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Old 03-27-2022, 07:52 PM   #1
OddGamer
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
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Default Spear vs Knights... am I missing something?

Okay... so... I'm checking to see if I have this right. I wrote myself a little combat simulator to check various fights. It doesn't take into account everything, of course, but it does do most of the major rules (I think). And with this I've considered two fighters of 58 points each (excluding what else they spent points on). The first fighter is a wealthy knight-type with muscles, health, and armor, armed with a nice spear. The second is a poor guy with no armor and also a spear.

Wealthy Dude: 58
ST 12, DX 10, IQ 10, HT 12, Wealth: Comfortable, Broadsword-12
--Equipment: Scale armor (DR 4 everywhere), Broadsword (1d+3 cutting), Large Shield
==Dodge: 8, Parry: 12

Poor Peasant: 57
ST 10, DX 10, IQ 10, HT 10, Wealth: Poor, Close Combat (Spear)-4, Spear-27
--Equipment: Spear (1d+1 Impaling, using 2 hands)
==Dodge: 8, Parry: 16

When I run this... the guy with who sunk all those same points into spear ability clobbers several sorts of heck out of the guy who spread it out into strength and so on, winning 80% of the time whether in a 1 on 1 situation or a 2 on 2 situation. Effectively, it looks like, for combat at least, there's literally no point in spending any points on anything other than skill with an impaling weapon. Why bother? It's the cheapest, and most effective increase to your combat potential. At least until you're at a skill level where you can stab someone in the eye intentionally with a 16 or less, even in close combat (skill 30 with the Close Combat technique), then pump points into anything else (damage, HT, etc.).

Is this correct, or am I missing something?
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Old 03-27-2022, 08:01 PM   #2
Gold & Appel Inc
 
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Default Re: Spear vs Knights... am I missing something?

Spear Guy rapidly develops a reputation. Nobody engages him in hostilities except at range, and his social life isn't great either once he becomes known as a serial eye-stabber. He is a lonely man who talks to his spear, which he has given a girl's name in a fit of maddening loneliness. Even if he has a hobby he's terrible at it. There is no relief but the death of a broken man.
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Old 03-27-2022, 08:54 PM   #3
Celjabba
 
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Default Re: Spear vs Knights... am I missing something?

-Any enemies without eyes (or other armor chinks,) and spear guy is in big trouble.

-Skill-27 is unrealistic. It works in some genre like Dungeon Fantasy, or other highly cinematic setting (where no-eye enemies will appear sometimes !), but should be avoided in mundane settings. (especially as a single skill without matching attributes and support skills)

-Wealthy Dude can afford to pay some money to a few guys with bows to help him deal with an annoying eye-stabber.

-If the poor peasant is ever separated from his spear, he is in trouble, while broadsword guy can grab any piece of wood (or go bare-handed) and clobber him.

Otherwise, you are correct.
And a bunch of guys with spears was the core of many armies for thousands of years for many reason : it is a cheap and efficient weapon.

Last edited by Celjabba; 03-27-2022 at 09:34 PM.
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Old 03-27-2022, 08:59 PM   #4
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Default Re: Spear vs Knights... am I missing something?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OddGamer View Post
Is this correct, or am I missing something?
I'd say you got it right. Spear Guy is the way to go, for featureless combat units optimized for featureless gladiatorial pits, where nothing but a single weapon skill is likely to matter. He'll be a lousy adventurer, and even in straight-up combat will be vulnerable to single points of failure like a broken spear, but I expect he'd be amazing in most fights.

That said, it's arguably an unrealistic build - Skill-27?? He picked that up while never having gained an iota of general athletic ability (ST, DX, HT), or anything else? It's perfectly rules-legal, AFAIK, so you did nothing wrong. But, somewhere out there, if players were actually vexing a GM with builds like this, I think it'd be time to step in with some rules to keep things sensible (even if as simple as "no skills at level twice as high as the controlling attribute" or other limits on point allocation).

Still, your build is a fun look at extreme (ab)use of chargen rules, Maybe Spear Guy isn't a realistic character, but imagine a magic/divine/cosmic foe creating automatons like this to send against the PCs...
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Old 03-27-2022, 09:14 PM   #5
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Default Re: Spear vs Knights... am I missing something?

Apart from the comments already made, where is the knight's block skill? He has a shield. That DB also adds to other defences. If he shield rushes and knocks the spear guy down, it could turn the tables, even against the unrealistic spear skill.

Basically, though, it's a study in unrealistic optimisation of a single factor against a more realistic and broadly competent opponent.

Also, on average 4.5 damage isn't going to hurt the knight (due to DR4) whereas the sword is doing an average of 6.5 points of damage * 1.5 = 9.75 points of damage, which means if it hits first, he basically wins because it's likely a knock down or a cripple etc. The knight also goes first due to higher basic speed.

I think if you actually played this out rather than a straight number comparison, you'd find the knight, even against such an optimised opponent, does a lot better. With Comfortable Wealth the knight could possibly also have a balanced broadsword offering +1 to skill.
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Old 03-27-2022, 09:38 PM   #6
Anthony
 
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Default Re: Spear vs Knights... am I missing something?

Maxing a single weapon skill is a pretty consistently superior optimal way of building a character in GURPS. It loses to certain things, mostly hard counters that make your weapon skill unusable and thus irrelevant, but if you want to keep your game functioning in a sensible way you generally have to hard-cap skill.
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Old 03-27-2022, 10:21 PM   #7
Plane
 
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Default Re: Spear vs Knights... am I missing something?

