"You know what does equal power? Power. Power equals power. Crazy, huh? But the type of power? Doesn't matter as much as you'd think. It turns out, everything is oddly balanced. Weird, but true."In any game that offers the player a selection of multiple options to play as (whether it be characters in fighting games, cars in racing games, factions in strategy games, or whatever), Competitive Balance comes into play. Since these options are meant to compete directly against each other, they need to be roughly equally powerful, or else you run into the problems with Character Tiers. Some common character builds are defined by their imbalance and have a foil to go with them:
— Xykon, The Order of the Stick
- Close-Range Combatant: Powerful up close but poor or useless at long range.
- Long-Range Fighter: Powerful at long range but poor up close.
- Fragile Speedster: Sacrifices toughness for mobility.
- Mighty Glacier: Sacrifices mobility for strength.
- Glass Cannon: Can dish it out, but can't take it.
- Stone Wall: Can take it, but can't dish it out.
- Magically Inept Fighter: Physically strong but has little to no magical ability.
- Squishy Wizard: Uses magic, items, or special skills but is physically weak without them.
- Black Mage: Uses special abilities offensively (the nuker), usually lacks defensive options.
- White Mage / The Medic: Uses special abilities defensively (healing, Spells), usually lacks offensive options
- The Red Mage / Combat Medic: Uses special abilities offensively and defensively, but not as well as either of the above.
- Magic Knight: Has physical strength and magical ability, but not as much as either of the above.
- Joke Character: Deliberately ineffective, exists mainly for humor. May have an exploitable gimmick that turns them into a Lethal Joke Character to be viable.
- Lightning Bruiser: Fast, powerful, and sturdy. May have a gimmick drawback to keep them from being a full on Purposely Over Powered Game Breaker.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: Not really good at any one thing, but not really bad at anything either. When all of the above are more or less balanced.
- Crippling Overspecialization: Really, really good at one thing; really, really bad at everything else. When any one of the above gets out of hand.
- Confusion Fu: Relies on being unpredictable to succeed.
- Critical Hit Class: Relies on scoring unusually boosted damage or other bonuses consistently.
- Ditto Fighter: Uses the movesets of other characters.
- Gradual Grinder: Patience is its offense. It can either be defensive or difficult to hit (one way or another), and will gradually kill his enemy.
- Moveset Clone: Characters that are very similar, with slightly altered statistic balance and move-set.
- Mechanically Unusual Fighter: A character who is mostly defined by an unique gimmick. Its effectiveness depends on how much the player can exploit said gimmick and how much the opponent character has the tools to counter it.
- Puppet Fighter: Calls on allies in order to protect themselves, or attack.
- Stance System: Can use one of several builds of strengths and weaknesses.
- Stealth Expert: Uses information and special abilities to sneak around enemies.
- Trap Master: Controls the field by setting up obstructions.
- Necessary Drawback: For every advantage, there's always a disadvantage.
Video game examples:
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- In One Piece: Unlimited Adventure for the Wii there exists a 2P battle mode where characters can fight each other. The game is straightforward about who is the strongest, with the character tiers being ranked from 1 to 5 — however, the game's "competitive balance" is off. Usopp is only a 3, yet he's the only major character to have ranged attacks, close attacks, a useful "run away attack" (where he runs and drops Spikes of Doom), AND two unusually powerful ultimate attacks, making him a VERY lethal joke character if you're good enough with him and great for boss battles. We've also got the Lightning Bruiser Luffy himself, who's an unmatched Game Breaker in Gear Second, and possibly the straightest Mighty Glacier EVER, Monster Chopper — he has just 3 incredibly powerful attacks but can only walk deathly slow. Finally, while not intentional, some characters who are meant to be weak can actually deal alot of damage, making several characters a Glass Cannon (Nami, aforementioned Usopp, Chopper, Bon Clay, etc.).
- Each weapon type in Monster Hunter fits into a certain role:
- Sword and Shield is Jack-of-All-Stats. It allows running, hits fast, it has a guard - albeit a rather weak one, and high attack speed and elemental damage often make up for lack of raw physical power. Sword and Shield is the only weapon type that lets you use items while the weapon is drawn.
- Dual Swords is Fragile Speedster. Dual Swords lack a guard, and damage-per-hit is still low, but between the high attack speed and the Demon mode that lets you unleash deadly combos and flurries of attacks, you'll be hitting a lot.
- Great Sword is Mighty Glacier. Great Swords deal very high damage and have a stronger guard than Sword and Shield, as well as deadly charged attacks. However, the very slow attack and movement speed mean that an understanding of timing and positioning is crucial.
- Lance is Stone Wall. Lances have a huge shield that can withstand plenty of punishment, and you can re-adjust the direction you're facing mid-guard, allowing you to fend off multiple attacks from different angles easily. However, the lance itself is slow and unwieldy, limiting possible attacks to the front of the player. Damage potential for Lances has been consistently nerfed with each game.
- Hammer and Longsword are both Glass Cannon. Unlike Great Swords, Hammers do not limit movement, they hit far faster and have even more damage potential... but guarding is impossible. The Longsword trades raw hitting power for attack speed, and a Spirit Gauge which increases attack power for a time, but still no guard. Hope you're good at dodging.
- Hunting Horn is a Squishy Wizard. Functionally, they are the same as Hammers but with less damage potential. However, they are a boon to a hunter group for their ability to play music which grants Status Buffs like attack or defense boosts.
