Attacking with long weapons at close range

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daxos232
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Attacking with long weapons at close range

Postby daxos232 » Tue Sep 13, 2011 8:36 pm

In a previous topic someone corrected me about using long reach weapons againnst a close range opponent. I thought if a character was using a weapon like a longspear and they were closed upon by an enemy with a dagger, the spearman could only "parry" the enemies attack.

According to the rules the spearman actually cannot "parry", he can only "attack". This seems a bit odd to me. The spear point is obviously beyond the enemies body and cannot be used to effectively stab him. It would probably be awkward trying to strike with the blunt end of the weapon, but I can see punches and kicks working.

Is there a reason for this rule, like for game balance, that I am missing?
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Re: Attacking with long weapons at close range

Postby Richard » Tue Sep 13, 2011 8:49 pm

Recently watched a documentary with a medieval weapons instructor explaining how to fight with a long weapon. The example he was using was a sword but the lesson applies to any long weapon you can still manouevre near your body. Specifically demonstrating and referring to an enemy managing to close there were particular techniques to use make use of the hilt and pommel of the sword as weapons. In fact the hilt was turned into a close range weapon. If I remember correctly from elsewhere, in longer swords of this period at least, the blade was not as sharp near the base of the sword so that it could be grasped and thrust at the opponent with a mailed fist (In fact the whole thing made the damage and limits on swords in RQ2 seem wide of the mark in this context. Think I might stick them back up to 1d8+1 like the old days...). I see no reason why many of the manouevres couldn't also be applied with your spear. Perhaps damage would be limited to that of a club (something similar for the sword) but I still think it could be used as a weapon. That would surely include being able to block and parry with it. Tight spaces might accrue a penalty I guess.
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Re: Attacking with long weapons at close range

Postby daxos232 » Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:16 pm

You have made several very good points Richard. If you remember the name of the documentary, or where I could find it, that would be awesome as I would love to see it. I'm a bit of a history fan.

The ability to strike with or defend with a long weapon at close range with certain techniques makes sense. I would like to have long weapon users be able to attack and parry at close range, to reflect this. However then there is no in-game reason to use a shorter weapon, so I think some penalties and reduction in damage for long weapons at close range are needed.

Thanks.
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Re: Attacking with long weapons at close range

Postby Mixster » Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:44 pm

A few months back I asked one of my re-enactor friends, how a spearman could fight somebody with a dagger and a shield, and why that man could not just move up closer to fight him.

He explained that when you are fighting with a spear, you don't need to use all the range to hit enemies with your point, if any enemy closes on you, it is a simple task to shorten the length of your spear. By gripping further up with your off-hand and then moving your main hand in. The extra 30 or so centimetres of handle you have behind you matters very little in all but the most obscure of cases (since you usually have that amount of distance behind you or you are screwed he explained).

He answered that in fact, as people shortened up their spears they would keep getting faster, because they would have a shorter and shorter point to worry about.

With a sword I think you can wreck just as much havoc to an armoured man with a pommel to the face, or a handguard to the leg as with the pointy end.

Why you can't parry I've never realised though. But I guess it was made for game balance.
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Re: Attacking with long weapons at close range

Postby Dan True » Tue Sep 13, 2011 10:16 pm

Mixster wrote: Why you can't parry I've never realised though. But I guess it was made for game balance.
Nope, it is to illustrate the workings of real-world combat (you have to come try fighting with me on Wednesdays sometime). I think it fairly well represents the way our fights work in the HEMA club - especially in the classic "spear vs. sword" situation.

When the enemy gets within the reach of your longer weapon, parrying is next to impossible - especially since it's not only a matter of parrying that single strike, but also the follow up that happends in the same movement.
If you have a spear and I have a sword, and I have closed in the range, so that you are fighting at a disadvantage - then I can easily feint to make you move your spear shaft, and then quickly turn the blade to stab you instead, or if you manage to block the blow I can very quickly turn the force around and hit another area, because you are at such a disadvantage - i.e. if I succeed on my attack roll, then your parry will automatically fail.

