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The Cavalier's Code: An Optimization Guide


Advice

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18 people marked this as a favorite.

...is under construction.

Yup, sorry, still working on it and have barely gotten it started. So really I'm starting the thread early to get an open dialogue going on it. To gather opinions, thoughts, and ideas while I write this guide.

Meanwhile let me share some thoughts of my own while working on this.

~Order of the Cockatrice does not have to be a douche or a loner. In fact they are amazing when others are around to bask in their glory.

~Gendarme is actually a pretty bad archetype.

~Tactician is very powerful. It's only a shame that the level you get it at kind of makes it suck.

~Cavalier's are at their best when others are around to join them in the fray. They are enablers that make the good great and the great overwhelmingly good.

~Every cavalier needs to be a beast rider if not a hound master or musketeer.

~The mount, when compared to a paladin mount or druid companion sucks. Better off just riding around on the druids Roc companion. At least it can fly.


How will Samurai be adressed? Or are they going to be shunted off to the side?

Also, Does the Order of the Dragon Challenge include the Cavalier himself? I remember reading somewhere that you are considered your own ally, and thus it's kosher. If so, WOW is that order powerful.

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Check out Gamers Guide to Pathfinder. They just did a big show on the class.


Jeranimus Rex wrote:

How will Samurai be adressed? Or are they going to be shunted off to the side?

Also, Does the Order of the Dragon Challenge include the Cavalier himself? I remember reading somewhere that you are considered your own ally, and thus it's kosher. If so, WOW is that order powerful.

I looked it up because a lot of cavalier abilities specifically say allies. Ultimately I decided no that the challenge of the Order of the Dragon wouldn't make sense for it to work wiht the cavalier given the order's theme of working with your allies and the fact that it would push the ability way past the others. This being said it is still an amazing ability when you start adding in your team work feats.

Not going to do samurai's. Seems like they needed to be treated separately.

Taldor

I'm curious to see whether there'll be a take on a cavalier build(s) w/o the mounted combat feat chain.

Might be on that same track with recommending the Beast Rider archetype...


Dessio wrote:

I'm curious to see whether there'll be a take on a cavalier build(s) w/o the mounted combat feat chain.

Might be on that same track with recommending the Beast Rider archetype...

You can bet on it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Dessio wrote:

I'm curious to see whether there'll be a take on a cavalier build(s) w/o the mounted combat feat chain.

Might be on that same track with recommending the Beast Rider archetype...

Arrows. Arrows EVERYWHERE.

Andoran

Has anyone else listened to the gamer's guide? I only discovered it through this Helaman's post, but I'm having a hard time deciding if these guys are seriuos or not.

They're saying that the teamwork abilities, which to them are the reason to pick cavalier, are roughly in power to bravery, maybe a little bit better. And that's okay.

And they're trying to say that a paladin is a knight. No. Just no. Holy warrior, yes. Knight? No. They've also forgotten that Anti-paladin is the alternate class for the paladin.

I really REALLY don't think these guys know much of what they're talking about.

Cheapy wrote:
Arrows. Arrows EVERYWHERE.

Why? The extra damage from the challenge is only for melee. . .


ShadowcatX wrote:


And they're trying to say that a paladin is a knight. No. Just no. Holy warrior, yes. Knight? No.

Paladins get a mount.

Paladins follow a code.
Paladins are skilled at arms and can wear heavy armor.
Paladins are originally based upon guys like Sir Lancelot.

They're knights. That being said you don't have to make a knightly paladin.

Andoran

TarkXT wrote:

Paladins get a mount.

Paladins follow a code.
Paladins are skilled at arms and can wear heavy armor.
Paladins are originally based upon guys like Sir Lancelot.

They're knights. That being said you don't have to make a knightly paladin.

Lancelot never called upon holy power to smite undead, cast spells, called his mount from the heavenly realms, etc. Lancelot betrayed his king, his vows, and his people and caused the destruction of all he cared about and he didn't loose a single ability.

Knights can be portrayed well with a paladin, but just because some A are B doesn't mean all B are A.


ShadowcatX wrote:

Lancelot never called upon holy power to smite undead, cast spells, called his mount from the heavenly realms, etc. Lancelot betrayed his king, his vows, and his people and caused the destruction of all he cared about and he didn't loose a single ability.

