Some effects, rather than having a single target, affect everything within a given area. This area is the "area of effect", and attacks/buffs that work this way are called area of effect attacks/buffs. Popular in TabletopGames and {{Strategy Game}}s, area of effect attacks are very useful for taking out large numbers of weak enemies simultaneously. However, they'll usually avert FriendlyFireproof, adding another layer of strategy to their use. They aren't necessarily offensive in nature, either -- healing or protection abilities often work in an area of effect as well.

SuperTrope to SplashDamage, but while splash damage falls off the farther away you get from the center of the attack, area of effect attacks affect everything in its area equally. Supertrope to HerdHittingAttack. See also SplashDamageAbuse, when an Area Of Effect is abused to get enhanced performance out of the ability. If the "effect" within the area of effect is "instant, horrible death," then you're looking at an attack with an InstantDeathRadius.

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!!Examples:

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[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Area-of-Effect is a distinct subcategory of Attack magic in ''MagicalGirlLyricalNanoha'' universe. It mainly consists of elemental spells that freeze/burn/etc. everything within a certain radius and massive shooting spells that produce [[BulletHell so many projectiles, they are impossible to dodge]].
* In ''Anime/KillLaKill'', this is how [[spoiler:Ryuuko defeats Inumuta]] in Episode 10. [[spoiler:Can't see your enemy due to his optical camoflauge? Why, ''attack the entire arena at once!'']]
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[[folder:Literature]]
* Discussed and deconstructed in ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' short story "Day Off", where Harry complains about the arbitrary diameter of a fireball spell while gaming with [[OurWerewolvesAreDifferent the Alphas]].
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[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' is the TropeMaker, having included areas of effect (typically in the form of dragons' breath and certain magic spells) since its very first edition.
* ''{{Champions}}'' has Area Of Effect as a Power Advantage. It's used to turn regular single target attacks into this.
* In the ''Star Fleet Battles'' TabletopGame, the ISC's Plasmatic Pulsar Device divides its damage over several shield sections, affecting each equally.
* These are ubiquitous in wargames, where area of effect determines what pieces are hit by artillery shells, spells, and similar attacks. Sometimes, the distance from a certain point on the table is measured instead to see if something is affected. ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'' and ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' have several round plastic templates and two "flame blast" templates (dragon breath, flamethrowers, "napalm," etc). FlamesOfWar uses a similar plastic piece for representing bombardment.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' sees fit to warn about these in the "Tips for Traitors" section: "Never let the guy with the area-of-effect weapon take far left or right flank. The temptation to turn and wipe out the rest of the team in one go is just too much."
* ''TabletopGame/BigEyesSmallMouth'' has "area" as a standard variable to enhance the effects of attributes. In most cases this goes hand-in-hand with the "target" variable to identify how many individuals within the area that an attribute can affect at one time. However, the "Weapon" attribute (which covers all forms of attack) automatically affects everything in range to begin with. Instead, for the low, low cost of 1 [[PointBuildSystem character point]], the "selective" variable lets the user choose who is and isn't harmed when using the weapon.

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[[folder:Video Games]]
* At least since ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'', most spells can be set to target either all enemies or all allies.
** In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics'' (and sequels), there are several different effective ranges.
* Also many of the spells in the ''Franchise/{{Grandia}}'' games.
* ''VideoGame/HoshigamiRuiningBlueEarth'': You could even increase the area of effect of your spells by crafting the Coinfeigms together.
* Mages in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' have access to massive AOE spells, which are pretty much a necessity late in the game, when crowd control becomes essential.
* In NipponIchi tile-based TurnBasedStrategy games, the [[EvolvingAttack more you level up your spells]], the larger and more complex the area of effects you can access are.
* Flamethrowers in ''VideoGame/ValkyriaChronicles'' and ''VideoGame/ValkyriaChroniclesII'' hit everything in a large conical shape in front of the unit, ignoring cover.
* Grenades in ''VideoGame/ResonanceOfFate'' do the same amount of damage to anything within the blast radius rather than using SplashDamage.
* Many hero spells in ''VideoGame/{{Warcraft}} III'' are this. Some are "friendly fire" spells that hurt friend and foe alike (such as the Archmage's blizzard, Blood Mage's Flame Strike, and Pit Lord's Rain of Fire) and some are enemy-only targeted (such as the POTM's Starfall) or ally-only (Keeper of the Grove's Ultimate).
* ''VideoGame/{{Diablo}}'' and ''VideoGame/DiabloII'' feature lots of spells and effects with a circular hit radius, like Nova and its counterparts of other elements (including Diablo's Fire Nova), the Sorceress's Static Field (drops every nearby enemy's HP by a direct percentage), the Necromancer's Corpse Explosion and curses, the Barbarian's Warcries (both the buffing and de-buffing ones), and the Paladin's auras.
* The ''VideoGame/{{X}}-Universe'' games has the Phased Shockwave Generator, an area of effect weapon that damages ships based on how many "squares" of splash damage touch the ship. What this essentially means is that capital ships will take [[SplashDamageAbuse absurd amounts of damage]] because they're so huge. ''Terran Conflict'' introduced the Plasma Burst Generator, which is basically a space flamethrower that shoots fusion exhaust at the enemies, dealing AOE damage. It works pretty much like the Shockwave Generator, but it is more focused (Shockwave Generators spread out at about 70 degrees, whereas Plasma Generators spread only 5-10 degrees), and mounted on smaller ships.
* MAP attacks in the ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWars'' hit all tiles in the targeted area, most commonly a (near) circle around the user, though other patterns appear from time to time. Some are FriendlyFireproof, most are not.
* While Franchise/{{Pokemon}} started out with strictly one-on-one duels, latter games added Double and Triple Battles and introduced area-effect moves (or changed existing moves to be such, such as Earthquake and Explosion) of pretty much every kind imaginable.
* VideoGame/AvencastRiseOfTheMage only has a handful of such moves across the two skill trees, but they're indispensable in large-scale fights and vexing when used against you.
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