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Obvious Rule Patch
Yes, this is an actual Magic card.note 

When game designers block Loophole Abuse by corking the loophole with a new rule, instead of eliminating or changing one of the rules that leads to the loophole.

Games, of various types, are about rules. They may have intricate backstories, multi-layered plots and other such. But in the end, they're about rules. Rules define what are legal moves and what aren't (even Calvinball, which just doesn't have the same rules all the time). Rules create fun.

Sometimes, rules can interact in ways that developers didn't intend, allowing players to play the game in ways the designers did not intend. This is called "Emergent Gameplay" and is typically considered a good thing. But at other times, it leads to Gameplay Derailment in the bad sense.

The obvious answer is to change the original rules, but this isn't always possible. Say your game is two weeks from shipping. One of your testers has just come to you with a horrifically game-breaking scenario, a way for a player to game the rules so that their powers spiral out of control and Curb-Stomp Battle everything in their path. And the rule interaction is very complicated; you can't just tweak a few things to bring this back into balance. In order to truly fix the problem, you would need to rebuild a number of rules, test those rules and so forth... and miss your ship deadline. What do you do?

Or maybe your game is out there already. Thousands, maybe millions of people are playing and enjoying it. Then some Power Gamer figures out how to game the system and auto-win with some horrific combination of moves. You certainly can't "uncreate" the game once it's out there, nor can you radically modify the rules so that particular combo doesn't work, because that would fundamentally change the game and honk off millions of customers. What do you do?

Make an Obvious Rule Patch. That is, create a completely arbitrary rule that forcibly prevents the particular interaction from happening, while having as little effect on other rules as possible. Doesn't matter if it sticks out like a sore thumb even to someone who hasn't played the previous version.

Note that issuing an Obvious Rule Patch for a competitive multiplayer game too soon can damage the evolving Metagame, which can often bring potential Game Breakers back into balance. And just so we're clear, "Obvious Rule Patch" refers to the rule that obviously exists solely to patch up something rather than the something that "obviously" needs a rule patch. "Rule" here is a simple adjective - the Patch is the focus, and the Obviousness is what makes it this trope. For the obviously needed patches, see There Should Be a Law. Sort of.

This sometimes is a result of Executive Meddling - showing once more that despite the negative press it gets, the trope is not always a bad thing.

Compare and contrast Nerf. May, if the situation is enough of a corner case, result in That One Rule. May also be used to avert Misapplied Phlebotinum by expressly banning certain applications. This is the eternal nemesis of the Rules Lawyer.


Before writing an example, please be sure that the patch itself is obvious, not that the game obviously needed the patch. Obviously needed patches should go under either Rules Lawyer (if the exploit is in how a rule is written) or Game Breaker (if the exploit is hard-coded).

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    Board Games 
  • The "ko" rule in Go exists purely to prevent infinite loops.
    • Additionally, in Chinese Go, the "superko" rule is there to prevent the rare triple ko, an infinite loop that can still occur in Japanese Go. Nobody's tried to "patch" Eternal Life, an infinite loop that's so rare it's not worth considering.
    • An even better example is the komi rule. Since black moves first, it often begins with sente, where the player makes a series of moves the opponent must defend against. The rule gives white somewhere between a 4.5 and 7.5 point advantage in most tournaments.
  • In previous rulesets, the objective in Arimaa is to move one rabbit to the opponent's home row or prevent the opponent from making a valid move. Some players decided that they were much better than the AI and sacrificed all their rabbits before winning the game without any pieces on the board. Later rules added a change, where you win if your opponent no longer has rabbits.
  • Examples in Chess:
    • A major rule change in chess was allowing a pawn to move two squares on its first move. It was soon noticed that this allowed a pawn to "slip past" an enemy pawn which would otherwise have been able to capture it. Since the two-square rule was only meant to make the game faster and not to alter strategy, the en passant rule was introduced to patch the hole: if a pawn slips past another like this, the opposing pawn gets one chance to capture it anyway. (The option must be exercised immediately or lost.) Unavoidably, the two-square rule has changed chess, but en passant has helped to limit this.
    • Chess does not out-and-out ban infinite loops like Go, but a player has the option of declaring the game a draw if the same position occurs three times with the same person to play. More complex loops are prevented by the 50-move rule: a game is drawn if 50 moves pass without a pawn being moved or a piece captured (these, being irreversible, are the key signs of progress in a game). Players can also agree to a draw at any time (and will generally do so when both sides are at an impasse).
      • The 50-move rule was once subjected to a really obvious rule patch. It was discovered that certain positions can be won but require more than fifty moves (without captures or pawn moves) to do so. To take care of this, the rules were changed to list these positions and specifically exclude them from the 50-move rule, allowing players to win the game in such positions instead of drawing. This was abolished in 1992, because it was found that there were far too many such positions to continue patching the rules like this.
      • Chinese chess, Xiangqi, is less forgiving of perpetual checks. If you check five turns in a row without pause, you lose the game. However, in Xiangqi, the general's movement is limited to a small area called the palace, so if you really can't figure out how to checkmate him, you deserve the loss.
  • In Shogi, almost all games end in checkmate. However, there's a situation which was not originally thought of where it can be impossible for either side to achieve a checkmate if both kings enter the opposing side's promotion ranks. This is called "entering king," and is regarded as one of the only possibilities for a stalemate. If such a position arises, arbitrary rules on counting the amount of pieces 'owned' by each side and assigning a point value to them were created. If either side has less than 24 points, then they lose. If both sides have enough points, then the game is simply replayed over again with the starting move switched to the other player.
    • Another situation arrived in professional shogi matches. The rule used to be that if a player caused a repetition of moves three times in a row, the game would be considered a draw. (This would happen through one player dropping a piece, a sacrifice occurring, and then an endless cycle of sacrificing and replacing the same piece.) However, one shogi professional found that he could avoid this rule by switching the type of piece he played every other move, so that the repetition did not occur three times in a row. Under those rules, there was nothing that could be done and play continued with the same moves being made until the defending player finally got fed up and tried something else, allowing the instigator to go on and win. The rules were hastily changed so that if an exact same board position (including pieces in hand) happens four times, regardless of sequence, then it's an automatic draw. (Note that this is different from perpetual check, which results in an auto-loss for the instigator.)
  • In Japanese Mahjong, players need at least 1 yaku to win a hand. The Tanyao yaku is particularly easy to get with open (containing called discards from other players) hands. This has caused many players to call tiles left and right in order to finish their hand with Tanyao as their only yaku for a pitiful point value, much to the annoyance of any opponents denied a bigger scoring opportunity as a result. This has led to a controversial House Rule known as "kuitan nashi" which only allows Tanyao on closed hands.
    • Another one is the agari yame House Rule. Normally, if the dealer wins a hand, an extra hand is played which does not count towards the total number of hands in the match, and the dealer keeps the dealer button for the extra hand(s). With the agari yame rule in effect, the extra hand is not triggered if the dealer wins on the last hand and they are in first place. This is to prevent a Springtime for Hitler scenario - in the Japanese variant, it is not uncommon for the player who ends in first place to receive a large bonus (of ranking points in league or tournament play, or cash in gambling play). Thus, on the final hand without agari yame, if the dealer is in first place, they might be better off not winning the hand to end the game and secure their first-place finish, while winning the hand would trigger an extra hand, during which they would have to risk being knocked out of first.
  • The Finnish board game Afrikan tähti (Star of Africa) had a small flaw in the original rules - the game could become unwinnable for one or more players because of the cost of travelling by sea and the possibility of getting robbed or finding the titular diamond on one of the islands. After 50 years of unwinnable games and House Rules, the sea travel was patched to resolve the formerly unwinnable situations by making sea travel free if the player has no money but only 2 spaces at a time.
  • The Battlestar Galactica board game has had a few. In the base game, the secrecy rules were essentially a patch for the core mechanic, since the game breaks if players are allowed to openly discuss their card plays. The first expansion included replacements for a particular skill card to fix a degenerate human strategy, and an overlay for certain spaces of the board to fix a degenerate Cylon strategy. It also introduced an execution mechanic, which revealed the loyalty of the executed player, who would then 'respawn' as someone else. But their loyalty didn't change, which meant that human players began willingly jumping out of the airlock to prove themselves. This was patched in the next expansion by making executed players draw another loyalty card.
  • Later releases of Arkham Horror, as well as later versions of the rulebook included with some expansions, explicitly ban certain cards and/or types of cards from being the initial draw. The effects of the banned cards could easily render an already deviously difficult game impossible to win before the players had even taken a single turn.
  • The first expansion to the Game of Thrones board game, and the subsequent second edition, added ports to some territories to bar a common strategy where Greyjoy would scuttle the Lannisrer fleet and bottle up Lannisport on the first turn, more or less denying them the sea for the remainder of the game.

