Created By: EternalNothingness on August 5, 2011 Last Edited By: EternalNothingness on August 7, 2011

Video Game Combat Tactics

These are the most common tactics suggested in many strategy-guides, walkthroughs, and FA Qs.

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More often than not, video games usually have one of four different kinds of scenarios:

  • Duel, which pits one person against another single person, namely a boss or fighting-game character.
  • One-player vs. enemy-group, where a single player is outnumbered by a group of enemies, mostly minor-enemies.
  • Player-group vs. one-enemy, where a group of players outnumber one enemy, namely a boss.
  • Team-battle, where two or more teams fight each other.

The strategy-guides would then suggest the following tactics for each scenario:
  • In duels, each contender have to predict, defend against, and counter-attack the other.
  • When outnumbered by enemies, the player uses the following tactics:
    • Use the old "predict-defend-counter" tactic normally used in duels.
    • Prioritize threats in the following order:
      • Healers, such as clerics and medics.
      • Multi-targeting enemies, such as mages and auto-riflemen.
      • Single-targeting enemies, such as rogues and riflemen.
      • Defenders, such as "tanks" and grenadiers.
    • Use crowd-clearing attacks, weapons, and/or spells when necessary.
  • When part of a group fighting one enemy, who's usually a boss, players divide each other into the following combat-roles:
    • Defenders, whose job is to protect their allies with his own bulk, or at least lure enemies away from said allies when they're in danger.
    • Single-target fighters, who single out enemies based on threat-level, again in the same following order:
      • Healers.
      • Multi-target enemies.
      • Single-target enemies.
      • Defenders.
    • Multi-target fighters, who can use crowd-clearing spells, attacks, and weapons.
    • Healers, for replenishing lost health for each teammate.
  • When one group fights another, the same tactics for working with groups (namely assigning roles while sticking together), and fighting groups (namely through either the "predict-defend-counter" tactic, singling them out, or using multi-target attacks/weapons/spells), both apply.

See also An Adventurer Is You and Competitive Balance.


  • Ancient/Medieval Warfare:
    • Defenders: Cavalry.
    • Single-Target Fighters: Infantry.
    • Multi-Target Fighters: Artillery and Siege-Engines.
    • Healers: Surgeons.
  • Battlefield: Bad Company:
    • Defender: The Soldier.
    • Single-Target Fighter: The Recon.
    • Multi-Target Fighter: The Engineer.
    • Healer: The Medic.
  • Dragon Age: Origins & Dragon Age 2:
    • Defender: Warrior.
    • Single-Target Fighter: Rogue.
    • Multi-Target Fighter/Healer: Mage.
  • Elder Scrolls:
    • Defender: Combat-specialty.
    • Single-Target Fighter: Stealth-specialty.
    • Multi-Target Fighter/Healer: Magic-specialty.
  • Fallout SPECIAL-system:
    • Defender: Strength and Endurance.
    • Single/Multi-Target Fighter: Perception and Agility.
    • Healer: Intelligence (for making medicine) and Charisma (for persuading Non Player Characters).
  • Final Fantasy 1:
    • Defender: Warrior/Knight.
    • Single-Target Fighter: Thief/Ninja; Monk/Master.
    • Multi-Target Fighter: Black-Mage/Black-Wizard.
    • Healer: White-Mage/White-Wizard.
    • Hybrid: Red-Mage/Red-Wizard.
  • Final Fantasy 2:
    • Hybrid: Firion, the balanced member of the party.
    • Defender/Single-Target Fighter: Guy, the physically-strongest member of the party.
    • Multi-Target Fighter/Healer: Maria, the magically-adept member of the party.
  • Mass Effect 2:
    • Defenders: Soldier and Sentinel.
    • Single-Target Fighters: Vanguard and Infiltrator.
    • Multi-Target Fighters: Adept and Engineer.
    • Healers: All six classes, who can revive allies with medigels.
  • Most First Person Shooters and Third Person Shooters:
    • Defenders: Pick-up armor (Pre-Halo shooters) and taking cover (Post-Halo shooters).
    • Multi-Target Fighters: Auto-rifles, submachine-guns, and launchers.
    • Single-Target Fighters: Shotguns, sniper-rifles, and pistols.
    • Healers: Health-packs (Pre-Halo shooters); Regenerating-health (Post-Halo shooters).
  • Most Real-Time Strategy and Turn-Based Strategy games:
    • Defenders: Infantry and Tanks.
    • Single-Target Fighters: Scout-Vehicles and Aerial-Units.
    • Multi-Target Fighters: Artillery and Naval-Units.
    • Healers: Buildings and Structures.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • Defenders: Soldier and Heavy.
    • Single-Target Fighters: Scout, Sniper, and Spy.
    • Multi-Target Fighters: Pyro and Demoman.
    • Healers: Engineer and Medic.
  • Worldof Warcraft:
    • Defenders: Warrior and Paladin, due to their heavy bulks.
    • Single-Target Fighters: Rogue and Hunter, due to their single-target attacks.
    • Multi-Target Fighters: Mage and Warlock, due to their multi-target spells.
    • Healers: Priest and Shaman, even though they need no introduction.
    • Hybrids: Druid and Death-Knight, as they're well-balanced.
Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • August 5, 2011
    ...I'm not really seeing a trope here.
  • August 5, 2011
    It's two tropes for the price of one. Not only is this a video game trope, but also a video game strategy-guide trope as well. The reason I consider it a strategy-guide trope is because a lot of strategy-guides say the same things I've described above. I'm sorry if I confused you in some way or another, and I hope you understand what I said in this reply.
  • August 6, 2011
    Dragon Age:
    • Crowd Dividers: Warrior
    • Single-Target fighters: Rogues
    • Multi-Target Fighers/Healers: Mages
  • August 6, 2011
    I think we have this.
  • August 6, 2011
    Most "Official" strategy guides are written by members of the game's dev team who incorporate strategies that are moderately complex (unit X & unit Y cover each other's weaknesses, use them together), look good on paper, fit how the dev team intended the game to flow, and ultimately end up totally wrong.
    • The official strategy guide for Starcraft told Protoss players to use Carriers to counter Battle-cruisers and Zerg players to use Scourges against them. Players of both races quickly learned how (in)effective those were.
    • The official strategy guide for Diablo2 tells players to emphasize different stats for various types of character-builds while savvy players disregarded that, boosted stats to minimums required for gear and put everything into Vitality.
  • August 6, 2011
    To Acebrock: Thanks for the suggestion I should've put down in the first place, but already did recently.

    To Random Chaos: As in tropes like An Adventurer Is You and Competitive Balance, right?

    To terrafox: Why do they suggest unhelpful advice? Is it because even they don't know what to do when it comes to beating their own games?
  • August 6, 2011
    For the one vs group section, a common tactic is to "isolate and destroy". This works by picking off small clusters of enemies at a time and falling back thus making their numbers more manageable. Almost mandatory tactic for "hit and run" and "raider" playstyles such as the Fragile Speedster and Glass Cannon. Examples: Eldar and Dark Eldar, NOD and GLA and Odin Sphere in general.
  • August 7, 2011
    To Magnum12: Isn't the "hit-and-run" tactic almost the same thing as my replacement-tactic, "predict-defend-counter?" I block (as defensive as running), counter-attack whoever attacks me (basically hitting), and then go back to block-mode (again, as defensive as running).

    As for "isolate and destroy," it's almost the same thing as singling-out and destroying certain enemies based on the threat each poses.
  • August 7, 2011
    ^^^As I stated before, these "official" strategy guides are written by members of the dev team who built strategies based on how the developer intended the game to be played. Once the game comes out and the meta-game starts to shape itself, real strategies emerge as millions play it in unexpected ways. Blizzard games are notorious for this happening.
    • This explains how single-player missions go from: "build up an army units X, Y, & Z, then attack points A, C and B in that order (roughly 45 min)"; to "use status-buff Q on unit D and order it straight to point B (roughly 3 min).
  • August 7, 2011
    I'm pretty sure video game war strategies are already covered under real life war strategies like Zerg Rush, My Defense Need Not Protect Me Forever, etc. etc. etc.
  • August 7, 2011
    I'm having hard time deciding if it's trivia or trope.
  • August 7, 2011
    My comment had nothing to do with strategies, but everything to do with how "official" strategy guides invariably get proven wrong once a game is released and the meta-game disproves the effectiveness of everything in the guide.