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Alpha Strike

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"Fire! Fire! Open up with everything we've got!!"

Sometimes you just need to pull out all the stops and kill stuff good. An alpha strike is just the thing to help you accomplish that! An alpha strike refers to a unit attacking a single target with every weapon it has, all at once. When successful, the result is an absolutely devastating bombardment that turns its hapless target into a smoking crater. When unsuccessful, the attacking unit will usually be in for a world of hurt, as an alpha strike usually leaves it out of ammo, overheated, overextended, or otherwise vulnerable to a Counter-Attack from a surviving opponent (which will be even worse if the attacker is a Glass Cannon).

The phrase "alpha strike" originates from The Vietnam War, where it referred to a US aircraft carrier deploying its entire air wing to attack a single target, unleashing massive firepower at the cost of leaving the carrier basically defenseless for the duration of the attack. The term was eventually co-opted by tabletop wargamers, using the definition presented here.

During an alpha strike, expect to see Beam Spam, Macross Missile Massacres, More Dakka, and any other Spam Attack that the attacker has handy, all used simultaneously. Sometimes a type of Attack Pattern Alpha. Often a form of Death or Glory Attack. See also There Is No Kill Like Overkill. Vulnerable to becoming the Worf Barrage if it's shown to be ineffective.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Macross: It's truly a thing to behold in all of its series.
    • In the original Super Dimension Fortress Macross, the titular Humongous Mecha penetrates the enemy's gargantuan space fortress, lets loose with every single missile launcher on its surface (plus all mobile artillery, Destroids, Monsters, and gun emplacements,) activates its Omnidirectional Barrier and waits out the moon-sized explosion that ensues.
      • In The Movie Macross: Do You Remember Love?, the Macross teams up with Zentradi and Meltrandi armadas to assault Boddol Zer's flagship. When the attack starts, the screen basically becomes hundreds of straight lines sprouting from every single ship to impact on the giant fortress, and it doesn't let up until, once again, the Macross flies inside to release Hikaru's Super Valkyrie into its bowels to personally unload his arsenal right in Boddol Zer's face.
    • This is how the Marduk institute their regime change at the end of Macross II.
    • This is pretty common any time an Armoured Valkyrie shows up prior to Macross Frontier. Before the VF-25 equipping an Armour Pack locked a Valkyrie in its humanoid "Battroid" mode and if a pilot needed to purge it to gain access to the faster and more agile "Fighter" or "Gerwalk/Guardian" mode there was no reason not to fire off every missile remaining before doing so, if only to act as a distraction. Less common in the VF-25 because it was the first model that could transform with an Armour Pack attached but still a perfectly viable tactic.
  • In One Piece the Buster Call is a villainous version of this. When a situation is so threatening to the World Government that even the slightest leak would cause irreparable damage, the Buster Call is summoned. Ten massive warships headed by five Vice-Admirals essentially glass the target island, wiping out any trace of whatever threat they were called to deal with, and make no distinction between innocents and their targets. They can't be called off, either.
  • Pandemonium Wizard Village: Upon seeing a Sky Golem corpse, Crain orders the entire brigade to open fire on it, before they realize it's already dead. Not that their bullets were at all effective.
  • Rebuild of Evangelion: In 3.0 + 1.0, Misato orders the Wunder to fire every missile at EVA-13, and then every gun at the gunship defending NERV HQ at the South Pole. Unfortunately, there happens to be more than one NERV ship, leaving them open to attack.
  • In the final OVA episode of Sentou Yousei Yukikaze, Yukikaze sends a request to the entire Faery Air Force to launch all missiles at the enormous JAM dome blocking the escape route to the Passageway, then uses the hole punched open in the dome to fly in and use the laser cannons on the three Flip Knight drones to tear apart the dome from the inside and enable the fleet to escape to Earth.
  • In the climax of the first season's two-part finale of UFO Robo Grendizer — one of the Mazinger Z sequels — the titular Humongous Mecha played chicken with the Mother Burn (the Cool Starship of one of the Co-Dragons), shooting all of its weapons at once as he flew straight towards it. And he won!
  • World Trigger: Shooters in "Full Attack"-Mode attack with both hands which can cause enormous destruction, though it leaves them completely open to counterattacks.
  • Zoids has several examples.

    Fan Works 
  • In Incompatible System, Quarians cornered by Batarians take out their lead ship through Explosive Overclocking of their main cannon severe enough to melt it, followed by all their remaining missiles.
  • Queen of Blood: As Taylor engages Scion's avatar, the other fighters launch an all-out assault on his main body, opening with a gigantic laster blast from the moon in that dimension, then teleporting to the surface to attack him up close.
  • MegaGargomon uses this twice during the Tamers Forever Series, unloading his entire arsenal in an ultimately futile attempt to bring down Daemon.
  • Zinnia employs this tactic in Traveler. During her attack on Ash, she first ambushes him and his entire team with Altaria's Perish Song, forcing him to rotate his Pokèmon during the following fight and giving him a migraine that will knock him out in a few minutes. She then follows this up with a focusednote  Draco Meteor from her Mega Salamance that is strengthend by the Sky Pillar and actually breaks throgh the Protects his team throws up. If it hadn't been for Ash's Spiritomb overcoming it's trauma for the first time to save him, she most likely would have succeeded in killing him.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In The Avengers, the Chitauri eventually resort to this when fighting the Hulk, surrounding him and swamping him with laser fire. It's the first thing in the battle that even slows him down.
  • Godzilla: Each continuity's MechaGodzilla does this to Godzilla at least once in pretty much all of his appearances.
  • In the final battle in Return of the Jedi, Ackbar orders a full assault on the Super Star Destroyer, taking out the most senior staff of the enemy Navy fleet above the forest planet of Endor.
  • Star Trek:
    • In Star Trek: First Contact, all Federation ships attack a specific part of the Borg cube simultaneously on Picard's orders. This is because Picard, who had once been assimilated by the Borg, figures out that it's a critical area by tuning in to the hivemind.
