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* The poison status in ''VideoGame/JadeCocoon'' is absolutely '''''devastating''''' when used by yourself against minions. Only poisonous minions are immune to it and any creature that isn't immune is 100% susceptible to it without fail, which means you can effortlessly poison most enemies and all but one ''of the bosses'' with it. If that wasn't good enough the affects of poison are very severe, and not only reduce the affected character's stats but also inflict damage equal to an eighth of that character's max health per turn meaning that almost every boss can be cheesed by poisoning them and then surviving until they die. If ''that'' wasn't good only a small handful of enemies can cure it and they happen to be the [[MookMedic least threatening enemies in the game]]. If ''THAT'' wasn't good enough, not only can you buy disposable items that inflict poison for free and find a poison-inflicting sword as early as the Moth Forest (not even halfway through the game), but you can capture a Nushab who can use Poison Fang ''in the first forest''.


** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'' will rarely let you land a status effect on bosses, but features several random encounters that showcase your immobilizing status effects. Most standard enemies that counter your attacks are vulnerable to Stop, Hold, or Edge's Pin -- and many (such as the instant-death-happy Coeurl) will demolish you if you don't. Additionally, Slow seems to hit almost anything, [[including the final boss]]. FF4 was the first game in the series to use ATB, even though it lacked the time gauges showing as much, and the Slow debuff is a lot more useful than it sounds.

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** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'' will rarely let you land a status effect on bosses, but features several random encounters that showcase your immobilizing status effects. Most standard enemies that counter your attacks are vulnerable to Stop, Hold, or Edge's Pin -- and many (such as the instant-death-happy Coeurl) will demolish you if you don't. Additionally, Slow seems to hit almost anything, [[including the final boss]]. FF4 was the first game in the series to use ATB, even though it lacked the time gauges showing as much, and the Slow debuff is a lot more useful than it sounds.sounds ''especially'' when paired with Haste to speed up your own party.


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*** Silence is similarly handy, even if it rarely lands on bosses. A lot of later-game enemies like to spam dangerous spells, such as the Ghost Knights of the Tower of Babil who counter with ''Bio'' for every physical attack, which can quickly take their toll on your stock of curative items and spells. Silence is practically guaranteed to take effect (90% accuracy), can target the entire enemy party, doesn't cure on its own and can't be cured by enemy tactics, and can be cast almost instantly for a paltry 6 MP.


*** True Strike in 5th edition gives you a far higher chance of hitting an attack, allowing you to roll two dice and take the highest result. However, it takes an action to cast, meaning that you have to cast it, then wait a round before attacking. Unless you can attack as a bonus action, like a Monk, it's far better to simply use both turns to attack.

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*** True Strike in 5th edition gives you a far higher chance of hitting an attack, allowing you to roll two dice and take the highest result. However, it takes an action to cast, meaning that you have to cast it, then wait a round before attacking. Unless you can attack as a bonus action, like a Monk, it's far better to simply use both turns to attack. You also need to specify an enemy when you cast the spell, if that enemy dies, moves out of range, or otherwise ceases to be a valid target in the round before you can attack you just wasted a round.

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** One interesting thing that 5th Edition did was add the Ritual tag to some spells, specifically ones that lacked combat utility. In older editions, spells like Identify or Leomond's Tiny Hut (which conjures an opaque dome that functions as a climate-controlled tent that protects the party from the elements and hostile creatures while they rest) were things you'd typically only bother with by way of magic wands or spell scrolls. Ritual spells can be cast without using a spell slot, it just takes 10 minutes or longer to do so, and Wizards can do it without even preparing the spell as long as it's in their spellbook (Clerics and Druids still have to prepare it).

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*** However Disgsaea otherwise plays this trope straight with most bonus bosses or some endgame bosses, where powerful enemies like Baal have special evilities that straight-up stop cheese strats by making them 100% immune to all status effects and remove your ability to steal gear mid-battle to weaken them.


