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Scrappy Mechanic / Tabletop Games

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  • To a certain subset of board game players, dice get this reaction. Not a specific use of them, but dice full stop. A less extreme, and significantly more common, version of this being "dice are fine, the roll and move mechanic isn't."
    • One reason players of board games object to dice more than players of Tabletop RPGs do is that board gamers are traditionally supposed to roll dice where everyone can see them (thus, no computer dice), and the makers of the games rarely provide a safe place to roll them. "Roll and move" can get ambiguous if your dice have just knocked your piece off the board.
    • Some board games (Trouble comes to mind) try to get around the wild dice by packing them inside a small plastic dome not much bigger than the dice. You press down to "roll." This has its own problems; you can get a numb palm with a long game of one of these, and the mechanism might malfunction, forcing you to either break it open to get at the dice, or roll dice obtained elsewhere.
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    • Others, like Candy Land and Sorry!, eschew dice for a deck of specially-printed cards. Still random, but for some reason, card randomness is less hated than dice randomness.
    • Many players also prefer games to be mostly or entirely choice-driven, thus placing an emphasis on skill versus luck. It's quite disconcerting to see a hardcore boardgamer overturn a table and stalk away after winning a game on the luck of a draw.
  • In Chess, Tournament Play, for many years, the fifty move Draw rule counted. The rule was originally 50 moves without a capture or pawn movement and the game is a draw; note that this was not a Scrappy mechanic. Then it was found that certain positions were winnable in more than fifty moves, so the rules were patched. And then patched again. And then patched again. This changed every few years in the 80s, as more and more computer analysis was applied to chess, and more and more positions were thought winnable in more than 50 moves. Eventually, the result was sufficiently baroque that in 2001 it was decided to just leave it at 50 moves.
  • In the fourth edition of Warhammer 40,000, Skimmers received a lot of hate because they were excessively hard to kill. The worst offenders were Eldar skimmers equipped with holo fields and spirit stones. Add in how most if not all Eldar players typically run three Falcons (or some other skimmer) with this setup, and you have something that made a lot of people angry. Thankfully, they lost a lot of their power in the fifth edition.
    • Continuing with that theme, the Tau had a strategy called "Fish of Fury" which was a complete Game-Breaker under the 4th Edition skimmer rules. This involved taking two infantry squads with accompanying Hover Tank Awesome Personnel Carriers called Devilfish. The Devilfish benefited from the difficulty of killing skimmers and the armor of a light tank. By positioning the skimmers in front of the infantry, the skimmers blocked line-of-sight to the infantry squad, preventing them from being targeted. But in the Tau player's shooting phase, the Tau infantry could fire through the Devilfish representing it using its anti-grav engines to thrust upward and open the line of fire, only to drop back down when it came the enemy's turn to fire. This abuse of a poorly thought through mechanic was widely hated in tournament play.
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    • In the fifth edition, the Annihilate mission generated a huge hatedom from Imperial Guard players because the Guard's Troops rules are incompatible with the kill points rule, making this an extreme example of Failure Is the Only Option. For example, one Troops choice for an IG player is worth as many kill points as any other race's entire army in a 500-point game.
    • "Yeah, so one kill point for the Devilfish, and one for the Drones." IG players are preaching to a blue choir on that one. There's also the 'nid Biovore when the edition first came out. Every time you fire, your enemy gets a kill point. Fortunately, most of the kill point issues with these armies were resolved through updated books and FAQs.
    • The 5th edition wound allocation rules have a large hatedom as well because of the large number of Ork (Nob Bikers) and Eldar (Seer Council on Jet Bikes) players that have highly varied load outs on multiwound units so you have to pump out large numbers of wounds to kill a single model because wounds can be placed on individuals rather than inflicting full wound casualties. For example, on a 9-model nob biker unit it takes 10 wounds to kill a single one. Both cases are units that are very hard to kill thanks to special rules and proper equipment. It came to the point where the metagame shifted toward being able kill those units with either a few high-powered shots (which due to a Chunky Salsa Rule could kill regardless of wounds) or just spamming so many shots that they could not save against them all. Armies released later in this addition included options with that metagame in mind, introducing balance problems between those armies who could do this easily and those who could not. The update to 6th Edition changed the ways that wounds are allocated, thus reducing the effectiveness of these kinds of builds.
    • The "pile in" mechanic from 5th edition's assault rules. Previously, there was a considerable amount of finesse in positioning you miniatures right which could allow a weaker squad to defeat a stronger one if you set up the assault right. Not any more...
  • The baby rule in the Pokémon TCG generated a lot of flak due to adding yet another variable of luck to an already chance-heavy game. Combine with some of the more powerful cards being baby Pokémon and there's trouble. Eliminated in future sets.
  • Magic: The Gathering has gotten its share of Scrappy Mechanics over its twenty-five years. Some qualify for being confusing (Phasing, Banding, Licids), some for being overpowered (Affinity, "Free," Tempest's implementation of Shadow), some for being time-consuming or otherwise cumbersome (shuffling, Naya's "big matters" theme), and some for being just plain stupid (Radiance).
