Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fighting Styles of Preference

Boffer combat offers many different fighting styles, and while some are considered better than others in some games, it's still fun to step outside your safe zone and fight in other ways.

So what are your favorite and least favorite fighting styles?

For me, I'm most effective as a sword/board (strap shield), but I have the most fun with either two shorts or a polearm. My least favorite fighting style is swoard/board (punch shield). It just doesn't feel right. If I'm going to chase shots with my off hand, I'm going to use a sword that can strike as well.


  1. I'm pro-punch shield, but I can see how you'd feel that way. I wish I was better with a pole-arm, but they always seem unwieldy. Maybe if I made myself one it'd be better.

  2. Polearms are tough. Although many people think they can be heavier since they're 2-handed, the truth is that it's even more important for them to be light to compete in NERO.

    Of course, in other games where you can use more force, poles can be heavier (Warpole v. Speedpole).

  3. That pole-arm I made for my brother is wicked light, and he's pretty darn good with it.

  4. Spear/short sword. What I used to call the "Kamikaze kitty spear technique of doom."

  5. When PC'ing, I'm probably most comfortable with a sword and buckler. In a straight up fight I am probably a little better with a full size shield, and I do use one about half the time. But I have a little more fun with the more active defense you need with a buckler. And since I spend a lot of time in fights running around, manipulating things, throwing spells and alchemy, and so on it is a lot more convenient to have a shield that is easy to just drop and pick up as opposed to strap and unstrap.

    When I am NPC'ing I like using two weapons. I think that gives the best combination of challenging offense and defense. With two weapons I am going to get at least a few hits in and force you to use some defense. And there is always going to be an opening somewhere in my defense to go for, but it is going to move around. Plus I provide a valid target for archers and I'm not a gimme for spell casters. When I NPC with sword and board I find the fights to be somewhat predictable. I'm easy for spellcasters, impregnable to archers, and against sword and board (most PC fighters) it is just a lot of swing for the leg, swing for the leg, swing for the leg.

    When both PC'ing and NPC'ing I will every once in a while pull out a two handed weapon. This is usually a two handed sword or hammer, but if I had access to a polearm I would use it as well. I like using this simply because it is different. These work better for me in line or group fights. I tend to dislike the two handed vs one handed one on one fights though because they often result in one guy constantly charging forward and the other guy constantly running backwards, which I don't find fun.


  7. I should have seen that coming.

  8. I prefer the following, in order:

    *live combat archery, with a recure (long bows are simply too inefficient)
    *single bastard sword/rapier (44-48"), with thrusting tip
    *two handed sword (60" plus)
    *long sword (36" or so) and strap shield
    *gun (Actionball-like) and strap shield

  9. I love me a polearm, but I find two weapons quite enjoyable too. I got my polearm from and I can attest that it is tremendously light - lighter than a lot of PVC long swords I've used. Even in 1-on-1 I tend to do pretty well for myself, but you're right - backwards motion is key. To be a good polearm duelist you need to master the skip-step, both backward and to the side. Stop-thrust helps quite a bit too.

    I'll never understand Bill's strange and perverted fascination with two *short* weapons. Purposefully giving up the extra reach makes no sense to me, especially in the era of ultralights.

  10. While a lot of it comes down to practical experience with short weapons (I've got ranging down and all), I find that I can get inside of a longsword/board range and fight effectively through thrusts/feints.

    Feints seem to be more easily sold with a short weapon (the whole shorter lever arm for angular momentum thing). I also tend to lose my entire range of motion fighting with a max length longsword, since I'm a short guy.

    And finally, my fighting style is highly responsive, and features a lot of the burst that comes with polearm fighting. A shorter weapon gives my opponent a false sense of my range.

  11. Getting inside your opponent's range is a pretty rare skill. It's very hard to hit that sweet spot between "close range" and "charging," which is why I think most people just don't bother to try (or are perfectly comfortable charge/hug/lobster-claw'ing you :p )

    I'm often amused by people who think that a polearm is an inherently slow-swinging weapon. The truth is, the lever action you get actually makes it significantly faster than a one-handed weapon.

  12. The problem is that most people think that getting in someone's range means they can't swing at you, which is ridiculous. The truth is that you just need to get close enough to take away a couple of shots and you've given yourself an advantage.

    Most notably in shorts vs. long, you take away (or make difficult) the thrust, which is the mortal enemy of two weapons.


    I can also dig on some spear/shortsword.

