As explained under Retreat (p. B377), once per turn, you can step away from any one attacker to get a bonus to all active defenses against his melee attacks. In tactical combat, this lets you step into any adjacent hex that's further from your enemy than your starting hex.
Moving away from your adversary is the safest and most effective option in reality, but not the only one. Generalizing the movement component of a defense to work more like a step (see Step, p. B368) opens up additional possibilities. You can combine any of these with an Acrobatic Dodge (p. B375).
Dive: If you're standing or kneeling, you may try to dive under a melee attack. This is similar to the "dodge and drop" used to avoid ranged attacks, but less effective: all your defenses against that attacker are at -1 plus your retreat bonus (+1 for most defenses; +3 for a dodge or a parry with Boxing, Judo, Karate, or a fencing skill). This leaves you prone - in tactical combat, you're lying in your starting hex and the adjacent hex of your choice. Since you're lying down, you have -3 to defend against future attackers! This is risky . . . but if you're cornered and have allies nearby, a net +2 to Dodge now might be worth the gamble. You can also dive as a "spoiling measure" against an enemy who tries a takedown; see Sprawling (p. 119).
Sideslip: If you're standing, you can step aside without retreating in an effort to let the attack pass through your former position. In tactical combat, you may move into any adjacent hex that's the same distance from your attacker as your starting hex. All your defenses against that opponent are at -1 plus your retreat bonus (+1 or +3). This gives a net +0 to blocks and most parries. However, dodges and mobile parries end up at +2, making this option useful when you have a defense like that and don't want to give ground to a foe with a longer weapon.
Slip: If you're standing, you can try to close the gap between you and your foe as you evade or deflect his attack. In tactical combat, you may step into any adjacent hex that's closer to your assailant than your starting hex. You can step into close combat with him! Your defenses against that attacker are at -2 plus your retreat bonus (+1 or +3); thus, you have a net +1 at best, -1 at worst. Against a stop thrust (p. B366), add another -1. This tactic is for times when it's actually more dangerous to keep your distance than to close with the enemy - such as when he has a pistol or a long weapon, especially if you're unarmed.
It may be possible to buy off the penalties for these options by improving special techniques. Such techniques should always come with risks. You have to trade off something to defend at a bonus without giving ground! The most common drawback is increased injury from the incoming attack if the defense fails. See Defensive Techniques (pp. 91-92).
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