    Card Games 
  • Forced bets in poker, including blinds, antes, and bring-ins, are designed to ensure that some or all players have a stake in the pot, preventing everyone from folding until they get a really good hand. In Tournament Play, they are raised continually to prevent overly cautious play (this often leads to people winning World Championships with cards they wouldn't play in a low-limit cash game).
    • The "small blind", "big blind", and "dealer button", used in cardrooms, particularly in Texas Hold'em, ensure that the action moves in an orderly manner, as opposed to previous opening rules like "forced bring-in" (the lowest showing card has to open, common in stud games) or "jackpots" (common in draw games, requiring a hand of certain strength, often a pair of jacks, to begin the betting).
    • Most cardrooms have special "house rules" to ensure speedy play and/or ban unethical maneuvers. Among these are:
    • "Cards Speak": A hand does not have to be declared at the showdown to be played (ie, your flush still beats their three of a kind even if you don't know its a flush when you show it down).
    • "Table Stakes": A player cannot be forced out of a pot due to lack of money (extra bets go into a side pot), and a player can't reach into their pocketbook/offer up their Aston Martin keys and/or the deed to the ranch to call a hand.
    • Anti-collusion rules such as: banning cellphones tableside, requiring cards shown to another player to be shown to the rest of the table, and banning languages other than English at the table. The last one often exempts ASL from the ban, in order to avoid violating ADA requirements.
  • One of the most obvious examples is Collectible Card Games and their restricted/banned lists.
  • Lists in the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game started as just the Limited List: normally, you can have up to three of any one card in a deck, but for game balance reasons the Limited List mandates that only one (Limited) or two (Semi-Limited) copies of certain cards can be included in a deck. Before long, players were discovering interesting ways to break the game using card combos the game designers hadn't foreseen, resulting in absurdly powerful decks that could force a win in a single turn (or even the first turn). Thus the Limited List was expanded to include Forbidden Cards, which cannot be included in a deck at all. The list is changed roughly every six months, with cards being both added to and sometimes removed from it.
    • In an interesting take on this, the formerly-Limited card "Twin-Headed Behemoth" was knocked down to 3 because of a ruling change: Its effect (which lets it revive itself from the Graveyard at the end of the turn it's destroyed from the field with 1000 ATK and DEF) specifically states it can only be activated "once per duel". It was put at 1 after it was pointed out that multiple copies of the card would make it impossible to keep track of which copy had used its effect and which haven't, meaning anyone could abuse the confusion and reuse the card's effect illegally. Now, though, the card's ruling has changed so that only 1 copy of it owned by a player can activate its effect that duel, period. The rule change was completely arbitrary, only allowing the card to become unlimited without interfering with the reasons it was limited in the first place. A similar case happened with Treeborn Frog, which won't activate if one is already on the field, allowing it to be unlimited.
    • The worst examples of this in Yu-Gi-Oh are Yata-Garasu and the two Envoys. All of the other cards on the Forbidden list are pivotal in combos; these three cards were banned just because they were that broken. Not helping the Envoys' case is a rule known as priority, which allows the player to activate their effects (which can normally only be activated at times when the player could activate a Normal Spell) immediately when they're Summoned, before the opponent has the chance to activate cards that would destroy them.
      • Following the introduction of the Xyz monsters in the game, the OCG and TCG had their priority rulings patched to prevent people from calling priority on Ignition monster effects. Black Luster Ritual - Envoy of the Beginning has since been returned to limited status. The other two - Chaos Emperor Dragon and the aforementioned Yata-Garasu - have remained on the list due to the infamous Yata lock.
    • Green Baboon, Defender of the Forest, is another monster with an unusual Obvious Rule Patch story; its effect allows you to pay 1000 LP to summon it from your hand or graveyard if a Beast-Type monster you control is destroyed, but too many duelists were exploiting that effect by bringing it out by purposely suiciding their Beasts in battle. As such, Konami arbitrarily decided its effect can't go off, if the Beast monster was destroyed by battle. This significantly weakened the monster's power and caused many duelists to declare They Changed It, Now It Sucks, but there's a twist to the tale; shortly after the ruling was implemented, guess what came out? A new monster, with the exact same stats as the original Baboon (and even named Yellow Baboon, Archer of the Forest), and the ability to summon itself from the hand if a Beast you control is destroyed by battle (this time requiring you to banish Beasts from your graveyard to do so, instead of paying life points). Nice way of covering your ass there, Konami...
    • Also, the "Archfiend" cards, an issue resulting from bowdlerization of card names. In the Japanese version, several cards used the word "demon" in their names, and this word was changed into a bunch of different words in the initial American releases: "Demon's Summon" became "Summoned Skull", "Demon's Axe" became "Axe of Despair", and so on. This worked fine until a series of cards that dealt with "demon" cards started to come out, so a ruling had to be issued to declare "Archfiend" as a "special category of card" which included all the cards that had "demon" in the Japanese name. From then on, "demon" would always be translated as "archfiend". Later on, new printings of the Archfiend cards would include rules text even on the Normal Monsters, stating that they were treated as Archfiends.
      • In general, the TCG is prone to having cards be renamed in later releases, when they are incorporated into later-released archetypes and there's no easy way for the English card text to cover them. Other than the Archfiends, probably the most prominent example of this is the capitalization of "HERO" in groups of cards such as the "Elemental HERO" and "Destiny HERO" series, due to the introduction of new sub-archetypes of HEROes that weren't foreseen by the creators (and the existence of other cards, not connected to these archetypes, with "Hero" in the name).
      • The Guardian Archetype was another nightmare when it was first introduced. This caused the one card that specifically designates a Guardian card to include text not normally on the original card in Japan.
      • Cards have been retroactively given new names because of an Archetype later released years after it was first introduced, or because their current name conflicted with a new Archetype that they didn't belong in. Wattkid is a prime example.
    • With the release of Xyz Monsters, there was a brief period where there were very few written rules about how they actually work - one key problem was the fact that the monster used for Xyz Summoning stayed on the field until "detached" by an effect. Fine, but when does "leave the field" effects trigger? Word of God said when detached, and all hell broke loose. Two already powerful cards got so absurdly broken that a copy could easily fetch well over 100 dollars. Konami quickly made an rule change: These cards never trigger their effects because they aren't treated as cards anymore. It's just as weird as it sounds.
      • These two cards are called Sangan and Tour Guide Of The Underworld. A third is involved in the specific combo - Number 17: Leviathan Dragon. The combo is this: Tour guide is summoned, which allows to special-summon a level-3 Fiend monster, at the cost of negating that monster's effect. This monster would be Sangan. They overlay to form Number 17, whose effect is to "detach" a card to become stronger. The effect negation of Tour Guide is now void, since Sangan's state has changed. Number 17 detaches Sangan to become stronger, and Sangan's effect activates: to add a 1500-ATK-or-less monster to hand. So, to summarise, at no loss of hand advantage (a very important resource in the game) you have a 2500 beatstick facing your opponent down. That was with the old ruling. Now Sangan's effects wouldn't activate.
      • That said, cards that state "sent to the graveyard" will still activate - just not the ones that require being on the field.
    • Light and Darkness Dragon has so much text on it that Upper Deck/Konami never fit a very important sentence on it: its negation effect can only activate once per chain. If Konami had never announced that ruling, Light and Darkness Dragon would continually keep activating to negate ITSELF until its attack and defense got so low that it couldn't activate any more. This ruling also gives Light and Darkness Dragon its main weakness, chaining a card to its negation effect to destroy it.
    • In early 2014, a card-specific rule patch was introduced: Dark Strike Fighter, a card banned mere months following release given its ease of summoning, high attack, and powerful burn effect, had the latter effect limited to Main Phase 1, and only once per turn, period. With the attack and burn for OTK shenanigans largely curbed, the card was returned to Unlimited status but only for OCG as its english equivalent has not been released yet.
    • On occasion, Konami/Shueisha have been known to create less overpowered counterparts or cards performing similar functions as replacements for cards retired to the Forbidden list either before or after the fact - Tradetoad for Substitoad; Super-Nimble Mega Hamster and Rescue Rabbit for Rescue Cat; Fishborg Launcher for Fishborg Blaster; Demise, King of Armageddon, Ruin, Queen of Oblivion, and Sky Scourges Enrise and Norleras for the Envoys, being notable examples.
  • The DCI banned / restricted lists from Magic: The Gathering, introduced soon after the first major tournaments.
    • The Urza Block is particularly infamous for producing massively overpowered cards and card combinations, to the point that one card Memory Jar was banned before it was even released, after it was realized just a bit too late what could be done with it. Lampshaded in the series' own Unglued and Unhinged expansions, with cards like Look At Me, I'm The DCI!, which featured current Head Designer Mark Rosewater's stick-figure drawing of a blindfolded figure picking what to ban by throwing darts at cards pinned to a dartboard. Other Unglued cards have 'errata' printed on the card.
    • An even clearer example would be the times MTG has had to give cards errata; it is currently not their policy to reword a card for simply being too powerful, but there are quite a few cards that have different wordings due to rules changes, or interactions that literally break the game (as in, "create situations that the rules don't cover"). This was exacerbated with two major rules changes ('96 and '09). Other cards used to often be the subject of errata which prevent them operating the way the card text might imply them to, sometimes again even before the card is released, although this has been phased out over time.
      • The old errata policy allowed cards to be errata'd for power reasons, but this has since been reverted. Overpowered cards are now banned. For example, Time Vault has been errata'd multiple times with various awkward wording to ensure there was no way to easily untap it and gain infinite extra turns. The latest errata, while much simpler than even the original card, makes the card obviously broken in half (and banned almost everywhere). It's worth noting, however, that a few cards have kept their power level errata, most notably how Mox Diamond has been specifically reworded to keep it from being able to produce mana until a card is discarded.
      • Animate Dead has always worked (generally) functionally as it was originally intended: it enchants a creature and brings it back from the dead, but the creature dies if the Enchantment does (just like the various Necromancy spells from Dungeons & Dragons). However, the exact mechanics of this process, if and how a creature that would otherwise be immune to a Black Enchantment can be affected and targeted by this, etc., have caused Animate Dead to be another nightmare of errata and Magic legalese. There's a reason only 2 other cards like Animate Dead have ever been made, and every other Reanimation spell thereafter are Instants and Sorceries. Damn!
      • The Sixth Edition rules changes were done, in part, to deal with all the Obvious Rules Patches that were made to the game over time. A good example of the pre-Sixth Edition rules philosophy was how they dealth with Mana Vault. The card's text states that it taps for 3 colorless mana, doesn't untap unless you pay 4 mana, and deals 1 damage to you each turn it stays tapped. The problem is that the game rules stated that a tapped artifact didn't function, so the abilities that keep it tapped, let you pay 4 to untap it, and make you take1 damage if you don't untap it shouldn't even work! The solution was an Obvious Rules Patch that allowed Mana Vault to work as written. After Sixth Editon, they simply removed the rule about tapped artifacts not working, since it really only mattered in a few situations anyways.
      • Before Time Walk was released, it was phrased "Target opponent loses next turn", which itself needed to be rewritten after people started misinterpreting it as "Game Over, you lose". (It's still massively overpowered though.)
    • The standard Constructed Deck construction rules of today (at least 60 cards, no more than 4 copies of any non-basic card) are a major obvious rules patch. Originally, the only rule was a minimum of 20 cards per player in the game, theoretically allowing for decks that could win on the first turn nearly 100% of the time (assuming somebody willing to hunt down the requisite number of rare cards to make them work).
    • Speaking of Magic, a few powerful creatures (Serra Avatar, Darksteel Colossus, Purity, Dread, Guile, Vigor, Hostility, Progenitus and Kozilek, Butcher of Truth) have an ability that prevents them from going to the graveyard, shuffling them back into the deck instead. While this looks like an advantage, that just hides a darker motive: it prevents players from discarding the creature cards on purpose so that they can revive them using way cheaper Animate Dead spells. (This is not an idle concern, as entire decks are built around this very tactic.)
      • Note that only the Colossus and Proggy actually avoid hitting the graveyard; the other 6 simply don't stay there for very long, meaning that aforementioned shenanigans are still possible, albeit a bit more difficult.
      • Similarly, some creatures have abilities that only trigger "when you cast [the creature]" (which means to play it from your hand manually by paying its mana cost) to prevent reanimation shenanigans.
      • Taking this even further, the card Phage the Untouchable has an ability that causes you to lose the game if you didn't cast her from your hand. Like the above examples, this is done to prevent "reanimation" exploits. (It should be noted that Phage's other ability is to cause the opponent to lose the game if she manages to lay a finger on him, so ensuring the "Impractical" part of Awesome, but Impractical was kind of necessary in her case.)
    • At one point, the Comprehensive Rules contained a line which read "Ignore this rule." This was because the rule no longer existed but Wizards didn't want to change the numbering to close the gap (as it would screw up all references to rule numbers).
    • The introduction of a "Planeswalker" card type, almost fifteen years after the game's inception, necessitated such a patch; Planeswalkers needed to be valid targets for damage, but since they hadn't existed previously, all existing cards that dealt direct damage (Kill It with Fire spells, etc) could only deal it to creatures and/or players, of which planeswalkers were neither. So a special patch rule was added that allowed such cards to redirect their damage from a player to their planeswalker. If Planeswalkers had been present from the beginning, such a thing would never have been necessary.
    • The "M10" major rules overhaul included changes to the combat rules, which would have made the Deathtouch ability almost entirely useless, so, in the M10 rules, Deathtouch got a special rule exempting it from the new combat rules. It has since been further patched to work properly under the new rules.
    • And there's a story, possibly an urban legend, about a player who was competing in a tournament where the number of wins was relevant somehow. So in order to buff up his score, he cast a Lightning Bolt spell... not on his opponent, but on someone next to him, who was playing a completely different match (and, according to game fluff, was in a completely different plane of the Multiverse). Who knows when the rules were patched, but presumably it was somewhere between "just after the end of the tournament" and "five minutes later".
    • There's also Floral Spuzzem. As originally worded the creature itself could choose to activate its ability. This meant that the game would last forever as inanimate cards can't make decisions so it was errataed to allow the player to choose instead.
  • At least by the Special Edition expansion pack, the Star Wars Customizable Card Game came with a separate glossary three times the size of the (already dense) basic rulebook, which was about 50% "errata" fixing Game Breakers. The other half...well, let's just say this was a very involved game.
  • In French Tarot, a chelem is a bonus for winning every trick. The deck also contains a special card called excuse, which can never win a trick. Thus if a player has the excuse in his hand, he would normally not be able to complete a chelem. To patch this, if a player has already won all but the last trick and is left with only the excuse, it will win the trick regardless, completing the chelem. However, this is not enough: there is another bonus for taking the last trick with the smallest trump (number 1), so the player with both the excuse and the trump 1 would be unable to get that bonus while making a chelem. So in this case, winning the second to last trick with the trump 1 also awards the bonus.
  • World Of Warcraft TCG's rulebook should be called "exception book", really.
  • One of the most blatant in cards rather than errata is "Writ of Accountability" from the Star Trek Customizable Card Game (First Edition), which is essentially a list of Game Breakers followed by "you lose." That is not an exaggeration; the consequence is literally an automatic loss for anyone who's pursued one of a number of strategies. In tournament play, such a game (regardless of the situation prior to the Writ coming into play) grants 100 points to the winner, while the person who fell afoul of Writ scores 0. (Decipher generally tried to avoid outright banning cards; the only card on the STCCG ban list—"Raise the Stakes"—was on there because it violated gambling laws in the United States, not to mention that it would have wrought havoc with tournament play.)
    • There exist a number of cards with that striped icon (called the "referee" icon) that exist almost exclusively to limit broken strategies (though some, like Defend Homeworld, have actual use beyond this). Writ is only the most punishing of these cards; other cards result in lesser penalties. Some invoke a loss of points—going negative if they have to—or needing more points to win than usual. Others kill/destroy certain cards in play, or remove them from the game entirely (as in, they don't even go to the regular discard pile; they're simply placed out of play). Still others don't impose an actual penalty, but do impose limits on the use of certain cards.
    • One nasty combination from the first set caused an actual rule change. The card "Telepathic Alien Kidnappers" allowed one player, once per turn, to name a card type (personnel, ship, interrupt, event, etc.), then pick a card from the opponent's hand; if it matched, the card was discarded. The card "Alien Probe" forced both players to play with their hands exposed, face-up on the table. The effect of the two cards together was that a player who had T.A.K. and Alien Probe could basically tell an opponent once per turn, "you lose that card". A later rules patch said that a player had to be allowed to conceal his hand before the opponent could try to pick a card with T.A.K., making the combo less deadly. In addition, other cards were introduced to counter both cards in the combo.
  • The FAQ on the Munchkin website is full of stuff like "No, thieves can not steal during combat or backstab themselves". This may be viewed as Hypocritical Humor since the term "Munchkin" refers to someone eking out every possible advantage they can from any game mechanic.
    • They're willing to go along with a sufficiently devious rules abuse, though. One famous example is playing Go Up A Level cards on other players; since some monsters will allow players to run away for free if they're below a certain base level, this could be used to force a player to fight that (often quite powerful) monster. The company's response:
    This is not the original intent of Go Up a Level cards, but it is such a munchkinly and vile idea that we like it too much to say no.
    • One card allowed you to change one die roll to be any number that you wanted it to be. However, they didn't specify that it had to be an integer between 1 and 6. This led to people declaring that the die roll was one million or negative twelve or whatever, with bizarre results. They later changed the card so that you physically turned the die to display the number you wanted.
    • Originally, the Wizard class could "charm" a monster by discarding their whole hand. Munchkin players being what they are, they immediately began "discarding their whole hands" when they had nothing in them. Later editions specify a minimum of three cards.
  • The Dragon Ball Z CCG used the show's Power Levels as a gameplay element, with two characters' current power levels compared on a chart during attacks, and damage dealt accordingly. However, because the numbers for the power levels stayed relatively accurate to the show (wherein, by the end of the series, characters had to go out of their way to not blow up the Earth during their battles), the chart used had to be updated constantly. Still, eventually it became obvious that some characters (especially from early sets) were flat out useless in physical combat even against common cards in later sets, so the chart was eventually abandoned and replaced with a calculation system that didn't particularly make much more sense, but at least kept the game more interesting.
  • In the early days of the Pokémon Trading Card Game, there was a loophole where a deck that contains no Basic Pokémon would prevent the game from ever starting. This is because each player must play down a Basic Pokémon in order to start the game. Thus, when Nintendo bought the card game back from Wizards of the Coast (who wasn't taking it seriously to begin with), Nintendo created a rule for all competitions, regardless of purpose: All decks must contain at least 1 Basic Pokémon.
    • Later on, Fossil Cards, which are a different class of cards that can be played on the field like Basic Pokémon, count as a Knocked Out Pokémon when their Hit Points are depleted. Previously, they were simply discarded with no other penalty. This was because Fossil cards were rarely used for their intended purpose, which was to evolve them into usable Pokémon. Instead, they were treated as walls while the players charged up their Pokémon from the (normally) unattackable Bench. When the Diamond and Pearl sets came out, there were now six different Fossil Cards: Dome Fossil, Helix Fossil, Claw Fossil, Root Fossil, Skull Fossil, and Shield Fossil, plus Old Amber, which has the same traits but isn't a Fossil Card. A player could conceivably put 4 of each into a deck and litter his or her playing field with them, stalling out every match.
      • Note that each of these new rules only indirectly block these loopholes. It seems Nintendo tries its very hardest not to ban anything or to directly address exploits.
    • One from the game's early days was the "Mewtwo Mulligan Deck" - a deck that simply had one copy of the original Mewtwo card and Psychic energy filling out the other 59 cards. Starting a hand without a Basic Pokemon (which happened almost 9 times out of 10) allowed the user to declare a mulligan, allowing them to draw another seven cards, and forced the other player to draw another card. This would keep going until the MMD user could either force a loss by running the other player out of draws before the game even began, or got their Mewtwo out and could use its power (to become immune to all damage) to stall the opponent out. A patch was put in to make the extra draw for the opposing player optional.
  • In the trick-taking game Chronicle, wild cards have no suit and no value. There are six wild cards in the deck. Three of them are auto-win cards (the Demon beats everything but the King, the King beats everything, and the Dragon destroys the trick entirely) and three of them have effects unrelated to the trick (the Angel, Sage and Fool). So in theory, in a three-player game the players could play these three cards, resulting in the trick having no winner. The rules specify that the first player wins should this ever actually occur.
  • The rules for Perfect Guard units in Cardfight!! Vanguard have undergone a few pre-emptive changes:
    • First, the wording for Perfect Guards were changed so that they could only protect one Unit at a time. One set later, Draconic Kaiser Vermillion was introduced, the first Unit with the ability to target three Units with one attack.
    • Second, the "Sentinel" subtype was added to Perfect Guards, along with the condition that a deck could only have a maximum of four "Sentinel" cards. One set later, the first cards with two Clan types (Blaster Blade Spirit and Blaster Dark Spirit) were introduced.

    Game Shows 
  • One of the more famous examples of this trope came in June 1984, when CBS' Press Your Luck invited Michael Larson as a contestant. Unbeknownst to the producers, Larson had spent several months in advance viewing tape recordings of Press Your Luck and recognized looping patterns on the "random" lighting indicator for the game's Big Board, realizing that he could maximize his winnings by memorizing the patterns and predict when the light landed on the space with the largest jackpot. During his appearance — to the amazement of the host, the studio audience, and especially the people in the control room — Larson used his technique to burn through two episodes' worth of gameplay and earn over $110,000 in prize money. CBS initially withheld the winnings, but relented when the producers realized that he technically played the game as established. The production subsequently put the Big Board through several alternating patterns.
  • For the "test" hour-long shows of September 8-12, 1975 and the first few weeks of November, The Price Is Right had no rule about how far the Big Wheel (which determines who proceeds to the Showcases) had to be spun. The current rule (at least one complete revolution) was instituted by the end of November 1975, added when one contestant just tapped the wheel and made it spin three spaces.
  • One of the more common obstacles on the obstacle course in Double Dare (1986) was "Icy Trike", in which contestants were required to ride a tricycle across a slippery surface to grab a flag at the far end. While the idea was for the contestants to either pedal or push themselves along with their feet, many teams from the first series in 1986 chose instead to put one foot on the back of the tricycle and propel themselves with the other foot as though riding a scooter, shooting across the "ice" in just over a second. Starting with the 1987 series, contestants were told that they had to sit on the tricycle or they would have to start the obstacle over (at least one team either forgot or ignored this rule and forfeited the grand prize).

  • Almost as soon as pinball was invented, players shook, jostled, and even lifted the machines to score more points. Hence, the now-famous tilt mechanism was invented to penalize players who were too rough on the machines. Pinball machines nowadays weigh up to a quarter of a ton, so a grade above that, a "slam tilt," was created later to more severely punish a player who plays so vigorously that it could harm the machine or bystanders (including the player).
  • There is a technique that can prevent a ball from draining that, if a ball is headed down there from the side, involves holding one flipper up and banging on the underside of the machine. Doing it right causes the ball to pass back up through the gap created by the flippers, allowing the player to continue a game, indefinitely if mastered. Manufacturers responded by installing nails at the bottom of the machine to give anyone who tried this a nasty and bloody surprise. Safety regulations now prevent this, but this technique is one of the few that will immediately disqualify a player in all major tournaments (the other one being the aforementioned slam tilt).
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean, the pirate ship and Kraken on the playfield are surrounded by two large transparent plastic shields (dubbed "sneeze guards" by some players) to prevent airborne pinballs from landing in the mechanisms.

    Reality Television 
  • On The Amazing Race, limits on how many Roadblocks a racer could perform were instituted after Season 5, after the three women who made the Final 3 that year performed a total of three Roadblocks combined.
    • In Season 1, teams were only allowed to buy one set of plane tickets, and weren't allowed to switch, even if they found a faster flight or their original flight was delayed. This was changed on the very next season, and multiple flight bookings has become an important part of the Metagame ever since.
    • The first two seasons had no rules in place for when a team's car broke down. These were instigated in Season 3 after several time credits were issued in Season 2 (including one that saved Blake and Paige from an elimination, which they received after Paige threatened to sue).
    • After Season 3, it became standard on selling tasks, where teams had to reach a certain amount of money made, for each individual item to have a minimum amount it could be sold for. This was after Ken & Gerard completed such a task by selling massive amounts of fruit for what would average out to be very low prices, and repeatedly going back to the stall to get more to sell.
    • After All-Stars, where two teams horribly exploited the ability to take locals along on the leg with you to help with navigation and other tasks, bringing locals along in your vehicle was made against the rules.
    • After Nat & Kat on Season 17 were Genre Savvy enough to take detailed notes throughout the race in anticipation of the Final Exam Finale, Season 19's Final Exam Finale instructions specifically forbade the use of notes. (There was no Final Exam Finale in Season 18.)
    • Other minor changes were made to keep teams from taking advantage of loopholes, such as buying cellphones from locals (which Rob & Brennan did in Season 1) or switching their damaged car for another team's car at the Pit Stop (Dustin & Kandice in Season 10).
  • In Survivor:
    • The hidden immunity idol mechanics were changed. First making it so that you could play it after the vote. Then, putting the limitation that you couldn't use it beyond the final six because it more or less gave Yul a free ride to the final three, since everyone was afraid to cast a vote against him for fear of the idol being played. Then, changing how the clues were hidden due to Russell's obsessive idol hunting. (Except they appeared to have forgotten it in Redemption Island and later; or later players were just that good to have found them in the first couple episodes.)
    • After "Purple" Kelly and NaOnka quit in Nicaragua, the rules were amended so that quitters can be banned from sitting on the jury if production felt it was appropriate. And typically, you can guess that unless you're trying to pull a Thanatos Gambit or are having a severe physical or mental breakdown, that'll probably be...never.
    • Reducing the eligible age to 18. (Although this hasn't really affected gameplay; several contestants have been below 21 in the game since China.)
    • Not using the "purple rock" tiebreaker (where, in the event of unresolved tie, elimination is by random chance with everyone but those voted for at risk and those with immunity) in the final four, because the one time it was used in Marquesas, Paschal was eliminated without having a single vote cast for him in the entire game.
      • Tiebreakers in general; although the spectre of drawing rocks (Blood vs. Water confirmed that they do still use it outside the final four) causing people to betray their alliances to avoid it. You'll notice that for some reason, people are quite afraid of forcing a tie outside of the final four that can't be solved by a simple re-vote (such as John changing his vote for Laura in Samoa, Russell being voted out first from his tribe in Redemption Island, and Cochran turning on his tribe in South Pacific).
    • Supposedly, someone smuggled something into the game in their luxury item (or used their luxury item in a rather creative way) to have fire.
    • In Season 2, Australia, contestants could bring a personal item. Colby brought a Texas flag that doubled as a tarp... It, along with all the other shelter items, got snatched mid-season.
    • The Final Two became the Final Three. While not all fans like this, Probst says that this was so people would have to face a competitor and not just drag The Load into the finals. Chances are, everyone's thoughts towards Courtney in Exile Island (intending to bring her to the finals because everyone hated her) made the producers think. Probst has pointed out there have been plenty of seasons where everyone complained the final two was a wash anyways, one of them conveniently being Exile Island. This didn't stop Earl from claiming the first unanimous victory against two disliked players in Fiji and Boston Rob from pulling the two dumbest and laziest players to the finals in Redemption Island, but most other seasons have had closer votes in the final three.
      • This was also done as a result of Fan Dumb complaining about "Blowout" final twos because people had on many different seasons said that the winner was pretty obvious, nobody would've voted for [insert second place winner here], and the final tribal council was essentially just Padding because it was obvious that [insert winner here] had it. Or people just pulling What Measure Is a Non-Badass? when the fan favorite or most likely winner finished fifth-third place and a person deemed "undeserving" won.
  • In the American Big Brother:
    • After Season 3 where the jury voted 9-1 in favour of Lisa, the Jury was reduced to 7 and sequestered away from the game and unable to watch the show. The reason the jury voted in such a way was that they saw what Danielle was saying about them in the diary room and was angered.
    • The Power of Veto was made into the Golden Power of Veto note  permanently after Season 3.
    • Another veto example - Backdooring. In season 5, the houseguests realized that you had to pick the veto players yourself so you had full control over the players in the competition. So in order to get rid of Jase, the houseguests made up a plan and nominated two people who would have used the veto on themselves, or their other alliance members who'd have used the veto anyways. They then proceeded to pick players for the veto who would use the veto on their friends or were in on the plan and would use it anyways and evicted Jase without even letting him have a chance. The rule change was that Houseguests actually had to draw names out of a bag and only if they picked a "Houseguest's Choice" Token could they choose themselves.
      • This has been changed again as of Season 15. Houseguests now pick players out of a box instead of a bag, presumably after Frank was accused of intentionally dropping the bag of chips & palming the "Houseguest's Choice" Token in Season 14.
    • A very subtle example, but notice that the houseguests are cutting with plastic knives. This was because of a Season 2 incident where Justin held a knife to another houseguest's throat and said "Would you mind if I killed you?"
    • If someone is expelled or leaves when evicted players go to the jury, their vote at the end is given to the viewers and is used as a tiebreaker.

