Sometimes you just need to pull out all the stops and kill stuff but good. An alpha strike is just the thing to help you accomplish that! An alpha strike refers to a unit attacking a single target with every weapon it has, all at once. When successful, the result is an absolutely devastating bombardment that turns its hapless target into a smoking crater. When un
successful, the attacking unit will usually be in for a world of hurt, as an alpha strike usually leaves it out of ammo, overheated, overextended, or otherwise vulnerable to Counter Attack
from a surviving opponent (which will be even worse if the attacker is a Glass Cannon
The phrase "alpha strike" originates from the Vietnam War
, where it referred to a US aircraft carrier deploying its entire air wing to attack a single target, unleashing massive firepower at the cost of leaving the carrier basically defenseless for the duration of the attack. The term was eventually co-opted by tabletop wargamers, using the definition presented here.
During an alpha strike, expect to see Beam Spam
, Macross Missile Massacres
, More Dakka
, and any other Spam Attack
that the attacker has handy, all used simultaneously
. Sometimes a type of Attack Pattern Alpha
. Often a form of Death or Glory Attack
. See also There Is No Kill Like Overkill
. Vulnerable to becoming the Worf Barrage
if it's shown to be ineffective.
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- In One Piece the Buster Call is a villainous version of this. When a situation is so threatening to the World Government that even the slightest leak would cause irreparable damage, the Buster Call is summoned. Ten massive warships headed by five Vice-Admirals essentially glass the target island, wiping out any trace of whatever threat they were called to deal with, and make no distinction between innocents and their targets. They can't be called off, either.
- In the climax of the first season's two-part finale of UFO Robo Grendizer — one of the Mazinger Z sequels — the titular Humongous Mecha played chicken with the Mother Burn (the Cool Starship of one of the Co-Dragons), shooting all of its weapons at once as he flew straight towards it. And he won!
- Zoids has several examples.
- The Gundam franchise is fond of this.
- Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team mocks this trope when Shiro uses an alpha strike on enemy Ace Pilot Norris Packard... who stands completely still, while bullets fly all around him without actually being hit by any of them. He then comments, "Well, that looked impressive..."
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing gives us Gundam Heavyarms, which (depending on the version) is equipped with twin head-mounted vulcan guns, two shoulder-mounted machinecannons, two to four gatling guns mounted in its torso, homing missiles and micromissiles mounted in the shoulders and legs, plus larger Gatlings (one beam Gatling on the original, two on the Mid-Season Upgrade, and two solid Gatlings on each arm for the Endless Waltz version). And yes, all at the same time. Super Robot Wars calls this the Full Open Attack, while SD Gundam G Generation calls it Full Firenote .
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED features this with the Freedom, equipping two shoulder-mounted beam cannons, two hip-mounted railguns, and a hand-carried beam rifle that it tends to fire simultaneously, all at different targets. The show also has the METEOR units, which add another four beam cannons and a whole mess of missile launchers.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny not only has the return of the METEORs and the Freedom from Gundam Seed, but Freedom's Mid-Season Upgrade, the Strike Freedom, does it as well. It replaces the Freedom's two Shoulder Cannons with a Chest Blaster, but adds a second beam rifle and eight Attack Drones to make up for it.
- It's truly a thing to behold in Super Dimension Fortress Macross and its sequels and spinoffs.
- In the original series, the titular Humongous Mecha penetrates the enemy's gargantuan space fortress, lets loose with every single missile launcher on its surface (plus all mobile artillery, Destroids, Monsters, and gun emplacements,) activates its Omnidirectional Barrier and waits out the moon-sized explosion that ensues.
- In The Movie, Do You Remember Love the Macross teams up with Zentradi and Meltrandi armadas to assault Boddol Zer's flagship. When the attack starts, the screen basically becomes hundreds of straight lines sprouting from every single ship to impact on the giant fortress, and it doesn't let up until, once again, the Macross flies inside to release Hikaru's Super Valkyrie into its bowels.
- This is how the Marduk institute their regime change at the end of Macross II.
- MegaGargomon uses this twice during the Tamers Forever Series, unloading his entire arsenal in an ultimately futile attempt to bring down Daemon
- Mechagodzilla does this to Godzilla at least once in pretty much all of his appearances.
- In The Avengers, the Chitauri eventually resort to this when fighting the Hulk, surrounding him and swamping him with laser fire. It's the first thing in the battle that even slows him down.
- In Star Trek: First Contact, all Federation ships attack a specific part of the Borg cube simultaneously.
- In the final battle in Return of the Jedi, Ackbar orders a full assault on the Super Star Destroyer, taking out the most senior staff of the enemy Navy fleet above forest planet, Endor.
- Only You Can Save Mankind has the entire ScreeWee fleet turn all its guns at once on a player-controlled fighter that Johnny fails to stop.
- In The Dresden Files, any time Harry uses the spell he calls "Pyrofuego," which he's done only twice in thirteen novels.
- The Battle at the Martian Orbit in Mikhail Akhmanov's Invasion has the twelve cruisers of Admiral Timokhin's battlegroup launch everything they have at the Faata starship, while sending scores of fighters to engage the Faata small combat modules. This ends up being a Worf Barrage, as the combined firepower of the nuclear missiles (about 400 gigaton) ends up being completely useless against the Faata Deflector Shield (the people on the ship don't even feel a bump). The Curb-Stomp Battle is short, with the Faata literally annihilating the human fleet with its Anti Matter weapons. They then send the recording of the battle to the human leaders as a warning.
