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Why is Pathfinder so bad at balance?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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I just don't get it. Even the 4e developers managed to produce a badly-done game that is mostly balanced (even if their product is a grotesque mockery of traditional D&D). The Pathfinder developers, however, have had all the opportunity to learn from 3e D&D's mistakes and yet they continue to repeat them.

For instance, we KNEW that Two-Weapon Fighting was bad in 3e. It required a huge feat and stat investment to make it work, and it was worse than simply using Power Attack with a two-handed weapon. And yet the TWF feat chain was unchanged. There was a little support added for it, but nothing to make it not suck enough to consider worth taking. Likewise, the Vital Strike line is a good idea, but it's not worth three feats to use, especially when you can't even use them on a charge. And then there's the Weapon Focus/Specialization line. A ridiculous waste of feats. A +2 bonus on attack rolls and a +4 bonus on damage rolls for FOUR feats? And it's available ONLY to fighters? That's awful.

So why is the majority of Pathfinder content unbalanced garbage when even 4e--a product developed, shilled, and sold at the behest of a retarded megacorporation whose main success is Magic: the Gathering--managed to create balanced content?

Taldor

Four feats for +2 attack/+4 damage is actually very good. Its one of the reasons fighters are the DPR kings on full attacks. All fighters do is fight. They get rubbish saves, the worst skills in the game and nothing but feats. It stands to reason that as masters of weapons and armour they can get some exclusive feats.

TWF has had some improvements- two weapon rend is pretty tasty for example. It remains difficult to work though, that is generally agreed. Sword and board TWF is actually extremely viable (although feat heavy) in PF though. As is a crit focused dual kukri build.

4E's balance is... debateable. I wrote a long post explaining this then realised you probably don't want edition wars on your thread. Or was that your intention?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Mostly because you have to make a design choice. Balance, or coherence. 3.x and consequently pathfinder favors the game feeling like you are what you are. If your a monk, you have abilities that maek you think you are a monk. Wizards feel like a wizard. Balance is a secondary concern because often they are in opposition. You cant have classes with a wide variety of options that have different feels, strengths and weakness and that play differently and still have balance. It doesn't work. 4E is the logical conclusion for a game that focuses on balance over feel. The classes play very similarly and the abilities are tightly restricted on what they can do. There is no magic way to acheive solid balance without heavily restricting what various characters can do. It makes for a perfectly good game (I have played 4E and enjoyed it well enough) but it wont be the tool that paizo was looking for to tell the story of their APs.

That and a major goal was to remain backwards compatable with 3.5. That in and of itself means that much of the imbalance in 3.x is going to be present in pathfinder.


7 people marked this as a favorite.

*puts on his flame-retardent underpants and reclines to watch the ensuing calamity.*


5 people marked this as a favorite.

*Pulls up a chair and offers Ambrus some popcorn.*


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Talonne Hauk wrote:
*Pulls up a chair and offers Ambrus some popcorn.*

Ooh, popcorn. All I have are these marshmallows.

President, Jon Brazer Enterprises

Enchanter Tom wrote:

I just don't get it. Even the 4e developers managed to produce a badly-done game that is mostly balanced (even if their product is a grotesque mockery of traditional D&D). The Pathfinder developers, however, have had all the opportunity to learn from 3e D&D's mistakes and yet they continue to repeat them.

For instance, we KNEW that Two-Weapon Fighting was bad in 3e. It required a huge feat and stat investment to make it work, and it was worse than simply using Power Attack with a two-handed weapon. And yet the TWF feat chain was unchanged. There was a little support added for it, but nothing to make it not suck enough to consider worth taking. Likewise, the Vital Strike line is a good idea, but it's not worth three feats to use, especially when you can't even use them on a charge. And then there's the Weapon Focus/Specialization line. A ridiculous waste of feats. A +2 bonus on attack rolls and a +4 bonus on damage rolls for FOUR feats? And it's available ONLY to fighters? That's awful.

