of the drumming style of Ringo Starr. Some Beatles fans find his drumming tedious, uninteresting and bland. Others feel that this is his greatest strength - when the other three band members were pulling in different styles and directions, he was always able to adapt to a reasonable level, no matter what style they were playing in. John Lennon in particular would only work with Ringo for a long time after the break-up of the band because he was able to give Lennon exactly what he asked for.
  • Office workers. Those niggling behind-the-scenes clerical tasks you either don't know or care about or might not want to come within a century of? These guys are the little jar of oil that keeps the department running like clockwork. Think of them as real-life Worker Units.
    • Maintenance workers are almost the exact same thing, except that they take care of the grounds on which we earn our living.
  • While laboratories might not be the most exciting places on the planet, no matter what Dexter's Laboratory tells you, the people who work in themtake care of the scientific details that crack the case for those on the front lines.
    • Speaking of laboratories, the invention of glass. It may be fragile and prone to shattering if heated or cooled too quickly (or dropped on the floor) but it conducts heat fairly well, refracts light, is easily cleaned, and cheap to replace. Oh, and it's transparent. A lot of work in science couldn't be done without it. On a more day-to-day level, it's nice being able to look out of windows and let sunlight in without causing a draft.
  • Samsung's 2020 revival of the "Fan Edition" line of electronics are this, with Samsung stripping the phones of their fanciness, such as glass casing and often reducing guerilla glass protection on screens to older, weaker variations, and also dropping the camera quality to give said electronics the same functionality as its top tier products for a lower price.
  • Apple's phones have come into scrutiny for how incremental it's design updates are with it being very hard to tell the difference of it's 12 and 13 lines in terms of their equivalents with the 12 and 13 looking almost the same and the 12 pro and 13 being very similar also. Software doesn't seem to be updated as much as Android per phone line but what does get introduced stays while Android tends to drop lesser used features.
  • Slab phones have been criticized for simply being a screen these days compared to the more varied designs of the past and flip/fold phones are getting attention but the slab design has allowed for manufacturers to put in the most features alongside protection such as dust and water protection which flip phones have only gotten the latter as of Samsung's third generation but still no dust protection. Slab phones also allow for bigger batteries for more life compared to other designs.
  1. for reference, a stock character has 100 HP
  2. It helps that both of those turn into an Infinity+1 Sword when you upgrade them.
  3. Or as one of the teamates noted, "She works in a fuckin' Waffle House, I mean come on