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Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture
Analysis of Duelist Combat / Styles
dueling, duelist

This text is intended to clarify my ideas about how maneuvers and styles fit together in 7th Sea to counter or prevent each other in the flow of combat.  “Counter” means “used in response,” and “prevent” means “used to discourage or stop.”  I’m not trying to rewrite the book here, so I will not list all of the mechanics or the descriptive text.  Pages 235 - 239 have the full mechanics.

EDIT: I am in the process of updating this material to reflect new duelist styles from expansion books, notably Nations of Theah vol. 1 & 2.  Things I am now certain about will be updated (Bash-type effects do prevent wounds from Lunge-type effects), but I am not going to write an update about changes I am less certain of.

One example of an uncertain change: out-of-turn-order Parry and Riposte (where you respond outside of initiative to immediately prevent Wounds using maneuvers).  If this change occurred, it would lengthen combat since every duelist would have full access to their defenses (until they run out of Raises), and I don't know if the no-back-to-back-Maneuver rule can apply if you're using them in a freeform way (personally, if I allowed this in a campaign, it would be limited to a maximum of Parry+Riposte+Parry to keep some semblance of the no-back-to-back-Maneuvers rule, but I don't like it even then).  I won't be writing with this assumption in place, I think initiative gaps are an important element of keeping the pace of combat ever-changing, and allowing one side or the other to get some hits in for dramatic tension (and wounds!).  It would also make initiative a lot less important, for what that's worth (for Drexel style, Metzger stance would lose a lot, while Gerbeck stance would become far more deadly).

The Basic Maneuvers



  • Counters: Feint (partially), Parry (partially)

  • Prevents: nothing, but encourages Parry or Riposte in response.

  • Notes: This is pure damage, a useful tool for defeating foes.  The only reason I say this partially counters Feint is because you are incentivizing them to prevent damage from your big attack on their turn, so Riposte is the foe’s only ideal choice to prevent your damage and still benefit from Feint.  Slash partially counters Parry because they do not have Parry available on their next Raise for your Slash, which may force them to consider Riposte if they still have it available.



  • Counters: Slash, Riposte, any attack after a Feint, or a non-duelist attack

  • Prevents: Riposte, and encourages a high-damage attack (Slash, or a non-duelist attack) since you cannot Parry back-to-back.

  • Notes: This is pure defense, the only Maneuver that is not an attack and causes no Wounds.



  • Counters: Bash (partially)

  • Prevents: Parry (they might just spend a Raise to prevent the damage), Riposte (partially)

  • Notes: When your damage is being prevented (Bash) or you suspect your foe is looking to Riposte you, Feint can interrupt their flow and force them to plan around your (presumably) next high-damage attack.



  • Counters: None

  • Prevents: Parry, Riposte

  • Notes: You spend all of your Raises to Lunge, so this is an all-in strategy that is inefficient for damage until near the end of the round.  The damage can’t be prevented or avoided reactively (such as with Parry or Riposte), but Bash can reduce the damage of Lunge proactively.



  • Counters: Bash (partially), Feint (partially)

  • Prevents: Parry (they might just spend a Raise to prevent the damage), Slash, Riposte, Lunge, any attack after a Feint, or a non-duelist attack

  • Notes: A surprisingly valuable tool for interrupting the flow of combat with preemptive damage prevention.  In some situations it's even valuable against non-duelists, though not repetitively.



  • Counters: Slash, Riposte, any attack after a Feint, or a non-duelist attack

  • Prevents: nothing, but encourages Parry or Riposte in response.

  • Notes: Riposte is extremely powerful, but can only be done once per round.  It is best put to use to counter a high-damage attack to maximize value, but it can also be used less efficiently to counter Feint if you need Riposte for its damage potential.


Analysis with Styles Included:


Core Rulebook Styles


Aldana Style (Castille; fencing weapon with empty offhand)


Aldana Ruse

  • Counters: Bash

  • Prevents: Parry, Riposte

  • Notes: Only useable once per round, but very handy.  It inflicts no Wounds initially, but sets up a devastating strike that your opponent shouldn’t ignore.  You also have access to Feint, so an opening of Aldana Ruse into Feint into Slash/Riposte into Slash/Riposte (the one you didn’t just use) would keep your foe tumbling backwards against an onslaught of both current damage and the threat of future damage.  Swap the order to Feint+Ruse+Slash/Riposte to do the devastating strike instead.


Ambrogia Style (Vodacce; fencing weapon in left hand, dagger in right)


Veronica’s Guile

  • Notes: Not a maneuver.  You can use either Finesse or Wits with Weaponry, or by spending a Hero Point, you can use both.  This style is likely to give you more Raises and therefore better initiative if you have Hero Points to spare, so push through whatever damage you can before the opponent can act.


Boucher Style (Montaigne; dagger in both hands, or dagger in one hand with other empty)


Boucher Step

  • Notes: Not exactly a maneuver, once per round you can spend two Raises to perform two Maneuvers back-to-back before your opponent can react.  Mostly the notes about the basic Maneuvers apply, but you could set up an immediate Feint into Slash, which could devastate an opponent who has just performed a Parry and already spent their Riposte this round.  You could also slip in a Slash followed by anything you like, and they could not effectively stop the Slash since it was not the most recent attack.  Definitely a meta-duelist style, as it has little to no value against non-duelist opponents.


Donovan Style (Avalon; heavy weapon in one hand and other hand empty)


Donovan’s Bulwark (REPLACES PARRY)

  • Counters: Slash, Riposte, any attack after a Feint, or a non-duelist attack

  • Prevents: Riposte, and encourages a high-damage attack (Slash, or a non-duelist attack) since you cannot perform Donovan’s Bulwark back-to-back.

  • Notes: This maneuver can prevent an attack to an ally as well as yourself.  Furthermore, you can spent a Hero Point to lock weapons with the opponent and you both lose all of your remaining Raises for the round.  This is a fantastic way to lock down a superior duelist opponent, and it gives your allies the opportunity to defeat the foe with ease.  Beware of desperate foes who may start overusing Lunge.  Ineffective against non-duelists (well, no more effective than a Parry would have been).


Drexel Style (Eisen; wield a heavy weapon in two hands)


You select your Stance at the beginning of each Round. If you wish to change your Stance during a Round, you must spend 1 Raise to do so.


Bittner (Forward) Stance

  • Notes: Not a maneuver.  This strengthens the damage prevention of Parry, Bash and Riposte, and this makes Bittner well suited to tackling other duelists (i.e., villains).  The damage prevention largely goes to waste against other foes due to timing / initiative issues (brute squads don't go until the end of the round, so you can only really benefit from a single Bash, and you might only get a single Riposte or Parry against a monster that simply spends all of its Raises to deal damage; if the monster goes first, you may have no window whatsoever to perform a Bash, and if the monster did not attack you then your stance has been wasted).  You lose the ability to perform Slash, greatly impacting your ability to deal damage.


Metzger (Back) Stance

  • Notes: Not a maneuver.  You gain a significant bonus to your initiative (what Raise you go on during the round), which means you could theoretically set up attacks against an unprepared foe who has no chance to deal with them, or at least be at some parity with a superior foe.  The drawback is that you cannot Parry, leaving you more open to Slash and Riposte.  Hold on to Riposte until a critical moment, it is the best defense you have left.  Not as valuable against non-duelists, unless initiative is very important due to, say, Consequences in the Scene.


Gerbeck (High) Stance

  • Notes: Not a maneuver.  Your maneuvers hit harder, making you more dangerous with everything except Parry.  This may force a foe into a more defensive posture, and could lead them to unusual decisions such as forcing a foe to Parry a Bash after a Feint since Wound damage is increased (notably, Feint deals +1 Wound twice, making it almost as valuable as Slash or Riposte at dealing Wounds).  You lose initiative however (acting one Raise slower), so against another duelist this effectively means you will both beat the snot out of each other since you cannot react to their fastest Raises, and they may be running out of Raises by the time your slowest Maneuvers arrive.  Use this stance to decimate brute squads, since they always go last.


Eisenfaust Style (Eisen; wield a heavy weapon in one hand and iron glove in the other)



  • Counters: Slash, Riposte, any attack after a Feint, or a non-duelist attack

  • Prevents: nothing, but encourages Parry or Riposte in response.

  • Notes: Iron Reply is extremely powerful, preventing and dealing even more Wounds than Riposte, but can only be done once per round.  It is best put to use to counter a high-damage attack to maximize value, but it can also be used less efficiently to counter Feint if you need Iron Reply for its damage potential.  It is possible Iron Reply could go over the top of a foe’s Bash damage prevention, but that would be a terrible waste of Iron Reply.


Leegstra Style (Vesten; wield a heavy weapon in each hand)


Leegstra’s Crash

  • Counters: Feint (partially)

  • Prevents: nothing, but encourages Parry or Riposte in response.

  • Notes: This is pure damage, effectively another Slash that can only be used once per round.  The only reason I say this partially counters Feint is because you are incentivizing them to prevent damage from your big attack on their turn, so Riposte is the foe’s only ideal choice to prevent your damage and still benefit from Feint.  You can set up an extremely hard-hitting round by opening with Slash into Leegstra’s Crash into Slash into Riposte into Lunge.


Mantovani Style (Vodacce; wield a whip)


Mantovani Flay

  • Counters: Bash (partially), Feint (partially)

  • Prevents: Any single Maneuver; also, Parry (they might just spend a Raise to prevent the damage), Riposte (partially)

  • Notes: While it can only be performed once per round, Mantovani Flay can specifically deny any single Maneuver you name that you know your opponent could perform.  The possibilities are almost too much to consider: you could deny your foe’s Slash after their Feint, deny them a Bash to ensure you an opening for Slash or Riposte, delay a Lunge you think may be coming, deny them a Parry against one of your allies’ incoming attacks, etc.  If you are aware of their style-specific maneuver, you can even name that as the one which cannot be performed on their next Raise.  In addition, it shares the basic benefits of other Maneuvers that deal only one Wound, making them not worth the time and effort to prevent with Parry or Riposte.  This is certainly a meta-duelist maneuver of no value against non-duelist foes.


Mireli Style (Ussura; wield a heavy weapon in one hand, or both hands)


Mireli’s Revision

  • Counters: Bash (partially), Feint (partially), any attack after a Feint, Slash, Riposte, or a non-duelist attack

  • Prevents: Parry (they might just spend a Raise to prevent the damage), Slash, Riposte, Lunge, any attack after a Feint, or a non-duelist attack

  • Notes: Mireli’s Revision directly copies either Bash or Parry when you use it, you choose which one.  Very notably, Mireli’s Revision does not come with the “once per round only” baggage that many other style Maneuvers carry.  While most comments for Bash and Parry apply, some do not: you *can* effectively Parry back-to-back using Mireli’s Revision, potentially 4 times in a row.  You could also effectively Bash 4 times in a row, which would be a punishing lockdown for a duelist opponent.  These benefits are very defensive and assume a back-and-forth trading of blows such as with one or more villain duelists, although you could reduce the Wounds dealt by multiple brute squads by using Bash / Mireli’s Revision this way.  Against a single brute squad or a lone giant monster, Mireli’s Revision will be useless since you will not need more than a single Bash or Parry.


Sabat Style (Sarmatian Commonwealth; wield a heavy weapon in one hand)



  • Counters: None

  • Prevents: Parry, Riposte

  • Notes: This is pure damage, a mega-Lunge.  Comments made for Lunge apply here in general.  Even a Bash probably can't take away all of the sting of this dangerous assault, but your foes are likely to try anyway!


Torres Style (Castille; fencing sword in one hand, nothing in the other, and wear a cloak)


Matador’s Flourish

  • Counters: Slash, Riposte, any attack after a Feint, or a non-duelist attack

  • Prevents: Riposte

  • Notes: This is pure defense, like Parry it is a Maneuver that is not an attack and causes no Wounds.  It may only be used once per round, limiting its effectiveness.  While this is still a nice option to have, I have to note here that Mireli’s Revision from Mireli Style is just superior.  Mireli’s Revision can be used twice per round, and it has the option of acting like Bash; Matador’s Flourish even requires you to invest in a skill besides Weaponry to use it to best effect.  You can use this to perform back-to-back Parry effectively, but I am not impressed with this particular offering.  Multiple parries in a round usually limits this to being a meta-duelist style, although I suppose some corner case could exist where the duelist is fighting 3 or more monsters / villains that are NOT duelists, opening up the possibility of using Parry more than twice in a Round.


Valroux Style (Montaigne; wield fencing sword in right hand, dagger in left)


Valroux Cross

  • Counters: Slash, Riposte, any attack after a Feint, or a non-duelist attack

  • Prevents: Riposte, and can either force a specific Maneuver or cost foe 1 Raise.

  • Notes: This is pure defense like a Parry, but unlike a Parry you can either force your opponent to perform a Maneuver you know they can use, or it costs them 1 Raise to act otherwise.  Trying to force a Lunge, while dangerous, would get rid of all of their Raises for instance.  If you are fighting a very dangerous villain who hits hard, you could reduce their damage potential by trying to force a Bash from them (one Wound per Raise is better than 5+ Wounds).  With the help of an ally to provide an attack, you could also try to draw out your foe’s Riposte on an unimportant attack.  While this is fun to think about, remember that it will be poor-to-useless against non-duelists, such as fighting monsters or brute squads.




Nations of Theah, vol. 1 & 2 Styles


De Vore Style (Montaigne; one-handed fencing weapon)


De Vore Politesse

  • Counters: Bash (partially), Feint (partially)

  • Prevents: Everything

  • Notes: Here's quite a maneuver to kick off this new round of analysis!  Preventing all further combat damage - even gunshots - to a specific character (which could be the duelist) is certainly attention-grabbing.  It's an all-in strategy since it uses all your Raises, but it could be worth it in many situations.  I say De Vore Politesse partially counters Bash because you won't be doing any further damage, wasting some of Bash's potential.  Feint may be partially countered by simply never taking the remaining potential damage.  This maneuver becomes even more interesting with allies: imagine a De Vore duelist who has protected a friend, and now that friend is constantly putting pressure on their enemies to directly attack her in vain.  Imagine a villain who has a De Vore bodyguard!  Now you must deal with the bodyguard before you can seriously consider hurting the true villain.  All of this chatter aside, De Vore Politesse will rarely be useful against non-duelist enemies (a simple Bash or Parry or Riposte usually does the job fine unless you are outrageously outnumbered), making this a meta-duelist style.



Hallbjorn Style (Vesten; heavy weapon and wooden shield)


Hallbjorn Slam

  • Counters: Feint (partially), Parry (partially), Bash (partially)

  • Prevents: Nothing, but encourages Parry or Riposte

  • Notes: The mother of all feints.  I am surprised by the increased level of damage some of these new styles offer, and this one takes the cake.  A starting character could easily have more Brawn than Weaponry, so basing the damage on Brawn is not much of a limiting factor.  Ironically, Hallbjorn Slam doesn't work quite as well as Feint in terms of being a "throwaway" attack that you don't regret using after an opponent's Bash, but it has the same sorts of advantages that Slash and Feint have, combined.  To land some very hard-hitting attacks, you could try Feint+Hallbjorn Slam+Slash, but really it seems hard to go wrong when you can deal this many Wounds.  If nothing else, use it to power up a Lunge near the end of the round.  Damage-focused styles tend to be equally useful against non-duelist opponents, Hallbjorn is definitely no exception.



Kulachniy Boi Style (Ussura; brawling with gloves and metal arm guards called rukavitsa)


Iron and Velvet

  • Notes: Not a maneuver.  This is a great style for roleplaying a brawler / unarmed martial artist, opening up Brawl with maneuvers.  Functionally there's no real advantage to that (it's no easier to get Brawl than Weaponry), but it allows good flavor/texture/background for a character or villain.  The interesting part is gaining a free Raise to keep the rukavitsa concealed; again, this has no combat relevance, but roleplay-wise it could matter a great deal if you often find yourself sneaking into social gatherings or getting patted down by guards.  It is both the weakest style, and one of the most interesting styles.  I would strongly consider it if stealth and intrigue are major components of your game.


To be continued!


In Conclusion


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Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

First off, how much of this analysis is based upon just reading the Dueling chapter and how much is based upon playtesting/mock combats as well as actual play?  I think the answer to that question is going to inform just how useful your analysis really is.  There's already been a high number of armchair GMs that whined about how Duelists were insanly overpowered without ever actually putting the rules into play and instead relying on their "expert" analysis.

A large chunk of your analysis doesn't seem to include situations such as the Duelist having significantly more Raises to act before their opponent does; a Hero that triggers Glorious after an ally just boosted their Risk Pool with a Hero Point is going to have way more opportunities to act during an Action Sequence than most opponents could hope to obtain. Or if you're at a succint disadvantage by having far fewer raises than your opponent (especially if said foe is a Villain who gets to win ties automatically).

With the Duelist rules, I think what George Carlin said about playing the blues is very much on the mark.  It's not enough to know what notes to play, you've got know when to play them and when they need to be played.  In that respect, it's not unlike playing a Wizard in D&D; if all you do is focus on damage output (either doling it out or reducing what you take), then you're selling yourself short on what such a character can really accomplish.

Speaking from both private playtesting and actual play experience, there's times when Beat is going to be just that bit more useful than Slash in keeping a Brute Squad from hitting you with Wounds when you're down to your last couple raises, or that you'll want to burn your Riposte now rather than save it for something that might never come, or that going Slash->Leegstra Crash->Slash isn't as awesome a plan as it looks on paper.  Or that maybe you really should just open up with Lunge if you're about to be rendered Helpless no matter what you do.  Knowing you've got at least two Raises before you opponent even gets an opportunity act is a good time to use Feint then Aldana Ruse in that order, so that your foe is very much in fear of what your next attack may well be.  Or even just the simple use of the oft-overlooked Pressue mechanic to force your opponent to burn through their Raises that much faster, which can be handy if they've just used Feint and you know they've only got a Raise or two left and are probably looking to set up a big-damage strike; Pressure can force them to either go for something else entirely or burn that extra Raise to continue with their original tactic.

