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Gambit Roulette / Video Games

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Gambit Roulettes in video games.

  • Battalion Wars 2 provides a fine example of this. In an attempt to recover a lost superweapon, Kaiser Vlad manipulates the news to cause the Anglo Isles to attack the Solar Empire. When the Anglo Isles retreats, the Solar Empire launches a counter-attack, and asks the Tundran Territories to help them. While everyone is busy with that, Vlad launches a full scale invasion of Tundra, fights his way to the far north, locates and mines the super weapon, and tries to run away. Everything goes as planned, until that last step. The allied nations crush his armies, attack his mining spider, and in the end, Vlad and Kommandt Ubel end up trapped in a mine shaft.
    • What's really maddening is that Vlad Doesn't invade Tundra until After they pull out of the Isles.
  • A lot of Hazama/Terumi's plans come off this way in the BlazBlue series, but it's justified. Having lived through countless time loops and being able to force Nine to look into other possible outcomes, he knows the outcome before rolling the dice. Particularly, with the time loop broken at the end of the third game and Nine free of his control, he promptly loses all control of the his schemes and has to resort to breaking personal taboos and brute-strengthing the situation.
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  • Both 3D PS2 Castlevania games have plots that sneak suspiciously close to this. Castlevania: Lament of Innocence more so than Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, as in Curse of Darkness Dracula is wirepulling everything from behind the scenes, and there's perhaps only one character he has no major influence over - Julia. Anyhow, Isaac's devious and original scheme is Dracula's devious and original scheme. Hector even spells it out in the end. Lament of Innocence sees Mathias playing some serious hardcore roulette, and it's actually quite terrifying to see how much of a 'Master tactician' he is. For that plan to work, everything would have had to unfold exactly as it does in the game. Which it does. He is a scary, scary man.
  • Chzo of the titular Chzo Mythos was able to pull this off, due to being omniscient (and only on one day of the year, too) and able to see the past, present and future at the same time. He got what he wanted, but how much was exactly the way he intended is up for debate.
  • City of Heroes has a Doctor Doom-esque villain named Nemesis who takes this to an extreme in almost every encounter. In a single story arc, he tricks the hero into defeating some neo-fascists that looked like they were going to take over his infrastructure, just to save himself the bother; predicts that your contact will believe Nemesis's real plan was to take over the neo-fascists' robot army and send you to prevent that, while he proceeds with a kidnapping; and wraps it all up by having you supposedly kill him - even though, as a superhero, you may have never killed anyone else before (and indeed are explicitly prevented from doing so by the game mechanics), and despite his well-known use of countless robot doubles. Your Contact actually comments on this, noting that his death should have been impossible, speculating that Nemesis's real objectives were twofold, first to throw the heroes off his trail by faking his death, giving him breathing room to implement more plots, and second and most importantly, to get ahold of the technology from the kidnapped person to enable him to create perfect mechanical duplicates of his own mind, resulting in the annoying prospect of having to deal with an endless supply of super-intelligent mechanical jackass villains. Finally, many heroes might have preferred Nemesis's power-base to be taken over by virtually anyone that wasn't quite so good with the Gambit Roulette. (This is far from Nemesis's most convoluted scheme.)
    • Oh, it gets better when you find out that he engineered the Rikti war.
    • Apparently, he invented time travel as well. Still, his Paper-Thin Disguise leads to some doubt: Nemesis never moves that openly. So, is he genuinely apologetic for unleashing The End of the World as We Know It or is this a part of an even more elaborate scheme?
    • One of the Loading Screen hints is "Everything is a Nemesis Plot." Another hint is "Not everything is a Nemesis Plot." Also he was apparently Emperor of the US after World War II (his reign was brief, however.)
      • More recently, following Issue 14: Architect: "If it's not already a Nemesis plot, you can use the Mission Architect to make it one."
