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Splash Damage Abuse

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In games as well as the reality they are based on, many weapons have Splash Damage or Area of Effect. Using one of these Herd Hitting Attacks is fairly straightforward.

However, a clever player can abuse these mechanics to get improved performance out of an ability. These usually fall under the following categories:

  • Range Extension: A staple of Turn-Based Strategy and Strategy RPGs, this is when you can use an ability with Splash Damage or an Area of Effect to hit something that would normally be outside of your actual range.

  • Bypass Evasion: The target is normally too difficult to directly hit by the game's mechanics. However, hitting something near the target and doing damage with Splash Damage or Area of Effect has a much higher chance of hitting.

  • Bypass Stealth: The target is out of line of sight or has an ability that renders them untargettable by direct damage attack. Invisible does not mean invincible, though, as an Area of Effect ability can still reach them and likely bring them out of stealth as well.

  • Bypass Cover: The target has decided to Take Cover! and is thus well protected from one direction. An explosive, however, may be shot around the cover and the detonation would deliver damage from a different side.

  • Damage Calculation: The target will, for whatever reason, take more damage from Splash Damage than a direct hit. This might be intended for certain types of damage and protection, but often it's an issue with how damage is calculated. (For example, if explosions are simulated by a spread of damaging projectiles, large targets would be hit by all of them. And if splash damage particles do not disappear on collision, they may keep hurting the enemy for as long as they overlap it.)

  • Other: In some game mechanics, splash damage may not accrue aggro, not cause an opponent to take notice of the attack, may go through walls, or have some other real advantage over a direct hit.

This can arise from Good Bad Bugs, or may even be fully intentional. See also Splash Damage, Area of Effect, Herd-Hitting Attack, and Ground Pound. It should be noted, however, that all these tactics, with the exception of those listed under "other," are entirely possible in Real Life and often popular military tactics.


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    Card Games 
  • In Magic: The Gathering creatures with Protection from something can't be targeted or dealt damage by spells of that type. However, spells that don't target but just hit everything, most notably Wrath of God, can still affect them.
    • The same thing is used to deal with creatures with Shroud or Hexproof, which stops them being targeted by spells (anybody's or just the enemy's respectively.) It's easier for them though, because they can still take damage from indiscriminate spells.
  • In fact, whenever there is a card game which provides cards that cannot be directly targeted with other card effects, one of the best ways to take care of those shielded cards is to use an AOE spell to blow up everything, catching said protected cards in the blast. This tactic is applicable in games such as the World of Warcraft TCG and its derivative, Hearthstone, for example.
  • In Shadowverse, one of the common ways to deal with enemy followers with Ambush is to play an Herd-Hitting Attack or Area of Effect spell.

    First Person Shooter 
  • Doom: Rockets have reasonable horizontal splash range upon detonation but do damage in an infinitely tall vertical cylinder due to how the engine works. An enemy which is close to an explosion but very far beneath or above it will still take damage. Demonstrated in this video. id Software were aware of this - they designed the Icon of Sin, the final boss of Doom II, so that it could only be legitimately damaged by rockets because of this behaviour. Modern source ports tend to alter the "infinite cylinder of damage", but also alter the programming behind the Icon's keystone so the effect applies to it and only it.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • An Inverted Trope for the Direct Hit weapon of the Soldier. His basic rocket launcher works as described of common First Person Shooters, but the Direct Hit's faster travel speed, higher damage and significantly lower splash damage distance encourages the use of... usually trying to actually hit enemies with the rocket.
    • The Demoman's grenade launcher fires grenades that travel in a small arc and bounce along the ground or off walls for the purposes of shooting around a corner. You can achieve a similar effect by shooting the Soldier's rockets near a corner. Since there's a game setting that plays a sound whenever you damage someone, it can be quite useful.
  • Halo:
    • It is usually hard to hit an enemy head on with a Rocket Launcher, but people just aim near them and let the splash damage kill them. A lot of people tend to abuse this because if you are within a small radius of the explosion you are screwed.
    • Halo 4's version of the Incineration Cannon is one of the rare weapons that can actually do more damage with splash damage than with a direct hit due to the fountain-like effect of secondary projectiles it has on impact. If you hit an enemy right in the face, some of the secondary projectiles will bounce away from the target, and thereby not do additional damage. Hitting directly under the target will instead cause said projectiles to all bounce up and into the target for maximum damage. However since a direct hit (or even a glancing hit) is usually enough to kill an enemy anyways, this usually is only noticeable against vehicles or when playing on Legendary with lots of skulls on. It also applies in the more traditional sense, since the splash damage from the Incineration Cannon is so large it makes much more sense to aim near a player than to attempt to hit them directly.
  • Call of Duty 4 and later feature C4 and claymores for defending areas from enemy players. In addition to their normal use, they can also be detonated by being shot, which can allow an enemy of the user to turn it against the enemy.
  • Killing Floor:
    • The grenades have sort of a domino effect on each other - if a grenade goes off and a second grenade is caught within its blast, the second grenade will detonate prematurely, increasing the blast radius and the damage dealt.
    • And for those using grenade launchers, dealing with enemies dangerously close to you often entails aiming for a wall or ceiling near the enemy, the intent being to hit them without damaging yourself. Or you can just shoot right at them if it's just one weak enemy, since the 40mm rounds have a minimum arming distance.
  • Easily abused in the Borderlands series, especially Borderlands 3. Certain splash damage shots also deal elemental damage, and if the Vault Hunter in question has highly augmented elemental damage, or the elemental damage in question deals extra damage to the target, landing a blow on the target can be just as damaging as a splash shot despite not hitting directly. This can also be abused to hit numerous close targets by landing shots nearby for spreading elemental damage.