    • Infect is a notable case. According to head designer Mark Rosewater, a lot of people like it, but those who hate it really, really hate it. Common complaints include it's too powerful (though this is debatable), it's flavourless (having been implemented mainly as an aggro blitz mechanic which is completely at odds with Phyrexia's "slow and subtle" agenda), it's too insular (since infect cards don't have much place outside of an infect deck and vice versa), and it's pointless (damage being dealt via life loss or via poison counters is still damage, and has the exact same impact on gameplay).
    • Banding isn't by itself bad; it's when they started having effects that gave or removed banding. One creature is white, and requires green mana to activate its banding, a white ability! And of course there's Tolaria, which removes banding. But there was also may band with other legends, which only let that creature band with other legends that had the "may band with other legends" ability. And it wasted a land play for something that couldn't be tapped for mana! Yes, banding got far too complicated far too quickly.
      • Banding got phased out (no Magic pun intended) around the time cards started to get printed with reminder text for their abilities in earnest and printed rulebooks in every starter became a thing of the past. Which makes sense because while banding in and of itself wasn't that difficult an ability to apply once you grokked it, it was just complicated enough to explain to make the "reminder text" approach impractical given the limited space in each card's text box. (Creatures becoming less useful in numbers that would justify the use of banding as the number of ways to remove them from play individually or all at once without having to engage in explicit combat soared over time may also have had something to do with it.)
    • Transform is the new Scrappy Mechanic for Magic, as its cards are the first to have different backings. Said cards need to be able to flip over during play, making them incompatible with sleeves, but also must be sleeved or else count as marked cards (and are thus illegal in tournaments and any casual group with a shred of common sense). The solution is to print placeholder cards that garbage up booster packs, with Transform cards held in a pile off to the side. Since all the Transform cards had to be printed on the placeholder, they are few in number—meaning your opponent has a pretty good idea what deck you're running when he sees you have a pile of Transform cards off to the side.
    • In fact, Magic R&D termed a "storm scale" (named after the game-breaking mechanic) as a measure of likely a mechanic will see a reprint in future Standard sets. Old mechanics that appear in the upper end of the scale easily classify under this trope, be they too tedious, un-fun, or underwhelming.
      • Notably "bands with others" is rated an 11 on this scale. Beating out even the Storm Mechanic.
  • Examples from Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Rolling to hit in 1st and 2nd edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. While the rules generally make it pretty easy to work out what you have to roll to accomplish something in almost any given situation, in almost every other case a low dice roll is a good thing. When rolling to hit, however, players have to roll high. Many people felt that assigning characters a lower number the better protected they are is rather counter-intuitive. Expressing a character's skill in battle as the minimum roll needed to injure a person in full plate with a shield and a high dexterity (as opposed to, say, the minimum roll needed to injure a naked person) is worse, however.
    • Word of God (Gary Gygax himself) said that he wished he hadn't included the rather cumbersome weapon type having bonuses against certain AC types (an almost universally ignored mechanic) and that he only included psionics in 1st edition (creatures from previous material didn't have any psionic resistance, allowing psionic characters to run rampant) because a friend talked him into it. 1st edition has a LOT of Scrappy Mechanics. They were just flat ignored most of the time and most DM's made houserules instead.
    • Favored class/multiclass XP penalty rules from 3rd edition are notable for completely failing at what they're meant to do (the idea is to show the difficulty of maintaining skill sets, but a character that takes 1 level in 20 classes takes no hit under them, while a character that takes 15 levels in one and 5 in another DOES take a hit) and acting like a straitjacket on customization. Exotic base classes are rarely supported as favored classes, making them harder to use. Humans have no set favored class, whereas everyone else has a single favored class - which means that the already overpowered humans became even more dominant, except that in some cases, the lack of a single favored class actually imposes a XP penalty another race can avoid. And on top of this, prestige classes — which are generally more powerful than multiclassing anyway — don't take the penalty. Very few groups actually use this rule.
      • Even worse, some classes are front-loaded with benefits (a single fighter level gives free armor achievements and high hit points, allowing spellcasters to avoid being Glass Cannons), while others have powerful high-level effects, making Prestige Classes less attractive.
    • For low level 1E/2E games, level limits for non-human races are utterly irrelevant as a balancing factor. For higher level games, OTOH, they put a giant brick wall in the way of the demihuman races being useful, because suddenly you can't gain any more levels. To add insult to injury, the level limits also act as further straitjackets on character design, since outside of the single favored class for a given race, they are often so low as to be punitive even in a low level game. Thankfully eliminated in 3e and later. note 
    • In a similar vein, level adjustments are almost never worth it due to being obscenely overpriced. For example, playing a vampire looks awesome on paper, since you get huge stat bonuses and awesome powers like a healing factor, turning into mist at will, and draining your opponents' life with a touch. Trouble is, that will set you back eight levels in a system where the usual level cap is twenty. The end result is a character that can't cast with a damn, hit the broad side of a barn, or survive blows even the Squishy Wizard could tank.
