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[[quoteright:300:[[Webcomic/PennyArcade http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/PennyArcadeTetrisAnywhere2_8343.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:300:Anyone for a game of ''VideoGame/{{Tetris}} [[HilariousInHindsight Blitz]]''?]]

->''"Never. Sell. Power. This is seriously micro-trans 101, but we still seem to have this temptation to squeeze the maximum amount of money out of our players by selling them things that alter the balance of gameplay."''
-->-- '''Daniel Floyd''', ''WebAnimation/ExtraCredits''

Don't feel like doing a quest to get the reward? Don't care about taking time to unlock the game's super ultra secrets? Or perhaps you [[BrutalHonesty just suck?]]

You may be in luck. For a "modest fee", the game's developers might be willing to sell you "something extra" to "boost your performance". Don't worry, it's "not really cheating" since anybody else could do the same, and you gotta trust the game's developers on this, right?

Rejoice, gamers, for now we can have TruthInTelevision [[ClassicVideoGameScrewYous Video Game FUs,]] where only the rich kids will have all the cool stuff.

Some online games do such a thing as a response to RealMoneyTrade, on the logic that players would do it anyway. The sister trope is the AllegedlyFreeGame, which advertises itself as "free to play" but requires purchases to unlock content, up to and including higher levels and/or the actual ending. To clarify, the difference between these tropes is that RealMoneyTrade is forbidden by the game's developers, while an AllegedlyFreeGame ''cannot'' be played in its entirety without paying money, and Bribing Your Way To Victory allows you to buy better stuff but doesn't lock you out of content.

A common variant of this trope is to put in countless hours of incredibly dull ForcedLevelGrinding with minimal content at the lower levels, then allow players to skip it by buying ExperiencePoints and/or whatever currency they would otherwise need to grind out to progress. This essentially results in an AllegedlyFreeGame with the ''illusion'' of being able to EarnYourFun, even though the latter is rendered useless since you rarely save more than a dollar per hour of grind compared to just coughing up the money - mowing the neighbor's lawn would be less work, more fun, ''and'' still pay more. In cases like this, and other situations where you can buy quicker access to stuff you can get in the game, it seems like the developers think their game is boring enough, at least at the early stages, that people will pay money to play ''less'' of it.

This is very difficult to implement in a way that doesn't hurt the experience for players unwilling to spend the extra money.

A RealLife subset of ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney.

See also RevenueEnhancingDevices. In-game money doesn't count; it has to be real money.

Not related to CrimefightingWithCash.

