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Dellyn Goblinslayer: You have Improved Unarmed Strike?

Minmax: I got it by trading in my ability to rhyme on purpose.

The art, much beloved of munchkins, of optimizing a character's abilities during creation by maximizing the most important skills and attributes, while minimizing the cost. This is done by strategic decrease of stats believed to be less important in game (called "Dump Stats"), exploiting hideously overpowered but legal combinations of the Game System, obtaining the best toys and magic weapons accessible to a character, or by stacking flaws and handicaps until your character's Backstory looks like a Joss Whedon character's resume.

Seen from a purely mathematical and gamist perspective, it's an elegant process of minimum expenditure for maximum result.

Seen from a more narrativist perspective, the process may end up creating a character with absolutely no unifying reason to have the abilities that it does.

For some mysterious reason, usage of katana, trenchcoats, and shotguns are mandatory for a truly minmaxed character, except in D&D 3.5 edition, in which, for the Fighter class, the Spiked Chain is just about mandatory, and in which kind, gentle users of divine magic invariably become CODzilla.

Of note is the "Stormwind Fallacy," which states that a min-maxed character and a well-roleplayed character are not mutually exclusive: an effective character is not necessarily something that gets in the way of narrative. Similarly, purposefully weakened characters may not always be better for the narrative.

Related to Disability Superpower, Crippling Overspecialization, Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training. See Whoring for the Video Game equivalent trope. Compare Necessary Drawback and Fantastic Fragility.

Examples of Min-Maxing include:

Anime & Manga Edit

  • Nodoka of Mahou Sensei Negima starts doing this after joining an adventuring party, gathering a collection of seemingly useless magic items which synergise extremely well with her artefact. To be specific, her artefact is a large book which displays someone's thoughts if Nodoka calls their name. One of the items tells her the name of anything she points at and another is an earpiece which reads the book for her while it's in her backpack (allowing her to make use of it in combat). This combination gives her de facto telepathy.
    • To give an example: if we sum up her speech during chapter 280's fight : "What is your name? Ahaa, Dynamis. How do you use this artefact? So this is what I can do. How would you escape from this situation? OK, teleporting away." -- without the opponent saying anything meanwhile. Real quote: "Thank you very much, mister Mage."
    • She even buffs herself beforehand -- flashbacks showing her learning magical reinforcement from her party members -- giving her enough temporary speed and agility to steal Dynamis' artifact from under his nose.
  • Wunderweiss from Bleach was engineered by Aizen for a single purpose: negating Captain Yamamoto's sword. As a trade off, he is mute and mentally retarded.

Sports Edit

  • A common happening in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA); while every fighter is supposed to have at least some proficiency in each of the three basic phases of the fight -- striking when standing, the clinch (grappling while standing), and on the mat -- usually fighters tend to have specialized in, or at least developed reputations for specializing in a particular area or method. Besides training and natural aptitude, having a clear way to "finish" the opponent tends to be more exciting (read: more pay) and is usually less risky than letting a fight "go to the judges," especially if it's hard-fought by both fighters. Due to the nature of the fight sport, however, it's possible for minmaxing attempts to result in a Crippling Overspecialization.
  • Krav Maga is basically a Martial Art that trims away all of the non-combat aspects of other Martial Arts in order to focus on fighting.
  • Conversely, Parkour is a martial art that trims out all the combat aspects of other Martial Arts to focus on ways to win without fighting

