Saturday, May 28, 2016

Fundamentals: Attacking Twice in a Turn

Sticky Fingers
As a matter of fact, this post is rooted in questions about the Ambidexterity advantage, but I felt like that wasn't enough content to put together an entire post, so I decided to expand on that and talk about multiple attacks in one turn in general. There are a few ways to do multiple attacks and there are usually some good trade offs between each. Let us then take a look at this several methods.

The Ambidexterity Advantage

Note, Ambidexterity doesn't immediately allow multiple attacks, but it is a necessary component in many methods. Note that the Off-Hand Weapon Training technique on p.232 of Basic Set - Characters and the Off-Hand Weapon Training perk on p.50 of Martial Arts are similar, but more narrow applications of the advantage. Ambidexterity simply means you can use weapons and tools as well in your left hand as you can with your right hand, which is a small benefit from time to time. The other two mentioned closely related abilities are slightly more narrow in scope, but allow someone to save a few points when they are on a tight budget.

Rapid Strike

Rapid Strike is the readily available method of multiple attacking that any player may take without spending extra points. It is described on p. 370 of Basic Set - Campaigns and requires rolling against each attack skill used at -6. This method is allowed against multiple opponents, and may use the same weapon twice. Characters with the Trained by a Master or Weapon Master advantages get this penalty cut in half.
If you have Martial Arts, and a ridiculous amount of weapon skill, check out p.127 for the ability to perform potentially unlimited attacks in a single turn.

All-Out Attack Double

Described on p.365 of the Basic Set - Campaigns, this move lets you do two attacks in exchange for your defenses. This method does not give you a skill penalty, and it does not cost character points, but like all All-Out Attacks, it precludes defending until your next turn.

Altered Time Rate

This is the most expensive method, in terms of character points for enabling multiple attacks, but it also has 0 drawbacks (besides the character points,) and can be found on p.38 in Basic Set - Characters. It also comes with several other non-combat benefits as well, but specifically in the context of combat, it means you get two turns instead of one, both turns back-to-back. This opens up a lot of options you wouldn't normally have, for example, taking an All-Out Attack Double on the first turn, and then using rapid strike on your second turn means that you can attack 4 times without sacrificing defense.

Extra Attack

This advantage is, as the name implies, quite simply, an extra attack. It can be found on p.53 of Basic Set - Characters, and has a fair amount of drawbacks and advantages. The version in Basic Set demands that the two attacks carried out are different, so having Ambidexterity or Off-Hand Weapon Training are kind of important. Martial Arts adds two modifiers for this advantage, the multi-strike enhancement which allows attacking with the same weapon/arm/leg in one extra attack, and then the single-skill limitation which allows multiple attacks as long as they all use the same skill.

Dual-Weapon Attack

This is very similar to Rapid Strike but a little different. The mechanics of it are explained on p.417 of Basic Set - Campaigns and a technique to remove its penalties is on p.230 of Basic Set - Characters. The penalties for attacking twice in one turn using two weapons are less extreme than attacking twice with one weapon, and buying the technique allows you to do this with no penalty, making this a cheaper option than Extra Attack for characters dedicated to dual-wielding.


Combinations are special sets of attacks you put together to execute in a single turn to create a single technique to use all of them. Perhaps you want to do a Sweep and then a Stomp when the enemy is on the ground in one turn, or Grapple and Throw in one turn. These Combinations are explained on p.80 of Martial Arts, and allow 2 or 3 attacks. They are cheaper for a character with Trained by a Master or Weapon Master, but the drawback of a combination is inflexibility. Each maneuver in an execution must specify a technique, skill, and hit location, and may not vary from this in execution. If you have a sure fire set of steps you'd like to perform repeatedly, this isn't so bad, but in, for example, a fantasy or horror game, a combination where step 2 is swing at the neck, you might find several enemies which you can't use the combination against.

Other Thoughts and Conclusion

In a super-exotic kinda way, there are some other attacks that might be related, like those that have a large area of effect, techniques like Whirlwind Attack, or having a very high rate of fire (which usually you don't associate with melee attacks, usually being the operative word.) In my opinion, Dual-Weapon Attack is probably the best budget option if you can afford Ambidexterity or Off-Hand Weapon Training, and Altered Time Rate is absurdly good, but very expensive. Extra Attack is a decent compromise between the two, and combinations, although they don't seem like the best bang:buck ratio, just feel more fun than the others. Having a ton of weapon skill and Weapon Master can make Rapid Strike not so bad either, and attacking twice in a turn is only one reason why having a good weapon skill is nice. It almost then feels like a free benefit of being competent.

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