Created By: tryourbreast on May 14, 2012 Last Edited By: MAI742 on April 6, 2016

Strength as Strategy

All else being equal, the bigger guy wins every time.

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Trope
Often, the key to victory is simply being stronger than your opponent. If you're stronger than they are, you don't need cunning strategems to win - though it still helps, obviously.

But in some games, the player is penalised for using anything other than brute force alone.

That, is this trope.

Note that this can be achieved by many ways: Whoring (like using Zerg Rush to finish all levels easily), Level Grinding (10 more sets of skill points, everything solved. May involve One Stat to Rule Them All), or just using some pure Game Breaker (Like a Disc One Nuke). Some may even use cheats to do this.

As this is a trope, expect smart players to deliberately invoke this to their adventage.

This does not happen only in games, however - there have been several Real Life wars in which insufficient attention to raw strength has brought about defeat, though the inverse - too much attention on raw strength - has been much more common.

See also The Law of Diminishing Defensive Effort, and Might Makes Right when you replace "Right" with "Author's intended strategy". Compare Attack! Attack! Attack!. Compare Unskilled, but Strong, where in this trope a win is guarenteed no matter what strategy you've chosen. Also compare Scissors Cuts Rock, where you need not to defy the strategies in this trope, since you just don't care. If you end up losing instead, you can become Leeroy Jenkins.

Examples

Video Game Examples

Role-Playing Games
  • The second-to-last battle in Final Fantasy VII. It's a multi-part battle that requires splitting your party into three, defeating two "side" battles, which destroys a shield protecting the part of the boss that's constantly healing the part of the boss you actually have to beat to win. However, if you're strong enough (through level grinding and especially getting a specific powerful summon spell), you can just out-damage the healing and beat it by sheer brute force, without ever switching to the other teams.
  • Due to the damage formula (mainly the progression of upgrades), this is the logical conclusion of high level play as a whole in Disgaea3 and Disgaea4 (where this problem is even worse) as everything dies in one hit, pretty much screwing over any sense of actual strategy or tactics.
  • Very likely to happen on Pokémon games if you trade over a high level pokemon from another game or the Global Trade System, or trade over an egg and hatch it, in which case it will not have the disobedience problem.
    • Or alternately, a lot of level grinding. If you didn't train anything other than your Pikachu in the Yellow version, the first Gym Leader will own you hard, and you have to do this if you want to beat him.
      • Can't beat that one trainer? Your pokemon's level must be too low.
      • That's why you are usually not allowed to battle wild pokemons when doing, say, a Magikarp only run.

Strategy Games

Wide Open Sandbox
  • You'll seriously give up any ounce of strategy in you while playing [PROTOTYPE]. Why? Because Alex Mercer is a walking death machine and can kill thousands of people in a few seconds.

Non-Video Game Examples

Comics
  • Xykon from The Order of the Stick firmly believes that there is a certain level of power which no amount of strategic thinking by one's opponents can overcome.
Community Feedback Replies: 57
  • May 14, 2012
    JonnyB
    Isn't this Leeroy Jenkins?
  • May 14, 2012
    dalek955
    No, this is Unskilled But Strong.
  • May 14, 2012
    tryourbreast
    ^ Thanks, adding that now.
  • May 15, 2012
    JusticeReaper
    Sounds like Leeroy Jenkins to me.
  • May 15, 2012
    JonnyB
    Adding that? This is the same as Unskilled But Strong, not see also.
  • May 15, 2012
    Omeganian
    A variation of We Have Reserves?
  • May 15, 2012
    azul120
  • May 15, 2012
    chicagomel
    Example: Very likely to happen on Pokemon games if you trade over a high level mon from another game or the Global Trade System, or trade over an egg and hatch it, in which case it will not have the disobedience problem. Alternately, a lot of level grinding can get you to a point where this trope comes into play as well.
  • May 15, 2012
    tryourbreast
    ^^^^ They're not same in my view; "unskilled" is too distinct from "using no, or 'wrong' strategy" to be considered the same trope, even if Tropes Are Flexible. Very skilled players may abandon strategies to increase the difficulty for self-achievement, while unskilled newbies will have to rely on strategies if they ever want to win.

