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Hit-and-Run Tactics
"We can cross Arabia while Johnny Turk is still turning around. I'll smash his railways. And while he's fixing them I'll smash them somewhere else."
T.E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia

A favoured tactic of the Fragile Speedster, both in Real Life and in Video Games. Get quickly into range, attack (either from range or in a sudden, surprising and hard-hitting charge), and flee before the enemy have the time to react. Rinse and repeat.

Long term, this tactic involves defeating a much stronger but slower melee opponent by repeatedly moving away from them and bombarding them with weak attacks which will eventually overpower the enemy through sheer volume. Needless to say, expect this to frustrate anyone you use this on in multiplayer. Alternately, a character who is high on DPS and speed but low on hit points and armor might rush in, smash their target as hard and fast as they can, and then run like hell before their enemy can return the favor.

This can lead to some fairly epic running battles across the plains in some games if the opponent is particularly resilient. The bane of the person using this tactic is other enemies joining in the fight. This is particularly true if the Mighty Glacier opponent you're fighting is reinforced by a Fragile Speedster type Mook. Also be wary of getting cornered, or stopping for too long and getting caught by a sudden charge. And there's always the possibility you'll run out of ammo. That, or your enemy will start shooting back. (This doesn't work too well on enemies with their own ranged attacks.) And then there's the small matter that some enemies can heal themselves or others. Shoot them first. In some very hard games, or games where you've set the difficulty very high, or in situations where you're just plain underlevelled, this can be the only possible recourse. You'll need a Road Runner PC to pull it off though. Boss fights in particular tend to encourage, if not require, this sort of strategy to come out on top.

The absolute worst thing a hit-and-runner can do is get Tired of Running and turn and try to face their weakened opponent toe-to-toe. There's a reason for not going toe-to-toe with the Mighty Glacier, even a weakened one, and people who get impatient and decide to go it mano-a-mano are going to find themselves either continuing or rolling up a new character sheet. If you can keep away from them long enough to weaken them into being vulnerable in melee, you can keep away for long enough to finish them off. Its not sporting, but this is war.

Confusingly, both this tactic and Fishing For Mooks are called "kiting". (The metaphors are opposite; with Fishing For Mooks, you look like a kite with a tail of mooks following you in a straight line when you do it, while with Hit-and-Run Tactics, you're holding the kite string, and your target is the kite.)

Compare Instant Death Radius, where your opponent doesn't necessarily need to move away: you'll be dead before you reach melee combat.

Common in video games, but also found in other works. And in Real Life, this is a very effective and well-used military tactic, also known as 'Parthian Tactics' and guerrilla warfare.


Video Game Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Action Games 
  • It can happen in Batman: Arkham Asylum, mainly in rooms with a group of gun toting thugs. Although the game gives you enough moves to use other tactics like traps, or sending them over ledges with your weapons.
  • This is the second best way to deal with a Tank in Left 4 Dead, provided you're not injured. The best is with a molotov.
  • A viable tactic in Dark Cloud 2. Be careful, though; every time an enemy in that game is hit, no matter how weakly, it takes a point off its rage meter. When it's raged, it temporarily becomes stronger.
  • In Freelancer a good tactic when outnumbered is to use your afterburner to run away while dodging enemy fire, turn when your afterburner is about to run out. Proceed do launch a massive Alpha Strike at the closest ship, dodge until your afterburner recharges. Repeat as needed.
  • Star Control II:
    • The Spathi Eluder is among the fastest ships in the game, with a rearward-firing guided missile weapon that is tailor made for this sort of tactic.
    • The Arilou Skiff is another great ship for this. It's fast, turns on a dime, its laser auto-targets toward the enemy to make strafing runs very simple, and it can teleport to a random place in the battlefield as an emergency escape.
    • Lampshaded in the game:
    Spathi captain: "Our ships are made for a single purpose: RUNNING AWAY! And if something decides to run after us, we launch volleys of missiles with our B.U.T.T. technology!"
  • Very viable in the Ground missions in Drakengard. Don't try it when on the Dragons though...
  • So common in the Escape Velocity games that it's got a nickname: The Monty Python Maneuver.
  • These sort of tactics are recommended for lightly-armored characters in the Twisted Metal series when fighting a more heavily armored opponent.

    Fighting Games 
  • As Spawn in Soul Calibur II, you can potentially do this using the acid/fireballs he shoots out as one of his signature moves. Any reasonably competent AI or player will be able to dodge them though.
    • Dampierre's mobility and quirky, stun-heavy moveset makes him excellent for this.
  • The ability to do this with some characters in BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger is what makes Nu and Arakune top-tier and Tager and Hakumen bottom-tier.
  • You can do this with ranged characters in Super Smash Bros.. Link, Samus, Fox, Falco, Ness, Lucas, Dedede, etc. are all capable of just staying the hell away from their opponent while racking up damage with arrows, bombs, boomerangs, lasers, energy bolts, or even Mooks. If done well, you'll have racked up a ton of damage before your enemy can even get close to you.
    • Dedede is particularly frustrating, because getting within his grab range is just asking to get chain-grabbed to death.
    • Fragile Speedster Sonic also can function as a Hit-and-Run more in line with the page introduction.
  • In Street Fighter IV, some matchups go down like this.

