Thursday, June 13, 2013
Melee Academy: Getting the Most Out of All-Out Defense
You'd think that there would be only one way to use All-Out Defense - turtle up, hope for the best. But in fact there are some tactics to get the most out of it.
First, you need to choose your option.
Increased Defense - This option gives you a +2 to one specific defense.
Increase Parry is a good option if you have multiple parries and/or many parries at a low cascading penalty. For example, a fencing weapon, you're a Weapon Master or Trained By A Master, or a two-handed weapon (using the rules in GURPS Martial Arts), or more than one of the two. In this case you're not only buying a better parry but more parries before you drop to an unacceptably low defense roll.
This is also a great option if your opponents are unarmed and you are armed, or you're an expert in Aggressive Parry. In that case, you are buying both an improved defense but also getting in a free shot on the attacker (assuming you make your skill roll). It's also a nice choice if you've got a two-handed weapon and face two-weapon fighters, since Dual-Weapon Parry is so easy.
Finally, if you have Sacrificial Parry, take this option and lay out the defenses for yourself and for your nearby allies. With a well-designed defensive fighter, you can hold the center of three-man wedge with two more offensive companions, go with All-Out Defense (Increased Parry), and parry for three people at once. This turns AOD, especially against unarmed attackers, into a their-turn offensive move. This works even better with Parry Missile Weapons or against foes who can only attack at range with thrown weapons - again, easily parried.
You can do this sort of thing without All-Out Defense, but the +2 for using it is pretty sweet, and can spell the difference between "my allies are safe" and "my allies are probably safe." This is especially true with excellent defensive weapon (like a quarterstaff!) plus Weapon Master/Trained By A Master, since you end up with only a -1 for each consecutive parry. +2 is two bonus parries before you start reducing below your base Parry.
Increased Parry is also good if you need contact with an opponent for some kind of follow-on effect, such as a throw or arm lock on a following turn, aura attack, or merely to Beat his weapon aside.
Increased Block is kind of the red-headed stepchild here. It's not a bad choice if Block is your best chance to stop a specific attack, either for yourself, or, with the appropriate perks (Teamwork, Shield Wall Training, or Sacrificial Block), for someone else. Because the multiple block cascade is so harsh (-5 for each additional) it doesn't do much to increase your chances of getting off more than one block.
Increase Dodge allows movement up to 1/2 your Move score, too. This is great when you need to advance into missile fire but don't want to be hit. This is also great if you're planning to Sacrificial Dodge to protect a VIP - you can still move well and have a better shot at pulling off the defensive move you need to do your protection job.
Double Defense - When choosing Double as your defense option, remember that you have an unlimited number of unpenalized Dodges in GURPS. There are optional rules (such as Limiting Dodges, in GURPS Martial Arts) that give you a cumulative -1, but again, it's optional.
Your first choice of defenses should be Dodge, even if it's lower than your Parry or Block. There is no risk in trying it (other than critically failing and falling), and no cost. If it fails, then choose a second, different defense to try and stop the attack from landing.
This also assumes you are more concerned with avoiding the attack than getting some benefit from your initial defense (such as contact for a judo throw or arm lock, or aura attack, or aggressive parry). It also assumes you aren't at more risk for a critical failure or slipping and falling from some slick or unsteady footing. This also assumes you don't need to ensure the attack doesn't pass you by and hit people behind you. Be a team player - don't stand in the front rank and dodge missiles and let them hit the people in the second rank. If you've got people behind you to protect, go with Increased Defenses or use Parry and another Parry, or a Block and Parry combination, and don't let the attack get through.
Hopefully those tips will help you choose your best option, and make the most of All-Out Defense. They won't always apply, and in special circumstances you might need to make a different decision - but the tips above are a good place to start.
Another AOD Optional Rule