Charging, and How to Avoid It

beboped

Rogue
Oregon Staff
Marshal
At the 4 day, we had a lot of problems with charging in combat. This post is a friendly reminder of what exactly “charging” is, and a reference for some habits you can cultivate on the battlefield to help avoid it.

Alliance Rule Book v1.2 pg 93 said:
Body Contact: The only contact allowed during battle is by weapon. Any other type of fighting contact such as grabbing someone, hitting, or kicking is strictly forbidden.

Charging: During combat, you must never come into physical contact with your opponent. If you are crowding your opponent so much that he or she must step back to avoid body contact with you, you are charging. If you have moved so close to your opponent that he or she can hold out a hand and touch you, you are probably charging.

Anyone who is reported for excessive charging will be pulled from combat for being unsafe. As previously stated, any contact in combat must be with weapons.
In some ways, this rule is very clear. If your opponent must step back to ensure that the “no body contact” rule is followed, then you are charging. However, in the heat of battle, the difference between your opponent retreating because you are charging and retreating because you are hitting them can be hard to read. The “arms length” rule of thumb is useful, but isn't the actual rule. You can be fighting within arms length perfectly safely, say in a small weapon vs small weapon battle, and you can be fighting unsafely when farther away, particularly in a two-handed vs two-handed weapon battle. Your opponent may also be constantly retreating to maintain the arm’s length rule, in which case you are still charging.

Here are some suggestions for making sure that you are not charging, even in the midst of a large complicated field battle.

0) Situational awareness is the most important skill to cultivate. You have to be constantly aware not only of yourself, your opponent, and the terrain around you, but also of the other players fighting near you. Combat can involve a lot of backpedaling, sidestepping, and circling, and it is every player's responsibility to be aware of their surroundings. Safety in combat is first and foremost about situational awareness. This rule goes double if you are attempting to Waylay in combat, as you have to be providing all the awareness both for yourself and for your target. A target stepping back into an attempted Waylay is an all-too-common occurrence. If you aren't light enough on your feet and aware enough to prevent that from happening, then you shouldn't be trying to Waylay in combat.

1) When running into combat, make sure that you stop and move into your battle stance at least one full arm + weapon length from your target. By far the most common charging I've seen on the field comes from aggressors not checking their forward momentum. Even if your opponent starts to backpedal away from you, stop well in front of their original position and fall into your battle stance. Most likely, your opponent is not running from you, they are simply moving back to ensure that they can fight safely.

2) When chasing an opponent who is running away, always make sure that there is enough space for you to stop without running into them if they stop abruptly. If you know that it takes you a few feet to stop from a full run, either don’t chase at a full run or make sure there are several feet between you and your opponent. Presumably, you are chasing your opponent in order to catch them and stop them with a weapon blow or packet. If this is the case, as you close the gap, change your angle so that if they were to stop suddenly, you would pass by them rather than into them or over them. It’s a lot easier to hit someone on the back with a weapon when you’re standing off their shoulder than when you’re directly behind them anyways. Remember that many players have access to a Prison spell that they can use to defend themselves, and that when casting the Prison they will often stop very suddenly. Make sure that you are always ready to avoid running into a suddenly Prisoned opponent.

3) When moving in to attack a person from behind, remember that you have to be ready for them to pivot to face you. If you are standing off of their shoulder and they pivot into you, the final position will frequently be far too close for safe combat. In this situation, it is both players’ responsibility to move backwards, pausing combat for a moment while a safe situation is reestablished. You should pause striking your opponent in this situation to give you both a chance to establish a safe fighting distance. The arm’s length guideline is very useful for the attacker in this situation, as it can help you determine if you are too close even before your opponent turns around.