Tabletop Games Edit

  • It should be noted, first and foremost, that most Tabletop Games have a built-in check against unbalanced minmaxing (unless the Game-Master likes the minmaxing) in the form of the Game-Master (Story-Teller, Dungeon Master, etc.). While many players enjoy the theoretical debate over what "could be done" using a certain interpretation of the rules, many will find their plans cut short if they actually tried to implement any of them in play.
  • Steve Jackson Games published The Munchkin's Guide to Power Gaming, a humorous look at how to fold, spindle, and mutilate the rules (and if that didn't work, cheat).
  • In Paranoia, it is recommended that the GM treat any player that displays knowledge of the rules beyond what has already come up in the game as treasonous and have their character summarily executed, wiping the line. Because of that, the only way for a player to really use the system is to get their own copy of the rules before character creation and gear their character creation towards a better character. The game also recommends that players do this, both because it means they have to buy their own copy of the rules (and that's more money in the writer's pockets!), and because having a hard rule against reading the rules and then encouraging the players to break it and desperately pretend they haven't is so in spirit with the game it hurts.
  • More iterations in Warhammer 40000 than you can count, and that the designers have spent literally decades trying to balance, such as:
    • Lasplas: a Lascannon and a Plasma Gun in every squad (patched by making it so you need a 10-man squad to have a Lascannon and a Plasma Gun, as well as making both prohibitively expensive compared to other guns)
    • Stealer Shock: using Genestealers with a previously only moderately helpful upgrade called Scuttling to move your entire army onto the table from the board sides, effectively jumping a castled enemy and assaulting without even being shot.
    • Assault Cannons: using tons of units in as minimal quantities as possible to ensure that there are as many Assault Cannon upgraded models as possible (patched with recent fixes to limit the spam of Assault Cannons to every Marine faction except Black Templars.)
    • The first splat book of Second Edition, featuring the Space Wolves, allowed for a single unit of up to 20 veteran Terminators (who, back then, saved on 3+ on two dice), and each of them could be equipped with an Assault Canon or Cyclone missile launcher. The cheese factor was pretty high, even if such a unit was ridiculously expensive pointwise.
    • Wraithlords: it was a common practice amongst Eldar players to spam Wraithlords because in a previous edition they were completely imbalanced for how powerful they were (patched by a new army book coming out making the Wraithlords significantly less powerful than they were; the current unit-to-spam is the "Holofalcon")
    • Nidzilla: a Tyranid list that fields little to no Gaunts, while taking as many Carnifexes as possible, capable through a rule in the army book that allows Carnifexes under certain points costs to be taken as Elites instead of Heavy Support choices, effectively doubling the amount of available Heavy Support slots there are.
    • The Tyranid Codex spawned a number of "broken" units due to an apparent lack of playtesting. The most infamous of which was the Doom of Malai'tai. The beast can be dropped in the middle of the enemy and it will automatically hit all enemy units within range before any shooting is done, even on your opponent's turn, and THEN it shoots. When the FAQ came out it was basically one gigantic stompfest on the Nid's rules. The final nail on the coffin was the Dark Eldar Codex, where the horrendous amount of poison weapons seems to be tailor-made to kill what's left of the wimpering Nidzilla lists.
    • Chaos Space Marines: As a whole, many units and unit builds are simply so powerful (the "Lashprince" being the most common, also Obliterators and Plague Marines) that they are used in exclusion of other units that are otherwise perfectly decent (Chaos Space Marines themselves, Chaos Raptors, Lesser Daemons), and others that are so terrible that no one dares use them (Dreadnoughts, Possessed, and Spawn). As such, the most commonly-sighted Chaos Space Marine army features two "Lashprinces", nine Obliterators, and the remaining points are spent entirely on Plague Marines, when other armies would kill to have even some of the less-popular units in the army book.
