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Awesome But Impractical / Real-Time Strategy

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    Command And Conquer Franchise
It's like the mascot of the series, and very tough, but their top speed seems barely an upgrade over walking!
  • A common Real-Time Strategy Awesome, But Impractical unit type is the "Mobile X", where X is a stationary defensive structure, usually a turret of some kind. For instance, the Command & Conquer series has the Mobile Gap Generator and Mobile Stealth Generator — the stationary building version is useful enough, but the mobile ones' range is so contracted that they're practically worthless.
    • There's also the fact that the Mobile Gap Generator leaves a trail of fresh revealed terrain behind it, meaning you're generally not too effective at sneaking. There's also the problem that a gap generator tends to be a huge "there's something important here!" indicator to human players.
    • In contrast, the Mobile Stealth Generator from Tiberian Sun: Firestorm is quite useful, because while the range is limited, it still covers quite a bit of land, is cheaper than the stationary building, takes less space and doesn't cost any power. However, it's only somewhat practical against human players (and then, they can simply shoot the ground with force fire and a AoE (area of effect) attack, which stands a reliable chance of hitting something) as the AI has an auto-radar that reveals all of your units, even if they're cloaked.
  • Superweapons in general tend to be like this, from Red Alert 2 on. They can leave costly destruction inside a base, or even take out an army, but they have a significant "charge-up" time. Also, every player receives a warning that one has been built, and their location is revealed through the fog-of-war to everybody, provoking every opposing player to besiege you. They are the most expensive thing money can buy at 5000 credits (compare this with a basic battle tank that costs about 600-1100 credits, and is useful immediately after production). It is normally wiser to focus on building a standard army against a human player rather than building one (or two) of these giant "Attack Me!" beacons. There are aversions to this rule such as an insurmountable defense by the other player, but a general purpose army is far more flexible.
    • Worse yet, many offensive ones are underwhelming in practice or their awesomeness can only be concentrated on a small group if not a single target.
  • The Mammoth Tank and their Expy models tend to be on the impractical side. Yes, it's one tough tank and has nice weaponry, but they're among the slowest tanks in the series and unsuitable for enforcing map control as a result; they're also easy targets for artillery and aircraft. Their missile packs are nice and can provide Anti-Air, but dedicated anti air units are normally more efficient.
     Command And Conquer: Red Alert 
  • Nuke trucks were introduced in Command and Conquer: Red Alert and reinstated in Red Alert 2. It's Exactly What It Says on the Tin, a truck with a suicide bombing capability on the in-game nuke proportions. Only problem was it was made out of dry wood; one or two bullets was enough to set it off prematurely.
    • They're useful in RA2 if you build the Iron Curtain superweapon. Hit a few trucks with it and send them into the enemy base. Then wait for the invulnerability effect to wear off and watch the fireworks. Don't do it in RA1, though, as the invulnerability fades after only a second.
  • Yuri's superweapons in Yuri's Revenge. They sound really dangerous on paper: the Psychic Dominator mind-controls multiple units and destroys buildings, and the Genetic Mutator turns infantry over an area into brutes that the Yuri player can use. Problem is that their effectiveness is based entirely on how clustered together enemy units are, and the Genetic Mutator doesn't work on garrisoned infantry. A smart human player can easily counter the Psychic Dominator by spreading their units out and keeping them away from buildings, and can render the Genetic Mutator harmless by keeping all of their infantry inside buildings or APCs.
    • The main use for the Genetic Mutator seems to be on your own units - Yuri's ore miners automatically generate slaves to use as miners for free, so moving a group of them into the same area and then hitting them with the mutator can generate a lot of Brutes very fast for free. This can turn into an outright exploit, because Brutes are pretty expensive normally, and Yuri has a structure that kills units send into it, granting the user half the unit's price back. Do the math.
  • The other utility Superweapons like the Chrono-sphere and Iron Curtain, avert this trope. 9 Prism tanks instantaneously transported into the middle of an enemy base will wreak havoc. And an Iron Curtain can ensure that the aforementioned nuke truck actually reaches its target. Alternatively, if you're feeling like a troll, Chrono-shifting a cluster of your opponent's units over water can be hilarious. This is honestly one of the best ways to deal with the Elite Mooks guarding the Kremlin in the final Allied mission of RA2.
  • Any sort of transport is this in most of the games. Lightly armored, the moment they died so did their cargo, regardless of what it is. This is especially painful for the Soviets in Red Alert 1 as their navy consisted solely of attack subs, meaning absolutely no way of clearing a beachhead for deploying troops. The aforementioned Orca Transport with the Mammoth MK 2 also suffers from this, as a few hits from a SAM or rocket infantry and it'll drop the Mammoth, who will then promptly break it's legs on impact.
  • Specific to the first Red Alert game were the Soviet's flamethrower and grenadier units. Flamethrowers can easy wipe out infantry while grenadiers can take out infantry in clumps and can even make short work of vehicles. The problem? If any one of these units die, they blow up. And if you have a clump of either together, you're looking at a chain reaction of everyone exploding the moment someone dies.
  • In the 3rd game, transforming and amphibious units are this to an extent. Sure they are flexible in their role, unfortunately the trade-off is that, barring a few exceptions like the Giga Fortress (whose trade-off is a high price tag), they're significantly weaker and less durable than units that have a single role. In addition, transforming units have a sizable cool-down for transforming and amphibious units are slow on land.
  • The Apocalypse Tank is essentially the Soviets' successor to the Mammoth and it possess obscenely powerful cannons this time around in addition to their signature missile packs. They're still very slow to move and build however, so a savy player will be able to prepare in advance to have counters ready. In Yuri's Revenge they suffred from Power Creep as there are much better anti-armor options available to all factions, while Yuri's overpowered faction can simply Mind Control the Apocalypse(s).
     Command and Conquer: Tiberium 
  • Certain super units can border this sometimes. The Mammoth MK2, "All Terrain, Armored Transport" expy has a weapon that insta-gibs anything that's not a building (and gibs those in about 3 shots) and has anti-aircraft capabilities. The drawback is that it's horrendously expensive, pathetically slow, and you could only build one of it. A rush of cheap expendable troops is usually enough to destroy it, as it has quite a lengthy recharge time for its guns and it can only target one unit at a time. Granted, it can kill multiple units lined up together, but that means it can kill yours too. In the same vein the Cyborg Commando is on the other spectrum. Technically infantry (so anti-tank doesn't work) but has tank armor (making infantry guns useless), can regen in tiberium, and blows everything up with the same efficiency as the Mammoth MK 2, as well as being pretty fast on both recharging shots AND running. The Drawback? He has no AA weapons. A few orca bomb runs and it's scrapped. Oh, and you can only have one at a time.
    • Keeping an Orca transport nearby however, can turn the Mammoth into a rapid response super unit that becomes hard to rush. Just as long as that transport doesn't die.
  • The Steel Talons faction is a variation of GDI. They don't use advanced infantry and use a non-standard Walking Tank. They can also unlock a damage-mitigating armor as well as unlock Explosive Overclocking for their Railguns. However, they lack a tech building that unlocks EMP grenades for Grenadiers which are very good vs Epics. This leaves them with a only a Kill Sat delivery for their EMP which is both costly and must recharge. Their lack of advanced infantry also gimps the power of their Epic unit. Their main battle tank, the Titan mecha is also $1300 and replaces the $1100 Predator tank, which many players prefer over the clunky mecha. They are also unable to build the powerful sonic emitters to hold down the fort while their army is out in the field, a major defensive drawback, and they're the only faction in the game that has this limitation. This balance trouble, along with programming-bugs in the ZOCOM faction causes most players to play as Vanilla GDI who are far more well-rounded.
  • C&C 3 showcases the vulnerabilities of walkers, which, in-universe, forces the GDI to go back to more traditional types of vehicles (in Tiberian Sun, they were nearly all-mech). In-game, your commandos can cripple mechs by slapping C4 on a leg joint, at which point it's fair game for any infantry to occupy. This is especially true for the only remaining GDI mech, which only has artillery guns taken off a battleship. At least the Nod mech can have a flamethrower, and the Scrin one has lasers.
    • The Juggernaut actually averts it - it can be kept near a friendly barracks to provide Engineers to repair it if destroyed, while bombarding the enemy from the across the battlefield due to Sniper Teams spotting targets.
  • Mobile Factory, if the factory in question has to be locked down to use. Often, it can't be repaired without re-converting it into a truck.
