This is a response to the following response to one of my comments on a different thread.
I've posted this opinion before, but I'll do it again here: I LIKE the fast, brutal nature of the combat in this game. It feels like combat carries serious danger and encourages the PCs to be more creative.
To which ErikB responded:
"Would it be fair to say that you regard combat as more of a necessary evil, rather than an end in itself?
kinda an action scenes link story elements together approach rather than a story elements link action scenes together kind of thing?"
Sorry, for the wierd quotes. The forum is screwing up the quoting. The orginal posts can be viewed at the end of the link above.
I created a new thread since the statement and my response is fairly off topics, and the OP of that thread explicitly requested no debates on the previous thread.
So, again, I want to make it clear that the statement that I see combat as a "necessary evil" in no possible way reflects my view of combat in EotE, or most other roleplaying game for that matter. As the name "Star Wars" implies, combat is clearly part of the "Star Wars experience", and, when done right, combat is a fun and exciting part of that experience. Combat can and, when appropriate, should be used to advance the story and link story elements together. I don't think it should be used as filler, because something with all that rolling should be influential (we'll get into player agency below).
Now, there are two points that need to be made to make clear my stance on the topic is moderate, and not some "all or nothing" viewpoint as may implied by by statements like the one above.
First, I stated above, "Combat is a fun and exciting part of that experience". Combat is just that, a PART of the experience, not the whole thing! Some encounters are combat, some are social, some are environmental, etc. These primary elements exist in a game in a balance, and that balance may change between game systems, between sessions, between GMs, and so on. In my Star Wars games, I don't feel that one of these elements should consistently systematically override or supercede all other aspects. I prefer systems that support this, and I think it's representative of what is seen in the OT.
Second, I qualified that statement about combat with "When done right". For me, it's "done right" when combat is dangerous. As I see it, games are entertaining exercises in decision making (I believe ' games as exercises in decision making' is pretty much where the discipline of Games Theory got it's name). Simply, combat should never be the universal best option for dealing with situations because I don't think there should ever be any universal best option. Now, sometimes there may really only BE one option, and thats okay so long as those situations are in the minority. But there should be points where the players decide between several reasonable courses of action (truly this is player choice), and it is in these situations that it becomes problematic where there are universal best options. Combat can be effective option, but dangerous combat means that this effective option comes with an opportunity cost, and that is where the decision making starts! If combat is a best option, and (or because) there is little risk of permanent loss, then the players ability to make decisions is completely undermined, and my players and I find the game becomes dull. This is a system that prides itself on enabling character creativity and cooperation between players and GMs. I would posit that to fulfill this claim, combat must be dangerous, or carry some other drawback/cost that encourages thoughtful or creative play.
Contiuing that line of thought, players gain a greater sense of accomplishment when they succeed against a substantial threat, compared to when they succeed with little threat of loss. The contrast between success and failure is greater between win with no one dead vs win with a dead comrade, than it is between win with some ammo and a win with less ammo. The latter can still be useful in attrition scenarios. I also think that games where players have more at stake, like their character's lives, tend to be immersive than when there is less at stake or lessened consequences.
Some parting thoughts on the topic: If most/all combat lacks threat of permament loss to the PCs, I have found that there is little doubt that the PCs will succeed in the adventure, and repeatedly placing players in situations where success is assured again subverts player choice, since the consequences of their choices have little effect on their situation or their story, i.e. they have diminished agency, which diminishes fun. Also, I've found that combat encounters in which the goal is not "kill all enemies", i.e. encounters where the players can still loose even if they killed all the enemies, can be way more fun and challenging.
Anyway, that's where I'm at on why EotE should have dangerous combat. To sum up, dangerous combat
Improves the "Star Wars" feel
Expands encounter variety
Encourages player creativity
Improves player immersion
Increases player agency
I think combat being scary for PCs will be a substantial improvment on what we saw in d20 systems. Actually, I think this is also supported by the persistence of critical wounds as well.
Disclaimer: This post represents my experiences and opinions as a player and GM, and how I apply these concepts to my games. Obviously, different GMs will have different styles, use what works for you. Some points may be more generalizable (e.g. dangerous combat encourages more creative play) than others (my players have a greater sense of accomplishment when there's real danger). As always, YMMV.