I think this is intended in the rules but I just want to clarify.
There are no 'attackers' and 'defenders' AFAICS in HW, just actors and opponents. Furthermore, since the results tables are symmetrical, there is no benefit in being the 'actor' in terms of the result, beyond choice of skill and APs staked.
IOW, if I choose to 'attack' you, you don't just defend against my 'attack', you riposte, and the chances of you hitting me are the same as if it had been you who had initiated the attack against me.
What this means is that if you want to play for time your best bet is to gamble 0 APs. Even if you stake 1 AP, if you're hopelessly outclassed you could still end up losing 6.
Which is an enforced passivity which seems wrong to me. It should be possible to do something against an opponent where you have no chance of losing precious APs, or at least where your chances are much better.
For example, against the mighty Great Troll I described earlier, if I try to Befuddle him, and he can answer with his pole-axe, then chances are I'd have been better off not doing anything. In RQ my Befuddle casting was 'safe', or at least 'safer', in HW it isn't.
In my encounter with this troll I am forced to answer his 10w2 attack once per round (assuming he doesn't want multiple attacker penalties). If I try to do anything back at him then I'm going to face this attack twice per round.
The answer to this problem seems to me to be to restrict how he can answer my 'Befuddle'. I think this was probably intended in the rules, like I said, but I just want to highlight it because of a previous discussion where I proposed talking my way out of trouble against the self same troll.
When he swings his pole-axe at me, I will have to answer with something suitable (probably not some 'talk' related skill). When I, in turn, try to 'befuddle-stupid-creature' (say it was a skill), he will have to oppose this with something like 'orneriness'.
So we will both be using two skills, one in 'actor' mode, one in 'replier' mode. If multiple opponents were involved then we could end up using more than 2 (though I suppose that playing chess against one person while defending a pole-axe attack while debating the finer points of theism all at the same time might incur some improvisation penalties :-) ).
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