As Thomas you can shoot more accurately, throw lassos, and climb ledges; and as Ray you can open the pause menu, restart the mission, and choose Thomas instead, you fucking idiot! Ray takes less damage, but health regenerates so it hardly matters anyway, and he can dual wield pistols, which means twice as many weapons you have to stop and reload every fifteen nanoseconds.
Fake Balance is what happens when a game or an aspect of a game seems balanced on paper, but actual playing reveals major problems that were not anticipated by the designers. This is a reason why a game can have Character Tiers despite being balanced in theory.
For clarification, Fake Balance is caused when the game designer intends to balance the game, but fails to do so. Intentionally putting in Game Breaker or joke characters does not count, since the designer has no intention of balancing the game anyway.
There are several different cases of Fake Balance:
Skill Underestimated/Overestimated: Probably the main cause of Fake Balance in fighting games is when the game designers underestimate or overestimate a skill's usefulness in the hands of a capable player. Underestimating a skill may cause the character's weakness to be ignored; for example, allowing a Fragile Speedster to hit like a Mighty Glacier, or at least get in more damage more reliably in the same space of time. Overestimating a skill may cause the character to become an unintentional Joke Character.
Unbalanced skillset: If a character has a move set with a few overly powerful moves, the counterbalance to this may be to have several moves be near-useless. But the existence of bad moves does nothing to reduce the effectiveness of the good ones. A skilled player is likely to exploit the good moves while ignoring the useless ones, often taking away from the variety of the game.
Luck-based balance: Luck-based gameplay easily falls into Fake Balance because of issues with the Random Number God, such that a match between two skilled players is decided by luck, rather than skill, so an unskilled player can beat a skilled one (except in movies where The Magic Poker Equation applies). This can often apply to Trading Card Games, where the randomness of draws theoretically balances the match, but skilled players can stack their decks to limit this factor.
Rarity based balance: Found in certain Trading Card Games formats, where rare cards are often much more powerful than common cards. This form of balance is based on the notion that everyone has an equal chance of getting the game-winning cards, and thus an equal chance of winning. However, this can result in having matches decided by who was luckier rather than who was more skilled, so it can be considered a form of luck-based balance in certain game formats.
Unfair/situational advantage: When a character/deck (A) has an almost unwinnable advantage over certain type of character/deck (B), but is too weak against other characters/decks (C). On the statistic sheet, A might have a balanced winrate, B might have a below average winrate and C might have an above average winrate. But Deck A isn't balanced and C might not be better than B. This results in a practice known as "counter-picking", where a player makes their choice based on the other player's choice. This naturally leads to all players hiding their choices and making the game feel like an elaborate version of Rock-Paper-Scissors played before instead of whatever actual gameplay was intended, determining the outcome of the game before it starts.
Relies on stalemating/winning: These characters have over-the-top strengths when they're on balance or winning, but if they're knocked off balance or simply not allowed to get the advantage, their weaknesses actually come into play big time. However, getting the former off balance is tricky business to begin with, and the latter only has to be stalemated. The only conceivable reason why these characters could be considered "balanced" is because humans can make mistakes too.
Balance Wrecking Items: Here a good job is done of balancing characters but this work is then undone by having items that negate some weaknesses but not others. For example a character might be physically weak but have a special talent; if every shop on the planet sells strength boosting trinkets that weakness isn't going to be much of a handicap for long.
STOP! Before proceeding, please remember that Tropes Are Not Bad. Games are designed to reward those who take the time and effort to study them. A player who has more expertise at a game should win more, because he or she knows the game's loopholes and how to exploit them. (Games that lack this feature are considered to have Fake Balance in the other direction.) This trope only comes into play when a particular strategy, skillset, or loophole becomes dominant over a game which, purportedly, contains nothing so ultra-powerful. One surefire sign of an extreme Fake Balance failure is therefore when only a tiny fraction of a game's strategies or options are considered viable in competitive play.
Consider also that skill levels of players vary, and simply adding an example because you feel it is “cheap is missing the point, not to mention a great way to start an Edit War. For the types of players likely to do this, see Scrub, Munchkin, Complacent Gaming Syndrome, and "Stop Having Fun" Guys. May be caused by a Power Creep. Not to be confused withfake balance in news coverage.
open/close all folders
An example of a failed attempt of balance by rarity can be found in Magic: The Gathering. When the game was first released, it was known that cards such as Black Lotus, Ancestral Recall, Timetwister and the Moxes were game-breakingly powerful if present in sufficient quantities. However, they believed that since most players would only buy a starter deck and a couple of boosters, their power would never become an issue. This is especially evident when you look at the initial deck construction rules: 40-card minimum for decks, and no maximum for any individual cards. The deck of nothing but Black Lotus/Channel/Fireball was 100% legal, and that's not even the most broken deck you could build. Constructed tournament later evolved to have a 60 card minimum limit and a maximum of 4 individual non-land cards, thus effectively removing the fake balance.
Modern Magic The Gathering still has balance by rarity as a rarity level above rare, called mythic rare, was added in the Shards of Alara expansion. It should be noted that rarity balance exists in limited formats, such as booster draft and sealed deck, where certain powerful cards could easily help the player to win but they may well not get one of these cards, let alone multiple copies, but does not exist in constructed play where people will spend whatever it takes to win.
In Magic limited formats, there is the BREAD principle, which describe what card to draft - Bombs, Removal, Evasion, Advantage and Dregs. While Removal, Evasion, Advantage and Dregs cards are available in every rarity, Bombs are usually in the rare slot. A deck with a good amount of bomb and removal cards usually has a considerable upper hand. Whether a player obtained those cards by luck or by skills is something that is often discussed in MTG boards. Large amounts of removal can make up for a lack of bombs by ensuring you can always get rid of whatever overpowered creature is thrown out by your opponent. The bombiest of bombs tend to be cards which are immune to removal, either non-creatures which thus naturally evade anti-creature removal spells, creatures which are somehow immune to removal due to protection, shroud, regeneration, or similar effects, or bombs which act as removal themselves.
On occasion, some uncommons can be bombs as well, the most common example being spells which deal X damage to target creature or player, making them both removal and potentially capable of finishing off an opponent in the late game out of nowhere; Fireball is perhaps the most infamous such example, due to its ability to split up its damage, allowing it to act as mass removal as well.
A cause of Situational Advantage also frequently arises. As cards "rotate" (new ones are printed, older made illegal in most common formats) for a good portion of environments, there will arise one or two "tier 1" decks that prompt development of counter-decks aimed to specifically hurt those dominants. Said rogue decks are less powerful overall, so any (semicompetent) deck but the dominant actually has a good chance against it - but will likely fall to the tier 1. The resulting rock-paper-scissors deck choice process is known as metagaming.
The luck-based balance gets a bit worse when one considers cards like Enlightened Tutor, which lets you reshuffle your deck, with the artifact or enchantment of your choice on top. When you consider that many of the big game breakers are artifacts or enchantments, and Enlightened Tutor costs one white mana and can be played just before you draw, yeah. Enlightened Tutor, by the way, is legal in Legacy.
While there are some pretty powerful enchantments/artifacts, they are usually relatively weak when compared to mana cost, or aren't powerful enough that being able to tutor them breaks the game, hence Enlightened Tutor's legality.
Early MtG was characterized by overestimating the power of creatures. Because, naturally, you had to kill people with creatures, it was assumed they would be the dominant force in the card game. Because of this, creatures were relatively overcosted, meaning that in the earliest "fair" tournaments (that is, cards printed with "organized card game" as a pose to "limited product experiment" in mind), "control" decks, which featured heavy counter-spells and removal, all of which cost much less mana than the creatures they destroyed, dominated the game.
The Yu-Gi-Oh! card game is also famous for the same reason as Magic: The Gathering at game balance. Many of the most powerful cards were not only Game Breaker cards, they were considered "rare", with some others being “Secret rares” that would never ever be encountered by the average player. Now here's what creates the fake balance… after awhile, you could buy tins with most of those secret rare cards in there.
Even later still, many of those cards will probably be found as Commons in preconstructed decks or compilation sets, thus devaluing the originals by several degrees. Yu-Gi-Oh! is not kind to the secondary market...
Some of the original cards have been banned from tournaments such as Monster Reborn (which alternates being banned with Call of the Haunted for some bizarre reason), Witch of the Black Forest, Pot of Greed and Change of Heart because they lack a 'cost' for using them and can potentially help you get powerful monsters early on, making it seem like they are just creating a balance. However, most of the new powerful monsters have effects that either: prevent destruction; allow them to be brought back; or simply prevent them being targeted by spells, traps or effects while also having 2000 or higher ATTACK, making most stronger than the original strong monsters. Plus they are also easy to summon usually and very few of these monsters have damaging effects for the owner of the card. Also, if you do not have the specific type of deck with just the right countermeasures against the one you are facing, then you can be screwed from the very beginning of the duel.
In the Star Wars Customizable Card Game, (almost) all cards have a "Destiny" value in the top right corner. During just about any type of confrontation (aiming a weapon, resolving a battle, holding a lightsaber duel, attacking the Death Star's exhaust port), one or both players were allowed to draw the top card of their deck and add its Destiny value to whatever total they had previously. The rationale was to allow The Force (read: luck) to affect the outcome, and since the Force is always with the underdog, common / weak cards always came with high Destiny values. Unfortunately, the strong cards were often so powerful that they were essentially immune to the effects of Destiny, so, in the end, it didn't work.
