Follow TV Tropes


Herd-Hitting Attack

Go To
Just try not to catch any allies in it as well.note 
The Hurricane has quickly gotten a reputation for being a very crowd-pleasing weapon — unless we're talking about the crowd it is being aimed at.
"Hurricane" Guided Rocket System description, Deep Rock Galactic

You're an adventurer, and you've joined up with other adventurers to take on a difficult challenge. The thing is, everyone's picked up the habit of standing around in a tight group. You're doing this to make it easier for healers to reach everyone and maybe pick up a Status Buff aura or two. But the enemy has noticed this and decided to do something about it.

A Herd Hitting Attack turns standing in a group from a benefit into a liability, generally useful against Wolfpack Bosses. This could involve:

  • An attack involving an Area of Effect (AOE), like an explosion (the most common), or an attack that "rains down" or "spreads" over an area. Sometimes the AOE is a melee attack that hits multiple targets in a circle around the attacker.
  • An attack that "chains": after hitting the first party member, it will hit a second that's within a certain range of the first, and then a third in range of the second, and so on for a number of repetitions.
  • Placing a status effect on one or more characters that causes damage or other debilitating effects to any other party members in a certain range, forcing the afflicted to run away from the party before they kill everyone. A particularly nasty variant has the status effect spread to anyone it hits.

In every case, spreading everyone out will reduce the potential damage of the attack, but make it harder to cover everyone. Note that not all area of effect attacks are Herd Hitting Attacks: if a point blank (centered on the user) or ground targeted area of effect attack is telegraphed (such as an obvious casting pose or Invocation), it's possible for the entire group to avoid the attack by moving out of the way without spreading out.

Commonly used by MMORPG bosses, though the occasional mook might have one. Also appears in RTS games, possibly as a deterrent to the Zerg Rush. If the attack is the status effect variant and causes the afflicted to explode, it's Why Am I Ticking?.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • YuYu Hakusho: Yusuke's "Spirit Shotgun" attack is often used for this purpose, firing a spreading wave of energy projectiles at once to take down a crowd of weaker enemies. He can use it to blitz a single foe, but this isn't done too often.

  • The MD Device from Ender's Game causes a Sphere of Destruction to spread from any ship that's hit — then any ship caught in the sphere will explode in a similar manner. A single, well-placed shot can destroy an entire fleet of starfighters. Sorry, did we say any ship? We meant any mass. What are planets made of again...?
  • Joel Rosenberg's Hero. The sergeant's screaming at the soldiers to "Spread out! Spread out!" The colonel takes a different approach. "Nah, bunch up and save the enemy ammunition."
  • Cradle Series: Ruler techniques make use of the vital aura of the world, ruling it and forcing it to the practitioner's purpose. These techniques have a wide area of effect and are powerful, but they take time to set up (more if the right aspects of aura aren't around) and are difficult.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Battletech: Anti-Infantry weapons like machine guns, flamers and plasma guns score additional hits when you shoot them at infantry: Normally a weapon only hits one member of the squad (and usually insta-kills them). There are also effects that can hit multiple hexes (and therefore multiple 'mech-sized targets), but these are usually environmental effects rather than attacks.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Chain Lightning spell. After hitting its primary target it arcs to the nearest target (losing 1d6 of damage), doing so again and again until it runs out of energy. AOE spells like Fireball also make standing around in groups rather a bad idea.
    • In 4e, Chain Lightning is a level 23 spell; it starts with 4d6 for the first target, then hit-or-miss it's a second attack for 2d6 for the next target, and then hit-or-miss on THAT it's 1d6 for every other enemy within 20 squares of you. And if you miss with any of those, it's still half damage.
    • There's also Furious Bolts, a spell available to Sorcerers who take the Lightning Fury paragon path. 2d8 damage to the first target, if you hit you do 2d4 to the next target, and you keep doing 2d4 damage until you miss or you run out of targets.
    • Really, most of the larger area effect spells in D&D tend to qualify because they usually have a fairly decent range and don't really allow the targeted group enough time to respond — the caster only decides where the spell will finally end up by the time it's already going off, after all. So Fireball is a shoo-in ("Fireball formation" actually is a term that gets bandied about at some tables if the party bunches up), and the classic Lightning Bolt with its linear stroke fits this trope if anything even better since it basically depends on its victims lining up juuust right in order to be able to hit more than a single target at all.
    • The Cleave and Great Cleave feat chain allow you an additional attack each time you KO an opponent.
    • The 4th Edition Cleric Character Class has several Friendly Fireproof area-effect powers, which harm only enemies and might provide a secondary benefit to the cleric's allies within range.
  • Fabula Ultima:
    • Some weapons have the Multi property, which allows you to strike multiple targets with a single attack. The Sharpshooter and Weaponmaster classes can learn skills that bestow this property on any ranged or melee weapon they wield, respectively, or enhance it if it's already present.
    • Some offensive spells can be cast on up to three targets at once, such as the Elementalist's Fulgur spell or the Spiritist's Lux spell.
  • Games Workshop games:
    • Blast and template weapons in Warhammer and some editions of Warhammer 40,000 usually deal area of effect damage when fired. Weapons such as flamers, missile launchers and other forms of artillery are perfect for thinning out horde armies, and more powerful blast weapons can also threaten tougher units like Space Marines or large Tyranid creatures.
    • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar:
      • Against massed single-wound infantry, any high-damage attack that goes through will kill multiple models due to the fact that any damage beyond the target's wounds bleeds over onto other enemy models.
      • Some units, such as the Decimator Paladins of the Stormcast Eternals and Skarr Bloodwrath of the Bloodbound Warhordes, have weapons that explicitly do this by gaining extra attacks for each enemy within their weapon’s range.
    • Warhammer 40,000:
      • The Heretic Astartes relic weapon known as the Black Mace has been cursed by each of the Daemon Primarchs so that, when it kills its target, their comrades will also fall. How this is represented in game changes depending on the edition with the 6th Edition rules forcing all enemy models within 3" of a killed model to take a Toughness test or suffer damage, while the 8th Edition rules see the unit of a killed model suffering a mortal wound. Trazyn the Infinite's Empathetic Obliterator works similarly, in that if he uses it to kill anyone within a unit, every other of the same faction in it takes a bunch of Mortal Wounds; this has earned him the title of the Tarpit Breaker, as he's impossible to bog down with numbers.
      • The Space Wolves High Rune Priest Njall Stormcaller has a personal storm that continuously follows him, with the effects getting progressively worse the longer he stays alive, starting with fog and sleet and ending in every enemy in a wide radius taking massive lightningbolts from above every single turn.
      • In Rogue Trader and 2nd edition, there was the Virus Grenade, which would attempt to infect everyone in an area. Anyone infected would be immediately killed, and then the corpse would duplicate the effect of the grenade, until an entire formation had either been killed outright or succeeded at a very large number of saving rolls. It was removed from later editions of the game.
    • The tyranid Pyrovore was intended to get a final Taking You with Me version by dealing hits to units around it equal to the number of units in an area around it on death. Due to unfortunate wording, however, it instead hit the entire table for that number of hits.
  • Hero Clix features this trope in the form of the power Energy Explosion, which in exchange for reducing a characters damage value to 1, it can cause damage to both the target of the attack and every character standing next to them. This can be real fun for characters who can shoot two or three targets at a time, since while the damage is reduced to 1, it also stacks.
  • LEGO Games: In Heroica, Barbarian's special ability hits all enemies around, if he happens to fight more than one at once.
  • Back when Magic: The Gathering was still in its comparative infancy, there were a few cards which affected the playing field itself. Most well-known (and often loathed) was the Chaos Orb, a card which destroyed any other cards on which it landed. During its heyday, many players would intentionally space their cards out widely on the table so that a single Orb couldn't affect the lion's share of, say, their lands.
    • Parodied by the Joke Character card Chaos Confetti, which also destroyed any other cards on which it landed, but part of its activation effect involved tearing the card into pieces and sprinkling said pieces over the playing field. Needless to say, unless your opponent lets you use a proxy, It Only Works Once.
  • In Rocket Age weapons with the cleaving trait are typically slow to strike with, but a successful strike can be carried on into a neighbouring combatant. Unsurprisingly weapons like the Sun-Axe are usually found in the hands of aggressive front line fighters and are used to break up tight formations.
  • This is Tempest's specialty in Sentinels of the Multiverse. While many characters have cards that let them hit multiple targets, Tempest has a "hit every non-hero target" attack as his default power. This can have some drawbacks, though, because his multi-target attacks tend to be indiscriminate — and there are a number of occasions (such as when facing the Dreamer) where you don't want to hit everything.

