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One Stat to Rule Them All

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  I put all my skill points into 'Knowledge - Game Master'.

Game Balance is a tricky thing. The more variety you have, the harder it is to be sure that something isn't broken. Combinations of powers and abilities tend to have a Combinatorial Explosion effect as more powers and equipment are published, making it all the more likely that something game breaking will slip in. Once players find that game breaker, they will naturally want their characters to take advantage of it, and choose stats accordingly. As a result, almost every game has one stat that winds up being vastly more valuable than all the others, often called a "god-stat" in gaming circles. Expect MinMaxers to put as many points into this as they are allowed to.

In many tabletop RPGs, dexterity or speed is disproportionately powerful compared to the other attributes.

The mirror opposite of a Dump Stat. Subtrope of Whoring in that there are oftentimes perfectly playable games in there even if you don't worry about these kinds of things.

Examples of One Stat to Rule Them All include:

Tabletop Games Edit

  • Dungeons and Dragons is not an example as a whole -- which ability score or scores are most important will vary depending on edition, character class, and even character build. However, certain classes and builds do exhibit this trope. 3rd edition's wizards are one of the biggest examples -- their Intelligence governs both how many spells they get and how hard those spells are to resist, while all other attributes are relegated to cute bonuses at best.
    • Most classes are built around at most three ability scores, as trying to be good at everything is exceedingly difficult - you can't expect to get too many good results with random rolling, and point-buy are usually only enough to be either good at one thing or unsatisfactorily milquetoast at everything. The term MAD (Multiple Ability Dependency) is used to refer to classes that demand many good scores to be fully playable, and this is considered a liability.
    • Which is why bards aren't exactly popular.
  • In Shadowrun 3rd Edition the Quickness attribute directly or indirectly governs how well you sneak around the guards, how well you shoot firearms when they spot you anyway, how fast you run when the enemy turns out to have bulletproof vests, and how well you drive your escape car when they turn out to outnumber you 15 to one. Every character who isn't a Decker (Computer Hacker) usually maxes out quickness. Quickness even adds a big bonus to the all-powerful combat pool. Even many characters in wheelchairs are commonly seen with maxed out quickness. 4th edition partially toned this down by splitting quickness off from reaction speed, but it's still important there.
  • 4th Edition, Shadowrun has Agility. To make it clear, Agility is the base attribute for EVERY combat skill, with one exception (Dodge, which, to be fair, is pretty important). What this means is that having a high Agility makes you equally capable with melee weapons, guns, grenades, heavy weapons, vehicle-mounted weapons, your fists... You get the idea. Since it's much easier to increase your skill ratings than to increase your attributes, a combat character can just start with a high Agility (Augmented by one of the exceedingly cheap Agility-boosting implants) and spend a few skills points and - voila! Instant combat master.
  • In Mekton Zeta, players commonly refer to Ref(lexes) as the God Stat. All combat actions - attack, defence, initiative - were determined off this one stat. Since all the stats were assigned an equal value, however, it became stupidly easy to min-max.
    • To be more specific, Min-maxers would put two points in everything (as required by the rulebook) and then dump the remaining points to the following stats in order: Ref(lexes), Int(elligence) [Skill Points, Electronic Warfare skill in Z+, and Awareness/Notice, used in some tracking rolls], Education [Skill points]. This only requires 44 points to have a max-reflex character with 30 skill points to start with, a decent amount of which will, obviously, go into reflex combat skills.
  • In D20 Modern the Fast Hero's huge defense bonus makes him likely the toughest character in the game, as the Tough Hero's extra handful of hit points are far less valuable against incoming fire than the impossibly high dodge bonuses Fast Heroes manage to get. To add insult to injury he's also likely to be a better shot than almost any other character since Dex adds a bonus when he uses a gun.
    • The game is also ruled by Dexterity. Everybody who wants to be at all effective at combat needs it, because it rules ranged attacks. It being set in the modern world, guns exist and are highly effective. It's pretty hard to be effective in melee combat unless you specalize in it, and even then a good shot will be able to take you apart. On top of that, armor is rare because of the feat requirements, so it's vital to increasing your rate of survival, especially if you are playing a class that does not get armor bonuses. In addition to that, many skills which might be useful in combat in the modern world, such as Drive, Tumble, and many others, use Dex.
    • In the Urban Arcana setting, Knowledge (Arcane Lore) is king. No party without it can dream of doing the ridiculously heavy duty stuff Incantations make possible. Furthermore, reasonably high Knowledge (Arcane Lore) checks can easily layer on months- or even years-long buffs that allow you crush any non-buffed opponent into the ground - including, without much interpretation, buffs to Knowledge (Arcane Lore).
  • In GURPS 3e, both Dexterity and Intelligence gave more bang for the buck than Strength and Health. Come 4e, they're both still more useful, but now they cost twice as much as well... and people still think they're overpowered.