Dungeons & Dragons had Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards from the get go, resulting in exactly what would be expected - wizards being really tough to get up to a decent level, but if they survived (and in a party, they would survive, especially in later iterations like 3rd edition) they were just broken. This was not specific to wizards; all full casters tended to be broken because they had abilities which simply didn't care about how many hit points enemies had, and which enemies had no defenses against - indeed, some even worked against enemies immune to magic because they did not directly affect them, and such difficulties could often be circumvented anyway by simply focusing on buffing yourself to godlike capabilities. This was fixed in 4th edition by greatly restricting what magic users were capable of as well as expanding what other characters could do, resulting in complaints by players who completely missed the point - that if a character can do everything there's no need for an adventuring party, or other classes.
3.5 had this problem when they introduced a Magic Knight class, the hexblade, and overestimated the usefulness of being able to cast spells in armor (there were already low-level spells which acted as superior substitutes to armor). As a result, the hexblade couldn't cast or fight very well. The designers basically admitted that they'd messed up, and their next attempt at the archetype (the duskblade) was much more balanced (A low tier 3 with tier 1 and 2 belonging to classes considered to have Game Breaker stats). The opposite problem was the full caster classes, all of which completely shattered the game - most could turn themselves into better melee combatants than the actual melee combatant classes, and even worse, oftentimes that was pointless anyway because they could do even STRONGER things. High level full casters make the game utterly unplayable because they simply cannot be threatened effectively by anything which does not use similar tactics. This criticism of the game was termed as "rocket tag", as in, whoever hit with their rocket first won.
D&D is absolutely FULL of these. Physical defense, Base Attack Bonus, Hit Point damage from any source being aimed at an enemy, feats, mundane skills and many others were also grossly overvalued by the developers, leading to the characters that rely on these things being unable to contribute.One essay satirized the concept, postulating that, since classes with great but irrelevant chassis and lots of useless class features were generally pathetic, the Commoner, which has the worst chassis imaginable and no class features whatsoever, was the most powerful class in the game.
This is not helped by D&D's spell list being filled with options that an experienced player will have notice work well, as opposed to things which sound awesome but really aren't that great in practice. At level 1, there's things like Color Spray and Entangle, spells which will remove groups of enemies from being able to contribute unless the enemy can succeed a difficult (for the level they're at) die roll. At level 5, you get such staples as Fireball and Lightning bolt. The problem is, Fireball is a much more effective spell than Lightning Bolt, because Fireball affects a 40-foot sphere and Lightning Bolt happens to go on a four-hundred foot straight line—cool, but enemies are more likely to take some sort of spread formation than single-file themselves. And this is just at the low levels. At high levels, you have Polar Ray (You get Fireball at level 5, it does damage to multiple targets. You get Polar Ray at level 15, it does slightly more damage to one target in less range and you have to hit the enemy to succeed) vs stuff like Plane Shift (normally used to move the party to one plane or another, including the various afterlives. A sub-use is to send an enemy to a plane of your choice. So you can literally send someone to Hell to remove them from combat). Ironically, the game works ''better' using the stronger effects, because monsters/other encounters tend to have them and if you tone down the casting classes, you'd better remember to tone down all many hundred of pages of monsters, too.
It's 3.0 trend to simplify everything, even when this is missing the point. To go with the same example, AD&D2 has Lightning Bolt slightly shaped and ricocheting from the walls while chipping them — more useful than a Fireball unless in the open field, but tricky. In simplifying it to a straight line, it loses most of its utility, and is no longer as useful as Fireball.
Fake Balance exists in many cases because game designers could not predict the reliance on House Rules, since so few people play D&D strictly by the rules-as-written. Things that are balanced for level 1-5 characters using the elite array of stats suddenly stop being balanced when you jump right to level 10 with much higher stats. Player characters are much more powerful when they can spend vast starting wealth on any magic item in the books than if they have to get by with whatever random junk they find.
Wu Jens basically get free metamagic feats if their narrator plays them a certain way. (eg, unable to touch a dead body, cannot cut hair, cannot bathe...) However, some players often pick the taboos and set them to stuff the player or Wu Jen wouldn't even do in the first place!
This is basically a role-playing problem. The GM should step in and make it so that their taboos are more than free metamagic feats.
One of the early flubs was rarity based balance as a counter to the Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards phenomenon. Certainly a high level wizard is much more powerful than a similarly-leveled fighter, but wizards are easily killed at low levels. Consequently, many more fighters survive to reach high levels than wizards. This makes a certain amount of sense in terms of world balance, but for an adventuring party likely to contain one wizard and one fighter, it doesn't help very much.
Another, related, form of Fake Balance was race based class level limits. Only humans could advance any class to any level; all demihuman races were not only limited in what classes they could choose, but every class had a level cap. In many cases, a very low one, lower than level 10. In theory, this was meant to balance the racial abilities of the demihumans, who received extra powers like nightvision and bonuses to saving throws; in turn, humans received unlimited growth potential. The problem was that level caps are only a limit if anybody reaches the cap. If the campaign never gets high enough level for caps to matter, then the caps don't balance anything. If a campaign does get that high of level, however, than the cap is crippling. Either way, nothing is balanced. And many D Ms houseruled out level caps anyway, rendering the point moot.
And even within that, the designers vastly overvalued demihuman special abilities. Are they useful? Yes, every now and then, though in many cases (Detect Sloping Passages?) the DM has to deliberately construct the campaign to make them so. Are they worth being unable to advance past 9th level in a campaign that is going to reach that cap? Uh, NO!
Another odd form of overestimating the skill of players is overestimating the skills of the GM. A good GM will vary his combat encounters enough that some "gamebreaking" builds will realize they're really just suffering Crippling Overspecialization and haven't been forced outside of the player's comfort zone. He'll also test the player characters out of combat, forcing them to rely on skills and knowledge. Varying encounters greatly is one of the best ways to fight spammed attacks and minmaxed builds by exploiting their lack of versatility. As long as the Game Master is not a Killer Game Master who makes their players suffer, it's a good cure for Complacent Gaming Syndrome. However, some GMs just aren't that good at it, resulting in greatly unbalanced games because the players have no incentive to find new tricks and just reuse the same builds and powers.
The other problem lies in the fact that someone who is cripplingly overspecialized may be completely worthless outside of said specialization, meaning that the player gets bored as they are unable to contribute when the one thing they can do stupidly well becomes useless. Indeed, monsters like this are a great example of fake balance, with the idea that making some characters useless periodically somehow makes things balanced being an obviously flawed one.
There are many creatures which are designed to mess up non-casters, and there are some creatures (such as golems) which are designed to mess up casters. Unfortunately, casters are inherently better than non-casters, and flying creatures (which are quite common, and most casters can make themselves fly anyway) are very powerful against anyone without ranged attacks, which includes most non-casters (bows don't cut it, generally, unless you are a specialized bow user - in which case you have the weakness of "flying creatures can bypass my comrades and sit on top of me, rendering my bow useless"). The idea of many creatures with high spell resistance or outright immunity is to force casters to rely on their non-spell using compatriots. In reality, there are dozens of spells which allow them to bypass their foe's spell resistance and high saving throws entirely, such as spells that create barriers around them without actually affecting them directly (wall of stone gets bonus points for creating a permanent, nonmagical wall of stone, but wall of force and forcecage can create similar effects), a caster can polymorph themselves into some sort of dangerous monster to go eat their face or buff themselves to fight better than a fighter (and many such effects work better or exclusively on the caster themselves), they can collapse the ceiling or knock the floor out from under them, or fly into the air and shoot them from long range or simply bypass them entirely (many golems lack ranged attacks, can't fly, and have slow movement speeds), and do similar things. This is ignoring the fact that most of them take feats to better bypass spell resistance and to make it harder to save against their spells.
Empty Levels are a problem in basically every edition (except 4th, which gives everyone the same advancement for everything). Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards was in effect even in 1st Edition, where Fighters gained nothing from leveling besides incremental bonuses. One common common designer fix in the 3.5 era was to give the character utility class features whenever it seemed like they wouldn't get anything from their core abilities. In theory, this meant that the character would always have something to look forward to. In practice, this left some classes laden with disparate and near-useless class features that were so minor and situational that they frequently forgot them. The Monk was the worst offender by far; sure, you get something every level, but when that something is a once-per-day fourth-level spell or a once-per-weekOne-Hit Kill attack that usually misses, why bother? (Exemplified by one Narm-tasticarticle on the Wizards of the Coast website, which claimed that "players always have something to look forward to with the Monk." On the other end of the power scale, the Sorcerer and Cleric get nothing for leveling up but advancement of their spells and familiar (for Sorcerer) and domains and Turn Undead (for Cleric). Since Turn Undead was needlessly complex, familiars were liabilities, and many domains didn't advance by levels, players would simply jump into a Prestige Class that advanced casting and lose basically jack in the process. Some even used alternate class features that swapped out their familiar or Turn Undead, giving them literally no reason to not take a Prestige Class. Pathfinder did its level best to rectify this by nerfing spellcasting some, cutting down on full-casting prestige classes, buffing many formerly-useless abilities, and redesigning many classes so their abilities always advanced by level. Sadly, as the problem is built into the game, it didn't work, though it did boost the power of the weaker classes... though they were still useless compared to casters.