  • The baseball rules committee instituted the Infield Fly Rule in 1895 to block a specific Game Breaker in which an infielder would let a fly ball drop and go for the easy double play (or, should the runner choose to run, catch the fly ball and throw the runner out before he could tag up for an equally easy double play) instead of just getting the one out that would normally result.
    • In 1908, players for the Detroit Tigers confused the opposing catcher by running backwards from second base to first, creating an opening to steal home plate. Major League Baseball banned backwards running the next day. (Also reported in Cracked's 5 Dumb Ways People Have Won at Sports.)
    • In 1957, Don Hoak of the Pittsburgh Pirates fielded a ground ball and threw it away...while running from first to second base. He did this, knowing that by rule any baserunner struck by the ball is out for interference, in order to prevent a double play (two outs in one play). The interference rule was quickly amended to state that deliberate interference to break up a double play will result in both the runner and batter being called out.
    • Currently there's a minor league pitcher, Pat Venditte, who can pitch with both arms. Which causes problems when he's facing a switch hitter, because switch hitters hit from different sides of the plate depending on which arm the pitcher throws with and this pitcher pitches based upon which side of the plate the hitter hits from. So minor league umpires have been forced to create a brand new rule forcing both the hitter and pitcher to declare before the at-bat, and only allowing one change of side for each player. An interesting case, since rather than this patch being the result of one game breaker, it's the combination of two slight advantage-gaining tactics that independently would work just fine, combining to break the game. This rule came about after a game in which Venditte faced switch hitter Ralph Henriquez, and the game was delayed for several minutes as Venditte kept switching hands and Henriquez kept switching sides of the plate to counter him. While Venditte was far from the first switch pitcher (there are examples dating back to the 19th century), this was apparently the first time that a switch hitter vs switch pitcher matchup actually delayed a game and forced a rule change.
  • The England cricket team of the 1930s discovered "Bodyline"—a tactic where instead of aiming for the stumps, the bowler just pitched lots of very fast, painful balls at the batter's body, forcing him to move out of the way or deflect the ball towards nearby fielders. As a result several new rules were brought in, restricting the number of aggressive balls allowed per over and the positioning of fielders.
    • Dennis Lillee's heroics with an aluminium bat led to the rule: "The bat shall be made of wood".
    • The "underarm incident" in a 1981 one-day international — on captain's orders, Australia's bowler bowled the final ball underarm instead of overarm, to deny New Zealand even the remotest chance of hitting a six to draw the match. The International Cricket Council quickly introduced a rule outlawing underarm bowling following this. This is a particularly obvious patch, since originally, it was called "bowling" precisely because it was sent to the batsman underarm; no other form of bowling was even allowed or even considered bowling at the time.
      • It has been shown that this did not technically make victory impossible. One Australian cricket commentator proved this by having a ball rolled underarm down the cricket pitch to him. He simply placed his foot in front of the ball which made it bounce up into the air then hit it for 6.
    • Any rule introduced by the International Cricket Council invariably ends up requiring a patch. The most hilarious example is the so-called "Powerplays". Since the games were becoming boring during the early years of the 1990's, ICC introduced a rule restricting the number of fielders in the outfield in the 1st 15 overs ("powerplay"), encouraging more attacking batting. That eventually led to the game becoming monotonous in terms of strategy, not to mention making it boring during the rest of the innings. This was patched to allow 20 overs of powerplay, but the timing of the last 10 of those could be chosen by the fielding side, which led to nearly everyone invariably getting them done with at the earliest. This was patched again and now, the batting side was allowed to choose 5 of those overs. This was abused again, and led to another rule patch, which now restricts when these powerplays could be taken. Don't expect that you have heard the last on it.
    • A very early rule patch was introduced after an event in 1771, when one "Shock" White of Rygate went out to bat against Hambledon with a bat that was as wide as the wicket. Hambledon for some reason objected to this brilliant idea, and a four-and-a-half inch limit was promptly imposed on bat width.
  • Numerous sports - among them football, ice hockey, American football and rugby - have hastily added and often infamously complex offside rules, to prevent the various Game Breaker tactics employed that allowed the ball to be passed straight to the goal, circumventing the defence.
    • Common patch rules have been to force both teams to attempt to score rather than just stall. Football's downs system dates from the 1880s or so (look up the "block game"), pro basketball got the shot clock in 1954 after an infamously stalled game (when the Fort Wayne Pistons outlasted the Minneapolis Lakers 19-18 in a 1950 NBA game; the teams scored just four points total in the final quarter). Few such measures have been really successful in association football. In league play, making a win worth 3 points rather than 2 (a draw being worth 1), the change being made in 1981 in the (English) Football League. In knock-out tournaments, using the "Golden Goal" in extra time, where the first goal scored ends the match, had the opposite effect; it ended up encouraging defensive play to avoid conceding a match-losing goal.
  • Association Football has the back-pass rule. FIFA introduced it in 1992 to keep players from passing the ball back to their goalkeeper and grabbing the ball to waste time. It was supposedly put in place because the 1990 World Cup was full of boring time-wasting.
    • In the 1982 World Cup West Germany and Austria went into their last match of the first round knowing a win to West Germany by one or two goals would put both teams into the next round, the other two teams in the pool having played their last match the previous day. West Germany scored after ten minutes, and the teams kicked the ball around aimlessly for the rest of the match. FIFA changed the rules so that in future, the last matches in pool play would be played simultaneously.
    • There's also the 'professional foul' rule, where any foul committed by the last defender automatically results in a sending off for the player who committed the foul, regardless of how bad the foul itself was. Many players who don't fully understand why the law was brought in consider it unfair, as it victimises one player for something that might not be entirely their fault, or even their fault at all (being the last defender isn't something they can usually do anything about). However, the rule was introduced due to the practice of 'professional fouling' - simply hacking down a player that would have been clean through otherwise, safe in the knowledge that all that would be awarded was a free kick or penalty, due to the foul itself not warranting a sending-off.
  • Ice hockey has an example of a rule change that corrected a problem resulting from a previous rule change. The two line-pass rule (a pass couldn't cross a team's blue line and the center line) was instituted to prevent quick passes to players hovering behind the other team's players for a clear breakaway. Teams eventually developed the "neutral zone trap" where defending players would check any player in position to receive a legal pass, forcing a player with the puck to either make an illegal pass (which would be whistled down and brought back) or carry it out himself. This slowed the game so much that in some leagues the rule was eliminated.
    • Similarly, the "Icing" rule (teams cannot shoot the puck from their side of the ice to the other end, unless it's on goal) was added after teams would just get a lead and then keep slapping the puck down the ice to make the other team fetch. It remains valid, though, when your team is shorthanded from a penalty.
      • The icing rule was again modified in the NHL in 2005. Prior to that, teams who needed to change players but couldn't (usually because they were being pressured in their own end) would intentionally ice the puck to stop play and switch lines. The new rule prevents the offending team from making any changes until after the faceoff.
      • However, there still Ain't No Rule that says a team can't call timeout after an icing violation (though each team is only allowed one charged timeout per game). There is, however, a rule that states that no official (TV) timeouts shall be called after an icing violation.
    • More obviously, the NHL has the Martin Brodeur and Sean Avery rules. When goalkeeper Martin Brodeur got so good at playing the puck from behind the net, trapezoids in the four corners of the rink were created where it was arbitrarily illegal (a delay-of-game penalty) for goalies to play the puck. When Sean Avery, a professional pest, spent one powerplay parked in front of none other than Brodeur waving his hands and stick in his face to block his vision, mere hours after the game it was illegal to face a goaltender you were screening.
      • Brodeur's constant clearing of the puck was made worse by his team's use of the Neutral Zone Trap, mentioned above. About the only way to reliable get through the trap was to skate the puck across the center line, immediately dump it into the corner of the offensive zone, and chase after it. Brodeur was fairly fleet footed for a goalie, and had a much shorter distance to go to get the puck, so he'd rush into the corner, get the puck, and flip it out of the zone before the other team could get there. This turned games into slow paced neutral zone slogs with very few shots on goal. The Two Line Pass rule was eliminated to nerf the trap, and those "no play" areas in the corners were to prevent the goalie from slowing the game down. Hence illegally touching the puck in those areas being called Delay of Game.
    • There was a similar rule patch allowing the butterfly goalie style, as a goalie by the name of Clint Benedict would drop to his knees and assume a praying position (earning himself the nickname "Praying Benny"), as there was a rule stating that goalies were not allowed to drop to their knees to block shots. However, for some unknown reason, the referees didn't penalize him simply because he claimed he was praying (religious freedom, perhaps?) and his style became so widely successful, it is now the dominant goaltending stance in professional and collegiate hockey today.
      • Typically Benedict would skirt the rules by claiming that he fell to the ice unintentionally, either by flopping down whenever someone so much as lightly brushed by him or pretending his skates slipped on the ice.
    • Go back to 1956, when a two-minute minor penalty meant two minutes of game time in the penalty box. When the Boston Bruins took two such penalties in a game against the Montreal Canadiens and Jean Béliveau scored three times during the advantage, it was a Game Breaker and the league changed the rule so that after one goal was scored, a minor penalty ends.
      • Major (five-minute) penalties, however, are still five minutes of game time in the penalty box, regardless of number of goals scored. This was kept knowing that it was a Game Breaker in order to punish major penalties, which usually involve intentionally endangering an opposing player's safety, and often involve an ejection for the offending player (in which case, one of his teammates sits in the penalty box in his stead). It's common for teams on a five-minute power play to score two or three goals, whereas it is very difficult to score while shorthanded, so a team that commits a major penalty (except for fighting, which is generally a major penalty to the same number of players on both teams, so no power play results) usually loses the game because of it.
    • There are also obvious rule patch that are not so much about preventing game-breakers as about preventing injuries or deaths that resulted when they were used. For example, American Football banning the use of the flying wedge formation in 1894.
    • There's also the offsetting penalties rules change, which has gone back and forth. It used to be that two players sent off simultaneously for the same offense (usually fighting) resulted in four-on-four play for the time of the penalties. This was abused by the Edmonton Oilers, who used famed instigator Marty McSorley to lure other players into fights, get matching penalties, and the resulting four-on-four would give plenty of room for Wayne "The Great One" Gretzky to score. To prevent this level of abuse, offsetting penalties would not result in a four-on-four situation (until years later, when the NHL wanted to boost scoring). They also added an instigator penalty, so rather than an even-numbered situation, the instigating team would be on the penalty kill instead.
    • Goalies are no longer allowed to be captains or alternate captains in most leagues (or, if they are, it is an unofficial or ceremonial title with the actual on-ice duties of a captain being filled by another player). This is because the captains and alternate captains are the only players allowed to discuss penalties/rules interpretations with the referees and Montreal Canadiens goalie Bill Durnan (the last NHL goalie to ever be named captain) would take his time skating to and from the goal crease to confer with the referees, granting his team de-facto extra timeouts.
    • An odd example of an off-ice rules patch: the 2004/2005 NHL lockout eventually saw the introduction of a salary cap, where each team could only spend a certain amount of money on their players' salaries (implemented to make sure small-market teams, like many of the Southern US teams, remained competitive with financial heavyweights like the Canadian teams). Good in theory, except that while a player could be paid any amount in a given year, their salary cap hit was always the average value of their contract price (so a player paid 10 million one year and 2 million the next would have a cap hit of 6 million for both years). Unfortunately, the NHL didn't spot a rather obvious loophole, as there were no stipulations on contract length. As such, teams almost immediately began signing players to "front-loaded" contracts that saw them paid huge amounts of money in the first few years, followed by a drop off to almost no money in the last few years of the deal. The final years of the deal would lower the average value of the contract and, thus, the cap hit and the player would usually retire before those years ever kicked in. As such, the players still got huge salaries while the teams got to keep their cap hits low and everyone was happy... except the NHL, who not only set a maximum contract length following the 2012 lockout, they also introduced a new "Cap Recapture" rule that retroactively punishes teams who signed front-loaded contracts if the players retire early.
      • There were plenty of blatant cap-circumvention deals signed while this sort of thing was legal, but special mention goes to Ilya Kovalchuk (signed to a 15 year deal that lasted until he was 42, in a league where it's rare to see players play past their mid-30s, with the salary sharply dropping in the last 6 years of the deal) and Roberto Luongo (signed until he's 43, with salary dropping to almost nothing for the last 4 years of the deal).
    • Hockey fans began taking an increasingly dim view of dangerous hits to the head in the mid-to-late-2000s after several prominent players had their careers derailed or ended by concussions and prominent research began to highlight the long-term dangers of repeated blows to the head. The NHL seemed content to wait for things to blow over... until the league's marquee player, Sidney Crosby, was hit with a devastating - but, at the time, completely legal - hit to the head that knocked him out of the game for almost a year and a half. Unsurprisingly, the following season saw the rules around hits to the head and concussions tightened considerably.
    • How ties and overtime have been handled in the NHL has become a series of increasingly patchwork rules. Traditionally, if the game was tied at the end of regulation, it either ended in a draw or went to sudden death, where the next goal wins. The NHL followed the former format until 1983, when it instituted a 5-minute sudden death overtime period; if the game was still tied afterwards, it was recorded as a tie and each team got a point in the standings (whereas a win was worth two points and a loss was worth none). However, in the late 90s teams began to play very defensively in overtime, reasoning that it was better to play it safe and walk away with one point than gamble and risk going home with none. This led to an increase in the number of ties and, concordantly, in fan dissatisfaction. The NHL attempted a rules patch by making overtime 4-on-4 and guaranteeing the extra point to both teams that made overtime (effectively meaning that a team that won in overtime would get an extra point). The intended patch was only marginally successful; while overtime scoring increased, teams now just played defensively in the minutes leading up to overtime instead, so that they'd guarantee themselves at least one point. The NHL changed the rules again in 2004, eliminating ties and introducing a shootout at the end of overtime; bizarrely, the rule that gives teams an automatic point for reaching overtime remains, even though its justification has now been nixed from the game.
    • Enforcers in the 80s and 90s frequently wore loose-fitting jerseys so that they could shed them in a fight (thus leaving their opponents with nothing to grab onto and giving them a significant advantage). Sabres enforcer Rob Ray is generally considered the worst offender for this concept. The NHL eventually mandated that jerseys had to be tied down to a player's pants and any player found without a properly tied jersey now gets an automatic game misconduct.
  • Auto racing has a long history of these, almost from since the car was invented:
    • The Formula One rulebook includes a few basics like the driver must be in the car and driving it, the car can't be the same width of the track, and then procedes to specify almost every parameter of dimensions and engine specs to the nearest millimetre.
      • Moreover, whenever a team makes a technological discovery which gives their cars even the slightest advantage over the other teams (and which has not been yet forbidden by the rules), a patch is rushed into the rulebook to forbid it, usually enacted by the next race.
      • See the Brabham BT46B 'fan car', or the 6-wheeled Tyrrell P34.
    • During the 1960s when turbine-powered cars came onto the field and handed everyone else their asses on a silver platter. Needless to say, spurious safety complaints and absurd intake valve regulations forced them off the streets and away from the tracks.
    • Many of NASCAR's rule patches are used for safety purposes. Their two biggest examples are restrictor plates to slow the cars down at Daytona and Talladega, and mandated head and neck restraints for all drivers after the lack of such a device was a contributing factor to the death of Dale Earnhardt.
    • The Chaparral 2J forced the legendarily-free Can-Am racing series to implement a rule explicitly stating that every car can have only one engine aboard.
    • In 2012, the rules were changed to lower the height of the nose of the cars, to prevent it from striking a driver in the result of a t-bone collision. They didn't change any of the rules about the bodywork in that area apart from the nose height though, which resulted in most teams simply adding an obvious and inelegant step down to nose.
    • A notable aversion with the 2009 double diffuser incident. A few teams found a loophole which helped them to massively increase the efficiency of their diffuser, greatly increasing their down-force and gaining them as much as half a second a lap in a sport where a tenth of a second is considered a massive chasm. Other teams objected but the FIA ruled the double diffuser legal (though they did end up banning it in 2012 to reduce speed and increase safety).
    • The 24 Hours of Le Mans has several of these, most notably the banning of the Le Mans start, where everyone runs to their cars and starts them instead of starting in their cars, because drivers would simply set off without putting on their safety harnesses, with inevitable results. Others include a ban on single piece bodies (after a driver was killed when his came apart) and the addition of two chicanes to the Mulsenne straight to try to bring speeds down.
    • Indy Car got an obvious Rule Patch saying that anyone who placed pit equipment or personnel in such a way as to impede other racers entering or exiting the pits would be punished after the 2013 race at Sonoma Raceway. What happened was Scott Dixon hit the tire that Will Power's right rear tier changer, sending him flying into the left rear tire changer and Dixon's team accused the crewmember of purposefully walking into Dixon's car, and he (Dixon) was the only one punished, with a drive through penalty that may have cost him the race.
    • It should be noted that a lot of obvious rules patches are put in simply to increase driver safety in a sport where it once held very true that Anyone Can Die.
  • In the NFL a committee meets every year to implement new Obvious Rule Patches to react to the previous year. Over the years, the game has accreted a whole section to patch specific actions of individual players.
    • Similarly, the IOC's Eddie "The Eagle" rule.
    • The infamous "Snowplow Game", a scoreless defensive battle between the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots on a frozen field in 1982. A few minutes before the end of the game, Patriots coach Ron Meyer called a timeout so that a snowplow could clear a patch on the field for the field goal kicker, resulting in a 3-0 victory. Dolphins coach Don Shula was a longtime member of the NFL Rules Committee, and there was a new rule in place for the next season banning the use of snowplows during games.
    • As a result of the 2003 AFC Championship Game, in which the Patriots shut down the Indianapolis Colts' offense, then-Colts general manager and Competition Committee member Bill Polian lobbied the NFL to strictly enforce the various holding, illegal contact, and pass interference rules the following season. As a result, the NFL became the passing league that it is currently.
      • Before that, in the 70s, the NFL had to make new pass interference rules, dubbed the Mel Blount Rule, to stop defensive backs, most notably Steeler cornerback, Mel Blount, from mugging opposing receivers.
      • Likewise, blocking rules were implemented to keep players (read: Steeler WR Hines Ward) from murdering people with blindside blocks to the upper chest/head area after Hines Ward racked up an impressive body count doing this, including knocking all star Raven's safety, Ed Reed, out cold and breaking the jaw of a Bengal's first round draft pick in the third game of the season.
    • The downs system was one of these. In the original football rules, the ball only changed teams when someone scored, on interceptions, or at the end of a half. This discouraged attempting to score (since a fumble meant the other team could theoretically have the ball for the rest of the game), and finally lead to a game where one team simply ran around their side of the field for the entire half, followed by the other team doing the same in the next half. Amidst the public outcry, a fan identified simply as "an Englishman" wrote to the commissioner, suggesting that teams only possess the ball for four scrimmages. The commissioner, not wanting a situation where a team had the ball yanked away right at the opposing goal line, adjusted it to give a team three "downs" and reset a team's downs if they could get at least five yards before they ran out (later adjusted to four downs and ten yards).
  • Cracked's 5 Dumb Ways People Have Won at Sports mentions a 1978 game where the Oakland Raiders abused the fumble rule to bounce-pass the football over and over all the way to the end zone. The NFL quickly outlawed this "Holy Roller" tactic.
  • Roller derby's WFTDA rules, being less than ten years old, are constantly coming out with new rule sets featuring these. One example: roller derby is played in a racing-style ring, and it's a penalty to cut the track then re-enter play in front of other players. A common strategy used to be hitting opponents at the curve, forcing them to cut the corner before they could stop. A patched rule made it so you could avoid the penalty by simply falling over before skidding back into the track.
  • Basketball is an egregious example.
    • For one, early hoops lacked backboards. Backboards were created to not only make the shots a little easier, but to prevent fans on the balcony where the hoop was attached from interfering with the game by deflecting or guiding shots into the hoop. Plus, the boards were initially made from chicken wire, which caused the ball to stop dead in its tracks and fall into the hoop.