    Video Games 


  • Some Role-Playing Games have a tradeoff, in that if you keep your party together you can unleash more powerful attacks, but the enemy can also more easily hit you with Area of Effect attacks. Examples include:
    • Shadow Hearts: Covenant allows both you and enemies to perform Combination Attacks by placing characters next to each other, making it possible for the opponent to hit them with any area-hitting attack (and likely knock them out of formation). Area-hitting magic can be useful in other situations, since characters run around quite a bit during battles, but their placement is usually highly random.
    • Wild ARMs 4, Wild ARMs 5, and Wild ARMs XF make use of HEX system. It allows several combatants on the same side to fit into one cell of the grid, gaining several advantages, such as activating certain skills and allowing usage of Combination Attacks. However, all attacks in these games target not a specific enemy, but a specific cell of the grid, and if there happens to be more that one character here, they all will be hit. There are also attacks that target several, or even all HEXes, but they are usually delegated to Force Abilities.
  • Tactical RPGs tend to feature these.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics had, as a standard magic pattern, a five-panel area. Disgaea even gives you the trade-off: you can get combo attacks if you stand near each other, but watch out for someone who wants to nuke the three panels you're all standing in.
    • Sages in Disgaea 5 have an Evility that gives them a 10% damage bonus for each enemy hit at once. This makes those 3x3 grid of enemies made for Level Grinding easier to farm, and also goes well with their signature move, Land Decimator, which hits every enemy on the map but with a hit chance capped at 50%. Other units can grab this Evility after a lot of grinding too, like someone who has an Overload that hits the entire map...
  • In shooters, both shotguns and explosives often fill this role. Shotguns are usually presented as short-range weapons, but compensate by firing multiple shots in a cone that can hit multiple enemies at medium range. Explosives, meanwhile, are area-of-effect weapons.