    • Orks get a big cheese with their new codex. A unit called Nobz (essential Ork "nobles") are able to be put on bikes. You take 9 of those, add a painboy (doctor), also on a bike. He allows the Nobz to ignore wounds, and gives them Cybork armor (which gives them an invulnerability save of 5 or higher). The Nobz on bikes are able to move really fast, very easily, give the nobs extra toughness and a 4+ Armor save (compared to the normal 6+), and a 4+ cover save, so you always have a chance to negate a hit. Combine this with their 2 wound and the painboys making them Feel No Pain, they are very, very good, and the winner of the grand tournament field these. Their only downside is their ludicrous points cost. Also, due to rules regarding wound allocation, an Ork player can usually distribute numerous wounds among individual Nobz with different equipment, drastically reducing the chances of outright killing a Nob in a round of shooting or combat. Eventually answered with the Imperial Guard codex, which readjusts the Guardsmen in such a way that they are the worst enemy of the Nobz. When you're facing forty-plus hits, even the most judicious wound allocation is still going to cost you the entire unit. The Nobz Mobz have essentially evaporated.
    • Dark Eldar's "Dark Light Storm" the whole army exists to spam as many Dark-Light Weapons(It sort of makes sense in context, Dark Light being the closest we can describe it) in the army as possible, taking 6 units of Kabal Warriors, each unit is 5 Warriors with one carrying a Blaster, all mounted in Raiders armed with Dark Lances, take 3 Ravagers for heavy support, each carrying 3 Dark Lances, In the Elites section 3 units of 6 Trueborn, 4 carrying Blasters, 2 carrying Dark Lances, again mounted in Raiders armed with more Dark Lances. As for the mandatory HQ take whatever you feel like, you've already got 24 Dark Lances and 18 Blasters. The whole point of this is that Dark Light weapons are Lance weapons, which means they ignore any armour value above a certain point, with very few exceptions (3) they will glance all vehicles on 4s and penetrate on 5+.
    • In the rather less popular game Necromunda, a Spyrer gang with fewer members became considerably more deadly than a larger one, due to the cost of their upgrades. A 3-man team would challenge even experienced gangs of more conventional origin, and 1- or 2-man Spyre hunts would be nigh invulnerable.
  • Dungeons and Dragons, obviously.
    • The main article notes that Spiked Chains are nearly mandatory for optimised Fighter builds. This is not because they are a Badass Improbable Weapon User. It's because it is mechanically superior to almost any other melee weapon, with special properties that make it well-suited to a range of effective melee strategies... of which there are few to begin with.
    • In the fourth edition, things have been toned down; however, the Swordmage class almost seems like it was meant to be like this: sink all your points into intelligence, and choose a race with a racial INT bonus as well, leaving you with INT 20. Then take the Intelligent Swordmaster feat, select an origin in the Forgotten Realms locale of Thay, and wear cloth armor; your AC (which gets a class bonus anyway), HP and attacks then all draw from the one bloated stat.
    • To give an idea of how toned down 4e is on this front; the current big thing in minmaxing is a feat that gives you +1 to attack rolls with one weapon or implement. A similar feat in 3e, Weapon Focus, was widely considered by optimizers to be garbage.
    • Highlights of (ab)using all 3e sourcebooks include infinite stats, ascending to divinity at level 1, running faster than the speed of light to throw an enemy to the moon, doing thousands of points of damage per round, and leveling cities with a 4th-level spell.
    • Pun Pun, the kobold: ...Oh god where to start. Read about it here.
    • In earlier editions, darts. Yes, darts. A warrior character could throw three per attack and there was no rule preventing them from getting their full strength bonus from each one. Additionally, weapons had a "weapon speed" which worsened the initiative of the use for clumsy weapons, and darts were fast. This meant that if a fighter at mid-high level had +7 damage from Strength (magic, etc), he could trade a single attack with a two-handed sword (avg damage 12.5) for three attacks (avg damage 9). They were also more likely to beat the enemy to the punch and blow out a wizard's defensive spells. Darts were more than twice as damaging and left you with a shield to boot. The Player's Option series tried to warn the DM about this kind of minmaxing, but given just how lethal 1st and 2nd Edition were...
