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Best build for a Flail & Shield Fighter


Advice


Trying to come up with a good build for a flail/shield fighter. Its a combination I've been wanting to try for some time now and I think it could be fun. Only thing I need to figure out is:

-Will I use the shield in combat?
-How much of the Power Attack chain will I use?
-How much of the Combat Expertise chain will I use?
-What will the stat array be?

Since I'm using the flail, I at least want to get Combat Expertise, Improved Trip and Improved Disarm, but that's just three feats. Weapon Focus and Power Attack will be in the build as well, but beyond that I'm not sure what the feats should be.

I'm also considering this build for a paladin, but I think the stat demands might be a bit high for that.

Thoughts?


Possible stat build for 15 point buy human fighter:

Str: 16 (14+2 human)
Dex: 12
Con: 15
Int: 13
Wis: 10
Cha 8

This would allow for a good starting Str and Con, Int 13 meets the prerequisites for Combat Expertise, and the lower Dex will be compensated for with the shield and armor. For this build I don't intend on using the shield in combat, which frees up some points and feats because I'm not getting Two Weapon Fighting. I might go for Shield Focus just for the additional AC point, but the shield will be pure defense. Probably a heavy steel shield, once I could afford it.

Grand Lodge

I just so happen to BE a flail guy, so lemme show you what I did:

(This is a PFS build - how about yours?)

Human
Fighter (no archetype)

At level 1:
STR 18 (16+2)
DEX 14
CON 12
INT 13
WIS 12
CHA 08

Feats: CombExp, Dodge, ImpDisarm

At 3rd level, Armor Training kicked in and that second point of DEX applied to my AC even in full plate.

At 4th level, I bumped INT to 14 for some extra skill ranks.

At 4th-5th level, I got a +2 CON belt.

I'm currently at 8th level, I use a +2 adamantine flail, a +2 buckler, and +2 full plate. I swapped Dodge for Combat Reflexes at 8th when I got Greater Trip.

I heartily recommend Second Chance (APG) at 6th.

Click my name for my current build.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I would go buckler before heavy shield, at least once you're out of your first few levels. The reason for that is you will have the option to swing your flail with two hands for extra damage at the expense of your shield bonus and at -1 to your attacks. Sometimes you'll need extra damage, and hitting or AC won't be a problem.

You also get the option to carry a torch or sunrod in your buckler hand.

Grand Lodge

Mergy wrote:
You also get the option to carry a torch or sunrod in your buckler hand.

I personally use an Ioun Torch from the APG. Light source with no hands! :D

Cheliax

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Yes, and the wayfinder also provides slotless light. Still, the benefit of always having a free hand is great.

Grand Lodge

Indeed. I carry a bow, just in case, and using a buckler means I can use it whenever I need to without a lot of shuffling.


Cledwyn the Steadfast wrote:

I just so happen to BE a flail guy, so lemme show you what I did:

(This is a PFS build - how about yours?)

Human
Fighter (no archetype)

At level 1:
STR 18 (16+2)
DEX 14
CON 12
INT 13
WIS 12
CHA 08

Feats: CombExp, Dodge, ImpDisarm

At 3rd level, Armor Training kicked in and that second point of DEX applied to my AC even in full plate.

At 4th level, I bumped INT to 14 for some extra skill ranks.

At 4th-5th level, I got a +2 CON belt.

I'm currently at 8th level, I use a +2 adamantine flail, a +2 buckler, and +2 full plate. I swapped Dodge for Combat Reflexes at 8th when I got Greater Trip.

I heartily recommend Second Chance (APG) at 6th.

Click my name for my current build.

This is with a 20 or 25 point buy I take it? I've always played with a 15 point buy, but that because my groups usually play in the AP's. I had my Con higher than my Dex because I figured the armor and shield would help my AC and I could always grab Lightning Reflexes/Improved Initiative if needed.

A buckler at low levels would be good, but I was probably going to start with a light wooden shield. I'd still be able to hold a torch or something in my shield hand and its cheaper than the buckler anyway.

Grand Lodge

OmegaZ wrote:
This is with a 20 or 25 point buy I take it?

