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My Players Never Block


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I wanted to ask the community in Fantasy Hero do your players ever Block.  My group is relatively new and some are min/max players and they don't use Block.  They see it more of burn down the opponent before they burn them down.  Am I missing something?  Is this what happens in your campaign?  Have you House Ruled it to make it more compelling?  It may just be my group or something I am missing.  Thank you in advance for the help.

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   You say that your players are “new” is that to this genre, or to pen & paper gaming?  They may just be used to playing computer style RPG’s where it’s more common to “tank” damage than to block it.

    Either way, have them run up against some opponents who use the styles of defense you want to encourage. Let them see how effective it can be.  If they have complaints after just remind them of one of Heinlein’s laws  “The best defense is not getting hit in the first place.”

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Rarely, the problem is that block takes up actions and as a result people feel like they are missing out for no real great advantage.  For some time I've been puzzling over how to make block more attractive and less a tradeoff, since its extremely common to use in actual combat but rare in Hero combat, in my experience.

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One way to encourage Blocking is to encourage Martial Arts packages.  Martial Arts Blocks are more effective with bonus OCV and DCV.  You can also pick up a Riposte maneuver, which makes the follow-up attack that much better and gives you a solid reason to block in the first place.

 

Another way is to enforce END rules.  Attacks suck up more END than Blocks, so if you are in a fight that is going to last more than a couple of turns you might need to pace yourself.  In the real world, you can tell when some is getting winded because they start blocking more, so this adds a nice bit of realism.  It does mean extra book-keeping though, and most Fantasy Hero games I have played pretty much ignore END, so YMMV.

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Honestly, Disarm and Takeaway are a lot more popular than Block. Most humanoids do crap damage once they're disarmed.

 

People who aren't professionals (or protecting their homes) ought to cut and run once they're disarmed.

 

And in cities, it's easier to explain your way out of trouble with the watch if you've created some noise and have collected some extra weapons than if you have piles of dead bodies laying around.

 

I suppose if the PC's didn't have access to easy healing that the attitude would change. But usually some PC has some level of healing magic.

 

If I enforced "hey, your armor got damaged" every time a character got hit and made them pay for repairs per hit, they'd probably be avid blockers. But I don't want to micromanage paperwork like that.

 

And I'm not the most lethal of GM's, which probably affects how my players play. I'm not Monty Haul but I try to give good treasure for the risk involved and I don't put my players up against an unending stream of opponents who display unfailing tactical genius. 

 

 

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I don't know if this is vanilla or a homebrew, not proficient enough in the system to tell... 

 

But I let people block as one of the attacks in a multi-attack (6e).

 

Essentially it turns the block into a tanking or even offensive tool, because the halved DCV makes you a very easy target...but if you block, you don't get hit, making you draw attacks without taking too much damage, and you can follow up with a counter if you have one, making that form of blocking a scary offensive move.

 

I might also let people abort to counter immediately after a block (that was prepared using a non-aborted action), rendering any subsequent block impossible but potentially crippling a foe before they can continue attacking.

 

Essentially, maybe you'd be able to chop their arm off before they can attack you a second time. Maybe you could take them off-guard, too, or have a easier time hitting hit locations. 

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4 hours ago, Gandalf970 said:

Is it realistic in a Fantasy Hero game to buy the Power: Characteristic and buy Speed with the limitation "Only usable with Defensive Maneuvers".  What kind of limitation would that be 1/4, 1/2.  Is that too powerful, but would encourage Blocks and Dodges?

 

Gut reaction: that's probably too powerful if you allow PC's to buy it as a spell with several points of SPD and a pile of other limitations. Probably OK for a boss NPC. 

 

But for the sake of consideration, what is the list of "Defensive Maneuvers"? 

 

Dodge

Martial Dodge

Moving Dodge

Block

Martial Block

Dive for Cover

 

Any others?

 

What about stuff like Missile Deflection? Included or not?

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8 hours ago, archer said:

 

Gut reaction: that's probably too powerful if you allow PC's to buy it as a spell with several points of SPD and a pile of other limitations. Probably OK for a boss NPC. 

