Arbitrary Minimum Range (crowner up) YKTTW Discussion

Arbitrary Minimum Range (crowner up)
You just can't fire some weapons to targets at point blank.
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(permanent link) added: 2012-10-18 20:37:31 sponsor: tryourbreast edited by: spacemarine50 (last reply: 2013-10-04 22:38:03)

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Yes, we all know that all weapons can't fire to a distance of infinity, and have a maximum range. But there is also an opposite.

Besides a maximum range, some weapons, especially for the siege weapons, has a minimum range, which it is a lot less effective or unable to fire at targets at all before this distance. The common behaviour of these weapons are, when an enemy get close enough, they'll move back so that they can still engage the enemy.

Of course, considering that they're so effective at long ranges, so supposedly they should be even more powerful for targets so close. But the reason for this is usually not about the firepower, which the maximum range suffers from - for a target too close, it's very hard to track the target, and most weapon has a limited tracking speed (except point-defence weapons, which are explicitly designed to have very high tracking speed). Also, by firing at a target too close you put yourself at risk from ricochets (Yes, it's a Truth in Television — bullets can bounce off belt buckles and other metal worn objects), or explosions if you happen to use HE or splash rounds. Lastly, moving while firing lowers the accuracy, which if your weapon needs long cooldown between firings, you will become defenseless after on.

Some weapons have Splash Damage that you must avoid having your own men hit it (unless you don't care). Being Friendly Fireproof, in cover, or being armored enough to withstand your own weapon eliminates that problem.

In gaming, this is done mainly of two reason - first, having such powerful weapon without a minimum range can be Game Breaking, since it would have little weakness. Also, it'll allow them to target only for things far enough, so they won't get stuck by keep tracking an enemy very close, and cease to function properly.

Subtrope of Artistic License – Physics. Contrast Arbitrary Maximum Range, No Range Like Point-Blank Range and Short-Range Long-Range Weapon. Inversion of Splash Damage Abuse, see above why. A reason why AA guns can't hit anything. Stray Shots Strike Nothing is a Sister Trope. Insert Grenade Here exploits this trope.


  • In The Hunt for Red October Russian torpedoes have a safety feature that will only arm the torpedo when it is a safe distance away from the ship that fired it. Captain Ramius knows this so he steers his submarine toward an incoming torpedo so the torpedo does not have time to arm itself and bounces harmlessly off the sub's hull. The pursuing sub then deactivates the safety feature for its next shot so the torpedo no longer has a minimum range.
  • The soft sci-fi story Through Space To The Planets has an example of a "ray" gun which also has a gas-like effect, meaning that it cannot be used at close quarters for fear of harming the operator and any other nearby "friendlies".
  • At one point in Honor Harrington, some Marines need to use an antitank launcher to blow open a blast door, but can't use the best munition for the job because the range is shorter than said munition's minimum safe distance.