    • Star Trek (2009):Two examples:
      • One when Nero realizes what Spock intends to do (Enterprise appears and intercepts the incoming fire)
        Nero: FIRE EVERYTHING!
      • When Nero's ship is crippled and falling into a black hole, and Nero refuses to surrender.
        Kirk: Arm phasers! Fire everything we got!
  • In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren orders "Every gun [his forces] have to fire on that man". Luke just brushes some dust off his shoulder. Not that he needed to, he wasn't even physically there.
  • In We Were Soldiers, Hal Moore has his combat controller declare "Broken Arrow" which brings every aircraft capable of ground attack to the area to fire on the NVA troops threatening to overrun the American position.

  • Tree of Aeons: The fastest demon king fight to date is against Demon King Tigash, who arrives in the world in Aeon's territory, and promptly encounters a prepared ambush: massive synchronised bombs, artillery, elite empowered soldiers, and a sympathetic hero. It's still a costly battle, but the demon king goes down on its first day, and "bomb it to pieces" becomes the new gold standard for demon king strategy.
    It was beautiful. It resembled Total Annihilation when I let loose multiple long range cannons, or those old videos of battleships going all out. The valley was filled with the sound of all the cannons and artifacts unleashing fury on the demons and the demon king. The 50 or so demon champions were destroyed quickly.
    After the volley, came the traps. The entire ground beneath the demon king glowed. Overcharged mana potatoes embedded in the ground, configured into a literal mana bomb, and the multiple explosive formations around them. Together, they would explode as one single massive bomb. The single explosion for the mana was so large it could be heard 100 miles away, the fortress braced for the shockwave of energy.

    Live-Action Television 
  • In Babylon 5, it takes massed prolonged firepower from Security plus massive amounts of the Station's power to rip open a Vorlon encounter suit. Even that doesn't take out the Vorlon inside.
    • In the movie Thirdspace, all the friendly ships attack the Artifact simultaneously (ignoring attacking foes). They have no chance of damaging the Artifact, but that isn't the plan...
    • The Expanded Universe reveals that EarthForce has done so with nukes twice in the past:
      • When a long-brewing confrontation with the Centauri turned hot, the hopelessly outclassed EarthForce squadron opened the battle by firing every missile they had, causing enough damage to turn the tables and call the attention of the Centauri emperor, who finally found out what the Great Houses were doing to their main (only) ally to cause this confrontation and proceeded to settle things before it turned in a full war.
      • During the Dilgar War, EarthForce concluded their first battle in the war with a well-timed volley of thousands of nukes, turning a moderate Dilgar defeat in one so devastating it permanently crippled their military.
    • Done so in the backstory during the Centauri-Orieni War to soften planets for planetary assaults, by both sides. As the weapons included not just conventional weapons but nukes and mass drivers, dozens of planets suffered a complete ecological collapse as collateral damage (they weren't trying to obliterate the planet's ability to support life, just the enemy troops on in and their anti-orbital defenses).
    • Capital ship alpha strikes are comparatively rare, because ships usually have specific weapons arrayed along different firing arcs, so an alpha strike would waste a lot of firepower. However, ships built around adjustable turrets are shown using them, particularly Earth Alliance Hyperion-class heavy cruisers (the episode A Voice in the Wilderness rather embarrassingly, has such a ship firing all its weapons at once at an alien ship and completely missing) and Centauri Primus-class battlecruisers, one of which uses a massed volley with all its weapons to blow Babylon 5's front cargo stabiliser off.
    • The major exception is the White Star-class attack ship introduced in the third season as the main "hero ship" for the rest of the series. The White Star can fire its main beam weapon and two banks of forward-facing particle cannons simultaneously, and pretty much does so as its preferred method of attack in both the Shadow War and the Earth Alliance Civil War (including a rare example of an alpha strike against ground-based targets on Mars).
    • Babylon 5 itself is able to mount alpha strikes by firing massive volleys from all its defense turrets, particle cannons and autocannons at single targets at range (instead of their more normal close-range and point defense purposes), which are, after the defense grid is upgraded in Season 2, invariably destroyed.
  • Depicted as the default method of inter-ship combat in Battlestar Galactica (2003), where battlestars are shown deploying massive flak batteries to defend their flanks from fighter strikes and simultaneously firing all their railguns and missile barrages in hugely destructive salvos against Cylon basestars. This method of attack is highly effective, but somewhat ruinous on their limited ammunition stocks.
  • The Excalibur in Crusade has a variation. Rather than firing all her weapons at once, she can pour all her power into one weapon. The effect is the same, as afterwards it takes 60 seconds to power back up again.
  • Kamen Rider Fourze twice performs a Finishing Move like this, using the Launcher and Gatling Switches along with his current States' main weapon; when he uses it in the show, he uses Fire States' Hee-Hack Gun; in The Movie he uses Magnet States' N and S Magnet Cannons.
  • Kamen Rider Zolda and his American counterpart Kamen Rider Torque employ the powerful End of World Finishing Move, in which their beast Magnugiga fires all of its armaments at once. (It's a lot of armaments too: it's got missiles. It's got lasers. It's got some more missiles. And machine guns. And yet more missiles. And that is how More Dakka is done!) This however leaves Zolda vulnerable to a counterattack, and seeing as End of World fails to kill another Rider...
    • End of World is Awesome, but Impractical. The time it takes to set it up and the fact that Magnugiga is basically immobile makes it easier to avoid than a lot of significantly less cool attacks. In Ryuki, the closest Zolda got a kill with it is with Jun/Gai, and that's only because Asakura used Jun as a Human Shield before Asakura killed Jun shortly after. In Dragon Knight, though, Torque does manage to take out one other Rider.
  • This is the modus operandi of Ultrazords in Power Rangers (and their Super Sentai equivalents). Usually it's part of a Lensman Arms Race against the Sorting Algorithm of Evil, but sometimes a random late-appearing monster gets caught up in the attack.
    • This is basically all that Ultimate Daizyujin/the Ultrazord exist for, having limited speed and mobility due to their size. That said, the power and range for its final attack is such that it doesn't really need to aim, per se.