  • Witchcraft had all the good physical skills use Dexterity. And nearly all the supernatural powers run on Willpower.
  • In the Old World of Darkness, the Celerity discipline (which boosts a vampire's speed and lets him take extra actions in a turn) can approach Game Breaker levels on a combat-oriented character. This isn't as much of a concern in a less combat-oriented campaign, though.
    • Even more so is the Generation background. Five dots at character creation will put you at 8th generation, with a higher blood pool and the ability to use more blood points per round, which will help out with healing and almost anything else you can think of. By and large, the gamebook discourages players from beginning with more than three dots of Generation, and encourages Storytellers to do the same, partially for this reason and partially because eighth-generation characters are typically old and powerful enough to actually get respect in Camarilla culture, where the players aren't supposed to.
      • Conjunction of the two allows the players to work around the Obvious Rule Patch introduced in Vampire: The Dark Ages, where each dot of Celerity requires spending a Blood point to use.
    • In Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse, many of your character's supernatural abilities work as follows: your Disciplines or Gifts determine whether you can do something, and some entirely different stat or stats determines how well you can do it. The different stats (usually "mundane" stats) depend on the power: Subterfuge for disguise effects, Medicine for magical healing, and so on. In Mage: The Ascension, very nearly all the supernatural stuff your character can do works this way--and the stat that determines how well you do is always Arete.
    • In Genius: The Transgression, Intelligence rules normal application, all of Wonder creation, most Wonder use [1] and most Genius-specific rolls. Also, don't treat mental skills as a Dump Stat unless you are Too Dumb to Live[2]. It is about Mad Scientists, after all.
  • In Exalted Dexterity is the absolute key to both avoiding getting hit and hitting enemies. You can make up for a low level of strength with a better weapon and augment your poor stamina with better armor, but if your dexterity is low you're not going to be doing much in combat except bleeding.
    • It has a merit that lets you use Strength for attack rolls now. Said merit is a notorious Game Breaker.
    • Socially, appearance has the same issue. The "pretty kitty" effect means that high appearance compensates for low Charisma or Manipulation much better than the other way around.
    • This applies to absolutely all White Wolf games, except for New World of Darkness. Dexterity improves your attack, defense, ability to do damage, and, usually, initiative, all at once. Other physical attributes can't do even half of that in standard situations. Moreover, Dexterity is commonly used in combination with a lot of useful skills, from Stealth to Drive. Strength and Stamina... aren't. This disparity reaches ridiculous proportions in Scion, as Epic Attributes provide much greater benefits that normal ones.
  • While in Aberrant, Mega-Charisma was ungodly powerful. Legend has it that in an early con-demo, one player took every combat trait he could find, but lost instantly to a mega-charisma build in a fight after the latter player said, "Go home." The combat monster had to do exactly that. Given a bullhorn, a mega-charismatic nova could sway armies, even nations, with only a single speech.
  • In the Hero System, Dexterity affects your ability to hit, your ability to avoid being hit, is the base stat for Speed (which is how often you act) and affects a large array of adventure-useful skills. So it costs three Character Points per point, while Intelligence is only one Character Point per point.
    • In Sixth Edition, 'figured' characteristics as such no longer exist (the stats are still there, but are bought up or down separately from fixed base values). Dexterity is still good -- it determines initiative, after all, especially in that all-important first phase where everybody who isn't caught flat-footed gets to act once before taking a free recovery, and it still has a number of important skills riding on it. But it's no longer the god stat, and its cost has correspondingly dropped to two character points per +1.
  • Feng Shui's Reflexes stat is the main combat stat, and though the main combat archetypes have a fixed combat skill AV (meaning that you could leave Reflexes at 5 if you wanted with them), the stat also governs Initiative, meaning if you didn't pump it up, you're not going to be doing much during a fight until the other guys, who have high Reflexes, have acted, unless you've got the Tiger fu schticks, which allow you to counterattack those who think they've got a free shot on you no matter what your Reflex score, or the Fast Draw gun shtick, which allows you to jump ahead a number of shots equal to the amount of schticks you've spent on it and get right into the action with a Guns attack.
  • Extra actions in Big Eyes Small Mouth are easily the most useful thing you can get; whatever you can do, it's always better if you can do it faster or more often.
    • In the realm of attributes, Soul is the most important to pump up. Body & Soul determine health, Mind & Soul determine energy, and all three determine combat value. Since checks based only on a single attribute are extremely rare (and the most common is Soul for defense against Soul attacks), min-maxers will always have high Soul.
  • Likewise in the Serenity RPF the character with more Agility wins in combat, the character with more Willpower wins in social settings.
