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In Real-Time Strategy games that feature Resource-Gathering and unit building, it is often impossible to regain resources through the retrieval or scavenging of wrecks, debris or the remains of buildings. This is particularily unrealistic when the Resource-Gathering technique involves breaking the raw material up into component molecules by some high-tech device.

Not to be confused with the aversion of Copy-and-Paste Environments, or with Never Recycle a Building.

It's probably easier to list exceptions than examples:


  • Exception: In Sid Meier's Civilization II, units can be recycled to recover half of the resources it cost to build them.
  • In the Mac (and later PC, iOS, and Android) strategy game Spaceward Ho!, fleets that were destroyed in orbit would rain metal down onto the planet - which was important, because metal is a finite resource. A heavily defended planet in a key strategic location could therefore become a "metal farm." You could also scrap your own fleets to recover some of the metal that was used to build them.
  • Exception: In the Space Empires series of games, both facilities and ships can be recycled for materials (the exchange rate is fairly low, but can be enhanced by special reclamation facilities). Captured ships with technology more advanced than yours can also be taken apart for a substantial research boost.
  • Averted in Spore's Space Phase, sometimes enemy spaceships will leave debris behind, which you can bring into your spaceship for instant money.
  • Salvage ships in Sword of the Stars can recover resources from starship debris. As well as repairing damaged ships.
    • Meta example: Aside from the Zuul colonies are normally set to harvest resources at a sustainable level, keeping the numerical amount constant, but one can "overharvest" to temporarily increase production while depleting a planet's resources. And the Zuul always overharvest.

First-Person Shooter

  • Engineers in Team Fortress 2 can pick up the pieces of destroyed buildings for metal.
    • And other classes can pick up fallen weapons and pieces of metal to replenish ammo.
    • Though this trope goes the other way—for example, wooden bats can be recycled for metallic ammo.
  • Not quite a "building", but the Scavenger perk in the Call of Duty games allows the player to recover expended ammo and grenades from the supplies of fallen soldiers, and anyone can pick up a dead soldier's weapon if theirs is running low.


  • Exception: EVE Online has the Salvager beam, and the Salvaging skill. This allows you to salvage things from wrecks. The bigger the wreck, the better chance of a good part being found. In fact, these parts are needed to construct ship "Rigs", haphazard improvements to your ship's systems. Also, just about everything you can buy or sell can be Reprocessed into its basic minerals, sometimes for more than what it costs to buy the item(s).
  • World of Warcraft allows unwanted magical items to be disenchanted for materials to enchant new gear; this is in fact the only way to obtain most enchanting reagents. More appropriately, skills such as herbalism, mining, skinning, and even engineering allow you to recover additional loot from NPC corpses of the appropriate type, including the occasional rare item.
  • Guild Wars: the main source of crafting materials used in making new weapons and armor is from salvaging the junk that drops off monsters, or from salvaging your existing weapons and armor.
  • RuneScape 3 allows you to avert this once you unlock Invention, which lets you break down items for materials. Whether you get good materials or not is up to RNG, too.
    • In all versions of the game, there's the alchemy spell that lets you convert anything to coins. It also acts as a price floor for items, as anything that would go too far below the alch price and cost of the runes to cast the spell would be in high demand for the "free" money.