    First Person Shooter 
  • In Halo: Combat Evolved, this tactic is integral for fighting your opponents - virtually all of your enemies would still shoot you, yes, but since your health didn't regenerate while your shields did, the player must avoid getting hit while their shields are down since there were a limited amount of health packs reachable at one time in the level (or if you didn't use one, it could be very inconvenient to run all the way back to where you last saw one.) Thus, the player would be best off shooting their enemies until their shields went low, at which they should retreat a little bit away, take cover and regenerate their shields. The sequels made this less necessary since all of your health regenerated if you waited long enough without being hit, so a player who survived a fight would not be permanently penalized with health damage they would be unable to fix without a health pack.
    • The general method of shooting at range to avoid melee combat of hit and run tactics is still prefered in Halo: Combat Evolved against enemies who can melee attack you in the game also, since even if you beat them at melee range, their melee attacks would still deplete your shields and possibly harm your health.
  • This is the only way you'll beat the final boss of Halo 2, even on the easiest difficulty setting (unless you managed to wedge a banshee into that place, of course).
  • If you can't take down psycho types and skags before they can close to melee, you'll be using this tactic a lot in Borderlands.
  • In Team Fortress 2, the Scout does a very high amount of damage close up with their scattergun, moves faster than any other classes in the game, and has a pistol that is reasonable as a far-ranged weapon. They flank around, kill any of the weaker classes, and hopefully run away before their allies have a chance to respond in kind (or even fire out of the general range of some classes with their pistol while still moving so fast most classes' best weapons won't quite stick it to them).
    • Pyros used to built for this tactic. With not too high health, but quite decent speed, and even a weapon that does continues damage after you've stopped firing, a Pyro who knows the ol' "set 'em on fire and then run the Hell away" tactic is extremely effective. Though later additions to the game gave the players much more ways to stop burning, making this tactic less reliable.
    • Spies usually have to do this by design. Their Back Stab is great at eliminating a single target, especially those who aren't paying attention, but when they cannot achieve a One-Hit Kill they are fragile and lightly armed, and have no business hanging an area around once they've made a kill because someone will eventually wise up to their antics. Many spies pick off a target, then scurry away to a new, less suspicious location. Rarely, spies will get chains of stabs, but even after such good fortune, few will linger when a large portion of the enemy team is now angry and paranoid.
    • The Team Fortress 2 mod 'VS Saxton Hale' is built around this. One player is chosen as the Saxton Hale character at the beginning of the round, and all the other players are trying to kill him. Saxton has massive health and can kill most classes in one punch, but he is restricted to melee, with a couple of charge and stun special moves. Basically the only way to beat him is for everyone to kite him from afar, maybe rushing in for a daring (and profitable) melee attack if he's not looking. If he catches you, it's all over!
  • The Inferno Plasmid from BioShock encourages this tactic in its description!
  • Evoked in achievement in the Left 4 Dead 2 DLC The Passing that requires four players to "kill" a Tank in the finale by simply running around and letting the original Survivors whittle away its health. It's called "Kite Like A Man".
  • The SBDs in Star Wars: Republic Commando are incredibly predictable when it comes to melee combat. Run up, melee, run back while they swing their arm at you, run up before they can aim their blasters, melee, run back, etc...
  • Killing stronger enemies in Doom with Good Old Fisticuffs (powered up or not) generally entails a lot of this, dashing in and out before they can fire off a Painfully Slow Projectile. And in general, fighting the Cyberdemon frequently entails this due to its speed and salvos of slightly-less-painfully-slow rockets. And since you can't dodge Hitscan shots, fighting the Spinder Mastermind pretty much requires this (unless you gamble on a point-blank BFG shot).

    Puzzle Games 
  • In Gruntz, this tactic is used by yellow enemy gruntz, which are appropriately known as "Hit and Runners".

    Roguelike 
  • An essential part Nethack is getting a speed boost, allowing you two turns for every one turn a normal-speed enemy takes. This allows this tactic on any enemy that lacks a ranged attack, letting you wear down especially dangerous enemies unharmed. In general, this is a common tactic in any roguelike with a turn-based system complex enough to allow varying speeds.

