Sunday, February 5, 2012

Go Patriots!

It may not be the most popular sentiment here in New Jersey, but GO PATS!

Combat as War vs. Combat as Sport

I've got to say, this post over at ENWorld is quite insightful. The upshot of it is that there are two distinct schools of thought as to what constitutes combat as it should be in D&D. It's long, but well worth reading the whole original post and the ensuing thread. Here's the idea in a nutshell:

The "Combat as War" faction (which would include most of the OSR) revels in unbalanced combats. They want to eke out every possible advantage, even to the point of so subverting and sabotaging the enemy that they don't even get to the point that combat even happens. They're toast before swords get drawn.

The "Combat as Sport" faction (which would include most 4E fans) loves evenly balanced, long drawn-out fights. Even to the point where one side or the other will fight sub-optimally ("Here, you dropped your sword!") in order to even things up and make it "sporting".

Personally, I vastly prefer the combat-as-war approach, but every once in a while things turn out fairly evenly matched even when each side is trying to stack the deck in their own favor. THOSE are the epic fights that everyone remembers. Not the ones that are completely mismatched because the goblins fell into the camouflaged pit traps, not the ones that were mathematically preordained to be 50-50 chances because the rules required it, but the ones that were unexpectedly close, where despite everything the whole affair hinged on a single roll or a decision to fire the lightning bolt to the right or the left, not because the rules dictated it, but because it just worked out that way.