What is the point of Full Defense?

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Jim
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What is the point of Full Defense?

#1 Postby Jim » Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:19 pm

In my weekly SW fantasy campaign I have a fighter who has the First Strike and Improved Counterattack Edges so I often use the Defend maneuver in lieu of attacking. He has a very high Fighting score (d12), but when I used to use the Full Defend maneuver I often found that it was not beneficial in the least. The odds of ending up with Parry that is higher than my usual (which is an 8 normally and 9 with his medium shield equipped), seemed to be very low and not being able to move was usually detrimental. There were only a handful of times that I used it where it wouldn't have been better just to use the Defend maneuver.
What was the thinking behind adding Full Defense? Was it beneficial when it was playtested? Perhaps I'm just a victim of sampling error.

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#2 Postby Sushi » Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:43 pm

One big advantage: full defense can be used in conjunction with other combat moves.

So, you can do full defense + improved sweep, standing in place.

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#3 Postby SavageGamerGirl » Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:47 pm

In Savage Worlds Deluxe, Full Defense was updated to be a roll of Fighting +2, to better your odds of getting a high result. If you're still using an earlier version, you might want to make that change in your games.

Also, since it's a trait roll, you can spend bennies on it. If you REALLY need a high parry and don't roll well, then spend a benny and re-roll.

(Imagine pairing that with Elan, for example... you'd get a cumulative Fighting +4 on your Full Defense roll. Even better!)
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#4 Postby ThatGiantMan » Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:56 am

Bear in mind though, a fighting roll with a +2 bonus (discounting the wild die for a moment) basically has an average result that is the same as your parry (which is already half fighting +2). In the case of using a benny with Elan, a fighting roll with a +4 bonus has an average result that is the same as your parry if you use the defend maneuver.
The wild die ups that average slightly, having a much greater effect if your fighting die is low, but the odds are still not huge... I ran them for my current Deadlands character and figured that Full defense only had a 19% chance of giving me a higher parry than the defend maneuver would.

The main advantage has already been mentioned... the ability to use it with other actions. Also, there may be situations where you just need to survive one turn while surround by enemies and hoping to ace on your fighting roll for a parry of 19 or something is your best chance.

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#5 Postby Zadmar » Sat Oct 06, 2012 4:41 am

Sushi wrote:One big advantage: full defense can be used in conjunction with other combat moves.

So, you can do full defense + improved sweep, standing in place.

Better yet, if you've got Ambidextrous and Two-Fisted you can perform a Full Defense with your off hand while attacking normally with the other - you could even use Frenzy or Wild Attack with your main hand, or make another Full Defense roll.

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#6 Postby TheLoremaster » Sat Oct 06, 2012 8:56 am

ThatGiantMan wrote:I ran them for my current Deadlands character and figured that Full defense only had a 19% chance of giving me a higher parry than the defend maneuver would.

??? How do you figure that? Assuming a Wild Card character with Fighting d8:
  • Base Parry: 6
  • Base Parry + Defend: 8
  • Chance of at least Parry:9 when using Full Defense: 37.5% (taken from [url]AnyDice[/url]

Granted, it's not a huge jump, but it's certainly not 19%.
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#7 Postby ThatGiantMan » Sat Oct 06, 2012 11:31 am

TheLoremaster wrote: ??? How do you figure that?


I did the calculation a while back, so I was going from memory, but I suspect I forgot the +2... math fail (well, paying attention fail).

Even so, it's still the sort of odds that only look attractive under fairly dire circumstances.

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#8 Postby Clint » Sat Oct 06, 2012 11:37 am

ThatGiantMan wrote:Bear in mind though, a fighting roll with a +2 bonus (discounting the wild die for a moment) basically has an average result that is the same as your parry (which is already half fighting +2).


Um, nope. Even discounting the Wild Die and Acing, the average for a die is not half it's highest value, it's half the highest value +1 (for it's lowest value). So the average for a d4 is 2.5 not 2.

And once Acing is accounted for, it goes even higher, such that the dice average more than half their highest value +1. So to use the d4, the average for an Acing d4 is 3.33.

And then when the Wild Die is accounted for (to represent PCs where Full Defense is meant to be used primarily), the average roll is almost exactly at half the die type +2, the same as Parry.

So Full Defense with the +2 added averages the same as Defend, but with different options and tactical choices.
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#9 Postby SavageGamerGirl » Sat Oct 06, 2012 12:35 pm

Sushi wrote:So, you can do full defense + improved sweep, standing in place.


Zadmar wrote:Better yet, if you've got Ambidextrous and Two-Fisted you can perform a Full Defense with your off hand while attacking normally with the other - you could even use Frenzy or Wild Attack with your main hand, or make another Full Defense roll.


I was under the impression that you couldn't take any other actions with Full Defense. Or does that only apply to the Defend action?
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#10 Postby Clint » Sat Oct 06, 2012 12:41 pm

SavageGamerGirl wrote:I was under the impression that you couldn't take any other actions with Full Defense. Or does that only apply to the Defend action?