Some Prestige Classes were Purposefully Overpowered, to accommodate for extremely difficult requirements. The intent would be to make these classes Difficult but Awesome, or limit them to NPC use. For the former, if your player has jumped through all the hoops to qualify for Fochlucan Lyrist, they need the absurdly good bonuses just to catch up to everyone else; for the latter, it's not like any player would want to use a pus-spewing disease-ridden degenerate, right? Of course, a wily player could easily end up qualifying for these classes by simply thinking outside the box. For instance, the Hulking Hurler may be reserved for Large-sized characters, and Large races are typically too strong for players to use (the example build is a Stone Giant), but Half-Ogres are Large and have a Level Adjustment equal to Drow. By a similar token, the Ur-Priest requires an Evilalignment, but there's nothing stopping players from simply being a Token Evil Teammate, a Noble Demon, the caster of an all-Evil adventuring party, or even, arguably, taking just a few levels, going through Character Development and changing alignment, and advancing their Ur-Priest casting through another class. Consequently, both the Hulking Hurler and the Ur-Priest are considered to be among the game's biggest Game Breakers.
Despite being designed with an eye for better balance, 4th Edition D&D hasn't entirely avoided this. Initially, many players did not understand how to play controller characters properly, and there were a large number of what amounted to fake choices in the original power set for the wizard, the first controller class. Controllers do exactly that, control the battlefield and debuff enemies, but many players picked area damage spells instead, which were terrible because the Wizard is not a damage-dealing class (and never really was, though many players played them as such - and the fact that they seemed powerful even then says something about how broken the casters really were). Bad Players used to the previous editions, where wizards were often played as damage-dealers rather than controllers, constantly whined complained about wizards being underpowered not being able to do what they used to be able to do in previous editions, while, ironically, they were actually one of the strongest classes, and acquired some game breaking abilities at higher levels which required errata. They later released the Sorcerer, who was a more conventional blaster-wizard designed to deal damage similar to the "throwing fireballs and lightning bolts" evoker that many players played previously.
And that is why you should not play a wizard as a Nuker, but as a Debuffer or Mezzer. Even from the first book, the wizard has huge area effects that cause a group of enemies to lose half their actions, or fling them halfway across the battlefield. In the hands of a beginner, the wizard is a sub-par damage dealer. In the hands of a skilled player, it will give your DM nightmares. Unfortunately, this is bad design; later controllers ditched most of the bad damage dealing spells to simply make sure you cannot accidentally make a useless character, instead replacing them with more control options.
Other balance items that look good on paper but really don't work: Weapons with a higher accuracy are much, much better than weapons that lose accuracy for special properties, due to the way the game math works at higher levels. Because most powers only have an effect if they connect, hitting is much important than some incidental rider ability on the strike, and yet weapons got balanced between those that had extra accuracy and those that didn't but had other effects. This is less of an issue for fighters, who have powers which make some of the less accurate weapons much stronger (hammers are amongst the best fighter weapons, despite their slightly lower accuracy, for this very reason), but for every other class...
On the DM's side come Solo monsters. Solo Monsters are supposed to represent the same challenge to a group of adventurers that 5 normal monsters do, usually by having higher defenses and four times the normal monster hit points. This didn't work. Solo monsters were derided as boring grindfests. The problems boiled down to the fact that Solo monsters had too many hit points and too few actions - a solo monster could easily be locked down by status effects and didn't have the number of actions a full crew of monsters did, but they were too tough to be taken down in a reasonable amount of time. New versions of solo monsters have more actions (up to and including extra whole turns), more resistances to status effects, slower defenses and hit points (still high, but lower than before) and more "state-changing" abilities. Still, the best use of a "Solo" monster is paired with a few other normal monsters.
For those non-players: Orbizards (or Orb Wizards) are Wizards that get a special ability as long as they wield an orb as an implement - as opposed to those who wield a staff, a wand and so on. These also get special abilities, but they weren't nearly as powerful. Orbizards could once per encounter debuff a monster's saving throw against an effect the wizard cast. To succeed on a saving throw, you have to get a 10 or higher on a d20 roll. Solo monsters get a +5 to saving throws, which means they can succeed on a 5 or higher. But the orbizard could - if he took the right items, skills and feats - debuff a monster's save by -17! So you cast "Sleep" or any spell that makes the monster unconscious and needs a save to be ended onto the enemy, couple that with your -17 to saves, and even the highest level monster in the game would need to roll a 22 to succeed. On a d20. This could trivialize entire encounters, and was WAY overpowered. They errataed it out, along with most other saving throw penalties which lasted longer than a round.
Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 both suffer from this disease due to all of the reasons above, but also because some codices or army books aren't updated in years. In theory, powerful units are balanced by costing more points than weaker Cannon Fodder, but due to a gradual Power Creep, Power Seep, armies that don't have recent updates tend to find themselves simply out-classed by competitors which have new rules written. It can be downright maddening, such as when an army finds itself losing a special advantage because it is incompatible with the current rules. Armies also have had "legacy" rules which interact with the game's current rules to create an Unwinnable situation. The solution seems to be to give everyone occasional moments in the sun. It just may take twelve to thirteen years for some armies.
Sometimes provoked intentionally in order to boost the sales of a flagging army. "HA! Imperial Guardsmen have flashbulb guns and die when breathed on!". Cue new codex. "Guardsmen are cheaper, can shoot rapidfire in ranks if they're under half range and don't move and they have better AP? Which way to the Cadia box?"
This is the current problem with the Daemonhunters, specifically the Grey Knights. Even the book itself acknowledges that the Knights are not meant to be used as a stand-alone army, however with the GW policy of "no allies" (reversed as of 2012), that was the only way to field the Knights. In addition, since the change in rules of how to play Daemons (they no longer suffered instability, reversed as of 2013) the Grey Knights are effectively paying extra points for abilities that can never be used (to balance out this advantage in previous editions, Daemons gain Sustained Attack, meaning that any destroyed daemons automatically return back onto the table free of charge. However that rule is still in use).
In addition to the above, Warhammer 40k has done pretty much every example on this list.
Skill Underestimated: 5th edition Outflanking. Essentially, this allows you to deploy a unit by walking on from a board edge, usually allowing a brutal assault onto anything near that edge. Since you have a 2/3 shot of deploying along the side you want (1/3 of getting the flank you want, 1/3 of getting the flank you don't want, 1/3 of being able to choose which flank you want to deploy on), it's not exactly unreliable. What's more: any unit with the incredibly-common Scouts or Infiltrate special rules can use Outflank deployment. Cue the demise of any army with a Crippling Overspecialization in shooting. (So long as said army doesn't deploy vehicles en masse, which are far less vulnerable to close combat so long as they move at least 6" every turn.) Lash of Submission also deserves honorable mention, as Games Workshop themselves reportedly remarked how they didn't think anybody would use it in broken ways when they wrote and tested it.
Skill Overestimated: Tyranid Pyrovores. Aside from their perversion of the Tyranid fluffnote Tyranids, being Extreme Omnivores, literally strip entire worlds of their biomatter. It's why they are a threat. The problem is they can't eat something that gets incinerated. So, of course, Pyrofores have flamethrowers, something that suggests poor evolution, but also a design that could not be called "intelligent" by any means either., the Pyrovore has so many caveats on its not-that-good ability that the unit itself becomes veritably worthless. Essentially, a Pyrovore must suffer Instant Death, roll a 4+ on a six-sided die, and then it will radiate a strength 3 hit to all models, friend or foe, within about 2.5".
Unbalanced Army List: Chaos Space Marines. Though they possess a number of average units (Havocs, Raptors, Chaos Lords), nothing compels a player to use these mediocre units any more than absolutely necessary, instead enabling players to just take the best stuff possible (Berserkers, Plague Marines, Daemon Princes).
Luck-Based Balance: Chaos Daemons, whose racial hat is Confusion Fu. Every model has a fairly bad invulnerable save that is generally inferior to most other armor types, but they tend to not have many good saves at all. Roll well and you will shrug off tons of firepower. Roll poorly (and more often than not, you will roll poorly), and you'll take a ton of casualties every time an enemy unit shoots at one of yours, and you have next to no shooting of your own, meaning you're pretty much helpless in the shooting phase. And believe it or not, this is just the tip of the iceberg. You literally cannot guarantee that any particular unit will start the game on the table, and that even assumes nobody dies to a Deep Strike mishap. Chaos Daemons were designed to be super-powerful, yet balanced by their ability to fail at unpredictable intervals. In practice, they're basically a catastrophic failure waiting to happen.
Luck-Based Balance used to be the Shtick of the Orcs in earlier editions, where many of their most powerful weapons hat random range, strength or effect radius.
Rarity based balance: More representative as a price-based balance. If you can't afford Forge World's "Ann'grath the Unbound", you're not going to field one. Simple as that. Also represented by 0-1 units, which can only be used a maximum of once, no matter the size of your force. These limits are usually relegated to special characters, who have various abilities that occasionally toe the lines of game balance.
Unfair / Situational Advantage: Jaws of the World Wolf is possibly the most Useless Useful Spell in the game. It requires purchasing a very expensive yet easily-killable model. It can't target vehicles. It can be blocked or made more difficult to cast. It's incredibly unlikely to kill any individual model. A clever opponent can minimize its effect by spacing out. And it can instantly kill any model that fails an Initiative test. It also lets you effectively pick which model(s) you want to target, something usually not permitted barring exceptionally rare special abilities. And to make it worse, no saving throws are allowed to any model that is consumed, trumping armor saves, invulnerable saves, cover saves, and even special rules that prevent the model from being instantly killed, which makes Jaws (potentially) into 40k's Infinity+1 Sword. Because Jaws is less useful against higher-initiative models, there's almost a sense in which every unit in the game is judged by whether or not it can easily be killed by Jaws. Woe betide any unit / army if it's a Mighty Glacier with no anti-psyker support (like Ork HQ units).