    • Savage Species is an entire Scrappy Book of poorly-balanced concepts. It's one book almost no sensible DM will allow.
      • It has a ritual that lets you sacrifice XP (a level 1 template costs 1000 XP, a level 2 costs 3000, etc) to apply templates to your character. Kobolds are bad enough, but when you factor in that the character can drop from level 6 to level 5 and pick up the Necropolitan, Half-Celestial, and Weretiger templates without much hassle, maintaining balance in a party becomes pretty much impossible.
      • The entire "playing as monsters" rules (the reason the book exists to begin with) didn't exactly pan out well. Intended to show the flexibility of the system by letting you play as the iconic creatures of the game, the advancement tables for the monsters are extremely poorly-balanced and done with quantity over quality in mind. Some wind up rather pathetic (the medusa, whose entire existence is based on its petrifying gaze attack, can't do it until 6th level and can't do it regularly until 10th), and others hideously broken (the astral deva gets full cleric casting with eight skill points and full Base Attack), and all of them have to deal with irritating Level Adjustment setting their hit points, attack bonus, and skills well behind. To cap it all off, you're locked into your monster class and can't leave it until you finish advancement. It's hard to imagine how any of the designers could have imagined these characters would be fun to play. In fact, a blog post by the lead writer from the book reveals that he was opposed to the concept of monster heroes to begin with and intentionally wrote the rules to make them severely underpowered. Which only brings up the question of why Wizards of the Coast picked him to write the book in the first place. Unearthed Arcana in 3.5 Edition did, at least, offer some optional rules for spending XP to remove Level Adjustments, which helped a little.
    • Grappling in 3rd edition is considered confusing and generally isn't worth it versus hacking a creature to death. On the flip side, monsters that grappled were frequently obscenely overpowered. First of all, because grapple modifiers were calculated based on the creature's Base Attack Bonus combined with its Strength modifier, and an extra modifier based on size. Big creatures got large bonuses to grapple checks simply for being big, and being big also tended to go with lots of hit dice (boosting the Base Attack Bonus) and high Strength. This meant that a Huge or larger monster tended to have a grapple modifier so high that even the best grappling build of a PC (which usually meant that the character was poorly optimized in most other respects) had absolutely no chance of ever escaping a grapple. Combine this with the fact that most monsters that were grapplers had an ability to do so as a free action after hitting with an attack, and this resulted in a lot of pain, especially if the GM was mean and had creatures grab a single character and run away (or worse, flew, burrowed, or swam away). However, the 3rd edition grappling rules are the very soul of clarity compared to the 1st edition unarmed combat (grappling/pummelling/overbearing) rules. It wasn't all that uncommon for the bad guys to kidnap, imprison, or otherwise de-equip the party, only for the DM to suddenly announce that the party found a crate of daggers when one of the players pointed out "So I guess we'll be using the unarmed combat rules?"
    • While Hit Points are not normally a Scrappy Mechanic even when coupled with the usual Critical Existence Failure when player damage outputs are relatively low compared to enemy HP without specific and highly optimized builds, but the same is not true of enemy damage output relative to your HP. Your options become: bypass the broken mechanic by not doing HP damage, which not all classes can do; limit yourself to one of a select handful of builds, as otherwise the enemies will survive to get a turn and thus kill you; or die.
    • 3.5 features two kinds of casters: Vancian Magic casters prepare their wide selection of spells in the morning, while spontaneous casters know a small pool of spells that they can cast without preparation. This looks fairly balanced, so of course the designers decided to cripple the latter with how nearly all spontaneous casters advanced. They learn stronger spells when their level is double that of the spell (so a sorcerer learns 3rd-level spells at level 6), while Vancian casters learn at double the spell minus one - so a wizard can learn that same spell at level 5. To make matters worse, most challenges and Prestige Classes were designed with Vancian casters in mind. This basically means that spontaneous casters are always at least one level behind the curve, and levels 2 and 3 (since you learn your first-level spells at first and your second-level at fourth) are practically Empty Levels. Result? Vancian casters became Tier Induced Scrappies, and many spontaneous casters started using tricks like White Dragonspawn Loredrake Dragonwrought Kobold just to catch up.
    • While pretty much everything relating to the laughably underpowered truenamer could land in this trope, special thanks must be given to the Law of Resistance and the Law of Sequence. For the uninitiated: The truenamer uses his abilities, called "utterances," by rolling against 15+double the target's CR. (You may be asking, "Doesn't this mean he gets less effective when he levels up?" Answer: Yes.) The truenamer is a buff-and-debuff centric class, so he wants to use his utterances as much as possible, and he doesn't get a lot. Meet the Law of Resistance, which raises the DC of an utterance by 2 every time you use it. (And yes, this is a nightmare to keep track of!) One major trick the truenamer has to boost his utterances is the ability to "reverse" an utterance; for instance, the reverse of a flight utterance forces a target to the ground; the reverse of a sensory booster gives the target a sensory overload. You're probably thinking of ways to use these effects in tandem... meet the Law of Sequence. If you have an utterance active, you can't use it again as long as it's active. Oh, right, and most utterances are single-target, so if you've got two melee fighters in the party and you want to help one out when he's under pressure but you've already buffed one up, you need to cancel all the buffs on the other guy, then redo all of them onto the one who needs them, only they're harder to use now thanks to the Law of Resistance. Yeah, there's a reason this guy gets picked after the adept in Mage Kickball.