- Light Bowgun is a ranged Squishy Wizard. Light Bowguns offer the best mobility, and they can be drawn and reloaded quickly. However, they have the least damage potential of practically any weapon. They also have a tendency towards support ammunition such as stun, poison, healing, etc.
- Medium Bowgun is a ranged Jack-of-All-Stats. Medium Bowguns offer a compromise of raw damage and mobility, allowing running, but being slow on the draw.
- Heavy Bowgun is a ranged Mighty Glacier. They're far too heavy to run with, and have a slow reload. Damage-per-shot is comparatively high, however, and they tend to be compatible with damaging ammunition such as crag, pellet, pierce, etc. You can even equip a Heavy Bowgun with a barrel shield, which allows a guard on par with the Sword and Shield.
- Gunlance is a Magic Knight. They're much like Lances in that they allow good defence and long-reach attacks, but they also have a fire shot attack which is powerful but has limited range.
Beat'Em Up & Hack'N'Slash
- All around the place in pretty much any Beat 'em Up game, with Final Fight likely serving as the Ur-Example. If the game has more than two playable characters, expect to see a Fragile Speedster, Jack-of-All-Trades and Mighty Glacier among the roster, and possibly another character who's neither. In older games for two players, the second character was quite often just a Palette Swap of the first one.
- Burnout 3: Takedown plays The Joke Character with a car. In most games, you can get yourself some multplayer bragging rights by picking a slow car, but Burnout 3 has a car that doesn't only have to be unlocked, but also doesn't move. At all. Now that's taking it to an extreme, people.
- Most of the "older" cars (i.e., the Gangster/Carson Grand Marais; the Classic/Hunter Manhattan) aren't quite the fastest cars around, but they certainly have their good points. In the right hands, they can be a Lethal Joke Character.
- Fighting games in general tend to include three character types: rushdown, zoner and turtle.
- Rushdown fighters, fitting the Close-Range Combatant bill, close in quickly and smother their enemies in physical attacks. To compensate for unrelenting offense, the typical Rushdown fighter is a Fragile Speedster and Glass Cannon who really can't afford to take hits, but others have reasonable defense and frail offense, depending on Death of a Thousand Cuts. In rare cases where one is a Lightning Bruiser, they tend to have some technical weakness like poor reach, punishable attacks or high demand on Mana Meter.
- Zoners, our Long-Range Fighter, keep themselves out of harm's way with ranged attacks . While some use traditional means such as magic projectiles, fired ammunition or long weapons, others are Puppet Fighter who send Assist Character in their stead, and yet others fit the Trap Master bill. Mind, most are fragile, like the Squishy Wizard, to punish them for failure to keep enemies at distance. But some few are actually quite durable, and in exchange, struggle to retreat when they've been closed in on.
- Turtles, finally, are typically a Close-Range Combatant group specializing in taking and punishing hits. The Mighty Glacier describes most. The Stone Wall describes some. And given their dependence on scoring huge damage of painstakingly landed ripostes, they are quite often a Critical Hit Class. While in most fighing games turtles struggle against zoners, some games allow them to reflect projectiles and inch in, forcing them further into a Gradual Grinder role.
- Mind, there are many Jack-of-All-Stats. Ryu is the perfect example, with one signature move to suit each style. His Hurricane Kick is a rushdown tool, assisting him in closing distance and deaing damage. His Hadouken is a zoning tool, keeping enemies at bay. And his Shoryuken is a turtling tool that punishes enemy approach and offense with his nigh-instant startup and invincibility frames.
- Street Fighter has not all that much of a balance gap (though occasionally you get some accidentally devastating characters, such as Guile in Street Fighter II and his mystical "Magic Throw" and "handcuffs" glitches, not to mention his great range and priority; Zangief could also apply, with his extremely powerful throws). Akuma, for instance, is actually fairly fragile, taking the most damage of any of the characters in most of the games where he's a standard character.
- This is especially prevalent in games such as Tekken, where tournament play is the general focus: In Tekken Tag Tournament, while Ogre and True Ogre might be bosses of death, they're still balanced enough that you can generally beat them with anyone you know how to use correctly. The only exceptions to balance appear at the lower levels of skill, where certain characters are easier to use than others (try using Guile as a beginning player, without a good grasp of charging; and after THAT, you need to learn how to do jump in combos in order to really use him).
- The plots of Type Moon's Melty Blood Fighting Games are driven by the reality-warping Night of Wallachia. This crazy phenomenon is used to justify Miyako's leap from martial arts student to prime Street Fighter candidate. More amusing is Kohaku and Hisui's transformation from simple maids into Martial Arts and Crafts masters capable of fighting half-demons and ancient vampires.
- Marvel vs. Capcom: On one side, you have a Servbot, and on the other, you have The Hulk. Not to mention guys like Blackheart and Shuma-Gorath.
- In the Deadliest Warrior game, you have Guerillas (e.g. Ninja and Apache) who can't get into a direct fight and have to use their agility to survive, Berserkers (e.g. Pirate and Viking) who have a deadly offense, but less in the way of defense, and Balanced fighters (e.g. Knight and Spartan) who can dish out a lot of damage and take it, but won't move very quickly.
- Project M is a Super Smash Bros. Brawl mod designed with competitive balance explicitly in mind. As well as altering the mechanics of Brawl to more resemble Melee (which is generally considered the mechanically deeper of the two games), it seeks to re-balance characters from Melee to make them more competitively viable against established high-tier characters, as well as bring Brawl characters into a more Melee-esque environment while making them viable as well.
- Super Smash Flash 2, another fan project, also aims for this as part of their goal for professional quality. In v0.9a, the Character Tiers are so close together that the official chart has the borders blurred. Very noticeable in some cases, such as Ichigo, one of the characters ranked lowestnote , having a clear advantage against all three of the characters in the S Tiernote .
- In Dragonball Xenoverse, each race for created characters has abilities and statistics that differentiate them from one another:
- Earthlings are Jacks of All Stats, being overall well-rounded and benefiting from both regenerating ki and an attack boost when their ki gauge is at max.
- Saiyans are Glass Cannons: low health, but high attack power that increases each time they revive. They also have Super Saiyan transformations that afford them unlimited use of ultimate attacks while active.
- Namekians are Stone Walls: while their attack power isn't as high as the others, their defensive stats and health are higher, and they have regenerating health.
- Majins are Mighty Glaciers: slow movement, slow stamina recovery, but defensive stats that exceed Namekians and get a boost when stamina is topped off.
- Frieza's Clan are Fragile Speedsters: They have high speed, but low attack power. When their health drops under 50%, their speed increases.
- Divekick has each character on either side of the balance of either Diving or Kicking sans three
- Divers, like Dive, Mr. N, and S-Kill have great diving heights (S-Kill in particual teleports), but have terrible Kicking distances (The worst being Mr. N)
- Kickers, like Kick, JohnnyGat and Dr. Victoria Shoals have great kicking distance (Gat having the third best, and Victoria having the best due to Rocket Boots), but small Diving Heights (Gat's being the worst of all.)
- The odd men out are Uncle Senshi who has both a Diving (on feet) and Kicking (on hands) Stance System, Stream, who can alter both of his diving and kicking variations and Jefailey who fights with terrible Dive Heights (that gets better the bigger his head is) and poor Kick Distances (Which can be charged to reach further away). It's that very balance system of Jefaileys' that makes S-Kill deem a Worthy Opponent.
- BlazBlue has a bizarre roster of characters(that gets bigger with every incarnation) that tend to combine two or three types of classes. Most fighters can destroy the rest of the roster with ease, save for a handful of characters designed specifically to trump them.
- Noel is a Fragile Speedster crossed with a Glass Cannon. Quick, decently hard hitting attacks combined with short cooldown and startup times, as well as having the only legitimate combo system in the series make her deadly on the offensive. However, she falls short against characters who can use her lack of long and medium range attacks, and she has a ridiculous stagger time that makes it easy to keep her on the defensive.
- Tager is a Mighty Glacier and a Close Range Combatant. With punishing attacks, high defense, and one of the quickest recovery rates in the series, he's a difficult hurdle to those who can't keep him zoned or outspeed his recovery. However, he has an extremely short range, and is the equivalent of a walking tank, so characters like Hazama or Noel can take him down easily with enough skill.
- Arakune is an odd combination of a zoner and rushdown character, thanks to his Crimson drive. Under normal circumstances, he's a fairly poor zoner or stone wall, due to his poor damage, neutral, screen control, oki...and pretty much everything else. However, once gets a few hits with his drive, a special mode called Curse activates for a short period of time, allowing Arakune to summon different bugs each time a button is released. This not only allows him to play rushdown, but makes him excel at it, more than making up for how bad he is normally when in the hands of a skilled player.
First Person Shooter
- Generally used across most games, to prevent one weapon class outperforming others. Snipers will usually have infinite range, but are not suitable for spraying down enemies at close range, due to slower fire rates (semi-automatic or bolt-action) and poor hipfire spread. Shotguns, on the other hand, are potent up close, but their shots evaporate at a middle distance. Assault rifles sit between these two extremes as a Jack-of-All-Trades class. Machine guns and launchers provide heavy firepower, but slows their wielders to a halt, while submachine guns and pistols hand out rapid lethality at the cost of per-shot damage.
- In Team Fortress 2, the nine classes form a rather nuanced balance to one another.
- Scouts are Fragile Speedsters who can deal intense close up damage but must avoid being hit, making them vulnerable to Heavies. They are also greatly limited when encountering an entrenched Engineer, because Sentry Guns have auto-aiming functions that take the guesswork out of hitting a Scout.
- Soldiers are Jack-of-All-Stats with high healthpools, great damage output with rockets, and excellent mobility with their rocket jumps, but are large targets with the second slowest running speed in the game, and can have their rockets reflected at them by Pyros.
- The Pyro is a counter to Spies and projectile spam, but must rely on surprise or teammates to overcome their poor ranged options. This makes them weaker to Heavies, whose weapons cannot be deflected by the Pyro's special compressed air blast and who can out-damage the Pyro. The Pyro can also be shut down by the Engineer, whose Sentry Gun grossly out-ranges almost all available Pyro weapons.
- The Demoman has high damage and the best zoning in the game, but Scouts will spell his end due to having no reliable close-range weapons (besides his melee weapon, anyway). The Demoman is also a victim of Crippling Overspecialization—while his play styles are powerful, none of them are nearly as well rounded as the Soldier, and they demand that he either use explosives and risk self damage or get extremely close to the enemy, making him weak to agile foe that can evade or deflect his attacks.
- The Heavy is the Mighty Glacier with 300HP (the highest in the game, being more than double that of the Scout, Spy, Sniper, and Engineer and twice as much as the Medic) and an anti-aircraft minigun that mows people down in seconds, but his mobility is so poor that without careful positioning he cannot escape from damage dealt to him, making him vulnerable to Snipers, Spies, and reasonably accurate Demomen or Soldiers.
- Engineers deploy and maintain a variety of utilities, including Teleporters, Sentries and Dispensers, but they all take significant time to deploy, and Spies can easily sap their sentries if they know what they are doing. Their equipment is also slow to build and relocate, meaning a Soldier or Demoman can quickly destroy an Engineer setup.
- The Medic can heal people and deploy the game-changing Ubercharge, and the only counter to an enemy Medic's Uber is a ready Ubercharge of your own; however, an unprotected Medic is a fairly easy kill for fast or accurate opponents like a Scout or Spy, and generally at the top of the priority list.
- Snipers defy the game's built-in long-range damage reduction by using their Sniper Rifle and delivering an instant death headshot from across the map, but have horribly low health and no one-on-one combat potential with any other class. In their constant zoomed-in state, Snipers are vulnerable to Scouts, Pyros, and especially Spies.
- Spies can turn invisible, sap Engineer buildings and One-Hit Kill any class with a Back Stab, but are generally incapable of facing off against other classes in a straight-up fight outside of their revolver, including the Medics. They are also not particularly fast and easily discovered and eliminated with by Pyros and Scouts.
- This also applies somewhat with the weapons choices themselves. All alternative weapons are fairly balanced, incoporating necessary drawbacks wherever a definite advantage is applied, and using unique effects instead of just stat fiddling. You could have a battle between two of the same class, with completely different loadouts, requiring a completely different playstyle for each, yet still being incredibly well-balanced.
- In Modern Warfare 2, once you reach level 10, you can build your own class, which is the preferred method of playing instead of the 5 example classes the game provides you with. You must combine weapons, attachments and perks to create a complete class. A couple examples are provided here:
- To get a Ghost class, you need (1) a high power primary and secondary weapons with sliencers (forget the sights!) and (2) the Marathon, Cold Blooded and Ninja perks.
- To get a Rushing class, you need (1) a light primary weapon and the AA-12 as secondary weapon with extended mags and (2) the Marathon, Lightweight and Steady Aim perks.
- Choose (1) a LMG as your primary weapon with FMJ, (2) a good ol' shotgun as secondary, and (3) Sleight of Hand and Stopping Power for a area defense class (your 3rd perk doesn't really matter).
Game Console Specific
- The Atari 2600 provides competitive balance in two-player games by way of its difficulty switches, which gives novice players a slight gameplay advantage over stronger players or alternately gives stronger players a handicap to deal with novice players.
- Virtual-ON, a Vehicular Combat game with Humongous Mecha. The Jack-of-All-Stats is the Temjin and Apharmd lines, with the former being simply well balanced and the latter being absolutely brutal at close range. Representing the Fragile Speedster are the Viper and Fei-Yin series, both of which are smaller and agile, but can't take hits very well. In early games, the Belgdor and succesors offer examples of Glass Cannon designs, being somewhat fragile but possessing great hitting power. Bal series are Squishy Wizard, with overall low stats but have nasty trick for those who can master their Attack Drone (including AI). Finally, the Raiden and Dorkas are clear Mighty Glacier most of the time, being among the largest and most powerful but least maneuverable designs in the series.
- The Armored Core series sees just about every possible facet of this system, and (at least, after a bit of trial-and-error with regulations files) it generally avoids Game Breakers.
- MechWarrior has four weight classes—generally speaking, it has its Fragile Speedster light 'Mechs, its Jack-of-All-Stats medium 'Mechs, its semi-Lightning Bruiser heavy 'Mechs, and Mighty Glacier assault 'Mechs. The weight classes remain competitive by having different roles on the field and ensuring that bigger doesn't always equal better, especially in double-blind games.
- Lights provide the greatest recon ability as well as the largest number of electronic-warfare options. They are usually the most agile option on the field as well. To balance this out, most lights carry limited weaponry with short ranges and equally limited armor, and most can be brought down fairly quickly. The class' exemplar is probably the Raven, which carries a suite of ECM and sensors that will give unprepared opponents fits, but can be brought down by one good hit and has only three light weapons.
- Mediums provide a combination of speed, armor, and firepower to fill out a battle lance without slowing it down the way a larger 'Mech might. Most mediums have a good degree of each asset, though not the most. As a result they can be adapted to fight at almost any range and any role, but not as well as the designs tailored for it. The Griffin embodies the spirit of medium designs, having decent speed, decent armor, and decent ranged weapons, enough to fight almost anywhere, at least for a while.
- Heavies are almost the natural choice for a competitive game. While moving slower than the lighter classes, their armor and weapons are inherently superior, and most of them aren't too slow. Heavy 'Mechs will likely end up in the thickest of the fighting, but must rely on their armor rather than their agility to survive. The Thunderbolt is a good example of a heavy 'Mech due to its thick armor and impressive array of weapons, hampered only somewhat by modest ground speeds and heat dissipation abilities.
- Assaults are the largest, toughest, most well armed units on the field. Most carry large numbers of long-ranged weapons or devastating short ranged broadsides, but even the most agile examples of the weight class are sluggish at best and relatively easy to outmaneuver if against a smaller, faster opponent. While it may take lighter 'Mechs forever to chip through their armor, a sneaky one can do so with relative impunity. The Atlas is far and away the iconic assault—big, slow, and mean as hell.
- SLAI Steel Lancer Arena International has five standard manufacturers with differing design philosophies that play into the game's competitive balance—Justified, due to the game's setting being an arena combat sport. They have to appeal to the different tastes of various players in-universe.
- Japanese manufacturer Kojima produces the Proton, a Fragile Speedster that relies on its fast ground speed and good jumping ability to evade destruction. Their weapons are generally focused on close range combat.
- Russian manufacturer OMSK produces the KNT, a lightweight Glass Cannon that has low-to-average armor at best, but decent agility and camouflage values to make the most of its excellent long range weapons.
- Italian manufacturer Ventuno produces the Carro, a Jack-of-All-Stats machine that is extremely well balanced in all areas with a diverse spread of weapon choices, most notably a very large Vulcan cannon.
- German manufacturer S&V Ma. Fabrik produces the Zwerg, a stronger but slower Stone Wall design with good armor but relatively medicore ranged weapons—its main strengths lie in its potent melee attacks.
- American manufacturer American Stars produces the Hartman, an undisputed Mighty Glacier that suffers from slow ground speeds and short jumps, but boasts thick armor and hideous amounts of high-tech firepower.
- Heavy Gear's video game adaptations feature a variety of machines, all of which generally fall into the typical arrangement of the Fragile Speedster light Gears, Jack-of-All-Stats medium Gears, semi glacier heavy Gears, and Mighty Glacier walkers. There is some variation with individual designs, at least, such as the Naga walker being more of a Glass Cannon or the lightweight Gila being a tiny Lightning Bruiser for its size.
- The four characters in The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures display this. The Nerd is a Jack-of-All-Stats, the Guitar Guy is the fastest, the Bullshit Man has the strongest attack and can Double Jump, and Mike Matei can spot secret paths and has the highest jump.
- The four characters in Super Mario Bros. 2: Mario is the Jack-of-All-Stats, Luigi jumps the highest but has imprecise controls, Peach picks up items slowest but can float, and Toad runs and picks up items fastest but has the lowest jump.note .
- The same applies to the four characters in Doki Doki Panic: Imajin, the Mario; Mama, the Luigi; Lina, the Peach and Papa, the Toad.
- Super Mario 3D World has the same four characters as Super Mario Bros. 2 with the same roles. Captain Toad is also playable in his own levels where he lacks the ability to jump and therefore cannot attack. Rosalina is a Secret Character, slower than Peach but jumps as high as Luigi and if she doesn't have a power-up she can use the Spin Attack from the Galaxy series that works as a small Double Jump. note
- Usually in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games Donatello counteracts his slow speed with a long-ranged weapon, Raphael counteracts his short range with speed, and Michelangelo and Leonardo are well-balanced in speed, range and strength.
- As of the 2012 series, primarily the games based off of them, but alluded to in the show itself
- Leo: Jack-of-All-Stats - Medium in Power, Defense, Speed, and Range
- Raph: Mighty Glacier - High Power, Medium Defense, Low Speed, Low Range (Subverted by throwing his sai)
- Don: Stone Wall - Low Power, High Defense, Medium Speed, High Range
- Mike: Fragile Speedster - Medium Power, Low Defense, High Speed, Medium Range
- As of the 2012 series, primarily the games based off of them, but alluded to in the show itself
- Mr. Driller has a total of 7 characters, each one with their own stats; it varies from characters with slow speed but slow air cost, to speedsters with fast air cost rate.
- The (currently) 40 usable planets in Meteos differ in nearly every aspect, from the types and quantity of Falling Blocks present and the speed they fall to playing field width and quantity of garbage blocks both sent and received. There are many more differences dealing with game mechanics specific to the series, but suffice to say that separate strategies are needed playing as and against each planet. Each game to date has illustrated this by having the blocks take different appearances for each planet. In the original DS game, for instance, Freaze's blocks look normal but are frozen over, while Gigagush takes on an 8-bit style with animated blocks resembling Space Invaders. By Meteos Wars, every planet has been pretty well balanced with a few exceptions, under normal circumstances.
- World of Warcraft has ten character classes with three talent trees each, making for a total of 30 builds to balance against each other in small group PvE, large group PvE, arena PvP, and battleground PvP, across 85 levels and 12+ tiers of gear, and this doesn't even count variant builds and racial bonuses. That this task is impossible is mitigated only by Blizzard's determination to try, and balance has consistently improved over time despite the protests of the fanbase. Dueling, or one-on-one PvP, is the sole place they've disclaimed attempts to provide perfect balance, as that would inevitably lead to all classes being the same.
- Scout [Ken/Nuri] and Hana [Erika/Hana] in Pangya - The Mario and The Ken (appropriately enough) as they are the starting characters for male and female players.
- In City of Heroes, the roles tend to be rather fluid, but generally the Blaster and sometimes Corrupters and Defenders fall into Glass Cannon, Brutes and some Scrappers fall under Mighty Glacier, Tankers and some Brutes tend toward Stone Wall, Dominators and Controllers come off as somewhere between Glass Cannon and Mighty Glacier, and Masterminds, depending on the quality of the build, can be either a Jack-of-All-Stats, a Joke Character, or a Lethal Joke Character, or a straight-up Lightning Bruiser.
Play By Post Games
- The races in the upcoming forum game Raid on Phoenix Hill 2 are balanced this way. The Origin are the Jack-of-All-Stats, good at everything but a master at nothing. Their strength is in their flexibility. Soulsongs are Squishy Wizards, being good magically but bad physically. Wilders are Close Range Combatants: physically they are extremely strong, but they cannot make use of most ranged weapons and their magic stats are lacking. Mechanix are Lightning Bruisers that are balanced by being Magically Inept Fighters. And Soulblades are Glass Cannons: they can seriously dish it out, but cannot take it at all. (And yes, these are genericized versions of the races from Phantasy Star Universe.)
