House of Cards: Melee Strike

Melee Strike is the basic melee attack action that everyone gets for free. Also, barring a conservative die delay penalty, it can be used every round. This makes it a good reference point for other attacks.

To remain consistent with the other posts I modeled Melee Strike using a great weapon.

Action Card

Conservative/ Reckless
1 success base damage
3 successes D +2 dam
2 boons free maneuver
2 boons# +1 critical
-2 boons foe can disengage
-2 boons* 1 fatigue

# from the Critical Rating of the weapon
* all physical actions have this as a possible result so it isn’t listed on the card


Comet use
The comet was given the following priority: increase 0 success to 1 > increase 2 successes to 3 > +1 critical
When using boons in order to maximize damage the +1 critical was given priority over the maneuver. Foe escape was given priority over fatigue.


From a pool of 1 Yellow and 1 Purple plus 5 characteristic dice from 3 Green to 3 Red

3 Green 2 Green 1 Green 0 Green (Blue) 0 Red (Blue) 1 Red 2 Red 3 Red
Percent Hit 95% 93% 91% 88% 88% 89% 90% 91%
Average Damage 12.6 12.3 11.9 11.5 11.5 11.7 11.9 12.1
Average Criticals 0.52 0.49 0.45 0.41 0.41 0.41 0.40 0.40
Average Fatigue 0 0 0 0 0 0.20 0.36 0.49
Percent Delay 49% 36% 20% 0%
Percent Foe Escape 4.7% 4.2% 3.9% 3.6% 3.6% 5.0% 5.9% 6.5%

Chance of Doing Damage or Higher



The attack is the same on both sides of the card and Green dice are better. Not surprisingly, characters rolling Green dice get better results. That seems pretty stilted for a basic action, though give the differences in the dice the two sides can never give exactly the same results. Given that conservative actions often take longer to recharge and that the conservative penalty is to delay the recharge of actions conservative fighters probably need Melee Strike more often than reckless fights. On the other hand, fights tend to be short so someone with a decent number of attacks probably never needs to roll Melee Strike.


7 Responses

  1. These articles are great, Erik. How much effort does it take to put one of these together?

    Unreasonably tall order for you, if you’re interested and find yourself with infinite free time:

    I’d love to see you take one of these actions you’ve already done, especially one with a big difference between the green and red side, and run the results for an epic character vs a greater demon. So the character’s dice pool is probably 6 characteristic + 3 expertise + 7 fortune dice (or maybe 5c + 3e + 9f). Capable of going 4 deep into Stance. The demons Defense and powers would add +1 Purple and +6 Black above the standard difficulty of the action. It’s Toughness is 10, armor 6, and wound threshold 40. How many hits does it take to drop that beast? Do red dice get better when faced with higher difficulty, or do the increased yellow and green drown them out?

    After that, I’d love to see the exact same dice pool, but with the assumption that the hero has Skill Mastery, plus the Enhance cards Half-Haft Grip and Weaponmaster’s Strike. Meaning he trades in all 3 yellow, plus 2 blue and 2 white dice for a big boost somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 damage, 2 crits and a comet (slightly different on green and red sides, I can furnish the details if you’re interested). I’m curious what impact that has on his actual damage results once the reduced hit chances (from missing dice) are factored in. I’m also curious to whether the Enhance cards are better for Green or Red. Since green hits more often, the static boosts are a sure thing… but on the other hand, red’s high-variance rolls might actually pay off when the difficulty (and target toughness) is so high.

    High-rank characters also tend to have more to do with their Boons. There are a number of Talents, Career-Abilities, and Items that give additional boon-effects. Including those in a high-level version could prove really interesting, but I suppose they might also muddy the waters too much. Not sure if that’s worth it.

  2. Thanks Rolfe,
    Generating new dice pools is easy. Applying dice pools to action cards that I’ve already coded is easy, unless the number of yellow dice goes up. Writing up a new action card takes a bit. Then there is looking at the results and writing it up. If things go well it probably takes about 2-3 hours to do one of those. If I make a programming error it can take alot longer.

    I’m working on an article comparing the different cards. It would also be interesting to see what 1 purple does compared to 2 black in terms of reducing damage from attacks. Other than an increased chance of a chaos star against an opponent that happens to have a horrible chaos line, at best happening every 40 combat rounds or so, so maybe 1 in 10 combats, it would be interesting to see if improved defenses are useful.

    Trying to model a combat is very tricky due to recharge. You would need to look at an attack chain rather than a single attack. That’s pretty much beyond anything I’m looking to do.

    In playing around with this stuff it looks like red dice start being more useful as difficulty goes up but I don’t have hard numbers.

    I don’t know what skill mastery and Weaponmaster’s Strike actually do. However, if you are already at say 95% chance to hit adding 4 white dice is not going to radically increase your chance of hitting. Conversely, losing those white dice will just drop you back to 95% and would very likely be worth it for bonus damage.

  3. > Other than an increased chance of a chaos star against an opponent that happens to have a horrible chaos line, at best happening every 40 combat rounds or so, so maybe 1 in 10 combats, it would be interesting to see if improved defenses are useful.

    Not following you there. There’s a 1 in 8 chance of that extra Purple rolling a Chaos Star. At least 50% of all monster/NPC actions have a specific Chaos Star line. So at worst, that should be 1 in 16 combat rounds.

  4. Skill Mastery is the level past 3 yellow. It’s basically an ability where if you choose not to actually roll any yellow dice, you can simply add 1 comet to the results. It’s situationally okay if you’ve got the right actions, but not amazing on its own. There’s also a number of high-ranked cards that require Skill Mastery to purchase, or give bonuses if you have it.

    The various Enhance cards each let you trade in 1 white, 1 blue, and/or 1 yellow die for some sort of boost to your action instead. For the most part they look like pretty good trade-ins to me, assuming your attack still has a decent chance to hit with the reduced die pool… which it usually should.

    The two mechanics are designed to be used together, so you can trade in a yellow to power an Enhancement, and then still trade in your ability to roll the remaining yellow(s) for a comet.

  5. There’s also an optional rule in the GM’s Toolkit that I’ve been looking at and trying to decide whether or not it’s worth adding at our table. Seems like it would help red a little more than green, and I’m a little more okay with that now that I’ve seen some of your analyses.

    The optional rule is basically a damage add-on if you score more successes than the maximum success line on an attack card. Each success beyond the best line scores you +1 damage, up to a maximum of damage bonus equal to your Ranks in Skill Training.

    Example: my attack has a 1-success and a 3-success line, and I have 2 levels of Weapon Skill training. I roll 4 successes so I get the triple success line, and add to it +1 extra damage. If I roll 5 or more successes, I’d get the triple-success line, +2 extra damage.

  6. It’s a 1/8 of rolling an extra star, but if you roll two chaos stars then you would have gotten the affect anyway, so you want to look at rolls that wouldn’t have had a chaos star. You go from 1/8 to 15/64 an increase of 7/64 or around 11%. Then, barring unusual circumstances, any improved defense can only be used every other round. So 10 uses requires 20 rounds of combat. Then half the time the opponent doesn’t have a hideous chaos star, so around once per 40 rounds.

  7. Thanks for the Skill Mastery info.
    My major concern would not be conservative versus reckless for bonus damage, we all tend to roll reckless or not attack, but rather PC versus NPC. We can hurt stuff but we can’t take all that much in return. Upping overall damage could just get us killed.

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