* BribingYourWayToVictory/VideoGames


[[folder:Card Games]]
* The ''TabletopGame/{{Munchkin}}'' series of card games has a set of official T-shirts. According to the official tournament rules, wearing one of these shirts grants special powers, such as the ability to draw extra cards and increasing the amount of treasure you get when killing monsters. It also has a series of bookmarks that cancels out the effect of the t-shirts. In fact, all Munchkin related products affect the card game in some way.
** Possibly the most outrageous example ever? [[http://www.worldofmunchkin.com/cookie/ A cookie.]]
** One card lets you go up one level by, in the card description, bribing the GM with pizza.
** Possible case of invocation of this trope, given the nature and tone of the game. Another basic rule is that cheating is OK if you don't get caught.
** Not technically bribery, but you can start a game of ''Munchkin'' at Level 3 by donating to one of Creator/JohnKovalic's charity bike rides.
* Seen as the downfall of many a CollectibleCardGame. It's not bad enough when players, (stereo)typically spoiled little kids who can scream "BUY ME THAT ULTRA-SUPER-DELUXE MEGARARE!" at their parents, can buy the rare and powerful cards or even entire pre-built "munchkin" decks from shops and collectors, but then the actual makers of the game have to get in on the act with "Buy this cheap tin box 'storage bin' and get a deluxe chromium omegarare card free! Only thirty bucks!" A designer who doesn't want to be accused of this should decide rarity by complexity instead of [[PowerEqualsRarity power]].
** It's always possible to build a "budget" deck consisting of fairly inexpensive cards that does well, but the majority of the decks you'll see coming in the top percentages at tournaments will end up running the same rare cards. Since these cards are considered must-haves for "good" decks and are already rare as it is, the market price for them tends to be much higher than similar (albeit somewhat worse) cards, which means that the only reliable ways to get them are to buy them or to trade for them (which might entail giving up several of your own cards to match the value).
** Somewhat inverted when WizardsOfTheCoast released a ''{{Magic the Gathering}}'' boxset containing tournament-winning decks from two of the best professional Magic players, including several expensive rares. The catch was that the cards had visual notifiers marking them as not tournament-legal, and thus effectively worthless on the resale market.
*** Furthermore, there are 'Limited format' tournaments, where the price of entry (around $20) includes several packs of cards, which the tournament participants must then make decks out of (in some versions, the player is limited to whichever packs were given him at random; in others, the players pass the packs around the table and pick a single card). At the end, cards are kept (though rares are sometimes put aside to be handed out, with higher ranking participants going first). Because cards are chosen non-randomly, this is actually a cheaper method of obtaining the cards you want.
*** It is however also played totally straight with the introduction of a new level of rarity. On top of Common, Uncommon and Rare, are the new so-called Mythic Rares--which tend to not only be powerful, but for the tournament-worthy ones, very costly to buy. Indeed, over time, rare cards have gotten increasingly more expensive, and decks have required increasingly more rare cards. The net result of the new rarity being introduced and more rare cards being required per deck is the inflation of the cost of decks in the standard format from about $200 to up to $600-800 at times.
*** Immediately prior to the introduction of mythic rares, the last two blocks had contained unusually large numbers of cards; they released an extra summer set, and stuck a bunch of extra cards into the set. They then claimed when they released Mythic Rares, that they were only as uncommon as rares had previously been... ignoring the fact that the last two sets were very unusual in this regard themselves, and that even then, it was still BlatantLies - previously big set rares had been 1/80, and small set rares 1/55, while now mythic rares were now 1/121 in large sets and 1/80 in small sets. Indeed, they simultaneously made yet another change, wherein the core sets had new cards created for them (rather than bringing back existing cards from previous sets, which would have a lower price because there was already a pool of those cards in circulation), meaning that every year they were actually introducing as many rare cards as they had been previously, and of course adding mythic rares in on top of that.
*** There has been at least an effort on their part to make Mythic rarity not as game-breaking as in other card games. While about half of all Mythic cards printed are great for EDH and even Standard formats, most are AwesomeButImpractical for Modern, Legacy, and Vintage. Instead, the bulk of powerhouse cards for these formats are either Rare or Uncommon; under their new set designs, as well, Rare cards are much more common than they used to be (and it shows - an example would be the card Thoughtseize, an eternal staple of any deck running Black in Legacy: at the time of ''Theros's'' printing, the original, harder-to-find version of Thoughtseize from ''Lorwyn'' was about $40, while the new version printed in ''Theros'' was $20). Even of those Mythics worth playing in Legacy, most don't top the $50 mark, with only 2 particular Mythic cards being worth over $100 (Tarmagoyf from Modern Masters and Jace the Mind Sculptor).
** Averted by the TabletopGame/StarWarsCustomizableCardGame, which managed to work ScrewTheMoneyIHaveRules ''into'' the rules. Many conflicts in the game are resolved by chance, but instead of rolling dice you draw the top card of your deck and check its "Destiny" value, which goes from 0 to 7. This was supposed to reflect how the Force in ''Franchise/StarWars'' is often with the underdog: cards which were rare, powerful and expensive had low Destiny, whereas the common and sucky ones had high values. Thus, players with cheaper cards get more luck. In the end, it actually didn't work, but it was still a nice try.
* ''TabletopGame/YuGiOh'' is a major offender (yet not at Munchkin levels), although for very different reasons. UDE has an annoying habit of increasing the number and rarity of cards in the expansion sets before releasing them, as well as making it easy for retailers to pluck those cards out and sell them as singles. The only people able to get the better cards are either rich enough to buy them from the retailer, at high prices; buy whole boxes, at high prices; or have the luck to find an honest retailer.