* ''MagicTheGathering'' has quite a few:

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* ''MagicTheGathering'' ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' has quite a few:


** Hilariously, this trips up even veteran RPG players at times, as evidenced in the GiantBomb LetsPlay of the game where the hosts were constantly re-rolling a fusion for Jack Frost because they kept getting Sukunda (A spell that decreases the hit/evasion stat of one enemy and is incredibly helpful throughout the entire game against bosses.)

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** Hilariously, this trips up even veteran RPG players at times, as evidenced in the GiantBomb Website/GiantBomb LetsPlay of the game where the hosts were constantly re-rolling a fusion for Jack Frost because they kept getting Sukunda (A spell that decreases the hit/evasion stat of one enemy and is incredibly helpful throughout the entire game against bosses.)

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*** True Strike in 5th edition gives you a far higher chance of hitting an attack, allowing you to roll two dice and take the highest result. However, it takes an action to cast, meaning that you have to cast it, then wait a round before attacking. Unless you can attack as a bonus action, like a Monk, it's far better to simply use both turns to attack.

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* Like ''Wizardry'' above, ''VideoGame/TheDarkSpire'' has ''incredibly'' valuable ailment spells, to the point where you're gimping yourself by using damaging spells over them until you get Extincto. Even then, non-damaging spells will still be invaluable for encounters. Plus, the instant death spells are among the last you get in the game for a reason - they ''work''.
* ''VideoGame/FearAndHunger'' both averts this and does it in an uncommon manner. For the aversion, there's poison. It can deal up to 1k damage per turn, requires you only find the plentiful consumable to use it, and nothing is resistant to it, even when you expect it to be. Dealing that much damage per turn requires an active effort or an enemy with a lot of limbs. Speaking of which...
** Limb targeting. As compared to targeting the head or torso, you only deal minor damage to your foe's max HP, but you will often either cripple or cut off the limb completely, preventing attacks from being used with it. Removing a single limb can easily be the difference between surviving to an encounter or dying.


# Any enemy you would want to use it on is [[ContractualBossImmunity immune]].
# Common enemies it is effective against can easily be disposed of by normal attacks. Who's going to waste 36MP to cast Instant Death on the local harmless UndergroundMonkey?

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# Any enemy you would want to use it on is [[ContractualBossImmunity immune]].
immune]]. If they weren't, the Useless Useful Spell would [[GameBreaker make things far too easy]].
# Common enemies it is that the attacks ''are'' effective against can easily be disposed of by use of normal attacks. attacks, which means there's no sense in wasting time and magic power on fancy maneuvers. Who's going to waste 36MP to cast Instant Death on the local harmless UndergroundMonkey?UndergroundMonkey when you could kill it with a single normal attack?



# The spell's effects can be replicated by gear or party members. No sense conjuring magical armor when regular armor does the same thing better.

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# The spell's effects can be replicated by gear or party members.members, making it redundant at best. No sense conjuring magical armor when regular armor does the same thing better.

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** ''Fireball'' can be this compared to the similar ''Melf's Minute Meteors'', depending on how you play. Fireball deals massive damage all at once and is an AreaOfEffect spell, so you can take out all your enemies at once, but your party is likely to get in the way. Melf's Minute Meteors requires you to commit, since it takes 3 rounds to get its full effect (and combat in 5e usually only lasts 3 rounds), but it can deal more damage than fireball (12d6 over 3 to six rounds, compared to Fireball's 8d6 over a single round), and is far more precise, letting you chose several smaller areas to hit, rather than one large.


# Any enemy you would want to use it on is [[ContractualBossImmunity immune]]. If they weren't, the Useless Useful Spell would [[GameBreaker make things far too easy]].
# Common enemies that the attacks ''are'' effective against can easily be disposed of by use of normal attacks, which means there's no sense in wasting time and magic power on fancy maneuvers. Who's going to waste 36MP to cast Instant Death on the local harmless UndergroundMonkey when you could kill it with a single normal attack?