Knights can be portrayed well with a paladin, but just because some A are B doesn't mean all B are A.

You mean other than his position, his honor, and the confidence of his king?

Well someone should write the original writers of the paladin then and tell them how wrong they are. :)

Andoran

TarkXT wrote:

You mean other than his position, his honor, and the confidence of his king?

Well someone should write the original writers of the paladin then and tell them how wrong they are. :)

Where are "position" "honor" and "confidence of your king" ever listed as "abilities?"


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

Just going to point out that paladin has come to mean a knight renowned for heroism and chivalry.

Roland is a better example, by the way. The legend has him as a holy knight against the Muslims.

Grand Lodge

ShadowcatX wrote:
I really REALLY don't think these guys know much of what they're talking about.

Give these guys a chance and listen to their other casts. I don't think they are "wrong" or uninformed - they have may have different perspectives on the value of traits, feats and class features is all.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
ShadowcatX wrote:
Where are "position" "honor" and "confidence of your king" ever listed as "abilities?"

I think I'm just gonna ignore this now. It's a derailment and I honestly should not have responded from the start no matter how wrong/right you are. This is not a discussion about paladins god knows I want to avoid that here.

Quote:
Why? The extra damage from the challenge is only for melee. . .

The Luring Cavalier's far challenge however works on ranged attacks.

There's other ways to do a mountless cavalier. Selecting certain archetypes strip out the purely mounted charge abilities leaving you witha mount that you don't have to have. Or you can simply ignore them entirely, perhaps take the beast rider archetype if you really want a nasty animal companion.

For example I decided to try out a performance combat based Cockatrice cavalier and I think it'll work really well without a mount.

1 Power Attack
1 Paired Opportunist
2 Dazzling Display
3 Dramatic Display
5 Performing Combatant
6 Shatter Defenses
7 Master Combat Performer
9 Masterful Display
9 Outflank
11 Combat Reflexes
12 Savage Display

Just something I'd want to try with a standard bearer or something else..

Andoran

Helaman wrote:
Give these guys a chance and listen to their other casts. I don't think they are "wrong" or uninformed - they have may have different perspectives on the value of traits, feats and class features is all.

I'm still listening to the cavalier. After the points I mentioned, they've moved on and are more in line talking more about the orders and the challenge abilities.

TarkXT wrote:
The Luring Cavalier's far challenge however works on ranged attacks.

Cool. I wasn't looking at the archetypes.


Oh rad, performance Cavalier!

Is the hound master from RPG superstar going to be incorperated? Cuz if so, there would need to be references and links, since not everyone is 100% familiar with the archetype.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
ShadowcatX wrote:
Has anyone else listened to the gamer's guide? I only discovered it through this Helaman's post, but I'm having a hard time deciding if these guys are seriuos or not.

Well, we do joke a lot but overall we are being serious, yes. One of the goals of the podcast is to make character building and optimization attainable for people who aren't already doing it. To understand WHY it is fun and how it helps people make the character they want to make. So we are not just going deep into optimization, we are giving an overview.

ShadowcatX wrote:
And they're trying to say that a paladin is a knight. No. Just no. Holy warrior, yes. Knight? No. They've also forgotten that Anti-paladin is the alternate class for the paladin.

Paladins absolutely can be your prototypical knight and that is often how people play them. That said, seeing them only as a knight would be extremely limiting and a disservice to the class. We did a whole episode on skinning that talks about using the mechanics to make whatever type of character you want to make, we aren't limiting that... we were doing a podcast on the cavalier though, so we weren't really dwelling on the Paladin as much. Certainly you wouldn't dispute that many players DO see the Paladin as a knight, right? We have to speak to those people as well.

ShadowcatX wrote:
I really REALLY don't think these guys know much of what they're talking about.

I would definitely like to hear any specific criticisms you have, but this thread probably isn't the best place for it. Come on over to the forums at 3.5 Private Sanctuary or start a thread in the 3rd party publishers portion of this site and I would love to talk with you about it.

Sean Mahoney


AM CAVALIER am big fan of this thread.


So, I sat down today and did some dirty math.

I started building an AM CAVALIER build for a fun little testing bed for the extremes I can push it.

Ultimately I came up with a build that can charge you on his mount for a +59 to his attack roll and an average damage of about 332 damage.

