Competitive Balance exists so that there is some symmetry between specific advantages and the Necessary Drawback. If someone can hit hard but not take any damage themselves, they are a Glass Cannon. If they are unstoppable but slow moving they are a Mighty Glacier. A crippling overspecialization occurs when one, obscenely powerful advantage makes a trade-off that limits how effective it is.
In some Real Time Strategy games, unit types are often specialized beyond all reason. They often have only one weapon, effective against just one particular kind of enemy, and usually cannot defend themselves at all if their particular weapon is ineffective. The most prominent examples can be seen in this genre: explosives will deal low damage to infantry, while Anti-Aircraft cannons can't defend against ground units.
This is usually a result of game balance. After all, if tanks are effective enough against other tanks and infantry, then why build anything else? Additionally, until recently, most units in games were depicted with only one weapon. A few might've had a second gun used for attacking enemy fliers, but that was about it.
Can result from a Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors design scheme, or from intensive Min-Maxing in a character build.
People who do this for Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors are suffering from Poor, Predictable Rock.
See also Anti-Air and Strong Flesh, Weak Steel. Compare to An Adventurer Is You, where this is used to force players to work together. See also Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training for a characterization equivalent. Severely Specialized Store is a comedic variation.
Don't confuse "having a weakness" or "not being the best at everything" or even "not being quite good enough" as being this trope. Don't be tempted to list something because it failed in some way unless you can point a finger at its crippling specialty!
The opposites of this trope are the Red Mage and the Jack-of-All-Stats. At the other extreme that loops right back is Master of None, where the character has no great specialisation... but sucks at everything anyway.
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In the first and fourth Gobliiins games, the player controls three goblins whose specializations border on the ridiculous. One can only pick up and place objects (only one at a time), another can only punch things, and the third can only cast spells. Apparently, the other two goblins haven't grasped the concept of, well, grasping.
In Solatorobo, this is what Merveille says is wrong with Nero and Blanck, as though they live for The Order and can perfectly perform their one duty of controlling Lares and Lemures, once that duty is fulfilled, they have no reason to exist. Those who are imperfect, like their brother Red, are free to grow and develop in any way they choose, not bound to any one destiny.
Poor, poor Firion of Dissidia: Final Fantasy. On the ground, Firion is a monster: a Mighty Glacier with deadly mid to close range moves that chain into HP hits—three of them—a projectile, one of the hardest HP attacks in the game to dodge (that doesn't belong to a Boss character), a defense and counter move that is a practically guaranteed HP hit, and the ability to ground dash, which handily helps remedy the speed problem. ...Once he leaves the ground, though, he has none of that. Once he is in the air, he is a bad way. This overspecialization happens to be crippling because in his game, most everyone else is at least competent in the air (with at least three explicit specialists in air fighting), and many of the stages are fragmented enough that staying on the ground exclusively is not possible and the game flow tends to naturally take fighting to the air. Poor Firion.
They went so far in the sequel as to design stages that punish people for jumping into the air to give Firion a chance, as well as minor overhauls of the game making ground-fighting more viable and interesting for more characters (e.g. giving Terra players incentive to stay on the ground with a Blizzara nerf and a new Fire-Firaga chain, adding new ground-only HP attacks for Warrior of Light and Cecil, heck, even Zidane has fun on the ground with Booster 8), adding new characters with an eye to making them more balanced for ground vs airplay, and removing the 'infinite air jumps' oversight of the first game with the result that now staying in the air is much harder.
Interestingly, they decided the answer to Firion's overspecialization was to overspecialize even more in his niche, they added a highly powerful and dangerous new attack to his ground arsenal in the sequel, which, combined with better functionality on his air game (he can chain his weak air attacks together more easily, and aerial swordslash will now floor-crash the opponent back into Firion's turf) makes him a monstrously tough opponent except on stages where ground combat is just hopeless period.
Terra also has a slightly crippling specialization-only a few of her Bravery attacks chain directly into HP Attacks, and the ones that do are so laughably easy to dodge that even the dumbest computer opponents can do it. The remedy to this is that her actual HP Attacks are very difficult to dodge, especially in EX Mode where she can cast them twice in rapid succession. Still causes her issues with the extremely reactive AI opponents-most of Inward Chaos comes to mind.
In Gundam Extreme Vs. Full Boost, the Gundam Epyon is generally considered such a weak mobile suit that it actually has its own level in the game's Character Tiers, despite being ranked at 3000 points (the highest possible in the game, which gives it high HP and attack power). The reason for this is that Epyon wields only melee weapons (a large Laser Blade and a Whip Sword), meaning it has no way of attacking beyond short range and must weather its opponent's guns and missiles in order to do any damage. When Epyon appeared in the earlier game Gundam vs. Gundam Next, it had the advantage of an Assist Character that provided a Deflector Shield, but the Full Boost version lacks this, which puts it at an incredible disadvantage even before you factor in the fact that Full Boost is biased towards ranged combat.
First Person Shooter
In Battlefield: Bad Company 2 you have a choice of 4 specializations. It is possible to be crippled by the Medic's lack of explosives, or by the Recon's lack of ammo. Just as much as it is to be crippled by the Assault's lack of specialization.
While all the classes in Team Fortress 2 are very specialized, they do have an item or two to make them a bit more versatile. However, the Demoman holds onto this trope with a deathgrip. Both his primary and secondary weapons are explosive (which can cause self-damage if he's near the projectiles when they detonate), inaccurate over long ranges and don't directly hit enemies (unless aimed and timed specifically). While this forces some players to get creative with strategies, more often than not a Demoman player will resort to wildly firing both weapons in the general direction of the target.
During the WAR! update, the Demoman was given the Chargin' Targe, a shield that replaces his stickybomb launcher with a charging rush that turns his melee attacks into guaranteed criticals. This has given rise to a new way to play the class; the "Demoknight". It involves using the Targe (or another shield) alongside one of the many sword and axe-like melee weapons he's received since then. Rather than make him more of a generalist, this has actually just given him the ability to overspecialize in melee. (especially if you equip the boots that replace the grenade launcher) So, one has a choice when playing Demoman; overspecialize in long-range? Or overspecialize in melee?
His overspecialization is actually at mid range, which pretty much no other character than the Huntsman Sniper is any good at, and so nobody will engage the Demoman at his preferred range. Soldier is technically okay at mid range, but suffers from being easy to predict at that range, and is better at close (berserker) or long range (bombardment) attacks. The Demoknight style is still definitely a case of this.
The Pyro's flamethrower is, as one might imagine, a short ranged weapon. What's his long range alternative? A shotgun. Averted with the introduction of the Flare Gun, which gives him a proper long ranged attack, albiet one which has significant travel time, a firing arc, and can only load one shot at a time.
Contrary to how some players may act, the Heavy is also over-specialized for damage at short range. Few of his weapons are accurate at long range or do enough damage to justify 'suppressing fire' if opponents are a distance away, since the primary weapon reduces the Heavy's already slow speed to an absolute crawl and the secondary shotguns spread a great deal.
And pretty much no matter how you load your Spy, you're almost entirely limited to stabbing people in the back. In a fair fight, between equally skilled players, the spy will pretty much always lose. Fortunately, the spy's cloak allows him to avoid fair fights as much as possible.
As might be expected, Snipers are generally not strong in a close-range situation. The main weapon unlock that helps them at that range, the Huntsman, lacks the ability to zoom in or to hold a charged shot for very long, inverting their threat ranges somewhat, but not making up for their squishiness at close range.
Scouts put the 'agile' into Fragile Speedster, possessing a powerful Sawn Off Shotgun but lacking sufficient power and health to hold an area for long. They are also handicapped by enclosed areas that don't allow them to take advantage of their superior speed and maneuverability.
The Soldier is unusual in a game this diverse for managing to avert the trope: he is considered the Jack-of-All-Stats and a workhorse 'bread and butter assault unit,' meaning that there are few situations where one is not at least somewhat useful. Certain loadouts make him less useful in specific situations, but the basic Soldier is designed to be at least moderately effective in most potential situations.
Many weapons provide a bonus so situational as to become useless, such as the scout's Wrap Assassin, which launches a ball that makes targets bleed but does barely any damage and is difficult to hit with, the Engineer's Short Circuit, which destroys projectiles but makes you run out of metal, your primary resource as Engineer, very quickly, or the Pyro's Neon Annihilator, which deals crit damage to players who are, or have recently been, underwater, although most maps don't feature water.
Relatedly, the Heavy Gear video games occasionally do this, with one of the worst offenders being the Mammoth strider, an enormous, heavily armored machine with the ability to carry frankly absurd amounts of firepower...which was slow as dirt and steered like a cow. It had no ability to dodge enemy shots, and relied solely on thick armor to survive extended fights.
Common in the Mech Warrior franchise due to it spawning from the BattleTech game. Several 'Mechs are dedicated long or short range specialists, or focus on one tactic in particular, and suffer significantly when not fighting in their preferred range bracket. The lack of foot speed or defensive armor on these models tends to compound their difficulties. Notable examples include the Hollander sniper 'Mech and the Hunchback close-combat 'Mech, both of which are powerful at their respective range brackets, but quickly and readily countered by one another's ranges.
In SD Gundam Capsule Fighter, many units are designed to be this way and usually suffer for it, thanks to its Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors gameplay: Rock-type units excel in fighting in close range and are able to get in close quickly, but suffer by not having the quickness to shoot back in long range, if they have guns at all. Scissor-type units is more of a Jack-of-All-Trades and tend to be easily pounced on by Rock-types. Paper-types excel in long range attacks, even going so far as to be able to shoot from across a stage. However, their swing is incredibly lacking, if they have blades at all.
The S-Rank Gundams from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz really suffer from overspecialization: Wing Zero Custom excels in shooting at long range, but crumples at close range; Altron specializes in melee attacks, but doesn't have consistent range attacks aside from a grappling attack; Sandrock Custom specializes in stunning attacks but can easily lose that with a Vaccine item; Heavyarms Custom specializes in Tanking, but loses out in mobility and firepower; and Deathscythe Hell specializes in stealth attacks and Back Stab, but crumples because of the lack of defense.
In Armored Core 4 and For Answer, some standard schematics that fall into this. Good examples include the AALIYAH and GAN-01-SS frames. You can also throw any of BFF's designs into this. And we haven't even touched on some of the individual pilots yet. *cough* SHINKAI *cough*
The Animaniacs game on Sega Megadrive works the same way as the Lost Vikings example: Yakko can push crates and is the only one who can stun Ralph the Guard with his paddle; Wakko can activate switches and catapultes, light fuses, and destroy rocks blocking the way with his hammer; and Dot can seduce people for various useful purposes, and is the only one able to move when the sexy Nurse walks around.
Puzzle Quest and its sequel Galactrix: Pumping all your skill points into one or two types of mana/energy gives you near Game Breaker power with some of your spells/attacksnote With the exception of PQ's Knight class, where pouring nearly everything into Battle and Morale turns you into a Mighty Glacier. but at the cost of under-powering the rest of your arsenal. And that's assuming you don't run into an enemy who has high-resistance to or can counter that particular mana/energy type (and you will) leaving you to muddle through with weak attacks while it pounds you at full strength.
Real Time Strategy
In Age of Empires III, mortars are incredibly powerful against buildings and ships but can't be used at all against any other unit.
Pikemen are good against all cavalry, but useless against infantry and artillery.
Battle Realms both uses and avoids this trope. All ranged units can also attack in melee (but most of them are horrible at it), while most tier 1 melee units have only a melee attack and nothing else. The tier 2 and 3 melee units of the Dragon and Serpent clans have a secondary ranged weapon, however, which is useful in a pinch. There are also 7 damage types (slashing, piercing, blunt, crushing, fire, explosion and magic) and all units have different resistances to each type — any commander who tries to overspecialize by fielding an army of one unit type will quickly find that this is not a good idea since they can be quickly countered by a smaller number of units whose attacks screw them over.
Combat in the second The Battle for Middle-Earth game tends to consist of a desperate attempt to get the right type of unit fighting the right enemy, because if they're fighting the wrong type they get slaughtered. Well, unless they're fully upgraded elven archers, who can usually mow down an entire cavalry unit while they're charging. Or fully upgraded Rohirrim, which can trample right over pikes.
Incidentally, these two units are the ones capable of both melee and ranged combat. The first game even allowed you to merge two infantry units into one. If one unit was melee fighters, while the other one was archers, then the archers would take the back rows and first while the infantry holds off the enemy. In the case of two joined elven archers battalions, the ones in the back would use their bows, while the front lines would switch to swords.
In the Command & Conquer games, units usually have only one weapon, and are on their own extremely vulnerable to units impervious to their single weapon. A rifleman never has rockets or other explosives to use against vehicles, a grenadier has only grenades and no firearm for self-defense, a rocket soldier only carries rockets effective against vehicles and aircraft, tanks never have machine guns for close defense against infantry, and so on. This is sometimes in spite of the fact that the unit's sprite/model, or promotional images, will show it with additional anti-personnel weapons. The series also harbors one near constant aversion, however - the Mammoth Tank and its successors have almost always had a big pair of cannons for taking out buildings and vehicles, and ground-to-air missiles for dealing with airborne enemies. They can also run infantry over.