Specific games

  • Siege weapons in Age of Empires. One attack from a catapult can kill or at least damage most of the units in a formation. And they don't have to be enemy siege weapons, either; you're not Friendly Fireproof from your siege weapons like you are from your archers or gunmen.
  • Arknights: Operator archetypes that hit more than one enemy at a time are split into two categories of "true" AoE and "false" AoE. "False" AoE operators — Artilleryman Snipers, Flinger Snipers, Splash Casters, Chain Casters, Fortress Defenders vs. unblocked enemies in range — attack one enemy and do damage to other enemies surrounding their original target within a certain range, while "true" AoE operators — Spreadshooter Snipers, Blast Casters, Phalanx Casters, Reaper Guards, Ambusher Specialists — do damage to all enemies within their attack range. Some single-target operators also have skills that let them attack multiple enemies.
  • This crops up occasionally in Assassin's Creed, and was even enforced in two sequences of Assassin's Creed III where, to achieve full synchronization, entire formations of enemy soldiers need to be taken out: first by timing musket volleys from allied soldiers and then by aiming a cannon to destroy formations in one shot.
  • Bloodline Champions has quite a large amount of these. Needless to say, avoid clumping up.
  • Borderlands 2 has Krieg, whose Bloodsplosion skill causes enemies to explode spectacularly based on whatever elemental energy killed them. Any overkill damage is stacked into the damage of the resulting explosion... so if you kill one trash mob enemy with it, you can chain that death explosion such that it kills other trash mobs. Do this enough times and you can pop opponents like a string of firecrackers, albeit ones that eventually start leading to M-80s and actual sticks of dynamite. Some players have been able to vaporize raid bosses this way.
  • Bravely Default, as a Spiritual Successor to Final Fantasy, uses this in general for group-cast spells and several group-attack abilities, but it also provides ways to subvert the "reduced damage" portion of the trope. For physical attacks, Crescent Moon hits all foes with the same strength as the Fight command (though it effectively costs two rounds of actions to perform), while the ability Epic Group-Cast causes any magic spell to do the same amount of damage regardless of the number of targets.
  • In Child of Light, the player characters can earn herd-hitting variations of their attacks at high levels. Conversely, some monsters can perform these on your party.
  • City of Heroes:
    • Blaster characters tend to specialize in these, though most of the other archetypes have some form of it, too.
    • Special mention should go to the Assault Rifle powerset, which has areas of effect for five of the nine attacks (although one has a very small radius making it hard to hit multiple enemies).
    • The Robot-type Mastermind, in a very flashy way.
    • The Electric Melee set features the power Chain Induction which has a chance to zap the foe nearest to the one you just hit, and then zap the next nearest to him, and the next...
    • The Incarnate System introduces Judgement, various powers designed to deal a lot of damage to a lot of people within a given area. Of particular note is Ion Judgement, which fires a single lightning bolt that can chain-shock up to 40 targets. Is it any wonder that Ion is the most popular among Judgement powers?
  • Civilization:
    • The fourth game uses artillery units to combat large stacks. In addition to hurting the unit they attack, they also deal some splash damage to other units in the stack as well.
    • In the first two installments, if a stack outside of a city or fortress is attacked and the defending unit loses, all units die.
  • Dark Forces: The Stouker concussion rifle that Kyle first acquires on Nar Shaddaa, which fires bullets of ionized air that explode in shockwaves, hitting multiple targets within an area at a time.
  • Destroy All Humans!:
    • While the starting weapon, the Zap-o-Matic, is initially just a Lightning Gun that hits only one target, later upgrades allow the lightning to jump to nearby targets, making it easier to kill large groups of weak enemies than with the Disintegrator Ray despite that gun's higher power.
    • The Ion Detonator is a remote bomb launcher that's mainly used against vehicles, but it too has an area of effect that will vaporize anybody caught in its blast radius.
    • Upgrades to the Anal Probe and the Brain Extraction ability let their effects jump to nearby enemies after each was killed. In the right hands, this could not only quickly devastate large crowds of powerful enemies but supply players with huge amounts of DNA from their popped heads.
    • The second game introduced the Meteor Strike, which called in a Colony Drop that took out anything near where it landed.
    • Big Willy Unleashed introduced the Chain Lightning, which launched free-floating balls that functioned similarly to the Zap-o-Matic, and the Zombie Gun, which turned people into zombies that spread The Virus to anyone they bit, allowing the player to turn a large crowd of enemies into a horde of Undead Mooks.
    • Path of the Furon introduced the Black Hole Gun, which created a black hole that sucked everything nearby into it.
    • As for the Flying Saucer's weapons, the Sonic Boom scattered enemy tanks, while the Quantum Deconstructor destroyed everything around the target. The second game introduced the Anti-Gravity field that lifted everything around the target into the air before slamming it back to the ground, as well as the Tornadotron that could wipe out entire towns with a large tornado. Big Willy Unleashed introduced the Electro-Cone that fired electricity at everything in the saucer's vicinity, and also let players drive the Big Willy robot, whose most powerful weapon, the Windbreaker, let out a field of corrosive gas (i.e. a massive fart) that destroyed everything in the vicinity.
  • Many attacks in Diablo III. Loot can also have a property which gives all attacks, even those that are normally single-target, a chance to deal an additional percentage of the damage to all enemies within a certain radius of the target. When combined with attacks that are already multi-target or those that deal Damage Over Time, this can become very powerful.
  • Dota 2 is rife with this. Most ranged Heroes gain access to spells that can affect wide areas with nukes or debilitating effects, while melee heroes can by a Battlefury to do cleaving damage to all around them. There are notable examples, however.
    • The hero Earthshaker's ultimate deals a flat amount of magic damage in an AOE, but then causes each unit hit to deal damage to units around it, essentially doing bonus damage for everyone you hit. It's rare but possible to kill the entire enemy team this way, if they have lots of summoned units and are too careless to spread out.