If you can charge while using Mounted Skirmish this increases to about 1328 damage.

So hwo does this nonsense happen? And is it possible to make it even more looney?

Well i went with a 20pt. buy eye for talent human who is a beastrider order of the sword cavalier. I'll reveal more but right now the benadryl I took is kicking in and its time to crash.

Grand Lodge

Looking forward to it


So, today I discovered jsut how good Eye for Talent really is. I think it doesn't get that much attention purely because you lose your bonus feat from it.

However when you think in terms of dudes that are going to hang out with you it starts to look really attractive to characters who are planning on leadership or are going to end up with multiple little guys anyway via multiclassing and abusing of Horse Master and Boon Companion.

One of the big things that struck me however was the idea that at level 1 you can end up with a mount already packing an intelligence of 4. That means right out of the gate you can give him the teamwork feat you took for tactician making it a much better option than it is on the surface.

Fun part is it's not a one time bonus. You can also give it to cohorts, familiars, or secondary animal companions you grabbed from say levels of ranger or future mounts you get.

I think this bonus is a particularly good argument for humans as cavaliers as well as the alternate favored class bonus that gives you a bigger banner bonus.


Added the breakdown and races page alongside the orders page. Next section will be dealing with mounts. That is likely to turn into the biggest section as I'll be talking extensively about ways of getting tougher mounts outside of your class.

Cheliax

Definitely looking forward to this guide. I've wanted to play a cavalier for awhile and every time I attempted to have make a build I always wound up just making a mounted fighter. Hopefully this will help me avoid that.

Grand Lodge

How does Tactician work that makes it more powerful than the standard Cavilier?


I think it ought to be said, as I saw a conversation starting about it, that Paladin's are specifically based on Charlemagne and legends about his men. The Paladins, or the Twelve Peers, were the foremost warriors of his court, according to a cycle of stories about him. That is all I will say on the matter lol... but I wanted to mention that bit of history

Cheliax

Daelen wrote:
I think it ought to be said, as I saw a conversation starting about it, that Paladin's are specifically based on Charlemagne and legends about his men. The Paladins, or the Twelve Peers, were the foremost warriors of his court, according to a cycle of stories about him. That is all I will say on the matter lol... but I wanted to mention that bit of history

The original Paladin class was actually based on the novel "Three Hearts and Three Lions" more than Charlemagne's knights, though they were definitely part of it.

Andoran

TarkXT wrote:
~Gendarme is actually a pretty bad archetype.
It is, however, the best one-level dip for a non-tank build which would otherwise be taking a level of fighter for weapon and armor proficiencies. Example: bard4 with Dodge and Mobility dips Cavalier[Gendarme] at 5th, takes Spring Attack as the bonus feat at BAB4, gains all martial weapons and medium armor proficiencies (so he can wear mithral breastplate), Challenge 1/day, Climb and Swim as class, and 4 skill points instead of a fighter's 2. Oh, and a free taxi.
Quote:
~Every cavalier needs to be a beast rider if not a hound master or musketeer.

What he needs, and this is more important than anything else, is an ability to get his stupid animal around in a dungeon with 5' wide corridors. (This usually means being a halfling or a gnome -- and those race choices should be "dark blue" for this class; small characters have better mount choices as well.)

= = = =

"Trap" archetypes for multiclassers: any which forfeit Expert Trainer class feature (which is prerequisite for the Horse Master feat).

Mandatory feat: Indomitable Mount. (Unlike a druid or paladin, you cannot easily heal or unscramble your mount.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Helaman wrote:
How does Tactician work that makes it more powerful than the standard Cavilier?

I assume you mean Strategist.

It lasts for 10+ minutes, and more importantly, can be any teamwork feat he knows. The Tactician class ability is limited to the teamwork feats granted through that ability.

So at level 4, we are looking at both Outflank and Paired Opportunists, which makes the group a meatgrinder if they have high-crit range weapons.


Mike Schneider wrote:


Mandatory feat: Indomitable Mount. (Unlike a druid or paladin, you cannot easily heal or unscramble your mount.)

It is a good feat if somewhat limiting in that your character is expected to come from lastwall.