Real-Time Strategy

  • In the first two The Settlers games, buildings which had no further use could be burned to free up space, but any resources in those buildings were totally destroyed as well.
    • This was particularly frustrating in the case of catapults in The Settlers II, which would suck up all your stone, then be rendered useless by a shifting border. You could burn the catapult to stop it taking any more of your precious stone, but all the stone it had already eaten would be lost forever.
  • Homeworld sits on both sides of the trope. Random asteroids could be broken up into molecules by a beam mounted on a harvester ship, but the extensive wreckage of the spacedock in which your main ship had been built could not be salvaged for the metal at all. Also, enemy ships would not leave behind salvagable debris when destroyed. However, if you researched the proper technologies and built the required ships, you could steal enemy ships and add them to your fleet. You could also retire any ship smaller than capital-class and get back some of the resources used to build it.
    • Homeworld 2 however, addresses this, and you can research and build a 'wreckage recycler' class ship, that does Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Furthermore, the debris of destroyed super-capital ships will yield resources, though not half as many as were required to build the ship in the first place.
  • Exception: In Battlezone (1998), quite a bit of the game's resource management is based on recycling, since the unusual "bio-metal" that makes up most of the game's vehicles and structures is a rare commodity. Thus it can be salvaged from enemy forces as well as your own. One can even scrap an existing unit to transform it into something else. Since the bio-metal reserves in any level are finite, this gives a whole new sense to porcing (aka Turtling). Make enough defensive turrets, arm them with cannons and guard your base tightly, and any attacking enemy unit you destroy will take precious resources away from the enemy and into your own reserves (after harvesting). Keep it up and you'll have a huge army while the enemy has too few resources to build anything much. Then smash his base to pieces.
  • Another exception: In Total Annihilation, destroyed (and even active) units can be harvested for metal, one of the game's resources. Its spiritual successor Supreme Commander retains this mechanic.
    • The destroyed husks of units can even be used as cover, adding another level of micro-management.
    • Not only that, they can be used to close off holes in your defenses, forcing the invader into a more inconvenient route or forcing them to bring a construction unit (very vulnerable) into the fray.
      • Or simply use a unit with an explosive attack (like rockets as opposed to lasers) to blow up the offending husk.
    • Despite this technology the game's backstory still has the warring parties nearly exhausting all the resources in the galaxy.
      • Probably because of the fact that most unit corpses will get pounded into rubble, which gives back less than the full measure of metal, before being retrieved.
    • Another aversion is the Cavedog add-on unit, the Core Necro, which resurrects destroyed units, and can eventually repair them to fighting fit.
  • Another exception is found in AirMech, where all units on the players team can be recycled by picking them up and hovering over an outpost, all enemy units can be captured by the Saucer mech and then recycled if desired, and all heavy units (i.e. not infantry) leave wreckage behind on death that can be recycled by healing units and the osprey mech, the rate dependent on healing rate. Sounds... familiar... even before you factor in the wreckage-reviving unit called... the Necro...
  • Yet another exception: In Sacrifice, not only can destroyed units be salvaged for the key resource required to build more units, but it is the only way to increase the stockpile with which one starts each round. Enemy units can also be salvaged (although they require processing, during which the enemy may stage a retrieval) and gaining a partial or complete monopoly is a useful way of limiting an opponent's effectiveness.
  • Rule of thumb in Command & Conquer (yes, this is an aversion): All refunds are half the original production cost of the object in question. Buildings can be disassembled and sold for half of the original construction costs. If the game features a repair pad of some sort, vehicles can be sent there for a refund.
    • Tiberian Dawn had an exploitable bug with a little bit of work involving sandbagging and infantry placement, you could sell them off, too, especially when you find your footmen too injured to carry on fighting.
    • Red Alert 2: Infantry can be sent to a Cloning Vats , refunding half of their original training cost. Best not think about it too much. The mechanic for the refund wasn't foolproof, though: The Cloning Vats can be exploited to grant completely free infantry (you get a full refund for a freshly-trained soldier that you can't place, but the Cloning Vats still gives you a free clone of them), this can also be used to make infinite money.
    • Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge: The Grinder is an independent break-off of the Cloning Vat's recycling feature, but this time, vehicles are also permitted for recycling. Electronic Arts had rectified the exploitable Cloning Vats bug at this point.
      • Here's another one: Apply Genetic Mutation to a pack of Slaves. Send the resulting Brutes to the Grinder. They'll be treated as Brutes ($500 of training per head) and will be recycled as such. Oh, by the way, those Slaves were absolutely free of training charge.