Frankly, I think there's way too many possible permutations that depend upon the situation a Duelist finds herself in to make any sort of straight "analysis" really all that useful outside of idealized circumstances.  Which if the GM is doing their job, then the times a Duelist Hero finds themselves in an ideal circumstance should be fairly uncommon.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

The first response got eaten.  Anyhow, before I respond let me add that this analysis is mostly a starting point, a conversation-starter.  I have not, and cannot, determine an outcome for every possible situation that may arise in play.  It may be that Metzgen stance of Drexel will be best for you, because at 3 initiative the ship will sink, and taking any measure to go before that happens is best.  It may be that the Castillian Duchess has a great fondness for bullfighting, and the Torres style of your teammate will impress her far more than your Leegstra style ever could - even if your teammate loses the tournament.  Also... are you lumping me in with folks saying that duelists are "insanely overpowered"?  The play balance is not at all a sure thing for me yet, I'm guessing here based on what I can observe, which is mostly one style against another.  Whether the duelist system of 7th Sea 2nd edition is balanced as a whole is beyond the purview of this thread.  To answer your question about playtesting, I have only started playing just recently, and I am excited to start discussing the game which is why I joined this forum.  My personal limited experience is with Drexel style against a variety of combatants, though I am looking forward to trying other styles in the future.  I might dabble into sorcery with the next character though... maybe a sorcerer/duelist?  ^_~

I admit that a lot of the analysis takes the approach of the combatants having roughly parity in terms of Raises and such.  My comments about Metzgen stance and Gerbeck stance for Drexel offer opinions about what happens at the far ends of the scale a little.  If you go first against another duelist, you get to set the tone of the combat and make them reactionary to whatever you are doing (an opening of Slash is a huge difference compared to an opening of Bash), while if you are on the back foot and behind on Raises then you are forced to weather the opponent's attacks and often must think conservatively (not always - I took out half of a villain's Wounds, and lost about the same myself, in one round of Gerbeck when he was fighting in Metzgen, we effectively could not respond to each other's attacks due to initiative gap).  This idea of being proactive and reactive is why I included Prevent and Counter, respectively, to each maneuver entry.  Hopefully, if a new player or GM is trying to wrap their head around maneuver combat and wants a little advice, then some of my comments might be helpful whether you are ahead or behind.  I haven't gone into extreme-case scenarios yet, where I determine which schools are better in the high-Raise situation or the low-Raise situation, but I could add that in another post.  Thanks for the feedback, in fact.

I'm not sure what to make of your third paragraph here: we agree.  I didn't say that Bash was a useless maneuver and no one should ever use it just because it does a single Wound.  Nor do I have a particularly glowing list of counters/prevents for the Slash maneuver, in fact I was stretching my brain a little to consider what it might counter.  I may not be an expert on the system yet, but I did play in a jazz band and I know that before you can improvise, you need to study, you need to understand the scale before you decide if it's a good idea to break outside of it for dissonance.  All I can hope is that we are advancing the conversation so other "jazz players" out there can decide if this scale works for them or not.

We are prettymuch in agreement on the examples you give here, I realize you bring them up to prove that an analysis can never cover all the permutations of play.  I like to think that if I get someone thinking critically with my first post though, then they may find it helpful in considering other situations that arise in-game that I cannot cover.  7th Sea is not chess, and there are an infinite number of non-combat moves which can be played that will affect combat, up to and including whether there is any combat.  The example of Pressuring the villain into a non-combat action (or just attacking a different character) is a strong option, duelist or not, and certainly merits thinking about.  I find your example of Feint and Aldana Ruse interesting, and I'm curious how it would play out.  It seems like a clever villain would counter with Bash; do you go over the top of it, or cut your losses with something like a Bash in response?  Or, indeed, do you already know the villain is not particularly clever, and will lead with a Slash no matter what your opening move is?  When this theory sits down to play, everything changes and the circumstances clearly matter more than the abstraction.  I think it could still be helpful to some players and GMs, however, if they are feeling a bit lost about how to use the maneuvers.

I hope that clarifies some of the purpose of my writing.  If you are already quite familiar with the dueling system and my insights seem obvious, then probably my post wasn't for you.  I still thank you for your response, and I may add another layer of analysis in a later post dealing with high-Raise and low-Raise situations, and possibly considering the use of Pressure as a maneuver-like action.  For now, I hope we understand each other better.  =)

NeoTanuki's picture

While there are a lot of variables that can affect a combat, it's nice to have a brief "overview" of all the fencing styles as a starting point for discussion. Thanks for putting this up, Lord Rumfish. 

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

You are most welcome.  The most I can hope for is that it prompts discussion and gets people thinking.

NeoTanuki's picture

Related to the discussion of things that can affect 7th Sea 2e dueling style effectiveness in actual play that aren't usually considered on paper; I had an interesting experience with Donovan style in a game I ran for two visiting friends this weekend. They are big 7th Sea fans but had not had a chance to play 2e yet, so I offered to run a game for them.

My first player made an archaeologist/privateer from Avalon who fights with Donovan style.

Her husband decided to play the archaeologist's servant, an impeccably mannered Sarmatian butler with high Brawn and brawling skills. Having read all the complaints here about brawlers being massively disadvantaged in fights, I specifically asked him if he wanted Reckless Takedown or Riot Breaker. He declined.

In their first game, they got caught in a three-way tavern brawl with a Castillan Aldana swordsman who was trying to steal an artifact the players recovered, and a group of rowdy drunken Vesten sailors (divided into small Brute Squads) who were trying to beat everyone else involved senseless after their romantic overtures to both the archaeologist and the Castillan were firmly rejected. :D

My Sarmatian Butler player lucked out and rolled the highest number of raises in the first round. Instead of going in swinging, he calmly began patting the Castillan's shirt with a handkerchief to distract her (Pressure) "Oh dear, madam, you have some wine on your shirt...let me get that..."

Having to spend an extra Raise to break Pressure stymied the Castillan during her brief sword exchange with my archaeologist player. Despite being a better swordfighter, the Castillan and my archaeologist player came out pretty even. 

During the next round, again, the Butler rolled significantly more raises than everyone else. He proceeded to calmly grab Vesten Brutes and subdue them by knocking their heads together while the Castillan and archaeologist fought back and forth some more.

Round three, the Castillan started to set up for a really devastating attack using Aldana Ruse...and my archaeologist player spent a HP to lock her down with the Donovan technique. The Butler walked up and calmly bonked the Castillan on the head. At that point, the outnumbered Castillan decided discretion was the better part of valor and fled. 

My takeaways from this?

1. My Butler player, despite lacking combat-specific advantages, was great during this fight. Thanks to the player using him in funny and effective ways to distract and support the archaeologist, he stole the scene. 

2. Being a Duelist isn't an auto-win. Even if you have great stats, getting unlucky and rolling only 1-2 Raises in combat can really mess you up. 

3. Donovan encourages teamwork during combat. The special maneuver is ideal for neutralizing a powerful foe and giving other characters an opportunity to shine during combat. For those running mixed parties of duelists/non-duelists who want to make sure the non-duelists have something to do; I heartily recommend Donovan. Neither player outshone the other in this combat-they both worked together and it was a very cool and funny scene. 

4. Players can still be extremely useful in combat without optimizing a character for fighting. Pressure was incredibly useful in thwarting the Castillan early on and preventing her from wiping the floor with the archaeologist. It doesn't seem like much on paper, but having to spend an extra Raise to escape pressure really limits action!

NeoTanuki's picture

BTW, Lord Rumfish: Michael Curry clarified on Reddit that Sabat Gambit follows the same general rules as Lunge (spend all your Raises, Wounds cannot be avoided or prevented). So it doesn't look like you can use Sabat Gambit more than once per round. You can see the conversation here: https://www.reddit.com/r/7thSea/comments/591mqe/questions_pertaining_to_...



Easl's picture

I'm still a fan of it, even with the lunge restrictions. Roll 3 raises; take two other combat actions and then with your third, eliminate an 8 Strength brute squad? Yes please.

There are a lot of advantages (and opportunities) that allow non-duelists to have a valuable role in action scenes.  I think the general complaint was not that other players can't contribute, but that players want duelists to have a good chance of winning against a non-duelist however not an overwhelming chance of doing so.  Right now, its overwhelming.  As an example, if your two players had switched roles and the duelist put on pressure while the brawler had kept the villain occupied through fighting, I'm guessing the villain would still have won. And that's because a duelist can win a combat against two non-duelists working together to defeat him/her, even when they roll better.  Thus, "overwhelming." I put my own thoughts on ways to decrease the differential in the houserules/rules variations thread.

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

I'd say the key trick to defeating a Duelist Villain when it's two (or more) non-Duelist PCs is the constant application of Pressure.

As NeoTanuki's example shows, the butler's use of Pressure on the Castillian Duelist helped mitigate her combat efficiency (effectively, costing her two Raises to attack instead of just one).

So if the non-Duelists PCs can just keep applying Pressure, they force the Villain to burn through their Raises that much faster.  And if the Heroes happen to have a couple more Raises than the Villain, it gets even sweeter when the Villain's out of Raises while the PCs are still sitting on plenty of their own, enabling them to lash out (spend those Raises to inflict Wounds) without having to worry about the Villain using a Parry or lashing out with a Riposte.  Even if the Heroes are trading off between applying Pressure and inflicting a single Wound in the early going, it has the potential to add up.

Of course, depending on the Strength of the Villain, the PCs could wind up a bloody mess from the sheer amount of Wounds the Villain was able to inflict with the few offensive actions they could take.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

NeoTanuki's picture

@Easl: I'm sorry...I can only speak from the point of view of my own game experience, but I don't see how simply switching who was applying Pressure in my game would have resulted in an auto-win for the Villain. Sure, hypothetically, the archaeologist and butler could have switched who was applying pressure (though I can't see any reason they would have wanted to do that). But even if they did...let's say the Castillan stays focused on the archaeologist in the fight to avoid penalties. The butler remains free to do the things he was doing anyway. Let's say the Castillan spends the extra raise to break pressure and focus on fighting the Butler. She was only getting around 3 raises per round on her rolls. 2 spent to end pressure, one to attack the butler would hardly have allowed her to take him out with a single raise...and my archaeologist would STILL have been free to spend raises on feints, slashes and lunges against the Villain. 

My point is, Villains aren't guaranteed to roll 4-8 Raises every combat round. If the Villain rolls only 2-3, use of Pressure puts the Villain at a serious disadvantage in combat...which is exactly what happened in my last game.

I'm not saying the situation you described can't come up...but I don't think it's a guaranteed outcome at all. 

On a side topic, I'm also noticing an unspoken assumption in all the concerns raised about non-duelists vs. duelist combat is that once the players are engaged in combat with a Duelist villain, the players and the Villain must fight in the scene  on equal terms until one side is completely defeated. But is that the point of Villains in 7th Sea? I'm not so sure Villains are designed to equally match characters in combat for 7th Sea in the same way combat is balanced in say, your average fantasy MMORPG. 

There are certainly precedents in fiction of heroes encountering villains in the story who seriously outclass the heroes in their early encounters. The heroes face defeat in combat, escape or retreat. Realizing the villain is too strong for them, they rethink their approach/retrain/figure out an alternate plan. Then in the climax of the story, they come back and fight a rematch on the heroes' terms.

Though it's not swashbuckling genre, the example that springs to my mind is the movie "The Terminator." The main character get curbed stomp by the Terminator in their first few encounters. Pretty much, they have to run again and again because they are outclassed. It's only when they build pipe bombs and set things up to fight the Terminator on more even terms at the end they do serious damage...and even so, the Terminator comes within a hair's breadth of winning!

My take on the situation is that powerful Duelist villains can be treated the same way. If the players find themselves outmatched in an encounter, they should escape or retreat. Then spend a few sessions undermining the Villain's Influence by thwarting schemes and setting up non-combat approaches to weaken the Villain (such as a sneaky character infiltrating the Villain's home and gluing his sword to its sheath, just to throw out an example.)

THEN...after the players have built up their skills and traits a bit, weakened the Villain's power....THAT'S the time the Villain is faced and defeated in climatic battle.


TLDR: I don't think the question of a Villain being more powerful than the Heroes in combat necessarily needs to be resolved by rules changes/number tweaking. I think it should be solved with role-play/narrative/clever player non-combat solutions to put the odds more in the Heroes' favor. YMMV, of course. 

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

Well, this is all a bit beyond the purview of what I was attempting to wrap my head around, but here's my two cents: the one with more Raises is in a pretty good position to alter the scene, whether through combat, through pressure, or by changing the stakes of the scene itself (suddenly there's no need to fight because you have convinced the Duchess of your intentions, and she calls off her niece from wrecking the players).  A villain duellist is the most dangerous thing in the game though, make no mistake, and if the GM wants you to lose, you'll probably lose.  Danger points can turn your requirements of success up to 15, or add a bunch of dice to the villain's attack.  In a reversed situation, where the villain has far more Raises than the heroes, that villain could probably start knocking everyone out before they can even respond (I know I've fought monsters that put together 9 Raises while I was struggling to make 3 sets add up to 15).  It's not made to be in balance, and it's very much in the hands of the storyteller.  My current storyteller really likes to buy our extra dice for Hero points to give himself a large pool of Danger points, making certain scenes incredibly dangerous and difficult.  Perhaps that is the game working as intended.

Anyway, I wasn't trying to offer up an analysis of the entire game, just a focused analysis of how duelling works.  A lot changes depending on who has more Raises, who has more friends in the combat, how spiteful the GM feels, and how creative the players are.  I cannot begin to account for all the situations that may arise, nor can I definitively say whether dueling is "broken" or merely "very good."  I do know that any character can have their moment in the spotlight, and sometimes that may even occur for a noncombatant forced into combat.  I suspect that if balance is in question, the key lies in the use of pressure and opportunities.

Antti Kautiainen
Antti Kautiainen's picture

I still cannot understand "restrictions" of Lunge? IT has none. Okay, you use all of your raises, but making the attack unavoidable makes the maneuver way too powerful against skilled duelist, as they cannot prevent the damage, and quite likely sustain Dratamic wound. I cannot see single situation Heroes does not suffer Dramatic wound from lunge, as 5 wounds is enought to score Dramatic Wound to a Hero. If duelist has weaponry 3, it requires 3 raises to do so. With weaponry 4 it is 2 Raises.

Lunge would be restricted, if it would require use of all Raises, and could be avoided. If Slash cannot use Raises to boost damage, Lunge would have advanteage of huge damage most of which cannto be avoided anyway (as you cannot perform more than 2 defensive actiosn to block damage - parry/riposte and matador's flourish or somethign like that). With current rule, you cannot see a Torres fighter to use his cloak to dodge lunge of duelist like he would dodge charge of a bull.


Easl's picture

Let's say the Castillan spends the extra raise to break pressure and focus on fighting the Butler. She was only getting around 3 raises per round on her rolls. 2 spent to end pressure, one to attack the butler would hardly have allowed her to take him out with a single raise...and my archaeologist would STILL have been free to spend raises on feints, slashes and lunges against the Villain.


Its true when the villain rolls lousy they're going to have a tough time. But with that one last raise they can riposte the butler, effectively using that single raise to (a) prevent all damage the butler could do with three of his raises, and also (b) cause so much damage that the butler would have to spend 3 raises to prevent it. That's huge. Now your point about the Castillian being able to slash is true. I guess again my point is that duelists can outclass multiple nonduelists under normal circumstances.


...The heroes face defeat in combat, escape or retreat. Realizing the villain is too strong for them, they rethink their approach/retrain/figure out an alternate plan. Then in the climax of the story, they come back and fight a rematch on the heroes' terms.


Yes, that's good play and good storytelling. But again I don't think it really addresses the main source of complaint, which is that the difference between a duelist and a non-duelist in combat should maybe not be as huge as it is.

IIRC, the original complaints were not necessarily about duelist villians vs. gangs of players. It was more about: you build a character you want to be good at some non-duelist type of combat (archer; boxer, whatever); I build a duelist. We both look forward to fight scenes, that's the sort of character we both want to play. But when they happen, you find that I dish out 3-4x as much damage as you do, while taking less. That's not so fun for you. Your character concept is basically ineffective at what you want it to be good at. Can you do other things? Sure. But you wanted a combat character without being shoehorned into 'duelist.'  And it turns out that in the 7th Sea system, "non-duelist combatant" isn't really much of an option. Oh I suppose you could carry around a big box o 6-10 pistols, but what GM wants that to be the one viable combat build alternative to duelist?  Now, duelists don't "outclass" non-combat builds, because they do other things very well. But that wasn't the comparison that was troublesome.

NeoTanuki's picture

I do see your concerns about archers and brawlers having less flavorful options in combat. Hopefully the proposed new advantages for marksmen and brawlers the developers have mentioned will appear in upcoming books to address this.

(EDIT: Mike Curry also mentioned on Reddit that a specific archery fighting style using bow and arrows is apparently in development.)

NeoTanuki's picture
Back on the original topic....Easl, I agree that Sabat Gambit looks pretty awesome even once per round only. I'm making a Sarmatian swordsman and am really torn between Sabat for the damage potential and Mireli just for the flavor text and description.
Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

With Sabat Gambit, it's getting to add in Finesse that makes it one of the better style bonuses, even if saved for your last Raise.  Especially as there's nothing stopping the Hero from using Finesse+Weaponry for a heavy weapon, allowing them to "double down" on a single Trait.  About the only downside is that there's no Advantage (currently) to grant a bonus die when using a heavy weapon in one hand.  Though if you've got a savvy enough opponent, they may well use Bash (if Duelist) or Pressure when you're down to your last couple Raises to try and head off the damage of a Sabat Gambit, and might well be more on the lookout for the Gambit than they would be a standard Lunge.