    • Another missed opportunity is the Soulknife. It's an oddball in many senses. First, it's a psionic class In Name Only; other than the fact that that it can take psionic feats, nothing about it feels psychic. Next, it was supposed to be a front-line fighter, but has a 3/4 attack progression and is limited to light armor note . Their signature class ability, the mind blade, fails to scale properly; by the time a soulknife gets +6 worth of abilities, a melee character will already have bought a +10 equivalent weapon without too great a money loss. Thankfully, when Pathfinder came along, its soulknife (via 3rd party publisher Dreamscarred Press) fixed all the aforementioned problems and added a slew of unique abilities that make them a cool, viable choice.
    • Weapons of Legacy, another in the line of "really cool concepts where the mechanics just fall apart", introduces the eponymous items, legendary magic items that grow in power as the player does, and in exchange for personal sacrifices and lore-laden rituals, offer unique special abilities in the vein of their heroic origins. Problem was, every single one of them is awful. The costs are far too high, the rituals take too much work, and the items themselves don't stack up next to the stuff you can just buy. Helped a little by the fact that it includes guidelines to custom-make your own, but you'd have to clear it with your DM first, and the original items are so bad that most players never even got that far in the book.
    • In a meta sense, the d20 and Open Gaming License options allow for some really cool options, but also some Game-Breaker combos that only the most attentive DMs could see coming, due to anyone being able to make and publish a sourcebook. As such, house rules often ban whole book lines outright.
    • In 4th edition there is a similar problem: player damage output compared to enemy HP is even lower, while enemies don't do much damage either. HP became a Scrappy Mechanic anyways, because you're likely to fall asleep long before the enemy has been ground down by HP damage and there are not any ways of bypassing the snoozefest.
      • Somewhat addressed by WotC in later books, most notably the Dungeon Master's Guide 2, which officially tweaks the rules for creating elite and solo monsters (in other words, exactly the toughest lumps of HP around) by no longer granting them better-than-average defenses for their type and trimming 20% off the HP totals of high-level solos on top of that. (Solo monsters in particular are generally intended to compensate for their lowered life expectancy under this approach by turning red once bloodied.)
    • Psionics, before 3.5's Expanded Psionics Handbook pretty much saved the concept, are pretty much always this regardless of edition. It mostly comes down to psionics being weird to work with, often either overpowered (ignoring magic resistance in 1st) or underpowered (every discipline using a different stat in 3rd), but the biggest of all is the "psionic combat" system that comes into play whenever two psionicists fought. The game is put on hold as the two psionicists stand in place, glare at each other, get Psychic Nosebleeds, and play the psychic equivalent of rock-paper-scissors until one of them falls over. When the EPH removed psychic battles, it was generally with a sigh of relief.
    • 3.0 again, with the Epic Spellcasting rules. The idea is that, once you've surpassed 9th-level spells, the only thing to do is start making spells of your own. The problem? The system to do so was totally, irrevocably broken. The idea was pretty simple - you have a number of basic "seed" effects, and you can stick them together or modify them to make new spells, as long as you make a Spellcraft check. For instance, if you want a spell that boosts your stats and AC, you just combine the Fortify and Armor seeds and modify either to suit your purposes... only to do so requires such a colossal Spellcraft DC that you would never consider using it. For comparison, the roll to make an epic spell whose effects duplicate a basic 10d6 Fireball would require a DC of 59note , at a level where spells with triple that damage are on the table.
      Thing is, they also include "mitigating factors", including increasing the casting time, lowering one of the involved effects, or making some kind of sacrifice - including having other casters donate spells for you. Once again, the idea is pretty simple - more impressive effects work more like rituals than simple point-and-go spells. In practice, it's really not hard to abuse mitigating factors, especially through effects like Leadership to give you a bunch of people donating spells or using a fast-time plane to fast-track spells with 100-day cast times. The result is a system that is essentially totally unusable to people who just want to have a good time mashing spells together, and incredibly abusable for people who want to invent a spell that makes them totally invincible forever. And to cap it all off, when you consider that epic metamagic effects are already plenty to keep the caster playable at epic levels, it wasn't even necessary.
    • The Vow of Peace feat from the Book of Exalted Deeds. On the one hand, it did have some nifty perks like making the character a Friend to All Living Things and causing weapons that strike you to shatter. On the other hand, it imposed penalties on anyone who attacks any living creatures near the character. This applies to party members. This made it the only thing in the game that imposes a code of conduct on characters who just happen to be in the same party as the person who took it. Unless you were in a campaign that was devoted exclusively to fighting undead, to which the feat's restrictions didn't apply, it's primarily a feat that will annoy everyone else in the party.
