I'm trying to describe two kinds of mechanics in a game, one kind that is rather boring, bland and simple, and one that is more rich, complex and flavourful. I'm trying to figure out an idiom / phrase to illustrate the point, but all the ones I can think of have a different meaning - "meat and potatoes" and "bread and butter" for example both allude to "the most basic thing", rather than a contrast between two things.

The kind of sentence I'm looking to make is "The A and B of game mechanics - the boring stat increases are A, rather bland and simple, while mechanics that change the game are the B, interesting and flavourful", or something along those lines.

What would be a good idiom / phrase to express the contrast between two things?

  • 1
    Can you add a example sentence with a ____ where you want the phrase to go?
    – k1eran
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 12:40
  • Why can't you just say contrasting pair? Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 15:02
  • 1
    @k1eran "The A and B of game mechanics - the boring stat increases are A, rather bland and simple, while mechanics that change the game are the B, interesting and flavourful". Something along those lines.
    – ThePiachu
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 18:20
  • @ThePiachu that’s perfect, but best to edit your question to include that as it’s more obvious than a comment .
    – k1eran
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 18:22
  • It it was about people...then maybe "odd couple" Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 19:08

4 Answers 4


A phrase that fits your description is chalk and cheese, usually seen in the expression as different as chalk and cheese.

The page What Does Chalk and Cheese Mean? from Writing explained includes an explanation of the expression as well as its etymology and examples of it in various dialogues:


The expression simply contrasts very different things, not necessarily things that are boring, bland and simple with things that rich, complex and flavourful. But it seems to fit your context. After all, who would rather eat chalk than cheese?

  • off-hand I don't know which part would be boring or interesting.
    – vectory
    Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 3:26

The term plain vanilla is used to deprecate the boring thing in relation to the better version. It comes from the ice cream business. Anything other than plain vanilla was a post production process that began with vanilla. (And ended with chocolate, which was all the leftovers from other flavor batches mixed together and with cocoa powder added.)


: lacking special features or qualities : BASIC

plain-vanilla: Merriam Wwebster online https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plain-vanilla

Example usage here, I couldn't embed this one. https://books.google.com/books?id=vAxOynQ4m4oC&lpg=PA275&dq=%22plain%20vanilla%22&pg=PA275#v=onepage&q=%22plain%20vanilla%22&f=false


A couple of ideas come to mind ...

(1) The A and B of game mechanics .. brawn will achieve A, whereas brains are needed for B. From idioms.thefreedictionary.com :

brains versus brawn.
Mental acuity or intelligence in contrast to great power or physical strength.
This isn't a case of brains versus brawn—you need both intelligence and physical strength in a situation like this.

(2) If that does not work perhaps something from music would work : The A and B of game mechanics are like rock music, A is the bass and drums, whereas B is the guitar and vocals. ?


I like this quote from Raymond Chnadler:

It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window.

The blonde is obviously the interesting one.

I also like "Slow and steady wins the race". The reference is to Aesop, and quoted material is the moral. The contrast is between the hare and tortoise. You get several of these in Aesop: the Ant and the Grasshopper, for example. You could say easily the Tortoise and the Hare as A&B in your example.

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