    ^ Thanks for the example. I'll also add the fact that even Elemental Rock Paper Scissors will be broken by this trope also.
  • May 16, 2012
    DarkStorm
    Another example that comes to mind is Final Fantasy 7, the second-to-last (real) battle. Normally, it's a multi-part battle that requires splitting your party into three, defeating two "side" battles (literally, the left and right sides of the boss itself), which destroys a shield protecting the part of the boss that's constantly healing the part of the boss you actually have to beat to win.

    However, if you're strong enough (through level grinding and especially getting a specific powerful summon spell), you can just out-damage the healing and beat it by sheer brute force, without ever switching to the other teams.

    This is definitely not the Leeroy Jenkins (who specifically LOSES fights due to a lack of strategy); nor is it Unskilled But Strong, which implies that they have no skills and can be outwitted; this is being powerful enough that you don't have to even worry about strategy and a win is guaranteed.
  • May 16, 2012
    Astaroth
    Xykon from Order Of The Stick firmly believes that there is a certain level of power which no amount of strategic thinking by one's opponents can overcome.
  • May 17, 2012
    dalek955
  • May 19, 2012
    magnum12
    • Due to the damage formula (mainly the progression of upgrades), this is the logical conclusion of high level play as a whole in Disgaea3 and Disgaea4(where this problem is even worse) as everything dies in one hit, pretty much screwing over any sense of actual strategy or tactics. It is a fatal flaw to the two games.
  • May 24, 2012
    Frank75
    Note that there have been battles in Real Life where an army defeated another one with five times the strength (and comparable weapons).
  • May 24, 2012
    desdendelle
  • May 24, 2012
    KZN02
    See also Dumb Muscle?
  • May 24, 2012
    tryourbreast
    ^ Dumb Muscle would go to Unskilled But Strong, but not there.
  • May 26, 2012
    MorganWick
    Ugh, snowclones (and dialogue titles). Too Strong To Need Strategy? I got nuthin'.
  • May 26, 2012
    tryourbreast
    The snowclone title is the best thing I can think of.

    Maybe I should put a Needs A Better Title here. If something better comes out I'll change it.
  • May 31, 2012
    FastEddie
    You'll change it, period. We don't need names that sound like dialog or names that are snoclones.
  • May 31, 2012
    tryourbreast
    Okay, so any ideas? I couldn't think of one.
  • June 1, 2012
    dalek955
    Actually, we have enough precedent for Screw The X I Have Y titles that you could probably get away with it, especially since this actually fits with that series. On the other hand, to properly fit that formula you would need to call it Screw The Strategy I Have Strength. The current title comes across as Zero Wingrish.

    Also, add links to One Stat To Rule Them All and Scissors Cuts Rock.
  • June 1, 2012
    DracMonster
    Fast Eddie has decreed an official moratorium on snowclones, I believe.

    Brute Force Over Strategy?

    Or maybe Brute Force Versus Strategy?
  • June 1, 2012
    LittleLizard
    Most games where Elemental Rock Paper Scissors are involved can have this trope if the player is grossly overleveled (Or using a Disc One Nuke).
  • June 1, 2012
    tryourbreast
    Oh, thanks for Wiki Magic to the rescue! That'll make the description much better.

    For the title I'll leave it here for now, since people keep misunderstanding Everythings Worse With Snowclones as if snowclones are totally banned, where the point is if the snowclone is actually suitable for the trope's title (Yeah, I just checked that page, and the laconic version... well, I added the word "unfit" there).