  • 3rd edition's sister product, d20 Modern, has the Wealth system. In theory, this means that instead of nailing down all equipment in terms of absolute cost (which was guaranteed to fall victim of Technology Marches On as the high tech gadgets of 2002 like mobile internet and sub-notebook computers became commonplace by 2009), items have a "Wealth DC," which is the character's Wealth modifier (arrived upon via the player's starting occupation and rank in the Profession skill, then adjusted by some Feats) plus a d20 roll. In theory, this keeps item pricing from ever looking too ridiculous. In practice, it meant that a character's gear is essentially randomized and that characters have to either requisition equipment on the honor system or with the GM present. In the end, most GMs ignored it because telling a player he can't play a sniper because he rolled a 2 on his Wealth check and now can't afford a sniper rifle goes against the spirit of the game.
    • The trouble is compounded in the way Wealth goes up and down. If a product costs less than the player's unmodified check, it can be purchased at essentially no cost. If it's higher than the character's base check modifier, it has to be rolled for—and a success lowers the player's Wealth by 1. Wealth is gained by making Profession checks when leveling up, and can award a 0-4 bonus, depending on how well the roll goes. This means that the system gives a huge advantage to characters created above level one; they can roll to gain wealth during their offscreen levels, then buy equipment after their Wealth check rises to get items essentially for free, instead of losing Wealth to roll for those items at level 1.
    • The Wealth system is also broken wide open by the D20 Future splatbook. Among the things it adds is a futuristic device that, while expensive, grants 1-3 feats of the player's choice to that player. The existence of the "Windfall" feat (+3 to Wealth checks, can be taken any number of times) means that a character can repeatedly buy versions of the device that contain multiple Windfalls until his Wealth modifier is so high he can buy anything.
  • 3rd Edition's bastard offspring, Pathfinder:
    • Its gun rules quickly won no small amount of scrutiny for defying Fantasy Gun Control, so one wonders if they didn't cripple them on purpose. Guns in Pathfinder, under the default "emerging" rules, require a feat or being a gunslinger to use, cost way too much for most characters to get at low levels, possess good base damage per shot but have no ability bonuses to damage and take longer to load than a moving van even with the relevant feat, have a pitifully short range increment that makes them ineffective outside of about twenty feet, and randomly jam or explode. Their only advantages over standard bows is their high crit damage and the fact that they can hit touch AC at short ranges. This would be bad enough, except the rules also feature "advanced" firearms that suffer almost none of these deficiencies, but claim that these firearms are too rare to be bought in the "emerging" rules. Cue thousands of gunslinger players begging DMs to either put revolvers in the next treasure chest or advance the timeframe of the setting just so that they can be competent.
    • The Sacred Geometry feat is generally banned, because it's immensely powerful while being a complete headache to use. Here's how it works: when you take the feat you select two metamagic (which normally enhance spells at the cost of increasing the spell slot used) feats, then if you successfully apply the feat to a spell you cast the spell with that metamagic without increasing the spell slot. To use the feat, roll a number of d6s equal to your ranks in Knowledge: Engineering, then use simple arithmetic to combine those numbers to make one of the three prime numbers associated with the spell level the spell would be if it had those metamagic feats applied to it. E.g. you want to cast a Toppling (+1), Dazing (+3) Magic Missile (1st level) and have 7 ranks in Knowledge: Engineering, so roll 7d6 and get 1,3,2,6,4,5,1. Then you need to make these equal to 43, 47, or 53 (the prime constants for a 5th level spell). So then play screeches to a halt while you calculate that ((5+1)*6)+((4/2)*3)+1=43, then cast a 5th level spell from a 1st level spell slot. Because combat in Pathfinder desperately needed mid-turn math puzzles.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
    • Missing the Timing. This is an oddly-nitpicky wording quirk that may leave you not able to activate an effect that met its trigger for seemingly no reason. This applies to "When" optional Trigger effects, as in the ones that say "When X happens: You can do Y" but not the other type ("If X happens: You can do Y") or mandatory Trigger effects, even ones that say "When X happens: do Y". The given reason is that a "When" trigger must have its trigger be the exact last thing that happened (with a mostly arbitrary definition of 'last'). For example, Peten the Dark Clown's effect says "When this card is sent to your Graveyard: You can banish this card from your Graveyard; Special Summon 1 "Peten the Dark Clown" from your hand or Deck." However, say you tribute it for a Tribute Summon. It's been sent to the Graveyard, right? If it were an "If" effect, it would trigger after you Tribute Summon your monster. However, for the purposes of a "When" effect, the last thing to happen is the monster being summoned, not Peten being sent. Too bad, you miss out on activating him completely. And no, you can't activate it between you tributing the monsters and playing the summon to avoid missing the timing. Being sent for a summon is just one condition that inevitably leads to missing timing, some others being certain text conjunctions ('then', 'also, after that'), triggering during a cost, and chaining. In the end, even experienced players don't fully get it, and it can really suck to lose out on a powerful effect. Even more annoying, your opponent can force you to miss the timing! It's fair enough that you can't activate goes to the graveyard when effects when you tribute the monster yourself. That the opponent can use Soul Taker on your monster, and force its "goes to the graveyard" optional effect to miss the timing is horrible.
