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Skip Navigation LinksHERO System>Action Advantage
Action Advantage
A key concept for gaining a tactical edge is the idea of action advantage.
With all else being equal, if you pit two evenly matched opponents or teams against one another, in theory the one that takes the most significant actions is likely to win.
Significant actions is a fuzzy concept, but basically it recognizes that some actions have more impact on the final outcome than others.
Tennis is an excellent example of this. It is possible to score more points than the opponent and still lose. You can fight to duece in your opponents service games but lose the game point while your opponent can go scoreless in your service games allowing you to win the game points, but if you cant break them they can still take the set in a tiebreak.
Winning individual game points is less significant than winning set points, since set points are what counts for winning the match. Thus, set points are more significant than game points
MANAGING OPPORTUNITY
Moving forward from that basic premise it can be concluded that the opportunity to take significant actions is the most important commodity in the game.
Based upon that conclusion, it follows that reducing an opponent's opportunity to take significant actions is a recipe for success because you are limiting their ability to convert their available actions into something meaningful.
But how is that accomplished, you might ask? In many different ways; some subtle and some overt.
DEFENSE
The most comprehensive means of limiting your opponent's opportunity to make significant actions is to lower your own risk profile.
Which is to say play defensively and rely on reactionary responses to hamper and prevent the opposition's actions. If the opponent is unable to breakout of this reactionary net, they can't take any significant actions. The big flaw to this method is that if they can breakout in a reliable fashion, you will probably lose because you are exerting all of your efforts to stop their efforts.
At best by itself a great defense can only result in a stalemate if it completely succeeds and will result in a loss if it only partially succeeds. Of course in some cases simply squelching an assault is effectively a victory none the less.
While defensive strategies can be very effective, they require more coordination and are not as error-tolerant as some other strategies. Communication, preparation, and advanced knowledge are elements that can help a defenive strategy succeed.
In many team sports defense is an important element of success. There are many different defense schemes such as man-to-man, point, and isolation to name a few but the purpose of all of them is to where possible deny the opposition opportunities to make significant actions.
ELIMINATION
The most direct means of denying the opposition opportunities for significant actions is to simply eliminate the people that can make those actions in the first place.
The advantage to this method is that it has dramatic returns when successful, the downside is that one must often take greater risks to accomplish this goal.
To be effective elimination strategies must be as one sided as possible; it does no good to lose a teammate or asset to eliminate an opponent or asset of equivalent ability. If you must sacrifice a less capable asset to remove a better opposing asset this is usually an acceptable trade, but it is best to eliminate an opponent without suffering any loss at all. 
In a team environment you also reach a point of ascending returns; as each opponent falls unmatched by an equivalent loss on ones own side a numerical advantage is gained which makes it easier to gang up and eliminate the next opponent.
While elimination strategies can be extremely effective, they can be easily countered by other strategies. Speed and suprise are two synergistic elements that can help an elimination strategy succeed.
In most team sports it is considered to be unsportsmanlike to deliberately eliminate an opponent, but effective elimination strategies can still be based around penalty rules to acheive a man-up advantage in some sports. And of course in some sports like hockey and lacrosse its permissible to body check opponents to the boards, a corner, or to the ground and thereby temporarily eliminate them from a play.
Endurance matches are in a way a form of elimination strategy as one side attempts to effectively outlast the opposition and allow fatigue to eliminate their ability to resist or take actions of their own.
In chess and similar board games elimination is a primary means to victory. Eliminating an opponents high value pieces such as a Queen for no loss or the loss of a low value piece such as a pawn grants sizable advantages.
DISRUPTION
An opportunistic strategy that relies on destablizing the opposition's strategy via chaos, confusion, randomness, unexpected manuevers, or well executed pre-choreographed plays.
This method can be extremely effective, particularly against opposition that is inflexible or incapable of making rapid adjustments, but it can also fail horribly and can often backlash.
Speed and adaptability are extremely beneficial elements that can help a disruption strategy succeed.
In many team sports there is a fast break equivalent whereby a player gets an opportunity to make a rush on the opposition's goal or net virtually unopposed, relying on speed to strike. Similarly loose ball or puck opportunities can be converted into goals as it becomes more difficult for the defense to see and react clearly or quickly.
Patterns and plays are generally a form of disruption as one of their primary purposes is to allow the execution of some complex multipart manuever that an opponent is not prepared to deal with effectively.
Even in individual sports changeups, net balls, and off tempo attempts at offense can catch opponents off guard and result in an advantage.
TRADE
A more subtle strategy revolves around achieving a numerically beneficial trade ratio of actions.
If one action taker can force responses from multiple opposing action takers or multiple actions from a single opponent, they have in effect acheived a beneficial trade ratio; they traded one action for several of the opposition's actions.
Simply speaking, if you can force an opponent to spend more resources for less effect then with all else being equal you will likely win.
The flip side of this strategy is to avoid taking actions that do not yield better than a 1:1 trade with an enemy save for manuevers designed to gain an even greater advantage in succesive actions.
For instance, if a character takes one action and costs the opposition no actions they have in effect yielded an action advantage to the opponent. If a character follows that action up with an action that costs the opposition two actions then they have temporarily broken even.
However if the second action cost the opponent five actions then the character has gained an action advantage of 2:5 from the opposition.
In some team sports it is possible to force an opponent to allocate more resources to create an advantage. For instance many sports have the concept of a "pick", whereby one attacker scrapes off a defender on another attacker creating a temporary window of opportunity for a significant action to occur.
In effect the player setting the pick has taken one action and cost the defense two or more actions -- not only did the player hold down the opponent defending them, they also cost the defender that they picked an action, and a third defender might be forced to slide to cover the open attacker thereby costing the defense a third action.
Baseball in particular has many examples of beneficial trades, with double and triple plays on both offense and defense, RBI's, homeruns, and of course grandslams.
Similarly a player that is so good they force the opposition to commit two or more defenders to stop them has helped their team gain a beneficial trade even if they are shut out themselves.
HYBRID STRATEGIES
The most effective strategies combine two or more startegies to some degree for best effect. The most successful hybrid strategies use strengths of one strategy to offset the weaknesses of another strategy. 
For instance a hybrid defense-elimination strategy might attempt to lockdown the opposition but force them to exhaust themselves in the process until they lose the ability to effectively continue their attack, while a trade-disruption strategy might run complex plays in an attempt to lure the opposition into misallocating resources to stop them and thus gain the tactical edge.
Almost all team sports use hybrid strategies for best effect. Examples of a hybrid strategy include zone defenses which are a hybrid defense-trade strategy that allows one defender to potentially cover multiple attackers, and interceptions which are defense-disruption based and allow a team to simultaneously halt an offense and unexpectedly convert to offense themselves while the opponent is not set up for defense.
APPLYING TO THE HERO SYSTEM
You can take more over all actions based upon your character's SPEED and your team can take more actions overall than an opposing team based upon their total SPEED, but if your opponent makes more significant actions they can still triumph. However all of the above strategies can be applied in a HERO System combat to gain an action advantage and thus increase the opportunity for success.
Defensive options are many in the HERO System, including the ability to Abort and to hold Actions to block-stop opposing characters.
Elimination is certainly an option in most HERO System games where it is basically expected that each character will have some means of removing an opponent from a conflict.
Disruption is not viable for all characters, but many are able to unsettle a situation and capitalize on the resulting opportunities, and of course in a team / group environment it is possible to set up common manuevers or teamwork between two or more characters to gain a combat advantage or for one character to disrupt so that another can take advantage of the situation.
Trades beneficial to a character or team are very easy to accrue by a player that considers their actions carefully, takes advantage of terrain, and has abilities allowing them to affect more than one person at a time.
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