Rather than repeating myself, a long post I just made which talks alot about combat and my experiences with it so far: Master Strike is OP, needs serious nerf for player and AI
The game is delightful, addictive, beautiful, beguiling, wondrous, meticulous, shockingly lovingly done, did I mention beguiling?, Jesus Christ be Praised, the MUSIC! , even combat “is fun” . . . but it is not Optimum, and it produces a lot of “mixed emotions”
The fact I can get stuck in with Captain Punching Bag with wooden short sword and shield, try to actually hit him with my sword and watch as he pulls some combo/master strike/awesome block/slow-mo-badassery, reaches over my shield, jabs me in the face, gives me a wedgy and chucks my chin with his smelly glove and I go wobbling backward aghast at the stench . . . and gain ZERO XP in anything (and moreover, THIS is how training combat with bernard basically goes: you try stuff, he cock blocks you, or worse, pulls some master-fu on you and you stand there wasting your time).
In contrast, If I want to min-max my way through training with the good captain, all I gotta do (with a version of Henry who is trained up from Cow-punching, flower picking, bunny hopping, and bandit kiting, i.e., high strength, reasonably high unarmed, Clinch Master and maybe one or two other perks): approach him close and fire off a combination of block (space for my remapped keys), advance (w) and punch/clinch (F) and maybe toss in a right mouse Button click (this seems to turn a simple clinch into a clench with pommel hit). Once I back him into the corner with these fancy moves, I can literally just keep spamming that same sequence interminably; the only factor weighing against grinding it to max level of Defense, Warfare, Sword and as much bonus to STR, AGI, VIT as possible is player endurance with repeated key strokes and grinding tedium.
All this to say: amazing system with much promise but badly in need of much polishing/tweaking.