    • A jump ball was once called after every shot as opposed to the beginning of each quarter, which killed the pacing considerably and bored the fans.
    • Whenever the ball went out of bounds, it was thrown into field and the first to gain possession got a free throw. This led to both teams madly rushing after the ball — even into the crowd.
    • The shot clock was introduced to counter the four-corners offense, where the team with the lead would position four players at the corners of the offensive half-court and one at the center, then just pass the ball around ad infinitum to maintain possession and eat up the game clock. This made for a slow, low-scoring game that bored the spectators.
    • Whenever an offensive player was surrounded by defensive players and couldn't pass, he would simply toss the ball higher than his head, thus "passing it to himself" and avoiding getting fouled for traveling. (Basketball creator James Naismith stated that passing was the only legal way of advancing the ball, and the original design of the ball was hard to bounce.) This was seen as ridiculous-looking, however, and would soon pave the way for dribbling that would serve the same purpose.
    • One particular player, Rasheed Wallace, had two rules made in his "honor": one which stated that any player who got 16 technical fouls in a single season would be fined and suspended for one game, and another which prohibited "demonstrative displays" in response to referee calls.
    • The off-the-ball-foul rule, which was created to prevent the opposing team from chasing around the worst free throw shooter on the team with possession of the ball. One such poor shooter happened to be Wilt Chamberlain.
    • Another rule change that came about because of Wilt Chamberlain: He originally countered his abysmal free-throw shooting by taking advantage of the fact that at the time, players were allowed a running start so long as they didn't step across the free throw line. Wilt would therefore jump right before reaching the line and dunk his free throws. The rule was quickly changed so that players aren't allowed to cross the free throw line at all before the ball hits the rim, instead of only being barred from touching the floor in front of the line.
  • Game Show Network's Extreme Dodgeball had a rule amendment only minutes after the exploit occurred. A rule to prevent delay of game would cause a team to automatically lose a player if they had both balls on their side of the court for a given (brief) length of time. David Benedetto placed both balls on edge of the opposing team's side. Thus, the players had to move forward to retrieve the balls, at which point Benedetto could easily pick up a ball without crossing the line and nail them. An all-purpose patch named the "Benedetto Amendment" was placed to prevent any players abusing delay-of-game rules to their own benefit.
  • Olympic Fencing descends from duels fought with smallswords, rapiers, and sabers. While sabers have a cutting edge (they were used from horseback as late as the American Civil War), smallswords and rapiers are both pure thrusting weapons which are almost never used to slash and only really have sharpened edges to make Barehanded Blade Block attempts impractical. Traditionally, touches are delivered by a clean thrust which depresses a button on the weapon's tip, causing a circuit to complete and a scoring light to flare. Due to the exceptional flexibility of fencing swords, sportsmen learned to "flick," or snap the weapon in a manner which caused the blade to bend around an opponent's guard and touch with the tip. The flick looks nothing like a traditional sword technique. Flicks became so dominant, especially in foil, that many fencers started calling it a "flick-fest." The sport's governing body, the FIE, patched timing rules on how long the button has to be depressed before it counts to make flicks much less viable. Most fencers consider this a good thing. Saber fencers still have a whip-over, where an electrified saber's long blade can bend and touch an opponent. Since sabers are electrified over the whole length, this means an attack which would not cut with an actual saber can still establish contact with the opponent and score a point in competition. Sabreurs are divided over whether whip-overs improve the game or not and referees have a hard time making calls on them. Was it a whip-over, an unsuccessful parry, or a remise? Good luck calling that action when it takes place in a fraction of a second. In 2000, new regulations made sabre blades much stiffer to reduce this, but it can still happen. Nowadays the FIE seems to be moving towards "if the circuit was completed, it counts."
    • Also, in saber, the cross-forward move (in which the back foot crosses in front of the front one) is banned; it is permissible in both the other weapons, and was banned in saber to prevent the fencers always fleching at each other.
    • The ban on exposing the back of the head is due to a cheat two epeeists came up with, in which they turned their back and turned their opponent, grazing their own leg on the way (which registers as a touch scored.) Nobody is quite sure why the rule patch also applies to foil and sabre, since the legs are only valid target areas in epee.
    • Then there are things like this, which read like obvious rule patches — and are rife for speculation about what the hell must have happened to get the rule put in place:
      • t.21.5: "If during a bout a fencer who has made a flčche attack note  has a touch registered against him and he continues to run beyond the extreme limit of the strip sufficiently far to cause his reel or the connecting line to his reel to be torn out, the touch which he has received will not be annulled."
  • The two-rock, three-rock, and Moncton guard rules in curling, which state that a rock in play but not in scoring position cannot be taken out by the opposing team before a number of rocks have been thrown in that end. The issue was that one team would get a couple points ahead and then simply take out every other rock the other team threw, leaving them no opportunity to score and making for a very boring game. As the accuracy of takeout shots and the skill of the players has improved, the number of rocks that must be thrown before the guards can be eliminated grows.
    • This was one case where technology forced the rule change: in the 1980s, ice-makers (generally Canadian) became very, very good at making ice surfaces that behaved in a much more predictable manner than before, allowing greater consistency in shooting and not needing as much force to throw the rock, thus allowing greater accuracy. The "peel game" developed almost immediately.
    • In some situations, it reached absurd levels where you knew who would probably win before the match even started. In curling, if no points were scored in an end, the team that shot last shoots last again. A team that had a good peeling game, if they won the coin toss to shoot last in the first end, would simply blank end after end until the last one where they'd simply have to get the last rock of the game somewhere in the rings to win. For non-curling American football fans, imagine if the coin flip at the beginning of the Super Bowl basically decided who was going to win and the rest of the game was pointless.
  • In Rugby Union, the rule that a temporary substitute cannot kick for goal was added after the Bloodgate scandal, in which a fake injury was used to get a kicker on the field.
  • In American college football, the 2010 Music City Bowl between North Carolina and Tennessee had Tennessee leading 20-17 in the closing seconds of regulation, and North Carolina desperately lining up to "spike" the ball and stop the clock, so that they could attempt a last-second field goal to force overtime. In the scramble, North Carolina ended up with 6 extra players on the field, so despite not managing to spike the ball, the clock was stopped due to the penalty. North Carolina made their field goal and went on to win 30-27 in double overtime. For the next season, the NCAA introduced a rule that if a team causes a clock stoppage via penalty during the final minute of a half, the opposing team can choose to run 10 seconds off the clock, thus preventing a team from benefiting from a penalty they committed. Fittingly, the first team to have this new rule used against them in the 2010-2011 season was North Carolina.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is common in logical puzzles placed in RPGs. You want perfect glue and indestructible rope and disintegration runes so that the players can figure out a clever solution to your logical puzzle - but you don't want them to use those items on anything other than that puzzle. The cheap solution is to make them work only in a specific place, or on specific objects, or only once.
    • In a later version of the Tomb of Horrors, the scepter and crown of disintegration (put the crown on your head, touch one end of the scepter to it, you disintegrate) cannot be removed from the room they're in by any means (the description goes to great lengths to cover any eventuality). Earlier versions of the Tomb had no such rule at all. The reason eventually emerged during a conversation on a message board: One of the artists working on an earlier copy of the module was invited to a session of the Tomb DMed by none other than Gary Gygax himself. The artist took the scepter and crown from the room, then eventually placed the crown on the fake skull of Acererak and touched the scepter to it, disintegrating the lich instantly. Gygax was stunned, as the eventuality had never occurred to him. The artist, on the other hand, thought that's what they were there for. The artist was quite surprised when he was later informed of the rule change.
  • Pretty much all of the spell entries more complicated than "You do X damage to Y targets at Z range" in the 3.5 edition rules of Dungeons & Dragons consist of long strings of Obvious Rule Patches. There are spells like Polymorph that are one paragraph of explaining what the spell does, and roughly eleven paragraphs of explaining what the spell cannot do.
    • One of the most basic Obvious Rule Patch is the rule that bonuses of the same types don't stack - only the largest one takes effect (with the exception of dodge bonuses to AC in third edition). This has led to many rule patching to give untyped bonuses types so they couldn't be so easily stacked.
    • 3.0 spellcasters had a bad habit of using summoning heavy creatures in midair, causing them to deal obscene damage as falling objects when they hit opponents. While this is an imminently logical thing to do with a summoning spell, it's not only Not the Intended Use but also a Game Breaker. Wizards of the Coast amended the summon spells in 3.5 to prevent creatures from being summoned into an environment that can't support them (i.e., no flying whales).
    • You can't sunder armor in 3.5. You can break weapons, shields, even items they're wearing like pendants. Just not armor. It would be easier to just break the fallen paladin's armor and then stab him, leading to silly situations such as the above.
    • Another patch was the spell Dimensional Door. In 3.5E its pretty much an early teleport spell, in previous editions (as the name implies) it created a pair of portals through which the PCs could travel great distances. While that may not sound so bad, PCs often created horizontal or diagonal doors to bisect enemies (or fortifications!) that lead to instant kills. Another tactic was to open a portal into a volcano or sea and use the exit portal to flood an enemy base with lava or drown it completely.
    • When a player turns into an animal, he can no longer speak, but can make that animal's natural vocalizations. The rule inform you that a parrot's natural call is just squawking, so no talking as a parrot.
  • Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons errata has had some obvious rule patches:
    • The Ranger ability that let you make continual attacks until you miss was errated to have a 5 attack limit as it was possible to make a build which had an almost zero chance of ever missing, even against the strongest monster in the Monster Manual.
    • The Ranger power "Unbalancing Parry" allowed the character to move an enemy behind them if they countered the enemy's attack. Unfortunately, the rules on forced movement specified that if the power didn't specifically state a maximum distance you could move an opponent, you could move them wherever you liked as long as they ended up on the square the power specified. This meant that the Ranger could "parry" the enemy through a tour of the entire battlefield, including impaling themselves on nearby spikes or entering fire hazards, as long as they ended up behind the Ranger.
    • A similar problem with forced movement arose with a rule that banned forcing creatures to move upwards. This was intended to prevent launching creatures upwards and leaving them to fall back down and suffer damage, but an errata had to be issued to state that the existence of a rising slope or staircase on the ground did not prevent all forced movement by requiring it to include an upward component.
    • The half elf has a power called dilettante which lets it choose an at-will power from a different class and have it as an encounter power. Pre-errata though it worked on at-will powers of any level, not just level 1 powers.
  • In most D&D-like games, you can't wear more than one or two magical items of a certain "slot" and benefit from all their powers. While it makes sense that you can't wear multiple pairs of, say, boots, there's no reason for the usual "two rings, one amulet" rule other than balance issues. This is usually justified with a contrived excuse that the magic items will interfere with each other. Even though you can often wear a helmet, armor, and a neck slot item, or gloves, bracers, possibly armor (which probably has gauntlets of some sort included), and a ring.
    • In the Fourth Edition, shields count as taking up the magic items arms slot and a wielding-in-hand slot. It means you can't use bracers+shield or two shields and get the magical effects of both.
  • Construction rules in Battletech often have arbitrary-seeming restrictions. For instance, conventional combat vehicles can use standard heat sinks just fine (and must account for all the heat their entire energy arsenal might build up if fired since they're not allowed to overheat), but are explicitly prohibited from using other types — notably double heat sinks, which in conjunction with their ability to already fire ballistic and missile weapons with no heat worries would allow fusion engine-equipped vehicles in particular to really load up on lightweight energy weapons and make them easily too powerful for a game where the BattleMech is supposed to be the "king of the battlefield".
    • There was also an instance where Battle Armor riding on an Omni Mech can be shot off of the 'mech by shots that land on the torso. Doesn't seem too bad, but given that there is no weight penalty for carrying Battle Armor, the Battle Armor were always the first to take hits, and the 'mech's torso wouldn't begin to take damage until all the Battle Armor were shot off... it's understandable why the next rulebook created fixed locations for each Battle Armor. (To clarify, this made Clan Elementals the equivalent of nearly 3.5 tons of standard armor at a cost of 1 ton of weight and a no-torso-weapons fire restriction. Now recall there are some Clan Omnis with no torso-mounted weapons.)
    • Early rules for Rotary autocannons, LBX autocannons and pulse lasers allowed them to use Targeting Computers to make called shots. Usually, calling shots comes at a penalty to the to-hit dice, but when it succeeds, it can cause some serious damage. 'Mechs carrying a Targeting Computer and one or more Rotary AC/5 could theoretically put 30 damage into one location, buzzsawing through all but the toughest armor in a single hit. 'Mechs carrying a Targeting Computer and pulse lasers or LBX autocannons could use the pulse lasers' to-hit bonus to offset the to-hit penalty and score fairly easy targeted hits, and much the same was true for the LBX cannons firing cluster rounds. The rules were soon patched to remove the ability for any weapon that fires multiple projectiles in a single salvo (including the pulse lasers, as they are fluffed as firing multiple laser beams in rapid succession) to make called shots.
    • Land-Air 'Mechs were originally a Master of None multirole machine, and the Powers That Be generally wanted them kept out of the setting and all game campaigns to avoid the wrath of the excessively litigious Harmony Gold. Early on, LAM units were generally regarded as inefficient under the basic (Level 1) rules and were not often used, which suited the developers just fine. Come the advent of Level 2 technology, however, Land-Air 'Mechs were suddenly more useful, being able to make up for the lost weight that LAM technology demanded and become viable battlefield units at long last. However, it took nearly two decades for the developers to realize that this meant that they could sneak back into the canon and board games, and they finally thought to patch the construction rules so that LAM units could not use any of the lightweight advanced technology introduced in Level 2 and 3 play to save weight, on grounds of 'interfering with their transformational abilities,' reducing them back down to inefficient curiosities and keeping Harmony Gold at bay.
  • Warhammer 40,000: A Commissar (of any rank) will never execute himself.
    • "Under no circumstances can any [necron] make more than one teleport move in a single turn... There are no exceptions to this, no matter how clever your logic."
    • "Please note that it is not possible to master-craft grenades!" note  This despite the Holy "Orb" of Antioch featured in Codex: Black Templars, which is explicitly the creation of a "master artificer" in its description!
    • Space Marine drop pods are clearly 10-man craft (visible in the model and still stated in some codexes), but other codexes expanded it to 12 to allow an independent character to deploy with the squad. Without changing the model.
    • Many of the Online FAQs were the result of the writers getting a little ahead of themselves and forgetting to state the obvious. The most infamous case was defining what a plasma weapon was, given that several weapons are explicitly stated to be plasma weapons, but do not carry the word in the name or any special rules related to other plasma weapons (several other weapons that were never stated to be plasma weapons were retroactively given this classification, causing much facepalming). Given that there is a competitive scene and general randomness of the game, these are a necessity as rule lawyers have a field day whenever a new codex comes out.
    • In their Lord of the Rings game, one version of Frodo had an "inspiring presence" rule which stated "Frodo counts as a banner in all respects." A later reprint added "with the exception that he cannot be picked up and wielded by another model." Guess what particularly "creative" players tried to do with Frodo before this?
  • In GURPS, it is possible to enchant a pair of permanent Gate spells and then arrange them to create a perpetual motion machine using electromagnetic principles that could then be tapped for an unending mana supply. (Click the link in the subtopic below if you're curious as to technical details.) However, due to the various components required, this would need a setting where both modern science existed, magic existed, and the Draw Power spell from GURPS Grimoire 3e specifically existed. In the one GURPS setting where this is canonical (GURPS Technomancer), three guesses which spell has an entire sidebar devoted to explaining how it specifically does not exist. Hint: Four-letter word, begins with "G".
    • This probably had something to do with the fact that David R. Pulver, the writer of Technomancer participated/lurked in a Usenet thread where the "Infinite Mana Well" construct was first proposed... at the exact same time Technomancer was in final playtest.
  • In The Trillion Credit Challenge (using Traveller), contestants had to purchase and field a fleet of ships to do battle with other fleets. Doug Lenat fed the parameters of the tournament into a computer (in 1981) which suggested that instead of sending in a balanced fleet of carriers, battleships, cruisers, and so on, he should instead build thousands of tiny patrol boats. He won in a rout - though he took incredible losses, he overwhelmed his opponents through sheer numbers. The organizers then made their first Obvious Rule Patch - they added 'fleet agility' as a parameter for the following year's tournament. When Lenat entered again, his computer used much the same strategy with one change - whenever any of his ships was damaged, they would sink themselves, which kept the average mobility of the fleet up. The organizers then made their second patch - tell Lenat that it was weird to have his unorthodox plans keep winning (since, after all, they relied on ordering thousands of men to suicidenote ) and that if he continued to enter, they would stop holding the tournament. Lenat then bowed out gracefully.
  • The rules for creating abominations in old World Of Darkness. Briefly: if you attempt to turn a werewolf into a vampire, the werewolf gets a skill roll. He wins, he dies peacefully. He loses, he dies horribly but his soul is free. He botches, he becomes an abomination, essentially a walking Game Breaker balanced out by crippling depression. Since there are all sorts of abilities in tWoD that can cause a skill roll to fail or critically fail, the editors in Revised Edition state that nothing short of divine intervention can affect the roll note .
  • Pathfinder is basically a tweaked Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 and (to make up for an initial shortage of material) was said to be compatible with 3.5 which led to some game breakers. They tend to fix these by introducing their own version of the feat/skill/class ability/prestige class. Especially noticeable with spells. The Irresistible Dance spell used to be a no-save incapacitation spell. Now, it allows a save though even those who make it have to dance uncontrollably for one round.
    • The Quick Draw feat allows you to draw any item from your pack as a free action... except flasks of alchemist's fire or acid. You also cannot sneak attack with such items, unlike all other weapons. These changes were obviously put in place due to volleys of flasks being popular among 3.5e rogues as a means to fight enemies resistant to physical damage or vulnerable to fire.
      • Given that there was nothing game-breaking or even specially effective about flash throwing Rogues in 3.5, this is more a case of the Pathfinder lead designer hating the idea of Rogues throwing flasks as weapons than an actual Rules Patch. Pathfinder's designers deliberately ignored the extensive notes made by the 3.5 Character Optimization forum community on 3.5 game-breaking rules that required patches, which is why most of them still exist in Pathfinder.
    • Also, the original 3.X rules for non-lethal damage resulted in jokes about how you can punch people all day without killing them, the rule was changed so that after a character has accumulated enough non-lethal damage to equal their maximum HP any further damage is automatically lethal.
  • So many in Exalted, probably because every single character carries a Game Breaker power... to give an example: Accuracy Without Distance, an advanced Solar Archery charm, basically says, "you can't miss". In the same paragraph where it says so, it also says "you can't shoot through the gap in someone's armor". You can almost hear First And Forsaken Lion laughing at you.
  • Starfleet Battles had immense problems with this in editions prior to the current edition, partly because the designers would allow rule changes if enough people wanted them or a strong enough case was made for them. It reached proportions where the 3rd edition was becoming unplayable. The current edition has an explicit decision that no such changes will be made unless they are genuine loophole closures or error corrections. The famous volume of the rules also is intended to include all situations that could arise in terms of rules interacting with each other explicitly and consistently without adding additional patches later. The difficulty of making ship design rules work properly (prior editions had more changes to these than any other part of the system) was the official reason why they were not released for a long time.
  • Until Augmentation described the optional "Essence hole" rule, it was possible (by rules as written) for a Shadowrun character to die by replacing his cyberarm enough times.
  • Hero Clix had to apply two, relatively quickly, after the game was launched. The original rules let flying characters carry a friendly character as they moved, with no restrictions. "Taxis", cheap pieces with no combat utility but valued simply because they could fly, rapidly became a necessary component of any team, since the mobility they granted to their team meant any team without taxis simply could not compete. WizKids double-patched it, declaring that fliers cannot carry other fliers, and that carried characters could take no further actions on the turn they were carried.