    Four X Games 
  • Weapons with an Area of Effect in the X-Universe games do extra damage to a target based on how many damage "squares" match up with the target's hitbox. Larger targets take exponentially more damage from such weapons. This means that capital ships often take absurd amounts of damage from Plasma Burst Generators and Phased Shockwave Generators. Thankfully, the AI is incapable of abusing this courtesy of their "difficulties" with close-ranged attacks on capital ships. Back in X3: Reunion, Paranid fighter craft could mount less powerful versions of the Phased Shockwave Generator, but with the same splash size, allowing them to basically wipe out fighter squadrons solo. The Phased Shockwave Generator was nerfed to being capital ship only in X3: Terran Conflict, though even capital ships can abuse the splash damage - a Paranid Odysseus can deal stupid amounts of damage to frigates and corvettes that get within range, and it essentially instagibs every fighter within 1.5 kilometers.

  • In Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones, the sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm, a mage fights off griffins that are immune to direct magical attack by heating the air around them.
  • In Counselors and Kings, all Jordaini (and Tzigone) are completely immune to most magical effects, though particularly powerful ones can still affect them (albeit weaker than they would normally). As Tzigone finds out in her mage duel against Procopio in The Wizardwar, however, their environments are still fair game.
  • Second Apocalypse: chorae-bearers are immune to magic? No problem! Just drop a building on them or blow the ground out from beneath their feet.
  • The Dresden Files: In White Night, Warden Ramirez is faced with an attacking White Court vampire wearing Anti-Magic bracers. So he blows a hole in the ground beneath his feet and cuts them off him with a sword as he jumps out.

    Massively Multiplayer Online Games 
  • City of Heroes:
    • Certain powers are used by targeting a patch of ground rather than an enemy. The game does not check for line of sight when such powers are fired, so it's possible to raise an earthquake, summon a pet, or fire a rain of arrows into the middle of an enemy group while you're comfortably hidden around the nearest corner.
    • In addition, such attacks (as well as PBAoEs that target an area around your own feet) can be used to hit invisible or otherwise untargettable enemies by aiming them at other targets nearby.
    • The Incendiary Swarm Missiles attack used by the assault bot generates one to eight burn patches depending on the number of enemies around the aim point. Each burn patch does Damage Over Time to each of up to eight enemies in the area of effect. The idea was that the power would be good for taking the edge off large swarms of opponents, but cluster exactly eight enemies together, and you can one-shot all but the toughest targets.
  • In World of Warcraft AoE spells can be used to hit stealthed rogues, breaking their stealth and allowing them to be attacked normally. Until the mana costs of low-level spells were increased, it was common for mages and other classes to use very low-level AoE 's to test for rogues in PvP situations. Mages especially, as even a low-level Blizzard spell would still slow down any enemy targets in the area, with proper talent point allocation.
  • In Ragnarok Online, equipping a Beelzebub card to any weapon automatically makes their regular attack splash 9 cells around the character with each hit. But wait, there's more! A bow or gun user whose weapon is equipped with this card, gets that splash damage around, not their sprite, but around the target the single arrow/bullet hits across the screen. And there's even more! Not only can they hit as many monsters as can overlap in nine cells at once (saving a lot of arrows/bullets and money), but when you hit fast enough (different depending on the monster but at max attack speed it works on anything, even MVPs, unless they use the endure skill), the amount of time it takes to recover from the hit and cycle through the 'flinch' animation becomes longer than the time it takes for your next attack to come, thus locking the monster in perpetual flinching as you hit them, practically eliminating the possibility of being attacked yourself, discounting server lag. This works for every class and every weapon, but it works especially well with bows and guns because you can lock as many monsters as you can round up in one spot in to the flinch animation as you shoot a stream of arrows or bullets at them from a nice, safe distance where they can't hit you.
  • In Rift, different rogue souls can combine their powers to abuse splash damage. The Bard soul has a seemingly-useless ability that makes critters follow you. The Saboteur soul can load up explosive charges with splash damage on a target, and they do no damage until the Sab detonates them all at once, which can be done from range. And, of course, there are rogue souls that can stealth. If you see a squirrel inexplicably coming your way, RUN.
  • Granado Espada has several forms.
    • Range Extension: Half of an area attack spell reaches outside your attack range (defined as Radius).
    • Hitting the Target/Stealth Bypass: These same spells can be used to bypass stealth from characters such as Calyce or Wizards. Some target a nearby visible enemy instead.
    • Other: Area attacks from selecting the ground are capable of ignoring obstacles such as walls. Additionally, Shotguns, certain Crossbow stances and a few melee stances will splash around the target with normal attacks.
  • Wakfu is a grid-based strategy MMO, so at times Splash Damage Abuse can be the only way to hit an enemy that's out of range; target your buddy standing next to him instead, he'll understand. It also lends itself to variants given the nature of some of the attacks; for example, anything which involves damaging an enemy by moving the attacker around (the Pandawa's Blisskrieg or the Sacrier's Assault, for example) can be turned on an ally with HP to spare for a quick retreat as well. On top of that, Sadidas have a spell which links a voodoo doll to a particular enemy; if the doll is next to its target, not only does it take damage twice (once for getting hit and once for the poppet getting hit), but if the spell is the right element the poppet-damage gets a bonus.
  • Mabinogi has some occasions of this.
    • The Alchemy skill, Flame Burst, has an odd quirk of not triggering enemy aggression on immediate hit, which can cause players to avoid being hit for one or two uses.
    • Giant's Stomp is the Ground Pound equivalent to the aforementioned Flame Burst but has a much larger area range to it.
    • The Crusader skill Celestial Spike is normally a single target attack, but can be turned into an Area attack with sub-skills. What's interesting about this skill is that it is not registered as an attack, despite dealing damage over time. Elves can take advantage of this by hiding right after using it.