Lampshaded as of Red Alert 3 with the background information on the Allied Hydrofoil unit, which has a weapon jammer device. The background states that Allied tank crewmen and fighter pilots asked why their units could not also be equipped with jammers, but engineers the world over have encountered unspecified technical difficulties designing vehicles with multiple weapons. Red Alert 3 actually changed the whole model on this one, given that all units in that game have a special ability of some type, and for about half those units that ability is a second weapon. The hydrofoil's primary is an anti-aircraft gun.
For Rocket Soldiers, this is mostly averted in Renegade. Here they also have sidearms for self defense, and their rocket launchers do massive damage to anything. They are one of the Demonic Spiders in the game.
Those in the modding community for early games can attest that technical limitations make it impossible to mount more than two weapons on any given object and even then, the two are mutually exclusive when it comes to target selection.note Specifically, the primary weapon can force-fire at the ground, onto terrain objects and is normally used against enemies; the secondary can only attack stuff the primary either can't or where the primary would do less damage, PERIOD.
One of the worst units in the series is the Tank Destroyer in Red Alert 2, the unit itself can only do maximum damage to enemy vehicles, but it can barely hit infantry (though can still run over them) and can only do minor damage to buildings which can be easily repaired while it's still firing.
Snipers in all games, can one hit kill most infantry, but useless against anything else. However, in C&C 3, they get a passive ability to spot for Juggernauts.
Commandos somewhat avert this trope, since they all carry some form of explosives for buildings. However, only Tanya from Yuri's Revenge ever thought of using it against vehicles actively. All other Commandos would simply shoot at a tank with anti-infantry guns (although a few commandos possessed weapons powerful enough to utterly destroy tanks just as easily as infantry)..
Mammoth Tanks is another aversion, in all installment are able to engage all targets effectively. It has dual cannons to engage vehicles and missiles for use against infantry and aircraft. Since C&C 3 however they are even more effective because they will fire both weapons against ground targets (though the missiles are now less effective against infantry), and the cannons can be upgraded to railguns, which will one hit kill most infantry and make it even more deadly to vehicles, in addition for the ability to crush smaller vehicles under their treads.
Boris from the expansion pack was allowed to call in an airstrike to whatever targets his AK-47 couldn't kill (namely, buildings) which made him alot more effective than Tanya, as he did not need to close the distance. Yuri Prime, however, averts this trope to hell as his psychic power was able to affect anything other than airborne targets (and only while they stay airborne).
In Generals, all commandos had their way to fight vehicles, Colonel Burton could lay C4 on them (though he would be revealed doing that) or just shoot them, Jarmen Kell could pilot snipe them for capture by friendly infantry and Black Lotus could at least shut them down and flee.
The series returns to this again in Tiberium Wars with the Commandos. They are devastatingly effective against buildings and infantry, and exactly ONE type of vehicles: Walkers. There are, prior to the expansion, exactly 3 units of this classification, and at least one was considered Awesome, but Impractical and another was an artillery unit. In the expansion they were made a bit more useful, with a few new variants of the walkers appearing and being genuine threats, while an entire faction focused on infantry.
In Red Alert 3, the aforementioned Tanya can destroy them with C4, Natasha can order a bomber to kill them or pilot snipe them similar to Jarmen Kell and Yuriko simply compresses them into tincan size with her powers.
Additionally, in Red Alert 3, the Apocalypse Tank (a Mammoth Tank Expy) has lost its anti-aircraft missiles in favor of a big magnet that pulls enemy vehicles towards its circular saw. Basically, the tank has been redesigned to be more effective against vehicles, something it was already good at, while leaving it vulnerable against airstrikes.
Hammer Tank also played with it, since its special ability is an absorption beam which in addition of draining the HP of the enemy while repairing itself, but is also able to steal the weapon of enemy vehicles destroyed while it is targetting them, effectively giving the Hammer Tank a second primary weapon, and possibly an ability to engage air targets.
Two units introduced in Kane's Wrath are dedicated anti air, however the AI doesn't seem to know this and often sends them in place of normal tanks, where they get torn apart due to their lack of ground weaponry.
In Frontline Attack: War over Europe, the only armoured vehicles that have any effectiveness against infantry are the light armoured cars. You can send 20 Pershing tanks to attack an enemy base, but if there's just one team of anti-tank infantry, or grenadiers, or a flamethrower squad, not one of those Pershings will survive. Escort them with M8 Greyhounds, and watch them all die as the light anti-tank emplacements blow up the M8s, then the flamethrower squads do their work on the Pershings. And don't take your own infantry either, because enemy buildings have machine guns, and most infantry is actually crap at anti-infantry work.
Company of Heroes averts this for most of the main units with upgrades. For example, a basic rifleman squadron can be upgraded to have sticky bombs, which are highly effective against armored vehicles. Main battle tanks come equipped with a basic machine gun and can be upgraded for a more deadlier one. Even AT guns can make short work of infantry provided they don't get too close. With the upgrades, the game mangles with the Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors.
In Cossacks: European Wars, several kinds of units armed with firearms are completely incapable of defending themselves in close combat, and will simply retreat in face of such an attack. This is particularly ridiculous in the case of the Russian unit called a strelets, which carries a large poleaxe (as is historical, and these poleaxes were of course used in close combat) which is solely used to rest their arquebuses on!
In Ground Control 1 anti-air Terradynes cannot target anything on the ground and rocket Terradynes cannot target infantry.
Also, in the second game, most units armed with guided missiles can't attack infantry. The in-universe explanation is that individual soldiers are too small for missile tracking to work.
Most units in Homeworld are this, the worst offenders offenders being the attack bomber (a fighter extremely lethal against warships but useless against fighters and corvettes. Most anti-fighter units are fighters or corvettes), the defender (a small fighter with a powerful and fast-firing weapon that will wreak havoc among enemy fighters but is too slow to avoid fire from enemy warships), the defense fighter (a fighter that defends friendly targets by shooting down enemy mass driver rounds with a laser but is otherwise useless), the mine-layer (lays mines to make an area impassable from warships but is useless against fighters), the ion frigate (thanks to its ion cannon has a powerful punch against warships, but can fire only in front of it and is slow turning, and a squadron of bombers will disintegrate it in a single passage), the defense field frigate (a frigate with a magnetic field shield that blocks enemy mass driver fire but does nothing against beam, plasma and missile weapons), the drone frigate (a frigate that houses a group of point-defense drones that will annihilate enemy fighters but does nothing against enemy ships), and the non-combat units (they do only their main function: the salvage corvette salvages ships and data, the collectors collect resources, etc.). All other units are overspecialized for one job, but the different load out of weapons allows them to do something else too (the Mothership and carriers serves mainly to build other ships and carry and repair fighters and corvettes but can also work as anti-fighter units, the assault frigate is good at fighting other frigates and fend off corvettes, etc.)
Little Kings Story gives us the Chef. He can kill a Cock-a-Doodle in one hit. He's useless in almost any other task (well, about as useless as carefree adults), and he's expensive as hell. The only reason you'd buy more than one is if your first one got killed.
In Metal Fatigue, combots that dual-wield ranged weapons do twice as much damage in the same amount of time but absolutely suck at melee combat. Not only they do very little damage by bashing the opponent with the guns, such a build has much less HP and armor than a melee build which in turn is a real powerhouse that can close up into melee range and wreck the ranged combot before it can inflict any real damage. On the other hand, melee combots have two banes: hit-and-run attacks by missile cars and Nemesis trucksnote whose only real function is paralyzing combots via a self-destruct EMP supported by bombersnote since melee weapons can't attack air units. Both of these threats are cannon fodder to ranged combots who can easily One-Hit Kill the offenders without having to chase after them.
Flying combots are excellent Lightning Bruisers... as long as they have time to land since while flying, they have zero armor which means AA towers can really tear them up. Plus the part that makes the combot fly has absolutely laughable HP. If we take these two into count, a flying combot is actually a Fragile SpeedsterGlass Cannon: it has firepower AND mobility but it sucks in defensive capabilities so it's only good if the target isn't surrounded by AA.
Occurs to some degree in Sins of a Solar Empire. Light carrier-type cruisers have no onboard weapons, just their two fighter or bomber squadrons. Siege frigates and support cruisers have ship-to-ship weapons, but they're rather wimpy.
Siege frigates and torpedo boats fall into this trope as well. Siege frigates are extremely weak against other ships/buildings, but are the only non-capital ships that can bombard a planet. Torpedo boats in the expansion packs make mincemeat out of buildings and starbases, but are unable to attack other ships/bombard planets.
The StarCraft: Brood War expansion introduced new units to all three factions (Terran Valkyrie, Protoss Corsair, Zerg Devourer) which have no function other than to attack air units, particularly masses of air units. If your opponent uses a strategy other than mass Mutalisks they were pretty much useless...but given how fond some players were of mass Mutalisks, one could see the reason for doing so.
The original game's "Guardian Aspect" Mutalisk was this trope. A very powerful ground attack with incredible range (enough to take out stationary attackers before getting into their range), but slow as molasses and possessing no air attack whatsoever. If you failed to back them up with anti-air units, they'd get wiped out.
Starcraft II puts a few more units into perspective with all three races:
Like the predecessor, Terran Siege Tanks, the ground based bombardment unit of the race, are ground only and their siege mode lays waste to enemy infantry units and have decent success with ranged armored ground units. They can't attack air units at all and weak melee units that are able to reach the minimum range of siege mode leaves the tank helpless to the zerglings. If zealots... not so much cherry tapping...
However, after one of the more recent updates, the siege tank got hit with a nerf that weakened its bombardment attack. It is still dangerous in groups, but now it's less absurd in dealing damage with only a single tank.
Zerglings of the Zerg race are the same as siege tanks, only in the opposite way. Fast, weak and small, they do well in large masses and rushes at the target(s) to get their dangerously sharp claws tearing up their prey. Of course, they can only attack ground units and have no defense against air units. It's the basis of the Zerg Rush of course.
The Corruptors of Zerg are essentially the Devourers in Brood War without splash damage and added a special ability. Their mutation to Brood Lords is technically the same as the previous mutation to Guardians (from mutalisks, only this is from corruptors) other than the unit shooting broodlings instead of acid balls.
Zealots are in the same niche as zerglings, except they are slower, a lot more powerful (and expensive) and they still can't hit air units. The thing that helps them attack ranged units is an upgrade available in the game.
There are a lot more that can be put into here but that would just be a waste of time and space. Ultralisks, Colossi, Banshee... the list goes on.
Played straight and averted in Supreme Commander, most anti-air units are only able to fire at air units, but the Cybran T1 and Cruiser both have a switch to change their weapons from homing missiles to dumb-fire rockets for fighting surface targets. Spread means that it's more effective from the latter, which is fighting large ships, but in groups the former becomes remarkably dangerous.
Then there's stuff like the UEF Anti-Tactical-Missile Defense, which is basically a Phalanx CIWS. It can only shoot down tactical missiles.
While most naval units for the UEF and Cybrans have some AA guns mounted on them, the Aeon ships lack any AA, instead mounting them on small, cheap attack boats which are incapable of engaging anything OTHER than air. However their Frigate at least gets torpedo defenses in return and the Cruiser ships are better for AA overall.
Averted by research in the second game, at least for the UEF; higher level techs can install defensive guns on certain installations, grant anti-air weapons to standard tanks and assault bots, and anti-ground guns to your anti-air unit. With enough research, a massed force of common tanks needs no anti-air support; they launch enough AA missiles to shred almost anything that would dare tangle with them.
Total Annihilation did this about as naturally as possible. Every weapon in the game can fire at just about any target (and will try to if necessary), but only the anti-air units have the turning speed, range, or homing ability to actually catch air units 95 out of 100 times. While this meant that generally only anti-air units could take out aircraft, ever so often, you'd see a fighter or bomber shot down by an artillery cannon.
Warcraft III's human faction has a unit called the Steam Tank, which does fantastic damage to buildings... but can't attack any units. Its sole use is to damage enemy structures. The Frozen Throne expansion pack remedied this a bit by giving the player the option of buying an improvement that added a rapid-fire, multitarget (though weak) attack that can only be used against flying units.
By equipping an orb of some kind, melee heroes get a ranged anti-air attack (the only way to attack otherwise is with a spell or item that brings the flyer down).
One of the few notable RTS aversions is the Sudden Strike series. Most tanks have machine guns effective against infantry and one of the two most common types of infantry, submachine gunners, have grenades which work against tanks when you have enough of them.
In fact, if tanks run out of ammunition, they can run over infantry.
