History Main / UselessUsefulSpell

24th Jul '16 3:42:17 PM KingLyger
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# Common enemies that the attacks ''are'' effective against can easily be disposed of by use of normal attacks, which means there's no sense in wasting time and magic power on fancy maneuvers. Who's going to waste 36MP to cast Instant Death on the local harmless UndergroundMonkey? Or wait for Poison to kill your opponent when often other methods do damage much faster? This is perhaps one of the most common examples of this trope -- in some games it's quicker to just beat them up in a couple rounds instead of spending a round or two inflicting debuffs or status ailments and ''then'' beating them up. (This varies; sometimes there is a boss or an EliteMook that requires more strategy.) Or in a real-time combat game the moment it takes to switch to the spell, cast it, then switch to your attack is a longer than it would take to kill anything not totally immune to the special effect spell.

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# Common enemies that the attacks ''are'' effective against can easily be disposed of by use of normal attacks, which means there's no sense in wasting time and magic power on fancy maneuvers. Who's going to waste 36MP to cast Instant Death on the local harmless UndergroundMonkey? Or UndergroundMonkey when you could kill it with a single normal attack? Why wait for Poison to kill your opponent when often other methods do damage much faster? This is perhaps one of the most common examples example of this trope -- in some games with most common enemies, it's quicker to just beat them up in a couple rounds your opponents instead of spending a round or two inflicting debuffs or status ailments and ''then'' beating them up. (This varies; sometimes there is a boss or an EliteMook that requires more strategy.) Or in up.
# In
a real-time combat game game, the moment time it takes to switch to the spell, cast it, then switch to your attack is a longer than it would take to kill anything not totally immune to the special effect spell.
23rd Jul '16 2:53:52 PM Geostomp
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# The spell induces a period of vulnerability after use, giving surviving enemies ample opportunity to exact revenge on the caster. This can result in the spell only being useful for finishing the fight, which requires careful calculation or you're wasting it on an enemy abut to die. Most players won't bother.

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# The spell induces a period of vulnerability after use, giving surviving enemies ample opportunity to exact revenge on the caster. This can result in the spell only being useful for [[FinishingMove finishing the fight, fight]], which requires careful calculation or you're wasting it on an enemy abut to die. Most players won't bother.
15th Jul '16 10:22:04 PM Koveras
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SuperTrope to ContractualBossImmunity. Compare AwesomeButImpractical. Contrast with the InverseLawOfUtilityAndLethality, where the more powerful something is in combat, the less it is outside of it.

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Subtrope of UnderusedGameMechanic. SuperTrope to ContractualBossImmunity. Compare AwesomeButImpractical. Contrast with the InverseLawOfUtilityAndLethality, where the more powerful something is in combat, the less it is outside of it.
15th Jul '16 5:59:14 AM Reymma
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# The ability only takes effect in conjunction with other abilities, meaning that unless the player must preform an elaborate set up to get any use out of it at all. This is especially damning in series with limits to the number of abilities available: any one slot in these games is a valuable investment, so even an amazing effect may not be worth losing multiple ones. Worse still, it makes the player [[PoorPredictableRock very predictable]] to opponents if any of the component spells are used.
# The spell induces a period of vulnerability after use, giving surviving enemies ample opportunity to exact revenge on the caster.

to:

# The ability only takes effect in conjunction with other abilities, meaning that unless the player must preform perform an elaborate set up to get any use out of it at all. This is especially damning in series with limits to the number of abilities available: any one slot in these games is a valuable investment, so even an amazing effect may not be worth losing multiple ones. Worse still, it makes the player [[PoorPredictableRock very predictable]] to opponents if any of the component spells are used.
# The spell induces a period of vulnerability after use, giving surviving enemies ample opportunity to exact revenge on the caster. This can result in the spell only being useful for finishing the fight, which requires careful calculation or you're wasting it on an enemy abut to die. Most players won't bother.
13th Jul '16 10:13:32 PM Geostomp
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to:

# The ability only takes effect in conjunction with other abilities, meaning that unless the player must preform an elaborate set up to get any use out of it at all. This is especially damning in series with limits to the number of abilities available: any one slot in these games is a valuable investment, so even an amazing effect may not be worth losing multiple ones. Worse still, it makes the player [[PoorPredictableRock very predictable]] to opponents if any of the component spells are used.
# The spell induces a period of vulnerability after use, giving surviving enemies ample opportunity to exact revenge on the caster.
# The spell requires a specific, sub-optimal loadout of characters or equipment to use, such as a weak or temporary magic barrier that only succeeds if the player walks into battle unarmed wearing nothing but a smile.
16th Jun '16 3:18:10 PM TheSinful
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Added DiffLines:

