View Full Version : What system has the best combat mechanics? (in your opinion)

2015-11-07, 11:52 PM
Disclaimer: I realize this is a very subjective question

What system has the *best combat mechanics?

*by whatever definition you feel is most appropriate for the word "best"

2015-11-08, 12:32 AM
Ultimately it depends on what you're looking for. I think D&D has always had good combat, I feel like I've had the most fun in 3.5e games, but in 5e the fun is way more consistent. The combat in D&D is almost like an entire miniatures game in and of itself that can(and has) be enjoyed alone.

7th Sea is the system there I felt had the most thematic/awesome fights, but I wouldn't say they were the most fun.

2015-11-08, 03:27 PM
That depends what type of combat you are talking about..

Most FRPGs generally only model small-scale skirmish combat with any decency.
AD&D had the BattleSystem expansion for larger-scale combat, but that was a miniatures-based wargame.
2nd ED AD&D added SpellJammer which covered a fair bit of ship-to-ship combat (designed for magical space ships but worked for sailing ships).
BECMI added WarMachine which was a fairly decent sent of streamlined rules for army-to-army combat - something no other version of D&D covers to my knowledge.
(I found the SeaMachine rules expansion poor as each ship had to be a single unit, the Gaz4 ship combat wargame worked better imo.)
RuneQuest didn't really handle group combat as well as D&D - virtually no player options were multi-target, but it many ways it was better for person-to-person combat (preferences vary).

Space Ship combat is something virtually no Fantasy system covers at all (SpellJammer being the notable exception), though some "everything" systems (e.g. GURPS) are supposed to do quite well for both.
Army combat is something very few RPGs handle at all (again WarMachine is the main exception) - but that's because they are not designed to handle it.
SciFi games are often limited at balancing both hand-to-hand combat (including swords etc) with gun combat (including personal lasers). If you add in "heavy weapons" it usually becomes ridiculous - compare a Traveller fusion gun (map-portable) with a laser rifle - laser rifles are very dangerous to unarmored adventurers, FGMPs tend not to leave anything for forensics to find. The problem here is that weapons would vary that much in effectiveness, so the system has to balance (for game-play reasons) combat at the intended level of weapons which makes weaker and stronger weapons relatively poorly modeled.
Modern-day games suffer from the same problem as SciFi, it's less exaggerated by technology, but made worse by different players' different knowledge.
It is also what leads to games a pistol cannot kill with one shot..

So all the above comes back to the question of "what type of combat do you want?"
Once we know what type of combat we can start recommending the different systems with provide different options for that type of combat.

2015-11-08, 03:40 PM
The old AEG L5R combat was really good. At best, you could get hit 2 by a sword. Maybe take 3 or 4 arrows. Getting hurt made you suck. Combat was short and deadly. It really made adventures go faster.

2015-11-08, 03:43 PM
I like DnD 4e and Savage Worlds' combat systems for opposite reasons...

4e has good combat mechanics because it is essentially a deep, well-developed skirmish wargame on top of a mediocre RPG. It allows for and rewards good tactics and teamwork, and has enough variety of situations that good tactics aren't always so easy to come up with.

Savage Worlds has good combat as well, because its combat system is so exciting. The fact that its combats will swing dramatically every once in awhile with lucky or unlucky dice rolls means the game creates interesting situations on its own.