Role Playing Game
City of Heroes has this to a degree, but you have to try for it. You can make a Blaster with all the primary set attacks, as many tertiary/epic attacks as possible, and maybe a travel power, and dump a bajillion damage (and maybe some accuracy) enhancements in, that overall gives enough attacks to be able to blow nearly anything in the game away; unfortunately you'll have no defense, and draw so much aggro that the best tanks and healers in the game will look on helplessly as you get stepped on. Speaking of tanks and healers, you can dump so much into the stay alive/keep them alive sets that you're utterly useless soloing unless you like spending 30+ minutes per random mission. Controversially Cryptic/NCsoft implemented features like diminishing returns and power set restructuring that made these types of setups not only difficult to accomplish, but redundant and more-or-less pointless.
In Diablo II, this is often done intentionally: your character may be completely unable to kill cold immune enemies, but that's okay if there are no cold immunes in your favourite hunting grounds and you got rushed to said top level area without killing more than a handful of enemies on your way. There was a time when javazons were popular: they were only viable in one level but that just happened to be the farming hotspot.
In the first Diablo, the sorceror's spells are devastating against non-resistant enemies, and are even competent against resistant enemies, but there are certain enemies that are immune to all damage-based magic near the end of the hardest difficulty. Hope you brought Stone Curse and a good melee weapon (or a high-level Golem).
Qunari in the Dragon Age franchise are divided into a Fantastic Caste System where each qunari is expected to fulfill their assigned task and no other. When the Arishok's military force was stranded in Kirkwall in Dragon Age II, they had no priests or diplomats and therefore nobody capable or even willing to explain why they were there, allowing radical elements of the Chantry to provoke them to go to war with the moderate Viscount.
In DragonForce on the Saturn, archers fit this trope. Their only strength is against harpy troops, but they're either weak against, or average against everything else.
Dungeons & Dragons Online has the Sorcerer class that can use far fewer spells than ordinary Wizards, they cannot swap between spells on the fly either, but they have much greater magical reserves to draw upon, making them able to hit harder with the same spells and cast them for much longer. However, having few spells to choose from can quickly make a Sorcerer useless - specializing in only fire based spells will not help a player against opponents with fire immunity.
The Hammer of Ironfist in Neverwinter Nights 2. You'd think it'd be an Infinity+1 Sword from its stats, but only dwarves can wield it and you get it at about the same time that your dwarf party member completes his Character Development arc which ends with him becoming a Bare-Fisted Monk. Thus, the only way to actually use it is to have a dwarf Player Character (or a high Use Magic Device skill, which doesn't generally go hand-in-hand with Martial Weapons Proficiency).
Mint from Tales of Phantasia is the only purely supportive character in the Tales Series, all of the healers falling into the Combat Medic archetype. While it's not an issue in her game of origin, it makes her rather obsolete in the crossover titles like Tales of VS and the Radiant Mythology series.
Gyms, their Trainers, and their Gym Leaders all follow a type specialization that can be exploited by the player with counter-strategies using their obvious weaknesses. It's slightly rectified in later versions, as their Pokémon know moves to compensate.
One gym surprisingly averts this. Koga's gym has always had 4 Psychic specialists in it. And the 2 remaining trainers who do use Poison types also have a Sandslash (Ground being strong against Poison). In fact, Koga's the only one in the Gym who uses all Poison types. Under his daughter's leadership in Gen 2, it plays the trope mostly straight (2 trainers have Nidoking and Nidoqueen, one each, which are Poison/Ground type).
Several later Gym Leaders and Elite Four members did avert this sort of, but usually in some strange ways. Candice in Generation IV specialized in Ice-types, but had a Medicham, which is a Psychic/Fighting type. The weirdest would be Volkner and Flint, at least in Diamond and Pearl. They specialized in Electric-types and Fire-types respectively, however Volkner's four-mon team consists of only two Electric-types, the other being Octillery, a Water-type, and Ambipom, a Normal-type. Even more damning, Flint, a member of the Elite Four, only has two Fire-types on his team of five, the rest being Drifblim (Ghost/Flying), Steelix (Steel/Ground), and Lopunny (Normal). This was because in Diamond and Pearl, there only were two evolved Fire-type Pokemon, Rapidash and the starter Infernape. note There is Magmortar, but it's only available in Dual-Slot Mode. Platinum expanded the Pokedex, in part to give them teams that are closer to their specialized types.
Many Pokémon fall into this as well. Rampardos is a Glass Cannon with ridiculous Attack and decent HP, but its defenses and Speed are so low it falls in a couple of hits, and its pure Rock-typing does it no favors. Ninjask is ludicrously fast (one of the fastest in the game, and its ability makes it only go faster), but is not only easily walled with poor attacks and an average Attack stat, its bad defensive Bug/Flying typing and really low defenses make it really only useful for Baton Passing, as it learns a few good set-up moves. Too fragile to do much else though.
There's also Shedinja, which can only be hit by super effective attacks and passive damage but only has 1HP at any level. Not to mention five weaknesses. And there's a lot of passive damage attacks.
This can apply to many Mons concerning their movesets and whatnot. Many of them can only learn a small type pool, effectively making them one trick ponies. Take the Dugtrio family, for example. Their attacks mostly consist of shaking the ground, shaking the ground harder, randomly shaking the ground at varying strength levels, and burrowing underground and then shaking the ground as they come up.
Smeargle is interesting as all of its attributes reflect Master of None and its stats are completely poor. But it famously boasts being able to learn any move through Sketch.
Deoxys can take several different forms. The Attack and Normal forms have the highest attacks and special attacks in the series and a fantastic speed, but their defenses and Hit Points are so weak that they go down in one hit from about anything. Its defense form has superior defenses, but can't really dish anything out. Speed form however, is more of something between a Lightning Bruiser and a Jack-of-All-Stats.
A Skitty with the ability Normalize will use all moves as if they were Normal-type. While this means constant STAB bonuses and being able to use moves against types that normally resist them, it also means anything the Skitty does will be resisted by Rock and Steel types, and it is completely useless against Ghosts. This is especially problematic in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon if you get a Skitty as your character; be thankful the game allows Normal moves to do slight damage against Ghosts.
Another good example is Shuckle. It's got ludicrously high Defense stats, but all of its other stats are practically non-existent. There are a few tricks to turn Shuckle into a powerhouse, but this usually leaves it very vulnerable.
For a non-legendary, Absol has an absurdly large movepool and great Attack, but a good chunk of it is wasted due to its average at best Special Attack. Especially so in Generation III, where the Dark-type is considered Special.
The Blissey family is specialized as an ultra-high health tank against special attacks, but it is so vulnerable to physical attacks that it ultimately only serves as a Metal Slime during the metagame. Game Freak is surely aware of this, since they littered the Bonus Dungeon of Pokémon Black and White with trainers who only use the Blissey family.
Gen V Pokemon have significantly less type range overall in their movesets compared to previous generations. Generally, they get moves in their own type(s) and a few Normal moves, along with some Status-type moves. Moves outside their typing are rather difficult to come by.
Grass-types in general tend to have this kind of typing trouble.
Speaking of type predictability, either your crime group comes from Orre or you assign very specific Pokemon species to your grunts. Teams Rocket and Galactic are reasonably safe from monotyping (even though their lineups are reasonably weak), but Aqua fears Grass/Electric and Magma loathes Water. Also on that note, Team Plasma does not take Fighting well (the grunts use Watchog and Dark types, N's only protection is Archeops and a Dragon, and even Ghetsis can lose half his team to Fighting attacks).
This trope works against Ghetsis in other ways. Due to the weakness structuring and move layout of his entire team, a good Water type can tank one or two members of his team before going down (the exception being Hydreigon). The most probable? Samurott. * Teach Samurott Razor Shell, X-Scissor, Rock Smash, and Swords Dance, and bring some Full Restores, an X Speed and an X Accuracy. Set up during Cofagrigus using the items and Swords Dance; luck willing, Samurott will then proceed to one-shot everything Ghetsis will throw at you, Hydreigon included!
For the most part, Gen V champion Alder. While he has extremely powerful pokemon, all but one can be easily taken out by Emboar (though one of these requires using a TM). And the one that can't? Druddigon, a Dragon-type so slow that a powerful Dragon or Ice move will take it out before it does any damage.
Similarly, in the sequels Iris also has very powerful mons, but all of them are weak to either Fighting or Ice (the very first mon she sends out is weak to both types). The best choices for taking them out? Basically any strong Water-type other than Magikarp or the Seismitoad evolutionary line that can also learn good Fighting-type moves. The most probable candidate among those? Samurott.
The player can deliberately invoke this using the "Choice" items. Choice Band, Specs, and Scarf increase the Attack, Special Attack, or Speed, respectively, of the Pokemon holding them, allowing them to either throw around absolutely devastating attacks or outspeed just about anything that doesn't boast a similar advantage. However, a Pokemon holding any of these items can only use one move until they switch out or lose the item. Particularly savvy players sometimes use this drawback to their advantage by forcing a Choice item onto an opponent's Support Party Member, generally rendering it useless for the rest of the match.
A problem in Deus Ex: Human Revolution is that it is quite possible to use your Praxis Points for a Jensen that specialized in sneaking around and computer hacking (and in fact the game actually encourages you to do that because of how easy it is to die in firefights) instead of combat, and might not even have a lethal weapon on you because of space limitations. Until the game suddenly throws an inescapable boss battle with Barrett at you and you have to figure out how to kill him without any augs or weapons while he's throwing grenades at younote the game does give you some slack by providing rooms with weapons and ammo but even with that it can be an uphill fight. This is supposed to be fixed in the remake, which apparently will provide options for players to use computer and stealth skills to find alternate ways to win.
Alpha Protocol predates Human Revolution in allowing you to build Mike Thorton completely to stealth/technical specifications and then kicking your arse with unskippable boss fights. At least unlike Jensen it's impossible to go completely unarmed and a heavy combat approach is quite viable.
Chihaya Kisaragi from THE iDOLM@STER has an obscenely high vocal stat from the beginning. She will excel at anything vocal related but extra effort is going to have to be made to get her to do good at visual and dance. In the sequel, teammates can help.
Missile frigates in X3: Terran Conflict are normally just glass cannons, weak on defense but able to level entire sectors from extreme range. However the Boron Kraken eschews any form of point-defense in favor of more missile launchers. This essentially means they have no way to protect themselves from incoming missiles, save for spamming their own missiles at enemy missiles and hoping they hit.
The OTAS Sirokos missile frigate is designed specifically for launching boarding pods at enemy craft, and can carry ten more marines than any other missile frigate (30 instead of 20) ... at the cost of having no method of attack other than ramming. It works fine for boarding TLsnote giant freighters that can transport stations from shipyard to jobsite, but it can't really do anything else.
Terran and AGI Task Force ships are incapable of mounting Commonwealth weaponry used by every other faction (besides the Kha'ak), forcing them to use the more limited Terran arsenal, which lacks in fast projectile weapons to kill M5s and M4s, and they are completely lacking a frigate-size weapon, making their otherwise awesome Yokohama frigate pathetically weak at fighting ships of its size or larger.
Happens to the enemies in the Tower Defense game Tower Madness. The towers you build (save the fully upgraded Missile Launcher) do either energy, explosive, or electrical damage. Powered Armor aliens come in three varieties- Light, Heavy and Bionic, each of which is resistant to one type of damage, but weak against the other two (light resists energy, heavy resists explosives, and bionic resists electricity). If you place two turrets of different damage types, they're pretty much sunk.
Turn Based Strategy
Units in the Advance Wars series can usually only (effectively) attack a few types of other units. For example, infantry can attack vehicles, copters and other infantry to varying degrees of effectiveness with their firearms, but cannot even engage ships or planes. Some units have a primary and secondary weapon however, which they use against different opponents. The most notorious example is the Missile unit, a devastating anti-air unit that is incapable of firing on anything that doesn't fly. It's also rather weak in the armor department. Woe to the player that accidentally deploys this one on a map without air units.
The most recent game, Days of Ruin, features a new unit called the seaplane which totally averts this trope and can attack every single unit with its main weapon. The downside? It has practically no fuel or ammo and so has to be restocked constantly by units with little or no attack capabilities. And it can only be produced by the expensive Carrier unit, which has little purpose beyond that and the ability to supply and repair up to two aircraft units at once.
It also features the Anti-Tank, an expensive form of artillery with the ability to counterattack. Unlike other ranged units, it cannot attack sea units and is less effective than the basic artillery against anything but tanks, especially considering the price. It also has the Flare unit, which shoots Flares to light areas in Fog of War and doesn't suffer from as many stiff penalties the recon does in forest terrain.
Some COs (Commanding Officers) also fall victim to this trope. Max, for instance, has powerful melee units but incredibly weak ranged units. His opposite Grit is generally considered to be a Game Breaker. Other COs suffer from specialisation in units or circumstances not present on all maps at the cost of unit types that are present on nearly every map (for example, Sonja has attack penalties on all units but increased range in Fog of War, which isn't present on every map).