* ''[[TabletopGame/StarWarsD20 StarWarsSagaEdition]]'' had a few feats that at best had a bit of use at lower levels but were garbage at higher ones. Toughness increased your hit points by your level, but could only be taken by Soldiers who tended to have massive amounts of health anyway[[note]]A level 20 Soldier could have as much as 320 health without prestige classes[[/note]]. Force Boon gave you three extra Force Points each level, but meditation could restore Force Points anyway and higher levels gave plenty as is. And any Armor Proficencies a character didn't start with were pointless due to the fact ArmorIsUseless without certain class-specific talents. Linguist gave additional languages based on your intellect modifier but characters already knew additional languages based on their intellect modifier and most could get by with Basic, Huttese, and Bocce which were by far the most common.
11th Jun '16 11:41:23 PM Driavatus
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[[folder:Gamebooks

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[[folder:Gamebooks[[folder:Gamebooks]]
8th Jun '16 1:47:06 PM StFan
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# The spell's effect is very situational. Sure, protection from curses sounds great, but is it really worth the trouble when almost nothing uses curses? Or the anti-ice spell that only works if the enemy is a left handed wizard named "Tim"?

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# The spell's effect is very situational. Sure, protection from curses sounds great, but is it really worth the trouble when almost nothing uses curses? Or the anti-ice spell that only works if the enemy is a left handed left-handed wizard named "Tim"?



#The spell's effect [[MutuallyExclusivePowerups prevents you from using other abilities while active]]. [[ScaledUp Turning into a giant snake]] sounds impressive until you have to do something that requires hands again.
#The spell's effect is simply not powerful enough. The effect of the spell actually might be useful in theory if it had only been taken to a higher degree. Such as a 1% increase to movement speed or a heal spell that only boosts your hit point bar several pixels. This is one of the most common expressions of this trope in modern games.

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#The # The spell's effect [[MutuallyExclusivePowerups prevents you from using other abilities while active]]. [[ScaledUp Turning into a giant snake]] sounds impressive until you have to do something that requires hands again.
#The # The spell's effect is simply not powerful enough. The effect of the spell actually might be useful in theory if it had only been taken to a higher degree. Such as a 1% increase to movement speed or a heal spell that only boosts your hit point bar several pixels. This is one of the most common expressions of this trope in modern games.



