anonymous asked:

RPGs normally introduce a weapon triangle in order to balance out gameplay. Do these weapon advantages really exist or is that just a game mechanic? I'm writing a story and I want one of my main characters to use a lance/spear, how would they do against swords?

Sort of, but not in the way you’re thinking. The smooth “rock/paper/scissors” style trinities don’t usually exist, but weapons will effectively negate others. For example, don’t bring a knife to a gunfight, sword fight, or if the other guy’s got a spear, or a baseball bat, or a broken chair.

It’s more accurate to say that weapons are situational. When they’re being used appropriately, they’ll excel. When used inappropriately, or kludged into a situation where they don’t really work, they’re at a disadvantage.

Polearms work best in large open spaces, where bringing the weapon around to face a foe is easier, and the size serves to keep someone with a short hand weapon at range. If a swordsman is coming at you, just poke ‘em a few times, and leave them to bleed to death. Problem solved. This is much easier if you’re talking about infantry employing a phalanx formation. Where each combatant has their own spear, pointed in the general direction of a future pincushion.

Usually, the weapon priority systems you see are an abstraction of reach. Weapons have both a maximum range you can use them at, and a minimum range where they’re effective. If you’re armed with a shorter range weapon, your goal is (frequently) to get close enough that your opponent cannot use their weapon against you. Spears kinda screw this up a bit, in that they can be used at very short ranges, by migrating your grip across the shaft, while still having a longer maximum range than most swords.

If a foe manages to negate the spear (by grabbing it, or by hacking through the shaft), then your character would, probably, fall back to their own sidearm, rather than trying to use the spear ineffectually. (Normally, this isn’t going to be an issue, because poking someone with a spear will put an end to the fight long before they can do anything with their sword.) This is the other side that weapon priority systems often skip over, if you’re planning for a heavy combat, you’re going to want to bring multiple weapons with you, for use at different ranges and in different situations that you might encounter.

Realistically, your character might be carrying a polearm (a spear, lance, halberd, bardiche, voulge, billhook, and any of the thousands of other varieties) with a sidearm, (some variety of sword, an axe, warhammer, or mace), and a backup or two (depending on the era, this could be anything from a dagger to pistols). Depending on what they were doing (and when they lived), they might be carrying a bow or crossbow instead of a polearm. In more recent eras, the polearm began to be replaced with a handgun (remembering this is not a pistol, but was named to differentiate it from a cannon), and later with muskets and rifles. The sidearm transitioned from the sword to single shot pistols, then the revolver and, eventually, modern pistols. The backup really hasn’t changed, it’s still a choice between knives and guns, though the exact style of both has changed.

The differences between polearms are somewhat idiosyncratic. Poleaxes, like the halberd, voulge, bardiche, (and many others) allowed you to attack with a chopping or slashing movement. Piercing polearms, like the spear, pike, lance (and again, many others) were better suited for poking someone. These came in a wide variety of lengths, and the designs seriously effect exactly how they can be used. It’s not that there’s one “best” polearm. There were a lot of people trying to develop one.

It’s probably also worth noting that the spear, lance, and pike aren’t universal terms. Pikes are usually the long ones, clocking in at up to twenty five feet. Spears are usually the short ones, at six to eight feet. Depending on exactly when you’re talking about, the lance could be anything from a javelin (designed to be thrown) up to a twenty foot spear, intended for cavalry use. But, these terms do get misused a lot. They’re not the same weapons, but the terms also aren’t consistent.

A lot of games will step back and say that polearms in general are anti-cavalry. That’s kinda true, but it’s not universal. Polearms do give infantry more reach, and allow them to attack mounted foes (more effectively), but they were designed to be used against opposing infantry. There’s nothing unusual about someone with a halberd squaring off against a foe armed with a sidesword. If your character is fielding a pike, then they’re going to want to switch to a blade, if they can’t stop their attacker on the pointy end first. Usually, the pointy end will reliably stop the swordsman.

There’s also this post, with a video from Matt Easton on the subject.


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| Top 5 | Hated Fighting Game Characters

I think that this little article requires a little bit of context. When I streamed BlazBlue: Centralfiction a few weeks ago, I was talking about how many of the characters in the game infuriate me, and not just because of their play styles. This prompted one of my friends to suggest writing a Top 5 of characters I simply can’t stand in fighting games. So, here it is, and remember that this is my list so we don’t have to agree … So right, in no particular order …

Platinum the Trinity (BlazBlue)

This was a very hard choice. There are several characters I cannot stand in BlazBlue for various reasons, whether it be playstyle, design, personality, or lore. However, there is only one character that I hate for all four of those simultaneously, and that is Platinum the Trinity. Her play style is honestly the first and last in utter BS, for instance those bubbles and that FUCKING cat power-up she gets. Every time I fight against her I rage without fail. Her design, in my opinion is a complete mess, almost as if they didn’t quite know what they wanted to do with her. Her personality is garbage; one main side of her is a total ass, the other is a complete wet blanket, but that leads onto my biggest gripe … The third side of Platinum (hence the “Trinity”) is one of the Six Heroes of the canon, Trinity Glassfille. The fact that this complete fucking car crash of a character is playable but one of the most canonically important characters isn’t, but is fucking within the former is just insulting and is a painfully missed opportunity.

Merkava (Under Night In-Birth EXE: Late)

Simply fuck this character. It really says something when there are far worse characters in the game from a tremendously over-powered perspective, yet my mind always trails back to this irritating prick. It’s mostly because of one thing, command grabs that can cover most of the screen. Yes, you did hear that right. Oh, and they can be done in air too, all the while screeching constantly in a way that borders on the same level of annoying as Bloodborne’s Orphan of Kos. Add to that some decent projectiles, insulting normals in terms of range and the fact that his recovery times from everything are so damn quick, and you’ve got a horrendous blemish on an otherwise excellent game. I mean, I know that Gordeau is so over-powered that it looks like French Bread weren’t even trying to balance the game, but at least from a character ad story perspective, he has depth. Merkava has fuck all except a string of annoyances.

Hakan (Super Street Fighter IV)

This is another one on the list that I really had to think about, as quite a lot of Street Fighter characters severely agitate me for various reasons. However, this fucking monstrosity stands out to me on so many levels that it really couldn’t be anyone else. To begin with, I absolutely despise his design. I understand that it was meant to be somewhat authentic to the style that the character was emulating, but it just looks simply hideous even among the already disgustingly disproportioned art style of Street Fighter IV. I find his moves simultaneously uninspired to watch and frustrating combat against, and even his “story” - if you can call what Street Fighter does story - is just deeply dull. Add to this that this was what faced me and totally obliterated me when I first got into fighting games (Ultra Street Fighter IV was my first proper fighting game game) and you’ve got a character I’m glad to see the back of with Street Fighter V.

Falco (Super Smash Bros.)

Landmaster. Same Final Smash as Fox, yet manages to be several times more annoying because it’s him doing it. Oh, and he’s a clone character too. Figures. I honestly have so little love for him that I can’t summon the passion required to beat on him any more than this. Also, I don’t like Falco Lombardi as a character full stop anyway. Fuck this character.

Faust (Guilty Gear)

Guilty Gear is an interesting fighting game, simply because I find all of the characters so engrossing that I at least like all of them from a lore standpoint. Furthermore, the character design is unbelievably solid, so I can’t really fault the characters based on that, so this is purely based on play style for me but there is no character I hate fighting against more than Faust. What with an irritating moveset that even challenges that of Platinum the Trinity, it reaches its fucking apex with THAT door attack. It’s a deeply infuriating move to combat as a beginner to the franchise, and has got no less annoying as I have slowly got better. Much like Platinum, I refuse to pick this character and will happily cycle through everyone else skipping over this utter bullshit peddler every time. Oh, and don’t even get me started on that ridiculous super of his.

So what do you think of my choices? Give me a tweet @reuthegamer, I’d like to hear yours.