Well, I haven't gotten a reply about my queries yet. I have also read on these boards that Parry and Riposte might become free-floating actions? If so, a lot of my wisdom here will be out the window, but perhaps some folks won't adopt those rules, in which case... I will continue in the hopes that my words might reach a useful audience. It's time to continue.
Style Intersection: Sabat
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, Sabat 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.
Sabat vs. Aldana
Oh, there will be damage to go around in this matchup. You don't have anything special to break up the Aldana combinations, and the Aldana villain can only trip up your Sabat Gambit with a Bash you see coming a mile away (this is assuming your GM rules Bash can prevent damage from a Riposte; otherwise, you've got quite the uncounterable strike). There are still games to be played, but the conversation mostly goes "I hurt you cleverly," and then, "Well, I hurt you back!" Seems pretty fair.
Sabat vs. Ambrogia
The villain probably has more Raises than you do, assuming they have any Danger points to spend. However, you have a nice ace up your sleeve to add some nigh-uncounterable damage to the fight, which should bridge the gap a bit. I'm giving the nod slightly to Sabat here, since you're forcing the villain to burn DP (danger points) to stay at parity.
Sabat vs. Boucher
Boucher Step can trip you up a bit, but as long as you don't broadcast your Gambit then it can come as just as much of a surprise as Boucher Step does. Because of all the tricky combos Boucher can set up, I am inclined to give this ever-so-slightly to the villain, but it feels more like a fair match.
Sabat 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, that's really bad... unless you just open with Sabat Gambit. I'm not a big fan of the non-interactive Lunge-and-done combat round, but you do it better than most so it might be worth at least considering. Of course, that doesn't burn off your GM's danger points, and it leaves an angry wounded villain who has no incentive to use Donovan's Bulwark and a lot more incentive to Slash you a bunch. You'll have to decide what your group's approach is to the encounter and what seems more valuable. I'm giving the nod to Sabat here, as it is the more proactive approach.
Sabat 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:
Sabat vs. Eisenfaust
Eisenfaust can't prevent what it really wants to prevent from you, so it's more likely that you will fend off some of Iron Reply's damage while Eisenfaust is not likely to fend off any of your Sabat Gambit damage. Because of this, I give the fight slightly to Sabat. Still, don't underestimate just how hard this villain can hit.
Sabat vs. Leegstra
You are both damage styles, but Leegstra is more dependent upon high initiative to reduce combat interaction. That's not to say you'll have an easy time with Leegstra, just that you tend to have less to worry about with the Gambit. I give this fight - barely - to Sabat, but beware of Leegstra villains.
Sabat vs. Mantovani
Well, well, well. If you have a weakness, it's Mantovani (which is an odd thing to say). You have to dodge not just one Bash, but potentially Bash+Mantovani Flay (+Bash, if the Mantovani villain is being greedy). That's a lot of Raises to burn into your Gambit to avoid the possibility: Gambit on Raise 4, that's painful. Of course, you could consider it damage control by tying up the end of the villain's round if the villain is particularly powerful, but unfortunately a relatively weak villain can walk you into it as well. Of course, a weak villain's Bash might not be so bad, but you get the idea. I give this fight to the Mantovani villain.
Sabat vs. Mireli
The world is a strange place, and you might just inspire the Mireli villain to do their Bash chain at the end of the round rather than the middle or beginning (if there's no 2-of limit on maneuvers, they'll start whenever they feel like it). In any case, it's a pretty safe bet you'll have to Gambit through a Bash here, but at least you can power past it to deal some damage. The Mireli villain might break pretty even with you on damage or even get ahead, but you have allies to help you, right? The Mireli villain is ahead here, but not by much.
Sabat vs. Sabat
You both recognize the style, so you both know what's coming. It's likely you will both try some tricks with Bash near the end of the round, so plan accordingly with countermeasures like Feint. I can't sugar-coat this: mirror matches are often ugly affairs in favor of the villain, and this is definitely one of those times. Get help from your allies on this fight, because otherwise the villain may well overpower you.