    • Kyūkyū Sentai GoGoV / Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue have the Max Victory Robo/Lightspeed Solarzord finisher (referred to as the "Max Nova" in the sentai), where all the cannons on the body (head, chestplate, gauntlets, and two massive hip cannons from the arms of the Liner Boy/Max Solarzord) are fired at once, fueled by both sunlight and/or the Energy Absorption of things fired at it— as Zylpheeza/Diabolico found out, it could technically act as an Attack Reflector, too, which is how he got killed the first time.
    • Shinkenger and Samurai had a Zord combination further than an Ultrazord. Named the Samurai Gigazord, the mech is a combination of all the Zords at the rangers disposal, with the primary combined Megazord standing on a mobile platform formed by one of the other Megazords.
      • The Shogun Mode - using it requires immense energy to power, which is fine inside the Megazord since the rangers are already in Mega Mode, so there is plenty of power available. Jayden uses a disc in the finale to morph directly into Shogun Mode from the base ranger form, in order to battle Xandred. Furthermore, in order to beat him fully in the final fight, the rangers decide to concentrate all their symbol power into one singular attack. The catch is that they need to get in close enough so that they can't miss; this results in their Gigazord getting wailed on by Xandred until only the base Megazord is left standing, upon which they land the final blow.
    • Tensou Sentai Goseiger and its American counterpart Power Rangers Megaforce have a finisher where the mech's most powerful form fires off all of its Headders/Zords at once. Gosei Ultimate (Megazord) can also fire off all five of its Headders/Zords for a similar attack.
    • Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger has this with the Gokai Kanzen Super Burst, where Kanzen GokaiOh and all the Legend Mecha blast the opponent at full power all at once. In Super Megaforce, this is called the Ultimate Legendary Zord Blitz Attack.
    • Used against the Rangers for once during the Legend War in Super Megaforce. The Big Bad calls every ship in his armada to Earth and orders them to glass the planet. Then it's reversed when all of the previous teams join together in a counter attack, ending with them using their powers all at once to clear out the last of the armada ships once the ground troops are destroyed.
    • Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger and Power Rangers Dino Charge have Gigant Kyoryuzin/the Ultrazord fire all of the Zyuden from its cannon component while all of the other mecha not in the current combined form gather and attack. It also has an attack where it fires out a 23 converging beams from its chest plate, using all the power it has available at once.
  • In the Star Trek franchise, the various starships usually forego an all-out attack with all weapons, often only firing a single phaser or photon torpedo barrage, leading to speculation that energy requirements or Starfleet ethics prevent such full-on displays of power. However, in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Best of Both Worlds, the Enterprise-D unloads a full-scale alpha strike by firing all of its forward-firing phasers and its torpedoes in one massive salvo at the Borg who, predictably, are left totally undamaged.
    • Frequently played straight in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, where the USS Defiant doesn't seem to have a "partial fire" setting and unloading its full ordinance in one massive salvo is the default setting. For quite a long time an alpha strike from the Defiant is shown to be the only Federation method of attack capable of destroying Dominion warships, until the rest of the fleet catches up on weapons development in later seasons. One exception is when the Defiant engages fellow Starfleet vessel the USS Lakota (part of a coup attempt against the Federation) and the crew manage to restrain the weapons to avoid killing fellow Starfleet officers. Even with the safeties on, they still almost tear the ship apart and kill two dozen crewmembers.
    • After its weapons are upgraded in Season 4, the Deep Space Nine station itself is capable of projecting quite staggering volumes of fire. In both the Klingon and Dominion assaults on the station, the station destroys several dozen enemy ships apiece.
    • There is a strong argument for the ethics side as usually the captains of the ships/stations in question have standing orders to promote Federation values of peace. The Dominion War in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was a proper war so the objective changed to "destroy the enemy". Thus comes the Defiant class, an actual warship and upgrades to the station that can take out attack forces. The Borg is the only opponent outside of a declaration of war where "destroy it" is the standing order so the Alpha Strike is the default response.

  • Destroy the Godmodder: This has happened many times, with varied amounts of success. If it is aimed at the Godmodder, it almost never works. If it is aimed at other entities, however, they can die in a matter of days. Oftentimes the targets of such a strike are very dangerous and powerful in their own right, even to the point of causing an Enemy Mine situation between the various factions.
    • Some spinoff games such as Destroy the Simumodder and Destroy the Godmodder: Renewal did add the ability for Anti-Godmodder entities to successfully deal damage to the Godmodder through an Alpha Strike if the AGs held a complete entity advantage on the Battlefield and were able to prevent any entities from being killed by the Godmodder while the Alpha strike was being charged.
    • Charged attacks (as opposed to entity summons) often take the form of this.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: The originator of the term as it is used here. Firing every weapon a 'mech has equipped has the potential to do ridiculous damage, but also generates enormous amounts of heat, requiring a cooldown period at the very least and at worst destroying the 'mech entirely — either by cooking off its ammo or just exceeding its heat limit by such a wide margin that it spontaneously explodes. Hence this tactic is generally treated as a desperation or last-resort attack among many pilots.
    • Also seen in the (defunct) trading card game, where "Alpha Strike" was specifically an ability of certain units — mostly 'Mechs, but also some vehicles after those were added as their own unit type. Using it let that unit do more damage in a given fight at the cost of becoming temporarily depleted and having to sit out the next turn.
    • Some 'Mechs, though, are designed with this in mind. An Alpha Strike from a 'Mech like this falls just short of shutting it down — the required technique is to Hit and Run, safely cooling off out of line of sight before coming back for another go. Performed correctly, especially in packs, it can cripple a more conventional 'Mech design. The Clan Nova OmniMech is 'Mech expertly designed for this in its Prime configuration. It mounts twelve ER Medium Lasers, which can deal an insane amount of damage at pretty respectable range if they all hit. Firing all of them also pops the 'Mech's heat one point shy of "Automatic Shutdown," giving it (in theory) the ability to pop out on one turn and Alpha Strike, then retreat the following turn to cool off. Of course, other heat effects include reduction in movement, so this might not work so well in practice.