The Fire Emblem series takes this to extremes, as not only are archers helpless in melee, but entire classes (cleric, troubadour, etc.) have no combat skills whatsoever, leaving them doomed if the enemy catches them off-guard.
Radiant Dawn averts. Archers armed with crossbows or the Infinity Plus One Bow can counterattack at melee range, and clerics can even retaliate with their staff, albeit generally for 0 damage.
While this is averted upon promotion which lets classes access to more weapons so healers can attack and bowmen can possibly use swords, it varies by game. In some games, Archers only promote to Snipers which still only use Bows (but have higher stats so it's not as much of a problem if they're caught off guard) while other classes that only use melee may be able to gain access to bows. This might make them useless if it weren't for their high damage output with bows and the fact that longbows are sometimes only usable by snipers.
Sacred Stones had branching promotions. It was possible to promote a cleric/priest into a Bishop or a Sage, while mages can be promoted into a Sage or Mage Knight. Sages had higher magic and access to anima, light and staves, while Bishops can only use Light and Staves and Mage Knights may only use Anima and Staves. Mage Knights rode a horse so had higher movement, which didn't count for much as physic and rescue staves already work at long range and you already have good horseback units, while Bishops are only good for killing undead, which you do fight a lot of in the game, but they're only REALLY useful in a post game that gives you nothing but bragging rights rewards. Sage is definitely the better class for option for both.
Happens a lot in Galactic Civilizations 2. Typically, when computer-controlled, a race focuses on one type of weapons and armour. Terrans, for example, tend to use armour (good vs. mass drivers - basically huge space guns) and lasers (which are blocked by shields), while Drengin tend to focus on mass driver cannons and armour plating. The player, on the other hand, has the option of focusing on areas the closest races are weak against. This then leads to a second example of this trope where your fleet of Terran-killing shielded missile cruisers runs into a squadron from another race with missile defences and heavy-duty mass driver guns who proceed to eat them alive. So you have to go research armour and mass drivers to exploit their weaknesses and hope that you don't run into a third race who like armour and missiles.
It's also ludicrously easy to capitalize on a potential enemy's specialization. In some cases, a race will develop a particular weapon (say, mass drivers), and also the defense against that weapon (armor). You can then trade money for their own defense research, and send your now-fully protected ships against his helpless vessels. On higher difficulty levels, you can do this exactly once, and then the AI will counter-research and murder you.
Averted in the first Luminous Arc game, where units typically had one or two skills to cover glaring weaknesses. For instance, Theo, despite being the archer, had a Flash Drive that was only effective at point-blank range, perfect if your lines were breeched. Latertitles play this trope straight.
In the Space Empires games the enemy tends to focus on just one type of weapon.
In Sword of the Stars there are ways to counter, weaken and negate pretty much every weapon type. Being overreliant on one weapon type often leads to this as the enemy researches and equips the appropriate counters.
Drone carriers can fall into this. While dreadnought versions usually have enough mounted weaponry to act as The Battlestar, those below the wall of battle have the majority of their firepower on their drones and become much less useful once PD works its way through said parasite craft.
Interceptor missiles are even better than phasers against big PD targets like guided torpedoes and drones, but are completely unable to maneuver against other missiles. This was eventually subverted in the sequel, though their low rate of fire still makes them less than optimal.
Polarized plasma weapons are an evolution of other plasma weapons you can research, whereby plasma bolts are shaped into thin discs for firing. They slice right through thick armor, but they're terribly weak against shielded targets, making more conventional weaponry the better option.
Dreadnoughts fitted with Impactors (enormous railguns) can obliterate other capital ships, often more quickly than with equivalent energy weapons. However good luck hitting smaller ships, since Impactors often miss anything smaller and faster than a similar sized ship as your own.
Likewise, the mighty siege driver can be fitted to a dreadnought and fires literal asteroids for planetary bombardment. The unfortunate side effect is that it tends to miss anything smaller than a planet. Also, it's usually unnecessary to bring one to a planetary bombardment when a fleet of well-rounded ships can do the job equally well.
Getter 3 and Getter Poseidon in Super Robot Wars are pretty much built for underwater battles because they don't suffer from movement limitation. The main problem is the fact that most of the battles takes place in Air, Ground or Space which the other forms excells in. Add to the fact that most of its attacks cant hit Airborne units (including the Daisetsuzan Oroshi and it become fairly apparent why its the least useful. To compensate for this, Musashi or Benkei posess some of the more useful Seishin amongst their teammates to use in their own Getter form.
Total War tends to avert this: While melee units still don't have ranged weapons, archers can, potentially, be used in melee. Because of their lighter armour and worse melee weapons, however, this is more of a last resort (or used to break wavering units with a flank attack) than anything else.
The same it true for artillery crews, who can defend themselves with swords, but aren't even strong enough to fight off peasants with pitchforks.
This frequently happened to the Getter Liger and Getter Two as well, for its ussual inability to attack flying units. In fact, a sizable amount of players said that Getter-1 is the form that you will use 99 % of the time, and you should give it adapter anyway.
Almost all air units in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri can't capture bases. You've got to use ground units (for bases on the ground) or sea units (for bases in the sea) for that.
The Believers have only one way to win the game without a huge difference in player skill. Expand as quickly as possible and attack anyone nearby. The only way for them to win is to gain a huge advantage early game through expansion, so they can field enough of their undoubtedly weaker, poorly equipped forces to overwhelm the other factions. With a player skill difference, it is possible for the Believers to win in other ways, but they will not perform as well as other factions with any other strategy. This strategy is problematic because several factions can very easily stop the Believers in their tracks by exploiting their weaknesses. In the expansion, assuming equal player skill, it is effectively impossible for the Believers to go toe to toe with the Nautilus Pirates due to the fact Pirates will have centuries to build up their naval forces before the Believers could even hope to mount an attack capable of taking an unguarded sea base.
Battle for Wesnoth gives us the Dark Adept, a low-level "black" magic-user with a couple of accurate and fairly powerful magical ranged attacks that has no melee capability whatsoever and is thus a helpless target for anything that attacks it with melee weapons, which basically means "any enemy unit that's not a Dark Adept itself". (If it manages to live to become a Dark Sorcerer, though, it gains a moderately effective staff attack.) On the other end of the spectrum, you can find the Dwarvish Ulfserker (a melee-only unit that when engaged in close combat always fights until either it or its opponent is dead) and the Horseman (also melee-only with its only attack being a charge for double damage both inflicted and received), as well as their level 2 Dwarvish Berserker and Lancer counterparts that do exactly the same, only with more powerful attacks and extra hit points.
It's up to you if you want to do this in Endless Space, since you get to design all your ships. However, while every pirate ship you encounter starts with just kinetic weaponry, if you overspecialized to deal with that, your ships will be cut apart when the pirates start mounting armor defenses, lasers and missiles.
Colonel Taggart: We've been preparing to fight the wrong war, We can't beat this! We need to pull out and deal with it at a distance!
Non-Video Game Examples
Anime & Manga
In Hunter × Hunter, this happens during a tournament arc when Hisoka fights an opponent who had a grudge against him, Kastro. Kastro had basically dedicated himself to mastering a nen technique that was so absurdly complex that it left him completely unable to use any other nen techniques, and even limited his ability to learn other non-nen based techniques, so that the opponent only had one (admittedly pretty strong) martial arts move. Worse, once this ability Doppleganger was dispelled, Kastro is completely powerless. Meanwhile, Hisoka himself is a subversion, given that while he has only one real combat based nen ability, he was other nen abilities as well, in addition to a variety of hand to hand and weapon based skills.
Mazinger Z: Several Mechanical Beastsfrom Mazinger Z had a fighting style entirely based on the weapon or device they were equipped with, and when they lost it, the battle was finished shortly after (even though they usually tried to put up a good fight). There are several good examples: Jinray S1 (episode 24) best weapon was its amazing flight speed (Match 5!) that it used to dive at its enemy, striking it with lightning bolts and missiles and fleeing away. Since it could hit him and and run away before he could even spot it, Kouji got a very hard time... until he blew up one of its rockets. Unable to perform its hit-and-run tactics, Jinray was helpless; Holzon V3 (Episode 17) was armed with huge drills to burrow underground and set off earthquakes, making it deadly... unless you forced it to return to surface, where it was a crappy fighter; Kajimofu T7 (episode 48) combined both its palm blasts and its missile launcher to hit its adversary. It was a very efective, destructive tactic... but when Sayaka and Boss ripped its arms off, the battle was over because its missile launcher was not strong enough on its own.
In Naruto, members of most clans seem to suffer from this, as they tend to only use the clan's signature techniques even when they could learn others. Plus their specialization can be found out just by knowing their last name, which brings the question as why they don't learn a single non-clan related technique to catch your opponent off guard. Of course, in theory it's possible that they do know a wider range of justu- there certainly doesn't seem to be anything preventing them from learning- but the author Masasi Kishimoto just doesn't bother showing this stuff to make them more distinct.
Subverted in the sense that teamwork is greatly stressed and teams typically consist of 4 people from different clans or backgrounds, so the "crippling" part is usually guarded against, though they tend to have a specialised theme (eg. Team Gai are all Taijustu types, but different types of Taijutsu; Team Kurenai / 8 specialize in tracking, but different types of tracking, etc.). It is also not uncommon for different teams to work together, or for members to join other teams temporarily.
Averted by the Uchiha clan. Though played straight at beginning levels, where the abilities their Sharingan gives them (move copying, enhanced perception) can only go so far, once they reach a certain point and unlock its evolution, the Mangekyo Sharingan, they've basically won the Super Power Lottery. And in the unlikely event that the Mangekyo doesn't get the job done there's a whole other level, the Rinnegan, which puts the user above basically everything else in the universe, up to and including various Eldritch Abominations.
Possibly also averted by the Aburame clan—while they indeed only have a handful of jutsu, the main jutsu is basically the ability to control a swarm of chakra-eating bugs, it's actually extremely versatile and effective, so a lot less crippling overall. Too bad Shino doesn't get more screentime.
A the Raikage is this in spades. He uses taijutsu and focuses on melee combat using his high speed and strength to overwhelm the enemy. We see that when he tosses Sasuke around like a ragdoll. However, he tries to do the same against the much stronger Madara Uchiha...and it doesn't work too well. He has no long ranged jutsus at all, or even summoning, bunshins displayed, or anything to make up for his style's weaknesses. Thus, he's the only Kage to under perform in the War. Especially against Madara, since he needs Onoki's help to even breach Madara's Susano'o.
Hidan of the Akatsuki is immortal, which should make him powerful, but it doesn't. He only has one real power, which requires him to ingest someone's blood after cutting them, then create a ritual circle, stand in it, and he becomes a living voodoo doll for that person. He uses it to kill Asuma. Once this technique is analyzed, there are a few weaknesses. If Hidan is removed from the circle, the effect ends. Furthermore, while immortal, he can be chopped up to remove the threat he poses. Finally, he has to attack someone with melee in order for the technique to work. A user of long ranged combat who is powerful enough to disable him will have no problem doing so. Made even worse by the fact that Hidan's speed is at best average (he even notes that he's the slowest member of Akatsuki).
Tayuya's powers themselves were fairly versatile: creating illusions and controlling summoned demons with music. But she still suffered from this as she didn't carry a single tool (not even a kunai) besides her flute, which she needs to craft her illusions. So of course the moment her flute is lost or damaged she's pretty much screwed.
Outside of the manga/anime, there's Doto and his snow ninjas, the villains of the first movie. They have special chakra-armor, small devices that deflect or negate chakra based attacks. This renders many of the team's attacks useless but in the finale Kakashi points out the big hole in the logic of the chakra-armor: it protects against chakra attacks but does to nothing to protect from normal physical attacks. He then exploits this to defeat The Dragon by piledriving the guy off a small cliff headfirst. If his armor was better it might have protected him from the impact but because his armor was so specialized against chakra, he gets killed by the fall.
Saint Seiya: Seiya's master, Marin, taught her disciple this "If you meet someone stronger than you, attacks his best weapon. If he punches hard, aim for his arms. If he kicks strong, aim for his legs. After you destroy it, you will be able to win with no trouble." Early on the series, Seiya met Bear Geki, a warrior had focused his training in reinforcing his arms to the point of he could easily throtle grizzly bears. As soon as Seiya managed breaking his arms, Geki was defenseless and the battle was over.
Mobile Suit Gundam: According to the backstory, when Zeon was developing a machine to match the Gundam, their choices were the Gelgoog and the Gyan. The Gyan was melee-focused, armed with a beam sword and a shield full of mini-missiles and short-range bombs, and intended to work in concert with the Rick Dom (which was, surprise surprise, manufactured by the same company). This extreme focus caused it to lose out to the more self-sufficient Gelgoog, meaning only three Gyans were ever made, and one shows up as a Monster of the Week while Gelgoogs appear as Mooks from that point on.