    Video Games 
  • In an early version of Neverwinter Nights, a loophole in the rules was found that let monks wear a shield in their offhand, making them virtually unhittable for no real downside. In the very next patch, monks were made unable to wear shields and retain monk dodge / attack bonuses at the same time.
    • And then Monk/Shifter builds began exploiting the equipment merge mechanism while polymorphed; they would get the AC bonuses from gear, and then get the monk dodge bonus after merging tower shields and full plates (since they weren't actually wearing them after morphing). Later versions turned all AC bonuses earned this way into dodge bonuses, which only stack up to a hard limit.
  • In an early release of Battlefield 2142, it was entirely possible for two soldiers with nothing better to do to destroy their own Titan (and thus force their team to lose the round) by forcing a transport through the floor of the hangar bay and into the Core.
  • EVE Online has had several updates that were borderline Obvious Rule Patches. However, the patch that prevented carriers from transporting loaded cargo ships was a glaringly Obvious Rules Patch.
    • Similarly, nowadays graviton harmonics prevent players from taking a 3000m^3 cargo container that holds 3300m^3 of cargo... and putting another 3000m^3 container that holds 3300m^3 inside it leaving 300m^3 of free space. With enough cargo containers you could once haul an entire solar system's worth of ore in a single, moderately sized and priced ship.
  • A fairly obscure item from World of Warcraft called the Luffa would remove any bleed effect. A boss over 20 levels later would put a hefty bleed dot on raid members at fairly regular intervals. Everyone would equip their Luffa and make Moroes a total joke. The next patch put a spell level cap on the Luffa ie. you couldn't remove bleed effects over level 60 anymore.
    • Other such items got similar treatments, essentially turning this into standard procedure. There are many such items in Mists of Pandaria that already state that they won't work on players above level 94... long before the next expansion was even announced.
    • Similar restrictions exist for item enchantments, both to limit abuse of high-level enchantments on low level items and to keep certain temporary effects out of later content rather than removing them completely.
    • An old patch for WoW allowed everyone in a group to place marks - graphical icons that go above monsters or players and are used to make them more visible or indicate a kill order for the group - instead of only the group's leader being able to do it. There followed an unofficial addon while allowed players to automatically strobe the marks across the group members, rapidly swapping them around, much to the annoyance of many players. The very next patch added a notification of who was setting marks.
    • In July of 2009, a hunter was discovered with a worgen (a sentient, werewolf-like creature) for a pet, and within a few hours the hunter community had figured out how and where to get this particular beast; pretty much everyone who could obtain one had one. Within two days the tamed worgen were patched to have all their skills and attacks completely removed, and after a few more days they were replaced entirely by ordinary white wolves. However, considering that worgen became a playable race in the Cataclysm expansion, this may have been for the better. This is only the case for the single Worgen, any "beast" that's not a beast (such as a slime or a hydra) were allowed to stay.
    • There was a video posted on YouTube a few years back where a paladin killed, in one move, a raid boss designed for dozens of players to take several minutes to bring down. The Reckoning talent had the effect that when a paladin was struck they might gain a stack of Reckoning, causing their next attack to hit twice. One enterprising player dueled a rogue many times without ever striking back, then went up to the boss in question and proceeded to hit it more than a thousand times in one blow. Within twenty four hours the talent was nerfed so that it caused you to hit twice for the next few attacks. Of course, seeing as Reckoning was about the only ability in the entire game that possessed neither stack limit nor duration, this was only to be expected.
    • Before the Cataclysm expansion revamped most quests from vanilla WoW, there was a long Alliance quest chain in the zone of Ashenvale where the intermediate quests made use of an item called "Dartol's Rod of Transformation", which temporarily turned the player into a furbolg. The change was purely cosmetic, but the rod was usable anywhere in the world and had no use limit, so players often kept the rod and never turned in the quest, as it was more attractive than the actual quest rewards. In patch 3.0.2, the text "Only usable in Ashenvale" was added to its description, but the restriction was never actually implemented and it was still usable outside Ashenvale. Eventually, Blizzard gave up and removed the requirement to turn in the rod at the end of the quest, allowing players to complete the quest and still keep it indefinitely. The modern version of the quest chain, introduced in Cataclysm, uses another item called simply "Dartol's Rod", which is indeed only usable in Ashenvale. However, players who had the old rod before Cataclysm are allowed to keep it.
      • This change was later reverted, though some versions of the rod still have the requirement stated in the item description without being actually applied. Furthermore, Blizzard announced that in Warlords of Draenor, most such quest items can be kept after the questline.
    • Due to the way stats scale, a level 80 Paladin used some Mists of Pandaria drops to greatly increase his stats beyond what a level 90 in the same gear would have. Combined with Vengeance, which boosts attack power based on the strength of enemy attacks, he was able to solo several bosses in Mogu'Shan Vaults, a level 90 raid. Blizzard quickly capped Vengeance so that it could not exceed the health of the user.
    • Early in the game's release, endgame PvP suffered from a problem where the damage a player did - suitable and balanced for PvE - was so high compared to their own health that certain classes could kill other endgame players outright in a single hit or two. PvP became a game of getting off that first devastatingly powerful nuke before the enemy could. This problem was addressed by adding Resilience to the game: A stat which exists for absolutely no purpose except to reduce the damage players take when facing enemy players.
      • Later on, PvP Power was added as an offensive stat, basically to counteract Resilience. In Warlords of Draenor, Blizzard looks to largely eliminate both stats in favor of other tweaks to the basic damage calculations, but a special rule will still exist to limit the amount of damage deal with critical hits to other players.
      • PvP in general was subject to a lot of rule changes, especially when it comes to stun and crowd control effects. Those were fine in PvE, but for PvP most crowd control effects were nerfed significantly in a number of ways, some of which also applied in PvE. In addition, a trinket was added that allowed players to break out of such effects once every 2 minutes, which previously only the undead racial Will of the Forsaken ability could do.
  • In Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars, an item called "Kelen's Dagger" allows teleportation of one's own hero, and it's possible to teleport yourself into terrain that you cannot escape from, except by using Kelen's Dagger again later. Two heroes who can affect other heroes are arbitrarily forbidden from using Kelen's at all. DotA 2 now allows Pudge and Vengeful Spirit to use this item (now simply known as Blink Dagger), but attempting to trap an enemy on a cliff grants the enemy free pathing for a few seconds.
    • Meanwhile there are items such as Force Staff, and the heroes affected by this restriction can be teleported onto cliffs by certain other heroes. Vengeful Spirit can also ask an ally to teleport onto an inescapable cliff, then use her Swap ability, then sit there waiting to deposit an unsuspecting enemy onto the cliff. In Dota 2 the Invisible Wall on many cliffs has been removed, making cliff trapping a legitimate strategy using abilities such as Telekinesis or Vacuum. The restriction remains though, for largely arbitrary reasons.
    • A blatant example is the nerf to bottlecrowing. The idea behind the strategy is that the mid laner, who usually buys a bottle (an item that refills mana and health and can be recharged at the fountain), uses the courier to continuously ferry the bottle back and forth to the fountain, making it almost impossible to push them out of the lane through attrition. The nerf? The courier now moves 30% slower when carrying an empty bottle (but not a full one or any other item including heavy weapons).
    • Another one was an interaction between Pudge's Meat Hook and Chen's Test of Faith, which if executed properly would pull anyone unfortunate enough to be hooked all the way to the fountain. Soon after this tactic was successfully used at The International 3 to devastating effect, this interaction was completely removed.
  • Starting in version 1.3, Iji tells you in some places (the arena for Asha's rematch comes to mind) that "there's no need to fire your Nanogun here". Sometimes it was literally true, but in many cases it was because firing your Nanogun there could bug out the game.
    • Iji has a few things like this in the later versions. When it became possible to win the game without killing anyone, this necessitated the player not fighting one of the bosses, because the only way to get by is to kill him. The solution? Have a new character help you by one-shotting him. However, ten minutes are added to your time... because otherwise a pacifist speedrun on the first couple of levels would be much faster than previously. The developer, Daniel Remar, wanted speedruns to be fair between versions.
    • In a later update, it doesn't count as a kill if you reflect an enemy's fire back into them with a force field weapon. Previously, "pacifist" players would gather dropped power-ups by stocking up on health, moving right next to enemies, and catching rockets with the main character's face for the Splash Damage.
  • Kingdom of Loathing automatically ends combat with a special message after 30 rounds of combat (or 50 rounds for some bosses) have elapsed with no winner, with a net result equivalent to successfully running away on the 31st round. This was apparently done originally to prevent a possible near-infinite loop that would result if the player's Muscle was too low to hit the monster and his/her Moxie was too high for the monster to hit him/her, while his/her combat initiative was too low to run away. Newer mechanics make such a situation much less plausible, but the rule has remained and still serves to cap the potential effectiveness of any strategy that involves stalling and drawing out combat for per-round effects. For example:
    • The Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot familiar used to randomly give Meat with a fixed chance of about 1 in 9 per round of combat. Since this made it advantageous to drag out combat to as close to 30 turns as possible without going over and thus using up much more server resources than normal, the NPZR now only gives Meat in the first 10 turns of combat.
    • Another much-maligned Obvious Rule Patch came with NS13: Before NS13, players found that increasing monster level (which also increased XP gains) and increasing noncombat encounter chance were both extremely useful. So when NS13 rolled out, the devs added a rule that made increased monster level cancel out increased noncombat chance. Unfortunately, this had the side effect of making monster level increasers less than useless. Over a year and a half later, the devs realized that nobody liked this in the slightest and removed the rule.
    • Another rule is "can't use Double Fisted Skull Smashing to wield a Chefstaff in your offhand." Due to the way DFSS (halves the power of offhand weapons but leaves enchantments alone) and Chefstaves (lowest power possible but incredible enchantments) work, this rule prevents two builds, a rather unpleasant one and a horribly broken one: the former, a weapon/chefstaff combo that makes a Magic Knight with no detriment for either one, the latter, a Chefstaff/Chefstaff combo that results in spells so powerful that it can take down anything almost in one hit.
    • The KoL staff's usual modus operandi in the event of players accomplishing things they didn't count on players accomplishing is to reward the player for their cleverness/tenacity, then change the game so that the stunt can't be repeated. (Or at least, theoretically can't be repeated; after the first person beat the final boss without the Smurf, the changes they made turned out not to be sufficient to keep it from happening again. Now you auto-win or auto-lose depending on whether or not you have the item in question.)
  • In the Programming Game RoboWar, allowing robots to teleport and fire weapons interchangeably in the same chronon let a robot with sufficient processor speed leap a considerable distance (depending on its current energy) to put a lethal contact shot into another robot, leaving it next to no time to defend or counterattack — and executing another move after the shot (the "jerker" strategy) made it harder to target for a counterattack. That the robot's energy would already go deeply negative in the middle of the chronon didn't matter much (so long as it didn't fall below -200), since it wouldn't become immobilized by having negative energy until the next chronon. This allowed the "dasher" strategy to achieve considerable dominance, and in time most top-placing robots in tournaments, dashers or not, had to use "anti-dasher" techniques. To rebalance the game, an Obvious Rule Patch was instated (amid much controversy) to prevent move/shoot in the same chronon.
    • An earlier Obvious Rule Patch was the "aggressive scoring system". The original scoring system simply granted your robot one point for surviving to the end of the battle. A game-theory analysis of this says the optimal strategy is to only start attacking if your opponent does, and sure enough, by the eighth tournament, the vast majority of "battles" consisted of two robots sitting there peacefully until the timer ran out, at which point they both scored a point. The patch was to change the scoring system to give one point for defeating the other robot (to encourage aggression) and one point for surviving to the end of the battle (to discourage suicidal aggression).
  • The Silencer skill in Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken and The Sacred Stones gives your Assassin the chance to instantly kill any foe, so long as they have a chance to land a critical hit. This allowed them to plow through most bosses with ease. While this was negated by the final bosses of both games, whose equipment automatically reduced the enemy's crit chance to 0, it still left most other bosses vulnerable. It was obviously fixed in Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, where the description of the Silencer skill (now renamed Lethality) simply states it doesn't work on bosses without any reasoning or attempt at justification.
    • That is, unless you're Volke.
    • Turned on its head in Awakening. Now Lethality CAN be done on bosses; it just has a much lower chance of happening (unlike the Elibe games, it's independent of crit rate but unlike the Tellius duology, its activation chance is the user's Skill stat divided by four out of a hundred as opposed to 2). There are still bosses immune to it, but they're denoted by the special "Dragon Skin" skill which also grants other effects (like immunity to Counter). And Lethality can still activate; it'll just do the same amount of damage as a normal attack and won't have the graphics filter.
  • In the MMORPG Lords of Legend, your level bonus is apparently capped at 5 times the number of troops. Few know about the cap, because in order to get even close to the cap, you have to spend weeks doing the exact opposite of what you are supposed to.
    • It is also played straight with the 'invisibility' strategy (You don't show up on attack pages if you haven't won an attack yet), which has been severely nerfed with increasingly harsh and arbitrary restrictions on invisible players.
  • Gaia Online has had quite a few:
    • First, there's soulbinding, the most famous and controversial of the lot. In the first couple months of open beta, users were allowed to buy and sell their rings. This caused a few problems. The most obvious, of course, was that people could buy their way through the game, resulting in many CL 10s who had no idea what they were doing. Another effect was on the economy. Charge Orbs, the items that power up rings, were earned in-game, not bought. Higher-level rings are naturally more valued than weak ones, so people were charging up rings and then selling them, effectively creating expensive items with little to no cost to the users. This was quickly changed so that rings were "soulbound", meaning they could no longer be put on the marketplace.
      • But only rings acquired after the update or older rings that are equipped. Unsoulbound rings are still being sold, and there is also a new ring sold for real money as a Valentine's Day event item. It has officially been described as being permanently unsoulbound.
    • A bit later, CL caps were placed on boss lairs so that people couldn't recruit their CL 10 friends to help them beat the boss. Clever players soon found a way to circumvent this by wearing low-level rings when entering the boss area, then switching out to their stronger ones. The devs soon closed this loophole.
  • In Civilization III, players could initially chop down and replant forests in relatively short order. This made a certain amount of sense, up to a point anyway, but it also created an infinite supply of construction materials. It was quickly patched so that replanted forests contained no useful wood.
  • In Final Fantasy XI, you gain tactical points (TP) each time you hit an enemy, the amount varying based on the delay of your weapon (higher = more TP per hit). You have to have at least 100% TP (of a 300% cap) in order to perform a weapon skill. This sounds reasonable, except very early on, weapon skills that hit multiple times gave full TP return per hit, leading to being able to perform these weapon skills back-to-back with no need to accumulate TP in the mean time assuming you used a special type of otherwise useless weapon with almost no damage rating and max delay. Square Enix patched this very quickly so that only the first hit (first two when you're dual-wielding) give full TP, and subsequent hits only give 1%.
    • Absolute Virtue, who is for all intents and purposes totally invincible due to his ability to use the most powerful abilities of every job, as well as cast high-level black magic that players don't even have access to instantaneously and frequently, wiping out alliances of players in seconds. Every time a method is discovered to defeat him, Square-Enix will immediately squash it by giving Absolute Virtue new resistances and powers as his flaws were discovered.
      • When players killed him by attacking him from areas he couldn't fight back, the developers gave him the ability to draw players to him if they got too far away.
      • Later on, the devs were pressured into rethinking the absurd difficulty of some of their bosses after some bad publicity involving an 18-hour-long fight against a different monster, so they lowered the HP of both that boss and Absolute Virtue and forced them to despawn if not defeated within two hours. Players discovered that a legion of Dark Knights using a combination of the job ability Souleater (consumes HP to increase damage dealt) and Blood Weapon (restores HP equal to melee damage inflicted), he could be bumrushed into defeat. Within days, a patch was made that gave Absolute Virtue (and ONLY Absolute Virtue - other monsters that had previously been defeated with this method were totally untouched) increasing resistance to Souleater damage, making it useless.
      • A theoretical method of defeating him involved using the Scholar's Helix line of spells, which deal a fairly large amount of damage over time. The helix was placed on the enemy, and then a group of Scholars simultaneously use a job ability that doubles the damage dealt by the next tic of damage while halving its overall duration. The result is that most enemies in the game will drop dead immediately, although execution requires very precise timing (and, in most cases, botting). As soon as people discussed how it could be used to defeat Absolute Virtue, "certain notorious monsters" were given a resistance to the use of the JA. Guess who was at the top of the priority list?
  • Pokémon has been subject to a few:
    • In the earliest instance for the series, in Gen I Psychic-types dominated the metagame due to high stats, good movepools, nothing resisted Psychic-type damage, and the only attack type that Psychic-types were weak to (Bug) was too weak to do much damage to them and was not learned by many Pokemon. Ghost-types were also supposed to be strong against Psychics (as all of the official material stated), but instead didn't affect them at all, probably due to a programming error. Even if it had, though, the only Ghost-types were part Poison-type, meaning they were as weak to Psychic-types as Psychic-types were supposed to be against them. Generation II introduces Dark and Steel-types, the latter resistant to Psychics and the former entirely immune, as well as Dark moves dealing super-effective damage and having far better distribution. The Ghost type was also fixed in Generation II and has dealt super-effective damage from then on.
      • Happened again in Gen VI. Dragon-types, the Infinity+1 Element of the series, dominated the game due to, again, universally high-stats, great movepools, and the types that were supposed to be good against them (Ice-types and Steel-types) were not in practice (many Dragons learned Fire-type attacks that Ice and Steel are weak to). The solution came in the 18th type, Fairy, which is immune to Dragon-types as well as resisting Dark and Fighting, also common types, and in return being super-effective against all of them. In turn Fairies are weak to Poison and Steel, previously considered some of the worst attacking types in the game but now have utility as Fairy-counters.
    • There are several moves that block the user from taking damage that turn, most commonly Protect. Attempting to use Protect multiple turns in a row sharply slices its success rate to prevent indefinite stalling. Further, The Dev Team Thinks of Everything; similar guarding moves like Detect and Endure all work on the same mechanic, so you can't just alternate between two such moves to avoid the success rate degradation.
    • The games had constant problems with the Pokémon Wobbuffet. It's supposed to be a Pokémon that cannot directly attack but is streamlined to take advantage of damage reflecting attacks, but instead of being forced to attack, an opponent can just simply switch out his current Pokémon over and over until Wobbuffet runs out of PP. To prevent that, in Generation III Wobbuffet and its newly introduced pre-evolution Wynaut were both equipped with the Shadow Tag ability, which prevents the opponent from switching Pokémon in a battle against Wobbuffet/Wynaut until they were either recalled or knocked out or if the foe has some other trap-cancel ability that allows them to flee. Fair enough, except for in a competitive battle where both you and your opponents have Wobbuffet (or the much-less-common Wynaut) who are both equipped with Leftovers and facing each other. You can't fight back because Wobbuffet and Wynaut are only able to counter attacks, not dish them out. Their Shadow Tag abilities will also prevent either of them from switching out, and even if the two were to wear themselves down enough to use Struggle (the only move Wynaut/Wobbuffet knows that deals damage), Leftovers would cancel out what horrendously low damage their moves do, resulting in a draw by eliminating any chance that either of the two will faint. From Diamond and Pearl onward, Shadow Tag was changed so that any Pokémon who has the Shadow Tag ability who is locked into battle with a foe who also has said ability can negate the effect and switch out without problems. Also, Struggle now always takes away 25 percent of the user's maximum hit points, not 25 percent of the hit point damage the user did to the other guy, so that even if two trainers wound up with Wobbuffet as each person's last Pokémon, once Struggling began the match would end in 5 turns or less (because the 25 percent rounds down, someone with an HP amount that can be divided by 4 with a remainder of 1 could last 1 more turn). Also, Shadow Tagnote  was changed again so that Ghost-type Pokémon are now immune to it.