Sabat vs. Torres
Once again, Torres has the wrong solution to the problem (so sad that I didn't have to alter this sentence). Lunge (and therefore Sabat Gambit) may or may not be affected by Bash depending on your GM, but it definitely can't be "prevented" so Parry and Matador's Flourish don't help. Torres has an extra Parry they probably won't need against you. This match is in Sabat's favor.
Sabat vs. Valroux
So, what you don't want is getting to the last Raise, and having Valroux Cross dictate your move for the turn, which won't be Sabat Gambit. The villain can lead into Raise 2 with a Bash, also problematic for the Gambit. There is a fix to this conundrum: Parry the Bash (or just spend a Raise to prevent Bash's Wound). They can't use Valroux Cross if there's nothing to prevent Wounds from, so you have an opening to Gambit. This means that, while Valroux is still annoying, they can't really stop you from using your Gambit effectively. This fight may be towards "fair," but I'll give the nod to Sabat slightly.
Sabat fares well against Ambrogia, Donovan, Eisenfaust, Torres and Valroux. Sabat also comes out near parity with a lot of styles wielded by villains, which should tell you just how strong Sabat really is. The main games you play happen near the end of the round, and you need to be willing to occasionally sacrifice some Raises to surprise your foe with an early Gambit. Sabat isn't hard to use, and it's quite effective; I might go so far as to call it a "power-gamed" option, so rein it in a little if your GM is new.
A quick aside about Torres: I have read a "rules-as-written" interpretation that you can use Matador's Flourish out of sequence, like an immediate action that ignores the normal turn progression of initiative. Personally I don't think it was intended that way, but Torres is quite possibly the weakest of all of the styles so it's okay if you want to give it a boost for your games. I will write about it as I believe it is intended, because "rules-as-written" has some serious problems when you look at other styles (Sabat immediately comes to mind).
Style Intersection: Torres
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, Torres 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.
Torres vs. Aldana
So, if the GM wants to cut you some slack, he could set up a round like Ruse+Feint+Slash+Riposte+Slash where you have lots of good opportunities for a back-to-back Parry effect to matter. Typically, I would expect a single giant strike, more akin to Feint+Ruse+Slash, and that usage is just a waste of your multiple prevention effects as you can only apply one to that huge strike. Most of the time, I'm going to give this fight to the Aldana villain easily.
Torres vs. Ambrogia
The villain probably has more Raises than you do, assuming they have any Danger points to spend. Putting you on the back foot initiative-wise might be useful for creating a desire for more parries, but in practice there won't be many good opportunities to put Parry+Flourish to use. Let me explain why: let's say you have 5 Raises (and the villain has at least 6 because they're Ambrogia and they spent a danger point). The villain goes first, Slashing at 6 and then Feinting at 5. You don't really need to Parry a feint; if you Bash here, the villain probably won't respond with something you also need to parry afterwards. You opt for aggression and Slash instead, wanting to make better use of your reactive options later. On Raise 4, the villain Ripostes, and it's a nasty Riposte with that Feint on top of it. You want to make use of Parry+Matador's Flourish at some point, but you also want to use Riposte before the round is over and this seems like as good a time as any. You Riposte on Raise 4. On Raise 3, if the villain were to Parry, you couldn't Parry that Parry and the chances of using Matador's Flourish constructively would be out the window. Instead, let's say the villain uses Slash on Raise 3. Aha, now Parry or Flourish looks pretty good, why not? You Parry on Raise 3. On Raise 2, the villain cannot Slash again. The options here are: Feint, Lunge, Bash. Feint and Bash are not worth a Matador's Flourish (you could just spend a Raise to prevent the wound like anyone else), and Lunge can't be prevented. The dream of an effective Matador's Flourish is over this round. Really, the only way to get an effective Flourish in this matchup involves both of you having a lot of Raises, and the villain laying down a perfect sequence for you, such as Feint+Bash+Slash+Riposte, or Slash+Riposte+Slash. The GM almost has to be actively trying to cause this to occur, which is not a good sign for the effectiveness of Torres. Anyway, the Ambrogia villain wins by virtue of having more Raises and almost never getting inconvenienced by Matador's Flourish.