Relies on Stalemating / Winning: It is incredibly easy to play for a draw. One of the most blatant offenders is the DAVU setup for the Eldar. DAVU essentially takes the least expensive Troops unit purchasable (5 Dire Avengers) and puts them inside a fast transport vehicle (like a Vehicle Upgrade) to allow the vehicle to capture objectives quickly at the end of the game. The way to beat that is to basically outclass these expensive and not terribly numerous vehicles.
Additionally, in Modern Warfare, the imbalance grows as a player's multiplayer level increases, since levels grant better attachments and perks to already powerful weapons.
The Modern Warfare games largely have this problem with automatic weapons, which are ostensibly balanced due to increased recoil. However, since most maps are rather small, such guns are mostly capable of killing any player before the recoil becomes severe, and a few don't even have enough recoil to screw with the player's aim, skilled players can dominate most maps with their automatic weapons alone. If they run out of ammo, they can simply pick up another one or use the Bandolier/Scavenger perk to start with/grab more.
Not to mention the grenade launchers, which are supposed to be balanced due to limited ammunition (the player spawns with two grenades, which cannot be replenished normally). However, each grenade is essentially worth at least one free kill, and when you run out of grenade ammunition, you can simply switch back to your assault rifle. To make matters worse, in Modern Warfare 2 there were methods to get more than two rifle grenades.
This was fixed for the Black Ops series by adding the flak jacket perk making grenades next to useless.
The perks have this problem too. The ones that specifically enhanced your ability for direct shootouts were much more usable than the others since… that's what the multiplayer consists of in general. While specific combinations of them could be more useful than the direct ones alone, it didn't stop those ones being the perks most chosen.
The Double Tap perk. The Stopping Power perk increased the damage of bullet by 40%, generally making bullets take one bullet less to kill. Double Tap made weapons fire faster. On slow-firing weapons, Double Tap allows you to fire again much quicker. On semi-automatic weapons, Double Tap pretty much does nothing. For automatic weapons that do 30 damage on average, they are equal in killing speed. On automatic weapons that do more, Stopping Power kills a bit faster. However, increasing the fire rate allows increases recoil and the chance on wasting shots on automatic weapons. Needless to say, with the popularity of automatics, Double Tap was used rarely.
Also, the killstreak/scorestreak system often times gives the winning team a much bigger advantage. Once one team starts getting more kills, they get more killstreaks, which help them get more kills, which help them get more killstreaks, and it just snowballs from there. There are games were entire teams are simply shut down because they're overwhelmed by the opposing team's killstreak support. And let's not get started with the Nuclear Strike killstreak in Modern Warfare 2...
Call of Duty 2 and World at War. both suffer from brutal gaps in weapon effectiveness, since they're set during the second world war. Each country's weapon set includes bolt-action rifles, semiautomatic carbines, and fully automatic submachine guns. The submachine guns are by far the most used and useful, as the rifles are nearly impossible to use and the semiautomatics just don't have enough firepower to compete.
This is intentionally used in many servers that implement anti-spamming measures. The end result is that a maximum quota for how many players can spawn with each weapon is in place, meaning that there's mostly bolt-action, some semi-auto and automatic, and just a few rockets and flamethrowers.
The MP-40 of World at War was widely considered an overpowered weapon, which a developer from Treyarch admitted and apologized for here. The imbalance was on account of the weapon being balanced mathematically so that its direct time to kill a player, if all the bullets hit, was made equal to the killing speed of the other sub-machine guns within their respective effective ranges. Problem was, seemingly, the gun itself was not properly playtested and is why the MP-40 was able to slip into the released game so overpowered.
Team Fortress 2 had the Sandman, a good example of an unbalanced skillset. The Sandman's baseball attack can could knock out a player temporarily, but the actual melee attack was weaker to make up for it. But nobody used the Sandman for its melee attack, since the Scattergun was stronger at melee range anyway; the Sandman amounted to a certain kill, provided you could hit with the ball (which wasn't as hard as some players liked to claim). Even worse, the Sandman could stun players under the effect of an Ubercharge (temporary invincibility), which meant either a few wasted seconds (if you hit the charge target) or, worse, a wasted Uber (if you hit the Medic). All of this made it the single most hated unlockable, with CEVO actually banning it from competitive play.
Valve went around a lot with the issue, mostly implementing damage reduction on stunned players (which sorta worked, but didn't really make a whole lot of sense). The Soldier/Demoman update seems to have finally resolved the issue: getting hit with the ball now puts you into a "fleeing" state, which means you can still run away, but completely removes the damage reduction. (You can still get the "stun" effect with a long-range hit, but that's not always practical, i.e. not every map even has a space long enough to do it in.) The other downside of the Sandman was that it removed the Scout's double-jump. Scouts were eventually given back the double-jump, but were given a health downgrade.
On a more general note, the classes themselves. Pyro is a good example. On paper, the Pyro is a Lightning Bruiser with a passive damage ability, balanced by a lack of effective range. In practice, the Pyro is weaker than most offensive classes even in that range, and the Pyro's passive damage is very easily countered. note Fire used to be a reliable way to kill someone, but it seems like every update another counter to fire is introduced. At first, only medkits, water, Medics, and Dispensers could put out fire. Now take that, and add on Jarate; the airblast; Bonk! Atomic Punch (temporarily negates the fire's effect), Mad Milk; the Demo's immunity to fire and 50% resistance to direct fire damage from the Chargin' Targe; and the Spycicle, which puts out fire and gives several seconds of complete fire immunity.
A less noticeable example would be some of the unlockable melee weapons compared to their default counterparts, specifically for the Pyro's Fire Axe, Heavy's Fist, and Soldier's Shovel. The unlockable weapons generally are better in specific circumstances and worse in others (Axtinguisher does huge damage against burning enemies and less against others, the Equalizer does less damage at high health and more at low health), or grant special abilities at the cost of making them less effective as weapons (the G.R.U. lets the Heavy run faster while increases damage he takes, but do less damage). The catch is that default weapons for those classes are almost entirely useless in the first place even as Emergency Weapons (the Rocket Launcher reloads as fast as a melee weapon is used while the Minigun and Flamethrower only need to reload when entirely out of ammo, which rarely happens), so there's nowhere to go but up most of the time.
Command & Conquer: Renegade was balanced in that GDI and Nod each had an approximately equal chance of winning a given match. Other than that, you had infantry which were only worth a damn fighting other infantry, matches that devolved into neverending reverse tug-of-war tank battles due to the repair mechanics, Hit Scan snipers who could kill with 1-3 bodyshots, and so on. To avoid taking up the entire page with how this game failed to achieve balance, I'll leave it at that.
It's nice to see how faithfully they translated the RTS into an FPS so well, as Command & Conquer has always been about tank rushes.
Counter-Strike gives us the AWP. It's theoretically balanced because it's a bolt action sniper rifle (thus fairly slow-firing) that fires a big bullet. It isn't balanced at all because a shot to anywhere but the legs can and will kill the target, so the reload doesn't matter unless you're outnumbered, and switching to another weapon then back to the AWP increases the reload animation rate; as a result, the primary disadvantages are its poor field of view and its poor movement speed. The automatic sniper rifles - the D3 and Kreig 550 - do considerably less damage, but fire fast enough to be fairly useable as assault rifles, and generally kill in two hits.
In reality, the net effect of this is that the map that is being played on heavily influences the balance of the game; on maps with excellent sniping opportunities, such as Aztec, the AWP and the automatic sniper rifles are hilariously overpowered and it is not uncommon to see literally everyone on a winning team wielding a sniper rifle, particularly when they're playing on the defensive. On maps which are close in, where the limited field of view is more of a problem, constant movement is necessary, or flanking is really easy, the AWP and other sniper rifles are strong but balanced weapons which leave you vulnerable in many cases and cost two rounds of money to buy. This is also a somewhat annoying case of where getting better at the game makes the problem WORSE - most poor to mid-level players do not use smoke grenades and flashbangs very well, and consequently as their opponents with AW Ps get better at aiming, AW Ps become increasingly more "broken". Extremely high-skilled players may be very likely to hit with the AWP, but high-skilled players are also more likely to use flashbangs and smoke grenades properly, which makes AW Ping less useful as your field of view is much more likely to get ruined.
Role Playing Game
In Pokémon, Wobbuffet (and its baby form, Wynaut) has very low stats aside from massive HP, and learns just seven moves (with no direct attacks). But its moves are very well-chosen to exploit its ability, Shadow Tag, which traps the enemy. Since it breaks one of Pokemon's key concepts, switching to another Pokémon, Wobbuffet is highly treasured in competitions that allow trainers to use the Game BreakerOlympus Mons.
In a more general note, Pokémon is balanced by luck, as there are quite a number of moves with their additional effects chance of occurring is determined by the Random Number God.