Try imagining a situation where dude A with a dagger is standing right in the face (T or S reach) of dude B with a longsword. The longsword is simply to unwieldy to block the dagger black - and if he manages to block, the dagger can easily move and hit an unprotected area.

So instead of thinking of reach as an enumerable set of meters the weapon can reach (e.g. T = < 20cm, S = 21-40 cm etc) it can be viewed as the most effective engagement range, and as you move away from this range, the weapon becomes to large, longe or heavy to be used effectively.

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Re: Attacking with long weapons at close range

Postby Titus » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:02 am

AoT lets you substitute your Brawl skill if you are wielding a long weapon at a disadvantage because the opponent has closed on you. Brawl is a common skill in AoT which replaces Unarmed combat skill. It includes the use of improvised weapons. If you are a better brawler than you are a spearman, you might provide a nasty surprise for your opponent.
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Re: Attacking with long weapons at close range

Postby SomeFourMenToura » Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:14 am

Titus wrote:....If you are a better brawler than you are a spearman, you might provide a nasty surprise for your opponent.
Yeah right.
Making surprises is a pretty hard thing too. Even if you know much on brawling close range and your opponent knows more on your background fighting style because of the weapons you had equiped that could make your surprise brawl too be ruin.
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Re: Attacking with long weapons at close range

Postby Richard » Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:42 pm

Daxos 232. The documentary was on Channel 4 in the UK, last week I think. It is a series that examines ancient corpses forensically to piece together their last moments or gain insights into their lives. This one was about the Crusaders. Called 'Back From the Dead' or somesuch. A bit of a medieval history enthusiast myself for a while although books and site visits were my main sources. Depressing viewing actually, a reminder of how grisly and brutal it all was. Centred on a Saladin era Muslim force storming a templar castle and slaughtering all and sundry. The 'less sharp' part of the long sword was an anecdote from a sword weilding enthusiast friend of mine. I believe it was accompanied with the cautionary tale of some poor soul who had tried to use it this way and forgotten he had no gauntlets...can't remember if they saved his fingers or not!
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Re: Attacking with long weapons at close range

Postby soltakss » Fri Sep 16, 2011 11:38 am

That was an interesting documentary - lots of limbs severed in one blow by scimitars, for example.

It showed how bloody combat was in the era.
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Re: Attacking with long weapons at close range

Postby Vile » Sat Sep 17, 2011 4:16 am

If you have any skill with a quarterstaff, you could switch to that mode with a short spear (in my experience the longest would be about 2 to 2.5m). Obviously no use for long spears or pikes. It takes a couple of SR to make the switch, though.

Otherwise, as Dan said. It's very difficult to parry a lighter weapon with a heavier one, unless you and your opponent are at the opposite extreme ends of skill and characteristics.

Medieval long swords had the advantage of having a crossguard that could be used like a war hammer (a war hammer being more like a pick than a hammer). Basically every bit of the sword could be used to hit an enemy with.
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Re: Attacking with long weapons at close range

Postby Richard » Sat Sep 17, 2011 9:05 am

I seem to remember another big advantage of the Crusader sword over the nice sharp scimitar was the fact that it was a double edged blade which gave it more combat options. A lot more to it than the fictional folk tale of Richard the Lionheart meeting Saladin (Saladin throwa length of silk into the air and severs it cleanly at one pass with his scinitar..ooh! Unimpressed Richard whacks an iron bar down between two stones and, using a hefty two handed downstroke, splits the bar in two. Now we all know that's not history...nice story though).
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Re: Attacking with long weapons at close range

Postby Tamerlin » Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:01 am

In our regular Kobudo training, we do a lot of paired training, and frequently that involves using a short weapon pair (e.g. tonfa, nunchiaku, sai) against a long weapon like a bo (ours are six feet long). The first thing that tends to take everyone by surprise once the person with the shorter weapon closes is how incredibly fast the short weapons seem when they're that close, and your bo is jammed up against you. Plus, we always use the shorter weapons in pairs, so the safest thing to do at that point is escape... but sometimes hammering the person with your bo is a good way to do that, if they don't have it locked up somehow. Parrying tends to be unlikely just because it's so difficult to maneuver a long weapon that close, so the only attack left tends to be a bash, followed by an escape.