    • Sven has an ability which grants him passive cleave damage, so he doesn't need to buy a Battlefury to achieve the same result many of his peers do. However, cleave damage is stackable. In fact, he can achieve over 100% cleave damage with a Battlefury. On a weak, barely-farmed Sven this barely changes anything, as it would take several seconds for him to do enough damage to matter... Several seconds with multiple enemy heroes around him. But on a farmed Sven with God's Strength active? It's entirely possible to Cleave the entire enemy team to death in one swing of the biggest sword in Dota.
    • The reason why Nature's Prophet is one of the best gold farmers in the game is his ultimate, Wrath of Nature, a chaining attack spell with an insane number of max bounces and a global bounce range. It also deals more damage with each bounce. One cast will very likely destroy a pack of creeps before using up its last few bounces to hit a group of heroes, if you aim it correctly.
  • Dragon Age: Origins has several, most courtesy of the Mage class.
    • Fireball, the old standard, hits and knocks down everything within a certain radius of its detonation, and sets them on fire.
    • The Cone series of spells, which puts out Fire, Ice, Lightning in a given direction.
    • The storm spells, which do damage over time on a huge area.
    • Virulent Walking Bomb turns the target into an Action Bomb and has a chance to infect up to three enemies who are in the blast radius of the original target with the same effect.
    • Archers get into it, too, with Shatter Shot, which hits one target then hits and stuns everyone standing around him.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition has the Charging Bull ability, which allows Warriors to steamroll through groups of enemies, granting Guard for every enemy they hit.
  • Dragon Quest series: In DQI, the Hero did not need multi-target attacks since he only fought one enemy per encounter. DQII introduced groups of enemies, so consequently the developers turned Sizz/Sizzle into multi-target spells and introduced spells (Woosh) and weapons (the Chain Sickle) which could damage groups of enemies, as well as the Kaboom spell which blew up every enemy in the field. DQIII refined, expanded and improved the system, and all subsequent games built on it.
  • Eden Eternal has several dungeons with bosses that enjoy AOEing the party to death. Usually those bosses are the annoying ones in the middle of the dungeon, and for a lot of them the best way to go is to have the one tank and two healers, one healer just to heal the tank and the other healer to take care of the AOE damage. Another annoying trend of AOEs is to give the party a debuff that actually heals the boss! Did you just spend ten minutes getting his HP down? Too bad! Your tank was an idiot and now you have to kill the boss when it has full HP again.
  • One of the available Destruction spells in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is Chain Lightning, which does health and magicka damage before jumping to another nearby target. Quite useful against enemy mages, and quite frustrating if you're a melee fighter with a follower who likes to use it.
  • The Poison Wind Globadier from The End Times: Vermintide. Being an Expy (in gameplay abilities) of the Spitter from Left 4 Dead 2, they throw a ball of Deadly Gas that explodes into a lingering Area of Effect that deals constant damage to those who stand within. Likewise, they discourage the heroes from standing in a tight formation.
  • Most factions in Eternal Card Game get access to cards that hit every unit, though Primal gets a bit more than the rest.
  • In Evolve, almost every monster ability has a large AOE or can otherwise be used to affect a larger area. This lets them decimate clustered hunters in short order, forcing hunter players to spread out.
  • In games like Fantasy Wars or Heroes of Might and Magic, a huge stack of peasants or other trash units will easily kill elite units like dragons. Elite units can't kill enough of the stack while they take massive damage from a mob of 200+ peasants hitting them with sticks. But in Fallen Enchantress, dragons are "The Juggernaut" and when they attack a stack, they hit every individual in that stack.
  • Fallout 3's Broken Steel DLC includes a level 30 perk called "Nuclear Anomaly". A player with this perk has a chance of suddenly releasing massive amounts of radiation, affecting friend and foe alike, when their health drops below a certain point.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has the "Meltdown" perk. This perk causes enemies killed by energy weapons to explode instead of melting into a glowing green puddle or being reduced to a pile of ashes. The explosion also damages enemies when it goes off, and any enemies killed by a Meltdown will also go into Meltdown themselves. Meltdown explosions are not discriminate about who they blow up. This can lead to a chain of exploding people, which tends to end in bloody hilarity and Ludicrous Gibs.
  • Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel had a bug that turned a regular attack into a herd-hitting one. A burst weapon fired at long range was likely to miss, or only hit for minor damage as the burst spread out. However, if another party member stood next to the person whom the burst missed, said party member was likely to take full burst damage as though fired at point blank range. Ouch. Spreading your party out became necessary when mutants with M2 Brownings would otherwise snipe your party from across the map. (Ironically, their propensity to spray away their ammo at long range was originally meant to be a weak point).
  • The Arc Beam from F.3.A.R. If there are any additional enemies in the vicinity of your target, the beam will branch off and hit all of them.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Nearly every game has abilities or spells that can hit the enemy party as well as the player party. Some magic spells can toggle between single targets or multiple targets while others can only hit multiple targets.
    • Final Fantasy IX has a heard hitting status ailment in the form of Trouble. When a party member is afflicted with Trouble, any damage they receive transfers to the rest of the party by half of that damage taken.
  • Many, many spells, mostly elementalist spells, do this in Guild Wars. All the above variants exist. The rain-down variants were a particular Game-Breaker in Player Versus Environment combat, until the AI was patched to not stay in a Rain of Fire spell for the full 10 seconds. When playing with AI allies, who will by default cluster around the party leader, careful micromanagement in needed to defeat certain bosses who can and will nuke an entire cluster of party members.
  • Seeing as every unit represents as many of those units as labelled, pretty much every attack in Heroes of Might and Magic hits a herd. However, there are multiple herd-hitting attacks: standard attacks of Cerberi, fireballs, larger fireballs, ring-area spells, Chain Lightning...
  • Icewind Dale had Cloak Of Flame. The spell sets the target on fire, causing damage to both them and any nearby creatures and has a chance to spread to anything in the radius. If cast on something in the middle of a dense crowd, it spreads like wildfire.
  • Journey On:
    • Selena can wield spears to use skills, Hurricane Thrust and Swift Thrust, that hit the entire enemy party.