Gundam SEED had examples of this. The Buster Gundam, for example, was a purely ranged suit with no close-range options. Interestingly, the Strike Gundam manages to be both this and Jack-of-All-Stats since it can change its loadout. In Sword Strike mode the closest thing it has to a ranged weapon are beam boomerangs and rocket propelled anchors which can draw a target into closer range. In Launcher strike mode it has the same problem as the Buster, its only close-range weapons are a small pair of barely used daggers. Most other suits, despite having clear specialty, manage to avert this. Aegis is a melee monster with four (!) beam sabers (with two of them in its feet, so all four can be used at once), but also has a Wave Motion Gun in its mobile armor mode. Duel has beam sabers and a beam rifle with a grenade launcher, and gets upgraded with further ranged weapons. Blitz is stealth-oriented with a Cloaking Device, but also has a shield that is loaded with various weapons (a beam saber, a beam rifle and a trio of rocket darts) and a rocket anchor like Sword Strike's.
Most of this can be explained by the fact that the five Gundams were meant to operate as a team. Buster stays back and defends the mothership, Aegis goes in for direct attacks, Blitz stealths around back, Duel stays between Aegis and Buster and supports them, and Strike fills whichever role is dictated by its pack (Sword = direct attack with Aegis, Aile = support with Duel, Launcher = sniper with Buster).
Earlier on, Kincaid Nau bests the above trio in a similar manner (not dodging the weak attacks of the Abijo, closing range on the Quavarze, and flanking the Tortuga before it can deploy its shield). With a Gundam whose arms had already been sliced off.
This probably would have been a factor for Gundam00 had the Gundams not been finished products. The Exia is almost entirely melee oriented but its rifle is perfectly capable of harming gundams, Setsuna just happens to have really bad aim... The Dynames is shown to be able to use its handguns as a proto-melee weapon due to its rapid rate of fire and it has beam sabers as per normal.note And Lockon didn't even want the sabers, but got overruled by the chief engineer, which is why he came up with the idea of pistols with axe-like blades under the barrel, implemented on Dynames' successor Cherudim. The Kyrios is good in both ranges and is only bad at taking hits (which it should not since it is a hit and run unit). The only problem is the Virtue's bulk which had no real supplement... until you find out it can purge the armor.
This was of course not the case with the generation that preceded it. The Astraea and Plutone had no weakness for the sole reason because it was manufactured as a jack of all trades. The Sadalsuud's unwieldy nature made it useless for anything other than long range combat and even then only as a sensor. The Abul Hool literally HAD NO ARMS and had to make do with its quasi-jet mode. To a point even the 0 Gundam suffered from this because it quite literally had no strengths. (1 rifle, 1 beam saber, 1 shield, the worst efficiency of them all, yes it sucks balls)
Except that everything else in the 0 Gundam's era was far weaker, making it effectively a giant among midgets.
The units used by the Innovades also have a habit of being like this. The Gadessa has no real ranged weapon other than the Mega-launcher. When it gets blown up, suddenly your opponent is a LOT harder to hit. The Garazzo is of no different in that it replaces the Mega launcher with beam claws, leaving it without any effective ranged weapon ever. The Gaddess would have been a subject too except it has 7 GN bits so it alone would suffice as a balanced unit... Too bad its opponent was the Cherudim which had 9/15 bits, a rifle and 2 axe/guns.
Gundam Age's Age-1 Titus. It overspecializes in strong melee attacks, but it is dropped off just a few episode after its debut because its heavy armor and lack of range weapons makes it unable to hit any faster unit in space combat.
Gundam Sentinel has the FAZZ units, a trio of Mobile Suits designed to test out the Full Armor pack for the ZZ Gundam. Had plenty of ammo, but lacked any means to defend itself in melee range, which gets all three suits destroyed when they go up against the Gundam Mk. V.
Rurouni Kenshin: Kenshin Himura is a master swordsman, but is hopeless at unarmed combat and often gets confused by enemy swordsmen that throw in punches or kicks between sword strikes. Less so in the anime. Averted by Saito Haijime, who fights entirely with varying types of stabbing, but is such an excellent swordsman that he doesn't need anything else. Saito is also an expert boxer and is willing to use other weapons like his belt. In one of the last chapters of the manga Kenshin tells a member of the latest Quirky Miniboss Squad — one who specialized in countering stabbing techniques but was defeated by Saito anyway — that if defeating Saito's Gattotsu was enough to defeat Saito himself, Kenshin would have killed him years ago.
Most Ranma ˝ characters, but especially one shot practitioners of Martial Arts and Crafts. There's really not THAT much call for the use of Martial Arts Chess, is there? The problem inherent in this is often demonstrated when Ranma casually trounces these people who then complain that he wasn't playing by the rules of whatever bit of martial madness they practice.
Hilariously, Ranma often make a point of adhering to their rules and restrictions just so he can learn their style properly, and then incorporate their strengths into his "Anything-Goes" school. Not to mention the satisfaction of beating them at their own game. He only occasionally bend or break the rules after he learns what he's supposed to do. This caveat is to excuse his standard 'beat the crap out of them without regard for their crazy martial art' that starts most Martial Arts and Crafts episodes.
The Anything-Goes School of Martial Arts is based off averting this trope entirely, most battles result in Ranma either learning new tactics or techniques altogether, or coming up with creative new ways to use his old tricks.
Averted with Martial Arts Tea Ceremony. Despite having an unusual restriction (the combatants must be kneeling at all times, even when running at incredible speeds), the Martial Tea Ceremony masters are actually capable of beating the crap out of Ranma. The actual story battle has him facing a younger opponent though.
Early on in Negima!, the explanation for Negi's need to kiss girls in his class is to give them artifacts. Because a traditional mage is useless in unarmed combat and it takes time to cast and activate offensive magics. So they need a partner to defend them and distract the opposing forces. After a few fights where this was a problem for Negi, he learned kenpo. Evangeline explains that eventually any magic practitioner will reach a point where it no longer matters.
Wonderwiess of Bleach was made for the purpose of using this trope. Giving up speech, intelligence, memory and reasoning so as to have the ability to seal Ryujinjakka's flames.
Fortunately, his target does not fall into this trope, having been around long enough to knowbetter. Yamamoto may have the strongest zanpakuto, but he didn't limit himself to it , choosing instead to fight the unfortunate Arrancar with his bare hands, and winning with ease.
The Fang Regalia in Air Gear, a set of A-T wheels can be seen this way as it deprives the user the ability to jump. Instead, it allows the user to release Razor Windfrom their A-Ts.
All the characters in Fairy Tail have one type of magic that they use, and frequently run into opponents with powers custom tailored to trump that one specific magic, most notably one of the Vanish Brothers, whose power was to nullify fire magic, and he just happened to have been fighting the fire mage. Or Yuta, who can nullify magic, but only one type at a time. Only a few mages show spells outside the speciality, such as Ultear who possesses two schools of magic or the Thunder Good tribe who possess eye magic aside from their main magics, though several mages do make up for lack of magic variety with hand to hand skill or weapons like Lucy's whip.
Erza is a subversion, since while she uses one type of magic, her magic involves changing her armor and weapons to suit the situation.
Jellal is an interesting case. He can use many types of magic (his Abyss Break combines many elements at once) however he mostly sticks to his Heavenly Body magic. However said magic both gives him strong non elemental magic blasts, and lets him empower himself to allow for high speed strong physical attacks, giving him a great all rounded technique.
Double subverted in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. First with Nanoha's training on the forwards, she aims the training to sharpening each member on their own unique abilities to the edge but avoided the "crippling" part by also reinforcing their teamwork tactics in order to cover each other's weaknesses. Then, by revealing that the "overspecialization" part of the training only covers phase 1-2, once they dominated their main abilities Nanoha proceeds to balance them by giving them experience and alt-modes for their devices that allow them to face battle conditions outside of their main area of expertise by themselves.
Hayate, meanwhile, plays this trope straight. She's the resident nuke-girl of the TSAB, evidenced by the fact that they send out evacuation warnings whenever she takes to the battlefield. The only problem with this is that she cannot use any spell other than nuke level ones and she needs assistance to aim said spells. She even admits that Caro would beat her in singles combat even without said girl's dragons because she was trained by Nanoha.
Clare starts out as this in Claymore. She's ranked as the weakest warrior in the Organization because she neglected the standard youma fighting skills to specialize in fighting Awakened Beings. Initially, Awakened Beings are rare enough that the other Claymores consider her to be The Load. By the time the Time Skip rolls around, Awakened Beings are coming out of the woodwork, and regular youma are little more than mooks.
Ichika's IS is a close-ranged fighter, so in a ranged fight he has to dodge or absorb shots thrown at him until he can get close enough. Unless another IS user allows him to use their ranged weapons. Averted with Rin, who has a weapon that has some medium range capabilities.
Laura's A.I.C. (Active Inertial Canceler) seems to nullify any attack thrown at her, but she has to stay focused on the attacker for it to work. So if someone else shoots her from behind...
Cecilia's IS is designed solely for long ranged combat, so if an attacker can close the distance before she can take them out, she usually seems screwed. Chifuyu also comments in one episode that she's also designed to take on multiple opponents, but in the anime at least, she only ever fights against one opponent at a time.
Katsumi Morikawa, the resident Butt Monkey of Cardfight!! Vanguard. He is a genuinely good player, but he is so obsessed with powerful Grade 3 monsters that his deck balance is ridiculously top-heavy.
In The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer, several of the Beast Knights are somewhat overspecialized for their own good, usually on the scale and speed of the opponents they can fight. Yuki and Subaru need critical time to charge up and aim their Combined Energy Attack, and risk any enemy escaping or tearing into them before they can fire. Yuuhi's fighting style is highly mobile anti-personnel, limiting his ability to directly harm the golems but making him perfect for taking down the other Knights. Hanako's ice attacks rely on having a supply of water to hand, often only as much as she can carry. Fortunately, the other Knights cover for their limits and provide them the opportunities they need to bring their power into play.
In End of Evangelion it's eventually revealed that NERV headquarters was only designed to repel Angel attacks, leaving them extremely vulnerable when SEELE sends the JSSDF to seize control of the base after they defeat the last angel (then again, that was the plan all along.)
Although the 3 Evas were more than capable of resisting an attack Unfortunately by the time the JSSDF shows up, Unit 0 has been destroyed, and the pilots of 1 and 2 are too shell shocked to help out, and comatose respectively. Asuka does regain conciousness and takes out the JSSDF, but Seele then sends in the MP Evas, and Asuka alone couldn't defeat them.
Surprisingly averted with Revy in Black Lagoon. Besides being an amazing gunslinger, she's also an expert at underwater operations such as salvage jobs. Dutch notes that he never would have hired her if all she was good at was shooting.
In Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, angel weapons can only kill ghosts, demons, and angels. Against humans and zombies, they are about as effective as BB Guns or Nerf swords. They can kill humans and zombies if used indirectly, like when Panty shot a propane tank next to some zombies to make it explode.
Most of the students of Yezo High agricultural school have severely specialized knowledge relating to the jobs they wish to take as adults or the work their family does, on par with college students in their field. Just don't expect much with other subjects. Hachiken, as an academic Jack-of-All-Trades, often ends up having to tutor his friends but can also organize their disparate skill sets into a cohesive team. (When it comes to pizza, anyway.)
Sonic The Hedgehog: The battle suit used by Eggman in issues 175-177 was designed specifically to outmatch Sonic, which it proceeded to do marvelously. However, this meant that when the other Freedom Fighters took it on, it went down in a matter of panels.
The page image depicts villain Razorfist from the Marvel Universe. He had both hands removed and replaced with blades to maximize his combat ability. He now needs servants to feed him and attend to his basic personal hygiene.
As part of his Training from Hell, recurring Captain Britain villain Slaymaster repeatedly punched boulders with his left hand until his entire hand was covered in a thick callous, which he ground to a deadly point. He described the ordeal as a "ninja trick" and admitted that it had made his hand useful only as a weapon.
It starts out looking like this will be the case for one of the Angels in Shinji And Warhammer 40 K, as it tries and fails to use Eva-focused attacks like venomous spikes on Magnos Tancred (which is basically a tank with feet, and has none of the squishy biological components that were being targeted). Then it disgorges an army of relatively tiny monsters, which kill two-thirds of Magnos Tancred's crew and begin slaughtering their way through Tokyo-3.
In Atlas Strongest Tournament, Ran Biao trained her flame breath to be strong enough to melt Rarity's metal acupuncture needles; however, her reliance on this leaves her vulnerable to Rarity's diamond backup needles.
Multiple Naruto fanfics, most notable ''Scorpion's Disciple, have pointed out Sasori's reliance on poisoned weapons as this by having him fight someone completely immune to poisons (Generally Orochimaru or Naruto). Whether he lives to learn from such a weakness however varies from story to story.
In Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, Sonada's fight against Ohsugi had her use her ponytail (which acted like a poisonous scorpion stinger) to attack. However, Ohsugi's weapons—a finned glove and slippers glued to craft foam) was upgraded by Nadeshiko and SOLU and once he uses them to remove the ponytail, it was all too easy for Ohsugi to punch her lights out.
