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The rules for retaliation state:

When exactly does retaliate trigger?

Retaliate triggers after all effects of an attack have been applied. If the retaliating figure dies from the attack, the retaliate does not trigger because the figure is removed from the board beforehand. If the retaliating figure is pushed out of the range of its retaliate, it also does not trigger. However, if it is pulled into retaliate range, it would trigger.

But does a zero-damage attack (after modifiers) count as an attack?

For context, I had a Bandit Guard (attack 2) draw a -1 Attack action and a -2 Attack Modifier card, resulting in a final damage of 0 against my Brute who was using Eye for an Eye. If I had been using a Shield enhancement, I would ignore the attack and not expend a Shield charge since it's a zero-damage attack. But in this case, I have a Retaliate ability up which plays by different rules.

Is my Brute able to retaliate against his attacker, even though the attacker essentially missed?

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I think you've made the same misinterpretation we did in calling that card a 'miss'. This was (no pun intended) misleading. The card that shows a 'null' symbol is not a 'miss'. It means "no damage is done by the attack" (page 11 of rules). I get why thematically you would say "the attacker essentially missed", but that is not the case.

The card in question in the 'attack modifier deck' just affects the damage done. I don't think Gloomhaven has the concept of 'hit and miss' - just damage and effect. So note that if the 'no damage done' card is pulled by a player or monster they will still get to apply other effects such as poison and wound. The attack still happened and 'miss' isn't a thing. In fact, the word 'miss' never appears in the rules and 'hit' only ever refers to hit points.

Regarding Retaliate the FAQ it says the following for retaliate.

A retaliate takes effect after the attack that ininiated it.

So even if the attack does no damage, and even if there are no other effects, you will still retaliate as you were attacked.

If theme helps, imagine your Brute has time to hit someone back with retaliate, the bandit tries to hit him and doesn't damage. Do you think the Brute will go 'Oh that didn't hurt so I won't hit back'?

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    I think my misunderstanding was largely because zero-damage in other games counts as a missed attack and often doesn't trigger such effects. Sounds like that is not the case in Gloomhaven, which is good news for my Brute. – Troyen Mar 14 '18 at 19:41
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    As further support that no damage ≠ miss, it's explicitly stated in the rules that an attack that deals no damage can still have other effects (poison, immobilize, etc). – ikegami Mar 14 '18 at 22:02

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