  • Mutants and Masterminds, being a point-based tabletop RPG, is very easy to min-max. However, the creators seem to realize this and go out of their way to point out potential abuses and give advice for GMs to deal with problem players ("don't let PCs take this" is one such piece of advice). This is, after all, a game where one of the official variants is unlimited points to buy abilities -- as in the only limit is what the player thinks is reasonable.
    • The points costs is also ludicrously unbalanced; for instance, having a character speak three languages costs more than having them speak every language.
  • Hero System/Champions has pretty much the same situation. A Game Master who's willing to veto really game-breaking characters is essential in such cases. It's notable that the game manual itself anticipates min-maxing and provides a few examples of character builds that illustrate the point -- for example, N-man, who sits at the centre of the universe and does nothing but gibber. He sees what he wants with his n-ray vision from lightyears away and blasts it.
    • Champions, especially 4th edition, is legendary among min-maxers for what could be done. Among other things, a flaw in the way Aid (the generic term for any power that augments or repairs another) was implemented allowed one min-maxer to use 175 points to give everything he had, including a Variable Power Pool, ten times that. Just as a way of explanation, an area of effect Ranged Killing Attack at that level could destroy something on the order of 2 times 10^20 UNIVERSES or so, and horribly damage ones far beyond that.
  • Shadowrun offers some opportunities for min-maxing. For example, melee weapon damage is based on the STR score. A Troll character gets +4 STR beyond the normal human maximum of 6. Assume your Troll is a Physical Adept with 6 points in Armed Combat skill. You buy a Spell Lock focus and have your Mage friend cast Increase Strength +4 on you - which remains on you as long as you have the Spell Lock item. You spend 1 karma to bond the lock (a pittance compared to the 12 karma it costs to raise your skill from 6 to 7). You do the same for all five other stats, and Reflexes +3d6. Your melee weapon is a Combat Axe. Out of your 6 Magic points you spend 1.5 points to get +6 to Armed Combat rolls. The axe has a damage code of (STR)S. Your Strength is 14, so your damage code is 14S, equivalent to a sniper rifle or a really nice shotgun. With your natural reach and the reach on the axe (total 3), you just need to roll 2 or better on a die for a success unless you're fighting someone who has a long weapon or is a troll with a sword. This means against most people and critters you roll 12 dice and succeed on 10 of them. Even if the target wears the best possible armor he will still die automatically unless he is also a beefed-up Troll with cyber or magic. It's quite possible to destroy cars completely with this Troll.
    • A more terrible version comes in when you pick up a Weapon Focus (6) combat axe and suddenly roll 18 dice, with 15 of them usual successes. If you toss in Combat Pool you're rolling 24 dice, 20 successes. Slap on a Spell Lock for Armor from a min-maxed Shamanic Sorcerous Adept and you could see a Body score of 25+, like a Great Dragon.
  • GURPS is very easy to Min-Max in unless the GM sets firm limits on what options are available to the players. Characters are also theoretically balanced by their point total, but this is only really true in fairly narrow circumstances.
  • Seventh Sea looks to have been designed with min-maxing in mind. The game provides players only one chance to gain extra Hero Points for the game's Point Buy System, called a Hubris. Hubrises are all open-ended and allow the GM to force the character either reroll or deliberately make a bad decision. In addition, taking a Hubris forbids taking a Virtue, a surprisingly powerful ability that a character can only have one of. In addition, the game has characters generate "Drama Dice," which can be added to rolls, used for specific abilities (Virtues, Glamour magic, etc.), and become XP if unspent at the end of a story arc. Drama Dice are assigned based on the character's lowest primary stat, meaning that a well-rounded character has a pretty decent chance of gaining XP faster than one with an obvious Dump Stat. Lastly, all five basic stats are relevant more or less constantly--Brawn affects melee damage and ability to tank damage, Finesse governs all attack rolls, Wits is used for defense and almost everything out of combat, Resolve resist fear and determines how badly wounds slow you down, and Panache sets how many times you act per combat round. Since everything is bought on a Point Buy System, this motivates all but the most specific builds (for example, a character specializing in pistols has limited use for Brawn) to avoid having a Dump Stat.