    • A few other 'Mechs are specifically designed to be able to Alpha Strike without overheating. Known as "alpha-babies" or "refrigerators" among the fans, these designs benefit from being able to maintain constant, consistent damage output, at the cost of being generally under-gunned (or having to make some other tradeoff) in comparison to other contemporary designs and lacking the ability to perform a Death or Glory Attack when a high-priority target needs to die right now.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Some editions have Rocket-Tag Gameplay at high levels, leading to highly-optimized builds that revolve around alpha strikes. High level caster fights can see both parties exhaust their entire ninth level spell complement within the first round in order to make sure they get to act first in combat and then hit their target with their most powerful spells.
    • As their entry explains, time dragons "have better things to do than engage in the potential dangers of combat". When faced with a threat, they blast foes with all of their most powerful spells and abilities right off the bat, usually abusing time stop to set up multiple effects at once. If that doesn't work, they just use their innate ability to time travel to flee the confrontation.
  • Very widespread and devastating in HeroClix, especially if playing characters like The Flash who have no damage reduction. With right positioning and good rolls, it is possible to inflict up to 10 clicks worth of damage in one attack in a game where an average character would have only 6 - 7 clicks of life, without even taking into consideration Critical Hit bonus damage or perplex damage boosts. Usually, characters who can do this are one-man armies, who can be taken down if they screw up on positioning by missing on their opening Alpha Strike. Notably, some characters are designed for Alpha Strikes, like the Trinity Wars main set Crime Syndicate of America Johnny Quick, who has a special ability that boosts his attack and damage values in exchange for taking damage equal to the amount of boosting he had. It can give him enough of a boost to render an enemy figure pointless in the opening moves, but should he miss, he would be in a lot of trouble from the damage, the most likely screwed-up positioning, and the possibility of retaliation.
    • Some characters have powerful damage reducers or "stop clicks" (powers that stops the dial from turning when revealed) to avoid Alpha Strikes; and with the release of the Trinity Wars set this year came Blue Devil, who Alpha Strikes characters with stop clicks (Blue Devil's trait makes it that if a stop click is revealed from his damage, that character takes further damage, essentially making the stop click a disadvantage).
  • Star Fleet Battles: Knowing when to use an alpha strike can win you the game. Notable as one of the games where "Alpha Strike" is not just fandom jargon; it's a specifically defined action in the rules text and an in-universe name for the tactic.
  • Alpha Strike is in fact also a term in Magic: The Gathering for attacking with every one of your creatures in one combat, which is usually a risky Death or Glory Attack to end the game after long stalling (if you fail to win, your creatures cannot defend you from the opponent's similar alpha strike next turn) or a way to force the opponent to trade (or lose) his creatures disadvantageously. An alpha strike usually turns into a pileup of tricks and countermeasures, exhausting most of the good cards the players had in hand.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • One tactic used by the Dark Eldar in boils down to this. Basically, the trick is to bring Razorwing fighters loaded with missiles, then fire them all on the first turn in a hellish barrage of death that glasses half the enemy army during the first turn. Horde armies are really not fond of it.
    • The rulebook explicitly states this is how soldiers in a squad fire their weapons (all squads, in all armies). If the squad's rocket launcher blows up an enemy troop transport, they can't then fire their machine guns at the no-longer-occupants-but-pedestrians; the machine guns count as having been fired at the transport.
    • A tactic that is less effective but more rage-inducing (which is its own reward) is for Imperial armies to give every vehicle they have "Hunter-Killer Missiles", a fairly cheap upgrade that allows them to fire a single use, unlimited range anti-armor missile per battle. The player then fires all of them at the opposing player's most expensive model, hopefully gaining a cheap kill point and irritating the enemy through such a "cheap" tactic (HKMs are one of those things everyone forgets about...).
    • The above strategy can also be replicated by the T'au with their Seeker Missiles, up to two of which can be added to each vehicle, and/or they can take Skyray gunships which come pre-loaded with six of them each. Unlike the Imperial Guard's Hunter-Killer missiles, the Seeker Missiles require a Markerlight-equipped Target Spotter, but Pathfinder teams come equipped with several of them by default and can perform a forward-deployment. A single Pathfinder squad lighting up a very expensive target on the first turn and annihilating it with a large salvo of Seeker Missiles is a strategy legitimized in lore as form of the "Mont'ka", or "Killing Blow", destroying a linchpin of the enemy's strategy early in a battle to cripple them.
    • One tactic that originated in Tyranid armies was explicitly designed to exploit this. It was called "Distraction Carnifex". The idea was to take a scary-but-relatively-cheap model (such as the Carnifex) and rush the enemy lines with it. Your enemy hopefully concentrates fire on the Distraction, leaving your other units free to annihilate their units who just used all their ammo.
    • A similar tactic used during 5th edition was a small squad of Melta-armed troops that could either deepstrike or outflank. These included Melta Vets for Space Marines, and Termicide for Chaos Space Marines (who could outfit their terminators with Meltas and field them in smaller squads). The idea was that this unit would be held off from the board during the initial deployment and then drop down anywhere on the board next to a problematic unit. This negated the Melta's short range and each model in the unit is outfitted with a melta gun and just the bare minimum to keep their points low, allowing them to mass-fire melta shots into something that must die this moment. This unit is always expected to die immediately after accomplishing this, as they would basically have no defensive capabilties whatsoever (moreso for the Termicide Terminators, as their guns are one-shot per game), but if the enemy didn't remove them they would continue to pose a serious threat behind their lines. This made them also function as a Distraction Carnifex for a single turn.
    • In 8th edition this became a problem on the tournament scene, with lists that wiped out half or all of the enemy list in the first turn of shooting making the whole game turn on who wins the roll to go first. This is generally attributed to tournament tables almost never including terrain that blocks line of sight and largely went away when the organizers fixed that.

    Video Games 
  • In the climax of Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, the combined Osean and Erusean air and sea force launches a massive alpha strike against the remaining Arsenal Bird plane. Unfortunately, the attack fails due to it activating its Active Protection System.