    • Inverted with Yu-Gi-Oh! video games, where this rule becomes a Scrappy Mechanic because it asks you if you want to use the effect if literally anything happens in the game. Except when it doesn't which is usually when you will actually benefit you to activate the card/effect in question.
    • Back when the game first began, part of the power of cards like the Trap Hole set (which destroyed monsters on summon) was that you could block a monster from using its effect. However, because they activate when a monster is summoned and only destroy it (rather than actively negating its summon attempt), the monster is technically on the field first (this is the reason why it is impossible to destroy Jinzo, a monster which prevents traps from working for as long it's on the field, on summon with Trap Hole), so for some reason it was decided that the player should be able to use the effect of their monster regardless of whether or not it's about to be destroyed. This can result in some ludicrously powerful optional effects happening at a time when the monster should have been dead and buried, and is extremely annoying. For the record, that is called Priority. And as of March 19, 2011 (now etched in history as the Exceed Rule Patch), this is now abolished and the Trap Hole cards regain their power of eliminating big threat monsters like Judgment Dragon and Dark Armed Dragon.
      • To put this into further context: due to the abolition of Priority, some creatures that were once thought irreparably-broken have now been unbanned (though still limited), chief among them is Black Luster Soldier, Envoy of the Beginning. Some fans have called for its brother card, Chaos Emperor Dragon - Envoy of the End, to be unbanned as well, since the entire reason WHY it was broken was because Priority made its ignition effect nigh-uncounterable; it's still extraordinarily powerful, but arguably no more so (or even LESS so) than Judgment Dragon (since CED destroys itself and your hand, as well).
    • There's also the "Harpie Rule", which only really affects the titular monsters, but is still fairly annoying.
      • To wit, there are several monsters with effects that change their name to that of another monster, usually while it's face-up on the field. However, most all of the Harpie Lady monsters past the initial 2 don't specify where their effects treat their name as simply "Harpie Lady". As such, Konami has issued the ruling that these monsters are treated as having the name "Harpie Lady" for all intents and purposes, including deck construction. What does that mean? Well, you can only have three copies of a specific monster in your deck at any one time, so with the other Harpie Lady monsters being treated as "Harpie Lady" all the time, instead of being able to have three copies of each one of them, you can only have three of any combination of them (i.e., two of one card, one of another, or one each of three different cards). This severely limits the potential of a Harpie Lady deck, even more so when you consider all of the awesome support they have... though that might be why they were given this treatment. This basically amounted to giving your Harpie Ladies effects that did nothing but weaken them to anti-effect abilities in exchange for different card art.
      • Later Harpie cards wouldn't follow this rule, instead only changing their name to Harpie Lady when on the field or in the graveyard, making it possible to use more of them in the deck. And really, you don't need more than 3 combined copies of the OG anyway, since they're so old they're basically vanilla monsters.
    • Ignore Summoning Conditions was a new mechanic introduced in Soul of the Duelist. The wording made perfect sense in how it was applied until the release of Level Modulation where it could special summon LV monsters from the graveyard that normally could not. The problem? The text does not indicate that it will not work on a monster if it was not originally summoned by its effect. What is even more irritating is that the wording appears to be inconsistent when you can special summon a monster from the deck, but not the graveyard because it was not summoned by its effect. Another one of Konami's hidden rules.
    • Link Summoning and the Extra Monster Zone. Links are the newest summon in Yu-Gi-Oh. By themselves, they're a fairly inoffensive summon method introducing a mechanic of 'linking' to monster zones around the monster, making placement a strategic element of Yu-Gi-Oh. The new Extra Deck summon rules and the Extra Monster Zone, though, are currently prime flame war fuel in any Yu-Gi-Oh community. Special Summoning monsters from the Extra Deck is a major part of Yu-Gi-Oh, since some of the coolest monsters, vital combo pieces, epic over-the-top combos, entire strategies, and the hearts of many decks all originate from the Extra Deck. However, the combos some decks could make were getting to an insane level and turning the metagame into a no-holds-barred power race. Konami decided to do something about it, and their solution was to create a single Extra Deck Zone for each player, which is the only zone they can summon ED monsters into. That's right, now you get to have a single Extra Deck monster at a time. Now you got players being salty because, well, their decks are dead. Anywhere from a quarter to a decent majority of decks are probably dead, and this includes basically every Pendulum deck. Yeah, they killed an entire mechanic, one whose possibilities weren't fully explored, as well as the entire premise of the current anime (some of the most epic anime scenes involve multiple extra deck monsters, y'know). It is possible to control more than one ED monster... but it involves Links - a Link's Linked Zones become additional Extra Monster Zones. But it's not like many decks can just throw in a Link to solve their problems - they don't have the resources to summon one and still win. And most of those dead decks are staying dead, because Konami can't be relied on to come back to their outdated decks and boost them. Plus, there were Extra Deck monsters whose entire purpose was summoning other ED monsters, and they're jokes now. People are also yelling at Konami for 'forcing the new mechanic down our throats', saying you have to buy Links in order to play and calling it another profit grab. On top of all that, people found ridiculous combos involving links (and this is with only 10 links revealed), and there are currently many very powerful decks which don't use the Extra Deck at all, meaning Links changed nothing about the game's pace. The good news is that as of 2018 the hate seems to have simmered down as a wider selection of Link Monsters were revealed and released. They range from generic attribute-centered Link-2s that take minimal resources, even doable by older decks, archetype-specific monsters such as Qliphort Genius and Gem-Knight Phantom Quartz that come with new bells and whistles for their respective archetypes to stay competitive in the Link format, and play extenders such as Saryuja Skulldread, and Heavymetalfoes Electrumite (which saved Pendulum decks in the Link era).