** Ever since UDE was dropped as a distributor in the West, Konami has continued the practice, but toned down the blatant practice slightly. Their rarities get shuffled, but at most a card doesn't go higher than Ultra Rare (compared to UDE's 'powerful card=highest rarity possible' tactic). The more useful cards get bumped down a bit, like Blackwing - Sirocco of the Dawn, a cornerstone piece in a Blackwing Deck, one very powerful deckstype, is a Common in US, compared to the Japanese Super Rare.
*** For a very blatant example of UDE's tactic: Dark Armed Dragon is in the U.S. Secret Rare (one per BOX maximum chance, and a box is around 30 9-card packs) while the Japanese version is a Rare (second lowest in rarity) and can be found in one of every 5 5-card packs). It is a very common joke for a Japanese/non-US player to stumble upon an American bidding of the card and go, "80USD for a rare?!"
** Also, the US tend to release TCG exclusive cards that can ONLY be found in the US version pack, with the minimum rarity of it an Ultra Rare (3 Ultra Rares per Box). In retaliation of this, the OCG (Japanese/Asian base) also create exclusives but make them a 100% guaranteed pick from boosters (usually dedicated packs costing double the regular price of a booster), but also reprint TCG exclusives and make them dirt-cheap commons at worst or Super Rare (a rarity level below Ultra) at best.
** [[http://yugioh.wikia.com/wiki/Cyber-Stein Cyber-Stein]]. Dear god, ''Cyber-Stein''. When it was first released in the TCG, it was exclusively a tournament prize, and only a rare few were handed out. This, combined with a fairly good effect that makes one turn kills extremely easily, meant that the one eBay auction that sold this card saw a bid of ''20,000$ USD''. (The bidder welshed, however, and the card was later sold for 7,000$.) Fortunately, the card saw a proper public release... way back in 2005, and hasn't had an appearance since. The OCG Cyber-Stein does not share the same problem, however, as it has appeared in a handful of sets, especially two structure deck appearances, meaning that the card is quite easy to come by.
* The ''TabletopGame/IlluminatiNewWorldOrder'' [=SubGenius=] set has a card with a special ability that is activated by sending one dollar to the [=SubGenius=] Foundation. The card suggests that the other players require the user to actually mail the dollar.
* You can play ''VideoGame/{{Alteil}}'' for free forever, getting all cards, even. Just don't expect to expand your deck as quickly as those who are willing to dish out dough. Oh, and there are also some cool customization stuff you can get with cash, but it is entirely optional.
* Like Alteil, ''VideoGame/ShadowEra'' is a completely free, cross-platform CCG. Players who don't pay aren't limited by what they can get, only by how long it will take to get it.
* The [[TableTopGame/{{Pokemon}} Pokémon Trading Card Game]], as of the VideoGame/PokemonBlackAndWhite sets, has increased the rarity of the most powerful cards. This is a bane for not only players looking for some of these specific cards, but for collectors, as the ''quantity'' of these cards have increased too, requiring the spending of 3 to 4 times as much money to obtain a complete set than before.
** The Pokémon Trading Card Game has tipped on its head now that 3 of the most powerful Pokémon cards, namely Darkrai EX, Mewtwo EX, and Rayquaza EX, of which all three have been proven to be strong cards (and in some cases, game breaking), having a copy of one of these cards sold in a tin, which would normally cost $40 online is now UNDER $30 with 4 BOOSTER PACKS.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The [[{{LARP}} live-action role-playing game]] ''NERO'' plays this very straight - you can straight out buy experience points with real-world money.
** There was a company which hired temporary workers by paying them in NERO experience points instead of dollars. They had to stop when someone pointed out that they were paying them the equivalent of 67c per hour, which is far below the legal minimum wage. And yet, some of the players preferred this to getting real money!
* The parodic roleplaying game ''Violence: the Role-Playing Game of Egregious and Repulsive Bloodshed'' allows a player to improve his character's stats by paying the GameMaster, or by sending money to the game's author.
* Creator/GamesWorkshop:
** While the company averts this trope by [[CrackIsCheaper making everything equally outrageously expensive]], on average each faction will have at least one figurine that is only available in "Fine-Cast" resin. Eldar Wraithguard or Dark Eldar Beastmaster. One player calculated you would have to pay an excess of ''$400'' for the points equivalent of a 75 dollar tank of another faction, if you decided to buy the GW versions of the beasts and the beastmaster -- which you will have to do if you wish to play with them during a tournament, as non-Games Workshop models are officially prohibited during tournaments.
** The company also ''inverts'' it several times by not releasing models for certain units or characters that have rules, meaning depending on how creative you can get with your materials, you can either spend an outrageous amount or just use whatever spare parts are left over from your other units to make them. Again with the Dark Eldar, Duke Sliscus, Baron Sathonyx and Lady Malys are considered some of the more useful commanders for your force either because of their relative point costs, force multiplier abilities, special rules (especially in the case of the Baron) and any combination thereof. The three have no official models and most people would be content with you fielding a somewhat modified Dark Eldar Kabalite Warrior for the Duke, a modified Hellion for the Baron (neither of which need any parts from outside their own box sets, since there's a lot of customization parts) or using one of the cheaper "court" characters for Malys. Of course, this hasn't stopped people from going as far as to make their own sculpts, or ordering from specialty sites with characters that resemble the Dark Eldar, but are from completely different lines.
*** This is sadly a practice they're had to go back on, after losing a lawsuit to one Chapterhouse Studios. As of 2014 they can only release rules for copyrighted names they can be sure they own, a list which exactly consists of everything they make models for.