The whole type chart in the first Pokémon trilogy suffered from fake balance. The designers greatly underrated the Psychic type; not only were both its counters broken (Bug had no strong moves, the only offensive Ghost-type move worth using was horribly weak) and a programming error made Psychics immune to Ghost instead of the opposite, but it was strong against Poison, a type the designers had spread around the Pokéworld like it was going out of style (especially among Bugs and Ghosts). The apparent balance between "physical" and "special" types was an illusion; physical Attack and Defense were separate stats, but the Special stat governed both offense and defense, making strong Specialists automatically tanks. (Needless to say, Psychic is one of the special types.) Meanwhile, the Dragon type basically failed to exist offensively — its only move was Dragon Rage, which always does 40 damage. The second generation addressed these flaws, and each succeeding generation has fine-tuned the system further.
Note that there is a slight balance in Special and Physical in the first generation. Special still did not give you protection against Physical. And the Physical side happens to have the Normal type. In the first generation, it was typing that had 1 resistor (Rock) and 1 immunity (Ghost), but nothing weak to it. Defensively, it is immune to the underdeveloped Ghost Type, and weak to Fighting Type. The catch is, in Gen I, the resistor in question is weak (or, in the case of Omastar and Kabutops, at least neutrally-affected) to the ever-common Water, and those that are immune are extremely fragile and weak to the ever-common Ground, and Fighting types are taken down without question by Psychic-types and the fact that good Fighting-type moves are are ridiculously rare. In return, Normal has the crit-fest Slash, the extremely powerful Hyper Beam (with no recharge if it defeats the other mon), and Body Slam, which has the power, wide distribution, and chance to paralyze to make it an extremely game changing move. There is a reason why many Gen I competitive analysis for Normal type on Smogon go around "This thing is good but is not Tauros" or "This thing is really good, but has no Water moves". Like Psychic type above, Normal types were severely nerfed in second gen onwards.
However, there is still the consistent problem caused by an unbalance in what moves outside your type most Pokemon can use. Just taking the core "Grass->Water->Fire->Grass" triangle, it is unbalanced by the fact that nearly every Water-type Pokemon can learn Ice-type attacks against Grass-types, while few Fire types can learn moves effective against Water-types (this was somewhat fixed by letting many of them learn Solar Beam and/or Energy Ball) and even fewer Grass-types can learn Rock-type moves to take out Fire-types. In fact, Ice types are Glass Cannons, as they have many weaknesses and are only resistant to themselves, while Ice attacks are super-effective against many types, but the abundance of non-Ice types which learn Ice-type moves simply leads to Ice-types being horribly underused and Ice-type moves being practically omnipresent.
Two typings stand out the most in Pokémon other than Gen I Psychic and Normal, which were Gen IV Dragon and Water. Dragon only has two weakness: Ice and itself, but it has ridiculously strong moves (something that it lacked in previous gens) that are only resisted by Steel types. Water has two weakness, Grass and Electric, both of which are easily covered by 2 relatively widespread moves and offensively is super effective against Fire, Ground, and Rock while only resisted by Water, Dragon, and Grass (the last two, of course, are no problem). The issue comes from the fact that Dragon is only resisted by Steel, coupled with its absurdly and easily covered powerful moves, and Water is such a well rounded type among the typing it can do almost every role.
Another issue with those two typings are the fact that they have ridiculously well spread moves on both offensive side. Every Dragon-type can learn Outrage, Dragon Pulse, and Draco Meteor, and Kingdra and Dragalge are the only fully-evolved Dragon-types that can't learn Dragon Claw. As for Water types, Hydro Pump is extremely common, and Surf, Waterfall and Aqua Tail are spread amongst every Water-type in existence. While other types have more powerful and specialized moves on one side of the offense, no other types have the combined balance of typing coverage and movepool that these two has, so much that there's only one Dragon type that is not OU on Smogon Tier List for Gen IV (Altaria), which is considered as really underpowered stats-wise, and Water has the most number of OU Pokémon and even many of those not considered OU are perfectly usable in that tier. Even in Ubers, Dragon is considered the most dangerous offensive typing of the tier while the so called "King of Ubers" is Kyogre, a Water-type.
Partially addressed in Generation VI, which introduced the Fairy-type to balance out the Dragons. Not only do Dragons take super-effective damage from Fairies, but Fairy-types are immune to Dragon-type moves. However, the trend of Fairy types having low physical defense and mediocre speed makes them generally ill-suited as proper counters to the majority of Dragon types, who tend to be speedy, physical powerhouses that are more then capable of dispatching them with their non-Dragon type attacks. They did, though, manage to curb the usage of Outrage, which was previously considered the most threatening Dragon-type attack, but now carries a serious risk due to Fairy types being able to switch into it freely.
Generation V has one with the weathers. Sun, Sandstorm and Rain. They are supposed to balance each other (Sun weakens Water/boosts Fire, Rain weakens Fire/boosts Water, Sandstorm hurts everybody not Steel, Ground, or Rock-type and boosts the Special Defense of Rock-types) and the metagame is supposed to be who can defend their summoner (Groudon/Ninetales, Tyranitar/Hippowdon, and Kyogre/Politoed) and win the game. It worked well, until players realized that Water is such an amazing and well rounded offensive typing that is far easier to spam than Fire, Grass, Steel, Rock and Ground. As a bonus, Swift Swim Pokemon have boosted speed and turbocharged Same-Type Attack Bonus. Chlorophyll Pokemon only got boosted speed, an instant-use Solar Beam, which is risky in a case of Weather-summoning switch-ins, and Fire type moves get the boost that Grass-types lack. With Sand Rush, Sand Veil, and Sand Force, they only get to choose from Doubled speed, 30% attack boost to Ground/Steel/Rock attacks, or boosted evasion (Rain gives 50% powerboost to Water without a need of ability) but not both at once. Rain is the only one that boosts both speed and offensive powers. You can see how well the "weather wars" worked out.
Another issue comes from the summoner itself. Both Sandstorm summoners are also considered OU - Hippowdon (powerful tank) and Tyranitar (an OU standard). The other two non-legendary summoners are former NU Pokémon. While Ninetales is a one-trick pony both statswise and movepool wise, ridiculously frail by the weather summoner's standard and is weak to Stealth Rock AND vulnerable to Spikes, for a Pokémon that's supposed to switch repeatedly, Politoed gets by with the typical good movepool of Water-types as well as decent defenses. Hence the Weather metagame at the time become Rain dominating with its so-called "Broken Trio" (a collective term for Kingdra, Kabutops and Ludicolo) and a bunch of other Rain abusers; Sand behind it with Excadrill, Landorus and sometime Terrakion; and Sun relatively obscure with Venusaur, Volcarona, and Heatran as their usual core. note Hail, on the other hand, is practically non-existient, as the only Pokemon who can take advantage of it are Ice-types, which are very seldom used. Their only summoners, Abomasnow and Aurorus, have far too many weaknesses and don't have the defenses or offenses to stand a chance in the advanced Pokémon metagame.
Seemingly fixed in Generation VI, with weather-summoning abilities being nerfed to only last five turns note eight turns if holding a specific item, so weather is not nearly as common.
Stealth Rock is a perfect example of "Everybody's Cheap". In single battles it's absurdly powerful (one use damages every opponent that comes out as much as 50% health, since, unlike the other entry hazards, it factors weakness and resistance into its damage), but an enormous number of Pokémon in 4th gen can learn it. As a result, every team uses it and every Pokémon's value is tremendously effected by how much they're affected by Stealth Rock — Charizard is notoriously affected, to name one. The developers attempted to rein this behavior in in the fifth generation by making it only available to monsters who learn it normally by level up or through breeding, which still fails as everyone just ported over their Gen IV Pokemon that knew Stealth Rock over — it even came back as a tutor move in Black 2 and White 2, presumably because they didn't want people to give people who do so such a huge advantage.
Fixed in Generation VI, when Defog, which is also obtainable by a lot of Pokémon in Generation IV, has been changed to remove entry hazards from both sides. And unlike Rapid Spin, no Pokémon is completely immune to it, so you have no worries about the opponent trying to switch to counter your Defog. note Defog's status as an HM in Diamond/Pearl/Platinum does stop it from being transferred from those games to Generation V, but you can still trade the Pokémon in question to HeartGold/SoulSilver, where Defog isn't an HM, and transfer it to Generation V from there.
Regigigas falls under "Skill Overestimated". It has extremely high stats in nearly every category, but is hindered by its "Slow Start" ability, which halves its attack and speed until it stays in battle for five straight turns. Unfortunately, five turns is more than enough time for your opponent to take advantage of, and switching out resets the timer, so once Regigigas is sent out in battle you have to keep it there, which takes away a big part of battle strategy. To make matters worse, to try and make it even more "balanced", it is the only Pokémon who can learn TMs that is unable to learn Protect or Rest, two moves that could normally help it try and stall for time. In the end, the game designers went way too far in trying to balance Regigigas's power, and it ended up becoming useless instead.
Gen VI brought certain Mega Evolutions and abilities which indirectly gave a power boost to moves with priority, which falls under "Skill Underestimated". Mega Lucario can use powerful Bullet Punches. Talonflame has priority Brave Birds (an attack 3 times stronger than the typical priority move). Azumarill has now one of the best typings in the game and can use Aqua Jet with a hefty Attack Power. Mega Kangaskhan and Mega Mawile can OHKO the vast majority of attackers with Sucker Punch. Mega Pinsir can use it's ability to boost quick attacks to insanely high powe levels. Pokemon who would be viable sweepers now suffer if they don't carry any type of priority attack.
Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice and Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten introduced a new mechanic that allowed the player to boost the damage dealt by his skills by using Mana. Problem is, while the starting damage potential takes into account the enemy defenses, the boosts do not. This quickly escalates to a level where both you and the computer units will be killing each other with one or two attacks since both of you effectively have 0 Defense. Needless to say, tank-like classes became outright useless.
The two games also heavily nerfed magic-oriented classes while giving a huge boost on physical-based units. In the end, physical oriented Glass Cannon characters outranked everyone else.
Also, Monster classes. Being limited by a small movepool and being unable to lift and throw enemies, there was little to no point on using them while there was always a humanoid class that could do whatever a monster could do, just better.
In the first game most of the monster classes exist for the sole purpose of to be used by the enemies, as they tend to have low stats and their skills are usually pretty weak, but the enemies will have artificially boosted stats in order to make them effective.
Dragon Age: Origins has this problem in spades with mages. The mage class is so absurdly effective with any of its possible builds, nothing comes close to its raw DPS potential, and they aren't much squishier than the rogues. Meanwhile, any warrior built as anything but a tank is essentially worthless as anything but a distraction, and will drain your healing supplies. The rogue requires near constant micromanagement in order to achieve a damage output that the mages could reach easily. Then, take into consideration spell combinations (something only mages can do.) The effect varies from "slow them down with oil then set them on fire", to "shatter the villain into a thousand pieces", to making the already OP temporary invulnerability to a party member (at the cost of paralysis) spell, Force-Field, into an explosive shock-wave. Although the aforementioned shattering can be triggered by a warrior or rogue's critical hits.
Actually rogues can out-damage mages against individual targets if they are built and equipped well, up to a whopping 95% chance to dodge attacks if you dole out some gold for their Infinity–1 Sword items. With dual weapons they can dish out area damage, or with bows, they can stack several passive abilities while stun-locking whole encounters with Scatter-shot. Essentially, rogues have Magikarp Power with several non-combat abilities to boot, but warriors get shafted completely. The Expansion PackAwakening helps out the balance by increasing the already good tanking abilities for sword & shield, and giving two-handed warriors powerful area attacks, and giving both the very powerful Spirit Warrior specialization.
Even dual weapon warriors can out-damage mages at single target just by focusing on strength/ axes/ dual weapon spec, they are, essentially, strictly worse rogues though.
Mages can actually become better at tanking than warriors if you build them as Arcane Warriors, capable of soloing dragons and the rest of the (original) game.
That said, a mage can only be human or elven, and only has one possible background story. Powerful, but lower replay value than the other classes (not that it matters if you only play the game once).
Warriors got a lot better in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening though, in Origins, it's less a case of "mages are strong" and more of a case of "warriors are hideously weak". A well built warrior could certainly solo a dragon though. (while lacking flexibility, looking lame, and having less damage)
Additionally, for those who dont know, these mages were not spell-slinging tanks of utter imbalanced-ness either, their tanking powers required the majority of their mana pool being tied up in passives.
Blood magic could partially circumvent this, but requires you use health for mana, and take 50% healing, which is problematic, because arcane warriors don't actually have a lot of health, just extremely powerful damage mitigation/ reduction.
Most of the mentioned AOE damage isn't really viable in origins too, especially on higher difficulties, unless you are willing to pause combat every 2 seconds to make sure your healer/tank/etc. doesnt walk into it and start taking damage also.
Essentially, it's a matter of dedication. Mages are strongest for the least dedicated/experienced rpg player due to their inherent spell damage. Rogues and Mages are equally viable for the experienced rpg-er who knows how to build a character/ what items would actually be good. Though mages win in a theoretical 1v1, there is no PvP in Dage. Warriors are always sub-optimal though.
The World of Warcraft expansion "Wrath of the Lich King" did this accidentally. Due to combination of a number of issues healers found that they could quickly grow to the point where they would never run out of mana to cast spells. This allowed non stop casting (ie spamming) the strongest and quickest heals in the game, which were suppose to be balanced by their higher mana cost. With the infinite and powerful heals available the only way to challenge a raid of 10 or 25 men was by creating bosses that could kill your tank in seconds and raid encounters that made every single raid member take damage no mater what they did just to give the raid healers something to do. This in turn led to Paladins (with the ability to cast one strong fast heal non stop) being the only class capable of healing the primary tank and changed all the raid healers to using one or two type of heals that they cast on every raid member as quickly as possible. Meanwhile Player vs Player combat was all about burst damage, at the peak players could die in one to two GCD (minimum length of time between abilities). If that wasn't bad enough the easier AOE tanking combined with a faster progression of gear quality then originally intended led to all non-raid encounters being a tank running headlong into packs of 10 or 20 monsters at a time, keeping them all distracted and allowing the damage dealers to use their one best area effect spell to do damage on all foes. The Cataclysm expansion has changed all of this. There is now limited mana for healers, who have to use every one of their healing spells. Wars have been fought deciding whether the easy AOE fest or (currently) insanely difficult heroics are preferable.
Puzzle Pirates implemented possibly the most bizarre piece of "balancing" in the history of computer games. Apparently players used obvious and ubiquitous strategy of armed convoys for transport unfair "double floating" exploit all the time, so it was fixed. Enter the Giant Space Flea from Nowhere to catch all giant fleas from nowhere: monkey boat. It also broke PvP since these wonder monkeys shoved a ship aside every time its opponent has as much as one pineapple on board (see the link). Of course.
While La Tale tries to avert from this with its PvP, it fails often usually because the creators just dont care.At first, gunslingers were just your fragile speedsters the use of super puzzles quickly made them able to outdo pretty much every class except Guardians. but since every class can do this if the have the time and money to do so, its really a case of everybody's cheap
In Mass Effect 2, increasing the difficulty level strengthened enemies. Putting it on Hardcore or Insanity, however, just gave every enemy an additional layer of protection (kinetic shields, biotic barriers, or armor). Unfortunately, the vast majority of enemies gained kinetic shields. This resulting in Adepts (and Vanguards, to a lesser extent) being severely gimped on higher difficulties, since biotic powers are incapable of damaging kinetic shields and many are ineffective on enemies with additional layers of protection. Powers like Shockwave and Throw became Awesome, but Impractical finishing moves, as opposed to the Awesome yet Practical room-clearers they were on lower difficulties.
Mostly true, but actually shifts Adept into being Difficult but Awesome rather than useless. Clearing rooms takes for them is almost as fast on Insanity as any other difficulty level, but most players never develop the tactics needed to get the first biotic explosion off.
The lack of collision detection in Dragonica means that the only way for the Knight classes to keep big bad bosses off squishies is to Crowd Control them indefinitely. This has obvious implications in PVP.
The three Original GenerationHumongous Mecha of Super Robot Wars Judgment are supposed to be balanced, with Real Robots "Bellzelute" as a light, dodgy sniper and "Coustwell" the somewhat heavier, melee counterpart. "Granteed", the Super Robot, is supposed to be the tanker with balanced weapons on both ends. However, thanks to the AI's tendency to attack units with lower evasion rates, the Granteed and its overwhelming armor rating makes it better than the other two. As a bonus, because it is an L-sized unit, attack and defense bonuses are increased, with weapons so powerful its second strongest is greater than the final attack of the other originals, not to mention good weapon reach that makes it the best sniper, tanker, and melee attacker out of all three.
The actual balance comes in with how the protagonist receives a different set of "Spirit Commands", depending on whether they're piloting the Granteed or not. On a first playthrough, if the male pilot uses the Granteed, he receives the "Accelerate" Spirit Command, which doesn't quite compensate for the unit's base movement of five. When it finally arrives on the frontlines (or within range of it), it's the best of the three and solidifies its position as the top-tier super, but not before.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is usually a very balanced game combat/stats wise... except the designers clearly underestimated the effects of the badge system. Indeed, many of the more powerful badges would be really fair if only the opponents had about ten times the amount of health and could actually recover from their effects before the battle ends. Cue things like time freezing effects that let you end the final boss battle in under three minutes, or an instant on call reset button that breaks everything. They also presumably failed to take the existence of badge slots into account, since it completely makes the speed at which powerful badges charge (outside the Battle Ring) completely irrelevant (since you can just grind them on weaker enemies before the battle you want to use them in, coming in with an Infinity+1 Sword from the go).
Star Trek Online tried to organize itself around the RPG trinity, with escorts and tactical powers as the damage dealers, cruisers and engineering powers as the tanks, and science vessels as the healers/drainers. Unfortunately metagamers rapidly discovered that the frankly ludicrous level of Character Customization available blew the balance out of space.
In PVE, even a cruiser fully specced into threat generation often has a hard time keeping fire off of DPS escorts. This was partially fixed by the late 2013 addition of "cruiser command" auras, which include the "Attract Fire" aura for boosting threat gen. Unfortunately only conventional cruisers get "Attract Fire"note meaning anything that says "battle cruiser" or "flight-deck cruiser" in the name, such as Starfleet's Avenger-class and anything in the KDF, is out of luck, and the game mechanics encourage focusing on damage output rather than holding fire off of your compatriots anyway.
Many of the offensive science powers aren't very useful for PVE for various reasons, and most ships have enough science officer slots to heal less serious damage themselves. Later mitigated, but not fully fixed, by the addition of PVE queues such as "Crystalline Entity" where science crowd-control and debuff powers are extremely helpful.