    • In the fifth generation of games there was a glitch involving the new move Sky Drop. The move makes one Pokémon take another into the air (and then drop it for damage), and when a Pokémon is in the air, it cannot move or be hit (except by a few moves, like Thunder). There was previously a move called Gravity which made Flying-types or levitating Pokémon come to the ground (this meaning they can be hit by Ground-type moves). In a double battle, if one of your Pokémon uses Sky Drop and the other then uses Gravity, both your & the opponent's Pokémon will come to the ground... except while your Pokémon can move, theirs is treated as being in the air and cannot move, at all, until they are fainted by a move like, say, Thunder. The Obvious Rule Patch? Nintendo banned Sky Drop in Random online battles.
    • In the fourth and fifth generation games, there have been problems with players disconnecting to preserve their win-loss record. In Pokémon X and Y, however, disconnecting on players will count as a loss to the player who shut their game off.
  • Final Fantasy VI had a couple:
    • First is a major issue with Gau, a character who normally can't equip weapons but has a high innate attack power to make up for it, and the Merit Award, an accessory that allows its user to equip any type of weapon or armor in the game. When Gau had the Merit Award in the original version of the game, you could equip him with a weapon. Not only did this dramatically boost his attack power, but it also led to some very bizarre Game Breaker combos, such as the legendary "Wind God Gau". Later remakes of the game prevent Gau from equipping the Merit Award, sadly enough.
    • Gogo, while not nearly as Game Breaker status as Gau, could also achieve "Wind God" status with the Merit Award. This managed to last into the Playstation re-release, but was finally blocked in the GBA update. Another, separate rule patch was that of "Psycho Cyan", but savvy players managed to find an alternate means of triggering this glitch anyway.
    • The game also had a cheese glitch. In the game, Vanish could make your character disappear, thereby becoming unable to be physically hit. However, you could be hit by ANY magic attack with 100% accuracy. Players could exploit this by casting Vanish on a monster, then casting Death on them. The Death spell would ALWAYS hit ANY monster, boss or not, regardless if it would be able to hit them otherwise. Since Vanish was considered a positive status effect, extremely few enemies were made immune to it. This got fixed for the GBA re-release.
  • Left 4 Dead:
    • The first game had an issue with melee shoving in VS mode. Players were literally shoving zombies for the entire game instead of actually using their guns, which made it a huge hassle for zombie players to approach and attack since they would get shoved to death. A patch then introduced melee fatigue, where survivors would have to wait before shoving again if they kept shoving too many times without stopping. This mechanic was made as a main feature in all game modes for the sequel.
    • Left 4 Dead 2 also had a few things patched for VS mode due to complaints. Explosive ammo was removed due to survivors using the special ammo only on special infected, which basically meant that the survivors could not be touched due to the explosive ammo stumbling the zombie players. Using defibrillators would induce a 25 point penalty per use for the survivors. Spitters that spit their acid into a moving elevator would potentially wipe out the survivor team since they had nowhere to move away from the spit, so a patch was made where spitting into a moving elevator would make the acid quickly fizzle out to prevent a cheap win.
    • The sequel also made it where melee weapons were not very effective on a Tank in order to encourage more gunning and running when survivors fight a Tank. Before this patch, survivors would use melee weapons (which ranged from the practical, like a sword, to absurd, like a frying pan) to kill a Tank quickly because each hit took 10% of the Tank's health off, which the Tank could then die in 10 hits. With 4 survivors using melee weapons all at once, it would be quite easy to drop a Tank, which frustrated Tank players in VS mode. A patch addressed this issue where now melee weapons only do half the damage they used to against a Tank.
    • The Jockey gained a slight buff after complaints from players in VS mode came pouring in; The Jockey's main attack is to latch onto the survivors and ride them somewhere else while damaging them every second. The problem was the Jockey could be shoved off his victim (which is how it works) before he could do any damage at all if survivor players were quick enough. One patch later, the Jockey can now damage survivors as soon as he grabs them.
      • Something similar happened with the Smoker. The Smoker does damage by grabbing survivors with his tongue, pulling them toward him and trapping them. Originally, the Smoker couldn't cause damage to the player until his tongue attack fully retracted, implying that the tongue itself does no damage, but rather the damage comes from the Smoker hitting the survivor directly. Other survivors, however, were freeing their friends from the Smoker's tongue long before it reached the Smoker, so the attack was changed so that the survivor also takes damage during the dragging part of the attack.
    • The Witch in the sequel had received a buff for Realism VS mode after people complained that the Witch was too easy for survivors to kill. Now Witches in Realism VS cannot be instantly killed with a head shot.
    • When Survival mode was introduced in Left 4 Dead, people abused exploits and glitches in the maps by placing themselves in areas that the zombies could not "see" them at (players that are "off" the map are considered non existent by zombies), thus they could earn gold meals too easily. While some of the maps were patched to plug up the exploits, many others did not get detected. The sequel upgraded the AI Director to detect cheating in Survival mode where it will spawn Spitter acid onto a player that is not in the map or are in some spot that the zombies can't reach them and if the player avoids this check, the AI Director will just outright damage players until they get back to playing fair.
    • Many maps had exploits that allowed players to skip crescendo events or large parts of the map to finish it faster. One example of this was in the 3rd level in No Mercy where players could destroy a door leading to the inside of a building. The door was supposed to be opened from the inside to let in players that got dragged outside through a window, but the door was easily broken with melee weapons, allowing players to skip the crescendo event. The door was patched to not break unless a Tank smashed it, but it still breaks with the grenade launcher.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • The Gloves of Running Urgently gave the Heavy a speed boost when wielded, bringing his speed up from "extremely slow" to "about average". Another item, the Buffalo Steak Sandvich, was released later that temporarily increased the Heavy's speed to above average speed. These effects, when used together, allowed the Heavy to become one of the fastest classes in the game. Now, eating a Buffalo Steak cancels out the effect of the GRU.
    • Another issue in the same update was the Fists of Steel and the Buffalo Steak Sandvich; the Fists of Steel negated 50% of the range damage at the cost of doubling melee damage. This is intended for a heavy to get to the front lines with little fear about suffering too much damage. The Buffalo Steak Sandvich was part of an item set that included a pair of gloves that gave you more damage, in exchange for health (which made the combination into a sort of glass cannon). Unfortunately, paired with the Fists of Steel turned the heavy into a walking battering ram, able to close the distance between almost all classes in an instant and being near-immune to damage (the 50% damage reduction from the fists pretty much negated the Buffalo's Minicrit debuff and then some). Paired with a Medic some heavies walk right up to a sentry and punch it to death, without being ubercharged. They later toned down the amount of damage negation as well as slowed the weapon change time, making it much easier to deal with heavies who try this.
    • The Sandvich item allows the Heavy to recover health by eating it, becoming helpless for the duration. Heavies used to be able to instantly start eating the sandvich as soon as they were done eating the first one. It lead to annoying situations where a Heavy would stand in the middle of a battlefield, absorbing any damage done to him, capturing objectives or being a bullet shield for his teammates. It was changed so the healing wasn't a constant heal but came in "bursts" and the Heavy would have to wait on a cooldown before the sandvich can be eaten again.
      • A later patch removed the ability to skip the defenseless eating animation by throwing the sandwich on the ground. Only sandwiches from other players act as instant health refills now.
    • The Spy can turn invisible during which he is not able to use any of his attacks but originally he could still taunt while invisible. When the Sniper/Spy update gave him a taunt that could instant kill enemies, taunting while invisible was quickly edited out.
    • Every time a new weapon is introduced, there's a 75% chance something like this would happen due to the developers not paying close enough attention to the code. One of the most notable was the Red Tape Recorder which, on release, downgraded a building based on it's animation. This meant that going from level 3 to level 1 took about 3 seconds, making it impossible to save the upgrades since unless the engineer was already whacking the building, it takes more than 3 seconds to actually knock the damn thing off. It also meant that the Rt R was completely useless at getting rid of buildings, since a building build animation is exponentially longer than it's upgrade animation. The developers later admitted that this was not the intended effect, but a random hazard in the coding messed it up and it took quite a while to iron it out (it down downgrades at a set speed at all levels, which was the intended effect).
    • At first, the devs were a little bit sloppy about declaring particular surfaces as unbuildable by Engineers, since they had no means of reaching those areas. However, now that Engies can use the Wrangler to Rocket Jump themselves up to new areas, quite a few maps have had to be patched so keep one side from mounting a practically unbreakable defense.
  • Mario Kart:
    • Snaking. Players discovered the ability to perform a power slide on a straight road and quickly build up a mini-turbo (by mashing left/right as fast as possible), release it, then start a new power slide in the opposite direction, repeating back and forth until they hit a curve (where power sliding for mini-turbos normally comes into play). Mario Kart: Double Dash!! started this trend and it was even more apparent in Mario Kart DS where the best time trial records came from snaking and everyone online always snaked with the same specific characters/karts. Nintendo changed the mechanics in Mario Kart Wii so that mini-turbos built up from how much you turned during a power slide instead of based on the player's manual dexterity.
    • In Mario Kart Wii, bikes. Bikes can perform wheelies to attain a small speed boost, but players milking this zoomed ahead of players that didn't do the same (or couldn't, if they used karts). The intended balance is that bikes in a wheelie can't turn and will severely slow down if bumped by another vehicle, and bikes could only get the weaker level of mini-turbo, but these were virtually non-issues to skilled players. Mario Kart 7 got rid of the bikes. Mario Kart 8 brought them back, but stripped out the wheelie mechanicnote  and gave them back the second level mini-turbo, making them functionally identical to karts.
  • Prototype has a thermobaric tank that can destroy any building in one shot. There is a Kill Event that involves using one. After doing the event, the player is left with the tank and 50 rounds for the big gun. Patch: If you use the tank to destroy a military base or infected hive, the tank will inexplicably vanish, preventing you from cleaning up the entire map with it.
  • Due to the infamous amount of infinite combos and glitches that dominated competitive play for Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age Of Heroes, Capcom's made a point of patching infinite combos out of Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
    • Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 added Phoenix Wright, who was a stance based fighter. He gathers evidence in Investigation mode, uses them in Trial mode and if he has 3 good pieces of evidence and lands an Objection, he enters Turnabout mode, which has a time limit, but during this time he has the highest damage output in the game. The timer only runs while Phoenix is on point. When the game was released, he was instantly shot to Assist tier due the Turnabout timer (and theme song) freezing when he's switched out and his Press The Witness (a forward moving barrage move) assist being practically invincible (he can be hit from behind but that's very impractical) while he's in turnabout mode, even being able to interrupt all uncinematic hypers. This was quickly patched, forcing people to use him more offensively, ironically enough. The timer still freezes while he's inactive, however.
  • One of the many balance patches for Warcraft III introduced a new armor type, "Unarmored". Originally it was reserved for units that indeed logically had no armor, like Squishy Wizards. However, later patches changed some units to have the "unarmored" armor type but still have armor for balance reasons.
    • In one of Reign of Chaos' missions, the game explicitly tells you to load Goblin Sappers into Zeppelins to use them as bombs. This obvious Game Breaker (Sappers autocast 250 damage in an area, a Zeppelin can carry eight Sappers and drop them while moving) was allowed in multiplayer and even recommended in the Strategy Guide. Come The Frozen Throne, not only is this no longer possible, but it also applies to the Ro C mission, where trying to load Sappers gets you an error message.
  • Billy Vs SNAKEMAN has a Village mechanic called Kaiju - giant monsters that the entire village can battle, which reward powerful items to the villagers which do the most damage and upgrades to the village itself when they fall. Originally, they simply vanished once their health was depleted. When the "enticement" mechanic was introduced, allowing any villager to summon a kaiju to the village (instead of just the village's leader) at the cost of a rare item, there were two recorded cases of villages summoning and defeating over a hundred kaiju in a single day. Now, when a kaiju runs out of health, its HP becomes "Crippled", and it stays in the village until Dayroll, whereupon it is officially defeated and cleared.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic has an arena game called Huttball, which the point of it was to get the ball into the enemies goal while killing everyone on the opposite team. Players started to just grab the ball and camp with it in a corner. It was changed so the ball would EXPLODE if it was left in the same place for to long (Justified because the game is for the Hutt's entertainment, and you were boring them).
  • AdventureQuest had a One-Hit Kill ability known as Power Word Die, which was a VERY RARE special attack available to the Blade of Awe. For several years, this ability worked on just about everything, aside from monsters which were obviously designed to be unbeatable. Shortly after the game's EXP/Gold formula was retooled for balance purposes, and higher level monsters gave out exponentially higher loot than lower level encounters, PWD received an adjustment in order to counter abuse. Its odds of successfully instant killing the enemy were now based on a formula based around the monster's power level compared to that of the player, so that lower level characters were no longer able to skip SEVERAL LEVELS at once by killing monsters FAR beyond their level with sheer luck and persistence.
  • Open TTD, a Transport Tycoon derivative, had a number of ways that players could make money faster or spend less than intended, but these required insane amounts of micromanagementnote , and nobody used them. Then, version 0.7 removed the original AI and let players design their own AIs — and someone wrote an AI that exploited all those edge cases. Cue version 0.7.2, aka "eliminate the creative use of game mechanics".
  • Dark Souls had it bad in several cases:
    • Pre-1.05 games had the problem with Ring of Fog. Simply meant to be a more effective version of Demon's Souls' Thief Ring, it quickly became the mainstay of all too many players due to the fact that equipping it means you are untargetable. This, in a game where locking on to an enemy allows for strafing amongst other things, makes for more than 90% players who aren't good enough to fight without lock-ons suffer. Patch 1.05 nerfed the ring such that you can always lock-on to it.
    • 1.05 patch nerfed the Elite Knight Set bad. As a result however, it spawned the dreaded "Masked Giant" setup. The Masks are head equipments that, while low on defense, has some very good effects. Mask of the Father, in particular, raises your Equip Burden, allowing you to equip heavy armors for torso, arms and legs. The Giant set is second-best set once fully upgraded, and using the Father Mask allows one to equip them all under 50% with minimal stat investments. But what truly broke this combination is the Dark Wood Grain Ring, which grants users an alternate "cartwheel" roll. Said roll is faster than even "fast roll" (roll motion for under 25% equip load) and has more invincibility-frames. So people were running with second-best armor and having the maneuverability of a ninja on meth. Even worse, the Hornet Ring boosted backstab damage to crazy levels, especially with knives and rapiers, and widespread practice of roll-stabbing note  and pass-through stabs note  made the combination highly lethal. Patch 1.06 reduced the buffs granted by the Masks, Hornet Ring and the Dark Wood Grain Ring, effectively killing the combination thrice-over.
  • Minecraft always has an eventual patch released to address balancing issues or automation. Bone meal, which acted as fertilizer for trees and crops, was changed to require several uses before the plants fully grow instead of requiring just one bone meal. Mobs that spawn in with tools/weapons and/or armor (when it was first introduced) was altered to have their dropped equipment be worn down so that players don't farm for free items with little effort. The dev team also stated that they heavily dislike automation methods that allow players to acquire resources with little effort, but do not mind the more crazier automation methods used to gather items since the player is putting a lot of effort into their farming.
  • Many Sword of the Stars updates were not only enhancements but also to close loopholes. One such loophole, called the Destroyer Spam, involved sending a fleet made up of a number of dreadnoughts and/or cruisers and scores (maybe even hundreds) of destroyers. The game has an Arbitrary Headcount Limit for battles in the form of command points, depending on the command ship used and technology researched. Basically, the points determine the number of your ships that can be in a battle at any given point. However, the "numerical superiority" mechanic was meant to encourage larger fleets and rewarded the larger fleet in a battle by increasing command points proportional to the number/class of ships larger than the other fleet(s). The Loophole Abuse involved using the number of destroyers (useless by the time dreadnoughts are used but cheap and quick to build) to boost the numerical superiority and increase the ability to field more dreadnoughts/cruisers in battle. Naturally, the developers quickly put a cap on how many destroyers figure into the mechanic.
  • Mario Party had Chance Time (or a similar event of a different name) which was an event designed only to screw people over. Many games have been won or lost all because Chance Time forced two players to exchange/give their coins, stars, or both. Players who were winning for most of the game could suddenly lose the entire game because of Chance Time and players who kept losing could suddenly win without any effort. The event was eventually scrapped by Mario Party 7, but returned in Mario Party 9 with different rules and outcomes.
    • Hidden Blocks were also removed at some point due to the blocks having a 50/50 chance of giving the player a free star.
  • In the early version of Battlefield3 any player with a mortar can use it in their spawn zone, so the opposite team cannot kill them without trying to enter to the opposite spawn zone. This was fixed in later versions, so a mortar can only be deployed in areas when any player can reach and preventing those blind spots. This is even warned over in the loading screens.
  • MechWarrior:
    • The series has always been plagued by "poptarters", players who load up their Humongous Mecha with a lot of long-ranged sniping weapons, then stick jump jets on it. They hide behind a hill, then when they detect an enemy, jump up, fire their weapons, then drop behind cover and repeat once their guns have reloaded. The Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries free re-release tried to counter this by introducing the advanced radar server setting, which limits radar to line of sight (and force first-person mode was promoted), which hampered poptarting. Mechwarrior Living Legends made the camera shake violently when using jumpjets, the game had no third-person view, in addition to large amounts of heat generated due to the jump jets being much more powerful at pushing the mech up into the air (making it hard to accurately shoot except at the apex of the jump). The final update put the final nail in the dedicated poptarter's coffin, as the heat revamp made going over the heat redline (common when poptarting) far more dangerous.
      • MechWarrior Online has addressed the lots-of-identical-weapons problem with a particularly obvious rule patch - "ghost heat". Now firing two PPCs (say) at once still makes twice the heat of firing one, but firing three PPCs at once (or too quickly in sequence) makes 4.26 times the heat of firing one, firing four makes 7.36 times the heat, and it gets worse from there. Firing two AC/20s at once makes 3.92 times the heat of firing one; firing three AC/20s makes 9.24 times the heat of one!
    • The Planetary League for Living Legends had several extremely annoying examples of Loophole Abuse - such as camping inside the spawn hangar to force a draw - which were quickly removed with obvious rule patches - in this case, forcing mechs still in the hangars after the round begins to be forfeited.
    • From version 0.1 to 0.6, air combat in Living Legends was decided by pretty much one factor: how many Shiva "E" variants - a massively armored, relatively fast jet that could instagib anything in the sky and rip ground forces apart - your side brought. The final update swapped out its standard LBX shotguns with gimped "air LBX" shotguns that turned the god of the skys into a Joke Character; and it was the only aircraft variant to have the air LBX replacements.
  • PAYDAY 2 had several exploits patched out to counter people completing heists with little effort. The Cable Guy skill gave the player 10 cable ties when aced, which lead to people effortlessly stealthing heists since one person with the skill could tie up most of the hostages and if another player had the skill, then the group could tie down everyone. The skill was nerfed to include only 5 cable ties, but it was then bumped up to 6 after the community complained.
    • Some levels were completed a little too quickly due to certain skills enabling players breaching safes and ATMs with ease. The game was patched to force an escape sequence on players that go loud in single day heists in order to curb farming.
  • In Super Smash Brothers Melee, the dev team discovered the "wavedashing" glitchnote  pretty early in development, but left it in. Then they discovered how much of a drastic gap it created between newcomers and veteran players, and it was one of the first things they removed from Brawl. In addition, the physics were altered so that the ability to combo was taken out entirely. The reactions to both of these have been mixed.
  • Nethack, in keeping with its nature, has had a few of these over the years, and of course fans have added more in variants.