I think you'll find one of the biggest things about the mount section is that the best thing to do is simply not use your own mount. Convincing the druid to let you ride him when he gets large, riding the summoners pouncing eidolon (easier when you're small), riding someone else's stuff about is usually preferable to riding your own. Barring that takind an archetype or two to strip out most of the mounted stuff leaves you with a good enough incentive to simply ignore the mount feature. It's not like you don't have enough class features at 1st level that you'll terribly miss it.

And you can just decide to be a part time mounted cavalier.
Even with the mount over the course of 18 levels you'll get those three core feats back in the form of bonus feats. Power Attack you were going to take anyway, and furious focus is pretty good even off the mount.

As for multiclassing I definitely agree. But only if you really really want that mount.

Strategists are very good. You might think burnign that challenge to grant people teamwork feats isn't all that great but as cheapy said you're popping out a combo right out of the gate that gets better. One way that some cavalier orders have to produce extra dpr is attacks of opportunity.

Andoran

My advice comes from a background of PFS -- where you don't know if you'll be gaming with a druid or a summoner.

Quote:
Strategists are very good. You might think burnign that challenge to grant people teamwork feats isn't all that great but as cheapy said you're popping out a combo right out of the gate that gets better. One way that some cavalier orders have to produce extra dpr is attacks of opportunity.

Since most people are agog over Cockatrice, note that you're now down two turns of doin' nothing (one for Dazzling Display, and the other granting teamwork buffs).

Sure: you're useful, like a bard is useful -- but you're not kicking ass for two rounds (which is kind of the point of playing a full-BAB).


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

And that's why Tactician needs to be a move action starting out, not a standard.

He also doesn't say you should use Tactician at the beginning of every combat.

Andoran

Quote:
He also doesn't say you should use Tactician at the beginning of every combat.

I say that if a class primary feature isn't used incessantly, it's suboptimal. I.e., a bard will perform almost every encounter and a barbarian rage and a paladin lay-on his own injuries....whereas a cavalier sucks until 9th or whenever. Not so bad if you're baking a high-level PC from scratch, but excruciating to play from 1st.

IMO the only decent mostly full-class cavaliers are samurais and small-race "Braggart Knights" (search messagebase).


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

There's a reason he rated it Orange.

Those are all examples of abilities that have multiple uses per day. Tactician has only a few. A better example would be Smite Evil. You don't use that every combat. You use it when it'll help the most.


For order of the tome one trick is to write down a question your facing so the check involves a book. Not sure how many Gms will allow that though.

Also what source is indomitable mount in?


I thought of something more if you raise the int to 4 couldn't it take what feats it wants but could the horse take improved unamred strike I doubt many gm allow it but acrobatics is a class skill so you could get dragon style which may be broken on mounts so you could mounted charge in difficult terrain.


doctor_wu wrote:
I thought of something more if you raise the int to 4 couldn't it take what feats it wants but could the horse take improved unamred strike I doubt many gm allow it but acrobatics is a class skill so you could get dragon style which may be broken on mounts so you could mounted charge in difficult terrain.

That's pretty much the recommendation on any mount when using Eye for Talent. You have to discuss it with your GM but by raw it's perfectly fine. It solves the hindering terrain issue handily.

Quote:
My advice comes from a background of PFS -- where you don't know if you'll be gaming with a druid or a summoner.

Well this kind of says everything doesn't it?

Cavalier's simply don't operate well in a vacuum. They want the leadership feat, they want targets for tactician, they want people to snatch attacks of opportunity from, they want to work well with an established group, they want to turn their group into a meat grinding ap chewing juggernaut.

Cheapy had the right of it. It's not an ability you use every combat. They're very much like paladins in that they get much better over time.

Andoran

Cheapy wrote:

There's a reason he rated it Orange.

Those are all examples of abilities that have multiple uses per day. Tactician has only a few. A better example would be Smite Evil. You don't use that every combat. You use it when it'll help the most.

Smite is at minimum 2x as good as Challenge due to it bolstering attack bonus and not being restricted to melee attacks. True, it's limited in what you can use it on, but few adventures lack for evil opponents, and they're very often the bosses. Smite also comes attached to paladin, whose other class features make cavalier offerings look tepid in comparison.

...Cavalier needs a 2.0 upgrade; right now, about the only reason to play one is (aside from archetypes) dislike of playing lawful-good.


Not done ready yet but order of the dragon with http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/combat-feats/swift-aid-combat is the daddy for pairing with another front liner.