    • This trope is the main reason for why Victory Dragon is banned in tournaments. Its effect is that it's tricky to summon and has mediocre stats, but if it attacks directly and wins in a "best of three" match, it's treated as winning the overall match. Awesome, but Impractical in regular play, but it's a headache for judges, since its ability raises a ton of questions. For instance, if a player loses two duels (which would normally decide the match) but they have Victory Dragon, should they be given a third duel anyway because Victory Dragon could potentially win it for them? Is it legal to cut your losses and forfeit before your opponent can attack with Victory Dragon? On top of that, the decks that could use it effectively were able to effectively invalidate tournament results in the OCG. Add in the fact that Victory Dragon decks tended to be based on stalling as long as possible until they could draw it, which (when combined with the above two issues of surrendering and always getting three duels) would frequently result in the game going into overtime, and you had a mechanic that singlehandedly ensured that we would never see a legal Match Winner again.
    • Twin-Headed Behemoth was this ever since its release. Its ability is supposed to represent it having two heads and when one is cut off it comes back with slightly less power. Sounds straightforward right? Unfortunately, to prevent the thing from continually reviving itself after its first "head" was cut off (due to the way the ability is worded, it would have triggered every time it died even if it came back with its own ability rather than revived), the rider "only once per duel" was added. This ended up opening a whole can of worms as it suggested that this only applied to that one instance of a Twin-Headed Behemoth, and that when one behemoth died, any others could still use this ability. How to keep track of which identical card used its once-per-duel ability? For instance, what if one Behemoth got shuffled into the deck, and then the opponent played another one that could be the original but also could be a second copy? To solve this, the card was limited to 1 and currently the only card to have ever been limited not because of power, but because of poor wording. Newer errata'd versions of the card now contains the correct wording, noting that one Behemoth using its ability shuts down the other two as well, thus somewhat resolving the issue, but no card with a similar wording has ever been printed since.
    • By a similar token, Question, a card with a pretty basic effect: guess what card is at the bottom of your Graveyard, and you can summon it, otherwise it gets banished. Seems reasonable... except it's the only card in the game that cares about the order of cards in the Graveyard. Since the order doesn't otherwise matter, players tend to rearrange their Graveyards without even noticing, and therefore, Question is exceptionally easy to cheat with. With how Grave-heavy some decks can be, figuring out whether or not the opponent did cheat is quite difficult unless someone on the sidelines has been recording every move.
    • Talking of easy cheat material, Infernities have a mechanic where most of their cards can only do their thing when the player's hand contains no cards. A central part of its playstyle is to empty your hand as quickly as possible, usually in part by Setting all your Spells and Traps. Some players, however, would set excess monsters in the Spell/Trap zone (which, bar a handful of cards, is an illegal move). What made this problematic (on top of the fact that Infernity was a naturally powerful deck) was that despite its blatancy and ease, there wasn't a way to easily catch an opponent in the act aside from blindly destroying backrow. Some unofficial tournaments even issued a rule that players had to reveal their Set cards at the end of the Duel, just to try to curb this.
  • Exalted had the Reactor/Perfect Spam/Lethality/Paranoia Combat/Overwhelming issue, which was a whole bunch of these. Elaborated: Reactor meant that with relentless stunting and mote regeneration Charms, it was comparatively easy to come out of any given action with more Willpower and motes of Essence than you started. These were then spent to activate "paranoia combos", which were massive experience sinks containing every single No-Sell power that could be accessed, including perfect defences. If you didn't activate your paranoia combo, you would die because of a preponderance of unpleasant "bad touch" effects, which would kill you, cut off your arms, turn you into a ferret, or otherwise make your life very difficult, not helped by the low health levels of these titan-killing god-kings, which ensured that even if there weren't any bad-touch effects in the oncoming attack, it would still deal quite a lot of harm if it got through your overpriced armour. Overwhelming damage and Essence Ping ensured that armour was largely unhelpful. Notably, the 2.5 errata tried to kill almost all of these: combos became free, mote regeneration was nerfed in the head, stunt regen was dropped to once per action, Essence ping was killed, Overwhelming became far weaker, and armour got cheaper. More abstractly, some players dislike Charms, believing them to be either annoying, too limiting, or overemphasised, and exactly nobody liked attunement motes in the 2.5 errata, but the lethality/paranoia issue was the most widely complained about and the source of many fixes.
