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I think the list of nearly 20 possible cases in the main body might be a bit much. About half of them could be simplified down to something like:
"The spell is so inefficient (doesn't do enough damage, takes too long to cast, requires a contrived setup, etc.) that players are better off using other abilities."
Are folders broken, or is it just me? Can't understand why only the "tabletop games" one works.
That videogame folder is much too large.
How much natter about Dungeons & Dragons is officially 'too much'? I don't want to wipe out all that hard work, but it seems like "Played straight in AD&D; subverted in 3rd Edition; rarely found in 4th edition" sums it up.
Reason number six:
It should definitely stay, but be edited to mention that it only applies "when normal attacks/spells are strong enough to deal similar damage, but with the chance to kill on the first blow."
Also there should be a reference to reason number 1, since they never work against bosses.
Is this purely for magic or can useless sci-fi abilities in games be added to the list?
It's a game mechanic. It works for sci-fi stuff too, but only if it's an equivalent sort of weapon.
Can someone clarify what this trope is about? I've seen examples of useless spells and useful (without being useless) spells (with no 'aversion' stamp)
If I understand it correctly, it is about spells or other actions or items, whose use is very situative: they're mostly useless, but quite important or powerful for a certain purpose.
It's about spells that should be useful, but for various reasons are not. Like status spells in RPG's, for example. All the garden variety mooks are susceptible to them, but those enemies are the ones you don't really need them to beat. The enemies you would really like to blind/silence/slow/poison, like bosses, tend to be immune to them as a matter of course.
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How well does it match the trope?