Video Games
  • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, all tier 3 siege weapons has a minimum range, for all 3 factions. However, you can use a wave-force artillery to force-attack a point, and causes damage to the line of shooting when it fires, including your troops.
    • And surprisingly, the Brighton coastal guns and wave-force tricannons does not suffer from this limit.
  • Siege weapons in Warcraft all have minimum range, being completely defenseless against melee units.
    • Also, siege tanks from StarCraft and StarCraft II.
    • Similarly, all manner of ranged attacks in World of Warcraft, be they bows, guns, or magic fireballs, have a minimum range. If the enemy gets too close, you're forced into melee combat.
  • Plants vs. Zombies has the Scaredy-Shroom, which can fire at pretty far compared to the normal mushrooms, but if a zombie gets too close, it'll hide into the ground and become useless as a weapon.
  • Some vehicles such as Scarabs in Halo Wars are unable to attack extremely close range opponents. Likewise in the main FPS games, tanks without a side gunner are unable to shoot an opponent boarding them without hurting themselves.
  • EverQuest and EverQuest II both have a minimum range (usually 10 meters, just outside of melee combat for most monsters) required before anyone can use a ranged weapon such as a bow or throwing knives and shurikens.
  • In Pokémon Conquest moves do not have a minimum range per se but merely differing areas of effect. Nonetheless, moves which can only hit two or three tiles away do mean the user cannot defend against an enemy engaging them at point blank, and must take a step back first.
  • Fire Emblem - the Ballistas work this way, but also regular bow and arrows act like this also. If you surround an archer with four units, they can't move and can't attack.
    • In Radiant Dawn archers can overcome this limitation by using Crossbows as opposed to bow and arrows.
  • Some spellcards in Touhou have bullets generated around the boss, but the bullets doesn't have the hitspot immediately. Because of this, a player can get very close to the boss before the bullets are fired, and hence without taking any damage. This video provides examples, like 1:02, 8:46 and 9:52.
  • Dune II. Missile tanks could not hit a target 2 hexes or less away. If they tried, the missiles went wild and hit random locations other than the target hex.
  • M1 Tank Platoon. Infantry units automatically fired antitank weapons at any enemy vehicles within range, but they couldn't hit them if they were too close.
  • Many long-range weapons in Battletech have minimum ranges, making it harder to hit within that minimum range.
  • Most ranged siege weapons in the Age of Empires series, and towers before "siege holes" is researched.
  • In Alien Shooter, Grenade Launcher, Freeze Ray and flamethrowers have a minimum range, and the grenades always detonate at a certain distance.
  • In Highborn, Teslas and Cannons have a minimum range of two squares away, unlike most characters/machines, which can attack from one square away.
  • In the Call of Duty games, players can use grenade launchers. In most cases, the grenades have to travel a minimum distance before they'll explode, meaning that if someone is too close to you, the grenade will simply bounce harmlessly off the ground or wall next to them. Fortunately, you can usually get a kill with a direct impact.
  • Knights and Merchants had this with archers and crossbowmen. If you came near enough to a ranged unit and no other units were in range to shoot at, it would stop shooting. Watch towers were exempt from this, though.
  • Subverted in Dragon Age: Origins: you cannot fire ranged weapons at point blank range... unless you take a certain mid-level perk that allows you just that.
  • In Heroes of Might and Magic, ranged units are limited to melee attacks if there's an enemy unit adjacent to them- not only can they not use their main weapon against the adjacent enemy, they can't fire at anyone else either.
  • Advance Wars: Artillery has a one-square zone in which it is unable to fire. Rocket trucks' are two squares (as they have longer range).
  • The Nintendo Wars series takes the minimum range and maximum range tropes and sticks to them.
  • Averted in Tactics Ogre, as an archer could fire a bow at point blank. Given that for some quirk in the code it can't be countered it is a way to help the player since the game is nintendo hard.
  • Played straight as hell in Final Fantasy Tactics with minimum and maximum range. Despite the game having the chances to use a better projectile module
  • Some weapons in the Super Robot Taisen series cannot be used at point blank range. Ironically, this includes the shotgun in most games, which cannot be used against an adjacent enemy.

Tabletop RPG
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • In the 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide section on siege weapons, catapults (light and heavy) and trebuchets all had minimum ranges that they could fire at.
    • In Dungeons & Dragons' later editions, firing a bow provokes an attack of opportunity. Because giving your opponents free shots is bad, this means that minimum range is outside of your opponents reach.
  • In earlier editions of Warhammer40000 barrage weapons had a minimum range. In the 6th edition they still have a minimum range for indirect fire, but can still fire at targets closer than that if they have line of sight to them. However since te rules forbid you from intentionally placing blast markers on your own units (barring a few specific exceptions), blast weapons (which include all barrage weapons) still have a minimum range in some cases; if the entire enemy unit can get so close that you can't place a blast marker on them without hitting the firing unit as well, you can't fire it.
    • In Warhammer40000, the Deathstrike Missile has a minimum range of 12 inches on the tabletop, equivalent to 60 feet in real life.
    • The Basilisks despite being a cannon with plating has to be using the secondary weapons if the weapon gets close despite the fact that the enemy warlord can be in front of the cannon.
    • Also in Warhammer 40K: The Tau are very poor at close ranged combat (because their reflexes are much slower than humans). As a result, most of their weapons have a great deal of trouble locking onto targets at close range.
  • Shadowrun. Some grenade launchers made their grenades not detonate until they had gone a minimum distance after firing. This was done to prevent the user being blown up by their own grenade, but also prevented use of the weapon at close range.
  • In Big Eyes, Small Mouth, one of the custom variables for the Weapon attribute (which covers all types of attack abilities) is Indirect, which lets the attack strike through a ballistic arc. However, rank 1 of the variable restricts the attack from targeting less than half of its maximum range (determined by the Range variable); rank 2 reduces this to ten percent; rank 3 is the maximum and removes the restriction. Splash Damage is handled by the Area variable instead, so there may not be any practical reason for an attack to have a minimum range.
  • In Slender: The Arrival, you can't stun the Proxy with the flashlight's high-beam when it's too close.
  • Classic Traveller Book 4 Mercenary. Several new weapons could not be used at Close or Short range (from 0 to 5 meters away), such as the various PGMP's and FGMP's. There was no reason given for this.
  • Rogue Trader (the RPG) has minimum range for Nova Cannons, as they cannot safely be used too close to the ship, having splash damage and a chanse to explode closer to the firer than intented (technically they can still hit the firer if you fire at the absolute minimum range and roll very badly). They may have had the same rules in Battlefleet Gothic, as RT space combat rules are heavily based on it.