That said, a solid bash can do quite a bit of damage if you get it in the right spot, unless the person's wearing armor. If that's the case, you're generally hoping to get them off balance enough to escape so that you can take advantage your reach and leverage again.

Another thing that tends to come up is how vulnerable your hands are on the staff, particularly when compared to sai and tonfa and the like, where the wielder's hands are far safer, though still not what I'd call safe.

Up close, hammering someone with the pommel of a greatsword would probably be quite a bit easier than with a bo or spear, regardless of whether or not you can get the point into the fray.
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Re: Attacking with long weapons at close range

Postby Vile » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:47 am

This could call for a new combat manoeuvre.
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Re: Attacking with long weapons at close range

Postby daxos232 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:05 pm

Thanks for telling me where you got that information. Unfortunately I don't think I will be seeing it anytime soon, here in america. I keep forgetting most people on the forum are in europe or australia.

I'm still divided on how to implement this. Penalties to parrying and attacking for the long weapon user don't really balance out the lack of ability for a short weapon user to attack at all when not closed. But then again mrqII isn't really trying to be "balanced".

I think I will just leave it as is, but a new combat maneovere sounds good. I will leave that up to others more skilled than I.
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Re: Attacking with long weapons at close range

Postby Mixster » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:18 pm

daxos232 wrote:Thanks for telling me where you got that information. Unfortunately I don't think I will be seeing it anytime soon, here in america. I keep forgetting most people on the forum are in europe or australia.

I'm still divided on how to implement this. Penalties to parrying and attacking for the long weapon user don't really balance out the lack of ability for a short weapon user to attack at all when not closed. But then again mrqII isn't really trying to be "balanced".

I think I will just leave it as is, but a new combat maneovere sounds good. I will leave that up to others more skilled than I.
Do note that weapons with a shorter range can still parry at the long range, and can if succesful use the change distance CM. Which gets you close up faster. Also you could disarm or trip your opponent, in which case getting closer to him would be no problem.

Also, it seems that unless you go full out with a two-hander, it seems longer reach weapons tend to deal slightly less damage, or have slightly fewer options than the shorter reach weapons.

All in all, this makes the evade skill immensely powerful in combat, since it is needed to close ranges, and to avoid attacks when you are close in.
Tamerlin wrote:In our regular Kobudo training, we do a lot of paired training, and frequently that involves using a short weapon pair (e.g. tonfa, nunchiaku, sai) against a long weapon like a bo (ours are six feet long). The first thing that tends to take everyone by surprise once the person with the shorter weapon closes is how incredibly fast the short weapons seem when they're that close, and your bo is jammed up against you. Plus, we always use the shorter weapons in pairs, so the safest thing to do at that point is escape... but sometimes hammering the person with your bo is a good way to do that, if they don't have it locked up somehow. Parrying tends to be unlikely just because it's so difficult to maneuver a long weapon that close, so the only attack left tends to be a bash, followed by an escape.

That said, a solid bash can do quite a bit of damage if you get it in the right spot, unless the person's wearing armor. If that's the case, you're generally hoping to get them off balance enough to escape so that you can take advantage your reach and leverage again.

Another thing that tends to come up is how vulnerable your hands are on the staff, particularly when compared to sai and tonfa and the like, where the wielder's hands are far safer, though still not what I'd call safe.

Up close, hammering someone with the pommel of a greatsword would probably be quite a bit easier than with a bo or spear, regardless of whether or not you can get the point into the fray.
Well, what you tell me here is that RQ is pretty accurate, I keep thinking of such a fighter would come up and here is what I think will end up happening:

Alf is using a VL reach weapon (such as a halberd). While Tim is using a M reach War Sword, and a S reach Shield.
---First combat round---
Alf has 2 CA and Tim have 3 (2+1 for using two weapons).
Alf starts and engages to his VL distance of fighting. He attacks, gets a critical, Tim Parries with his Shield, and it is disarmed (Alf chooses to disarm it because he can get around the M warsword (with half damage though) if it should be used to parry).
Tim tries to engage to his distance (M distance), Alf decides to hit him with his halberd, thinking he can stop him with his halberd for trying such folly. Let's assume Tim wins this roll and engages Alf at his range.
Tim is now at his range, but since his last action was Evading, he can't attack. Therefore he instead decides to use his last CA to draw his back up Dagger.
---2nd combat round---
Tim has 3 CA (having 2 weapons again), Alf has 2
Alf has two options, he can try to get to his distance, and possibly making an opposed roll with his evade, but since his Evade isn't that good, he decides to go for it and swing at Tim. He swings and hits, but Tim parries, so Alf rolls damage and deals, 8 damage, halved so he deals 4 damage to Tim. Luckily Tim has enough armour to reduce this to merely a scratch.
Tim then goes and attacks with his longsword. Alf now has the decision to evade or not. Not wanting Tim to get a CM that could potentially Trip, Bleed or Impale him. He decides to evade, thinking that he will be able to use his next CA for getting away. Let's assume Tim hits, but doesn't get a CM. Full on damage to Alf deals 6 damage, Alf took heavy damage to his arm, and suffers a Serious Wound, passes his resilience, but he is distracted for 2 CAs (so the next 3 CA with the one from evading he can't attack, now is the time to run away).
Alas before Alf can act again, Tim has another CA left and attacks again. Alf is defenseless, and as Tim hits he can either decide to hit Alfs weakpoint (his damaged arm) and probably kill him. Let's assume he is a merciful fellow and decides to attempt a disarm, which we'll assume succeeds. Alf, heavily wounded, unarmed, and on the wrong distance to fight Tim, decides to surrender. The combat ends. Tim wins by having used his superior amount of CAs (and a little luck), to get close to Alf and damage him hard.

All in all this sums up why I think the reach issues are just fine. While the longer reach two-handers can some times cut down enemies before they get close, having an extra CA makes you able to get in close and finish the job without worrying about parries.

All in all I find it nicely balanced. Although with slight objections against a few of the weapons (Shortspear and Military Flail spring to mind as the best one hand weapons, and greatsword as the best two-hander due to that massive damage and huge size).
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Re: Attacking with long weapons at close range

Postby Tamerlin » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:05 pm

Mixster wrote: Also, it seems that unless you go full out with a two-hander, it seems longer reach weapons tend to deal slightly less damage, or have slightly fewer options than the shorter reach weapons.
There's also a huge difference in speed. It takes a lot more practice and much more efficient technique to be quick with a longer weapon than with a shorter one.
All in all, this makes the evade skill immensely powerful in combat, since it is needed to close ranges, and to avoid attacks when you are close in.
I'd agree with that -- especially when there are weapons involved. If you take a hit without armor on, the damage would be brutal...
Well, what you tell me here is that RQ is pretty accurate, I keep thinking of such a fighter would come up and here is what I think will end up happening:
Yes, pretty much. Explaining seemed like it would be more informative than just saying, "My experience training with weapons agrees with RQ." :)
Alf is using a VL reach weapon (such as a halberd). While Tim is using a M reach War Sword, and a S reach Shield.
Nice writeup!
All in all this sums up why I think the reach issues are just fine. While the longer reach two-handers can some times cut down enemies before they get close, having an extra CA makes you able to get in close and finish the job without worrying about parries.
I think it should encourage players to think more creatively about combat, rather than limiting the fight to, "I hit him with my sword!" I try to encourage players to be more imaginative with combats when they come up, but having a system that encourages and rewards creativity as well as penalizing the lack thereof is a huge plus in my book. It's one of the factors that enticed me into checking out RQ in the first place.
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Re: Attacking with long weapons at close range

Postby HalfOrc HalfBiscuit » Thu Sep 22, 2011 8:04 am

Mixster wrote: Tim tries to engage to his distance (M distance), Alf decides to hit him with his halberd, thinking he can stop him with his halberd for trying such folly. Let's assume Tim wins this roll and engages Alf at his range.
Tim is now at his range, but since his last action was Evading, he can't attack. Therefore he instead decides to use his last CA to draw his back up Dagger.
A tangent to the main discussion here - but this is not how i interpret the rules.

