Trading Advantage, what's really happening

All this renewed talk about positioning advantage has me wondering about what’s really going on with positioning in the fiction. Folks hate theoretical but I want to use one to ask my question.

You have a spear. I positioned with my hand and somehow gained advantage on you. I’m all up in your grill. I also happen to have a knife in my other hand. We do some stuff and then I want to strike you with my knife. Uh oh, I switched weapons to my knife, ceding advantage to you! I was all up in your face but when I went to stab with my knife I’m now looking at the tip of your spear and a very high Ob penalty.

So what happened? I’m fine with the fact that it happened. And I know BW isn’t trying to realistically simulate anything but I still need to know what happened so that I can see it in my mind.

Anyone wanna help my imagination out?

Shifting your balance to be able to put your strength behind your knife rather than your free hand gave your opponent the much-needed opportunity to back up and get the breathing room he needs to keep you at bay with his spear. Your attention was split and he made a move.

It’s impossible for me to conceptualize Burning Wheel Fight! mechanics without constantly reminding myself “everyone’s always moving.” Otherwise they make no sense.

Yeah, that works alright. It’s also helpful for me now that I know you can switch weapons at the top of the exchange for the VfP and not cede advantage, as I discovered in that other thread. So that tells me that if I want to switch to the knife, it’s best to wait for the new exchange so I dont give you the fat bonuses for your spear.

Anyone else?

As Ben says, you would have to move your center of gravity to change from grappling to stabbing or slashing with a knife. That presents an opportunity, that your opponent always takes advantage of.

At the table, I hope you take better advantage of your lucky engage: Maintain the advantage with your hands for the exchange (getting that spear wielder on the ground, disarmed, locked, damage her armor, or even wound her lightly), then switch to the knife as you vie for position to stab her brutally in the next exchange. Since your opponent is obviously heavily wounded, sick nigh unto death, or hopelessly unskilled, it should present no hypothetical problems.

If it helps, you’re not switching weapons in the rules-sense. While you Vie for Position, you are tussling over the advantage with the gestalt of the result of the previous exchange and whichever weapon you already have to hand that you want to use to your best advantage in the next exchange. This is the natural flow of the combat. Switching weapons mid-exchange breaks the rhythm of combat, and you are–rightly–heavily penalized for it.

In one sense, you’re planning the whole combat on two levels: “I’ll knock him down, then stab him in the neck” is planning for two exchanges. “Rush in, grab his arm, twist the spear out of his grip, push him over and punch him” is “Charge, lock, disarm, push, strike,” the details of the “I’ll knock him down” exchange. If it all goes horribly wrong, I get a chance to plan for the next (two) exchanges when we next vie for position.

As always, your input is awesome Alexander. Thank you for the thoroughness.

Between Alexander and Ben, I’m comfortable with this topic now. Thanks guys!

… and yet if we assume someone who is brawling can do a left-right combo they don’t cede advantage or someone who changes from a thrust to a slash with a knife also doesn’t cede. What I’m going with is as long as the weapon length does not change you can switch without ceding, thought this is contrary to the rules. Otherwise how to I rationalize two-fisted weapon training in which you strike with 2 weapons at the same time?

I agree that this leaves the serious switching for tops of exchanges, which is the way it should be.

Another way to handle knife and brawling fighting (which is where most of my problems are coming from) is to simply ForK in the knife into the Brawling roll.