    • If the Holy Sword is obtained, Shirley can use Divine Punishment, a spell that hits all enemies with holy damage.
    • Shirley can equip the Dark Flare tome to cast the titular spell, which hits all enemies while dealing somewhat more damage than Pain. If she's fully corrupted and views all the memory crystals in the Dark Sanctuary, she can learn Armageddon, which hits all enemies twice.
    • Later on, summoned spirits can use Spiritual Burst, which is a weak dark magic AOE. Unfortunately, their AI cannot default to the original single target version of the skill, so they'll do nothing if at least one enemy can absorb their attack.
  • League of Legends has a couple that qualify.
    • Brand is a champ that really wants his enemies close together; his passive makes it so that if enough of his abilities strike a target, that target will create a massive explosion around them that will keep spreading and trigger the passive on other enemies. The result is a champ with the power to score a full pentakill.
    • Fiddlesticks' Signature Move is its devastating Crowstorm, circling it in a radius of crows that damage anyone in range. This one ability can completely turn teamfights around, especially since Fiddle will passively apply fear to enemies when out of sight, meaning the latter is helpless to do anything as they're torn apart.
    • Miss Fortune's kit contains massive amounts of AoE damage. Between Make It Rain rains bullets in a radius on the battlefield, and her ultimate ability, Bullet Time, fires a massive stream of shots with enough damage to shred entire life bars. nce she gets fed enough, she has some of the most widespread area control for a marksmen and can vaporize an entire team if they get caught in her sights.
    • The most appropriate is Zilean's Time Bomb. For a bit of mana and a decent cooldown, Zil can set a target to explode after four seconds, dealing a large amount of damage to the target and any of his unfortunate friends standing nearby. For bonus fun with explosives, Zil also has a skill that partially reduces cooldowns (Rewind), allowing him to Bomb and then Re-Bomb a target, forcing the first bomb to explode immediately. While typically the relative power of the bombs decreases as the match progresses, they are quite deadly during the first 10 to 20 minutes.
    • Even more fun when the target doesn't notice the bomb and runs over to hug a friend. Zil likes it when his targets share the love.
  • Left 4 Dead 2:
    • The game introduced the Spitter and its gobs of acidic spit to discourage the survivors from standing in a tight formation after skilled teams completed the first Left 4 Dead that way. There's even an achievement in VS mode for hitting all four survivors with one spit attack ("Great Expectorations").
    • The Charger's charge was also designed to break up teams, especially in narrow corridors. Just like with the Spitter, there is also an achievement ("Scattering Ram") for hitting the whole gang.
  • At least 99% of Luiginary attacks in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team work like this, with them being set to hit everything on the field. Indeed, even your normal hammer and jump attacks work like this thanks to the Luigi clones that hit the enemies surrounding your primary target. To compensate, every single Dream World boss is a Flunky Boss of some kind and every single Dream World enemy comes in packs of at least two or three.
  • A lot of Battle Chips in the Mega Man Battle Network series qualify thanks to the battle system being grid-based:
    • WideSword and LongSword respectively hit a three-panel column and a two-panel row directly in front of you. Put the two in a Program Advance with Sword, and you get LifeSword, which hits all six panels directly in front of you.
    • BigBomb throws a bomb that hits a panel and all 8 panels around it. Throwing it in the middle of the enemy's 3x3 field makes it an unavoidable attack on all enemies. It's used in the Program Advance UltraBomb, which hits a similar area but deals way more damage, cracks enemy panels, and pierces armor.
    • ShotGun, CrossGun, V-Gun and SideGun from the earlier games respectively hit a two-panel row, five panels in a cross shape, three panels in a V-shape, and a three-panel column around the target. Most, if not all, of these chips have elemental variants.
  • Spells (and explosives) in the Myth series basically amount to this, with one of the most horrifying instances being Dispersal Dream, which will insta-kill most infantry units with a psychic explosion. Said explosion will then cause any adjacent survivor to do likewise, with the chain reaction continuing indefinitely. Tightly packed formation of 40 troops? *Boom* *boom* *boom* *boom* *boom*...
  • Octopath Traveler:
    • Warriors get access to Level Slash, a Sword skill which hits all enemies on the field.
    • Apothecaries have Last Stand, an Axe skill which hits everything, and hits harder inversely proportional to how much life the user has left.
    • Hunters get Arrowstorm, a Bow skill that rains arrows upon every enemy multiple times. The damage per hit is weak, but it's ideal if you want to break every enemy at once, since breaking is based on the number of hits, not the damage inflicted.
    • Merchants, Clerics, and Dancers get a wide-reaching spell of their element. Every Scholar spell also hits all enemies, as well as every elemental Sorcerer spell.
    • Warmasters also have several skills that attack all enemies with a specific weapon type, culminating in the Divine Skill which attacks all enemies with all weapon types.
    • Sealticge's Seduction, the Dancer's Divine Skill, causes every non-weapon single-target skill for the recipient to become this.
  • Path of Exile:
    • The Herald of Ash and Herald of Ice spells, which respectively add fire or cold damage to attacks and spells, as well as other "explode on kill" effects. When killing an enemy Herald of Ash causes enemies near the target to take burning damage over time depending on the overkill damage, while Herald of Ice makes frozen enemies explode in a burst of cold damage when killed. Gladiators and Occultists get skills that make bleeding or cursed enemies explode on death, respectively. The Infernal Blow skill causes enemies killed by it to explode and damage others. There is also the Elemental Proliferation skill support, which causes elemental ailments caused by the skill to spread to other enemies.
    • The reason why a Crusader's body armour with the "Enemies you kill explode, dealing X% of max health as physical damage" mod is so valuable is that it's one of the only explosion effects can proc off itself, therefore greatly extending your damage radius and therefore, you clear speed.
  • The Dusk Lobber from Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time lobs small bombs that deal weak splash damage on adjacent lanes, but when powered by an adjacent Moonflower, it will also fire at zombies on adjacent lanes in a Spread Shot akin to Threepeater. Thus, if the zombies are close together on adjacent lanes, the splash on adjacent lanes causes even bigger damage. However, it fares badly against single, isolated targets as its damage output is otherwise weak.
