First time caller, long time listener here.
What I respectfully request is some advise from the collective gaming community on which combat maneuver to take next. Specifically, which combat maneuvers have been useful in play, and which you have found to be very situational or not used at all.
Things I think you need to know to make an intelligent choice for me:
1. There character is a Dragon Disciple with some barbarian levels, so is VERY strong and has a pretty good CMB/CMD for his level. I do not think the specific build is really important, as I am really just looking for advise on maneuvers which have proven to be more useful than others.
2. I have decided to take one more Combat Maneuver feat, mostly for style points and RP purposes.
3. I already have Improved Grapple, and Improved Trip. I cannot qualify for the Greater versions of either of these, so its not worth going in that direction.
3A. On a personal note, I have found that I use Grapple a lot more than I though I would, and Trip less than I though I would.
My thoughts on the remaining maneuvers:
Bull Rush: Fits with my character theme. Have not actually tried it yet with this character, because there has not really been a good need to provoke a AoO. (no lakes of fire or cliff faces to push an opponent to their death). Most opportunities have been to "open" up the opposition's front line to sack the squishy. Standard battlefield manipulation.
Disarm: Since I have Grapple, any opponent I wanted to disarm, I just grappled. This usually means taking some damage, but eventually I have overcome. Am looking to see how the community rates disarm versus the other maneuvers
Overrun: I actually have risked this at least twice, and it was almost always to save the mission by preventing a hostage from being killed, etc. Limitation of only one person to trample may mean Bull Rush is better. You can push multiples (although its harder), its a standard action that does not have to be part of your move, etc. Thoughts?
Sunder: See disarm for why I haven't personally used it with this character. Plus, since I play PFS (and LG before that) it has been hardwired into me not to destroy my own treasure. Since this is not really an issue anymore, maybe sunder is better than I give it credit ...
Feint: My Bluff isn't all that high, and it really doesn't fit the primary mold of the character. I will entertain other thoughts if they are compelling .. but I do not have any sneak or precision damage to take advantage of the flat-footed condition.
Dirty Trick: RP wise, kind of goes against his nature ...
Drag: Have never seen it used. Opposite of bull-rush, but I can see where it might be handy.
Reposition: Never seen it used, but seems more useful than drag.
Steal: Again, not really in character.
I appreciate any assistance I can get on this one. Anyone's opinion is welcome on how useful these Combat Maneuvers are. It would be nice to get your order of preference from most used / useful to least used / useful. I could then profile the community at large's preference for which are the more commonly used maneuvers.
Again, thanks for any help you can give.
Based on the reasons you gave I'd go with bull rush, but since you have levels in Barbarian, may I suggest you go with Extra Rage Power and take Knockback. You wouldn't get the plus 2 to CMB/CMD for bull rush, but instead you can make a bull rush in place of one of your melee attacks, does your str mod in damage to the enemy if successful, and doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity. There is an identical Rage Power for trip called Knockdown as a side note.
I agree with chaoseffect above, but would also recamend disarm. i played with a frend who used it alot to basicly nulify bosses by takeing away there favorate weapon; eg the +3 humanebane sword, thus alowing party to kill him. but if you can deal major damage with grappel moves go with something that comlements that.
Dirty Trick: It has all sorts of uses, and if you simply flavor it right(very easy by the way) it will fit in RP wise.
Source: Advanced Player's Guide.
You can attempt to hinder a foe in melee as a standard action. This maneuver covers any sort of situational attack that imposes a penalty on a foe for a short period of time. Examples include kicking sand into an opponent’s face to blind him for 1 round, pulling down an enemy’s pants to halve his speed, or hitting a foe in a sensitive spot to make him sickened for a round. The GM is the arbiter of what can be accomplished with this maneuver, but it cannot be used to impose a permanent penalty, and the results can be undone if the target spends a move action. If you do not have the Improved Dirty Trick feat or a similar ability, attempting a dirty trick provokes an attack of opportunity from the target of your maneuver.
If your attack is successful, the target takes a penalty. The penalty is limited to one of the following conditions:
blinded, dazzled, deafened, entangled, shaken, or sickened.
This condition lasts for 1 round. For every 5 by which your attack exceeds your opponent’s CMD, the penalty lasts 1 additional round. This penalty can usually be removed if the target spends a move action. If you possess the Greater Dirty Trick feat, the penalty lasts for 1d4 rounds, plus 1 round for every 5 by which your attack exceeds your opponent’s CMD. In addition, removing the condition requires the target to spend a standard action.
I think Dirty Trick is one of the most enjoyable to use, because it has the flexibility to fit all sorts of characters and situations. I wish it had a better name though, because there's nothing "dirty" about the mechanic itself.
Dazzled - Punch you in the face.
Deafened - Punch you in the face.
Shaken - Punch you in the face.
Sickened - Punch you in the gut.
Like many combat maneuvers, it really gets good when you get the "Greater" version. Blind+Rogue=death.