    RPG 
  • This is the favourite tactic of the Rogue in Diablo 1. Its also favoured by any ranged enemies. (Damn snow witches!) The sorceror can also do it with spells, and the warrior can try it with a bow, though he's not nearly as good at it.
    • In Diablo 2, you could specialize in this strategy by using items and charms with FRW (faster run/walk) and self-guided missiles (the Amazon's Guided Arrow or the Necromancer's Bone Spirit.)
      • A Poison Bone Necromancer added a new level to this strategy by using Bone Wall, which created obstacles in your opponents' path and/or trapped them if they couldn't teleport (rather than speeding up themselves, they slowed down their opponent.)
      • In the .08 version of the expansion pack, this strategy was considered a game killer because of the skill Pierce. The guided arrow would pierce through the opponent, turn around, hit the opponent again, and again, and again. The Amazon could also release several Guided Arrows while the first one was still active, and thus 5-10 arrows would be automatically piercing through the opponent. People were killing game bosses offscreen in under a minute. Guided Arrow Amazons were routinely outlawed in player duels, and naked Amazons with only a weapon could defeat much stronger players.
      • A large number of area of effect (AoE) spells were used in this manner.
      • The Sorcerer's Blizzard, Firewall and Meteor spells were cast behind the sorcerer on enemies, then the sorcerer would run around in a circle around the spell's splash damage area so that the monsters would take the damage. With .09, the Druid and Assassin characters could also do this with their upgraded skills. The Sorceress' Blaze spell also worked very well for this at low levels, creating a line of fire wherever you walked. You didn't even have to turn around to hit them.
      • The Amazon's Lightning Fury would be used in a strategy called "herding." A large number of enemies were grouped together, and the Amazon would run in a circle casting Lightning Fury, avoiding damage. Sometimes, another player would help the Amazon by herding the monsters for them (usually they had skills or items to make them move faster.) As this strategy was first invented on the Cow Level, the helper became known as a "sheepdog."
      • The 1.10 patch brought in runewords, including Enigma which allows any class to use the Teleport skill, allowing for this tactic to be used far more effectively than running would among other things. Anyone can do this except the Amazon, as her slow casting speed means she'd be faster on foot.
  • This is possible in Knights of the Old Republic, but only in desperate times, and you'll still take a beating. A pattern of firing, taking a hit, retreating, healing, firing, taking a hit and so on can wear an enemy down. Against really strong foes or ones that keep dodging, mines will hasten the process considerably. You can beat the final boss this way if you can't disable his healing mechanism, but be prepared for a long fight, and pray you saved up as many healing items as could be mustered.
    • There is a easy way to defeat the second-to-last gladiator in Taris using this technique: Equip melee weapon, charge, as soon as he changes to to melee, run, equip blaster, shoot, when he changes to blaster, repeat. This works against any enemy that had different melee and ranged weapons.
    • One "realism" mod makes the game more like real Star Wars movies in that a hit from a blaster can really damage you, but the blaster bolt deflection capability of lightsabers is multiplied by a about a hundred. This makes it dangerous to get involved in a blaster duel with a strong ranged opponent. Still, if you level up right, you can Force-stun enemy Force users and while they're unable to deflect your blasters, simply shoot them in the head. Taking down the Big Bad this way was ... satisfying.
    • In the second game, when attacked on the Ebon Hawk, you can run to different parts of the ship, where your friends will delay Visas or whomever attacked you. In some cases they can injure them, in others they switch the focus so that you can take pot-shots. Kreia was the best for the fight against Visas. Sadly being extra sneaky and setting up a room full of mines to kite enemies through ahead of time is impossible, since the 'peaceful' and 'under attack' Ebon Hawks are implemented as separate maps.
  • A viable tactic in Fallout 3. Your best bet against Rad Scorpions and Mirelurks, it can also be deployed against melee super mutants and raiders, though you'll eventually be caught up with. Your only recourse against a behemoth, unless of course you have a mini-nuke on hand.
    • It is quite plausible to do the melee version against a Behemoth if you've got good reflexes and a fast character. Just time your attacks between its own, dodging back out of range inbetween. A Shishkebab and the Pyromaniac perk helps.
    • An unarmed character could too, in principle, but it would take an unnervingly long time Cherry Tapping. Explosives do the job quicker, even at moderate skill, but still require a lot of hit-and-run.
  • On the highest difficulty, this is possibly your best bet in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Screw the heavy armour and sword, normal clothes, a bow and high speed and athletics stat are your best bet for survival. Oh, and spells, for the mages out there. Of course, you then have to worry about archers and spell casters, but its better than certain death at the hands of overpowering melee opponents.
    • Melee attack patterns are so hilariously predictable in Oblivion though that it is entirely plausible (moreso than Fallout 3 even) to just backstep all the opponent's attacks and get your own in between them. And even if you decide to keep it ranged, On Target Spells aren't subject to gravity.
  • In Zoids Battle Legends, H&R is one of the most overkill tactics available. A Blade Liger or Zero Schnieder with nothing equiped but a booster or Ultra Zs can take out practically any non-boss Zoid. The New Century Zero tournament mode is easy as hell because of its lack of boss zoids.
  • If you're taking too much fire in Mass Effect 2 and the enemies are encroaching on your position, giving ground and running back to an earlier position lets you hide behind cover and shoot at them again!
    • On the level of story, this is how the asari prefer to fight - when forced into conventional combat, they lose their homeworld Thessia within days.
  • Pokémon:
    • The moves U-Turn and Volt Switch make an attack, then switch the user out for another party member.
    • The ability Regenerator causes a Pokémon to regain 30% of its hit points whenever it switches out. Some of the Pokémon who have it can also learn U-Turn.
    • There is also the Eject Button item which lets you switch after being hit, the Red Card item that forces your opponent to switch after hitting you, and various other moves (Whirlwind, Roar, Dragon Tail, Circle Throw) that force your opponent to switch, regardless of whether they want to or not. Combine with entry hazards and you can easily turn this strategy against the user, regardless of who is doing the switching.
  • A variant in The Last Remnant. Using healing herbs when backed into a corner and waiting for the inevitable few misses, or reinforcements if a union in another melee is doing better, before counterattacking, is a good desperation strategy.
  • Possible in the original two Fallout games for characters with enough Action Points. It only works on melee critters, but you can cripple the legs of just about anything to make walking a couple steps take up their entire turn. A PC would end up shooting once/twice and moving back with the remaining AP, or using a similar strategy for melee.
  • Works pretty well in Might and Magic; in VI, you can lay waste to hordes of goblins simply by having bows when they don't, and keeping at a safe distance from them, since your bows don't need ammunition. In VII you can even use the tactic to dispose of one or two quest-significant dragons, since they're large slow targets and their breath weapon is slow enough to miss you entirely in real-time mode. In both games, the tactic will work many other times too.
  • This tactic is a staple of most Roguelike games. Slowed monsters generally move once every two moves, allowing you to get a free attack each time you back up. It also carries over to other turn-based games where you have a ranged attack and can move faster than your target.
  • Final Fantasy VI and Final Fantasy IV: The After Years has Doom Gaze. This boss appears randomly as you fly or walk around a map, casts Death upon a start of a battle, then runs away after a few turns. Fortunately, its HP does not regenerated between each battle, so beating him up is just a matter of patience.
  • Final Fantasy XII: Cast Decoy on the armored guy, give everyone else guns or bows, and start shooting. FFXII is notable in that you can use a lot of MMORPG tactics.
  • Dragon Age II provides the Rogue class specialized skills based around this. Sneaking, evasion, quick charges and retreats, disorienting AoE's and additional Trick Bombs. The range and speed of the standard attacks can be used to hit then evade by switching between more distant targets.
  • In Spore, this technique can be used in the Creature stage to kill an Epic creature. You even get an achievement for it. Melee is out of the question due to the deadliness of the Epic's own melee attacks, though, so you have to use ranged spitting attacks.
  • Vital in Dark Souls. You can't take much, and multiple foes will easily circumvent what defenses you have, leaving drawing out foes from groups one by one and attacking and retreating against many bosses essential.
  • You can even do this in the turn-based Disgaea series. Enemy AI is generally programmed to rush at the weakest member of the team, so if an enemy is out of range, send a sacrifice forward to draw them out in range for your stronger characters. (Or, if your units have a ranged weapon equipped and/or can use magic, you can also do traditional hit-and-run tactics by staying outside of the enemy's effective range.)

