Boring, but Practical

"Of all the weapons in the vast Soviet arsenal, nothing was more profitable than Avtomat Kalashnikova model of 1947. More commonly known as the AK-47, or Kalashnikov. It's the world's most popular assault rifle. A weapon all fighters love. An elegantly simple 9 pound amalgamation of forged steel and plywood. It doesn't break, jam, or overheat. It'll shoot whether it's covered in mud or filled with sand. It's so easy, even a child can use it; and they do. The Soviets put the gun on a coin. Mozambique put it on their flag. Since the end of the Cold War, the Kalashnikov has become the Russian people's greatest export. After that comes vodka, caviar, suicidal novelists. One thing is for sure, no one was lining up to buy their cars."

Everyone loves flashy magic, BFGs, and big, thundering tanks. However, the more interesting something is, the more likely it falls victim to the rule of Awesome, but Impractical: You can't use it often enough, it costs too much, or it just takes too much effort to get it. You could even have Cool, but Inefficient, where it just looks awesome, but that is about it.

Therefore, we have things that are much more "boring" and normal, but these things often contribute more to your success in the long term than the visually more impressive things. The Reliable Ones, if you will.

General examples:
  • Healers in MMORPGs are often this. Fiery doom or big swords are a lot cooler, but you try getting anywhere in a dungeon without a dedicated healer in your group. (However, a lot of video games try to circumvent this by giving healing spells effects just as spectacular as their offensive counterparts, such as big shining lights, summoning gods, killing zombies, or massive plant growth.)
    • ... and, working backwards through history, healers in almost any pencil-and-paper roleplaying game.
  • Same for medics in FPS games that have them. More importantly, ammo limitations, rate of fire restrictions, or other factors often make normal guns more useful than sniper rifles, power weapons, or the BFG.
  • Similarly, weapon loadouts that don't require much ammunition or allow you put a ton of ammunition on your vehicle in things like Humongous Mecha combat sims. The bigger guns tend to be unable to stock much ammo and take up more space, besides.
  • Normal attacks in RPGs. Special moves and magic are a lot more flashy and generally much more effective, but they are usually restricted by something or other (Mana, Limit Break, etc). And some spells might not even work when you really need them. Normal attacks usually cost nothing at all to use, and have no cooldown or speed penalty.
  • Again in RPGs, buffing and debuffing abilities. "Why use these when you can attack right away," you ask? Raising your stats (particularly defense and evasion) and lowering the enemy's (particularly attack and accuracy) can make the difference between That One Attack hitting only half of your party for damage that can be healed back up promptly and that same attack causing a Total Party Kill.
  • In platformers, Goomba Stomp or basic moves, as opposed to the things you can do with powerups. Vital since the said powerups aren't always available, and if you lose yours mid-level, what then?
  • In strategy games (as in Real Life), the basic combat unit, typically some kind of infantry, is usually more efficient than the larger (and cooler looking) counterparts. Tournament players will often make heavy use of rather basic units in general. Any type of rush depends on this trope.
  • Again, in strategy games, Worker Units. These guys have little or no combat capability and present easy targets for your enemies, but without them, you have no economy, and without an economy, you have no army. Workers are also used as early-game scouts due to starting the game with several of them, and having a very low cost per unit.
    • The buildings they construct also qualify, as they simply sit in place and produce what you tell them to. Resource buildings especially so, as they often have a very basic design and no functionality whatsoever, but if you don't build a bunch of them, you can't have an army.
  • In Tower Defense Games, whatever the "basic" tower is may be this; they are cheap, dependable, and easy to fill the map with. But they are nowhere near as cool as many other towers in your arsenal.
  • In Card Games, simple and resource cheap cards often reign supreme, with efficiency being more important than raw power.
    • And common-rarity cards also tend towards this. Rare cards typically have powerful and unique effects... but it'll be rare in-itself for anyone to have more than one, making them useless if countered. Common cards may have simpler effects, but they're easy to get and can easily be used multiple times.
  • Many action and brawler games with unlockable movesets usually fall prey to this. Players are so accustomed to the initial attacks that most new moves are too foreign to properly use or experiment with.
    • This is often particularly true when button combos are required. By the time the new moveset is unlocked, the enemies are too powerful to take lightly by practicing your new attack on, and your own damage output is high enough that failing to activate your new ability will simply kill a mook outright with a mere jab.
    • The same is true for the Real Life martial arts. Complex and flashy moves look good, but they are often difficult to execute, require a lot of training, and, if failed, often leave you open for a counterattack. Many masters discourage their use even in tournaments, and in a common street brawl you can do very well with just a couple of boxing punches.
  • The Jack-of-All-Stats can often be this trope; they may lack the coolest, or strongest moves, but are fairly good at most attributes, and lack the glaring weaknesses of other character types.
  • Passive abilities in games with customization involved. The kind of ability that's always on, and carry you through trouble. Sure, that big hellfire that fills half the screen and uses a high amount of resources looks cool and you see big numbers on the screen, but the +5% fire damage passive ability combined with your usual fire attacks improves your damage much more over time as you use it.
  • Many strategy-level wargames come as a rude surprise to the naive, who just want to generate as many panzer divisions or equivalent as they possibly can in order to roll over things with the high-end glamourous Bling of War. The hard lesson to be learnt is that if you don't pay attention to the boring stuff - your supply and support network, the boring logistics that needs lots and lots of boring trucks - then you're doomed once the panzers start running out of fuel and ammo.
    • This is a lesson drummed into trainee army officers. The teeth of an army are as nothing without its tail. It is a fact that every German panzer division in the Blitzkrieg required a logistics train whose less glamourous vehicles - many horse-drawn - would have stretched for a hundred miles behind the Panzers if placed nose-to-tail. it took several thousand lorries to keep the six hundred tanks of an armoured division in the battle. Hitler's Ardennes offensive of 1944 failed because he was obsessed with tanks to spearhead it - and paid scant heed to the logistics trains necessary to sustain them.
  • In competitive circles, the Metagame-defined optimal manner of play that may not be the most exciting way to play, especially since you're going to see that same strategy / character / build / whatever used over and over, but it's the one that achieves the best results.

May border on Game-Breaker. Compare Simple, yet Awesome. Contrast Awesome, but Impractical; Cool, but Inefficient.

Specific Examples:

Alternative Title(s): Boring Yet Practical