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"The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets! So Hulk will get madder and madder at you, Ravage — and Hulk will get stronger and stronger, and then Hulk will smash you to bits! IT'S CALLED STRAGEDY!"note 
The Incredible Hulk explaining why fighting a prolonged battle with him is a bad idea.

This character, faction, weapon, or otherwise isn't able to give everything they have from the word Go!, and needs to be worked up into a state where they're capable of doing their jobs beyond anything sub-par - if they're even capable of doing it at all before reaching said state.


This is not a case of voluntarily limiting oneself to avoid damage to oneself or one's surroundings — for whatever employs this trope, bringing their full might to bear from the get-go is just outright impossible. If you find this trope on an enemy, it will often have a distinctive sound accompanying it to serve as a non-verbal warning.

The reason for this varies, but Competitive Balance usually ensures that while anyone saddled with this downside takes their time to get going, once they do get going they are a force to be reckoned with. Sometimes this trope is binary, where something or someone has either gathered steam or not, sometimes it has multiple stages, and sometimes it is gradual and may not have any upper limit - in the latter case, expect them to eventually become just as much of (if not more than) a Juggernaut as a literal speeding locomotive usually implies - though if they can't handle their ever-increasing buildup they might eventually succumb to Over Heating and/or Explosive Overclocking.


Compare Magikarp Power which gives everything it has all the time; it's just that 'everything it has' starts out pathetic before repeated training, upgrades, or the like make it a force to be reckoned with. Compare Limit Break and Charged Attack which are powerful attacks or techniques which are only available after specific conditions are met and become unavailable again after having been used, and also compare the Critical Status Buff, where the strength comes from being wounded rather than naturally over the course of a battle - allowing them to start at their peak if they enter battle wounded.
Contrast Pent-Up Power Peril, which is the result of naturally-building power needing an outlet every so often.
Usually has no relation to High-Pressure Emotion, but examples do exist where the act of gathering steam is correlated to an emotion.


The trope is ubiquitous in Real Life through inertia — nothing is able to perform at its best from the word 'go' unless it has been prepared in advance, and overcoming this trope quickly is essential in many fields. The trope name comes from actual steam engines, which when being used to move anything particularly heavy can require anywhere from several minutes to over an hour to build up sufficient steam pressure.note  Super-Trope to Increasingly Lethal Enemy and Sub-Trope to Situational Damage Attack


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach:
    • Ikkaku's Empathic Weapon Houzukimaru's Bankai slowly increases in spiritual power after it's unleashed in combat because, in his words, it's "lazy" and takes time to wake up all the way.
    • Kira's Wabisuke doubles the weight of the object or body part it hits, so he needs to hit the enemy's weapon or body part several times until they succumb to the weight.
  • Dragon Ball Super:
    • Auta Magetta is a bipedal living metal volcano whose magma heart grows hotter as fighting progresses. As his attacks draw on this heat for their effect, they grow more and more potent depending on how long he has been fighting.
    • Ganos is a straighter example. Depending on the translation this is either due to him being a youth who is still growing or an aspect of his powered up form, but either way he gains raw strength continuously. The speed at which he improves is based on the strength of the fighters around him (regardless of if they're friend or foe). When he's placed in the Tournament of Power, surrounding himself with the strongest combatants in every universe, his power increases so rapidly that Master Roshi can sense it climbing every second.
    • In the manga, Gohan as well. Over the course of the Tournament of Power, he's able to raise his power from wherever it was at the beginning—which is lower than the anime, as Piccolo only restored Gohan's combat instincts during their training, without affecting his power at all—to being on par with Kefla by the time they score a mutual knockout. Goku needed Ultra Instinct to stop Kefla in the anime, and the manga version of Kale is implied to be more powerful than the anime one. Oh, and Gohan stayed in his base form throughout this fight, as well.
  • Fairy Tail: Kyôka's Strength Enhancement Curse can be used on herself to temporarily boost her powers. When she goes Etherious Form, however, she not only gains a general power boost, but her Curse is enhanced to the point she can gradually boost her already considerable power ad infinitum. The only reason this doesn't become a problem is because by the time she uses it she's already fused herself to Face's activation lacrima to speed up the countdown so she doesn't have long to live anyways, instead having her serve as a Threshold Guardian the heroes can't avoid fighting.