    MMORPGs 
  • RuneScape has two kinds of kiting, one of which makes sense and one of which does not:
    • Mages have freezing spells they can use to hit and run in the conventional sense...
    • ...but they can also freeze a target and run UNDER him. Since you can only use melee attacks on adjacent squares, overlapping your paralyzed opponent renders him incapable of fighting back.
  • The rather generic Korean MMORPG Cabal has a character class called "Force Archer", which is basically the equivalent of a Squishy Wizard (as opposed to the actualy ingame Wizards, which are more of Glass Cannons). The only thing preventing the average Force Archer from being completely minced within seconds in a PVP scenario is the Fade Step skill, which is a sort of Flash Step in reverse. A smart Force Archer will take advantage of the skill to fire a few volleys at a foe, then Fade Step, launch a few more attacks, Fade Step, and repeat the cycle. Unfortunately, many players consider it equal to cheating, despite the fact that, ya know, its the entire point of the Force Archer class.
  • EverQuest. Possibly the only way anyone could level past, say, 15 without a group. And only a handful of classes could do it in the first place.
  • In World of Warcraft the hunter class has a quest at level 60 required to get an epic bow. The quest requires you to kill four elite demons with very nasty powers entirely solo, and for two of them Kiting is an absolute necessity, as they will instakill you if you get too close.
    • While bosses are usually immune to this, some encounters still require kiting his flunkies until a proper time comes to finish them off. In addition to hunters, frost mages also excel at this.
    • For a long time Lord Kazzak, a boss level demon who existed in the 'main world', had the potential to be kited out of his zone and all the way to Stormwind. Doing this was extremely difficult but was often very rewarding since Kazzak was impossible to kill after three minutes of engaging and would rampage through the city until a GM deleted him. Seeing a giant demon firing hundreds of shadow bolts and totally destroy the city. Priceless.See it here.
    • The hydra Ghaz'an is a rare example of a kiteable boss. Its slow movement speed meant that a favored way of handling it was to send a shadow priest or warlock to solo it.
    • The Maraudon instance features groups of green slimes that deal massive damage to anyone who near them but moved at an extremely slow speed. These days it is possible for a strong tank to face them down in melee with a good healer, but anyone else who approaches is likely to die very quickly. And a lot of groups don't know this, meaning that it's possible for everyone but the healer to wipe themselves out, leaving the healer alone to very very slowly kill them before resurrecting the rest.
    • The Cataclysm expansion now gives us the Whale Shark, which one hit kills anyone who gets too close to it, and heals/resets if the person it's targeting gets too far away from it.note  A successful kill provides players with absolutely no loot, and an in-game achievement stating this.
    • Patch 4.2 introduced a series of taming challenges for Hunters, as opposed to just casting Tame Beast on the target. Kiting is a requirement for taming Solix; the challenge requires players to pull her out of the lava she sits in and kite her until she loses her "Too Hot To Tame" ability, then taming her before she eats your face. Or cools down too much and dies instantly.
  • Kiting is a viable strategy for low-level Dark Magicians in Rappelz, thanks to being marginally faster than most mobs and having access to a pair of single-target damgage spells with quick casting and cooldown times. You can cast one spell while the other cools down, resulting in a mostly uninterrupted stream of direct damage. Because of their race, they also have a decent evasion stat, making it more likely that you'll avoid taking too much damage if the enemy gets a hit in.
  • Similarly, Fly FF has a mage class that specialises in hit & run tactics: elementors, whose wind-element AoE spell both does damage and has a chance of slowing mobs it hits. Combine this and some speed boosts, and you can run circles around your enemies as you kill them. Usually combined with fighting the highest level enemies you can find for optimal leveling speed. Rangers are also capable of HnR, although they don't have as reliable a slowing move. Bow jesters are also capable of kiting for either class, although they don't have an effective distance AoE. And Ringmasters, despite not having access to a ranged weapon or spells, are capable of HnR due to the fact that their primary AoE is dropped on the ground and does damage over 5-10 seconds, allowing them to lead mobs over it.
  • In Final Fantasy XI, kiting is broken up into normal kiting, where healers can be attacked if the kiters don't keep the mob's attention, and "super-kiting," where due to how the game's enmity system works, a kiter can be healed infinitely without having to do anything other than run. For obvious reasons, the latter doesn't work against many bosses.
  • Heck, just about any MMORPG that has ranged attackers as characters will have them doing this when playing solo, as they're usually quite squishy and won't last long in a serious melee. It's especially common with archers, who are typically not allowed to outdamage the mages despite being a DPS class and usually end up as a support class as a result.
  • This is practically a required tactic when doing high level missions in EVE Online, especially when going it alone. Turns out fighting off four dozen battleships, twice as many battlecruisers, and a handful of spider Frigates in your one single Battleship is a bit much.
  • Ships with battle cloak in Star Trek Online tend to use these tactics, particularly the more fragile ones such as Klingon Birds-of-Prey and the Romulan T'varo-class light warbird. Unlike a normal cloaking device, a ship with battle cloak can switch it on while engaged in combat, enabling them to GTFO if they take too much damage, run off to heal, and then return to try again. This is taken to a major extreme with the Klingon Bird of Prey Retrofit (based off of the Bird of Prey in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) and the T'varo Retrofit as both are outfitted with Enhanced Battle Cloak, allowing them to go in cloaked, fire torpedoes, then hitting the "Run Away" button before anyone finds them.

