Exceedingly Efficient Enemy
The enemy plan is an efficient flowchart.
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(permanent link) added: 2013-08-21 20:10:11 sponsor: KingZeal (last reply: 2013-12-14 14:33:37)

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"You are the eventuality of an anomaly, which despite my sincerest efforts I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision. While it remains a burden assiduously avoided, it is not unexpected, and thus not beyond a measure of control. [snip] You are here because Zion is about to be destroyed. Its every living inhabitant terminated, its entire existence eradicated. [snip again] Rest assured, this will be the sixth time we have destroyed it, and we have become exceedingly efficient at it."
The Architect, The Matrix Reloaded

These are the antagonists whose tactics and strategies are so reliable that figuring out The Plan is only the first step, because after you do, you realize there's a very good reason they chose it.

Think of their plan as a mathematical flowchart or algorithm which isn't perfect, but designed to minimize opposition. Unlike the Clock King, these enemies are not obsessed with Ludicrous Precision; it's just that they've got a winning hand and it doesn't matter if you figure it out. In fact, if you ask them about the plan, they might tell you about it outright, but not change a thing. Why? Because this is the Bigger Stick of Plans. They've studied, tested, and fine-tuned it to an art form. Setbacks and a few lost battles have little effect on it, or actually help it along. Even if there's a chance of failure, this plan still has the highest probability of success.

This trope is almost always used by Villains, because underdogs and longshots make cooler Heroes. Heroes are expected to use warm and fuzzy stuff like ingenuity, willpower, and hope to stick it to the bad guy. Thus, a hero who follows this trope, especially an interesting one, is a very rare thing, but is likely to be a By-the-Book Cop, Three-Laws Compliant Robot, or a Paragon.

Compare and contrast with The Chessmaster, whose plans work only because they manipulate other people into doing necessary work for them. A variant that overlaps with this trope would have a plan which automatically manipulates any pawns, without the antagonist lifting a finger to cause it. Also compare and contrast Batman Gambit and Xanatos Roulette, which insanely good examples of this trope can appear as.

Contrast the Clock King and Super OCD, for characters on the extreme end of precision planning. Contrast Indy Ploy and Xanatos Speed Chess for characters on the extreme end of improvisation. See also Order Versus Chaos, where these antagonists usually represent Order.

Often done by Dangerously Genre Savvy people (except perhaps the explaining part).


Anime & Manga
  • In One Piece, Crocodile captures the heroes in an indestructible cage, rigs the cage to be flooded, and throws away the key, which gets eaten by one of many giant crocodiles in the area. For bonus points, the key thrown away was a fake, and the real one was with Crocodile the entire time. He also anticipates every possible counter to his plans, including taking into account Heroic Sacrifices and such. (And no, he couldn't have just shot them.) The amazing thing is that this plan actually had no mistakes in it. The only reason the Straw Hats get out of this is because Crocodile didn't know that there was another pirate in Luffy's crew, Sanji, who would come and break them out of the cell. If Crocodile had known Sanji existed, they would have been doomed. Not only that, he has three layers of plans to kill Luffy. The only reason he fails is because of a massive amount of Plot Armor.

  • The Matrix series is the Trope Namer, as seen in the page quote. The Architect explains that the existence of the Matrix, the One, and Zion fulfill a very efficient (but by no means perfect) cycle of control over the human population. They continue with this plan through the end, only being halted due to an Enemy Mine situation that forced their hand.
  • Pacific Rim has a rare example of a Regularly Scheduled Evil with a short interval. Kaiju attacks happen at ever-shortening intervals (starting at months-long, and expected to eventually shorten to minutes) which don't change, and the Kaiju themselves grow steadily stronger with each attack. The only adjustment that's even attempted is to have the kaiju to focus on specific targets or objectives.
  • Applying this to Real Life business, like managing a sports team, is the plot of Moneyball, in which a winning baseball team is made based on statistics and wise recruiting decisions.
  • The malicious aliens from Independence Day position their warships over every significant city on Earth, and use Earth's own satellites to coordinate a simultaneous strike with their Death Ray weapons. Protagonist David Levinson sees what's going on, and heads to Washington to alert the President. David explains his thinking to his father Julius en route:
    David: It's just like in chess. You position your pieces where they'll be most effective ...
    Julius: And then?
    David: Checkmate.

Tournament Play
  • In the Fighting Game Community, this is the playing style of Christopher Gonzalez, a.k.a. "Chris G". His Morrigan/Doom team is considered, at the moment, to be the most annoyingly efficient method of playing Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Essentially, Morrigan (with Doom assist) can lock you down with Beam Spam and Doom (with Morrigan assist) builds meter for the lockdown. Before the game even starts, you know exactly what Chris G. is going to do to win, but good luck figuring out something to do about it.

  • In Mass Effect:
    • This epitomizes the turian race. They adhere strictly to protocol, superior firepower, and strategies honed over millennia of warfare. They are masters of war (in fact, supplementary materials indicate that they show a lot of interest in Sun Tzu).
    • Samara claims Justicars to be this. When questioned on behaving strictly by Justicar Code, she replies that it has over 3000 sutras and instructions on every single possible situation one can encounter, written over many millennia by the wisest of asari. Whether she lives up to this or not is up to the player to determine and interpret.
    • The Reapers are a horrifying glimpse at this trope when applied to galaxy-wide genocide. The Reapers have an extremely long-term scheme (individual cycles take millennia, but they've been repeating it for far longer than life has existed on Earth) which effectively allows them to mold galactic civilizations to their liking and then destroy every last trace of it at their leisure. You're told at one point that once the plan is in full swing, they're not in any rush and barely even notice when efforts are made to resist, coolly taking centuries to be as thorough as possible and make sure every last living thing is dead. Even when you pretty much bork their Plans A, B, C, and D, their Plan E (a Curbstomp Battle) suits them just fine, too.
  • In Mega Man Zero 4, Weil anticipated the likelihood that Zero and the Resistance would attempt to derail Operation Ragnarok if they found out about it, so he deliberately kept the specific details extremely vague and had the Einherjar warriors distract both the Area Zero citizenry and the Resistance/Zero long enough for him to finish his true goal: space battle station Ragnarok, which would target Area Zero, restrict access so that he's the only one able to board it, and protect itself against cyberspace invasion. He also merges himself with the core of the space station so that Zero could not fight him without risking massive collateral damage.
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