Many escorts can be nearly indestructible if built well, and since blasting things to death is the only route to victory maximizing your damage is the most efficient use of your skill points. Even outside escorts, ships with high numbers of tactical officer slots are highly sought after, with iconic but engineering-heavy vessels like the Galaxy-class left to sulk in the corner.
In the leadup to, and launch of, season 8, however, Cryptic made several improvements. The new PVE events are set up to give tacscortsnote Tactical captains in escorts a hard time and give other classes a chance to shine. The Voth have a tendency to do heavy damage straight through your shields, which can be deadly to Glass Cannon escorts but just annoying to cruisers. "The Breach" highly favors beam arrays over dual cannons, and "Storming the Spire" is best done with a mixed team because of its complexity.
In Master of Orion 2, every spaceship had a finite amount of room for weapons and other systems, and every race was limited to -10 "picks" in negative attributes and 20 "picks" worth of positive attributes. Naturally, nothing whatsoever cost anywhere near what it should, so everyone played with Unification/Tolerant/Repulsive races and crammed as many Plasma Cannons onto their ships as possible.
Many Street Fighter games have balance issues where certain matchups are unfairly difficult. In the earliest games certain characters lacked an effective method for dealing with projectiles, so they'd end up pinned down by fireball traps. Combo-oriented games like X-Men vs Street Fighter or Marvel vs. Capcom had infinite combos for every character.
In Guardians of Middle Earth, Agandaűr would fit the unbalanced skillset category. His ultimate ability is an enormous shockwave that can kill most enemy guardians in one hit in a game where most characters are meant to be able to throw all their skills at each other and still survive. This is supposed to be balanced by the fact that his other skills are weaker, his ultimate can be interrupted by crowd control effects, and Agandaűr has a poor health pool. However, if you can kill everyone near you extremely fast, it doesn't matter how poor your health is if everyone else is dead, and the fact that his other skills are weaker is offset by the fact that the shockwave has a cooldown of less than 30 seconds, making it regenerate faster than the respawn time.
In Mercenaries 2, you can regenerate health. The developers decided that to balance this out, everyone in the goddamn world gets a rocket launcher. Vehicles have tissue paper for armor, too, so it's not as if you'll find much sanctuary from all that rocket and tank fire. Nine Ten times out of ten, when explosives are flying, they're flying at you. Not even freakin' Wolverine could survive this crap!
Call of Duty, again, has this problem as well. United Offensive decided to up the challenge present in the base game - by removing the ability to pick up medkits dropped from enemies. Your only chance of survival is letting your AI teammates do all the fighting, because if you try to do anything, you will lose half your health in one shot, and you will not have the chance to regain it until after you're past five more such fights. Call of Duty 2 switched to Regenerating Health - and now you're forced to run right up to enemy tanks and stand up in front of enemy machine-gunners every fifteen seconds to balance it out.
Regenerating health has caused a lot of this in modern games, where developers design the game around the idea that the player has effectively infinite health,, without taking into account the fact that the player needs time where they're not getting injured for regeneration to kick in. Battlefield: Bad Company is another good example, since its draw is destructible cover, combined with the typical "give absolutely every enemy a rocket launcher" idea that modern shooters always do - if you're injured enough that you have to hide and heal in this game, you're basically already dead.
A textbook example of fake balance was present in the old Asteroids-like Mac game Asterax. The player can choose one of three ships: the Manta, which had mediocre everything; the Crab, which had good guns and shields but tiny engines; and the Mantis, which had good engines but tiny guns and shields. The problem with this arrangement came in the form of the game's item shop selling guns, engines and shields, which meant that a Crab pilot could upgrade away their ship's sole deficiency with a single purchase, while Manta and Mantis pilots would need to buy two or three upgrades to reach the same level of effectiveness.
Not to mention, as you might expect in an Asteroids game, "better" (i.e. faster) engines can make the game harder instead of easier anyway.
When Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3's expansion was released the game creators specifically left out any programming to let it be multiplayer knowing full well that some of the units could be used in truly epic overpowering moves. At the top of the list was the Gunship (pretty much a flying heavy tank with either a heavy gun or machine gun), the desolator (could kill anything on the ground) and the Giga Fortress, a floating island with 6 main weapons that could transform into a flying head with a ridiculously powerful Wave Motion Gun.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 purposefully used something close to "Everything's Cheap". Like almost all Command & Conquer games, you still have to pump out tanks. But rather than making a bunch of rock-paper-scissors effects with units that can stop tanks, and other units which can stop the tank-stoppers but lose to tanks, they made many units which can be countered by almost anything at all, but if you use them quickly and effectively before they were countered, they could achieve a decisive result. Some games would work out with two equally powerful tank forces facing off while each player tried to be the first one to sneak a spy, hero, commando, etc, into the enemy base, secretly build up some airplanes or ships to attack his enemy's construction yard, etc.
Sandbagged Allied GI troops. They may be immobile, but they easily overcome this when they settle down near an enemy base, pulling out their absurdly powerful machine guns, that can destroy tanks in good numbers. A bunch of them trained well can stop every players assult because once a unit is constructed, it is already destroyed. Gets even worse in the expansion pack where the new Guardian GIs might not be much for killing infantry but when deployed, there's simply no way to force them out of their holes because while the massive firepower of massed GIs could be offset by suicide-rushing tanks at them in order to crush the immobile soldiers, deployed Guardian GIs are uncrushable and have anti-tank weapons. Combining the two means certain death to the enemy.
In the original Command & Conquer: Red Alert, while at first you get the impression that the sides are balanced but with different play styles, it's quickly apparent in multiplayer just how much more powerful the Soviets are. They have the best tanks, the best artillery and the best anti-tanks. The only truly effective units on the Allied sides are the cruiser and the mechanic.
Warcraft IIIFrozen Throne has a unique case in reguards to it's, single-player only, Naga race. Since the Naga are singleplayer only, its understandable that Blizzard would overlook balancing this race since the Naga faction don't have anything to do with the games multi-player other then the Nage Sea Witch being a Neutral-Tavern hero you can hire. The Naga arent even close to having the same amount of gameplay units and structures as the main orc, human, undead and night elf factions, but once you get your chance to play as the Naga, the unbalance towards how much more powerful their units are in reguards to the main races mentioned above becomes apparent. The most obvious unbalance is in reguards to the Naga's flying unit, the Couatl. They're about as powerful as the orc Wyverns without their poison spears, but the main difference is that building Wyverns take four food while the Couatls are only worth TWO (plus, they have the ability Abolish Magic). Couatl are forces to be reckoned with, but to give these beasts the same amount of food cost as normal footmen just wasn't good balancing. Massing an army of Couatl just spells game-over to the opponent. Thankfully, you only get a shot to build these things in one total mission of the Frozen Throne campaign and the enemy Naga opponents in the game barely ever send more then 4 to 6 Couatls at a time on Hard difficulty to truly see how unbalanced they are.
Super Smash Bros. took a fairly simple approach to balance. In general, most characters can fit into one of three groups: Fast, but light and weak; strong and heavy, but slow; and "balanced" characters who are somewhere in between. This sounds good in theory -slower characters don't have to hit as much to KO you, and are more resistant to being KO'd themselves- the problem is that fast characters generally have a much higher combo ability, which makes fighting one more difficult, especially if you're using a slow character who has trouble getting hits in between their opponent's fast attacks. The heavyweights have effective Herd Hitting Attacks that can be unleashed while other players are distracted with each other, but this is no help in 1v1 matches, which are the standard for competitive play. This has ultimately led to complex Character Tiers appearing (despite claims that "tires don exits") and the Meta Game being stormed by fast characters like Fox and Falco, though with a few exceptions such as Jigglypuff and Peach.
In Madden NFL and its sister series NCAA, the developers seem unable to properly balance special teams play. Given that any method of blocking kicks or returning them can rather quickly be determined and exploited, they have opted to take it completely in the opposite direction. Whereas in Madden 10, it was possible to see 1-2 kickoffs returned for touchdowns every game, in 11 you might not see one at all in a year.
Twisted Metal 2 messed up hard. Some vehicles/characters were slow, tough and had powerful short ranged special weapons and did a lot of ramming damage, usually enough to instantly kill an opponent with a melee combo. Others were weak, fast and usually long ranged. The obvious problem was that the faster vehicles could simply keep running away and either do hit and run attacks or use their long distance weapons while the slower ones were unable to catch up. The worst example was Spectre, the second fastest vehicle in the game with a special that goes through walls.
Vigilante8 and its sequel averted this issue for the most part by introducing weapons with mapwide range and giving the heavy vehicles long ranged special weapons instead of short ranged ones, thereby ensuring that if the weak fast vehicle keeps running away endlessly he'll lose due to attrition damage. Also, one of the secondary fire modes of said mapwide weapon disables the target, giving even the slowest vehicle a chance to close the gap. The exceptions are the bus and the sequel's garbage truck, both with short ranged weapons and agonisingly slow, both completely useless.
Early Wipe Out games had ships that excelled in either handling, acceleration, shield or top speed. But air brakes made it so you wouldn't lose speed if you took corners properly, making acceleration moot, and also making handling irrelevant provided you're good enough to not crash (which was harder in a ship with low handling, but hard didn't mean slow). And if you didn't crash, shield was also unimportant. As a result, the best ship in the game was invariably the fastest ship regardless of its other stats, to the point where a ship with 10% extra speed and zero in all other stats was the best ship. This was averted in later titles where you do slow down while cornering and the enemies sometimes actually hit you with their weapons.