[[folder: Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'', the original RPG, completely inverts this trope in its 3rd edition; traditionally Useless Useful Spells tend to be the most useful spells in the game, with direct damage spells falling well below them in power level. This is because most spells are equally likely to succeed in affecting a foe, thus a spell which can kill a foe is far more effective than a spell which can hurt one. Some status affecting spells automatically succeed, and many others are essentially the same as spells which outright kill foes because they completely disable them for long periods of time, allowing players to kill them at their leisure. Relatively few foes are immune to such spells, while many foes are resistant to elemental damage spells, adding insult to injury. A wide variety of spells which don't even directly harm opponents are also extremely powerful, and all in all this leads to wizards and other powerful spellcasters being {{game breaker}}s.
** But it gets nasty in the ''TabletopGame/EpicLevelHandbook''. If you look at the creature section, you'll see 9 times out of 10 that the creature is immune to paralysis, sleep, polymorphing, level draining, death spells, necromancy in general (those last 3 makes Epic Necromancers grind their teeth in frustration), stunning, dazing, mind-affecting magic, critical hits (just to make critical specialization useless), and so on. Not to mention that in turn these monsters will almost certainly have abilities that amount to "save or die" for the whole group and one or two nastier epic spells. All this is sort of offset by the fact that epic player characters almost always have the ability to resurrect each other at will with no XP penalties (there's a price, but minor by now).
*** The other thing you have to consider here is that the Epic Spellcasting rules effectively turn any character with 21+ CL into a PersonOfMassDestruction. The fact that they pretty much ignore most of the limits and immunities created by normal spellcasting is just icing on the cake. Using the printed rules you can quite easily synthesize a spell that, when cast once, effectively makes the caster powerful enough to kick the asses of every single character ever printed in any supplement. At once. Without using magic. The levels from 20-21 aren't so much [[LinearWarriorsQuadraticWizards quadratic]] in growth as much as dividing by zero.
** Oddly enough, the trope is followed in ''VideoGame/DungeonsAndDragonsOnline'', the MMORPG. Although instant kills are still very effective against {{Mooks}}, bosses are immune to most if not all mind-affecting and instant death spells. Thankfully, this only applies to the main bosses of dungeons, and, anyway, fights with them are not supposed to be [[AnticlimaxBoss "CHAAARGE -- Oh, he died."]]
*** They seem to be attempting to fix this with the recent spell passes, and prestiges for Wizards and Sorcerors. And if you're soloing as a [[OurLichesAreDifferent Pale Master]], Wail and Finger are still the best bang for your buck, spell-point-wise.
** In 4th Edition, however, direct-damage and status-effect spells are much more balanced, because although very few enemies are immune to status effect spells, most status effects can be ended with a "saving throw" that the victim has a 55% chance of making every round, so most status effects don't last more than a couple rounds. It is possible, however, to 'permanently' stun an enemy at high levels by using the Orb of Imposition to give an enemy such a high save penalty that he can't succeed.
*** To add insult to injury, the guys you ''really'' want to lock down for a round or two (nasty Solos) are usually the exact same guys that have a +5 bonus to their saving throws, meaning that they will make the save in 80% of all cases. Thus a condition like "... until the end of your next turn" is usually much more useful than "... save ends", because the Solo will most probably make his save anyway, ending the effect on his turn instead at the end of the round.
** The Orb of Imposition's penalty now only applies to one saving throw. There are other saving throw penalties that you can apply to all saves, but not enough to make the save impossible (and thus permanently lock the enemy down).
** 3.5 ed Cleric spells like Righteous Might and Divine Power tend to fall into this category. A fully buffed Cleric is perhaps the most deadly close combat fighter in the game, but by the time you're finished casting spells, the fight is almost over anyway. Now, if you have time to plan your attack, then it's another matter entirely...
** Of course, there is then the infamous gamebreaking nightstick, divine metamagic, and Persist Spell combo. Basically, nightsticks give turning attempts, stack and are cheap. Divine metamagic allows you to do things such as make the buffs last 24 hours for turning attempts. So the ultimate warrior is not the fighter or barbarian but the cleric.
** Specific example: ''Detect Undead''. DetectEvil is of the same level and lasts 10 times as long and picks up every undead creature (even the ones of good alignment). The only saving grace detect undead has is that it appears on the wizards spell list as well.
*** ''Detect Undead'' also detects Deathless, which show up as Good instead of Evil -- so it's not ''completely'' useless, if your party happens to be OmnicidalNeutral. (hint: most PC parties tend towards Good)
** ''Wish'' often seems like is should be treated as a Useless Useful Spell, as it's traditional for the DM to scrutinize all wishes for [[JackassGenie ways to punish]] the wisher. BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor...
*** There are, however, "stock" uses for Wish (and its divine cousin Miracle) which are reliable and usually not subject to any JerkassGenie tendencies the DM may have. These include permanent stat boosts (expensive as hell, but worth it for high level characters), the creation of magic items (though by now you can probably craft them yourself with less XP cost), and duplicating pretty much any lower level spell. That last one is why high level spellcasters ''love'' to have a Wish or Miracle available. Sure, trading a 9th level spell for an 8th or lower level one sounds like a lousy deal, but the fact that it can grant access to spells you don't have prepared, don't know, or aren't even available to your class makes it a great tool in an emergency.
** The old grognards who played editions of ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' from its first editions on can say this trope has been inverted since the game was created. There are very few truly useless spells.
** Spin-off TabletopGame/{{Pathfinder}} was created when the base was broken yet again over 4th Edition. It is a rebalanced 3rd Edition variant, but most of the comments about 3.5 are valid as well. "Save or suck," spells are favorites of smart players and can basically turn a powerful enemy into a push-over in one action.
* In some ways the blast weapons of ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' is starting to turn this way. Most blast weapons are quite powerful, especially heavy ordnance weapons, but due to the new way of resolving Blast weapons, you'd be pretty lucky if the shot land anywhere near your intended target (it's entirely possible that the shot will make a "return to sender" move, and there's a good chance of it happening too!). While a Space Marine can be very accurate with his aim-based Krak Missile, he is a worse shot than a drunk stormtrooper when it comes to firing the explosive Frag variant. Both missiles are fired from the same weapon.
** Also, there are very powerful weapons called meltas that basically take any vehicle or EliteMook and melt them into slag. However, nearly all meltas in the game have a 12" range (pretty much the shortest range outside of some irregular Tyranid ones) and only obtain their extra armour penetration ability within half that. While Space Marines with insane defenses can quite happily walk up to an enemy Heavy Support unit and annihilate it with one of these, more physically frail units like Eldar will often find themselves floored by [[MoreDakka the entire enemy's weapons]] before they can fire them. Which is why ''everyone'' pulls them in a transport, and thanks to the Eldar having some of the fastest ones in the game it completely makes the meltas range issue moot.
*** The tyranids have a variant of this. Warp Lance is a powerful Anti-tank weapon with a Strength value of 10 and AP value of 1 (the best the stats can be) as well as the Lance attribute, meaning the only thing it's short of being the best anti-tank weapon in the game is Melta. It however only has a range of 18 inches, just barely outside of charging range. On top of that the Zoanthrope is a classic example of a SquishyWizard, having a low number of wounds and a save easily penetrable by rapid-fire weapons, not to mention being gibbed by most tank weapons, the very things it's trying to hunt. There is also a slight chance that the Zoanthrope will suffer a brain tumor if the spell goes awry.
** Pinning is worse off. Blast and Melta weapons have limitations that can be overcome, as the [[TankGoodness tank-happy]] Imperial Guard are happy to demonstrate. Pinning requires that the enemy is vulnerable to it. Most armies have either a preponderance of Fearless units ([[TheCorruption Chaos Marines]], [[TheLegionsOfHell Chaos Daemons]], [[HordeOfAlienLocusts Tyranids]], [[TheUsualAdversaries Orks]]), very high Leadership ([[BadassArmy Space Marines]], [[OurElvesAreDifferent Eldar, Dark Eldar]]), or else use many small units of infantry who rely on tanks for their big hitters ([[RedShirtArmy Imperial Guard]]). Ironically, one of the few armies vulnerable to Pinning, the [[ScaryDogmaticAliens Tau]], are its biggest users.
** For Grey Knight Paladins, Feel No Pain. Paladins are Terminators that have 2 wounds, and with Feel No Pain can virtually double that survivability because statistically half the wounds of small arms fires will be ignored. Looks great on paper, not so much in practice. The Apothecary upgrade needed for that FnP costs 75 points, enough for another Paladin to join the squad (note that this upgrade does not give the unit another body, it just makes an existing Paladin an apothecary). On top of that, because of their high armor save and 2 wounds, Paladins are scared shitless of any AP2 or Strength 8+ weapons already, which are the only things that will now stop their Feel No Pain, turning them from once being possible targets to now Tankshell magnets. Several who argued that Feel No Pain was considered a GameBreaker later had a serious case of DidNotThinkThisThrough.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Card Games]]

