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Players can pound coloured squares, depending on their skill level.
Pounding is the action of applying a polearm (including but not limited to lances) on a target. The target must be at a distance of exactly two squares from the wielder. At Basic and Unskilled level the target must be in a straight line from the wielder. At Skilled level, it can be a knight's jump from the wielder. At Expert level the target can also be at a diagonal, meaning that any of the sixteen squares at a distance of two can be hit. Only knights may reach Expert skill level in lance, and no roles can reach expert in polearms.

Notice that unlike normal combat against an adjacent target, a lance can be used for pounding without any penalty even when the wielder is not mounted.

Pounding is an excellent strategy for hitting both melee and ranged targets; if you have at least Skilled level with speed you can attempt to kill a group of opponents at a choke point (such as a door) a knight's move away. If you plan on pounding in corridors, though, you will need a light source, as you cannot pound a monster you cannot see (even if you can detect it via other means).

In addition, pounding does not trigger passive attacks, meaning you can use it as an infinite source of safe attacks against dangerous creatures without worrying about running out of projectiles or wand charges.

Most monsters can only use polearms with a skill level equivalent of unskilled. Trolls, however, can use them with a skill level equivalent of skilled, meaning they can hit you from a Knight's jump away.

Some players like to use polearms to pound dangerous sea monsters on levels such as Medusa's Island, the Castle, and the Wizard's Tower because it allows you to kill them from a safe two spaces away.

As of NetHack 3.6.0, pounding can scuff engravings beneath you, just like attacking in melee.[1]