Follow TV Tropes


Difficult But Awesome / Non Videogame Examples

Go To

Go back to Difficult, but Awesome the hard way.

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Dragon Ball Super, Ultra Instinct is a divine technique that even the Gods of Destruction struggle to master, and is only truly natural to angels. Yet learning it allows you to be nearly untouchable, as your body will react on its own to dodge any attack.
  • Quite a few of the highly specialized wizards in Fairy Tail. The strongest example is Fried, who can basically rewrite the laws of nature.
    • Magic Tool Users like Ichiya, Mystogan, Cana and Celestial Spirit Mages can have their tools taken away from them or be unable to use their tools due to being restrained. However they benefit from a very versatile powerset in exchange, with a very wide range of possible effects. For example, Celestial Spirit Mages are inherently unpredictable since there is no way of knowing what and how many Celestial Keys a given mage may own. Getting those keys, however, can be a difficult prospect.
  • The Getter Robo itself is a powerful and terrifying combining robot, but is noted in-story to be a difficult-to-handle beast. It is demonstrated several times that pilots that are insufficiently skilled or badass will ultimately fail to harness the Getter's true potential — in Shin VS Neo, the test pilot who failed to initiate the combination sequence from Neo Getter-1's cockpit was physically incapable of even hitting the emergency failsafe lever as he was unable to withstand the forces involved. Compare that to the final pilot of Neo Getter-1, Ichimonji Gou, who actually enjoyed the intensity of flying the craft.
  • Nen abilities in Hunter × Hunter exploit this trope. Nen powers get stronger the more restrictions and handicaps the user puts on them, which is why the more powerful characters will usually have fairly convoluted rules for their abilities (like The Bomber from the Greed Island arc, who exploits Explaining Your Powers to the Enemy, and Knuckle, who has a Power Nullifier based on complicated bank interest equations).
  • In the Macross chronology, this is given as the in-universe reason why the VF-19 Excalibur never saw widespread mainline adoption even after its prototype won the Advanced Variable Fighter competition in Macross Plus. The fighter's difficult handling meant that, despite its awesome potential, novice pilots had trouble controlling it, with lethal consequences.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Momo’s quirk allows her to create any inorganic object using her body's fat deposits, but also requires she know the exact chemical make-up of whatever she creates. Without the proper knowledge, it could only be used to create simple objects but with studying, she can create damn near anything she wants, making it one of the most versatile Quirks around.
    • Mirio Togata's quirk is Permeation, which lets him ghost through things. Sounds plain awesome on paper, but everything goes through him, including sound, light, and air. If he activates it throughout his whole body, he essentially becomes blind and deaf as he falls through the floor like a video game glitch. Something as simple as walking through a wall requires a multitude of sub-steps of activating and deactivating his Quirk at various points of his body to successfully pull off. He started out rock-bottom of his class at UA, but after plenty of time, effort, and practice, he gradually worked his way up the ranks to become the number one student at the school.
  • One Piece
    • Revealed, via backstory, to be the case with Luffy's Devil Fruit power. Luffy got his DF before being sent to live with Dadan (where he lived with Ace and also met Sabo). When training with Ace and Sabo, the other two, as child Badass Normals, would consistently beat up Luffy because his rubberized body was too hard to use properly. The ease with which we see him dominate foes even from chapter/episode 1 came from between 5-10 years of practice, but initially the power was more trouble than it was worth.
    • Trafalgar Law's Devil Fruit was also revealed to be this in his backstory. The Op-Op Fruit grants the ability to control everything within the "Rooms" generated by the user, and can be used to heal people. After eating it Law immediately tried to heal his father-figure Corazon...only to fail because he did not have the medical knowledge on how to fix the injuries. Law needed to actually learn medicine to be able to use his full power. Unlike all other Devil Fruits, it also has the drawback of sapping his stamina, so Law usually needs to plan for confrontations so he'll have enough energy. But if he does have that energy, he's capable of flipping battleships, cutting Marines to bits and keeping them alive anyway, cutting through mountains, dealing blows that will destroy your organs from the inside out, and more. It's widely regarded in the One Piece world as having the highest potential out of all Devil Fruits.
  • Sword Art Online
    • Photon swords in Gun Gale Online: at first, they were considered Joke Weapons, since anyone else could use a gun (which made up the majority of weapons in the game) to kill someone wielding a sword before they got close enough for it to be of any use. Then Kirito starts playing and takes a photon sword as his main weapon and, using experience gained from two prior games that focused on swordfighting, turned it into a Lethal Joke Weapon, deflecting bullets like a Jedi knight before slicing his foes to shreds. When he leaves GGO, other players try to mimic his feats, though to limited success.
    • Kirito continues to pull off nigh-impossible feats when he returns to ALfheim Online after the Phantom Bullet arc: not only can he deflect magic spells (which have a hitbox even smaller than bullets) with his swords, but he can fight with two swords, like in SAO, without assistance from the system. He also finds a way to maximize the utility of his two-sword fighting style by alternating between one-handed Sword Skills, activating one after the last finishes. This technique requires him to start the next Sword Skill within one tenth of a second before post-Sword Skill immobility kicks in.
  • Kanchomé from ‘’’Zatch Bell!’’ has his power be transforming, whether into other objects or to change his size. The problem is that while his physical shape transforms, his power doesn’t change at all (meaning he’s stuck being harmlessly weak), and his face is plastered somewhere on what he transforms into. The problem is that his partner, Brainless Beauty Parco Folgoré, has no tactical knowledge and no idea how to use it, and Kanchomé is even worse. It’s only when they team up with Kiyo (who’s a genius and thus knows how to use Kanchomé’s transforming abilities to play their foes like a cheap kazoo in spite of its drawbacks) and Zatch that they’re truly able to shine.

    Collectible Card Game 
  • In Magic: The Gathering, this can summarize most of the game at competitive play in the Legacy, Vintage, and Commander formats. Even seemingly simple rushdown decks are often reliant on proper use of their few other spells. Games can often be won or lost based on a single seemingly meaningless choice on the first or second turn.
    • Within MtG, control decks are generally the most complex decks to play, with the best example being the blue/white Miracles deck in Legacy. The deck is known for simultaneously controlling the player's hand, the top cards of the player's deck, the top cards of the opponent's deck, the stack, the field, and the graveyard. The deck is probably the best example over the course of the game, and a single mistake often leads to a lost game. That being said, the deck remains more than 10% of the meta on its own, and is considered one of the strongest decks in the game format, at times, the strongest deck.
    • The most complex deck in the game in terms of technical use, as opposed to situational control, is generally considered to be Doomsday. Doomsday is a combo deck that aims to use the card Doomsday to set up "piles" composed of any 5 cards in the game, and then use the pile created to win the game. The problem is that there are more than a thousand possible piles, and what pile to use is dependent on everything from how much life you have, to what cards you have in hand, to what cards are on the field, in your opponent's hand or graveyard, what life your opponent has, and many more factors. Creating the wrong pile means a lost game, using the right pile in the wrong way means a lost game, and using the right pile in the right way at the wrong time means a lost game. The deck rarely shows up in competitive settings because of its complexity, and due to how meta-dependent the deck is, but in the right hands, the deck is the most resilient and feared combo deck in the game.
    • Between colors, Blue is one of the most difficult to master, as their creatures are often Weak, but Skilled and the color lacks removal spells that don't permanently deal with the threat. The color's signature Counterspell trick requires a bit more knowledge than usual to use well — first, understanding how the stack works and leaving up enough mana to cast the counterspell, and then trying to work out whether that spell is worth countering. Then comes trying to bluff having a counterspell, as it may cause wary experienced players to hesitate as intended, but is not as effective on newer players who are less aware of what to play around. Getting the hang of timing the counterspells makes the blue player a very formidable opponent.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Some cards require you to jump through a number of inefficient hoops to summon, but are nigh-unstoppable when you do. But one example, Vennominaga The Deity of Poisonous Snakes, requires a specific trap card to be activated, and then only in response to the destruction of its predecessor, Vennominion the King of Poisonous Snakes. Both cards have zero attack, but are boosted by the number of Reptiles in your Graveyard (fortunately, there's specifically a card for sending Reptiles to the Graveyard from the Deck), but once it actually gets summoned, Vennominaga is all but invincible, since it cannot be affected at all by other card effects and if it damages the opponent three times, it's an automatic win.
    • Shooting Quasar Dragon requires 1 Tuner Synchro Monster + 2 or more Non-Tuner Synchro Monsters, a somewhat hard to fulfill condition. However, when you manage to summon it, you get a 4000 ATK beatstick that gets a minimum of 2 attacks per turn and that can negate any card effect once per turn. Add to that the fact that it brings a Shooting Star Dragon to the field when it gets removed from the field and you get one hell of a Game-Breaker. Decks have been built around summoning this card from an empty field in one turn.
