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Re: Rick's comments on the Defend Option

I would say that the DEFEND option is there primarily to defend against multiple opponents; not a single one; or to overcome temporary DX issues.  Having the ability to give up your attack in order to attenuate the possibility of suffering multiple hits (and greatly reduce the maximum damage possible) in a singe turn would seem a worthwhile option to me.  In addition, in the play example in Melee, the Roman uses the DEFEND option to allow himself time to recover from the negative DX effects of a wound; in effect sacrificing nothing since with such a large DX loss, he would be very unlikely to hit anyway.  In short, it seems to me that instead of thinking of it strictly in terms of rules effects, we need to start thinking of it in tactical terms.

DODGE, of course, is self-explanatory and far less controversial than this seems to be.

From: Peter von Kleinsmid <pvk@oz.net>
To: tft@brainiac.com
Cc: tft@brainiac.com; Matt Fraser <mathesonfraser@gmail.com>; CJ <chrjames@gmail.com>; Alec Morrison <alphaalec@gmail.com>; dan nicholson <kootenayvalleydan@yahoo.ca>; Jayson Webster <jayson_webster27@hotmail.com>; "gosel@tutanota.com>" <gosel@tutanota.com>; Steve Reinhardt <cpassport@mail.com>
Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2018 11:22 AM
Subject: Re: Rick's comments on the Defend Option

Hi Rick,

"Against characters with low to moderate attributes it is fine. But
when you are fighting against experienced figures it is a waste of time."
- It's often still a waste of time with low-to-moderate attributes
too, because it takes all your turn's action, and just reduces the
enemy's chance of hitting you. There's no benefit of taking a turn to
Defend unless you expect the situation to improve next turn somehow
(e.g. due to other characters' actions, map movements, or injury
penalties wearing off), so it's often just a completely wasteful
option to take.

Yeah, DX 16 (or even adjDX 15) is not actually the highest useful
value because of various modifiers, Aimed Shots, being the first one
to act, etc. (Not that there isn't still an unfortunate limiting
effect at adjDX 15 on unmodified to-hit rolls. More in my reply to
David below.)

Your Defend and Aim option is an improvement and I like it, but it's
only a minor effect. It _would_ make that option something useful to
take - in fact, I can see a lot of people taking it as standard
practice on the approach to combat, but I don't think it really
solves the core issue with Defend or the general lack of ways to
fight defensively (it even adds another +1 to-hit modifier).

Your Defend and Edge Away option also seems ok but not liable to make
much of a difference except in certain cases. If anything I think
it's a bit stingy requiring two turns to back away one, and if
someone wants to get away, they might rather just Disengage since it's faster.

For the extra Defend effect on rolls where the total is divisible by
3, I don't mind the intended part of the effect, and actually like it
because it has the aspect that GURPS defenses give, where something
the defender does actually counters the hit rather than just making
it harder (and being trumped by high DX). What I don't like about it
is that to me the "divisible by 3" mechanic seems gamey and has
peculiar side-effects by adding a new meaning to particular
die-rolls, which masks their usual meaning (e.g. adjDX 9, 12 and 15
are no better than 8, 11, and 14 against Defend) and that the
defender's ability level has no part (also a problem with regular TFT Defend).

But none of those rules really impacts what I see as the main issues
with TFT Defend, which are that:
1) There is no real way to engage cautiously or defend oneself
skillfully with hand weapons other than moving smartly and taking out
your opponents first.
2) Except the Defend option, which is almost always just a bad idea
to take compared to Attack except in special situations.
3) There is no effect of character ability on how well they avoid
being hit (unless you have fight unarmed and have crazy skills -
Unarmed Combat IV or V).

At 04:38 PM 1/29/2018, David Bofinger wrote:
>In your rules there are very useful not all that expensive talents
>with DX requirements, like Weapon 2 talents, Fencing 2 and Shield 3.
>So characters tend to buy the DX because they need it for the
>talents, and this channels characters along particular paths. A
>fighter has a strong motive for getting to DX 16, but not much to go
>further. (And once they have the IQ and DX requirements they buy all
>the talents fast as they can.)
>Because characters acquire high DX for reasons unrelated to attack
>rolls, they tend to laugh at Defend actions. So the weakness of
>Defend is in fact driven by the superficially unrelated DX
>prerequisite system for talents.
Yes, excellent point, especially if the added talents are strong
effects such as adding dice required to hit someone.

>I can't recall ever seeing a magic item of any kind in The Slope, or
>anyone deriving a benefit from DX>16 in a melee attack.
If his added talents are like the ones we had when Rick was GM'ing
Thail, then they add to the dice required to hit people with them, so
that adds considerably to the value of higher DX, though I'd still
get those powerful talents first.

>If you think DX>18 is useful then I'd be interested to see a
>character design on a reasonable number of attribute points with
>DX>18. I think you'll find it very hard to build one that is
>efficient, unless perhaps you have a godlike number of attributes
>and go for your IQ 17+ bonus attack talents.
People keep saying this, and I'm not sure why exactly. Sure I get the
point about the 3d6 to-hit roll, but even without house rules, it
seems to me there are MANY reasons to want a higher DX, for example,
to offset armor and shields (up to 8 more points of DX can be useful
this way), broken ground (especially if fallen bodies are broken
ground, another -2 DX), Aimed Shots (makes up to more 6 DX very
useful), the Blur spell, thrown attacks (or spells), DX adjustments
from injury, various combat circumstances such as darkness,
horseback, fighters who want to cast spells with an iron penalty...
and of course, getting to act before other characters, possibly
taking them out before they get to act.

So for example:
ST 12 Longbow 1d+2
DX 21 (17)(20 bow) Fine Plate 6 -4DX
IQ  9 Fine Broadsword 2d+1, small shield, dagger
Bow, Sword, Shield, Missile Weapons, Literacy
Fires 2 shots per turn, generally aiming for the head (-6 to hit, 5/6
chance of a hit one-shotting unarmored people, for which even more DX
would be good to have).

>I suspect the ineffectiveness of Defend is mostly intentional. The
>designers didn't want characters adopting a static defense strategy,
>but they recognized it made sense and in play testing occasionally a
>player said they just wanted to just defend themselves. So they made
>it not very good.
>The problem with Defend and Aim is that it is only superior to
>defend if you value causing your opponent damage, and that's exactly
>the circumstance in which you want to Attack rather than Defend.
>The problem with Defend and Edge Away is that it is only useful if
>you value withdrawing from combat, and that is exactly the
>circumstance in which you want to Withdraw immediately rather than Defend.
>These two actions each have multiple benefits. But the benefits
>don't play well together - one is good in circumstances where the
>other is bad. So they generally don't fit well with any particular strategy.
Good points.

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