    • On the villain side of the game, players stumble on a dimension where heroic organization Longbow and the Nemesis Army are fighting each other and the Devouring Earth from taking over the planet. Strangely, the Nemesis Army is happy to see the player. It turns out to be a convoluted plot by Nemesis to use their duplicate of the contact to manipulate the player into questioning if they were a duplicate themselves. This led the player into a trap where they were meant to be captured and replaced with a duplicate as well, but the player manages to escape with the original contact. In the end, it was a very effective trap that made the player villain WANT to walk into it. There's a reason one of the creepiest bits of civilian dialogue in the game is, "Lord Nemesis is watching you, [Player Name]."
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  • The entire underlying plot behind Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance is a twenty-something year-old Gambit Roulette centered around Lehran's Medallion and channeling power into it by thrusting the entire continent into a war, so that Ashnard could release the Dark God. In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, it is revealed that Ashnard was but a pawn in an even larger roulette than in Path of Radiance, orchestrated by none other than Lehran, who turned out to be Sephiran, the Prime Minister of Begnion, and a major ally in Path of Radiance. He wanted the "Dark God," Yune (who's actually rather nice, if a tad rude) to be released, only because this would also wake up her sister, Ashera, the Goddess of order, who would then cleanse the world of all life.
  • In .hack//G.U., Ovan's plan is this. His plan relies entirely on getting Haseo to fight all of the other Avatars, something which could have been rendered impossible by any number of circumstances (What would've happened if an epitaph user simply decided to stop playing the game?). He even lampshades this near the end; when Yata asks him if everything that's happened was all part of his plan, Ovan responds that all of it was pure chance.
    • Although it's mentioned in side materials that if an Epitaph PC is deleted by the user (ie, they quit the) the Avatar will simply find a new host. Furthermore, some of the plan requires no plotting at all. Haseo ended up fighting Endrance and Kuhn of their own volition, with no manipulation required.
    • It was also not the first plan; quite the opposite. He'd been trying for months to find some other method without any luck and eventually ran out of time, forcing him to take a massive gamble.
  • Players of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft may design plays based on a certain random number event happening, generally as a Desperation Attack (a low probability play that fails means little if you were going to lose anyway). Generally involves prayers said to RNGesus.
  • In Jade Empire, Master Sun Li, the Glorious Strategist, pulls off a twenty year Gambit Roulette to put himself in power by training the main character so that only he knows how to kill him/her, yet keeping him/her loyal, letting him/her kill the emperor after baiting him/her to that point, and then killing the main character and taking the throne. If you replay the game you can see all the points where he was manipulating things. Also lampshaded by the Spirit Monk while talking to the soldier in Tien's Landing when s/he comments that "he couldn't possibly have known that the flyer was going to crash here" (or something to that effect); she'll reply you would have had to go there to pick up her Plot Coupon eventually anyway.
  • The Kingdom Hearts series is known for being rather complicated, but Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance really takes the cake for how Big Bad Master Xehanort apparently planned for seemingly random events. According to Dream Drop Distance, everything in the previous games - which included three Keyblade students visiting a random island, his own Heartless trying to find Kingdom Hearts, and his Nobody creating Organization XIII - has somehow been All According to Plan via secret, heretofore unmentioned powers that overlap Assimilation Plot with Stable Time Loop, all for the sake of recreating the Keyblade War, just to see what would happen. Given that other, more-straightforward methods to accomplish this have been demonstrated in a couple Kingdom Hearts games, one wonders why Xehanort didn't just look for them instead of working so feverishly on taking the harder option besides an apparent Complexity Addiction.
  • In the higher stages of Kirby's Avalanche (and presumably Puyo Puyo in general), a computer will, despite all of your disruption tactics, somehow always manage to pull off an Avalanche (a chain of 9 or greater) if you don't beat them in under two minutes.
  • Legacy of Kain. Possibly justified in that most of the players involved either have access to time travel, or happen to be an omniscient squid god.
    • Subtly lampshaded by Mobius. In Soul Reaver 2, he tells Raziel that he's stupid for thinking he can pull one over on him, as Mobius is only man who has completely unfettered access to time travel and the ability to see through time; everyone else's ability in this regard comes from Mobius (usually intentionally) leaving behind his time-traveling relics in some places and time-viewing relics in others. In Defiance, he tells Kain that he only thinks he understands the complicated nature of what's going on, and it's actually more complicated.