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# Any enemy you would want to use it on is [[ContractualBossImmunity immune]]. If they weren't, the Useless Useful Spell would [[GameBreaker make things far too easy]].
immune]].
# Common enemies that the attacks ''are'' it is effective against can easily be disposed of by use of normal attacks, which means there's no sense in wasting time and magic power on fancy maneuvers. attacks. Who's going to waste 36MP to cast Instant Death on the local harmless UndergroundMonkey when you could kill it with a single normal attack?UndergroundMonkey?



# The spell's effects can be replicated by gear or party members, making it redundant at best. No sense conjuring magical armor when regular armor does the same thing better.

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# The spell's effects can be replicated by gear or party members, making it redundant at best.members. No sense conjuring magical armor when regular armor does the same thing better.


# The spell simply has a very low success/hit rate. Or is where the casting is so slow that enemies are ''always'' able to dodge or block your attack, making it useless.

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# The spell simply has a very low success/hit rate. Or is where rate, or the casting is so slow that enemies are ''always'' able to dodge or block your attack, making it useless.attack.

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*** BonusBoss Emerald Weapon has ''1 million'' HP and a 20 minute time limit in which to beat him (unless you acquired the special Underwater Materia to remove the timer). As it turns out, he is NOT immune to the gravity-based Demi spells, which do damage based on percentage of the target's current HP. While the DamageCap is only 9,999 per attack, pairing it with W-Magic and Quadra Magic lets you cast it ''8 times'' in a row, doing nearly 80,000 damage in a single turn for a pittance of MP.


A staple of [[RolePlayingGame RPGs]], your characters can learn attacks or skills such as [[StandardStatusEffects Instant Death, Poison, Confusion, Paralyze, Silence, and Petrify]], or {{Percent Damage Attack}}s that at first glance seem incredibly useful. However, in reality these spells are usually anything ''but'' useful, for any, and often ''several'', of the following reasons:

# [[BossBattle Bosses]], [[SubBoss sub-bosses]], and other types of enemies that actually pose a threat to the player are always extremely resistant or [[ContractualBossImmunity immune to such attacks]]. If they weren't, the Useless Useful Spell would [[GameBreaker make things far too easy]], and might even be a form of DiscOneNuke.
# Common enemies that the attacks ''are'' effective against can easily be disposed of by use of normal attacks, which means there's no sense in wasting time and magic power on fancy maneuvers. Who's going to waste 36MP to cast Instant Death on the local harmless UndergroundMonkey when you could kill it with a single normal attack? Why wait for Poison to kill your opponent when other methods do damage much faster? This is the most common example of this trope -- with most common enemies, it's quicker to just beat up your opponents instead of spending a round or two inflicting debuffs or status ailments and ''then'' beating them up.
# In a real-time combat game, the time it takes to switch to the spell, cast it, then switch to your attack is longer than it would take to kill anything not totally immune to the spell.
# The spell simply has a very low success/hit rate. A variation of this is where the casting is so slow that enemies are ''always'' able to dodge or block your attack, making it useless.
# A glitch in the game's programming makes the spell less effective than it was meant to be.
# The effect is something which only becomes significant after surviving a battle. Poison is often far too slow to make a difference during RandomEncounters, but you have to cure it or take constant damage even when not fighting.
# Casting the spell involves an [[{{Cutscene}} Unskippable Cutscene]] that slows down gameplay, where a straight-forward attack may only take a split-second.

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A staple of [[RolePlayingGame RPGs]], your characters can learn attacks or skills such as [[StandardStatusEffects Instant Death, Poison, Confusion, Paralyze, Silence, and Petrify]], or {{Percent Damage Attack}}s that at first glance seem incredibly useful. However, in reality these spells are usually anything ''but'' useful, for any, and often ''several'', of the following reasons:

# [[BossBattle Bosses]], [[SubBoss sub-bosses]], and other types of enemies that actually pose a threat Any enemy you would want to the player are always extremely resistant or use it on is [[ContractualBossImmunity immune to such attacks]]. immune]]. If they weren't, the Useless Useful Spell would [[GameBreaker make things far too easy]], and might even be a form of DiscOneNuke.
easy]].
# Common enemies that the attacks ''are'' effective against can easily be disposed of by use of normal attacks, which means there's no sense in wasting time and magic power on fancy maneuvers. Who's going to waste 36MP to cast Instant Death on the local harmless UndergroundMonkey when you could kill it with a single normal attack? Why wait for Poison to kill your opponent when other methods do damage much faster? This is the most common example of this trope -- with most common enemies, it's quicker to just beat up your opponents instead of spending a round or two inflicting debuffs or status ailments and ''then'' beating them up.
# In a real-time combat game, the time it takes to switch to the spell, cast it, then switch to your attack is longer than it would take to kill anything not totally immune to the spell.
attack?
# The spell simply has a very low success/hit rate. A variation of this Or is where the casting is so slow that enemies are ''always'' able to dodge or block your attack, making it useless.
# A glitch in the game's programming makes the spell less effective than it was meant to be.
# The effect is something which only becomes significant after surviving a battle. Poison is often far too slow to make a difference during RandomEncounters, but you have to cure it or take constant damage even when not fighting.
# Casting the spell involves an [[{{Cutscene}} Unskippable Cutscene]] that slows down gameplay, where a straight-forward attack may only take a split-second.
useless.



# The spell is theoretically useful, but not for the character who gets it. Such as a physical attack that can only be used by a SquishyWizard.



# The spell either takes too long to cast or uses too many resources, meaning that lesser spells that can be used more often are more practical.
# The spell's effect [[MutuallyExclusivePowerups prevents you from using other abilities while active]]. [[ScaledUp Turning into a giant snake]] sounds impressive until you have to do something that requires hands again.
# The spell's effect is simply not powerful enough. The effect of the spell actually might be useful in theory if it had only been taken to a higher degree. Such as a 1% increase to movement speed or a heal spell that only boosts your hit point bar several pixels.
# The ability only takes effect in conjunction with other abilities, meaning that the player must perform an elaborate set up to get any use out of it at all. This is especially damning in series with a LimitedMoveArsenal: any one slot in these games is a valuable investment, so even an amazing effect may not be worth losing multiple ones. Worse still, it makes the player [[PoorPredictableRock very predictable]] to human opponents if any of the component spells are used.
# The spell induces a period of vulnerability after use, giving surviving enemies ample opportunity to exact revenge on the caster. This can result in the spell only being useful for [[FinishingMove finishing the fight]], which requires careful calculation or you're wasting it on an enemy about to die. Most players won't bother.
# The spell requires a specific, sub-optimal loadout of characters or equipment to use, such as a weak or temporary magic barrier that only succeeds if the player walks into battle unarmed wearing nothing but a smile.
# The spell's effect is designed to be hazardous to the human player, but has no use against computer-controlled opponents. Such as a spell that impacts a stat that is only relevant to the player character or induces a weakness that the player cannot take advantage of. Casting Drain Bargaining on the local demon bear doesn't make its claws hurt you any less.
# The spell reduces the reward gained from defeating the target vs other means. You might be able to handily take out an enemy with a spell that disintegrates them, but it's not so great if you also disintegrated their valuable equipment or other loot, to say nothing of the problem if they might have been carrying a PlotCoupon.
# The spell is a boost or debuff spell that has a great effect but a duration that's too short to actually be effective. Giving yourself a +50% boost to damage is great, but not if it only lasts one round and therefore actually lowers your damage output compared to simply attacking twice.
# The spell is too complex to be appreciable. For example, it may change the caster to the point where their accuracy falls by 22%, their damage rises by 12%, their speed halves, their crit goes up by 30% and their skills cost 5% less. As most people won't want to do the math every time they consider using it ([[GuideDangIt if the percentages are even available from the skill description]]), they simply look at how they perform with and without the skill. If the comparisons are wildly irregular, the predictable way is probably preferable.
# For balance purposes, the developers added a set of things the spell doesn't work against or other such specific limitations. In practice, these add up to an OverwhelmingException. If one of your warriors has an ability that doesn't work on enemies that are higher-levelled, of opposite gender or currently being shielded, the opportunity for use starts becoming statistically unlikely.
# The spell is useful, but in player-vs-player contexts it has a reliable and well-known counterspell that is widely-available. Not much point using Spell A if you know the enemy will use Spell B in return and punish you for it.

Of course, when any enemy possesses such spells, [[TheComputerIsACheatingBastard they will invariably be effective when used on you]], unless you happen to be wearing a type of armor that protects against such attacks or status effects. Even if the computer plays fair, a spell may still end up this way. The expendable hordes of enemy [=NPCs=] don't need to worry about exposing themselves to danger or wasting resources if the spell fails, and [[EvilOnlyHasToWinOnce they only need the spell to work once to give the player a Game Over]]. In many cases, this explains the presence of the spell; it's not so useful in the player's hands, but when the enemy uses it against the party, it's a significant threat.

Most character classes made up of [[StatusBuff buff]] / [[StandardStatusEffects debuff]] effects like this tend to be much [[QuirkyBard less popular than others]] for these reasons. However, it's averted with relative frequency; many games do allow for some very effective use of traditionally "Useless" spells. One trick is to pair up the effect with a normal attack, meaning that if the spell misses, the player still deals damage. Other games, especially the more strategic ones, make these spells useful by having EliteMooks who are genuinely dangerous in battle but without such immunities, or simply by having base {{Mooks}} be more credible opponents.

These attacks are also far more useful in {{MMORPG}}s due to generally stronger {{Mooks}} and player-controlled enemies that are very vulnerable to such tactics. Useless Useful Spells are often hated among {{MMORPG}} communities for their ability to handicap player characters (often even better than when used on {{Mooks}} due to [[TheComputerIsACheatingBastard the computer cheating]]). However, in [[PlayerVersusPlayer PvP]], ''that'' is a different story!

Judging by the way this has been going away in recent years and is less and less accepted, it seems to be on its way to becoming a DiscreditedTrope. May however be an AcceptableBreakFromReality regarding some; because it would not make a boss (especially the FinalBoss) very challenging to be able to just hit "Instant Death".

Subtrope of UnderusedGameMechanic. SuperTrope to ContractualBossImmunity. Compare AwesomeButImpractical ([[CanonicalListOfSubtleTropeDistinctions You will find use for an Awesome But Impractical ability, albeit not on a regular basis; You won't find a good reason to use Useless Useful Spells at all]]). Contrast with the InverseLawOfUtilityAndLethality, where the more powerful something is in combat, the less it is outside of it.

When an otherwise Useless Useful Spell is redeemed by being useful against a specific boss or in a particular situation, it is NotCompletelyUseless.

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# The spell either takes too long to cast or uses too many resources, meaning that lesser spells that can be used more often are more practical.
# The spell's effect [[MutuallyExclusivePowerups prevents you from using other abilities while active]]. [[ScaledUp Turning into a giant snake]] sounds impressive until you have to do something that requires hands again.
# The spell's effect is simply not powerful enough. The effect of the spell actually might be useful in theory if it had only been taken to a higher degree. Such as a 1% increase to movement speed or a heal spell that only boosts your hit point bar several pixels.
# The ability only takes effect in conjunction with other abilities, meaning that the player must perform an elaborate set up to get any use out of it at all. This is especially damning in series with a LimitedMoveArsenal: any one slot in these games is a valuable investment, so even an amazing effect may not be worth losing multiple ones. Worse still, it makes the player [[PoorPredictableRock very predictable]] to human opponents if any of the component spells are used.
# The spell induces a period of vulnerability after use, giving surviving enemies ample opportunity to exact revenge on the caster. This can result in the spell only being useful for [[FinishingMove finishing the fight]], which requires careful calculation or you're wasting it on an enemy about to die. Most players won't bother.
# The spell requires a specific, sub-optimal loadout of characters or equipment to use, such as a weak or temporary magic barrier that only succeeds if the player walks into battle unarmed wearing nothing but a smile.
# The spell's effect is designed to be hazardous to the human player, but has no use against computer-controlled opponents. Such as a spell that impacts a stat that is only relevant to the player character or induces a weakness that the player cannot take advantage of. Casting Drain Bargaining on the local demon bear doesn't make its claws hurt you any less.
# The spell reduces the reward gained from defeating the target vs other means. You might be able to handily take out an enemy with a spell that disintegrates them, but it's not so great if you also disintegrated their valuable equipment or other loot, to say nothing of the problem if they might have been carrying a PlotCoupon.
# The spell is a boost or debuff spell that has a great effect but a duration that's too short to actually be effective. Giving yourself a +50% boost to damage is great, but not if it only lasts one round and therefore actually lowers your damage output compared to simply attacking twice.
# The spell is too complex to be appreciable. For example, it may change the caster to the point where their accuracy falls by 22%, their damage rises by 12%, their speed halves, their crit goes up by 30% and their skills cost 5% less. As most people won't want to do the math every time they consider using it ([[GuideDangIt if the percentages are even available from the skill description]]), they simply look at how they perform with and without the skill. If the comparisons are wildly irregular, the predictable way is probably preferable.
# For balance purposes, the developers added a set of things the spell doesn't work against or other such specific limitations. In practice, these add up to an OverwhelmingException. If one of your warriors has an ability that doesn't work on enemies that are higher-levelled, of opposite gender or currently being shielded, the opportunity for use starts becoming statistically unlikely.
# The spell is useful, but in player-vs-player contexts it has a reliable and well-known counterspell that is widely-available. Not much point using Spell A if you know the enemy will use Spell B in return and punish you for it.


Of course, when any enemy possesses such spells, [[TheComputerIsACheatingBastard they will invariably be effective when used on you]], unless you happen to be wearing a type of armor that protects against such attacks or status effects. Even if the computer plays fair, a spell may still end up this way. The expendable hordes of enemy [=NPCs=] don't need to worry about exposing themselves to danger or wasting resources if the spell fails, and [[EvilOnlyHasToWinOnce they only need the spell to work once to give the player a Game Over]]. In many cases, this explains the presence of the spell; it's not so useful in the player's hands, but when the enemy uses it against the party, it's a significant threat.

Most character classes made up of [[StatusBuff buff]] / [[StandardStatusEffects debuff]] effects like this tend to be much [[QuirkyBard less popular than others]] for these reasons. However, it's averted with relative frequency; many games do allow for some very effective use of traditionally "Useless" spells. One trick is to pair up the effect with a normal attack, meaning that if the spell misses, the player still deals damage. Other games, especially the more strategic ones, make these spells useful by having EliteMooks who are genuinely dangerous in battle but without such immunities, or simply by having base {{Mooks}} be more credible opponents.

These attacks are also far more useful in {{MMORPG}}s due to generally stronger {{Mooks}} and player-controlled enemies that are very vulnerable to such tactics. Useless Useful Spells are often hated among {{MMORPG}} communities for their ability to handicap player characters (often even better than when used on {{Mooks}} due to [[TheComputerIsACheatingBastard the computer cheating]]). However, in [[PlayerVersusPlayer PvP]], ''that'' is a different story!

Judging by the way this has been going away in recent years and is less and less accepted, it seems to be on its way to becoming a DiscreditedTrope. May however be an AcceptableBreakFromReality regarding some; because it would not make a boss (especially the FinalBoss) very challenging to be able to just hit "Instant Death".

you]].

Subtrope of UnderusedGameMechanic. SuperTrope to ContractualBossImmunity. Compare AwesomeButImpractical ([[CanonicalListOfSubtleTropeDistinctions You will find use for an Awesome But Impractical ability, albeit not on a regular basis; You won't find a good reason to use Useless Useful Spells at all]]). Contrast with the InverseLawOfUtilityAndLethality, where the more powerful something is in combat, the less it is outside of it.

When an otherwise Useless Useful Spell is redeemed by being useful against a specific boss or in a particular situation, it is NotCompletelyUseless.

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