Contract Labor: During their honor duel in chapter 21, Keitaro gets the better of Motoko by mixing in gut-punches with swordplay, exploiting the fact that Motoko has only been seriously trained in swordsmanship.
In The Gamers 2: Dorkness Rising, Joanna creates a fighter character for Dungeons & Dragons with feats for winning initiative, making high-damage critical hits, and getting extra attacks every time she fells an enemy. As a result, her character is excellent at cleaning out hordes of minor enemies before anyone else can move. However, she has low armor class and hit points, so tough enemies who can weather a critical hit or two, like bosses, can take her out easily.
Wreck-It Ralph: Combined with Blessed with Suck, the fact that Felix's hammer can fix anything. The problem is, fixing is all it can do. When he tries to use it on loose prison bars, he simply makes them stronger. As his only weapon, Felix is at more than a bit of a disadvantage by the climax of the movie, where he's outside of his game (i.e. is perfectly capable of dying) and being attacked by mindless killing machines. Luckily he never has to find out a way to protect himself. (As he's with Calhoun, who has a gun, and not long after she runs out of ammo, Ralph saves the day.)
A man was working in an office overlooking a park. Over the course of a day he saw two city park workers - one would dig a hole, and then the other would fill it in. This went on all morning, so the man wandered down on his lunch break to ask about it. "Well," said one of the workers "I dig the holes, Charlie puts the tree in, and then Bob here fills them in. Thing is, Charlie's sick today."
In Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, Humpty Dumpty is an expert on words and definitions, so much that he claims to be able to assign definitions to words and make them mean anything he pleases (literally). However, he seems to be very bad at math; when Alice tells him that 365 minus one equals 364, he asks her to do that out on paper so he can be sure.
Used in Philip K. Dick's short story "The Variable Man": the eponymous man is a jack-of-all-trades tinker picked up from the past by scientists in a highly specialized future. They need him to fix something that no one has the specialization for.
The Book of Swords has three primary examples. The first being the sword of heroes, which if not used against dragons just acts like a very well crafted sword. The second is the sword of siege, which if not used against earth or stone, acts likewise. This is from a series of books where comparatively speaking, the most powerful of these swords had the power to kill deities. Of course, since every sword has a Necessary Drawback, Overspecializing also seem like not to big a deal after a while...
...until the wielder of Swordbreaker needs to fight unarmed opponents.
In Lensman the overspecialised ships are frequently either laden down with defence shield generators ("I can't hurt you but you can't hurt me") or all weapon (frequently one bigWave Motion Gun style weapon) and tend to accompany each other in large groups. The fleet flagship, Directrix, is all combat-management and defence shields but never goes out and about without an englobing escort of Maulers.
Happens to some Insequent in The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. They gain their powers through knowledge, so an Insequent who studies only one or two specific things may be powerless in situations not involving them. For example, the Harrow has made a study of the Demondim and related creatures, meaning he can tear through them like wet tissue paper all day - but he goes down like a chump against a Kastenessen-powered Roger Covenant.
In the sci-fi book Matched this is one of the main tenets of the Society. Nobody learns anything but what they have to know, including of the past. The Society chose 100 of the best of everything from the past for everyone to know about. They also even extended this to choice, in that nobody should have to choose anything that they don't know about.
The cruiser Honor Harrington commanded in the first book of her series had been refitted as a testbed around a nigh-unstoppable weapon, however the reduction in normal weapons load and extreme short range of the prototype weapon meant the only way the ship was effective in combat against an equal or larger opponent was to either somehow to sneak in close enough to fire the weapon, or pray the ship could hold together long enough on an near-inevitable suicide run to get close enough to fire the weapon.
Discussed in Jean Auel's Earth's Children series. Woolly mammoths, by becoming so specialized and adapted to such a narrow climate range, ensured they'd survive and exploit a unique niche on the dry, cold ice age tundra, but such specialization also meant that warmer, wetter climates would be utterly devastating.
Furthermore, the Neanderthal Clan was in danger of becoming extinct because the men could not learn how to gather and cook food and the women could not learn how to make weapons and hunt, which was why they had to live together in groups. A lone Neanderthal was a dead Neanderthal.
Lazarus Long: "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
World War Z contains a subversion. On a superficial reading, this appears to be one of the reasons the initial outbreak wipes out human armies, shown with the US Army specifically. Modern military thinking is no good against an enemy that can be neither shocked nor awed, and their standard tactics like targeting center of mass, dropping bombs, and setting targets on fire betray them. However, more detailed analyses by readers with actual military knowledge reveals that the zombies happen to be coated in Plot Armor, and Brooks nerfs standard weapons against them. Also, he has the military hold off on weapons that can effectively turn most squishy targets to paste from miles away until the Zacks are in visual range. Not to mention the military suddenly forgetting everything it knew about the Zacks from the black ops they mentioned, and not learning about their resistance to explosives from the Israelis either. In reality, the military would've rolled right over the Zacks.
The Lancer-class frigate from the Star Wars Expanded Universe was specifically designed as a counter to the starfighter-heavy Rebel Alliance/New Republic fleet. It's a 250-meter ship bristling with laser cannons, intended as a flak boat to protect other capital ships. Unfortunately, in addition to being too expensive and manpower-intensive, it had no heavy weaponry for fending off capital ships, so most admirals eschewed it in favor of expendable TIE screens.
In The Wheel of Time this is Aginor/Osan'gar's main obstacle towards being an effective villain. As a channeler he's overwhelmingly powerful (among the Forsaken he's behind only Ishamael and maybe Lanfear), but he's really only good at doing one thing- using magitek to make monsters. Problem is that while this made him essential to the Shadow in the Age of Legends, in the modern world the necessary magitek no longer exists, and every time he's in a straight fight he tends to attack a lot ineffectively before getting curbstomped. He ends up dying having been one of the least effective Forsaken.
Note that he died not once, but twice, (the first time is right at the end of the first book, however he is brought back several books later and is kinda... there for the next several) doing effectively nothing prior to either death.
In Philip Jose Farmer's The Lovers, the main character is a professional Jack of all Trades (JOAT). His whole job is to make sure that medical research specialists know about advances in other fields that can be applied to their specialty.
In Proven Guilty, Daniel escapes from Hammerhands by climbing into the treehouse, figuring his handless pursuer can't follow him up a ladder.
In The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi criticizes at great length schools who teach only one weapon, or whose style relies on the use of a specific weapon. This overemphasis leaves the fighter unable to use the most advantageous weapon(s) available for the circumstances. He even discouraged over-reliance on the nitouken form, which he had forumlated.
In Skullduggery Pleasant, the titular character goes up against an opponent with ridiculously overdeveloped fire magic. After that opponent fell into a river during the fight and literally dissolved due to an extreme weakness to water, Pleasant explains to the protagonist that becoming strong in one area of magic necessitates a corresponding weakness to its opposite. Could also count as a case of Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors.
Live Action TV
The fact that the Lexx has no other weapons or defenses apart from its planet-shattering Wave Motion Gun have caused plenty of trouble to the protagonists over the course of the series.
Could be justified, if his divine shadow wanted it easily re-taken if it ever fell into the wrong hands. (Which, in fact, it did.) Presumably it would've had escort ships along to defend it if it'd ever been used as intended.
On Good Eats, Alton Brown refers to items with this issue as "unitaskers", stating that the only one he'll have in his kitchen is a fire extinguisher.
Averted, believe it or not, during the 10th Anniversary Special in which he makes a smoothie using a fire extinguisher. Seen here
Unlike previous Super Sentai, the team in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger have no inherent special powers, instead relying on the powers of their predecessors via the Ranger Keys. This came to bite them in the ass when, in the first movie, the Keys were stolen from and used against them, leaving the Gokaigers to fend for themselves. It was only fortunate that their direct predecessor team, Tensou Sentai Goseiger, were able to get their powers back. (for the uninitiated, the Gokaigers' basic arsenal only consists of a Gokai Saber and Gokai Gun each.)
All Chess pieces are overspecialized, to some extent or another. The Queen's enormous power and value comes from being the least specialized, being able to move like any other piece except the Knight.
Ironically the queen's mobility leads to it being the least useful piece for controlling territory. Opposing rooks, bishops, and knights can stand on the many squares threatened by a queen just so long as they're defended, since taking a knight only to lose your queen is generally bad. By contrast the two squares attacked by a pawn are effectively off-limits to any opposing piece besides another pawn.
In Warhammer 40,000 the Eldar have this as their Hat. Each Eldar going down the Path of the Warrior dedicates him- or herself to one Aspect of war at a time; Dark Reapers deal long-ranged death to enemy heavy infantry, Striking Scorpions can unleash enough close combat attacks to cut through hordes of light infantry, and so on. But while each type of Aspect Warrior may excel in its battlefield role, they're usually screwed if put up against a different type of threat, so those Dark Reapers won't last long in close combat, while hostile heavy infantry can shrug off the Striking Scorpions' flurry of attacks. The saying goes that if you pit five Space Marines against five Eldar, four of the Eldar will die while the survivor single-handedly cuts down the Space Marines, because that's what she was trained for.
The Tau have some of the best guns in the game, and its military focuses on getting the most out of them, but the race is just pathetic in close combat. The Tau have recognized this at least and can bring in allied alien auxiliaries that are better-suited for melee, but even so, those close combat "specialists" would be considered mediocre at best in any other army and are better at counter-charging than leading an assault.
The Tyranids ran into this when the Dark Eldar finally got a new codex. One of the Tyranids' trademarks is an array of multiple-Wound, high-Toughness, monstrous creatures that turned out to be highly susceptible to Dark Eldar weaponry causing Instant Death or dealing Poisoned attacks that neutralize a high Toughness value.
Chaos Daemons take this to ludicrous extremes. Typically only Tzeentchian units have any sort of ranged attack, putting the rest of the army at a one-turn handicap as it's left standing still while the enemy shoots first. Furthermore the army is the only one that must deploy using Deep Strike, which is either Gamebreaking (cap an objective on turne one) or horribly underpowered in other scenarios (like Annihilation, where you have to kill everyone else).
This is also encouraged in tournament play. Consider a Space Marine Tactical Squad equipped with a Flamer and a Lascannon. The former is a short-ranged weapon that can be used while moving against a swarm of light infantry, while the latter is a long-ranged anti-tank weapon that can't be fired after moving. If either weapon is fired, the other is probably not in a situation to contribute anything, whereas a dedicated anti-tank or anti-infantry squad would be fighting with better efficiency against its viable targets.
Deliberately invoked by the Imperial Guard, at company level. Any Imperial Guard regiment would be trained and equipped for a single role, be it foot infantry, mounted infantry, mechanized infantry, artillery, armour, whatever. The intention being that a single company has to rely on others for combined arms warfare, and hence won't survive long going rogue.
In 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, one has the option of using a significant number of their starting stat points to boost a single score to 18 (potentially a 20 if the character gets a bonus to that score from race). However, this costs such a prohibitive number of points that all the rest of that character's stats will be Below Par, at the very best. Since defenses and secondary abilities of powers are often based on scores not directly related to a class' primary attack stat, this usually leaves a character open to attack. And since many feats have ability score prerequisites, the choicest of these will often be out of reach of a character who has overspecialized a single stat.
Note that this can be entirely nullified by having a well-balanced group. (ie. a bard with maxed Charisma and terrible defenses in a group with many tanks/strikers will never get attacked if the group remembers to keep her in the back/center)
D&D in general, really. For every single ability in 3.5, there's at least one way to reduce or negate the damage. Fighters who specialise in the longsword will find themselves disadvantaged against an opponent who negates all damage that isn't piercing. A sorcerer that only chooses fire spells will not have a fun time against the monster with fire immunity. Rogues dread encounters against enemies that are immune to sneak attacks (which are many). At higher levels it's not uncommon for fighters to carry multiple weapons made of many different materials, just so they can be prepared for any situation. This is one reason why Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards is in full effect: spellcasters who prepare their spells from a list can avoid this trap by changing their spells in accordance with the situation.
D&D's unofficial Tier System reinforces this fact. The Top Tier classes can either learn every spell of their paradigm they come across, have access to their entire spell lists by default, or can replicate any spell in the game. (The Cleric and Druid can also function as melee on top of all that, hence the Co Dzilla term in the metagame). The Tier Two classes are equal to the tier ones in raw power, but lack the versatility of their counterparts. As the tier thread puts it: "If the Tier 1 classes are countries with 10,000 nuclear weapons in their arsenal, these guys are countries with 10 nukes. Still dangerous and world shattering, but not in quite so many ways."
In 4e, the selection of attack powers available at each level - and this applies to several fighting and magic using classes - can differ between direct attacks that affect one opponent (the sin qua non of the "striker") and area of affect attacks (bursts and blasts) that can damage many targets. The latter tend to do less damage and may not have as good a hit chance as the former. Without a mix, a character can be vulnerable to either solo monsters or minions.