So why is the majority of Pathfinder content unbalanced garbage when even 4e--a product developed, shilled, and sold at the behest of a retarded megacorporation whose main success is Magic: the Gathering--managed to create balanced content?

This is largely opinion and how a GM rules things. For example, Vital Strike, in my home game, I rule it that if you make 1 attack (regardless as to why are making 1 attack), you can vital strike. So a charge vital strike is ok. A move an vital strike is ok. An attack in the surprise round vital strike is ok. But that is how I run things in my game. Done this way, vital strike is a very powerful feat.

TWF is another good example. I like the way TWF is built, especially now that shield bash rules/feats are expanded. I've made characters (and have seen others make characters) that use the shield as their heavy weapon and a short sword or rapier in their off hand. It works great for that, IMO. Myself, I don't care for Power Attack. I'd rather have more opportunities to hit instead of hitting for extra damage. Just my own preference. I'm glad the PA rules are alot easier but I can't think of a single time I've used that feat (whether 3.5 or PF).


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Enchanter Tom, your assumptions of what constitutes balance are not the same as the PF developers (nor the developers of any edition of D&D other than 4e, apparently). My assumptions of what constitutes a balanced D&D are more in line with PF's than yours, thus I consider it a reasonably balanced game.

There are many different sorts of balance a game can shoot for. PF doesn't shoot for parity across each and every level, power, or feat. That's one way of achieving balance and appears to be the goal 4e went for but it's not the sort of balance D&D has typically embraced. It's one of the reasons 4e feels the least D&D-ish of all of the editions, in my opinion.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The Paizo has done a wonderful job of keeping the feel of 3e, being 3.5 compatible and balance. As you can understand those 3 things aren't easy to combine.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Talonne Hauk wrote:
*Pulls up a chair and offers Ambrus some popcorn.*

Mmm. *Takes the proffered popcorn and starts passing around safety goggles* Careful, we're in the s#!t splash zone.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

4e balanced, LOL. Good one.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

This can only end in tears, I love it!

Cheliax

This Vital Strike "thing" is throwing me for a loop.

It doesn't seem that bad to me but I usually DM and the PC that I'm running only gets one session per month.

A PC with Vital Strike built around Spring Attack seems, by 10th or so level, legitimate. Build up your Movement; get Vital Strike; get Spring Attack.

The PC would have to use a variety of combat tactics at earlier levels but that doesn't seem too bad -- he's not gonna get Vital Strike and Spring Attack 'till about 6th level anyway, no matter what the build.

Sure, the PC will NEVER execute the DPR that a Cleave-monkey does but the Cleave Monkeys are cliche, cookie-cutter builds.

The high movement, Spring Attack PC with Vital Strike will do some decent damage and won't be getting attacked (hit) as often as the Cleave Monkey.

But, of course, I'm not a number cruncher and I never ran a PC like this, so what the hell do I know?!

What's wrong with Vital Strike?

Silver Crusade

W E Ray wrote:

This Vital Strike "thing" is throwing me for a loop.

It doesn't seem that bad to me but I usually DM and the PC that I'm running only gets one session per month.

A PC with Vital Strike built around Spring Attack seems, by 10th or so level, legitimate. Build up your Movement; get Vital Strike; get Spring Attack

Spring attack and Vital strike don't work together.

Vital strike is a standard action and Spring attack a full-round action, something like that.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

@The OP: I don't understand how TWF is "worse" than PA. If your only measuring stick is damage per attack (or, depending on how the math works out, damage per round), then sure. But TWF also works with other things. For instance, TWF gives you the option of hitting two different targets instead of putting all your eggs in one basket. This is especially useful if fighting mindless hordes who want to attack whoever hurt them - you can get two enemies off the squishies' backs instead of one. Also, you can use weapons with large crit ranges in each hand, giving you pretty decent odds at critting. Alternatively, you could combine your TWF with some of the combat maneuvers that can replace a melee attack (such as disarm and trip) and perform two such maneuvers per round (or perform one and then hit for damage with your other hand). This gives you a level of battlefield control that PA doesn't offer.