  • The Scrin Mothership of Command and Conquer 3 can destroy and entire base in a single shot, but it take 5,000 credits to deploy, has low armor and moves very slowly.

    A common work-around tactic is to send the Scrin commando unit (The Mastermind) into an enemy base, find a building that gives you the space to drop the building that calls the Mothership, and then force-fire the Motherships main gun on the building, sure, you lose a structure, but just watch the fireworks as your enemy's base becomes rubble in seconds. All of this is purely luck based, and requires the best timing, so the trope is still Played Straight.
  • The Scrin's Planetary Assault Carrier has this rap in the C&C3 community. Very Expensive ($3000), slow, requires Tier 4 to build (That's a $3000 structure you must build, on top of the $4000 tech-lab for tier 3.), and their fighters can be neutralized by a decent anti-air effort. The tier 3 Devastator Warship ($2400) is often a better choice overall, due to its superior bombardment range, though it lacks anti-air offense.
  • The Mammoth Tank Mark III ended up this way thanks to a Nerf. They were originally too powerful in PVP, due to being self-sufficient enough to steamroll opponents by spamming the tanks. They became a Master of None: The Slingshot (Kane's Wrath) is much better at Anti-Air (and much faster), the Predator Tank is more cost effective ($1100) and moves more quickly, and the Mammoth III is one of the most expensive vehicles in the game at $2500.
  • Superweapons were already impractical in previous CnC games, but Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars gave every single superweapon a 7-minute countdown rendering them even more risky to invest $5,000 in than before.
     Command and Conquer: Generals 
  • Command & Conquer: Generals had the GLA SCUD Launcher, which was awesome in that its high explosive missile really dealt some serious damage and its Anthrax warheads were overkill for infantry. In Zero Hour they could be improved with enemy scrap parts for up to two power boosts. The drawbacks are that the missiles need time to deploy to fire and are inaccurate to the max, its pathetically slow (here the Tunnel Networks come in handy) and has paper armor. It also costs a Generals Point. All in all, buying Rocket Buggies is much more feasible as they are much faster and do not cost a Gen Point better spend on an offensive special power.
  • Overlord tanks are an Expy of the Mammoth Tank, and can be outfitted with Gatling Cannons to deal with air. In professional play, however, they are quite slow (unless you opt for the Nuclear faction, that has nuke engines per-installed with all tanks). Their slowness and $2000 price is not the end of their issues, each Gatling Cannon cost $1200 per tank, so the upgrade should be used sparingly.

    The Global Liberation Army can hire suicide bikes to ambush them, Jarmen Kell to snipe the driver of the Overlord, or use rocket buggies to pick off tanks and retreat from the lumbering beasts. Meanwhile, China & USA can use fighter jets, build-able long before the Overlord tank is available, to scrap the tanks. Less pronounced with the Nuclear General's Overlords due them having standard nuclear engines & cannons for improved maneuverability and firepower without extra upgrades.
  • The Chinese nuclear missile is hands down the worst of all three superweapons. Yes, it has a wide area, kills just about any unit caught in it, and sets the ground on fire for a while, but the damage is simply not high enough to completely destroy buildings (while a GLA base will be leveled and any units inside destroyed, their buildings automatically respawn shortly after), which the Particle Cannon and SCUD Storm can do (if on a single target for the former). All of this and it requires 6-minutes to arm a missile for launch, so you're left waiting longer than any other superweapon.
  • Aurora Bombers are invincible planes (on the way to the enemy) that drop pretty powerful bombs, and they don't require a Generals Point. On the other hand, they are ludicrously expensive and if the enemy has any Anti-Air at all, they will die due to their paper armour (they have less health and resistance than even a regular grunt infantry).
  • General Alexis Alexander's "Super Weapon" faction of the USA faction has perks such as 50% cost on all Particle Cannons, a super-sonic bomber with a payload that hits even harder than the standard payload, A discount on the USA Hero Unit Colonel Burton, high-efficiency power plants (upgraded), and base defenses that disable vehicles with EMP charges. However, the faction cannot use tanks, certain useful units are more costly, and in online matches, the faction can be taken out with a well-executed rush. Still, if you play impeccably and get the upper hand, then her weaponry can incinerate the opponent back to the stone age.
  • General Kwai is China's Tank Goodness specialist, with a discount on his main Battlemaster tank, a slight discount on his Overlord Tank note . He also has an upgrade to make the Battlemaster tanks fire even faster, and all tanks begin as Veterans. However, Kwai lacks the ability to build artillery guns such as the Inferno Cannon, or the Nuke Cannon note . This leaves him with Generals Powers on a long cooldown timer, or using price-inflated attack jets ($1600, ouch), to deal with base defenses and long-range enemies. Also, his tanks still require a costly engine upgrade from the $5000 super weapon to fix their cumbersome speed. His strengths are not as useful in multiplayer games, where hit-and-run attacks are the key to long-term victory.

    This oddly makes General Tao "The Nuke" better at tank warfare right off the bad as they start will all the nuclear upgrades, moving faster and hitting harder without needing to buy upgrades from a Nuke Silo. Also, Tao can build artillery support including the Nuke Cannon (requires no General's Point) to pragmatically support his tanks, making Kwai look amateur in his tactics.
  • Prince Kassad is the Useless Useful Stealth specialist of the GLA; while he can stealth all his structures and his defenses and Rebels are cloaked by default, these advantages are completely negated by ubiquitous stealth detection units (this includes EVERY vehicle the USA fields by choosing the correct upgrade) and all base defenses in the game except basic bunkers also detect stealth. This, along with many of his planned features such as sniper infantry being Dummied Out (Leaving him the vanilla Jarmen Kell commando), as well as lacking both tanks and artillery that would actually really benefit from GPS Scramblers (a power that makes units cloak) means he squarely sits on this trope. His primary hope of getting access to heavy armor are his stealth hijackers, but a balanced army will negate their cloaking leaving a dead $600 unit(s).

     StarCraft Franchise 
  • The nuclear missile in StarCraft is for novelty purposes only. Impressive and satisfying to watch, but costly (200/200) and difficult to use. First of all, without "ocular implants", the ghost will die if you become distracted from micromanaging the ghost. It takes a long time to fire, the enemy is warned when you fire it, and you need two nukes to destroy most buildings (which probably are less expensive than the two nuclear missiles launched). If your ghost is killed before the missile hits, the missile is lost. This makes it OK against the AI who doesn't scramble stealth-detectors once the warning sounds off, and not much else.
    • If you've advanced to the stage that you can actually build one (they are very high up on the tech tree), then you have probably already had the chance to build an army of conventional weapons that can do far more damage. If you can somehow sneak a ghost next to a Command Centre and set it ablaze, taking most of his builders with it, that's about the only use you're going to get out of this. Another bizarre tactic is to research EMP-Shockwave for the Science Vessel, and use it to drain half the HP of a Protoss Nexus (leaving the command center structure vulnerable to just one nuke). If the opponent is getting rusty, then you may get away with nuking a few Nexi, but don't count on it in a professional match.
    • Made slightly more practical as a surprise tactic in StarCraft II. The ghost no longer needs its ocular implant upgrades to fire the nuke without getting fried, the nukes are cheaper to build, and are also built from the ghost academy instead of the command center, meaning you don't take up a slot for a comsat station (now the orbital command).
    • However, the (now impossible) Vortex/Nuke Combo requires an allied Protoss/Terran team, someone to tech up to Mothership (itself Awesome, But Impractical), and then pull off the timing and coordination to place the nuke just as the Vortex begins. However, it is glorious to see.
  • The Archon Toilet is also both awesome but waaaaay too difficult to pull off, needing a Mothership, a large number of archons, and a decent sized-cluster of enemies. However, it is quite impressive to pull off, as Archons deal splash damage and Vortex tightly packs the enemies.
  • The Terran Battlecruiser sees almost no competitive use whatsoever in Starcraft II prior to 2015. Its speed relative to other flyers (Slow), damage per second (Much, much, much worse than 3 Hydralisks, which you can get for cheaper), being the only Tier 4 unit in the game (Requires one extra building than Protoss Mothership), and extreme expense (400/300) cause it to see little use anywhere. However, they find more usage since the Legacy of the Void expansion, which gave them the Tactical Jump ability to mitigate their sluggish speed. Subsequently, the unit found a new niche as a late-game base harassment unit.
