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Situational Damage Attack

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In a combat game, a given attack's damage tends to be fairly predictable. Sometimes it simply does a set amount of damage; that's a Fixed Damage Attack. More often, there are other variables to consider, such as the attacker's strength, the victim's defense and resistance, and perhaps a small random element.

This trope is about attacks whose damage changes according to non-random variables that don't apply to "normal" attacks within the same system. Common variables that may affect a Situational Damage Attack are range, the attacker's health, time spent charging up, the gender of the target, the type of terrain the attacker is on, the category of opponent the attacker is facing, or even truly esoteric things like how many steps the party has taken or the last digit of their gold total.

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Note that this doesn't just apply to attacks— it may be a buff spell, defensive technique, even healing— so long as its effects vary depending on situational variables not usually considered by other spells, abilities, or techniques.

Supertrope to Desperation Attack, Gathering Steam, and Situational Sword. Compare and contrast Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors and Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors, which typically apply to an entire combat system as opposed to just one attack. Contrast Fixed Damage Attack and Percent Damage Attack, which typically ignore variables usually taken into account, and Randomized Damage Attack, when the damage is completely random. Compare and contrast Damage-Increasing Debuff, Injured Vulnerability, and Attack Its Weak Point when it's a property of the defender rather than the attack that affects the amount of damage dealt, and Status Buff where it's a property of a beneficial spell.

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See also Evolving Attack.


Examples:

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     Action RPG  

  • Monster Hunter: The Great Sword has its own damage system based on which part of the blade is in contact. The bottom and tip of the blade are weakest, while the center has the highest damage output.

     Fighting Game  

  • From the Marvel vs. Capcom series:
    • Magneto's Magnetic Shockwave, Venom's Death Bite, Hulk's Hyper Gamma Wave and Thor's Mighty Thunder deal more damage depending on how far away from the wall the opponent is and how close you are to said opponent.
    • Captain Commando's Captain Sword does more damage depending on how high and how close the opponent is.
    • Most Hyper Combos in general let you strengthen some by Button Mashing; the more it is mashed, the more hits and damage it does.
    • X-Factor in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has shades of this; it can be triggered anytime, but depending on how many of your teammates you've lost, the effects and duration of the mode will increase dramatically.
    • Haggar's Wild Swing attack is an aerial grab where he throws the opponent to the ground; the higher in the air he was, the bigger damage it deals. His Giant Haggar Press can also do additional damage if the opponent was in midair and close to your position, depending on their altitude.
    • Amaterasu's Glaive Chop attack has her descending forward with her blade while delivering multiple hits; depending on her initial altitude, this can either do little or big damage. Same thing happens with Dante's Sky Dance.
    • Firebrand's Bon Voyage attack has him grabbing the enemy and dragging it along the ground until he hits a wall; depending on the distance of the wall, it can do little or big damage.
    • MODOK's Hyper Psionic Blaster's damage depends on how many "levels of understanding" (via successful Analyze Cube attacks) he has stacked; it can do from minor damage to massive damage, even rivaling some Lv 3 Hypers.
    • Nova's Gravimetric Pulse and Gravimetric Blaster will deal more damage depending on the amount of red health he has left.
    • Akuma's Messatsu Gohado Agyo is a rapid-fire spread of fireballs that deals more damage and hits the closer the enemy is to him.
  • Guilty Gear:
    • Robo-Ky has an "overheat" system which is indicated by a gauge; every attack will fill the gauge. He also has a normal move where he vents out all the heat and depletes the gauge; the closer to full the gauge is, the more damage the venting out deals.
    • The Accent Core titles give Sol the "Clean Hit" system, where some of Sol's non-projectile specials can deal more damage, have more pronounced bounce effects where applicable, and have increased untechable time if he can score a hit with a specific part of his hitbox for each move. Additionally, his Sidewinder (if a Clean Hit) and Tyrant Rave (the follow-up to his Fafnir Force Break) have their power dependent on the number of Clean Hits included in a single combo. Advanced Sol play in these games primarily revolves around his Clean Hit Sidewinder loops, which are character-specific and harder to execute compared to the infamous Dust Loop.
  • Street Fighter EX: Cracker Jack's Final Punch is a Charged Attack using three punch/kick buttons; depending on how long you charged it, it can deal low to massive damage (more than half a life bar, even).
    • As Jack's moveset is lifted almost wholesale from Balrog, it should come as no surprise that Balrog's Turn Punch operates identically.
  • The King of Fighters XIII: Akin to Jack above, Raiden has a move known as the Super Drop Kick, also a Charged Attack that gets stronger every 4 seconds you charge it.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Lucario's Aura makes attacks become stronger the more damage he takes, as illustrated here. Note that despite the ridiculously-high self damage shown in the comic, the damage Lucario's taken stops further bolstering his aura past 170%.
    • Marth and Roy's attacks do more damage depending on what part of their swords hit their target (the tip and the base respectively).
    • Some characters' moves become a Meteor Move depending on which frame the attack is executed and hits the target.
  • In Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3, while most attacks are either fixed or charged, the damage of Babidi's Ultimate Blast depends on the number of successful grabs beforehand, and Devilman's depends on the Character Alignment of the opponent — good characters like Goku are almost entirely immune to it, while evil characters take a large amount of damage.
  • Persona 4: Arena: Junpei Iori has a mechanic called "Clean Hit" where if he hits his opponent with a specific part of his bat, he'll do more hitstun and damage than normal, allowing for combos that aren't otherwise possible.
  • All the way through the Mortal Kombat series, Johnny Cage can use his notorious Nut Punch. Until MK9, this attack had no effect on female fighters, for obvious reasons.
  • The various Jacks in Tekken have a move called Gigaton Punch, where the Jack du jour will begin winding up his arm as the announcer starts counting, similar to the aforementioned Balrog. It's fairly weak if used immediately, but once fully charged (the announcer will exclaim "5!"), the attack is practically a One Hit Ko and becomes unblockable. Good luck actually hitting someone with it by that point, though.