    And as ^ mentioned, almost every games with Elemental Rock Paper Scissors will fall to this. If all of them are included in examples, the example page will implode soon after. I can't think of a good way to deal with this though.
  • June 6, 2012
    Poprocks311
    Example: Prototype. You'll seriously give up any ounce of strategy in you while playing this game. Why? Because Alex Mercer is a walking death machine and can kill thousands of people in a few seconds.
  • June 6, 2012
    dalek955
  • June 6, 2012
    nitrokitty
    I'm still not sure how this is different from Unskilled But Strong, not to mention the title is a painfully bad snowclone.
  • June 6, 2012
    tryourbreast
    ^ Please please please read the snowclone page again, please. I don't want to say every time that snowclone is bad only if it doesn't fit (since that page has a self-demonstrating title). And if you want to say this is a bad snowclone, Show Dont Tell. Explain it.
  • June 6, 2012
    0blivionmobile
    • Sins Of A Solar Empire: The early patches of the game suffered from this, due to fighter and bombers being more than mildly overpowered. All you had to do was spam Mothership-class capitals and fighter carriers and throw them across the solar system in one huge blob.
    • Fire Emblem: In almost any of the games, this can happen if you extensively favor one set of units or abuse the arena - there's not a lot an enemy can do when it has a 0% chance of doing any damage.

    Alternitive title: Stats Over Strategy
  • June 8, 2012
    nitrokitty
    ^^ Well since you asked... it sounds like a line of dialog, which means if it ever gets launched Fast Eddie will Kill It With Fire (which I'm still very much on the fence about, I'm still not convinced this is different enough from Unskilled But Strong to merit its own page). Also, there are far too many "Screw The X, Cause X" snowclones running around to the point its gotten very, very, very stale. Originality is good!
  • June 8, 2012
    tryourbreast
    ^ No. How many snowclone exists before has nothing to do with whether making a new one is worse or not. It's all about accuracy. Originally can be good, but it's crap comparing to accuracy (which is in a higher priority than being funny).

    But it looks like the dialog thing is true, so... I'll change it.

  • April 9, 2015
    DAN004
    Bump, sounds really interesting
  • April 9, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    The OP claims it's a trope that's sometimes invoked, but the examples are subjective. This is just an audience reaction to games (in terms of how they play) passed off as a trope.
  • April 9, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ dunno, does "being strong can beat any kind of strategy" sound subjective to you?
  • April 9, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Why are you assuming I'm going off of merely that, and not "players can choose to just use strong characters in their games instead of playing strategically"? Because the latter is what the OP is about.

    Only the webcomic examples is actually In Universe.
  • April 9, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ More like, this is when Whoring (with specific cases on that page) is more effective than playing with strategy. This is often caused by a bad game design or a very thorough (or clever, or cheating) player.

    Additionally, this may have a non-videogame definition: Someone who is so strong that even his tactical enemy can't beat with any of his tactics. This may enforce My Kungfu Is Stronger Than Yours.
  • April 9, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Tropes Are Tools. This can be the result of rewarding players for grinding their way to badass levels or for finding the Infinity Plus One Sword (or Infinity Minus One Sword) so that they can just wail on enemies rather than memorizing strategies.
  • April 9, 2015
    KyleJacobs
    Possibly related to Dungeon Bypass.
  • April 9, 2015
    DAN004
    ^^ Exactly. You aren't against me right?
  • April 13, 2015
    randomsurfer
    In a Superman story arc, Superman loses his super powers. He finds himself needing to learn how to fight from Batman since up until then he had let his Flying Brick abilities do the work instead of learning the proper fight technique.
  • April 13, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    ^^ I'm just trying to help clarify what the trope is about.
  • April 13, 2015
    DAN004
    ^^ that sounds more like implied Boxing Lessons For Superman and Unskilled But Strong
  • April 13, 2015
    randomsurfer
    True enough; but the point is that when Superman had his powers he didn't learn how to fight, not seeing the need to.
  • April 13, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Still not this trope. That's our point.
  • April 14, 2015
    crazysamaritan
    Trope has no definition (it has meandering paragraphs and Example As A Thesis).

    Trope has no real distinction between "character is too weak to defeat boss" and "player figures out a strategy that works despite being too weak".

    Examples are not namespaced properly.

    Currently this is a terrible draft.
  • April 14, 2015
    Illemar
    This does read to me like randomsurfer's example should fit, although there should have been more explanation. A similar example would be the Plutonian versus Charybdis in Irredeemable. The Plutonian's so strong he's never needed to learn fancy fighting moves, but when Charybdis gains an equal skill level, he's able to defeat the Plutonian because he has strategy in addition to Plutonian's strength.