    • A deck heavily based around Synchro Summoning in general is often this since players need to understand how to manipulate monster levels to get the monsters they want and a wrong move in a chain punishes the player with wasted resources. Good players of decks such as Plant Synchro and Infernity make it seem effortless only because they memorized multiple steps in their path to victory.
    • The Koa'ki Meiru Archetype. Unlike any other Archetype in the game, Koa'ki Meirus require constant maintenance and resource management. Sure, you'll need monsters on the field to beat your opponent, but you also need to use the Iron Core of Koa'ki Meiru or another specific monster in hand to keep your monsters alive. Then, almost every single Spell and Trap also needs the Iron Core to work — except sometimes, those need the Core in the Graveyard — meaning you won't be able to use them all unless you keep recycling the Core which will cost you resources. Also, the Core on its own does nothing, making for a terrible topdeck at the worst time. There's more — the Koa'ki Meirus also have powerful effects that can stop your opponent's moves, but to do so you will have to correctly predict what your opponent's going to do. And of course, your opponent is still trying to kill you. But damn it certainly pays off: Koa'ki Meiru monsters are absurdly strong, both ATK-wise and effect-wise, and their Spell and Trap Cards are free and unlimited versions of some of the strongest Spells and Traps in the game (like this, which is basically this, one of the most popular Limited cards ever).
    • The Fabled have effects that activate upon being discarded, and effects that allow you to discard. note  But the gimmick is deceptively simple. Fabled users tend to have their turns go on for a while, partly because they're able to do an insane amount of things in one turn, partly because they have to spend so much time thinking their move through because of that. They can do so much, but unless you do it right, you'll be left with nothing and your opponent will beat you down with little effort due to their relatively weak Main Deck monsters.
    • Sophia the Goddess of Rebirth is considered this for having the harsh summoning requirement of banishing one Fusion, one Ritual, one Synchro and one Xyz on the field. While it is a little lenient in that you can use the opponent's monsters for the summoning requirement, you still need the stars to align or to be playing a large mishmash of card types to pull it off. However, once it hits the field, all other cards on the field, graveyard and hand are banished except itself. Not to mention its summon and effect cannot be negated.
    • Arcana Force XXI - The World is the focus of entire Decks. First, you need to Summon a two-tribute Monster, already a difficult task. Then you need to do a coin toss (or have Light Barrier up), and if the coin comes up Tails, then The World becomes useless. Once you've got it on the field and properly set, you then send two Monsters on your Field to the Graveyard at the end of your turn. What could possibly be worth all this? Why, the ability to skip your opponent's turn, every time you give up two monsters. And if those two monsters are the automatically-reviving Samsara Lotus, D.D. Scout Plane, Treeborn Frog, Black Ptera, or Sinister Serpent, then you can potentially skip your opponent's turn forever.
    • There are also some very powerful decks, that are extremely complicated to play properly. Both Inzektors and Infernities, for example, can stop your opponent from really doing anything, while you get out multiple huge beaters...but first, you pretty much have to play a game of solitaire.
    • Decks utilizing Rank-Up-Magic to summon CXyz and Chaos Numbers are this as well. For starters, you need a specific spell card (of which there is more than one) and a particular Xyz monster (which there are more than enough of, even of those specific ranks). What you do is bring out one of those Xyz monsters (such as Number 39: Utopia or Number 101: Silent Honor ARK) and then utilize the Rank-Up-Magic to make it into its "C" form (Utopia Ray V or Utopia Ray Victory for Utopia, Silent Honor DARK for ARK). Such monsters tend to have powerful effects that require a specific card to have as Xyz material to use. Difficult? Yes. Awesome? Seeing your opponent rage when they lose to something hard to use makes this an absolute YES.
    • Any Level 10 or higher monster in general. Firstly, you need 2 Tributes to Normal Summon them (if you can Normal Summon them at all), and many have Summoning Restrictions applied to them; for example, the aforementioned Sophia and Vennominaga. Second, many of them have massive downsides to using them, or require many hoops to be jumped through to just have them on board. However, once you have them, they become massively awesome. One such monster is Theinen the Great Sphinx, who requires two other Level 10 monsters to be destroyed simultaneously, before he could be Summoned from the Hand or Deck, at the cost of 500 Life Points. Then, you could spend an additional 500 LP to increase his already formidable attack power by 3000 points for the duration of the turn. Potentially, this could be a One-Hit Kill if your opponent had a low amount of LP to begin with, and had no cards to stop you.
    • The D/D archetype from the Arc-V era was built around being able to effectively utilize every single available summoning mechanic of the era (except ritual summoning) as well as many effects that allow special summoning other monsters of their archetype. This means that you have a lot of options, need to very carefully craft the deck around the monsters that make these summons possible, and need to use each card carefully with little room for error. Though, once you master the deck, you have access to tons of options and can regularly pump out very powerful fields that simultaneously have very high attack power and powerful stun effects, such as (before link summoning was introduced) D/D/D Cursed King Siegfried, Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon, and Number 38: Hope Harbinger Dragon Titanic Galaxy all on one field.

    Fan Works 
  • In Dreaming of Sunshine Shikako uses fuinjutsu, which is slow to prepare and very specialized to the situation, but is almost effortless in execution and the effects are often spectacular.
    This was something I could never have done with ninjutsu. I didn't have the chakra, I didn't have the control, and I didn't have the concentration. The cost was too high. But fuinjutsu was different – you paid in time and knowledge instead. That made it less useful in battle where you so rarely had time, but sometimes. Sometimes it was perfect.note 
  • Naruto in Squad 7 and their Accidental Instructor uses quite possibly the least ninja-esque weapon in existence: a spear and shield. While Anko questions it at first, Naruto displays that he's perfect for such weapons as he can use his clones to create a phalanx. Furthermore, the shield does wonders for their durability.
  • In Raindancer, Izuku's Quirk, "Liquid Body" is amazingly useful, versatile, and powerful, turning him into a Person of Mass Destruction with any source of water around, giving him Nigh-Invulnerability to physical attacks, allowing him to manipulate the weather by creating and dispersing clouds, and much more. But the sheer number of uses his Quirk has means that he has to pace himself in a protracted fight to ensure that he doesn't burn himself out with Quirk exhaustion before the fight is over. He also has to carefully moderate his body temperature while in liquid form, potentially killing himself if he doesn't return to normal body temperature before reverting to flesh and blood. His Power Incontinence is also a pain, as he can potentially flood entire buildings and drown his classmates if he gets too worked up.
  • 108 Skills, Hachiman's Quirk in My Hero School Adventure Is All Wrong As Expected, is incredibly difficult to master. Just bringing his Quirk to any level of usefulness requires lots of backstage preparation, hundreds of hours of practice, and plenty of creativity, (or as Hachiman would say, cheating the hell out of it) and even that's nothing compared to what it takes to make it function at his classmates' level. Even so, 108 Skills has easily made Hachiman one of the strongest and most versatile member of Class 1-A.

    Film - Live Action 
  • Guardians of the Galaxy has Yondu's signature arrow. While it's capable of creating almost unbelievable levels of carnage (he was able to nearly kill every last rogue Ravager alone with it in the sequel), it turns out later when his second in command tries to use it that skillfully manipulating a tiny arrow capable of moving at around the speed of sound can be very difficult to "fine tune".

  • In The Magicians, this is the principal essence of magic, being difficult to learn and only usable by very thoroughly-qualified professionals: it's a ludicrously-complicated system of spellcasting that combines convoluted magical gestures and magical incantations spoken in a wide variety of different languages — requiring practitioners to be cunning linguists as well. Plus, each spell has its own special set of magic prerequisites based on the season, phase of the moon, weather and other circumstances so complex that an entire year of a trainee magician's education has to be spent in Antarctica, getting the prerequisites and methods drilled in via a Training from Hell just so they can act on all the circumstances without thinking about it. It's also not without serious dangers: messing up powerful spells can result in a magician suffering a Magic Misfire and being transformed into a monstrous Niffin. But in spite of all those difficulties in learning the mechanics of it, once mastered, magic can accomplish just about anything.
  • Skyward: The IMP device can disable a ship's Deflector Shields in one flash, but has two major limits. First, it only works within fifty meters, which is practically touch range. Second, it disables every shield within that radius... including your own.

  • The rules pertaining to "Hells Bells" in AC/DC are high-risk, high-reward. Under "Hells Bells" rules, the bell roughly in the middle of the playfield will add points to Jackpot awards later on, each of which is worth an above-average amount. Under normal circumstances, three hits to this bell will double all scoring for the next 20 seconds, and another three hits will upgrade that to triple scoring. "Hells Bells" rules stack on top of that, so the points added to the Jackpots will be worth even more (and the Jackpots themselves are doubled or tripled in points on top of that). There is one problem with playing with the "Hells Bells" rules, however: One of the paths in the bell's lane points right at the center drain, making losing a ball under these rules a lot more common than any other song's rules.
