"Rogues are scissors."
"Warriors are rock."
"Hunters, paladins, priests, druids, mages, and shamans are paper."
"Warlocks are mushrooms."
"Paper beats rock."
"Scissors beat paper."
"Scissors also happen to beat rock..."
"Until rock hits sixty at which point rock becomes an unstoppable killing machine that also beats paper, and would beat scissors, but it can't find scissors, because scissors are invisible. So scissors beat paper and avoid rock, and that is called balance."
— World of Rougecraft 2
Unlike actual Rock-Paper-Scissors
, type advantages
are not the final say on who's going to win a given matchup in strategy games and RPGs — if a character (or unit) is strong enough, they can come out triumphant against somebody with even the most outlandish of inherent type advantages against them. This can be a potential Moment Of Awesome
for the character to defeat an expected Curb-Stomp Battle
While usually limited to games (or occasionally to other forms of media based off of them), it still has an advantage over its more widely-used cousin, the Worf Effect
: You don't need to waste any time establishing the talents of your victim. If you've got a fire user
you want to demonstrate the power of, you can set him loose against even a handful of water-based mooks
you had show up five seconds ago, and the effect is still achieved.
Often the reason people sometimes have cases of Elemental Ignorance
, if they can win consistently in spite of their supposed disadvantage. Alternatively, if someone is a Poor, Predictable Rock
and knows it, they can train specially to fend against the element that's supposed to counter them, diversifying their skills while remaining true to their art - and often providing a nasty shock for opponents who think they'll have an easy fight simply on the grounds of having the counter element.
Related to Elemental Tiers
, where some elements are stronger than others regardless of advantages or disadvantages; I Am Not Left-Handed
, where a character who had been losing reveals to have to been playing under a handicap; and Cherry Tapping
, where a character defeats another character with an intentionally weak or ill-suited weapon just to humiliate him.
See also Man of Kryptonite
and No Sell
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- A non-advantage example: the scene in the Bastard!! anime where Dark Schneider, lacking appropriate Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors spells, takes out a fire elemental with a fire spell.
- In Fairy Tail Natsu is able to withstand any of Todomaru's fire spells as he devours fire. Todomaru reacts by using a special fire that smells like garbage. During the same battle, Natsu manages to beat Todomaru's flame control out of sheer will.
- Gray has occasionally fought enemies who will try to use fire against him, using the obvious logic that fire melts ice. However, Gray is Natsu's perennial rival and notes that the fires others use against him are never as strong as Natsu's, and so are barely worth noticing.
- In One Piece, Luffy, being a rubber man, is immune to Enel's electricity-based powers. However, Enel finds ways to hurt Luffy anyway by applying electricity indirectly, culminating in his tossing Luffy overboard with a gigantic gold sphere attached to his wrist serving as an anchor. Luffy defeats Enel as soon as he gets out of the mess, but Enel did turn what should've been a Curb-Stomp Battle into one where he had the edge.
- This happens a lot throughout the Pokémon anime; as it's a Long Runner chock full of Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, this is perhaps unsurprising. It often involves a trainer being creative enough to not simply use a weaker move directly.
- The early episode "School Of Hard Knocks" has Misty defeat a schoolboy's Grass-type Weepinbell with her Water-type Starmie because hers is several levels higher, meaning the type advantage is irrelevant, much to his shock.
- Just to drive the point home, Misty's Starmie is subsequently beaten down by the resident Alpha Bitch's dual-type Rock/Ground Graveler.
- Another early episode trainer, AJ, put his Sandshrew through Training from Hell to make it resist Water attacks despite being Ground-type.
- Ash's Pikachu is able to affect Ground-types with its electricity due to sheer training, despite that this feat is virtually impossible to duplicate in the games.
- "PIKACHU! THE HORN!" Apparently, an Electric attack can be used to take out a Ground-type Pokemon, completely immune to electricity, as long as it's correctly aimed. It passes the real-world logic test but blatantly contradicts the games.
- Something similar happens in Pokémon Special, when Red's Pikachu is able to take out Brock's Onix with a well-placed Thundershocknote .
- While not a type advantage, Ash used his Pikachu to defeat Lt. Surge's Raichu, its evolved form. In their first match Raichu wiped the floor with Pikachu, but in their rematch Pikachu won by focusing on outmaneuvering the slower Raichu rather than fighting it directly. The theme of that episode was that technique trumps power.