** One of the increasingly unsavory tactics of late is Games Workshop creating insanely powerful rules for newly introduced units while nerfing old staples. The most infamous case of this was with the Carnifex and the Trygon; during the 4th edition codex, even an interview with the developers lampshaded how they specifically developed the Carnifex set because every single Nid player loved the fex, and anyone worth their salt would have at least one already before the release of the codex. In 5th Edition, the Carnifex was marginalized for the new Trygon model, which was vastly superior point-for-point (the Carnifex also lost half of its upgrades and became twice as expensive in points despite not gaining anything).
** The End Times book managed to invoke this due to how fast they sold out. In one case, the non-limited edition (which had a larger print run) outsold the ''limited edition'' one, which also sold out shortly after. Given that each book costs hundreds of dollars while also containing armies that literally took away the bad while leaving the good (the Incarnates are the most notable example, each being a literal OneManArmy in their own right) but only usable if you have the corresponding End Times book (and the associated Armybooks too), they fall squarely into this. Until the softback editions came out, you had to resort to buying them off of ebay scalpers (which got bad enough that GW had to limit the number of orders that can be placed on them) or to methods of dubious legality to gain access to them.
** Taken UpToEleven with 7th Edition '''TabletopGame/Warhammer40000'''. Rules like Unbound and Formations strongly encourage buying large numbers of the most powerful, and therefore most expensive, models available. Add to that, the rules books have gotten increasingly expensive as their page sizes have shrunk. Paperback versions are no longer available, even basic rulebooks and army books are only available in hardcover, with about half the pagecount of the previous edition (and considerably more empty space on what pages are left). Most of the "fluff" used to pad out previous editions is no longer included in the standard edition army books, and is only only available in the special edition books or the tie-in novels. Some new releases don't even have entries in the army books, rules for using the units are only available with the units themselves. Needless to day, these are commonly much more powerful units than those in the army books.
* Tracy Hickman, fantasy author and ''Literature/{{Dragonlance}}'' co-creator, often ran a "Killer Breakfast" joke role-playing event at conventions. Attendees would buy tickets for a chance to play pre-generated characters whom Mr. Hickman would kill out of the game as quickly as RuleOfFunny allowed. Blatantly bribing him with snack food was often the best way to deflect his lethal attention to somebody else's character.
* HeroClix does a pretty good job of dodging this, keeping rarities reasonable and and power spread out well across the rarities. Of course, the secondary market means that completely escaping it is impossible -- at Origins in 2014, the winning team cost over $300 on the secondary market (although this is an extreme case; it used two chase figures from a set that was much rarer than usual). By contrast, second place could have been easily purchased for under $50.
* [[http://gameological.com/2012/05/scrabble-for-cheaters/ Scrabble For Cheaters]] does this in a tongue-in-cheek way. You can buy the ability to play proper nouns, add 10 points to any tile, or even make up entirely new words for a *cough* modest fee ($50 - $500 per use.) However, the tournament where this is taking place is a non-profit tutoring center, and all proceeds (i.e.: Scrabble-bribes) go to keeping it running.
* The short-lived ''Fistful of Aliens'' toy/game line a fairly simple system: you would buy packs of aliens where the [[ElementalRockPaperScissors types]] were visible but their power levels (for tiebreakers between two aliens of the same breed) were not, plus a concealed "mutant" that combined two types and fought normally against those, would have a power level high enough to hammer any non-mutant, and instantly killed the third type; your lineup was typically limited to six standard aliens and one mutant. Now, sometimes in these packs you would find a Rare Alien Metallic Mutant that would kill all of the above, but that's not the real demonstration of this trope. No, ''that'' would be Jangutz Khan, the BigBad. Rules-wise, he instantly defeated virtually anything except himself or a [=SciRoid=], but also allowed players to field an entire team of mutants. He could never be found in random packs; you actually had to order him, and he would go so far as to come with a T-shirt! You could also only get the only enemies he couldn't instantly defeat by purchasing the [=SciRoid=] Battleship set. It's probably not surprising that the line only lasted two "seasons" before quietly disappearing.
* In the ''TabletopGame/LamentationsOfTheFlamePrincess'' adventure ''The God That Crawls'', there's a magic axle that can turn a normal chariot into a "Chariot of Unreality" - a flaming fireball that moves at incredible speed. If players use it for more than five rounds, they run the risk of their vehicle (and its passengers) breaking free from the conceptual realm and disintegrating. If this happens, the DM is to tell the players their characters are dead, and then collect their character sheets. The DM will then place each sheet in an envelope marked "PLEASE READ ME" along with their contact information and a note offering a reward, and then place each envelope in a public location. If someone contacts the DM, they're supposed to offer a reward equal to the price of a fast food meal (paid by the player); if the character sheet does actually make it back and the player pays up, their character is restored with a 10-40% increase in experience points.
* Averted thrice over by ''TabletopGame/SentinelsOfTheMultiverse''. There are numerous variant cards for hero decks, generally available as Kickstarter or preorder bonuses. Averted in the first, because none of them are strictly ''better'' than the base cards, but they change the way the decks are played (i.e., a base support character might become more of a damage dealer). Averted a second way in that while the physical cards might be limited to preorders, the text and images of the cards are freely available online, so even if one was better and rarer than the others, anyone could use it without paying a cent. And averted thirdly in that the one card that is truly rare A. is rare because it was part of a specific charity fundraiser, not because of its power; B. makes its character's main gimmick harder to play than it already is; and C. has its text and effect available with different art as part of the variant collections.

