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There are the awesome, powerful rare cards that you're eagerly praying to see when you crack open a booster pack...and then there are these. A Junk Rare is weak, narrow, useless, or otherwise undesirable, and to make matters worse, it's rare. So much for Power Equals Rarity.
Naturally, Your Mileage May Vary. One player's Awesome but Impractical is another player's Who Cares How Impractical It Is, It's Awesome! And one should never underestimate the power of Narm Charm. And Hundred-Percent Completion.
- Magic: The Gathering has a lot of these, usually on purpose. Mark Rosewater, the game's head designer, wrote a lengthy Justification of the practice titled "Rare, but Well Done", in which he discusses in great detail why this trope exists. In general, cards are rare when they really are powerful enough to dominate games (especially sealed deck and draft games), when they're weird and wacky enough that only a small portion of the players would want to use them, or when they're complicated enough that they can overwhelm beginning players. When players complain about a rare being one of those last two types and insisting it should have been an uncommon, one of Rosewater's stock replies is "you hate it, so you want to see it in more of your packs?"
Of course, it's not unheard of for the quirkier ones to become Lethal Joke Characters later on--one infamous example is Lion's Eye Diamond, which was originally designed as a nerfed Black Lotus so weak that nobody would ever play it. It's now banned or restricted in almost every format.
- The Star Wars Customizable Card Game had Epic Events, which typically required not only that you use associated cards, but your opponent use associated cards; for instance, Attack Run depended on your opponent using the Death Star and you having Death Star: Trench and Proton Torpedoes. All were rare.
- The Exodia cards. Get all five and win the game. Fine, but you can have only one copy of each of them in your deck, you can only hold onto 6 cards in your hand at a time so it gives you less strategies the more you get, and they're really weak on their own.
- Pretty much any card that requires another card to play. This can be worse if the "summoning" card is a rare in of itself. Venominion and Venominaga are good examples, with one being Ultra Rare and the other being Secret Rare. Venominaga however can only be played with Venominion's ability (with almost no exception), so even if you did score this extremely-rare card, there was no way you could play it unless you shelled out the money for the other, or got lucky with the pack again.
- The Japanese sets include a rarity called "Normal Rare" where, even if the cards don't appear to be Rare, they are very hard to find. Oftenly, cards that fall on "Normal Rare" are worse than your ordinary Commons. Just see for yourself. Luckily (or not), the Normal Rare rarity doesn't exist anywhere else, and it's much easier to find these cards.
- In Pokémon:
- Evolved (Stage 1 and Stage 2) Pokémon are mostly rare, and require basic Pokémon first. (You can get around using a Stage 1 with Pokémon Breeder (also Rare), but you still need the common basic Pokémon.)
- Another example would be the super Awesome but Impractical legends, and some rares are actually extremely weak and nigh unplayable, like early Magnetons, Pidgeot, etc.
- Rarity seems to be more related to the Pokémon featured than the potential for playability. There have been instances in every tournament season up to the present (2010-11) of a player doing well with a deck using nothing above Uncommon, the second-lowest rarity, though such decks have never moved beyond the national level. There was one time a World Championship winner's deck used only 4 Rares out of 60 cards per deck. (There were at least three rarities above Rare at that time. And if you're curious, it was the Lunatone-Solrock deck.)
- In the early days of Hero Clix, this is applied to uniques like Juggernaut without the helmet and original-costume Cyclops. Adding keywords didn't help these guys much. And the newer sets have gems like Spider-Man villain The Spot, Mr. Miracle & Oberon duo, and Queen of Fables.
- 90% of just about any item you get in Diablo. Unless you can bribe someone to run you through an area with it.
- In Runescape:
- It's possible, but extremely rare, to randomly receive 100 silver ore as a drop from most monsters with drop tables. Otherwise, silver ore is a common item, and even a hundred of them are only worth a few thousand gold in total. The dragon spear is obtained through a similar system (an extremely rare drop from the same wide variety of enemies) and is very close to completely worthless.
- Clue scrolls occasionally reward the player with rare and valuable items...and other times, you get a handful of mundane colored firelighters.
- Anchors are the rarest items in Super Mario Bros 3: every other world has an untold level where collecting an untold number of coins gets you anchor. All the anchor does is stop the airship from changing its place on the map if you die. In World 5 a very rare glitch can make the airship fly to an unreachable square, so it's probably most useful there.
- There are plenty of rare but almost useless Mons: Tangela and Lickitung were this in the first generation, and subsequent games followed in their footsteps with such duds as Qwilfish and Dunsparce. However, Chimecho takes the cake here: In its debut, not only was it found on an area where you were unlikely to go search for Pokemon, with a 1% encounter rate, but no trainer had it (meaning you can't use the in-game function to find out where an encountered species can be found)...and it was the weakest Psychic-type in the game.
- Any shiny Com Mons, e.g. shiny Rattatas and shiny Pidgeys.
- The Goblin, Bomb and Mind Flayer summons in Final Fantasy IV and its sequel.
- Nintendo World Championship 1990 is one of the rarest NES games in existence with an interesting piece of history behind it, considered to be the Holy Grail of game collections. However, as shown on The Angry Video Game Nerd, it exists as nothing more than a competition cart split between segments of Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer and Tetris.
- Back in the days of vanilla World of Warcraft, Molten Core's Sulfuron Harbinger encounter occasionally ended in disappointment when one of the items dropped was Shadowstrike. Sure, it had the gimmick of transforming into Thunderstrike and back. But it had inferior DPS to other two-handers, so the Warriors and Paladins didn't want it, and no stat bonuses, so the Hunters, Druids, and Shamans didn't want it either, and the other classes couldn't wield Polearms. No surprise that its nickname became "Vendorstrike", and later "Nexusstrike," as it became a reliable source of Nexus Crystals from disenchanting.
- Unusuals from Team Fortress 2. They are extremely rare, only being found in Mann Co. Supply Crates at a 1% rate. The most valuable variants of them are valued at thousands of dollars and lots of in-game high-level "currency". And what are they? Hats with special particle effects- literally no more than cosmetic items with flashy effects.