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Old 12-18-2010, 12:36 AM   #1
Mailanka
 
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Default Beats Suck(?)

Beat seems like a substandard option compared to Feint except in specific circumstances. Is that the intention (ie, you should use Feint in most circumstances, but certain characters might prefer Beats if they're built in a particular way), or am I missing something? And if I want Beat to be as useful as Feint, what house rules should I implement?

The Case Against Beat

Kenjutsu claims that its practitioners like to Beat their opponents, so let's envision several samurai in battle. Our Hero has a Strength of 14, a Dexterity of 14, Two-Handed Sword of +0, and a Feint of +4. He's facing, in various circumstances, Big Guy, who has an ST of 18, a DX of 10 and Two-Handed Sword at +0, Quick Guy who has an ST of 10, a DX of 18 and Two-Handed Sword at +0, and Wussy Guy who has an ST of 10 a DX of 10 and Two-Handed at +0. Everyone has Combat Reflexes except for Wussy Guy, because he sucks.

Against Big Guy

Beat: Big Guy attacks Hero. Hero successfully parries. This allows him to initiate a Beat. Big Guy chooses to defend with ST, giving him a total Two-Handed Sword skill of 18, against Hero's Feint of 18. They break even, and Hero only gets an advantage 50% of the time. Even if he is successful, Big Guy only has a Parry of 9, and he has a Dodge of 9. Therefore, he'll dodge if Hero gets an advantage, and thus Hero wasted his turn with the Beat.

Feint: Hero feints (there's no need to set up the move). Big Guy is forced to defend with his Two-Handed Sword of 10. Hero, on average, inflicts a -8 on Big Guy's defenses, meaning he has no problem striking Big Guy. Even if Big Guy chooses to Dodge, Hero still applies the -8.

Clearly, Feint is superior here. It doesn't require a set-up, it'll actually make a difference, and it hits his opponent at his weakest point (though with a skill so low, one wonders why Hero needs any kind of special, defense defeating option at all. It seems like Big Guy would simply wear lots of armor and disregard defense)

Against Quick Guy

Beat: Quick Guy attacks Hero. Hero successfully parries. This allows him to initiate a Beat. Quick Guy chooses to defend with DX, giving him a total Two-Handed Sword of 18, against Hero's Feint of 18. They break even, and Hero only gets an advantage 50% of the time. Given Quick Guy's parry of 13 and his Dodge of 11, a one or two point difference might matter, but no more than that.

Feint: Hero feints (there's no need to set up the move). Quick Guy is forced to defend with his Two-Handed Sword of 18. Hero, on average, inflicts a -0 penalty on Quick Guy's defenses. This applies equally to parry or dodge.

It doesn't matter which move Hero uses: Quick Guy is equally adept at defeating both. Worse, Beat has only limited use against Quick Guy, and requires a set-up. Beat is marginally useful against Quick Guy because his Dodge is lower than his Parry, but Feint is always useful.

against Wussy Guy

Beat: Wussy Guy, in panic, is all-out defending to get his low defense of 8 up to 10. Hero must first attack and see his attack successfully parried. Then, on the next second, he may Beat. He does so, and it doesn't matter what Wussy Guy uses to defend: On average, he fails by -8 points. However, he'll simply choose to dodge Hero's next attack (he has a dodge of 8 as well, and with all-out defense, that bumps up to 10, so nothing is lost to the Beat).

Feint: Wussy Guy all-out defends. Hero doesn't care, and Feints. On average, he defeats Wussy Guy by -8, which applies to all defenses. The next turn, Hero is able to slay Wussy Guy.

Clearly, Feint is superior to Beat here. In fact, Beat is basically useless.

Thus, Feint beats Beat pretty much all the time. Beat requires either a successful parry or an extra second of set-up to work (Feint requires none of this), opponents can choose the higher of their ST or DX (Feint only allows opponents to defend with DX), and it only applies to a single defense option (Feint applies to all defense options).

I can only see two (possibly three) circumstances where Beat is useful. First, you're really really strong. Beat becomes a sort of "Power Feint," useful for big guys. However, there needs to be a huge difference for you to overcome the other issues Beat faces. Second, you need to supply someone else with a bonus against your mutual opponent's defense. Given that a Beat applies to the defense against anyone, one guy can Beat an opponent to set-up his foe for his ally. A third possible option might be that Evaluate defeats Feint, but not Beat. This is questionable, though, since most rules that apply to Feint apply to beat.

But what if I want Beat to be an option even if your DX is as good as your ST (or even if they're just close)? Has anyone tried any house rules?
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Old 12-18-2010, 12:45 AM   #2
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Default Re: Beats Suck(?)

It's not actually a problem with your overall conclusions, as it happens, but an assessment of combat options that gives every example character weapon skill at DX+0 is severely flawed, and that flaw does get into some of your analysis when you're saying a beat won't matter because the victim's dodge is about the same as their parry anyway. None of the characters in this analysis should probably have skill at DX+0.
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Old 12-18-2010, 01:18 AM   #3
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Default Re: Beats Suck(?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
It's not actually a problem with your overall conclusions, as it happens, but an assessment of combat options that gives every example character weapon skill at DX+0 is severely flawed, and that flaw does get into some of your analysis when you're saying a beat won't matter because the victim's dodge is about the same as their parry anyway. None of the characters in this analysis should probably have skill at DX+0.
Wussy would most certainly have a low skill. But even if we give, say, DX+4 to various characters (and reduce their DX accordingly), you're only seeing a +2 parry improvement. Feint still remains superior, and even if you Beat, you only gain a +2 advantage in the case of characters like Strong Guy or Wussy Guy, whereas Feint is not capped.

The analysis is not "severely flawed," it's just extreme, to highlight various points (such as the "cap" on how much impact a Beat can make).
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Old 12-18-2010, 01:19 AM   #4
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Default Re: Beats Suck(?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
I can only see two (possibly three) circumstances where Beat is useful. First, you're really really strong.
It shouldn't be a surprise that Beat is better for stronger characters than for others. Consider the same scenarios but with the big buy doing the beats. It's an option for characters who's ST beats out their DX.

Quote:
Second, you need to supply someone else with a bonus against your mutual opponent's defense. Given that a Beat applies to the defense against anyone, one guy can Beat an opponent to set-up his foe for his ally.
Note also that in this case, the beat applies to both his allies' attack, as well as his own. That can be a huge deal.

I also houserule (pretty sure it's a houserule) that beats apply both to defense and offense with that weapon. It seems odd that you could physically force a weapon away to the point that it's harder to defend with it, but posing no impediment to attacking with it.
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Old 12-18-2010, 01:22 AM   #5
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Default Re: Beats Suck(?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phoenix_Dragon View Post
I also houserule (pretty sure it's a houserule) that beats apply both to defense and offense with that weapon. It seems odd that you could physically force a weapon away to the point that it's harder to defend with it, but posing no impediment to attacking with it.
That seems really odd to me too, and this is one of the house rules I'm considering. How is it working out for you? I looks to me like it would become a useful trick in anyone's arsenal at that point (though superior for stronger characters, naturally).
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Old 12-18-2010, 01:38 AM   #6
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Default Re: Beats Suck(?)

Regarding the game mechanic, I concur with your conclusion, Mailanka.

In my fencing experience, though, "beats" work better than this. You don't have to parry first, and it's more about technique than strength, a transfer of momentum to the other guy's blade opens him up and stops your blade in the perfect position to thrust. Nonetheless, I have no complaints about how GURPS models this, because the game mechanic for what I just described is a DX-based Feint. It just happens to involve blade contact.

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Old 12-18-2010, 04:45 AM   #7
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Default Re: Beats Suck(?)

Quote:
It seems odd that you could physically force a weapon away to the point that it's harder to defend with it, but posing no impediment to attacking with it.
Think of it this way, when you go to attack someone, say swinging a sword at them, what's the first thing you do? Bring the weapon back to a position to swing it and get some momentum in the blade. So if you knock my weapon to the side, it's right where I want to put it to hit you anyway. But if I want to parry with that weapon, I have to bring it all the way back between you and I. Hence, harder to parry, not to attack.

However, thrusts would be harder, since I'd have to realign my sword properly to thrust it into yer gullet.
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Old 12-18-2010, 05:12 AM   #8
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Default Re: Beats Suck(?)

The sample hero isn't well optimized to take advantage of beats. If you drop his DX to 12, increase his ST to 16, and change his weapon skill to DX+2, then his Feint stays at 18 but his Beat goes to 20.

In my DF game, monsters like Ogres (ST22, DX12, weapon skill 15) can't feint through the PCs' defenses, but they can certainly use Beats to knock weapons away.
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Old 12-18-2010, 05:20 AM   #9
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Default Re: Beats Suck(?)

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Originally Posted by mlangsdorf View Post
The sample hero isn't well optimized to take advantage of beats. If you drop his DX to 12, increase his ST to 16, and change his weapon skill to DX+2, then his Feint stays at 18 but his Beat goes to 20.
We already know that Beats are good if you're strong, that's not the point of this thread. The point is that a character who is equally competent at both Beat and Feint, the clear choice is Feint, or so it seems to me. I want them to be equally valid tactical choices, and I want to know if that means I need to make a house rule or not.
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Old 12-18-2010, 06:23 AM   #10
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Default Re: Beats Suck(?)

You're right, Beat is the choice of Tough guys, but Beats can still be good for everyone.
First, Beat cannot rise opponent's defense score like Feint can. Second, your friends can benefit from your Beats.
Character and situation described is optimal for Feint, not Beat. If the combat is two vs. two guys, you can Beat the hell out of Tough guy and your friend can finish him.
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