  • In Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader, Willpower (WP) is the stat of choice, as it defends you against fear effects (distressingly common), insanity points (also distressingly common) and other negative mental effects. Almost every stat in the game can be partially compensated for with the right equipment or traits, but while a poor toughness or wounds statistic means you're more likely to die after two hits instead of three, and poor weapon skill will mean it will take you an extra round to kill that goblin, a single bad willpower roll can put your character not only out of the fight but out of the campaign in ways that Fate Points can't save you from.
  • Wild Talents is... different about this trope. Those who win the Superpower Lottery are very mean indeed, but given the flexibility of superpowers, it's very likely someone can develop a counter to even complete invulnerability (the text suggests teleporting such an upstart to the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, which is more than possible at that power level). The real world-changers, as repeatedly pointed out in the text itself, are Hypermind, Hypercharm, and Hypercommand, as every WT setting so far averts Reed Richards Is Useless with a vengeance. To quote Greg Stolze, the guy with 10 hard dice in Disintegrate is a tough customer, but he's nowhere near as bad as the Hypercommanding politician who can persuade millions to vote for him by speaking three words.
  • The D6 version of the Star Wars roleplaying game had six stats: Dexterity, Knowledge, Mechanical, Perception, Strength, and Technical. While you should have at least one character specializing in each stat, all your characters must have an average or better Dexterity, since it is what you use to block any attacks, dodge any attacks and use any weapons!
    • Also, force-sensitives must invest in the three Force stats if they want to use the Force.
    • A better example for Star Wars D6 is space battles, where everything comes off Mechanical. Gunnery, evasion, pursuit, deflecting incoming fire with the shields, all require Mechanical-based skills.
  • Dexterity is king in Cinematic Unisystem, the core engine of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Army of Darkness RPGs. It's used for several useful skills, initiative, attack rolls and defence rolls, as usual, but the real Game Breaker is that it sets the number of combat actions you get per round.
    • Of course, that's only true for non-magical characters. (Which is, admittedly, almost every character in Angel or Army Of Darkness.) In Buffy, magic wielding characters will do better with two points in Intelligence, then dropping as many points into Will as possible. This lets them cast more spells, more easily, with less chance of something going wrong - in the "summoned a demon" sense. If you can cast spells with impunity, then you can simply buff your other stats with weekly spells.
  • Durability in the Marvel Universe RPG. It's your Hit Points, of course, but it also provides energy, which is the fuel for all your skills and powers. Being a diceless game, having more energy is required to succeed at anything. Characters have the option of using Intelligence for energy instead, which is even better.
  • Realm and Spirit in the first two editions of Nobilis are usually seen as the poor cousins to Aspect and Domain. Domain is your ability to work miracles, according to your concept, so it's the stat that a thunder-god uses to throw lightning bolts or a nightmare-demon uses to manipulate fear. Aspect is basically the stat of being James Bond or Batman; it governs doing anything a mortal can theoretically do, but better. While the other two stats are useful, Spirit is largely defensive and Realm only works in your home locale. Notably, Third Edition replaces Realm and Spirit with new stats (Treasure and Persona).
  • Several RPGs, usually light or humorous ones, literally have a single stat for everything your character does. These include Strength in TWERPS, Number in TrollBabe, and Power in StickGuy.
  • Similarly to the above, the Matrix RPG There Is No Spoon has a Matrix stat which is rolled pretty much constantly, and trumps mundane skill. There are other things to spend character points on, but the game admits flat-out that Matrix is the god stat.
  • Parodied in Bad Attitudes, an Action Movie RPG. The only stat is Attitude, which is initiative, Hit Points, and points to spend on the important skills (shooting, hand-to-hand, driving, not falling, and picking up girls/guys). The only other skill, despite being an all-encompassing knowledge skill, is called Basically Worthless Stuff. There are three 'classes', Regular Folk, Sidekicks, and Action Heroes, with progressively-higher Attitude scores. Action Heroes can only buy the five action skills; Regular Folk can only buy Basically Worthless Stuff. Damage is also class-based. Essentially, everyone should be playing a brainless Action Hero.
  • The Call of Cthulhu RPG inspired a cartoon praising the benefits of movement speed... a stereotypical Two-Fisted Tales burly hero is trying (and failing) to escape from a cloud of tentacles whilst a little old lady on a wheelchair is vanishing into the distance at high speed. There's a lesson to be learned there somewhere.
    • In game, of course, there's POW of which you need an awful lot if you're going to be a hard core wizard. Unfortunately, garnering anything more than the tiniest amounts of POW tends to result in total brain melting insanity, so its a bit tricky to min-max this one, in practise.
  • In Bushido - a D&D-like game set in feudal Japan - all skills are determined by adding stats together. For example, leaping and climbing ("Karumijutsu") was Deftness plus Will; Strategy ("Senjo-Jutsu") was Wit plus Will; most fighting skills were Strength plus Deftness plus Will; overland speed ("Hayagakejutsu") was Health plus Will; horsemanship ("Bajustsu") is Will x 2 ... starting to see a pattern?
  • Early editions of Dungeons: The Dragoning had Dexterity as the God Stat- it controlled to-hit, ranged damage, static defense, and move speed. It's still one of the more important stats, but not as much as it used to be.

Video Games Edit

  • Though it's more balanced now, the original Pokémon games had the Special stat affecting both the attack AND defense due to Special moves, which, in that generation, had some of the most powerful attacks, including all of the Psychic moves. The second generation of games split this into Special Attack and Defense, and, in the most recent generation, Physical vs. Special moves are no longer determined along rigid type lines (Hyper Beam is now a special move, for instance).
    • And for non-special types, Speed covered this, as it didn't only influence turn order, but also Critical hit rate.Meaning that moves such as Slash used by a high-speed Pokèmon would always score a powerful, defense-ignoring critical hit.
    • Similar in Monster Rancher, there were six stats: Life, Power, Speed, Skill, Defense, and Intelligence. Of those, Speed referred to a monster's ability to dodge, while Skill referred to its ability to land a blow. In Monster Rancher 3, Speed and Skill were merged into a single Speed, making it vital to both dodging and hitting - breaking the balance the prior games had and making it overly important.
    • Devil Survivor does the same thing as well: magic attack, magic defense, and MP are all decided by the exact same stat, while all increasing strength effects in physical attacks. To make this even worse, physical attack has far less of a variety of attacks and most of the enemies later in the game have an ability that make them immune to them entirely.
    • In competitive Pokemon, speed is considered the most important stat, as it's advantageous to be able to KO the opposing Pokemon before it can make a move. Generally, the only thing players don't make fast as possible are walls; in only a couple generations was speed really end all but players tend to max it out more than other stats anyway. A few craftier veteran players will defy this.
  • In Digimon World 3, speed drastically increases evasion against physical moves - which are the most common type of moves used by enemies - and, if your speed is considerably higher than the enemy's, you get to have two turns for each turn the enemy has.
  • In the first two Fallout games (and Fallout Tactics), Agility is one of the most useful stats because it gives you more action points, which let you attack more often, and helps with small guns, the weapons you will use for most of the game. Intelligence is of lesser but still significant importance, governing how many skill points you get per level up and giving you more conversation options.
  • Planescape: Torment 's Wisdom stat is pretty much god, due to it providing the most dialogue along with experience boosts. Amusing considering that the Cleric class (the only one that can actually benefits from high wisdom) is not available to your character. Contrary to popular belief, wizards do not benefit from a high wisdom, only from intelligence.
    • The higher your wisdom, the more experience you'll get. Investing in Wisdom early on can net you enough bonus experience through this and extra dialogue options to be stronger and tougher by the end of the game than if you had invested in them from the start. Planescape: Torment is one of the more balanced games though - there are noticable differences but no stat is a designated Dump Stat unless the player chooses it to be.
  • In the original Exile games, Strength was the One Stat to Rule Them All because it heavily affected physical damage and Hit Points -- and, in later games, carrying capacity to boot.
  • In Final Fantasy XI, Haste impacts weapon-swinging time and spell recast timers.
    • The entire game seems designed around core stats being useless, with the exception of STR for its role as a component in weapon skill and certain blue magic spells' damage. As far as auto-attack, equipment that reinforces haste, accuracy and raw ATK will always win. For casters, gains to individual magic skills and specific passive gains such as those present on elemental staves typically provide a greater raw boost than any amount of INT-pumping.
  • Final Fantasy III has a minor version. Each job has fixed stats per level for everything except HP, which is determined by your Vitality at the time you level up, making Vit a god stat until you hit max HP.
  • Final Fantasy VI has a bug that means evade is useless and Magic block (essentially magic evasion) worked as both stats. Which means that if you load a character with magic block boosting items they become borderline-invincible. This was fixed in the GBA version of the game.
    • With a magic block of 128, all attacks that can miss, will miss, period. 128 is actually fairly easy to pull off, at least on one character.
    • Final Fantasy XIII gives your characters only THREE stats: Hit Points, strength, and magic power. Low strength and magic can be made up for with special abilities, staggering, and customizing weapons and equipment, but low HP means everything can kill you in two hits because you take full damage from every attack in the game. This essentially means that until near the end of the game, you'll want to keep a few HP boosters on your characters, or something that makes them take X% less HP damage per attack.
  • In Final Fantasy II Agility/Evasion (the two stats are tied together) are basically the godstat duo. Agility determines the obvious things, namely who goes in what order during battles, but also influences:
    • Whether or not you can successfully run from Random Encounters, in a game full of Demonic Spiders, Goddamned Bats, and Beef Gates with a very high encounter rate.
    • Influences how often you get a pre-emptive strike (basically, you get a free turn; high agility means you get more of these)
    • Influences how often you get ambushed (the enemy gets a free turn; high agility means this happens much less often)
    • Influences evasion. It is possible for evasion to reach 99% in this game, and with a high enough agility rating, that can happen halfway through. Yeah, the Stat Grinding system is a pain, but with luck and/or diligence, it can be exploited. All you need is at least one character in the front row with 90+ evasion, and you are basically immortal, evading all attack directed at you while getting free turns near-constantly and capable of running from pretty much everything that's not a boss.
    • Ironically, the best way to exploit this stat is to go commando the whole game.
  • In Tactical RPGs that rely on clockticks rather than alternating between teams (Final Fantasy Tactics in the former, Fire Emblem in the latter), speed is the most important stat in the game, because more speed = more turns. By the same measure, mobility related stats can be tremendously important; if you combine speed, move, and jump, the other stats don't matter: You've got someone who can strike and then retreat safely out of range before the enemy can attack.
    • In Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Speed was not merely the best stat, it was the ONLY stat that mattered for most character builds. Thanks to entirely useful Useless Useful Spell being so dominant, all that really mattered was getting off your Game Breaker mass debilitator/instant kill attack before the enemy could launch their attacks.
    • "Tactics Ogre" is almost certainly the poster boy for this version of the trope. Through abuse of a certain ability, you can create characters with 1 speed. If you're unfamiliar with the speed system; there's 1,000 ticks per turn and you get a number of turns = 1,000/your speed. Note that without abusing the aforementioned ability, even a super-well-made Ninja ends up with speed in the 300's or so. Meaning a character with 1 speed gets about 300 turns before a *Ninja* acts. So yeah...
    • In Phantom Brave, the discrepancy between high-speed and low-speed units is very noticeable. The high-speed units may even clear the board before the low-speed units get a turn. And did we mention there are some attacks that use the speed stat to calculate damage?
    • In Nethack, like pretty much all Roguelikes with highly deterministic turn orders, speed is extremely important. Sure, Nethack's speed isn't as important as the Roguelikes with just three speeds [half speed, normal speed, double speed], but an advantage in speed means that you can run away while occasionally using ranged attacks, and equal speed enables circling round areas recovering while monsters chase you with no hope of ever landing a blow.
  • Even in the purely turn-based Fire Emblem, most players agree Speed is the most important stat. It determines evasion (Luck does too, but to a much smaller degree) which, in a game with Final Death, is VERY important. It also determines double attacks (those with higher speed get to hit twice) which can be the difference between finishing the enemy in one move or having to waste a second charater's move to deal the final blow. Furthermore, doubling works for the enemy too, meaning slow characters tend to get hit twice. (almost instantly fatal for magic users) It gets so bad that on the higher difficulty levels of the latest games, Mighty Glacier characters with high Defence are actuall less durable than someone with worse Defence, but enough speed to avoid being doubled. (Getting hit twice for 15 damage each is worse than getting hit once for 25)
  • The Dex equivalent in Kingdom of Loathing, Moxie, is pretty similar.
    • However, enemies that scale to your stats can 1-hit you if your Muscle(determines your HP) is too low. In practice, this rarely happens, as many foes will link their attack to your Moxie (defensive), whereas their defense will match your Muscle (attack) stat, give or take a few points.
  • Super Robot Wars has two (or three) of these:
    • For the pilots, it's Dodge. After all, it doesn't matter if you can take a hit or not if nothing ever hits you. If a mecha has an "Automatic Dodge" skill (like ECS or Open Get), then Maneuverability, which determines how often it comes out, will share time with it.
    • For the Mecha, it's Mobility, which also determines not only dodging but hitting as well, for the same reasons.
      • Though in some of the games (which ones larger depends on what damage formula is used) you can go the other way if you take a Super Robot+pilot and pour so much into the robot's armor and the pilot's defense that nothing but bosses even make them flinch.
      • Taken to ridiculous extremes in Super Robot Wars K, where stat bonuses to a pilot were fixed. Focus everything on one pilot and his/her mecha, and you will be yawning your way through the final boss because, at best on even a critical hit, he'll only do 10 points of damage to your mech (which always has at least a few thousand hit points to chew through).
    • Hit is also extremely important. However, theres not much you can do outside of Strike/Focus spirit and Hit increasing parts, in most games. Recently however Hit has been upgradable in a mech. In games with the pilot point system on the other hand you can ramp up your pilot's Hit and Evade to make them much more powerful. (Or if you're talking about a tanking mecha, Defense)
  • In X-COM: UFO Defense, psionic attacks are a Game Breaker. The Psi Strength stat determines how good a particular soldier is at psionic attacks and how well he resists them. It is also the only stat that cannot be trained and almost all trainable stats (Throwing and Shooting accuracy and Bravery being the major exceptions) can be trained by attempting psionic attacks. I think you can see where I'm going with this.
    • Terror From The Deep was similar, although the enemies were so much nastier it slightly ameliorated this. In both cases, there was a lot of work involved in getting a squad of soldiers with high Psi Strength and good combat skills. Getting a squadful of Psionic commandos generally required hiring and firing dozens of soldiers every month, and was critical to victory at higher difficulty levels.
  • BP (badge points) is by far the most useful statistic in the Paper Mario series, and due to certain combos of badges being nearly certain Game Breaker s (The Danger and Peril Mario badge set ups for example), you could have it set up so it pretty much took the place of the other stats, or made them completely redundant as all your basic attacks, due to the certain badge combos massively boosting attack power would do like 90 odd damage per hit and one hit pretty much everything. So yeah, BP was probably this kind of stat in that series.
    • Adding to this, you gain 3 BP per level up. If you wanted 5 HP instead, there are badges that will give you the same amount of HP for... 3 BP. So long as you had a spare HP or FP badge, you could NEVER go wrong picking BP.
      • If you wanted to break the game even further, you could visit an NPC that lets you raise a stat while lowering another. Naturally, by lowering your HP to be at only 5 points while raising your BP, Mario would be in the Danger status in the start of every battle and get super powered up from every badge that gives him a boost while his HP is low.
  • The Mario & Luigi games diminish your returns if you keep choosing the same stat to give bonus points to, and all the stats have their advantages. Still, it's fun to put as much as possible into the 'stache rating and get nearly continuous Lucky hits (and, in the first two games, some very deep discounts in the stores).
  • Strength in Knights of the Old Republic affects damage and accuracy. Contrast the others. Dex is very easy to build with items. Con affects Hit Points and save DCs, the first is useless because you should be dodging most attacks, and the second is useless because the The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard. Int affects skill points and skill use (aside from persuade skills) are mostly useless and the little use they have can be given to party members [3]. Wisdom affects save DCs, again, the enemy cheats and wins anyway. Charisma affects persuade, but all the checks of it are low enough to make with a maxed skill alone.
    • Dex moves up to God Stat in the sequel, which gives you access to Finesse feats letting you use whichever is higher out of Dexterity and Strength to affect accuracy, or better, lets you make good use of blasters, a Game Breaker when crafted well.
    • An alternative build in the sequel involves playing a male character to get the Handmaiden to join you, and learning Battle Precognition- which adds your Wisdom to your AC. At this point, start spamming Force powers- Wisdom is now governing save DCs, difficulty to hit you and your stock of Force points, meaning you're unlikely to ever need to do anything as crass as fire a blaster.
  • Speed in some iterations of Madden NFL. It was not uncommon for star sprinter and all-around poor halfback Michael Bennett to utterly dominate games. Michael Vick has approached the Game Breaker level in the two years he was a competent passer on top of it all.
  • In Puzzle Quest, a high Battle stat will allow you to mow through most enemies with ease. The game itself tries to offset this by giving the magic user classes (Wizard and Druid) much higher point costs to raise their Battle levels. (3pts per level, and you only get 4pts per level up). THAT is offset by a point-buy system that allows you to purchase permanent stat boosts.
    • This game's Game Breaker entry lists several builds where a specific mana color counts as that class's One Stat, such as red mana for a warrior riding a spider-dragon.
  • All Nippon Ichi games so far have suffered from this on the higher levels. Early in the game (The first couple of hundred levels), all stats are important. But at the end of the game, all that matters is whatever stat you attack with. Playing defense becomes futile, since any attack that hits you WILL kill you, and unless you're using specific abilities to boost dodge, no amount of Speed will give you any kind of decent chance to dodge. ATK, SPD, HIT, INT, and RES are the stats that matter depending on your weapon/class, and it is rare for more than one to matter for a given character.
    • Disgaea 3 revels in this trope - your attack stats, and maybe your dodge stats are the only things that matter. At the high levels, every attack is a one-hit kill, unless it is dodged. This is thanks to the fact that you can stack massive bonuses to your damage (all of your special attacks having something like +1200% damage just from their base effects, not counting additional bonuses) which apply before defense rendering defense completely pointless.
    • Hell, Gun users will ever only need but one stat: Hit. That lets them do insane, critical damage that always hits on any enemy, bar ones with huge Speed or Defense, from a distance.
    • Disgaea may be most troper's biggest/first/sole experience with this. But as noted above, Phantom Brave also heavily rewards high Speed. The movement stats are also very important, but can be difficult to increase.
      • In Phantom Brave, Speed is a damage stat, although only for a limited number of relatively unusual abilities, which mostly revolve around the "trolly" and "weed" (the plant, not the drug) weapons. The same goes for every stat: INT and ATK (which are only for attack) certainly have the most attacks that use them, but every stat has some attacks whose damage is based on it. Including HP, which can be slightly problematic without the right skills on the character (mainly because the damage is calculated on current HP rather than max HP, making skills that use it almost useless if you're getting battered).
      • Speed was so important that some weapons were actively unusable (e.g. crystals, signs, and rocks) because they gave huge speed penalties. In the early game, you can get by thanks to the defense bonuses, but by higher levels, the penalties become crippling.
    • Disgaea weapon damage is based off a given stat based on the form of attack, and each weapon is based in one of a given number of setups. Character base stats don't do too much compared to equipment stats and aptitudes, however.
      • Swords, Spears, and Axes are pure ATK. It's not uncommon to see a character stack Gladiators in one of these and cap off attributes for a Yoshitsuna, Baal Sword, or whatev' and then apply an augmenting dual-stat specialist to optimize the performance once it's mastered. The same applies to Monster weapons with a physical lean.
      • Fists were pure ATK in Hour of Darkness, but changed to ATK/SPD hybrid in Cursed Memories. So not only are fist users hitting for profane amounts of damage even by Disgaea standards, they are insanely difficult to kill due to SPD serving as the evade stat. As if Adell and Champloo weren't Game Breakers on their own...
      • Bows are ATK/HIT hybrids, but tend to be treated as inferior to guns, which were pure HIT until Absence of Justice made them HIT/SPD hybrids. Further explanation is unnecessary; just look above.
      • Staves and magic Monster weapons use ATK to determine damage when you swing them; the typical player will not max ATK, and instead pour everything into INT, which determines damage from spells and the magic abilities the monsters using these weapons utilize anyway. Clerics will focus on RES development, but that is for using their Heal spells on Reverse Damage panels; as stated before, everything end- and post-game is dodge or die.
    • Weapons that use two stats are considered inferior to weapons that use one stat because of the system for using specialists to maximize an item. 8 specialists boosting one stat or 8 specialists getting averaged (halved) between two stats and coming out equivalent to 4 specialists? You decide.
  • It didn't show in normal gameplay but Agility was by far the best stat in Warcraft III. It raised attack speed and armor (plus attack power as the primary stat) while strength only affected health and intellect only affected mana and mana regeneration... which was pretty useless since spells still had cooldowns and didn't scale with anything.
    • Whoring onto Agility generally happened in Warcraft III inside custom maps where it was possible to raise any of a hero's stats significantly.
  • World of Warcraft goes through iterations of stat balance with each major patch, resulting in a very active Metagame as players use complex spreadsheets and simulators to determine optimal stats even before the changes hit live realms. An effect of this is that most classes and specs have one or two absolutely optimal stats, with others needed only enough to balance things out. Examples: As of 3.3.3, Assassination Rogues value Attack Power over everything else, while Combat Rogues use Armor Penetration and Subtlety Rogues use Agility. One of Blizzard's objectives in Cataclysm is to once again rebalance stat desirability, but even they admit that achieving a perfect balance is likely impossible.
    • Patch 4.0.1, a.k.a. Cataclysm, came with a more sweeping revision of the stat system that arguably averts this trope. Every class now has One Stat to Rule Them All, and regardless of spec it is their primary stat that matches their damage type (strength for some physical damage-dealers, agility for others, intellect for casters). However, the amount of those stats on items is (nearly) constant at a given item level, so maximizing your primary stat is now a no-brainer. The challenge, and customization option, comes from secondary stats: critical strike, dodge, expertise, haste, hit, mastery, parry and spirit. Everyone needs some of several of those and doesn't care about others. While most classes and specs have one or two secondary stats that are technically optimal, no one can completely ignore the rest due to caps, diminishing returns and similar effects.
    • Slightly interesting as many classes and specs deal with limitations that change the metagame when reached. For instance, hit rating is far and away the best secondary stat for spellcasters until they reach 17% hit chance increase (up to 8% are covered by talents and debuffs), at which point it becomes worthless to increase further.
    • The notable aversions to this trend are healers and tanks, where it's much less clear what the best stat is. Tanks have to balance stacking Stamina (to improve their maximum health and thus their resistance to spike damage) with avoidance/mitigation (to decrease the average amount of damage they take) and threat (to help keep enemies from running off and killing the damage-dealers). Healers, on the other hand, have to balance throughput (given by Intelligence and most secondary stats) with regeneration (given by Spirit, and a bit by Int as well, which increases how long they can last in a fight). However, the notable exception to these aversions is the druid class. Druid tanks are advised to simply stack Agility on any fight that doesn't specifically call for a big health pool (Agility gives all of avoidance, mitigation, and threat, making it a no-brainer). And due to a quirk of their mechanics, druid healers care about Intelligence more than anything, as not only is it far and away the best throughput stat, but it also increases their longevity better than anything else.
  • The second Geneforge game has Parry, and it acts as an additional dodge chance coming before the standard one. Boost it to 20 (the max being 30), and against most monsters you are almost unhittable.
    • For anyone who Shapes, Intelligence is a god stat, because it allows you to keep more and stronger creations in your party. In the first game, it costs the same to increase a stat no matter how many times you do, so there's almost no reason to put any points in anything other than this (and Mechanics and Leadership). In the sequels, it costs more to increase a stat the more you do, so once you get up into the range of being able to increase Intelligence by one every three levels, it's not so worth it anymore.
  • This is the fate of Vitality in Diablo II. Nearly every single character build follows this stat format:
    • Strength: as little as possible to meet equipment requirements
    • Dexterity: as above, or exactly enough for maximum block.
    • Energy: never put anything into this. (Even when playing a sorceress!)
    • Strength is outdone by skill- and equipment-based damage boosts. The attack rating (accuracy) from Dexterity can easily be found elsewhere or is simply irrelevant. The same can be said for the mana gained from Energy. Thus, with enemies having high damage, Vitality is the only thing really worth investing in.
    • This is why Diablo III will have automatic stat point assignment. Many fans ironically consider this to reduce the importance of player skill because in Diablo II if you are a newbie you will put your stat points in wrong and end up with a useless character.
      • They're probably fixing some Unstable Equilibrium with this. One of Diablo II's newest patches, 1.13c, added in the ability to "respec" and reset attribute and skill points once per difficulty level to encourage non-Min-Maxing.
  • Ironically Diablo III got "Damage" stat, which is a mix of weapon damage, attack speed, crit rate, crit damage and damage stat (varies per class). Every offensive skill use Damage stat as base multiplier so everyone stacks +damage or +main stat items on themselves. Closely followed by vitality which provides health.
  • Dexterity (again) in Ragnarok Online. Melee fighters need Dex to hit enemies. Ranged fighters need Dex to hit enemies and do damage. Casters need high Dex to reduce the game's long, interruptable cast times.
    • Vitality arguably is a more important stat in "War of Eternium", the game's version of Guild vs Guild PVP. Since the majority of damage dealt by players is "healable" with the liberal use of health pots of some form, the only danger to well-equipped (serious) WOE PVP players are one hit KO skills, which are naturally easier to survive with more health (governed by Vitality). Dexterity isn't quite so useful in WOE, as the ability for players to dodge attacks is highly nerfed in that mode, and casting classes can generally team up with Bards/Clowns who have a buff that reduces cast time.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II (and, to a lesser extent, the original) your stats can be whatever you want... except for your AP. By the end game, it doesn't matter how high your strength or magic are. What matters is if you can equip all of your devastating finishing blows and boost the duration of your godlike alternate forms.
    • And again in the Final Mix of Kingdom Hearts II, the godstat changes, as by the time you're grinding to get ready for Organization Data and Terra, given how that game throws AP Up at you, you have the potential to have more AP than you will ever, EVER need. The new godstat of your three--Attack, Defense, Magic--depends slightly on your strategy but tends to be magic, because of Reflect. Reflect creates a Beehive Barrier around Sora that reflects pretty much EVERY move onto the attacker--damage based on the strength of the original move and Sora's magic stat. Being that it is SO much easier to Reflect the bonus boss crowd to death than fight without Reflect...
    • In the original Kingdom Hearts AP wasn't quite so important, as there were no godlike alternate forms and only one devastating finishing blow. The real god stat in the game was MP, because more MP = more magical healing. Even better, the strength of your spells was determined by your maximum MP, so now you have better spells in addition to being able to cast them more often.
      • And it powered your special combat moves such as the Arcanum multi-attack.
    • For 358/2 Days, exploiting critical hits (the final blow in a combo) are the key to soloing the mission mode. Take a character with high critical stats like Saix, equip him with the Zero Gear and the Critical Sun ring and you'll be taking off entire bars of HP per combo!
  • Progress Quest has strength, which affects your carrying capacity, and thus how often your character has to go back to town. As progress quest is a 'zero player RPG,' this is the only effect any stat has on the so-called 'gameplay.'
  • Batting in Backyard Baseball. Even the fastest runners can still easily get out if they have bad batting stats.
  • Oblivion can well play out this way, depending on your character class. However, in later levels Strength became all-important, even for pure magic or stealth builds, because of all the great-selling but insanely heavy swag you'd start to find. Custom Feather potions can be use as an alternative however. Also, you can drop the heaviest item on the ground and abuse the physics engine by simply dragging it to the door, picking it up to rezone, then dropping the other side if necessary. But then, that would be cheating!
    • You'll pretty much use your 5-a-level training slots to raise skill that use Endurance as its base, even if you don't actually use them, since Endurance determines how many HP you get per level-up. If you're a magi-based character and don't take an effort to raise Endurance, you'll end up with a VER Squishy Wizard.
      • For quick character optimisation it is best to pick a custom class with Endurance and Luck as the class attributes (much as it was in Morrowind too). Endurance because it translates into HP per level as previously noted, and Luck because it is the only attribute with no assigned skills and is thus much slower to raise (yet contributes to pretty much all gameplay). Optimising levelling with this involves getting two 5x multipliers per level (one should be Endurance until maxed) and putting the 3rd point into Luck. HOWEVER, this is a bad idea if one hopes to abuse the Drain Skill effect to get extra levels out of skill-trainers for Major Skills, as it becomes impossible to level up further once all attributes are maxed out (thus making it optimal to avoid multipliers for the epic-level builds).
    • Alchemy. Conquers. All. With 100 Alchemy, you can churn out healing and mana potions like noone's business, making you nigh-invincible and able to kill anything through sheer atrittion. Not that you'd need to, because you can buff all your other stats easily with more potions, and make hideously powerful poisons that can do a lot of the damage for you.
      • “I like to call this a 'Morrowind Singularity.'". A Game Breaker that went unchecked, a character with high Alchemy score could create potions of boosted intelligence, quaff them, create greater quality potions of boosted intelligence because of the intelligence boost, and continue recursively until you have such an insane INT score you can craft universe-warping weapons and items.
  • In Arcanum the number of attacks (influcenced by dex) is more important than damage, part of what makes balanced swords so broken. Dex also affects a very large number of skills, making it even more important.
    • Wizards could somewhat bypass this, since they could stack Dex-boosting magic provided their mental stats were high enough. Because there is a magical dagger that has a special feature of only taking 1 AP per swing, and hitting 20 points in Dex gave you a bonus 5 AP (on top of the 1 AP per 1 Dex you already gained), it allowed you to enter turn-based mode as soon as you got close to an enemy, and proceed to hit the enemy 25+ times in a row before the enemy would have a chance to counter you. This is in comparison to a normal character getting 2-3 hits in a turn (although said hits would probably be 2 or 3 times as powerful). Almost no single enemy would be able to survive that kind of beating.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Persona features this in a ridiculous format. By far the most useful stats in the game are Agility and Dexterity. Luck is you final point dump stat but Strength and Vitality borderline useless. The reason is simple. Maxing out Agility early on allows the Main character to move first nearly every time as well as raising his evasion and hit rate. Dexterity raises his attack defense and his hit rate as well. Luck raises those stats too but it mainly is useful for the critical hits. Strength and Vitality on the other hand only raise Attack and Defense respectively and they don't do it at regular intervals either. Nothing a good persona can't fix.
  • Cunning for certain Rogue builds in Dragon Age Origins. It is one of the slower builds, but by end game you will reach the maximum support and offensive potential of the Rogue class. This is because Cunning can be added multiple times to your weapon damage with the right talents, which Strength and Dexterity can't no matter what weapons you use. In addition, all the support abilities are Cunning based and focusing on the stat will cause you to be able to unlock or disarm anything in the game without getting the matching skills or talents like other Rogue builds would. You still require a minimal amount of Strength and Dexterity due to prerequisites for equipment and talents, but end game, the Cunning score will be about equal to all of your other stats combined.
    • The most durable build is the Arcane Warrior class, which invokes this trope as one of its class features: your Magic score is used to determine what armor you can wear and (indirectly) how much melee damage you deal, instead of your Strength. This effectively renders Strength and Dexterity redundant for your build - leaving only Willpower (for normal spells) or Constitution (as a Blood Mage dual classer). However, as the arcane warrior is just a stunted damage dealer that can take an ungodly amount of damage, he is the worst tank, as he has a hard time holding the enemies and is doomed to watch the enemies pummel his friends.
  • Trickster Online gives us the four types. Each of the four types has one stat that you're expected to put all your points into for non-PVP play.
    • Power types: AP (Attack Power). Straight up damage dealing. Mostly because this is the only way to get past most monster's Damage Reduction.
    • Magic types: MA (Magic Attack). Damage dealt from Spell skills. Seriously, this is the only stat that makes a difference in a Magic Type's lethality.
    • Sense types: Okay, there's a bit of a split here:
      • Pure Lions: AC (Accuracy, which is a Power-type stat) really boosts the damage from Guns.
      • All other Sense Type players: DA (Detect Ability) not only improves the chances of a guaranteed Hit/Miss from Drilling (A guaranteed Miss means that's one more use of your drill), but also improves the damage dealt from Thrown Items.
    • Charm Types: HV (Dodging Ability, or Nimbleness or Flexibility or whatever). Increases chances of avoiding damage altogether, and improves damage dealt by skills.
  • In Demons Souls Endurance gives a boost to stamina for every level put into it up until it reaches forty (at which point only characters with incredibly heavy equipment need to go higher). Stamina allows for longer sprints, more attacks in a row and better blocking (and less chance of being guard-broken), making putting at least thirty points into Endurance something almost every build does at some point. All other stats can be very helpful too, but depend heavily on build and playstyle, whereas decent Endurance is helpful to everyone.
  • In Gearhead, a Roguelike mecha-RPG, the Reflexes ability determines almost all your mecha piloting capabilities. This is, let's reiterate, in a game based around being a mecha pilot. Oh, and it helps with most of your hand-to-hand combat abilities when you're forced to fight on foot, too. Among skills, the -- what else -- Mecha Piloting skill also qualifies.
  • For La Tale, give gloves critical damage, shoes movement speed (unless you're stacking evasion, then you get both), and your weapon min/max damage. Then put stamina and/or luck on everything else. The first three are the only places you can put those enchantments on, while the extra criticals you'll deal with luck will deal far more damage than the extra damage you'll deal with strength/magic, and stamina is the only base stat to increase your survivability.
  • In Fly FF, most 1v1 classes work best with full STR, if you have enough funds. You can get DEX (for attack speed, crit rate & hit rate) from awakenings or gear bonuses, more hit rate from upgrading your gear, and you don't need much STA to take a hit. It's easier to get crit rate from awakenings (1% crit rate is 10 DEX), and you can get A Do CH (crit damage, the OSTRTA awakening for 1v1) from sets, weapons, and of course awakenings. For Area of Effect classes, it's either STA (for tanking) or DEX (for block rate) depending on the class (or INT for a specific elementor build); most use STA, but rangers & blades get their Area of Effect damage from their DEX, so they use high block rate to compensate for low STA builds.
  • Durability in WWE Day Of Reckoning 2. Did not apply in the first game and while no stats are useless in 2, durability needs the most investment before it stops being a visible weakness. Injury resistance, resistance to tapping out and stamina loss are tied to durability.
  • In Maple Story, every job has use for only two stats, one being more important than the other. For example, Warriors only use STR and DEX, and STR is really all they need. It raises pretty much everything, EXCEPT accuracy and requirements to use some equipments. This is why the other stat is important. Some people however choose to forgo the second stat and raise the primary one, while using scrolls to give equipment the secondary stat, therefore allowing them to wield higher leveled equipment.
  • For goalkeepers in Inazuma Eleven, the Guard stat (or in Inazuma Eleven GO and Inazuma Eleven Strikers, the Catch stat) and max TP are essentially all that matters. This one actually makes perfect sense (and was likely intentional) since goalkeeper is by far the most specialized position in soccer.
  • Tales of Maj Eyal has a variation: One Secondary Stat to Rule Them All. Every class has different primary stats that deal with their specialities and for raising their talent points, but everyone needs Con. Everyone. Since later on enemies can do a lot of damage, especially with spike damage, HP and resistance (which Con gives small bonus to) becomes massively important for your character to survive.

Webcomics Edit

 Blag: Cause ya see, girlie, nobody cares if ya got an 18 Intelligence. Nobody'd care if you were one o' th' lucky broads with a 18 Wisdom! All that counts is a nice, round 18--

(see the right answer)

Web Original Edit


  1. Basic levels of Epikrato, non-urgent Exelixi, all Metatropi transformations and Katastrofi artillery
  2. They are required for Wonder construction; no dots in the required skill results quite often in bad things happening
  3. Slightly better in the second game, but there it is awareness on the MC and a party member with lock pick.

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