So yes, it's worse at some things, but given how different the two options are, it seems unreasonable to call it plain ol' "worse" in general.

EDIT: M-m-m-m-multi-ninja'd!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Both the rogue and the fighter in my group use TWF and pull their weight. Especially when they flank a big bad. The fighter uses improved crit scimitars, the rogue with sneak attack on his two short swords.

I find it funny that the OP is worried about balance between melee builds. Most people complain about any melee sucking vs casters.

I do think that vital strike should just be something you can automatically do as you level. Especially on a charge.


Bill Dunn wrote:
There are many different sorts of balance a game can shoot for. PF doesn't shoot for parity across each and every level, power, or feat.

Out of curiosity, what way would you say Pathfinder does shoot for balance, then?

Andoran

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Gorbacz wrote:
4e balanced, LOL. Good one.

I brought the caramel corn!


Maxximilius wrote:


Vital strike is a standard action

Just to be clear, Vital Strike is not a separate standard action. It's an effect that triggers while taking an attack action.


For this conversation to make any sense at all, we would need to define "balance".

Andoran

7 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

The amount of money in Paizo's bank account.

Andoran

Enchanter Tom wrote:

I just don't get it. Even the 4e developers managed to produce a badly-done game that is mostly balanced (even if their product is a grotesque mockery of traditional D&D). The Pathfinder developers, however, have had all the opportunity to learn from 3e D&D's mistakes and yet they continue to repeat them.

For instance, we KNEW that Two-Weapon Fighting was bad in 3e. It required a huge feat and stat investment to make it work, and it was worse than simply using Power Attack with a two-handed weapon. And yet the TWF feat chain was unchanged. There was a little support added for it, but nothing to make it not suck enough to consider worth taking. Likewise, the Vital Strike line is a good idea, but it's not worth three feats to use, especially when you can't even use them on a charge. And then there's the Weapon Focus/Specialization line. A ridiculous waste of feats. A +2 bonus on attack rolls and a +4 bonus on damage rolls for FOUR feats? And it's available ONLY to fighters? That's awful.

So why is the majority of Pathfinder content unbalanced garbage when even 4e--a product developed, shilled, and sold at the behest of a retarded megacorporation whose main success is Magic: the Gathering--managed to create balanced content?

Because most people don't read what the spells actually do and realize there are built in limitations.

And because options are options, not solutions. TWF is feat heavy to reward Rangers, Monks, and Fighters who are able to either get it as part of the class or have enough feats.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber
Evil Lincoln wrote:
For this conversation to make any sense at all, we would need to define "balance".

Before that, we need to define "define".

Andoran

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

The price charged for Paizo's books.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Gorbacz wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:
For this conversation to make any sense at all, we would need to define "balance".
Before that, we need to define "define".

That depends on what your definition of "is", is.

Andoran

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Okay, I got nothing on this one.

Osirion

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This looks suspiciously like a troll being followed down a road paved with good intentions...doh!


TriOmegaZero wrote:
The amount of money in Paizo's bank account.

And TOZ for the win!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Gorbacz wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:
For this conversation to make any sense at all, we would need to define "balance".
Before that, we need to define "define".

For that I'm going to send a hit squad to your house and have them burn your copy of "Epicurus the Sage".

Silver Crusade

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

I know that it's a full-on flamebait answer, and that Scott Betts will jump me in the next post, but there's only one correct response to the OP:

"GO PLAY 4E"

There, that's off my chest.

Shadow Lodge

4 people marked this as a favorite.

1)It was built on the see saw of 3.x . Nothing built on that see saw could possibly be balanced.

2) 4e's problems largely stem from giving everyone the exact same abilities with different names and called it balanced.

3) While a balanced system is easy and an interesting system is hard, a balanced interesting system increases the difficulty exponentially. Making food that tastes good is easy. Making food with low calories is easy. making food with low calories that tastes good is exceedingly hard.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Enchanter Tom wrote:

I just don't get it. Even the 4e developers managed to produce a badly-done game that is mostly balanced (even if their product is a grotesque mockery of traditional D&D). The Pathfinder developers, however, have had all the opportunity to learn from 3e D&D's mistakes and yet they continue to repeat them.