  • Characters with stealth capacities will often have area of effect spells or skillshots (spell that fire in the direction you point and don't require a target) launched at them by anyone who guesses their location.
  • Anivia from League of Legends has an ability called Flash Frost. The attack can hit an enemy twice: once with the actual attack and once with splash damage. This is not considered a glitch. Instead, it's considered an essential part of mastering the attack.
    • This is a common tactic against Akali, who can throw down a smoke bomb to stealth herself in a small area. Champions with single-target attacks and abilities can't touch her, but high area-of-effect damage champions know exactly whereabouts she is. Teemo is also particularly prone to this, as he passively turns invisible if he stands still long enough, and remains that way until he moves. If someone sees him disappear, they know exactly where he is, and the team is free to bombard him until he either runs for it or they hit him with a spell that knocks him around, which counts as moving.
    • A former strategy for Gangplank. Before Season 3, the item Tiamat had a fully stackable cleave passive. Gangplank's main ability is flintlock pistol at an enemy, which counts exactly like his melee attack, just with some extra damage and non-melee range - and with a cooldown of several seconds. Combined with the stacked cleave, this could deliver more damage to the secondary targets than to the one actually shot at. Now, Tiamats do not stack.
    • It can also be used by supports or tanks to get assists and gold when they would normally be falling behind in items or levels later in the game by making sure that they to a small amount of damage to all of the enemy team utilising either items with splash damage (like the Sunfire Cape or Tiamat) or area of effect abilities (like Hecarim's Spirit of Dread) while they also fulfil their role of protecting their teammates or messing with the powerhouses of the enemy team by interrupting channels and the like.
    • Designed around this trope is the champion Graves, whose Buckshot ability fires three projectiles in a cone... but multiple projectiles of Buckshot can hit an enemy at once for less but still extra damage, encouraging Graves to get close to enemies or let them come to him so he can do as much damage as possible with Buckshot. His ultimate also explodes on hitting a target, extending its range and preventing someone from Taking the Bullet.
  • Kunkka of Dota 2 has his passive skill "Tidebringer", which causes his first attack once every few seconds to hit everything in a quite long range in front of him for 100% of his damage, counting as cleave. Since Kunkka's attacks are melee, this can be used to hit enemies quite far away from him. But here's the catch - since it counts as cleave, the splash damage ignores armor value - while physical damage from his attack could normally be reduced by enemy armor, the cleaving attack deals its full damage to everything but the primary target. This unintended behavior from the Warcraft III engine was directly ported over to Dota 2. Eventually, the cleave mechanic was changed so it checks armor values, but the splash damage for Tidebringer was buffed to deal more than 100% splash damage, and his max level Talent lets him deal more than 300% splash damage with it. On top of that, the attack is visually watery in nature, so it's literally Splash Damage!
    • There's also Meepo, who can make clones of himself and use the ability poof to teleport to a different Meepo. While using poof, Meepo channels for a few seconds before teleporting to a different Meepo. However, poof deals damage on both entry and exit, and Meepo can poof to himself! This effectively means that Meepo deals double damage if he teleports to himself. Now combine this with five Meepos surrounding an enemy hero, and the poor guy will take a lot of damage as a result (1400 total if you do it right, in a game where spells do 300 on average).
    • Winter Wyvern's Splinter Blast is unusual in that it only deals splash damage - the enemy you throw it on will be completely unaffected.
      • Winter Wyver's Ultimate, Winter's Curse, is also an unusual AoE ability. The enemy you cast it on and their nearby allies will be frozen and immune from any forms of damage your team throws at them... but while the primary target is just plain frozen, any other enemies caught in it will be forced to attack the primary target!
  • Like League or DOTA, Heroes of the Storm has characters who can exist in cloaking permanently or use it as an escape mechanic, and cannot be selected as a target for an attack. That said, a number of attacks can be launched in a given direction even without a specific target. When used correctly on a cloaked person, it immediately disables their stealth and they become vulnerable to some of your more specific attacking methods.