Yeah, that was 20pt buy. You didn't say what you had to work with, so I just relayed my PFS build. :)

Quote:
I've always played with a 15 point buy, but that because my groups usually play in the AP's. I had my Con higher than my Dex because I figured the armor and shield would help my AC and I could always grab Lightning Reflexes/Improved Initiative if needed.

With 15pts, I'd maybe try something like this:

STR 17 (15+2)
DEX 10
CON 14
INT 13
WIS 12
CHA 07

Quote:
A buckler at low levels would be good, but I was probably going to start with a light wooden shield. I'd still be able to hold a torch or something in my shield hand and its cheaper than the buckler anyway.

Personally, the only reason I see to ever use a light shield instead of a buckler is if you plan to shield bash. Otherwise, the buckler is far superior, even if it costs a few gp more.


I wouldn't make a flail + shield fighter as a paladin. Paladins are very limited in what they can do with their feats, and with only 15 points for character buy you will be too limited as a paladin.

I think you should really figure out what you want to do as a flail + shield fighter. Personally I see them as "tanks" in that they make sure the enemy cant get past them unless its over your dead body. So I would definately consider focusing exclusively on the controlling part.

The advantage of going a fighter is that you get a tonne of feats that can make you VERY versatile. So I would, if I were you, consider going down the two-weapon-fighter route simply because you get an awesome amount of feats for controlling with a shield and flail then, you dont need to max out the two weapon route, 1 extra attack is enough imo since you can make a free bull rush with the right feats, which I personally think is downright amazing flavorwise and powerwise :)

Str: 14 (16 from human)
Dex: 15
Con: 12
Wis: 10
Int: 14
Cha: 7

The stats you get from level I'd put maybe the first point into dex for more ac, trip and extra AoO, then the rest into str for overall better melee performance. You could move the stats around some more ofc to get 16 in dex from the start and maybe 15 (17) in str if you dont care much for wis and the extra skill point you get from 14 in int. As for hp, you just use the option for extra hp from favored class each level. The point of this tank is to try and not get hit by high ac and tripped enemies.

Feat progression:

1 - Power Attack, Combat Expertise, Improved Trip
2 - Fury's Fall
3 - Combat Reflexes
4 - Stand Still
5 - Improved Shield Bash
6 - Lunge
7 - Greater Trip
8 - Two-Weapon Fighting
9 - Shield Slam

From now on, anyone of the following feats all add much flavor and awesomeness to your character:

Weapon Focus/Shield Focus/Improved Bull Rush/Greater Bull Rush/Missile Shield/Ray Shield/Weapon Specialization/Greater Weapon Focus/Greater Weapon Specialization/Shield Master/Greater Shield Focus/Improved Initiative/Dodge

Consider also, depending on which stat modifying items you get, the Intimidation route; Dazzling Display and Intimidating Prowess. Both are extremely good for a tanker since the enemy gets -2 on all d20 checks, which essentially means +2 ac for you and your allies.

Alternatively as your combo is essentially done at lvl 9-11 depending on how deep you want to take it, you could pick up some archery feats for a more versatile fighter if you start to meet enemies you can't trip or bull rush - flying dragons, ghosts, etc...

Remember, I made the stats this way since your goal is not to be the highest damage dealer in your group, but a controller tank. The high dex helps you get into position and it helps on your trip attacks. If you, as I write at the end, decide to pick up a few archery feats, your high dex helps you there as well. All in all, you're a versatile shield+flail fighter that can either specialize in what you do even more or pick up other feats. Higher strength would give you slightly more damage, chance of bull rushing and better for intimidating, but it won't make you a better tank or controller.


@Cledwyn the Steadfast: You've got a point with the buckler vs. light shield point, but in that case I may as well go for a heavy wooden shield to start with for the +2 AC, since I'm not shield bashing with it.

@Whackapapa: I agree, paladin would be hard to build with this combo. Fighter definitely has the most feat-versatility, but I don't think TWF would be worth it. I do like the idea of a tank/controller though, think thats what I'm gonna go for with this combo.