  • This is Issei from High School D×D in a nutshell. Boosted Gear doubles his power every ten seconds without limit. However, he has a dismal amount of Devil-power to start with and takes at least a few doublings before he gets going. He eventually learns to reduce the cooldown time with anger or focus, which makes him snowball even faster.
  • Derrierie's special ability "Combo Star" in The Seven Deadly Sins allows her to increase the power of her hits by 2,000 pounds (or 100 tons) with every consecutive blows she deals on her target without interruption. Only a few people can survive over 50-hit combos from her.
  • Star Commander Uranus from Psyren uses the PSI power Deep Freeze, which allows him to cover himself in ice and encase his enemies in ice using his touch or bullets. However, as his opponents find out, the longer they fight him, the colder the area surrounding him gets, and so his opponents will inevitably grow weaker, while his power over ice increase even more.
  • My Hero Academia: "Stockpile" Quirks are a type of Quirk that must first accumulate some kind of resource before they can be used. Typically the resource is burned away when used and has to be replenished; the hero Fat Gum, for example, can burn his fat for sudden bursts of strength. The Quirk One For All, however, has the advantage of not depleting when used. One For All is also a Quirk that can be passed onto someone else and each time its passed on it gets stronger. Since the original user was a First generation Quirk user, One For All has been accumulating power for at least a century, to the point that in the modern day setting of the series, the Super Strength and Super Speed power granted by it outclasses all other similar powers and is so strong that when Izuku Midoriya first gains the power, he always breaks his arms or legs every time he uses it, until he eventually starts to slowly get the hang of the power. It's worth noting that Neito Monoma, who has the power to copy other Quirks, is incapable of using any Quirk that relies of stockpiling. The reason being that his copy only lasts for a few minutes, which is not enough time for him to accumulate enough resources to use a stockpile Quirk. Hence why when he tries to copy One For All from Midoriya during the Joint Training arc, nothing happens.

    Comic Books 
  • The Incredible Hulk. Bruce Banner is an ordinary human and needs to be pissed off to even trigger his transformation into the Incredible Hulk, but even once he has transformed, The Hulk is unable to bring his full strength to bear right away, as it is directly correlated to his anger. The angrier he gets, the stronger he gets, and thus with every injury he takes, he gathers more and more steam. This is rarely portrayed as a weakness for the Hulk; instead it's seen as one of his strengths, since there's apparently no upper limit to how angry and thus how strong he can getnote . On the contrary, the lack of this trait is the biggest weakness of one of his other personalities, the Professor, and his nemesis, the Abomination.
  • Superman plays with this in certain continuities (such as the DC Animated Universe) as it actually seems that he starts out relatively weak and unlocks his power as the fight goes on. When explored, this is usually explained as having placed mental blocks, unconsciously, on his power to control himself after getting scared of his own strength, each block subconsciously unlocking as the need becomes clear. This trope is thus part of the reason you'll see Superman being tossed around a lot in the opening stages of a fight, even against inferior foes. note 
  • Max Damage in Irredeemable gradually gains power the longer he remains awake. When he wakes up, he has the power of a normal person, but after three all-nighters, he has the strength to go toe-to-toe with someone who can destroy countries in the blink of an eye. Of course, he tries to avoid staying awake for that long though, as his sleepiness would severely inhibit his judgment and reflexes.

    Fan Works 

  • Beware of Chicken: The Dueling Peaks Tournament displays a literal example when Li Xianghua enters battle wearing a boiler full of qi-infused water, and starts it up when she's hard-pressed to get a boost. Her opponent remembers the figurative term just as she gets going.
  • In Fate/strange fake, Saber's Godspeed skill increases his Agility the longer a battle goes on. From an already respectable B rank, it can go up to EX rank if he keeps fighting long enough.
  • In The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign, a summoner can raise the power of their Material (summoned creature) over time. Additionally, Materials are divided into three classes (Regulation-Class, Divine-Class, Unexplored-Class), each significantly more powerful than the previous. Summoning 100 Regulation-Class allows Divine-Class to be summoned, and summoning 50 Divine-Class allows Unexplored-Class to be summoned.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In many Collectible Card Games, a resource is only accumulative at a fixed rate.