For instance, we KNEW that Two-Weapon Fighting was bad in 3e. It required a huge feat and stat investment to make it work, and it was worse than simply using Power Attack with a two-handed weapon. And yet the TWF feat chain was unchanged. There was a little support added for it, but nothing to make it not suck enough to consider worth taking. Likewise, the Vital Strike line is a good idea, but it's not worth three feats to use, especially when you can't even use them on a charge. And then there's the Weapon Focus/Specialization line. A ridiculous waste of feats. A +2 bonus on attack rolls and a +4 bonus on damage rolls for FOUR feats? And it's available ONLY to fighters? That's awful.

So why is the majority of Pathfinder content unbalanced garbage when even 4e--a product developed, shilled, and sold at the behest of a retarded megacorporation whose main success is Magic: the Gathering--managed to create balanced content?

4e managed balance at the expense of a lot of things: Every class is combat balanced, and anything non-combat or non-conflict oriented is fluff. They did this by giving every class X many free powers, Y many per-encounter powers and Z many per-day powers.

Pathfinder stuck with spell slots for wizards, feats for fighters, etc. However, there is more to 'balance' than combat, I have found, and more to fun than power: if the game is about who is most powerful, then there will always be differences between characters, even characters of the same class. What is important is that every class has a role to play, and they do.

The fundamental difference between the two design policies is this, as far as I am concerned:
4e is designed for combat balance by professional number-crunchers.
Pathfinder is designed for fun by professional gamers.

I game to have fun.

Going to TWF and fighters: the first thing is fighters don't just get +2 to hit and +4 to damage - Weapon Training gives them another +4 to hit and +4 damage on top of that, to +6/+8. So compare your TWFer with, say, a pair of shortswords to your greatsword fighter, and the differences are very much in the TWFer's favour - at level 20, the greatsword fighter gets four attacks, the TWFer gets seven, so that bonus damage is +32 for the GS fighter and +56 for the TWFer. The GS fighter is getting a bit more out of Power Attack because of the lost off-hand attack for the TWFer, but Double Slice means the TWFer is getting 7x his strength bonus to the GS fighter's (1.5 x strength bonus x four attacks) = 6x his strength bonus. The TWFer also gets better AC from Two Weapon Defence and armour training that lets him get his dex bonus from heavier armour.

Two Weapon Fighting feats themselves may not have changed, but that doesn't mean the option to do so still sucks due to other changes made.

Andoran

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Gorbacz wrote:

I know that it's a full-on flamebait answer, and that Scott Betts will jump me in the next post, but there's only one correct response to the OP:

"GO PLAY 4E"

There, that's off my chest.

You're absolutely right! I'm going to go play 3.5 and stop bothering everyone now.

Silver Crusade

Alo, monks suck, and wizards are way too weak to be playable.
They should be able to cast in medium armor at least. One hit and the fighter kills them. Freaking melee classes are able to kill everything, while wizards run everywhere casting sucky fireballs...

Andoran

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Ambrus wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
The amount of money in Paizo's bank account.
And TOZ for the win!

*doffs cap*

Silver Crusade

bah, PF is perfectly balanced for groups of players.

Perfect balance for each player/character is stupid. 4th ed is stupid.

I am stupid for posting on this sure to be epic flame thread.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Enchanter Tom - October 6'th wrote:

"The way that the Paizo development team and the community disregard mathematical analysis, constructive criticism, and rational discussion in favor of emotional discourse based on perceptions of "fun" has pushed me to my breaking point. I'm picking up D&D Essentials and not Ultimate Magic.

In before "don't let the door hit your ass on the way out!" I won't."

Hi Tom,

That last "I wont", I mean what happened to that..? Sounded a bit like a promise.

Have fun, if you can,
GRU

Andoran

14 people marked this as a favorite.

