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Hit-and-Run Tactics

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"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 favored 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 (or at least shorter ranged) 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. It's 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 by La Résistance. Since resistance fighters are typically poorly armed, it's more strategic for them to rush in and do some damage to a well-equipped, well-trained conventional army unit, and then disappear into the jungle before they fire back.

Video Game Examples

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  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
    • Wolves attack by spreading out around Link, circling around him at a distance and trying to wear him down with attacks from multiple directions, quickly darting in and out to bite at him before retreating back to beyond melee range.
    • Lizalfos also make heavy use of this to take advantage of their high speed and agility, contrasting the more direct aggression of Bokoblins and Moblins. In melee combat, they favor quick, darting offensives, delivering a flurry of blows before leaping back several meters and out of your reach.

    Action Games 
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum: This can happen 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.
  • Dark Chronicle: A viable tactic. 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.
  • Drakengard: Very viable in the Ground missions. Don't try it when on the Dragons though...
  • Escape Velocity: So common in the games that it's got a nickname: The Monty Python Maneuver.
  • 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.
  • Left 4 Dead: This is the second best way to deal with a Tank, provided you're not injured. The best is with a molotov.
  • Monster Hunter: This is the only way to beat the large monsters that serve as the main foes. Monsters can take down a player in three or four consecutive hits, while even the strongest weapon types deal a small fraction of a monster's health at a time, meaning players must learn a monster's tells, how to dodge attacks, and how to time their own attacks so they won't be trapped in an animation when two tons of wyvern comes crashing into them in order to win.
  • Star Control:
    • The Spathi Eluder is among the fastest ships in Star Control II, with a rearward-firing guided missile weapon that is tailor made for this sort of tactic. 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!"
    • 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.
    • The Mmrnmhrm X-Form on its "Y" form qualifies too. While it has the maneuverability of a brick and its missiles cause very little damage, they both cost almost no energy and their range are among the best in the game. Plus the ship is quite fast.
  • Twisted Metal: This sort of tactic is recommended for lightly-armored characters in the series when fighting a more heavily armored opponent.
  • Mandatory tactics for light tank drivers in World of Tanks. Their major advantages are speed and stealth, so most light tanks will rapidly sneak up to a critical or vulnerable target, cripple or destroy it, and flee before the target or its friends can swing their guns around to punish such temerity. This is particularly true of vehicles that have to rely on an autoloader, such as high-tier French tanks; when the autoloader magazine is full, they enjoy the benefits of having lots of firepower at their immediate disposal, but when it's empty, it can mean an agonizingly long wait (sometimes almost a minute!) of remaining out of sight before completing the reload and returning to the fight.

    Fighting Games 
  • 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.
  • In PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Jak's moveset lends itself to this approach. Some others like Cole and Sackboy can pull it off too.
  • As Spawn in Soulcalibur 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.
  • In Street Fighter IV, some matchups go down like this.
  • 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.

    First Person Shooter 
  • The Incinerate! Plasmid from BioShock encourages this tactic in its description!
  • 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.
  • 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 Spider Mastermind pretty much requires this (unless you gamble on a point-blank BFG shot).
  • In the first DLC of The Evil Within, "The Assignment," this is almost definitely the strategy you'll employ in the fight against Joseph, seeing as how he's searching for you in a small space and all you have to defend yourself with is an axe that you can only use one swing at a time. Sneak around waiting for a chance to attack him from behind, immediately run away and hide while he's hot on your trail, repeat.
  • The Wraith of Evolve needs to be played this way for success. Its traversal is excellent for getting in and out of combat, Warp Blast combines getting into combat range with attacking, and Abduction lets you bring an opponent to you while isolating them from their team.
  • Halo:
    • In Halo: Combat Evolved, this tactic is especially 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 is 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. This particularly applies to enemies who can melee, since their melee attacks are often stronger than their guns.
    • Subsequent mainline games make this less necessary since all of your health now regenerates if you wait long enough without being hit, but on Legendary difficulty, your best tactic by far is still to run and hide every time your shields are down.
    • 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).
  • Evoked in an 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".
  • In Overwatch, the character Sombra has a translocater that she places where she wishes to be later. She then makes herself invisible, runs off, reveals herself and starts to shoot at an opponent and when injured, she can press "E" to return to the position where she dropped her translocater.
  • 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...
  • 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 be 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 around an area 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!

  • League of Legends:
    • Akali's moveset revolves around her passive, Assassin's Mark, where if she lands an ability on an enemy, it'll create a ring of smoke around them; if she ducks out of this ring, she gains bonus damage and range on her next attack. This one ability encourages her to rapidly duck in and out of direct combat to make the most of her damage.
    • Gnar's kit is partly built around this. By default, his Hyper passive gives him movement speed every third consecutive strike, his boomerang slows enemy movement down, his Hop skill can keep him out of harm's way and he has natural movement speed bonus in this form. Then overtime he becomes Mega Gnar and turns into a full Lightning Bruiser.
    • Because of her fast minion-killing from her minigun combined with fast turret-shredding from her rocket launcher, it's not uncommon to find Jinx pushing towers down off to the side then making use of her passive, which grants movement speed on kills and turret takedowns, to get the hell out. Of course, it's curtains if she doesn't start running soon enough.
    • Kai'Sa's kit lends to a very kite-heavy playstyle of weaving in and out of range with a replenishable speed boost and blasting foes apart by stacking her passive, dealing a huge chunk of damage landing her shots well.
    • Lillia's passively gains a speed boost every time she lands an ability, encourages her to land her hits then back off to avoid retaliation. This gets easier and easier the more abilities she connects, letting her run circles around the whole battlefield.
    • Pyke's abilities give him a lot of mobility to lurk around enemies, but his passive keeps his health very low, barring him from getting tanky and thus can't survive a direct brawl. Instead he's meant to pick off enemies then slink back out of vision to quickly regain his health so he can do it all over again.
    • Singed's kit encourages you to do this with his Poison Trail by running away from chasing opponents to wither them down with toxic fumes. This mostly works against melee champions and not so much ranged champions for obvious reasons.
    • Teemo doesn't do so great in teamfights, so many players resort to deliberately separating from the group and solo split-push unguarded towers with his high attack speed before running away. It helps that due to his various escape mechanics (including invisibility, a tuck-and-roll, and the infamous mushrooms), a Teemo is more likely than other champions to actually escape once someone tries to come and stop him.
    • Vayne's innate movement speed from her passive and a very spammable dodge roll encourages players, epsecially in higher ranks, to kite the crap out of approaching opponents. It's not uncommon for Trinity Force to build in Vayne as well because of this, granting even more attack and movement speed.

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

  • An essential part of 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Several of the phrases available to include in the hints that you can leave on the ground for other players encourage this as well, such as "ranged battle", "luring it out", "eliminating one at a time", "fleeing", etc.
  • Diablo series:
    • This is the tactic of the Rogue in Diablo (1997). Its also favored by any ranged enemies. (Damn snow witches!) The sorcerer 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 II, 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.
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Throughout much of the series, this is a very viable strategy, especially for Fragile Speedster ranged combat focused characters and Glass Cannon mages. As long as you're able to drop most enemies before they can get into melee range of you, you can forgo things like armor and heavy melee weapons, allowing you to focus on mobility (and lowering your carry weight so you can haul more loot).
    • Oblivion:
      • At the highest difficulty settings, this strategy is your best bet for survival. Forgo heavy armor and melee weapons. Instead, outfit yourself in normal clothes (or light armor at most), grab a bow, and focus on increasing your speed through the Athletics skill. (Substitute spells for the bow if you prefer playing as a mage.) Fire, fall back, fire, fall back...repeat until the enemy is dead. You still have to worry somewhat about enemy archers and mages, but it is better than the certain death that comes at the hands of the overpowered melee opponents in the highest difficulty settings.
      • Alternatively, but still in line with the trope, you can take advantage of the predictability of enemy melee attacks instead. When you see them going to swing (especially obvious with large two-handed weapons), use your speed to backstep and dodge. Get a couple of jabs in while they reset for their next attack, and repeat until they are dead.
  • 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.
  • It's also 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.
  • 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 is 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.
  • 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 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 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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 but have the advantage of attacking on the move.
  • CABAL Online 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Final Fantasy XIV gives Dragoons an interesting option in this regard with Elusive Jump, which moves them away from an enemy while lowering their enmity. And then they can use another jump ability to get right back into the action when its save.
  • Similarly, Flyff 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • In the MechWarrior series, hit-and-run tactics are vital for light battlemechs to threaten the Heavy and Assault mechs that mount weapons heavier than the entire light mech. In Mechwarrior Living Legends, the Solitaire light mech is purpose-built for kiting; it mounts a single massive Shoulder Cannon on top of the fastest mech in the game, but carries less armor than the arm of some assault mechs and has a heavily restricted firing arc. Solitaire pilots must make heavy use of their speed to unload their arsenal then get the hell outta dodge.

    Shoot 'em Up 

    Strategy Games 
  • 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 Advance Wars, adopting this tactic with Battle Copters makes them deadly owing to their great mobility, decent attack power against most other units, high resistance to most enemy attacks, and how all the units that can effectively fire on them (Anti-Air, Missiles, and Fighters) all tend to one-shot them. Keeping them in one area for too long will render them useless as your opponent will counter them with an Anti-Air but they are practically unstoppable if you keep moving them about the map and harrassing other units, and even if your opponent builds a Fighter to take one down that's a hard win for you as you forced them to blow $20,000 on a unit that can only attack air units just to stop your $9,000 helicopter from laying waste to their troops.
  • The limitations of the AI in Age of Empires made this a highly effective tactic in a variety of situations.
    • Units tend to automatically attack enemies that they can see, but stop pursuing once those enemies disappear into the Fog of War, allowing mounted archers to wreak havoc on infantry and then easily open up the range again.
    • Against slower missiles like stones, or at very long arrow range, a skilled player with a fast unit can successfully dodge sideways. The Ballistics upgrade makes it harder to pull off, but not impossible. The gap between enemy shots then gives you a moment to fire back before dodging again. In this way, a single long-ranged unit can hit even units with equal range and get away unscratched. As a bonus, when you dodge sideways, you're still in the attacker's range and therefore they won't move to pursue — so your return shots are guaranteed hits. This is especially useful when fighting catapults.
  • 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.
  • The Brotherhood of Nod in the Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series exhibit this doctrine in their vehicles which are typically Fragile Speedsters, be it buggies, attack bikes, light tanks, stealth tanks, Drill Tanks, etc. compared to GDI's slower but heavier armored vehicles.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • The Dark Eldar's transports allow the units to fire their weapons when inside, and their jetbikes get an upgrade that increases their accuracy even while moving.
  • A particularly hilarious version shows up in the early ages of Empire Earth, where the AI focuses 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 the Fire Emblem games for consoles(except for FE3), mounted units could move to their remaining amount of squares after attacking.
  • Into the Breach: Chen Rong and Archimedes both have the ability to reposition after firing. Chen's is less powerful, only allowing them to sidestep by one square; Archimedes's is stronger, allowing an entire second move, but requires a power core to function.
  • A preferable way of attacking enemies in Planet Blupi, since you only rely on items to do the job. Basically, you drop the item (optional: you can activate them if they can be activated) then run to safety. Not applied to dynamites if you choose to activate them, though, as it kills the Blupi activating one on the spot.
  • 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.
  • 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 Diamondbacks successor is the Cyclone which continuously fire missiles at its target even when on the move.
  • Super Robot Wars has a pilot ability called "Hit & Away" which let a unit move after attacks or heals.
  • Possible in the Total War games 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.
    • In general, using only this tactic is discouraged. Unless you outgun the enemy by a large margin, your horse archers won't have the punch and ammunition to destroy the enemy completely, and even small spearman formations are enough to destroy your lightly armored horse archers in meleenote . You can retreat and fight again, but it will count as a defeat in your profile, the enemy will be able to heal their wounded, your general might suffer stat penalties, and you will suffer all the penalties on the strategic map as if it was a complete rout. It's an amazing tactic to finish off stragglers, but it's not suitable for major engagements.
    • In Total War: Warhammer III, the Daemons of Tzeentch factions are based around this, with all their units having recharging magic Deflector Shields, their flying units like the screamers, and a general focus on ranged and magic. The Daemons of Slaanesh also fall into this role, with their high speed, high armour piercing and bonuses to flanking charges, but low armour.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • 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, then do it again without much fleeing.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Non-Video Game Examples