     First Person Shooter  

  • Team Fortress 2:
    • The Medic's Crusader's Crossbow does damage based on distance; the further the distance, the more damage done.
    • The Pyro's Axtinguisher will deal more damage to a foe that is on fire—it used to be rated at stock damage, but inflicted Critical Hit damage against burning enemies and just half against any non-ignited foe. The Homewrecker does double damage against buildings and only 75% against people, while the Neon Annihilator does only 80% damage against enemies and yet deals crits to them while they are wet.
    • The Sniper's Shahanshah inflicts only 75% damage while he is over half health, but this increases to 125% damage when he has less than half his health remaining.
    • The Demoman's various shields will increase their Shield Bash damage based on the number of enemies he's killed by decapitating them. Relatedly, the further along in a charge he is, the more damage he will do with a weapon swing afterwards—base damage at the start of a charge, minicrit damage partway through, and a full critical hit at the end.

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     Four X  

     MMORPG  

  • Elsword:
    • Sword Taker's Hypersonic Stab skill does more damage to the individual enemies if more of them are caught in the line.
    • Psychic Tracer's Static Field first generates a small blast of electricity that can hit multiple enemies at once. Depending on how much the enemy gets hit, you can either release a powerful shock blast that deals higher damage or get some MP back.
    • Arc Tracer's Panzer Buster deals more damage the closer the enemy is to the laser.
      • His other skill Psionic Generator works similarly to Static Field above (minus the MP regain).
    • Battle Magician's Supernova skill's damage depends on how much of her allies and enemies are caught up in the spherical field that appears before the giant magic explosion.
    • Some of Ara's skills depend on the amount of beads inside her Spirit Gauge; the more she has, the stronger the skills become. Same goes for Chung's skills that use ammo for his cannon.
      • One of her basic combos are chargeable, dealing more damage after charged
    • This list can go all day, Eve has a skill that has damage that depends on how close the attack hits from the place it is used
    • Speaking of charging attacks, Lu and Ciel from the Lu/Ciel combo has one of their heavy combos that needs charging to increase damage, it is possible to launch it instantly for quick damage, but charging deals more
      • Although not a gameplay element, there are some skills that require both characters to perform
  • In Granblue Fantasy, many damaging spells deal greater damage against enemies in Overdrive, or in Break mode. Should the attack be cast on the wrong mode, or enemy fall into neither category (such as a having a Normal or non-existent Charge Attack bar), the damage dealt will be minimal. The Defiance and Salted Wound buffs also grant these multipliers to some characters.
  • In Vindictus, Karok's smash attack does much more damage if there's something behind the targeted mobs for him to hurl them against.