DX 10 and Spear 27 means he has it at Attribute+17, per B294 (an optional rule which helps keep things realistic) if it's above skill+10 you need to either use it "in the field" (ie fighting every day, combat) or spend an hour of practice (doesn't count as study hours) to maintain it

That's a pretty big Duty (to yourself) either way. Either a lot of time, or the risks that come with real combat like crit fails and breaking your gear or yourself.

Would love to see more of a soft cap to the "Maintaining Skills" rules though, like a gradual slide up to that 1 hour time attribute+10, and a clearer idea of how 'in the field' substitutes for that time in shorter intervals.

Also more of a gradual slide from "once per six months" to "once per day" would be good. Like what if we start from "once per never" to maintain your defaults (unless we treat Incompetent like the true default) and then as one gets Dabblers up to 1pt and beyond we incur progressively higher periods of daily investiture to avoid losing the point.

Like for example, if you were training, can you just be doing spear katas alone in your backyard, do you need a training partner, etc.

That kinda thing probably ought to apply to attributes too though, like if you don't lift heavy stuff your Lifting ST might go down, if you don't challenge your mind your IQ degrades, etc.
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Old 03-27-2022, 10:45 PM   #8
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: Spear vs Knights... am I missing something?

What happens when someone shoots a bow at spear guy? Or sneaks up on him and stabs him in the back? Or fights him under the influence of a Shield spell? Incredibly mediocre knight is better prepared for each of those eventualities. That is the peril of choosing to be a one-trick pony quite apart from the uproarious laughter from your DM when you present such an unbelievable character.
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Old 03-27-2022, 11:57 PM   #9
OddGamer
 
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Default Re: Spear vs Knights... am I missing something?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Farmer View Post
Apart from the comments already made, where is the knight's block skill? He has a shield. That DB also adds to other defences. If he shield rushes and knocks the spear guy down, it could turn the tables, even against the unrealistic spear skill.
So as for skills, he was listed as Broadsword-12. Was right in there. Adding other skills would add more points, giving Spear Dude even more ability to Do Nasty Things to the knight (either upping his ludicrous skill even more, I'd stop around skill 30, or else starting to work on ST and HT).
As for the DB, it's correctly accounted. A full set of scale armor (DR 4 everywhere) weighs 85 lbs, which with a 12 ST puts him at the 'Heavy Encumbrance', giving a -3 to dodge, +3 with the shield, comes out to 8 (exactly as before). Parry 12 is already accounted with the broadsword skill of 12.
I'm not sure a shield rush is a good tactic. They both have DX 10, the HP difference isn't huge, the knight's only moving at 2 (5 - 3 encumbrance), so they're both doing 1d-3 even if he hits (odds are 37%, 50% for the original DX attack, 74.1% chance for spear guy to fail a dodge). Plus, once on the ground, spear guy is now at a mere -4 (laying down) which... well, we'll get there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Farmer View Post
Also, on average 4.5 damage isn't going to hurt the knight (due to DR4) whereas the sword is doing an average of 6.5 points of damage * 1.5 = 9.75 points of damage, which means if it hits first, he basically wins because it's likely a knock down or a cripple etc. The knight also goes first due to higher basic speed.
... I think you're really missing the point here. With a 27 skill, Spear Dude can target the knights eyes through the armor slits (-10 to skill) and still have a 17 skill to hit with, and with the knight's Parry of 12 that gives a 25.4% chance to hit (compared in reverse with a 1.4% chance for the knight to hit). No DR, x4 multiplier, the average damage he's doing is 14. Plus, two or three hits in and our knight is blind (-10 to skill), and that isn't even counting that the knight is likely to be knocked down or suffer Major Wounds because of this. Even with a -4 if spear guy got knocked prone, that'd be 13, giving a 21.7% chance of still stabbing the guy through the eye slits with that spear if he didn't feel like getting up. He has a -3 to defenses, sure, but with a Parry at 16, spear guy is still well protected from that sword (the chances for the knight going up to 12%, a huge increase but still pretty bad).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Farmer View Post
I think if you actually played this out rather than a straight number comparison, you'd find the knight, even against such an optimised opponent, does a lot better. With Comfortable Wealth the knight could possibly also have a balanced broadsword offering +1 to skill.
+1 skill is... not about to offset things all that much. As for playing it out, perhaps. As I said, I wrote a simulator. It doesn't take into account everything, every possible tactic, but it does take a lot into account. I didn't just compare numbers, I simulated about 10,000 battles. Spear Guy won 80% of them (roughly, I ran this a few times, it was usually around 80% or so). That +1 skill from the balanced weapon changes this to Spear Guy winning only about 75% of the time.

There are many great responses to why Spear Guy is problematic (mainly lack of realism and problems with other sorts of attackers, particularly ranged ones or sneaky ones), but this response stuck out to me for... well... how much it got wrong.
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Old 03-28-2022, 12:26 AM   #10
Farmer
 
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Default Re: Spear vs Knights... am I missing something?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OddGamer View Post
There are many great responses to why Spear Guy is problematic (mainly lack of realism and problems with other sorts of attackers, particularly ranged ones or sneaky ones), but this response stuck out to me for... well... how much it got wrong.
Thanks. Effective discussion technique.

It's good to have a discussion and have people correct things. That's how we learn. I think you've set up such an unrealistic scenario that I'll agree I was throwing in a number of things to try to get a more balanced take on it. Things that aren't simulated with your straight numbers.

I'll add that without a shield skill, you've removed the possibility of closing the close combat to cause issues for the spear. You've removed block. You haven't considered attacking the spear to break (knight goes first, too). A spear is already a *very* effective weapon, so when you create a completely unrealistic scenario to further advantage it, you've pretty much guaranteed it's going to "win".

Anyway, I did learn some valuable things from the conversation, mostly unrelated to game mechanics, but still.
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