* In the ''Manga/LuckyStar'' OVA, during the MMORPG segment, Nanako manages to defeat a monster whilst using a "Pizza-La" (which is [[http://www.pizza-la.co.jp/ an actual pizza chain in Japan]]) shield, which Konata explains to Kagami is a promotional item a player receives temporarily when ordering a pizza. Kagami comments that it feels like being ripped off.
* Kyou in ''LightNovel/AndYouThoughtThereIsNeverAGirlOnline'' buys a lot of premium items the MMORPG Legendary Age that give her a huge advantage in battle, to the annoyance of Hideki and Akane.
* In the backstory of ''LightNovel/Overlord2012'', while the New World was still a VR MMO, these items existed. Since a condition of membership to the guild of Ainz Ooal Gown was being gainfully employed in real life, the Supreme Beings of the guild had a steady supply of them, which contributed to their fearsome reputation. [[spoiler:Even after being trapped in the New World as a physical place, Ainz still has his supply of cash shop items, and they're terrifyingly powerful in a world where they blatantly break the rules of reality. However, he can no longer replace them, and uses them very sparingly.]]
* ''Manga/GabrielDropout'': At the start of the anime, Gab plays a MassivelyMultiplayerOnlineRolePlayingGame and picks a healer class, then runs out of MP, but conveniently gets a magic staff offer that costs real money to solve her problem. This can very well be interpreted as the moment everything went down-hill in her life.