That's actually the difference between them Defend allows moving but no other actions. Full Defense allows actions but no movement.

So the character described above with First Strike and Counterattack is pretty much built to specifically gain the best benefits from Defend (since their attacks don't count as actions).

Whereas a character with Ambidextrous and Two-Fisted could choose to make two attacks or make one attack and use Full Defense at no penalty one of his weapons. If he had Sweep, that attack could indeed be a Sweep while also using Full Defense.

It all depends on the interplay of maneuvers, Edges, and of course situational cases.
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#11 Postby ThatGiantMan » Sat Oct 06, 2012 12:49 pm

Clint wrote: Um, nope. Even discounting the Wild Die and Acing, the average for a die is not half it's highest value, it's half the highest value +1 (for it's lowest value). So the average for a d4 is 2.5 not 2.

And once Acing is accounted for, it goes even higher, such that the dice average more than half their highest value +1. So to use the d4, the average for an Acing d4 is 3.33.

And then when the Wild Die is accounted for (to represent PCs where Full Defense is meant to be used primarily), the average roll is almost exactly at half the die type +2, the same as Parry.

So Full Defense with the +2 added averages the same as Defend, but with different options and tactical choices.


That's true for d4, where the wild die is actually bigger then the regular fighting die and aces are quite likely... with a d12 in fighting, the effect is not quite as pronounced. Also, that's only true if you're doing nothing else; as soon as you add in the multiaction penalty, the average goes back to being around the same as your regular parry... a toss up as to whether you'll get any benefit from it, -2 on your other action and you can't move. Obviously edges can improve this, at which point full defense becomes more attractive.

I'm certainly not saying that full defense could never be useful (a ridiculously high full defense roll at just the right moment is the stuff that great gaming stories are made from), but in my experience so far, I've not been in a situation where I felt the odds were worth it (whereas a guaranteed +2 to parry and retaining the ability to run away has proved useful on occasion).

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#12 Postby ThatGiantMan » Sat Oct 06, 2012 1:22 pm

Thinking about it further, I reckon that a big part of the reason I don't see full defense as "worth it" under normal circumstances is the additional level of uncertainty around it.
When I attack someone, I accept that it might have no effect (I might miss, the attack might not do enough damage).
When I use Defend, I accept that it might have no effect (I might not get attacked, the attack might have missed anyway, or it might hit anyway despite defending).
If I use Full Defense, there are two levels of uncertainty; not only are there the same uncertainties as with the Defend option if I do boost my parry, but there's also the possibility that I won't even manage to boost my parry in the first place.

These uncertainties are partly real (Full Defense does carry an additional level of chance) and partly perceived (is failing to improve your parry with Full Defense really a bigger waste than missing with an attack?)... but I think I just prefer the idea that my character is definitely doing something (definitely attacking, though he may miss... definitely defending, though it may not help), as opposed to maybe doing something (maybe defending himself better, but maybe not).

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#13 Postby SavageGamerGirl » Sat Oct 06, 2012 1:39 pm

Clint wrote:That's actually the difference between them Defend allows moving but no other actions. Full Defense allows actions but no movement.


Wow that's cool! That certainly makes Full Defense a more attractive option to me. If you weren't planning to move anyway, there's no reason not to take Full Defense.
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#14 Postby Clint » Sat Oct 06, 2012 1:56 pm

ThatGiantMan wrote:
Clint wrote: Um, nope. Even discounting the Wild Die and Acing, the average for a die is not half it's highest value, it's half the highest value +1 (for it's lowest value). So the average for a d4 is 2.5 not 2.

And once Acing is accounted for, it goes even higher, such that the dice average more than half their highest value +1. So to use the d4, the average for an Acing d4 is 3.33.

And then when the Wild Die is accounted for (to represent PCs where Full Defense is meant to be used primarily), the average roll is almost exactly at half the die type +2, the same as Parry.

So Full Defense with the +2 added averages the same as Defend, but with different options and tactical choices.


That's true for d4, where the wild die is actually bigger then the regular fighting die and aces are quite likely... with a d12 in fighting, the effect is not quite as pronounced.


It may be better at a d4, but that doesn't change the fact that the odds are as close to average to half die type +2 or better as they can be across the board. Heck, the fact the d4 has higher than 50/50 odds to meet or exceed half die type+2 just makes the point stronger.

The odds of rolling die type+2 or higher with Acing and a Wild Die are...

d4 vs 4 = 62.5%
d6 vs 5 = 55.56%
d8 vs 6 = 47.93%
d10 vs 7 = 50%
d12 vs 8 = 49.77%

So the d4 and d6 actually have better than 50/50 odds and the "worst" one is the d8 not the d12 actually, even then barely 2% off a perfect 50/50 roll.

Again, just making it clear that the +2 bonus for a Wild card does not make the average equal to Parry, but typically Parry +2 (or better if you have a d6 or d4).

ThatGiantMan wrote:Also, that's only true if you're doing nothing else; as soon as you add in the multiaction penalty, the average goes back to being around the same as your regular parry... a toss up as to whether you'll get any benefit from it, -2 on your other action and you can't move.