Mario Kart Wii had a pretty bad balancing issue between karts and bikes. In theory, karts had more powerful mini-turbos than bikes, but bikes could pop a wheelie for a speed boost in exchange for worse steering and slowing down to a crawl should they bump into anything while doing a wheelie, which would also come into play with the game's constant bombardment of items. However, players that used bikes quickly realized that they could use wheelies at any time and would do so at every chance they got, which gave them a huge advantage on tracks that had many straight roads. Because of this, karts simply could never keep up with a wheelie spamming biker and this boiled over quickly into online play and time trial records.
Mario Kart has other examples of this too. For example, in Mario Kart Double Dash and Wii, the two types of karts (high acceleration/low speed and high speed/low acceleration) were meant to be roughly balanced, the former could recover from item hits and quickly reach top speed, but couldn't keep up with the latter if it was in front. Unfortunately, high acceleration was also tied into mini turbo stats, so people found they could mini turbo/drift non stop ('snaking'/PRB) and in effect have a permanent Mushroom boost speed, making speed based karts entirely pointless.
Then Mario Kart Wii added the aforementioned bikes and a standstill mini turbo technique, which made both karts and acceleration based bikes useless.
And Mario Kart 7, due to having the power slide system from the last game plus no bikes has swung the balance back again, with items making acceleration based kart setups the only practical ones.
As far as most of the classic Doom modding community is concerned, "spawn a million more Revenants" is the answer to all problems. This basically turns any given mod into Mercenaries 2 as above, with explosives constantly flying at you from all directions.
Ludia's video game adaptation of the Game ShowPress Your Luck often has the AI opponents answer even the most basic of questions (e.g. "How much is 6 times 4?") wrong so that they rarely have more spins than the actual player.
In the BBC Micro game Ravenskull, you can play as one of four characters, but there is no difference in gameplay. The PC remake gives each of the four a different power. However, the warrior's power (ravenbees drain health instead of killing you instantly) is very poorly balanced; you lose health for every ten squares travelled, and the levels are long enough that you never have much to spare. One hit from a ravenbee and you're probably doomed anyway.
In Resident Evil you can pick between Chris and Jill. Jill can pick locks, carry 8 items, and can get the Bazooka right at the beginning of the game (Which is a Disk One Nuke). Chris gets the useless flamethrowerlate in the game, carries only 6 items, and must find keys to open doors, but takes about twice as many hits to kill to balance it out. However, since Jill can pick locks and carry more items, it means far less traveling around and far less encountering enemies, and her handy dandy Bazooka can take out the tough ones. Chris sucks.
Subverted in the Remake, though. Chris now handles weapons much better (He shoots faster and has a far higher chance of a headshot, which saves ammo) and the Bazooka, now called the Grenade Launcher, has been considerably nerfed (Unless you count the infinite ammo glitch for it).
Resident Evil 2 flipped the genders, with Claire being near useless compared to Leon. Leon gets a vastly superior load-out: A magnum, shotgun, and even his starting handgun is better (and it can be upgraded), and takes far less damage. Claire can pick locks, but there are only two locks in the entire game that can be opened this way (and both in the police station), and although she gets the superior grenade launcher and the Lethal Joke Weapon Spark Shot, she is still outclassed in pretty much every aspect. At least it's justified, with Leon being a prodigy cop and Claire simply being a university student, but despite this most players pick Claire instead simply because they remember the last game.
In Saint Seiya: Sanctuary Battle, the literally only thing that defines how good or bad a character is is his projectile attack. During the stages with waves of soldiers, projectiles deal huge amounts of damage, hits enemies multiple times due to pushing them forward as the projectile moves on, and go throught almost everything, destroying breakable objects and revealing items, killing entire squads with a single button press while the player is safe, so the player can clear missions and stages lightning fast taking low damage and dealing tons of punishment, making getting high ranks trivial. Bosses, in the other hand, have hyperguard active 90% of the time and more often than not their deadliest skills are the short-range ones or create minefields around themselves. Melee characters have to approach with caution while looking at the scarce moments they have their guard open, while anyone with a good projectile can keep away, wait for a opening, activate 7th Sense and fire off their energy beams for safe and powerful blows.
League of Legends turned into this due to its metagame, which is getting ever more specific over time as players figure out the game. Champions that were designed for the same role and had relative strengths and weaknesses became imbalanced when the metagame becomes sufficiently detailed to favour certain traits over others.
There are tank, assassin and fighter type junglers; at this time (halfway through Season 3) tanks are the only viable choice because gold income for junglers is so low that expensive offensive builds cannot get off the ground against skilled opponents while assassins have no tools to protect the squishy damage dealers against the enemy tanks diving them during teamfights. On top of this, tanks are much more suited to towerdiving and therefore actually outclass assassins at getting kills. Also, junglers with very long ranged dashes, jumps or speed boosts are always better than other junglers because they can sail past wards and jump the laners before they have time to react, enabling them to score kills even against hard turtling opponents.
The bottom lane meta. Certain carries have an escape ability and/or utility, others are all about damage. These two types have never been balanced. During the early sustain meta, it didn't matter because no one died in bottom lane anyway. As sustain and poke supports were gradually nerfed into oblivion and new junglers and supports with powerful gap closers and lockdown abilities were released, escape abilities became mandatory for survival, resulting in the "holy trinity" of Ezreal/Graves/Corki being the only viable carries at the end of Season 2. The ongoing kill potential creep eventually overwhelmed most escape abilities except Ezreal's instant blink, making safety largely irrelevant and again favouring carries with raw damage over everything else.
Early Season 3 mid lane. Physical assassins (Talon/Kha'Zix) were a direct counter to the typical mid lane mages, rendering pretty much the entire selection of mid lane mages irrelevant. Before that, there was a time during Season 2 when mid lane was essentially Talon countering Morgana and Morgana/Kassadin countering everyone else.
Top lane is currently Jayce/Elise/Kennen using their range advantage to obliterate the entire huge pool of top lane fighters. While fighters have many advantages (tons of damage, free stats, an actual ultimate unlike two of the above, cheap builds) and are in fact designed to be statistically better than anything else on the field, their range disadvantage is virtually impossible to make up for unless the opponent is unskilled.
Alien vs. Predator:Extinction only has single player campaign, but that doesn't mean it's not susceptible to balance problems. Difficulty in order goes from Aliens (Pathetically easy), Marines (Somewhat easy), and Predators (Nintendo Hard), and for several reasons.
Aliens are ridiculously overpowered. They only have to spend points to create units once (assuming the Queen never needs to fight), and their unit cap is incredibly large (As expected from a race of zerg rushers). The fact that every unit only costs one supply only allows then to get even more numbers.
The Aliens weaknesses are two things. One, they lack ranged units. However, most of their units can easily close the gaps between units, and their only ranged unit is one of the most useful aliens in the game, the worker alien, solely because anyone they hit after upgraded will create more powerful aliens. Their second weakness is that if they don't win battles early on, they'll be pretty weak. This doesn't necessarily mean battles against the other factions. If they have easy access to scientists or, worse, respawnable critters, they will have no problems with creating a stupidly large army.
In the Fire Emblem series, archers are hit hard by this. Archers are units who use bows, which allow them to attack from 2 spaces away (with some bows allowing them to attack from even further away). However, in most games they can't fight in melee combat, meaning they usually only get to act once a turn, which greatly limits how much experience they earn in combat. Typically, they're pretty weak statwise, usually having all-around poor stats in everything except Skill and occasionally Speed, which further limits their combat ability. Worse still, they don't have exclusive access to ranged attacks; magic using units are able to attack from range and melee, and there are ranged versions of spears and bows that also have melee and ranged abilities. They aren't even the only bow users, as nomads and hunters also use bows and are usually far stronger in terms of stats. All this adds up to create a mongrel of a class that can't do much of anything that other units can't do better, with only a handful of archers in the entire series having anything noteworthy about them to make them worth using. The only real exceptions to all this are in Gaiden (where archers could attack from 1-5 spaces away, reversing the issue and making them the most powerful units), Radiant Dawn (where archers gained access to melee-capable crossbows and the Game Breaker Double Bow), and New Mystery (due to exclusive Longbow access and because of the incredibly high stat boosts they get from promoting). Interestingly, characters who start out in the promoted form of the archer, the sniper, are generally far more usable, since snipers have fairly high base stats on average and can contribute meaningfully to combat right off the bat, and are usually not quite as fragile (though they're still helpless in melee combat).
The cavalier - paladin class line had this tilted in their favor, especially in games where cavaliers aren't segregated by weapon type. They combine high movement, balanced base stats, two usable weapons before promotion, and ability to take advantage of the Rescue command better than infantry units can. Their promotion bonus increases their movement further, and give boosts to a wide range of stats, including resistance, which until they promote is usually something they're weak in. Their downsides are supposed to be difficulty or inability to travel on some terrain, which is rarely much of an issue since rough terrain isn't that common in most games, and a weakness to horse slaying weapons, which are preposterously rare. Generally, the only real weakness they have exists in games where they must dismount to enter buildings, which applies to a whopping two games in the whole series. Worse still, nearly every game has a glut of cavaliers recruited near the start of the game, and often at least one paladin in the mix too, whereas most other classes have only one or two units apiece. As a result, many tier lists emphasize making use of as many cavaliers as possible for combat purposes, with only a handful of fliers, thieves, healers and other utility units to cover areas the cavaliers can't do themselves.