    • Their redeeming factors include flight and extreme health/armor. Still, if you're rushing to Tier 4, you'll get a bang of them out fast once they become available, if only because you'll have a thousand Gas or so. Make sure to grab the Weapon Refit so it can fire Lasers of Doom on top of it all. Back in StarCraft I, their main use was usually only in mirror matches against other Terrans, due to a lack of extremely decisive counters. Zerg and Protoss have hard-counter spells that make them too risky to build, however.
    • The Battlecruiser actually sees more use than its Protoss counterpart the Carrier. Battlecruisers are often brought out to counter powerful high value units (like the Carrier) via Yamato Cannon sniping but the main advantages of the Carrier (one of the longest attack ranges in the game and face melting DPS if fully loaded) can be nullified with half-competent AA or a large enough Marine ball. It becomes somewhat more viable following Legacy of the Void when its interceptor drones become cheaper and faster to build.
    • Similarly to the Battlecruiser the Thor is slow, expensive, and takes a long time to build. Its heavy armor and anti-air missiles that do splash damage just barely make it worthwhile.
  • Same thing goes for the Zerg Ultralisk. It's a giant armored monster that slices up its enemies with two pairs of kaiser blades. Quite badass. But due to their contradictory nature as both an Area of Effect and an Anti-Armor unit, they're extremely situational. This was however fixed in Heart of the Swarm, making the Ultralisk a lot more practical.
  • Many of the units you can build in Starcraft 2's campaign follow this trope. While they may be useful in the mission in which they're introduced, later on you'll have no need for them.
  • The Odin is the Awesome, But Impractical version of the Thor, being bigger, tougher and even sporting a nuke launcher (though you don't get to use it). Your engineer specifically tells you this trope is why the Thors are a dialed-back, mass production version.
  • The Reapers are extremely fast jetpack wearing troops with really good attack damage. However they're also the definition of Glass Cannon, with very little durability, meaning you'll need to send loads of back-up with them to keep them from getting slaughtered the second they hit a decently sized group of enemies. Worse yet, they're so fast that they outrun said back-up by a mile, leading to them rushing into battle Leeroy Jenkins style before getting swarmed and ripped apart while your forces are a couple kilometers away. They don't have any stealth capabilities, rendering them worthless as scouts. Their jetpacks let them reach areas only accessible by flyers, but why bother when you can just send the simple but practical Vikings, which are about as fast in the air but can actually take a punch without crumpling into wet paper and can switch between air and ground movement anytime they need to. As a result, Reapers are only used for harassing enemy workers early on and then forgotten about once better things become available (although in the campaign, they're far more useful due to having a devastating anti-building attack).
  • In StarCraft I, the Protoss have the Scout, an elite air-to-air jet that's superb against capital ships with their dual missile launchers dealing 14 damage each (17 with upgrades). It is also well protected with an impressive 250 total Hit Points. Unfortunately, they require a Fleet Beacon (Costs 300/200) to upgrade their average speed; that's another 200/200 for an upgrade that only affects one unit, and their air-to-ground blaster inflicts a pathetic 8 damage every two seconds,. The fighter jet itself is an eye-watering 275/125. Compare this with a Dragoon which is 125/50, is much more versatile and a staple anti-armor / anti-air Spider Tank, or the Terran Goliath that costs 100/50 and rivals the Scout's Anti-Matter Missiles with their upgraded Hellfire Missiles. Many players find the Scout has far too much Crippling Overspecialization and its main use of countering Terran Battle-Cruisers, Protoss Carriers, and Zerg heavy air is very rarely applicable in Pro. Gaming.

    One other use for the Scout is acting as a Joke Character in psychological warfare to make the opponent underestimate the Protoss player's skill. ("The Protoss player must be a newbie if they're building Scouts!") If the opponent is familiar with this joke tactic, don't expect them to over-react with anti-air however, leaving you with wasted tech.

    Blizzard realized the Scout was too costly for an air-support fighter, and wisely replaced it in StarCraft II with the "Void Ray" which is similar in price (250/150) and has the exact same 250 total Hit Points. They are still premium, considering the added gas cost, but are equally optimized against both ground and airborne heavy armor, and see much more use as a result..]]
  • The Protoss Dark Archon has always been hard to justify in terms of cost, costing two Dark Templar stealth assassins (250/200) making one even more costly than a High Templar (50/150) while being highly situational. Sure, the "D-archon" has 200 shield points (and 25 hp), making it better protected than High Templar, but the spells are more "utility" than every-day-use. The D-archon comes with "Feedback" which converts all mana a target has into equal damage to said target, and is reasonably practical for sniping enemy casters.

    Sadly, the other two spells require their own research. "Maelstrom" (costs 100/100) is an area stun against biological units, but costs 100 mana note , and has a very short duration (about 8 game seconds) so you need excellent timing with a counter-attack. "Mind Control" (costs 200/200) is the Darchon's ultimate spell, costing 150 mana, as well as depleting the shields of the caster, limiting its viability to high-value super units or the occasional theft of a worker from other races. The Meta Game rarely incorporates Darchons into gameplay due to High Templar being much more desirable for their Psionic Storm and ability to Merge into Archons to be a respectable front-line unit.

    Back to the idea of Mind Control. It looks amazing to mind control a worker from another race, and build up their tech and train your favorite units from their team. Terran and Zerg also use their own separate supply points rather than your "Psi". The problem is, you now have to fund two races including your own. If you have the freedom to reach the apex of your opponent's technology tree, your opponent is probably already beaten and you may as well just defeat them. Hence, mind-controlled workers are more likely to be used to provide Mundane Utility such as quickly training Terran Medics to heal your bio troops.

    There have been some Pro Gaming matches where a Terran SCV is take from the enemy Terran, and Factories are built to add Siege Tanks to the Protoss army, but these tend to be the exception rather than the rule; it still doesn't mean an instant win. That being said, it can be a crowd-pleaser to see a Protoss player using a Terran strike team against their opponents, and see some originality in a match. Siege Tanks can be very helpful to the Protoss army and can even be recalled by a Protoss Arbiter to wreak havoc on Terran bases (even while they're in Siege Mode).
  • Some of the campaign upgrades in Wings of Liberty are almost pointless compared to the alternative despite seeming pretty impressive. The Atlas cannon upgrade for the Command Center has high damage and decent range along with improved armor. But it prevents the Command Center from lifting off and is only useful if your base is already overrun. By comparison, perdition turrets are great defensive buildings that burn right through light units and can be placed anywhere. Likewise another research upgrade lets you train two SCVs at once, but the alternative is the automated Refinery which saves you on both minerals and supply while gathering Vespene faster than your workers can. The Predator is a fast anti-infantry melee unit, but the campaign gives plenty of anti-infantry as is and the alternative Hercules transport holds four times as many troops as a Medivac and deploys much faster (unless you buy an upgrade for the Medivac). Lastly, the Hive Mind Emulator lets you take control of a single Zerg unit but has a cooldown. Since you can't grab a worker and build a Zerg base and the game is rather defensive in nature (especially on missions against Zerg), it's best to take the Psi Disruptor instead that halves the movement and attack speed of all nearby Zerg.
  • Legacy of the Void introduces the Khaydarin Monolith, a new protoss turret that deals five times as much damage per shot as a Photon Cannon and has nearly double the range. However, it's attack speed is less than half that of a Photon Cannon, it's build time is nearly triple (80 seconds vs 29 seconds), it costs twice as many minerals on top of 100 vespene gas, and it's not a detector. Overall, having one or two to deal with long range or "big" enemies can be useful but Photon Cannons will still be the mainstay of protoss defense.

     Warcraft Franchise 
  • In Warcraft II:
    • Some of the Death Knight spells are of marginal use: Whirlwind costs 100 mana to summon a deadly tornado that lasts a while but is uncontrollable and randomly drifts about, able to kill a lot of workers if you get lucky.
  • Warcraft III:
    • The Blood-Mage has some "cool" abilities, such as the the ability to summon a pillar of fire for relatively high mana cost (Flamestrike), banish a unit to a different phase (leaving them vulnerable to increased magic damage), leech mana from units, and ultimately summon a giant Phoenix. However, the Blood-Mage is in stiff competition with other human heros, such as a the Arch-Mage who offers much more flexible spells for the start of game. The Arch-Mages' Water Elemental summon as well as Brilliance Aura are too good to pass up, leaving the Blood-Mage on the shelf quite often. The Arch-Mage also has Blizzard available as an alternative to Flamestrike for a more reasonable mana cost.
    • The Death Knight still suffers from this in the form of his ultimate ability, Animate Dead. Being able to temporarily revive 6 units and make them invulnerable is definitely flashy and can potentially make a difference in battle, but if enough units die in a fight for Animate Dead to become useful, the outcome has probably already been decided, and the limited duration and long cooldown means that you're generally better off trying to keep units alive rather than waiting for them to die off. As such, Undead players will more often than not forgo Animate Dead in favor of the Boring, but Practical Death Coil and Unholy Aura.
    • The Frost Wyrm, Tauren, and Chimera, the super units for the Undead, Orcs, and Night Elves respectively. Very powerful, but they lie at the very top of their respective tech trees, require their own building (the Boneyard for the Frost Wyrm and the Tauren Totem for the Tauren) to be trained, cost a metric ton of resources, take up a large portion of your Arbitrary Headcount Limit, are slow to move and attack. They also have glaring weaknesses: the Frost Wyrm's abysmal attack rate makes it vulnerable to masses of cheap Anti-Air units, the Tauren can only attack ground units, and the Chimera suffers from both. That being said, their sheer destructive power means that they can still make an impact with sufficient army support.
    • The Human Alliance Knights seem like they'd be pretty good heavy melee units, are very fast, and are available at the Castle stage immediately, from the Barracks. However, their combat effectiveness is relatively poor for tier 3 heavy melee and they tend to suffer from being a Master of None. In direct engagements, they tend to fare poorly compared with the equivalent units of other factions and their fast speed isn't that much of factor unless one can find a way to to use them for hit-and-run attacks on enemy bases.
    • The Keeper of the Grove's ultimate ability, Tranquility, is an extremely powerful sustained area heal on a very short cooldown for an ultimate. It's also a channeled ability, meaning that the Keeper must sit there and not do anything while healing your other units, which isn't a good thing since he's also a Squishy Wizard that dies very quickly if dogpiled by enemy forces or if a high-damage enemy hero, like the Blademaster, so much as sneezes on him. It can also be interrupted by stuns, silences, and the like, leaving you down roughly 100 mana with nothing to show for it. Tranquility was eventually salvaged by giving it a more concentrated heal (i.e. more healing per second over a shorter duration) and granting the Keeper of the Grove 3 seconds of invulnerability when cast.

     Unsorted Examples 
  • The special weapons of Dune II: the Devastator is the most powerful tank, but is very very very VERY slow, and when it shoots, it takes a long time to shoot again - its Self-Destruct Mechanism is impressive, but usually useless (it will explode anyway if heavily damaged). The Sonic Tank is awesome as it can hit many enemies with a single blast, but it will hit your units if they are between the Sonic Tank and its target. The Ornithopter is awesome as it's the only one flying unit, but you cannot control it! Once deployed, it goes directly against your enemy and attacks a target of its choice, and in a minute it is shot down by enemy rocket turrets. The Saboteur can run very fast and can destroy a building simply by touching it... but, again, turrets are a problem (and its armor is non-existent). The Death Hand is an incredibly powerful missile: unfortunately (but fortunately for you when the enemy uses it) it studied at the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy (Save Scumming can help).
    • One can actually make good use of the Ornithopter, increasing its chances of survival by building them in pairs at a time (by having two Hi-Tech factories built at once). This can result in the enemy turrets having a hard time aiming because they had to decide which of the two to hit. There's a good reason why in Real Life combat aircraft fly missions at least in pairs.
    • And then there's the Deviator, which is wonderful for dealing with Devastators (drive it away from the base and self-destruct it), but hampers you in previous missions - because it shares a sprite with the (generally far more useful) Rocket Tank, the Ordos can't build those. They can buy them from starports - at which point it becomes impossible to tell them and your Deviator battery apart.
      • They were great for abusing an AI bug, though. Recipe: Deviate an enemy. Wait until the mind control is about to wear off, then give it an attack order without finalizing the order by telling it what to attack. When the mind control ends, click somewhere empty to finalize the attack order. The unit will now perform its order until completed, and since an empty space cannot be destroyed, it will never be completed. You could also make it attack an enemy building, but then the unit would revert to normal if the building got destroyed.
  • Halo Wars has the Scarab on the Covenant's side. A big, lumbering four-legged alien walker with a Frickin' Laser Beam that can deal good damage to anything, especially base structures. It costs as many resources and population as fielding half of an army (which is usually more useful). Most mainline units and some counter-units (even counter-units designed to counter other stuff) have special abilities which can kill it fairly quickly. Its biggest problem is that when you've put half of your population cap into it, even its BFG isn't killing stuff quick enough to be worth it before it inevitably dies, and adding any more armor would risk make it a Game-Breaker. It also has no upgrades when other units do.
    • It does have a couple of redeeming features making it situationally useful. It can be built from your central base structure, unlike almost every other unit in the game, requiring no preparation (beyond having maxed tech), especially due to its double-edged lack of upgrades. So if your opponent makes the mistake of building an army entierly or almost entirely of units which can't deal with the Scarab... It's also Purposely Overpowered before 10 minutes, as compared to the units normally available at that stage of the game, so that if you can somehow gain higher supplies and/or tech then you're "supposed" to have (and there are ways to do this) then you can get a Scarab as early as 6 minutes. Curb-Stomp Battle ensues.
      Also, surrounding it with healers as a primary strategy can make it survive long enough to make its laser effective.
    • The rough UNSC equivalentnote , Vulture Gunships, also qualify. While "only" costing enough supplies and population to build two tanks, and being flying units, they share a similar theme of being high-damage, base-killing, high-cost, slow-training max tech level units which just aren't as effective (or quick to produce) as a full army of their alternatives. Their quad railgun cannons can put out a scary amount of damage, but it's just not as much as the other options you could have bought for that population space, training time, and resource expenditure. Their anti-air missile launchers also put a decent amount of hurt on air units in isolation, but in practice it's not enough to keep more than a couple air units off their back or make them a useful anti-air option against air-focused armies in multiplayer, especially since they don't double their fire rate with an upgrade like Wolverines do. They have some use as "snipers" in mixed armies with their barrage ability for high damage against single targets (or small groups), and high-damage cannons while on cooldown, as well as booming to a "Vulture Rush"note  being a viable strategy, but massing them late-game will get wrecked by massed nearly anything else.
  • Machines: Wired For War gives us the eradicator, a small unit that can wipe out entire squads with a controlled gravity collapse. Unfortunately it's slow, weak and could kill several of your own units (along with itself) if it should try to defend itself. See also the Bee bomber, nuclear missile and spy.
  • Most of the super-weapons in the Star Trek: Armada series come under this trope. The Romulan Phoenix for example can create a Negative Space Wedgie that obliterates anything near it - but you have to get the Phoenix right near whatever you want to destroy, and its shields are so incredibly weak that you have to surround it with a substantial escort fleet anyway. The Cardassian Dreadnought from Armada II suffers this flaw and has weaker shields to boot. Also in the second game Species 8472 can have eight ships combine their firepower into one massive beam, but there's little point in actually doing so because they'll never get near enough to a heavily fortified target to form up and activate the beam. The Borg have the Transwarp Gate, which isn't too bad in the first game, but is effectively rendered useless with the inclusion of warp drive in the second (although they did end up with the massive Game-Breaker, the Fusion Cube in Armada II). The Federation and Klingon super-weapons avoid this trope; the Federation's Time Freezer weapon is expensive and has no actual destructive power, but can freeze enemy ships in time from anywhere on the map. Likewise, the Klingon Shockwave weapon is mounted on a fairly weak ship and has a narrower effective range than the Phoenix, but the range is also much longer, making it easier to unleash on your enemies.
    • More importantly, in Armada II they've added elevation. Unfortunately someone forgot to apply that to either the Klingon or the Romulan supership, meaning half the time you'll activate your weapon only for most of it to go under or over your enemy.
  • Assault Mechs in Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds. They're distinctive units which can dish out massive blast damage and can transport units. Unfortunately: they're slow, they have a fairly annoying minimum range, your units are not Friendly Fireproof, and they're huge, making them hard to move through any narrow areas. Oh, and they're pretty pricey too.
    • In the "Clone Campaigns" expansion, air cruisers are either godlike or useless - they have decent range and do obscene amounts of blast damage, but they cost enough resources for a sizeable squadron of fighters, fire at a glacial pace, and there's a special upgrade available to most factions that gives AA units a significant range boost when shooting at them.