    • In the same system, the diverging math between character creation points and experience points is regarded as this. Most traits bought up in character creation are paid for at a flat rate, but increase in cost exponentially afterwards when bought with experience points. Sub-optimal point investment in character creation, consequently, can leave a character behind literally the equivalent of hundreds of experience points (in a game where 4 per session is the baseline rate). This has persisted through the first and second editions of the games, and the developers have stated it would continue through the upcoming third edition, because it would be "fake equivalence" to correct it, and because "[they] never really bean-counted with any of [their] characters". The eventual "fix" was to simply acknowledge this mechanic's existence in the text.
    • Though not quite as widely maligned, due to having some positive upshots, the Resources system is similarly problematic. The Resources trait gives a simple zero-to-five abstract rating of a character's general wealth, meant to avoid having to do painstaking math or accounting. A character can't buy something that costs more than their Resources rating. Purchases below it are "out of pocket" expenses. A purchase equal to the rating is a significant expense, and lowers the rating by 1. However, this means that characters can purchase "insignificant" things in infinite quantities, characters with Resources 1 literally cannot buy anything at all without bankrupting themselves, and merely buying the same items in a certain order completely changes their impact on your wealth. Ex: At resources 3, buying a resources 3 item, then a resources 2 item, then a resources 1 item would drop you to resources 0. If you bought them in reverse order, despite their prices and your wealth being completely unchanged, you would only drop to resources 2.
      • The new edition seems to have addressed this, partially, by not deducting Resources for purchases out of hand. A purchase equal to your Resources merit is now a "significant but not ruinous expense". However, any Resources above the default of 0 reflects above-average wealth (1 for "agrarian landlords" and the like), meaning a purchase of, say, a single mace, whip, or short sword, is a "significant expense" for a successful business owner. However, this no longer means immediate bankruptcy.
  • Car Wars Confetti Rule: Due to a combination of factors (tournament games at conventions with strict time limits; extremely-low-weight engines; minimally-ablative armor), it became a simple matter to design a duelling car whose armor could not be penetrated easily (if at all) by the weapons of the game, singly or in linked masses. The "solution"? Institute a rule where if a car took damage equal to its mass divided by 50, it was automatically reduced to debris even if its armor was unbreached. Unfortunately, the writer of this rule forgot about Ramming, and specifically the fact that a car which was hit by a Ramplate wound up taking four times as much damage as the rammer (due to a poorly-written Ramplate-damage rule — not only did the target take 2x damage, the rammer took 1/2 damage!). Worse: A ram-car could easily have enough armor and other items to render it impossible to hit, much less damage. End Result: Ram-cars became the vehicle of choice, especially in tournaments; players who brought gun-equipped cars had no chance of winning. Mention of Confetti around gamers who remember this period is a Bad Idea....
  • The least popular mechanics of 13th Age seem to be the "variable class complexity" and "flexible attacks" rules. For the former, classes are arranged from things like the barbarian (whose most difficult decision is "when do I rage") to the wizard (who can pick all kinds of talents that encourage stunting on the fly, coming up with creative ritual uses for combat spells, and so on); while there isn't a great deal of imbalance, at least not in combat, gamers used to 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons often find barbarians and so on to be comparatively dull, leading to a number of homebrew classes aimed at making more complex barbarians and so on. The latter is a mechanic, used mostly by fighters and bards, where the effects you can use depend upon what your hit roll is - some require an even, some an odd, some a high roll, some an even miss - and some people don't like the lack of tactical control this gives you when you're playing those classes, leading to, again, homebrew classes that fill the same battlefield role but with different mechanics.
  • Shadowrun's Priority System for character generation is messy. If you want to adjust your character's stats, you may have to alter priorities, which significantly changes how much of X you get (adjusting Resources changes your nuyen, for example) and you never have enough to make a character that doesn't fit into one of the game's predefined archetypes. Fourth Edition started with a more elegant Build Point system, which gave you a pool of points with which to build your character. Karma Generation is a more refined Build Point system, giving you a pool of Karma to let you buy everything like you would during a campaign. The old guard who developed Fifth Edition brought back Priority as the default character generation system for Fifth Edition.
  • A few traditional card games have an element that is the bane of many players' existence:
    • Hearts has the Queen of Spades, which is worth a whopping 13 points to any unlucky player who takes her in a trick. Some players have devised variants that nerf the Queen of Spades, but they have not gained widespread acceptance.
  • BattleTech had the Force Size Modifier. Designed to prevent people from trying to spam an obscene amount of cheap units at people who wanted to use fewer, more expensive units, it instead had the effect of making it impractical to ever try to use multiple units in a game. The developers admitted it was a mistake after a couple of years and errated it out of the game.
  • Ars Magica 3rd Edition has a Magic Versus Science mechanic that makes Reason a metaphysical domain alongside the Divine, Infernal, Magical, and Fae realms, to the effect that magic can be unraveled by the pure Reason of a well-used laboratory or a sufficiently devoted scientist. Given how illogical this is in a world where magic is proven to exist and is studied through strong scholarly traditions of its own, this was dropped in later editions.

Example of: