Blaster versus Lightsaber

Ok, we all know what happens when someone brings a sword to a gunfight. Now it is POSSIBLE for a highly skilled and sneaky sword wielder to beat a person with a gun. It has been done. Much as I detest the idea of drawing on Hollywood for examples, the 1971 Charles Bronson movie Red Sun shows what happens when an overconfident outlaw gunslinger gets cocky around a samurai. But fighting a man armed with a gun when he is far away and you are only have a sword does not usually work very well. But that is real life. Star Wars is different.

In the original trilogy, we do not see much of lightsabers in combat. We see Obi-wan slice a thug’s arm off, and we see Darth Vader and Obi-wan battle it out in Episode IV. We see Luke and Vader fight in Episode V. And then we see the only time in the original trilogy that a blaster get used against a lightsaber in Episode VI when the last surviving scout trooper tries to gun Luke down and then run him down. The blaster bolts hit the blade and we all remember what happened. They were deflected, leaving the enemy virtually defenseless against the energy blade. Wow, that makes the lightsaber a VERY effective weapon when fighting blaster armed enemies.

The prequel trilogy shows a lot more lightsaber action. From the combat with the battle droids at the beginning of Episode I until the final climactic duel between Obi-wan and Anakin, lightsabers dominate in almost every battle they fight in. The only reason Order 66 worked was it took the Jedi COMPLETELY by surprise. One on one, using a blaster against a lightsaber simply doesn’t work very well for the blaster wielder. And people wonder why Boba Fett carried a flamethrower and multiple other weapons?

According to Wookipedia, blasters are particle beam weapons that fire from a replaceable power cell. This makes them much more powerful than a slug throwing weapon such as a real life assault rifle. Blasters are line of sight, that is, if you can see it, you can usually hit it. Although atmospheric effects will slow and or degrade the particle beam somewhat, only at extreme range will the effect be discernible. On the down side, blasters are fragile, as is evidenced several times in the movies with Jedi slicing weapons apart. But if you hit your target, you will do damage, lots of damage.

Lightsabers are elegant weapons. They are swords whose blades are composed of pure energy. Anyone who has wielded a sword in real life (which I have btw) can tell you that no matter the blade, they are not easy to use. Add to that a weightless blade, you cannot tell by the pull where the blade is. It would be very easy to hurt yourself with one of those. But this is not real life, this is SPARTA! Sorry, couldn’t resist. No, this is not Sparta, this is Star Wars.

In Star Wars, lightsabers are melee weapons. Some users could throw them. Some could wield them using the Force at long distances, telekinetically. But mainly, lightsabers and all their derivatives are meant to be used up close and personal. Ordinarily, this would be a problem. If the blaster wielder sees you before you see him, BAM! You are dead. But then we get into the fun part.

Say that a Trooper sees a Sith Warrior at a distance. Trooper pulls out his blaster rifle and Bam! He fires off a round. What happens? Sith warrior blocks the bolt with his lightsaber is what happens. And then Sith Warrior is likely more than a little ticked off. He jumps to close the distance and the fight is on. What will happen next is utterly dependent on the skill of the combatants in question.

Is the Sith Warrior someone along the lines of Darth Malgus or Darth Vader? In that case, that Trooper is toast, period. But if he is not… Things get more complex. The Trooper will fire, the Sith Warrior will deflect the shots. But can he deflect them all? Jedi Master Ki Al Mundi was taken by surprise in Episode III during Order 66, but he still managed to deflect many of the blaster shots that came his way. But there were just too many bolts coming his way for him to deflect them all. In this case though, the Trooper has problems. The Sith Warrior is virtually impervious to his rifle attacks. The Sith gets close and even a stock strike won’t keep the Sith from making a nice clean slice through that pretty white armor. End of story.

What if, instead of a blaster rifle, that poor trooper had a heavy repeater? A heavy machine gun blaster fires so fast that it is hard to see the bolts, let alone deflect them. The sheer weight of fire will count for something. Anyone wonder why the soldier that Darth Malgus took out first in the ‘Hope’ trailer was the one with the heavy repeater? Because he was the greatest threat. That weapon fired so fast that it would be next to impossible to block all of the shots. And if even one gets through it will do significant damage.

So, let’s try that scenario again. Sith Warrior jumps in and meets a hail of blaster fire. He blocks five, ten, twenty, but the twenty first gets through and nails him. Then while he struggles to maintain focus, a grenade lands at his feet. Ouchtime.

Now I am not saying that a Trooper will always win; not hardly. As I said before it is the skill of the combatant, and thus, the skill of the player that makes all the difference. But there is one other thing that needs to be said. This is not the movies, this is the Old Republic. Jedi and Sith are known factors, they are everywhere. In the movies, no one knew how to fight lightsabers, or they acted as if they didn’t. Does anyone think that people of the time period of this game will NOT have some clue how to fight Jedi or Sith?

In closing, a blaster versus a lightsaber is an uneven match. The lightsaber wielder has the advantage in that he can deflect the blaster shots while he closes, even without using the Force offensively. And once he is close, the contest is essentially over, if all the two have are a blaster and lightsaber. But sneaky tactics or heavy weapons may even the playing field. I look forward to seeing what Bioware has come up with when I finally get my hands on the game. I am definitely going to roll a trooper first.

What do you think? Should blasters be able to counter lightsabers in some way? Or do you want other options to counter Force users?