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Old School RuneScape: How Does Melee Combat Work? - Melee Combat Mechanics Explained

Today, we’ll look at the mechanics behind OSRS melee combat. This guide is designed to give you a basic understanding of how melee combat works and how to set up your character to maximize DPS!

On the surface, OSRS combat seems very basic, and anyone familiar with dungeons and dragons, or roll-based tabletop games, can imagine how it works.

This isn’t too far from the truth. Combat is indeed based on a rolling system, but the actual system is much more complex. It gives players an advantage, as understanding how it works can give you some enormous benefits in combat. This guide is intended to establish a basic understanding of the mechanics, so I’ll use approximations and simplifications to make things easier to understand.

Old School RuneScape: How Does Melee Combat Work? - Melee Combat Mechanics Explained

The ‘Tick’ System

The first thing to grasp is that OSRS runs on a clock or tick system. Each tick lasts about 0.6 seconds, which is roughly equivalent to 100 ticks per minute.

Why is this important? It’s important to understand the way events “stack” to the end or beginning of each tick change. For example, if I click on a piece of food to eat at the beginning of one tick, the actual action will occur at the end of that tick or the start of the next tick.

Certain moves can be used to exploit errors in the game clock and provide additional benefits. This is called a tick manipulation. Currently, the only reason we need to know about ticks is to understand the speed of OSRS weapon.

OSRS: Tick System Mechanics explained

Combat Triangle

Another basic combat concept to remember is Combat Triangle. This is how the weaknesses/super effectiveness of the game works.

Essentially, the melee is weak against magic, but strong against ranged. Ranged is weak against the melee, but strong against magic. Compared to ranged, the magic is weak, but to melee, the magic is very strong. This is a general rule of thumb for deciding how to equip your character based on the mission or battle ahead.

The pros and cons associated with this depend largely on the gear being worn. Therefore, in PVP, most melee players need to spend OSRS Gold to purchase ranged armor. This can reduce magic attacks with a high probability.

Combat Level

Before introducing melee combat skills, we need to briefly introduce combat levels. Your combat rating is a guide to how effectively you can fight certain opponents.

But the precise calculation of combat levels is very complicated. As a rough guide, assuming you level up all combat skills evenly, you will increase your combat level for every 3-5 levels in a combat skill. It’s more complex, but unless you’re looking for a very specific character build, or are looking for PVP, you don’t need to worry too much about it.

OSRS: Calculation Of Combat Levels

Attack Type & Fighting Style

Before we get into actual melee skills, it’s also worth looking at some other factors regarding melee weapons and attacks. First, the weapon damage type can be Stab, Slash, or Crush. You need to be aware of this to maximize accuracy.

Also, most bosses or higher level enemies are more vulnerable to some type of attack. Dragons, for example, are all weak against Stab, so this should help with your weapon choice.

Related to attack types are combat styles or combat options. There are four categories: Accurate, Aggressive, Defensive, and Controlled. These relate to core melee skills and determine XP awarded. They also determine which attack type your weapon will use.

OSRS: Combat Stances Explained - Accurate, Aggressive, Defensive, and Controlled


Attack power is related to melee accuracy and how often you damage your opponent, higher attack power equals higher accuracy.

First, to use better weapons than Bronze and Iron, you need a higher attack rating. For example, a Steel weapon requires 5 Attack, Black 10, Mithril 20, Addy 30. This is useful because better weapons provide higher attack bonuses and higher strength bonuses. Roughly speaking, this means greater accuracy and potentially higher maximum hits.

To calculate a reasonable approximation of an attack’s accuracy, combine your attack rating with your equipment’s attack type bonus, minus any defense bonus the target has against that type.


Strength relates to maximum melee hit or damage. The higher your power level, the higher your potential melee damage. As mentioned in the previous section, weapons also have a strength bonus stat, which is not to be confused with strength levels, as the two are not exactly the same.

For general play, you can assume that the higher your overall strength level and strength gear bonuses, the higher your melee max hit will be. However, this is a stat you may need to calculate occasionally to ensure you get a higher maximum hit.

Therefore, in order to get a higher maximum hit, you need to equip more items that provide a strength bonus.

OSRS: Best Melee Training Method


The first thing to remember about defense is that it’s about avoiding harm, not reducing it! It increases the chance that your opponent will hit you with “0 damage,” also known as a miss.

First, to wear better armor than Bronze and Iron, you need a higher defense rating. For example, Steel requires 5 Defense, Black 10, Mithril 20, and so on. This is useful because better armor provides a higher defense bonus.

Increasing your defense level will also increase your defense against magic. To do this, you need to combine your defense level with the relevant defensive equipment bonuses based on the type of incoming attack. As always, the rewards for gear don’t exactly scale with skill level, but a rough estimate is not bad.

Attack Speed And DPS

The next thing to consider is the weapon’s attack or tick speed. Each weapon has an associated speed, usually a value between 4-7. The lower the better, as it means the weapon will hit more often.

Specifically, a weapon with a speed of 4 will attack 4 times in 10 seconds, while a weapon with a speed of 5 will only attack 3 times. This is usually a set statistic and cannot be changed.

OSRS: Attack Or Tick Speed And DPS

Now we discuss the last and most important concept: Damage Per Second. More DPS means more XP, and more XP means faster leveling. This also means you’ll kill enemies faster. So if you make sure to maximize your DPS, you’ll also maximize the damage you can do and the experience you can gain.

Again, if you want to understand the concepts covered so far, with the right combination of Combat Style, Skill Level, Weapon and Equipment, you should be able to get very close to max DPS without having to calculate it.

This concludes this guide. OSRS combat looks simple, but is actually very complex. I hope this analysis of melee combat mechanics is useful and meaningful to you.

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