  13. I ~love~ getting in a solid single-sword stop thrust against two-weapon "blender jockies". ;) Of course, they'll inevitably score a number of hits to my very committed single thrust to the chest.

    I wish the boffer LARPs I frequent allowed "spear+anything"; they require two hands on the weapon to use it, and bar strap shields there, too.

  14. One of the games I staffed ended up having a lot of problems with spears. I know many players who like to use a spear and weapon style in various games. The typical style used would be to have a sword or something similar in your main hand with the spear held point down in the off hand. The sword would be used for attack while the spear would be used for defense and for quick downward thrusts at the feet and ankles. With practice this can be a very effective and fun style.

    The game I staffed did not allow spears to be used with other weapons. Instead several players used spears either alone like a short thrusting one handed polearm or in their primary hand with a shield in their off-hand. When used this way the spear was held point up, and generally used with an underhand thrust aimed at the legs or center mass.

    Since only a few select class combinations allowed the use of any long two handed weapon, and since the spear skill was an unrestricted skill available cheaply to all players, over time more and more players started choosing the skill. Due to the theme of the typical monsters very few NPC's would use shields, and most used two weapons. The combination of all of this made for many miserable line fights for the NPC's.

    What would typically happen is a two weapon wielding NPC would face a wall of PC's with a fair number of both shields and spears. The spear users would hold their spears as far back on the butt of the weapon as possible to get the most reach. They would constantly jab the weapon forward in underhanded thrusts. Since the length of the spear was a bit longer than a sword the NPC's would get in jabbing range before they could get close enough to use their own weapons. And if the NPC approached closer that just meant the spear users didn't need to extend their arms as far, and could jab without worrying about exposing their arms from behind the shields to counterstrikes.

    But the main problem was that the NPC's were constantly getting rammed in either the gut or in the junk by hard underhanded thrusts. Some of this was the result of PC's just not being careful with their thrusts. But as often as not is was because the PC was holding the long weapon so far back near the butt of the long weapon that they had no tip control at all. So when they would thrust at the center mass of a two weapon wielding NPC the only defense that NPC had was to deflect away the spear with a weapon. And this very often resulted in the deflected weapon either kicking up into the NPC's face or neck, or even into the NPC beside him.

    In the end the people running the game decided to change the rules regarding spear use. They required all spears to be held with a tip down grip, and the only allowed target was the legs or lower. Once they did this the number of spear users went down dramatically to the point where only one or two people use them at all anymore.

  15. Bill: It's what all the cool people use.

    General: I (personally) prefer short weapons. Yeah, I lose reach, but I feel I have better control over it. Control = safety and precision. which makes me feel better.

    Then again, I also like to use two daggers. Which have been put up for possible banishment by national board discussion. So my opinion may be in fallacy.

  16. For the record, I originally was on the side of eliminating daggers until I realized my real beef was with the minimum length of daggers allowed. Now I'd just like to see that minimum length increased.

  17. That's ok. If they ban my fighting styles, I'll just start flipping tables. ^_^

  18. I'll go ahead and "buck the trend" and boldly say I prefer sword and shield. Good offense, good defense, easy to learn, tons to master, fast and fun. And nowadays I don't find them particularly vulnerable to spellfire. Quite a lot of casters see the shield, their eyes light up, and I can promptly predict exactly where the packet is aiming for and dodge. Against an experienced shield fighter, aim for something other than the shield for maximum effectiveness.

    I am a hilarious menace with two long swords. Like, bang my own weapons into each other hilarious. It's fun sometimes, but a sad sight to see. I've gotten better with two handers over time, though still not great with them. Way better than back when I banned myself from using a two handed sword for awhile because of the headshots.

    So yeah, sword and shield for me.

  19. Ultralight long sword (44" or longer) and a light strap shield. I noticed this last week that the shield I use has basically the same pattern as the shield of Blue (from Team Metal).

    Given how often my request for silent combat is denied, two weapons is rarely viable. I enjoy using two weapons as an NPC, but it's simply not as effective. I don't have much experience with short and spear, but the few times I've tried that style out I've been pretty ineffective - maybe with more practice I'd be better. I have a bit of experience with short sword and long bow, but I prefer using a long sword and a shield.

    I have an ultralight two hander that I use with my rogue - it's fun, but I don't like that I have to be so far away to be effective. It's also dumb that I can't waylay with it, but I'm not going to change my character concept because of that.