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Examples of Combat With and Without the Tactical Mat
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Do you use minis and a tactical?
Yes
14%
 14%  [ 36 ]
Yes
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Yes
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Yes
14%
 14%  [ 36 ]
No
2%
 2%  [ 6 ]
No
2%
 2%  [ 6 ]
No
2%
 2%  [ 6 ]
No
2%
 2%  [ 6 ]
Sometimes
8%
 8%  [ 20 ]
Sometimes
8%
 8%  [ 20 ]
Sometimes
8%
 8%  [ 20 ]
Sometimes
8%
 8%  [ 20 ]
Total Votes : 248

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Mr.Joel
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2004 11:51 am    Post subject: Examples of Combat With and Without the Tactical Mat Reply with quote

In another thread, we've been discussing the pros and cons of using minis and the tactical battle-mat, or "tac". Unable to acquire video of other people's play sessions, I wrote up the following examples of combat play.

#1 is the way I imagine a single card playing out in a narrative, free-wheeling campaign that does not use minis and a tac.

#2 is the way a card might play out in one of our campaigns: very crunchy, wargame-like play, focused on the tac and the minis. It's not direct from play, but neither is it exaggerated. Our rounds really go like this.

I'm trying to represent our style of play accurately, both its advantages (precision, fairness) and disadvantages (slow, sometimes quarrelsome).

The scenario is a basic orc-fight. The good guys' main fighter, Tank Ray, has just been dropped by a vicious Blast spell, and is lying by himself on the field of battle. A roguish type, Slippery Pete, has the next card.

#1: THE GM AS NARRATOR.
SLIPPERY PETE: Uh-oh, Tank Ray is down!
GM: Jack of Clubs. Thatís you, Pete.
SLIPPERY PETE: I run to Tank and give him a healing potion.
GM: OK, but the orc youíve been dancing with tries to stop you with his axe. [roll roll] Five. That's pretty low. Youíre clear. You run to Tank and slam a healing potion down his throat.
TANK RAY: Thanks, man!
GM: Hereís a benny, Pete. Ten of Hearts is up.

#2: THE GM AS REFEREE.
SLIPPERY PETE: Uh-oh, Tank Ray is down!
GM: Jack of Clubs. Thatís you, Pete.
SLIPPERY PETE: Iím going run to Tank and give him a healing potion. [counting his steps on the tac:] 1, 2, 3, 4, --
GM: Wait up. First thing, the orc you were fighting takes a swing [roll roll] A five. Whatís your Parry?
SP: Eight!
EDNA THE HOLY: Didnít you Wild Attack last round?
SP: Crud, I canít remember. That would still be a six, though.
GM: A miss either way. But if you can't remember, you'll take the worse number. Anyway, this other guy can reach you with his spear, see, so he takes a poke as well.
SP: Didnít we decide that you canít do that if Iím not adjacent?
GM: Oh yeah, youíre right. Sorry. I lose track of what weíve decided about all these things that arenít covered in the rules. Go on.
SP: 3, 4, 5 Ė
GM: Ut, youíll have to pass by this little gentleman here, who attempts to make you better acquainted with his greataxe. [roll roll] Niner! Thatís a hit. [roll roll] Eight points. He catches you solidly on the side as you try to skirt past.
SP: Thatís a shake. I burn a bennie on it.
GM: Alright, you shrug it off and keep moving.
SP: 5, 6. Crud again. Canít quite reach him. Iíll have to run.
GM: Donít bother rolling, you only need one square. OK, youíre next to Tank.
SP: Give him the potion!
GM: As I recall, Pete, you have a sword in each hand.
SP: OK, OK. Drop a sword and draw the potion.
GM: [marks location of dropped sword on the tac] Iím going to require an Agility roll to get that potion out. Itís just like drawing a weapon. Make a roll at minus 4.
SP: Minus 4?? Why not minus 2?
GM: You ran this round, and youíre planning to pour the potion down his throat this round, right? Plus the draw, thatís three actions.
SP: Hey, since I ran anyway, could I have just run around that orc and avoided that hit?
GM: Too late for that. Are you going to give him the potion this round, or wait Ďtil next round and just take a minus 2?
TANK RAY: No! Iíd have to make a Vigor roll at the start of next round! Do it now!
SP: Fine. Here it goes.
GM: I could really give you an extra minus for the off hand, but Iíll kindly assume that you keep a sword in your left and draw the potion with your right.
SP: Youíre a prince. [roll roll] Oops, that comes to negative 1. Screw it, hereís a bennie. [roll roll] Ace! [roll roll] Ace! [roll roll]
GM: You can stop now. You pull out a potion, crouch, and feed it to Tank.
TR: Sweet! Does that mean Iím up?
GM: Not yet. Iíll deal you in next round, unless something happens before then. OK, whoís next?
SP: Hey, donít I get a bennie for being all courageous and stuff?
TR: Yeah!
EH: Heís Heroic!
GM: Sure, definitely. Here you go. OK, Ten of Hearts is up!

