Flow of Combat


In this write up I'll attempt to explain one of the more complicated aspects of combat that exists in Apex Legends. You may have heard me refer to the “mind games” in previous write ups of mine, without going into full detail of them. Well I won’t be going into full detail here, but we will be descending into the rabbit hole this time.

Hopefully by the end you’ll have a much better time understanding the “flow of combat” and how to adjust, adapt and read enemy behaviour a little easier. I hope you’ve played an RPG or two, because we’ll be using much of the “Turn-Based Combat” concept, to help you understand and envision these concepts in-game.

Action & Restriction: Common States

For the sake of explanations we’ll keep our imaginative scenarios to only 2 players. First let’s understand a concept we’ll call “State”. A state will the mentality and ingame stance of a player in Apex Legends. Before a battle begins usually both players will be “Ready” for battle. Ready: No restrictions and all actions can be performed from this state. To put simply they can move and attack.

If one player manages to attack another without the receiver noticing, we’ll call this a “Preemptive Attack”.

Preemptive Attack : When an attack is executed without interruption. (Probably using some element of surprise. If the shots land we’ll also call this a “Direct Hit”. This will be important for later.

However one cannot simply attack endlessly. There are universal restrictions in place to prevent such a thing from happening. This is simply having a finite amount of bullets to shoot, before you’re forced to pause for a moment. We’ll call this state “Wait”.

Wait : When you’re performing some sort of action that prevents one from being “ready”.

The most common form of “Wait” state you’ll experience is having to reload your weapon. You could also look at this as your weapon simply going on “Cooldown”. However this type of “Wait” will only restrict one from Attacking. You’ll still be able to move even though you’re unable to attack. For now we’ll call this “Inactive Movement”.

Inactive Movement : Being able to move, while unable to Attack.

To make this somewhat digestible, think of it as a turn-based game where once you spend your attack, you’ll have to wait a few seconds before you can attack again. Thus going from “Ready” to “Wait” and back to “Ready” again. This is a very simplified way to understand one’s own restrictions and privileges when playing Apex Legends.

Flow of Combat: Identifying Rhythm

Now that we are aware of some basic states, actions and restrictions. It’s important we move onto understanding how to identify and respect our opponents “Ready” states. For this scenario let’s imagine two players at a fairly decent distance from each other. Both are behind cover and they’re in combat. A simple 1 v 1 scenario.

The first person who shoots will be transitioning from “Ready” to “Active”. Active: A player firing a weapon or simply attacking in some sort of way that can do damage if met with a “direct hit”.

If the opposing player also decides to attack then we’ll have an “Exchange”. In this instance, the player who has more impactful “Direct Hits” will have a better chance of winning. An “Exchange” would mean they are both attempting to fight each other’s “Active” states simultaneously.

Exchange : Two players targeting each other while they’re “Active”.

Since we now understand this concept, we should also understand that it is very dangerous to constantly fight in this manner. Our other option is to simply take cover while your opponent is Actively firing upon you. We can call this “Waiting Your Turn”.Waiting Your Turn : Waiting until your opponent returns to their “Wait” state.

Being able to identify when your opponent is returning or has returned to their “Wait” state, is an essential part of fighting safely. During your opponent's wait state you’ll be given the right to a few options. Move or Stay. In this case, if you wanted to close the distance between an opponent and yourself, it would be important to identify when they enter their “Wait” state before stepping out of your own cover. We’ll call this “Active Movement”.

Active Movement : Moving during the “Ready” state.

Usually you’ll be able to identify a player’s tendencies or rhythm after they have fired a few shots. Each opponent will be different however the less experienced will constantly & blatantly show what state they’re in, by showing clear cues of wanting to fight (Aiming down sight from their cover with no sign of backing off, vs taking cover and never showing themselves until every single bullet has been returned to their mag).

This is what makes reading players very easy and intuitive. It’s understandable and when you’re this player, the game will often feel very rough and uncomfortable. No one is letting you shoot for free and you’re unable to fight without taking a never ending series of exchanges.

For more information please read the Avoiding Unnecessary Damage guide.