Video Games Edit

  • The various Dungeons and Dragons video games suffer much the same issues as their PnP progenitors, but with added twists.
    • Dungeons & Dragons Online provides the usual diminishing returns point assignment variant on character creation. However, as with most MMOs, most players come close to minimaxing their preferred stat anyway in both creation and leveling. This ends with the usual game treadmill where the raid bosses get the normal MMO insane stats assigned to them to offset the unlikely, by PnP standards, primary stats and ACs in the 40-70+ range by the level 20 endgame.
    • Single-player games typically have optional "roll the dice" choices on character creation. The true mini-maxer can click dozens to hundreds or more times, looking for the elusive roll with multiple 18s in the primary stats. Especially insidious was the elusive 18/100 "percentile" roll for the earlier editions' STR stat for melee.
  • Maple Story does this with certain builds. While normally it is very much still a min maxer's game (A mage for example can not put one point into dex or strength, and no one ever puts points into MP or HP) There are dexless and luckless builds involve using stat increasing items for stat deficiency.
  • Much like the Maple Story example above, Diablo 2 is pretty much an exercise in minmaxing. Every build has optimal stat and skill placement and item choices. Deviating from the build in any way, or heaven forbid trying to make something unique or using whatever equipment you pick up off the ground, ensures that you will have to use effort to get through hell difficulty. Furthermore, Min-Maxing extends to the items as well as characters. Getting items with stats that are perfect or near perfect cost many times more than the going rate, even if the difference is only a 1%.
  • In Fallout 3, each level the player gains grants a number of "skill-up" points. The number of points you gain is dependent on the character's Intelligence stat, so maxing out Intelligence from the game's start leads to a far more capable character than one who doesn't. Putting your intelligence at 9 leads to the most capable character.
    • Oddly enough, one of the few instances where Min-Maxing is the result of Did Not Do the Research. There is very little incentive to have mass amounts of Intelligence early. Most skills are nearly useless. Every skill, at a minimum, can be raised to 87 without investing a single skill point or taking a feat or tagging a skill. Two can be raised to 100 and Speech can be raised to 97. It is literally impossible to lower Intelligence enough to make it absolutely impossible not to end up with 10's in all SPECIAL and 100's in all skills (most of which are still useless, but its done for the sake of completion).
    • The original two Fallout games had the Gifted trait, sacrificing skill points (which with a good intelligence score you should have plenty of already), to instead gain a bonus to all the SPECIAL stats, that play a much greater role than in the third game.
    • Part of the reason Gifted was so powerful was because Tagging skills doubled the rate they leveled in those two games. In addition, any particularly useful skill in Fallout 1 had a skill book that could be purchased from a merchant that restocked her inventory. Even with the time limit, you could max every really useful skill and then Tag any one that couldn't be easily raised with skill books.
  • Fallout: New Vegas takes steps to avert this. Armour and weapon choice play a much bigger role in your combat success, and it's a lot harder to minmax your stats, forcing you to either focus on a few choice ones or get a decentish spread over a half a dozen or so skills.
    • The Good-Natured trait is still an example. Trading in combat for non-combat skills is a good way to reallocate points from weapons you never intended to use for an edge in skills that will always be useful. Every good build specializes in a chosen weapon anyway, and the loss there can be recovered in one level.
    • With the release of "Lonesome Road," the level cap has been set to fifty, barring one trait that allows a person to stop gaining skill points at level 30. This allows any player with a decent amount of INT to maximize all thirteen skills to 100 with a modicum of effort.
    • A huge boon to min-maxers is the "Skilled" trait, which raises all skills by 5 points. The cost is a 10% penalty to experience earned, but it's not nearly enough of a hit to keep players from hitting the level 50 cap. (Even for players concerned about the exp hit, there are not one, but two perks that cancel it out.)
    • Even with 100 in a skill you're not going to be anywhere near as effect as a character that has all of the perks relating to that skill, and perks are severely limited in this game.
  • Ace Online is full of minmaxing, with A-gear players comparing the power of their mighty Bigsmashes in terms of volume of fire, B-gear players competing for either the most powerful, accurate, or fast-firing missile (bomb) barrage, and the numerous semi-serviceable weapons being sold at low prices due to market inflation on weapons with the crazy Super or Hyper fixes.
  • Dofus. Ever since the patch that gave characters 5 HP at each level-up, putting points in more than one attribute is almost always a waste. A very few builds support two attributes. Furthermore, one of the first things a character is expected to do once he gets enough money (or resources, etc.) is to "scroll" himself, which allows him to get 101 free points in an attribute. This is extremely expensive, especially for the most common builds (Wisdom, Intelligence, and Strength cost around 3 times as much as Chance or Agility). Some builds REQUIRE being scrolled from the start, otherwise they are completely worthless.