  • House Greyjoy in Game of Thrones is decidedly in this category: If you pick this house at the beginning of the game, you'll receive harder missions than usual pertaining to the other houses. However, in exchange, they're worth more points, and Greyjoy also receives all of the passive benefits from every house it's defeated. That is, Greyjoy is the biggest source of potential for points and also has the easiest time reaching the Wizard Mode — provided you are good enough to avoid draining while duking it out against the other houses.
  • Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast has the loop shot. Repeatedly shooting it can reward the player with a valuable Loop Jackpot and it serves as a great way to keep getting hits in during "Number of the Beast", but it can just as easily send the ball irrevocably hurtling down the left outlane.
  • Sega Pinball's Starship Troopers has a third flipper button, which is used to control a small Mini-Flipper just above the right flipper. Although it is often ignored by new players, using it to hit a Bug counts as two hits, allowing you to clear out a planet much faster. It's also helpful for slowing down and controlling the ball.
  • Stranger Things has a Demogorgon bash toy that unsurprisingly serves as the main target during Demogorgon modes. Its mouth is perpetually open; managing to shoot inside it relies on the ball following a very precise trajectory and not just hitting the toy itself. That said, doing so will invariably be quicker and more valuable than the regular method (including finishing the very first Demogorgon mode immediately).
  • Nudging in general is this. Do it too hard or too many times at once and you get a TILT, voiding your current ball along with whatever end-of-ball bonuses you would've gotten for that ball. But a nudge done properly can make the difference between a ball remaining in play and making a beeline for the drain.
    • Even more difficult and more awesome is the "death save" — that is, bringing the ball back from an outlane drain by raising one flipper and nudging such that the ball jumps between the flippers and out of the drain. Again, you risk a TILT for doing this, but death saves are wonderful if you can successfully pull them off.
  • In White Water, the best source of points is to combine 5x Playfield (which, like its name indicates, quintuples all scoringnote ) with White Water Multiball. When both are active at once, the minimum White Water Jackpot value is 60 million points, an amount that takes a while to obtain otherwise, and as long as the multiball is active, the player can keep scoring those points. However, in order to have them both running at once, the Whirlpool must be visited when 5x Playfield is the next Whirlpool Bonus (out of six possible ones), and White Water Multiball must then begin and a Jackpot scored within 5x Playfield's strict timer. It is not possible to do the reverse, as the Whirlpool is inactive during White Water Multiball. Thus, the game's most lucrative scoring requires the player precisely and quickly make a series of specific shots in order.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Anyone who wants to use light 'Mechs and other relatively fragile designs in BattleTech will find that their units will generally go down with depressing ease, especially when playing in the later parts of the franchise (generally comprising of the Civil War, Jihad, and Dark Age timeframes) where highly-damaging and highly-accurate weapons are widely available. Some weapons are powerful enough to be a One-Hit Kill outright against small 'Mechs. However, a player with thorough knowledge of their unit abilities, enemy composition, and terrain can quickly became king of a frustrating Fragile Speedster army that refuses to stand still long enough to get hit, and can either deal Death by a Thousand Cuts or go in for a critical Back Stab. The rare commander with both cunning and utter madness can also avert Mook Chivalry and dogpile their light 'Mechs onto an enemy with a flurry of physical blows. While any individual attack isn't all that strong, the sheer number of them can quickly overwhelm even an Assault 'Mech, especially since getting kicked can make a 'Mech trip and fall, and a punch in the head is still every bit as dangerous as a fist from a 20-ton robot sounds. Finally, in games where players must meet on roughly even footing through a Point Buy system, the player with the light 'Mechs may purchase more units, as well as better pilots, due to the low individual cost of their units.
  • Vampire teams in Blood Bowl feature Lightning Bruiser vampires, whose hypnotic gaze gives them a non-turnover-inducing way of stopping enemy players dead in their tracks for a round. If the dice favour you and you plan your thrall deployment, vampires are the best cage-busters in the game, the only team that can shut down elven drives reliably, and can skill up to do practically everything, including a not-too-shabby passing game. With a few bad rolls, however, they can quickly become more disruptive to your plans than the opposing team ever will.
  • In chess, pawns are the least mobile piece in the game, as well as the only one that not only captures differently from how it moves but also has no less than two special moves. Because they are so difficult to move, however, the way they become arranged (called the "pawn structure") becomes one of the most important aspects of the board. Many professional games revolve around trying to put your pawns in a favorable position while screwing up your opponent's formations, and if you go all the way to the endgame, the focus becomes using what's left of your more powerful pieces to escort one or more of your pawns so that it can be promoted. note  Pawn structure is subtle, however, and most casual players don't bother taking it into consideration.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Most of the most powerful classes in 3.5 are like this (with the possible exception of the druid) due to having massive ranges of potential abilities which vary in strength from "deal less damage than a fighter" to "win instantly".
    • While building an Artificer is not entirely complex (aside from needing to constantly reference a minimum of three books just to play), it takes hours of time and math to create one even at 2nd level (a 1st level Artificer is fairly straightforward). Leveling up is a nightmare, and it has the dubious honor of being one of the Big 6, meaning it takes serious skill to not screw up and become a liability during encounters. The bright side? Even a novice player using an Artificer can turn random treasure into actually useful equipment, meaning even if the player screws up constantly during combat they can at least make up for it out of combat, and can create any magic item in the game, full-stop. They gain bonus Item Creation feats, they have a mechanic to use Use Magic Device instead of the usual spellcasting requirements, they get points to use towards the XP costs of items, etc. Figuring out which ones you're going to need next week is very challenging. The potential of *having* that item next week is devastating, if realized.
    • The other strongest classes in the game generally fit this because of the obnoxious and fiddly Vancian spell preparation mechanic. While spontaneous casting is easier to figure out, prepared casters can often pick up new spells whenever they want for a small expenditure of gold, making them ultimately much more versatile than spontaneous casters. A player just has to learn how and when to prepare what spells.
    • Wizards. Players who roll wizards are advised to ignore iconic wizardy damage spells like fireballs, and instead go for spells that diminish the enemy's ability to act against the party, and that means buffing, debuffing and battlefield control spells. A novice wizard will sporadically cast Magic Missile and be of little other use. A well-played Wizard will fly around the battlefield setting up the barrel for the rest of the party to shoot fish in. Conjure walls to separate mobs of enemies, tip them over to crush them, or funnel them through a gap which you've already put an oil slick in; watch as the enemies get riddled with arrows while uselessly slipping around, and use your bonus action to laugh. Speaking of grease, cast it on that ogre's favourite club so he risks it slipping out of his hand everytime he swings. Or cast it on the fighter's armour and tell him he can happily run through the druid's entangle and deliver the coup-de-grace on helpless restrained foes. Conjure a pit of fire, watch your enemies fall in and then conjure a wall over the pit, and let your enemies cook. It's an approach that requires knowledge of the environment, co-operation with the rest of the party and a little imagination, but if you can pull it off, you'lll be MVP every time.
    • Certain Prestige Classes weren't designed for player use and were Purposely Overpowered. However, jump through the hoops to qualify and roleplay out of any other problems, and goodbye game balance. Hulking Hurler, Tainted Scholar, Beholder Mage, and Illithid Savant are all famous examples.
    • Controllers in D&D 4.0. A team without a Controller will notice that enemies coordinate and attack them very efficiently. Poorly-played, a Controller is a liability, and will die if enemies so much as look at him. A well-played Controller is a hideously effective mezzer who will have your DM tearing his hair out as he watches his monsters flail around under multiple Standard Status Effects.
    • The Controller example still stands true in 5e, but now it's the domain of Druids. Most first-time Druid players will immediately begin to rely on Moon Druid Wildshaping to solve their problems (which sees the Druid spike in power dramatically as new forms become available and become reduntant and it only becomes a Game-Breaker at level 20 when you have unlimited Wildshapes) and keep as far away from their control spells as possible due to the fact it doesn't offer immediate gratification the same way a Cleric's Cure Wounds or a Sorcerer's Cone of Cold does. Once they pick up the Land Druid and start utilising these spells, however, they can prevent the foe from ever touching the party, using the environment to utterly demolish foes, or just in general keep the foe fighting under their terms.
    • Casters are this to Martial classes. Casters tend to me more complex than most Martial classes, and tend to be much more fragile. That said, their spells offer loads of versatility, and there's a reason why Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards is a thing.
    • Playing as a Character that requires three or more books. There's a reason the Player Handbook +1 Rule exists in Adventure League games. For instance, playing as a Sea Elf requires Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes or Explorer's Guide to Wildemount and the Player Handbook for all of the race's information. Want to make them an Artificer, need Eberron: Rising From The Last War. Want to give them the Thunderclap cantrip, need Xanathar's Guide to Everything. Want to give them the City Watch background, need Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. Then there's the multi-classing options. That being said, the results can be pretty powerful, and might force a Game Master to think on their feet more often.
  • Fire Dragon-Blooded in second edition Exalted combat. They don't have the raw dice or essence pools that Celestial Exalts do, and are often less durable as well. Using one effectively in combat requires an intimate understanding of the game's combat time system and essence economy, good judgement of dice probabilities and how to best adjust them, a keen awareness of distance and range, and knowing the ways in which the Dragon-Blooded differ from the more directly powerful Celestial Exalts. Played with all of this knowledge in mind, it's not out of the question for a lone Fire Dragon-Blooded to put the fear of death in any other Exalt type of roughly equal experience just by virtue of their potential damage on a grazing hit — even post-errata — being enough to cripple or kill all but the most durable Celestials in one shot. It doesn't help that many people aren't used to fighting competently handled Dragon-Blooded, and what would be standard operating procedure against any other opponent becomes a fatal timing mistake against a Fire Dragon-Blooded due to the subtle nuances that separate Dragon-Blooded ("Terrestrials") and Celestials.
  • Iron Kingdoms: Warcaster Victoria Haley has an ability which allows the player to dictate in which order the enemy's units will act the following turn. To use this effectively requires Haley's player to have a near-encyclopedic knowledge of how the opposing faction's units work and how their abilities synergize. Without this understanding, the ability is useless, with it your opponent might as well skip that turn and let you have two turns in a row for all the good it'll do.
  • Paranoia: The Machine Empathy mutation makes it so that machines like the user and will help them any way they can, which sounds really useful in this sci-fi setting. The difficulty? Using it without being discovered. Normally, if you have a mutant power, your options are either to register (which makes you targetable by discrimination, but nobody can accuse you of treason just because you're a mutant) or try to hide it (and the penalty for being discovered as an unregistered mutant is the termination of your current clone). If you have Machine Empathy, getting discovered results in your entire clone template getting erased, which means you cannot be cloned back into existence. And trying to get yourself registered as a Machine Empath instantly nets you the same result.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse has different complexity ratings for the playable hero, with 1 being simple and straightforward gameplay, and 3 being this trope. While a hero with a complexity of 1 can more or less always do something direct and useful from the get-go (either buffing, attacking, or healing), the baseline power of a 3-complexity hero is usually of indirect usage, or even harmful when used alone — but after a few turns, when equipment and status cards are out, a skilled player can put them to devastating use.
    • Absolute Zero from the base game has a basic power to do himself cold or fire damage. But he also has equipment that has him heal from cold damage, let him attack every time he takes fire damage, or attack based on how much fire damage he's taken since his last turn — in the right circumstances, he'll be constantly dealing damage and healing himself, even outside of his own turns. His Termi-Nation version is even worse: his power gives him a turn of higher damage dealt, but also damage taken. If he doesn't have the right gear, he'll not only implode, he'll do so faster than anyone else. However, with careful use and the right teammates (Greatest Legacy, Prime Wardens Fanatic), you can open each turn with what is normally a ping-damage Ongoing hosing down the enemy with 5 ice damage each.
    • Nightmist's complexity comes from the randomness of her spells — each of her cards has a spell number, and the effects of her spells are changed based on them, either by changing the number of targets or the amount of damage or healing she does. Combined with her own, and others' abilities to peek at or modify what cards will come up in her deck, and she can handle a lot of situations. Her self-damage is another thing that can be mitigated — most of her spells involve hitting herself with Infernal damage, but if you can get her equipment out, you can not only heal rapidly, you can also reflect enemy attacks for hilarious effects.
    • The Argent Adept's deck is based around his songs, which each have power-like effects, and his instruments, which let him use two effects from different songs. After a few rounds of laying out both, a good player can create a lengthy string of actions for both himself and the other players, almost to the point of adding a whole extra round of actions.
    • While she's only rated a 2 out of 3, Unity can fall into this because of the low health of her bots and the slow speed it takes her to get them out. She either needs a special card or to nuke someone's equipment to put out bots, and they all have hitpoints in the single digits, with her highest damaging bots having only 2 HP, meaning any global attack effect will wipe them out. Using her to the fullest means coordinating with the rest of the team to protect them and/or timing your turns right so they hit as hard as they can before they're taken out. Oh, and she needs to be lucky enough to have both bots and equipment to play them. But if she can get fully set up with a field full of bots, she can do serious damage.
    • Captain Cosmic creates fragile mini-critters with a variety of activation triggers. These can achieve nothing, or they can utterly demolish the enemy without the Captain ever lifting a finger himself, depending on how effectively you use them. For example, Dynamic Siphon, when damaged but not destroyed, gives the hero it's attached to a chance to use a power. Against mass-damage enemies, like a Gene-Bound Psi-Weaver, this can allow the attached hero to use a damage-dealing power (for example, the power of Fanatic's sword, Absolution), killing the Psi-Weaver before it has a chance to do any more damage, or you can save it for last and use a mass heal, such as Tempest's Cleansing Downpour, to negate the Psi-Weaver's entire turn.
    • Sky Scraper goes so far as to have three different sizes. Her small size focuses on very destructible equipment "Links", her medium size is about recovery, and her large size is about multi-target damage, and your size changes depending on the card you've played most recently. At the same time, all three of her powers are, in the right circumstances, remarkably nasty at what they do, and with proper support you can utterly demolish enemies.
    • Guise is built around weird one-off combos and copying things other heroes can do. This can be anything from unhelpful to devastating — for example, copying all of Legacy's powerful Ongoing cards, or duplicating a potent power, or throwing out a massive amount of damage by "borrowing" equipment. His Santa variant is even worse: he has one power that plays the top card of every hero deck face down, and one that flips all the face down cards a player has at once and sets them off, negating the two-card plays that make Guise's deck run in the normal circumstances. With proper support, such as people like Greatest Legacy and Prime Wardens Fanatic, however, Santa Guise can use his power repeatedly in a round and give a hero multiple card plays simultaneously, leading to absolute chaos — one-shot decks like the Sentinels can deal mammoth amounts of damage when they get five cards at once, for example.
    • Setback is one of the most random heroes in the game, with cards that rely upon increasing and decreasing a pool of tokens. This can end disastrously if, for example, you have exclusively "decrease" cards in hand at the beginning of the game and all of the stuff you get that fills your pool is self-damaging (such as Reckless Rush). However, he also has one of the best personal heals in the game, allowing him to go from 1 to full if he has enough Unlucky tokens, a 7-damage one-shot as long as he has enough tokens, a lot of team support and card draw, and some solid Ongoing and Environment removal. Then there's his combo potential (Friendly Fire combined with Mr Fixer's Jack Handle can do massive damage to the entire enemy field, for example).
    • The Scholar needs a constant churn of cards to keep his Ongoings on the field, and his most proactive damage build requires him to juggle rising and falling health. He's also devastatingly powerful when he gets going: his defensive build can soak 4-6 damage on each hit, while his aggressive one can turn any healing effect into a nasty energy bolt, and his team support can give you an entire round of free draws, heals and/or plays.
  • Space 1889 has rules for invention, the more difficult ones are really hard to get. You have to foresake more immediately useful skills and focus your character development on scientific areas. After much effort, though, your reward will be an earthquake machine, or an invisibility device, or gravity control. Mwahahahah!
  • Star Fleet Battles maulers, stasis field generators, and various types of Tholian web. They're all extremely difficult to learn to use to their full potential, but if you do, you've got a really big hammer that can mash enemies flat, in the right circumstances.
  • Warhammer:
    • Many Armies have special rules that can change the course of a game, "Elite" Armies (all Elves, Chaos, Dwarves, Lizardmen) in particular often have multiple special rules for individual units or for the whole Army, and the high cost of units in such Armies requires the player to think carefully about what they choose to field and know all the possible uses of the units they choose.
    • The Lizardmen and the Wood Elves require a great deal of tactical thought to be able to play well. The Wood Elves especially are an army of Fragile Speedsters and Glass Cannons, and can easily be crushed by a horde army if played poorly, while the Lizardmen are mostly Mighty Glaciers and Fragile Speedsters. Both require an intimate knowledge of the Armies' respective unique units and particularly Army- or unit-specific terrain rules to play effectively. If done so, however, both become incredibly powerful to play as and incredibly frustrating to play against.
    • The Dwarves are another Army that can be difficult to play for a beginner. In particular, the total lack of magic (except the Anvil of Doom) and cavalry countered with multiple War Machines, numerous almost identical elite infantry units, and the almost paralyzing number of runic combinations for weapons/armour/standards/etc. can make the Dwarves a forbidding prospect for a new player. Those same traits in the hands of a veteran can lead to the utter domination of their opponent.
    • Tomb Kings and Ogre Kingdoms have unusual magic systems that take some getting used to, but can be effective if used right. Also, both Armies along with Bretonnians have uncommon builds (Tomb Kings around chariots, Ogres around monsters, and Bretonnians around cavalry).
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Generally, the trickier factions to play are the Glass Cannon Eldar, the woefully out-of-date Dark Eldar, and the Tau Empire, a Ranger faction with no close combat ability in a game where every enemy will be in your face by turn 3. Imperial Guard, Space Marine, and Chaos Marine armies can be tricky or not based on build. Inquisitional armies can be very difficult to play, though mostly due to out of date codices rather than mechanics.