    Platform Game 
  • In Mega Man 2, Wood Man has a Leaf Shield that can block most of your attacks. However, if you shoot a Crash Bomb at the shield, it will explode, and the explosion's radius can hit Wood Man easily. (Which contributes to him being far easier to defeat with Crash Bombs than his official weakness, the Atomic Fire.)
  • In Mega Man 4, to defeat Dr. Wily you have to use Drill Bombs. However the bombs themselves bounce off his ship. To win you must detonate the bomb before it hits so that the Splash Damage of the explosion hits his weak spot.
  • In Iji, a way to cheese Pacifist Runs is to trick enemies into killing each other, so you can pick up their Nano drops without increasing your kill counter. Enemies from the same faction are Friendly Fireproof, but are still affected by splash damage, leading to a common tactic of purposely tanking a rocket/shocksplinter hit while standing right next to enemies.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • DEFCON: If you hit near a city, it's possible to damage it. In fact, this trope is invoked in the easiest way to get a certain achievement: To kill Santa Claus, start a game with only yourself as a player, then detonate nukes near whichever city Santa is visiting, since you can't actually target your own cities directly.
  • Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun - GDI Grenadiers have limited targeting range, but their projectile continues onward.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert had restrictions on what kind of target units were allowed to aim at, notable with naval units: a cruiser could only target land, a submarine could only target ships, and subs in turn could only be hit by depth charges when submerged. However nothing stopped the player from forcing cruisers to target the ocean surface right next to enemy vessels, or have subs armed with nuclear torpedoes target the coastline, giving predictable results.
    • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, buildings hit by splash weapons take damage multiplied by the amount of blueprint area the weapon covers.
      • This especially made Naval Yards vulnerable to the Allied Dolphin, which splashes in a straight line out to the maximum range. If a dolphin was right up against the Naval Yard, it had the range to force-target water on the opposite side, doing damage to 4 cells of the Yard at once and thus multiplying the total damage by 4 over just targeting the yard itself.
  • Dune II already had this. The Rocket Turret and the Rocket Tank have the same range. Tell the rocket tank to fire at exactly one square in front of the turret, and sometimes it will miss slightly and damage it without the turret being able to fire back.
  • The Rapid Fire Long Range Artillery structures in Total Annihilation are hampered by their short range. However, their shells scatter randomly around the targeted area so if you point one at something just outside its maximum range and force-fire, a few shells may land on what you want to kill.
  • In the pre-expansion Supreme Commander, firing AoE weapons at the edge of enemy shields. Unfortunately, while the actual shot would be blocked, if it exploded outside the shield but within it's own detonation radius, it would still damage units on the other side of the shield. It was fixed in the Forged Alliance expansion.
    • Even in FA splash damage spreads also up and down for some distance, so it allows to kill submarines with battleships despite they are designed as quite vulnerable to them having no torpedoes. Especially effective this trick is with Cybran who in general trade single shot damage for fire rate, so constantly moving the subs to evade will work worse against them. Also this allows to kill ACU with strategic bombers instead of torpedo ones and led to suicide by nuke if an UEF satellite was placed right above the launcher and ordered to suicide when the nuke is fired, so missile would explode when it hits the falling remains.
  • StarCraft:
    • One can cleverly target one of your own high-hitpoint or expendable units near an invisible enemy unit, and open fire on your own unit, using splash damage to destroy the cloaked unit. Or simply send a small unit into the middle of a formation of tanks, making them kill each other with the splash damage. Two words: Spawn Broodlings.
    • The Defiler ability Dark Swarm makes any unit under it immune to all direct ranged attacks. Terran units usually have ranged attacks. The only one that doesn't is the Firebat. However, you can still use AoE effects. The Science Vessel's Irradiate is a good choice. Siege Tank splash is interesting as well; Dark Swarm will negate the damage to the target of the Siege Tank attack. And since the direct target doesn't take splash damage, if the Zerg have a single unit under Dark Swarm, Siege Tanks can do nothing to hurt it.
    • Nukes bypass stealth. In real life, too.
  • Starcraft II:
    • A deadly Protoss tactic from the Wings of Liberty era of multiplayer, known as the "Archon toilet," involved putting your enemy's army and all your archons together into a vortex created by a mothership. When they exited the vortex they'd start out squeezed together into a small area, allowing the overlapping splash damage from the archons to kill everything. Blizzard went on to remove this by having units that emerge from a Vortex be temporarily invulnerable so they'd have time to spread out again, and later by replacing the mothership's vortex spell with a different one.
    • As in the first game, it's possible to use splash damage to hit cloaked units in the absence of detection. Protoss players find the Disruptor's purification nova—an exploding ball of energy which can travel a significant distance and be microed to follow the target—particularly useful for destroying cloaked ground units. It works both on cloaked units like Ghosts or Dark Templar, and burrowed units such as Widow Mines or Lurkers.
    • Zerg, meanwhile, can expose cloaked enemy units using the Infestor's Fungal Growth spell.
    • Also like in the first game, one can trick the opponent's splash damage units into inflicting friendly fire. For example, a sacrificial unit can charge into a clump of enemy units after triggering the sentinel missile from one of the enemy's widow mines, causing the missile to inflict more damage on its own side.
    • Tactical nukes. The huge AOE makes range extension an option, and it can also destroy cloaked units without needing vision. In a 2019 WESG game against the Canadian Zerg player Scarlett, the Korean Terran player Maru fired over a hundred nukes and demonstrated their Mundane Utility for clearing creep tumors. Indeed, the advancing barrage of nukes helped him to scorch away Scarlett's rampant tumor network until the creep had receded almost back to her original corner.
  • Siege weapons in Dawn of War have an "attack ground" ability, in which they will continuously attack a wide area instead of other units. This can be used to attack invisible units if you don't have detectors available (particularly useful in Dawn of War Dark Crusade onwards, as invisible units can attack without breaking invisibility, and only give away their position via Muzzle Flashlight). It can also be used to attack from out of sight-range on targets that can't run such as buildings (although given the scattering of artillery fire it will take longer than direct fire.
  • In Warcraft it also happens to be a very good way to clear trees which is taken advantage of repeatedly in the campaign. The ground attack does less damage than directly firing on the unit, but has a greater radius.
    • The Frozen Throne had an interesting take in the form of Cleaving Attack, a skill that causes units next to the main target to take a percentage (up to 70) of the damage dealt to the target. As the splash damage was not affected by armor, you could actually do more damage to a heavily armored unit by targeting the weaker ones first.
  • While most X-COM units have significantly weaker under armour and are highly vulnerable to explosions directly under their feet, ground-based vehicles in Apocalypse are instantly destroyed if the road is damaged. This includes the otherwise impressive-looking Griffon tank.
    • Turrets in XCOM 2 can occasionally be taken out in one lucky hit if they're positioned on the roof of a destructible building; collapsing the floor out from under them is a One-Hit Kill. This is easiest to accomplish with explosives, but from the right angle even a standard Assault Rifle could theoretically manage it. It's also possible to take out other enemies the same way, presumably provoking in-universe cries of "I Meant to Do That!", but falling damage isn't usally enough to be fatal by itself.