  • Primal Carnage: Several dinosaurs have attacks which are extra effective against groups of humans bunched close together.
    • The Tupandactylus' secondary attack is a powerful dive-bomb which creates a shockwave that does heavy damage and huge knock-back to anyone near wear it lands. This is especially useful to dispatch humans on tall ledges or next to cliffs, because the knock-back can easily send them hurtling to their doom.
    • The Acrocanthosaurus has a stomp attack with a shockwave that functions similarly to the Tupandactylus dive-bomb, but far more powerful and with a much larger radius that can even penetrate walls. To any humans close by it's an almost guaranteed One-Hit Kill, and it also disables any nearby traps on the ground.
    • The Bruiser class dinosaurs (Carnotaurus, Pachycephalosaurus, and Ceratosaurus) have a passive ramming ability automatically activated when they run. This allows them to plow down humans without needing to hit attack buttons, and is especially useful to bulldoze through a narrow group of people like a bowling ball through a row of pins.
    • Spitter class dinosaurs (Cryolophosaurus and Dilophosaurus) can lay down toxic pools on the ground which drain the stamina (for the Dilophosaurus) or health (for the Cryolophosaurus) of any human that walks over them. This is mostly useful for splitting up closely bunched up groups of humans, because the spit itself does relatively little damage when hitting directly.
  • Psychonauts, Raz can get an upgrade to his psychic blast that causes it to chain to multiple targets. Great for hitting the Den Mother's bombs and the Den Mother herself in a single attack, and works pretty well vs the Confusion Rats in the Asylum Walls, too.
  • Ratchet: Deadlocked has weapon mods that cause attacked enemies to send out electrical shocks to their nearby allies. These actually first appeared in Going Commando as hidden mods to certain weapons, but Deadlocked allowed you to add the mod to any weapon.
  • RuneScape has a bunch:
    • Ancient Burst and Barrage spells strike up to eight targets adjacent to the spell's primary target.
    • Previously, some special attacks: The dragon halberd's Sweep attack strikes up to three targets in front of the wielder. The rune throwing axe chains between closely-grouped targets. The dragon 2h sword hits a frontal area.
    • Many abilities. Magic has Chain, Dragon breath which hits the three squares in front of the player, Tsunami which hits lots of targets in front, Implosion that hits surrounding enemies, and ranged and melee have similar moves too.
    • Throwable chinchompas explode on impact, doing splash damage.
    • Tons of bosses have area of effect attacks. Wildywyrms does the chain version. Nex uses the affliction version as well as others.
  • Tate combos in Shinobi (2002), after which the enemies fall to pieces.
  • Splatoon 2 has the Tenta Missiles, which can be used as a special weapon. Activating it will bring up a large targeting reticle on the screen that can be used to lock on to opponents, before unleashing a Macross Missile Massacre upon anyone in your sights. If all of your enemies are crowded together, or at least all in front of you, a barrage of Tenta Missiles can easily disrupt the entirety of the enemy team's plans or even nail a full-team splat.
  • Starcraft has quite a bit of this. The Science Vessel can use Irradiate on enemy units, causing damage to them and any nearby units until the afflicted unit dies or the effect expires, the Mutalisk can chain attack up to three enemies, the Devourer's attack causes a damage effect that splashes to nearby airborne units, the Valkyrie's rockets scatter around nearby enemies, and the Reaver, the Infested Terran, the Firebat and the Siege Tank in siege mode all have area-of-effect attack — and in fact, the Firebat is a great defense against a Zerg Rush thanks to its powerful attack, its area of effect and its ready availability. The Arbiter unit has an AOE debuff which freezes everything in a radius, taking it out of the battle. The Protoss Corsair is an interesting example; it can only attack air-to-air, and its rapid-fire attack has an AOE radius so small it requires several units to be basically on the same spot in order to hit more than one; rather conveniently, air units in Starcraft can pass through each other and tend to bunch up on a single spot when given an attack order, so swarms of enemy flyers will generally form clumps at a single point.
  • MAP attacks have been a staple of the Super Robot Wars series since the very beginning. Running into an enemy with one of these is especially nasty since most players tend to keep their units clustered together to take advantage of each others' Support abilities or Command auras.
  • Supreme Commander has the Aeon's Salvation, a rapid-fire artillery (3 seconds reload) with the greatest range of any artillery in the game, that rains down small shells over the area of a football field. Great for turning bases into rubble. To balance it, it's freakin' expensive.
  • Tales of Maj'Eyal has dozens upon dozens of these attacks. Let's see: Spinning attacks, with or without a weapon? Check. Giant fireballs? Check. Tornadoes and hurricanes? Check. Six variations of dragon breath attacks? Check. Thrashing several opponents with your mind? Check. Heavily damaging, confusing and fear inducing battle shouts? Check. Throwing enemies into other enemies? Check. And the list goes on and on ...
  • In Team Fortress 2 this can be an effective tactic, since you need to capture specific points or push a cart, which by nature causes players to bunch up. The best ways to take them out is using a bunch of sticky bombs from a Demoman or sending in an ubered medic with either a Heavy, a Demoman, or a Pyro. To avoid this, teams might try having a few people (especially Medics) stand just off the point, so they can move in if their teammates are killed.
  • Titan Quest: Nature Mastery has effects that can spread from one to another:
    • The Dissemination enhancement for Regrowth:
      Causes regrowth energy to disseminate from the initial target and leap to nearby allies.
    • Plague:
      Plague afflicts nearby enemies with a debilitating ailment that reduces their health and quickly spreads to other nearby creatures.
  • In Touken Ranbu, ōdachi can hit at most three opponents in one go and naginata the entire team. However, bringing them to an indoor battle will narrow their ranges down to one opponent at a time like other swords.
  • Many, many bosses in Tree of Savior have attacks like these. Early on they are often coupled with some form of Crosshair Aware.
  • War Craft III's Farseer hero can cast Chain Lightning, a chain attack that hits up to five enemies. The Naga Sea Witch's Forked Lightning can hit three. Archmage's Blizzard, Blood Mage's Flame Strike and Pit Lord's Rain of Fire can damage a targeted area. The Huntress can hit multiple targets with her targets. Siege weapons deal splash damage. So on...
  • World of Warcraft:
    • The Shaman class has Chain Lightning like the Farseer in Warcraft III. Watch out for it in PVP.