    • Magic: The Gathering uses mana, which is generated by Land. Under normal circumstances you are only allowed to play a single Land card per turn, and your most powerful spells might even take multiple types of mana to perform.
    • The Pokémon Trading Card Game limits you to playing one energy card per Pokemon per turn under normal circumstances, and although you can evolve your Pokemon without energy, their evolved forms usually require more than the unevolved form to attack, trading increased time to gather steam for greater power.
      • Related examples are Pokémon with attacks that get stronger the more Energy is placed on them. Notable examples include Exeggutor from Jungle, whose Big Eggsplosion deals damage based on the number of heads flipped in coin tosses with the number of coin tosses equal to the number of Energy on Exeggutor, and Ho-oh ex from EX Unseen Forces, whose Rainbow Burn does more damage the more types of Basic Energy are on it, and there are 9 types of Basic Energy.
  • Champions. The Extra Time power limitation causes a power to take longer to activate. The longer the delay, the more the power's cost is decreased.
  • Shadowrun supplement Street Samurai Catalog. The Vindicator minigun takes one combat turn for its barrels to get up to speed before it can fire.
  • Pathfinder warpriests are built for this due to their Fervor, Sacred Weapon, and Sacred Armor abilities which allow them to buff themselves as swift actions, meaning every turn they can grow stronger without sacrificing any attacks or maneuverability. Eventually they will run out of (or choose to conserve) buffs, reaching their limit, and in exceptionally long fights the buffs may start expiring.

    Video Games 
  • Like with Collectible Card Games, their electronic equivalent, the Card Battle Game also has instances of accumulating resources at a maximum fixed rate.
    • Hearthstone has mana, which accumulates at one crystal per turn until a maximum of 10 is reached. Druids have ways to accumulate this faster through the use of specific cards.
      • Emperor Tharuissian is a card which reduces the cost to play any cards in your hand by 1 each turn he is in play, effectively reducing the time needed to gather enough steam to play those cards.
    • Plants vs. Zombies: Heroes uses a similar mana system to Hearthstone, where the Plant and Zombie players get one extra sun/brains per turn with no cap limit. There also exist Plant and Zombie Teammates that buff themselves or other units every turn or when a card is drawn (which happens at the start of each turn) — Team Mascot gives all Sports Zombies including itself +1/+1 each turn, Doubled Mint's stats double each turn, Bananasaurus Rex and Tricarrotops get +1/+1 when a card is drawn, Stompadon gives cards in the Zombie player's hand +1/+1 when a card is drawn, etc.
  • Vehicles in most Driving Games, just like in Real Life, require some time of acceleration to reach their top speed, and how fast they reach said top speed is often an important factor in Competitive Balance.
  • RTS games in general have this as a necessity, obtaining the very best units and buildings often requires an arbitrarily long upgrade process. You can be safely assured that any faction with a relatively short upgrade process is meant to be rushing the opponent factions before their factions gathers too much steam for them to be beatable. In many cases, this is explained as needing to bring in specific off-map supplies (or constructing the buildings capable of producing them) which are needed to construct the best units.
    • Depending on the patch, Starcraft II's Void Rays can be this. The very first version had them do more damage the longer they stayed on a single target by having their Converging-Stream Weapon use only one, then two, then all three beams (their damage increasing with each one), other patches instead give them a temporary damage bonus against Armored enemies. The versions seen in the single player campaign remain unchanged from the first patch, and so all have this trope built into them.
    • Command & Conquer: Generals: Chinese Gatling guns (both the turrets and the Gatling tank) need to spin up before reaching maximum firing rate.
    • Dawn of War: In the first game, there are several upgrades that exist solely to slow the player down, meant to represent Non-Entity General slowly escalating their engagement in response to other Non Entity Generals doing the same.
      • Orks use a unique third resource that counts how many orks are present and requires a certain amount of orks present to build the more powerful units. This is meant to reflect the In-Universe growth of the Ork Ecosystem to the point it can support the more powerful Ork units - though Gork and Mork knows why it is needed for looted tanks.
      • The Necrons' Greater Summoning Core is a building that produces and researches nothing, but is needed to get their final units.