[[AC:Comic Strips]]
* Parodied in [[http://www.foxtrot.com/2014/03/23/candyfarmdungeon/ this]] ''ComicStrips/{{Foxtrot}}'' strip.

[[AC:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/CutthroatKitchen'' invokes this with the ability to buy sabotages to either give yourself an advantage, or more commonly, hinder your opponents.

* When it comes right down to it, the very concept of the arcade game. You have to spend money just to play, let alone win.
* The 2nd ''VideoGame/DungeonsAndDragonsChroniclesOfMystara'' game, ''Shadow Over Mystara'' features a cursed sword that turns into the InfinityPlusOneSword once you use it enough. The sword drains your life every time you attack. Back when the game was in arcades, you would need to insert enough coins for two or three lives (depending on how well equipped your party's cleric was with healing spells) before the sword would transform.

* Parodied in [[http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2013/03/08 this]] ''Webcomic/PennyArcade'' strip, where one can pay to get a guaranteed "I" block in ''VideoGame/{{Tetris}}''.
** The sad thing is, two months after the strip was published, ElectronicArts released ''Tetris Blitz'', which is more or less a {{Defictionalization}} of the strip.

[[AC: Web Original]]
* ''Website/{{Cracked}}.com'''s ''[[http://www.cracked.com/video_18558_why-shopping-in-video-game-universe-sucks.html Why Shopping In A Video Game Universe Sucks]]'' has a character coming in to buy a sword, for [[AdamSmithHatesYourGuts an exorbitant amount of in-game currency (400,000 Credits)]], or "$10 American". He responds with "no, this is where I draw the line. I swore I would never do... ''this''". He hems and haws over it for a little bit, and finally asks if they take Visa upon being informed that it [[BalefulPolymorph turns]] enemies into chickens.
* From ''WebVideo/JimAndYahtzeesRhymedownSpectacular'': [[http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/jim-yahtzees-rhymedown-spectacular/8280-Friends-at-the-End Yahtzee takes on Death at Words With Friends]], and beats him using microtransactions. ItMakesSenseInContext.
* Discussed by ''WebAnimation/ExtraCredits'' in their [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXA559KNopI Microtransactions]] episode.

* Website/GaiaOnline is a forum and gaming site that's centered on buying things to customise your avatar, home, car and such. You can buy with gold (earned in-site) or Gaia Cash (bought with money). The "pay to win" situation and the broken gold economics underneath are bad enough to warrant [[http://books.google.com/books?id=nYyJAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA219 being mentioned as an example in a textbook]].
** The main shops all sell for Gaia Cash as well as gold, there are special stores that are Gaia Cash only, and the player to player market allows players to buy items with gold or Gaia Cash at the rate of 1 Gaia Cash being worth 50 million gold. To compare values your first forum post of the day is worth 100 gold with the value decreasing each time you post that day or you can spend under a penny and get something worth 50 million gold right away. If someone buys an item from another player for Gaia Cash the seller gets gold instead which only further devalues Gold. When faced with grinding for months to get a single item or paying fifty cents most people bribe their way to victory.
** Their in their defunct MMO ZOMG Power-ups were primarily bought with Gaia Cash, which requires real monies. Though they were also allowed to be resold on the Marketplace, inevitably for high amounts of Gaia Gold. Rings with high-level attacks also used to be allowed to be freely sold player to player for Gaia Cash before the [[YouFailEconomicsForever massive backlash of this trope]], but the site creators caught on and locked them to accounts.
** In the 2009 Halloween event, certain amounts of followers were needed to perform specific actions. Usually you get followers by having people on the forums choose to follow you, however, if you'd rather not go to all that trouble, you could buy virtual followers with real money.
** With the release of Flynn's Booty, Flynn's Chest, and other Gaia Cash items that give you millions and/or billions of gold instantly, [[RidiculousFutureInflation hyperinflation is going beyond control]]. Some junk items already sell for thousands of in-game currency.