      • This issue has at some point or another been patched. Now, Brutes created by the Genetic Mutator are coded as a clone of the regular Brute, but with a cash value of $0.
    • Red Alert 3: the Grinder Crane can, yes, grind units to refund a fraction of the price.
    • Generals: The Global Liberation Army has the innate ability to scavenge derelict land vehicles for cash or weapons.
    • In Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars, you can send your engineers to capture and reactivate fallen Annihilator Tripods, Juggernauts, or Avatars.
  • The same is possible in Warcraft III, where the undead can "unsummon" buildings to regain some of the resources spent on them, while Orcs can research the Pillage ability, allowing them to gain resources by attacking enemy buildings.
  • While played straight in the first, in Starcraft II, Terrans can "salvage" bunkers to recoup 75% of the cost of production. This is a key way to gain territory against other races.
    • In one of the WoL missions, you can collect scrap metal from crashed ships to convert them into ressources.
  • In the Star Trek: Armada series, ships and stations alike could be decommissioned, returning their entire worth in resources and any surviving crew to the player's resource pools.
    • This is taken to a larger extreme with Species 8472 in Star Trek: Armada II. Species 8472 doesn't actually use the dilithium, metal, or latinum resources. When their harvester ships harvest from those resources, they transmute them to the only resource they need: bio-matter. The neat thing you can do with this, though, is that you take their harvester ships and target them on enemy ships, thereby harvesting bio-matter from the very people who are attacking you at the moment, and, in the process, destroying their ships.
    • There is a trick that can be used to get free resources using the Gemini Effect power of the Miranda-class science vessels, which temporarily creates a duplicate of any ship. If this is done near a shipyard, the duplicate can then be quickly decommissioned before the effect dissipates and the duplicate disappears. The resources gained from this don't disappear. It is better to do this with a smaller ship, as large ships take too long to decommission.
  • The browser-based multiplayer space RTS game O Game is a notable exception to this trope. From a moderate rank onward, the best way to gain resources is often to attack another player when their fleet is present, in order to destroy as much of it as possible and then send in ships specifically designed to harvest the debris.
  • Averted in Company of Heroes, in which the Germans may salvage the wrecks of destroyed tanks and deceased gun crews may be replaced.
    • The Allies can also get the War Machine ability, which gives resources for any destroyed vehicles to represent the overwhelming ability of the Allies to field reinforcements quickly. And, similar to the Total Annihilation example above, destroyed vehicles, especially tanks, are extremely useful as cover for infantry, making strategic loss of assets a concern.
  • Stratosphere: Conquest of the Skies lets any fort salvage building ore per destroyed/retired structure, but only if someone else doesn't get to it first. Once ore is freed it floats in mid-air for anyone to collect and is slightly attract to nearby forts.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War also had partial refunds on your own buildings that you disassembled.
    • While it doesn't really show up in-game, the setting of Warhammer 40K makes retrieving parts from fallen units vital to the future of the Imperium, since the ability to make new ones is long-forgotten knowledge. Even a Space Marine has several grafted body parts that are exceptionally difficult to replace- the idea of never leaving a man behind is due at least as much to the need to harvest their corpse as it is loyalty.
    • Recycling is directly tied to Space Marines, who have lost the ability to produce, among other things, Dreadnoughts and new Geneseed. All of the current Dreadnoughts are exceedingly old (the machine itself is innumerably ancient, while the occupants usually have lived at least a good few centuries before internment) and spare parts come from other destroyed Dreadnoughts. Geneseeds are created from two glands within existing Space Marines, which are harvested at or close to the time of death, and these form the templates of new space marines.
      • Technically the geneseed can be harvested from the Space Marine at any time once it has matured (with takes 5-10 years) however most chapters only do this if they are really short of geneseed for new recruits preferring to leave it in the living marines otherwise. This is because these Progenoid Glands genetically encode memories, so the longer they stay inside a single marine, the better his "son" will be. If it's removed before he dies, that's less of a chance his successor will be able to avoid what killed his progenitor, ergo, less return on investment.
    • Some of the Imperial Guard vehicles are due to the fact that they had to work with whatever was on hand. The Stormsword Superheavy tank was originally a salvaged Shadowsword Titan hunter refitted with a siege cannon, much to the chagrin of the accompanying Adeptus Mechanicus priests.
  • In Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising, salvaging debris from destroyed enemies is often your primary source of income. Your own units can also be recycled, but oddly enough, do not leave debris if destroyed.