  • Done in Lord of the Rings Online with the Broadacres plotline. One of the Thanes is secretly in league with Saruman and is betraying his own Reeve as well as his own country. One by one, the other servants of his liege, Reeve Frithild, are killed off until he finally secretly poisons Frithild and takes her position. This would be more impressive if it weren't for the fact that all of the deaths of her faithful retainers are happening right next to you in battle by random mooks. Meanwhile, the evil Thane Ordlac and his Dragon Dudsig are *also* next to you helping fight the same mooks. So, he secretly instructed his goblins, orcs, Dunlendings etc. allies to specifically go after designated enemies and to leave he and his men alone while at the same time he was helping kill them? And no, there is nothing that you can do to stop the good guys from being killed. They are all targeted and one-shot by enemies that you can't kill off in time. You can't even come to the conclusion that he might be the secret traitor that you are specifically looking for even though there are about fifty different occasions where he or his men act suspiciously. It finally comes down to an NPC pointing out that he's the evil traitor.
  • Master Albert from the Mega Man ZX series may have broken a record for the longest-running single Gambit Roulette (in video games, at least), in order to reset the world and become its god. He even threw a couple of gambits into the mix. And it all conspired over a couple of centuries. It didn't quite work out, considering he was fighting his great-great-great granddaughter/spare body, with the biometal with the same powers as he, but even then, he doesn't seem to care anyway. Oh, and he said "Just as I planned."
    • ZX actually has TWO Roulette records - Master Thomas planned out his own Gambit Roulette to kill off Albert so he could do his own scheme to reset the world. It may or may not have gone on for as long as Albert's, but that's not the point. This marks the first Gambit Roulette being designed to destroy ANOTHER Gambit Roulette... And the most remarkable thing about it, is that it worked.
    • It may be even more complicated, actually. Dr. Weil, the Big Bad from the Mega Man Zero series, is the one who inhabited Model W, the object of each ZX villain's desire. There is a good chance that he still lives on as Model W, and has in fact manipulated EVERYONE from behind the scenes. ZX Advent seems to culminate in the total destruction of Model W, but then again, who knows?
  • Gambit Roulettes are the entire modus operandi of the Alchemists in Melty Blood, to varying degrees of success. Apparently, all the really experienced alchemists planned so far ahead that they noticed the inevitable end of the world, and set about trying to stop it. However, everything they do just makes it worse (they've developed an impressive collection of doomsday weapons designed to stop all the other doomsday weapons that they themselves have made). It's implied that saving the world would require the realization of the impossible, which is why at least one alchemist (who managed to set up a Gambit Roulette wherein the particles of his soul would not-quite-randomly come back together after being scattered into the The Lifestream and bring him back to life every so often) is seeking the 6th sorcery (sorcery being defined as that which realizes the impossible), which could save the world.
  • Metal Gear:
    • It goes as far back as the very first Metal Gear game (with the help of some retcons). Big Boss' plan relied on the chance that Venom Snake wouldn't turn against him in the span of years after he revealed the truth to him (and he had plenty of reasons to do it). There's also the fact that Big Boss needed Venom to become a terrorist, which was very unlikely by the end of the fifth game (Even with Ocelot's manipulation, Venom always cared more about the safety of his men than the other's ambitious ideas, and was much more of a good guy than Big Boss ever was as he showed with Quiet or even Huey).
    • Metal Gear Solid has Liquid Snake fooling everyone from Snake's team into believing he was Master Miller. This plan involved him predicting Miller was gonna be called for the mission, then killing him quietly on his home before the mission started without anyone noticing or checking his home, and ultimately hoping no one would notice Miller was suspiciously unavailable at certain points where Liquid was busy (Such as while fighting with Snake on the Hind D).
    • Metal Gear Solid 2 can actually be seen as a sort of Deconstruction of this trope. As the main plot pretty much tells you there's no way a Gambit Roulette can be executed so perfectly without some kind of meddling. The ending even reveals that the ONE factor that the bad guy couldn't predict and plan for, was actually planned by the real bad guys in advance and they just didn't tell the staged bad guy about it. At the end, the real bad guys (The Patriots) even reveal their goal was to find out how much they could manipulate events from behind the scenes before the main protagonists (meaning, the people they were trying to manipulate in story, which could have plenty of meanings) start realizing they were part of a staged event. This went so far to the point that even the staged bad guy's (Ocelot) mind control was taken into account on their plans (As explained in Metal Gear Solid 4, the Patriots were trying to push the world into a staged war economy. They knew Liquid was gonna try to become a main player, so the Patriots allowed him to advance on the businness as he made the war economy stronger. It was only when they found out that Liquid wanted to control the S.O.P. system to kill them that they decided Liquid needed to be stopped).
    • Metal Gear Solid 4 is the pinnacle of this insanity, revealing the Liquid Snake "possession" was in fact an elaborate ruse by Revolver Ocelot (through self-hypnosis and nanomachines), who was working on bringing down the Patriots (A series of A.I.s) in order to free Big Boss. The kicker? From shortly after the end of MGS2 until thirty seconds before his death five years later Ocelot's personality was completely dominated by Liquid's, preventing him from being able to alter any part of his plan once it was put into effect.
      • It's beyond that in complexity. Ocelot actually pretends that Liquid's arm took over his personality by self-suggestion in order to trick the Patriots into believing he was a similar threat as Liquid Snake in Metal Gear Solid 1, so the Patriots would pull their own plan to use Snake to defeat Ocelot, which is what he exactly planned for, as they became so focused on defeating Ocelot that they failed to realize that in the course of defeating him Snake would also end up destroying the Patriots.
  • Persona 5: The entire casino heist and everything after was all part of a plan by the Phantom Thieves to throw a Spanner in the Works of The Conspiracy that was hunting them. It involved a convoluted series of events that required Joker to turn Sae Niijima to their side, and fake Joker's death by tricking the traitor into killing a fake Joker in the Metaverse. By doing so, they could expose the traitor in their party, find out who the traitor's boss is, and throw the conspirators off the Thieves' trail for awhile, all at the same time. However, as everyone points out, nobody knew what would happen past Joker's capture, and the entire plan hinged on Joker appealing to Sae's long lost sense of justice. Further, the interrogators drugged Joker, messing him up so much that he didn't even remember that there was a plan until just a few minutes before the end of his talk with Sae. That Joker still managed to pull it off in spite of all that even impresses the villains.
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  • In Rainbow Six Vegas, Gabriel Nowak—one of your allies—turns out to be the mastermind behind an assault on the entirety of Las Vegas by an army of mercenary terrorists, in order to distract the authorities and assault a hidden military complex under a dam suspiciously like Hoover Dam, in order to steal prototype weaponry. How does he convince the good-guys he is on their side? He participates in an operation where he is captured by terrorists. In the first game, after being captured, he is rescued by other members of Rainbow. In the middle of the escape, the team gets into a firefight, then leaves him behind, later revealing that he is the bad-guy when he manages to steal a Rainbow helicopter and is either shot down or just crashes it. In Vegas 2, he apparently was released before his "rescue" in order to masquerade as an NSA agent supporting yet another Rainbow team—two members of which were in the team that rescues him—before going back to the casino where he is "held captive", then goes back pretending to be an NSA Agent in order to fool his former mentor and fellow Rainbow member, Bishop and bump off an underling, one of the terrorist leaders. In addition to being a heist plan who's complexity surpases that of something cooked up by Danny Ocean, it requires absolutely everything to go exactly to plan. And all the while, he is simultaneously at huge risk for getting mistaken as an escaped hostage or an NSA Agent and shot by his own mooks, getting blown up in his own capture or dying in the helicopter crash (you can just shoot it down, but if you don't it seems like he did it intentionally). It's also worth mentioning that he also did the attack on Las Vegas to take two scientists from the WMD project hostage, knowing they would be rescued so they could be sent back to the compound under the dam... to be taken hostage again in the attack on the dam! The odds that he would not get killed trying to do this—never mind getting away with it—are astronomical. But he does... nearly. But hey, it's Vegas, baby!... *sigh* I Need a Freaking Drink after typing that...
