My work using action cards to spur story narration with Fairy Tale Assassin League has got me thinking about a variation on the system to play out combats quickly while retaining a focus on narration rather than numbers. Here is how I think it will work.
There is a deck of action cards (attacks and defenses - more defenses than attacks). Players have a hand of cards (3 for mooks, 5 for heroes). A player plays an attack and the other player throws down a defense. If they have no defense - they get hit. This might end a combat right there or give them a story effect - not certain on that. The players then roll 2d6, high roller wins, to see who gets to make the next attack. A melee can end when a player lands a hit or when one player wins 2 out of 3 rolls. In that case the lose retreats.
This should be fast and focus on figures while also relating back to the bigger story system (using the Fairy Tale action cards). This needs to be tested but in my mind it seems to work.