  • Exception: Structures in Outpost 2 (though not vehicles) are reduced to rubble upon destruction, which can then be collected by cargo trucks and turned back into usable materials at the Garbage and Ore Recycling Facility (GORF). Also, structure kits you were planning to build but decide against can be sent to the GORF.
  • Sins of a Solar Empire averts this, with a scuttle option that allows you to demolish a building for about 1/3rd the resources that it cost to make. In addition, there are some Vasari abilities that allow them to take debris and convert it to health or resources. An Advent Capital Ship can recycle dead CREWS (In effect, raising the level of a new capital ship to the level of a previous one).
  • In the Army Men RTS all units, and much of the terrain, are made of plastic. When destroyed, almost everything left a smear of plastic on the ground, which could be retrieved and returned to your base to be turned into new soldiers, buildings and weapons.
  • Obvious aversion: Super Energy Apocalypse. Not only was it partially possible (necessary, in fact) to retrieve wreckage from destroyed structures, you could also do the same thing with enemies. In fact, recycling and efficient resource extraction was kind of the point of the whole game...
  • Strong exception: A necessary part of the game Genesis Rising is killing enemy biological spacecraft and harvesting genetic "tokens" that consist of weaponry, abilities, etc, which can also be recycled. On top of that, every enemy killed is filled with harvest-able blood, the resource used to build ships, genetic tokens, and heal your units.
  • Exception in Machines: Wired For War: you can deconstruct buildings and recycle machines to regain part of their cost. Destroyed units leave behind debris that can be picked up by a special scavenger machine, although the debris disappears if not picked up within a short time.
  • In Age of Empires II, if one of your buildings is razed, or deleted by you, as it's being built, you get the wood and/or stone back. However, any razed or deleted complete building will not give you resources, nor will other civs' buildings or ruins.
  • Averted in Original War, where everyone is stuck two million years in the past without much of an infrastructure. Everything that stands still for long enough can get dismantled. Drivers eject when their vehicles catch fire, so every major battle should have mechanics running around, field repairing and then hijacking tanks. Workers are efficient enough that they're actually among the more powerful anti-structure units. This can lead to strange situations, where an attack may just be a diversion to allow workers to sneak into a base and disassemble the enemy vehicle bay, then walk away with the parts.
  • Averted in Dwarf Fortress. Building materials for buildings are always returned upon deconstruction and metallic items can be melted for a fixed return, though this ignores decorations. In fact, depending on the item being melted, the return from melting might be more than it took to make the item in the first place. A full stack of 500 coins, for example, takes one bar of metal to make, yet for some reason produces 1.1 bars of metal when melted. And a single coin logically ought to produce 1/500th that amount, but yields for any given melt job are rounded up to the nearest 1/10th of a bar — so separating that stack of 500 coins and melting them one at a time will (very slowly) produce a total of 50 bars.
  • Anno Domini: 2070 lets you regain some of the building materials when you demolish an unused structure, as long as there is room for it on the island. The percentage seems to vary by difficulty. Oddly enough, you can't sell ships, though. Any resources still in the building and the materials used to upgrade houses are lost though.
  • Star Ruler has a Salvager tool that lets you recover resources from derelicts.
  • Averted in Universe at War where the Novus and Hierarchy fractions would use damaged war machines as resources. Played straight for the humans though.
  • The Dos game War Inc had structures purchased for cash, and deconstructing them gives a 50% refund. There was a campaign-scale upgrade available by buying out an insurance company, where the 50% refund applies if the building is destroyed by enemy unitst.
  • In FTL: Faster Than Light, when you destroy a ship, you can pick it apart for fuel, missiles, and the ship-materials itself, which takes the form as "Scrap", the game's currency. As a rule, you get much better rewards if you take the ship intact by killing all the enemy crew. Pretty much everything can be sold (that is, turned into more Scrap). However, deploying a Drone is played straight: If you deploy a Drone, and it's still intact at the end of a battle, you can't "un-deploy" it and bring it back inside. However, the "Drone Retrieval Arm" augment lets you do that.
  • In Evil Genius, although the help file and tutorial play this straight by saying that you lose all the money you spent on a room or object when you demolish it, it's lying. You got 80% of its value back.
  • Averted in Metal Fatigue, as Combot parts are both treated as a stacked, stored resource when built and taken from the field of battle as well in the form of captured salvage. In most games, a captured item that is researched is lost—here, it remains in your inventory and can be used as-is to build new Combots, which can result in a Rummage Sale Reject appearance, when you have a machine with organic-looking purple legs, one beefy red arm, the other as a sinister black claw, all stuck to an aerodynamically smooth blue torso.

Role-Playing Game

  • Non-RTS exception: Chrono Cross. You can "disassemble" old weapons and armor at the blacksmith, receiving the various raw materials needed to forge new items. This sometimes makes sense and sometimes (disassembling "bronze" somethings would give you back "copper") does not.
  • A single exception in Kingdom of Loathing: while normally you can't get back non-food ingredients of craftable consumables (casserole dishes, for example), anything cocktail crafted with a Tiny Plastic Sword will give it back when you drink it. Of course, it was originally a limited holiday item and is no longer obtainable except from another player, so this is understandable.
  • BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Inception had you salvaging weapons and armour (as well as credits) from vanquished foes, and in the case of defeated mechas, you sometimes had the choice of taking the entire unit, if you had someone who could actually pilot one and wasn't already using such a unit. This was almost always a bad idea, since any unit that you defeated was invariably damaged in either the engine, gyros or sensors, none of which could be fixed by any mechanic in the game.
  • Virtually all RPGs and action games with a crafting system (ie. virtually all of them these days), have recycling as the basis of the entire system. Crafting parts are either taken from the corpses of defeated enemies, or produced by dismantling unwanted equipment.

Turn-Based Strategy

  • Star Control II justified getting money from combat by explaining that the resulting wrecks of enemy ships could be salvaged for raw materials. It also allowed ships and flagship parts to be removed at your starbase (even things like fuel and crew) for a full refund.
  • Likewise, in the original MechWarrior game, one of the things that determined your salary from any given mission was dependent upon what percentage of the wreckage you wanted to claim for yourselves. The first BattleTech game was similar, with wrecked mechs granting crucial materials for repairing your own, and otherwise giving parts to be sold (which translated into instantaneous money).
    • Similarly in the video game adaptation of BattleTech, in which pretty much the only way to get new mechs is to recycle destroyed ones - even buying mechs from a shop only gives you parts rather than the whole thing.
  • In Stars! turn-based strategy game, destroyed ships leave behind part of their component minerals that can be salvaged. Ships can also be salvaged at planets to recover not only minerals, but also recover some of the ship's production cost that is put into what the planet is currently building, probably representing salvaging usable parts.

Wide-Open Sandbox

  • In Minecraft, iron and golden equipment can be smelted in a furnace to obtain an iron nugget and gold nugget, respectively. It's a lot less than what you need to craft such equipment, but it can be a helpful source of iron and gold if you can get the equipment without crafting it (e.g. by buying it from villagers).

Tabletop Games

  • In the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons unwanted magic items can be disenchanted through a particular ritual. This leaves behind a silvery powder called residuum, which can be used to make new magic items. However, the process returns only a fifth of the value of the original item (Worth noting that: (1) This is typical value you get from selling the item to a vendor and (2) this can be changed at the DM's discretion).
  • Played straight in the BattleTech core rules, which concern themselves solely with resolving one scenario at a time, but averted in campaign play, where repairs and battlefield salvage tend to play a major part in keeping a player's force functional. (This reflects the same common practices in-universe.)


  • Ixion averts this trope as every time you deconstruct a building or ship, you get all of the resources back that were used to originally create it. Also, a major part of the interconnected industries is taking waste products from factories, farms and homes and recycling them into something else.