    • The infamous Corrupted Blood debuff from Hakkar the Soulflayer is a prime example of the spreading debuff variant. When players found a way to carry the infection through the Boss Fight, they spread it all over the world, making it nearly impossible for low level players to survive being in cities or towns. Inspired the Zombie Infestation event.
    • C'Thun's Eye Beam and Sir Zeliek's Holy Wrath are unusual chain attacks: they increase in power with every bounce and only stop when there are no more party members in range that have not been hit.
    • In The Oculus the players get this ability when riding the red dragon, making it possible to deal extra damage to the boss by bouncing the spell off his allies.
    • Thaddius's Polarity Shift randomly gives each party member a positive or negative charge. Standing near players with the same charge gives a damage buff, while players with the opposite charge (or no charge at all) causes damage to the players, with both effects increasing in potency with the number of players in range.
    • Loken is one of the most difficult five-man bosses in Wrath of the Lich King because he both plays this trope straight and inverts it. During the main phase, an inverted area affect deals more damage the further you are away, so the group needs to cluster at his feet. However, he will occasionally cast a traditional AOE, dealing massive damage if you're nearby.
    • Every class has an AOE of some sort. Some have many. And sometimes bosses have their own versions (Deathwhisper's Death and Decay, Tyrande's Starshards).
      • The Death Knight's Pestilence ability is particularly nasty; when used, every DoT disease on the target is instantly spread to all other enemies within 10 yards. One of the DK's Unholy talents gives a huge boost to the damage of diseases spread this way.
      • The Paladin gets the Seal of Righteousness ability, which makes every melee attack the paladin makes a case of this.
      • A warlock's Seed of Corruption also deserves special mention — it's a debuff that functions as a bomb. When the target takes a sufficient level of damage (from any source), or dies, the bomb explodes and damages everything around the target (except the target itself, originally. This was later patched). Because group damage would cause the bombs to detonate nearly instantly, and the spell had no cooldown, this was — for a time — the most damaging Area of Effect spell in the game.
      • The Warrior's Whirlwind, the primary area of effect attack in the Fury tree, reduces its cooldown when it hits more than four enemies. It's not very efficient for small groups, but in larger packs, it can be deadly.
    • There are also a large number of abilities that invert this, healing people who stay together. The best known is likely the shaman's Chain Heal spell, but there's also Circle of Healing, Holy Nova (also a straight version, since it hurts enemies too) and so on. The only healing class that doesn't naturally get any of these is the paladin, and the Cataclysm expansion is expected to gve them a couple.
    • The strongest subversion of this probably comes with the various "meteor" attacks. While they may seem like either this or a regular area attack (depending on how much warning you get), they actually divide their total damage amongst everyone in the area: if everyone runs away, then anyone left behind will be killed. Notably, at least one boss has "meteor fists" which requires as many people as possible to stand in front of him, lest the tank be one-shot, inverting the standard cleave mechanic.
    • Some bosses put an AOE on a certain player, and force them to run away from others to avoid damaging the raid. For example, in the Omnitron Defense System encounter, Magmatron targets players with Flamethrower, doing damage to them and anyone else in the line of fire, and Electron can use chain lightning and put a debuff on players that causes electric damage to those standing near them. Players who cause wipes by not moving, and thus causing the damage to kill their fellow raiders, earn the ire of their groupmates and often get kicked out.
    • Many bosses have cleaves, which hit people standing in front of them besides the tank (usually one other person, but it can be everyone in melee range). This prevents the entire raid from stacking and getting AOE healing.
      • Dragons have two cleaves: a frontal Breath Weapon and a Tail Slap to prevent stacking behind them. Onyxia does it one better in Blackwing Descent, where she has a sideways Shock and Awe attack, letting her cleave in every direction.
  • In Warframe, this is Hydroid's specialty. ALL of his abilities can hit multiple enemies, with two of them having the ability to immobilize several opponents at once.
  • Warhammer Online has Gorak the Ancient, who fires lightning bolts that do extensive damage on their own but whose damage increases considerably for each freindly target within a certain radius of the target, hitting BOTH targets with the improved-strength lightning bolt.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Darktide has the Scab Bombers, who function like Vermintide's Poison Wind Globadiers and Left 4 Dead 2's Spitters, this time by throwing firebombs that temporarily blanket an area in constant-damage flames and forcing the players to scatter. These flames also instantly deplete Toughness to 0, giving even more incentive to keep far away.
  • Explosives fill this role in X Com Enemy Unknown. Any soldier can be equipped with relatively short-range grenades, while Heavies carry a rocket launcher and have skills that can increase its power and area of effect. The Enemy Within expansion adds Mec troopers which can be equipped with flamethrowers, an excellent short-range alternative that also causes its targets to panic, potentially losing a turn or running away. The Long War fan expansion adds a dedicated Engineer class that specializes in grenades and splits them into High Explosive (good for demolishing cover) and Anti-Personnel (doesn't affect cover but deals more damage), with the latter being the more effective for actually taking down herds. They're one of the best ways to deal with Chrysallids, at least until/unless you've got an Assault trained up with skills that allow them to take multiple shots per turn at close range.
    • XCOM 2 has the special Ranger skill "Bladestorm" which allows a melee attack on any enemy unit within range if they take any action. This is acceptably useful against lone enemies who make the foolish mistake of rushing the Ranger, but if the enemy is about to get reinforcements, and your Ranger can run to the drop zone? It turns out that 'deploying into battle' counts as an action, and your Ranger will become a human blender as everyone around them gets cut down with deadly sword strikes. A particularly well placed Ranger can wipe out an entire ADVENT reinforcement squad in a single reaction phase.
  • Fiora of Xenoblade Chronicles 1 specializes in these. Whether it's group debuffing (while also receiving a stronger buff for every enemy debuffed), damage, or filling the Party Gauge, you won't be disappointed. Shulk also has a couple, but he can do everything anyway, so no surprise there.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Double Homework, Dr. Mosely/Zeta starts an avalanche to kill the protagonist and the girls.

