Also just to point out, Treantmonk's guides are not just some dude shouting at the wind. He actually explains in detail his reasoning for his choices, why he find X superior to Y, and so forth. The reason a lot of people appreciate this is because he makes good points, and has his choices based on reason rather than "I do this so you should to". Instead, he explains "This is why I do this, you may wish to as well".
His guides are good because even if you don't want to make characters as he does, you can at least see what sort of pitfalls you are going to encounter, where you need to shore up your weaknesses, know what you are getting into, and most importantly learn reasoning abilities to help you not need a guide in the future.
Sure, his guides are top notch. And he gives a good insight about why he thinks that, for example, summoning spells are good. But it's his *opinion*. Other people could point weak points in summoning spells, that Treantmonk does not say.
For example, Treantmonk despise Save or Suck spells because he says, among other things, they deride the party's fun. Well... for some parties, summon monster *do* deride the party's fun. When some players do their turns in fifteen seconds, and the wizard needs five minutes to control, move, and use all their minions, *some* people find it boring. Treantmonk does not, and so he presents his opinion. However, the fact that he uses "group fun" as a reason to say some spells are bad, but he refuses to use the same argument for other spells, because *he* likes those spells, show that he is (as every other human being, for that matter) biased. Some other people could point that Summoning Spells are 1 round casting spells, and thus can be easily countered with a simple arrow. Depending on your GM, this might be or not a hindrance too.
Same goes with some other spells. For example, he praises a lot Rope Trick. I guess he dungeon crawls quite a bit, and in dungeon crawls, Rope Trick is wonderful. But for some other playstyles (such as roleplaying heavy investigation games, or "one big fight at the end" game sessions), Rope Trick is completelly useless, because you never sleep in a dungeon in those playstyles. So his opinions are based on his game experience, just like everybody else. He just presents those opinions nicely, and so there is a kind of "general opinion" in the forums, and anything that does not follow "treantmonk style" is marked as "not optimized", using "teantmonk said so" as an Ipse Dixit argument.
Assuming that his guide is "optimization", and other guides "aren't", is delusional. There are blaster guides out there, that optimize a fireball tosser caster that can do 95 hp on average at lvl 7. That's above the average HP of a CR7 creature, which means those who fail the save, die, in a 20' radious, and those that make the save have lost half their hp. That's an optimized way to contribute to the party too. It's just one style that Treantmonk doesn't like, and that's fine too, but it doesn't mean it is not optimized.
|A highly regarded expert|
Very well stated, gustavo. There's no one optimal build, given the many ways people play. The newer books, if allowed in your game, bring a lot of options (and classes) that didn't exist in 2009. Writing guides to include so many options turns 20 pages into 100. And next year, there'll be more.
Even back then, tossing a fireball, then moving 30' was often a better idea than summoning monsters and moving 5'. There are new options that make blasting much more viable than in core. No one can have the final word until Paizo stops and says, "That's all there is."
That's not gonna happen.