    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan:
    • The Colossal Titan is 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.
  • Usopp of One Piece uses this as part of his fighting style. Combined with traps, lies and deception, this makes up for his poor physical strength, and makes him a much more powerful fighter than you'd think at first glance.
    • Pica of the Don Quixote Pirates uses this to fight Zoro. His Stone-Stone Fruit powers mean he can merge with and control any rock in the area to crush his opponent, but Zoro is so powerful that Pica has to fight defensively. When Zoro manages to corner Pica, the latter goes down in one shot.
  • In Pokémon Adventures, 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.
  • Rebuild World: Akira takes out The Swarm of Spider Tank like Mechanical Monsters like this in his Cool Bike while testing out new equipment, weaving between buildings and only engaging small groups at a time, which gets him unusually high praise from his Virtual Sidekick Alpha.
  • This is the favorite tactic of Xellos in Slayers, combining moderately-damaging attack and Teleport Spam. Usually reserved for a slow death / nonlethal takedowns, he has bigger attacks in reserve, should the need arise.
    Xellos: "If you can't hit me with big attacks, there's no point in fighting. However... small attacks can hurt when they are repeated several times!"

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Monster X, Mothra, Scylla, and Monarch's military forces all respectively use hit-and-run tactics against Keizer Ghidorah and MaNi/Elder Brother during the Final Battle at some point or another.
  • Saruman of Many Devices: This tactic actually sees surprisingly little usage, considering that the armies of Isengard have pistols, rifles, and warg steeds. In most engagements, they just don't need to retreat. However, it's used to great effect in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, when a group of mûmakil approaches the Isengard artillery. As powerful as the field pieces are, they still can't kill all the mûmakil fast enough to prevent a devastating counterattack; however, the wargs pulling them are faster than mûmakil, allowing them to fire a salvo and then open up the range before firing again.
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Crocodile Dundee II, 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."
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: The Company's method of dealing with the trolls they encounter, due to the heights of both parties.
  • As noted by the page quote, this is how the Turks are fought in Lawrence of Arabia.
  • MonsterVerse:
    • Godzilla (2014): The male MUTO uses this kind of strategy when fighting Godzilla.
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): In her imago form, Mothra at first uses this approach when engaging Ghidorah in Boston, though it's implied she might've gotten more physical if Rodan hadn't intervened and forced her into a more direct one-on-one with him. She shows she's very much capable of brawling, however.
  • 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!"
  • In the climactic Sword Fight of Rob Roy, Master Swordsman and Fragile Speedster Archie is intent on using these tactics in his duel against Rob, who is bigger, stronger, and has a heavier blade, but is also considerably slower. The result is Archie scoring several blows that are insignificant on their own, but combine to weaken Rob and cause him to bleed out and exhaust his stamina, all while Archie remains safely untouched. Archie then combines it with Attack the Injury by going after Rob's injured ribs, causing Rob to collapse in pain and exhaustion. Too bad for Archie that he spent a little too long gloating, allowing Rob to stop the killing blow and successfully counterattack, killing Archie with a single blow.

  • The favorite tactic of the Animorphs. In one corner: an empire of Puppeteer Parasites who have already enslaved at least three host species and are well on their way to conquering a fourth (humanity). In the other: six teenagers. This is about the only strategy available to our heroes.
  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): The ants greatly struggle to penetrate the Powered Armor of the Abyssal Legion, making them unable to completely stop the Legion's advance. However, they employ harassment and guerrilla tactics to make that advance a nightmarish experience for the Legionaries involved.
    The traps, the secret tunnels, the ambush attempts, the constant probing on the flanks, sneak attacks trying to cut off their supplies, attempted tunnel collapses, mental assaults, barrages of spells, reinforced stone walls bristling with spikes. It was brutal, draining and constant. At any moment there could be four or five tunneling attempts going on in different locations throughout the area of Dungeon they'd captured. Not a single one had ever succeeded, but the ants didn't stop trying. At first Myrrin had thought they were just being stupid, but she'd seen how draining it had been for the mages and auxiliaries to haul their detecting equipment around, setting it up all over again every time the front moved. They even had to staff the thing in rotating shifts, not for a single moment allowing the array to be unattended.
    If their vigilance ever slipped, even for a period of minutes, the ants would be behind them, filling the tunnels in an instant and crawling over every wall and ceiling as they sought to inflict any damage they could.
  • In The Dresden Files, the Alphas are a group of werewolves and tend to favor this as their default tactic. One of them will attack and when the enemy tries to hit back the others will attack from the flank or rear in a manner reminiscent of the hunting tactics of real wolves.
  • A Hero's War: When Morey launches a revolution to free Illastein's slaves, a party of fifty knights is sent to hunt him down and stop him. They're able to invent a defence against his new magic bullets, but they're beaten by his guerrilla tactics; his troops snipe individuals, mounts, or tents, then vanish away into the night, over and over again, leaving the knights worn out and jumping at shadows. The one time there's actually a pitched battle, Morey's forces hide in trenches to minimise casualties, then slip away as the knights advance, leaving behind nothing but a shrapnel bomb. More than half of the knights survive to return home, but they're weary and demoralised, having entirely failed in their objectives, and Morey has a valuable PR victory that rallies more followers to his cause.
  • 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.
  • Into the Hinterlands: The Riders use these to great effect, shattering a Brasilian troop column in the first book. Allenson learns well from them and is able to use raids to similarly destroy a Terran relief army, buying time for Brasilian troops to capture the Terran outposts in the Hinterlands.
  • Ranger's Apprentice book four sees this tactic turned around on the Temujai (Mongols). As a nation of horse archers, they're accustomed to being the ones wearing an enemy down while staying out of range. But Halt, who is familiar with their tactics, organises the outnumbered Skandians (Vikings) to use their superior familiarity with the terrain for endless night raids on the Temujai supply wagons, killing a few and then vanishing away in the dark, before returning later to hit them at a different point. The impact of the raids on the Temujai logistics, morale, and travel speed is considerable, giving the main Skandian army time to train its own archers before the main battle.
  • Pretty much every single battle in Redwall is fought like this, as the heroes are always outnumbered by the villains' massive hordes.
    • Knowledge of the surrounding terrain also plays a factor (the villains' only interest in the environment is "what kind of food can we get from it"), and anytime squirrels fight vermin in the forest is essentially a Curb-Stomp Battle in the squirrels' favor thanks to attacking from the treetops and running to a different tree, running the vermin ragged.
    • Combined with The Siege in Lord Brocktree, where Ungatt Trunn's innumerable Blue Hordes have conquered the fortress of Salamandastron. Hoever, vast hordes require vast amounts of food, so the Bark Crew attacks the foragers instead, letting them collect all they can before stealing the loot (so much of it, in fact, that the woodlanders are running out of space to store it). Adding insult to injury, they force the foragers to return neck-deep in seawater, which washes the blue dye from their fur (the dye is meant to be a show of loyalty to Trunn) and deliver insulting messages as well.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Used 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.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • 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, costing only fuel and torpedoes, 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.
    • This in general is the strategy of the Rebel Alliance through most of its existence: the Galactic Empire is much larger and has an immense fighting force (to the point its military still outnumbered the New Republic even after its fragmentation after the Battle of Endor and years of losses and infighting while the former Rebels constantly built up their forces, with only the immense losses during Operation Shadow Hand reversing the situation) but relies mostly on larger ships and cheap fighters that aren't hyperspace capable, thus the Rebels relied mostly on high-performance hyperspace-capable fighters that would drop out of hyperspace, fire a salvo of torpedoes at Imperial ships, and then either press the attack or retreat depending on what they were facing and how much damage they had done. The Empire built a large fleet of interdictor cruisers and Ton-Falk escort carriers (cheap ships that carry a disproportionate amount of fighters) specifically to counter that and force the Rebels in battles they couldn't win, but the Rebels not only still won far more engagements they lost, they even outright stole a number of escort carriers for their own use up until the Battle of Endor, where the Rebels, forced in a loopsided battle they couldn't run from, managed to kill the Emperor and decimate the elite Death Squadron, causing the Empire to fragment.
  • In Isaac Asimov's science fiction novel The Stars, Like Dust this is how the Tyranni conquered the Nebular Kingdoms two generations before the action of the book: Squadrons of "small, flitting ships that had struck and vanished, then struck again" were able to defeat the "lumbering titanic ships" of their enemies, which "found themselves flailing at emptiness and wasting their stores of energy" before the Tyranni ships reduced them to scrap. Even fifty years after the conquest, Tyrannian cruisers are still notably small and fast.
  • In Temeraire, the British Aerial Corps uses hit-and-run tactics on Napoleon's invasion of Great Britain; swoop in with their dragons, destroy all equipment and Leave No Survivors, and flee before the French aerial companies can react. The brutality of these attacks make the French more vicious in their occupation, turning the previously complacent or indifferent British civilians against the occupiers.
  • In Warrior Cats, ThunderClan has a technique they call the Lightning Strike where they sneak up on the opponents, attack, flee into the trees, and then attack right away again when the enemies aren't expecting it yet (since "lightning doesn't strike twice in one place").