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[[folder: Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'', the original RPG, completely inverts this trope in its 3rd edition; traditionally Useless Useful Spells tend to be the most useful spells in the game, with direct damage spells falling well below them in power level. This is because most spells are equally likely to succeed in affecting a foe, thus a spell which can kill a foe is far more effective than a spell which can hurt one. Some status affecting spells automatically succeed, and many others are essentially the same as spells which outright kill foes because they completely disable them for long periods of time, allowing players to kill them at their leisure. Relatively few foes are immune to such spells, while many foes are resistant to elemental damage spells, adding insult to injury. A wide variety of spells which don't even directly harm opponents are also extremely powerful, and all in all this leads to wizards and other powerful spellcasters being {{game breaker}}s.
** But it gets nasty in the ''TabletopGame/EpicLevelHandbook''. If you look at the creature section, you'll see 9 times out of 10 that the creature is immune to paralysis, sleep, polymorphing, level draining, death spells, necromancy in general (those last 3 makes Epic Necromancers grind their teeth in frustration), stunning, dazing, mind-affecting magic, critical hits (just to make critical specialization useless), and so on. Not to mention that in turn these monsters will almost certainly have abilities that amount to "save or die" for the whole group and one or two nastier epic spells. All this is sort of offset by the fact that epic player characters almost always have the ability to resurrect each other at will with no XP penalties (there's a price, but minor by now).
*** The other thing you have to consider here is that the Epic Spellcasting rules effectively turn any character with 21+ CL into a PersonOfMassDestruction. The fact that they pretty much ignore most of the limits and immunities created by normal spellcasting is just icing on the cake. Using the printed rules you can quite easily synthesize a spell that, when cast once, effectively makes the caster powerful enough to kick the asses of every single character ever printed in any supplement. At once. Without using magic. The levels from 20-21 aren't so much [[LinearWarriorsQuadraticWizards quadratic]] in growth as much as dividing by zero.
** Oddly enough, the trope is followed in ''VideoGame/DungeonsAndDragonsOnline'', the MMORPG. Although instant kills are still very effective against {{Mooks}}, bosses are immune to most if not all mind-affecting and instant death spells. Thankfully, this only applies to the main bosses of dungeons, and, anyway, fights with them are not supposed to be [[AnticlimaxBoss "CHAAARGE -- Oh, he died."]]
*** They seem to be attempting to fix this with the recent spell passes, and prestiges for Wizards and Sorcerors. And if you're soloing as a [[OurLichesAreDifferent Pale Master]], Wail and Finger are still the best bang for your buck, spell-point-wise.
** In 4th Edition, however, direct-damage and status-effect spells are much more balanced, because although very few enemies are immune to status effect spells, most status effects can be ended with a "saving throw" that the victim has a 55% chance of making every round, so most status effects don't last more than a couple rounds. It is possible, however, to 'permanently' stun an enemy at high levels by using the Orb of Imposition to give an enemy such a high save penalty that he can't succeed.
*** To add insult to injury, the guys you ''really'' want to lock down for a round or two (nasty Solos) are usually the exact same guys that have a +5 bonus to their saving throws, meaning that they will make the save in 80% of all cases. Thus a condition like "... until the end of your next turn" is usually much more useful than "... save ends", because the Solo will most probably make his save anyway, ending the effect on his turn instead at the end of the round.
** The Orb of Imposition's penalty now only applies to one saving throw. There are other saving throw penalties that you can apply to all saves, but not enough to make the save impossible (and thus permanently lock the enemy down).
** 3.5 ed Cleric spells like Righteous Might and Divine Power tend to fall into this category. A fully buffed Cleric is perhaps the most deadly close combat fighter in the game, but by the time you're finished casting spells, the fight is almost over anyway. Now, if you have time to plan your attack, then it's another matter entirely...
** Of course, there is then the infamous gamebreaking nightstick, divine metamagic, and Persist Spell combo. Basically, nightsticks give turning attempts, stack and are cheap. Divine metamagic allows you to do things such as make the buffs last 24 hours for turning attempts. So the ultimate warrior is not the fighter or barbarian but the cleric.
** Specific example: ''Detect Undead''. DetectEvil is of the same level and lasts 10 times as long and picks up every undead creature (even the ones of good alignment). The only saving grace detect undead has is that it appears on the wizards spell list as well.
*** ''Detect Undead'' also detects Deathless, which show up as Good instead of Evil -- so it's not ''completely'' useless, if your party happens to be OmnicidalNeutral. (hint: most PC parties tend towards Good)
** ''Wish'' often seems like is should be treated as a Useless Useful Spell, as it's traditional for the DM to scrutinize all wishes for [[JackassGenie ways to punish]] the wisher. BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor...
*** There are, however, "stock" uses for Wish (and its divine cousin Miracle) which are reliable and usually not subject to any JerkassGenie tendencies the DM may have. These include permanent stat boosts (expensive as hell, but worth it for high level characters), the creation of magic items (though by now you can probably craft them yourself with less XP cost), and duplicating pretty much any lower level spell. That last one is why high level spellcasters ''love'' to have a Wish or Miracle available. Sure, trading a 9th level spell for an 8th or lower level one sounds like a lousy deal, but the fact that it can grant access to spells you don't have prepared, don't know, or aren't even available to your class makes it a great tool in an emergency.
** The old grognards who played editions of ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' from its first editions on can say this trope has been inverted since the game was created. There are very few truly useless spells.
** Spin-off TabletopGame/{{Pathfinder}} was created when the base was broken yet again over 4th Edition. It is a rebalanced 3rd Edition variant, but most of the comments about 3.5 are valid as well. "Save or suck," spells are favorites of smart players and can basically turn a powerful enemy into a push-over in one action.
* In some ways the blast weapons of ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' is starting to turn this way. Most blast weapons are quite powerful, especially heavy ordnance weapons, but due to the new way of resolving Blast weapons, you'd be pretty lucky if the shot land anywhere near your intended target (it's entirely possible that the shot will make a "return to sender" move, and there's a good chance of it happening too!). While a Space Marine can be very accurate with his aim-based Krak Missile, he is a worse shot than a drunk stormtrooper when it comes to firing the explosive Frag variant. Both missiles are fired from the same weapon.
** Also, there are very powerful weapons called meltas that basically take any vehicle or EliteMook and melt them into slag. However, nearly all meltas in the game have a 12" range (pretty much the shortest range outside of some irregular Tyranid ones) and only obtain their extra armour penetration ability within half that. While Space Marines with insane defenses can quite happily walk up to an enemy Heavy Support unit and annihilate it with one of these, more physically frail units like Eldar will often find themselves floored by [[MoreDakka the entire enemy's weapons]] before they can fire them. Which is why ''everyone'' pulls them in a transport, and thanks to the Eldar having some of the fastest ones in the game it completely makes the meltas range issue moot.
*** The tyranids have a variant of this. Warp Lance is a powerful Anti-tank weapon with a Strength value of 10 and AP value of 1 (the best the stats can be) as well as the Lance attribute, meaning the only thing it's short of being the best anti-tank weapon in the game is Melta. It however only has a range of 18 inches, just barely outside of charging range. On top of that the Zoanthrope is a classic example of a SquishyWizard, having a low number of wounds and a save easily penetrable by rapid-fire weapons, not to mention being gibbed by most tank weapons, the very things it's trying to hunt. There is also a slight chance that the Zoanthrope will suffer a brain tumor if the spell goes awry.
** Pinning is worse off. Blast and Melta weapons have limitations that can be overcome, as the [[TankGoodness tank-happy]] Imperial Guard are happy to demonstrate. Pinning requires that the enemy is vulnerable to it. Most armies have either a preponderance of Fearless units ([[TheCorruption Chaos Marines]], [[TheLegionsOfHell Chaos Daemons]], [[HordeOfAlienLocusts Tyranids]], [[TheUsualAdversaries Orks]]), very high Leadership ([[BadassArmy Space Marines]], [[OurElvesAreDifferent Eldar, Dark Eldar]]), or else use many small units of infantry who rely on tanks for their big hitters ([[RedShirtArmy Imperial Guard]]). Ironically, one of the few armies vulnerable to Pinning, the [[ScaryDogmaticAliens Tau]], are its biggest users.
** For Grey Knight Paladins, Feel No Pain. Paladins are Terminators that have 2 wounds, and with Feel No Pain can virtually double that survivability because statistically half the wounds of small arms fires will be ignored. Looks great on paper, not so much in practice. The Apothecary upgrade needed for that FnP costs 75 points, enough for another Paladin to join the squad (note that this upgrade does not give the unit another body, it just makes an existing Paladin an apothecary). On top of that, because of their high armor save and 2 wounds, Paladins are scared shitless of any AP2 or Strength 8+ weapons already, which are the only things that will now stop their Feel No Pain, turning them from once being possible targets to now Tankshell magnets. Several who argued that Feel No Pain was considered a GameBreaker later had a serious case of DidNotThinkThisThrough.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Card
[[folder:Card Games]]



[[folder:Other Games]]
* There exists a variant of RockPaperScissors where one may cast two other moves in addition to the three standards. The first, "Fire", beats Rock, Paper, and Scissors, but may only be cast once in a person's entire lifetime. (Presumably, players of this variant use the honors system.) The second, "Water", can be used an unlimited number of times, but loses to everything... except Fire, against which it is an automatic victory. The conditions for using Fire however are so ludicrous that nobody would ever have reason to use it, which makes its counter equally useless. Thus, in practice, the game is identical to standard Rock, Paper, Scissors.

to:

[[folder:Other [[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'', the original RPG, completely inverts this trope in its 3rd edition; traditionally Useless Useful Spells tend to be the most useful spells in the game, with direct damage spells falling well below them in power level. This is because most spells are equally likely to succeed in affecting a foe, thus a spell which can kill a foe is far more effective than a spell which can hurt one. Some status-affecting spells automatically succeed, and many others are essentially the same as spells which outright kill foes because they completely disable them for long periods of time, allowing players to kill them at their leisure. Relatively few foes are immune to such spells, while many foes are resistant to elemental damage spells, adding insult to injury. A wide variety of spells which don't even directly harm opponents are also extremely powerful, and all in all this leads to wizards and other powerful spellcasters being {{game breaker}}s.
** But it gets nasty in the ''TabletopGame/EpicLevelHandbook''. If you look at the creature section, you'll see 9 times out of 10 that the creature is immune to paralysis, sleep, polymorphing, level draining, death spells, necromancy in general (those last 3 makes Epic Necromancers grind their teeth in frustration), stunning, dazing, mind-affecting magic, critical hits (just to make critical specialization useless), and so on. Not to mention that in turn these monsters will almost certainly have abilities that amount to "save or die" for the whole group and one or two nastier epic spells. All this is sort of offset by the fact that epic player characters almost always have the ability to resurrect each other at will with no XP penalties (there's a price, but minor by now).\\\
The other thing you have to consider here is that the Epic Spellcasting rules effectively turn any character with 21+ CL into a PersonOfMassDestruction. The fact that they pretty much ignore most of the limits and immunities created by normal spellcasting is just icing on the cake. Using the printed rules you can quite easily synthesize a spell that, when cast once, effectively makes the caster powerful enough to kick the asses of every single character ever printed in any supplement. At once. Without using magic. The levels from 20-21 aren't so much [[LinearWarriorsQuadraticWizards quadratic]] in growth as much as dividing by zero.
** Oddly enough, the trope is followed in ''VideoGame/DungeonsAndDragonsOnline'', the MMORPG. Although instant kills are still very effective against {{Mooks}}, bosses are immune to most if not all mind-affecting and instant death spells. Thankfully, this only applies to the main bosses of dungeons, and, anyway, fights with them are not supposed to be [[AnticlimaxBoss "CHAAARGE -- Oh, he died."]] They seem to be attempting to fix this with the recent spell passes, and prestiges for Wizards and Sorcerors. And if you're soloing as a [[OurLichesAreDifferent Pale Master]], Wail and Finger are still the best bang for your buck, spell-point-wise.
** In 4th Edition, however, direct-damage and status-effect spells are much more balanced, because although very few enemies are immune to status effect spells, most status effects can be ended with a "saving throw" that the victim has a 55% chance of making every round, so most status effects don't last more than a couple rounds. It is possible, however, to 'permanently' stun an enemy at high levels by using the Orb of Imposition to give an enemy such a high save penalty that he can't succeed. To add insult to injury, the guys you ''really'' want to lock down for a round or two (nasty Solos) are usually the exact same guys that have a +5 bonus to their saving throws, meaning that they will make the save in 80% of all cases. Thus a condition like "... until the end of your next turn" is usually much more useful than "... save ends", because the Solo will most probably make his save anyway, ending the effect on his turn instead at the end of the round.
** The Orb of Imposition's penalty now only applies to one saving throw.
There exists are other saving throw penalties that you can apply to all saves, but not enough to make the save impossible (and thus permanently lock the enemy down).
** 3.5 ed Cleric spells like Righteous Might and Divine Power tend to fall into this category. A fully buffed Cleric is perhaps the most deadly close-combat fighter in the game, but by the time you're finished casting spells, the fight is almost over anyway. Now, if you have time to plan your attack, then it's another matter entirely...
** Of course, there is then the infamous gamebreaking nightstick, divine metamagic, and Persist Spell combo. Basically, nightsticks give turning attempts, stack and are cheap. Divine metamagic allows you to do things such as make the buffs last 24 hours for turning attempts. So the ultimate warrior is not the fighter or barbarian but the cleric.