 

But for the sake of consideration, what is the list of "Defensive Maneuvers"? 

 

Dodge

Martial Dodge

Moving Dodge

Block

Martial Block

Dive for Cover

 

Any others?

 

What about stuff like Missile Deflection? Included or not?

I appreciate the incite, I thought it was too powerful.  I think those are good defensive maneuvers, Missile Deflection from a Shield User and a Monk type.

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12 minutes ago, Gandalf970 said:

I appreciate the incite, I thought it was too powerful.  I think those are good defensive maneuvers, Missile Deflection from a Shield User and a Monk type.

 

If your players are really experienced in the system and their opponent's are really experienced in the system, it might not be too powerful. It's always possible for everyone to hold their action until the person with the extra SPD has done their actions then act while it's impossible for him to abort to some defensive maneuver.

 

But then combat gets really fiddly with both sides being expert on exploiting the HERO system for maximum benefit rather than trying to roleplay a fantasy. :D 

 

 

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13 hours ago, Gandalf970 said:

Is it realistic in a Fantasy Hero game to buy the Power: Characteristic and buy Speed with the limitation "Only usable with Defensive Maneuvers".  What kind of limitation would that be 1/4, 1/2.  Is that too powerful, but would encourage Blocks and Dodges?

 

Limited SPD can get really complicated, and wind up being too cheap or almost useless, depending on rule interpretation and how effective the player is at using it.  

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Is it realistic in a Fantasy Hero game to buy the Power: Characteristic and buy Speed with the limitation "Only usable with Defensive Maneuvers". 

 

Its realistic but the problem is manifold.


First, its extra book keeping.

Second, in order to make it mesh well, you're best off doing double speed (3+3 for defense only or 4+4) because it fits nicely on the speed chart that way.  But then you have someone acting with six or eight speed which is astounding in a heroic campaign.

Third, it probably makes the defense overwhelming.  Just having a character with 4+4 speed in Champions (only for combat, not movement, healing, perception etc) was pretty amazing, and that's in Suerheroic setting

 

But something that acts like that, like the ability to get a free half phase to use only for blocks or dodges one or twice a turn would be useful.

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Blocking is quite common in the group I game with.  I suspect the reason your players are not blocking is they are not familiar enough with the system.  Hero system is a very complex combat system with a lot of options Players from games like the D&D often don’t take advantage of the tactics it allows.  I guarantee if your players went up against the players from my group they would get slaughtered.  

 

Proper use of blocking often depends on using the SPD chart to your advantage.  This works very well if your SPD is different than the opponents.  It works if you are faster or slower than your opponent.

 

If you are faster than your opponent blocking is a good way to recover from an all-out offensive maneuver.  If you are going in a phase when your opponent does not you put everything into taking them down Use maneuvers that give you a bonus to attack and damage, but penalize your DCV.  This type of attack has a high chance of taking down the target, but leaves you exposed. After the attack is over and you are about to be attacked you abort your next phase to block.  This also allows you to adjust your skill levels as needed.  Most of the time your will put them into OCV to increase your chance of blocking, but sometimes putting them to DCV is better.  Since you can continue to block at a -2 penalty per attack you can keep going over multiple phases.  Eventually you will reach a phase where you are going and no one is attacking you.  At this point you simply repeat the process over again.  With this tactic you can safely take down a lot of opponents with minimal to no damage to yourself.

 

You can also reverse the strategy for someone who is faster than you.  Use block to avoid his attacks until you have an opening and then take advantage of the opening.  If you are still being attacked after your big attack, go back to blocking until your next opening comes up.

 

Dodge can also be used the same way.  The idea is to create an opening that allows you to attack your enemy without endangering yourself.  
 

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I really learned how to block when I played in a martial arts oriented campaign.  Everybody played a ninja-type character, and we made heavy use of maneuvers.  It was at that point that I really figured out how to use the Speed chart.  LoneWolf is right, players who don't know how to use the combat maneuvers will be slaughtered by those that do.