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones: Bronn and Oberyn both use this tactic against heavily armoured opponents during their respective duels. It worked for Bronn, less so for Oberyn, who made the mistake of getting too close. In "The Dance of Dragons", Ramsay's raiding party manages to set several of Stannis's tents on fire, burn the food supplies, and sabotage their weapons store before riding away.
    • House of the Dragon: Despite having two Dragon Riders, the Velaryon forces are bogged for a while in a war of attrition against the Cradbfeeder's forces in the isles of the Stepstones. The latter hide in their caves, then go out of them to strike, then retreat back in the caves at the first sight of dragons coming for them.
  • Star Trek
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Klingons (mostly when led by General Martok) use Birds-of-Prey to launch lightning-quick raids against the Dominion. Sisko compares them to an old Earth cavalry raid.
    • Star Trek: Discovery: The titular Cool Starship is equipped with an experimental "spore drive" that allows her to instantly jump anywhere in known space. This is often utilized by launching a Hyperspeed Ambush against the Klingons, followed quickly by a Hyperspeed Escape.
    • Star Trek: Picard: In "Nepenthe", Elnor takes out Narissa's minions by darting in and out of various crawlspaces and gaps to perform sneak attacks.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Battletech: The bread and butter of lighter 'mechs, jump-jet capable 'mechs and 'mechs with long-ranged but heat-intensive weaponry, is to pop up and take potshots at enemy 'mechs when they're not effectively able to fire back (usually on turns when you've won initiative) and then retreat and sink the excess heat before they can counterattack. Mechs like the JND-7 Jenner, PHX-1 Phoenix Hawk and the GRF-1N Griffin are prime examples of mechs that fit into one or more of these categories.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • 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.
    • In battle, mercury dragons prefer to capitalize on their speed and agility by harrying their foes with quick darting strikes from the direction of the sun, before swiftly retreating to seek out another opening.
  • In Games Workshop's The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Several armies operate this way, often adding invisibility for good measure.
    • The Tallarn Desert Raiders specialize in agile skirmishing tactics, darting among enemy formations to strike at vulnerable or important spots and then immediately withdrawing to seek out another opportunity.
    • 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.
    • With the Dark Eldar, 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).

  • 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.
  • 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, repeatedly attacking with his weapon's longer reach and then stepping back, so that Roy will have to step into his reach (provoking an attack of opportunity) in order to retaliate. Unfortunately for the half-ogre, Roy manages to trick him into backing up off a cliff.
    • After Miko defeats the entire protagonist party by herself twice, she gets into a duel with Belkar when he breaks out of prison in Azure city. Using his racial and class bonuses to concealment, movement and throwing attacks, Belkar managed to knock Miko out and has to wake her up to continue his "fun".
  • Outsider: As Loroi ships are much faster than and have greater long-range firepower than their Umiak counterparts, but are far fewer and much less robust, the primary tactic for Loroi raider fleets is to quickly strike at enemy targets before retreating and engage in running battles when they can't avoid protracted engagements.

    Real Life 
  • 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. Field artillery are the military equivalent of a Squishy Wizard, able to deal out massive damage from a long range but unable to resist a determined counterattack. It's made even worse by the use of rocket weapons, which not only give visible smoke trails but require a longer time to reload than gun artillery. Therefore, standard tactics are to fire, then immediately leave the area before the enemy can determine your position, then fire again, and repeat as needed. The modern infantry tactic Center Peel is a hit-and-run in reverse.
  • 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.
  • During the Lusitanian Wars, the chieftain Viriathus favored the tactic called concursare by the Romans: he would order his warriors to charge in a disorganized mass, stop abruptly before clashing lines with the Roman legions, turn their backs and retreat while throwing javelins and sling stones at them, and repeat. Through this method, which sometimes needed several iterations through a day to make an effect, they got the disciplined Roman infuriated and prone to break formation in the process of chasing them, which eliminated their main advantage and allowed the Lusitanians to lead them to ambushes in unfavorable terrains.
  • 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.
  • Ögödei Khan was also a fan of this one. The Mongol feigned retreat, combined with this trope, was the bane of Eastern European armies 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 too unreliable as compared with horse archers. The Finnish Hakkapeliittas found out the best tactics with pistols was to charge the enemy on gallop, shoot one at 10 m distance of the enemy, the other at 5 m and then engage him with sword.
  • Historically, cavalry (even heavy cavalry) was often used for this on a tactical level. When encountering troops disciplined enough that they wouldn't break ranks and flee at the sight of a cavalry charge (civilians and levies would often immediately lose formation against a cavalry charge and get run down; drilled professionals like Roman Legions or late medieval pikemen rarely would and would keep their shield- or spearwall up), the cavalry would abort the charge at the last minute and wheel around the side of the infantry, throwing javelins, shooting bows point-blank or using spears or lances to attack the edges as they did. After a few rounds of these feigned charges, defenders would often get tired and demoralized even if little actual damage was done: The aforementioned Battle of Carrhae basically involved exposing the Roman shieldwall to hours of feigned cavalry charges and close-range arrow bombardment (and destroying the Roman cavalry when it tried to break out) until the Roman army broke.
  • 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.
  • The British Empire also often used this on a strategic level. Britain's population was much smaller than that of its continental rivals, which meant it could not sustain a protracted war effort, but with its vast financial resources, dominant navy and extensive contacts with allies and vassals abroad, Britain punched well above its weight. Standard procedure in a war was to bankroll a continental ally who did possess the raw manpower to fight their battles, while at the same time using the Royal Navy to seize overseas colonial possessions and then prevent their recapture; these possessions could then be either brought into the fold or used as bargaining chips at the Peace Conference. World War II demonstrated the drawbacks of this approach: when France fell in 1940, Britain lost its biggest continental ally and was forced to face Germany and Italy alone, which reduced Britain to essentially surviving and annoying the Nazis while seeking support from other powers, chiefly the United States; and when Japan entered the war, things went From Bad to Worse because now Britain's own overseas assets became liabilities and the Royal Navy could not compete with Japan's own Imperial Navy.
  • 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) much more speed. 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.
    • The De Haviland Mosquito was originally designed around this tactic, a light bomber that sacrificed defensive armament for extra speed and dealt with enemy fighters by outrunning them.
    • Ironically, the German Luftwaffe would end up using the same boom-and-zoom tactics that the Americans used against the Japanese. As the air war over Europe progressed, the Luftwaffe's propeller planes were unable to compete against fighter escorts, which had superior numbers and agility. In response, the Germans began deploying Me 262 fighter jets that would use their superior speed to launch quick strikes against bombers and quickly fly away before fighter escorts could respond. After initially success, the Germans began building new rocket planes like the Ba 349 Natter and Me 163 Komet that were designed for boom-and-zoom tactics but these models were too unreliable and difficult to control. Even the Me-262 lacked the numbers and reliability to launch consistent strikes against the bomber formations.
    • Ilmari Juutilainen, 94-kill Finnish Air Force ace, described aerial combat as: "Fighting six to eight enemies simultaneously is the most difficult. If there is one to four enemies, you can engage them in a dogfight and use superior flying and fighting skills. If there are six to eight, it becomes impossible to keep track of them simultaneously. But if there are twenty to one hundred enemies, it becomes easy. Just attack either from altitude or from below at dead angle, use the speed and momentum, surprise them and scatter their formation. You can pick one or two at will, and then zoom up or dive out. This is the idea of pendulum tactics. Repeat until the enemy jettisons their bombs and flees."
  • There are Mixed Martial Arts fighters 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 modern East Asian 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 its 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 than 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.
    • An example of intentional synergy was the D-Day landings. While the main force was landing on the beaches, the French Resistance (who were effectively being commanded by the British) blew up bridges, sabotaged railroads, and messed with signs on roadways preventing the Nazis reinforcements from easily communicating or traveling to the Allies beachheads.
  • Much of what we call "guerrilla" and "conventional" warfare is a misnomer. "Guerrilla" 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 "guerrilla" to a coordinated strategy involving Hit-and-Run Tactics, rather than 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 than 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.
  • Francis Marion, aka "The Swamp Fox", was notorious for using this method against his enemies in combat. After learning that the the Cherokee used the landscape to their advantage during the French and Indian War (namely by concealing themselves in the Carolina backwoods and mounted devastating ambushes), Marion would adopt those tactics while battling the British during the Revolutionary War. He and his men would frequently utilize modern guerrilla tactics to surprise and weaken the British due to his severe unpredictability. Marion would eventually earn his famous nickname after British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton chased him and his American militia for a whopping seven hours, covering some 26 miles. Eventually, Tarleton’s tenacity wore out after Marion escaped into a swamp, claiming that "the Devil himself could not catch him."

Alternative Title(s): Kiting