How does this sound for feats:

1: Combat Expertise, Improved Trip, Power Attack
2: Improved Disarm
3: Fury's Fall
4: Weapon Focus: Flail
5: Cleave
6: Weapon Specialization: Flail
7: Shield Focus
8: Lightning Reflexes

Grand Lodge

OmegaZ wrote:

@Cledwyn the Steadfast: You've got a point with the buckler vs. light shield point, but in that case I may as well go for a heavy wooden shield to start with for the +2 AC, since I'm not shield bashing with it.

@Whackapapa: I agree, paladin would be hard to build with this combo. Fighter definitely has the most feat-versatility, but I don't think TWF would be worth it. I do like the idea of a tank/controller though, think thats what I'm gonna go for with this combo.

How does this sound for feats:

1: Combat Expertise, Improved Trip, Power Attack
2: Improved Disarm
3: Fury's Fall
4: Cleave
5: Improved Bull Rush
6: Greater Trip
7: Shield Focus
8: Lightning Reflexes

A couple of things:

First, Lightning Reflexes is not a combat feat, so you'd have to take it as a normal feat at an odd-numbered level, not at 8th.

Second, I highly recommend Second Chance as your feat at 6th. A botched disarm costs you your weapon. A botched trip either knocks you down or costs you your weapon. Power Attack and Combat Expertise give you penalties to hit. Second Chance makes all of those facts virtually non-issues.

Second Chance lets you re-roll a missed first attack (on a full-attack action) by giving up your remaining attacks. Since you're not using TWF, that means you're giving up a single -5 attack to re-roll your full-BAB attack. In PFS, that feat turns about 1-5 misses into hits every session. It's really good.


@Cledwyn the Steadfast: Thanks for pointing out the Lighting Reflexes mistake! Second Chance does sound like a good option, I'll have to throw that one in there. :)


I think you spread yourself too much on what you want to do in your turn. Why disarm when you can trip? Or why spend a turn bull-rushing when you could be disarming? Why use cleave when your goal is not to do damage, but to control the enemy's movement? I would avoid cleave since I find that feat only useful for Two-handed scirmishers.

Also remove either disarm or bull rush if you dont want to go the twf route and get free bull rush attacks each round (I think you really miss out by not going this way, but its ofc not required at all :), remember you just need the first twf feat, and maybe the 2nd if you can spare the dex for it, not all 3, your +atk modifier wont suffer if you pick up shield master feat)

You should think hard on why you don't want Combat Reflexes + Stand Still + Lunge. Those are 3 amazing feats for what you want your character to do. Lightning Reflexes, Shield Focus and Cleave is not worth it. Shield focus is maybe fine later.

Grand Lodge

Whakapapa wrote:
Why disarm when you can trip?

There are lots of potential reasons, actually.

1. A "take them alive" situation.
2. Standard action disarm, move action pick up their weapon. If they don't have a backup (or their backup sucks), then you've effectively removed them from the fight. I've done this before. Saved a party member's life.
3. Sometimes they have some kind of uber-weapon that really needs to not be in their hands (or might even be better in your own hands).

When the BBEG with a +1 Flaming Shocking Falcata and full BAB manages to get too close to the 16 AC wizard, a disarm could save his life while a trip will be next to meaningless.


Cledwyn the Steadfast wrote:
Whakapapa wrote:
Why disarm when you can trip?

There are lots of potential reasons, actually.

1. A "take them alive" situation.
2. Standard action disarm, move action pick up their weapon. If they don't have a backup (or their backup sucks), then you've effectively removed them from the fight. I've done this before. Saved a party member's life.
3. Sometimes they have some kind of uber-weapon that really needs to not be in their hands (or might even be better in your own hands).

When the BBEG with a +1 Flaming Shocking Falcata and full BAB manages to get too close to the 16 AC wizard, a disarm could save his life while a trip will be next to meaningless.

I agree, those are good scenarios to use disarm, but my point was more that he takes 3 combat maneuver feats right away, which I think is 1 too many. And since I find trip the better of them all most of the time, I would strongly consider which of the next to maneuvers are most useful, and flavorful. Here I would definately take improved disarm.

And if he wants to take Bull Rush, he really should go with the shield bash since you can use your shield to make AoO with and get even more Bull Rushes thrown into the fight if you want to. Its extremely effective that way.

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