Aid another as a swift action, only downside is the pre req.

Taldor

I think the brightest gem to consider is the combination that Cavaliers are a full BAB/d10 class and a full-level Animal Companion.

You needn't even RIDE a horse to make awful effective use of it.. flanking, learning teamwork feats (once the Int is boosted), just plain being another melee combatant with decent AC/HP and respectable (if not spectacular) damage.

If you use traits, you can make UMD a class skill.. with plenty of skill points to go around. Get a couple of scrolls of reduce animal and a large sized horse can adventure in dungeon delves just as well as any druid's large size animal companion. Maybe better, since UMD will let you use Spider Climb on it to get up walls, to boot!


Egoish wrote:

Not done ready yet but order of the dragon with http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/combat-feats/swift-aid-combat is the daddy for pairing with another front liner.

Aid another as a swift action, only downside is the pre req.

I thought of this too to be honest. I figured it would be absolutely amazing. Then I read the feat. It only provides a +1 bonus ever. That's pretty much crap.

Quote:

I think the brightest gem to consider is the combination that Cavaliers are a full BAB/d10 class and a full-level Animal Companion.

You needn't even RIDE a horse to make awful effective use of it.. flanking, learning teamwork feats (once the Int is boosted), just plain being another melee combatant with decent AC/HP and respectable (if not spectacular) damage.

If you use traits, you can make UMD a class skill.. with plenty of skill points to go around. Get a couple of scrolls of reduce animal and a large sized horse can adventure in dungeon delves just as well as any druid's large size animal companion. Maybe better, since UMD will let you use Spider Climb on it to get up walls, to boot!

It is a big consideration. And keep in mind that even though horses tend ot make more sense in most campaigns, it's the camels that are ultimately better. Afterall they tend to be stronger and have a nifty spit attack. The lack of hoof attacks is somewhat minor.

I do tend to think that the size weakness is minor. Even with a medium sized mount using mounted combat abilities in cramped spaces is tough regardless of the mounts size. A medium mount makes it easier to get a flanking partner, I'll grant, but ultimately all that medium mount does for a halfling or gnome in this case is help make up for lost damage.

Really though it comes down to this. Playing a mounted cavalier needs ot be treated like any character. Talk to the GM. If he thinking there's going to be lots of indoor battles and hindering terrain and he doesn't want you to pimp your mount so you can avoid all that? Take archetypes, treat the mount as just a mode of transportation, focus on your order abilities, work on teamwork feats. Heck a Luring Cavalier can strip out everything BUT the mount and still be effective on it purely because of mounted archery. It's no different then with any other character.


Reading the swift aid feat it says you use a swift action to aid another to provide a reduced bonus. The order ability says whenever you aid another. I'd let it fly in a game i ran as it hardly seems overpowering and lets a cavaluer get use out of an otherwise dubious ability. I think RAW supports this depending on your reading and i'm nearly certain the feat was designed for that kind of usage RAI.

I think its worthwhile mentioning in the guide so people know about it and check with their gm if thats the way they want it to work. Like you said it would make aid allies a blue ability but otherwise its barely usable in combat.


Egoish wrote:

Reading the swift aid feat it says you use a swift action to aid another to provide a reduced bonus. The order ability says whenever you aid another. I'd let it fly in a game i ran as it hardly seems overpowering and lets a cavaluer get use out of an otherwise dubious ability. I think RAW supports this depending on your reading and i'm nearly certain the feat was designed for that kind of usage RAI.

I think its worthwhile mentioning in the guide so people know about it and check with their gm if thats the way they want it to work. Like you said it would make aid allies a blue ability but otherwise its barely usable in combat.

I honestly don't think it was RAI either as it's less than even a standard aid another (which is +2). It would be nice to have a developer to chime in on this but I think that it's sadly pretty clear. If the aid allies ability gave a bonus to aid another checks then it would work, instead it changes it and goes up from there. So it doesn't technically work.


4 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

I'm going to quote this since i also think its pretty clear...

pfsrd wrote:
Swift Aid (Combat) With a quick but harmless swipe, you can aid an ally’s assault. Prerequisites: Int 13, Combat Expertise, base attack bonus +6. Benefit: As a swift action, you can attempt the aid another action, granting your ally either a +1 bonus on his next attack roll or a +1 bonus to his AC. Normal: Aid another is a standard action.

