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This is mostly an RPG trope, but can be applied to any game with combat elements and some type of Life Meter.

This trope is about Video Games where it's nearly impossible to inflict lasting damage, resulting in combat practically just being mutual Cherry Tapping minus the humiliation. Actual skill is most likely still involved, but it will be more about intelligence (Min-Maxing, planning ahead) than agility (Dodging, improvising). This trope can happen due to various reasons; Higher defensive stats than offensive ones, an abundance of cheap healing supplies, useful healing/protection moves, et cetera. Please note that this has to apply to both Player Characters and enemies, or it's just a case of Nigh Invulnerability or Marathon Boss.

This trope doesn't have to be a bad thing. Lengthy battles tend to feel more epic than short ones, and some gamers enjoy calculating the best possible tactics and perfecting them.

Compare Stone Wall, Slap-On-The-Wrist Nuke, Cherry Tapping, Marathon Boss, Nigh Invulnerability and type 1 Mutual Disadvantage. Contrast the inversion Rocket Tag Gameplay

Examples of Padded Sumo Gameplay include:


  • A good example of this is Baldur's Gate, where (especially early on) it's common for opponents to stand around missing each other for round after round, the victor ultimately defeating their opponent after landing two or three hits.
  • The first two Fallout games had a similar issue in the very late game, where opponents with power armor are almost incapable of doing even a single point of damage except in critical blows, so combat basically boils down to watching “0 Points Of Damage” bullets bounce off each other until “Critical Hit for 999 HP” obliterates somebody.
    • Fallout 3 plays this trope straight, especially in the DLCs. It is possible to use stealth or cover, but the game's economy makes stimpak spamming a much easier tactic.
      • To elaborate, many of the added enemies have pointlessly high amounts of HP and qualify as Demonic Spiders for most of the game. By the time you hit level 30 (the cap), they will not individually be threats to you...just will take forever to kill, even with your Infinity+1 Sword.
  • Golden Sun: For all the flashy Psynergy and Summon Magic, endgame Level Grinding is a lot faster if you hit attack over and over again (then again, the frequent weapon unleashes make it a viable, and flashy, tactic).
  • Legend of Dragoon has this toward the end. The final boss fight can take HOURS, even if you're well prepared.
  • In Skies of Arcadia, due to the increasing health and and defense of certain types of enemies, it can actually be faster to have your entire party charge up the spirit gauge in order to use the full party's ultimate attack, Prophecy (which drops a freaking moon on their heads) anytime you come across one such foe.
  • Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition combat is often called "Padded Sumo" by its detractors, as damage outstrips health, and many powers focus on moving enemies around. Of course, defenders of 4th edition like to point out that combat in previous editions tended to focus on spellcasters spamming instant death spells on each other, seeing who would fail their saving throw first while the party's non-spellcasters enjoyed a refreshing beverage in the other room.
  • Pretty easy to do in Pokémon with two stall-heavy Mons, or if the battle has been going on for a while and Mons only have Struggle as their move left. Reaches ridiculous levels in Wobbuffet vs. Wobbuffet battles, where due to a lack of actual attacks beyond counterattacks means that they can only hit with Struggle, and their high defense means that winning with that will take a long, long time. And heaven help you if you both have Leftovers attached, which will easily heal more HP than Struggle will hurt you for...
    • The Struggle attack now deals 25% damage to its user (when it does connect). Thus, in a Wobbuffet vs. Wobbuffet battle, the winner is the last one to strike.
  • Exalted suffers from this in spades. It's trivially easy to throw around one-hit kill attacks, sure, resulting in Rocket Tag Gameplay if nothing is used to stop them... but it's also trivially easy to defend against any attack with a fixed-cost perfect defense. Once everyone is using an impossible-to-bypass suite of perfect defenses, the game changes from Rocket Tag to Padded Sumo Gameplay, with no attack ever doing more than making the opponent pay a tiny amount of essence, the game's equivalent to Magic Points. As a result, your essence pool is your real life meter, and victory is usually about making the enemy spend essence faster than you.
    • However, the latest errata is intent on fixing this problem, reducing the lethality of combat in general and increasing the costs of Perfect Defenses so that the above-mentioned "paranoia combos" weigh on your Magic Points much more heavily.
  • World of Warcraft has this in spades in one-on-one PvP. Every healer class in adequate PvP gear is capable of outhealing any damage dealt by a damage-dealing class in a matter of several seconds while their offensive abilities are rather unimpressive. Tanks have multiple abilities to absorb and negate damage, while damage-dealing classes have higher than average amount of escape abilities. Nearly all tanks and damage-dealers may regenerate their health to some extent, and may often stall matches by being efficient at running away or incapacitating the enemy while their health goes up. While one-on-one duels are not something the game is balanced around, duels occur often between sole survivors at the end of the arena match, making the winner typically the one who made the least mistakes.
  • Exaggerated and parodied in the "Monkey Combat" fight in Escape from Monkey Island. Both fighters regenerate health too fast to kill each other through standard means, so you need to find an alternate way of winning. (It is an adventure game, after all.)
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