      • The Eldar, likewise, need to research upgrades which do absolutely nothing before they are able to field their more powerful units. Aptly named 'Mobilization For War' and 'Annihilate the Enemy'
    • In Crusader Kings 2:
      • Adventurers need a year to gather armies and ships, after they stated their conquest goals. Only afterwards can they launch the attack, so a smart ruler will try to assassinate them before they can do so.
      • Similarly to adventurers, Viking invaders can state a conquest goal. Afterwards, soldiers and Viking heroes will join their cause over the next two years. They can attack at any time they want, but since their main targets are powerful Christian and Muslim kingdoms, they should better wait the full two years.
      • The army size of nomads is dependent on their clan's population, which in turn is depending on the size of their territory. So a clan that just conquered a large kingdom will have to wait a couple of years so their population can grow so they can make use of their new land.
      • In some way this applies to all conquests in the game. Getting a full duchy through a holy war is nice, but it will be utterly useless for the first few years, as the peasants will simply refuse to pay taxes or train as soldiers.
    • In Grey Goo (2015), the human faction has access to the Lancer unit which fires a continuous laser beam, growing in power as it draws from more and more auxiliary batteries. This makes it incredibly potent against structures, and because the humans, as the game's Higher-Tech Species, have access to a six-unit teleporter, six lancers can show up in an undefended base instantaneously and turn it into a heap of molten slag before a defense can be mounted.
  • Borderlands 2 features two different takes on "stacking" mechanics with its DLC characters:
    • Gaige's Ordered Chaos skill tree focuses on Anarchy, which you gain by either killing an opponent or emptying your gun's magazine in combat. Each stack of Anarchy increases damage but decreases accuracy (which can be mitigated with her Close Enough skill), so that eventually every shot will be flying wild across the area but the ones that land will hit like a Mack truck.
    • Krieg's Bloodlust skill tree focuses on building up stacks of Bloodlust by damaging opponents, which confer various bonuses the more you have but decay quickly once you stop damaging opponents, incentivizing a Bloodlust-focused Psycho not only to build pressure but to keep the pressure on as well.
  • City of Villains: The Brute archetype has the passive ability "Fury" which grows as the player deals damage as well as when they take damage (attacks that miss the Brute count as well to keep things fair for defense-based builds) and as the Fury meter builds the player gains a boost to their damage output. Since the meter decays when not in battle a brute player is encouraged to keep moving from foe to foe as quickly as possible.
  • Dead by Daylight: Michael Myers begins a match with low movement speed. Keeping an eye on survivors and stalking them allows him to level up to Evil Within 2, buffing his speed and lunge range. Filling the meter to Evil Within 3 gives him sixty seconds of double damage, knocking healthy survivors to the ground in one hit.
    • Certain killer perks have this effect, as well. Freddy Krueger's "Fire Up" boosts the killer's action speeds as the survivors fix generators. Fully upgraded, the Hag's "Devour Hope" grants double damage after three survivors have been rescued off the hooks, and lets the killer execute downed survivors after five rescues. Every time a survivor gets put on a hook, "Huntress' Lullaby" further decreases the advance warning survivors get before a quicktime event, making them more likely to fail and set back their progress.
  • Devil May Cry 4: Nero's sword has the "Exceed" system which combines this trope with Charged Attack; he "revs" the sword's handle which charges up heat energy into the sword; there are 3 units of it in the Exceed meter. If the meter is filled, each of his sword's normal combo strikes will become stronger as they consume one unit per strike, and his special moves with the sword consumes all of the meter. The unique part is how the meter is gained: he can normally rev it (just like how Gatling guns spin up first) to fill the meter, but to fill each unit, the "rev" button must be pressed 3-4 times; it becomes tedious quickly to always rev it before you attack. But, he can also rev it during his sword strikes - called Ex-Act - and doing so will automatically give him one full unit that is then spent on his next attack, making it immediately powerful; this can be done in normal sword combo attacks as well as special sword attacks, although doing it continuously can be difficult, as powered-up versions of his normal attacks are much faster and thus harder to properly time. Even better, if he revs it during a specific frame of each sword strikes - called Max-Act - he will instantly gain 3 units (i.e full meter) with each swing.
  • Elsword contains "buff stacking" passive skills for certain character classes which makes the character stronger the more they hit enemies.
    • As a Sheath Knight, Elsword's Cruel Slayer passive gives him additional damage buff that occurs and stacks per 5 hits he does in a normal combo and active skills. The additional damage he can gain is (depending on the passive skill's level) 2% to 10% of his physical attack power, and it can be stacked 5 times. If he spent 10 seconds without adding to the stack (i.e not hitting 5 times), the buff will be gone and he'd need to build it up again.
    • Crimson Rose's Awakening Will passive can activate a special buff that occurs if she uses skills related to chain attacks. Each hit of chain attacks will cumulatively buff her physical attack power and attack speed, up to 25 stacks. The buff stacks will lose by 5 every 3 seconds she isn't attacking with any chain attack, however.
  • In Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, miniguns need a second or two of spinning up before they start firing.
  • In Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark, the Duelist class learns a passive skill, Blood Mark, which gives them a stacking damage bonus for attacking the same target each turn. The bonus resets if they switch targets. In a broader sense, all characters start a battle with zero MP and need to accumulate it over time, preventing them from unleashing their most powerful spells and skills right away.
  • Forever Home has certain magic and Prism techs that require rounds to 'warm up' before they can be used.
  • FTL: Faster Than Light has a number of weapons which combines this trope with Charged Attacknote . All of them having 'chain' somewhere in their name. The most notable example is the Chain Vulcan, a rotary-barrel laser gun. It starts out with an 11 second charge time per shot, with each shot lowering the charge time by two seconds. After five uninterrupted shots, totalling 35 seconds, it reaches its final state where it spews out lasers each second - single-handedly overtaxing even the best shielded and most maneuverable ships quickly. It's Awesome, but Impractical in that most fights are usually over by that point, and any damage to the weapon will negate your progress and require you to spin it up again.
  • In Genji, after completing the trials of Shukenten, Yoshitsune and Benkei receive a divine weapon meant to be an Infinity -1 Sword. Yoshitsune gets the "Light Ring" swords, dual pearl-white katanas with the handle resembling a Dokko (a Buddhist prayer tool) with average attack. However, with each strike the swords glows brighter and brighter, dealing more and more damage.
  • Zul'jin of Heroes of the Storm is a downplayed example. While he is no slouch in combat normally, he has a popular early talent which increases his attack speed by 6% every time he kills an enemy, stacking up to five times for a short duration and refreshed with every attack he makes, making him at home in prolonged engagements. Kill him quickly before he has a chance to kill anything and he won't be capable of even gathering steam before he dies. Just be careful of his Taz'Dingo! Heroic, which is dangerous for an altogether different reason.
    • A more fitting example Zul'jin has of this trope is his built-in You Want Axe quest, which slightly increases his attack power every time he hits an enemy hero with a basic attack, as well as increase his attack range and allows his Twin Cleave ability to recast itself after a certain amount of auto attacks. This attack bonus also scales almost infinitelynote .
    • Similarly to the aforementioned attack speed talent, one of Tyrande's late game talents allows her to increase her attack power by attacking enemy heroes, and a Storm Talent lets her reduce the power of enemies hit by her auto attacks. If a fight with her goes too long, the enemy's damage will be almost halved while Tyrande will be hitting hard enough to One-Hit Kill any hero regardless of health.
  • Nasus from League of Legends is like this by design. One of his skill, Siphoning Strike, gains a permanent increase in damage when he kills something with it. This is his main source of damage, and while the rest of his kit is marginally useful, their damage and his stats doesn't scale as well. Nasus is very dependent on spending the first 10-20 minutes "AFK farming" creeps to power up Siphoning Strike so late-game he can deal massive damage while being very tanky, otherwise he Can't Catch Up even if he got an early gold lead.
    • Veigar is a lesser example, as while his innate skill gives him a permanent AP boost from killing creeps with Baleful Strike, he also gets it from hitting or killing enemy champions and AP can be acquired from items.
  • The Long Sword weapon class from Monster Hunter works this way. While the base damage isn't terrible, once you fill the weapon's gauge, you can use it's strongest attack combo. Successfully landing it causes your sword to glow and gain a powerboost for the rest of the hunt. And there are multiple stages (red, orange, yellow, and finally white). Just working up to white normally kills the monster you're hunting. Actually getting it there means the battle is pretty much over.