- Biggles calls in the WW1 equivalent, a "Zone Call", on a wood where German troops are concealed.
- The Alternate History novel The Big One features the titular operation, namely an attack on Nazi Germany with two hundred nuclear weapons. Literally every single nuke in the US arsenal at the time (with a new improved type just entering production). The strike ends the alternate World War II with an immediate death toll in the region of twenty million dead and the annihilation of Germany's industries, transportation, supplies and communications and widespread nuclear contamination.
Live Action Television
- This is the modus operandi of Ultrazords in Power Rangers (and their Super Sentai equivalents). Usually it's part of a Lensman Arms Race against the Sorting Algorithm of Evil, but sometimes a random late-appearing monster gets caught up in the attack.
- Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger has this with the Gokai Kanzen Super Burst, where Kanzen GokaiOh and all the Legend Mecha blast the opponent at full power all at once.
- Kamen Rider Zolda and his American counterpart Kamen Rider Torque employ the powerful End of World Finishing Move, in which their beast Magnugiga fires all of its armaments at once. (It's a lot of armaments too: it's got missiles. It's got lasers. It's got some more missiles. And machine guns. And yet more missiles. And that is how More Dakka is done!) This however leaves Zolda vulnerable to a counterattack, and seeing as End of World fails to kill another Rider...
- End of World is Awesome but Impractical. The time it takes to set it up and the fact that Magnugiga is basically immobile makes it easier to avoid than a lot of significantly less cool attacks. (In Dragon Knight, though, he does manage to take out one other Rider.)
- Kamen Rider Fourze twice performs a Finishing Move like this, using the Launcher and Gatling Switches along with his current States' main weapon; when he uses it in the show, he uses Fire States' Hee-Hack Gun; in The Movie he uses Magnet States' N and S Magnet Cannons.
- The Excalibur in Crusade has a variation. Rather than firing all her weapons at once, she can pour all her power into one weapon. The effect is the same, as afterwards it takes 60 seconds to power back up again.
- In Babylon 5, it takes massed prolonged firepower from Security plus massive amounts of the Station's power to rip open a Vorlon encounter suit. Even that doesn't take out the Vorlon inside.
- In the movie Thirdspace, all the friendly ships attack the Artifact simultaneously (ignoring attacking foes). They have no chance of damaging the Artifact, but that isn't the plan..
- Destroy The Godmodder: This has happened many times, with varied amounts of success. If it is aimed at the Godmodder, it almost never works. If it is aimed at other entities, however, they can die in a matter of days.
- BattleTech: The originator of the term as we're using it here. Firing every weapon a 'mech has equipped has the potential to do ridiculous damage, but also generates enormous amounts of heat, requiring a cooldown period at the very least and at worst destroying the 'mech entirely — either by cooking off its ammo or just exceeding its heat limit by such a wide margin that it spontaneously explodes. Hence this tactic is generally treated as a desperation or last-resort attack among many pilots.
- Also seen in the (defunct) trading card game, where "Alpha Strike" was specifically an ability of certain units — mostly 'Mechs, but also some vehicles after those were added as their own unit type. Using it let that unit do more damage in a given fight at the cost of becoming temporarily depleted and having to sit out the next turn.
- Some 'Mechs, though, are designed with this in mind. An Alpha Strike from a 'Mech like this falls just short of shutting it down - the required technique is to Hit and Run, safely cooling off out of line of sight before coming back for another go. Performed correctly, especially in packs, it can cripple a more conventional 'Mech design.
- Star Fleet Battles: Knowing when to use an alpha strike can win you the game. Notable as one of the games where "Alpha Strike" is not just fandom jargon; it's a specifically defined action in the rules text and an in-universe name for the tactic.
- Alpha Strike is in fact also a term in Magic: The Gathering for attacking with every one of your creatures in one combat, which is usually a risky Death or Glory Attack to end the game after long stalling (if you fail to win, your creatures cannot defend you from the opponent's similar alpha strike next turn) or a way to force the opponent to trade (or lose) his creatures disadvantageously. An alpha strike usually turns into a pileup of tricks and countermeasures, exhausting most of the good cards the players had in hand.
- One tactic used by the Dark Eldar in Warhammer 40,000 boils down to this. Basically, the trick is to bring Razorwing fighters loaded with missiles, then fire them all on the first turn in a hellish barrage of death that glasses half the enemy army during the first turn. Horde armies are really not fond of it.
- The rulebook explicitly states this is how soldiers in a squad fire their weapons (all squads, in all armies). If the squad's rocket launcher blows up an enemy troop transport, they can't then fire their machine guns at the no-longer-occupants-but-pedestrians; the machine guns count as having been fired at the transport.
- A tactic that is less effective but more rage-inducing (which is its own reward) is for Imperial armies to give every vehicle they have "Hunter-Killer Missiles", a fairly cheap upgrade that allows them to fire a single use, unlimited range anti-armor missile per battle. The player then fires all of them at the opposing player's most expensive model, hopefully gaining a cheap kill point and irritating the enemy through such a "cheap" tactic (HKMs are one of those things everyone forgets about...).