    Strategy Games 
  • The original inspiration for this trope was the horse archers of Age of Empires II. Used correctly, these guys could whittle down entire armies without taking a scratch when used right, shooting any melee units to death before tackling the now outnumbered archers. Combined with siege weapons, this took a Fragile Speedster force and made it into a Lightning Bruiser army from hell. Interestingly, there was an upgrade called Parthian Tactics in that game, though all it did was improve the armour of your horse archers - presumably, the logic behind it was the armour made the tactic more effective as enemy archers could still hit your horses since no units could attack while moving.
    • Truth In Television, of course; effective Horse Archery was the Game Breaker that allowed the Mongols to conquer empire after empire. The Mongols in the game had a unique unit which was even more deadly with these tactics.
  • Possible in Total War after Shogun. If you tried that there, your soldiers just randomly ran away. Damn samurai honour!
    • In Rome Total War the Parthians, a faction with pretty poor infantry but lots of horse archers, have the nickname of smoke for this reason. Particularly skilled or fiendish players recommend riding your horse archers on the right and back sides of enemy formations for extra punch (since shields don't cover either arc).
    • The default in Medieval Total War was that battles had a time limit; so you didn't even have to 'hit'. A fast cavalry unit could hold a province on its own merely by running away from the more massive but slower invading army.
      • Patched: you can find yourself suffering morale failure through being "Disheartened by continual retreat", whereupon your single unit flees the battlefield entirely. But at the right place and right time, it can still be an effective means of running down the clock.
  • A favorite tactic of the Mongols and Arab Horse Archers in Genghis Khan II: Clan of the Grey Wolf is to charge forward to get in range of the enemy, then slowly retreat while firing arrows at the pursuing enemy until out of arrows (and the enemy is worn down to about half his initial strength), then finally to charge in to finish them off in Melee. With smaller units, it's sometimes possible to avoid melee combat altogether and just keep wearing them down with arrows. A related tactics in sieges is to dash forward, fire off a volley of arrows, and then pull back out of arrow range in the same turn, thus denying the enemy inside the castle the opportunity to fire back.
  • Basically, any game with the Mongols, because of Truth in Television below.
  • In Advanced Strategic Command one of unit Features is "Move after attack". Also, attacks with range more than 1 hex don't provoke retaliation fire. Many units have both and they are either fast or hard to detect once they got away (planes, attack helicopters, submarines, speedboats). You do the math.
  • In the Fire Emblem games for consoles(except for FE3), mounted units could move to their remaining amount of squares after attacking.
  • The Terran Diamondback from Starcraft II is built for this sort of tactic. Its special ability allows it to fire while moving, unlike other units. (For obvious reasons, it's campaign-only.) They had a purchasable range upgrade, and the demonstration video for it showed a trio of Diamondbacks kiting other Diamondbacks.
    • Ranged units in various Real-Time Strategy games such as StarCraft and Warcraft. Ranged units, such as Dragoons, Hydralisks, and Goliaths, can be microed to kite melee or shorter-ranged units.
      • Marauders take it one step further and develop a "Hit and Walk" strategy. Their concussive grenades slow down incoming units so a few shots and then backing up will result in a painfully slow gait where the marauders flay them alive with missiles while strolling back a few paces and then turning around for another volley.
    • Zerglings can do this without ranged attacks as their maximum speed is over 6, which is nearly 3x the speed of a Marine. They can bolt in and out of bases with shocking speed and while they are weak individually, all those 5 damage taps at 1/2 a second apiece with 12 zerglings in a group add up FAST.
  • The Rocket Buggy in Command & Conquer: Generals is built for this trope. It's a fast-moving buggy with a long ranged, turret mounted launcher that fires salvos of rockets before reloading. The Humvee is good at it too: it's fast, can carry up to 5 infantry that can fire while moving (including snipers and missile infantry) and can benefit from a global +20% range buff.
  • Super Robot Wars has a pilot ability called "Hit & Away" which let a unit move after attacks or heals.
  • A particularly hilarious version shows up in the early ages of Empire Earth, where the AI focusses solely on attacking units. Meaning you can take an archer, have it attack, move it behind your main army, and watch the enemy get shredded as they try to kill the archer while making no attempt to fight the other units attacking them. It's possible to win the three huge battles against the Persians in Alexander the Great's campaign without losing a single unit.
  • In Rise of Nations, The Mongol and Nubian unique units, the Horde and Camel archers respectively have the ability to shoot while moving in addition to reloading faster than regular ranged cavalry.
  • Dawn of War: units can fire on the move at the cost of an accuracy penalty. However, in the last two expansions the inaccuracy has skyrocketed, making it a slightly less viable strategy. The Tau and Eldar are particularly good at it, as they have jumping troops/transports respectively.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • Red Faction:Guerrilla, as the name implies, heavily encourages this. In fact, some structures and bases are nearly impossible to take down without using such tactics, as unless you're using a Walker, the EDF will swarm you and gun you down with ease, even with the best weapons and armor, and given the nature of this game, cover never lasts long.
  • Mount & Blade features this tactic being used by Khergit horse archers and steppe bandits who will often circle around you or away from your force and pelt you with arrows thanks to their uncanny accuracy. Approaches Demonic Spider levels for starting characters. Of course, the game itself provides a skill which allows the player to do the same thing. Cue riding circles around enemy teams and picking them off with arrows.
  • Some of Prototype's War events can only be beaten within a reasonable timeframe like this. More specifically, the events where you are pitted against infected while wielding a grenade launcher. Since the weapon's splash damage will knock you on your back and cost you valuable seconds, fighting Hunters takes the form of targeting the Hunter and running backwards(or using the hang time during a jump) while Button Mashing the fire button (taking advantage of the infinite ammo for the duration of the event). Although it takes quite a few hits to kill a Hunter with a grenade launcher, hitting it repeatedly will essentially stunlock it.
  • In Minecraft before sprinting and knockback-enhancing enchantments were added, the standard way to kill a creeper with melee weapons was "hit it, then step back out of it explosion-triggering range for a few seconds, then repeat". It's then become possible to run at them, knock them out of range, the do it again without much fleeing.