  • In Atlas Reactor, the firepower freelancer Zuki is capable of this strategy. Two of her attacks are time-delayed and detonate the round after they're fired, and can be fired in the same round. Zuki is therefore capable of launching her two delayed attacks in one round, and then on the next following the ensuing detonations up with another attack (like her ultimate), allowing her the single greatest burst damage ability in the game. A target that dashes away in time however will cause Zuki to burn two cooldown abilities (and potentially her ultimate) for essentially bupkis in return.
  • A somewhat smaller scale of this trope is Salvador the Gunzerker of Borderlands 2 whose unique skill lets him dual-wield any gun in his inventory. Anytime he empties the magazine of his gun, he swaps the gun out for another in his inventory.
  • In Caller's Bane, this is the main way for Growth to break a stalemate. Build up a large army, then play this. Either you win or all of your creatures are now on cooldown and you have no attack for the next several turns. Energy has its own version, but for artillery only.
  • In Chroma Squad, this is referred to as a "Finishing Move": this entails having your entire Sentai team gang up on one enemy, typically the boss monster, by surrounding it with all of your actors, setting four to "Teamwork" mode, then attacking with the last actor to initiate the team attack. As the name of this maneuver suggests, this is best used when such an attack will cause the monster's HP to reach 0: if the monster survives the attack, you'll incur a hefty penalty to your audience count.
  • The term Alpha Strike is frequently used in City of Heroes to refer to the initial barrage of attacks any given mob is capable of using. This is because, with the exception of gimmick abilities tied to health or a timer, an AI opponent can and will throw everything it is capable of throwing at you at the beginning of the fight. "Taking the Alpha Strike" is a common enough term in the game that one defense set has "difficulty taking Alpha Strikes" as its only weakness, and an issue and task force were named after the trope. Naturally, players also can perform alpha strikes.
  • Dawn of War: In Dark Crusade's campaign, non-stronghold levels are won by destroying the enemy's HQ building, leading to this type of strategy. You can start with honor guard units, who are slightly weaker than the regular counterparts but can still carry out this type of attack. The flipside is that the AI also carries out this strategy when attacking a territory, and they have full-strength regular units instead.
  • Defense of the Ancients has a few 'nuker' type heroes with damage-dealing spells dominating their repertoire. Unloading them in rapid succession to an unsuspecting enemy can be devastating, at the cost of not being able to use it for the cooldown time.
    • On a strategic level, using multiple ultimates on a single key enemy hero, giving them no chance to counter or survive. This leaves the team without their all-important ultimates for up to 2 seconds, but also leaves the enemy team without the carry they spent the entire game growing into an unstoppable juggernaut. If the enemy team has no backup plan and the carry cannot buyback, the match is over. This sort of team is known as a pickoff comp(osition).
  • Dynasty Warriors: Gundam brings almost every Gundam example in existence, as well as a few that don't typically show up in their native source:
    • The Palace Athene's SP attack is best described as "fire all beams and missiles" and will completely unload the suit's missile pods. The launchers visibly regenerate the spent missiles afterwards.
    • The Buster Gundam has an aerial SP attack that is so hilariously excessive in sheer output of dual shoulder launched missiles as well as hand carried guns that it can lag a PS3 straight into single-digit framerates when used. Its partner, the Duel Gundam, is not that much better with its Assault Shroud letting it fire the Shoulder Cannon and missile launcher as well as the beam rifle all at the same time. The Calamity Gundam gives in to the violent urges of its pilot and lurches blindly back and forth firing all its weapons as its SP attack. Freedom and Strike Freedom appear and are Beam Spam death machines. Infinite Justice becomes one too when it triggers its METEOR Super Mode's SP attack. All three suits are shown firing everything they have, both in and out of cutscenes.
    • The Heavyarms Custom returns with its Full Open attack—notable for actually showing the Heavyarms run out of ammo every single time it's used, not necessarily just when Trowa does it.
    • Finally, a number of Mobile Armors will fire everything in their arsenal as either an SP attack or, more often, as Secret A.I. Moves. Destroy Gundam will fire off all its beam weapons as well as the missile launchers on its back, while Big Zam spews a 360-degree ring of beams around itself, then fires its main cannon. Psyco Gundam and Psyco Gundam Mk II will occasionally stand still, seemingly doing nothing and inviting free cheap shots, at which point they fire every single beam weapon they have and turn the space in front of them into a wall of pain.
  • Most enemies in Earthbound 1994 will use random actions during battles, however the Ghost of Starman always opens up with PSI Starstorm alpha. This attack will likely put three of your four party members down for the count unless properly healed, making dealing with them your top priority and a reason they're considered one of the scariest enemies in the game.
  • EVE Online: Fleet commanders that have command of at least one sniping battleship squadron will often tell the pilots of these vessels to move to the optimal range of their guns — away from the rest of the fleet. The tactic being that any hostile vessel that comes near the fleet gets utterly erased from existence from the powerful first strike capability of the combined long-range heavy cannons. The reload time of said heavy cannons make them a liability in close combat, so moving the snipers out gives them another line of defense, being able to see if anyone is coming for them and running for it. The Fleet Commander will usually call "Target name - Alpha this target". The target usually dies instantly.
    • Alpha strike is used by Eve players to refer to any situation where the intent is to destroy the enemy ship in a single volley, be it an entire fleet focusing their fire on a single target or a single gatecamping ship attempting to destroy a ship before it has a chance to warp off. Artillery weapons are generally regarded the king of alpha strike, as they deal the most damage per hit. Large fleets tend to prefer weapons with a higher rate of fire such as railguns, though, as the extra damage from artilleries is likely overkill and faster firing weapons have higher damage per second.
  • In Freespace, the Shivans tend to mount nearly all of their guns facing forward, compared with the wider coverage of Terran/Vasudan vessels. While this doesn't give them much staying power when flanked, it makes facing a Shivan vessel in its forward arc borderline suicide. The Shivans combine this trope with Hyperspeed Ambush with devastating efficiency.
    • In the fan-made Blue Planet expansions, a lot of the new GTVA ships (GTCv Chimera and Bellerophon, GTD Titan) are built for the same tactic, with multiple heavy beam guns in the front. The implication is that the GTVA (the Terran side of it, anyways) is growing as violent and destructive as the Shivans.