Torres vs. Boucher
If you use the rule interpretation for Matador's Flourish to be an instant reponse out of turn sequence, then you make a pretty reasonable foil to Boucher Step. However, that's not the baseline standpoint I'm writing from, which means you just have the wrong tools for this matchup and are helpless against Boucher's hidden attack. The Boucher villain wins out.
Torres 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 they do want to lock you down, the only upside to Matador's Flourish is that you could respond with it while trying to make no-damage maneuvers. However, I don't think this is any more benefit than being able to spend a Raise to prevent a Wound, so Donovan seems like it has the better options to choose from.
Torres vs. Drexel
Torres vs. Eisenfaust
Oh, once again the wrong tool for the job. Eisenfaust has a single enormous attack, quite effective vs. your multitude of smaller prevention effects. Eisenfaust wins.
Torres vs. Leegstra
Yes! A dangerous villain, and one you can potentially lock down through your Parry+Flourish+Parry/Riposte... unless they get far ahead in initiative. The proactive villain is better in a wider set of circumstances, while your reactive style only shines if you can respond in a timely fashion. Still, it's nice to see a style where your bonus could matter. Leegstra wins here, but not every time and by a much smaller margin than usual.
Torres vs. Mantovani
There's no reason to break up your combo (or even use your combo), so Mantovani plays whatever headgame it wants and might squeeze out some tiny advantage in the process. The Mantovani villain has to work hard to find an advantage, but it is still ahead. The Mantovani villain wins.
Torres vs. Mireli
Kind of insulting, really. They do what you do better, and they aren't even going to need it against you, using Bashes instead. The Mireli villain wins.
Torres vs. Sabat
Lunge and Gambit damage can't be prevented, so the combo does nothing for you here. Sabat wins.
Torres vs. Torres
You probably both end up using Matador's Flourish just to show off and make a spectacle, not because either of you actually needs it for the fight. Villains as a baseline are more dangerous than heroes, so the Torres villain wins here by a little.
Torres vs. Valroux
You won't really need to prevent damage back-to-back that often against Valroux, and Valroux will find some way to squeeze a Raise out of you or otherwise dictate your actions. The Valroux villain wins here.
Torres fares poorly against almost everything. It does well enough (not amazing) against the Gerbeck stance of Drexel, and against Leegstra (at least being closer to parity), and if the GM is particularly kindhearted then maybe Aldana if the wind is blowing right. I feel bad for matching Torres up in this way, and I think it would be a lot kinder to have a Torres hero fight multiple villain duelists just so it's easier to set up a situation where Matador's Flourish feels like the right move. Torres needs help, and is probably the worst style offered in the core rulebook. It's a shame, because bullfighting is a cool background to build it up from.
As we come to the end, I realize that Valroux has been pitted against everything except for itself already; however, things are different in the hands of a villain and therefore something fresh may shake out.
Style Intersection: Valroux
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, Valroux 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.
Valroux vs. Aldana
This is a bit of an odd matchup, and you can't stop your foe outright unless they are very low on Raises. However, consider this: the Aldana villain Feints... and you Valroux Cross in reply, naming, say, Lunge. They probably weren't expecting you to burn up Valroux Cross against a Feint, and now they have to over-commit an extra Raise to push Aldana Ruse in instead of Lunging away the rest of their round. You've forced Aldana to commit and gained some advantage in the process, that's pretty nice. Aldana can still deal a lot of damage, but you have the potential to make them lose a Raise each combat round. I'm going to give this to Valroux, narrowly.
Valroux vs. Ambrogia
The villain probably has more Raises than you do, assuming they have any Danger points to spend, yet your style is likely to cost them a Raise (or even more by forcing Lunge). That means you come out somewhere closer to being at parity, except the villain has to keep spending danger points to try to stay there. I give this fight to Valroux.