[[AC:{{Western Animation}}]]
* In a rather literal case of "pay to win", the ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'' episode "Fight Fighters" features a machine at the arcade that on the outside merely reads "Insert Token!" where you'd expect the name of the game. Stan is curious and inserts a token, upon which the machine immediately says "Congratulations! YOU WIN!", and the screen flashes right back to "Insert Token!". That's right, "[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Insert Token!]]" ''is the game title''.

* In the UK, there is a mathematical competition called the Senior Mathematical Challenge. There are also 2 follow-on rounds, the British Mathematical Olympiad Round 1 and Round 2. You need a certain score in each competition to advance to the next. That is, unless you pay a fee (£16.50 for Round 1, £22 for Round 2). So you can be really good at maths, yet be in the final round with [[ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney people who are terrible at math, but paid the fee.]] That said, the later rounds are much more demanding and require full mathematical arguments to be given, so if you don't have good enough mathematical ability to have got through the previous rounds, you'll do even worse in the later ones. Less "bribing your way to victory" and more "bribing your way to having another opportunity to be defeated".
* A very old technique of RealLife [[TheStrategist strategists]]. In most wars--in a sense all wars--each side is composed of a multitude of factions whose interests happen to coincide. The UsefulNotes/ByzantineEmpire for instance would pay chieftains on the opposing side to defect.
** During UsefulNotes/WorldWarII the British gold coins with an image of Saint George slaying a dragon that were typically used to pay for covert ops were referred to as British "cavalry".
* The difficulty of most college level math and science classes is directly proportional to how cheap your calculator is. With just a basic pocket calculator, they're almost impossible, because everything needs to be memorized and then done by hand. With early level graphing calculators, like the TI-83 and 84, which cost about $80, there are a lot of tricks and shortcuts you can use, like graphing a function to tell you where its intercepts are, or using the nDeriv() button to tell you what the derivative of a function is at any point, which will help you get through most early science and pre-calc classes easily enough. With high end graphing calculators like the TI-89 and TI-89 Platinum though, which cost about $150 each, you can just enter the problem into the calculator and watch as it gives you an answer. Things like giving you derivatives and anti-derivatives in the form of equations instead of only telling you their numerical value when X is a certain number. That's the answer to test questions on 200 level calculus classes right there. Some teachers try to mitigate this by requiring students to show their work, but working backwards from the answer is still much easier than finding it yourself, and few check shown work that closely.
** Hence why most teachers ban the calculators on tests if it would give you an advantage. Depending on the punishment for cheating, it's probably not worth trying to sneak one in. Obviously different if the class ''requires'' said calculator to perform the maths, in which case the calculator is required for the course, and can be paid with student loans/financial aid. (Speaking college level here... if it's in grade school, most teachers just ban the calculators outright).
* In UsefulNotes/TheNapoleonicWars, Britain paid most of Europe's crowning heads a number of hefty subsidies, referred to as the "Golden Cavalry of St. George", to either keep them fighting the French, or stop them fighting the British. It was very effective. When it came to foreign policy, Napoleon was hopelessly outplayed by an economic naval superpower going around the continent handing out shit-tons of cash like an air hostess with a bowlful of boiled sweets, while he himself had to run his empire on a shoestring budget because the Royal Navy was stopping him from trading with anybody.
* Any team-based pro sport without an enforced salary cap is prone to this, as rich teams can simply snap up all of the best players and steamroll the rest of the opposition. Salary caps make this strategy flat-out suicidal; teams that stack star players will find themselves hitting the cap very quickly, forcing them to fill the rest of the team with low-value garbage and making CripplingOverspecialization very much an issue.