Created By: Mozgwsloiku on December 3, 2011 Last Edited By: morenohijazo on March 8, 2016

Mook Sweeper Move

An Area Attack that clears the battlefield of all the irrelevant people

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Up for Grabs

Large plot events tend to attract a lot of people. Sometimes one or more sides arrive with their own armies. This is all awesome but tends to complicate the situation and make the author's work harder. The audience would get bored with three straight episodes of the heroes fighting fodder. And if all those people fight each other in the background, that's a chore for the artists. The answer - make someone use an attack that one-shots the mooks en-masse, often taking out anyone without a Plot Armor. The effect of such moves may depend on the targets' Power Level or Heroic Willpower. A villanous version of the trope can clear the area by one-shotting all civilians.

The trope also appears in video games, either as a tool to force a Flunky Boss into a fair fight, or used by a boss to prevent the heroes from zerg-rushing him with npc allies and summons (when the boss area-attacks the heroes themselves, its not this trope - see Herd-Hitting Attack instead). This one is quite handy for optimizing video game performance. Just throw out all that unimportant stuff and focus on the action.

This is very very close to Smart Bomb. It may be distinct but the difference will need to be specified to fight Trope Decay.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In Bleach the Battle Aura of powerful characters incapacitates weaker creatures, preventing massess of low level Shinigami from interfering with climactic battles.
    • When Yammy and Ulquiorra appear in the town park, Yammy's first move is to suck out life force of all the muggles in the area.
  • Haki serves this purpose in One Piece - in the Fishmen Island Arc, Luffy knock out over ten thousand mooks with just a mean look, leaving his friends to sweep up the remains over a single chapter and clearing the battlefield for the showdown against Quirky Miniboss Squad.
  • In Naruto Madara's meteor reduces a large ninja force to a group of six people. - notably one of them is an ordinary ninja and Genre Savvy enough to realise his lack of Plot Armor. He was just lucky to be standing very close to the heroes.

Tabletop Games
  • Common in Dungeons & Dragons - many spells are lethal to targets below a certain level, causing them to kill the mooks while just irritating primary targets. Subverted for holy word, which should work like this but is commonly mini-maxed to nuke pretty much everything.
    • In 4th Edition there are "minion" creatures who have only a single Hit Point, basically making any damaging Area of Effect power into this.

Video Games
  • Any Area of Effect spell in videogames (or some spells in D&D if I am not wrong). Bonus points for Friendly Fire effects. Example of this one would go under "Tactics Ogre: Let us Cling Together" in which any damage spell damages everyone in its Ao E... Dragon Magic in particular recalls the Nuke them trope but does sweep Mooks AND Redshirts.
  • Common in Baldur's Gate series, thanks to a choice of D&D spells. The final boss in Throne of Bhaal uses the villanous variation - when she swings her halberd, heroes get Blown Across the Room while summons are instant-killed. Considering the kind of creatures the heros can summon at this stage, the effect seems to be Plot Armor based.
  • Link's Spin-attack in the 3D Zelda games could count. Especially Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword.
  • Chrono Trigger: Magus' Black Hole spell, which has a chance to cause instant death to standard mooks.
  • American McGee's Alice: During the fight against the Mad Hatter, he sometimes flees and sends you some robots to attack you. When he comes back after some time, he uses a special attack that doesn't harm you, but instead kills any surviving robot.
  • Elvoret's wing sweep in Final Fantasy VIII blows two comical mooks, Biggs and Wedge, from the Dollet Comm Tower but does little if anything to the SeeD cadets (the player characters).
  • That's pretty much what the Zodiac is for in Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando. It eliminates all the small fry on screen but is totally useless against bosses and giant critters in general.
  • Monkey in Enslaved: Odyssey to the West has a move that deals no damage, but has a wide sweep and knocks the unshielded Mecha-Mooks away to give him some breathing room. In theory, at least. Most players just consider it useless.
  • Instant kill attacks Mahamoan and Mamudoan at the end Persona 4 function as this. With a boost, they pretty much one-shot any group of mooks during dungeon crawling sections, but are perfectly useless against bosses.