  • In Angband, the recommended strategy for dealing with stationary enemies with annoying or damaging spells is to hide out of their line of sight and target the spot next to them with the ball attack of choice.
  • In Tales of Maj'Eyal skills with a burst area of effect (as opposed to line or cone) spread out from the targeted point. By targeting past a corner it's possible to hit enemies without having line of sight.

    Role Playing Games 
  • Pokémon games, once they started offering double battles, just beg for ways to abuse area of effect abilities.
    • From Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire and onward, there are moves in double battles that deal incredible damage, but will hit all Pokémon on the field, including your partner, such as Earthquake, Discharge, and Explosion. A popular technique for getting around this downside is to have the partner's Pokémon either be immune to these moves or use Protect or Detect, which will negate all damage for that one turn.
    • Another popular tactic, which caught on in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl and onward, is to do such an attack and have the partner have an Ability (special trait; all Pokémon have at least one) that will negate and heal from the attack rather than be hurt by it. A popular one is the Water-type Surf, which hits everyone else on the field, with a Pokémon who knows Dry Skin, who heals from all Water attacks.
    • Another technique is to start the Hail weather condition with all of your Pokemon knowing Blizzard—this move does not harm the partner but has a low accuracy. Hail increases the accuracy to 100%, meaning all of the opponent's Pokemon must get hit twice with the strongest Ice-type move in the game each turn.
    • Pokémon Black and White introduced triple battles, where position determines range. One way to abuse splash damage in this environment is to do any move from the central position, which hits all three of the opponent's Pokemon, then swap places with one on the left or right to prevent damage. The move Struggle Bug hits all three opponents regardless of where Struggle Bug's user is located, but the damage output is low. All of the previous techniques also work in triple battles. Splash damage has become such a big part of battling under non-singles environments that this generation created a new move, Wide Guard, that blocks all moves that do splash damage (and also protects the partners), but no other moves. This same game also nerfed Explosion and Self-destruct, effectively halving the damage they do, because of how horribly overused they were in double battles previously.
      • Black and White also introduce moves that cause damage to one target, and a small amount of collateral damage to adjacent opponents in double and triple battles. This collateral damage is applied even if the Pokémon taking it would be immune to the move if targeted normally.
  • Characters can't strike or shoot across walls or closed doors in both Torchlight games, but [AoEs] and some firing spreads can extend through to hit enemies and breakables, including Exploding Barrels. Hitting one enemy nearby can alert others spread around the room and bring them closer to investigate, making it easier to safely clean them all out.

  • In MechWarrior Living Legends, splash damage ignores walls and ceilings (but not terrain). Because most weapons have no or very little splash, it's normally a non-issue. However, the Long Tom Artillery tank fires a 200kg high-explosive projectile with an enormous and highly lethal splash radius that can One-Hit Kill light mechs with near-misses. Main base hangars will protect players from the splash, but don't expect thin metal roofs found in some bases to protect you from the artillery. Abuse of the splash damage caused some drama in the Planetary League where the Knights of the Inner Sphere used firebombs dropped from their Space Plane to damage enemy mechs hiding behind walls.
  • In From the Depths, explosions are 'volumetric', meaning that they behave realistically and can be channeled, and have ray-tracing so that they cannot hit objects that are blocked. However, this only applies to single objects. A turret is a separate object on a vessel, so if an explosion goes off above a turret, the explosion ray-tracing calculations see a gaping huge hole in the hull of the battleship where the turret is mounted, and can damage the bottom of the ship from a top hit. Players must massively over-engineer turret armor to combat this.

