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Gambit Pileup / Webcomics

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  • The Order of the Stick. Loads and Loads of Characters have accumulated (and very few have been killed off), most everyone has plans they haven't explained to their allies (or in a few cases, they're just unpredictable), and a couple brand-new political factions were then added to the deck. The roaches counted at least nine sides of the conflict, some of whom the reader hadn't even encountered, and even now nobody knows for certain who they are and what constitutes a 'side'.
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  • Dominic Deegan is famous for his overly-elaborate schemes, but during the Storm of Souls arc, and again during the War in Hell, he was only one chessmaster among many.
  • Girl Genius pulls this off quite well, especially noticeable in the tangled web that was Sturmhalten. Then Mechanicsburg appeared to be headed full-tilt in that direction, with Agatha's group, the Knights of Jove, the other Knights of Jove, the Baron, the Baron's army, Zola's operation, Mechanicsburg's local government-conspiracy, the Jaegers, and two Lucrezias, Tarvek, and Othar back on the scene. That doesn't include the Castle which evidently has its own plan or two, and yet more minor players with big plans and varying degrees of competency pop up with monotonous frequency. And then there popped up the Storm King Conspiracy.
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  • Girly parodies this in The Big Mix-UpThe Shadowy Guy was manipulating the adorable men and the CutePD, Mitchroney was also manipulating them, but in a different way, and they were both pretending to be manipulated by the other in order to manipulate the other, which had the effect of manipulating the main cast.
  • Schlock Mercenary's overarching plot goes here; the main players are the Gatekeepers, Xinchub, the UNS government in general, dark-matter beasties from Andromeda, and the god-like AI Petey. Most of the episodic arcs look like this too. The focus characters are just regular joes trying to do a job, so they're usually used as pawns in one plot or another. Some of these factions are no longer playing though.
  • In the tradition of the show, Doctor Who fancomic The Ten Doctors was all over this trope, with seemingly every major villain who ever showed up on the series attempting their own grand scheme that repeatedly crashed into each other. Fortunately, there were 10 Doctors to confront them. They never had a hope in hell.
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  • TwoKinds has the games of gods (Ephemural's comic-starting gambit to start), Evil Towers Of Ominousness (The Templars), the backroom scheming of a paranoid military culture (The Bastians), the war plans of the two Kedrian tribes, plus whatever the motivations are of a dozen secondary characters (three-quarters of whom are looking for Trace, either to help him or kill him). Even then, some of them are trying to help Trace and some are trying to help Templar!Trace who is his pre-amnesia counterpart who was driven insane by his use of magic. Hell, one character set up DOZENS of different plans and exploited every loop-hole he could which took years of planning to make one exiled character a general.
  • The Last Days Of FOXHOUND has a lot of these (understandable, considering its source), although given the ending most of them don't come to fruition. For extra fun, you could consider the author's plot having gotten into a pile-up with Kojima's as one of these. There was more than one occasion where the author introduced retroactive, massive Roulettes just to explain the gulf between how he wrote the story and the new elements Kojima introduced. And the result was so convoluted it actually fit perfectly with the MGS universe, hilariously so.
  • Penny and Aggie takes it to ridiculous levels, considering that the goals are mostly some variant of "become party queen." The consequences of intermediate steps have become more interesting than the plans themselves.
  • The Gallimaufry arc in Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire is somewhere between this and a Thirty Dark Secret Pileup. Seen in a more literal form here, and seen as a MacGuffin Delivery Service pileup here.
  • Terinu runs on this, what with Terinu being pursued by the Varn Gene mage, who is allied with Princess Titalia, who is plotting the overthrow of her queen mother. The pirate Mavra Chan is also allied with the Gene Mage, but only to grab as much power as she can while she pursues Terinu herself to make him her slave/assassin. Meanwhile Admiral Blake is trying to murder Terinu to keep him out of the Gene Mage's hands while jailing his own daughter in an attempt to suppress the history of humanity's genocide of the ferin.