Non-Video Game Examples

    Anime & Manga 
  • Usopp of One Piece uses this fighting style.
  • In Pokémon Special, the Sinnoh Gym Leaders employ this when fighting the Galactic admins. Whenever one of their Pokemon was close to fainting, Byron would pop it underground, give it a Potion, then pop it back out so it could continue fighting.
  • The Colossal Titan from Attack on Titan, in an odd example. Though it functions as a Mighty Glacier, this 60 meter tall horror is made so terrifying because its modus operandi involves literally appearing out of nowhere, doing a massive amount of damage, and then vanishing before the human soldiers are able to respond. This turns out to be significant, since it is the first clue that he's actually a Titan Shifter, using military training and equipment to pull off his attack on Wall Rose.
    • Users of the Three-Dimensional Maneuver Gear also employ this tactic; if their first hit against a Titan isn't lethal, they have to quickly get out of there, lest they become a quick meal.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Star Trek Online fic The Wrong Reflection, the Terran Empire has reportedly been using lightning raids by cloak-capable Defiant-class starships to disrupt the efforts of the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance to rebuild after their last full-scale war ten years ago.

    Film 
  • Parodied in Monty Python's Life of Brian - a lightly armoured gladiator uses what can only be described as 'Run & Run' tactics. He drops his weapon and sprints off around the circular ring, as his heavier-armoured opponent gives chase. A considerable time later "Urk... I think I'm having a cardiac arrest!"
  • As noted by the page quote, this is how the Turks are fought in Lawrence of Arabia.
  • In the second Crocodile Dundee film, the drug dealers chasing Mick and Sue into the Australian bush bring a party of about 10 guys with them. By the end of the movie, Mick's use of these tactics has reduced that number to 2. One of the drug dealers even lampshades this by noting that "He could have taken us any time he wanted to."

