Basic attack

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Hi all. I'm a bit confused about the term "basic attack". In the new "powers system," the traditional weapon based attacks also fit within the system as powers. As I understand it, there are two: the "Melee basic attack power" and the "Ranged basic attack power."

However, I repeatedly come across a lot of usage of the term "basic attack" as if it were a special class of power or an attribute of a power like "martial" or "weapon". That is, it doesn't seem like that the person speaking is referring to those two simple attacks mentioned above.

What is meant by the general use of the term "basic attack". Am I missing something?

Thanks.
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A basic attack is using the basic melee attack or basic ranged attack. If something lets you make a basic attack, you can use either of those. (They are defined as powers on page 287).

Some things will limit it to a basic melee attack, or a basic ranged attack, but if it does not specify, than you can choose between the two.

If you look at the 2 basic attacks, they actually are a special type of power, the "basic attack," as listed on the 1st line of the power (the green line). The powers granted by a class will be things like "wizard attack 1." Racials will be "elf racial power."

This is important, because some things limit what you can use it with. Some limit it to basic attack, some limit it to a class attack.
Mithmurr's right on target, as usual.

Just to clarify the concept: most of the time, characters will not be using basic attacks. In an average round, the characters are far more likely to use their at-will attacks, or perhaps an encounter or daily power.

Basic attacks are generally inferior to your at-wills, and are therefore used only when you have no better option. Sample situations: when you make an OA, you are only permitted to make a basic melee attack. Likewise when you charge, you only get to make a basic attack. Or possibly a character forced into an unfamiliar fighting style (e.g. a Wizard with ranged at-wills, who was forced to defend himself in melee) might fall back on basic attacks.

Hope that helps to clarify!

- Alane -
Page 287 of the Player's Handbook may help you.
Alane, I'm ashamed of you. Usually you're right on top of providing page numbers...but you didn't even tell the OP where to find the basic attacks (page 287).

Man, you're getting slow in your old age.

And I got the page number right! HA! ^_^

TBP
Sorry, I don't mean to be thick but I'm still not a 100% on understanding this.

Yes, I know of the two "basic attack" powers on page 287. I mentioned them in my original post.

What's bugging me is that "basic attack" seems to be a class of power. What got this into my head? Well, on page 287, in the description of these two basic attack powers, on the upper-righthand corner it is written, "Basic Attack," as if this was a type of power.

Secondly, if you look at the NPC shorthand descriptions in the Falcrest adventure, for example, you will see symbols for the NPCs' powers. The sword is the symbol for a power with the "Melee Weapon" attribute(s). The bow is the symbol for the "Ranged Weapon" attribute(s). There is also a sword in a circle and a bow in a circle. The circle means "Basic Attack".

Now, if the two powers on page 287 are the only two examples of "basic attack," then why is a whole category or class required? Why the special symbol? I get the impression that there can be other powers--other than the two on page 287--that can be classified as "basic attack". Is that the case?!! What would be an example?
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There are certain powers which can be used as or in place of a basic attack if you have them. The iconic example is the wizard's Magic Missile power, which can be used any time you would be allowed to make a ranged basic attack.
Isaac, I think the way the rules are written a basic attack is a classification of powers. Eldricht Blast and Magic Missile also count as basic attacks. Monsters typically have at least one ability that is a basic attack. Where the confusion comes in is that "Basic Melee Attack" is actually an overloaded term: it is the name of a power as listed on page 287, and it is also used to refer to the class of powers that are both basic and melee. The term "Ranged Basic Attack" is overloaded for the same reason.

The language on page 287 of the PHB is a bit misleading, IMO, though the intent seems pretty clear to me at least.
Sorry, I don't mean to be thick but I'm still not a 100% on understanding this.

Yes, I know of the two "basic attack" powers on page 287. I mentioned them in my original post.

What's bugging me is that "basic attack" seems to be a class of power. What got this into my head? Well, on page 287, in the description of these two basic attack powers, on the upper-righthand corner it is written, "Basic Attack," as if this was a type of power.

Secondly, if you look at the NPC shorthand descriptions in the Falcrest adventure, for example, you will see symbols for the NPCs' powers. The sword is the symbol for a power with the "Melee Weapon" attribute(s). The bow is the symbol for the "Ranged Weapon" attribute(s). There is also a sword in a circle and a bow in a circle. The circle means "Basic Attack".

Now, if the two powers on page 287 are the only two examples of "basic attack," then why is a whole category or class required? Why the special symbol? I get the impression that there can be other powers--other than the two on page 287--that can be classified as "basic attack". Is that the case?!! What would be an example?
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Those basic attacks are there for monsters/NPCs because that is what they use for OAs, or, if they're your ally, when you give them a basic attack of some sort with a Warlord power.

Think if you character was written in the form of a monster stat block, the powers on page 287 (as appropriate) would be in that bblock the same as those other "basic attacks" from other monsters. Capiche?
Thanks all for chipping in.

OK, I think I get it. There is indeed a concept called a "basic attack" which is a classification of powers. Though, to be quite frank, I really wish they had added another power attribute such as, wait for it, "basic attack". Then there would be no confusion--on my part, anyway. As it satnds, I'm still not sure how to readily identify a power that is classified as a basic attack.

Then there are two powers called "Melee Basic Attack" and "Ranged Basic Attack" (p 287). Both of these happen to be of the power category, "basic attack".

Therefore, for my Ranger I added these 3 powers:

1. Basic Attack: "Melee Basic Attack" - Str vs AC
2. Basic Attack: "Ranged Basic Attack" - Dex vs AC
3. Basic Attack: "Ranged Basic Attack--Heavy Thrown" - Str vs AC

Right?

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That works fine I guess.

A power will tell you if it counts as a basic attack. If you check out Magic Missile and Eldritch Blast, you will see they are clearly noted as counted as basic attacks for the user. I don't know if that will help the OP out.
Yes, and there aren't very many of them. For players, there are the two on page 287, Eldricht Blast, and Magic Missile. Thats all. Thats probably why the PHB didn't spend much time explaining it.
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