I hear Rock, Paper, Scissors is well balanced. But I read on a blog somewhere Scissors is getting a splat book soon that might mess that up.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

I find 'balance' to be grossly over-rated as an RPG game criteria. First off, its not as if the game is a competiton between players where one's particular strength must be stacked against another's. Secondly, GM's have the supreme ability to tailor conflicts to best test their players whether they are all min/maxed or purely role-play oriented. Third, GM's are also empowered to house-rule anything they like any way they like, taking the need for designers to re-engineer thier creations every few weeks completely out of the equation.

The eternal quest for game balance often hurts a game more than helping, nerfing and even drastically altering core rules or entire classes because 1% of the population has found and decided to use a particular exploit. Let people play, I say. Trust the GM's to know what's best for their groups and act accordingly.

Balance is over-rated.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
LazarX wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:
For this conversation to make any sense at all, we would need to define "balance".
Before that, we need to define "define".
For that I'm going to send a hit squad to your house and have them burn your copy of "Epicurus the Sage".

I'm serious, though. The OP is railing against PF's lack of balance, but offers only a Two-Weapon Fighting example.

Is he talking about balance against other melee weapons? Are we talking about PvP balance, or spotlight on PC balance, or vs. Monster balance?

Balance is important. Too important to be left as ambiguous fodder for an unfocused nerdrage rant.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Gorbacz wrote:

I know that it's a full-on flamebait answer, and that Scott Betts will jump me in the next post, but there's only one correct response to the OP:

"GO PLAY 4E"

That sounds like a fine response to me.


Gorbacz wrote:
4e balanced, LOL. Good one.

+1. 4e is far more unbalanced than PF (or even core 3.5).


Wiggz wrote:
Balance is over-rated.

Balance without context is over-rated. It's useless actually.

I think the balancing level vs. CR is important. It's one of the key features of the game.

I think that class balance is important. It makes certain that each player enjoys some time in the spotlight.

But, these are specifics. People bandy about the term balance out of context all the time. And in that sense, I'm with you 100% "balance" is over-rated.


7 people marked this as a favorite.
obadiah wrote:
I hear Rock, Paper, Scissors is well balanced. But I read on a blog somewhere Scissors is getting a splat book soon that might mess that up.

RPS™ hasn't been the same since the 2e of the game introduced lizard & Spock as player options. How are three inanimate objects or a lizard supposed to compete with a highly intelligent vulcan? I'm sticking with RPS™ 1e myself.

Qadira

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I feel rubbernecker guilt just opening this thread...

Dance for me, Flame-Warriors, Dance for my amusement!


Riku Riekkinen wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
4e balanced, LOL. Good one.
+1. 4e is far more unbalanced than PF (or even core 3.5).

I disagree, and I'd love to have that discussion with you over on the 4e sub-forum.


Matthew Winn wrote:
Dance for me, Flame-Warriors, Dance for my amusement!

*Attempts a little soft shoe.*

Qadira

Ambrus wrote:
Matthew Winn wrote:
Dance for me, Flame-Warriors, Dance for my amusement!
*Attempts a little soft shoe.*

Literally had to bite my lip not to knock my cubicle over while shaking with laughter...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Enchanter Tom wrote:
So why is the majority of Pathfinder content unbalanced...

"Balance" (especially "Class Balance") isn't one of the underpinnings of 3e's design philosophy.

Seeing as how PF is built upon and [almost] fully compatible with 3e, it shouldn't be a surprise that all things Pathfinder aren't perfectly balanced with all other things Pathfinder.

-Skeld


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Ambrus wrote:
obadiah wrote:
I hear Rock, Paper, Scissors is well balanced. But I read on a blog somewhere Scissors is getting a splat book soon that might mess that up.
RPS™ hasn't been the same since the 2e of the game introduced lizard & Spock as player options. How are three inanimate objects or a lizard supposed to compete with a highly intelligent vulcan? I'm sticking with RPS™ 1e myself.

This response made My day. Thanks for that.

Tic-Tac-Toe is also pretty much perfectly balanced... wonder why more people don't play it?

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