Web Comics
  • Doombell in Girl Genius - its sound projects an overwhelming effect of "existential despair", incapacitating anyone who isn't either used to it or a total badass. This clears the enemy soldiers from the streets... except for enemy Elite Mooks, who seem to be safe thanks to Hollywood Cyborg ears.

Other
  • The Mr Welch RPG list discourages use of power word to identify the villain in complecated plots.
Community Feedback Replies: 25
  • December 5, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    Nobody?

  • December 5, 2011
    Chabal2
    Warcraft3: Heroes take less damage from spells, so a particularly strong spell may in fact kill units but leave heroes standing.
  • December 15, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    I don't think this counts - thats just survival of the toughest. To count for the trope, the attack must either serve the narrative purpose (in a story) or be designed specifically for this (in a game)
  • December 15, 2011
    HandsomeRob
    Link's Spin-attack in the 3d Zelda games could count. Especially Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword.
  • December 15, 2011
    morenohijazo
    • Chrono Trigger: Magus' Black Hole spell, which has a chance to cause instant death to standard mooks.
    • American Mc Gee S Alice: During the fight against the Mad Hatter, he sometimes flees and sends you some robots to attack you. When he comes back after some time, he uses a special attack that doesn't harm you, but instead kills any surviving robot.
  • March 21, 2012
    Mauri
    Any Area of Effect spell in videogames (or some spells in D&D if I am not wrong). Bonus points for Friendly Fire effects. Example of this one would go under "Tactics Ogre: Let us Cling Together" in which any damage spell damages everyone in its Ao E... Dragon Magic in particular recalls the Nuke them trope but does sweep Mooks AND Redshirts.
  • March 27, 2012
    aurora369
    Elvoret's wing sweep in Final Fantasy VIII blows two comical mooks, Biggs and Wedge, from the Dollet Comm Tower but does little if anything to the SeeD cadets (the player characters).
  • March 28, 2012
    henke37
    This one is quite handy for optimizing video game performance. Just throw out all that unimportant stuff and focus on the action.
  • March 28, 2012
    Lyendith
    Video Game:
    • That's pretty much what the Zodiac is for in Ratchet And Clank: Going Commando. It eliminates all the small fry on screen but is totally useless against bosses and giant critters in general.
  • May 3, 2013
    Larkmarn
    • Monkey in Enslaved Odyssey To The West has a move that deals no damage, but has a wide sweep and knocks the unshielded Mecha Mooks away to give him some breathing room. In theory, at least. Most players just consider it useless.

    • Instant kill attacks Mahamoan and Mamudoan at the end Persona 4 function as this. With a boost, they pretty much one-shot any group of mooks during dungeon crawling sections, but are perfectly useless against bosses.
  • To expand on Dungeons And Dragons: In 4th Edition there are "minion" creatures who have only a single Hit Point, basically making any damaging Area Of Effect power into this.
  • May 3, 2013
    DracMonster
    This is very very close to Smart Bomb. It may be distinct but the difference will need to be specified to fight Trope Decay.
  • May 4, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Video Games

    Not a recommended move, but since Nukes in the Civilization series of games have an area effect of wiping out (or heavily decimating) all units within one square of ground zero, one might use one in desperation if facing multiple stacks of units in proximity to each other, closing in on your territory and outnumbering and outgunning whatever units you have readily available for defense. The drawbacks being huge amounts of land pollution (also on all those squares) which you may need to clean up, and ensuring retaliation in kind (including by third parties disgusted by your use of nukes) if a nuclear war isn't already underway.

    [I've only done it a couple times--I tend to hate using nukes.]

  • May 4, 2013
    arbiter099
    Would the tank swatting aside the zombie horde in the CG intro of Left 4 Dead to get at the heroes count?
  • May 4, 2013
    morenohijazo
    ^ Explain a bit more, I'm not familiar with that game.