  • Total Annihilation
    • The Core Krogoth, a unit about three times larger than any other unit with the firepower and health to match. It has insane amounts of armor, the best laser in the game in its head, arm cannons, and anti-air missiles in its back. However, in multiplayer no one will build this unit because it uses the equivalent of 200 advanced fighters' worth of metal, energy, and build time, and requires its own expensive factory that can only produce that one unit. With the 200 fighters you should have been building, your enemy could take down the Krogoth in less than 30 seconds.
    • Additionally, there was a Third-Party created unit, the Be'elzebub, which took the Krogoth formula and cubed it. It took way more than an obscene amount of resources to create. If successfully built, its weapons would continue to drag and cause damage after hitting the ground, was bristling with AA missiles, and had a high-power laser cannon. Its HP was roughly four times greater than the game's previously determined maximum. Its death explosion was nearly large enough to completely destroy one of the smaller maps. It requires two separate self destructions to actually kill the unit. Oh, and it could walk in water. It was, as noted by the creator, only balanced by the amount of time it took to field. Once it hit the field, the other team would be better off simply self destructing every unit it has on the field.
    • Another two examples are the Rapid Fire Long Range Plasma Cannons, the Vulcan and Buzzsaw. They can shoot to about 10 screenlengths at 360 rounds/minute. They also cost as much as nine single shot Long Range Plasma Cannons, which shoot about 60 rounds/minute, are more accurate, fire 40% further, and can be spread out to minimize Splash Damage. They also cost an obscene amount of power to keep running at full speed.
    • The Arm's Penetrator and Shooter — supposedly mobile Annihilator energy weapons, but nowhere near as powerful, and both the Arm and the Core have mobile artillery (the Luger and Pillager) which are supposedly mobile versions of the powerful Guardian/Punisher plasma turrets, but are incapable of shooting straight.
    • The Core has a unit called "The Can". It can take a great amount of punishment and deals massive damage with its green laser of doom. The problem? It has very limited range and it moves at about the speed of a snail. If you were good enough, you could circle your units around it and kill it without getting hit once.
      • The Core Contingency expansion turned The Can up to eleven, with the even more powerful, more heavily armored, and even slower Sumo. Completely impractical for anything other than a mobile Heavy Lasertower, while being more expensive than just building a bunch of Heavy Laser Towers.
    • On the other end of the spectrum, Total Annihilation has the walking bombs. Their destructive power is awesome, they're amphibious and they can cut circles out of the enemy's base if you get them in it. Problem is, they're very slow and weakly armored, so the defenses have ample time to deal with them. They're also not strong enough to survive an explosion caused by a nearby walking bomb, so you can't even march a large group in the enemy base confident that at least a few will survive to do damage - as soon as one is destroyed, the whole group goes up.
  • A similar argument could be made for the Mavor in Supreme Commander, Total Annihilation's Spiritual Successor. Its damage is massive, the impact radius of its shells considerable, its running costs modest and it has a range of 71km, while the largest maps in the game have dimensions of 80 km square. In addition, although strategic missiles can be intercepted , there is no defense against artillery shells except for shield generators — which Mavor shells punch straight through as if they weren't there. However, the build time (around 6 hours with one T-3 engineer), along with the mass and energy costs of its construction, are so prodigious that with the hundreds of tanks or fighters you could have built, any enemy can systematically dismantle your firebases and your main base — or build several nuclear missile silos and bomb your expansion into glass.
    • Most superweapons in Supreme Commander simply can't match their weight in high-end units when it comes to firepower, durability, or practicality.
    • It's worth noting that while "game enders" in Supreme Commander are usually awesome but impractical, they actually do become practical and arguably even necessary in particularly long games with particularly skilled players, when dozens of experimentals have already been built and destroyed (leaving extreme amounts of mass on the map), thousands of build force in engineers has been created, and a sufficient power infrastructure has been built up. At that point in a game, weapons like the Mavor become viable to build and indeed an ideal and effective option.
  • Total Annihilation's fantasy cousin, Total Annihilation: Kingdoms, gave you the ability to build gods. Virtually indestructable and able to kill most of a base with one shot, they were an instant "I win" button... if you could finish one. They would take so long to build that nobody ever bothered - partially because of gameplay reasons, and partially out of sheer boredom. The next step down, the Great Dragons, were never used since while they had powerful attacks they were so relatively vulnerable to attack that basic standing defenses could take them down.
  • The triple nuke in World in Conflict: first, you need a whopping 240 Tactical Aid points at once to summon them, and second, even one nuke is usually Over Nine Thousand destruction-wise, which makes the other two mostly just hit the dirt.
    • Unit-wise, US and Nato Heavy Artillery units certainly apply. They fire an extremely flashy and lethal barrage of rockets... but any alert player can see them coming from afar and avoid the attack entirely. Plus the barrage can be seen on the minimap and will give away the position of the artillery, which is just a sitting duck at close range. Medium artillery is much cheaper, its shots can't be seen and it's just as effective against anything short of tanks. It even has Napalm against infantry in the forest.
  • Before the alpha version of Achron was released to the public, speculations abounded on this forum about possible strategies that could be implemented with the new time manipulation mechanics. As it turns out however, most of them require you to either focus your entire attention on a single unit, or take too long to implement, or are simply so complicated that you tend to forget what you're doing half way through. The fact that the enemy is constantly trying to kill you doesn't help.
    • Especially notable is Permacloning, which was a viable tactic in early versions and still is in the single player campaign. By careful time manipulation, you can cause chronoclones to become casually disconnected from their parents, thus letting you create free units out of nothing, and potentially even recover from a complete defeat if you're Grekim. Unfortunately, the methods to do this are all risky, time consuming, and/or difficult to pull off under standard multiplayer map conditions.
  • The siege driver of Sword of the Stars is a true BFG, an gun that shoots astroids. It also requires a special mission section on a dreadnaught class ship, is very hard to aim at anything besides planets, and needs to be fired by hand. And any fleet too weak to shoot down the astroids before they hit the planet can probably be swept away by a single normal dreadnaught.
  • The obscure Yu-Gi-Oh spin-off Falsebound Kingdom has fusions. To start off you need to waste an item slot for Polymerization. Second, they have less total LP, Attack and Defense than their materials, the lack of attack and HP is magnified by the fact that it counts as one target. Third of all, they can't be armed with Items, meaning you overall waste three slots that could be spent on Monster Reborn, Red Medicine and something else. Whereas you could just use the seperate two/three monsters to significantly increase damage output and HP. They aren't as bad in the real life card game because Attack and Defense function differently and LP are applied to the player, not the monster.
    • Fusions are pretty awesome. For one, any damage done to the fusion is not done back to the original monsters (as long as the LP doesn't go down to 0). When the monsters fuse, it has full health and full action points, regardless of how little the material monsters had. All in all, Fusions are a bitch to fight against, and are pretty damn powerful to use.
      • It's a nice trick to use, throwing in a Fusion near the end of a regular fight to give yourself a few more attacks before combat ends. Or if your monsters are hurting and you're out of healing items. But yeah, in a straight comparison, Fusion doesn't offer much on top of the material monsters.
  • Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds has a couple of these. The Martian electric machine is a Spider Tank that shoots lightning, but is so slow that it is often destroyed before it can get within its extremely short firing range. The Human submersible can go underwater to sneak past enemy units, but it must surface to fire and is only armed with a single small gun, which is not nearly enough to take out any targets of opportunity it comes across.
  • BattleZone II has the Pulse-Stabber, a variant of the bog-standard AT-Stabber tank cannon. When you fire the PL-Stabber, the cannon shell emits pulses of hard radiation, damaging anything the shell passes by. While this is awesome in practice, the shell starts pulsing immediately after you fire it - meaning that if you're moving forward while shooting, the radiation bursts catch your own tank, causing you to damage yourself. The weapon is fairly useless in the standard game because of this, but in the Fleshstorm mod, the Pulse-Stabber is very useful for its large pulses, which let it easily damage the hordes of weak Swarm units.
  • Dawn of War: The Tau's Relic unit is, for all intents and purposes, a Tyrannosaurus rex used to chomp on enemy infantry, toss them up, and catch them in its mouth as they come back down. However, it takes up a full quarter of your vehicle cap, and much like the Ork Squiggoth, spends most of its time turning around (and unlike the Ork Squiggoth, which has two machine guns and a horribly inaccurate Death Ray, has no ranged attack whatsoever).
    • Arguably also the Space Marine Terminators after the Winter Assault and Dark Crusade nerfs. They have some of the biggest health pools for infantry in the game, and carry some decent firepower. They're also horribly slow unless you pack them into a Land Raider (also a Relic Unit), and the Dark Crusade accuracy nerf practically made them useless (after Winter Assault already removed any melee abilities they had), since Tactical Marines give you more firepower and more men for your infantry cap, and the Terminators (much like Dreadnoughts) are, from Dark Crusade onwards, useless at range as well as in melee, meant to fire while moving as they are, and they're too slow to catch other infantry. This is compounded by the fact that Terminators are a Tier-4 Relic Unit with a hard-cap of two units.
    • In the Dark Crusade capaign, Chaos players will have access to the Possessed Champion - a terrifying honor guard unit who breathes fire, moves at high speed, and like most Chaos honor guard, can take on entire squads in melee. The drawback is that the Possessed Champion is also bugged - unlike every other Honor Guard unit, it takes up three points of your squad cap, meaning that ultimately the opportunity cost of a Possessed Champion is an entire squad of Khorne Berserkers.
  • The ultimate spells in Sacrifice of every faction are generally the flashiest, most breathtaking spells available to use on your enemies. They are also highly situational at best and worthless at worst. Either they do pitiful damage (Tornado, Meanstalks), are highly telegraphed and easy to avoid (Volcano, Meanstalks, Bore), or will keep the enemy busy but prevent you from moving in as well (Death, Tornado, Volcano). By contrast, the penultimate spells you get at the same time are Boring, but Practical in comparison.
  • War elephants in both the first and second Rome: Total War. Sure, they're able to plow through infantry like a bulldozer, either tearing them apart or forcing them to rout in seconds due to their intense effect on morale, and let's face it, who doesn't love feeling like Hannibal or Pyrrhus as they lay waste to enemy armies with these tanks of the ancient world? A few problems: the cost to purchase and maintain them are ridiculously high, easily enough to break your bank if you're not careful. Even after this, actually using them on the battlefield requires alot more micro-managing than other units, even moreso than cavalry, because as terrifying a force they are to the enemy, they too are very easily spooked by skirmishers and projectiles, especially flaming arrows, which are available to even the most basic archer units in all factions. Worse still, their morale breaking will lead to them running amok in the middle of the battlefield, leading to them attacking both you and your enemy without discrimination.
    • The Santisima Trinidad in Napoleon: Total War. While you can't build it in a normal game, as Spain is not a playable country. You can try to capture it from the Spanish in the campaign or play as the Spanish fleet in a custom battle. It's got a lot of HP and guns, but it also terrible at maneuvering, so a group of smaller ships can pick at it, while staying just out of its firing arcs for the same cost. For reference, in Real Life, the ship made no contribution at the Battle of Trafalgar besides being a large target for the British.
  • The King Tiger in Company of Heroes is an armored juggernaut of a tank with a huge gun that can obliterate almost anything. Too bad it's so damn slow that the only way it would destroy anything is if its target just stood there and let the giant thing take potshots at it. Unsupported, the King Tiger is particularly vulnerable to American Rangers, Airborne with Recoilless Rifles, and even just bog-standard Riflemen with Sticky Bombs. Hilariously, even a British Tetrarch light tank could theoretically destroy one if you have good micro skills. If that wasn't bad enough, it's the very last thing you unlock in the Terror Doctrine, so by the time you have it, your one invincible super-heavy will be the pointless coup-de-grace to a match you've surely won, or it'll be too little too late and you're getting destroyed as it rolls out. What's that, you say? What do you mean one? That's right, you can only call in one King Tiger in the whole match. Unless you have a Panzer Elite ally with a Bergetiger recovery vehicle, if your King Tiger gets destroyed, that's that. And then there's the fact that an Allied player can destroy a King Tiger by just rigging a bridge with explosives and blowing the whole thing sky high when the King Tiger attempts to cross - now, the obvious solution for the German player is to just avoid bridges like the plague, but this still often forces them to try and get the King Tiger through other, less favourable terrain, such as river crossings which offer "open" anti-cover terrain that increases damage taken by all units in it and significantly hinders their movement.
    • Averted by the Oberkommando West's King Tigers in the sequel. They're much more mobile, and you can rebuild one if it gets destroyed. Proper balancing means that you can only construct one when all three of your HQ buildings are operational, and these ones are more vulnerable to concentrated AT fire. Rather than a useless white elephant, the King Tiger is now a viable unit which can add a lot of oomph to a late-game push if properly supported by other forces.
  • In Lords of the Realm 2, there are a few examples:
    • Knights. They are the fastest units in the game, hit fairly hard and have decent defense. However, they are expensive to create, and in siege fights, can't dig moats, so are useless if the rest of your army gets wiped out by the enemy defenders in a siege. They tend to die fairly fast as well if you send them off against the enemy forces on their own without backup.
    • Using cows exclusively for food. Though they produce dairy, and you can eat them in a pinch, they often require a lot of peasants to tend to them as well, which takes away from your ability to have them mine resources or produce weapons.
  • In Age of Empires for some civilizations in the iron age, there is available a temple technology called jihad (the game is set in ancient age so this term is anachronistic but the D Efinitive Edition renamed it Zealotry) which made regular villagers stronger, more resistant, and also faster, allowing them to be used as cheap military units made for zerg rushing, capable of building defensive towers in the middle of a battle, be the first in line on an enemy base-assault, and to immediately build a new base where the previous enemy one was by exploiting what resources remain. Using them in battle is easier in the first game than in the sequels, due to smaller army sizes, military units lacking complex combat functions, and if you're more used to micromanaging. However, jihad also cripples gathering capacities of the villagers, adversely affecting your economy and nullifying all economic upgrades you bought in previous ages. To make things worse, the effects can't be deactivated and this technology costs a bankrupting-amount of gold.
    • Catapults. Yes, they are awesome, with a big range and enormous splash attack they are the best option to destroy enemy defensive towers, since they can destroy them very quickly and outside their line of sight, and also they practically can destroy any other unit with one shot, or a group if they are near. However they are also blessed with underwhelming Artificial Stupidity. They will start attacking any enemy that is in their line of sight. Practically every other military unit will do it too, but the case of the catapults is especially annoying due to their high line of sight and the fact that the splash damage is not Friendly Fireproof, which means that if you send some of your soldiers to ambush a group of enemies, and one of your catapults decide to attack too, the match will end with both of the enemy's and your units death. Moreover the catapult attack is too slow to attack the units that come right after it, which means that it will need escort most of the cases, an escort that can be killed by the own catapult if the player lacks good microskills.
      • The max upgraded catapult, the "heavy catapult", have the ability to destroy the trees in the areas hit by its projectile. This can be useful for some specific situations, like open a path through a forest in a map where you don't have woodcutters, or making a surprise attack on a enemy base protected by a forest. However wood, while it appear in abundance in most of the maps, is still a limited resource, so destroying the woods is not always a very bright idea.
      • Not only the catapults, but every unit in the game that can affect ally units with splash damage, like the armored elephants, can be also this in maps where you have CPU allies. If you accidentally damage one of your ally's units with one of these, they will declare war on you immediately.
    • In Rise of Rome, sacrificing priests with Martyrdom, now called Sacrifice in the Definitive Edition to instantly convert enemy units. The strict population limit is what makes it very impractical. Add an expensive price tag of 600 gold to another already gold heavy priest. It's far more practical to use regular conversions then just to have them killed.
    • Zigzagged with Ballista Towers. No matter how cool they look, the upgrade costs a small fortune and the ballista bolts they fire move much slower than arrows; even with Ballistics, there's a good chance whatever they're firing at will move before the bolt hits. When they're massed however their bolts are enough to even slice Armored Elephants like butter, compounded by the fact that buildings are easily massed while units can't due to the 50 population limit.
    • The high-tier upgrades for some units dive into this, as they require resources in the thousands range when the 50-population limit makes the resource gathering rate very low.
  • Age of Empires II:
    • Petards in The Conquerors, at least most of the time. Available in the Castle Age, and capable of dealing out huge anti-building damage quickly and easily. However, if you're using them around towers or castles, you're gonna lose two or three before they get there, and it's easy to run out of gold before you breach fortifications. What's worse is that they're only cost-effective against Wonders which means you're actually wasting time and resources trying to use them against anything else, let alone trying to produce them in the first place.
