Created By: KoverasJuly 29, 2013 Last Edited By: morenohijazoOctober 8, 2013
Troped

Common Tactical Gameplay Elements (hats?)

Rules that add a tactical aspect to video/tabletop game combat.

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A list of common gameplay rules that add a tactical aspect to combat-oriented video and tabletop games—from Turn Based Tactics, through Western RPG, to Tactical Shooters. At the most basic level, these revolve around positioning multiple player-controlled combatants in such a way that allows them to deal damage to enemy combatants, while avoiding getting damaged/killed in turn.

Compare Standard Status Effects. Compare/contrast Video Game Tactical Index, which is more about Meta Game than in-game tactics.

Terrain rules:

  • Fog Of War. A combatant's line of sight is limited by the terrain, mobile objects, and distance. The player only knows the situation in the parts of the level that allied combatants can currently observe. A ranged combatant's targeting distance is limited both by his line of sight and his effective weapon range.
  • Scouting. A combatant (or a specialized device) hidden close to an enemy position dispels the Fog Of War around it and reveals the enemy actions to his command.
  • Movement Modifiers. The movement speed of the combatant depends on the terrain he moves across, e.g. going down a slope is faster than climbing it.
  • High Ground. If the combatant is physically positioned above his target, the accuracy, range, and damage of his attacks increase. This can be also expanded to simple difference in size between the attacker and the target.

General combatant rules:

  • Unit Specialization. Combatants with different training get to shine in some situations but are at a severe disadvantage in others, enforcing close collaboration within the team. Specialized combatants may have access to unique special moves.
  • Leader Unit. A combatant specialized in frontline command boosts the efficiency and morale of all friendly units within limited range. His death, however, can have dire consequences.
  • Panic. When faced by overwhelming odds, a combatant can panic and start acting erratically instead of following the player's orders.

General combat rules:

  • Attack Range. Different weapons have different minimum, maximum, and effective attack ranges. This concerns both ranged weapons (cf. pistols to sniper rifles) and melee (cf. daggers to pole arms).
  • Flanking. By attacking an enemy from his side or even from the back, the combatant can ignore his cover and generally has better chances of dealing damage.
  • Attack of Opportunity. Under certain conditions, the combatant can take a free shot/strike at an enemy, usually at a small accuracy penalty. Said conditions usually include an enemy moving into/out of the combatant's effective weapon range.
  • Friendly Fire. When deploying explosives, any friendly combatant in the blast area is just as vulnerable to it as the enemy. Also, attacking and missing an enemy risks wounding a friendly combatant standing near him.

Ranged combat rules:

  • Taking Cover. The combatant positions a solid object between himself and a ranged attacker to minimize damage taken. Said cover can range from large pieces of the environment, through mobile shields, to Human Shields. The quality of cover often determines the amount of protection it provides.
  • Covering/Suppressing Fire. An extension of AoO rules, where a ranged combatant aids his ally's advancement either by taking a free shot at any enemy who tries to hinder it, or by preventively firing at the known enemy position to pin them down.
  • Aimed Attack a.k.a. Called Shot. Instead of dealing normal damage, the combatant can attempt to disarm an enemy, hit his vital areas For Massive Damage, etc. at the cost of lower success chance or longer aiming time.
  • Indirect Fire. A combatant uses gravity to fire projectiles at an enemy without establishing a direct line of fire, usually from behind cover. Firing can be blind or assisted by a forward observer (see below).
  • Blind Firing. The ranged combatant can bombard an area outside of his effective aiming range (or covered by smoke or the Fog Of War) but within his firing range, giving him a (small) chance to hit an enemy in that area.
  • Target Spotting. An extension of the Scouting rule: If an enemy is seen by an allied scout, any combatant who has the enemy in his firing range can attack him efficiently, even if he is outside his effective aiming range.