Real Time Strategy
- StarCraft uses this as well. The Terrans are a mixture of Glass Cannons and Jacks; per unit cost, their units have less HP than any other, but they can do fearsome damage. The Protoss are a combination of the Mighty Glacier and Squishy Wizard; their units have the highest HP per-unit-cost, and their spellcasters can be game-changing. The Zerg are naturally Fragile Speedsters, but with some attributes of the Glass Cannon. Their units are cheap, fast, and fragile, but per-unit-cost, they do lots of damage over time. Their speed extends even into how they produce units. The Protoss and the Terrans have production buildings that can make one unit at a time each; the Zerg have a production building that can make 3 at once, and they'll have lots of them lying around since they need them to expand. The Zerg also produce all of their units from the same place, so they can quickly adjust strategies and change up their army.
- Interesting in that their play speeds are inverted when it comes to building structures. The slow but strong Protoss have the easiest building method where only one unit needs to begin construction and then the building builds itself letting one unit set up all the buildings it can quickly then going back to work in seconds. Zerg on the other hand have their drones BECOME the building meaning each building costs one drone permanently making it the slowest and costliest method. And Terran SCVs must stick to constructing a new building until it is completed, and only after that can the SCVs be freed up for other tasks.
- Impossible Creatures has 127,392 possible "characters", but these are simply specific combinations of 2 creatures, from a pool of 75. Of the creatures, many fit into a character tier:
- Cheetahs are the Fragile Speedster.
- Scorpions and lobsters could both be the Mighty Glacier.
- Dragonflies are Glass Cannon all the way.
- Bombardier Beetles are the Squishy Wizard, but if combined with larger creatures, they can shoot poison up to 90 metres. Unlike most other ranged units, though, they don't have anything to fall back on if attacked at close range.
- Magic Knight - Chimps and porcupines can fight back if engaged at close range, and poison dart frogs poison enemies on contact.
- The Ken - a few creatures are described as with higher stats and . Mountain lions, for example, are slightly tougher and slower cheetahs. Panthers are slightly larger cheetahs, lions are larger panthers that get bonuses for attacking in a group, etc.
- Game Breaker - Moose. To put it in perspective, nearly every army fields some sort of moose combo by level 5 (while mammoths and elephants are The Ken to moose, so they might be used). Those that don't use moose combo either have a unit meant to kill the more common moose-lobster or moose-gorilla hybrids, and it's not unheard of for an evenly matched player to send an army of normal moose to war against genetic mutants. Their Game Breaker status is only balanced by the fact that they cost a lot to summon, and it takes 10 minutes to reach the tech level to send out a moose hybrid even if you forgo base defense. But by this point, a single moose-lobster could take down most armies that a player would be using by the 10-minute mark.
- The first Dawn of War game and its expansions eventually ended up picking Competitive Balance over lore accuracy, much to the fans' displeasure.
- The Eldar in particular were turned by successive patches into a Game Breaker Lightning Bruiser faction in contrast of the Difficult but Awesome Glass Cannon they are canonically supposed to be. Even worse is that despite the Eldar being supposed to be The Remnant in canon, they are one of the most Zerg Rush-heavy races in the game.
- With the release of Dark Crusade, the firing accuracy of all ranged weapons has been severely nerfed for the benefit of melee-heavy factions like Orks and Chaos, further aided by the game automatically halving ranged damage against units currently locked in melee combat with someone else.
- Also with the release of Dark Crusade, Ork Slugga Boys and Chaos Space Marines lost their anti-armor weapons in order to turn them from general-purpose Jack-of-All-Trades units to dedicated anti-infantry, forcing both factions to rely on dedicated anti-armor units (Tankbustaz and Horrors) which would otherwise stay unused due to their Crippling Overspecialization. Space Marine squads retained their devastating anti-armor capabilities, since the faction does not have dedicated anti-armor infantry and of the other infantry units with anti-armor abilities, Assault Marines have a very long recharge time on their Melta Bombs and Assault Terminators are now hard-capped to one squad at a time due to being nigh-impossible to kill otherwise.
Role Playing Game
- While Pokémon is an RPG, the standard battle only has one mon per side at a time, and tends to have a cross between these and the ones for RPG.
- While official tournaments tend to just ban the major legendaries and call it a day, large portions of the fanbase have taken it upon themselves to create their own tier lists and rulesets, the most popular being Smogon's, which attempts to divide Pokémon up by usage statistics, with the special Ubers tier reserved for species that are deemed too powerful for the highest standard tier. In battles adhering to these rules, Pokémon above the chosen tier can't be used, in an attempt to give even weaker species a chance to shine against comparable foes; while the balance still isn't perfect, it does generally set things on a more equal footing.