Universal Rhythm: Stance Dancing

Being able to quickly enter a “Active” at an off beat rhythm will tend to throw your opponents off. When done successfully, it’s safe to say you won the mind game battle, especially if you follow up with “direct-hits”. Technically it will be you staying in an “Active” state and avoiding anything that would forcefully put you in a state of “Wait”.

In other words, constantly conserving your ammo and avoid constantly hitting your reload every time you fire and take cover. Your opponent often moves in the open at these times.

Common Universal Rhythm

There is a universal rule that is almost understood by each and every one of us. That rule is simply... “When it’s our turn to attack.” We understand this rule so much that we tend to even deplete magazines regardless of damage taken in the process. This habit will have you forced to reload your weapon, during this time your opponents or even your previous target will peek out to spend their turn. often doing the same exact thing.

This will appear almost as if both players are taking turns, only to end up in exchanges if the reload times eventually affect the rhythm enough.

Uncommon Universal Rhythm

Once we break this habit you’ll start to hold off on shooting the cover of your opponent so much, however due to the intensity of fights and other possible threats, we tend to hit our reload button subconsciously as we enter our own cover. This forces us to enter our “Wait” state, sending a universal message that we are now “inactive”. This habit can be a tough one to drop as there is almost no reason not to hit reload in most instances.

Self Control: Stance Dancing

Once you have broken both habits above (Common & Uncommon Universal Rhythm) you’ll start to achieve your own unique flow. One that your opponent’s will have to pay attention to no matter how experienced they may be. This is when you’re able to shoot a small percentage of your magazine, enter cover and exit ready to shoot again. If all goes to plan you’ll end up catching your opponent miss reading your current state. In an emergency you’ll also be able to switch your weapon to negate your usual reload cooldown from your first gun used. You’ll have to use these methods to catch the boldest of players who have learned how to move around in a player’s or team’s inactive periods.

Stance Dancing : Appearing to enter in and out of Ready & Wait states at irregular intervals.

Whether we admit it or not, we all are constantly picking up on these subtleties of the game, however noticing what they actually are and using them to our advantage is something to aim for.The con of swapping to your secondary instead of fully reloading the first, is now you’re at a deficit in regards to one’s own options. Unlike some old school shooters, weapon swapping to cancel your reload doesn't really exist anymore. However there are some new mechanics to explore and identify in Apex Legends around this topic. Pay close attention and I’m sure you’ll figure them all out… experiment.

Movement in Battle: Mind Games

Being able to change your own position, effectively adjusting your team’s current formation is a huge part to winning fights or even rotating. It is not impossible to understand when and where it is safe to move using the information above. Using this information effectively is essentially you breaking the universally understood rhythm and catching people off guard. With that being said it is important to know...

Landing “Direct Hits” doesn’t force your opponent to “wait” though it drastically raises the chances. A simple 20 damage could be enough for your opponent to want to heal. Usually they will take cover for a second and peek to see if you’re moving or not. This will usually be the time one moves, however if they are also aware and have a lot of self control, they could hold off on healing such chip damage and seek to punish your movement.The real fun comes when big damage is scored! Do they choose to heal or stay “ready”? A very bold player will often score big damage and then move boldly in an “Inactive” state. “Inactive Movement” is something you’ll tend to see when a player is confident or desperate. It’s something that will always be the bane of each and every player, however being able to identify this will help one greatly when it comes to consistency.

Identifying these elements and respecting your opponents periods of activity will be one of the key components to playing a safe yet effective playstyle.


We all understand there are times we can and cannot act. We also have a usual pattern that works early on then starts to fail the higher we climb. We sometimes fail to move or even move at the wrong times. This is due to being unable to identify the periods of inactivity correctly. Pay close attention to these elements in-game from now on. Arena is an amazing place to train such a trait. There is a lot of movement and it’s very repetitive in regards to options. However the mind games will often vary and this element won’t be as repetitive. As long as you can “understand” what is going on, you’ll have a much easier time adapting in the future regardless of a win or a loss.

I hope using these terms made it easier to understand. “Wait” could mean healing, reloading, reviving etc… It’ll be your job to make sense of it all in your own way.

Kind regards!