  • FTL: Faster Than Light gives you an achievement for doing this with the Weapon Pre-Igniter, an upgrade made specifically to allow you to arm and fire all powered weapons when a battle starts. Annihilating an enemy in a single salvo before they can even charge their weapons usually requires you to fire everything you have. You can simply wait for all your weapons to charge and then fire them in concert, which is a recommended tactic in battles anyway since you must usually get through Deflector Shields first in order to damage enemy ships directly, and groups of weapons stand a better chance of wearing down enemy defenses.
  • In Galactic Civilizations II's expansions, Dark Avatar and Twilight of the Arnor, the Arceans specialize in alpha-striking with their Super Warrior ability. Normally, in ship-to-ship or fleet combat, both sides' fleets attack simultaneously in a series of combat rounds, with ships getting eliminated on both sides until one side is completely destroyed. The Arceans' Super Ability, however, gives them a first strike upon initiating combat, allowing them to eliminate some or all of the enemy fleet before they get a chance to return fire, and as such their ships are generally designed for all-out offense with no defenses. If they fail to destroy or cripple the enemy in the first round, or the enemy gets the drop on them, it's generally bad news.
  • Defeating the various Golden Sun Optional Bosses like Deadbeard or Dullahan pretty much requires the player to set every single djinn on standby before the battle starts, then alpha-strike the boss with as many of the most powerful summons as possible, and then some. Anything less is virtually guaranteed to set up the protagonists on the receiving end of a massive Curb-Stomp Battle, including any attempts to fight these bosses conventionally. Inverted, however, for the actual final bosses - try alpha-striking them and you're in for a world of hurt due to their multi-phase battle choreographies.
  • In Iji, the "Alpha Strike" is a special-purpose weapon installed on certain warships that automatically synchronize with each other, allowing thousands of ships to Strike a planet's surfaces simultaneously. Even a low-power Strike (like the one in the intro cutscene) ranks as a biosphere-destroying disaster, and a more thorough one can go up to a total planetary extinction.
  • League of Legends has what appears to be a slight parody of the term, in Master Yi's ability "Alpha Strike", which launches him forward like a ghost at a target, dealing impressive damage to multiple targets as he ricochets between them at the risk of potentially landing you in the middle of five irate enemy team members and getting you slaughtered.
    • There is, however, a build for him (effectiveness debatable) that focuses on building AP and amping up the ability's damage to ridiculous levels, effectively playing this straight. To a lesser extent, all the "Burst Casters" are meant to do this; champions like Malzahar are most effective when they use all of their abilities at once to utterly destroy a single target.
    • The AP Yi build is now eliminated from the game because it had very little counterplay due to the cooldown reset on kill. You could wait for one enemy player out of five to be at half health, then roll in and use Alpha Strike to kill that player and damage everyone else, then Alpha Strike again and PENTAKILL.
  • Mass Effect: During the final battle, Shepard and his/her friends have killed Saren, leaving Sovereign vulnerable to attack. The combined Alliance and Citadel fleets concentrate their attacks on Sovereign while Joker uses the Normandy's weapon to deliver the final blow.
  • In Mass Effect 3, Shepard unleashes one of these against the Reaper on the Quarian homeworld of Rannoch. When it survives the initial attempt at a Precision Strike care of the Normandy, Shepard has EDI sync with the entire Quarian fleet to pummel it further.
    • Alpha striking within gameplay is especially effective in Mass Effect 3 because certain powers can prime a target for a powerful detonation while a followup power will actually set it off. So you could have one squadmate use Overload to fry an enemy's shields or stun them, then hit them with Warp, and finally detonate with Throw.
  • MechWarrior, being a Spin-Off of BattleTech (mentioned in the Tabletop Games section), makes use of alpha strikes. All weaponry installed on the mech fires, regardless of grouping. Mechs loaded with high heat weapons usually find themselves glowing like the sun, or just outright exploding. Heck, the most recent edition of the series, MechWarrior: Online, has a button that does exactly this, labeled Alpha Strike.
    • An Alpha Strike button also existed in MechWarrior 3 by hitting the numpad enter key. Doing this in a stock Supernovanote  caused it to instantly explode in a miniature mushroom cloud.
    • MechWarrior Tactics has an Alpha Strike button which can be used to fire off the entire array of a selected 'Mech's weapons during the attack phase. This can have the same consequences as in Online, but in a graduating increase of doom percentage.
    • And true to form, the BattleTech game by Harebrained Schemes features this, with a few builds actually relying on it as a strategynote .
    • Mech Assault 2 also has a move called "Alpha Strike" available for the most heaviest assault-type mechs once all upgrades are acquired for each of its three weapons that automatically gift it with said namesake attack that absolutely ENSURES it either destroys a mech easily with its long, charged attack or has heavy/assault mechs in near-death status if they get hit by it. The tradeoff is that it significantly overheats the mech's heatsink systems for a short period as well as deplete all weapon upgrades from each of its three weapons.
  • Metal Wolf Chaos has this as a chargeable Limit Break, where Michael fires all his carried weapons wildly and at once while screaming "HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW?!". As a Limit Break, it has no downsides.
  • MS Saga: A New Dawn: Several boost attacks qualify. There's Gatling Body, which requires at least three fixed (ie, not hand-held) weapons, and fires them all at once. Gatling Fire is an upgraded version, which requires at least four weapons, but includes hand-held weapons in the barrage. Ultimate Weapon is an upgrade of that, which fires every weapon you have equipped (like Gatling Fire), but follows up with a melee attack for good measure.
  • The Persona 3 and Persona 4 games allow players to use the "All-Out Attack", which has all active allies attacking simultaneously, resulting in a Big Ball of Violence and a whole lot of damage to the entire enemy group. It's only available when all enemies have been knocked down (by dodging one of their melee attacks, hitting them with a critical melee hit, or using an elemental weakness against them), and it uses takes up everyone's action for that turn, meaning that you can't use any defensive actions like healing or buffing, which can be deadly if the enemy survives.
