I’m struggling to see the use of Avoid. I assume that I’m overlooking something, what is it?
From what I can tell, it looks like a waste of an action. Sure, you delay the inevitable, but at best you maintain the status quo. Sure it uses Will instead of a skill, making it potentially appealing to greener debaters, but since it can’t actually rebuild your BoA, why bother?
Is it there to dislodge someone from a Point/Point/Point strategy out of frustration?
In a Point/Point/Point strategy, or at least one where they do nothing but Point, it does just delay it. However, it will disrupt a strategy that’s based on timing: for example, if they think that after two Points you’re going to be ripe for a Dismiss, an Avoid has a good chance of reducing their successes enough that the Dismiss doesn’t finish you off, and grants you a healthy advantage instead. It’s a really important maneuver when your dueling skills are weak and your opponent’s aren’t.
I somewhat embarrassed to say that I think I’ve accidentally converted myself to the PointPointPoint way of thinking, and this is where it’s coming from. While Avoid looks great as a defensive action for people without a duelling skill, I’m not quite understanding why someone without a duelling skill should want to waste time defending when their best bet is to try to do damage as quickly as possible, in the hopes that their opponent is wasting time with more… indulgent or niche strategies.
Particularly if you have a skill advantage, Rebuttal looks nice as a way of minimizing the compromise you give away.
Another way of looking at this entirely is that some people do actually go on the defensive during a debate, and this is an action that lets you express that, whether or not it’s “optimal”.
Point-Point-Point is a pretty suboptimal strategy if you care at all about preventing your opponent from obtaining his Statement of Purpose or getting a significant compromise. If your opponent does choose Point-Point-Point, you can savage him with Rebuttal-Rebuttal-Rebuttal or Obfuscate-Rebuttal-Rebuttal. That’s going to tempt him to throw in a Feint. And once he does, Avoids or Obfuscates with a Strike included suddenly become very compelling.
There are times Strike-Strike-Strike is called for, of course. But in general, if your opponent is setting strong enough Statements of Purpose, you’ll have to protect your disposition.
When both sides care about protecting their disposition, they have to pick and choose the right moment to go on the offensive. As long as that’s true, Avoid is a very effective defense.
Has anyone ever written a good strategy guide for Duels of Wits? I too often find myself falling back on point-point-point or point-point-dismiss, and it’d be cool to read through tricks to keep duels interesting.
(Then again, this may be because I’ve very rarely seen duels go on beyond one exchange, and they don’t seem quite as strategically dense as Fights.)