    • The Spies technology gives you your enemy's line of sight. The catch? Unlike most techs, it's cost varies at 200 gold per enemy villager, fishing ship, and transport shipnote , meaning it can cost thousands of gold to research (which would be much better spent on an army), not to mention that it's only useful if your opponent is down to a few remaining villagers and is trying to delay their defeat by hiding them. It's slightly more practical outside of that situation if you're playing as the Huns (who have tech that halves the cost) or special scenarios, but other than that, it's best left untouched.
    • Monks themselves avert this, since they can gather wonders and also heal units, but their most well-known ability, converting enemy units, plays this trope straight - they can only convert 1 unit at a time, it takes time to do so, and an enemy can just kill monks mid-conversion. It becomes outright useless the second an enemy civilization researches Heresy, since said skill will cause any unit to die rather than be converted.
    • Back in the original Age of Kings, the mighty gunpowder units and Bombard Towers need to be researched first, individually after researching the Chemistry tech before they can be created. This is so expensive, time-consuming and redundant (even for the Turks, who get free Chemistry and discount for the aforementioned techs) that the research techs for Bombard Cannons and Hand Cannoneers are eventually removed in The Conquerors.
    • For standard multiplayer games, one of the possible win conditions is building a Wonder and keeping it around for 200 (in-game) years. However, this is extremely rarely done as Wonders are insanely expensive (1000 Wood, Gold, and Stone, which could be used for an army instead), everyone is notified when you build one (not even finish it, just laying foundation), and there is an in-game counter to let everyone know how much time they have left until they lose (or win). For this reason, the "Atheism" upgrade the Huns have falls under this category, as it only serves to delay (rare) Wonder and Relic victories.
  • Age of Empires III:
    • The mercenaries are more powerful than the average units they are based on note  but they either cost too many coin or too many population to rely on them completely. Unless you're the Dutch in the later ages, where you have more than enough coin to field an entire mercenary army. In the end, you'll use more of your regular units throughout.
    • Going for a Revolution as the European factions instead of advancing through the Imperial Age is cheaper with a 1000 each of food, coin, and wood compared to the 5000 food and 5000 coin. At first, you will unlock many unique units such as Gatling Guns, Ironclad Warships, and Colonial Militia units. However, doing so will permanently turn all your settlers into Colonial Militia, leaving players out with no way to gather resources unless they have a factory and trading posts ready prior to revolting. Furthermore, players will lose their Home City Cards in replace of new ones.
    • Advancing to the Imperial Age will grant players the most upgrades, but not only is it costly as mentioned above, but it's more effective just to use the resources at the Industrial Age.
  • In The Battle for Middle-Earth there are various examples:
    • The Isengard faction itself has four examples.
      • The Berserker is a single uruk armed with a two-handed giant sword that is as fast as regular cavalry and costs the same as one entire uruk warrior battalion. It also can activate explosive mines and climb up siege ladders and is prepared to attack immediately any units in the walls when the ladder reach them. Where's the problem? Both in BFTME and its sequel, Berserkers needs a rank 2 Uruk Pit to be built, can't be upgraded like other Isengard infantry units and it also can't level up (only in the first BFTME). While these flaws can be compensated with its overall high combat stats, it lacks of any kind of Healing Factor and with the lack of healing powers in the evil factions it will never restore the health that it loses in one battle event, making it most likely useless in the next one. Other Isengard units come in battalions, so even if they can't restore their health individually, the lost units of the battalions are substituted with new ones at full health. Also logically, its ability to activate mines can only be used once (once because you only have one mine and the Berserker gets blown up).
      • The previously mentioned explosive mines can also enter in this category. They can cause a massive level of destruction in enemy structures and units, but it's difficult to make a good use of it. It is slow and can't reach the enemy base without protection. If you're unlucky and your enemy sends you a battalion of archers with the fire arrows upgrade, they can detonate the mine with one hit and wipe out your entire escort mercilessly in one second. Also they need a rank 2 Siege Works to be built, while a rank 1 one can built a more accurate and practical ballista for the same price. The ballista is still slow and fragile to infantry, but can attack the enemy base from a safe spot. Moreover the ballista has unlimited ammo. One mine, of course, has only one use.
      • In the sequel, Isengard has its own special power "Dragon Strike" which consists of summoning a dragon to attack the enemy. The first problem is that this is not a proper summon power like the Balrog or the summoned dragon (another of the evil powers). Instead, it is an area damage power which consists of sending an uncontrollable dragon to a determined area of the map to ravage it with its fire breath. Area damage powers in the game are usually awesome, like the Rain of Fire (Mordor only), Earthquake, Flood or Sun Flare because they have an instant effect in the battlefield and can destroy a big number of enemy units at once, but this is not the case for Dragon Strike. It takes time to activate because the dragon must come from a corner of the map and enemy units can have time to escape before the dragon makes it all the way to its target. Moreover, unlike other area damage spells, it can also affect your own troops and the enemy can disable the spell if it has strong ranged units that can destroy the dragon before it starts attacking. Unlocking this power cost 25 power points, and these points can be better spent on more practical powers.
      • The Warg Sentry. It is basically a defensive building which consist in a plot decorated with bones and dark dirt inhabited by a warg. The point is that the warg will attack any enemy that moves near your base, like a guardian dog but bigger and more powerful. The first problem is that there are only one warg and while it can be helpful with weak early-game units, it is more likely that the enemy will wait to have a big and powerful army to attack your base anyway, and then the warg will be overpowered easily. If the warg dies you have to buy it again in the main sentry. As a defensive building, the lookout tower costs double the price and have less hit points, but can attack constantly to the enemy with arrows or fire arrows from a distance, occupies less space which can be used to build more towers and can garrison units inside. One good thing that can be said about the warg sentry is that the warg doesn't consume command points, so you can build some on a safe space and them free all of them like an extra army. However, the free wargs can't be controlled from that point, they will move randomly across the map and attack everything that is in their sight, like hero units, summoned beasts, defensive buildings that barely take any damage... and from the point that you free them you can't send them back to the sentry. You can't even buy a new one until the previous one dies.
    • The Mumakil is the strongest, biggest and expensive monster unit in the Mordor faction, but comes with some drawbacks. When it is not charging, it is pretty slow and has serious problems moving in narrow areas. However, its most notorious flaw is that it is very weak to fire. If enemy archers shoot fire arrows at it, it will became crazy and can be dangerous for both the enemy and your own units if they are nearby. Fire arrows are an upgrade available for all factions (in the first game). It also needs a specific building to be made.
    • Some heroes in skirmish and multiplayer mode can fall in this, specially the ones that don't have a leadership bonus or the ones that take time to level up to unlock their most powerful ability. The huge amount of resources that they require can be spent in making more units.
      • In the Sequel, this trope is more common. While in the original game the heroes don't cost any command points (so you can build them to have an additional support to your troops even when you've spent all your points and you have an stock of resources), in the sequel they also can consume command points so if you make them, your final army will be a little smaller.
    • In the sequel the final upgrades for a faction's headquarters can be also this. All of them require a previous upgrade for the fortress to unlock them and both upgrades are generally expensive. Every faction have a different problem.
      • Isengard's Wizard Tower, Mordor's Gorgoroth spire and the Dwarves' Mighty Catapult all have the power to attack an area near the fortress, causing a lot of damage to all enemy units hit by it. The problem is that it is hard to calculate when and where to use any of these buildings' attacks, because you need to factor in the distance from the building to the target. If you don't calculate it right, by the time that it hits the selected area, all the units that you wanted to attack have likely left that area, so you have to wait a long cooldown to use it again after missing the target. If you used your own army to distract your target, you may just well accidentally bomb your own forces due to the distance involved.
      • The Goblins have the Dragon's Nest that allows them to make a Fire Drake, which is a fire breathing dragon that can't fly but is fast, can burn entire areas and can counter zerg rush strategies. The problem is that fire is a double-edged weapon in this game. If you attack with the Fire Drake and your other units at the same time, they have the risk to enter the Drake's attack zone and get just as burned as the enemy. Also the areas where the Drake has recently passed through are recognizable because have burning zones. If you accidentally make your units pass through a burned zone, they will burn as well. Moreover it is more frail that it seems, and upgraded range units and hero units can take down it easily. They also can't cause much damage to most fortifications. If you want to make one of them despite all the aforementioned issues, you not only have to built the fortress upgrades, but also you have to pay for this unit, and it's very expensive.note .
      • The Elfs have the Eagle's Nest that can build a Giant Eagle. The Eagles are not that bad, the only problem is their price (the same as the fire Drake) and that unlike other flying monster in the game, they don't have any other abilities apart from descending from the sky and hitting a group of enemies.
      • The Men of the West have the Ivory Tower, which doesn't have offensive capacities but can make a huge portion of the map visible, helping to predict enemy movements. This leans more towards a case of Boring, but Practical, but by the time you've built it, you've either taken most of the map for yourself or you're about to lose anyway.
  • Megastructures in Stellaris are almost only built for the novelty of it. You need two ascension perks (Voidborne and Galactic Wonders) to build most of them (a third for the Ringworld, called Ring of Life) and they cost an insane amount of resources:
    • The Dyson Sphere: A completed sphere generates 1000 energy credits (a 25 tile world with all kinds of optimisation and bonuses may give you ~80), but it takes a ginormous amount of minerals (260k) and almost 60 in-game years to complete (half that if you took yet another perk, and note you can only have 8 perks total, which in itself is this trope because perks become ludicrously expensive as time goes by).
    • The Science Nexus: a fully upgraded Nexus gives you 225 of each research type (a ~33% boost mid-to-late game), and costs a more modest 100k minerals, but fully upgrading a large planet (or a system that can support a large number of habitats) is cheaper, and you might be better off even with the population penalties to research costs.
      • Subverted to the point of becoming a borderline Game-Breaker with the popularization of the One Planet Strategy in 1.9, which focused on rushing a Science Nexus as soon as possible while minimizing expansion (and thus research costs) then dominating the game with the enormous technological advantage that came from having a late mid-game research output in the early game. While a gamble in competitive multiplayer it became the dominant single-player strategy for several patches until 2.0 finally managed to rein it in.
    • The Ringworld: it needs a separate ascension perk, and completely consumes the planets of a star system. While it gives you a lot of living space (100 tiles if completed), by the time you can build it, you might be able to conquer a Fallen Empire and, if they have any Ringworlds, use these instead.
    • The Sentry Array, on the other hand, is Simple, yet Awesome, giving you a complete intelligence over the whole galaxy. On small galaxies, even an incomplete version could already cover everything. The only alternative for eventually complete coverage is a type of late-game repeating technology, which like all research techs costs exponentially more the higher the version, and takes a long time to get done.
    • Finally, the Habitats (which barely count as megastructures) are Boring, but Practical. They can add some population to otherwise uninhabitable planets (as they can be build in orbit of any planet), potentially giving a huge boost to your core systems and are essential for a "tall" empire. They also only require one ascension perk (Voidborne). They also have a secret use: changing the victory conditions by altering the formula the game uses to calculate the number of habitable worlds.
    • One way to get around the costs of the megastructures is the obvious method of conquering them. It's also possible to find ruined versions of them, which are much cheaper to restore and this does not require Ascension Perks.
    • Battleships are this, not entirely useless but extremely expensive ships with a niche use. Corvettes are your starting fleet and even in late-game will still work decently well if outfitted as long-range missile boats or picket ships with point defence systems to protect against an enemy's missiles; Destroyers are up-gunned Corvettes and work well as secondary patrol and raiding fleets; and Cruisers are the Jack-of-All-Stats line ships which will form the backbone of a good main combat fleet. Battleships specialize in long-range artillery, which makes them only good against other Battleships, Cruisers and late-game End Game Crisis opponents - once the big targets are destroyed, they'll flail around struggling to hit smaller targets with their poor tracking accuracy, and their bulky defensive stats are wasted as they usually stay far back while the rest of your fleet engage. A fleet of all Battleships cost-efficiently trades well with any fleet by simply vaporizing them long before they can get into range but this is impractically expensive for all but the wealthiest late-game empires, and especially with the 2.0 version's harsh fleet restrictions and revised war mechanics which makes a pair or trio of more mobile fleets more useful than a single slow-moving deathball.
    • The Apocalypse expansion's "Life-Seeded" Civic means your species starts with a 25-tile Gaia homeworld and habitability limited to Gaia Worlds only - every other world is only 20% habitable to your species. This is something that can be remedied by middle-game genetic modification tech, but modifying your entire species will halt the development of your Society research for years.
    • Also in Apocalypse are the Colossus superweapons. They have no means of defending themselves and so need a strong fleet to protect them at all times, cost a lot of minerals and time to produce, and for the most part, don't have much use. The Neutron Sweep variation's effect could just as easily be accomplished by a group of battleships. The World Cracker variation will, at most create a destroyed planet that offers a few extra minerals income. For the majority of empires, their only real use is generating an automatic cassus belli simply for having one - but the resources put into it could just as easily have gone into pissing off enemy empires in other ways.
  • Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon: Fitting an entire broadside with Star Mortars, one Star Mortar already does a lot of damage and has a massive blast radius, an entire broadside of them is one of the most devestating weapon batteries in the game, however they still come with the same disadvantages of a single Star Mortar (Astonishingly low velocity projectiles and a very long reload time) as well as being the most expensive weapon refit in the game. A single Star Mortar is already an expensive weapon costing 40 Victory Points, but an entire broadside of them can cost up to 160 Victory Points, more than the cost of an Imperial Frigate (131 Victory Points). Star Mortars also reload very slowly, when all of the broadside heavy guns are Star Mortars, it can leave the ship with drastically lower firepower while they are being reloaded, and the massive blast radius makes it likely that firing it at close range will damage their own ship.
  • Horned Reapers from Dungeon Keeper. The strongest melee fighters in a keeper's arsenal, these Lightning Bruisers will win a one-on-one melee fight with any other creature in the game except for the Final Boss. However they lack a good defence against spellcasters and are vulnerable to spells like Freeze, which can leave their enemies free to slaughter them at their leisure. Also, they have a Hair-Trigger Temper and any action other than fighting, praying to the dark gods, or sleeping will gradually decrease their mood until they go into an Unstoppable Rage that will drive them to slaughter ally and foe alike. Because of this they require constant micro-management in the form of regular bribes of gold to keep them content, or being given their own micro-dungeon to prevent them from being able to hurt other creatures.
  • The fanmade 1.5 mod for Empire Earth II adds the Titanic as a buildable sea unit in the modern age. It has more HP than any building in the game, has a cargo capacity of 500 (as opposed to 24 for regular transports), and plays snippets of "My Heart Will Go On" when you click it. Unfortunately, it's also huge (meaning it has difficulty turning around) and can only load units through the prow, can only unload part of its cargo at once due to beach space limitations, and plays snippets of " My Heart Will Go On" when you click it.
  • Outpost 2 has the Tiger Tank. They have more health and armor than the smaller Panther and Lynx tanks, and have two turrets, so they fire twice as quickly. However they are painfully slow (in a game where missions have a time limit) and easily outmaneuvered by the far cheaper Panther and Lynx tanks. They also remain very vulnerable to EMP and sticky foam weapons.
  • Army drilling in Europa Universalis IV, introduced with the Cradle of Civilization DLC, let's you drill your standing armies (but not mercenaries) which slowly increases their fighting capabilities until it reaches its maximum value. A fully drilled army can be incredibly destructive against non-drilled enemies, but the process of drilling has several drawbacks: First, you have to pay full maintenance cost for the drilling army when you otherwise could be saving money whenever you're not at war. Second, drilling armies barely have any morale when drilling, so a surprise attack or rebellion can easily beat them up before they have time to regain their morale. Third, drilling is very slow (except for certain special units) so you have to suffer all these drawbacks for quite some time before the drilling starts to have a noticeable effect. Fourth, once you stop drilling the drill value will slowly decrease over time and suffering damage from battles or attrition will lower it even faster as your army has to reinforce with fresh non-drilled recruits, meaning that even once you've achieved a high drill level it likely won't last for more than the opening stages of a war. All these factors combined means that, unless you have more money than you know what to do with and enough armies that not all of them need to be battle-ready at the frontline at all times, the benefits of drilling probably won't outweigh the drawbacks.
  • Level 8 (formerly Chillingo) iOS game "Modern Command" has rail guns and homing missile launchers you can research and buy. Rail guns have high armor penetration and damage with a moderate firing rate while Multi-purpose Missile launchers can rapidly dump a large number of homing missiles on aerial and surface enemies with complete accuracy. Unfortunately rail guns cannot use special ammo and special ammo gives weapons a huge boost, while Multi-purpose Missiles only has 2 optional warheads that they can use. Worse yet, when the enemy starts fielding units with force fields, everything other than lasers and weapons with energized ammo will do only Scratch Damage - so rail guns (though the Torrent rail gun can kill Avatar tanks on a full salvo) and homing missiles are worthless.

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