     Multiplayer Online Battle Arena  

  • Dota 2: Outworld Devourer's Arcane Orb, which deals its damage based on OD's current mana pool, and stealing a bit of the target's mana pool with each attack.
    • Enchantress' Impetus, which deals more damage the further away the target is.
    • Necrophos' Reaper's Scythe, which deals more damage the less health the target has... let's just say there are a lot of these.
  • Awesomenauts: One of Leon's upgrades makes his sword deal extra damage when striking foes from behind.

     Platformer  

  • Mega Man X2: Silk Shot's attack and subsequently damage changes depending on where X is. In most stages, it's scrap metal that explodes in an X-pattern of shrapnel on contact. In Bubble Crab's and Flame Stag's stages, it's a bouncy rock projectile that explodes into similar shrapnel after the first bounce. In Crystal Snail's stage, it's a bouncy crystal projectile that explodes into shards on contact with an enemy. And in Wire Sponge's stage, it's a weak leaf ball that floats upwards and doesn't even explode.
  • Mega Man X8: X's Giga Crush and X-Drive special abilities from Icarus and Hermes Armor respectively. Both abilities come with a gauge that refills itself over time whenever X is active (being switched back stops the refilling). Both abilities' effects will vary depending on how much the gauge is filled; the former will cover varying range and do varying damage, while the latter will last with a varying amount of time.

     Real Time Strategy  

  • Starcraft II: The Void Ray is a Protoss ship that does more damage the longer it keeps firing its Converging-Stream Weapon, which stays even when switching targets.
  • Gatling weapons utilized by Yuri's army in the expansion pack for Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 work in this manner, dealing slightly less damage than equivalent units to start out with, but gradually dealing more damage faster as they continue firing and the multiple barrels reach faster speeds.

     Role Playing Game  

  • Chrono Trigger
    • Lucca has the Spellslinger which does damage based on the last digit of her MP.
    • Robo's Crisis Arm's damage depends on the last digit of his HP.
    • Frog's Frog Squash technique and Ayla's Dino Tail both do damage inversely based on their overall HPs, making them effective Desperation Attacks.
  • Mega Man Battle Network series:
    • The Number Ball chip deals damage based on the last two digits of your HP, times 5.
    • The Custom Sword chip deals damage based on how much the Custom Gauge is filled (the gauge refers to the cooldown time between every access to the chip selection screen). If it's filled to full, however, it deals minimal damage, so precision plays a big part here.
    • The Muramasa chip deals damage based on how much HP you've lost (with the cap of 999), making it a good Desperation Attack.
  • The Mana Burst spell in Dragon Quest games deals the caster's remaining mana as damage, leaving them unable to cast most spells afterwards.
  • The Grudge (sometimes called Karma) attack in Final Fantasy games deals damage to a character based on how many kills the character has made. So it'll likely kill the fighters and mages, while the healer will take very little damage (if any).
  • Final Fantasy V: The Blue Magic Spell "Goblin Punch" is normally not impressive, but its damage is multiplied by 8 if the user and target are the same level.
  • Step Mine, a Blue Magic attack in Final Fantasy VI, does damage according to how many steps the party has taken. It is devastating when used against the party, but because of Health/Damage Asymmetry, is less effective when used against monsters.
  • The Pokémon games have many attacks that fall to this, such as Acrobatics (damage increases if the user is NOT holding an item), Revenge (user takes damage before attacking), or Flail and Reversal (deals more damage if the user's health is low).
    • The Dark type is particularly prone to these attacks, with them amounting to about half of all Dark-type attacks. Under the right conditions, Pursuit, note  Payback,note  Assurance,note  Punishment,note  Knock Offnote  and Foul Play note  will deal extra damage.
    • Some moves like Gyro Ball or Electro Ball calculate their base damage on the user's stats relative to the target's. Other moves are more powerful depending on the target's current healthnote  or debuffsnote  or even whether the target has previously used a certain move such as Stomp.note 
    • Low Kick and Grass Knot are particularly notable examples of this trope. Instead of having a base power that increases under certain non-random conditions, their damage is based on nothing but the weight of the target. Against the lightest targets, they deal a laughable 20 damage. Against the heaviest, however, they deal a terrifying 120 damage.
  • An enemy called Defencer in Xenogears had an attack called "EP Buster", which dealt a character 10x their EP in damage. Naturally, you don't want anybody with lots of EP to be hit by this.
  • The Dark Knight's Minus Strike skill in Bravely Default does damage equal to the difference between the user's total and current HP. The Monk's Phoenix Flight deals damage equal to the amount of HP the user currently has and brings their HP to 1. Ringabel notes that using these abilities in conjunction with each other makes for a devastating combo, particularly if there is a potent healer nearby.
  • In Wild Arms 3, the ability Dark Luceid, granted when equipping the Guardian Luceid, is a highly situational move: it only deals significant damage directly proportional to the amount of elemental resistances the enemy has. Most of the time, it deals extremely little damage because most enemies do not have any elemental resistances whatsoever and most even have a weakness or two to balance any resistances it has. However, some bosses (in particular, Power Trask and the Final Boss) are resistant or even immune to every element at once. It's so effective at what it does it actually justifies it being useless for 95% of the game.
  • In Path of Exile, the Flame Surge spell deals 50% more damage to an enemy that is affected with a burning status effect. The Bloodlust support gem causes melee attacks it is linked to to deal 40-60% more damage to bleeding enemies.
  • In Darkest Dungeon, a fair few attacks benefit from Marks: the Bounty Hunter's "Collect Bounty", Arbalest's "Sniper Shot", Shieldbreaker's "Captivate", Highwayman's "Pistol Shot", Houndmaster's "Hound's Rush" and Grave Robber's "Thrown Dagger" all gain a percentile damage bonus when directed at a marked enemy, particularly since the Bounty Hunter and Houndmaster have mark skills that also reduce the enemy's damage reduction (the Arbalest and Occultist have mark skills that reduce dodge, which isn't quite as useful). The Bounty Hunter also gets damage bonuses against stunned enemies with "Finish Him", and can gain additional damage bonuses with all attacks against enemies with stuns and/or bleeds on them with his Crimson Court trinket set. On top of that, certain attacks are more damaging against specific enemy types: the Houndmaster excels at killing Beasts, the Bounty Hunter takes down Humans quickly and violently, Eldritch enemies fear the Occultist, and undead don't like dealing with the Crusader or the Vestal much.

