Tiers are a system commonly used in video games and Tabletop RPGs to denote the power of a given item or enemy. How the items are tiered varies by game and by genre.
For item tiers, usually the lower tier weapons and armor include Vendor Trash and starting equipment, while higher tier items include Armor of Invincibility, an Infinity +1 Sword and Bragging Rights Rewards that aren't Cosmetic. Joke Weapons could be their own tier or be lumped in with the low tier items (except for maybe the Lethal Joke Weapon).
Enemies tend to be a bit muddier, though Palette Swaps and Underground Monkies of older monsters are usually stronger. Degraded Bosses are bosses reduced to Elite Mooks because they were encountered in an area with lower tier enemies first. The chain of progression for these tiers is Mooks > Goddamn Bats > Mini-Boss > Demonic Spiders > Elite Mooks > Boss in Mook Clothing > Standard Boss > Final Boss > Bonus Boss > True Final Boss. Of course, it's all relative to the area they dwell in.
Sometimes the tiers are made up by players themselves (such as in (Tabletop RPGs); this is more common in competitive games and usually relate to Character Tiers.
Subtropes include:Underground Monkey, Palette Swap, Equipment-Based Progression and Elemental Crafting, which are tropes which can be used to help define the tiers.
- Most of the subtropes were made of codified by Tabletop RPGs (Especially Dungeons & Dragons) The reason that Character Levels exists is so that the Game Master can make tougher encounters for the party as they continue on.
- Descent: Journeys in the Dark has three tiers of enemies: minions, master monsters (like minions but with more HP and some unique abilities), and lieutenants (named enemies who grow stronger, the more heroes are on the field, and can perform skill checks unlike the monsters).
- Star Trek Online has several interlocking tier systems. Ships have five tiers, with tier 1 being Starter Equipment (the Miranda-class, B'rel-class, and T'liss-class depending on faction), and tier 5 being admiral ships (further broken up into rear admiral, vice admiral, and fleet). Equipment comes in Mk I through Mk XII and also has a rarity system. There are also tier systems in the reputation and fleet grinds, which unlock better gear.
- Kingdom of Loathing has a tier system for consumables: crappy, decent, good, awesome, and epic, Color-Coded for Your Convenience as grey, black, green, blue, and purple, respectively. For adventure-giving consumables, the quality is determined by how many adventures it gives divided by how many points of stomach/liver/spleen consuming it uses, with a range for each tier. For others, it's a bit murkier.
- This is the center of the Pokémon metagame. All Pokemon have a spot in Smogon.com's fanmade tier system (one of many such established systems), said to ensure fairness on competition. The top tier is Ubers, which is simply a ban list to keep Game Breakers from taking over the metagame. The standard tier is Over Used, the membership criteria being defined roughly as "this mon is popular enough that if you play 20 matches with Ubers banned, you have a 50% chance of fighting it at least once", and lower tiers being defined recursively from that.
- In Dragon Age: Origins enemy mobs come in five tiers: critter, normal, elite, boss, and elite boss. Weapons and armor are also tiered by the material they're made from.
- War Dragons divides its dragons into Red, Blue, Orange and Green, with each successive color being stronger than the last. Extra eggs are used for researches, which fall into the same tiers.
- Weapons in XCOM: Enemy Unknown are divided into three tiers: Kinetic (regular bullets), Laser, and Plasma. Certain class abilities give soldiers bonuses that depend on the tier of the weapon they wield.
- Disgaea has 3 tiers and 40 ranks for their items. The Ranks denote how powerful they are when you acquire them, and the Tiers (Normal, Rare and Legendary) denote how powerful they can be. You can level up items in the game by going into the Item World, but the tier of the item dictates how many floors you can travel in the item (and thus how many levels the item gets.)
- Dimension 2 made it so that items could upgrade in tiers as their Item World is cleared (finish the 30 floors in a Common item? It becomes Rare, and once the 60 floors in a Rare item are cleared, it permanently becomes Legendary), and Disgaea 5 introduced a brand-new tier for items, Epic, which must be worked up towards.
- Sword of the Stars used several different tiers, usually with three tiers.
- Planets have a size and a climate hazard, both with numerical values. Size were grouped into small (1-3), medium (4-6), and large (7-10), where each new size allowed larger platforms and more stations. Climate hazard was grouped into nice (easily colonisable), unfriendly (colonisable, but expensive), and prohibitive (not colonisable).
- Ships are tiered by propulsion and size. Propulsion went from fission, fusion, to antimatter, each one not only giving higher speed and range but also unlocking several other techs. Size went from destroyer, cruiser, to dreadnought. New ship sizes also opened up several new uses for ships.
- Weapons were also tiered, by the mount size (small, medium, large, and special), and by the propulsion era.