Melee combat rules:

  • Defensive Stance. The combatant sacrifices some of his offense to temporarily boost his defensive stats (especially against ranged attacks).
  • Crowd Control. A melee combatant gets an Attack of Opportunity against any enemy attempting to move past him within his weapon's reach, preventing them from moving further. Some combatants may be immune to this.
  • Charge. The combatant charges towards the target before striking it in melee, dealing additional damage proportional to the momentum gained. Especially relevant in Mounted Combat.
  • Knockdown/Knock Back. The combatant knocks an enemy onto the ground, rendering them helpless for some time. Alternatively, the enemy is pushed away, allowing the combatant to gain some distance.

Special ability rules:

  • Concealment. Similar to Taking Cover rules, Concealment allows the combatant to get an enemy into his effective weapon range without alerting him to his presence, allowing for an easier takedown or targeting. Usually requires exploiting the terrain or a special ability.
  • Smoke Screen. The combatant deploys a smoke screen over a small area around himself or his allies to make them temporarily harder to hit or even to prevent the enemy from targeting them altogether. Combatants covered by smoke can usually aim at the enemies outside of it without penalty.
  • Grappling Hook. Allows the combatant to quickly scale great heights without any climbing aids.
  • Movement Manipulation. The combatant manipulates an enemy to move to a certain spot (towards or away from him), either to distract them from discovering his allies' (or his own) position or to lure them into an ambush. Alternatively, he can force enemies out of cover.

Will go under Videogame Tropes and Role Playing Game.
Community Feedback Replies: 29
  • July 29, 2013
    jayoungr
    Is this meant to be a video game-only trope? Many of these rules also show up in tabletop rpgs.
  • July 29, 2013
    Koveras
    No, it's not. :) I even mentioned tabletop games in the laconic...
  • July 29, 2013
    Chabal2
    Should also include Geo Effects and Knock Back.

    Maybe blind-firing can fit in: the unit shoots beyond its sight range, but accuracy and damage is greatly reduced. On an artillery unit, often called "Attack Ground" and can be used to deny large areas of terrain.
  • July 29, 2013
    DAN004
    Would Weather Of War apply here, too?

    Oh and perhaps Fog Of War and Loud Of War. Practically anything that would distract/annoy the enemy.
  • July 29, 2013
    Arivne
    In Tabletop Games the more common name for "Aimed Attack" is "Called Shot".
  • July 30, 2013
    Koveras
    @DAN 004: The enemy distraction is a good idea but I have trouble coming up with a particularly illustrative example or a snappy list item for it. Help?

    @Arivne: Yeah, I heard that term, but I wasn't sure how much sense it would make to someone who is not familiar with tabletop game terms... I'll add it as a synonym, though.
  • July 30, 2013
    DAN004
    I'll try it, not sure if it fits though:
    • Distractions: Related to Attack of Opportunity, these are tactics used to create said opportunity. Including, but not restricted to many forms of third-party interference, weather interference, intrusion of an inside man, playing off the enemy's greed/lust, etc.

    BTW you may check The Thirty Six Stratagems for more.
  • July 30, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ I am not sure about your wording, since it sounds a lot more strategic than tactical in scope. Likewise, The Thirty Six Stratagems are mainly strategic and rather abstract. They are not so much gameplay rules as gameplay strategies.

    How about this?

    • Distraction. The combatant draws the attention of an enemy away from his or his allies' current position, allowing them to evade or to counterattack.
  • August 1, 2013
    Koveras
    Bump.
  • August 7, 2013
    Koveras
    Bumping for comments or hats...
  • August 29, 2013
    Koveras
    Bump.
  • August 29, 2013
    Mauri
    Well the 36 Stratagems are the oldest tricks in the book. Well there are some details I am giving here:
    • Creating the Bottleneck/choke points: Creating the tight spot so that an invader without Siege Weapons needs to get to the choke point itself.
    • Firing above the Defensive Wall: This helps when the ballistics of the game allow it, mostly seen in terms of Towers.
    • Scouting: With units with a huge Line of Sight or being fast enough that allow the player to see what the opponents are up to.
  • August 29, 2013
    Koveras
    I kinda have the choke point rule in my list already (under Crowd Control), but it does not include creating choke points, as that would require modifying the terrain. Do you know a game where such creation of choke points was implemented?

    Firing from behind a wall can be described more abstractly as indirect fire, which I can put into the list... Is that what you meant?

    And Scouting is already listed under Target Spotting above, isn't it?
  • August 29, 2013
    Mauri
    Well what I meant by expanding:

    • Well in the case of the first one it falls a bit under the "terraforming" ideas but in some games the AI prefers to avoid hitting walls and go straight to the main entrance (where most players leave a death trap), this is seen in the case of games as Age of Empires where the player could create a corridor that the invading army would use, this is before the invention of Siege Weapons, to avoid hitting the walls and be targeted by the towers behind the walls. For a further explanation I would put the idea of a "V" wall entrance where the narrow end is open and the opponent would have either to hit the wall and be massacred before seriously damaging it or go around and hit the tower. If you need some graphical idea I could see up to drawing it up (as well as others) for the idea to be clearer as the saying of one picture is worth a thousand words.

    • Yeap indirect fire but from behind the walls via the arc in archery. Or the high ground advantage of towers behind the walls. This is enforced in many games with the use of indirect fire via Defensive Structures. And what makes a lot of the ideas of the Tower Defense games.

    • It is different as Target spotting given the fact that you are more interested in knowing what your opponent is up to rather than just knowing where to land the Artillery strike. Basically finding a way to put a spy in the ranks (in some cases via line of sight and in others via a specific mechanic that allows you to see what are your opponents are up to).
  • August 29, 2013
    Koveras
    Well, I added the Scouting and Indirect Fire to the list, but I am still not sold on building walls idea. It seems to me way too specific and relies more on exploiting the AI than being a hard rule.
  • August 29, 2013
    Mauri
    Well it is a bit of both to be honest. It also works on players on both sides, "Turtle" players rely heavily on making Artificial Bottlenecks when making their fortresses and a lot of players fall into them. A bit of a gaming Batman Gambit...
  • August 30, 2013
    Koveras
    I think my problem is that building bottlenecks--or building anything, really--is more of a strategic action than tactical one.
  • August 30, 2013
    Mauri
    Well I guess there might be Tactical in one hand and some Strategic ones and sometimes some can work hand in hand. Still there is another I'm noting here:

    • Luring: Bringing a decoy to lure the enemy units towards an ambush or away their comrades to finish them off one by one. Or away from the zone while the Decoy can either die messily or escape.
  • August 31, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ Lumped that with Distraction, since it's basically the same principle.
  • August 31, 2013
    Mauri
    Well one that I'm noticing:

    • Leadership Bonus: If there is an unit with said trait the nearby units will get a small bonus to their damage and or hit rates.
    • Weapon Specialization bonus: If the unit has specialization on the weapon then it does a little extra damage.
  • September 1, 2013
    Koveras
    Added. I've also sorted the rules found so far into categories.
  • September 2, 2013
    Mauri
    Also a sub point towards the Leaders:
  • September 2, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ That's a player tactic, not the game rule, which is already listed...
  • September 3, 2013
    Mauri
    ^Sorry. Also another but it finds it's way around from tabletop and some videogames.
    • Zone of Control: Appears in many tabletop games as well as some turn based tactical ones. Basically each unit have some units around them that no enemy unit can go around them without triggering combat and cut the remaining movement off.
      • Skirmisher addendum: Some units are able to avoid the Zone of Control Rule.
  • September 3, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ That's something I already have listed under Crowd Control, but I will see how I can expand it to be more general.
  • September 4, 2013
    Koveras
    I've rewritten the Crowd Control rule to be more generic.
  • September 4, 2013
    Mauri
    Well one thing I'm wondering but that appears in many games is the stock ailments such as poison, etc. And how they can fare in this trope.
  • September 4, 2013
    Koveras
    That's Standard Status Effects. It's related but not really this.
  • September 7, 2013
    mauri
    What about:

    • Minimum and maximum range: The act of shooting a ranged weapon has a minimum range and a maximum range and when both are lacking then said unit needs to move to shoot the weapon.

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