 

You don't need to do anything to make block more powerful, it's already one of the best maneuvers in the game.  But you have to know how to use it.  My suggestion would be to create an opponent who relies on it heavily.  Have a swordsman or something who uses Martial Block, with a couple of levels in it.  Just have him parry the crap out of your players' moves.  Block block, block block block.  After a successful block, you can continue to do it with a -2 penalty against more attacks.  So if you've got a 10 OCV and you need a 13- to block Ragnar's attack, as long as you make the roll you can continue blocking.  So now his buddy Sven runs over, and you're effectively OCV 8 to block his attack.  That's [i]before[/i] your next phase comes up, so you can continue to defend against multiple attackers while only using one action.

 

Blockmaster Bob (Dex 20, Speed 5, OCV 10 with block) fights Stabby Steve (Dex 20, Spd 4, OCV 9 with stab).  On segment 3, the two make a Dex roll off to see who goes first.  Steve wins, and promptly tries to stab Bob.  Bob aborts his action to block.  His OCV is 10, he needs a 12 or less to block Steve.  He succeeds, and Steve's attack is wasted.  On Segment 5, it's Bob's turn.  He can attack Steve or do something else if he wants.  On Segment 6, Steve can go again.  Steve decides to stab Bob.  Bob acted on 5, but now he can abort his next action (upcoming segment 8 ) to block again.  He needs another 12-.  Steve's segment 6 is wasted.  On Segment 8 Bob resets (he can now abort again).  Steve stabs again on 9, and Bob can abort his upcoming segment 10.  On segment 12, they roll off Dex again to see who goes first.  It may feel like Steve controlled this fight, but he was burning Endurance left and right, and Bob got in an attack on Segment 5 that Steve couldn't respond to.

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Actually when Steve stabs Bob in 9 he does not abort he continues his block with a 10 or less chance.  A 10 or less is actually a 50% chance.  Even if he misses Steve still needs to roll to actually hit.   This means that the odds are that Bob does not get hit.  So on 10 he can attack Steve.   

 

Basically by blocking Bob gets two segments of attacks out of 5.  Steve on the other hand is probably not going to get any attacks off.  Bob blocks in 12 & 3, attack in 5 blocks in 6 & 9 and attacks in 10.  
 

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The problem is that from a player's perspective its delaying their attack.  You only get to really "act" once a phase, in combat, and then wait your turn.  Giving that up so you can move faster next time doesn't seem like a good trade off for many players.  The fact that you can make it work for you is great, but that's not a selling point in many peoples' minds.  And in a heroic level campaign you only get 3-4 "moves" in a turn so giving one of those up does not feel very advantageous.  5 Speed in a heroic game is epic and legendary.

 

In fact, aborting or using a phase defensively can feel like a losing game, now you're one phase behind everyone else.

 

In an effort to make the maneuver more interesting and attractive for both attackers and defenders I changed the rule a bit so that you roll not to hit their OCV, but the DCV that their attack hit.  So the better your attack, the less likely it is to be blocked.  Or if its really close, its easier to block.

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If I played in a campaign where good guys and bad guys used the SPD chart and blocked endlessly looking for an occasional advantageous place to get in an attack, I'd play a mage.

 

I wouldn't argue that you can't get advantage by using the SPD chart and blocking.

 

I would argue that one of the complaints about the HERO system is that combat is already very slow compared to many systems.

 

If I tried to drag players through blocking hell in order to get through a single combat, the campaign would either end due to all the players dropping out or we would end up playing D&D, Commander in Magic the Gathering, or video games next time.

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12 hours ago, massey said:

Blockmaster Bob (Dex 20, Speed 5, OCV 10 with block) fights Stabby Steve (Dex 20, Spd 4, OCV 9 with stab).  On segment 3, the two make a Dex roll off to see who goes first.  Steve wins, and promptly tries to stab Bob.  Bob aborts his action to block.  

Except that once simultaneous DEX characters agree to that roll-off, they are both locked in. Neither can then abort that action if they don't like the result of the dice roll. You can Abort prior to the roll, sure, but not after.

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