    • Dark Eldar, after finally getting a update with 5th edition, can potentially work as a Skill Gate Character with less experienced players. They are very lethal against pretty much anything and the most generally useful options are pretty obvious. Basically, in that case a Dark Eldar player is going to win easily (due to the high lethality) or be crushed (Dark Eldar are fairly fragile, especially for their cost). When you get into higher skill levels, they tend to fit this trope better. Most of the more competitive armies can still crush Dark Eldar in a straight fight, so there is a substantial amount of finesse required. You can't just march across the battlefield against most opponents and expect to win.
    • Pure Sisters of Battle. If you haven't mastered Acts of Faith, they're a very poor force. If you have, your opponent will start to think Sisters are a little too powerful.
    • 5th edition ramped the hell out of this with the Tau. They went from steep learning curve to learning cliff over night. However, if you can master them, they're easily one of the most powerful factions in the game. However, 6th edition buffed them up (due to being more shooter friendly), and their codex is less this (no useless units bluffing abilities everywhere), but still needs each part of the army to aid each other.
    • Some variations of Space Marine lists fall under this trope. A Space Marine biker list can be hard as hell to use effectively, but when it is, they get damn near close to Game-Breaker territory.
      • The Space Marine Land Speeder. Fragile, and many write them off as garbage due to that, but in the hands of a competent player, they are quite nasty. What doesn't help its case is that many veteran players are aware of this and kill the speeder first.
      • Salamanders armies live and die by their ability to field cheap flamers and meltas, weapons of great power but cripplingly short range. In the hands of a player who is good at judging distance, they will incinerate and melt anything they come up against. In the hands of a player without that skill, they will either be waving their fancy weapons impotently from just outside range, or get bogged down and stomped in melee.
    • Deathwing and Paladin armies. Sure, everyone in your force has a power fist and the best armor possible, but at 1,500 points you'll seldom have more than thirty models on the table (compare to an Imperial Guard army that could potentially run two good-sized infantry platoons and assorted tanks at that point level). If you can manage to bring the full brunt of your force to bear on a segment of the enemy army, however, you'll probably roll over anything in your way.
      • Deathwings gained a mixed blessing thanks to their 6th Edition codex. They keep their old, difficult play style, yet gain some new toys, such as Deathwing Knights who, with Belial in their unit, can easily obliterate Abaddon the Despoiler and 10 terminators SINGLEHANDEDLY. However, since these new toys often come with extra baggage (Deathwing Knights only get one turn to unleash their extreme melee prowess), they remain rather balanced.
    • With the release of 6th edition, it looks like Saim-Hann Eldar lists are being pushed from the 'completely useless' category into this one; a Saim-Hann army doesn't have much in the way of numbers or massive firepower, but a proper build allows your entire army to move 24"-36" per turn; on a sufficiently large table there's really no way to deal with them.
    • Some gamebreaking armies require a certain combination of luck and skill to pull off. The infamous "Screamerstar" build for Tzeentchian Daemons requires one specific Hellforged Artefact and another very specific psychic power. By buying a lot of psykers and psychic levels, you are almost guaranteed to get it. Once you do, you can mix all your units into one and then grant them a 2+ invulnerable save with rerolls. For those that don't know what that means, it means that your one roaming deathstar now has a 35 in 36 chance to completely ignore any kind of damage.
  • Arc dodgers in X-Wing Miniatures. These are high pilot skill Fragile Speedster ships, generally very nimble, very action-dependent, and of course very expensive for their relatively poor hull and shield totals: TIE Interceptors, for example. Successfully flying an arc dodger requires one to predict enemy movement, avoid fire arcs, move unpredictably so as to avoid being blocked (which denies actions and so hamstrings them), limit the number of turrets they're exposed to at any given time and so on, but when you pull it off, your ship can whittle down enemies while taking little to no damage itself.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Bending lightning in Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the most difficult forms of Bending possible. A sufficiently powerful Firebender must completely calm their mind and go through an intricate kata to build up energy before releasing the lightning; any mistake along the way can result in either the technique literally blowing up in the wielder's face or having the lightning short circuit the heart. Succeed, though, and you've got an attack that not even the Avatar can truly match (in fact, Princess Azula killed Aang temporarily with a lightning strike when he was in the middle of using the Avatar State).
  • The Lucky Charm power in Miraculous Ladybug summons an object... A completely random object that Ladybug must then figure out how to use against an opponent with (usually) devastating and less complicated powers, and ended up losing when she successfully weaponized a normal yo-yo, a t-shirt, or the wrapping of a chocolate bar.
    • Occasionally other people have wielded Ladybug's power or copies of it, and showed it can be used to summon a precise object or weapon... Only to prove this is even harder, as the enemies tend not to not be easily attacked and it takes Ladybug's sheer creativity to actually use them well.

    Real Life 
  • Life in general. It is one long process of decisions, distractions, and difficulties, but it has its wonderful rewards once you get used to it.
  • Fire is extremely dangerous, hard to maintain over long periods and even something as simple as a lit cigar can outright kill you if you're not careful. It's also, by far, the most useful tool ever handled by humanity, even to this day, and it looks pretty awesome to boot. (This Schlock Mercenary comic page is a fairly humorous representation of the entire process and danger)
  • Navigation without electronic means. This includes pilotage and location detection by using nautical chart and visual means, calculation of course, speed and distance by dead reckoning using only the trigonometric functions and basic algebra, and celestial navigation by using Nautical Almanac, sextant and chronometer. All these means are notoriously difficult and tedious, but once mastered, will lead you safely to your destination anywhere in the world regardless of weather and availability of electricity.
  • Also, in the Age of Sail, master circumnavigators would try to shave time off of their route by sailing as close to the shores of Antarctica as possible. This both makes the distance that needs to be covered shorter and takes advantage of the strong circumpolar winds to drive the ship. And the closer you are to Antarctica, the shorter the route and the faster the wind. On the downside, sailing so close to Antarctica means having to contend with dodging icebergs in the perpetual fog, horrendous gales, and long stretches of polar darkness. Sailing at 40-degrees latitude south (The Roaring Forties) requires the hands of a master. Sailing at 50 or 60-degrees latitude south (the Screaming Fifties and the Shrieking Sixties respectively) requires increasing amounts of madness and divine favor. As it has been said by sailors: "Below 50 there's no law; below 60 there's no God."
  • The vim text editor is very Nintendo Hard to learn, as you rely entirely on keyboard macros to do things that aren't typing. Once mastered, however, vim is a very efficient editor. Modern vim is pretty softcore compared to its predecessor vi. At least vim has arrows working as expected.
  • vim's "opponent", emacs, is similar: like vim, it uses key combinations for all editor control. It's practically impossible to learn, but capable of doing anything. And anything actually means anything. Standard builds of EMACS (which includes a LISP dialect specific to EMACS built right in) have included web browsers, email clients, image viewers, and just about any other tool you might possibly want to use. It can call the compiler, too, in case you happen to want to write a little code somewhere along the way. (Coders and sysadmins, pretty much the only people who bother with something like EMACS or vi, have been known to do all their work from inside EMACS with built-in tools.)
  • Interface example: Openbox. It looks like a very cut-down interface without many features most users have become accustomed with, such as icons on the desktop. However, once keyboard shortcuts have been properly set and memorized, it's faster to open apps and switch to them/move them around than with any mouseclick-interface — doubly so if the user is a touch-typist and accustomed to using keyboard macros.
  • Command line Interfaces, particularly in Linux. If you don't know how to use them, you're pretty much stuck in a blank terminal. On the other hand, someone who knows how to use them well basically has total control over the computer. Linux servers typically run "headless", unconnected to a screen or keyboard and are managed remotely. Avoiding the use of a graphical interface means lower performance requirements.
    • Hell, learning to use Linux itself is this trope. At least for those switching from Windows.
    • Same thing applies for setting up routers — the GUI and factory settings are okay, but mastering the CLI's often-awkward syntax gives you much more control.
    • They're handy in Windows too. For example, using xcopy requires typing instead of the usual click-and-drag, but the files copy faster, don't stop copying when one file fails, and more options are available in the form of parameters, such as /f which forces the copy wherever possible, and /y which automatically answers all questions with "yes, overwrite the damn file" without further human intervention.
  • Blender is this for 3D design. Completely unintuitive and follows none of the layout, keystroke or workflow conventions of other 3D design software; the most enthusiastic proponents will agree the learning curve is vertical. Anyone who masters it will swear by it, and always come back to use it even if they own commercial software suites. The interface and the ability to customize your UI lets a user get fairly close to an Autodesk layout.
  • Scoped rifles require learning how to properly sight and adjust your scope before you even get to the point where you have to keep your arms steady (often while trying to hold up a 10 pound rifle with little or no support) as you VERY slowly squeeze the trigger. After figuring out the range and wind and compensating for both of those, of course. When you've learned how to use it, you can hit targets hundreds of yards away regularly.
  • Battle Rifles are heavier, larger, and feature much more recoil than assault rifles. However, they are very accurate and their rounds are significantly more powerful than the normal 5.56 NATO.
  • The Kalashnikov family of firearms, especially the newer models of AK. They all fire the 7.62x54mmR, 7.62x39mm or 5.45x39mm rounds — all proven by history to be very good calibers — have dead simple controls, very quick and simple sights, and they are invariably utterly reliable. The problem is that, while they're easy to use by even the most mentally-challenged human being, it takes a bit of special technique and a lot of practice to use them to their full potential. For those who can do that (and provided with decent ammunition), the "inaccurate thug gun" is just as much of a hole puncher as any high-cost Western rifle.
  • WRC cars are among the most difficult to master in the entire motorsport. To fully exploit their performance, it would be a very good idea for the driver to know how to drift, steer with throttle, accelerate while braking and downshift to run faster. Their top power is made throughout engine rpm range, from 3000 to 7000rpm, so it's either full throttle or nothing, brakes are switch-like, either full braking or none.
  • The "dolphin kick" in swimming: a backstroke technique in which the swimmer stays underwater, in streamline position, performing rapid kicks and undulations. It takes tremendous coordination and lung capacity to pull it off for more than a couple of seconds. It proved so devastating that most swimming rules organizations put limits on how long a swimmer can perform this maneuver (in most places, it's limited to 15 seconds or 15 meters).
    • Similarly, the step above dolphin kick, the butterfly (which is basically dolphin on your front with arm movements) is easily the single most draining and all around difficult stroke to both learn and use(so much so that non-sport swimming instructors are not even required to learn it anymore). It takes incredible strength throughout your entire body to be able to use it at all, and the endurance required to do it for more than about 2s without hyperventilating is phenomenal. Yet once mastered, it is the defining stroke for all swimming, showing mastery of the vast majority of principles used for effective swimming, and will keep anyone in top physical condition both in and out of the water.
  • Keyboard shortcuts can be tough to memorize at first, but master them and you'll be blazing through your favorite applications.
    • For Windows users, Ctrl+N for File-New and Ctrl+O for File-Open are among the most time-saving examples. And ever tried Win Key, Up, Enter, Alt+Letter (letter depending on what you want, reboot or shutdown, instead of Sleep, the option Bill Gates is in bed with). When an admin mashes the keyboard for ONE second to reboot, the look on a user's face is priceless.
      • Windows is actually so full of these that they make navigating the operating system much quicker/faster. Pinned something to your taskbar? Win + #. Need to open a new instance of that program? Win + Shift + #. Need to launch a program? Win + start typing a few letters of the program name, enter. Need to open Explorer? Win + E. Want to open the Run box? Win + R. Minimize everything to the desktop? Win + D or Win + M. Un-minimize everything you just minimised? Shift + Win + M. Lock the computer? Win + L. Microsoft didn't touch any of this with Windows 8, and those that figured it out were probably not perturbed by the new interface as much as those who used Windows with the more mouse driven paradigms.
    • Especially when using web browsers, since there are keyboard shortcuts for practically everything. There's the common Ctrl+T for new tab, Ctrl+N for a new window, Alt+F4 to close it...but then you get Ctrl+W to close the individual tab, Ctrl+Shift+T if you want to bring back your previously closed tab, the tab key to scroll through links and input boxes, Shift+Tab to go backwards, Ctrl+Tab to scroll through tabs, with an added Shift to go backwards, Ctrl+[num] to go to that numbered tab, Ctrl++ / Ctrl+- to zoom, Ctrl+E to go to Home, F5 to refresh, Ctrl+F5 to hard refresh, Alt+D to go to the address bar...the list goes on...and on...and on...
    • And then there's the power button of newer computers, which works like a one-press shortcut for shutdown. On some you can even choose what it does, with options of "Do nothing", "Sleep" or "Shut down", and have different options depending on whether the laptop (if it is a laptop) is running on battery or plugged in.
    • Fortunately, the menus on programs are labeled with keyboard shortcuts, so you can just learn them just by looking at them. This means that you only have to learn shortcuts for operations you perform frequently. Because modern operating systems like macOS and Windows drive for consistent user interfaces, many of the same keyboard shortcuts, such as Ctrl-S to save a file, work in multiple programs, minimizing the number of shortcuts you have to learn.
  • Learning multiple languages is extremely difficult (especially for older people). That said, it's generally easier to live in another country, or import stuff, if you know the language fluently. It's also plenty of fun to show off your fluency to others.
    • Learning Traditional Chinese. It's a bit harder initially and requires memorising radicals, as well as training your brain to break the components down into boxes and learning how to write the characters, which are often more complex than their Simplified counterparts. But once you learn the techniques involved, you can pick up new characters more easily than if you'd learned Simplified Chinese (which takes the aforementioned rules and tosses it out the window entirely, as well as relying entirely on memorisation). In addition, the way they're structured does give you little hints as to how it's pronounced, and much bigger hints to the meaning, so if you run into a new character, you can make an educated guess. And once you're literate in it, you can read Simplified Chinese without too much issue, and it becomes easier to pick up Korean Hanja and Japanese Kanji.
    • Non-English speakers learning English is much moreso. English is a "mud language" with many inconsistencies in pronunciation (like cough and bough sounding nothing alike, and same for cow and bow, when you refer to the weapon for the latter, as opposed to the greeting or ship section), and a lot of makeshift, rough structure that more structurally sound languages don't have. That being said, English is the closest the world has to a Common Tongue, as it's one of the most taught languages outside native tongues, and, not only is it essential for international careers, being fluently bilingual (especially if it's English and Japanese) will make it relatively easy to land jobs as translators or second language teachers.
  • Among Linux distributions, Gentoo. This distro will give you Stockholm Syndrome. Its installation isn't merely user unfriendly, it often borders on being downright user abusive, but once installed, it is guaranteed to deliver the absolute maximum level of performance your hardware is capable of providing, beyond what you had ever seen your hardware accomplish on any other operating system (with the possible exception of MenuetOS, but that system's written entirely in assembly code, which is sort of cheating).
  • Knuckleball pitches in baseball, when thrown incorrectly, either become practice pitches or wild balls that are hard to catch, and the ability to throw them can be disrupted by as little as a chipped fingernail. When thrown correctly, though, they wobble around in the wind making them very hard to hit.
  • Any Martial Arts style will take years to learn and a lifetime to master, with months spent on basics alone for the beginners. Extended practice will bring significant health benefits including increased strength, stamina, flexibility, balance, and cardio-pulminary health, greater self-confidence, self-awareness, and personal peace, as well as self-defense capability. Specific examples include but not limited to:
    • Taijiquan (T'ai Chi). It often come with admonitions of "Straight but not straight" and "Round but not round." Once learned, it is a very versatile style with several movements that can be applied in a number of ways, both offensively and defensively. Apart from the combative aspect, it is excellent for increasing patience and serenity. Also, the relatively low impact of its practice make it an ideal form for the elderly, or those undergoing physical rehab. Although this can be considered a weakness, the actual movements can in fact be compared to "weaponized powerlifting," as the same concepts required to channel the body's power into a single blow are also used to channel the body's power into moving heavy amounts of mass. To put it in perspective: one of the basic taijiquan techniques is a simple shove, learning how to maximize the force to knock an adult human away. Now imagine a woman using that technique to shove a 200 lb attacker — after learning how to bench press 200 lbs. Rag doll physics start to come into play.
    • Collegiate wrestling. Even in the standards of martial arts, its training regimen can be exceptionally tough, with very heavy emphasis on both power and endurance training, as well as numerous movements, counters, and counter-counters. However, once mastered it is one of the most powerful and versatile combat martial arts in existence. In fact, it's one of the four core martial arts in Mixed Martial Arts, along with boxing, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
    • Bajiquan is considered to be one of the hardest styles of Kung Fu out there. That said, similar to Muay Thai, it turns your entire body into a weapon (even, to an extent, your back). If it's any indication of it's effectiveness, Virtua Fighter prides itself on being a hyper-realistic Martial Arts simulator, and Akira Yuki, the game's Bajiquan practitioner, tends to top the tier lists.
    • Due to how close range it is, Wing Chun requires absolute perfection of the basics early on before you can get to the cool stuff. That said, it's the Martial Arts equivalent to a Shotgun (with most other styles being mid-range in comparison), being useable at both point blank & ranged, and that's on top of it being usable by relatively lithe individuals. On top of all that, it can go so fast that it's like a real life example of your typical Dragon Ball Z-styled high-speed slugfest.
    • Drunken Boxing requires you to be soft, yet strong, requires you the ability to flow your body like a liquid, and requires enough spine flexibility to bend backwards at a 90 degree angle (among other things). That said, it's a style where every angle can be attacked from (even if your back is turned, you're still not vulnerable), and it's designed as a real life version of Confusion Fu.
