Recommendations for TTRPGs with a focus on strategic combat?

DrunkonDuty

he/him
I could not in my life tell you the difference between a strategic or tactical game. I always thought of them as synonyms?

Technically the're different. I think the difference is in the level of detail.

Strategy is high level. And usually pretty light on details. For example, a policy to increase spending on public education by X per capita is a strategy.

Tactics is the nitty gritty. A programme that specifies spending X dollars on new teachers, Y dollars on improved IT in classrooms, and Z dollars on programmes for kids with special needs would be a tactic. Or perhaps a series of tactics.

Exactly where the line falls between the strategy and tactics is open to a lot of debate.

An example in gaming terms might be...

Strategy: the PCs decide they must take out the BBEG's main thug before moving on to the BBEG themself. Knowing the thug has fire powers the PCs load up on anti fire options: resist fire spells, cold spells, fire extinguishers, and aloe vera.

Tactics: once the PCs meet Fire Thug they lay down some fire resistance spells then the meat shield engages in hand to hand and tanks. While Fire Thug is busy the spell-slinger deploys a big cold attack spell, and the archer tries to keep Fire Thug's mini-thugs out of the action. Yada, yada, yada.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

BookTenTiger

He / Him
Technically the're different. I think the difference is in the level of detail.

Strategy is high level. And usually pretty light on details. For example, a policy to increase spending on public education by X per capita is a strategy.

Tactics is the nitty gritty. A programme that specifies spending X dollars on new teachers, Y dollars on improved IT in classrooms, and Z dollars on programmes for kids with special needs would be a tactic. Or perhaps a series of tactics.

Exactly where the line falls between the strategy and tactics is open to a lot of debate.

An example in gaming terms might be...

Strategy: the PCs decide they must take out the BBEG's main thug before moving on to the BBEG themself. Knowing the thug has fire powers the PCs load up on anti fire options: resist fire spells, cold spells, fire extinguishers, and aloe vera.

Tactics: once the PCs meet Fire Thug they lay down some fire resistance spells then the meat shield engages in hand to hand and tanks. While Fire Thug is busy the spell-slinger deploys a big cold attack spell, and the archer tries to keep Fire Thug's mini-thugs out of the action. Yada, yada, yada.
But wouldn't any RPG that provides for one also provide for the other?
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
Pre 3e D&D is strategic, 4e is highly tactical.

So recruiting henchman, diplomacy with NPCs, spell selection, careful selection of mundane equipment, expendable magic items, scouting, players developing various stratagems in anticipation of fights. Players having meaningful choices outside of combat and reasons to avoid combat. Strategic.

In practice, yes you can have a pretty tactical AD&D game and a more strategic 4e game, though the rules and focus certainly push one way or another.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
But wouldn't any RPG that provides for one also provide for the other?
Not necessarily to the same extent.

As DrunkonDuty and TerraDave described, pre-3E D&D tends to be much more heavy on strategy than tactics, at least as far as the rules are concerned. Spell prep, hiring retainers with bows to help against a known flying enemy, stocking up on silver arrows when you're hunting a werewolf, and that sort of thing are strategic decisions. Planning and logistics and setting yourself up ahead of time to maximize your chances once you get to the actual battle. Strategy is the overall plan, and tactics are the individual steps you take trying to execute it. "Always focus on neutralizing enemy casters first" could be a default strategy a party employs. HOW they go about getting the enemy meatshields out of the way and getting to the caster would be a tactical concern on the battlefield itself.

Rules for combat tactics in TSR-era D&D are not very detailed, though, for example, the marching order Gary describes for a typical party in the AD&D DMG kind of blends the strategic and the tactical- short demi-dumans in front so the humans with bows in the second rank can shoot over them, then switch to spears and increase the number of characters able to attack within the relatively narrow frontage of a 10' corridor. This is a tactic employed to maximize offense in a tight space. There are some rules in older D&D that are used tactically, though not as many. Putting your Dwarf on the front line against an Ogre because it gets -4 to hit her is a pretty good tactic based on a game mechanic. :)

Flanking is a tactic. Taking cover in trees (when you realize the enemy has lots of ranged attacks) is a tactic. Trying to bull rush a tough enemy into a Webbed area, or a river, to immobilize them or take them out of the fight (at least temporarily) is an immediate tactic. Trying to take away the enemy's nasty magic sword or stay out of reach of the wight so it can't energy drain you is a tactic. Moving to higher ground to get better LOS or an attack bonus is a tactic.

2nd ed Combat & Tactics added a bunch of new rules and additional detail to AD&D to let players make more tactical decisions in combat without the DM having to make up rules for these maneuvers. 3rd ed standardized rules for trying to Disarm, Trip, Bull Rush, flank, getting an attack bonus for being on higher ground, etc. 4E carried this to the greatest extreme yet by making most powers/attacks include movement or status effects so every round in combat every PC always had choices to make about where best to move and what to try to accomplish besides just depleting enemy HP. Although even powers which just do damage might have tactical aspects; like the Paladin at-will Valiant Strike getting a to-hit bonus equal to the number of enemies adjacent to you. This one incentivizes you to engage multiple enemies at once; but you need to weigh that against the risk of getting surrounded and ganged up on.
 
Last edited:

DrunkonDuty

he/him
But wouldn't any RPG that provides for one also provide for the other?

I agree with what TerraDave and Mannahnin have said above.

I'd like to add that I think all RPGs have the option for strategy.* By which I mean that, within RPGs, strategy is synonymous with the players being able to make high level decisions to effect the outcome of the story. Strategy doesn't need rules in a system. Strategy can interact with rules, almost certainly will, but I don't see such interaction as necessary.

Tactics (again, within the context of RPGs) is defined by the rules that govern conflict resolution. A game that includes a wide variety of switches allows for a wide variety of tactics when it comes to resolving a situation. Put another way, tactics is manipulating rules to allow for a variety of ways of resolving conflicts.

Tactically, Hero system has its Speed Chart; a variety of manouevres like Blocking, Dodging, Grabbing, and Move-Throughs; flexible bonuses that can be split between hitting, defence, and damage; and the myriad individual powers that a given character may have.


*with the exception of extreme railroads.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top