    Web Original 
  • TV Tropes: The admin notes on BFG and BFS say not to write "Big Fucking Gun" anywhere in the article. After some Rules Lawyer put "Big Freaking Gun" instead, a second line was added saying, "Obvious Rule Patch: Or 'Big Freaking Gun'. Or 'Frigging'. Or any other such expansion of the acronym." A second patch had to be applied later after another Rules Lawyer added a paragraph Backronyming it.
  • On the virtual pet site Moshi Monsters, there used to be a group of Game Breaker food items you could feed your pet that would give them a large amount of both health and happiness, meaning all you had to do to care for them was feed them once a day. They weren't even that expensive. This appears to have been patched; now none of them can completely fill up both on their own.

Fictional Examples

  • In the original Dragon Ball series, one of Goku's opponents, a monster named "Giran", almost throws Goku out of the arena. However, Goku manages to save himself from "loss by ringout" because he gets his flying cloud to save him at the last moment. This causes a problem because Giran, of course, claims this was an unfair move, and the referee is having trouble deciding whether or not this should be allowed. The referee consults with the overseers of the rules off-screen, and the referee returns and finally says...since clouds are a natural part of the environment, it wasn't illegal for Goku to use one to stop his own ring-out. However, Goku is forbidden to use the cloud again (and the implication is that this is now a new rule; no future fighters can use clouds to stop being thrown out of the ring). Giran is disappointed at not being immediately given the victory, but upon learning Goku can't use the cloud a second time, he smirks and says, "That sounds good. I can live with that."
  • During a filler episode of the Davy Back arc in One Piece, the Straw Hats are pitted against the Foxy Pirates in a game of Pirate Dodgeball, which comes with an absolutely massive rulebook full of an absurd amount of rule patches (including a rule for accidentally swallowing the ball.)
  • In High School Dx D, Rias voluntarily bans Issei from using his personalized spells during a Ratings Game. Not because they're overpowered, but because Dress Break and Bilingual (which allows Issei to communicate with a girl's breasts via touch) are humiliating for the victim.

  • In Ender’s Game, Ender's final battle as commander pits his Dragon Army against two armies combined, in an entrenched position. Ender discards all combat strategy and has his boys move as quickly as possible to exploit an Instant-Win Condition (in fact, the original trope namer). Since nobody had considered doing this without defeating the opposing army first, the other team(s) doesn't manage to stop him. Ender is promptly told that starting in the next battle fought at Battle School, it will not be possible for an army to perform the victory ritual without first defeating or disabling everyone in the opposing army. Ender doesn't mind; he only expected it to work once.
  • The Discworld's Assassin's Guild Diary has School Rule 16: "No boy is to keep a crocodile in his room." Followed by rules 16a to 16j to counter various forms of Loophole Abuse, from the obvious ("16a. No boy is to keep an alligator or any large amphibious reptile in his room"; "16c. Nor in the cellar.") to the outlandish ("16h. No boy is to convert to Offlerism without permission in writing from the Head Master." [Offler is the Discworld's Crocodile God])
    • According to Night Watch, the Assassins' Guild School is now co-ed, so that rule would have to have been rewritten to avoid girls keeping crocodiles in their room and pointing to Rule 16's use of the word "boy".
      • Which, when they added "Read boys for girls" as a note to the list, led to this:
      School Rule No.145 : No boy is to enter the room of any girl.
      School Rule No.146 : No girl is to enter the room of any boy.
      School Rule No.147 : (provisional) : It has been pointed out that our injunction to 'read boys for girls, and vice versa', can, if taken together with the two previous rules by someone with little to do but argue, mean that no pupil is to be in any room at all. This was not the intention. No pupil is to be anywhere except where they should be. A girl is defined as a young person of the female persuasion.
      School Rule No.148 : Regardless of how persuaded he feels, Jelks Minor in Form IV is a boy.
      School Rule No.149 : Arguing over the wording of school rules is forbidden.
    • This is surely a Historical In-Joke referring to Lord Byron. He wanted to keep a dog when he was at Cambridge, but college rules forbid it. He inspected the rules carefully and found there was nothing prohibiting pet bears, so he got one. It's unknown when Cambridge applied the highly-necessary patch. It is now a college legend that in that particular college, if a fellow wants to keep a dog, it will be defined as a cat.
  • In the Harry Potter-verse, there are around 700 different possible fouls in Quidditch, but Quidditch Through the Ages only lists the eleven most commonly seen. Most of the rest are obvious rule patches such as, "It is illegal to hit your opponent with an axe."
  • In Animal Farm, for example, the rule "No animal may drink alcohol" is changed to "No animal may drink alcohol to excess", and "No animal may sleep in a bed" is changed to "No animal may sleep in a bed with sheets".

    Religion and Mythology 
  • Whenever wish-granting genies are brought up in fiction nowadays, "No wishing for more wishes" is a frequent rule (such as in Aladdin.)

     Video Games 
  • The Wipeout series has an in-universe example. Triakis systems, entering the FX 350 series with a re-purposed hovertank, did very well and won the last season handily, thanks to Reverse Inertial Dampening system that gave the fast, heavy craft disproportionately good handling. Race officials decided after the series that the RID system would be outlawed, and applied the ban retroactively, stripping Triakis of the title. Since the system was designed to give hovertanks the control fidelity to practically tap-dance, they accepted this with grace.
  • The Mass Effect franchise has another in-universe example with their version of Faster-than-Light travel. Several times in the backstory, and during the games, it is proposed to use spacecraft flying at relativistic speeds as devastating suicide-bombers. When experiments are made, however, the Turians discover in-built failsafe mechanisms in the titular Mass Effect technology that make collision courses impossible, and cannot be bypassed. The block was put in by the Reapers to prevent their Mass Effect technology being weaponised against them.

     Western Animation 
  • In The Legend of Korra, there is a sport called pro-bending, in which two teams made up of one waterbender, one earthbender, and one firebender compete (the other bending disciplines have too small a population to compete). Korra, as the Avatar, is the only living person capable of bending more than one element. When she joins a pro-bending tournament as a waterbender but reflexively earthbends to block a shot, the referee calls "Foul! ...I think." After a brief recess, the officials apply the patch: the Avatar can compete, but may only bend one element.
  • One episode of Rocket Power had the group play a game that Otto thought up. Otto repeatedly makes up rules on the fly, eventually causing Reggie to snap and call him out in front of everyone else. This shows also shows the downside to this trope, because eventually everyone else stops playing because of the "rules" and eventually leaves Otto and Reggie basically trying to play "HORSE", which she uses as a distraction while making Otto do a complicated move to piss off and go surfing with Twister and Sam.

    Web Comics 
  • In Chasing the Sunset, the rules are automatically patched.
  • This xkcd panel.
  • Penny Arcade parodies this with Scribblenauts. Tycho explains how the goal of the game is to get Starites, and you do so by writing the names of useful items (over 22,000 are available), which then appear. Gabe picks up the game and immediately writes "Starite". One appears and he wins. Note that in the actual game, doing this produces a fake Starite that's worthless. Except for the very last level.