    So if that doesn't fit either, definitely revise to make it clearer.
  • April 14, 2015
    DAN004
    Or maybe this can work as a supertrope instead. Right now I'm seeing a lot of distinct tropes that all play to the same idea of "strength over strategy".
  • April 14, 2015
    crazysamaritan
    ^^ That is an Unskilled But Strong character, in a conflict where his strength is no longer an advantage. We don't need a duplicate of that trope.
  • April 15, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    ^^^^ I agree. The best it seems is that game design allows one to beat a game by brute force as an option if they get the right equipment/skills/level beforehand.
  • August 22, 2015
    DarkStorm
    Except as I read it, this isn't "Unskilled but strong", this is "so strong that, in this particular fight, it doesn't matter whether or not they have skills. In the next fight, they might instead have to use their skills, but this time, they don't have to bother."

    For example, this trope is saying that a Flying Brick wouldn't need to use strategy or finesse when fighting a random mugger, even though he would when fighting another Flying Brick. "Unskilled But Strong" would be a Flying Brick who uses the same lack of strategy against every target, regardless of their Super Weight, because they have no skills, strategy, or finesse in the first place.

    (And I suppose, if you want to get technical, character level is meant as a measure of that character's overall skill, so beating an enemy through leveling up means both overpowering and out-fighting them)
  • August 22, 2015
    Chabal2
    • Warhammer 40 K: The orks have one strategy: run towards the target while shooting and yelling. It works for them, because the smallest ork is seven feet tall, they spawn more orks when they die, and they almost always outnumber the enemy. And then there's the fact that their guns don't need ammo, their vehicles go faster if painted red, and their psychic abilities grow stronger the more of them there are.
      • The forces of Chaos (especially Khornates) have a similar approach, charging straight into battle without regard for their safety, since they gain favor with their god not just by killing their enemies but themselves in the process. Tzeentchians are the exception, preferring long-reaching plans, sorcery and betrayals.
  • August 22, 2015
    dalek955
    • In Demon Fist, Rory knows a very advanced martial art, but almost never needs it or bothers to use it because "it's cooler to just bash through things" using his immense strength.
  • August 22, 2015
    WalterSmith
  • April 5, 2016
    MAI742
    Your problem was you were trying to put together two different tropes:

    1) trope in which brute force is the way to win 2) trope about game creators/mechanics penalising you for not playing in a certain way
  • April 5, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ the penalizing one sounds kinda irrelevant, I suggest deleting it

    Maybe the draft meant "penalizing" as making all of your semblance of strategy meaningless. That can come in two ways:
    • You're so strong that you can counter any strategy against you with brute force alone
    • the enemy's so strong that no matter how clever your strategy is, the enemy can power through it and can only be beaten by a bigger force
  • April 6, 2016
    Chabal2
    • Golden Sun: By endgame, even with all the flashy multi-target summons, spells, buffs and heals, the most efficient strategy against random encounters is just to hit the attack command for all characters, due to the overpowering and frequent weapon unleashes.
    • Dawn Of War: In Dark Crusade and Soulstorm's campaign modes, most maps are simply a skirmish game with one or two opponents and an Instant Win Condition (taking out their HQ). However, you start the game with honor guard units (more as you conquer territories), so the most efficient way to win is to take all troops and go straight for the HQ, the same strategy used by the AI.
    • Starcraft II: This is the principle behind the Zerg Rush: throw thousands of disposable troops at the enemy, and enough will survive to swamp the enemy. Made even easier in Heart Of The Swarm, where exploding Banelings can be upgraded to jump into enemies from a distance, even if friendly units are in the way.

    • Bleach: When Kenpachi runs into an enemy he can't beat using his enormous strength, he goes for a different tactic, which boils down to using both hands to hold his One Handed Zweihander, and wins.
    • Pagan Vengeance: This is the Watsonian explanation for the downfall of the Mongol armies, who move in groups of more than 2,000 and still lose to smaller armies: They're so used to crushing the enemy they just ride forward, allowing the enemy to outmanever them. The Doylist explanation is plain old Artificial Stupidity.
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