Bull Rush: Don't see it used much in my area in PFS, but it can have more uses than just pushing someone into a lave flow.
It can be used to break a defensive line, although it will probably leave your PC in a flanked position. If you play with Wizards a lot, they have a spell that makes a great combo with a bull rusher, where they create a pit, and you push the enemies into it, and then they use a Wall spell to put a lid on it.
Disarm: While you have grapple, you can only, usually, grapple one opponent at a time. You can disarm as many opponents as you can attack, and, unlike grapple, you can use your iterative attacks once you gain them. You can also disarm on AoOs, unlike a grapple.
Grapple is great to shut down a single opponent. Disarm is great to reduce/remove the options form a bunch of opponents.
Remember that picking up a weapon is a move-equivalent action that provokes an AoO.
Trip/Disarm combos are really ugly, especially once you can get Greater Trip, so you trip 'em, and the disarm 'em on the way down.
Of course, this combo usually requires a good (14+) Dex and Combat Reflexes.
Overrun: Haven't seen this used locally, so no opinion.
Sunder: In PFS, you don't lose anything, either gol d or access, for sundering things. However, sunder is not a very good option until you have both Greater Sunder, for the damage overflow, and a magical adamantine weapon, so you get to ignore hardness.
Gven the above proviso, it can be very good, although this option is also something you need to discuss with the local GMs, as it can significantly reduce their enjoyment of the game, and you want your GMs to enjoy GMing, so you still have games to play.
Feint: Pretty much limited to a boon for anyone with Sneak Attack, it isn't probably worth the feat tax f you don't, unless you have that rare high Dex BBEG you need some benefits to be able to hope to hit.
Dirty Trick: Again, haven't seen much use locally, but a blinded opponent is a great thing for everyone.
Drag & Reposition, unlike Bull Rush, suffer from a "No dangerous destination" clause, so you can't move the target into that lava pool to the side, but you should still be able to drag/reposition someone into a flanked position, since that is not dangerous terrain...
Steal: Never seen locally, hard to really see a benefit, except maybe to steal that spell component pouch from the Wizard...
As I mentioned, Combat Reflexes is an important building block for several of the combat maneuvers, mainly disarm, trip & sunder, since they can be used on AoOs. Trip someone, disarm 'em when they try to stand up, and sunder their backup weapon ,if they even have one.
Then again, with a high Str character, sometimes your best option is just to hit something in the hopes that you can just kill it outright.
I would hope, at least, that you already have Power Attack and Combat Reflexes...
I don't think you should take any of them, but if you must take one, Reposition will give you the most tactical use by far. Especially if there's a rogue in the party or you frequently fight in tight tunnels and such and have trouble getting around a foe.
Bull rush is very situational, and won't make the foe provoke till the Greater feat. Disarm only works on weapon users and such, and you can alreayd trip and grapple them. Sunder either destroys treasure or imposes an inconsequential "broken" penalty; not worth the time and effort. Drag...sucks. Should've been rolled into bull rush. Overrun...I'd rather just reposition if the foe is in the way. Feint sucks, and without sneak attack isn't worth using. Steal is bad, just kill and then take the stuff. Dirty Trick is paying a standard action to maybe force the other guy to spend a move action undoing it. It's super awful, worthwhile once you get Greater Dirty Trick, but not worth the action in combat before then.
Remember that weapon bonuses apply to all combat maneuvers with said weapon. This is a very efficient way to improve your chance of success.
Add any bonuses you currently have on attack rolls due to spells, feats, and other effects. These bonuses must be applicable to the weapon or attack used to perform the maneuver. The DC of this maneuver is your target's Combat Maneuver Defense. Combat maneuvers are attack rolls, so you must roll for concealment and take any other penalties that would normally apply to an attack roll.
In other words, all weapon based maneuvers with decent magic weapons get significantly improved success chance when you flank or when your weapon has nice attack bonus - Improved Trip and Improved Disarm are really good, but otherwise if you can get away with Dirty Trick (whipping someone across face may be considered to be sufficient to apply weapon-based advantages), go for it.
I second the recommendation of Barbarian Knockback (Bullrush).
In line w/ Ruemere's above point, your weapon bonuses should apply to Knockback Bullrush IMHO.
If you have a decent number of Barb levels, Strength Surge can be good.
If you have 8th level Barbarian, look at Unexpected Strike: combined with Knockback, and you get much harder to actually hit in combat (at least if the enemy doesn't have Reach advantage on you, or you close to melee first).
For other maneuvers, I suggest... Lunge.
Lets you remove the AoO for ANY CMB vs. enemies that don't have Reach advantage on you.
If you are also taking Fighter levels, consider that previous Fighter Bonus Feats can be re-trained, so if that's how you got Improved Trip, then you can get rid of it if you don't want it. (kind GMs can be convinced to let re-training apply to Combat Feats you gained normally)