    ^^ That seems to be Smart Bomb. That deserves a Face Palm because it's just below a comment which talked about it.
  • May 4, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    ^ A nuclear weapon in Civilization is not the same thing as a Smart Bomb: According to that trope description, Smart Bombs clear the whole screen (rather than just an area of nine squares out of the hundreds of squares on the screen). The use of a Nuke in Civ doesn't clear out all enemies, but can be useful in clearing stacks of enemy units close together--the way the AI often tends to concentrate units in an attack force. Other units not in the nuke's tight blast range are still on the field for you to deal with. So nukes can certainly help when there's an imminent danger, but aren't going to clear everything (and actually, the units within a square of the blast aren't always eliminated completely, but decimated in a somewhat random fashion by at least half--making them more manageable). And unlike in the Smart Bomb description, you're only limited to how many you manage to build. And they aren't necessarily used "only in emergencies"--the AI can use them pretty frequently, and some human players like to also.
  • May 5, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Also, the name Smart Bomb used for the trope it describes is a misnomer (and hence, probably why that above post^^^^^ didn't register with me at first ;) ). In Real Life military usage, the term "smart bomb" refers to precision-guided munitions, i.e. guided ordnance designed for precision or "surgical" strikes, meant to reduce area or collateral damage (while reaching small and difficult targets)--so they aren't area-sweeping weapons, but the opposite (and the trope description itself actually admits as much). I'd suggest renaming that trope (and maybe this proposed trope does overlap too much with it) to avoid misunderstanding. Maybe Mook Sweeper would be a good alternate title for Smart Bomb.
  • May 5, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    Smart Bomb refers to the term in video games, not the real life weapon. In fact, the description of Smart Bomb says:

    "The real-life weapons of the same name bear little resemblance to this definition. In fact, they're almost the opposite, designed to only kill what you aim them at and not anything else."
  • May 5, 2013
    erikwidi
    In the MMORPG Tera, there are little mooks (commonly found in the tutorial area) called Terrons who travel in groups. The Priest class has an attack called Metamorphic Blast, which can easily wipe out an entire pack of Terrons. Not all dead yet? Do it again.
  • May 5, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    ^^ I'm not really a "gamer" (I don't play shoot-em-ups, I have played a couple of strategy games like earlier versions of Civilization), so I didn't know that. The contradictory term used in such games is a bit confusing for those not initiated.
  • May 6, 2013
    morenohijazo
    The problem I have with the Civilization example is that it kills anyone within range, while in this trope, the most powerful enemies (such as bosses) remain alive after the attack. And they do have limitations: apart from that everyone-after-you effect, they appear late in the game and require Project Manhattan to be built.

    Anyway, here another example from American Mc Gees Alice (not sure about this one): the Blunderbuss. It's the ultimate weapon of the game, as it kills all mooks around Alice at the cost of draining all of your Mana Meter, while bosses survive if attacked with it. The problema is, bosses aren't insta-killed, but they do suffer damage from it, and they eventually die after some hits, so I'm not sure if it's survival of the strongest (like that Warcraft 3 example) or this trope (as you can tell anyway that the game designers designed the weapon with this trope on mind).

  • March 5, 2016
    DAN004
    Dunno... reading the non-vg examples makes it clear how this is distinct from Smart Bomb. That this is mostly a storyline trope + "mass destruction" trope, while Smart Bomb purely concerns gameplay (about mass destruction).

    Compare Phlebotinum Bomb (attack that only harms certain things).
  • March 7, 2016
    dalek955
    The actual quote from Mr Welch:
    #1790: Can't find the villain just by casting Power Word: Stun in the bar and seeing who's still standing.
  • March 8, 2016
    DrNoPuma
    Does this count?

    • In Kirby Triple Deluxe, Queen Sectonia will sometimes summon a bunch of Mooks before disappearing. If they take too long to kill Kirby, or vice versa, she reappears and tries to kill both by throwing giant golden rings.
  • March 8, 2016
    Prime32
    • Dungeons And Dragons has a number of spells which work only on low-level enemies, some of which (such as cloudkill) have an Area Of Effect. Similarly, holy word (and its counterparts: blasphemy, word of chaos and dictum) has greater effects depending on the level difference between the caster and those who hear the word, ranging from "nothing whatsoever" to "feel kind of sick" to "instant death".
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=rfbnzxuof10oq4caqxv83xjf