Hit and run

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Hit and run, also known as kiting, is a tactic used for fighting monsters which may have powerful melee attacks but are slower than the player, such as mimics, black puddings, and rothes. It is known as hack-and-back in Angband circles.

Since this technique allowed the player to kill most slower monsters trivially, given enough space, NetHack 3.6.0 and NetHack 3.6.1 added randomization to the monster and player speed systems, making the precise counting methods described below obsolete. Generally, it is still possible to kite monsters that are substantially slower than you, forcing them to spend most of their actions pursuing rather than attacking, but there is no longer a way to guarantee that they will spend all of their actions pursing.

In 3.6.1, instead of accumulating movement points, monsters get an action for each 12 points of speed they have, plus a possible extra action with probability proportional to any extra movement they have beyond that. [1] E.g., a mimic (speed 3) has a 3/12 = 25% chance of getting an action each turn, and a killer bee (speed 18) gets one guaranteed action plus a 6/12 = 50% chance of another one each turn, irrespective of preceding movement. Thus, you should always assume that the monster's speed is rounded up to a multiple of 12, making the strategy below only useful if you are very fast or riding.

A user has suggested improving this page or section as follows:

"This isn't really the proper page to describe the monster speed system; is there any better one? (As far as I know, the 3.6 changes to the player speed system aren't documented anywhere on the wiki either...) Also, this page could do with some explanation of how 3.6 kiting is useful "if you are very fast or riding""

How it works in 3.4.3 and prior versions

A monster can use each turn it gets for either movement or attacking you, but not both. For example, if a monster moves at least twice as slowly as the player, it cannot melee you the turn immediately after it moves, and you can safely attack it on that turn.

All slow monsters have to pause a turn at a predictable rhythm, e. g. always after three movements. You can hit such a monster as often as you wish without a single counterattack: You start stepping back immediately after you attack it, and then you attack it only when it moves adjacent to you right before its scheduled pause. You can use hit and run tactics for all of your attack types: melee, pounding, missiles, and spells.

Intrinsic and extrinsic speed are erratic, and you should act as if you have the minimum possible speed. When fast (i.e. wand of speed monster, "You feel quick!", etc.) you get a 2 in 3 chance of +6 speed, and should act as if you are still moving at normal speed, rather than acting like you have a speed of 16, to avoid getting hit the 1/3 of the time your speed bonus doesn't apply. When you are very fast (speed boots), however, you are guaranteed at least 18 speed (and a 1 in 3 chance of another +6), and can successfully defeat anything slower than 18 while never getting hit. In both of these cases, when you get your extra move, you should rest and wait for the monster to move adjacent to you and then start the rhythm over again. Note that extra speed from polymorphing yourself or riding is always reliable, so an unburdened player riding a warhorse should count his speed as 24.

Optimal rhythm

Here is a handy table to help you calculate your minimum speed:

Encumbrance Normal speed Fast (minimum) Very fast (minimum)
Unencumbered 12 12 18
Burdened 9 9 13.5
Stressed 6 6 9
Strained 3 3 4.5
Overtaxed 1.5 1.5 2.25

To calculate the optimal rhythm of hit-and-run, follow this process:

  • If your movement rate is at least double the monster's movement rate, take the ratio of the monster's rate divided by your movement rate, and round up to the nearest point on this table:
Fraction Percentage Rhythm
1/2 50% move once, hit once
1/3 33% move once, hit twice
1/4 25% move once, hit three times
1/5 20% move once, hit four times
1/6 16.7% move once, hit five times
1/7 14.3% move once, hit six times
1/8 12.5% move once, hit seven times
  • If your movement rate is less than double the monster's movement rate, take the ratio of your rate divided by the monster's rate, and round up to the nearest point on this table:
Fraction Percentage Rhythm
9/10 90% move nine times, hit once
8/9 88.9% move eight times, hit once
7/8 87.5% move seven times, hit once
6/7 85.7% move six times, hit once
5/6 83.3% move five times, hit once
4/5 80% move four times, hit once
3/4 75% move three times, hit once
2/3 66.7% move twice, hit once


  • An unburdened player without will move at 12, and a gnome will move at 6. Since 6/12 = 1/2 = 50%, the hit-and-run rhythm against a gnome will be move once, hit once; move once, hit once; etc.
  • An unburdened player with speed boots will move at a minimum speed of 18, and a black pudding will move at 6. Since 6/18 = 1/3, the hit-and-run rhythm against a black pudding will be move once, hit twice; move once, hit twice; etc. However, 1/3 of the time, you will move at 24, in which case you will end up moving twice in a row. In this case, simply rest until the black pudding moves adjacent to you and start again.
  • A burdened player without will move at 9, and a chickatrice will move at 4. Since 4/9 = 44.4%, round up to 50% and follow the same rhythm as the gnome
  • A player riding a horse will move at 20, and a leocrotta will move at 18. Since 18/20 = 9/10, this player can safely hit the leocrotta after every nine moves. In practice, it is difficult to hit-and-run at this speed unless you have a loop to move around and there are no other monsters nearby. If the player were riding a warhorse (speed 24), 18/24 = 3/4, so the player could hit after every three moves.


Hit and run is most likely to be successful if the monster in question is the only monster nearby. It's best to close doors or block off other exits to avoid having other foes intrude on your hit and run session. Hit and run is also much less useful when facing a creature that can attack you at range, since it will often choose to make a ranged attack instead of chasing.

One common tactic is to hit and run in a circle, looping around a set of hallways, a boulder, or a cave formation that allows maneuverability all the way around. When doing this, watch out for monsters that could block the path ahead of you. Note that using hit and run on puddings or other multiplying monsters is not totally safe since if the monster divides, that extra monster could appear adjacent to you and block the way or attack the next turn.


This page may need to be updated for the current version of NetHack.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.1. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-361}} tag to the current version's tag or {{noversion}} as appropriate.