     Simulation Games  

  • Mechwarrior games:
    • The series feature the LBX autocannon loaded with cluster munitions, for which damage increases at closer range; either through damage degradation in earlier games or through shotgun spread in latter games.
    • Target Spotter weapons typically cause missiles to become both more accurate and more precise. A standard Missile Lock-On with long range missiles will cause them to wildly scatter across the entire target and lightly sanding multiple armor sections, whereas a salvo guided by a NARC Missile Beacon or a Target Acquisition Gear laser will hit precisely where the beacon or laser is pointing for more concentrated damage.
    • Mechwarrior 4 has the Bombast Laser, a Charged Attack weapon. Spammed attacks deal pathetic damage, while a fully charged blast deals more damage than a Large Laser.
    • In MechWarrior Living Legends, Heavy Gauss Rifles deal more damage at close range, and flamers generate more heat in hot environments. Improved Heavy Gauss removes the damage degradation at the cost of spare ammo capacity.
    • In Online, this is the LBX, Machine Guns, and Flamers hats. Flamer and Machine Gun hits do very weak damage on enemy mechs that still have armor. Hits on exposed Internal Structure however, give them a damage boost. Additionally, for both of those, and the LBX, they have a higher base Critical Hit Chance % than other weapons, which while by it self doesn't mean the enemy takes more damage, but it does mean their vital weapons, heatsinks, or worse, unused slots of ammo, are more likely to be hit, putting them out of commission/exploding.


Non Video Game Examples

     Anime And Manga  

  • The signature spell of the title character of the Lyrical Nanoha series, Starlight Breaker, is powered by residual mana scattered in the environment during battles between powerful mages. It therefore becomes more powerful when Nanoha fights against stronger opponents and waits for as long as she can before casting it. Sadly, this is not an actual gameplay mechanic in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable games.

     Comic Books  

  • Ghost Rider's Penance Stare, the effectiveness of which is dependent on the target's evil deeds or guilt, making it devastating against villains but not so effective on normal people.

     Card Game  


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