- Several new features were added in Pokémon Gold and Silver at least partially for the purpose of countering Psychic-types, which were overpowering in Generation I. The Dark and Steel types were introduced, which immensely helped the balance in the Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, as Psychic-types were now weak against Dark-type moves and Psychic-type moves were now weak against Steel-types and completely useless against Dark-types. In addition, the bug that caused Psychic-types to be immune to Ghost-type moves rather than weak against them was fixed. Previously, thanks to this bug, the only attack type that Psychic-types were weak against were Bug-type moves, which were all very weak; had Ghost-type moves actually worked against Psychic-types, they would have been in the same boat, since the only variable-damage Ghost move (i.e. the only one that could benefit from the type advantage) was the very weak Lick. Gen II promptly introduced some stronger Bug-type and Ghost-type moves to compensate. Finally, there was the issue of the Special stat. Up until Gen IV, all types were either classified as Physical or Special, which would dictate the stats involved in damage calculations for moves of that type; the Physical types had separate Attack and Defense stats from the very start, but the Special types (including Psychic) used the single Special stat for both attacking with and defending against a move, so heavy hitters would automatically be able to take some punishment, and vice versa. Gen II wisely split this up into the Special Attack and Special Defense stats that the series has used ever since. This nerf to Psychic-types was also a huge buff to Fighting-types, which were nearly useless in Gen I. Aside from the huge nerf to a type they are weak against, the new Dark and Steel-types were now weak against Fighting-type moves, making them much more offensively viable.
- The introduction of the Fairy-type in Pokémon X and Y was done at least partially for this purpose. Fairy's slot in the Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors diminish the Dragon, Fighting, and Dark types that were previously three of the most dominant types. On the flipside, Fairy's weakness provides more use offensively for the Poison and Steel types, which prior to the introduction of Fairy, were nearly worthless offensively, along with providing Fire a new defensive resistance where it had previously been very weak defensively.
- Fire Emblem games have most or all of the main character types, with the challenge being creating a team that has the best mix for the current level. Certain characters can be gamebreakers. For example, in Path of Radiance, it is completely possible to solo the game with Ike, who after getting Ragnell, can best be described as a Lightning Bruiser on steroids, alone.
Shoot Em Ups
- Shot types in general, especially in games where each character specializes in a particular shot type:
- Spread Shot characters can vaporize swarms of simple Mooks no matter where they are on the screen, but in exchange such characters will often have the speeds of toy cars, and there's also the inherent property of spread shots having poor DPS against bosses. Some specific examples: Type-C from DonPachi, Sakuya Izayoi from Touhou, and Shinnosuke from Giga Wing.
- Characters with linear shots are the opposite: They have concentrated firepower that can tear bosses and other armored enemies to shreds, and have higher speeds well-suited for sweeping across the screen to collect items and avoiding attacks, but crowds of enemies will make them particularly dangerous characters as moving away to safe areas will often force them to let up on whatever they're attacking. Some specific examples: Type-A from DonPachi, Marisa Kirisame from Touhou, and Ruby from Giga Wing.
- Of Guards And Thieves's classes are balanced this way, with each faction having different classes.
- The Guards (thieves have night vision while the Guards don't) have the following classes:
- The thieves (the guys actually playing a stealth game) have these classes:
- Cobra: Fragile Speedster. Has a knife that can OHKO, but its low range leads to more noob deaths than it's worth.
- Shadow: Jack-of-All-Stats. The Shadow isn't made to fight head-on but is skilled with assassination. It soon could recieve a weapon to make it more of a Long-Range Fighter.
- Saboteur: Glass Cannon and crowd control specialist.
- Medic: Again?
- Juggernaut: Close-Range Combatant.
Third Person Shooter
- Monday Night Combat's six classes are pretty evenly distributed. The Assault is the Jack-of-All-Stats, being mobile but not too mobile, powerful but not too powerful, etc. The Tank is the Mighty Glacier, existing to slowly plod his way through the level to the enemy base and then break stuff, which he does incredibly well. The Support is the Squishy Wizard, being a combination engineer and medic with some turret and bot buffs thrown in. The Assassin is the Fragile Speedster, having a frightening run speed and an absolutely brutal backstab attack. The Gunner is the Stone Wall, designed to shred enemy players that wander too close. Finally, the Sniper is the Glass Cannon, built around picking off enemies before they get into attacking range.
- Dungeons & Dragons, while not a PvP game, historically had issues with this trope. The theory was that clerics are stone walls, fighters are almighty glaciers, rogues are fragile speedsters, and sorcerers and wizards are squishy wizards. Outside of the four "basic" classes barbarians and monks are lightning bruisers, paladins and rangers are magic knights, and bards and druids are jacks-of-all-stats (and masters of none) to different extents. There's quite a bit of room for customization in there though. Unfortunately, this game brought us Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards and is in large part responsible for its spread - spellcasters were horribly overpowering for decades until the advent of 4th edition. 3.x (and its offbranch, Pathfinder) were the worst in this respect - characters were much more likely to survive into higher levels (where spellcasters quickly become gods if halfway competently played), spellcasters were stronger at low levels than they had been historically, and they had an unprecedented breadth of ability. It didn't help that PCs and NPCs were built using the same rules, meaning that spellcasting enemies were vastly more dangerous than anything else, and high level games degraded into a game of rocket tag, where whoever had their spell work first, won.
- In 4th edition the archetypes were the basis for the class system's design, and monsters were designed using their own, separate system, resulting in the game working much better as the game no longer had to care about PvP balance - with the wonderfully ironic end result that the system ended up much more balanced for PvP combat than previous editions.
- Magic: The Gathering has developed an elaborate metagame that is usually divided into three broad categories: Combo (the Fragile Speedster relying on IKEA Weaponry), Aggro (the Zerg Rush Glass Cannon), and Control (the Gradual Grinder relying on tossing a Spanner in the Works). Typically, Combo kills Aggro before it can get started, Aggro overwhelms Control with sheer number of threats, and Control gets rid of Combo's keystone cards, though sometimes the wheel reverses depending on the metagame. (And, in practice, few decks can survive as purely one of these three archetypes.)