  • The Revenant in Nexus Clash has a Blood Frenzy that adds massive stacking bonuses for each subsequent kill in battle, at the price of making them even more of a Glass Cannon in a way that also stacks. It's possible for a fully-charged Revenant to be a violent buzzsaw of utter destruction capable of wiping out entire strongholds, but who can get killed in a few shots if anyone can actually score a hit on them.
  • Symmetra of Overwatch has a Photon Projector as her primary weapon. While it is able to do a Charge Attack, its primary mode of fire is a weak photon beam which intensifies as the connection is maintained, doubling the damage twice in discrete jumps if maintained for long enough.
  • In Patapon your patapons will need some good rhythms to dance themselves into a frenzy, the amount of which depends on how on point they are. But once they are in fever they get much higher attack, reach, and/or other useful abilities depending on the class and on the dance.
  • Pokémon:
    • The attacks Rollout and Ice Ball will, once selected, be used for 5 consecutive turns non-stop. The first hit will deal laughable damage, but each hit will double in power (as long as it doesn't miss).
    • Similarly there is Fury Cutter, an attack that doubles in damage with each consecutive use, but this time you have to choose each hit instead of being automatic.
    • The Rage move works differently in different generations, but the core idea remains the same: the Pokemon continuously uses an initially weak attack that gets stronger every time it gets hurt.
    • Regigigas, the progenitor of Hoenn's golem trio, is an Olympus Mon with stats on par with the Elemental Embodiment of the oceans and the core's magma, both of which wreak havoc on the weather by merely being awake. Regigigas has been stated in legends to be capable of moving entire continents, but when it is encountered it has slumbered for so long that it takes a while to shake off the rust and moss growing on it, which is reflected in its ability 'Slow Start'; For the first five turns of combat its attack and speed stats are cut in half, which puts it straight into Awesome, but Impractical for battling wild Pokémon because most fights are over by then. Of course, capturing it is likely to take more than five turns, and its defensive stats being unaffected means that a well-informed player can use him as a wall until the steam is gathered.
    • Also falling into this trope are Abilities such as Speed Boost, which causes the user's Speed to increase at the end of each turn, and Moody, which causes one random stat to decrease slightly but another random stat to increase sharply. To a lesser extent are Abilities like Moxie, Soul-Heart, and Beast Boost, which grant stat boosts each time they deal a knockout. Pokémon with these Abilities can quickly become unmanageable if left alone for too long.
    • Stat-boosting moves like Sharpen can qualify, too, although the classic option is Swords Dance, which doesn't take very much steam-gathering to become deadly.
  • The Razor Claws in Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction are a pair of energy blades that increase in power and gradually turn red every time Ratchet hits an enemy with them. However, they will reset when Ratchet takes damage.
  • Bandit's Desparado attack in Risk of Rain 2 gains a stack of damage every time it kills an enemy. At the beginning of a stage, it's barely strong enough to one-shot Wisps and other weak enemies, but with enough stacks, it can one- or two-shot bosses (especially combined with some Crowbars and Bandit's Backstab passive).
  • Slay the Spire: This is ubiquitous among enemies and players, with enemies gaining strength and new abilities through the fight while the player plays powers that give permanent bonuses, but there are some especially clear examples.
    • The Ironclad has Rampage, an attack which increases its damage each time it's used in a combat, and Demon Form, a power which gives him more strength, which increases damage, every turn.
    • The Defect has Creative AI, a power which adds a new power card to its hand every turn, and Claw, a weak free attack that increases the damage of all Claw cards.
    • The Watcher has Deva Form, which grants her increasing amounts of energy every turn.
    • The Silent, by contrast, can still grow stronger through use of powers and certain trinkets, but has no cards that apply a personal, recurring bonus like the others, and has more cards that grow weaker as the fight proceeds.
  • Stardew Valley
    • Plants that grow multiple crops without the need to replant them are this. Like every plant they need to grow to their full size first. But then they regrow their crops every couple of days, until they die at the end of their season (unless planted in a greenhouse, which makes them regrow forever, or if they are fruit trees that only become inactive out of season).
    • Fruit trees produce crops with increasing quality the older the tree is. Bringing one up to iridium quality requires three in-game years.
    • When a new animal is born, or bought from Marnie, it first needs to grow up before it can produce its goods.