    Literature 
  • Used in A Song of Ice and Fire, in a duel between Prince Oberyn Martell, "The Red Viper", and Ser Gregor Clegane, "The Mountain". (Just look at those nicknames and just guess who is employing the hit and run tactics.) Oberyn uses a spear to keep his distance, and spends much of the duel almost toying with Clegane as he stays just out of reach, trying to force Clegane to admit to the murder of Oberyn's sister Elia all the while. After wearing him down, Oberyn delivers a crippling blow, but he underestimates Clegane's endurance. While Oberyn strings out the Coup de Grâce in an attempt to get Clegane to confess, Clegane, (despite being exhausted from a lengthy duel and impaled by a spear) still manages to Thwart The Coup De Grace and kills Prince Oberyn with his bare hands. Ultimately, they both end up dead, because the spear had been coated with a nasty poison that induced a drawn-out and painful death.
    • Bronn also uses these tactics when he fights in Tyrion's first Combat by Champion. Using only light armour and a shield, he lets his heavily mailed knightly opponent on a merry chase around the arena, using terrain and hit-and-run until the knight is too tired to fight properly. At which point Bronn pins him and sticks a knife in his eye. The scene serves as an Establishing Character Moment for the sellsword's Combat Pragmatist nature.
  • The favorite tactic of the Animorphs
  • In the Honor Harrington series, this is the overall strategy used by the Royal Manticoran Navy, the result of quite a bit of work to maintain a technology advantage, and the fact that Manticore sits at the hub of a Portal Network. In contrast, their enemies for much of the series, the People's Republic Navy, fighting for Haven, have far more territory (much of it being held by force to begin with) and a much larger fighting force. The Manticore wormhole junction provides the RMN a much greater degree of strategic mobility, allowing them to quickly move the bulk of their forces from one front to another, while the Havenites have to slog through their own interior, dealing with the logistical problems that entails.
  • A favored tactic of Rogue Squadron during the Bacta War. Armed with only a squadron (later two) of fighters and facing an enemy with multiple Star Destroyers, the Rogues decide to hit bacta convoys (the source of Isard's money and power). If the convoy is unguarded, they can take out any armed tenders, then take the bacta for their own use. If it is guarded, they wait for the enemy to launch fighters, fire off a few proton torpedoes at maximum range, and escape into hyperspace. This style of warfare is a virtually risk-free proposition for the Rogues, but subjects the Imperials to punishing attrition; not only do they usually lose one or two fighters each time, they have to run patrols constantly, straining their vessels. It also frustrates Isard to no end, contributing to her growing irrationality. On only two occasions do they face Isard's forces in a straight-up conflict: once when she obtains the services of an Interdictor cruiser, and once in an elaborate (and ultimately successful) plan to bring about her downfall.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Star Fleet Battles this is known as the "Kaufman Retrograde". Federation ships could retreat from a pursuing enemy, using their photon torpedoes to slowly destroy the enemy's shields and then the enemy themselves. It worked fine as long as you had room to run, but not so well when defending a fixed position.
  • In Palladium Books' Robotech Tabletop RPG 'verse a machine gun has to do 100 HP of damage (in a single burst, which is all but impossible) to a Humongous Mecha before it counts, so people with ordinary weapons can't use this strategy against heavy armor. However, you can use this strategy with land mines vs Humongous Mecha or Humongous Mecha vs naval or space craft.
  • In Games Workshop's The Lord of the Rings tabletop strategy game, a common tactic for Elf armies is to walk backwards at half speed while firing. It's been noted even in strategy articles that this tactic, if used in multiple games against the same opponent, may result in a heavily bruised throat as they lean over the table and throttle you.
  • The GEVs (Hovertanks) in Steve Jackson Game's Ogre are made of this trope. All other units move, then shoot. GEVs move, shoot, and move again.
  • Several armies operate this way in Warhammer 40K, often adding invisibility for good measure. Tau Stealthsuits, Eldar Rangers, Catachan Devils...
    • A favored tactic on the tabletop for the Eldar in days of yore when they could move, shoot, then move again, making a return to the table in their newest rulebook. Also their primary strategy in the spin-off game Battlefleet Gothic.
    • Taken Up to Eleven by the Dark Eldar, since it's literally the only way they can fight: they pop up from the Webway, hit the enemy with massive speed and firepower, grab the loot, and get the hell back in the Webway before Slaanesh notices and takes their souls (which s/he can't take in the Webway).
  • In Dungeons & Dragons and its spinoffs, this can easily be performed by ranged attackers; just take a single shot and move before or afterwards. Melee combatants can get in on the fun with the Spring Attack feat, which allows for attacking a single target whilst moving (the target must be attacked during the move, not at the start or end of it), without provoking attacks from that target. Some supplements add expanded versions, allowing for multiple attacks as part of the movement.

    Webcomics 
  • In The Order of the Stick, a Munchkin half-ogre with a spiked chain tries a Loophole Abuse variation on this against high-level fighter Roy. Unfortunately for the half-ogre, Roy manages to trick him into backing up off a cliff.
    • Also Belkar's approach toward fighting Miko when she pursued him after he broke out of prison.
  • In Erfworld, Parson directs a strike force in a strategy of destroying enemy siege units and then breaking off the engagement. This means that his side technically "loses" each battle, but deprives the enemy of a key resource they'll need to win the war.