** Specific example: ''Detect Undead''. DetectEvil is of the same level and lasts 10 times as long and picks up every undead creature (even the ones of good alignment). The only saving grace detect undead has is that it appears on the wizards spell list as well. ''Detect Undead'' also detects Deathless, which show up as Good instead of Evil -- so it's not ''completely'' useless, if your party happens to be OmnicidalNeutral. (hint: most PC parties tend towards Good)
** ''Wish'' often seems like is should be treated as a Useless Useful Spell, as it's traditional for the DM to scrutinize all wishes for [[JackassGenie ways to punish]] the wisher. BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor... There are, however, "stock" uses for Wish (and its divine cousin Miracle) which are reliable and usually not subject to any JerkassGenie tendencies the DM may have. These include permanent stat boosts (expensive as hell, but worth it for high-level characters), the creation of magic items (though by now you can probably craft them yourself with less XP cost), and duplicating pretty much any lower level spell. That last one is why high-level spellcasters ''love'' to have a Wish or Miracle available. Sure, trading a 9th level spell for an 8th or lower level one sounds like a lousy deal, but the fact that it can grant access to spells you don't have prepared, don't know, or aren't even available to your class makes it a great tool in an emergency.
** The old grognards who played editions of ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' from its first editions on can say this trope has been inverted since the game was created. There are very few truly useless spells.
** Spin-off ''TabletopGame/{{Pathfinder}}'' was created when the base was broken yet again over 4th Edition. It is a rebalanced 3rd Edition variant, but most of the comments about 3.5 are valid as well. "Save or suck" spells are favorites of smart players and can basically turn a powerful enemy into a push-over in one action.
* In some ways the blast weapons of ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' is starting to turn this way. Most blast weapons are quite powerful, especially heavy ordnance weapons, but due to the new way of resolving Blast weapons, you'd be pretty lucky if the shot land anywhere near your intended target (it's entirely possible that the shot will make a "return to sender" move, and there's a good chance of it happening too!). While a Space Marine can be very accurate with his aim-based Krak Missile, he is a worse shot than a drunk stormtrooper when it comes to firing the explosive Frag variant. Both missiles are fired from the same weapon.
** Also, there are very powerful weapons called meltas that basically take any vehicle or EliteMook and melt them into slag. However, nearly all meltas in the game have a 12" range (pretty much the shortest range outside of some irregular Tyranid ones) and only obtain their extra armour penetration ability within half that. While Space Marines with insane defenses can quite happily walk up to an enemy Heavy Support unit and annihilate it with one of these, more physically frail units like Eldar will often find themselves floored by [[MoreDakka the entire enemy's weapons]] before they can fire them. Which is why ''everyone'' pulls them in a transport, and thanks to the Eldar having some of the fastest ones in the game it completely makes the meltas range issue moot.
*** The tyranids have
a variant of RockPaperScissors where one may cast two other moves in addition to this. Warp Lance is a powerful Anti-tank weapon with a Strength value of 10 and AP value of 1 (the best the three standards. The first, "Fire", beats Rock, Paper, and Scissors, but may stats can be) as well as the Lance attribute, meaning the only be cast once in a person's entire lifetime. (Presumably, players thing it's short of this variant use being the honors system.) The second, "Water", can be used an unlimited number of times, but loses to everything... except Fire, against which it is an automatic victory. The conditions for using Fire however are so ludicrous that nobody would ever have reason to use it, which makes its counter equally useless. Thus, best anti-tank weapon in practice, the game is identical Melta. It however only has a range of 18 inches, just barely outside of charging range. On top of that the Zoanthrope is a classic example of a SquishyWizard, having a low number of wounds and a save easily penetrable by rapid-fire weapons, not to standard Rock, Paper, Scissors.mention being gibbed by most tank weapons, the very things it's trying to hunt. There is also a slight chance that the Zoanthrope will suffer a brain tumor if the spell goes awry.
** Pinning is worse off. Blast and Melta weapons have limitations that can be overcome, as the [[TankGoodness tank-happy]] Imperial Guard are happy to demonstrate. Pinning requires that the enemy is vulnerable to it. Most armies have either a preponderance of Fearless units ([[TheCorruption Chaos Marines]], [[TheLegionsOfHell Chaos Daemons]], [[HordeOfAlienLocusts Tyranids]], [[TheUsualAdversaries Orks]]), very high Leadership ([[BadassArmy Space Marines]], [[OurElvesAreDifferent Eldar, Dark Eldar]]), or else use many small units of infantry who rely on tanks for their big hitters ([[RedShirtArmy Imperial Guard]]). Ironically, one of the few armies vulnerable to Pinning, the [[ScaryDogmaticAliens Tau]], are its biggest users.
** For Grey Knight Paladins, Feel No Pain. Paladins are Terminators that have 2 wounds, and with Feel No Pain can virtually double that survivability because statistically half the wounds of small arms fires will be ignored. Looks great on paper, not so much in practice. The Apothecary upgrade needed for that FnP costs 75 points, enough for another Paladin to join the squad (note that this upgrade does not give the unit another body, it just makes an existing Paladin an apothecary). On top of that, because of their high armor save and 2 wounds, Paladins are scared shitless of any AP2 or Strength 8+ weapons already, which are the only things that will now stop their Feel No Pain, turning them from once being possible targets to now Tankshell magnets. Several who argued that Feel No Pain was considered a GameBreaker later had a serious case of DidNotThinkThisThrough.