    Strategy RPGs 
  • In Nippon Ichi games with tiles (La Pucelle and the Disgaea games), the area of effect for magic can be abused to extend the range of your spells by a couple tiles. The 7-tile checker array is especially good. In titles like Phantom Brave and Makai Kingdom, the trope still applies, though targeting can be a bit trickier.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics makes use of this trope.
    • Crossbows: Fly in a straight line, so you can target in that line.
    • Spells: If you absorb an element, you can just stand next to the enemy you targeted for a quick heal. You can also move toward enemies that don't absorb the element if you're targeted with a spell.
  • Tactics Ogre.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy Tactics A2:
    • In an aversion, invisible units cannot be targeted even when inside the an attack's area of effect without the special ability to target them by any means.
    • Played straight otherwise, though, since a necessary tactic to learn is targeting the space next to the guy you want to hit to protect allies also whaling on them from splash damage from your spells.
  • Shotguns in DRL automatically hit everything in the shotgun spread... even if it's outside your field of vision. Since monsters make pain noises when shot, this can be used to scout rooms that are too large to initially see, or around corners.
  • Vandal Hearts 2 is rather infamous for this. For starters, every splash-capable magic spell is capable of hitting your own ally, and is entirely possible to mass-kill your own allies if you're not careful. Conversely, area-of-effect healing spells will also heal any target, friendly or otherwise, within its effective area. Since the game uses a Dual-Turn System, in which both the player unit and an enemy unit moves simultaneously, coupled with (at times) frighteningly lethal AI, this has resulted in shenanigans such as:
    • Blatantly extending the range of a spell area-of-effect to reach farther enemy(ies). A spell with 4 square range and 3 square radius effective area equals an effective range of 7 squares away.
    • Using only the very tip of an area of effect spell note  to selectively target a unit that is currently engaged in melee combat with hostile close-ranged units to prevent friendly fire, even when the target is technically really close. A unit that has his/her back against the wall is impervious to Back Stab critical hits, and yet he/she can still be targeted by a spell somehow, someway by using only the tip of a spell effective area without hitting enemies that surrounds said unit.
    • Mages and healers retreating to cast healing spells such that their area-of-effect will not benefit you.
    • Related to the above, AI units will actually attempt to walk into your healing area-of-effect to parasitically benefit from its effects.
    • Using items that increase spell area-of-effect without considering the maximum spell range note  may result in the caster getting caught within the effective area of his/her own spells.
    • On the other hand, (ab)using a wide area of spell to target a single hostile unit to account on likely routes it will take to attack is another distressingly common thing. AI casters are smart enough to predict where you will move your unit; while most casters will prioritize hitting the most amount of targets with a single cast, it will shift priorities to finish a wounded target by covering the most likely routes of retreat, even if it means wasting one cast to kill one unit.
  • The Banner Saga and its its sequel has plenty:
    • Archers with the Slag and Burn ability can attack enemies out of their normal range by laying down flaming coals which blow up when deployed. The damage from the explosion also ignores armour and will always hit, making it a better option than going for a scratch damage hit when your target has more armour than you do strength.
    • Varl using two-handed weapons do bonus damage to enemies adjacent to their targets on a strength attack, which once again ignores armour. The Sundering Impact ability is all about this trope, specifically designed to do greater and greater splash damage at higher levels to punish grouped enemies.
    • Humans of the Raider class can get the ability Grudge, doing strength damage and knockback to all enemies around them, and 1 point of damage for each tile they are knocked back. Naturally, the damage per tile ignores armour making the move viable even if the initial attack doesn't do much.
    • The sequel introduces enemies and allies alike who can cloak themselves, making them invisible and can't be targeted, but the cloak is broken if they either attack, or take damage. All of the above abilities are indiscriminate, so they, and other abilities, are crucial when fighting these opponents as they don't rely on being able to target these enemies to hurt them.
  • In Telepath RPG, all Area of Effect attacks deal the same amount of damage to everything they hit, and some of them can have significantly longer range than your normal attacks, making for easy range extension.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A common tactic in the Iron Kingdoms miniatures games is to target an Area of Effect attack at a model outside its normal range and hope for a lucky scatter roll.
    • Another common use for this trick is to hit models with Stealth. Those models normally cannot be directly hit by attacks outside a certain distance, thus a common tactic against them is to target them with an Area of Effect attack and try to catch them in the blast.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, one of the previous editions had a tyranid weapon which fired seeds as weapons - when one hit a living creature, it would sprout into a ball of living Razor Floss. The seed needed to hit and penetrate armor as normal but the explosion just randomly instant-killed people. So the easiest way to nail a powerful hero was to hit a mook next to him.
    • Different technique that is still effective today- do you have a single-shot heavy weapon and need to kill lots of infantry? Aim for the APC parked next to them and hope you make it explode.
    • In earlier editions, some weapons would force the player to "guess" the distance to the target, then fire. The player measured the distance he guessed from the gun, then rolled for scatter. Players were supposed to target near units and often had to test to target further ones. Likewise, at night, the player couldn't guarantee he could see the enemy with his artillery. Players could "guess very inaccurately" to hit targets they shouldn't be allowed to. This was changed in later editions to shut down this abuse. This overlaps with Stealth Bypass, since it let them hit units that were hiding, especially when line of sight wasn't based on "real line of sight."
    • Flamers disallow Cover Saves. And crossing over with "hitting the target", they also automatically hit anything under the template.
  • Dungeons & Dragons, many spells have areas of effect which require the caster to select a point he has line of sight to as its origin. That doesn't mean every space which takes damage can be seen by the caster. Fireballing around corners is one classic use, as a caster who chooses the square of origin of his spell wisely can usually hit about twenty+ feet around the corner that is out of his line of sight.
    • In 3rd Edition, flask weapons deal automatic splash damage to every creature adjacent to the initial target... meaning that the larger the enemy, the more squares are hit by the splash. You can also choose to throw a flask at the space between squares to inflict splash damage without a primary target. It's possible, if a splash weapon is thrown from close range, for a creature to dodge the initial attack only to get hit by the splash damage as it breaks on the ground nearby. However, the splash damage dealt by these weapons is extremely minor (usually only 1 point) so the uses of these tactics are limited.
    • In 4th Edition, there are several attacks that automatically damage anything adjacent to them even if they don't successfully hit anything (e.g. Flaming Sphere, which technically creates a ball of fire to attack something, but is far more popular for the fact that the ball sticks around and automatically does damage to anything that starts its turn next to it). There's also Cleave, which requires a to-hit roll to damage your target, then does automatic damage to the guy standing next to him. Meaning that if the Big Bad who's so heavily armored you can't damage him makes the mistake of standing next to one of his minions, he suddenly becomes vulnerable to your follow-through
    • There are also some spells that place a negative effect on the target which extends to anything nearby. Creatures are allowed a chance to resist their effects… but only if the spell is cast directly on them. Most spellcasting opponents could easily shrug off a direct casting of the silence spell, but if they're confined to a small space then a saveless cast on a nearby rock will shut them down.
  • Pathfinder, being based on Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition, has splash weapons with all the properties listed above, but places greater emphasis on the splash part. Its flasks cannot be thrown multiple times per round or used to deliver a Sneak Attack, making them less useful for attacking directly, but specialist classes like the Alchemist receive damage bonuses that apply to both the initial attack and the splash.
  • Blast radii in Mekton. You want to get a big boom past an opponent with a huge rapid-fire antimissile turret? Just buy blast radius ammo for your biggest gun and aim at the scenery next to him.
  • Also seen in BattleTech on occasion. Area-effect weapons are generally targeted at a hex rather than the specific unit(s) inside it, and while not all of them are necessarily accurate in and of themselves (BT artillery in particular is somewhat notorious for having a hard time hitting the proverbial broad side of a barn), this can on occasion make them weapons of choice against targets that are normally difficult to hit due to speed, size, or stealth technology.
  • Intentionally built into the mechanics of Star Wars: Saga Edition. The Reflex defense of an empty square on the battle map is 10. When a target is in the blast zone of an area-effect weapon, including the autofire mode on a gun, an attack that misses the target's Reflex defense but hits Ref 10 does half damage; an attack that fails to hit Ref 10 does no damage because the attacker didn't even hit the squares he was aiming at.
    • In the earlier Star Wars d20 system, lobbing a grenade onto an Defense 5 square was a lot easier than shooting the antagonist the GM made, but not much easier thanks to numerous Game-Breaker builds in the core rule book.
  • Champions. Hitting a character can can be extremely difficult if he or she has a high DCV (Defensive Combat Value). Hitting a hex is much easier as it has a much lower DCV (in fact, a traditional canon exploit is to buy the absolute minimum area effect — a single hex or one-meter radius depending on edition — solely to take advantage of this rule). If the attack has an "Area Effect" advantage, then any to-hit roll decides purely whether the attack was placed correctly; hit or near-miss, any character within the actual resulting area of effect is then generally hit automatically. It may be worth noting that this doesn't actually let you circumvent armor in the game as such, since the Hero System is one of those games where armor and similar defenses soak up damage rather than make one harder to hit.
  • In GURPS explosive and area effect attacks can target a hex for a large bonus to hit, it also bypasses the target's ability to dodge (a successful dodge can cause you to miss with a bomb by several yards).
  • In Mutants & Masterminds, Area Attacks bypass the defense bonus and force a Reflex save. In 2E, for targets without Evasion, this guarantees a hit if perhaps with lesser damage. In 3E, damage is guaranteed even with Evasion.
    • Invisible opponents can only be targeted if you know their approximate location and you beat the miss chance. Area attacks hit them normally.
  • In Monsterpocalypse, a Metamorph that's just powered down will take huge amounts of damage if its component Morphers are hit with explosives. Also, Incinerus can Ground Pound and shoot explosives at the same time once he Turns Red, for easy Area of Effect exploiting.
  • In Hero Clix, if a legitimate target is adjacent to a character with stealth, the resulting Splash Damage can hit to an opponent that normally can't be targeted by ranged attacks.
  • The Lord Of The Rings Strategy Battle Game sees this used to deal with one particular character. Grí­ma Wormtongue has the power to double the Might costs of effects that opposing Heroes use within range of him, but until he openly acts against them, he cannot be harmed. He can, however, take splash damage, and he doesn't have too many wounds. It's common to see players launch a spell in his direction, "accidentally" catch him in the blast radius, and then spend all the Might they can to rack up the damage on him just to make sure he doesn't escape.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • Despite the Splatoon series' ever-evolving metagame, one consistent trend has been that weapons in the Blaster class tend to see a lot of use in the Tower Control mode. The objective of the mode is to control a small mobile tower by standing on top of it — already, this means opponents will often be gathered on top of the objective as easy targets for a well-timed Herd-Hitting Attack. The tower does have a stake in the center which can be used as cover, but Blasters' splash damage can easily reach around it. While the various Blaster-type weapons have been subject to all sorts of Nerfs and Balance Buffs over the years, they have always remained a common sight in Tower Control because of these unique advantages.