    Web Original 
  • In Red vs. Blue, the Director of Project Freelancer argues that the outright torture he inflicted on the Alpha AI does not break any laws regarding ethical treatment of AI's, because the Alpha AI is a copy of his mind, so it can be argued that he was torturing himself, which there is no law against. The Chairman investigating him replies that that may be the case, but the laws are being extensively revised to take that into account, and he suspects the Director will have an entire section of the new laws named after him for this.

Real Life

    Contests, Promotions, and Awards 
  • The International Obfuscated C Code Contest added a rule in 1995 that required all submissions to have source code at least one byte in length. Why? In 1994, "the world's smallest self-replicating program" won an award for "Worst Abuse of the Rules" by being zero bytes in size. Another rule, banning machine-dependent code, was added after the first winner in 1984 wrote the entire main program as a block of PDP-11 machine code.
  • The World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction is an extremely prestigious award intended for short stories, but was originally only defined as "speculative fiction under 10,000 words". That is, until 1991, when the judges selected Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess' "A Midsummer's Night Dream" issue of The Sandman, which is a comic book. Comics use pictures to do what would have to be done in narrative text, so they are able to tell longer stories than other media for the same word count. The World Fantasy Convention changed the rules almost immediately, relegating any future graphic novel submissions to the Special Award: Professional category. This means the The Sandman is the only comic book that ever has or ever will win this particular award. According to Gaiman, "It wasn't like closing the stable door after the horse had gotten out, it was like closing the stable door after the horse had gotten out and won the Kentucky Derby."
  • In 2011, UK supermarket chain Tesco ran a promotion that if whatever they had happened to be cheaper at its competitor Asda, they will pay you double the difference (e.g., an item that costs 8 pounds but is only 5 at Asda would earn you 6 pounds). However, the difference in prices could be big enough that shoppers would get back more money than they spent. Naturally, many savvy shoppers exploited this by finding products they didn't even need but potentially gave them the biggest profit and using that to do their actual grocery shopping. Tesco had since put the difference cap to 20 pounds.
  • In 2009 a large German electronics chain ran a promotion where you could buy any product without the Value Added Tax (currently 19%). It turned out, however, that a company can't just waive the VAT, they had to pay it nontheless. The products were just discounted by the amount of the VAT. Customers looked at their receipt and found that they indeed payed the tax, so they went back to the markets and got another discount for the taxes. Needless to say they added a clause for that in their next promotion.
  • During the Steam Summer Sale of 2014, Valve held a daily contest for one week where each Steam user was assigned a team color and people could earn points for their team by crafting the event badges through specific cards. Said cards could only be obtained by either getting them for every 3 votes made for the next batch of sales, trading them with other people, buying games on Steam, or buying the cards on the marketplace. The winning team would have 30 random people on that team obtain 3 games on their wishlists. An organized group on Reddit tried to rig the contest in a way that would allow each team to win at least twice in before the week was up, which meant that each team would only craft badges on specific days of the week to give their team a massive lead. While it seemed more "fair" for the people participating in the contest, Valve wasn't too happy about it since it meant that less people would be buying games and marketplace items, which also meant Valve would make less money. Valve introduced a new rule to the contest that would allow teams finishing in 2nd and 3rd place to win games as well in order to encourage people to spend more money and compete against each other.

  • A very significant and serious example is gun laws in the United Kingdom. The most significant pieces of firearms legislation in the last thirty years have been introduced as a piecemeal response to rampage killings - for instance, the banning of semi-automatic long-barreled firearms in a calibre greater than .22 rimfire (not shotguns) following the Hungerford massacre, and the criminalizing of nearly all handguns following the Dunblane school massacre. Whether these were proportionate responses seems to depend on what side of the Atlantic you live on. Suffice it to say that each measure had cross-party and public support at the time of its enactment.
  • In many places, there are obsolete, oddly specific, and/or downright weird laws that are still on the books, many of which are clearly patches created due to some Noodle Incident or another.
    • One has to wonder what prompted lawmakers in San Francisco to prohibit elephants from strolling down Market Street unless they're on a leash, or wiping one's car with used underwear.
    • It's illegal to drive more than 2,000 sheep down Hollywood Boulevard at the same time. (So exactly 2,000 sheep is fine, but 2,001 sheep and you're in trouble.)
    • There's a law in the UK which specifically bans the operation of a hand-held digital voice recorder while operating a motor-vehicle. Can't help but get the feeling this was only enacted due to someone being a wise-arse with a particularly powerful police officer.
    • In Canadian law, it's illegal to give alcohol to a moose. You have to wonder...
    • It is illegal to enter Wisconsin, from the Minnesota border, while wearing a duck on your head. Begin Wild Mass Guessing...note 
    • In Arizona, it's illegal to allow your donkey to sleep in a bathtub on your front porch. Apparently this has to do with the fact that, since the bathtub was meant to be used as his watering trough, letting the donkey sleep in it violates the health code.
    • Probably done to pre-empt an incident, California required Google to include manual controls (steering, brakes, throttle) on their self driving cars before being allowed on public roads. After all, technology can still fail.
  • If stating what a law does sounds ridiculous (such as "you can't put an ice cream sandwich in your back pocket"), it's probably one of these. The given example came about because of horse theft, which is a crime (understandable, since it's theft). If an animal wanders onto your property, it's yours. So if you want a free horse, all you have to do is bait it in a nonobvious manner (such as allowing it to smell the food in your pocket), and walk home, allowing it to follow you.
  • The U.S. Constitution was designed to allow these, because the framers realized they couldn't flawlessly predict every possible circumstance that might face the country going forward.
    • Older Than Radio: The 11th Amendment was passed to fix a loophole in Article III which allowed residents of one state to sue other states in federal court when states were normally immune from suit. The people suing? The State's creditors.
      • That was the second rules patch. The first patch was when, after Chisholm (the creditor) got a judgment against Georgia (the state) in federal court, Georgia passed a statute declaring that anyone attempting to enforce the judgment would be "guilty of a felony, and shall suffer death, without benefit of clergy by being hanged."
    • The 16th Amendment. Federal income taxes had always been permitted under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17, and had even been ruled to be "indirect" taxes not subject to apportionment as early as 1875. However, one really really wonky 5-4 Supreme Court decision declared taxes on income derived from property (e.g. from renting land or from holding and selling stock) to be equivalent to a tax on the value of the property itself, and therefore a direct tax subject to apportionment. The 16th Amendment was drafted specifically to plug that loophole and re-classify all income taxes as indirect taxes regardless of the income's source.
    • The 25th Amendment: In 1967, after several presidents had died in office and their vice presidents assumed the office of president, this amendment finally made the succession official. Previously, if president was unable "to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President," with some ambiguity about whether the office of president came with the duties. Note that the 20th Amendmentnote  provides a procedure for a president-elect dying before being inaugurated or an election not being settled before Inauguration Day, but not his dying afterwards.
  • In 2008 when the State of Nebraska tried to implement a Safe Haven Law, it neglected to notice that their law did not define the term "child", thus defaulting it to the regular definition of "anyone younger than 18". 36 teenage children were driven in from out of state and abandoned at Nebraska hospitals, and the law was patched to include only infants later that year.
  • Prior to the 1970s, no U.S. state had a law saying two men or two women couldn't get married. Then two gay activists from Minnesota, Jack Baker and Michael Mc Connell, walked into a district court and applied for a marriage license. The clerk turned them down on the grounds that they were both male, so Baker took the case to court, pointing out that under the letter of the law, this was not grounds to deny them a right to get married. Baker's suit failed, but crucially the Supreme Court simply dismissed his case because they didn't consider it a federal issue, rather than setting any precedent. Cue social conservatives all over the country rushing to bring in laws explicitly banning gay couples from marrying.
  • In 2010, the polar bear was granted the status of Threatened under the Endangered Species Act...with a rider attached by Secretary of the Interior stating that the bear's new status couldn't be used to sue companies for greenhouse gas emissions. The environmental activist organizations that had planned to do just that were not amused.
  • The RCRA Mixing Rule for hazardous waste. Most hazardous waste determination is based on properties (flammability, corrosivity, or reactivity) or concentrations (0.2 mg/L of mercury means that it is toxic). Some genius had the idea that if you take oil and mix enough sand in it, it will not be flammable, and it won't exceed any concentration limits. Voila, a giant pile of non-hazardous waste to cart off to landfill. This led to the infamous mixing rule. Anything mixed with hazardous waste is hazardous waste no matter what its actual properties are, so mixing oil with sand gives a giant pile of hazardous waste that must be properly incinerated.
  • The British "Constitution" (see British Political System) has one obvious rule patch when Edward VIII decided to Abdicate the Throne in 1936. The Act of Settlement 1701, which regulates royal succession in the UK, pretty much stated the most senior descendent of a granddaughter of James VI/I would automatically be the monarch, but nothing was said about abdications. So when Edward signed his Instrument of Abdicationnote  on 10 December 1936, it meant nothing—the law said, "But Thou Must still be the King." Parliament was quite eager to see him go, though, and had to pass a law to make this work. The law said three things: (1) At the time His Majesty signs this piece of paper, in terms of royal succession he is as good as dead; (2) No matter what any other law says, His Majesty and his descendents cannot become monarchnote ; and (3) We're not going to stand in the way of his marriage to Mrs. Simpson any more.
  • Ireland has a lot of constitutional patches.
    • At the time of the Edward VIII abdication crisis, Ireland was still a Commonwealth Realm which means they have to have the same succession rules as with the UK, etc. But Taoiseachnote  Eamon de Valera hated the British monarchy in general, and had been planning to remove the word "King" from their constitution (while retaining the King as the head of state so that they're still in the Commonwealth—Ireland was too dependent on Commonwealth trade). Edward VIII's abdication gave him a good chance to implement these plans, and he immediately tabled a constitutional amendment which did just that.note  Somebody told him immediately afterward, however, that the large body of laws that existed before Independence meant the King had more powers than those listed in the Constitutionnote , and removing most of the constitutional powers of the King does not mean the post of Governor-General is abolished. A law that was passed in the following year immediately declared that the aforementioned amendment covered all laws describing powers of the King, and assigned those powers instead to the Cabinet.
    • Ireland has delegated the power to issue adoption orders to an Adoption Board in 1952. Only some 25 years later the realized since the Board is neither a court nor filled with judges, any of their adoption orders may be constitutionally shaky. It's why the Sixth Amendment existed; it pretty much means "any adoption order made after 1937 pursuant to valid laws cannot be invalidated merely because it did not come out of a court or signed by a judge."
    • Due to the extremely strict interpretations of the government's and the legislature's treaty powers, constitutional amendments need to be passed, by referendum, every time when the government wants to enter into a treaty that causes some governmental powers being delegated to a multinational party. This include the EU or its predecessors (3, 10, 11, 18, 26 and 28), the International Criminal Court (23), or even just with North Ireland (parts of 19).
    • Some other parts of 19th amendment also leads to some citizenship issues, as it declares "It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish nation. That is also the entitlement of all persons otherwise qualified in accordance with law to be citizens of Ireland." This is originally used to placate those who wanted an unified Ireland, and is used to grant Irish nationality to people in Northern Ireland if those people wish to, but when Ireland itself became the center of birth tourism because that line is similar to the US Constitution's birthright clause... 27th Amendment it goes.
  • When Westboro Baptist Church announced their plans to picket the funerals of the Sandy Hook Shooting victims in 2013, Anonymous launched attacks that included a petition to have the church's status as a legitimate place of worship revoked, removing their protection of separation of church and state. While this was deemed unconstitutional, the Justice then added that, though he couldn't do that, it was possible for protesting to be illegal within a radius of certain events on a state by state basis. Cue several states that had suffered the WBC's hate speech banning protesting at funerals for several miles, effectively gutting the church's most infamous way of drawing attention to themselves.
  • Grandfather Clause. When whites regained control over the governments of Southern states after the American Civil War, they proceeded to set up many roadblocks to prevent freed slaves from voting. One of these roadblocks was the literacy test; if you failed the test, you were not allowed to vote (naturally it was almost always rigged so prospective black voters would fail). However (as noted in this political cartoon), many poor white voters also failed the tests. So the Southern governments added rules saying that anybody whose grandfather could vote before the Civil War would automatically be allowed to vote...which, naturally, never applied to black voters since almost all of their grandfathers were slaves.

    Other Rules 
  • Even science and math have been known at various times to have Obvious Rule Patches. A couple of the famous ones:
    • Euclid's Elements, which was the geometry textbook for 2,000 years, begins by assuming some axioms and postulates that are obvious enough to make a solid foundation — with one exception. Euclid's fifth postulate is clumsy and not at all self-evident. Countless mathematicians over the years tried to derive the "parallel postulate" from the others instead of assuming it. But the old Greek's intuition was right. The postulate can't be proven or disproven that way; if you choose a contradictory postulate, you get a "non-Euclidean" geometry that's perfectly consistent but describes some surface other than a flat plane (to which Euclidean postulates apply).
      • Attempts to deduce the 5th Postulate did lead to the discovery of a number of equivalent postulates that, when added to the other four, also produce the normal Euclidean results.
    • Bertrand Russell essentially broke set theory with his paradox: is "the set of all sets that are not members of themselves" a member of itself? To escape this paradox, mathematicians had to put restrictions on what constituted a set. The current system basically says no set can be a member of itself — anything big enough to do that is too big to be a set, and has to be a "proper class" or some such. Some mathematicians find this unsatisfying, and the debate over whether there's a better solution continues. The underlying nature of Russell's paradox unfortunately indicates that any better solution will also need to be logically "patched".
    • Should the number 1 be counted as a prime number? There's a case to be made either way, and in fact it was widely considered prime for a while, per the classic definition ("a number whose only factors are itself and 1"). But 1 doesn't act like a prime in most of the ways we need primes to act; in particular, it has to be left out if we want the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic to work. Thus we now define primality in ways that are less intuitive but exclude 1, such as "a number with exactly two factors" (and hence, 0 is right out).
    • The cosmological constant was an obvious rule patch in Einstein's Theory of Relativity, originally added to hold back gravity from crunching space-time, because Einstein had a personal preference for a static universe. Later it was discovered that the Universe isn't static at all, but is actually expanding - so the constant was patched again, this time with good reason!
      • Except now the universe's expansion seems to be accelerating, and one proposed solution is at least very similar to the cosmological constant.
    • This is essentially why Pluto is no longer considered a planet. In 1992 when the Kuiper belt was discovered in the same region it became apparent that Pluto was not particularly special compared to many of the other objects close to it and defining Pluto as a planet would mean many more objects would also have to be classified as planets. This is actually the second time this has happened, in 1801, Ceres, a planet between Mars and Jupiter was discovered, fifty years later several other planets where discovered in the same region leading scientists to rename them asteroids and the region the asteroid belt. Classifying Pluto as a planet would at the very least mean reclassifying Ceres as a planet, but also probably most of the dwarf planets in both regions.
  • Caltrops are banned in all barracks on Fort Benning, Georgia.
  • "Catapults, Trebuchets, and Other Siege Machinery" are banned in the dormitory areas at Texas A&M University.
  • Many university codes of conduct include some nebulous provision like "other disruptive behaviour or material", or "simply because something is not listed here, students should not assume it is permitted", which usually have some history behind them.
  • The White House website under Barack Obama allows people to post petitions (the "We the People" system), and if a petition garnered 25,000 signatures, then it would get an official response. After people started posting obvious troll petitions (Such as "Build a Death Star") as well as divisive and somewhat disturbing ones (e.g. "deport Piers Morgan"note  or petitions to secede from the Union) but with enough signatures, the White House required 100,000 signatures for a response.
  • In programming, there's quite a few things one has to remember for filtering some things that will cause unpredictable or undesirable behavior. For instance, if you're dealing with null-pointers, you better make sure they're not null if they're being used. Some languages have an "exception handler" note , which is a kind of catch-all for this.
  • Happened even in Ancient Greece: Plato was trying to come up with a definition for "man", and eventually settled on "a featherless biped", a definition that many of his peers praised him for. Diogenes, seeing a flaw in the logic, proceeded to pluck a chicken, bring it to Plato and declare "Behold! I have brought you a man!" Plato's definition was quickly updated with "...with broad, flat nails".
  • "Kickstarter Projects cannot offer genetically modified organisms as a reward".
  • A quick google search for "Behind every sign there is a story" will uncover hundreds, thousands of Obvious Rule Patches, some with explanations lost forever.
  • Some insurance or warranties with disclaimers often include the phrase "acts of God" which is a catch-all for any event beyond human control, namely natural disasters. "Acts of God" are one category of what's called "force majeure" and "vis major" ("big force," French and Latin respectively), or "cas(us) fortuit(us)" ("chance case", the French is the same as the Latin minus case-endings). The distinction is "force majeure" also includes things of human origin for which the typical contractor can't be held accountable, like wars, railway strikes, and other social and political upheaval.
  • The Oxford Union, the student debating society at Oxford University, does not allow dogs, but is not permitted by law to prohibit guide dogs or police dogs from entering the premises. This is the reason for Rule 51: "Any Member introducing or causing to be introduced a dog into the Society's premises shall be liable to a fine of Ł5 inflicted by the Treasurer. Any animal leading a blind person shall be deemed to be a cat. Any animal entering on Police business shall be deemed to be a wombat. Any animal that the President wishes to exempt from the Rule shall be deemed to be a mongoose." There was an attempt a few years ago to have this rule removed on the basis that it discriminated against the blind, but the motion was overwhelmingly voted down by members in the best-attended debate of the term.

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