Added DiffLines:

[[folder:Gamebooks
* ''Literature/LoneWolf'':
** Grey Star's Prophecy and Psychomancy are pretty good at eliminating variables when faced with a choice -- sometimes. Psychomancy can just give you a warped riddle that may or may not be right, and Prophecy sometimes completely fails to illustrate the nature of your impending doom. Use it when you're in a valley of poison gas, it just goes "GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT" without saying which way to go.
** The New Order series adds on "Astrology" to the list of Kai-Disciplines. It's supposed to let you look into the far future rather than the immediate future like Sixth Sense does, but the opportunities to use it come up so rarely it's like the author forgot he put it in the list (only once in the first New Order book, and not at all in the next two). The few times it comes up, you tend to get a VaguenessIsComing reading, too.
** For that matter, the Grandmaster upgrade for the previously quite useful Sixth Sense / Divination ability, Telegnosis, is mostly useless, and occasionally actually counterproductive. There are several instances where you take damage simply because you have Telegnosis.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Other Games]]
* There exists a variant of RockPaperScissors where one may cast two other moves in addition to the three standards. The first, "Fire", beats Rock, Paper, and Scissors, but may only be cast once in a person's entire lifetime. (Presumably, players of this variant use the honors system.) The second, "Water", can be used an unlimited number of times, but loses to everything... except Fire, against which it is an automatic victory. The conditions for using Fire however are so ludicrous that nobody would ever have reason to use it, which makes its counter equally useless. Thus, in practice, the game is identical to standard Rock, Paper, Scissors.
[[/folder]]
17th May '16 1:19:19 PM Willbyr
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* ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts358DaysOver2''. Granted, Status hasn't really been used in most ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts'' games outside of maybe Stop or Magnet, 358/2 days uses them. Despite that several moves don't really apply to enemies (Such as InterfaceScrew or control-jacking), Burning, freezing, and air-knocking are perhaps ''the'' most effective ways to kill [[ThatOneBoss That One Enemy]]...the Emerald Serenade.

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* ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts358DaysOver2''. Granted, Status hasn't really been used in most ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts'' ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'' games outside of maybe Stop or Magnet, 358/2 days uses them. Despite that several moves don't really apply to enemies (Such as InterfaceScrew or control-jacking), Burning, freezing, and air-knocking are perhaps ''the'' most effective ways to kill [[ThatOneBoss That One Enemy]]...the Emerald Serenade.



** At higher levels in ''KingdomHearts'', Gravity becomes a very useful attack, especially against EliteMooks like the Behemoth. Continually cating Gravity on his horn will deplete his health far faster then keyblade combos will, at least when he still has high HP. Also, during the NoGearLevel sequence, Gravity is the only damage-dealing spell that still does useful damage, since it's percentage based, and not based on Sora's Magic stat.

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** At higher levels in ''KingdomHearts'', ''Kingdom Hearts'', Gravity becomes a very useful attack, especially against EliteMooks like the Behemoth. Continually cating Gravity on his horn will deplete his health far faster then keyblade combos will, at least when he still has high HP. Also, during the NoGearLevel sequence, Gravity is the only damage-dealing spell that still does useful damage, since it's percentage based, and not based on Sora's Magic stat.
2nd May '16 9:28:18 PM billybobfred
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** [[http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=1544 Shelkin Brownie]] has the ability to remove "bands with other" abilities from creatures. At the time it was printed, there were literally ''zero'' creatures with printed "bands with other" abilities. There's a creature that can create tokens with a "bands with other" ability, and a cycle of lands that can grant your Legendary creatures "bands with other legends". But the tokens cost a ridiculous amount, and the lands had the drawback of being unable to ''produce mana''. So nobody ever actually ''used'' "bands with other" anyway.

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** [[http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=1544 Shelkin Brownie]] has the ability to remove "bands with other" abilities from creatures. At the time it was printed, there were literally ''zero'' creatures with printed "bands with other" abilities. There's a creature that can create tokens with a "bands with other" ability, and a cycle of lands that can grant your Legendary creatures "bands with other legends". But the tokens cost a ridiculous amount, and the lands had the drawback of being unable to ''produce mana''. On top of all that, "bands with other" was ''already'' a UselessUsefulSpell, as it was a variant of the weak and confusing "banding" ability that managed to be even weaker and more confusing. So nobody ever actually ''used'' "bands with other" anyway.
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http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/article_history.php?article=Main.UselessUsefulSpell