Closing/disengaging use the Evade skill, but are not the "Evading" as a CA - and I read the rules as saying that it is only if the latter CA is is used that the Evader cannot attack on their next SR.

I'd be interested to see if others agree/disagree.
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Re: Attacking with long weapons at close range

Postby Deleriad » Thu Sep 22, 2011 8:14 am

HalfOrc HalfBiscuit wrote:
Mixster wrote: Tim tries to engage to his distance (M distance), Alf decides to hit him with his halberd, thinking he can stop him with his halberd for trying such folly. Let's assume Tim wins this roll and engages Alf at his range.
Tim is now at his range, but since his last action was Evading, he can't attack. Therefore he instead decides to use his last CA to draw his back up Dagger.
A tangent to the main discussion here - but this is not how i interpret the rules.

Closing/disengaging use the Evade skill, but are not the "Evading" as a CA - and I read the rules as saying that it is only if the latter CA is is used that the Evader cannot attack on their next SR.

I'd be interested to see if others agree/disagree.
You are right, Orc-biscuit hybrid person. Using the Evade skill to try and 'dodge' an attack prevents you from attacking on your next SR but using the Evade skill for other purposes (such as closing) doesn't have any such effect. With the caveat that this is true for RQII but until the Legend rulebook comes out we don't know what changes (if any) have been made.
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Re: Attacking with long weapons at close range

Postby HalfOrc HalfBiscuit » Thu Sep 22, 2011 8:29 am

Deleriad wrote:You are right, Orc-biscuit hybrid person. Using the Evade skill to try and 'dodge' an attack prevents you from attacking on your next SR but using the Evade skill for other purposes (such as closing) doesn't have any such effect. With the caveat that this is true for RQII but until the Legend rulebook comes out we don't know what changes (if any) have been made.
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Re: Attacking with long weapons at close range

Postby Mixster » Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:59 pm

Deleriad wrote:
HalfOrc HalfBiscuit wrote:
Mixster wrote: Tim tries to engage to his distance (M distance), Alf decides to hit him with his halberd, thinking he can stop him with his halberd for trying such folly. Let's assume Tim wins this roll and engages Alf at his range.
Tim is now at his range, but since his last action was Evading, he can't attack. Therefore he instead decides to use his last CA to draw his back up Dagger.
A tangent to the main discussion here - but this is not how i interpret the rules.

Closing/disengaging use the Evade skill, but are not the "Evading" as a CA - and I read the rules as saying that it is only if the latter CA is is used that the Evader cannot attack on their next SR.

I'd be interested to see if others agree/disagree.
You are right, Orc-biscuit hybrid person. Using the Evade skill to try and 'dodge' an attack prevents you from attacking on your next SR but using the Evade skill for other purposes (such as closing) doesn't have any such effect. With the caveat that this is true for RQII but until the Legend rulebook comes out we don't know what changes (if any) have been made.
At first I thought you guys were completely wrong, but reading it again I understand that it can be read either way. The section on evading (page 90), starts by listing multiple examples of when to use the evade skill. Dragon's breath, charging and missile fire among them. Then goes on to mention that it is always an opposed skill. Then it says: Whatever the result, the evasive gambit momentarily places the Defender at a disadvantage as he regains his balance, preventing him from performing an attack with the CA available to him on his next strike rank.
Simply tells us that using evade in combat places you at a certain disadvantage, I would think this also applies to closing/disengaging.
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