- Games Workshop, the creators of Warhammer and Warhammer40000 appear to be almost utterly uninterested in paying attention to Competitive Balance, with the result that at times the metagame in both systems has been completely dominated by two factions. For Warhammer it was the end of 7th edition, when Vampire Counts and Daemons of Chaos were functionally unbeatable by any faction except one of those two, and for 40K it was the period of time running from the release of 6th edition to now (September 2014) with Tau Empire and Eldar ruling the roost. Eldar in particular have drawn a lot of hate because, while the Tau Empire codex is very very strong, it is well balanced internally, with almost all units being usable. By contrast, the Eldar book is hideously powerful thanks largely to about 4 or 5 units (Seerstar, Wave Serpents, Wraithknights, Dire Avengers and Wraithknights) with most of the rest being overly expensive (Shining Spears), largely ineffective (the flyers), or both at the same time (Howling Banshees). The result of this is that a variety of differently-constructed Tau armies can be used to good effect (although Riptide spam remains the undisputed king of the heap), while Eldar armies tend to be endless clones of each other. The Wave Serpent in particular is hideously powerful, very durable, faster than average, and scoring, so it isn't going anywhere soon.
- In Babe Ruth: Man-Tank Gladiator man-tanks come in three styles: Heavy, the largest, strongest, and slowest style; Agile, the fastest and most nimble; and Long-reach, with extending tentacles capable of extending a good distance. The Heavy can withstand the most of the Agile's attack and lay it out easily if it hits. The Agile can dodge the Long-Reach's attack and slip in close enough to hit it almost unchecked. And lastly, the Long-Reach can easily attack the Heavy from a distance, leaving it unable to hit back.
- Invoked In-Universe in High School DXD. The Chess Motifs keep things balanced during a Ratings Game. Each powerful King gets a set of Evil Pieces to enhance their Peerage: Rooks are tanks, Knights are high-speed attackers, Bishops are magic specialists and frequently The Medic, the Queen get the best of all three. Pawns are grunts, but can Promote behind enemy lines to pick and choose their bonus. Particularly powerful Pawns may account for multiple pieces.
The balancing effect of all of this is given center stage during the Gremory-Bael Ratings Game. Rias has a lot of powerful pieces, with Issei being all 8 of her pawns, but in a series of duels between squads of equal piece value, the more flexible Sairaorg is able to strategically pick her apart.
- Briefly invoked in the credits of the Gravity Falls episode dealing with video games: Dipper, Mabel, Stan and Wendy are shown as sprites in a game. When the cursor moves to Stan, he mentions that he's slow but jumps higher.
- The four Bending Arts in the Avatar: The Last Airbender series' follow this general balance. Waterbending sits between Jack-of-All-Stats and Stone Wall, focusing on being flowing, flexible, and able to transition from defense to offense. Earthbending is the Mighty Glacier, focusing on being as strong and unmovable as a rock. Firebending is the Glass Cannon, focusing on being aggressive and powerful. Airbending is the Fragile Speedster, focusing on being free and untouchable like the wind. While it is possible for a Bender to adopt a fighting style atypical of their element (i.e. an aggressive Airbender or a defensive Firebender) it is still necessary to have the base mindset down to get a decent grip on it. This presents a challenge for the Avatar, the one person capable of all four elements, as they have to embrace a mindset opposite of the one they were raised on (Such as Aang, who grew up a pacifistic and evasive Airbender, struggling with the strong and unyielding mindset necessary for Earthbending).
- A few pinball machines made by Stern allow the player to pick between different sets of rules (which are quite similar to picking characters or civilizations in video games), and the people who make these rules go to great lengths to make sure they are reasonably close to each other in potential for high scores. (Said balance is imperfect, of course, and leads the the unusual concept of pinball machines having Character Tiers):
- AC/DC was the first such release: At the start, the game asks the player to pick a song. Although the Song Jackpots and multiballs function the same through all modes, the song affects how the player can initiate building the points value for the Song Jackpots, and how quickly they can build it up. For instance, "T.N.T." requires the most shots to light the rest of the playfield for more jackpot-building at 4 and has below-average jackpot build-up, but in exchange, it contains the game's earliest Album Jackpot (due to "T.N.T." being the band's earliest song used in the machine). "Hell's Bells," on the other hand, can begin with one shot to the bell in the middle, scores high, and will do double-scoring for the next 20 seconds once the bell has been shot the third time, but said shot is pointing at the center drain, meaning you have a high chance of losing the ball each time you shoot the bell. This machine has undergone many patches giving certain songs Nerfs and others Balance Buffs, meaning the songs are reasonably balanced.
- Game of Thrones prompts the player to pick a house at the start (though doing nothing defaults to House Stark). Each house provides a different benefit, such as House Lannister providing higher Gold payouts and House Martell allowing you to add an additional ball to any multiball whenever the player wants; and the first mission you receive will be of the house you chose, with the rest having to be activated before they're ready. There have been very few balance patches to this game, however, so while the attempt is there, the tiers for Game of Thrones are farther apart than they are with AC/DC.
- Equipment and fighting styles in Roman gladiator matches were highly regulated to ensure an entertaining fight, and it was very common for a gladiator of one school to go against one of another — provided the two were compatible. For example, a common matchup had a retiarius — a Fragile Speedster armed with a trident and net — up against a secutor — a Mighty Glacier with a huge shield and small sword.