Why I Like Combat

I like fighting in my roleplaying adventures. I enjoy combat. There’s I’ve said it. If that makes me a “munchkin,” then so be it. I am the quintessential “Action” gamer (to use Jamison’s parlance) and I am not about to apologise for it.

The thing with combat is that I know what I am getting and I usually figure out pretty quickly how to get a victory. Unless I am the GM, of course, where I expect to lose but try and give the player characters a damn good run for their money.

What I get with a good fight is excitement and to make meaningful choices. Well, ok, that might vary a bit depending on the game system in play (because some games really suck at fights), but you catch my drift. Having been the victim of many GMs who basically railroad their plot, a good fight is where I know I will get to make choices.

Combat is sometimes a little act of rebellion against the kinds of GMs who don’t leave you much to do in the rest of the world. I love to explore the world and poke my character’s nose into places they would probably be best off leaving alone, but experience tells me that you don’t always get the freedom to do that. Which is weird, given the medium.

I noticed that during some of the moments when I have been a player, my default action when faced with a scenario in which I am not sure what to do is to seek out a fight. Maybe it’s boredom or just childish frustration, but I will shoot or stab when I get stuck. This is not something I am proud of.

The more I reflect on this, the more I come to the conclusion that it’s not so much my wargaming roots that lead me to the stabbing and the bashing but more a learned response to the frustration (read: anger) I feel when it seems like nothing much is happening.

Fights engage me like nothing else. I can focus on the opponents, figure out their weaknesses, and I absolutely love it when we play on a battle mat or tabletop for that added tactical detail. But most of all, I get to make meaningful decisions. We can exchange advice, make bold moves, show off our character’s abilities, and roll loads of dice.

This might be why there’s almost always a hostile NPC in my adventures too. I tend to assume that my gamer friends like fights, even though I know logically that isn’t necessarily true. I just don’t want them to feel bored or frustrated with my adventures either.

Game on!

3 comments

  1. Couldn’t agree more – combat is not only a lot of fun, but it’s also a great way to recover some agency if you’re feeling railroaded. After all, if you want to shake things up, starting a fight will usually do it for better or worse!

    That said, if I find myself leaning towards combat because I feel like I’m running out of other interesting choices, that’s usually when I start evaluating whether I want to continue with this game. An inexperienced GM might just have missed the warning signs, but ideally the GM will spot that people are getting bored or frustrated and address the issue directly.

    I don’t think you need to worry about your players getting bored though – the descriptions of your games are always fascinating! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. During our last 5e session, my L7 Elf Monk PC (now AC 19) became charmed into attacking my DM’s Dwarf fighter. The DM told me not to hold back. I didn’t and came close to killing his PC. My friends did their best to stop me but it was close. This was a great fight and super fun session. Your point is made and understood.

    Liked by 1 person

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