But that's one of the things I like about 2e's Dueling mechanics, is that it's not always just "hack away with the big attacks" and almost requires use of strategic thinking against notable foes, both in the timing sequence of which Maneuvers you use and when to use them, and being cognizant of what Maneuvers your foe might use on you.  Leegstra is pretty sweet (Slash-Crash-Slash), but Mireli can shut that down with three consecutive Parries, or even three consecutive Bashes if they've got the edge in Raises.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

NeoTanuki's picture

Though I haven't had a chance to try out all the 2e dueling styles yet, here are some other thoughts and impressions I have:

Ambrogia-While it's true that mechanically it's not as flashy and limited somewhat by having to spend a Hero Point to activate its major benefit, from a pure role-playing standpoint I really like Ambrogia because the ability to use Wits as an alternate Trait to Finesse or Brawn in combat.

Imagine a boorish NPC spots a mousy, frail-looking Librarian (high Wits but noticeably low Finesse and Brawn) at a party in Vodacce, and mockingly taunts her. The mousy librarian quietly challenges the NPC to a duel. The NPC laughingly accepts, and gets the shock of his life when the mousy librarian turns out to be an expert Ambrogia duelists and mops the floor with him. 

Ambrogia allows players who love to play high-social stat but low physical-stat characters an option to be skilled in combat, which I really approve of. Plus it's great for spy and infiltrator type characters who want to give the illusion they are a lot less dangerous than they appear! :D

I was surprised that Leegstra's flavor text was changed to make it far more like Urostifter style from the old 1e "Swordsman's Guild" book, but I actually think I prefer the revision to the original--wild berserk dual weapon attacks seems more appropriate to Viking analogs than a mentally focused single strike. (That feels more like Samurai in L5R, lol!)

I haven't tried Mantovani yet. I like that a whip style was included for Indiana Jones and Zorro fans, and I think it looks much more useful immediately to starting characters than the old 1e Zepeda school was. However, I do think it's a little odd to have a whip formally recognized as a weapon for formal dueling in the ficitional universe. However, the fact that with 2e a player could build a decent novice Zorro equivalent (excuse me, I meant "El Vagabundo")  if they wished to with both a sword style and a whip style at character creation really pleases me. 

One school that I do strongly feel needs a houserule is Torres. Love the flavor text, love that a cloak and blade school was included, but I also agree that the Torres special maneuver is weaker and less helpful in every way than Mireli. I would definitely use the houserule someone suggested elsewhere of making the Torres maneuver preven Weaponry+Athletics instead of just Athletics. That way, Mireli is the "constant defense" school, able to repeatedly ward off attacks, while Torres neutralizes damage less often but you can prevent a single devastating high-damge attack better than Mireli. Which to me makes sense considering it is based on bullfighting.

NeoTanuki's picture

I really like the idea in 2e that the styles encourage each dueling stye in a fight is trying to build a "rhythm" that optimizes their style. Like Aldana's Feint+Ruse+Attack or Leegstra's Slash+Crash+Slash.

At the same time, the opponent is trying to break your rhythm and set up their own. It really feels like a dramatic contest where the two duelists are trying to out-think and out-maneuver each other.

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Re: Ambrogia

Technically, there's nothing stopping any Hero. Duelist or not, from using Wits+Weaponry as their Trait+Skill combo, as it's really just a matter of the player being able to come up with a good rationale for the combination, same as it would be if looking to use Panache+Athletics ("Castillains don't really play soccer, they just samba with a ball!") or Resolve+Perform ("Eisen Opera isn't so much performed as it is endured") in a Risk.

So using Wits could be mean your Hero is using their superior intellect to dissect their foe's technique and discern the weak points in their defense.  Meanwhile, using Resolve indicates that you're pacing yourself, trying to outlast your foe and hoping to drive them to reckless action.  Or Panache for when you not only want to make a show of how much better you are than your opponent, but also ensure the crowd knows that you are indeed as awesome as you proclaim yourself to be.  Brawn obviously is just battering your opponent into submission, while Finesse is striking too fast for your foe to truly counter your attacks.

Having done a pretty through analysis and research of the Seven Forms of lightsaber combat in Star Wars, both for WotC's Saga Edition and FFG's Force and Destiny (where they tie different Forms to different Characteristics), it's not that difficult to make a case for using any of 7th Sea's five Traits to use in Tandem with Weaponry.

As for Ambrogia's style bonus itself... yeah, it's certainly not flashy, but if you've invested well into Finesse and Wits, it is useful for those times when you feel the need to spend your own Hero Point to increase your dice pool; even at a Wits of just 2, Veronica's Guile effectively doubles the bonus you get from spending a Hero Point, and just gets better the more you've invest in Wits.  Only downside is those extra dice could very well wind up rolling low, and thus not provide that much of a boost to the number of Raises you've generated, making it a gamble.  And with the way some of my fellows have been known to roll, it's a gamble that's not likely to pay off when they'd most need it.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

Easl's picture

Technically, there's nothing stopping any Hero. Duelist or not, from using Wits+Weaponry as their Trait+Skill combo, as it's really just a matter of the player being able to come up with a good rationale for the combination...

True. And while I very much like Ambrogia for making it much easier to play a Wits-based combatant, its worth keeping in mind that it doesn't allow you to so freely substitute Wits for any other cool finesse-like action.  A duelist who can't swing on a chandelier with equal grace may still find themselves somewhat hampered.


Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

Ambrogia has good flavor working for it.  Trouble is, it's mostly worse than one ability of Signature Item (your Hero points can add 2 dice to a Risk with the item).  Now, Signature Item is a 3 point Advantage, and I'm not sure what a fighting style's Style Bonus is supposed to be worth in points, maybe more, maybe less.  It's not unusable or even of little value (adding 2+ dice to a Risk is definitely relevant), but the other styles seem to have more going for them.  Now, if Ambrogia added the extra dice automatically, that would definitely give me a moment's pause.  At that point the style would be granting you, on average, about one additional Raise for combat every round, and that would be a nice style bonus indeed.  If your GM is fast and free with the Hero points, I would call Ambrogia a pretty decent style.  Otherwise... it could use some help.

NeoTanuki's picture
If one wants to make a dedicated duelist, Ambrogia may be more limited than other styles because of the HP cost, I agree. But if you want to make a social/espionage character who also has decent combat capability, I think it's a nice choice because you can use Wits for both. (Sure, I agree a GM could and should allow a duelist to use Wits if the player is creative, but Ambrogia is the rare bird that actually specifies this.)
NeoTanuki's picture

On the subject of Mantovani and Valroux, has anyone had players or NPCs use them in their games? What's your experience with the "maneuver control" special abilities been like in play?

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Had a player user Cedric Bisset du Verre for an early version of what became the "An Idol Venture" adventure (both can be found on my blog), with Cedric being a student of Valroux, and it worked pretty well, mostly as it caused the Villain to either go with a less effective Maneuver, or to burn an extra Raise to continue with their original intent.

And I think that's the main strength of Valroux Press is that it forces the Villain to burn Raises.  When Hero and Villain are sitting at the same number of Raises, forcing one side to spend that one additional Raise can make quite the difference.  Also can come in handy if you know what their style bonus Manuever is, and can perhaps force them to expend that sooner than they'd like, such as driving an Aldana duelist to use their Ruse so that you know in advance in the "big strike" is coming and can prepare accordingly.

Montavi Flay is conceptually the opposite, and while I've not seen it in play, I suspect that it'd require a lot more foresight as to when to use it, so that you can break up certain combos, such as Leegstra's Slash+Crash+Slash combo, or the use of a Slash or Riposte after an Aldana Ruse, or even just a Feint+Slash, although it takes a certain degree of pre-planning as to when to best use it.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

High-Raise and Low-Raise Scenarios

In this post, I will attempt to look over how dueling is affected by situations where one combatant has a decided advantage or disadvantage with the number of Raises.  I will start with thoughts on the basic maneuvers, then branch out into the various duelist styles.  "Advantage" means "how this performs when you have an advantage on Raises," while "Disadvantage" here means "how this performs when you have a disadvantage on Raises."  For these analyses, I will be assuming a duelist opponent.  My original comments took other sorts of combatants into account, and those sorts of foes are far less problematic in general, whether they are ahead or behind on Raises.


Basic Maneuvers



  • Advantage: Obviously pretty good in this situation, since you can pile on damage before the enemy is able to react.  Archetypal, even, of how a duelist uses their unopposed combat Raises.
  • Disadvantage: Not very good here.  Being at a disadvantage may put you on the defensive, trying to perform "damage control."  It depends on just how far behind you are, though.  If your opponent has 8 Raises and you have 6 Raises, you still might decide to take opportunities to Slash this round.  If your opponent has 7 Raises and you have 3 Raises, however... you are probably more interested in Riposte and Bash to try to save your hide.



  • Advantage: The wrong situation for this maneuver.  You have nothing to parry yet, use Feint or Slash instead.
  • Disadvantage: The right situation for this maneuver.  You'll still want to use Riposte first to make the most of your limited Raises, and Bash doubles as a source of damage and a way to help prevent Lunge potentially (depending on your DM's ruling).  Despite all of that, Parry is another tool to help save you when the odds are against you, use it wisely.



  • Advantage: Great here, almost as good as Slash.  You'll want to rotate the two of them as far as you can until the enemy starts having a chance to respond.
  • Disadvantage: Kinda awful here, probably worse than a Slash except that it might be the right call sometimes to respond to, say, an enemy's Bash.  If you're really behind though, you might want to Bash in response to their Bash instead.



  • Advantage: The big trick you keep until later... usually.  Once in a while, when the enemy is nearly defeated and you have an exorbitant number of Raises, you might lead out with it in an effort to crush them in one fell swoop.  This situation would be rare, but may come up.
  • Disadvantage: You may or may not use Lunge at all, if you do you almost certainly save it for the very last Raise to maximize your action economy.



  • Advantage: "There can be only one."  I have to assume the prevention effect of multiple Bashes do not stack, so you don't need to lead off with any more than one Bash per enemy in the fight.  The choice to do so at all is also in question: you may be able to power some enemies out of the fight with damage when you have the advantage.  When you cannot, Bash is a fine option for one of your early Raises.
  • Disadvantage: Here is where Bash shines, pulling double duty as both a source of damage and also keeping you alive, potentially even against Lunge (your mileage may vary depending upon DM rulings).  Next to Riposte, one of your better options when you're behind.



  • Advantage: Save it until later, of course.  You're going to be mopping up the enemies with Slash and Feint before they can respond, and then once they do?  Stick 'em with a Riposte to hammer the nail in the coffin.
  • Disadvantage: Even more valuable here, in fact one of the best things you can possibly do.  Still not a good reply to Bash of course, and quite suboptimal against Feint, but probably you will need it at some point.  Don't wait until too late in the round, or the Lunge may arrive sooner than expected.


Styles with High/Low Raises Analysis


Aldana Style: Aldana Ruse

  • Advantage: Great here, better than a Feint by far.  You can choose whether to just pile on the damage when they can't respond, or watch them squirm on deciding how they want to tackle your incoming huge strike.  Either way, you are in control.
  • Disadvantage: Unlike a normal Feint, you may still be able to slip this one into the combat (it makes a great reply to an enemy's Bash, of course).  You may be less concerned with dealing damage depending on how much injury you've sustained, but at least this is still a reasonable option.


Ambrogia Style: Veronica's Guile

  • Advantage: You probably have the advantage here because of Veronica's Guile, so go ahead and capitalize on it with Slash and Feint.
  • Disadvantage: Either it's too late to activate it, or you did and you're still behind.  Hopefully you shortened the gap between your foe's Raises and your own, if you didn't then best of luck.  Use the advice listed for the basic maneuvers.


Boucher Style: Boucher Step

  • Advantage: Irrelevant until your opponent has the opportunity to respond, but once they do, use the style bonus to just keep staying ahead of them.  Brutal for chaining yet more damage together before they can act.
  • Disadvantage: You might slip in a combo strike against your foe, but oddly it might end up being a defensive combo such as Riposte + Bash or Parry + Bash.  If this is not particularly helpful, you may not end up using the style bonus this round since you would rather save your actions to respond to what your foe is doing.


Donovan Style: Donovan's Bulwark

  • Advantage: Just amazing here.  Lay down some early damage, then negate their entire turn and let your allies finish the villain off.
  • Disadvantage: Not quite as amazing here.  You still might consider burning away the rest of their turn just to be rid of any troublesome Lunges, but a lot of the damage has already been done this round before you get to use it.  It might not come up as anything more than a simple Parry.


Drexel Style: Bittner Stance

  • Advantage: Without Slash you can't capitalize on damage as effectively, so this stance may not be ideal in some situations.  If you are only slightly ahead though, opening with Feint + Bash is a rough way for your opponent to start the round.  You can control combat easily and take practically (or even literally) no damage this round.
  • Disadvantage: You've lost some of your opportunities to respond to early damage, but you can take control of whatever is left.  Not a bad option here, unless your foe has started getting overfond of early Lunges.  If that's the case, switch stances to Gerbeck so you can hurt them right back.

Drexel Style: Metzger Stance

  • Advantage: Glorious overkill.  Most of your turn takes place before your foe can even respond, so dish out as much damage as possible.  If you can't finish them off, toss a Bash in towards the end.  You run some risk of taking a lot of damage from your foe when you cannot respond.  If that's a major concern, you might consider switching stances to Bittner.
  • Disadvantage: Parity.  You may run out of actions to respond with before your foe's turn is done, but you shouldn't be far behind in terms of initiative.  Despite not having Parry, you can make good use of Riposte and Bash to break up your foe's early assault.  Hopefully that will be enough to let you survive their end-of-round assault.

Drexel Style: Gerbeck Stance

  • Advantage: You win.  No, seriously, you win.  If you have so many Raises that you're going ahead of your foe even in Gerbeck stance, you're about to wreck their world and they can't do anything about it.  You even have defensive measures ready if you need them (and Bash is doing 2 Wounds apiece).  Slash+Feint+Slash never looked so broken.
  • Disadvantage: The normal situation in Gerbeck stance.  You have probably committed yourself to the idea that you're going to both take and deal a lot of damage this round, so you might as well follow through with it.  Still, don't squander a good opportunity to use Riposte, and don't be afraid of using a Bash if it will be better at keeping you conscious.


Eisenfaust Style: Iron Reply

  • Advantage: You have plenty of time to set up and find a moment for a devastating Iron Reply.  There's not much pressure to waste it since your foe is probably already struggling.  You may end up countering your foe's Riposte with it, in fact.
  • Disadvantage: Still pretty nice here, though you're getting dangerously close to your foe's Lunge as the round ends.  With a narrowing window for when to use it, you may end up using it in a less-than-ideal exchange just so you can say you used it at all.  Even if you counter (well, respond to) a Lunge with it though, the Wounds you deal will still be impressive.


Leegstra Style: Leegstra's Crash

  • Advantage: Just excellent, yet another Slash to throw in when your foe's defenses are down.  It takes a good round and makes it a great one.
  • Disadvantage: You can still dish out damage, but your opponent has probably dealt far more than you'll be able to.  If you allies can help finish the job maybe that's okay, but if not then you may not use this maneuver at all, favoring defense instead.


Mantovani Style: Mantovani Flay

  • Advantage: The ideal scenario, when you can dictate the flow of combat and deny an option to your opponent.  You might draw their Riposte out early by denying a Parry, which sets up some nice synergy for your mid- to late-round maneuvers since you know Riposte isn't coming.
  • Disadvantage: The timing becomes crucially difficult here.  What you really want to prevent in this situation is Lunge, so if your opponent is smart they will Lunge a Raise or two earlier in the round to avoid getting denied their last-Raise Lunge.  There's still some play to be had here, but Mantovani Flay may get crowded out by other, more necessary, options when you have only a few Raises.


Mirelli Style: Mirelli's Revision

  • Advantage: Being a defensive style, you won't start using most of this until your opponent starts responding in combat.  That being said, you can choose to lock down your foe with a string of Bashes, or just have ample Parries ready while you keep the pressure on.  Still somewhat useful even when you're in the driver's seat.
  • Disadvantage: Mirelli's Revision shines when you're behind.  All the Bashes and Parries you could want means that you can fill in plenty of defense and need not fear Lunge.  Mirelli Style excels when you're behind.


Sabat Style: Sabat Gambit

  • Advantage: Apparently this works just like a big Lunge now, and like Lunge you'll probably save it until late in the round.  Once in a while you'll use it early when no one can respond to it in the hopes of downing a foe in one blow.
  • Disadvantage: Also like my comments for Lunge, except in this case it's definitely worth using your last Raise for.


Torres Style: Matador's Flourish

  • Advantage: Pretty terrible here.  It's nice to have another Parry (sort-of) just in case you need it, but that probably only comes up if your foe presses a very aggressive attack... while they have fewer Raises than you.
  • Disadvantage: Solid here, like a lesser version of Mirelli.  You have your back-to-back Parries, but not your Bashes.  Lunge is still a threat.


Valroux Style

  • Advantage: Really trips your opponent up when you're ahead.  The last thing they want at that point is to spend more Raises, but can they afford to Lunge when you provoke them, thereby losing ALL their Raises?
  • Disadvantage: Still solid here.  You can grind out some advantage against your foe with what is effectively maneuver pressure, making them either predictable or not as far ahead of you.



In Conclusion

I hope some insight may have been gleaned in the process of writing this; if not, it may at least help me to organize my thoughts for future campaigns.  Anyhow, would you all like to hear my thoughts on Pressure as a maneuver-ish ability, or a series where I analyze every school based on how it fares vs. each other specific school in combat?

NeoTanuki's picture

I would be interested in both the Pressure discussion and folks sharing more about how the styles have interacted in their games. I'm enjoying this discussion overall.  

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

Style Intersection: Aldana

In this series I will be taking a look at how the different styles specifically fight each other, and who seems to have an edge in that conflict.  My focus will be on Player vs. Villain (in this post, Aldana will be from the player's perspective), which alters some of the assumptions about the other styles.  In the hands of a villain, for instance, the oft-referenced Multiple Attribute Dependency doesn't matter.  Anyway, let's dive right in.


Aldana vs. Aldana

Notably, you will recognize each other's style and plan accordingly.  The one with more Raises has a big edge in this fight, potentially setting up a devastating strike before the opponent can even act.  The one who goes first might also leave the question of a high-damage strike as "coming soon," tempting the opponent to respond later with Parry/Riposte or prevent with Bash.  In any case, the villain can do a LOT of damage with a big strike with help from Aldana Ruse, the sort of thing you might plan both a Bash in advance of and even a Parry/Riposte in response to as well!  Neither opponent should be too quick to lead with a Bash when the other can just respond with Aldana Ruse, as this makes a very effective counter to Bash.  Finally, you might consider upsetting the opponent's expectations and playing more like Leegstra: Ruse+Feint+Slash+Riposte+Slash (or Feint+Slash at the end if Riposte is not an option) is a very aggressive round where you keep piling up a series of heavy attacks without putting all your eggs in one basket, the basket in this case being a single huge strike the opponent may be planning for.


Aldana vs. Ambrogia

An Ambrogia villain with any Danger points to spare is going to be adding a (potentially) large pool of extra dice to their combat Risks.  It may be difficult to set the pace of combat against such a foe, but you have a very effective counter if they choose to Bash.  If you somehow manage to go first, you're in good shape and you will probably win the round.  If you are not going first, consider carefully whether you should be dealing out Wounds or preventing them, keeping in mind that you will often be at a disadvantage on Raises in this scenario.  The more powerful the villain is, the scarier Ambrogia becomes (every two dice makes another 11 on average, or 1.1 Raises).


Aldana vs. Boucher

A Boucher villain is deadly indeed, but so are you.  If they haven't used Boucher Step this round, you might hold off on Aldana Ruse until they do.  This eats two of their Raises, and gives you an opening for a combination yourself, such as Riposte+Ruse to upset their plans, or Feint+Ruse to make some plans of your own.  If they have Boucher Step available, they can make ugly responses to your Ruse like Slash+Bash, leaving you with no good response.  If the Boucher villain is faster than you, you're in trouble.  If you end up being faster, you can negate a lot of the benefit they hoped to gain from Boucher Step by pressuring them into more Parries and Bashes.


Aldana vs. Donovan

Donovan is a strange choice for a villain, for they are usually bent upon destruction and pain.  However, the bodyguard of a primary (or even secondary) villain may well be a duelist of Donovan.  You know Donovan's Bulwark may be coming, but in a scenario with few villains this could almost be a boon to your allies by locking down a far more dangerous foe, giving your side better action economy.  However, if your GM is fond of using multiple weaker villains, this advantage starts drying up quickly as the action economy is brought closer to parity.  One advantage you have is that Donovan's Bulwark can't respond to Aldana Ruse since it dealt no Wounds.  Even though you might get locked down, you can run over the top of the Bulwark's damage prevention if you can hit hard enough, giving your foe something to remember you by as both of your Raises get eaten up.  This advantage works even if you are behind on Raises.


Aldana vs. Drexel

There are 3 stances to watch for, and a particularly clever villain might even switch between them at the cost of a Raise.  If your foe goes first by a wide margin, you might assume they've stepped into Metzger stance and cannot Parry.  Force them to use up their Riposte, then devastate them with some combination of Feint+Ruse+Slash if you can.  They may not even be able to respond late in the round, depending on how you both rolled and how much initiative they gained.  You may take quite a bit of damage in the process from their early attacks, so this is not necessarily ideal.  If you are going first, this is the time to be deathly cautious, as a villain in Gerbeck stance might strike down a hero within the span of a single round.  Go ahead and set up whatever combo you like, but you might lead with a Bash just before the villain goes to see if Gerbeck is indeed on the menu.  Bittner is perhaps most annoying for you, as a villain in Bittner stance is nigh-indestructible, and more than capable of preventing all of the damage of your most ramped-up strike.  No Slash is coming, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't watch out for Riposte and Lunge.  You will have to outwit a villain in Bittner stance, not overpower them.  Be *especially* cautious of mid- to late-round switching from Bittner to Gerbeck, as this could be a blowout if you aren't prepared for it.


Aldana vs. Eisenfaust

Potentially your very worst nightmare.  If you go early, don't hesitate to just Ruse+Slash before the villain can respond, because Iron Reply will ruin all your hard work and wreck you.  It might be better to spread out the damage and toss a few more Bashes than normal here.  If the Eisenfaust villain goes first, it's a game of cat and mouse as you try to draw out Iron Reply in a way that is the least devastating to you.  Finally, you might get desperate enough to consider Feint+Ruse+Lunge.  The Eisenfaust villain may be taken off-guard, and even if they use Iron Reply it only counts for dealing Wounds, it can't prevent any against Lunge.  Ideally you would never do this, but sometimes circumstances are less than ideal.


Aldana vs. Leegstra

At first glance, it looks like you're both going to beat the stuffings out of each other: both of your styles effectively give a bonus maneuver with bonus damage.  However, the Leegstra villain hits harder on average... and is far more predictable.  If you go first, start harassing the villain with Bash.  Nothing trips up a Slash+Crash+Slash like walking headfirst into a Bash.  Perhaps they will try to be clever and Feint or Bash in response, which gives you an opening to reply with Aldana Ruse.  At that point, the Leegstra villain has fallen into your trap.  Their pattern is utterly disrupted, and they can't really afford to Slash into what will end up being your gigantic Riposte.  Instead, they probably have to settle for disrupting you in return, which is a game Aldana plays better than Leegstra.  Even if they do Slash+Crash+Slash straight through your Bash, you get to respond with Riposte and Parry, and their damage potential has been quashed.  Beware if you go later in the round, of course, as they may get their ugly opening attacks when you can't respond.  In this case, you will be fighting for your life and may not get a good chance to use Aldana Ruse.  Initiative is HUGELY important in this matchup.


Aldana vs. Mantovani

The classic villain with a whip.  You have to tread carefully here, because your foe can disrupt your combo.  Instead of setting up a huge Slash after Feint+Ruse, their Mantovani Flay may leave you setting up a mediocre Feint or Bash or Riposte instead (Riposte would still hit hard, but it would only prevent one Wound from the Flay, a bit of a waste).  This match turns far more cerebral than most do, as you try to draw out their Flay or set up a combo you are okay with having disrupted.  Going higher in initiative does not necessarily rid you of this problem (if you spend your early Raises on Feint+Ruse, and they can respond to what comes next, Flay is definitely an option), and going lower in the round obviously is worse.  Ultimately, you'll still be okay in this matchup, you just can't depend on your maneuvers chaining together in quite the same way.


Aldana vs. Mireli

You have a great counter to Bash, but you can only do it once.  Feint+Ruse can buy you time against an opening of Bash+Revision(Bash), still setting up a damaging attack while largely negating the Bashes, but at some point you have to bite the bullet and let Mireli respond, because Mireli can do this all day.  This isn't a terrible plan though, because a villain using Bash is a villain that is not causing lots of Wounds.  You can outlast the 4 Bash opening by simply spending a Raise to prevent damage a couple of times, stalling much the same way that the Mireli villain is stalling.  If you have enough Raises to play this out, you can finally land your big attack after enough patience.  If you are ahead, the Mireli villain has a conundrum of how best to respond, and despite their strong defenses you may be able to sneak some things through.  If you are behind, this matchup will be painful but you at least have some options.


Aldana vs. Sabat

Sabat Gambit is a dangerous enough move that your villain may not wait until the very last Raise to use it.  This effectively means you are both setting up a massive attack each round, although you have the option of simply upgrading a "normal" Feint or Bash up to the level of a Slash.  If you are ahead, you might sprinkle in some Bashes if you suspect the Gambit is coming.  If you are behind, you may not have much of a window to prepare for the Gambit.  One thing you might do to put your villain on the defensive is to start laying out your combo attack late in the round, when they would be thinking about Sabat Gambit.  Consider this scenario: you're on Raise 3, the villain has already gone (because they always go first), and you Feint while still having Aldana Ruse in reserve.  Now your opponent hesitates.  Do they keep pushing their game plan towards Sabat Gambit, even if that means they have no defense against what's coming from you?  Raise 2 rolls around, the villain has only 1 Raise left, and you use Aldana Ruse.  The villain's desire to use Bash instead of Gambit here is enormous, but it depends on the personality of the villain (and the GM).


Aldana vs. Torres

You are doing pretty well in this matchup.  An extra Parry (even one that is full strength in the case of a villain) is not exactly what they need against you to stop a single massive attack.  Also, a lot of what you do are Feints and Ruse, and these are pointless to Parry (just spend a Raise to prevent a Wound if you feel that strongly).  Sure, Torres will have defenses against you, but not the best ones.  You're also under less pressure since Torres has no special damage attacks.  You'll have an elegant conversation with Torres, and it's a conversation you're likely to win.  If you are ahead, so much the better.  If you are behind, however, things turn a bit more even.


Aldana vs. Valroux

Since Valroux Cross is attached to a Parry effect, and that requires an attack that dealt Wounds to respond to, it usually comes too late to break up your combo attack because it can't respond to Aldana Ruse.  They do have the option of countering a plain Feint though, and could put pressure on you not to use Aldana Ruse after the Feint (such as pressuring you to use Bash instead, or Lunge, or whatnot).  If the villain goes first, you may have to sacrifice the Feint and just go for Ruse+Slash or Ruse+Riposte.  If you go first, you still have the lead-in Feint option.  Either way, you can expect to lose a Raise sometime during the round, since you don't want the villain dictating your combat actions.


In Conclusion

Aldana fares well against Donovan, Leegstra, Torres and Valroux, and is at parity with most of the rest.  Aldana has some trouble with Drexel and Eisenfaust, and some (like Boucher, Leegstra and Mireli) become problematic for Aldana when they are ahead on Raises.  Overall, I like Aldana, but I think it takes a bit of cleverness to pilot it correctly.  Having access to an offensive maneuver that starts by dealing no Wounds is surprisingly effective in a variety of scenarios, and the option of whether to make it a delayed-Slash or a giant alpha strike gives the player some nice options.

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

Under Pressure: The Maneuver for Everyone

So, the core rulebook on p. 176 has a half-page entry describing Pressure.  It can be done in every situation, not just combat, making it extremely versatile.  Effectively, you get to spend one of your Raises to either guide the villain's actions or destroy one of their Raises (making a different action cost 2 Raises is the same as erasing 1 Raise).  I am not quite sure what happens if they only have 1 Raise left: either they perform the action you Pressure them into, or... nothing?  I guess they could always choose to do nothing, it's about the same as saying "I fail."

I'm going to be taking a look at Pressure as it applies to combat.  I will consider it as a Maneuver of sorts, talk about difficulties with changing your Approach, and finally attempt in some broad way to grade how powerful it is (hint: quite powerful).  Let's see Pressure as a Maneuver first.



  • Counters: Bash (partially), Feint (partially)
  • Prevents: Everything (partially)
  • Advantage: Great in this situation.  You can force a villain to spend Raises when they are behind, or else act in the manner you desire.  Since you have more Raises, trading them with the villain is an excellent deal and leaves a huge opening for your allies.
  • Disadvantage: Not as great here, though you still might trip up the last-minute plans the villain had for this round.  A reasonable choice, though perhaps not as good as Bash or Riposte in some instances.
  • Notes: Bash is partially countered because it is preventing nothing, Feint is partially countered because if your Pressure succeeds, you may not get hit again.  By the very nature of Pressure, it helps to prevent literally anything, but it cannot do so outright, it usually ends up taxing the villain 1 Raise beyond normal.  Generally the players will have more total actions in a round than a solitary villain will, so Pressure is a good investment of action economy.  However, only one instance of Pressure can apply at a time, so the most you can ever tax a villain is half of their Raises (every action they take costs 2 in this hypothetical situation).


So, Pressure looks pretty doggone good.  You cannot completely lock down a villain, but up to half of their Raises could be whisked away in their stubborn pursuits.  So why not use Pressure all the time?  A common, everyday, multiple-times-a-round part of anyone's routine, including a duelist?  Well, there's this thing called the Approach...


Approaching Critical Mass, errr, Pressure

Usually the duelist doesn't have to think too hard about their approach.  "I wanna thrash some bozos!"  You went to school, you got the cool pajamas, and now like Ed Gruberman you want to boot some heads.  A combat approach handles prettymuch everything you were originally thinking of doing when you started the round.  Pressure though... huh... I'd let a combat approach player taunt or goad a villain to attack them without changing approach, maybe.  Getting them to attack someone else starts sounding quite murky though, like some other skills might be in play.  Running away?  Surrendering?  Seduction?  Sounds a bit above and beyond that original combat approach.  When that happens, you have to spend an additional Raise to go outside of your Approach.  Suddenly using Pressure seems kinda difficult as a duelist.  2 Raises doesn't quite seem worth it any more to just take out 1 of the villain's Raises.  Non-combat approaches seem like they could easily be chock full of Pressure though.  "I am completely focused on flirting with the Count this round to get him to Come Hither," or maybe "I think the Duchess' bodyguard is a coward at heart, and I intend to prove it.  I'm going to scare him away without spilling a single drop of his blood."  Both of those sound like they could be real pressure-cookers.

So, unless you can quickly and easily shift Approach (and yes, there are ways), a duelist will only seldom use pressure.  Everyone else though?  Sounds spiffy!  I don't know if this quite puts everyone else at parity with duelists, but it is certainly a powerful option available to them.  I think the Pressure combat style is inferior to Donovan in terms of effect, except that you can apply it in any situation, not just combat... and it didn't cost you any extra points to be able to do it.

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

Style Intersection: Ambrogia

In this series I will be taking a look at how the different styles specifically fight each other, and who seems to have an edge in that conflict.  My focus will be on Player vs. Villain (in this post, Ambrogia will be from the player's perspective), which alters some of the assumptions about the other styles.  In the hands of a villain, for instance, the oft-referenced Multiple Attribute Dependency doesn't matter.  Anyway, let's dive right in.


Ambrogia vs. Aldana

Try to go first against Aldana, use your style bonus if you have any Hero points to spare.  If you get out ahead of Aldana, pressure them with damage from Slash and Feint.  Bash is not a great option until you see them use Aldana Ruse, then go for it.  If your style bonus helps you to go first, you're doing okay here.  If Aldana goes first though, you may need to switch to damage control.  Not an easy matchup, but doable.


Ambrogia vs. Ambrogia

The dreaded mirror match, dreaded because the villain is just going to be better than you at using Veronica's Guile and have a larger dice pool.  Take a cue from your allies here on how to respond: if they need your help to survive and buy time, distract the villain with Bash, then buy time with Parry and Riposte.  If your allies are powering down the villain with lots of Wounds, you might take the risk and go all-in on offense as well.  This is a matchup where you are at a disadvantage most of the time, but on random occasion luck may favor you.


Ambrogia vs. Boucher

Two different kinds of speed are at play here: you may have an edge on Raises, but Boucher can disrupt mid-round plans with one effectively uncounterable maneuver.  If you are ahead on initiative, it may be best to put Boucher into a defensive posture with Slash and Feint to minimize the damage Boucher Step can deal.  If Boucher goes ahead of you, you may be in for a rough ride.  Not an easy duel for you when luck is against you.


Ambrogia vs. Donovan

Donovan is a questionable choice of dueling style for most villain encounters, so you may be at some advantage here.  Assuming the villain has enough allies to capitalize on locking down your Raises, you still have the potential advantage of having more Raises and therefore getting in some early damage.  If the villain is not using the special ability of the Bulwark, you should be doing fine.  I give the nod to Ambrogia here, slightly.


Ambrogia vs. Drexel

There are 3 stances to watch for, and a particularly clever villain might even switch between them at the cost of a Raise.  Here's the rundown:

  • Ambrogia vs. Bittner stance: If you go first, go ahead and force through some damage while you still can.  The best bet after that is to disrupt Bittner and not give them any attacks worth a Parry or Riposte.  You're fine in this matchup.
  • Ambrogia vs. Metzger stance: You're used to going first more often than others, but don't be surprised if the villain manages to get ahead of you this time.  If the villain fails to do so, give a little smile for Veronica's Guile and use whatever maneuver setup you like.  If the villain does win out on initiative, you may not be far behind.  Play a little defensive, then light into them once they're out of Raises.  You have one of the few styles that can try to interact with a villain in Metzger, but it's no sure thing.
  • Ambrogia vs. Gerbeck stance: Be careful here.  The villain can do a lot of damage, use your initiative advantage to lead in with a Bash before their turn starts and try to keep their attacks disrupted.  You do have a potential window to cause them a lot of damage before their first Raise, so with a little luck you can do well.  If you end up at parity or worse, play damage control and hope for the best.


Ambrogia vs. Eisenfaust

That huge Iron Reply is the thing to watch out for.  If you have enough of a lead on initiative, go ahead and throw a Slash before the villain can respond.  Later in the round, don't try to Slash unless Iron Reply has already been used; instead, go for Feints and Bashes and Parries, disrupt your foe and don't give any good opportunities to use the Iron Reply.  You may be at a slight disadvantage here, except that going first / having more Raises is always nice.