Many powergamers in all TTRPGS, but especially D&D, who have their pet "broken" builds run into a serious problem when faced with GMs who throw unexpected challenges at them; by relying on shattering the game in one particular place, they are vulnerable when challenged out of their depth by the GM.
This was parodied in The Order of the Stick, where Roy encountered a Half-Ogre with a spiked chain who had figured out the perfect melee build that involved jumping back while attacking on his turn every time, so that he would get free attacks when Roy tried to get close to him. While he's explaining that with this perfect combo he can't be beaten so there's no reason for him to vary it, he jumps over a cliff that suddenly appeared behind him. This is probably how a lot of DMs would handle such a player character. Of course, he was actually cheating; the Attack of Opportunity rules don't work the way he was using them, but Roy didn't understand them enough to call him on it.
In the classic Metagaming Concepts game Rivets, the premise is simple: all the people are dead, and the remaining Boppers (Battlefield Orientated Pre-Programmed Eradicator Robots) are fighting it out over the resources they need. The trouble is, these Boppers are pretty stupid, 'average IQ only slightly higher than that of most kitchen appliances'. Each player has to choose what type of unit each type of unit attacks. That's right. You don't program an individual unit, you program a type of unit to go after another type of unit. If you're attacked by a unit you're not programmed to attack, you're screwed. You can, however, reprogram them, but that means bringing every one of that unit type back to your base/factory.
The BattleMechs of BattleTech are prone to this, as well as subverting this. You can either have a general jack-of-all-trades or a specialized 'Mech that's doomed once someone skips out of its range bracket. Also, under the latest rules, most (not all) 'Mech-scale weapons do only a small fraction of their regular damage to conventional infantry, which can become a problem at those distances where the infantry can actually shoot back.
Justified in that 'Mechs are designed for specific military roles, and meant to used in concert (IE, fire-support standing behind the close-assault mechs, scouts staying in cover and acting as spotters for long-distance artillery, high-speed mechs flanking while the main assault force holds the enemies' attentions, etc.). Individual 'Mechs are specialists; the military units they make up are intended to be balanced. And unlike the 40K examples, factions generally don't have built-in weaknesses beyond the differences in tech-level and societal taboos; you won't find any sizable society that built it's entire army around being super-artillery and utterly useless at short ranges, for example.
There are even 'Mechs whose specialisation is in protecting those 'Mechs whose Crippling Overspecialization could be a liability. The original Centurion was explicitly developed to be a responsive element of a support lance. Where 'Mechs like the Archer or Rifleman team up, there's a Centurion along to protect them.
Most mechs are moving away from this trope, especially in the current era, where vehicles and infantry are becoming more prevalent, so even specialist mechs often mount secondary weaponry like machine guns, flamers, or short-range missiles to defend themselves against infantry and tanks.
One of the earliest Subversions of this is the Stalker-class Assault Battlemech, which carries both large and medium lasers, as well as both Long and Short range missiles, giving it the ability to fight at every range. Ironically, it's the most well-rounded mech of it's time despite having no ballistic weapons and relying enitrely on energy and missile ones.
In Exalted, the Primordials, the transcendently powerful beings that created the setting, each have their own themes, and are absolutely all-powerful, invincible, and unassailable within those themes; Authochthon is the Craftsman, Malfeas is the King, She Who Lives In Her Name is the Organizer, the Ebon Dragon is the Corrupter, etc. The thing is, each Primordial is not only absolutely helpless outside of those themes, but absolutely incapable of even thinking outside of them. For example, Malfeas is incapable of any kind of subtlety, compromise, or anything else that requires him to act from a position of anything less than absolute power and authority, and She Who Lives In Her Name cannot be unpredictable or spontaneous in any way.
Applying this and its relative Min-Maxing in the Shards of the Exalted Dream spinoff Burn Legend will get you curbstomped on a regular basis. The guy with Strength 5 and lots of Grapples - say, a Mugen who invests heavily in Wrestling and the linked Mugen techniques - will get his ass handed to him by a simple Whistling Stone Atemi. Burn Legend is based very heavily on Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors, meaning that showing up as Captain Scissors is begging for everyone else to pull out their cheap, low-ranked Rock technique and smash you into a pulp.
In Magic: The Gathering there's a branch of decks known as Combo decks that fall into this. They aim to do one specific thing using a certain combination of cards. When this thing happens they usually win instantly. If they can't get the cards in or one of them gets destroyed, they're usually left with a sub-par deck. Combo decks tend to be very good against 'raw power'/'aggro' decks because comboed cards will dismantle an equal number of individual cards without synergy (even though said cards tend to be stronger individually), and are vulnerable to control decks that systematically block or remove the components of a combo. These are popular among some casual players, who don't care nearly as much about a reliable win/lose percentage as about the fact that it's absolutely hilarious to use a finishing attack featuring an unblockable attacker whose power and toughness grow by a factor of 32 every turn.
In "Yu-Gi-Oh!!" You will see some decks that would be Overpowered...only if played against a specific deck. For instance, The Allies of Justice mean certain death to Light Decks, but are powerless against anything that isn't Light. In newer Generation, The Heraldic and Heraldry ace monsters (used by Tron in the anime) are the embodiment of Xyz monsters' nightmares, being able to drain their Attack, Effects, and even names. Unfortunately, many players still use Synchros and don't rely on Xyz, making these cards laughably useless against them. (Though the One-Winged Angel form of Number 69 might still be able to put a dent in anything the opponent might summon).
Zz'dtri in The Order of the Stick has fine-tuned his build around countering Vaarsuvius' "blaster-caster" approach to combat. When Vaarsuvius figures out that this leaves him with a weakness to more mundane tactics, and starts fighting smart, the tables quickly turn.
Vaarsuvius also suffers from this, especially in the earlier comics (later comics show more flexibility on V's part). V's a spellcaster, but seems to focus on the 'blow-things-up' part of magic. V also tends to dump other stats, meaning V has poor physical ability and charisma. As such, when faced with something that can resist direct magical assaults, V's stymied. Which happens quite a bit.
"Thrice-cursed Spell Resistance! It's almost like the universe is trying to deliberately force some form of arbitrary equality between those of us who can reshape matter with our thoughts and those who cannot."
Earlier, Roy encounters a half-ogre who has specialised in a very specific style of spiked chain fighting. Aside from being based on incorrect rules interpretations, he is also restricted to a very specific movement pattern, which Roy uses to maneuver him off a cliff to his death.
In Moon Crest 24: Art wise in the earlier chapters, characters are detailed and well drawn. Backgrounds, not so much, or at all.
The Vespiary squad in Girl Genius are trained to efficiently destroy some of the most dangerous creatures in the series. Against anything else they can be considered noncombatants.
Darths & Droids features Pete, a Munchkin who maxed all the skills he thought that would be useful in a space RPG campaign. As a result, he generated R2-D2, "a short, squat robot with no arms." In the Alternate Universes, he has generated the following characters:
In Notes & Nazis, he's Captain von Trapp, "a widowed, retired sea captain with seven dependents and no social skills."
In Mutants & Miscreants, he's Professor Charles Xavier, "a bald, paraplegic, retirement age professor."
In Trenchcoats & Turncoats, he's Ugarte, who's "Short and Ugly, with a Speech Impediment." Unlike the other alternate characters, this one was killed before long, so Pete replaced him with Captain Louie Renault, who at least isn't described with any shortcomings in the cast list.
Often a deciding factor in Death Battle, where often the two fighters are more or less evenly matched from a technical standpoint, but one has more variety to their abilities, particularly when the specialization of the overspecialized one happens to be something the generalist knows how to counter (such as in Link vs. Cloud) or the specialization is in something not particularly applicable to combat (such as in Zelda vs. Peach). Special mention to Raiden versus Thor, where Raiden was overly specialized in electric attacks in a fight where both parties were more or less immune to electricity.
In Something Awful: Dungeons & Dragons Let's Play, Minerelle is a character who relies on her massive Arcana roll to accomplish as much as possible. As a result of this, she isn't particularly useful in situations where she can't just throw Arcana at it till something happens. She suffers a bit from overspecializing in combat as well, since most of her attacks target the enemy's Will defense (and the one that doesn't was a fairly recent addition). As a result, whenever the party goes up against anything with an above average Will, she pretty much has no way to contribute to the battle
In To Boldly Flee, each of Terl's crew is responsible for exactly one aspect of flying his ship, and there is only one crewmember assigned to each task. Therefore, Angry Joe is able to cripple Terl and Zod's offensive capabilit by shooting the one weapons officer.
In Demoknights and Battle-Medics, the Demoknight is useless against the Sentry nest, but not against performing a double kill to save the Soldier's life. Battle-Medic, however, is completely useless, and the Soldier rejects him.
Combustion Man of Avatar: The Last Airbender has the unique Firebending ability to focus his energy through an eye tattoo on his forehead, and release it as explosive blasts. While incredibly powerful, it lacks any kind of versatility, and he is apparently incapable of any other techniques. It also makes him quite vulnerable, as any form of disruption to his chi (such as by a blow to the head) can disable his ability to do it. Or cause him to explode.
He is also apparently unaware of it being disrupted.
Pro-benders often suffer from this in The Legend of Korra. While characters like Bolin and Tahno are among the top competitors in their chosen field, their sport's long-range fighting style is laughable when used in real combat. Pro-benders tend to fight as if they're still on the game field, and will sling fixed amounts of rock or water at an enemy. Get up close and a pro-bender's defense falls apart. In comparison, someone with Avatar Korra's comprehensive education in the traditional bending styles will move between long- and short-range fighting as necessary, and will use the whole environment against an enemy. Basically, pro-bending is competition fencing and traditional bending is back-alley brawling. note Please ignore the fact that many fencers had absolutely no problem being a Combat Pragmatistin a real fight.
The reverse was true when Korra first joined the Fire Ferrets. She was literally a last-minute replacement when their previous waterbender no-showed, and started out by thrashing the opposing players with highly effective attacks...that were against the rules, resulting in fouls against Korra. Just like what's good in a pro-bending isn't necessarily good in a fight, what's good in a fight isn't necessarily good in pro-bending.
The Metalbending Police of Republic City are shown to be this. The Equalists' tactics and gear were designed to counter the Metalbender's tactics and the police got routed in every open clash between the two and there weren't enough combat oriented benders of other nations to counter them (at least until the United Military shows up). Apparently, they've learned from this and season 2 will show a more diverse police force (including firebender Mako).
In The Simpsons the town of Ogdenville makes nothing but barley, even their history is centered about barley. When the barley got tainted, this cause their entire business to go bust, and sent their town into a depression!
In an episode of Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, Harry drops his car off at the service garage, then comes back later to find they're not finished. Perplexed that a mechanic is standing by his car doing nothing, Harry asks why the man isn't working on it. "I only do headlights," the mechanic explains. "Left headlights."
Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends had an episode where the home was overrun with Scribbles (imaginary friends conjured up from infants), which as their name implied, were basically floating black line scribbles. Initially thought annoying and bothersome, they were shown as being very adept at doing chores, yet each Scribble could only do one task (such as washing the dishes, but not putting them away) or they "overload" and start shrieking until calmed down.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Unicorn ponies find their magical abilities quite limited outside their special talent, as illustrated by their Cutie Mark, such as Rarity mostly being good at magic related to tailoring and illusions. Twilight Sparkle on the other hand, by virtue of having her talent be magic in general, knows a vast variety of spells, to the point where she can levitate the top of a water tower, float it through a barn full of cows (milking the cows in the process) and make the water tower into a makeshift baby bottle, while also causing the wind to play a lullaby.
Twilight is cripplingly overspecialized in other ways, however. In "Winter Wrap-up" she tries to help clean up winter without her magic (because that's the traditional way), but because she's so used to using magic for everything, she screws up anything she tries to do physically (starting with putting on her saddle). She eventually leans to non-magically contribute with her TRUE strength, that of an uber-delegating Schedule Fanatic.
In Futurama, Bender is a bending unit, meaning he's very good at bending things, but isn't very good at anything else. In one episode, when the Robot Mafia drops an unbendable girder on Flexo, the only solution that Bender can think of is to try to bend it off of him anyway. ("Well, I don't know anything about lifting, so we only have the one option!") Miraculously, he succeeds, but falls apart in the process.
On the other hand, Bender manages to pull When All You Have Is a Hammer moments from time to time, performing non-bending tasks by seeing them as being(in his words) "primitive, degenerate forms of bending".
Cheetahs, specializing in ultimate sprinting, have a very light build and not much strength compared to other large African predators. Against lions, hyenas, leopards and hunting dogs, all a cheetah can do is run. When it comes to prey, anything larger than a Thompson's gazelle is off-limits to most cheetahs (some males can become large and robust enough to take down yearling wildebeests). However, it may be subverted, as some cheetahs have learned to bring down larger prey by hunting in groups.
This is actually common among heavily endangered species—species with a strong degree of specialization are very, very sensitive to any disruptions in their environment, and any changes can be devastating for them. See the giant panda below.