    Tower Defense 
  • In Bloons Tower Defense 4, camo bloons can't be targeted by most towers; however, if a tower attacks another bloon and the camo bloon happens to be in the path or blast radius of the attack, it'll still get popped. This is no longer the case in later games, however, where camo bloons completely ignore attacks from most towers that don't have camo detection.
  • In Cursed Treasure, the only way to kill cloaked ninja (can't be targeted by towers while cloaked, which they do as soon as they're hit and lasts a few seconds) is to have a fire temple upgraded to do AoE damage in a circle. If placed far enough, it will attack the now-decloacked ninja and hit the others behind. Works even better if there are non-cloaked enemies, as they'll be targeted as well.
  • In Kingdom Rush and its successors, Artillery Splash Damage can hit enemies normally outside their range, cloaked or otherwise untargetable:
    • Kingdom Rush: Anything for outside the range and flying enemies for untargetable.
    • Kingdom Rush Fronters: Anything for outside the range, Sauran Nightscales for cloaked and all flying for untargetable.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • In Worms, the maximum damage from a direct hit with a Bazooka is 50, half a worm's standard initial HP. Shoot the ground next to him, and you can send him flying across the screen — either onto a mine for extra damage or into the water for an instant kill. With care (or luck) one worm can even knock several others flying for a multiple kill.
  • Characters specializing in the Throwing skill in Jagged Alliance 2 can use grenades. Very useful on night maps: grenades don't give away your position.
  • In the rebooted XCOM continuity by Firaxis Games, explosives have this property. Grenades have no chance of missing and explosions can't be dodged, can damage and reveal concealed or invisible enemies, break most kinds of cover, and in XCOM 2, also destroy ceilings and cause whoever's standing on top of them to fall and take damage.

    Western RPG 
  • Area-effect spells in Baldur's Gate can be used to damage enemies beyond your range of sight. Since this means the enemies can't see you either, they generally stay perfectly still while you rain explosions down on them. This can be a Game-Breaker.
  • Divine Divinity had plenty of Invulnerable Civilians in certain areas. Less important NPCs, you could sometimes kill by walking up to them with your weapon drawn, at the cost of reputation points, but this required a specific dialogue window that simply did not appear with some NPCs. However, the splash damage of certain spells and special abilities ignored both of these conditions and the reputation loss, allowing you to kill anyone at will. Just don't break your game going crazy with it.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Scarface: The World Is Yours. Instead of shooting your way through the inner offices of the third storage facility, just rocket-blast the top corner of the third story from the parking lot. Down goes the manager and the next part of the level happens.
  • Valheim: The Stagbreaker is an extremely useful weapon to clear out dungeons and help with defending a walled base because it causes damage in a sphere around the point of impact regardless of obstacles, such as doors or walls. In the latter case, simply repairing the walls from time to time lets you kill enemies with impunity. Additionally, the splash can hit buried treasure chests and underground ore veins, giving away their position through damage numbers.