  • In Shadow of Destiny the Homunculi arranged all the events in hopes of being free of the bonds of the game put on it leading to multiple endings including Discovering Eikre is actually the Alchemist from centuries ago, discovering the girl in modern times is actually the centuries old daughter and the real daughter was trapped back in time, and other things. However after all play throughs Eikre can use the players own knowledge and choose bonus ending A. Causing a paradox by making the homuncili touch the gem and destroying it thus ending it's Gambit roulette or bonus ending b Giving the alchemist the knowlledge and means to save his dying wife Either ending ends with Eikre fading away and then in modern times a man looking like him getting hit in the back like in the beginning of the game but instead of a knife he turns to see it's a soccer ball and the boy who kicked it turns out to be a descendant of the boy who was trying to kill him but now since none of that happened everyones happy... except the homunculi.
  • Lupin's scheme in Sherlock Holmes Versus Arsène Lupin. And then it turns out that the whole scheme- which took months to set up- was actually a smokescreen to ensure that the whole of London's police force would be in the wrong place while he carried out his ''actual'' theft. This required a plan of its own. And then the game has been playing Gambit with you all along, and if you fall for Lupin's ploy it gives you a really disheartening ending. While you are given a hint to the real target at the beginning of the game, it is tempting to choose the obvious option when the clue to your final destination is "It starts with 'B' and ends with 'ig Ben'." Choosing Big Ben, however, results in a cutscene of Watson, Lestrade and the Prime Minister coming up with precisely nothing, and then you are treated to a screen explaining that, due to your incorrect choice, Watson and Holmes become estranged, Holmes retires because he's crushed by his failure, and Lestrade is demoted to traffic duty.
  • As it turns out, almost everything that happened during StarCraft I and Brood War was just one epic Gambit Roulette by The Overmind. The Overmind was created by the Xel'Naga to control the zerg swarms, but The Fallen One made sure it was made "with consciousness but without free will" and compelled to destroy the protoss. The Overmind (presumably by virtue of being a mountain-sized brain) had a vision of the future telling it that if it didn't do something to change the course of events then all its zerg children would become food for the menacing hybrids, so - it infested Kerrigan, the most powerful psychic it could find, to give her the potential to control the zerg, then engineered its own death so that the zerg would be released from its control and into Kerrigan's, but not before making its prophecy available for Zeratul to reach, letting Zeratul know that they needed to use the artifacts on Kerrigan so that she'd be freed from the same overriding compulsions that had ruled The Overmind, and also letting them know that they must not kill her. This would then rob the hybrids of their ability to control the zerg and use them to destroy all the other factions and bring about the end of the universe. That's a pretty epic gamble right there.
  • Star Fox Adventures has Andross's plan to revive himself. As explained at the end, he learned of the power of the Krazoa spirits on Dinosaur Planet, as well as Krystal's ability to channel their power, then had her trapped a crystal so that as Fox returned the other spirits, their power would be channeled through Krystal to revive him. So he had to manipulate General Scales into pushing Krystal into the Krazoa spirit's breath's path, which trapped her in a crystal that would channel the spirit's energy, and more importantly somehow know both that Krystal would arrive on the planet and that she had the ability to channel energy... although we have no idea how omniscient evil ape ghosts really are.
  • Gizel Godwin in Suikoden V loves this kind of trope, to the point where he often runs two or three plans at once just to see what will stick. His father actually advises him against this method, arguing that intrigue should be done decisively to minimise the risk of an unintended consquence. He is ultimately proven to be right: although one of his schemes during the Sacred Games is successful, the fallout from the failed schemes generates a great deal of ill-will towards the Godwins. This sets the tone for Gizel's haphazard conduct during the war, which slowly turns public opinion against him and allows the Prince to stage a successful coup.
  • In Super Paper Mario for the Nintendo Wii, Dimentio has been orchestrating events all along as part of the Quirky Miniboss Squad so that after the hero's prophesied defeat of the Big Bad Count Bleck, he could take over the power needed to destroy the universe, and channel it through one of the heroes, Luigi, to destroy and recreate the universe.