Or look at it a different way. Change "can't move" to "wasn't going to move anyway" likely to avoid any free attacks for leaving Close Combat (since this is a Parry modifier). And then the choice is to take a -2 on one action for about a 40% chance at a better Parry (ignoring Bennies). Facing an equivalent foe that's about a 20% less chance of success for a 40% chance at being harder to hit. Worth it? Might not be to some, might be to others. Add a second foe, so they'd both have +1 for Gang Up when they attack and the choice might be different for some. A third, fourth, or fifth foes and it might change even more.

Ultimately, like any decision to multi-action and reduce the chance of success, I think it's up to the individual and situation. Sure, Edges can make it a better choice, but I don't think they're required to make the maneuver a viable option.

I do think you hit on a big reason Full Defense isn't used much though, perception. Not just the usefulness of it, but the general perception in gaming that choosing a defensive option is less attractive that choosing an offensive one, regardless of the usefulness sometimes. Some gamers just want to be proactive not reactive. There are options there for that, but Full Defense isn't one of them. ;)
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#15 Postby ThatGiantMan » Sat Oct 06, 2012 2:31 pm

Clint wrote: I do think you hit on a big reason Full Defense isn't used much though, perception. Not just the usefulness of it, but the general perception in gaming that choosing a defensive option is less attractive that choosing an offensive one, regardless of the usefulness sometimes. Some gamers just want to be proactive not reactive. There are options there for that, but Full Defense isn't one of them.


For me, it's not so much the defensive option (though, all things being equal, an offensive one is usually more attractive)... what I don't like is the possibility of saying, "I'm concentrating on defense... *poor roll*... but I don't get any harder to hit"... that just doesn't quite gel with my idea of what my character is trying to do. The odds ultimately just determine the point at which I'm willing to take the risk anyway.

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#16 Postby Jim » Tue Oct 09, 2012 11:50 am

Clint wrote:That's actually the difference between them Defend allows moving but no other actions. Full Defense allows actions but no movement.

So the character described above with First Strike and Counterattack is pretty much built to specifically gain the best benefits from Defend (since their attacks don't count as actions).

Whereas a character with Ambidextrous and Two-Fisted could choose to make two attacks or make one attack and use Full Defense at no penalty one of his weapons. If he had Sweep, that attack could indeed be a Sweep while also using Full Defense.

It all depends on the interplay of maneuvers, Edges, and of course situational cases.


I read through the Situational Combat Rules in the Deluxe Edition again and it isn't really clear from the text that non-movement actions are allowed. Some others seem to have been confused as well. Maybe for the next addition a sentence or two could be added to clear things up. Just a suggestion. Thanks for the clarifications.

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#17 Postby SavageGamerGirl » Tue Oct 09, 2012 12:22 pm

This is now a somewhat attractive option for ye olde squishy wizard.

If you have a high Spellcasting die and a relatively low Fighting die (and therefore a low Parry), it makes sense to Full Defense with a weapon in one hand and cast spells with the other at 2. You might want Ambidexterity somewhere along the line to mitigate the off-hand penalty, but still this is a decent option for boosting the Parry of a spellcaster with a low one.
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#18 Postby Clint » Tue Oct 09, 2012 12:36 pm

Jim wrote:I read through the Situational Combat Rules in the Deluxe Edition again and it isn't really clear from the text that non-movement actions are allowed. Some others seem to have been confused as well. Maybe for the next addition a sentence or two could be added to clear things up. Just a suggestion. Thanks for the clarifications.


Possibly. Just one of those odd things where a rule apparently needs to clarify that it doesn't have a limitation that isn't listed as a limitation. :-?
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#19 Postby Lord Lance » Tue Oct 09, 2012 11:55 pm

SavageGamerGirl wrote:This is now a somewhat attractive option for ye olde squishy wizard.

If you have a high Spellcasting die and a relatively low Fighting die (and therefore a low Parry), it makes sense to Full Defense with a weapon in one hand and cast spells with the other at 2. You might want Ambidexterity somewhere along the line to mitigate the off-hand penalty, but still this is a decent option for boosting the Parry of a spellcaster with a low one.

However, RAW power users in Savage Worlds don't need hands nor voice to cast. Of couse, you could add nice Hindrances to reward those limitation.
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#20 Postby Lord Lance » Wed Oct 10, 2012 12:07 am

SavageGamerGirl wrote:
Clint wrote:That's actually the difference between them Defend allows moving but no other actions. Full Defense allows actions but no movement.


Wow that's cool! That certainly makes Full Defense a more attractive option to me. If you weren't planning to move anyway, there's no reason not to take Full Defense.

Well, Full Defense is an "action" and need a roll. If I'm not wrong(1), this action count as a regular action in your total count of the turn actions, AND it "steals" an hand from you. So, if you are fulldefending with your two-handed sword, you can't also attack, 'cause you "used up" your hands.(1)(2)

1: Clint, can you confirm this statement of mine? :-?

2: if this is true, this is another element to weigh up in the often recurring "two weapons VS two-handed" threads.
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