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The Art of Combat

A successful human combatant has many skills, ranging from strategic planning to power and raw shooting skill. Clearly, each has an important effect on others, but when the person is involved in a fight, tactics often take a much lower priority. As such, we'll focus on the combat skills here, first looking at melee and then range weapons.

Close Fights

Manipulating a sword or axe requires dexterity and some strength. Most importantly, the target needs to be within reach before contact can even be considered, so there's a certain amount of movement involved, too. This requires simple locomotive abilities to approach the enemies and keep in touch with them. Luckily, these abilities have been covered in the previous part.

The behaviors used to handle the weapon are acquired through heavy training, so they become almost instinctive maneuvers. Training consists a significant aspects of contact fighting (for instance, sword duels), although reaction times and good reflexes also help.

Distant Battles

Training is also a distinctive advantage for range weapons, although the skills are quite different. Here, accuracy and composure are the key advantages. These skills are gained via target practice to improve aiming or possibly other training missions to gain more experience—whenever possible.

Even static targets can be tricky to hit. Moving targets present even more of a challenge. Depending on the speed of the projectile, judging the shot can be extremely difficult; this is manageable when the projectiles are quasi-instantaneous (for instance, bullets), but can get tricky with slower distance weapons (for instance, arrows or water bombs).

Accurate shooting is a consequence of many skills: anticipating enemy movement, understanding ballistics, predicting trajectories, selecting the appropriate target, aiming for the location, and knowing when to fire. Figure 14.1 shows this set of skills. Combined together, these determine where best to shoot, and when.

Figure 14.1. The hierarchy of skills required to successfully shoot down a moving enemy with distance weapons.


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