  • Competitive Pokémon is probably the most blatant form of Min-Maxing in video games. 'Effort Values', are more or less the Pokemon equivalent to attribute points. Each Pokemon also has 'Individual Values' that make its stats different from other Pokemon within its species. Moreover, starting with Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, each Pokemon has a 'Nature' that either positively affects one of the Pokemon's stats while negatively affecting another, or does nothing at all. Competitive trainers, (meaning mostly 18+ year-olds and a few extremely savvy 10 year-olds) will Min-Max all of their Pokemon (HM slaves aside). Only Pokemon with the highest Individual Values in relevant stats and a Nature that increases the Pokemon's desirable stats while decreasing the useless ones (Natures that do nothing are are universally considered to be crap) are accepted. Furthermore, all of the Pokemon's 510 Effort Values are poured into the Pokemon's best stats (with some variation, depending on the Pokemon's purpose). On top of that, the player can opt to equip the Pokemon to hold an item that further increases their stats, such as a Choice Band to increase the Pokemon's Attack stat.
    • For example, Scizor is a Pokemon with an amazing Attack stat, but terrible Special Attack. A competitive trainer would choose a Scyther with an Individual Value of 31 (highest possible) in Attack and an Adamant Nature (+Attack, -Special Attack) to evolve into a Scizor.
    • In the single-player game: while you're advised to make a "balanced team", it's far easier to simply train one single 'mon to be fifteen levels higher than it really should be, and able to one-hit virtually anything you come across. Of course, if you're playing it for multiplayer, this won't get you very far.
    • In general, the best team for Pokémon consists of: Mewtwo. That's it. It doesn't matter who else is in your team, it doesn't matter if your opponent is resistant to Psychic, and it doesn't matter how many Pokémon they have. A properly leveled Mewtwo will decimate everything in the game in one or two shots.
    • Subverted in the newer editions. While it's still a good tactic for 99% of the game, when you reach the Elite Four, you find they all have teams of five or six level 70 and higher Pokémon. It's gonna take more than one or two level 100s to beat that. It is still possible, you just can't lose at Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors now. Now, the ultimate team is a level 100 Garchomp. Nothing in the game resists Dragon, Fire, and Ground (The only type that resists the former is Steel, which is weak to the latter two.Some setups can avoid being weak to all 3 types at once, however). Dragonite and Salamence also work.
    • Also, the multiplayer is dominated by a different type of Min-Maxing. Specifically, customizing your Mons by breeding and EV training, leveling up, and using TMs/HMs for the best stats and moves your Mon can have. EV training and Natures on their own fall right into the classic definition of Min-Maxing. Natures are often used to give inherent bonuses to the stats the player wants his/her Mon to use, and assign penalties to a useless or irrelevant stat. For example, a Squishy Wizard Mon would usually be bred to have stronger Special Attack power, at the cost of physical Attack. Also, EVs allow the player to allocate even more points to specific stats.
    • Pokémon Black and White tries to avert the balanced party issue with a new experience system. Over-leveled Pokémon now gain less experience per encounter, while under-leveled ones gain more. If you have one Pokémon even five levels above the current Mons in the area, training slows to a painful crawl. But evenly spread out the experience, and you'll save time and work.
  • Dungeon Crawl partially counters this with stat death: if any of many temporary stat draining effects lowers your stat to 0 or lower, you die instantly. This forces troll berserkers to get a modicum of Int, mages to get some Str, heavy armour fighters to get some Dex. You need at least 8 in all stats to avoid being drained in one hit so you can somehow cure the loss.
  • In Armored Core, going for "Best Rating" can hurt you in the long run.
    • Depends, it just paints an impression of a numbers game, you also got to calculate what type of firing radius the gun can pull off (Missiles are good example) and the cost/benefit ratio it has to that build.
  • "Danger Mario" mode in Paper Mario is a specialized build based around making Mario have as little HP as possible in order to pump up both his FP and his ability to equip lots of Badges. Then you throw on lots of badges which boost attack and raise evasion when Mario's HP is low, making Mario the ultimate Glass Cannon who can dole out tons of damage each turn AND is nigh untouchable. You'd better keep your Partner up front against the rare enemy that can ignore evasion, though. The "Peril Mario" build takes it a step further, offering even greater destructive power, but only if Mario can stay at 1 HP.
  • In early Monster Rancher games, this was required. Trying to train a balanced monster took time, too much time and the monster becomes useless with old age or dies. Most of the enemies were also min-maxed to be more fair.
  • Arcanum's Point Build System allows for a lot of flexibility when designing characters, so minmaxing is inevitable.
    • Notably, it's very easy to create a close-combat nightmare of a character right out of the gate by choosing to play as a half-ogre with the "Raised in the Pits" background. Your character won't be much of a conversationalist, but he will be able to kick a wolf in half with a single blow.
    • However, the absolute king of minmaxing backgrounds is "Beat With An Ugly Stick." The reason is that Beauty is an absolute dump stat; it only affects reactions, and if you start out at a low reaction from someone and you chat them up properly, you'll be instantly raised to neutral with them. In exchange for a low Beauty, you get a major boost to combat-useful stats.
    • "Raised By Monks" increases your perception by 1 in exchange for half your starting gold. You start with 600 gold by default, so you're essentially buying a permanent (and inherent) +1 boost to perception for a measly price of 300 gold. Perception raises sight range (how far you can scroll the screen) and is an important stat for both Technologists and Roguish characters, as it's tied to Firearms and Prowling (Sneaking). Perception is also hard to raise by magical means. A no-brainer for most character builds, 'though close combat specialists who don't worry about backstabbing may find "Beat With An Ugly Stick" to be more useful.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, a character can step on a delevel trap using a class with low stat gains (such as, say, the Squire), losing the stats they would have gained from that level. They can then regain that level with a class with high stat gain, gaining a net increase in stats in the process. Do this enough, and you can max your stats. It's one of the more esoteric and obsessive ways in which FFT can be completely broken.
  • System Shock 2's Impossible difficulty more than living up to its name? Forget useless stats like Research and Exotic Weapons and focus on Standard Weapons and the Hacking Skill.
  • Dwarf Fortress Adventurer Mode recently added the ability to adjust physical/mental attributes during character creation; since most of the attributes have no effect whatsoever in Adventurer mode, it is common to drop them all to minimum to permit boosting important attributes even higher.
  • Nippon Ichi games are built around Min-Maxing. In most games, you can min-max your character's base stats through Reincarnation (returning to level 1 with all of the stat bonuses accumulated through your original class' lifespan and, if you're not a named character, go into a class with better stat growths). You can min-max your weapons, armor, and accessories. In Phantom Brave, you can even min-max dungeons and titles (that give out extra statistical benefits).
  • In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, you can gain extra Jedi levels by refusing to level up your non-Jedi class in the first fifth of the game. Taken to the extreme, you could delay taking all but level 2 (forced on you by the introductory tutorial mission) until becoming a Jedi, thus gaining 18 Jedi levels by the end of the game instead of the normal 10/10 split.
    This was difficult with more than one or two levels shifted, though, because, as you approached the "expected to be level 10-ish" areas, you had to rely more on the support friends, who were not really up to the task, especially on hard. Having the actually inadequate Bastila-as-lead dragging around a level 2 piece of tissue paper is quite the experience.
  • Choose a MMORPG at random, regardless of the available options for class/race you are expected to choose the best combination for either DPS, tanking or healing, you are also expected to get the best possible build, the best possible skill set and the best equipment, god forbid you use a weapon because you like how it looks (even if it's the second best).
    • Final Fantasy XI is particularly horrible at this, because you get a massive amount of options for weapons and subjobs, yet you are going to be picking the same weapons and handful of subjobs as everyone else. The reason is that any weapon below A skill level (very, very few classes get more than one, several don't even get one at all) basically is going to never reliably hit an enemy no matter how you are equipped. Furthermore, every job has a "best choice" subjob and picking a subjob that's not that particular choice is frowned upon. Note, however, that the game is Nintendo Hard.
  • Runescape has an unorthodox leveling system - Your player's overall Combat level is determined by a combination of your Attack, Strength, Defence, Hitpoints, Ranged, Magic, Prayer and Summoning. This combat level dictates who you can fight in the PVP Zone called the Wilderness (You need to be in a certain range of another's combat level before you can fight them). Some players, designated as "Pures", Min-Max by utterly neglecting certain stats, keeping their total combat level low while massively training specific others. For example, someone could be incredibly strong and accurate, but very bad at defending against things. This can sometimes give people an edge over more rounded people at the same Combat level. These pures are almost universally loathed by other people in the community, though this is utterly justified because GIFT is in full effect with them.
  • Dragon Age: Origins has this in spades. Mages - any build - should never put a point into anything except Magic (elven ones should put exactly one point into Cunning). The ideal DPS warrior puts every single point into Strength. The ideal DPS archer puts every single point into dexterity. And so on.
  • Champions of Norrath's sequel, Return to Arms, has set of items called figurines which provide bonuses to your stats depending on the type of figurine so long as they're being carried in your inventory. The way to make the absolute strongest character possible, regardless of class, isn't to spend points in areas your class would normally use, but rather to simply pump every single one of your stat points you get at level-up into strength. With all of your stat points going into strength, not only do you hit harder physically but you're also able to carry more, meaning you can then collect tons of perfect-type figurines and get a higher number of overall stat points than you would have if you'd spread out your stat growth. Yes, the best way to get make an Erudite Wizard with a huge intelligence score is to boost his melee damage and carrying capacity just so he can lug around tons of perfect owl figurines.
  • Star Ruler allows you to juggle points to choose various traits for your faction at game-start. The Galactic Armory mod takes this to a new level with added Traits that allow you to improve or worsen certain weapon types, further encouraging you to specialise your research than in vanilla.
  • Averted with the My Unit creation feature in Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem. You get to pick three 'traits', split into past, present and future. None of them lower any stat, and you can't pick two or more traits that boost the same stat. (so if you pick 'Orphan' [+ Strength and Magic], you can't pick Diverse or Recluse, which also boost those stats.)

Web Comics Edit

  • Darths and Droids. In keeping with its concept of presenting the Star Wars movies as an RPG campaign, it imagines the player of R2-D2 (Pete) as a minmaxer. Think about it; high levels in all mechanical skills... at the cost of being a non-humanoid robot with no limbs, only able to talk in beeps. Later on in the series, he minmaxes his character even further by giving himself a few more flaws... that are completely unremarkable to a robotic character in a science-fiction setting. Like lactose intolerance.
  • Eight Bit Theater has Red Mage, who can minmax almost any situation, even in mid-panel.
  • Goblins features Minmax the Unstoppable Warrior, who amongst other things has traded in his ability to read for an extra attack bonus. He also traded his ability to wink to a higher weapon proficiency. Which proficiency? Furniture.
  • Order of the Stick
    • The comic brings us the valuable lesson that even a min-maxer won't go far without a clue. It's worth noting that an easily-missed sentence in the rules means that the half-ogre's trick shouldn't be as effective as it's portrayed: Moving out of more than one square threatened by the same opponent in the same round doesn't count as more than one opportunity for that opponent. Roy did get a C- in his Attacks of Opportunity class, so he is forgiven for missing it. And combat in the universe is shown to be affected by how good the being fighting is at remembering the rules and bonuses covering his fight.
    • Most major characters in OotS are baseline or hilariously badly constructed, though: The main group features a cleric that is a healbot, a wizard that specializes in what is considered the worst school in the game while banning two of the most powerful, and a Ranger who specializes in Dual-Wielding, usually considered a sucky fighting style, due to all the accuracy penalties, and with insufficient wisdom to cast spells or track worth a damn. Oddly the The Ditz Spoony Bard Elan is the one with the most optimization, taking a Prestige Class to base nearly everything he does on a single very high attribute.
      • And let's not forget the rogue that specializes in archery. While this is not impossible to do, it does not involve anything Haley does. To give some perspective, the only way you can Sneak Attack an enemy when they are not surprised is by flanking them (you cannot flank with a ranged weapon). Furthermore, you also cannot Sneak Attack a target that is more than 30 feet away. Bonus points for confirming in a strip that she took the Manyshot feat, not only arguably one of the weakest feats ever printed in any book, but also all but completely useless to a rogue (you only get Sneak Attack once, instead of just attacking regularly and getting it with each arrow fired).
  • Josh from Chainmail Bikini shows how this is done. Note especially his Charisma score of 4 which comes back to bite him in the text-only final battle of the campaign -- Casey, being a sadistic GM, targets that Charisma save to eject Josh's character from the fight.
  • In the same vein as Darths and Droids, Luke and Cory from One Piece Grand Line 3 Point 5 do this with their characters Luffy and Zoro. All of Luffy and Zoro's quirks from the original source are presented as flaws that were added in exchange for extra feats.

Real Life Edit

  • Evolution can have this effect. Any attribute of a species that isn't useful for the enviroment it is in slowly is lost as those within the species born without the trait don't die and are able to mate. Deep cave dwelling creatures often do not have eyes just because in the total dark the eyes have no use anymore and thus serve only to drain energy.
    • Evolution is arguably a slight aversion. Highly specialized species tend to die out much more quickly than species without particularly significant abilities. The reason is that any species with a trait that would fall under this trope almost always dies out if their environment changes or another species figures out how to counter it.
      • The flip side to that is that many many of the harsher places of the Earth require specialized skills just to live there. Creatures of the deep ocean almost always need large eyes, the ability to survive the pressure, and their own light source. Many of these same species will die if brought to any kind of lower pressure than they live at.
  • French bulldogs are bred to look a very particular way and never deviate from the pre-determined fashion. As a side effect, they are physically unable to have sex.

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