Valroux vs. Boucher
It's going to be a little more tough to have something worth Parrying with your Valroux Cross, but maybe you don't care about preventing damage as much as costing them a Raise. In that case, you can tax the Boucher villain off of any Feint or Bash and make their Boucher Step a little less shiny. I still think the Boucher villain is dangerous, but Valroux makes it a little more fair.
Valroux 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. Your styles are oddly similar, using a Parry-type maneuver to lock down the opponent. Valroux is only a soft lock (they can escape a forced Lunge by spending a Raise), while Donovan costs a hero point / danger point but is a hard lock. If Donovan wants to lock you down as quickly as possible, that's hard to avoid. If the Donovan villain decides to get in some damage first though, then you can come back with a Valroux Cross and create an opening. No matter how they respond, they cannot Bulwark your Cross since it dealt no damage. If they spend an extra Raise, then you have a gap in initiative where they are unable to respond, so you can drive in with a Slash while they cannot react. I'm mostly calling this a stalemate; the one with the best allies in the fight wins.
Valroux vs. Drexel
Valroux vs. Eisenfaust
You don't have a great answer for Iron Reply, or a great way to prevent it. Tax them a Raise as always, but be prepared to take some damage if you do much aside from Bash, Parry and Cross. I think Eisenfaust wins this one.
Valroux vs. Leegstra
You can force Leegstra's combo to cost more Raises to accomplish, and you can also perform a Parry+Valroux Cross+Parry if need be (don't forget to Riposte, of course). Between lowering or negating the damage of Leegstra and costing them a Raise, you might just be a little bit ahead with Valroux. Watch out for rounds when the villain is far ahead on initiative, though.
Valroux vs. Mantovani
A strange matchup with headgames and curveballs. You can just straightforwardly tax the villain a Raise by trying to force Lunge, but you might have to use Valroux Cross on an attack that doesn't seem worth it for damage prevention, such as Bash, Feint, or Mantovani Flay. The Mantovani villain has to work much harder to trip you up in some way and sort-of cost you a Raise (maybe), but it is certainly possible, and villains are more dangerous to begin with. I'm going to call this one a draw, but potentially a fun draw where you both get to name a maneuver.
Valroux vs. Mireli
Taxing the Mireli villain a Raise may get you a brief reprieve from the chain of Bashes, and the Mireli villain suffers a bit from having a defensive style in the first place. I don't know if that's quite enough to put this fight in Valroux's favor, but it's definitely closer to being fair.
Valroux vs. Sabat
Mostly the Sabat villain can't afford to wait too late in the round to use their Gambit, or you'll Bash+Valroux Cross at the tail end of the round given the chance. A clever villain can sidestep that a bit, or just throw out Gambit early and blow a couple of Raises. You are making them tread carefully, but assuming they do, the Sabat villain wins here.
Valroux vs. Torres
You would have to work pretty hard to chain together enough high-damage strikes for Matador's Flourish to be effective, and pretty careless too. On the other hand, your Valroux Cross will tax them a Raise just fine. Valroux should be winning here.
Valroux vs. Valroux
You both recognize the combat style, and in general the villain will be more powerful, which isn't good news for you in the mirror match. You can't really name Valroux Cross off of Valroux Cross because it deals no damage, so it's not a legal maneuver to perform in response. You fight a bit more fairly than you'd like, and the villain probably comes out ahead due to raw power.
Valroux fares well against Aldana, Ambrogia, Drexel (except Metzger stance), Leegstra, and Torres. It does a fair enough job against many styles, because taxing them a Raise is a significant upside for Valroux. Valroux seems to be a fair-to-strong style vs. duelists, but without adding damage or being significantly stronger vs. non-duelists. It might be better for game balance if more styles played this way, but game balance is beyond the scope of this series so I will just say that it manages to be useful against duelists without threatening non-duelists.
Ahoy, Lord Rumfish! Nice to see more of your thoughts on the Dueling Styles here.
Regarding your rules questions regarding Dueling, Donovan Morningfire posted some responses to questions he got from Mike Curry here:
Hope that's helpful.