Web Original
Roger: "You just wasted one guy with a three hundred dollar bullet!'

Real Life
  • When a weapon (or the person firing it) is located on an elevated position, it can be difficult or impossible to fire at enemies directly below that position, or within a certain distance. For this reason, fortified locations have towers that can cover one another's bases (along with the length of the wall between them), so enemies can't Zerg Rush within the minimum range and then sap the walls at their leisure.
  • The Davy Crockett nuclear rifle failed because it cannot travel far enough for the nuke to not affect the shooter.
  • Lampshaded by Eddie Izzard, who points out that if someone's tracking you with a bazooka, you should run toward them, not away.
  • All tanks have one. A soldier can get too close to be aimed at by the main gun and it can only point at 1 direction at a time. But the machine guns meant to deal with this also have a minimum range: within about fifteen feet you were perfectly safe from their machine guns: they simply could not depress far enough to hit a man standing so close. But tanks are not usually alone, so another vehicle can kill the annoying soldier.
    • The Germans produced a number of training films that mostly consisted of ways individual soldiers could jump up on a tank and disable it with whatever materials and weapons they had at hand, including hand grenades.
    • The machine gun one also applies to nearly every vehicle that has them.
    • The Germans also addressed this problem in their own tanks by installing the famous gun that could shoot round corners, the one with the 90 degree bend in the barrel. Installed pointing upwards through the turret roof , it could be traversed through 360 degrees to scythe down any Russians climbing onto the back or angled to fire down into what any approaching enemy might have mistaken for a "dead area" where the conventional MG's could not reach.
    • Don't forget it's bad if a tank runs you down.
  • Grenade launchers and similar weapons can be fired at any range, but the projectile won't arm itself until it has travelled a certain distance, about 5 metres for 40mm grenades.
  • Mortars have one. At around 90 degrees, it will fall back down on the guys that fired it, assuming the wind doesn't blow it away. Oh, there's still the Splash Damage.
  • Non-military: Golf. Try to hit <50 yards with a driver at a target. You can't. Sure you can hit 300+ yards wiht the driver, but you cannot hit a small target ~150 yards away with it accurately. Or putt with it. An interesting Self-Imposed Challenge, but you need other clubs to be any good.
  • In Real Life this was one of the reasons "gyrojet" guns (basically weapons that fired self propelled mini-rockets instead of solid bullets) never caught on. Their ammunition took a while to accelerate, meaning they had less momentum at close range. By comparison, normal bullets had their maximum momentum the moment they left the barrel.
    • Apparently you could actually defeat one by sticking your finger in the barrel.
  • During the Battle off Samar the USS Samuel B. Roberts got so close to the Imperial cruiser Chokai that the Chokai couldn't aim its guns low enough to hit the Roberts.
  • In the Falklands War a number of British Type 42 destroyers got hit by not only guided anti-ship missiles but also Argentine aircraft lobbing unguided munitions at them. The early iterations of the class were fitted with GWS30 Sea Dart surface-to-air missile system for anti-air defense; problem was, if aircraft or missiles managed to close to within a certain range, software issues with the SAM system caused them to be unable to properly track and fire at targets because they were too close. This limitation was the reason why the class was latter fitted with two Mk.15 Phalanx CIWS.
  • Pole arms (like spears and pikes) require you to be so far away from an enemy to actually hit them. If they are too close, you can't stab them with the end and won't be able to build enough momentum to hurt them by swinging the weapon.
  • This trope is why nukes bigger than the Tsara Bomba didn't exist. The bomber that drops it cannot get out of danger before the nuke detonates. By then, ICB Ms were doing the same job.
    • Even the smaller nukes the bombers are forced to maneuver to not get hit by the nuke it just dropped. Again, missiles don't have this problem.

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