    • Dimentio does have a prophecy to work off of, though, which lowers the roulette factor from "how could you possibly know that?" to "I can't believe you were right." It's still a gambit, it's just that he has access to pieces of vague future knowledge from a book proven to be reliable.
  • Bian Zoldark from Super Robot Wars: Original Generation tried this. It was subverted by the fact that he was able to do it while still in control of his organization, but once he died as part of his master scheme, his own group fell to factional in-fighting and nearly doomed it.
    • Euzeth Gozzo in the 2nd Original Generation. Sure, he had plenty of backups to his plan, but even he admits that a huge part of why his plan pulled off as well as it did was by a large amount of chance.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, Smilin' Jack runs one of these. To make a long story short, he replaces the Ancient sleeping inside the Anarkhan Sarcophagus with half a ton of C4 in an attempt to assassinate Prince LaCroix. His method of achieving this is... complicated.
    • It wasn't even really an ancient, he planted clues to make everyone think it was. One character even points out how the symbols and various historical hints have non-supernatural explanations, but even he gets spooked in the end. There are also plenty of clues, especially playing as a Malkavian, that he is only acting for the real manipulator: Cain, the father of all vampires.
      • Jack being Jack, it's quite possible he's just stirring up chaos For the Lulz. Even if LaCroix doesn't get blown up in his moment of triumph, he's still got every faction running around in a panic shooting at each other, which he likely finds hilarious.
      • There's no evidence that Caine had any interest other than as an observer; Los Angeles is still just a small corner of the world. Jack's Plan could have been planting the sarcophagus to answer the question whether La Croix is powerhungry enough to commit diablerie, on a Methuselah no less, and solve the problem in one go. If La Croix hadn't attempted to open the coffin, Jack could be content that while the Camarilla in general and La Croix in particular are nuisances to the anarchy status quo, at least their professed enlightened self-interest isn't a dangerous sham.
  • Wilhelm from Xenosaga. It wouldn't be a far stretch to say he had prepared a plan, which involves MANY other plans, that spans several millenia. And involves resetting the universe countless times, not unlike a "Groundhog Day" Loop, so that the whole plan may actually span many tens of thousands of years. And that's probably on the lower end of the scale. However, this actually has a good Justification. Wilhelm possesses something called the Compass of Order and Chaos, which allows him to see the flow of the human conscious. He has also been the head of Vector since humanity left Lost Jerusalem (Earth); the kicker is that, if Vector didn't exist, humanity would've been wiped out. Because humanity needed to rely on Vector's goods to survive, it gave Wilhelm de facto control over humanity. Additionally, being the head of Vector, a former member of politics in the world of Xenosaga, a Cardinal of Ormus by the name of Heinlein and the President of Hyams Heavy Industries, Vector's main rival, Wilhelm has extensive knowledge of what's happening throughout the story. It helps that he's also a chessmaster extraordinaire, probably due to living for several millenia. Given all this, it really isn't a far stretch that his plan worked simply because he had that much control over events.
    • Wilhelm, and the Four Testaments, are based on the figures of the Demiurge and his Archons from Gnosticism. According to the Gnostics, Sophia, a female aspect of the true god that created the universe, an ancient word for wisdom, and analogous to the human soul, is an Aeon, an emanation of this god and, according to some traditions, she attempted to emanate as the true god did and failed, which caused her to fall out of what is known as the Pleroma, the Fullness or Oneness of the true god which is composed of all the aeons. During this exile, she gives birth to the Demiurge, and being ashamed of this, encloses him within a cloud and gives him a throne. The Demiurge who is sometimes called YHVH, also known as Ialdabaoth, is oblivious of Sophia but apparently knows of the true god's existence, and creates the material world, encasing the power he has from Sophia in matter. To ensure that the souls trapped in matter remain so, he resorts to the eternal recurrence which is, as was mentioned before, a universal time reset button. To go back to the Pleroma, one must learn the Gnosis, the secret knowledge, which was spread by Jesus, who is another Aeon. The seven Archons are the servants of Ialdabaoth and can be compared to the angels and demons of other religions, and represent the seven sins which further distances the human from returning to the Pleroma.


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