    Real Life 
  • This was a favorite tactic of the Parthians and other cultures of the Eurasian steppes. The Parthians used well-armored cavalry armed with powerful composite bows to deliver a crushing victory over the Romans in the Battle of Carrhae. The 'Parthian Shot' (meaning a hostile gesture or remark made while leaving, often corrupted to the perfectly sensible "parting shot") is named for them.
    • This tactic required an amazing amount of ability at the time, as stirrups were not invented yet and the rider would have to control his horse with only his legs since he was busy with his back turned shooting his bow.
  • The use of skirmishers would completely change Greek warfare - prior to the proven use, battles were centered on the heavily-armored, spear-and-large-shielded hoplite in a dense and deep rectangular formation, where both sides' hoplite would meet and push against one another until one formation broke to flee and concede the battle. Skirmishers would easily whittle down the hoplite from afar while being lightly-armored to allow them to run back a bit as the hoplite attempted to approach them (slowly) until the hoplite all died or broke ranks and fled themselves, paving the way for more combined-arms warfare in Greece.
  • Genghis Khan was also a fan of this one. His feigned retreat, combined with this trope, was the bane of eastern european knights when he arrived in Europe.
  • Attila the Hun was also known to use this. His men would ride up, fire their arrows, and then suddenly retreat again before they could be engaged. Rinse and repeat.
    • Early Hungarian raiders too. They'd fire arrows to provoke the enemy into breaking ranks and join pursuit, luring them into an ambush before turning around on their horses and keep firing backwards. It worked until they met an opponent too disciplined to break ranks - the Battle of Augsburg which permanently put an end to Hungarian raids in Central and Western Europe.
    • This was actually tried with pistols. It never worked out as the pistols of the time were to unreliable as compared with horse archers.
  • A much used tactic of the Continental Army and the colonial militias during the American Revolution. Quite instrumental in ultimately defeating the British,who were used to lining up in rows and making themselves easy targets.
    • The Americans refusing to line up for battles is a bit of an urban legend. Once they had the opportunity to properly train the men, the Continentals fought that way as well, as it was the most effective way to use the primary battlefield weapons of the time: Unrifled muskets, with lots of vision-obscuring smoke. Minutemen and Rangers in the woods could harass an enemy army, but they could do little to defeat it. That said, General George Washington was famous for never engaging in battle with the British unless he already had his retreat planned out, meaning that even if he was defeated in battle, he could escape with his army intact to fight another day.
  • Every modern fighting service has used variations of this tactic since before the Byzantine Empire, making this Older Than Feudalism. Even tanks and artillery do it.
    • You could even argue that the famous Center Peel is a hit-and-run tactic.
  • Pretty much what air warfare is all about. Fly in, dish out some Death from Above, then get the heck out of dodge before the enemy can shoot back. One or two pilots can cause massively disproportionate amounts of harm to an enemy army on the ground, provided they don't manage to make enough of their weapons connect with him before he's out of the area. Aircraft carriers add another element to this, with the airbase being able to keep on the move to make it even harder to get back at them.
    • On a more micro scale, these are the sort of tactics used by the Americans to defeat the Japanese Zero and Ki-45 fighters, both highly nimble aircraft that American fighters couldn't beat in a close-quarters maneuvering fight. What American fighters did have, was More Dakka, heavier armor, and (aside from some early fighters like the F4F) were much faster. The Corsair, Hellcat, and P-38 all relied on hit-and-run tactics, using their superior horsepower to stay faster and above their opponents, and make high-speed slashing passes before extending out to set up another run. These tactics were pioneered by the Flying Tigers in China, where the heavy P-40 couldn't turn with the A5M (a predecessor to the Zero) and Ki-45, but it could certainly out-run and out-dive them, so they would make high-speed diving attacks against the bombers, before running for home.
  • There are Mixed Martial Artists who use this. Diego Nunes, for example. Kick and move, kick and move.
    • "Sticking and moving" has been a boxing staple for decades.
  • Mao Zedong, who literally wrote the textbook on guerrilla warfare, summarizes the tactics as:
    "The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue."
    -On Guerrilla Warfare (1937)
  • A variation of this is to use conventional forces as the foundation or rallying point of a pro-insurgency campaign. In this the conventional army forces it's enemies to keep together lest it be defeated in detail while partisans harass logistics, dominate no-mans-land, and are able to do so with impunity because their enemies cannot disperse to pursue them. Examples of this synergy was The American Revolution and the Peninsular War. In both cases it was brought about the natural and political environment of the war rather then being deliberately set up by any one general.
    • On a tactical scale, it is common to combine light infantry skirmishers with a line infantry backup to achieve an analogical effect on a given battlefield.
  • Much of what we call "guerilla" and "conventional" warfare is a misnomer. "Guerilla" warfare and its cousins (espionage, vendetta, raiding, scouting, and for that matter crime vs law enforcement) are the normal way for humans to fight. So normal, in fact, that it is perhaps best to reserve the term "guerilla" to a coordinated strategy involving Hit-and-Run Tactics, rather then the tactics themselves which are something known to all times and places. What we call "conventional" war is actually the abnormal kind and refers to strategy directed at the enemy's forces, territory or most vital infrastructure and designed to strike sharp rather then incremental blows; it is risky even for major states, and impossible for smaller organizations. The only reasons it is called "conventional" are probably that (a) it fits the Rule of Drama and (b) it requires lots of personnel, so most soldiers and officers writing memoirs will be engaged in it. Any given state will only be engaged in "conventional" war about once a generation at most, but will be involved in Hit-and-Run Tactics constantly.


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Grapple MoveVideo Game Tactical IndexImmune to Flinching
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