Comments?

-- Joel
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Dave Blewer
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2004 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must admit, I am a bit confused here...

There seems to be a lot of stuff in your tactical example that probably should have come up in your non tactical example.
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Mr.Joel
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2004 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dave Blewer wrote:
I must admit, I am a bit confused here...

There seems to be a lot of stuff in your tactical example that probably should have come up in your non tactical example.


Well, yeah -- I guess that's my question -- How do these things happen when it's all in the GM's mind? Only because of the tactical do we see that a spearman has reach on Pete, and that he is 7", not 6", from his fallen pal (and therefore must run), and that he has to squeeze right past an axeman to get there.

I'm also springboarding this from discussions where JB and others have recommended not using dice except where necessary, not requiring players to declare in advance how much they're doing in a round, not putting MAP on every action, and so forth. Putting the story before the mechanics, they call it. So my example #1 is a guess -- Is this how they play?

If not, maybe they will tell us.

Yours in Widely Varying Mileage,
Joel
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Dave Blewer
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2004 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah I see...

Well I have used both tactical and non tactical combat examples and I much prefer the former. They are usually less complicated to picture than the non tactical and by their very nature there is less for the GM to keep track of.
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Simon
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2004 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never use a battle mat.

I'd do the above situation like this:
"Ok, if you want to go over there, here's how we're going to do it:
He's pretty far away, so you'll need to run, and the orc you're fighting will get a free swing at you. Also, there's a bunch of orcs around Tank, you'll need to make an Agility roll (at -2 for running) to dive between them, and on their action they'll probably take a swing at you, not Tank, since he's already down."

I like to give players all the information at the start of their action, so they can make choices based on the best information. It tends to add to the excitement if they know the odds ahead of time too. I find it helps if I imagine fights as a swirling melee, rather than exact positions. I just remember how many are in combat with each character (or write it down) and how many are "spare".
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2004 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We use the tac and minis extensively. Part of that is due to our tactics-heavy style of play, partly because SW rules are really written to be used with a grid + counters/minis, and partly it's because I am an avid painter and terrain builder, so I like to have an excuse to break out the lead and use it. Smile
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Last edited by bighara on Sun Nov 28, 2004 8:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Redeucer
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2004 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tried running a battle last night without a mat and before the second round, there was such confusion about who was where, etc., that they were asking for a mat to put things in perspective. And this for a fight that was basically three rounds of getting the heck out of there.

My last and best shot at running a combat without a mat...
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2004 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use a friend's Ping-Pong table, minis, masking tape, building blocks, and a tape measure. Bad guys are generally gaming stones, until they find out if one's a Wild Card or not (then they get the mini treatment as well).

Hoping to get a sheet of Plexiglass and some dry erase markers for Christmas. Anyway, that's how I do things.

Shane was right when he wrote the book; minis are right for SW.
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Indivar
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2004 11:51 pm    Post subject: mat vs. freestyle Reply with quote

I would have to agree that there is something to be said for the freewheeling idea of no mat, but I could also see alot of the mechanics(which we can all agree are the most boiled down nitty gritty of what you need) getting lost or confused. Things like templates being used and weapon ranges can be seen from either side : they get in the way or they help the visualization.

I think I would not use a mat if the deal was a one on one duel, unless range was involved. Other than that I'm all about the minis and range (even if my minis are paper Wink
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2004 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I run combat with and without mats and figures. It depends on the nature of the combat and the complexity.

Modern combat, with its ranges and mobility can be difficult to keep ON a mat. I recently ran a firefight between forces on the ground floor in the drive way and PCs up in a 5th story apartment. Fire escape, front door and stairs, hovercars for cover, back alleyway and the apartment itself was all used as the backdrop for one very quick combat (both sides shot at each other quite a bit, bad guys got shot up and retreated... no deaths). There was NO mat. I might have sketched out a rough square to show the building, but I don't remember.

The trick to running combat outta the heads is the players is constant communication and letting the players have some leeway. When a player asked for the fire escape, of course there was a fire escape... it made sense. Now if he asked for a gravtube to take him to another building, I would have to think about that one (it is a Noir, punk, sci-fi game).

However, I've also recently ran a combat with several zombies and skeletons and even a hill giant skeleton vs. 6 PCs and allies, some of whom where mounted, some who were not. The objection was not to fight the zombies, but to get through them to a ring of stones that created a wild path portal. I used figures, had great tiles printed up from Skeleton Key Games (pluggin' these guys, they are great, bought them on RPGnow, wonderful, wonderful terrain).

So. LIke I said, it depends. I like both and I like the freedom of SW to run both.
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jblittlefield
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2004 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Storn wrote:
I like both and I like the freedom of SW to run both.


Even though I don't use figs and a mat anymore, I can't argue with this statement. It's nice to know that if I ever feel the need to use a mat, then doing so is as simple as pulling it out and marking it up. Wink
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fanchergw
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2004 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've played both ways extensively, using a variety of systems, and can see the advantages of each. Personally, I have a slight preference for without, as I find the wargamey feel less to my inclination than the RP feel.

Gordon
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2004 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am in 2 different gaming groups, one uses a mat and minis, the other does not. I prefer to use a mat, as it ends a lot of discussion as to who is where, and what can each person see, etc. It also keeps the dumb@$$ player who does not understand that the group of robots he has a targeted for an area effect power, are surrounding the innocent bystanders, and he will be killing them all.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2004 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

lordthrog wrote:
the group of robots he has a targeted for an area effect power, are surrounding the innocent bystanders, and he will be killing them all.


Don't you hate it when that happens? Wink
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2004 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My only problem with tactical, is drawing to scale, and setting up consumes a lot of time.

On the other hand it does lead to a lot of tactics that my players did not use before, allows everyone to see how the battle is going, and PC's are generally ready to act on their turn.

When I ran with just a description I had to spend a lot of time, repeatidly, answering player questions, and explaining how and where things were
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lordthrog
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2004 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bighara wrote:
lordthrog wrote:
the group of robots he has a targeted for an area effect power, are surrounding the innocent bystanders, and he will be killing them all.


Don't you hate it when that happens? Wink


When GMing, I love it Twisted Evil

when I'm another player in the group, and he doesn't listen to what EVERYONE is telling him (don't do it!!!!) and does it anyway...
not so much. Wink
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2004 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It sounds like you're allowing the tac map to complicate things instead of simplify. Use it as a narritive aid so that players are more aware of what they are running through and past on their way to a fallen comrade. The GM is still in control and has final say. You don't have to make every mook between here and there take a pot shot at him, just like you don't have to tell your players what you really rolled at any given moment. Do what is dramatically appropriate and what helps you to tell the most entertaining and most engaging stories. If the tac map ends up being more of a hinderance than an aid to your style of play, ditch it. No biggie. A poll like this won't really tell you anything because what you're really wanting to know is should you use a tac map or not, and the poll can and will be answered by folks with vastly different play styles. Some of us think the tac maps work great. Some of us perfer to keep it more free form. And some of us can wear whichever hat the current situation calls for. What's good for us ain't always gonna be good for you, and that's cool.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2004 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dap6000 wrote:
It sounds like you're allowing the tac map to complicate things instead of simplify. Use it as a narritive aid so that players are more aware of what they are running through and past on their way to a fallen comrade. The GM is still in control and has final say. You don't have to make every mook between here and there take a pot shot at him, just like you don't have to tell your players what you really rolled at any given moment. Do what is dramatically appropriate and what helps you to tell the most entertaining and most engaging stories. If the tac map ends up being more of a hinderance than an aid to your style of play, ditch it. No biggie. A poll like this won't really tell you anything because what you're really wanting to know is should you use a tac map or not, and the poll can and will be answered by folks with vastly different play styles. Some of us think the tac maps work great. Some of us perfer to keep it more free form. And some of us can wear whichever hat the current situation calls for. What's good for us ain't always gonna be good for you, and that's cool.


Right! 'nuff said.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2004 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
It also keeps the dumb@$$ player who does not understand that the group of robots he has a targeted for an area effect power, are surrounding the innocent bystanders, and he will be killing them all.


Woah, wait a minute... It KEEPS him from doing it? Situations like that seem to reaffirm the poor decisions of the dumb@$$ player in my group. Mad
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Cethegus
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2004 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my Experience a Battlemat has one major Advantage. It helps clarify what the GM thinks the situation is like. Whenever verbal Descriptions are given, a group of six players will come up with six different visualisations in their respective minds.

So i agree that for small and quick scenes, setting it all up on a tac is not worth the effort. But the GM has to be specific and should assure that his players have all the information "before" the make their rolls. Its a bit frustrating if i think of a real cool move, just to be told something like :"Yeah! That would be a great Trick. Sadly the 3 Bad-guys in your path kill you while trying..." Though this surely can to some degree be very satisfactory for the GM. Wink
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