    Real Life 
  • Most missile weapons can do this. But until World War I (the arrival of rapid-fire guns) it was not considered dangerous enough to compare with the danger of having formed troops plow through rabbles like a bulldozer. Plus the fact that formations are more easily commanded than swarms of individuals.
  • During World War II, Anti-Air defenses usually took the form of this, typically via various applications of More Dakka, in response to the advent of massed aerial attacks. It simply became more effective to fill the entire area with flak than it was to try and hit any particular airplane. Even so, against large enough attacks, this would take on shades of Point Defenseless without friendly air support.
    • This was also the preferred strategy of Luftwaffe fighter pilots against American heavy bomber formations in the same conflict: The Army Air Forces' battle doctrine was to field large forces of tightly grouped bombers, providing each other with overlapping fields of defensive fire while maximizing the number of bombs dropped onnote  their targets. The Germans found it was most effective to simply charge through the formation head-on with guns blazing so that the defensive gunners wouldn't be have time to aim at them effectively. To make the most of this tactic, German fighters were often armed with powerful 20mm or 30mm cannons rather than the typical machine guns used by most fighters.
  • What grenades and other anti-personnel explosive munitions are designed to do, and, depending on what type is used, for both lethal and nonlethal uses.
  • The history of artillery is full of means for dealing with massed infantry (which, if they can close in to effective range, are usually devastating to artillery operators who, by the nature of such things, are typically few in number and have lousy equipment). Before the invention of explosives, this most often took the form of scatter shot: a siege weapon like a catapult, trebuchet, or cannon was loaded with many small stones or fragments of metal and shot off like normal. The resulting attack made less efficient use of mechanical energy and distributed it very unevenly (read: range and accuracy were shot to hell) but could wound a lot of troops at once, especially if they were in close ranks. This evolved into canister shot (bundle the shot up so that it was more predictable), then shrapnel shot (a shell that's fired like normal and bursts in midair, making it more accurate for most of the flight), then fragmentation warheads (which detonate on or near the point of impact) but the basic concept remains the same.
    • The apex of the "throw many small things to hit a wide area" approach thus far is the beehive round, an artillery shell loaded with hundreds or thousands of flechettes (think short, stubby, all-metal arrows) that disperses them in such a way that any unsheltered people in the area of effect get hit by at least one.

Alternative Title(s): Crowd Control


Kamek's Magic

Kamek's magical attack can strike up to four opponents at once.

How well does it match the trope?

3.5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / HerdHittingAttack

Media sources: