The Lone Star State

… and then there was one. Three fundamentals, two supporting functions of the ‘Holy Trinity’ were established, and now the final state to combat…

Previously, the most fundamental functions of any combat concept were cemented: tanking, damage, healing.
Additionally, the two supporting functions determined the input/output of the fundamentals: (de)buffing, utility.

Only Slightly Less Known than F = ma

…and so only one remains. Combat is, at its very core, the tri-dependent abilities of tanking, damage, and healing. These are achieved through the means of an input for the abilities to take place, and their output. There is only one more combat function to consider.

This final derivative (that allows all other concepts to take place) might be explained as follows:
Logistic – the act permitting combat to occur at all.

It’s all fine and dandy that you want to engage in a little tanking, damage, or healing. And it’s super that you have the means and opportunities to achieve those goals. But unless combat actually takes place, it’s all for naught.


The first of two facets dealing with the ‘Logistic’ title is location (“being”). You can have all the willpower, the means, the firepower superiority in the world, but unless you are in a physical position to apply any of it, it’s worthless. There is no ‘threat’ otherwise, and ‘threat’ denotes the ‘realistic possibility’ of something occurring.
There are plenty of real life examples where this very concept exists.


The second of two facets is simply being aware (“knowing”). You can be on location, ready to rumble, but if you cannot identify who the combatants are, where precisely combat is taking place, what you are dealing with, etc. then you will never be involved in combat, in fighting. It is possible, however, that someone is fighting you.

Consent – This is a subset of matching awareness, dealing with willingness. It is worthy of its own bullet because in many ways it’s the ultimate 800lb gorilla in having combat happen.

You Don’t Say!

There’s a reason why certain expressions exist. It is the supreme concept to warfare. And its reassuring that after establishing base fundamentals, identifying different combat roles, we arrive at such a state.

A different way of looking at things might be helpful as well. One might approach things linearly and state:
– Tanking, the fact of having a health pool, starts things off
– Damage, begins the interactions, removing health
– Healing, allows sustained interactions, replenishing health
– (De)Buffing, facilitates any of the aforementioned taking place
– Utility, allows any of the aforementioned to take place
– Logistic, decides if any of the aforementioned even matters

The goal was to establish the baseline of combat and how the ‘Holy Trinity’ tied into it, if at all. As such, a tiered approach, examining derivatives, was used. At the end of the day, however one relates to the concept of combat is their prerogative. We all have our perspectives. Now, with everything in its place, we can cite the HT as a bare necessity of life combat.

Tha.. tha… tha…. That’s all Folks!

No. Not really. We’ve only just begun. Now that we’ve established all the components necessary for combat to take place, it’s high time the concepts were put to use. The next stage is to establish how they fit into the life of the individual and group.

It’s paramount that a designer of any system, be it of games, flight dynamics, social events- of anything– be aware of all the components at play, and tools at their disposal. That is the goal of this series: to outline, underscore, establish all functions at their most bare. Sometimes, in so doing, ‘new’ components are uncovered- this is the art of introspection.

Once this is done, design can begin. And the design need not be systematic, procedural or anything of the sort. It can be semi-chaotic, ‘artistic’, random… but it must start with first rounding up all the terms. Otherwise you wake up to find you’re left with a goal of painting a portrait, and you only have a single pencil in hand.

Previous posts in this series: combat fundamentals, and combat derivatives
Upcoming posts in this series: how it all comes together

About Ahtchu

Jock. Nerd. Holistic. Game theoretician. Can recite the alphabet backwards.
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4 Responses to The Lone Star State

  1. Doone says:

    Ok, ok, I'll get down to the philosophical level with ya, because I think you've left some things out which are coloring this series in an uneven way.So combat consists of tank, heal, kill. In an army there are many roles to fill, the above 3 included. As you mentioned last time, there are support roles. External factors also act in combat, on both sides, defender and offender. Time is one of the most important of these factors, because it dictates on a macro level what *can* take place, and so has a major effect on what *will* take place.So a tank can besiege a city for 40 days if the walls are iron, 80 if titanium. And yet the tank battalion has limited fuel, supplies, and durability. Can they take down the city before they run out of food? Does the city have food to last a year, making the firepower, defensive power, and support power of the tanks irrelevant?These external factors, such as Time, act to unbalance how much of tanking, healing, and killing one can do before it's all for naught. So again (as I stated in my last response), the 3 roles are unequal. They try to equalize, but they do so under the unbalancing hand of the external factors. This is why it's possible to get overwhelmed in a fight. In other words, these 3 "supreme" elements you're using to hold this series together are insufficient. Especially when one considers a player can be all 3 of things at once, in a single avatar, unlike any of the life examples you supply.Understanding the system is important, yes. Different minds will go about solving problems in different ways. The trinity isn't *the* law of combat, it's just a popular solution to sustained combat. There are other solutions as MMO games go to sustained combat and one need only play any of the combat games out there to see this.

  2. Ahtchu says:

    GREAT RESPONSE.the 3 roles are unequal. They try to equalize, but they do so under the unbalancing hand of the external factorsAbsolutely! The act of tanking, healing, damage do not occur until logistics has given the ok, utility allows it, and de/buffing doesn't disallow it. When any of the latter shift, so too does the balance within the trinity proper.these 3 "supreme" elements you're using to hold this series together are insufficientI do not say they are the end-all be-all! I explicitly state that the 3 do not occur without the proper green lights from the derivatives. (section 'You Don't Say!')a player can be all 3 of things at once, in a single avatar, unlike any of the life examples you supply.Damnation! You're getting ahead of me =P Again, the goal until this post was to establish the existence, hierarchy of the combat elements, roles, functions. Until this post I have not spoken as to their implementation. In a single-player RPG, the roles are all held inside a single person, in a group setting, the need for specialization occurs and that's where we see a split in roles being made into niches for players to fill.The trinity isn't *the* law of combat, it's just a popular solution to sustained combat. There are other solutions as MMO games go to sustained combat and one need only play any of the combat games out there to see this.I'm more than open to hear of specific examples where combat is achieved without the trinity. External to combat proper, I cite the influences that take an [equally] paramount role in the outcome of combat. But I always admit the possibility to be wrong, and welcome any examples, complete with specifics that might have been overlooked and would throw apart my theory.Sidenote: thank you Doone for the critical thoughts. Precisely what I hope to achieve for the blog.

  3. Ahtchu says:

    To iterate on a theme I feel is oft confused:'Trinity' is regularly used for both the roles, and the people filling niches of the roles, to tanking/damage/healing. These, I've seen, used interchangeably.Up to this point I examine the roles themselves, not the [group] niches that people use to fill them. Just the roles, the functions proper are being evaluated. The roles are the basis for the niches, which are examined, but later.

  4. Doone says:

    Alright I'll follow along for now and wait for the conclusion of the series, just so I'm sure I'm getting the whole understanding of your proposals :)As to examples in the MMO world, there are so very few. But DCUO comes to mind and even EVE online. The trinity is nowhere near mandatory in these games and is often not the preferred strategy. I will say that it's nice to have a game where the trinity system is just an alternative strategy as opposed to the *only* strategy.

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