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Game Breaker

The Assyrians were the first people to start using iron weapons instead of bronze which, to put into a modern perspective, is sort of like showing up for a knife fight with the Death Star. Using iron made the Assyrians so near-invincible that, really, the other guys might as well have been swinging around bananas.

An often controversial element of gameplay that unexpectedly trumps all others. It is not cheating, depending on who you ask. A Game Breaker is a legitimate element of the game used in an unintended way. The Meta Game ends up revolving around who can get the Game Breaker (or use it on the other) first, resulting in Gameplay Derailment.

A Game Breaker can boost a pre-existing strategy or character and make it overwhelmingly powerful against things it would normally be balanced against — Scissors crushing Rock, so to speak. One fan term for it is "cheesing."

For example, in a game where the player's capabilities are meant to be limited by their access to currency, an easy trick that reaps a lot of money for little effort can become a game breaker. Or a particular gun having extreme firepower, high accuracy, and a high ammo capacity; or a Fighting Game character having a fast, unblockable move with very high priority (the ally equivalent to the SNK Boss). In games with a choice of playable characters, one may be much easier than the others and allow for skipping parts of levels that other characters would have to wade through slowly.

Another example is the potentially convoluted win/make-then-sell exploit, which is common in games with customizable items. A borderline example may be the trick of saving your game before a random item appears and reloading until you get the item, also known as Save Scumming.

Patches will often seek to rectify this. However, this often leads to an outcry among players who favored the original tactic. Worse, sometimes the nerfing of one Game Breaker results in another Game Breaker being discovered as a result, prompting the developers to consider whether they should apply a patch for the second one, or undo the previous patch so the two Game Breakers will balance each other out as they used to.

Game Breakers are often controversial and subjective. Rarely do people actually agree on what is and is not game-breaking. Heated debates (or worse) over Game Breakers spread like wildfire on the Internet, or even around the house. It's obvious that the extremes of the Munchkin or the Scrub are wrong. However, there are techniques whose power is hard or even impossible to call.

Banning glitches and "unintentional" moves is often not an easy thing to do. Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether something is a glitch or not, sometimes a glitch happens so often that you'd have to go out of your way to have it not happen, and other times it can be argued that a glitch adds more depth to a game rather than less.

The upshot is that you should probably take most of the below examples of multiplayer games with a grain of salt.

Unlike video games, many Tabletop RPGs (except the most modern) have a built-in check in the form of the Game Master, who can override published rules for the sake of everyone's enjoyment; thus, with a good Game Master, no Game Breaker is possible (unless the game is SenZar). However, this naturally carries the corollary that, with a bad Game Master, the game comes pre-broken. Just what is and isn't game breaking is, again, controversial, and many GMs have to deal with a limited player base; too heavy or too light a hand may alienate players and destroy the Game Master's plan.

Compare Disc One Nuke and Sequence Breaking. A Lethal Joke Character may be one of these, as will the One Man Party if the game's balance is easily skewed. Lightning Bruisers are also common candidates. Some Boring, but Practical moves/tactics may border on this. That One Attack, when available un-nerfed to players, usually becomes this, as will any particularly powerful Min Maxers Delight. Contrast The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard, as well as Skill Gate Characters that appear this way to newbies but can be taken apart by experts. Difficult but Awesome characters can also be this when they're so overwhelmingly powerful when mastered that there's no way to beat a skilled user.

A powerup that would be a game breaker, except that it only appears when the game is essentially over, is Purposely Overpowered — note that most examples of these tend to be single-player affairs, where there are no other opponents to become offended over it. For stats that, once boosted to a high enough degree, make the character into a Game Breaker, see One Stat to Rule Them All.

Note that this is not another word for 'overpowered'. To be a true Game Breaker, the ability in question must be so hideously unbalanced that it makes people just quit the game in disgust.

Not to be confused with Game-Breaking Bug, for when you can literally "break" the game by crashing the underlying software or leaving your saved game in an Unwinnable state, or Game Changer. The narrative equivalent of this trope is Story-Breaker Power.


Examples:

Universal
  • Any game with a finite number of states and which does not make use of randomness may be mathematically solved, resulting in a guaranteed win or draw ("perfect play") for whomever has the correct starting conditions. "Perfect play" does not mean "good play," such as top-level human players might execute. It means having god-like knowledge of every state of the game and choosing the absolute best move at each point. Thus, there really is only one way to play these games "perfectly," except when choices are pretty much equivalent. Once a strategy for perfect play is discovered, the game can be considered completely broken, unless played by naive players. The most well-known example of this is Tic-Tac-Toe, which any skilled player can play perfectly to a draw. Connect Four and Checkers have also been solved, though in these cases, the correct strategy was found by computers and is far too complex for most humans to memorize.
    • Connect Four is a first player win for perfect play. To two sufficiently advanced programs playing the game, the game comes down to who wins the coin flip for first turn.
    • Checkers may be the most popular solved game. The game has 500 quintillion possible states. No human can comprehend all that. From a sufficiently advanced computer's point of view, Checkers is as trivial as Tic-Tac-Toe. Perfect play results in a draw. Because humans lack this perspective, we cannot play Checkers perfectly and don't grow bored of it like we do Tic-Tac-Toe.
    • Chess and Go, the quintessential games for geniuses, are both theoretically solvable for a sufficiently advanced computer, as both games have a finite board and no random elements — though a computer powerful enough to perform the necessary calculations would be many orders of magnitude better than anything available with our current level of technology (the high branching factor in Go makes it intractable to analyze with the methods used for Chess, since you rapidly get too many options to explore via lookahead in any reasonable timeframe, with no obvious way of pruning 'bad' choices quickly). For a hypothetical intelligence far beyond our capacities, Chess and Go are as trivial as Tic-Tac-Toe, but no human creation as of 2013 - not even Deep Blue - is even close to having such a level of computational power. For some perspective, there are more possible chess games than we estimate there are atoms in the observable universe.


Dungeon BypassError IndexGame-Breaking Bug
Dungeon BypassIdiot Programming IndexGame-Breaking Bug
Gaiden GameVideo Game CulturePurposely Overpowered
Gambit RouletteJustForFun/Tropes of LegendHeadscratchers
Expansion PackCollectible Card GameJunk Rare
Fetish RetardantUnexpected Reactions to This IndexGeneric Doomsday Villain
Punny NameOverdosed TropesYandere
Funny MomentsYMMV/Home PageGameplay Derailment
Funny MomentsYMMVGameplay Derailment
Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-RevisAwesome/Video GamesDiscworld
Gag PenisImageSource/PhotographyGamer Chick

alternative title(s): Game Breaking
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