    Real Life 
  • One can, of course, do this in Real Life: if one projects an explosive at a target just beyond the projector's maximum range, the target could very well still be within the explosive's blast radius in theory. Anyone familiar with modern artillery would roll their eyes at attempting to use this practically. Using a typical small infantry piece as an example, a man-portable 60 mm mortar has a maximum range of a bit over two miles. The kill radius is approximately 20 yards. This means that if the weapon fired its maximum range, its kill radius would extend that range about half of one percent at severe loss of accuracy. The effect becomes even more pronounced as the weapons get larger. Using the M101 as a representative small artillery gun (from the WWII era!), it has a range of approximately 11,000 meters and kill radius of approximately 40 meters. Variations in air pressure and wind are likely to have more effect on range than kill radius. In general, this trope is more prevalent in games thanks to Space Compression, as the splash damage radius will cover a far larger portion of the weapon's range due to reduced travel distances.
  • From a lone squad leader from conventional forces calling for support from company level, man portable mortars to special operations guiding guided missiles to their targets, directing indirect fire to the location of a valuable, out of range, or tough to crack target is an core role for infantry on the battlefield. Why move to engage enemies with rifles if you've spotted them a mile off and can have that location hit within seconds by a deadly barrage? By the time of World War II this was considered a specialty of the American army. One joke from North Africa was that if you saw an unknown group of soldiers, you could quickly determine who they were by firing a single shot in their general direction. If the response was a ridiculous amount of light machine gun fire, they were Germans. If the response was highly accurate rifle fire, they were British. If the result was a lot of somewhat inaccurate rifle fire and obscenities, they were Australians. If nothing happened for a few minutes and then your position was obliterated by mass artillery fire, they were Americans.
  • Have a heavily armored battleship you need to sink? Aim the torpedo under the ship. It's actually more effective to have torpedoes go off under the keel than on impact. On impact, it will blow a large hole in the ship. If it detonates under the keel, it creates a large cavity, which collapses and creates an upward thrusting jet of water which can core a battleship.
  • Basically the philosophy of thermobaric explosives. Drop the bomb anywhere, let the chemicals spread out then explode.
  • Certain real life armor piercing weapons do a variation of this. Some tank armor uses an explosive charge to detonate an incoming warhead just before it hits, to get around this missiles were developed that set off an explosion prior to hitting the tank that would set off the reactive armor, thus making the armor vulnerable to the main warhead.
  • Nuclear weapons use similar tactics in real life.
    • The bomb would be exploded a couple miles above the city, causing much more widespread destruction than if it were detonated on the ground. This is termed an "airburst," and causes a pressure wave to smash everything beneath the bomb into the ground. As an added benefit, detonating the bomb in the air greatly reduces the amount of radioactive fallout because there is nothing but the bomb materials for radioactive particles to cling to.
    • Part of the reason that nuclear weapons were so important in early Cold War military planning was that they solved the accuracy problem inherent to dropping dumb bombs from bomber planes, as well as earlier generations of ballistic and cruise missiles that relied on relatively crude forms of guidance. Even in cases where it would have been physically possible for a given target to be destroyed with a direct hit from a high explosive payload, the bombs or warheads carrying the explosives had such a low chance of landing on target that the larger destructive radius of a nuke was required to ensure success.
    • In fact, several weapons are designed to explode above ground. The 'bouncing betty' type of antipersonel mine jumps up to about crotch height and kills or wounds everyone in a radius that's easily ten times larger then a mine that explodes while still in the ground. About at the same time (World War 2), artillery shells were developped that measure distance to ground and explode at a set height. However, this is more an inversion of the trope. Hitting the helpless hex (the ground near the target) makes the ground absorb some of the blast and directs the rest mostly upwards. This has nothing to do with the defenses the infantry or the city has or hasnt. Even if you take the ground as defense for the target, it was the attacker that put the explosive there, resulting in that basically the attacker protects the target. Somebody figured that out and 'fixed' it. It's just a more efficient way of delivering the damage, indepedent of whatever protection the infantry is wearing.
    • Airburst shells are also used as anti-aircraft weapons, detonating with a proximity fuze rather than on impact lets slower, larger guns that normally wouldn't be any good against aircraft to be used in such a manner most planes tend to be fragile enough that just being near an exploding shell or missile would be enough to either destroy it outright, or just tear off important pieces and make it crash, same result.
  • This is, again, possible in Real Life. Destroyers dropping depth charges against submarines, for example, or infantry throwing grenades to attack enemies behind cover.
  • One way to deal with a sniper is to call in artillery. There is also the tactic of recon by fire; shoot at anything suspicious to force the enemy to reveal themselves.
  • Various types of new and prototype munitions are used this way, especially for urban combat. Need to take out the guy hiding behind the wall who is popping up to shoot out a window? Find the distance to the wall using a built in laser, switch the round to delay, and fire through the window. The round will explode just after it enters the window.
  • In fencing, the epee and foil score hits only with the tip. This requires, usually, a thrust to score. However, the flexibility of such weapons allow a whipping motion to curve the tip around a defense to score a hit. This is called "flicking" and is considered tacky by a number of people, especially the more traditionally minded and classically trained fencers.

Alternative Title(s): Hit The Helpless Hex