Ambrogia vs. Leegstra

I'm not going to sugar-coat this for you: Ambrogia is a weaker style, and Leegstra is among the best.  However, your one saving grace here is that Leegstra is outrageously good if it goes first.  Your style bonus can put you closer to parity if not outright ahead of the villain; use the Hero Point for this matchup even if it's your last one.  If you can go ahead of Leegstra, you can disrupt their attacks (Bash) and break up the value of Slash+Crash+Slash due to its predictability.  You may still take some damage, but you could come out ahead by being faster and smarter.  If Leegstra goes ahead of you, the round will be a painful one.


Ambrogia vs. Mantovani

You aren't working towards a combo attack like some dueling styles, so the Mantovani villain really has to stretch their brain to inconvenience you with Mantovani Flay.  Mantovani has a wider array of options, but you may well have more Raises.  This matchup is not bad for you, sometimes even in your favor.


Ambrogia vs. Mireli

Another duel where your speed may make the difference.  Stick an early Slash before Mireli can act, if you can.  Once Mireli can interact with you, a painful lockdown of Bashes are coming.  Sometimes you can grin and bear it, happy to distract the villain while your allies clean up the battlefield.  When that's less of an option, you will have to do your best to grind Mireli down with early-round attacks and try to disrupt and delay them through the rest of each round.  This is a poor matchup for you unless you are flush with Hero points, then it's alright.


Ambrogia vs. Sabat

This is not a good match for you, since Sabat Gambit is so hard to stop.  If your GM is letting Bash reduce Wounds from Riposte/Sabat Gambit, go ahead and make ample use of Bash throughout this fight.  As always, if you get a big lead on initiative, force through a Slash when they can't respond.  You are likely to come out behind most rounds against Sabat, so if you find you are having trouble disrupting them, you might switch tactics and just pile on some Wounds.  Difficult for Ambrogia.


Ambrogia vs. Torres

You know Torres can perform a Parry+Matador's Flourish+Parry... so don't give them a reason to.  Strike out with Slash before they have a chance to Parry, then needle them with Feints and Bashes and Riposte.  As long as you have a couple of Hero points, this match can be in your favor.


Ambrogia vs. Valroux

Much like your advice elsewhere, use a Slash early before Valroux Cross can be brought to bear.  If you keep most of your attacks small and disruptive, it can make the decision of when to use Valroux Cross difficult on your opponent.  On the other hand, if you have Raises to spare then perhaps you can just bore right through it and be offensive with Slashes.  You are about at parity with Valroux: you expect to potentially gain a Raise or two from style bonus, then lose a Raise to Valroux Cross.


In Conclusion

Ambrogia fares well against Donovan, Mantovani and Torres, and is at parity or slight disadvantage with most of the rest.  Ambrogia has trouble with a lot of the styles.  So much depends on luck, and whether you have Hero points to spare.  If you have plenty of Hero points and tend to roll well, then Ambrogia can keep pace with most everything, but that's a lot of ifs.  Ambrogia has neat flavor to it, allowing a high-Wits character to feel able to contribute to combat, but it's among the weakest duelist styles.  Ambrogia is a gamble, and at the moment not a very good one.

NeoTanuki's picture

Another interesting read, Lord Rumfish. Thanks!

A question: This didn't occur to me before reading your post...but technically, can a Villain with Ambrogia use the Special Maneuver, since they only have Strength and Influence, not Wits and Finesse?

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

There's a little blurb in the villain chapter, let me find it real quick... pg. 195 of the rulebook states, "Any effects from Advantages, Sorcery, Dueling Styles, or anything similar that has a variable effect depending on Skill Ranks or Traits are influenced, instead, by the Villain's Strength.  For such effects, Villains are considered to have Skill Ranks or Trait Ranks equal to half their Strength.  For example, a Strength 7 Villain is considered to have Weaponry 4 for the purposes of Maneuvers."

That same Strength 7 Villain also has a Trait Rank of 4, counting for Ambrogia (not the dice pool initially, but the bonus from spending a Hero/Danger Point I would definitely count).  A Strength 14 Villain would have Skill Ranks / Traits counting as 7.  I assume we can safely substitute "Danger Point" for "Hero Point" in Ambrogia's description.

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

Style Intersection: Boucher

In this series I will be taking a look at how the different styles specifically fight each other, and who seems to have an edge in that conflict.  My focus will be on Player vs. Villain (in this post, Boucher will be from the player's perspective), which alters some of the assumptions about the other styles.  In the hands of a villain, for instance, the oft-referenced Multiple Attribute Dependency doesn't matter.  Anyway, let's dive right in.


Boucher vs. Aldana

You can both set up combo attacks, but neither of you has a particularly special advantage in trying to disrupt the other.  If the Aldana villain uses the Ruse to set up a big attack, the best thing to use is Bash... and if you use Boucher Step here, what comes before the Bash doesn't do much to counteract Aldana's plans.  You could have set up your own combo though: if you Feint, they Ruse, and then you Step to use Slash+Bash, the Feint+Slash combo goes off and Aldana is left to deal with your Bash.  If you go first, you can apply aggression to Aldana to try to make them defensive.  If Aldana goes first, your options are a bit more finite.  When the big attack comes in, you might consider Riposte+Bash on your Boucher Step to give yourself a slight reprieve and push through the Riposte damage.  Stranger interactions may still be lurking in this matchup.


Boucher vs. Ambrogia

The villain probably has more Raises than you do, assuming they have any Danger points to spend.  No special moves are coming though, so after you weather a bit of early damage all of the Boucher Step combos you can dream up will work here.  Depending on just how far ahead the Ambrogia villain is on Raises, you might choose some defensive combos or half-defensive combos, such as Riposte+Bash, Riposte+Slash or Slash+Bash.  These combinations offer you protection as well as a potent attack that cannot be countered.


Boucher vs. Boucher

Two blenders set on "frappe."  Perhaps the most important thing to note about this matchup is the Raise gap that occurs after using Boucher Step.  Let's say the villain Boucher duelist uses Boucher Step first (a nice offensive Slash+Feint).  You're in no real position to counter it with Riposte or Parry, but the villain won't be taking any action on this coming Raise due to having spent it already.  In this particular scenario, you might start by responding with a Feint, then on your next Raise you use Boucher Step to Slash+Bash.  Because of the Raise gap, you effectively had time to chain three maneuvers together without interruption.  You took a nasty Slash and the first half of a Feint, but now the villain has suffered a full Feint+Slash and must respond to a Bash that is likely to negate some or all of their attack, ruining their Feint.  What I'm saying is, the first one to use Boucher Step had better make good use of it, because the reply will be even uglier.


Boucher vs. Donovan

Donovan is already a questionable choice for a villain unless they have a lot of allies in the fight (otherwise locking down their own Raises would be suicide).  They can only lock you down reactively, meaning that you have a chance to take at least one action, two thanks to Boucher Step.  If you have reason to suspect your Raises might get locked down, the clear answer here is either Riposte+Lunge or Slash+Lunge (or Feint+Lunge if Donovan has just Bashed you).  Chew on that, Donovan.  If you think the villain will not be locking you down, you are favored to win.


Boucher vs. Drexel

There are 3 stances to watch for, and a particularly clever villain might even switch between them at the cost of a Raise.  Here's the rundown:

  • Boucher vs. Bittner stance: The villain's defenses are formidable, yet you have the tool needed to force through unexpected damage.  You are doing well enough in this matchup.
  • Boucher vs. Metzger stance: Not unlike the advice given for Ambrogia, with two exceptions.  One, late in the round they will run out of Raises, so plan to dish out damage then.  Two, they may go so far ahead of you that you cannot respond to each other at all, which makes Boucher Step useless.  An ugly, high-damage matchup with little interaction.
  • Boucher vs. Gerbeck stance: A good defensive combo may be best here.  You are more likely to go first, so stick some early damage and then lead into their turn with a Bash.  You may or may not find the right opportunity for Boucher Step, since the Raise gap it makes for you gives them a chance to set up a combo as well, and that's not what you want to see out of Gerbeck stance.


Boucher vs. Eisenfaust

You're pretty well positioned here: you can hide your big attack behind a little Feint or Bash, frustrating the Eisenfaust villain who is trying to land a good Iron Reply.  If you play conservative and smart, you should come out slightly ahead.  Watch out though, because sooner or later Eisenfaust will just start using Iron Reply as a sort of big clumsy Slash for the Wounds it can deal.


Boucher vs. Leegstra

Leegstra is powerful, but somewhat predictable.  If you have a chance to respond somewhere in the midst of the Slash+Crash+Slash, this is a fine time for a Riposte+Bash Boucher Step.  If you break up their rhythm, so much the better.  If you go first, you can hammer them even harder by leading in with a Bash before their first Raise.  If Leegstra goes first... well, you know what happens if Leegstra goes first.


Boucher vs. Mantovani

Mantovani could trip you up a little bit with the Flay, especially if they see you trying to set up a Boucher Step with a preemptive Feint (they Flay choosing to deny Slash, and now your options are iffy; you could Riposte the Flay + any maneuver, or use something weird like Bash+Lunge, or just be forced to wait a round on your Boucher Step).  However, the Flay comes but once a round, and it is far more likely that you will get a combo off while the Mantovani villain is still puzzling out when to use their Flay.  As long as your don't telegraph your plans too loudly, you should have the advantage here.


Boucher vs. Mireli

Not unlike the advice given for Donovan, but slightly tweaked.  If you go first, you deal some early damage and then have the option of pushing through a Slash+Lunge or Feint+Lunge if you don't feel like dealing with Mireli's Bashes and Parries.  If Mireli goes first, you can still Feint+Lunge to break out of the lockdown at any point during the round.  Trying to "fight fair" here isn't going to get you anywhere... so fight dirty.


Boucher vs. Sabat

They can't respond to your Boucher Step, and you can't really respond to their Sabat Gambit.  Be quick with a Bash if they Feint near the end of a round, aside from that, expect this matchup to be bloody.  You may come out a bit behind in this fight.


Boucher vs. Torres

Poor Torres.  They have so many Parries available, but not when they need them.  Your Boucher Step slips past the defenses of Torres easily, and you are likely to come out ahead in this fight.  Parry (or Matador's Flourish) is the wrong tool to fight you with most of the time.


Boucher vs. Valroux

Valroux faces much the same dilemma as Torres does.  Your big attack has come and gone, and in its place is something like a Feint or Bash.  Are they going to use Valroux Cross against that?  They can probably still tax you a Raise by trying to force Lunge, but it's not a great use of Valroux Cross.  You are okay in this matchup.


In Conclusion

Boucher fares well against Donovan, Eisenfaust, Mantovani, Torres and Valroux.  Boucher may have trouble with Drexel, Leegstra and Sabat.  Boucher has one of the more interesting style bonuses, although it reduces interaction with the opponent a bit (they are unable to respond to one of your maneuvers).  The unique effect definitely gives them an edge in certain matchups, and allows stalemates to be broken.  Boucher is a solid style without being particularly overpowered.

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

Style Intersection: Donovan

In this series I will be taking a look at how the different styles specifically fight each other, and who seems to have an edge in that conflict.  My focus will be on Player vs. Villain (in this post, Donovan will be from the player's perspective), which alters some of the assumptions about the other styles.  In the hands of a villain, for instance, the oft-referenced Multiple Attribute Dependency doesn't matter.  Anyway, let's dive right in.


Donovan vs. Aldana

Aldana wants to set up a combo attack, and you are pretty good at interrupting combinations.  If Aldana goes first things may be a bit rougher for you, but if you go first then you get to push in some early damage and then have the option of locking out their turn before much of anything has taken place.  Just remember that you cannot use Donovan's Bulwark in response to Aldana Ruse since it dealt no Wounds.  Not a bad matchup for you, even though the villain can be tricksy.


Donovan vs. Ambrogia

The villain probably has more Raises than you do, assuming they have any Danger points to spend.  By the time you have the option to lock down their turn, you will have to decide if it is still worth the effort of doing so.  Both of you are a bit dependent upon a secondary resource (Hero / Danger points), so this fight can skew one direction or the other depending on who has more.  This fight depends a lot on luck and resources.


Donovan vs. Boucher

Boucher can slip a free attack in against you before you can Bulwark, and if they get desperate even something like Slash+Lunge.  You will have trouble with Boucher, so if you go first consider being aggressive and trying to take control of the fight... then when they least expect it, Bulwark the rest of the round away.  Still, not an easy fight no matter how you slice it.


Donovan vs. Donovan

Here you have true mind games going on: if you Bulwark the villain, are you advancing the strategy they would have used anyway?  What is the villain's purpose in using Donovan?  If you feel your team outnumbers / overpowers the bad guys, go ahead and Bulwark the villain, but keep an eye open for surprises like more bad guys popping into the fight later in the round when you can't respond.  If the villain shows their hand and locks you down with Bulwark, you know you need to get in early damage if possible during subsequent rounds, or maybe switch approaches to applying Pressure to leave yourself more chances to respond.  A weird matchup that depends greatly upon the number of combatants and the needs of the story.


Donovan vs. Drexel

There are 3 stances to watch for, and a particularly clever villain might even switch between them at the cost of a Raise.  Here's the rundown:

  • Donovan vs. Bittner stance: If the villain is this concerned with defense, it might behoove you to go ahead and lock them out with Donovan's Bulwark so your friends can push through attacks unmolested.  You should be fine here, either way.
  • Donovan vs. Metzger stance: Your worst matchup with Drexel Style.  Before you can lock out their turn, they took all of it before your first Raise.  Might as well hurt them right back when they are unable to respond.  This matchup is ugly for you.
  • Donovan vs. Gerbeck stance: So, you're more likely to go first, and Donovan's Bulwark is likely to stop something worth blocking?  This is probably a win for you unless you're out of Hero points.  If you are, take care and play conservatively.


Donovan vs. Eisenfaust

Eisenfaust is ahead of you unless you have Hero points.  If you do, stop them before they can use Iron Reply, and let your allies beat on this dangerous foe.  If you don't have Hero points, needle the Eisenfaust villain with Feints and Bashes and Parries to reduce the value of their Iron Reply (and suggest to your non-duelist allies that they might spend those Raises one at a time to deal Wounds... one... at... a... time).  A tough fight, but not too bad.


Donovan vs. Leegstra

If ever there was a time to lock the villain down early, Leegstra is the moment.  As always, if Leegstra gets the initiative on you then you're in for a world of hurt.  If you get the edge on initiative, drop a Slash+Bash or whatnot and then Bulwark away their round with a Hero point.  If you only have one Hero point, this is the moment to spend it that you've been waiting for.  A rough match for you, but very dependent upon initiative.


Donovan vs. Mantovani

Mantovani isn't a problem exactly, just an annoyance.  If Mantovani goes first, they can do a bit of early damage and then use Mantovani Flay just before your first Raise to stop you from Bulwarking them into oblivion.  This trick only works once, unless they follow up with a Parry after that (you can't Bulwark a Parry, it dealt no Wounds).  If you go first, they can stretch out their round by performing Parry+Flay+Parry, none of which you can Bulwark against.  Essentially, as soon as they use a Wound-dealing maneuver against you that isn't Mantovani Flay, you can go ahead and lock them out.  Mantovani has just the very teensiest, tiniest edge on you in this matchup, but the damage your allies can deal should more than make up the difference.


Donovan vs. Mireli

Mireli is used to locking someone out of a fight with a vicious series of Bashes, now the tables are turned when they get utterly locked out by your Donovan's Bulwark.  You may be critical to your allies' success in this fight, as normally Mireli is a difficult foe to damage.  If you force Mireli into a position of constant Parries, you have effectively won the fight since between you and your allies you should have more actions than the Mireli villain does.  A good matchup for you.


Donovan vs. Sabat

You may be the Sabat villain's least favorite matchup.  They still get a chance to do their Sabat Gambit, but if they blow their entire round on it then they have lost a great deal of damage potential.  Someone on your side will be gravely wounded, but the villain will be defenseless.  If you go first with a Bash, even this option is tarnished for them.  If Sabat tries to do a "normal" sort of fight, you can lock them out and stop the Gambit from ever arriving.  You do better in this matchup than a lot of other styles, since the Gambit wants to be dealt late in the round.


Donovan vs. Torres

Obviously, if you go first and press the offense, Torres can do what Torres does best: Parry a bunch, which your Bulwark has no response to.  If Torres is going first, they don't have much of an option to avoid stepping straight into your Bulwark.  You are favored in this matchup, since you can tease out attacks that aren't worth Parrying (Feint+Bash is pretty good for that).


Donovan vs. Valroux

Your styles are oddly similar: you both have a special Parry that reduces your foe's options.  If you have some supply of Hero points, your Bulwark is far more punishing to the average villain than their Valroux Cross will be to you.  If you go first, expect to get hit with a Valroux Cross before you can bring the Bulwark to bear.  If the villain goes first, the situation is reversed and they will get locked out with a Bulwark before they ever thought about using Valroux Cross.  As long as locking down the villain is a good plan, and one you have Hero points for, you're good here.  Otherwise, the villain has a slight edge.


In Conclusion

Donovan fares well against Mireli, Sabat and Torres.  Donovan has trouble with a number of styles, but if you get the lockdown early you are usually golden.  Donovan has one of the strongest style bonuses against villains specifically, although it reduces interaction with the opponent a LOT.  Donovan is a good style for a hero with plenty of friends, and a lousy style for a lone wolf villain.  There will be times when you feel outclassed, but when the Bulwark works, it works wonders.

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

Style Intersection: Drexel

In this series I will be taking a look at how the different styles specifically fight each other, and who seems to have an edge in that conflict.  My focus will be on Player vs. Villain (in this post, Drexel will be from the player's perspective; the three stances available will make this the longest post in the series), which alters some of the assumptions about the other styles.  In the hands of a villain, for instance, the oft-referenced Multiple Attribute Dependency doesn't matter.  Anyway, let's dive right in.


Drexel vs. Aldana

  • Bittner stance vs. Aldana: You'll be able to handle the big damage attack when it arrives, and even if Aldana tries to spread out the damage over smaller attacks you still have enough options available to shut out most of the offense.  A good tool for handling the trickery and danger, if you are patient.
  • Metzger stance vs. Aldana: Going early means applying some pressure, or being able to respond to Aldana's early moves.  Trouble is, Aldana's early moves are often not worth responding to.  Metzger is a good stance, but maybe one of the other two would suit you better here.
  • Gerbeck stance vs. Aldana: They can deal damage, set up a big attack?  Fine.  Let them.  If you take up Gerbeck, you are probably looking to just trade blows with the villain.  A nice upside here is that Aldana takes a Raise or two to set up their attack, which may possibly let you respond in time with a Riposte.  Overall, Drexel has decent options for this matchup.


Drexel vs. Ambrogia

  • Bittner stance vs. Ambrogia: If they go far ahead of you, some of your Wound prevention is lost in the initiative.  Otherwise, not a bad choice if you are feeling a bit outclassed in the matchup.  Whether to use Bittner here depends on how strong the villain is.
  • Metzger stance vs. Ambrogia: What was that about Ambrogia going first?  Now you can meet them head-on.  You don't have Parry, so your main defenses are Bash and Riposte, but you can at least make them work for their early-round maneuvers.  Be careful, since you will run out of maneuvers before they do.  Metzger is probably your best bet in this matchup.
  • Gerbeck stance vs. Ambrogia: Can you afford to do this?  You might weather quite an assault before your first Raise comes around.  If you think you can spare the Wounds, then you can deal some damage back to Ambrogia.  If for some reason they don't know you're a duelist and you're okay with one of your teammates suffering their assault first, Gerbeck always makes one heck of a surprise to an unsuspecting villain.  Probably not the ideal stance here.


Drexel vs. Boucher

  • Bittner stance vs. Boucher: You can't really deal with Boucher's hidden quick attack from Boucher Step, so some of Bittner's value is lost.  This is not the stance I'd use for this fight most of the time.
  • Metzger stance vs. Boucher: You can always try to pressure Boucher with offense to diminish Boucher's own offensive plan.  If that doesn't work, you're both going to hurt each other a lot.  Metzger is usually one of the good baseline stances to take, and it's true here as well since you have one less opportunity to Parry anyway.
  • Gerbeck stance vs. Boucher: A dangerous choice.  You meet Boucher's offense with a late-blooming offense of your own, not necessarily good or bad in this matchup.  You might make them at least consider using Boucher Step partially defensively.


Drexel vs. Donovan

  • Bittner stance vs. Donovan: Probably not the right choice here.  Donovan is more defensive to start with, and this doesn't give you any special tools to get past the Bulwark if the villain can benefit from locking you down.
  • Metzger stance vs. Donovan: The correct choice.  Go first, strike hard.  You have time to figure out another plan if Donovan isn't trying for a lockout.
  • Gerbeck stance vs. Donovan: Not very good here, since you're giving the villain every opportunity to lock out your whole round.  If a lockout is not what they are going for... Gerbeck could do okay.


Drexel vs. Drexel

All the stances.  Let's break them down.

If you are in Bittner Stance:

  • Bittner stance vs. Bittner stance: Silliness.  You can barely damage each other, with the big choices being the Riposte and the Lunge.  At least you won't be wasting any Slashes this fight, because you don't have any.
  • Bittner stance vs. Metzger stance: An early offense from the villain is never good, but if you can respond soon enough then you can play some damage control.  When they run out of Raises, you might switch to Gerbeck and pound them at the bottom of the round.
  • Bittner stance vs. Gerbeck stance: You have chosen wisely, and the villain has chosen poorly.  It's not just that you have the right tools for this matchup, you also are more likely to go first and lead across with a Bash before they can act.  Be at your most defensive and lock them out.

If you are in Metzger stance:

  • Metzger stance vs. Bittner stance: Push your early damage through while you still can.  You've made a pretty good choice here.
  • Metzger stance vs. Metzger stance: For those moments when two people seem to have an entire duel in the middle of a pitched battlefield without anyone responding or interrupting.  You match the villain as best you can, and probably without much support from your teammates during the early Raises.  You don't have Parry, so some damage is likely to occur going both directions.  You are as close to parity as you can try for.
  • Metzger stance vs. Gerbeck stance: Consider switching stances to Bittner.  Oh, fine, do an early Slash, but you might want to switch down to Bittner as you come closer to the villain's initiative.  If you wait too long, you get your full round of damage vs. the villain... and then when you can't respond, they bring the pain train as only a villain in Gerbeck stance can.

If you are in Gerbeck stance:

  • Gerbeck stance vs. Bittner stance: Nope, sorry, but thanks for playing.  This is exactly the wrong matchup for you.  The only bright spot is that the villain won't be dealing out much damage from Bittner stance.
  • Gerbeck stance vs. Metzger stance: If you want to see just what the villain is capable of uncontested, and you survive, then that villain may get a chance to see what you can do uncontested.  You will beat the stuffings out of each other, with hardly any opportunity for a Riposte.  Whether this is a good idea or not depends on the strength of the villain and how many allies you have.
  • Gerbeck stance vs. Gerbeck stance: You might wish you'd been in Bittner, but it's too late (probably).  Now you get to have your grudge match against the villain, with both of you hitting like Mack trucks.  The villain is probably more dangerous here, but at least you can respond near the appropriate initiative, or at least you have a fighting chance to.  Consider your Bash and Riposte, since they deal Wounds (to get the stance bonus) and also help keep you alive.  A dangerous but potentially fun matchup, not unlike a climactic movie battle between two badasses.


Drexel vs. Eisenfaust

  • Bittner stance vs. Eisenfaust: Not what Eisenfaust wants to see.  You have a pretty good reply of your own to Iron Reply, and not many attacks that merit the villain using it (mostly the timing of your Riposte matters here).  You'll be fine.
  • Metzger stance vs. Eisenfaust: If you are far enough ahead of them, you can press some offense before the Iron Reply comes online.  Once it does, switch stances or play more conservatively.  Also not a bad choice here.
  • Gerbeck stance vs. Eisenfaust: There is a wrong choice for this matchup, and it is Gerbeck.  Eisenfaust would love nothing better than to counter one of your massive attacks with an even more devastating Iron Reply.  You could bother them with Feints and Bashes, which could be amusing coming from Gerbeck, but it's not ideal.


Drexel vs. Leegstra

  • Bittner stance vs. Leegstra: Perfect... if your initiative is high.  This is a little too dependent upon Raises for my liking, but when it works, you completely shut out Leegstra.  Not a bad matchup for you, but swingy.
  • Metzger stance vs. Leegstra: Possibly even better here than Bittner.  The thing I keep coming back to with Leegstra is that it's a very dangerous style if it goes first, uncontested.  Metzger has the power to bridge that gap most of the time, and even though you lack a Parry, you don't lack for Bash or Riposte.  If you go way, WAY ahead of Leegstra, just switch to Bittner and take them apart through patience and tactics.  A surprisingly good matchup for you.
  • Gerbeck stance vs. Leegstra: We'll just Slash each other to pieces and see where the chips fall.  There is the unlikely scenario where you manage to win initiative even with Gerbeck's drawback.  When that happens, against almost every style, you tend to just win the round and possibly the entire combat.  Most of this time this will be a very dangerous matchup for you, and probably the wrong choice.


Drexel vs. Mantovani

  • Bittner stance vs. Mantovani: Mantovani really only has one scenario to Flay you in here: you have just used a Bash or Feint, and then Mantovani Flays you to stop the other (you Bash, they Flay away Feint, or you Feint, they Flay away Bash).  You don't want to Parry the Flay (just spend a Raise to prevent it if that's your play), and you could use Riposte but it's not ideal.  Outside of this situation, Mantovani really doesn't have a good option and you should be fine.
  • Metzger stance vs. Mantovani: They might trip you up on a mid-to-late round Slash, but that's not a big deal.  You should be doing okay here.
  • Gerbeck stance vs. Mantovani: It's a bit more annoying (and more likely) to have your Slash pattern interrupted here, but everything you do is hurting them badly so one Flay doesn't set you back too far.  Gerbeck is always dangerous to use against a villain duelist.


Drexel vs. Mireli

  • Bittner stance vs. Mireli: "Oh yeah?  Well, you can't hurt me either!"  Bittner is not really a good choice here, it's better for countering big Slashes rather than the death by a thousand Bashes.  Switch stances.
  • Metzger stance vs. Mireli: If they can't respond, they can't prevent your damage.  Probably the best choice here, and not a bad matchup at that point.  Watch out for Mireli switching tactics and going offensive if they realize this is your strategy.
  • Gerbeck stance vs. Mireli: Basically a terrible choice.  Unless the villain is particularly weak, you won't be able to bull past Mireli's defenses even with the Wound bonus, and the only real opening you have is the Feint+Lunge or Slash+Lunge at the end of your round (depending on whether or not Mireli used a Bash).  Go with Metzger for this fight.


Drexel vs. Sabat

  • Bittner stance vs. Sabat: If the GM lets Bash affect Lunge, and if the GM doesn't fuss about Bittner's style bonus affecting Bash, then you have some real options at your disposal.  That's a lot of ifs, though.  If it's true, then you can do okay here (maybe not great, but okay).  If not, consider something more aggressive.
  • Metzger stance vs. Sabat: High initiative is never a bad thing.  You can set the tone of the fight a bit, knowing that you will have to eat a Sabat Gambit at some point.  Not bad, but Sabat may be coming out ahead.
  • Gerbeck stance vs. Sabat: Maybe you can't stop the Gambit, but you'll be taking a couple of actions at the very bottom of the round after the villain is done, and your own Slash+Lunge or Feint+Lunge is likely not far behind in damage potential.  Gerbeck is always a gamble, but it's difficult to get the edge you need in this fight and a lucky roll with Gerbeck could be just the thing.  You might just make the villain blink first and consider a more defensive (or at least balanced) approach rather than trying to maximize their damage when they see you're willing to do the same thing.  Most of the time I don't like Gerbeck as a go-to option against another duelist, but I might just give the nod here to Gerbeck when you're fighting Sabat.


Drexel vs. Torres

  • Bittner stance vs. Torres: You have effectively blanked their style bonus: they will not need it vs. Bittner.  A solid choice for this matchup.
  • Metzger stance vs. Torres: If you can go ahead of them, their Parries will not be able to stop you.  Just be cautious of how much damage they can do in return, as always.  Another solid choice for this matchup.
  • Gerbeck stance vs. Torres: A terrible choice for you.  You might actually give them a reason to use Parry+Matador's Flourish+Parry in Gerbeck stance, and that's not what you want unless you're just trying to kill time or eat up the villain's Raises.  Pick a different stance next round.


Drexel vs. Valroux

  • Bittner stance vs. Valroux: Valroux isn't happy here, your only attack really worth a Valroux Cross is Riposte.  They might use it anyway after one of your Bashes, choosing Lunge to make you burn off a Raise.  In any case, you're doing fine here.
  • Metzger stance vs. Valroux: It's possible you could take your entire turn before they have a chance to use Valroux Cross.  Using a Lunge when you have 2 Raises left is also the same as blanking their Valroux Cross.  If they are more at parity with your initiative (or even ahead), then Valroux gets an advantage here.  Metzger isn't a bad choice though.
  • Gerbeck stance vs. Valroux: Gerbeck is, once again, not ideal here since you know they have a special Parry they're dying to use.  Bittner or Metzger are the way to go against Valroux.


In Conclusion

Drexel fares well against Donovan, Eisenfaust, Leegstra, Mantovani and Torres.  Drexel has trouble with a couple of styles, but Metzger is just a generally useful stance in most of those cases since initiative is a powerful ability.  Drexel's power lies in versatility, including the ability to switch stances at the cost of a Raise.  This gives it a wider array of good matchups than some styles, and plenty more "fair" matchups, and notably it has good matchups against a couple of very good styles, including the formidable Leegstra.  This versatility is the reason I rank Drexel at the top of the style tiers; if it isn't the absolute strongest style, it's tied or in 2nd place.

NeoTanuki's picture

Holy cow, that's a lot of Drexel to cover. :) Well done.

Looking forward to your takes on Leegstra, Mireli and Sabat. 

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

Thanks.  ^_^


Personally, out of those three options, Mireli is the one that tickles my fancy and worries me just a little.  If you ignore the literal Rules As Written that maneuvers can be performed twice per round each, and assume the Rules As Intended are that maneuvers can be used however many times unless stated otherwise, that makes a big difference to a Mireli combatant with 7 Raises to spend.  That leads into what I think of as the Bash lockdown, where Mireli nickels-and-dimes their opponent's Wounds and makes most responses irrelevant (if the opponent does have an attack that goes over the top of the Bash, Mireli can easily Riposte or Parry it away and calmly get back to their Bash lockdown).  If the 2-per-round limit applies then Mireli has a 4-Bash combo, which is still pretty good and covers most situations (normally you would Lunge with your very last Raise anyway since the villain has no more Raises, and if you are ahead of the opponent you lead out with Slash+Feint when they can't respond).

Anyway, I will have plenty of thoughts on all of those and more soon enough.  As long as someone out there is enjoying it, then I'll keep working to finish out the series and maybe consider other aspects of duelists further down the road, if more angles present themselves.  Also, it's definitely nice to hear a kind word every so often.  ^_^

NeoTanuki's picture

I've created a character who uses Mireli style. If I get a chance to play him in the near future, I will let you know how the style works out for him. 

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

Style Intersection: Eisenfaust

In this series I will be taking a look at how the different styles specifically fight each other, and who seems to have an edge in that conflict.  My focus will be on Player vs. Villain (in this post, Eisenfaust will be from the player's perspective), which alters some of the assumptions about the other styles.  In the hands of a villain, for instance, the oft-referenced Multiple Attribute Dependency doesn't matter.  Anyway, let's dive right in.


Eisenfaust vs. Aldana

You are not what Aldana wants to see.  If the Aldana villain goes ahead of you, they may try to power out a Ruse+Slash before you can respond with Iron Reply.  If the villain is not so fortunate, you may see the Aldana villain boost up something unusual with Ruse, such as performing Ruse+Bash or Ruse+Feint.  Ruse+Bash is obviously annoying for you, but the right moment to Parry perhaps.  Ruse+Feint means yet more damage may be coming, but it still may be correct to use Iron Reply here even though it will be met by the villain's own Riposte potentially.  Aldana has tricks, but you have damaged their combo potential considerably.  I think Eisenfaust is favored here.


Eisenfaust vs. Ambrogia

The villain probably has more Raises than you do, assuming they have any Danger points to spend.  You will weather some early assault, but if the villain gets greedy you can make up for lost time with Iron Reply.  A particularly annoying or clever villain might open with Slash+Bash or some similar combination, getting damage in early and then needling you with Bashes and Feints until a final Lunge.  You have a superior maneuver here, but this fight can be swingy.


Eisenfaust vs. Boucher

Boucher can be difficult for you, since they can "hide" one attack every round using Boucher Step.  If this is a high-damage attack such as Slash or Riposte, you won't be able to use Iron Reply against it.  Then again, if you are forcing Boucher into a defensive position like this, you and your allies may be winning in the long run (a villain loses quite a bit of their punch if they spend Raises on Bash, Feint and Parry).  Boucher has an edge here, though.


Eisenfaust vs. Donovan

Again, Donovan is a strange choice of style for a villain, and you should determine whether they even want to use Bulwark's lockdown ability.  Assuming that they do, you might as well use Iron Reply around your earliest convenience since they will Bulwark in response to most any damaging attack.  If the villain tries to get cute with a Bash, just spend a Raise to prevent the Wound and pass it back to them until you have the right opening to use Iron Reply at least once before they Bulwark you.  I think Eisenfaust has an edge here, since Iron Reply can probably cause more Wounds than Bulwark can prevent.


Eisenfaust vs. Drexel

There are 3 stances to watch for, and a particularly clever villain might even switch between them at the cost of a Raise.  Here's the rundown:

  • Eisenfaust vs. Bittner stance: The worst stance for you potentially.  However, the villain has given up their Slash maneuver, so if your allies outnumber or overpower the bad guys the villain may be losing out by playing conservatively.  Iron Reply may not get a good moment for use against Bittner.
  • Eisenfaust vs. Metzger stance: If you get too far behind on initiative, you may not get a chance to Iron Reply, or you might be forced to use it against a Lunge (this would prevent no Wounds, but you would still deal nice damage).  A tough matchup for you, but if you act fast enough then the pendulum swings in your favor.
  • Eisenfaust vs. Gerbeck stance: You've trained for this, and you're ready.  The villain comes in with a Slash for 6?  Even a Riposte for 6?  Introduce them to the Iron Reply and smile.  Since they've traded away some initiative, you're likely to have plenty of chances to respond or even deal early damage.  You are favored against Gerbeck.


Eisenfaust vs. Eisenfaust

He who replies first, replies worst.  The best attack to use Iron Reply against is, ironically, the villain's Iron Reply.  Convincing them to use it first will not be easy.  If you are ahead on Raises, drive in with Slash+Feint+Slash and see if you can't get them to take the bait.  If you are behind, you might just play damage control for the round and give them nothing to use Iron Reply on.  An odd matchup where you are trying to convince each other to blink first.


Eisenfaust vs. Leegstra

While Leegstra could still wreck you if they go fast enough, in any other situation (parity or you go faster) you have an edge against Leegstra.  If they try to get Slash+Crash+Slash off the ground when you can respond, Iron Reply on the first Slash is a big swing in your favor, and might prompt them to use Riposte instead of Leegstra's Crash.  Breaking up their rhythm denies them the advantage of Leegstra's Crash, and you can also punish their stubbornness if they push ahead with it.  You have a better matchup here than many styles do, and I may give the nod - ever so slightly - to Eisenfaust here.


Eisenfaust vs. Mantovani

Mantovani can't quite hit you where it hurts, since you probably wouldn't want to Iron Reply against Mantovani Flay anyway (prevent 1 Wound? Big deal!).  Mantovani has to struggle and scheme to cause you any annoyance, while you have a fairly foolproof tool waiting to counter any high-damage attack.  Eisenfaust gets the nod here.


Eisenfaust vs. Mireli

This is basically terrible for you.  Iron Reply has to wait for the opponent to make the first move, and in this case that's likely to be a Bash.  If you do Iron Reply a Bash (which never feels good), Mireli can easily Parry as well to take nothing from your signature maneuver.  If your allies outnumber the enemies, you can do good work keeping Mireli distracted.  Otherwise, you really want to go first in initiative.  Mireli is favored here.


Eisenfaust vs. Sabat

You cannot counter their Sabat Gambit except to deal Wounds in response, so feel free to use Iron Reply earlier in the round.  You both can deal a high-damage attack, but the Gambit acts like Lunge and that makes it very hard to counter.  You're close here, but Sabat has an edge over you in terms of damage potential.


Eisenfaust vs. Torres

The extra Parry of Torres probably won't matter against you, as long as you aren't playing too excessively offensive.  On the other hand, your Iron Reply may change their maneuver selection quite a bit.  Eisenfaust is in favor here.


Eisenfaust vs. Valroux

An annoying match.  Their Valroux Cross probably won't stop all the damage from Iron Reply, yet pressuring you towards Lunge (or some other bad/questionable choice) may give them the edge they need.  It's hard to avoid this interaction, so do your best and apply what pressure you can.  I am giving this matchup - very slightly - to Valroux since Iron Reply is also reactive in nature.


In Conclusion

Eisenfaust fares well against Aldana, Donovan, Leegstra, Mantovani and Torres.  Eisenfaust has trouble with a few styles, but it's hard to argue with a giant Riposte.  Eisenfaust is good, particularly against hard-hitting villains, but you do have to wait for an attack that deals Wounds to respond.  Eisenfaust is powerful while also being fair, about as much as you could ask from a dueling style.

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

Style Intersection: Leegstra

In this series I will be taking a look at how the different styles specifically fight each other, and who seems to have an edge in that conflict.  My focus will be on Player vs. Villain (in this post, Leegstra will be from the player's perspective), which alters some of the assumptions about the other styles.  In the hands of a villain, for instance, the oft-referenced Multiple Attribute Dependency doesn't matter.  Anyway, let's dive right in.


Leegstra vs. Aldana

I will say this many times over the course of this post, but it matters a great deal whether you go first or not.  It's a major point of success for Leegstra, if you get ahead on Raises you will be ahead, period.  If the Aldana villain goes first, they can put considerable pressure on you to break up the Slash+Crash+Slash pattern in favor of Riposte or Bash instead.  If you are forced into a defensive posture, and you're lower on Raises to start with, you may never get a good opportunity to use Leegstra's Crash, because another Slash isn't really what you need.  Initiative completely sets the tone of a given combat round here to determine who will be tumbling backwards and who is in the driver's seat.


Leegstra vs. Ambrogia

The villain probably has more Raises than you do, assuming they have any Danger points to spend.  This is a bit crippling to Leegstra, as you can pound out damage but in a very predictable way that is easy to disrupt.  If you go first, you are doing well here.  If the Ambrogia villain goes first (which is more likely), you will probably have to forego your normal game plan and play defense/disruption, hopefully your allies can make up the difference.  This is a swingy matchup, but if you see a stack of Danger points next to the GM, you should expect it to be nasty (i.e., not in your favor).  A little ironic, since Ambrogia is normally one of the weaker styles outside of a Villain's hands.


Leegstra vs. Boucher

Initiative is a big player here again due to your normal "predictable" pattern of Slash+Crash+Slash.  If the Boucher villain gets to use a Boucher Step in the middle of your combo (Riposte+Bash perhaps), then you will need to change your plans abruptly.  It's helpful not just to go first here, but by a margin of 2-3 Raises.  If you do, then this fight is no problem.  If Boucher goes soon after you or even before you do, it may be of more value to you to play responsively and defensively, but it is a losing proposition either way.  I am giving the nod to Boucher here slightly, since even if they are one or two Raises behind they can make up some lost ground in a hurry to disrupt you.


Leegstra vs. Donovan

Again, Donovan is a strange choice of style for a villain, and you should determine whether they even want to use Bulwark's lockdown ability.  Assuming that they do, you could have problems.  Again, it's the initiative.  If you force through a Slash+Crash+Slash early, then the Donovan villain has lost a lot of value to locking down the remaining part of your round.  If the Donovan villain goes first, they get to Slash+Feint+Slash you or whatnot (perhaps a Bash just before your first Raise), and have the option to lock you down, oh, whenever it seems convenient.  If it seems that the Donovan villain doesn't want to use the Bulwark lockdown (or can't, due to lack of Danger points), then take whatever approach seems best and lay into them.  You probably have an edge here since the Villain(s) have to work hard to create a scenario where it's useful to lock down a single player (and themselves) using Donovan's Bulwark.


Leegstra vs. Drexel

There are 3 stances to watch for, and a particularly clever villain might even switch between them at the cost of a Raise.  Here's the rundown:

  • Leegstra vs. Bittner stance: Not what you want to see.  You can still get an edge here if you go first, and if you go first by a wide margin then Bittner was the wrong choice for the villain.  If Bittner goes first, you have lost this round.  Be patient, and be disruptive.
  • Leegstra vs. Metzger stance: Quite possibly the worst matchup for you on the entire list.  If the villain rolls poorly they probably still have about parity with your initiative (if this seems to be the case, save Slash+Crash+Slash+Lunge for the END of the round... you could probably do this either way).  If the villain rolls well on top of Metzger, you may or may not be conscious by the time of your first Raise.  Beware: a clever villain could switch stances to Bittner if they see they have an initiative advantage, and get the best of both stances against you.  Drexel is mostly a bad matchup for Leegstra, especially coming from a Drexel villain.
  • Leegstra vs. Gerbeck stance: This stance may work in your favor.  You are more likely to go first, which is the ideal situation for Leegstra.  You know that big damage may be coming late in the round, so be prepared for a late defense/disruption game plan.  However, once in a great while the Drexel villain in Gerbeck stance may go ahead of you in initiative, and when that happens you need to turn everything towards defense or you may not be conscious to see another combat round.  Mostly, this is a good matchup for you.


Leegstra vs. Eisenfaust

Similar to my comments for Boucher, you need an initiative lead of 2-4 Raises to really benefit from early damage much.  The Eisenfaust villain is hoping you'll walk straight into the Iron Reply, so it may be best to switch tactics to defense/disruption.  No, you're not especially good at defense/disruption, but it's the right call here.  This becomes even more true if Eisenfaust goes first.  This is a pretty bad matchup for you, and I'm giving the nod to Eisenfaust here.


Leegstra vs. Leegstra

You both know the game plan, and you both recognize the style almost immediately.  In any given round, the one who goes first tries to push through Slash+Crash+Slash as best they can before a response is possible, and the one who goes second plans to disrupt the combo with some combination of Bash, Riposte and Parry.  The matchup is pretty even, but very swingy based on initiative.  When you're both close to parity, there may end up being a lot of Feints and Bashes since you're both trying to outthink the other and not be too predictable.  The villain probably has an advantage here just because they are a villain.


Leegstra vs. Mantovani

With enough initiative, you follow your game plan and don't really worry about the matchup.  At parity or worse, you cannot get the combo off.  I mean, you literally cannot, the villain can use Mantovani Flay in the middle of it.  However, this isn't the end of the world.  If you open with a Slash and they reply with a Flay (naming Leegstra's Crash), you've just done more damage than they have in the exchange.  Come back with Feint and continue applying pressure.  While Mantovani can upset your rhythm, you don't necessarily need the combo to win.  I think Leegstra has an edge here, but Mantovani is not defenseless.


Leegstra vs. Mireli

I'll mention once more that Mireli is a bit defensive for a villain, with some of the same issues that Donovan style has (heroes often outnumber the villains, not counting brute squads, meaning that the villain's actions usually need to have more of an offensive impact because the heroes have more action economy).  That being said, Mireli is a bad, bad matchup for you.  You're fine if you have enough of a lead time on Raises (push in some early damage and then ride out the Bashes), but if Mireli is around parity or gets ahead?  Toss Plan A out the window, and just try to prevent damage and survive the Bash onslaught.  Mireli can quite easily nullify Slash+Crash+Slash, and most other things as well.  Mireli takes the nod here, although you're doing fine if you get the lead on initiative.


Leegstra vs. Sabat

Your combo can be disrupted, while Sabat Gambit is basically foolproof.  That alone means you may have some trouble here.  As usual, going first is excellent for you and will offset the Gambit, putting things slightly in your favor (with a little luck, you could push the villain into a defensive posture).  At parity or worse, this is a bad matchup and you do not have good options to deal with it.  While you can both deal a lot of Wounds, I give the nod here to Sabat for being harder to disrupt.


Leegstra vs. Torres

At first glance, it seems like Torres is ready to fight you to a standstill... but that only happens at parity, if you're being predictable.  If you have the initiative here, then as usual you'll be winning.  If you're at parity or worse, throw out Plan A, it won't work.  You know Matador's Flourish can perfectly counter Leegstra's Crash (especially since it's coming from a villain), so don't bother.  Come in with Bashes and Feints and Riposte, and make it basically an even fight.  Leegstra is a bit more impressive when it goes first, so I give the nod - ever so slightly - to Leegstra here.


Leegstra vs. Valroux

Problematic.  You're fine if you go first, yadda-yadda.  However, if Valroux has parity or has a lead, then not only do they have an extra Parry, they also can cost you a Raise whether or not you plan on continuing the combo (you don't want to be forced into an early Lunge, do you?).  That puts Valroux solidly in the lead for two of the three initiative situations, which isn't good for you.  You can give them nothing worth parrying, of course, but they still could use Valroux Cross just to burn off one of your Raises (and prevent one Wound from a Bash or Feint).  If you can stay ahead on initiative none of this matters, but Valroux feels like the winner here.


In Conclusion

Leegstra fares well against Donovan, Mantovani and Torres.  Leegstra also fares well against ANY style... when it has a considerable lead on initiative.  Leegstra has trouble with most of the styles in situations of parity or when behind on initiative, perhaps due to being predictable and easy to disrupt.  Before you cry foul on my conclusions, I will say again that Leegstra is a swingy style, one where it can take a commanding lead if you go first.  My advice, then, to take best advantage of Leegstra is to not half-ass it.  If you're going for Leegstra, do everything you can to improve your initiative and your total Raises, and you will make even better use of them than most other styles would.  If you are pursuing other things ahead of your duelling ability, then Leegstra might be the wrong choice for you.  Leegstra is powerful, but it requires dedication.

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

Style Intersection: Mantovani

In this series I will be taking a look at how the different styles specifically fight each other, and who seems to have an edge in that conflict.  My focus will be on Player vs. Villain (in this post, Mantovani will be from the player's perspective), which alters some of the assumptions about the other styles.  In the hands of a villain, for instance, the oft-referenced Multiple Attribute Dependency doesn't matter.  Anyway, let's dive right in.


Mantovani vs. Aldana

The most cerebral style, in one of its most cerebral matchups.  Mantovani Flay is hard to use correctly (and sometimes it may not have a "correct" play), but Aldana is trying to be tricksy and set up combo strikes, and that is something Mantovani excels at disrupting.  If you go first, open with Slash or Feint before their turn starts, then see how the Aldana villain continues the conversation.  Probably you want to wait until they throw out Aldana Ruse, at which point you Flay away their incoming Slash.  Do they bother with Riposte, even though it only prevents 1 Wound?  Use a decidedly-counterable Bash (you just Parry in response), or perhaps a Feint (you might Riposte here)?  If Aldana goes first, things are a bit more rough for you, but you might still get an opportunity to stop the incoming combo Slash.  Otherwise, play defense/disruption, and don't forget about Flaying away their end-of-round Lunge.  This is one of your more fun matchups for figuring out when to Flay the opponent, and the fact that Flay is actually threatening or disrupting their plans.


Mantovani vs. Ambrogia

The villain probably has more Raises than you do, assuming they have any Danger points to spend.  That might not be terrible for you, since Mantovani likes to have a bit of reaction to what the opponent is doing.  However, being behind is never ideal, so this matchup can be problematic.  You might save the Flay to try to counter their end-of-round Lunge, which, if it works, lets you respond to their very last action.  You can also toss in Bash towards the end of the round, to make it very difficult to find a moment to use Lunge.  If you go first though, you might put the opponent on the back foot with some offense, then switch to disruption when they try to go defensive.  Feint+Mantovani Flay naming Riposte could really upset their plans towards the end of the round if they haven't used Riposte yet, follow up with Lunge to drive home that they waited too long to try to Riposte you.  There are many, many variables to track for Mantovani Flay, so finding the right time to use it can be a challenge.  Even harder might be admitting sometimes that you don't need it... but obviously you want to try.  That's why you took the style after all, right?  Bottom line, the Ambrogia villain could be difficult due to having more Raises, but you have options.


Mantovani vs. Boucher

If Boucher goes ahead of you, they might use Boucher Step early just to not have to deal with your Mantovani Flay, sliding in one more "free" attack before you can respond.  If you go first, or Boucher hasn't used their Step yet, things get complicated and head games ensue.  Let's say you Mantovani Flay, naming Slash.  Boucher says, "Aha!  I use Boucher Step to Feint+Slash, bypassing your Flay!"  Or did they?  Maybe you wanted to be able to respond to the next Slash coming down the pike, and you quite happily Riposte+Slash now.  By trying to be clever, Boucher's response here actually let you interact with their Slash instead of hiding it where you couldn't deal with it.  This is just a taste of the weird head games you could get into here.  I am tentatively going to give Boucher the nod here, but if you are exceptionally good at outwitting / psyching out your GM then Mantovani could come to parity or even advantage here.


Mantovani vs. Donovan

Again, Donovan is a strange choice of style for a villain, and you should determine whether they even want to use Bulwark's lockdown ability.  Assuming that they do, things get interesting.  If you go first, you can quite simply pile in early damage, then Flay naming Donovan's Bulwark just before their first Raise.  It gives you a little longer to interact with the villain.  If they are so bold as to Slash or Riposte in response, you can just Parry right back, and now they have another interaction where they cannot use the Bulwark (you dealt no Wounds with your Parry).  If they Feint, you might consider Slash; even though it lets them use Bulwark, they lose out on the bonus damage from the second half of Feint.  If Donovan goes first, you will probably have a less impressive round, but you can still do the Flay naming Bulwark trick to sneak an attack through.  If it is imperative you deal damage and not get locked down, Flay+Lunge is an option.  Since Donovan is already a questionable villain style, I am giving the nod to Mantovani here, slightly.


Mantovani vs. Drexel

There are 3 stances to watch for, and a particularly clever villain might even switch between them at the cost of a Raise.  Here's the rundown:

  • Mantovani vs. Bittner stance: Know these stances, and know their limitations: Bittner cannot use Slash.  Now the list of maneuvers the villain can use is limited to Parry, Feint, Lunge, Bash, Riposte.  They won't bother using Parry in response to Mantovani Flay, so the list narrows to Feint, Lunge, Bash, Riposte.  Earlier in the round, it's very unlikely they will blow their Raises on Lunge, which narrows the choices to Feint, Bash, Riposte.  You might well be happy to see the villain waste Riposte on Flay, so don't bother naming it (you can just Riposte or Parry it if they do use it).  So!  Now the choice in the early-mid round comes down to Feint or Bash.  Which one seems like the right choice is up to you and depends on circumstances, but obviously you should be paying attention to what maneuver they last used.  If they just used Feint or Bash, name the other one.  Now your foe has an annoying choice of how to respond, with no great options.  Well done, Mantovani.  You can do well here.
  • Mantovani vs. Metzger stance: Another stance with a limitation: Metzger cannot Parry.  Unfortunately, you can't really capitalize on this.  No villain in their right mind was going to use Parry vs. Mantovani Flay anyway, so you gain nothing for the Flay (well, with the exception of Feint+Flay I guess... meh).  Also, in realistic terms, you may not have much interaction with a villain in Metzger stance, they just go so far ahead in initiative!  This is a bad matchup for you, and you may not get a chance to use Flay to any effect here.
  • Mantovani vs. Gerbeck stance: This stance may work in your favor, but be careful.  You are more likely to go first, which means you can set the tone of the conversation (Slash might prompt Riposte, Bash might prompt Feint, etc.).  If you see a Feint, it might be time to Flay away their Slash, leaving them with an awkward Riposte or Bash that you can respond to appropriately (Riposte their Riposte, Parry that oversized Bash, etc.).  You may have a slight advantage here, but respect the damage potential of Gerbeck and tread carefully.  If Gerbeck goes first, don't mess around and do your best to save your hide.


Mantovani vs. Eisenfaust

You know the Eisenfaust villain's gameplan: use Iron Reply against any attack that deals enough damage to matter.  Get Slash in early if you can, but once they can respond, don't give them any big attacks to counter.  Mantovani Flay is a nice option for doing just that, yet another 1 Wound strike that reduces their options and isn't worth the Iron Reply.  If Eisenfaust tires of this and uses the Reply for its damage potential, you don't have to be conservative anymore (Riposte that reply, then feel free to mix in Slash as appropriate).  Eisenfaust may have a slight edge against you just by virtue of damage potential, but they will find you a frustrating foe who has the potential to outwit them.


Mantovani vs. Leegstra

You know the deal if Leegstra goes first: pain, lots of pain.  However, if you go first?  Bash before their first Raise, throw in a Flay when appropriate to shut down Slash (or maybe Leegstra's Crash, if a Slash already went through), and Leegstra can't really get any combo traction against you.  In fact, they might not have a good moment to use Leegstra's Crash at all (perhaps as a stand-in for Slash after you've Flayed it, but then the Crash has been used up).  Even though Leegstra has an edge in this matchup, due to the damage they can dish out when the villain goes early, you have excellent tools to help disrupt Leegstra in other situations.  You are the underdog, but you have some of the tools you need if luck is on your side.


Mantovani vs. Mantovani

Being a mirror match, you both recognize the style and know the Flay could be coming.  While it would be amusing to name Mantovani Flay with Mantovani Flay, don't do that, it's silly.  Instead, if you want to use it early, name Slash (especially after they Feint).  If you want to use it late, go for stopping Lunge if you can (in combination with a Bash or two).  Despite the dizzying trees of possibilities that branch outward in this matchup, I suspect the matches may be oddly straightforward.  Mostly, be aware that Flay makes a pretty good response to Feint and Bash, and in fact isn't a bad response to Mantovani Flay itself (probably naming Slash just to keep their damage potential down).  Villains tend to be more powerful than characters, but aside from that, you should be okay here.


Mantovani vs. Mireli

The pattern is broken!  I feel that the nastiest thing Mireli can do is the Bash chain, but you can break this up with Mantovani Flay by naming Mireli's Revision (or Bash, depending on what was just used).  So... now Mireli can't Bash for a Raise, and Mantovani Flay definitely isn't worth a Parry, not really worth a Riposte either.  Perhaps Mireli takes the opportunity to do some surprise offense with a Slash, which you then Riposte.  However Mireli responds from here, you've tripped up their combo and forced them into a reactive state rather than a proactive state.  It's still not easy to capitalize on it, but just throwing Mireli off their groove may be enough to shake up combat and gain some benefits for your allies.  If you go first, you're doing well.  If the Mireli villain goes first, you're still doing okay and the villain is fighting from a defensive style (problems similar to Donovan).


Mantovani vs. Sabat

You are one of the few duelists who can stop the Sabat Gambit, or at least slow it down by offering a mix of Bashes and Mantovani Flay near the bottom of the Round.  It is probably worth your time and effort to do so.  Sabat is then left with some hard choices, such as using the Gambit much earlier in the round, or playing around your late round as best they can.  I am going to give this one to Mantovani ever-so-narrowly.


Mantovani vs. Torres

Torres is not really a problem for you.  You aren't really able to put together 3 attacks in a row that are worth a Parry, so Matador's Flourish probably won't come up unless the extra Wounds from your allies seems to require it.  With that out of the way, you should be able to find an advantage against Torres somehow by using Mantovani Flay.  How exactly you manage that, I leave up to the player.  Mantovani takes the advantage here.


Mantovani vs. Valroux

How perfectly weird.  Lots of considerations change slightly in this matchup: normally an opponent would never Parry your Mantovani Flay... but Valroux Cross is another matter, it could be worth it by costing you a Raise in the process.  However, you still might not expect them to do that, since it is largely a waste of Wound prevention... but as mentioned for Torres above, they don't really need 3 Parries against you so it might be the right call... the mind boggles.  If you are getting towards the end of a round, it might be worth it to name Valroux Cross on a Flay.  If the Valroux villain tries to get cute and names Mantovani Flay off of their Valroux Cross, don't fight it, use the Flay and name Slash, it's hardly a bad play.  Valroux might have a slight edge in this matchup, but whatever the case you two should enjoy the headgames that happen here.  If you don't like headgames... why are you using Mantovani style?


In Conclusion

Mantovani fares well against Aldana, Donovan, Mireli, Sabat and Torres.  Mantovani also fares surprisingly well against a variety of styles as a slight underdog.  The real trick to Mantovani is being able to solve the puzzle of when to use Mantovani Flay, and what maneuver to prevent that will actually inconvenience the villain.  This is not at all easy, requiring a great deal of mental effort for very minor gain.  If you can contort your head in this way, Mantovani seems quite viable but not even a little bit overpowered.  If you have trouble thinking this sort of thing through, then Mantovani is a terrible choice because it is frustratingly easy to name something pointless with Mantovani Flay that won't set the opponent back at all.

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

Style Intersection: Mireli

In this series I will be taking a look at how the different styles specifically fight each other, and who seems to have an edge in that conflict.  My focus will be on Player vs. Villain (in this post, Mireli will be from the player's perspective), which alters some of the assumptions about the other styles.  In the hands of a villain, for instance, the oft-referenced Multiple Attribute Dependency doesn't matter.  Anyway, let's dive right in.


Mireli vs. Aldana

Aldana, in the hands of a villain, could put together a combo strike that could power past both a Bash and a Riposte/Parry.  The question is, is that good enough?  Let's say you have 3 ranks in Weaponry, and the villain has Strength 7 or 8.  If you try the Bash+Revision+Bash+Revision chain, and the villain builds up with Feint+Ruse+Slash, that Slash on the end is going to be dealing 1+4+4 = 9 total Wounds.  You'll prevent 3 from a Bash, then you can respond with a Riposte to end up preventing 6 Wounds, so you take 3 and you deal 3.  Of course, you were also dealing 1 Wound with each Bash you lead in with, and taking nothing during that time.  From where I'm sitting, it looks like Mireli is ahead, especially if they go first.  If Aldana goes first and sneaks this through before you can respond, then you're in a lot more trouble.  I give the nod to Mireli here, slightly.


Mireli vs. Ambrogia

The villain probably has more Raises than you do, assuming they have any Danger points to spend.  That can be a problem for Mireli, which is hoping to either react (Parry) or act (Bash).  If you cannot interact during the early turn, the pendulum swings in favor of the Ambrogia villain.  However, if you are at parity or ahead, you'll be doing fine.  Since it is not as easy to get the Bash chain started against this villain, I may give the nod here ever-so-slightly to Ambrogia.


Mireli vs. Boucher

Problematic, but you can still respond unless Boucher goes first and uses Boucher Step just before your first Raise.  Anytime after that, if you are in the midst of a Bash chain, their Boucher Step is going to consist of either Feint+Slash or Bash+Slash, to minimize the damage reduction of your Bash.  You can respond with a Riposte or Parry however, so rather than really getting ahead of you, they've merely succeeded in making you reactionary.  If you are not in the midst of a Bash chain, Boucher Step can potentially mess you up in worse ways.


Mireli vs. Donovan

Again, Donovan is a strange choice of style for a villain, and you should determine whether they even want to use Bulwark's lockdown ability.  If they do want to lock you down, well, that's bad.  Get in early damage, and then sigh in resignation as your round is locked down.  If they don't want to, then you're doing well and plans proceed accordingly.  Both of your styles can lock an opponent down, with Donovan being a "hard" lock and Mireli being a "soft" lock, but Mireli is not dependent upon Hero / Danger Points and deals damage in the process.  That still might not save you from a weird villain encounter where Donovan ends up making sense to use, but most of the time you won't be too worried to fight Donovan, just annoyed.


Mireli vs. Drexel

There are 3 stances to watch for, and a particularly clever villain might even switch between them at the cost of a Raise.  Here's the rundown:

  • Mireli vs. Bittner stance: Bittner stance is the wrong tool to fight you with.  The villain was ready to nullify Slash and Riposte, and a lot less prepared to fight against the death by a thousand stings.  The Bash chain works just fine here, and there are no Slashes to worry about.  Mireli wins here generally.
  • Mireli vs. Metzger stance: This is a bad matchup for you, because the villain can most likely go far ahead of you and deal out damage long before you can attempt to Bash or Parry.  Don't feel bad though, a lot of styles have a bad matchup against Metzger stance.  Metzger stance wins here most of the time.
  • Mireli vs. Gerbeck stance: So very often, Gerbeck stance is a bad choice, especially for the player.  For a villain fighting the Mireli Bash chain, however, it may be just what they need to break past for significant damage.  Using a Strength 7 or 8 villain again, and assuming you have Weaponry 3, your Bash chain is preventing 3 damage from their next attack every time.  From Gerbeck stance, a villain could Slash+Feint+Slash, dealing 2 with the first Slash (5 minus 3), nothing with the initial Feint (2 minus 3), and then 4 with the follow-up Slash (5+2=7, minus 3).  You are taking more damage than you're dealing in this exchange, and the villain has more Wounds to start with.  The "soft" lock of Mireli is showing its weakness here, although with allies to help you you could still prevail.  Gerbeck stance wins here, since it is coming from the villain.


Mireli vs. Eisenfaust

Eisenfaust just hates you.  Plan A (the Bash chain) works fine here, and leaves them with nothing worth using Iron Reply on.  If they do use it on a Bash, you can Riposte and come out about even or slightly ahead.  Mireli wins here on average.


Mireli vs. Leegstra

If Leegstra goes first, well, that's bad.  If you go first, whether you are locking them out or struggling depends on how strong the villain is.  In my common example (you have Weaponry 3, the villain has 7 or 8 Strength), you come out around parity: you keep dealing 1 Wound with each Bash, and the Leegstra villain keeps pushing through 1 Wound with each Slash or Leegstra's Crash.  If the villain is weaker, you have thrown a shutout.  If the villain is stronger, you start taking more damage than they are.  Since there's still the problem inherent with Leegstra going first, I am giving this fight ever-so-slightly to the Leegstra villain, though sometimes Mireli will be stronger.


Mireli vs. Mantovani

If your GM pilots Mantovani well, you could find your Bash chain tripped up and start trading blows with the villain.  That doesn't mean you necessarily lose, it just means you can't play on autopilot.  Mantovani has a little advantage here, but you can still do okay.


Mireli vs. Mireli

This is the duel that never ends,

Yes it goes on and on my friend.

Some people started dueling it not knowing what it was,

And they'll continue dueling it forever just because...

::ahem::  Both sides lock each other out most of the time, but the if the villain is particularly strong they do have the option to break past the player's damage prevention.  The player is much less likely to be more powerful than the villain, so the reverse is not a likely scenario.  If the player and villain are closer to parity (not even that close, just pretty close), the fight becomes a lockout just about as surely as Donovan's Bulwark would have been.  It varies from round to round depending on who can sneak in some early damage, so this favors the villain again slightly.  The real advantage the player has is if his allies can assist in the fight to break the stalemate.  The Mireli villain has the edge in this mirror match.


Mireli vs. Sabat

Well, at least you'll have a Bash ready for that Sabat Gambit.  The bad news is, that only softens the blow.  The good news is, you'll be pretty effective for the rest of the combat round.  The Sabat villain is ahead here, but only slightly.


Mireli vs. Torres

Once again, Torres has the wrong solution to the problem.  Bashes are not worth a Parry, so Torres has no particularly useful responses or ways to dig themselves out of this situation.  Unless the villain is quite powerful, Mireli wins here.


Mireli vs. Valroux

You will end up losing a Raise to prevent the Valroux villain from pushing you into a Lunge.  Whether or not losing that Raise matters depends on how dangerous the Valroux villain is.  It doesn't give them a big edge here: their next attack that deals Wounds is still going to get reduced by Bash (Valroux Cross dealt no Wounds), so they haven't really opened any special window against your Bash chain.  I am giving this fight to Mireli.


In Conclusion

Mireli fares well against Aldana, Eisenfaust, Torres and Valroux.  Mireli also fares well against villains that are only slightly more powerful than you (and is practically a shutout against foes who are equal or weaker), but diminishes when facing foes that can easily break past your Bash chain.  Mireli is fairly easy to pilot, and it is a powerful option against foes who are near you in relative power.  Just be patient, because taking best advantage of what you've been given often means sacrificing damage output a bit.

BluSponge blusp...
BluSponge blusponge@verizon.net's picture

Ok, so I just started cooking up a (minor) villain and planned to give him Ambrogia because he's Vodacce.  But reviewing the description of Veronica's Guile, I'm sort of at a loss of what it affords a VILLAIN who uses it.

About the only thing I can think of is if you model the Finesse+Wits+Weaponry, a Villain should be able to spend a Danger Point to add half again his/her Strength to the attack dice pool.  Logic, if Strength = [Trait]+Finesse, Veronica's Guile should give a Villain [Trait x2]+Finesse.  Of course, that's stretching but other than that I don't see how it interfaces with the Villain rules.


Maybe in addition to this wonderful analysis, we need a thread analysing these special manuevers from a Villain's perspective.

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

I'd agree that using Veronica's Guile would let the Villain add half their Strength to the Risk Pool.

It'd be a good way to have a Villain that the Heroes think they've gotten the measure of and can now handle to suddenly become a lot more dangerous, especially since as the GM you're bound to have a lot more Danger Points to spend than a Hero with Ambrogia would have Hero Points.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

BobRossW's picture

Hi all, new to the game and the community, but I like what I see so far. I was hoping to make a Torres fencer because I like the idea of being a bullfighter, but was disccouraged to see how it's presented here...so I read the rules closely. 

Matador's flourish has a few important distinctions from parry and riposte. Both of Parry/Riposte each have the text: "You can only activate Parry/Riposte on your Action, immediately following the Maneuver that caused your Wounds."

Matador's flourish is limited by needing to wear a cloak/rapier and only being usable once per round.

What this means to me is that several of the things that limit parry / riposte do not apply to Matador's flourish. You could conceivably use Riposte/Parry and then Flourish in response the same attack to prevent a large amount of damage. It also makes no reference to a maneuver, so conceivably it might be used to prevent a wider variety of attack / damage sources (provided it makes narrative sense). It also does not specify "your" wounds, so it might conceivably be used to prevent wounds to an ally.

Another important thing to note is that matador's flourish is narratively tied to both athletics and weaponry, so it may be easier to improvise a matador's flourish than a parry/riposte in the midst of a different approach without requiring additional raises (for example, a running retreat) - although for RAW you'd still need a sword in one hand and nothing in the other.

These differences alter the balance in several of the matchups described above, as the Matador flourish becomes an acceptable counter to both high damage attacks and attacks in quick succession to avoid parrying, while also allowing for more tactical flexibility outside of a straight duel.

I'm still thinking in a straight duel, Torres style is probably not the best approach, as a strong offense is generally optimal, still it allows for a lot of interesting flexibility as a team player, assuming you can get your GM to rule as I suggested that a cape thrown over an enemy's sword can indeed protect an ally from the full force of the attack and that one can effectively use both a sword and a cape at once to parry / flourish away a single attack.

NeoTanuki's picture

Now that "Pirate Nations" and "Nations of Theah Vol.1" previews are available, does anyone have thoughts on the new fighting styles like Agoge or DeVore? I'd be very interested to hear people's takes on these. I'm really intrigued by DeVore but uncertain exactly how it works.

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

As to DeVore, I think it could be read in one of two ways (only one should be correct but I'm not sure which), though the wording should be corrected in either case:

1) It is a 'reactive defense' maneuver (similar to Block or Parry) and is used in response to an attack. If used in this way, the DeVore character spends all remaining Raises and chooses a character (Herself or another Hero or Villain by the wording). Any damage that was going to be dealt to that character by another character is prevented (even damage normally not allowed to be prevented such as from Lunge). 

2) It is a 'preventive defense' maneuver and is used early on to dedicate all of the character's actions to defense. If used in this way, the DeVore character spends all Raises on her first action and chooses a character (Herself or another Hero or Villain). For the rest of that Round, the chosen character takes no damage dealt by other characters in the Scene (even damage normally not allowed to be prevented such as from Lunge).

I think the uses are mutually exclusive and only one way should be allowed. I don't think it's crystal clear which is correct. If #1 is correct, there needs to be wording that says "This can be used in response to an attack and prevents only damage from one source". If #2 is correct, there needs to be mention of "prevent wounds for the rest of the round and that the character needs to use this with their first raise".

In either case, I feel this is a very cool, and powerfully defensive maneuver (given it can block Wounds dealt by Lunge, etc)


NeoTanuki's picture

That is exactly what confused me. I like the concept, but it's not clear if it's a response to an attack, or something you just activate that's intended to last for the whole round.

NeoTanuki's picture

Got a clarification from Michael Curry on Reddit today:

"DeVore is not meant to be reactive. You activate it and protect a person for the rest of the round, but you can't activate it in response to Wounds."

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

Great thanks! Hopefully they'll tweak the wording to make that clear.

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Well, good to know my reading on DeVore being proactive was right.

I'd been working off and on at a conversion of the 1e Shield Man school, and what I'd worked out for the style bonus pretty much matches what DeVore does, excapt that you can't use it to prevent Wounds to yourself.

Was thinking of droppign Shield Man from the list, but seems like just the right incentive to do so.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

I don't currently have the money to invest in the new books, but that may change soon.  As such, I cannot yet offer commentary on new duelist styles.


Is there any errata I should be made aware of regarding the core styles?  Is Matador's Flourish as open-ended in timing usage as @BobRossW has posted?  Do we have a final word on whether maneuvers can only be used a maximum of twice per round, as the book states?  Does Bash prevent damage from Lunge?  I would love to have an official opinion on these matters, since it makes an enormous difference in analysis.  I may finish out the core analyses soon, but I'd like to hear back about any updates or changes before I finish out this series.


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