    • The All-Out Attack returns in Persona 5, though there's some variations to it as well: leveling up the Tower social link gives access to a special action where Joker fires all the ammunition currently loaded in his gun to force a knock-down on the enemy (useful when the enemy has no weaknesses to exploit), and an opening attack where every member of the active team unloads their guns into the enemies with wild abandon, inflicting up to 25% of the enemies' maximum HP before the battle even starts, and without costing any ammunition.
  • Quantum Protocol: Queen's Ability card, Checkmate, activates the manual effect of all of her cards and doubles their damage. If these cards are positioned correctly, they can do a lot of damage in one turn to a single target.
  • REFLEC BEAT has an attack called the Just Reflec, which uses one segment of your three-segment Just Reflec gauge to bounce back a gold note like usual, but at a wider angle and a higher speed, along with an extra 10-point penalty if the opponent misses. Load all three of these segments at once and then Just Reflec a cluster of gold notes, and you can potentially overwhelm your opponent. Reflec Beat colette grants you five gauge segments instead of three, allowing you to pull off bigger attacks.
  • Sonic Unleashed has one as well when fighting the Egg Cauldron.
    Dr. Eggman: "GO! FIRE ALL WEAPONS!"
  • Star Trek Online has a few:
    • "Beam Array: Overload" is a bridge officer ability that causes your next attack with a beam weapon to be a one massive, critical-damage shot (Rather than a few pulses,) and then lets you fire a normal attack from the same weapon immediately afterwords. (Without a gap between shots)
    • "Beam Array: Fire At Will" fires all of your beam-type weapons on targets within your range, while boosting their firing rate. Cruisers, who typically broadside with beam arrays (the firing arc of forward and rear arrays overlaps), can fire all 8 of their beam arrays if equipped, but this drains so much power (which modifies damage output) that they typically employ only 6 or 7.
    • "Cannon Scatter Volley" is the same, except for cannon weapons. Since most cannons are forward-mount only (except turrets, which can fire 360 degrees), this results in a barrage of cannon fire at anything the ship is facing. Like Fire At Will, the ability requires recharging, and can drain serious weapon power.
    • "Cannon Rapid Fire" boosts the fire rate of cannon-type weapons on a single target. It's more designed for alpha-striking than rapid fire, which targets anything around the target.
    • "Torpedo High Yield" modifies your next attack with a torpedo so it is a couple torpedoes going right at your target. (This is done so you're more likely to get a hit on unshielded hull) A few types (gravametric, plasma) will launch one giant torpedo, which, while it is destructible and might damage your own ship, can do absurd amounts of damage to enemies if the shields are close to down.
    • Engineering captains, while on the ground, have an ability called "Orbital Strike": after informing your ship of the target's location, a powerful beam strikes the target's location and anything near it. Requires a lengthy amount of time to recharge, and the enemy can get out of the strike radius (but it will still fire and damage anyone who didn't).
    • This is often a favored tactic in PvP, as one can activate several of these abilities before decloaking for massive damage. Glass Cannon builds tend to either score a kill within the first few seconds of a fight, or die immediately from a massive retaliation in kind (usually from ANOTHER player waiting in cloak).
  • The Star Trek: Starfleet Command games, like the Star Fleet Battles tabletop game they're based on, have this. The currently-selected target is bombarded with all the weapons currently charged/loaded and facing it. Especially deadly when your ship has an Invisibility Cloak, allowing you to sneak up on an enemy, decloak, and deliver the alpha strike.
  • Quite a few Real Robot units in Super Robot Wars have this, such the Astelion, the Valhawk, and most notably the Alt Eisen's "Trump Card". It's always their strongest move and has few ammo uses. Even when the other attacks still have plenty of ammo, or even run on Energy. Don't ask.
    • The Trump Card is likely a Fountain of Expies as various other units in later entries get them, even those who don't canonically have such a tactic (Zeta Gundam, Destiny Gundam). It's pretty much a go-to Limit Break for any mecha that doesn't have a suitably large/flashy Finishing Move or Wave-Motion Gun(and occasionally, even the ones that do.)
    • One prominent example is the Nu Gundam, where the strongest attack will be based on the climatic confrontation with Char's Sazabi in the film. Generally Amuro will start out with firing on the target with his beam rifle while simultaneously launching the Fin Funnels, which then pummel the target as Amuro flies in and delivers a series of punches culminating in a slash of the beam saber. Some games have him fire the Nu Gundam's head vulcans as part of the maneuver.
  • Mega Man's Final Smash works like this in his Super Smash Bros. appearance. He summons four other incarnations of himself, and the five fire their weapons together at their target. His appearance in Ultimate also adds Proto Man and Bass to the attack.
    • Also in Ultimate, Fox, Falco, and Wolf all have Final Smashes where they jump into an Arwing or Wolfen and, in formation with their respective teams, open fire on their opponent.
  • On the Sword of the Stars forums, "Alpha strike" generally refers to the beginning phase of combat, as ships approach each other and fire off their first salvos of weapons (weapons start ready to fire, so as ships approach each other they can fire most weapons immediately, while cooldowns stagger attacks later in the battle). "Alpha Strike" weapons and designs can deal a lot of damage in this phase, hopefully killing a large number of enemy ships before they can respond effectively, but are not as effective at other times during combat, or fighting in a different style of battle.
  • Theatre Europe, a World War III strategy game for 8-bit computers, quite often ended in an alpha strike from both sides, leaving no survivors and victory rating of 0%. This was a pretty deliberate message on the part of the developers.
  • Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon has a command that orders all ships in the fleet to focus fire on the same target.
  • From Undertale, the Final Boss of the No Mercy route does not mess around. His first attack is his most powerful, a brutal gauntlet of Gravity Screw, Spikes of Doom, and Beam Spam using Wave Motion Guns that can and most likely will waste you within seconds. To top it all off, he's also the only enemy in the game that gets the first turn, thus making it even more of an Alpha Strike.