  • In the Super Robot Wars games, many of the Super Robot pilots aren't able to use their flashiest moves until their morale reaches a sufficiently high point, which usually means they have to defeat a certain number of enemies first. This often boils down to whether said flashy moves required the pilot to be fired up or not (for example, Getter Robo generally has access to all attacks, but the upgrade Getter Robo G needs morale to be built up for its finisher Shine Spark).
    • Real Robot pilots can also get hit with this, though how it works often depends on the series. Characters from Gundam SEED and Destiny trigger their SEED activation once they reach the morale threshold. Newtypes like Amuro Ray have their Newtype abilities active all the time regardless of morale, but morale triggers the various systems of their Mobile Suits instead (generally representing times when the pilot's ability resonated with their machine). An example of this would be the Biosensors of the Zeta and Double Zeta Gundam activating.
  • The Heavy of Team Fortress 2 has a variety of miniguns as options for his primary weapon. All of them have a need to be spun up before being able to fire at all. And catching a Heavy without his minigun spun up is usually a (relatively) easy opponent.
    • The Engineer is the weakest class in the game at face value, having low health, base speed, and unimpressive weapons in his default loadout. However, if given enough time to build and upgrade his sentry gun, dispenser, and teleporters, he becomes the biggest threat on the battlefield and a cornerstone for his team, often requiring several enemies working together to bring him down.
  • Rhoulder from Temtem can have the Tardy Rush trait, which doubles its speed and slightly increases its attack after three turns.
  • In the Titanfall 2 multiplayer, most Titans' core ability (a super-powerful ability that charges as you use the Titan) is some sort of heavily-damaging attack, such as a giant laser or temporarily-electrified sword. The Monarch-class Titan instead gets an Upgrade Core, granting it different boosts for the rest of its lifespan. The highest-level upgrade offers such treats as increased health and no weakpoints, a faster-firing and more damaging main gun, or more powerful rockets that home in on enemy titans.
  • Warframe:
    • Saryn's spores are like this. The more enemies they afflict, the more damage they do, until they can kill every enemy on screen in seconds. In fact, this is their biggest weakness, as once Saryn runs out of enemies her spores quickly decay and she's back to square one.
    • Nidus is similar, but slower and longer-lasting. Every time he hits an enemy with Virulence, he gets one-sixth of a Mutation stack. For every stack of Mutation, Virulence's damage increases, as does his health regeneration. By gathering large numbers of enemies together and hitting them all at once, he can build Mutagen very quickly and become The Juggernaut. His Mutation stacks don't decay unless he dies, wanders into an Anti-Magic field, or spends them on powerful abilities, making him great for long missions.
    • Following her rework Garuda's trait boosts her damage temporarily every time she kills something, incentivizing her to keep hitting new opponents.
    • Melee weapons and Sniper Rifles grow in damage during a mission as long as they can keep damaging the enemy. In the case of Sniper Rifles, missing a shot will cause the combo to immediately decay by one count, and both will lose steam over time. There are mods for both that can extend the combo duration, which is essential to longer missions.
    • One of the arcanes found in the Zariman boosts ability strength permanently with every single kill the equipped frame achieves.
  • Many bosses in World of Warcraft gradually get stronger over the course of the fight, as a form of soft enrage, while others gain strength more rapidly during the final phase. For example, Majordomo Staghelm in the Firelands performs his strongest abilities after his Energy gauge fills up, and gets a stack of Adrenaline that lets him gain Energy more quickly. Switching between cat and scorpion forms, which is triggered by players stacking up or spreading out, results in him losing all his Adrenaline stacks but gaining a stack of Fury, which increases his damage. The key to winning is to force transformations only when he's attacking too quickly for the healers to keep up, and kill him before the Fury buff stacks too high.

    Web Original 
  • Lung from Worm is a parahuman who on top of his pyrokinesis and Healing Factor, mutates as a battle goes forward, growing larger, gaining scales, and even growing wings as long the battle continues and there's people watching, as well as an increased proficiency with his pyrokinesis and healing. Word of God is that he has no true upper limit, and at the highest level witnessed in the story, he manages to beat back Leviathan, one of the Endbringers, when he flooded Kyushu, only stopping when he notices pretty much everyone else is dead and therefore can't witness the fight.