Bolded relevant section, you use a swift action and perform the aid another action.

pfsrd wrote:
Aid Allies ( Ex) At 2nd level, whenever an order of the dragon cavalier uses the aid another action to assist one of his allies, the ally receives a +3 bonus to his armor class, attack roll, saving throw, or skill check. At 8th level, and every six levels thereafter, this bonus increases by an additional +1.

Bolded again, whenever you perform the aid another action you gain these bonuses insted of the normal ones. Not when you use a standard action, whenever and the, i don't see how it can be more RAW. There is one (the) aid another action which the order of the dragon gains a bonus to whenever (every time) he performs it no matter if its a standard or swift action he uses. No further clarification is necessary in my eyes.


I'm still pretty sure that's not how it works, or how the developer intended. It's not particularly overpowering, just not as intended. The order of the dragon doesn't increase the bonus of an aid another action, it changes it completely, as does swift aid, it's not really clear which takes priority. And nothing in the language aboves indicates that one overpowers the other.

Until a developer chimes in I'm not going to make a recommendation that dubious. If it works it works and it would be awesome if it did. So leave it up to individual gm interpretation.


TarkXT wrote:

I'm still pretty sure that's not how it works, or how the developer intended. It's not particularly overpowering, just not as intended. The order of the dragon doesn't increase the bonus of an aid another action, it changes it completely, as does swift aid, it's not really clear which takes priority. And nothing in the language aboves indicates that one overpowers the other.

Until a developer chimes in I'm not going to make a recommendation that dubious. If it works it works and it would be awesome if it did. So leave it up to individual gm interpretation.

I understand your position and in my first post 4 above this one i suggested leaving it open for a gm call, having looked further into it if it was raised at my table i think RAW supports it but ymmv.

I think the wording in your guide needs looking at however as you quite clearly state if there was a way to do it as a swift action aid allies would be blue, even if you feel the combo is dubious if we're to leave it to the individual gm you should present the option the cavat that its up to gm approval.

Its your guide but if your giving bad or incorrect advice based on your own interpretation of RAW/RAI then the guide will be incomplete, which would be a shame as the rest of the guide so far is excellent.


Not sure if anyone had mentioned this but you were stating that aid another sucks unless you could perform it as a swift action. Enter the Bodyguard feat which let's you hand out aid another bonuses to AC for the lousy cost of an AoO.


Alex Mack wrote:
Not sure if anyone had mentioned this but you were stating that aid another sucks unless you could perform it as a swift action. Enter the Bodyguard feat which let's you hand out aid another bonuses to AC for the lousy cost of an AoO.

The only problem I see with bodyguard is that the person you are aiding needs to be adjacent to you. So even if you have reach or are large, or whatever, they still have to be adjacent to you. That kind of limits it a bit since you couldn't help a flanking buddy for example.

On the other hand, a normal Aid Another (or the swift version if that trick works) lets you do so as long as you are within melee range (so significantly larger potentially), and you can help a flanking buddy as you are hitting the same target.

Still, not bad when combined with the bonus.

Sean Mahoney


No it's not a bad idea. And actually a good one when you look at the honor guard archetype. I'll have to keep that in mind.


Don't know if this has been noted (haven't read the admittedly short thread), but...

'Cavalier Guide' wrote:
Challenge: So let’s take a look at this. Essentially it’s a boost to damage. Not bad right? Well, the issue is that challenge already does quite a bit of damage. What it really needs are bonuses to hit, or perhaps some extra things. Second is that how many groups do you know of with just one person in melee? And I’m not talking party members I’m also talking about summons, animal companions, eidolons, npc’s, anything. If it threatens it prevents this aspect of the challenge even if it’s a guy with a wizard with a quarter staff or a farmer with a sickle. It should be noted that even your mount can prevent this if you’re riding it. Ultimately you’ll rarely if ever get that extra damage and it’s not much from the start.
'The PRD' wrote:
Challenge: Whenever an order of the cockatrice cavalier issues a challenge, he receives a +1 morale bonus on all melee damage rolls made against the target of his challenge as long as he is the only creature threatening the target (not counting his mount). This bonus increases by +1 for every four levels the cavalier possesses.

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