4) When surrounding a single opponent, you will need to fight from farther away than you would in a normal 1-1 fight. Circle fights are hard on the player in the center, and they should be. However, that does not excuse the surrounding players from ensuring that they are far enough back that the center player can fight safely. In this case, the distance of your arm + ½ your opponent’s weapon length is a much better minimum distance to maintain than just arm’s length. When in doubt, err on the side of farther away. If you are hitting the circled target with any part of your weapon other than the top quarter or so, you are probably too close. The surrounding players should also be careful to maintain a safe fighting distance from their allies. You can charge allied players by moving too close for them to swing their weapons without hitting you. Be especially careful if your target has been backed against a wall, ledge, or other problematic terrain; with nowhere to retreat, all the burden is on the attackers to keep an appropriate distance. If there is a tripping hazard behind the half-circled target, call a hold and move the combat so that the target is not in danger of going head-over-heels.

5) When running in to attack a caster with few or no weapons, slow down as you approach and aim for the space to their left or right. Do not assume that they will run away from you. If they do not move away, it is still your responsibility to stop at a safe fighting distance. If they backpedal, make sure to watch where they are going, to make sure you can stop combat before they trip over or run into something. Try to match their pace closely once you are within weapon range. Be prepared to stop or otherwise avoid them if they suddenly Prison themselves. If they turn and run away, refer to point 2. This guideline also applies when running up from behind a target.

6) When trying to get between a moving attacker and their target, always place yourself in their path from as far away as possible. You can make running by unsafe, and thus disallowed, without stepping fully into their path. Be very careful when stepping into the attacker’s path; you must give them enough time to stop fully. Keep in mind that larger or more heavily armored players will require more distance to come to a stop than smaller or more lightly armored players. If you step into someone’s path and they do not have time to stop at a safe distance, you are charging, not them.

7) While the Charging rule only mentions opponents, the Body Contact rule makes no such distinctions. In practice, some Body Contact is allowed between allied players, such as when touch-casting a spell. However, every player needs space to fight safely, which includes having space to retreat without running into another player. This means that if you are on the second line of a battle, you should always keep your distance when you're not actively touch-casting. When you do move in to touch-cast a spell, stay aware and light on your feet so that if the player you are casting on needs to retreat, they do not trip over you. Also, always remember that it only takes a Dominate or similar effect for your ally to become your enemy, immediately causing points 1-6 to become relevant.

And finally, a few example situations that always or almost always involve charging.
  • Running through a tight combat line to get to back line casters/archers or to break out of a circle fight
  • Crowding too close in behind your allies
  • Touching your opponent’s shield
  • Striking an opponent standing vertically on the back from the front
  • Running or jogging swiftly into an opponent’s weapon range
  • Running full tilt directly at a player without a weapon, like a wand-using celestial caster
  • Stepping directly into the path of a player running quickly
  • Not allowing an opponent on the ground sufficient space to get up and maintain a safe space in case of a rebirth or cure spell
  • Standing too close to your allies. Generally, a foot or so of space on the side is needed to swing a weapon safely.
 

Durnic

Squire
Owner
Oregon Staff
Marshal
Excellent post, thank you. I hadn't thought about any of the ideas surrounding safely chasing someone down.
 

prashka

Scholar
Oregon Staff
Marshal
All the "Like"!
 

SharonRose

Newbie
Avoiding charging is always a problem for me, given that I have short arms and a short sword. My "arm's length" is, by definition, inside anyone else's "arm's length." If I stick strictly to my opponent's definition, I will be unable to land a hit. I will try harder to stay at the edge of my range. Please be patient and give me reminders if I am being uncool!
 

SkollWolfrun

Squire
Oregon Staff
Realize also that just because your opponent has long arms and weapons does not mean that your ability to reach them should be negated. So the statement 'Your opponent may also be constantly retreating to maintain the arm’s length rule, in which case you are still charging.' is not very truthful.
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
Remember, folks, charging is more about your approach than actual individual attacks, in practice.

Stepping into a range where you can strike, striking, and stepping back isn't charging (unless you stepped into an extremely close, and unnecessary range).

Stepping in, striking and striking and pursuing inside that close range, now -that- would be charging.
 
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