  • Vector Thrust players can activate their own Alpha Strikes, which vary depending on the special weapons they have equipped on their aircraft. Guided missiles will lock and fire simultaneously at a single target, while unguided munitions like bombs and rockets ripple-fire within two or three seconds, regardless of their original volley timers. While capable of dealing incredibly high damage against singular targets, especially if you've got weapons ready to go on your hardpoints, but it comes at a cost of a doubled reload timer for all weapons, forcing you to fall back on guns while your weapons reload. And of course, VT's fiendish AI will not hesitate to use it on you.
  • Warcraft III: The "hero nuke" tactic involves acquiring three heroes with powerful single-target attack abilities, and having all three attack a single target in quick succession. This is usually used to take an enemy hero from "slightly damaged" to "dead" without any time in-between to heal, escape, or activate any countermeasure.
  • In Warhammer 40,000: Gladius, unloading all your weapons into a single opponent is the default of almost every unit in the game. It's the exceptions that are rare, these include the Doomsday Ark which can split attacks between its Doomsday cannon and gauss batteries and the Baneblade can divide its laser cannons and demolisher cannon with everything else. Later updates remove these specific exceptions, so that everyone had to attack with everything they had.
  • In PvE raids in World of Warcraft the callout "lust" (for Horde) or "hero" (for Alliance) tells the party to do this. The callouts are named for the Shaman abilities Bloodlust and Heroism, which greatly increase attack speed and casting speed. The callout tells the party shaman to use the named ability, but also tells the rest of the raid to use all their long cooldown damage buffs and activate all their damage-boosting trinkets. Back when mana mattered, it also meant players needed to change the abilities they were using from the ones that conserve mana to the ones that disregard mana and deal maximum damage. This was done to power through high-damage phases that would quickly drain the healers' mana, or to quickly clear mooks that had difficult abilities to deal with.
  • In World of Warships players in control of Cruisers, Destroyers, and Battleships have multiple gun turrets or torpedo mounts and can decide to fire them one at a time, or all at once. Firing every gun that bears on the target at once can absolutely devastate the enemy, but if your aim is off you can miss entirely, and then have to wait for the reload before trying your luck again. For larger cruisers and battleships, or torpedoes on destroyers, the reload can be anywhere from 20 seconds to 1 minute 40 seconds so that makes this a "high-risk, high reward" tactic. Players with Aircraft Carriers can also attempt the original version of the trope, launching their entire air wing against a single opponent, with the corresponding risk while undefended.
  • Most M7 frigates with spinal gun mounts in X3: Terran Conflict and X3: Albion Prelude are capable of this trope, provided the player arms them with Incendiary Bomb Launchers, which can be charged up to fire by holding down the trigger instead of tapping it. The Teladi Shrike and Split Tiger are popular for this, but the Boron Thresher does them one better by mounting ten Photon Pulse Cannons instead. This is a chargeable gun normally mounted on full-size destroyers. Only problem is, a Thresher so rigged is a Glass Cannon: you can get off maybe two or three fully charged barrages before your weapons energy is depleted and you have to recharge, and the Thresher's shields are below average.
  • X-COM
    • In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, powerful mechanized enemies like Mechtoids and Sectopods are often accompanied by one or two support units such as repair drones to heal them or Sectoids which can protect them with a psionic shield. Typically, the best strategy is to kill these support units so they can't blunt the XCOM squad's attacks on the Mechtoid, but in some cases the player may want to capture the support unitse.g. , which is dangerous while the big unit is still there to protect them. In these cases, it's important to use a concentrated burst of fire to kill the big guy in one turn, before it can be healed or shielded.
    • Two examples in XCOM 2:
      • ADVENT Officers have a "mark target" skill. It puts a Defense penalty on the target that makes it easier to hit much like Holo-Targeting, and prompts every single ADVENT unit within sight to focus on it.
      • Indirectly referenced by the Beta Strike game mutator, which doubles the health of all units — yours, friendly and enemy — without touching firepower. In the vanilla game, most units can be killed in a single turn by an alpha strike (focus-firing the crap out of them); this becomes inviable in Beta Strike, where more dangerous units are much too tanky to kill in one turn, so unless you use a crowd control ability to neutralize their threat potential, they will get to act at least once.

    Web Original 
  • Dream has this in the 3 Hunters Grand Finale video. After the three hunters fortify the end, Dream drops no less than 12 TNT blocks through the portal, the first ones set to explode moments after being teleported. The attack causes a Total Party Kill.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The phrase "alpha strike" comes from an American tactic during the Vietnam War. An aircraft carrier would send its entire complement of planes out at once, allowing them to attack with maximum possible firepower, but leaving the carrier itself virtually defenseless until they returned.
    • The term used by infantry is FPF, for Final Protective Fire: as the name implies, it is used when a unit is about to be overrun, and involves firing everything at everythingnote .
  • The (in)famous A-10 Thunderbolt II ground attack plane combines this trope with More Dakka, thanks to its ferocious and gigantic GAU-8 Avenger gun. While the plane is most famous for the damage its gun can inflict, it can add missiles to the mix to take down less-flimsy targets or to hit multiple attackers at once.
  • The technique was developed by the British in World War II, under artillery-minded general Bernard Law Montgomery. He instituted what he termed "the pepperpot barrage", so named because everything larger than small-arms and capable of firing was vectored at the same target. For maximum shock value, each type of weapon was given a specific calculated time to commence firing so that everything from heavy machine guns to super-heavy artillery would have its rounds arrive at exactly the same time without warning note . The British crossing of the Rhine in March 1945 was preceded by a "pepperpot barrage" involving up to 20,000 separate weapons note  which lasted for at least six hours, bringing down "shock and awe" on the German defenders a long time before the phrase was coined.
  • At first, you'd think it's a little excessive, but a sniper nest is considered a very justifiable target for one. Consider the damage done by Simo Häyhä during the Winter War; he'd racked up so many kills that the Red Army called in artillery strikes on places they thought he was hiding in (he survived them all, by the way). Since no commander wants to waste time engaging in a lengthy Sniper Duel (especially if they're pinned down), they'll usually call in an artillery strike or a bombing run to make the problem go away.