    • Katas, or forms, are routines shown to demonstrate mastery, and look like pointless posturing. Often the first thing a student learns, they appear to be Boring, but Practical ways to instill discipline at first... until the student learns all the criteria for a perfect form. Arms and legs have to stop in exact locations, at the same time, without shaking, powered only by the core, all while remaining completely relaxed until the moment of impact. Katas are also an excellent way of determining if someone is winning because of strength or skill, and if the loser of a match is actually Weak, but Skilled. Some schools consider katas more important than sparring. Up to Eleven if you start experimenting with the various techniques and applications of a form; there are a surprising number of variants to various applications in many forms, seasoned masters have even learned new things from their most basic forms decades after learning them.
    • Far as Chinese weaponry go, the Three-Sectioned-Staff and Chain Whip take the cake in this. The former is a weird bastard child between a quarterstaff and nunchaku, and the latter is basically a metal chain. Both are easier to injure yourself with than other weapons, and the Chain Whip has the added risk of suffocation. That said, both are versatile weapons that allow you to attack at various ranges, and at much more varied angles than their more solid counterparts. The Rope Dart and the Meteor Hammer even moreso than the Chain Whip because, while you get Scorpion's Spear, and a fast Ball and Chain, they compound the Chain Whip's difficulties with the risk of getting stabbed or bludgeoned by your own weapon.
  • Certain musical instruments like the violin and the bagpipe sound incredibly beautiful in the hands of an experienced player... and headache-inducing in the hands of a novice.
    • Basically, every polyphonic musical instrument (guitar, piano, drum kit, violin, etc.) takes weeks and months of practice to even start playing the simplest melodies, but mastering the instrument pays off in having an abilty to play something really awesome.
  • Skip Bombing, a technique developed by the Allies during World War II for use against enemy ships, was this. Essentially, a bomber would approach the target at extremely low altitudes (200-250 feet), and drop several bombs on a time delay. They would hit the water, skip over the surface like tossing a stone, and bounce into the side of the ship before exploding. This was advantageous over torpedoes because they took longer to reach their targets (giving ships time to avoid them) while skipped bombs only take a few seconds. The downside is that it's extremely difficult to pull off, and requires near-perfect timing. Not to mention the small chance that a skipped bomb might instead bounce off the water and hit the plane instead.
  • Helicopters, tilt-rotors, and VTOL jets are this compared to other fixed wing aircraft. Vertical takeoffs, hovering, or maneuvering are quite difficult to control, and all your limbs will be essentially be multi-tasking when doing so while you have to maintain intense focus or you lose said control.
  • Safety razors. These old-fashioned razors have a much higher risk of cutting and pain when used compared to most modern ones (which is ironic, considering their name), but they will also give you hands-down the closest and most precise shave ever.
    • The 'safety' in 'safety razor' comes from the fact that it was safer to use than its predecessor, the straight razor, which is Difficult But Awesome in its own right, as now you need to know how to hone and strop the blade, but provides the same close shave as a safety razor while looking badass as well. On top of that, to add another layer of awesome, the fact that you're shaving with what is (in some ways) a glorified knife makes your shaving choices more versatile in a pinch.
  • Like in the Driving Game example back on the main page, learning to drive a stick shift/manual transmission car in real life. Especially since most driving schools teach using automatic transmissions, and knowing how to drive a stick is no longer required in most driving exams. You will stall the vehicle, be subject to clunking (and thus think you're breaking the car) and forced to stay on top of what gear you're in at all times, as well as learning which speeds work best for what gears, not to mention learning how to quickly change gears. But once you master it, you're no longer restricted to only driving a certain type of vehicle, such as if you need to drive one in a pinch, and can own whatever you want. Also, for many first-time drivers, a used stick-shift either from a dealer or from parents or friends is all they can afford, and they get better gas mileage than automatic transmissions of the same make and modelnote . As an added bonus it serves as something of an anti-theft device: since less and less drivers are using manual transmissions, there are in turn less and less thieves able to drive them away, making your car quite a bit less attractive to jack than the nice automatic beside it...
    • This is also true in off-road conditions; due to automatic transmissions using more electronic components, they can suffer corrosion from incoming objects like sand particle, rocks, and water. Manual transmissions survive longer due to electronic components being less frequent or (in older vehicles) nonexistent, thus less prone to corrosion.
  • Over time in The Low Middle Ages, swords got the reputation as being weapons that were much harder to wield effectively than spears, axes or clubs. However, they were also the mark of nobility and strength, since only the wealthy tended to have access to them. Thus, someone who had a sword was either a rich and powerful elite, given one by said elite as a sign of favor, or good enough to steal one and hang on to it. Someone who carried a sword around everywhere was also seen as having the time to learn such a difficult weapon, and not someone to mess with. It's one reason why Heroes Prefer Swords became so popular in tales of the time, like King Arthur or The Song of Roland.
  • Many cosplayers just buy their costumes or purchase clothes that look like the character's at a thrift store or wherever, but some take to the art of making cosplays themselves. It is a tedious process that involves learning how to sew, having a strong sense of craftsmanship (especially if one's costume comes with props or is a suit of armor), and working with tools that can potentially hurt the user if handled improperly such as superglue, hot glue guns, and sewing needles. Not to mention, it takes a lot of time, patience, raging over this one part you can't get right, cursing yourself for procrastinating on your costume until the night before a convention or cosplay meet, etc. However, making cosplays gives the wearer more control over how the final product looks. While someone making cosplays for the first time will probably end up with something that looks crappy at best and doesn't fit at worst, with practice one can make a costume that is just as good, if not better, than most store-bought cosplays, and there are many cosplays that one simply can't just order due to the difficulty of the costume or the obscurity of the character. Additionally, ordering costumes often costs a premium for labor, something you don't have to pay if you make the costume yourself.
  • In fencing, there is a move called the Chamley-Watson, invented by and currently only used by World Champion fencer Miles Chamley-Watson. The move involves the person performing it wrapping their own arm around their head to strike their opponent in the head or chest with the foil. The move is both impressively flashy and surprisingly effective, being quite hard to defend against. However, it requires a high degree of flexibility, on top of having long enough limbs to pull off. So far, only Chamley-Watson himself is able to use this move.
  • The F-4U Corsair of WWII easily qualifies. It's wing shape, advanced aerodynamics, massive engine and propeller gave it this characteristic. Nicknamed the "Ensign Eliminator" due to it's much higher accident rate with trainees when compared to other allied fighters. The cockpit location coupled with the massive engine and prop yielded very poor forward visibility during takeoff/landings. New skills would have to be learned to compensate. But if the pilot could get over the steep learning curve and characteristics of the the plane, they were rewarded with a fighter that had excellent speed, range, rate of climb, maneuverability, and and the durability afforded by the plane's radial engine.
  • Cooking can be this, depending on what you're making. Some meals and recipes require a lot of multi-tasking, steps being performed at very specific times in very specific ways, and the slightest mistake can make the difference between a delicious meal and an inedible mess. However, the results are usually very worth it.
    • Cooking "Butcher's Cuts" of meat, in particular, requires some tricks and prep methods that usually only a butcher would know. That said, proper preparation can make for an extremely tasty steak.
  • Juggling, especially with more than three objects, or with objects of different sizes and shapes. It takes a lot of hand-eye coordination and skill, but looks awesome and is a great way to show off.
  • Building your own PC:
    • While building a PC itself may not be particularly hard — there's many tutorials on how to build one — it does require significantly more effort than just purchasing a pre-manufactured PC. It requires knowing the lingo, understanding what makes hardware compatible with one another, how each part potentially performs, and you have to be your own tech support among others. But the benefits are that a custom-built PC is generally cheaper, you get your own choice of parts to put into the machine, you can upgrade individual parts as needed instead of having to purchase an entirely new machine in some cases, you're not at the mercy of the vendor or manufacturer of the entire PC if one part goes wrong, and you get the satisfaction of doing your PC tasks on something that you built yourself.
    • Building a Mini-ITX PC. Mini-ITX is the smallest "off the shelf" motherboard standard available, and there are several scenarios where an ITX build is more practical, such as space constraints or wanting a "portable" LAN party system. However, building in an ITX chassis is more challenging than building in a standard ATX chassis. Because of the motherboard's small form factor, there is only one expansion slot, which in practically all gaming rigs will be taken up by a graphics card, and only support two memory modules, limiting expandability. Speaking of graphics cards, some ITX cases may not support long graphics cards, although many graphics card manufacturers do make short cards for these systems. An ITX system can run hotter than a similarly specced ATX system, meaning a better than stock cooling system and aggressive cable management is necessary.
  • PC Gaming tends to come with knowing how manage and deal with a computer, up to potentially solving issues on your own. Or basically, when something does go wrong, it can be a pain in the butt to fix. That said, there are many reasons why PC is generally considered superior to console gaming (such as Game Mods, playing games at high graphical settings and resolutions, and being able to regularly brute force 60 FPS or higher).
  • The development architecture of certain video game systems (the PS3's Cell Processor, and a number of Nintendo systems, to name some examples) are extremely arcane, and hard to use. That said, the Wii U had multiple games that stun even PC gamers with how beautiful they look (on top of a number of them running at 60 Frames Per Second, usually sacrificed for pretty visuals), and the PS3 was, objectively, the most powerful system of its generation.
  • Parallel parking, particularly between two cars, is significantly more difficult than more conventional perpendicular parking, to the point where in some jurisdictions, parallel parking isn't even on the license test. You might spend several minutes switching gears, potentially blocking traffic, or worse, trading paint (hitting the other cars). But once mastered, you can pretty much park anywhere where there is legal parking space. While this has been made less difficult with newer cars having rear cameras, this trope is still in full force if your car doesn't have one.
  • Humans as a whole are a species equivalent to Difficult, but Awesome. In a world previously dominated by Unskilled, but Strong beasts, we're weak little Squishy Wizards who only really had higher brain functions, creative thinking, and opposable thumbs as advantages in a sea of disadvantages. That said, we dominated the rest of the animal kingdom, and basically took over the world as the dominant species.
  • The Balisong or Butterfly Knife. Two folding hinged handles on a blade that opens and closes via centrifugal force. It takes practice to even effectively open the thing with one hand, but in the hands of an expert is so deadly that it's often considered worse than the switchblade (and, understandably, is banned in many countries). They are hypnotic to watch in the hands of a master, though, and is probably the only knife in the world so rewarding to try and master that Balisong Trainersnote  exist so people can legally master them.
  • Photography with a Digital [or film] Single Lens Reflex camera. Mastering photography beyond the automatic, pre-programmed shooting is tedious, requires knowledge of optics, understanding the concepts of ISO sensitivity, aperture and shutter timing, lighting, filters, different lenses and planning, and takes years to master. But once mastered, the results are just plain awesome.
  • Lifting free weights, as compared to using weight machines. With free weights, it's more difficult to properly do the exercise, and you a higher risk of injury, but when done properly, you get much better results, as it takes a far wider range of muscles to stabilize the weights during the exercises.
    • Likewise, Strongman Training is this Up to Eleven. Essentially, imagine exercising with Free Weights, but the Free Weights are irregular shapes (the fronts of cars, tires, and so on). That said, Strongman Training pays off in muscles that are both big and practical, and, in general, there's a reason for the name.
  • Landing an airplane on an aircraft carrier has often been called the hardest thing humanity does on a consistent basis, and it's not hard to see why. For all that aircraft carriers are some of the biggest ships around, as runways go they're quite tiny, and for all the technological development in the carrier's century-long history, deceleration is still done by having a hook attached to the tail catch a wire. Add in the high stall speed of modern jet fighters, and landing a plane on a carrier deck requires extreme precision on the part of the pilot. And that's assuming a decent fuel reserve, a plane that hasn't been shot up, good weather, calm sea, and daytime visibility! But for all the difficulty, the countries that do manage to get the capability now have a mobile airbase that can deliver anywhere from one to four squadrons of modern strike fightersnote  to enemy shores, an extremely valuable and flexible military capability.
    • The act of landing itself is deceptively quite hard. Contrast to taking off, which is basically go full (or nearly full) throttle and pitch up at a certain speed, landing requires precisely maintaining a certain descent speed and because the ground isn't going to go anywhere upon taking the weight of the aircraft, it's literally crashing the aircraft against the ground. Pilots really don't want the aircraft touching down at over 200 feet per minute, which is a bit over 2 miles per hour. While that may not sound like much, think about how much force your car can exert at that speed, then multiply it by up to nearly 300 times. On top of that, the plane needs to land in a specific way depending on the landing gear configuration. For the common tricycle style configuration, the plane need to land nose up ("landing flare") so that the initial weight is taken on the much beefier main landing gears. Or basically, the plane still needs to fall (gently!) while in a "climbing" angle. Doing the landing flare incorrectly could result in what's called Pilot Induced Oscillation, causing the plane to go up and down from overcorrecting. And when you're doing this just feet above the runway...
  • Open-source software, i.e., software where the code is publicly available for everyone to see. It may not be as full-featured as closed-source counterparts, but one of the biggest advantages for those with programming muscle is that if there's a problem with the software they're using, it's possible to pinpoint the exact lines of code that are causing the problem and bring it up for someone to fix. And for those who are even more skilled, they can fix the problems themselves, or better yet, add new features to the software.
  • In Association Football, Total Football. All the outfield players can take the role of one another. It's extremely technically and physically demanding on them, as they have to know how to play in every position, which is why no team has used it in its purest form since the 1970s. However, the teams that did use it pretty much dominated their eras.
    • At an individual level, there's the overhead kick, also known as the bicycle kick or scissor kick. It requires split-second timing to even connect with the ball, and pinpoint accuracy to then guide it towards the net — something made even more difficult by the fact that you won't be looking at the ball or the net while executing it. If you get it wrong, you face being humiliated and possibly even injured. If you get it right, it looks utterly spectacular.
  • Freeboards are this compared to regular skateboards. They require a bit more balance, require mid-skate foot pivots to push on flat surfaces (being designed for use on slopes), and, being designed to be like snowboards you ride on the street, require certain snowboard-specific actions to make the most of them. That said, here's a video with a proficient freeboarder at work. That's on top of the fact that freeboard skill is (relatively) easily transferable to snowboarding if given the opportunity.
  • Credits cards can, when misused, financially ruin someone for years to come. That said, when properly used, it adds another option for payment (credit now, pay later), builds your credit score (which is essential if you want a loan for, say, a home or business), and increasingly cards come with perks like cash back or points to use to spend on travel, essentially getting "free money" for proper use.
  • Calisthenics, unlike weight training, always requires you to work with your inherent weight (as opposed to Bench Presses which, unlike Push Ups, allows you to slowly build up to pushing your body weight), which can be especially hard for overweight people. That said, they can be done anywhere, anytime, can save you a lot of money on equipment or gym costs, complicating them for efficient growth is only limited to your imagination, and they create strong, lean, efficient muscles that actually work.
    • Calisthenics using Gymnast Rings &/or weighted vests or belts take this Up to Eleven. Rings take existing Calisthenic exercises, and significantly lessen the stability factor from normal Calisthenics. Weighted Calisthenics increase the load more than merely your own body weight. That said, rings ensure you never have problems with muscle imbalances, and are amazing for Stabilizer muscles, making feats that require them (such as handstands, as well as single-limb balancing) significantly easier, and weighted Calisthentics eliminate any need for dumbell or barbell exercises, significantly lowering space requirements. Doing both allows for the benefits of both, though also significantly increases the difficulty.
  • College. The workload is significantly greater than what students are used to in high school and there is far less hand-holding. Getting through class requires a great deal of excellent study habits, self-discipline, and time management. But the degree students receive in the end will be well worth it, as it offers much more opportunities than a mere high school diploma would.
    • STEMnote  majors fit this trope the most. They are usually the most demanding majors in their colleges with a ton of rigorous projects, reports, homework, and exams that students must juggle. In particular, the dropout rate for engineering programs is as high as 60 percent. However, students who successfully graduate in one of these majors will be armed with an in-demand skill set and generally have more lucrative and stable job opportunities. Even more so if the student is from a school like Harvard or MIT.
  • Compared to cars, Motorcycles are inherently more dangerous, and give significantly less coverage for all things. That said, not only do they look cool, you can sneak in-between cars, and effectively skip past traffic.
  • Writing with a Fountain Pen is this compared to writing with a Ballpoint Pen or Pencil. Not only do they usually have the typical permanence of most pens, you need to write using specific habits to utilize it properly. That being said, there's a certain elegance to writing with a Fountain Pen that you can not replicate using ballpoint, and it causes less strain on your hand because you don't have to press down on the paper.
  • Counting cards in Blackjack and other similar games allows you to predict with decent accuracy what the next hand will be, giving you an advantage. A team of MIT students once used this to win millions of dollars at casinos.
  • In the world of metalworking, and 'especially' bladesmithing:
    • Nothing gets harder than coal-forging. This is because coal-forging requires coal and an air supply to keep it burning, the forge would need regular maintenance, and it can be very easy to get an uneven heat; that said, what makes coal-forging awesome is that if you know what you're doing, you can take advantage of the fact that coal-forging makes use of dry heat to work a piece a little faster as it gets hotter than a gas forge.
    • Damascus, or pattern-welded steel, is itself pretty hard to work with as you're dealing with different types of steel in the billet, which can make for an uneven heat treat. That being said, those who know what they're doing often turn out really beautiful works that can perform as well as any production model blade.
  • Amateur (ham) radio takes an investment in learning, licensing, and equipment. But it offers the ability to communicate anywhere, anytime, even in emergencies or if infrastructure fails (such as cell phone networks), and in many more ways than anything else.
  • In stock market trading, options trading can cause massive losses when done improperly, since it requires the type of research and foresight to know what will increase (for a call option), and what will decrease (for a put option). That said, proper use of options can give massive returns even by stock standards.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: