Aug 122016

DDO the Card Game: Combat
I’ve been having a hard time getting started on this. I don’t know why, it is clear in my head, but for some reason when I try to plan how to write it down it all just skitters away.

So I am changing the goal. I am not trying to write the rules on combat. I am just going to have a discussion about some of the topics. I encourage you all to chime in on what you like or don’t like. Maybe later I can look back at all of this and come up with a coherent rule set.


The first key combat concept is “focus”, meaning, is the monster paying attention to you or not.

At the beginning of combat, each monster is focused on one hero. Quoting from an earlier post:

Hero cards are lined up as they enter the quest, as shown in figure 2 (do not move the whole hero stack, only the hero itself).
The party leader draws on Monster Card for each committed hero. The monster begins focused on that hero.

figure 2

Not a very informative diagram, but the text calls for one so here: Figure 2

Some monsters that have game text that allow them to bring in additional monsters, and if so, additional monster(s) begin focused on the same hero as the original monster.

Which brings us to the main focus rule:

Any number of monsters may be focused on one hero, but each monster may only focus on one character at a time.

Some heroes or other cards have text actions that draw monster focus. In addition, these actions cause the effected monster to change focus to the hero:

  • Closing to melee with a monster
  • Doing damage to a monster
  • Casting any spell on a monster whether or not it does damage

Some heroes or other cards have text actions that remove monster focus from a hero. In addition, these actions cause the hero to shed focus:

  • Gaining Dead or Petrified status
  • Retreating from the quest

A monster that has no heroes in focus takes no action, unless it contains game text that specifies otherwise.


The second key combat concept is “range”. There are only two distances; either a hero is in hand-to-hand combat distance and is said to be in “Close Combat”, or the hero is not in melee distance and is said to be “At Range”. Sometimes I’ve used the words “melee range” or “in melee” to mean “close combat”. I will have to make an editing pass to ensure distance names are used more consistently.

At the beginning of a quest, heroes and monsters are At Range. Heroes that are At Range can use one action to close in to Close Combat. Once in Close Combat, they can use an action to retreat to At Range. Monsters can close and retreat too.

Heroes and Monsters can only launch a Melee attack when they are in Close Combat. They may only launch a Ranged attack when they are At Range. Spells can be cast at any distance.

Side note – one of the aspects of all this that satisfies me the least is the terms “Close Combat” and “At Range”. But I need some adjective that means the characters are close enough to melee or far enough apart to launch missile, and I don’t want to use “melee range” because it contains the word”ranged”. And what would the other distance be called? “Ranged range”? Ai yi yi.

Please feel encouraged to suggest alternatives.

Indicating focus and range on the battlefield

Combining Focus and Range gives us four possible relationships between any one hero and any one monster. Either they are in Close Combat or not. Either the monster has focus on the hero, or not.

  • If the hero is in focus, align the hero card directly in front of the monster. Otherwise align it to one side
  • If the hero is in Close Combat, place the hero card so that it is touching the monster. Otherwise place it at a noticeable distance.

Figure 3 illustrates all four of the possibilities.

figure 3

Hero 1 and Hero 2 are both in Close Combat with Monster 1, but only Hero 1 has its focus. Hero 3 and Her 4 are both At Range, with Hero 4 having focus from Monster 2 while Hero 3 has no monster focus at all.

Figure 4 shows how the battlefield can get more complicated when there are multiple monsters and heroes. But even so, the placement rules suffice to show all of the ranges and focii:

figure 4

In Figure four, Monster 1 and Monster 2 are both focused on Hero 1. Monster 1 is in Close Combat with Hero 1 while Monster 2 is At Range. Hero 2 does not have any focus, and is At Range relative to all the monsters. Hero 3 and Hero 4 are both in Close Combat with Monster 3, which is focused on Hero 3. Monster 4 is focused on Hero 4, and is At Range.

I am not certain I need both diagrams. Maybe Figure 4 covers everything?

Hero Actions

Starting with the Party Leader and working left to right, each player may perform one action during the Hero Action phase:

  • Retreat from the quest
  • Use one Tap or Discard action
  • Perform a Ranged Attack against any monster that is At Range
  • Perform a Melee Attack against any monster that is in Close Combat
  • Charge into Close Combat with any monster
  • Straighten a Tapped hero
  • Activate one controlled monster

Monster Actions

Monsters are also resolved left to right. Each monster “activates” once during each Monster Action Phase (Bosses activate in the Boss Action phase)

There is an algorithm that determines precisely what an activated monster will do:

  1. If the monster is Tapped, straighten it. The monster is done for this phase.
  2. If the monster is not focused on a hero, do nothing. The monster is done for this phase.


  1. If the monster is focused on a hero in Close Combat, and has a zero Melee attribute, only resolve any Melee Text
  2. If the monster is focused on a hero in Close Combat, and has a non-zero Melee attribute, launch a Melee Attack, and afterwards, resolve any Melee Text


  1. If the monster is focused on a hero At Range, and has a zero Ranged attribute, only resolve any Ranged Text
  2. If the monster is focused on a hero At Range, and has a non-zero Ranged attribute, launch a Ranged Attack, and afterwards, resolve any Melee Text

This should probably be a flow chart.

Card text may change any of this, for instance monsters with the Breath Weapon ability take a special action when they are At Range but do not have focus on a hero.

Special: When Monsters Attack!

Some heroes will be able to control monsters. When this happens, the monster lines up on (or moves over to) the Hero side of the battlefield, next and to the right of the controlling player. The controlled monster begins focused on whichever monster(s) is(are) focused on its controlling player, or with no focus if its controlling player has no focus.

The controlling player may not move the monster; it can only be activated, just as if it were any monster, except it will focus on and attack monsters instead of heroes.

Resolving Melee and Range attack

Compare the total ATT attribute of the attacking character to the total DEF attribute of the defending character.

  • If the ATT is higher, the defender loses HP equal to the attacker’s DMG attribute.
  • If the ATT is the same or lower, the defender loses one HP. Regardless of the attacker’s DMG.

Ranged combat resolution is identical, except compare the total RNG of the attacker to the DEF of the defender.

  • Heroes or Monsters that have zero hit points are unconscious and receive an Unconscious status card. (Note to Geoff – add “Unconscious” Status card)
  • Heroes or Monsters that have less than zero hit points are dead and receive a Dead status card. (Note to Geoff – add “Dead” Status card)

That is everything I know about combat. I again encourage feedback and suggestion; no promises I’ll take them of course but I do promise to listen, and I strongly believe that multiple brains are much smarter than just one.

Especially when that one brain is my (defective) brain.

πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€ πŸ™‚

  2 Responses to “DDO the Card Game: Combat”

Comments (2)
  1. 1) Question – what does “tap” (or “tapped”) mean? I don’t see a definition, so when you say “use one tap” or “straighten a tapped hero” I go “Huh?”
    2) *PSST* – typo in figure 3 (“Her 4” – pretty sure that you mean “Hero 4” – but I could be wrong). (But yeah, probably only need figure 4…)
    3) Monster ATT Sequence: Since you resolve ATT text regardless of whether you have zero or non-zero attribute, I would put “4” before “3” and “6” before “5”. E.g. something like “3. If a monster is in CC and has a non-zero melee attribute, attack (otherwise do not attack). Go to 4. 4. Resolve all ATT text.” (But that just may be me…)
    4) Question – do Rangers (the class, not all “at range”) have any type of “point-blank” feat? If so, could they not use an “at ranged” attack while in CC (effectively making what is normally an “at range” attack a ‘melee’ attack)?
    5) CC and “at range” I think are fine. You could go “in close” and “at range”, but other games use “close combat” terminology, so it’s fine.
    6) So no matter what, a defender who is attacked always loses 1 HP, minimum, per attack. Any modifications to that, such as maybe an action card or special ability like a rogue’s “uncanny dodge” that would mitigate damage? Not trying to over complicate combat, just asking.

    I think what you have laid-out here could be used as your combat “rules”. Not sure exactly what you’re looking for in terms of “a coherent rules set”. Maybe just a sequence of play/resolution for combat as a ‘summary’? {I mean, have you read the “rules” for Carcassonne (and the numerous expansions)? What you’ve laid-out here is just as good.}

  2. 1) some cards have “Tap” abilities. For instance, the enhancement Arcane Archer has this game text: “Tap when calculating ranged damage to add one point of fire or acid damage”

    Tapping means you use the card’s Tap ability, Then turn the card sideways to indicate that it is tapped. A Tapped card cannot do anything or be used again until it is straightened

    4) The feat Point Blank Shot will allow anyone to make a Ranged attack while in Close Combat.

    6) There are several cards that allow a character to ignore damage. But otherwise, yes, every attack results in at least one damage

    Thank you for the suggestions!

What do you think?

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