The Germans made the ultimate in crippling overspecialization during WW1 with the Paris Gun - a mammoth gun that shot shells so high they had to compensate for the fact they left atmosphere. While the range of was impressive, it burned through barrels so quickly they needed to load progressively larger shells for each shot, could only shoot around 20 shots a day, and the accuracy was so poor it only stood a chance of hitting a large city.
It made enough of a psychological impact though that the Versailles Treaty specifically banned it. In the 1930s, this led to the German Army looking into rockets as a replacement for it, and the rest is history.
During the 1930s, the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force and the Imperial Japanese Navy both demanded that their fighter aircraft should be the most manoeuvrable aircraft in the sky, with every other attribute - speed, firepower, armour protection - a distant second. This was a sound strategy at the time, but proved to be very short-sighted. By 1943, Army Ki-43 and Navy A6 fighters found themselves unable to engage faster Allied designs that could breeze past them at high speed, and were hacked out of the sky in droves.
The A6 was furthermore hobbled by the requirement that it should have long range on internal fuel. As a consequence its wings were essentially unarmoured fuel tanks, without heavy self-sealing fuel bladders, and there was no armour for the pilot or engine. Despite being superbly manoeuvrable, a single stray bullet could turn the A6 into a fireball or kill the pilot outright. By the end of the war the Japanese had been reduced to launching hopeless kamikaze attacks against US fleets that were protected by a blizzard of radar-guided flak, with disastrous results.
With the invention of guided missiles in the early years of the Cold War, the US thought machine guns on aircraft were obsolete, and so they lost many jet fighters in the Vietnam War. The F4 Phantom was armed with the then state-of-the-art AIM-7 Sparrow missiles, which were capable of locking on to a target far outside of visual range. However, the Rules of Engagement mandated that the pilots make visual contact before firing their missiles. The problem with this was that the missiles would not lock on at that range (not to mention that they required the pilot to keep the radar focused on the target, which is easy when it hasn't seen you yet, but becomes impossible to do when it's dodging and weaving all over the place), and the pilots got slaughtered by the MiG-21. Seeing this mistake, all jet fighters today are equipped with autocannons and all pilots receive training for dogfights.
The end of the Cold War meant the end of conventional warfare in many ways: the idea of a large-scale battle between two enemies of reasonably-equal strength became somewhat outdated. As a consequence, many of the combat vehicles and weapons technologies developed in the 1970s and 1980s became obsolete and had to be retired or completely repurposed. One of the most prominent examples is the Fairchild-Republic A-10 aircraft (aka "The Warthog"). It was designed to be a "tank killer," meant to serve the role of close air support for ground troops. As a consequence it was extremely durable and capable of carrying very heavy ordinance. The end of conventional warfare meant that the combat situation the Warthog was designed to fight in - ie, a large-scale, relatively close-range conflict involving tanks and armor with air power in a supporting role - was increasingly unlikely to take place. An aircraft designed to fight tanks didn't really have a role to play when no one uses tanks any more.
The Space Shuttle. It was intended to become the United States' sole space launch vehicle during the 1980s, to an extent that other launch systems - such as the Titan and Atlas rocket families - were wound down. In its favour it could carry very large payloads and it was reusable. Unfortunately the technical demands of creating a reusable vehicle meant that the Shuttle couldn't achieve anything close to geostationary orbit, which was highly desirable for communications satellites. The liquid-fuelled Centaur booster rocket that was supposed to solve this problem was abandoned, as it was felt that loading the Shuttle's cargo bay with a hydrogen-oxygen rocket was an accident waiting to happen. Ultimately the Shuttle failed to meet its ambitious launch targets, and even without the Challenger disaster the US found itself in the mid-1980s facing a dearth of launch vehicles, until production of the Atlas could be resumed.
The giant panda, which evolved in a time when there were massive forests of bamboo and becoming one of the few large animals that could the eat the stuff seems like a good idea at the time... before the bamboo forests started shrinking and breaking up into smaller areas, with the panda's diet effectively holding them prisoner on rapidly sinking islands. Oops.
It also doesn't help that the panda eats a vegetarian diet with what is essentially a carnivore's digestive tract. The panda in many ways represents a cascade failure of the evolutionary process, a series of "good enough" kludges that let it just barely hang on in its environment.
Bananas. Before the 1950s, the single largest banana cultivar by far was the Gros Michel, which was favoured since it could survive in temperate climates and was easily shipped without any special care. Because bananas were bred at the time of their original domestication to remove the seeds from their fruit, they can only reproduce parthogenically, meaning that they are extremely slow to develop a resistance via natural mutation. This meant that the entire Gros Michel cultivar was vulnerable to, and ultimately nearly wiped out by, a single disease. The modern banana cultivar of choice is the Cavendish, which has precisely the same level of market penetration, and precisely the same potential for global collapse if the same disease mutates (as it already has) and goes global, or if a new pathogen emerges.
Agricultural experts (at a couple of Australian universities, at least, haven't heard about the matter in an international context) have gone on record stating that almost all staple food crops — corn, wheat, sugar, etc. — are in roughly the same position. Since most large scale growers buy the cheapest seeds they can, the vast majority of growers end up using the same crops, leaving a serious risk of not only a virulent strain coming along and devastating crops, but also, should the Global Warming situation go as badly as people fear, the environmental conditions for growing these common strains becoming too precarious to support wide-scale growing. We could face a global-scale famine before a more resilient strain of seed is found, grown en-masse (after all, seeds don't just come out of thin air!note Unless an enterprising company were to genetically engineer new varieties of GMO crops that can grow in harsher environments. Unfortunately, that course of action is expensive and limited to the developed world, so...) and distributed.
Similarly, this trope is part of two different hypotheses explaining colony collapse disorder, i.e. the sudden die-off of honeybee colonies. According to the first hypothesis, centuries of selecting bees for useful traits (producing more honey, pollinating certain plants more efficiently) has reduced genetic diversity within commercial bee populations, leaving them vulnerable to pathogens. In the second one, feeding bees a diet of pollen from just one species of plant (i.e. one of the commercial food crops) leaves them with a less healthy immune system than feeding them pollen from several different plant species.
The same thing occurs with any domesticated animal. In the wild, an animal may develop a specialized trait, like say, running to avoid predators, but there are a number of other factors that will determine its survival, like diseases. Under human care, it lives in a controlled environment and are usually bred for a single specific purpose, say, racing. They may develop genetic disorders or be susceptible to diseases and such.
Mostly averted in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, where it's pretty much universal that you have to have some proficiency at wherever the fight goes, even if it's purely defensive. It's arguably Min-Maxing if the fighter is really, really good at their one specialty, but if the fighter isn't that good at it or at keeping the fight there, then this trope applies.
For example, Shinya Aoki and Demian Maia are considered extremely high-level grapplers, and Melvin Manhoef is a high-grade (offensive, anyway) kickboxer who's considered devastatingly potent in stand-up... unfortunately, this isn't pure grappling or kickboxing.
The thing is, the "keep the fight where you want it" bit pretty much requires learning the opposite of the techniques useful in the situation you're trying to keep in. You're going to end up on the ground very quickly if you don't know much grappling (as most techniques to get a man to the ground where grappling is more useful are in themselves grappling based), and if you're no good at striking, chances are you'll be beaten to a bloody pulp before you can get anywhere near the ground where striking is less useful.
UFC fighter Cody Mc Kenzie has an absolutely lethal guillotine choke, one which has felled the vast majority of his opponents. When that fails, however, he's highly vulnerable on the ground, succumbing to rear-naked chokes against Yves Edwards and Vagner Rocha. Conversely, Bellator's Giva Santana, "The Arm Collector," specializes in armbars but has an impressive grappling game in addition.
Rousimar Palhares fell victim to this trope when his trademark leglocks didn't work on Alan Belcher, as he had no way to stop his opponent's ground and pound, and lost by TKO.note Ironically, leglocks would also prove Palhares' downfall in a fight that he won... when he not only didn't let go of a fighter's leg when the fighter tapped but even seemed to resist the referee's own attempt to separate them, he was not only denied a Submission of the Night monetary bonus but dismissed.
While it's usually averted in the sport of roller derby (most blockers can also jam in a pinch, and most jammers can throw a good hit,) happens from time to time. Some jammers are fast and agile enough to get through the pack without any help at all, but if they get so much as a love tap,they go down hard.
Many sole proprietorships and independent businesses - particularly those in retail.
The South during The American Civil War. Not only were they so focused on cotton that they had exactly one factory that could produce cannon, they didn't have enough land left over to grow enough food. Even with the Confederate government taking food from private farms for the war effort, the Confederate army was often severely underfed and it wasn't uncommon for soldiers to be malnourished.
Older Than Feudalism: Roman Legionnaires were trained to fight as a cohesive unit, not as individuals. While this strategy worked for them quite well most of the time, it hit a massive snag during the Battle of Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD. The thick woods and rough terrain of the region forced the Romans to split into smaller groups, which enabled the Germanic tribesmen, who were better fighters individually, to overwhelm and defeat them. The defeat proved to be psychologically devastating for Rome, bringing an abrupt halt to its then-relentless expansion.
Ancient Sparta had this problem on two fronts:
Spartan soldiers had a reputation for being the most well-trained in Ancient Greece. However, they only trained one kind of troop - the heavy-infantry hoplite - and in fact trained their troops so hard that their army was relatively small. They had no cavalry, navy, or light infantry. The tactics they were able to execute were severely limited, and their army was too small to maintain extended conflicts.
With every adult Spartan male devoted to military training and every adult Spartan female devoted to child-rearing, every other job was done by slaves. Sparta's economy and infrastructure was almost exclusively maintained by an enormous slave population. Whenever there was a revolt (which was often), the entire city-state ground to a halt and had to perform a brutal purge, and then go off and enslave some hapless nearby village as replacements.
Some 1960s show rods went this way. The Surfite was designed to carry the driver and a surfboard. No room for a passenger or groceries (or a wetsuit, for that matter); Mini-powered, no explanation as to why a theoretical owner wouldn't just buy a Mini wagon was ever offered.
Animals that are very well adapted to their natural environment are much more sensitive to environmental changes. This is most noticeable in apex predators, the ones that have few natural predators and are at the top of the food chain. Adaptable, preferably omnivorous animals are much more likely to survive any kind of extinction event or environmental change.
It's speculated that crippling overspecialization is what killed off the Neanderthals. They were strong and could use tools, and their bulky bodies ensured that they could easily withstand the cold European climates they had to face. However, they required a lot of daily calories, and were primarily meat-eaters (their diets probably consisted of about 80% meat. Scientific evidence shows that Neanderthals had digestive tracts specifically evolved to digest meat). When the larger animals they relied on died off, Neanderthals couldn't adapt quickly enough and thus died off themselves.
The human body, and that of many other living creatures are cripplingly over-specialized to their environment. While some may say humans are not crippled by these limitations, contemplate how many wars we've fought against each other over the limited resources our specialization requires.
In 1906 the Royal Navy started building battlecruisers, very big ships whose special task it would be to destroy enemy armoured cruisers, whom they should be able to outrun and outgun. Essentially they carried a dreadnought's artillery and were able to reach speeds normally associated with destroyers, but they were much more lightly armoured than a battleship. This worked well enough in the battle of the Falklands in 1914 (although in that battle the German forces were so outnumbered that even if the Royal Navy had used armoured cruisers instead of battlecruisers the result would have been the same). However, seeing the new battlecruisers essentially made armoured cruisers obsolete, the German Navy started building battlecruisers of its own in 1907. These were more heavily armoured but carried slightly lighter guns and proved to be able to more than hold their own against the British ones during World War I. In the battle of Jutland it emerged that the British battlecruisers were especially vulnerable to plunging fire, so that two of them simply blew up after a couple of hits. The Royal Navy's problem was that their battlecruisers simply were too big and carried too big guns for them to be used just against smaller fry but were essentially too vulnerable to be used against German battleships and battlecruisers.
A few years after the introduction of battlecruisers Admiral Fisher introduced anothter new type called light battlecruisers. These were even more lightly armoured and carried fewer but even bigger guns. Lord Fisher intended to use them for operations against the Baltic coast of Germany, but during World War I it soon became clear that mines and submarines made the Baltic a no-go area for British capital ships. It also emerged that some of "Fisher's Follies" were so lightly built that they suffered structural damage from firing their own guns. In the end all three ships (HMS Glorious, Courageous and Furious) were converted to aircraft carriers.
For many years TASVideos.org would reject any video that lacked "entertainment value". What constituted "entertainment value" (never explained anywhere on the site) was up to...well, one person, occasionally two. This despite the fact that the purpose of the site was to showcase the fastest possible time to complete a game, and that certain genres were inherently "unentertaining" to speedrun. HUNDREDS of videos were rejected because of this nebulous standard. Eventually the site relented and created three tiers, of which the Vault now contains those previously scorned games. The most "entertaining" runs are in the Stars tier, while Moons is in the middle.