  • Last Res0rt is about to run headlong into this with most (if not all) of its players, and it's all compounded by the sheer chutzpah that the results are all being broadcast as entertainment. If only real reality shows had this sort of thought put into them.
  • This Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal reveals a new gambit in almost every panel.
  • Grim Tales from Down Below has several being pulled at the same time - in the past Mandy pulled several to cause major disasters and later exploit her immortality. Even if Grim killed her, she had plans to take over hell. Then Oogie Boogie tried to get Junior to come to his lair so he could steal his reaper powers. After a bunch of crap happens, the Nergal parasite demons take over Junior's body, leading to Clockwerk pulling several Gambits at a time (seeing as how he's Clockwerk, this isn't surprising). Even later than that, Him pulls one of the most disturbing Gambits ever pulled. And those are just the major ones - pretty much the only people who don't pull a gambit of some kind throughout the webcomic are the citizens of Halloween Town, Helga (on account of her never actually appearing), the people shown under Mandy's regime, the Raven narrator, Spawn, the demons Spawn faces, and Fred Fredburger. But they just might be planning something...
  • How tangled up are all the diabolical schemes in Sluggy Freelance? So tangled that they might destroy the very fabric of existence.
  • Homestuck:
    • This is the best description of the Hivebent arc in Act 5, wherein all the Trolls attempt to backstab each other and Doc Scratch is first introduced. The trolls are eventually forced to team up and work together when shit hits the fan during their game session though. And if you thought Act 5 Act 1 got complicated, Act 5 Act 2 has so many insane plots going on (most of which are being made up as they go along) That by the end, it's hard to tell who's manipulating whom into doing what. Who: Doc Scratch. Whom: Everyone. What: Everything.
    • In Act 6, virtually everybody has some kind of plan for the Post-Scratch session, of which the Post-Scratch Kids are almost completely unaware.
  • Every major player in Drowtales has some plan in motion that they believe will grant them supremacy, save the world, kill their rivals, etc. As of chapter 46 (aptly titled "Convergence") several of the main ones have started colliding, with much bloodshed to be had — and it's only the tip of the iceberg.
  • In the Christmas Episode of The Prime of Ambition the cast indulges in tricks around a... mistletoe. Observe.
  • In Impure Blood, Dara and Caspian have plans that converge, or at least, Dara has convinced Caspian that he needs her for his plan.
  • The Tournament Arc of Beyond the Canopy. Glenn just wants to be done with the fight. Pedro crashes the fight to get revenge on Glenn. Greliz set up the entire tournament in the first place just to scam some money, and Vogel shows up to bust him. Hoot and Holler, looking to capture Glenn, arrive at the tournament mostly by accident. Snopes, tracking an artifact and the person who carries it (who happens to be Glenn), arrives not long afterwards.
  • Exterminatus Now managed to pull this off in a single strip here.
  • The cast of Erfworld can very generally be lumped into Gobwin Knob, the Royal Coalition, the Magic Kingdom and Charlescom, but they all have plenty of different factions and scheming within their own ranks (except Charlescom, which is run by one guy no-one's ever seen). The main character's Summon Everyman Hero plot is apparently fulfilling four different prophecies.
  • The Far Side Of Utopia is starting to hit this hard - in the beginning there was Peter with The Plan - now there is a dozen of people with The Plan and Peter's plan has turned out to be ridiculously multifaceted from the start and they are all beginning to swirl into a major pileup.
  • Existential Comics: "Existential Hour" has Albert Camus only speaking in vague quotes in his interview with Jean-Paul Sartre because he knows that Sartre is just going to do something ridiculous in the name of radical freedom. Sartre then reveals that he isn't going to do radical freedom, but that he already turned off the cameras before the interview. Camus replies that he noticed the cameras were off and he turned them back on.
  • There's a rock concert one night in the world of Ménage à 3 and its spinoff Sticky Dilly Buns, at which every named character on the stage or in the audience has their own agenda. Hilarity ensues. See the two comics' own pages for details.
  • In Yokoka's Quest, multiple parties appear to have plans which involve Yokoka, at a minimum Betel and Yokoka's mother (who isn't Betel).


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