The rules on how to enter hand-to-hand (HTH) combat have been a subject of discussion on the TFT list:

Disengaged figure enters HTH

The rules state in basic Melee (Section VII, p.15, HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT):

A figure may move onto an enemy figure’s hex, initiating HTH combat, if the enemy has his back to a wall, is lying down, is prone, is kneeling, has a lower MA, agrees to HTH combat or is attacked through his side or rear hex. Initiating HTH combat is considered an attack.
A Disengaged figure picks action (a) to initiate HTH combat, moving onto the enemy’s hex during movement and attacking during combat. An Engaged figure picks action (k), entering the enemy’s hex AND attacking during combat.

The first paragraph describes several restrictions that prevent a figure from just running up and engaging in HTH an enemy. Advanced Melee makes this a bit clearer (p. 15):

A figure may move ONTO an enemy figure's hex, initiating HTH combat, if (a) the enemy has his back to the wall, or is lying down, prone, or kneeling, or (b) the enemy has a lower MA, or (c) the attacker comes in from the rear, or (d) the enemy agrees to HTH combat. Initiating HTH combat is considered an attack.
To initiate HTH combat, a figure moves onto the enemy figure's hex. If the attacking figure is disengaged, this is a regular move. If the attacking figure is engaged, he may shift onto a figure engaging him to attempt HTH, even if he is engaged with other figures as well. When you're surrounded by foes, sometimes the best thing you can do is jump on one of them!


  • Can a figure that moved more than half its MA initiate HTH?
Basic Melee mentions taking action a) for Disengaged figures, which says 1. A Disengaged figure may move more than half its MA and: a) Take no other action., it would seem to imply that a figure could move its full MA and engage in HTH even on the last step. Since it also states that Initiating HTH combat is considered an attack, it would be consistent that no other attack could be made during that round. Choice a) in the basic rules implies no other action can be taken if a figure moves more than half its MA.
Advanced Melee actions (p. 3) and the TFT Fantasy Masters' Screen clearly state that you can only move up to half your MA and still e. attempt hand-to-hand combat.
  • What about the rule for engagement that says a figure must stop its movement if it enters the front hex of an enemy? Wouldn't that prevent HTH initiation from a front hex during movement?
Indeed this is ambiguous. One can wonder why this case wasn't mentioned in either Melee or AM. Again, the conditions (a-c) mentioned explicitly in AM still apply. Think about front-hex engagement rules when you read those conditions again:
(a) lying down, prone and kneeling - it's questionable that a figure could engage an enemy in these states - it only leaves the "back to the wall" position, and it is not clear why this would favor an HTH initiation.
(b) enemy has lower MA - nowhere else in the rules does MA difference affect anything regarding engagement, so it's not clear if this condition adds anything to the analysis.
(c) attacker comes in from the rear - clearly engagement doesn't apply from a rear attack. However, the fact that this rule is mentioned, makes us wonder why side-hex HTH initiation isn't considered.
(d) enemy agrees - engagement rules would not apply, assuming that the enemy drops his guard allowing the attacking figure to enter into HTH.
Because side-hex initiation isn't mentioned as a possible condition, it seems to imply that engagement rules don't apply to disengaged initiation of HTH.

In TFT we are acting a physical scale of 1:1.3m sts per unit/hex at a time scale of 5 sec per unit/turn.Five seconds is quite a bit of time in a fight. I think (?) we all agree that at this scale we are not talking about a 'blow by blow' description of the combat but rather we seem to be modeling the probabilities of one or more blows getting through the defenses of an opponent over the course of that time. It would seem to me that this time scale is pertinent to the issues I've been seeing concerning Engagement.I'd read it this way.Engagement is the assumption that when in obvious threat from an opponent a figure will act in such a way as to protect itself. (Running low from arrows, circling, etc.)Also of note is that a figure with running, moving at top speed, should be able to cover between 35 to 40 hexes in 5 seconds or 7ish hexes per second. (Donovan Bailey 50m 5.56sec so I call it 10m per second and divide by 1.3 ja?)This is what prevents the traditional type of throw together new 'party' from all being constantly Engaged with each other. They joined a group/unit. A figure that actively moves to defend itself (from the pickpocket thief perhaps)automatically starts Engagement. - Jay Carlisle

Furthermore, we can read more of the rules to try to understand the intent, namely what is supposed to happen after an initiation to HTH has occurred. The defender rolls a single die, to determine what happens. There's still a chance (on a roll of 6, and if the attacker didn't come from behind) that the initiator of HTH be attacked automatically by the defender and forced back one hex. No mention is made about the other directions (side, front).
  • Can a figure initiating HTH do so with a figure that's wielding a pole-weapon set to his charge?
Basic conditions for HTH initiation (a-c) still apply. It's logical that a HTH initiator charging from the rear or the side of the pole-weapon wielder should be able to enter HTH without it being a charge attack. However, it's not clear from the rules how to consider a frontal charge. The basic conditions are already rather limiting, so perhaps it's fair to allow HTH initiation to "spoil" the pole-weapon set-to-charge attack. The only conditions where a pole-weapon wielder would get the bonus against a regular (non HTH initiating) charge attack are (a) his back is to the wall and (b) his MA is lower than the attacker's. Therefore, it is perhaps reasonable to allow this.
  • What does having one's back against a wall have to do with HTH initiation?
Good question... TBD...

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Page last modified on November 04, 2007, at 01:57 AM