Talk to me about how players can work together to gain tactical advantage during combat.

Talk to me about how players can work together to gain tactical advantage during combat.

Talk to me about how players can work together to gain tactical advantage during combat. In other games, one player might trip a monster to allow other attackers to gain a bonus to their melee attacks. How would that look in DW? Sure, a player can trip a monster, but as far as I can tell that offers no tactical advantage. Is my thinking here too narrow or too guided by preconceptions?

17 thoughts on “Talk to me about how players can work together to gain tactical advantage during combat.”

  1. GM: OK [Rogue], you tripped the orc. He falls to the ground with the sound of a thick ham being dropped to the pavement. His sword skitters away its blood quenched steel sparking along the cobblestones as it goes.

    [Fighter]: I am going to stab him while he is down.

    GM: OK, he isn’t prepared for your attack. No need to roll “Hack and Slash”. Deal your damage.

  2. Also sometimes the advantage could be purely fictional rather than mechanical. For example the advantage of the Cleric grabbing the Black Knight’s sword arm and refusing to let go might just be that the Knight can only shield punch the fighter rather than strike with his venomous blade.

  3. Yeah, start with the Aid move.  But also consider this:

    The way I run DW, it kinda has an implicit turn economy.

    If I’m DMing and one of my monsters gets knocked over, I’ll probably need to “spend” one of my moves getting it back on its feet. I’d probably use show signs of an approaching threat  for this … “the warangutan springs back to its feet and it’s really pissed off at you now!” 

    This “resets” the monster from an immediate threat capable of making hard moves to an emerging threat that needs to set up its hard moves with softer moves.

    Since the DM doesn’t have unlimited opportunities to make moves during an encounter, having to waste those opportunities on softer moves makes the encounter less dangerous.

  4. I think saying the DM doesn’t have unlimited opportunities to make moves isn’t quite right. The DM speaks all the time, and everything should be a move — usually soft, sometimes hard. You don’t leave an Orc on the ground getting stabbed because darn I’m out of moves, you leave him there because of fiction and you stand him back up whenever it makes sense no matter what’s happening.

  5. The Great thing about DW is, that trying to gain a tactical advantage has en equal opportunity to go bad and become a disadvantage 🙂 

    The Defend and the backstab moves both have the opportunity to give an ally +1 forward, so you could make a special distract or flank move that gives +1 or just give it when the fiction is there. 

  6. Alfred Rudzki. As per all *World games (unless you hack it your own way, which is always a possibility), the MC makes a move when:

    -a player rolls a miss

    -the players look to you to speak

    In the first example, you are allowed to make a hard move right there and then otherwise you set up with a soft move first.

    Players: “We kick down the door! [implied “what’s in there?”, looking to the DM to fill the gaps in the fiction]

    DM: “It’s a guard chamber! A big meaty brute with green scales roars and charges you with his spear! What do you do?” [Soft move, setup.]

    Fighter: “I charge him as well and hit it with my axe. That’s hack&slash, right? [Rolls a miss]

    DM: “He’s bigger and stronger than you, his charge has more momentum, he knocks your sword aside, sends it flying across the room and slams into your chest with his shoulder for 1 damage.” [Had permission for a hard move. Passes thw buck back to the players ie. “What do you do after every move, as the rules dictate.”]

    Rogue: “I slide past the reeling fighter and put my foot out as the orc charges.” [Picks up the dice to defy danger but is interrupted by…]

    Wizard: “Even as I see the orc charging forward I cast that Slippery cantrip I learned the other day under his big clumsy feet.” [Rolls for the spell, succeeds, but some supernatural presence noticed it. Then rolls to Aid the Rogue’ succeeds, giving them a bonus. Rogue rolls to trip, with the bonus from the Wizard aiding with the spell.]

    DM: “The orc is sent sprawling with a wet thud, it roars, even more enraged now and trashes about, trying to get up.” [Effect of the move plus implied soft move, with a new setup “The orc is trying to get up, what do you do?”]

    Then frex, if the players just watch, they are looking to the DM, giving him permission to follow up the setup with a hard move. Or if anyone decidesmto do something, they are doing that with the obvious advantage of having your opponent on the floor. Maybe dealing damage without rolling Hack&Slash, because the orc can’t (yet) properly fight back, maybe pinning and tying the orc up, which was impossible while he was swinging the swor about. Maybe orcs in your campaign have very thick skin that deflects most damage, but they have delicate and vulnerable soles. Whatever, most of the time, the advantage is in the situation itself, the way the position and circumstances of the characters and monsters has changed. Unless you’re rolling Aid in some instances, when the bonus is also numerical.

    But there’s a very clear flow to the Players-DM and Soft move-Hard move procedures.

  7. You can also totally roll to help other players without it being Aid (though, of course it can be Aid too). Sometimes it’s Defend, right? There’s somebody charging or shooting fireballs at one of your comrades and you have to stop it. Sometimes it’s Defy Danger, right? Trying to hamstring a giant so that it collapses within range of the rest of the group could be Defy Danger (or maybe even Hack N Slash). All moves potentially set up other moves in a tactical way. Think outside the numbers! Most advantages aren’t a +1 to something. What does the success or failure or partial success of the previous moves or actions do that allows future moves? THAT’s fictional positioning and its the core of how the AW engine works. If you give players a clear understanding of what’s happening in the fiction between moves (followed by “What do you do?”), then they can build on the fiction when making future moves, and that fiction has often be shaped by the actions of the other players, giving them new situations to deal with and new opportunities to take advantage of. You couldn’t shoot an arrow in the frost giant’s eye before, but now that he’s toppling from the previous action of your companion, maybe you can. The fiction limits what actions are currently possible by the current situation, because you may not be able to hit the appropriate “triggers” required to make particular moves (or the unspoken triggers for actions that aren’t formal moves: you can’t shatter the water elemental until the wizard has frozen it solid). Half of the game is changing the fictional situation so that you can then make the moves and actions that you want to make.

  8. Oh, I just remembered that this exact situation came up in a game I ran, and I used Offer an opportunity, with or without cost to respond to it.  I told the player that they could fall upon the downed monster with their dagger and their attacks would ignore its (considerable) armor.

    (this, afaik, is a huge historical use case for daggers on a medieval battlefield, to get on top of a heavily-armored knight and stab them through the gaps in their armor.  That was the inspiration for me, anyway)

    Offer an opportunity is one of the softest moves in the game so I will speak freely out of turn to use it.

  9. John Aegard man, I love when people wear plate armour for just that reason. Players have learned that if they are the Paladin and they miss a roll in combat, they’re in for some shit.

    “You slip in a pool of blood and land on your back, your heavy armour pinning you down. Your helm has twisted sideways and you hear the heavy breathing of the gnolls coming closer. What do you do now, big shot?”

  10. This is the first game I’ve played where I have had players select or change weapons/armor/equipment because of things like this. I love making moves that show the negative side of huge weapons, heavy armor, or awkward equipment.

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