- In Ash and Gary's showdown at the end of the Johto arc, their last Pokemon were Ash's Fire-type Charizard and Gary's Water-type Blastoise. Charizard managed to win by getting in melee range, since Blastoise's water cannons couldn't aim that close to itself.
- Ash's Taillow/Swellow, who was able to take Electric-type attacks better than your average Flying-type. At the very least, it's treated In-Universe as an anomaly.
- Ash's Oshawott handles this in a more practical and visually consistent manner: he uses a shell to deflect Electric and Grass attacks, which would otherwise be devastating to a Water-type like him.
- In Ragnarok The Animation, The Dragon Zephyr performed a One-Hit Kill on Moonlight Flower using Lord of Vermillion, a wind-element spell which Moonlight normally employs No Sell on! Well, as part of Story And Gameplay Segregation, of course.
- During the Sisters Arc of A Certain Scientific Railgun, Frenda Seivelun made the mistake of underestimating Level 5 Electromaster Misaka Mikoto by using ceramic, the strongest insulator of electricity, against her. Unfortunately, however, ceramic doesn't take heat very well.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Colonel Mustang vs Lust. Lust breaks a water main and soaks Mustang, to prevent him from using his fire powers against her. Except that his elemental power is specifically to control oxygen and hydrogen. He rips the molecules of the water apart and creates a massive flamethrower with the help of one of his lieutenants and a cigarette lighter.
- The Green Lantern Corps have repeatedly defeated Sinestro and his organization, despite the Green Lanterns being weak to yellow and the Sinestro Corps' ability to generate yellow objects.
- Ghost Rider: The Ghost Rider manages to defeat water-based powers with his fiery abilities.
- Justified, as his flames are supernatural and aren't put out by water.
Live Action TV
- During the first level of Der Langrisser, a horseman commander named Laird takes on an army of spearmen, which normally wouldn't end well at all, but that spearman squad is pretty much doomed unless you can end the battle early.
- In general Pokémon gameplay, you can override type advantages by simply being much stronger than all opponents. Even the Elite Four can be defeated by a single starter if it's at level 100.
- An easy way is to use a move that removes immunities. For instance, having a Pokémon with the ability Scrappy and Foresight means that Normal-type and Fighting-type moves can hit Ghost-types, which are normally unaffected.
- Even without other types of moves, it is possible for a moderately powerful Fire-type to take down or at least cause considerable damage to a Rock-type with a strong Fire move, since most Rock-types, despite their natural resistance to Fire, have subpar Special Defense (when out of Sandstorm at least) and most popular Fire attacks (like Fire Blast and Flamethrower) are Special.
- It's a very prevalent practice in the competitive base to equip a Pokémon with a move that specifically counters its most common counter. Players puzzled as to why their otherwise competent opponent switched to Houndoom against a Water-type quickly found out why: Houndoom probably has Sunny Day and Solarbeam.
- This is also the intent of the ability Tinted Lens, which doubles the power of any attack that gets resisted, raising it to the power of a neutral attack. If the ability is possessed by a Pokémon with decent offensive power, or its opponent has weak defenses, a "not very effective" attack can do significant damage, or even a One-Hit KO.
- Normally, Ice-type moves are less effective against Water-types. However, Freeze Dry, a new move introduced in Pokémon X and Y is an Ice-type move that is Super-effective against Water-types, thus being able to do massive damage to Water/Dragon, Water/Flying, Water/Ground and Water/Grass types.
- In an almost literal example of the trope, Rock-type Pokémon take double damage from Steel-type attacks.
- Durant, which was specifically designed to absolutely suck against Heatmor, will more often than not outclass Heatmor due to its superior Speed, high Attack, and the ability to learn Dig, which would spell doom for the defensively-lacking Fire-type Heatmor.
- Smogon University's "Monotype" metagame is centered around this concept. Trainers can only use Pokemon of a common type. If you can't check your team's elemental weaknesses, you just locked yourself into Poor, Predictable Rock.
- Then there's Inverse Battles, a new mechanic introduced in Pokémon X and Y that takes this literally by turning weaknesses into resistances and resistances into weaknesses.
- In End War, Helicopter beats Tanks, Tanks beats Transports, and Transports beat Helicopters. The first one can be defied by equipping your tanks with Anti-air missile. A well-timed special attack can also avert the usual result.
- In Fire Emblem, winged units are weak to bows, but bow users can't attack at close range, and winged units have a Move advantage. This tends to end poorly for bow users, and it's part of why exclusive bow users are a Tier-Induced Scrappy.
- There's also times where a Pegasus/Falcon Knight will have evade high enough that the archers won't be able to hit her, literally avoiding her weakness and then counter-attacking with javelins that will hit the archers.
- Also, in Sword of Seals lances are so bad and swords so good a match between users of both has a good chance of ending better for the sword user, despite losing the Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors. Lances got a much needed buff the next game and swords a slight nerf.
- The trinity of Lances, Axes, and Swords in general could count; while the combatants get bonuses or penalties to their damage and accuracy depending on whether or not their weapon trumps the other, a powerful enough character can go up against a weapon they're weak against and still win without much trouble.
- There are also the "reaver" type weapons, which are specifically designed for this trope, reversing what the wielder is usually strong or weak against (so a swordsman with a Lancereaver is strong against lances but weak against axes).
- In Persona 3, after Chidori dies, Junpei gains a new persona and blasts Jin with a fire spell. Jin reflects fire everytime you have to fight him as a boss.
- This can happen fairly often in Battle for Wesnoth, given how time-of-day, terrain, applications of mobility, and special abilities like charging or magical attacks can easily turn the tables as to what counters what. Simply selecting the correct unit types is not enough to ensure victory.
- Spiral Knights often falls victim to this, as the strengths and weaknesses of most monsters are not modified by the environments that they spawn in or the elemental types that they appear to be. For example, a Silversap (an icy-looking Lumber) will still be susceptible to Freeze damage and Shock damage, or a Smoking Howlitzer can still be taken down with ease using an immolating weapon.
- Yggdra Union has a weapon advantage triangle-inside another triangle, which can easily be rendered irrelevant with activation of various Cards (such as Oblivious Dawn, Revolution, Sanctuary, or Crusade). Knowledge of invoking this trope inside the game is practically necessary, since the Big Bad has a weapon that screws over the usual triangle.
- In Age of Empires III, pikeman-type units are extra effective against melee cavalry units. However, war elephants and French curaissers are capable of crushing large numbers of pikemen due to having powerful splash-damage attacks (pikemen typically have little health) and absurd amounts of health.
- Disgaea's elemental table can be totally ignored if your unit either has strong resistance, an ability that negates part of the elemental table, or you've just upgraded your unit to be such a Badass that elemental damage is otherwise unnecessary to worry about.
- This also can be exploited with certain classes. The Mystic Beast, Warslug, and Dragon classes are immune to wind, water, and fire respectively. On a normal matchup with any other unit, a Fire Skull (for example) with +50% in his fire element will deal an additional 50% damage for what he deals in fire. If the target has a -50% fire, then it'll basically double the damage they'd receive... unless it was a dragon who could have an abysmal fire stat, but is ALWAYS immune to fire.
- In The Order of the Stick, Vaarsuvius is able to almost defeat an enemy wizard who's tailored not just his spell preparation, but his entire build specifically to counter V's evoker blaster-caster tactics. Shi dominates an enemy archer and uses said archer's physical arrows to bring down hir foe where direct application of magical firepower could not. A careless mistake at the end of the fight prevents hir from truly winning.
- This is the entire idea behind Wild Weasel missions and the aircraft designed and armed to fly them. Seeing as Surface-to-Air Missile sites are deployed far behind the front lines, ground forces can't take them out effectively. So what's the air force to do? Fight back. And the easiest way to spot an Anti-Air battery? Get them to shoot at you first.
- The result of many interactions depend on the quality or quantity of the opposing forces. A breeze can blow out a candle but can spread a wildfire. Enough dirt will swallow water, enough water will wash away dirt.
- In certain competitions, self imposed rules and exhibition games often give expert competitors disadvantages to see if they can still win, like winning with a low-tier character in a video game.
- The "Off the Record" show (hosted by the GSL or Global StarCraft League) regularly pits top end pros against normal StarCraft players, but with absurd limitations (use only chopsticks to press the keyboard, peel 6 potatoes while playing, etc.). The pros still triumph most of the time...
- Scissors can cut slate rock.
- There are some rocks (notably obsidian) that can even cut paper!
- And if you fold even common paper a certain number of times, then the resulting thick wad will be virtually impenetrable to anything that isn't as cutting as a laser, never mind to ordinary scissors.