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why are the cleave feats a trap?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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Knight who says Meh wrote:
_Ozy_ wrote:
Knight who says Meh wrote:
Blackwaltzomega wrote:
Knight who says Meh wrote:
Are the monsters fighting a single adventurer or a group? Is the advantage of flanking worth putting yourself in the middle of a group of adventurers?

As opposed to...putting yourself IN FRONT of a group of adventurers?

I'm not really seeing the upsides of formation "stand shoulder-to-shoulder to get cleaved and fireballed" here.

Um...yes? I'd rather be in front of the enemy than in the middle.

You would rather be in front of the fighter, who's guarding the spellcasters, rather than in between the fighter and the spellcasters?

Not me, not by a long shot.

Between the fighter and spellcaster... You mean flanked?

No, actually, not if the wizard holding his spell component pouch instead of a melee weapon and therefore isn't threatening any squares.

And certainly if you are, say, kobolds or goblins, who are small, extremely numerous, and should outnumber the hell out of the PCs in any given fight, you and three other goblins might between the fighter and the rogue while still more goblins are bearing down on each of them from the outside. You get flanks, they don't, and that wizard's getting torn to pieces because he has to cast defensively and can't use his great area of effect spells while he and his teammates are in the midst of a big melee with a swarm of angry critters on all sides. It's a lot harder to fight monsters on every side of you, every attack coming from a blind spot while you focus on a different one, than to just hack through a convenient mass right in front of you.

If the kobolds spend the whole encounter holding hands while you scythe them down two at a time instead of coming at you from every angle the room has, you might be fighting a junior prom instead of an army.


Daw wrote:

Claxon,

The comparison isn't unfair, the issue isn't the "difficulty" it takes to shut down a tactic/feat. The GM has effectively unlimited resources. If he wants something shut down, it will be shut down.

The issue is whether shutting down the tactic/feat... (possibly because you think it is stupid for anyone to put themselves into a position to be affected by it) ...is a trap (unfair) if you don't make it clear that the tactic/feat is never going to be viable in a game you run.

It is perfectly valid to decide something isn't going to fly in your games. You as a GM are required to set the scenes. It is not valid or fair to allow the players to choose options that you aren't going to let be effective, at least without warning the players.

I feel the issue is, if the GM plays the game not caring what feats you have, how often will cleave be possible?

A lot (most/all?) of the PFS scenarios don't start enemies next to each other so no cleave off the bat. Then the GM just playing the enemies, not caring/knowing if a player has cleave. Cleave hardly comes up.

if there are 3 enemies against 4 I see flank chains happen.
FEFEF
And I see one guy engages the fighter and then another goes to a different enemy to stop them from setting up flank or to reach a squishy.
And even if 2 enemies engage the fighter if they come from the opposite sides but don't flank then they wont be next to each other still.
And if the party is 2 melee and 2 ranged then going into the middle of a party isn't scary. a fighter, cleric, wizard, and archer, they will probably move to flank anyways to we should flank.

or if the enemy is 1 melee and 2 ranged then the melee just tries to stop people from reaching the ranged and thus wont be ganging up next to each other.

TLDR: cleave is easily accidentally shut down. The GM playing enemies not knowing the player has cleave can easily shut down cleave for many levels using normal and appropriate tactics.


Knight who says Meh wrote:


Between the fighter and spellcaster... You mean flanked?

No, I mean ready to take AoOs on the weak caster, out of a clear AoO from a fireball, and now flanking the fighter with my buddy on the other side of him.

Dude, it's not like we haven't actually played the game. Fighters try to keep enemies away from spellcasters for a reason.


Blackwaltzomega wrote:
Knight who says Meh wrote:
Blackwaltzomega wrote:
Knight who says Meh wrote:
Are the monsters fighting a single adventurer or a group? Is the advantage of flanking worth putting yourself in the middle of a group of adventurers?

As opposed to...putting yourself IN FRONT of a group of adventurers?

I'm not really seeing the upsides of formation "stand shoulder-to-shoulder to get cleaved and fireballed" here.

Um...yes? I'd rather be in front of the enemy than in the middle.

Early levels:

"Gather up in front of the enemy, men! Shoulder to shoulder, like we practiced!"

"COLOR SPRAY!"

"CLEAVE!"

"LITERALLY ANY SPLASH WEAPON!"

"AAAAAH!"

Mid Levels:

"Gather up in front of the enemy, men! Shoulder to shoulder, like we practiced!"

"GLITTERDUST!"

"FIREBALL!"

"ALCHEMIST BOMBS!"

"STILL CLEAVE!"

"AAAAAAAAH!"

And at high levels you start getting things like chain lightning, and so on, you get the drift.

Bunched up in front of the enemy isn't much of an advantage in a pathfinder fight. Being in a generalized melee and going for flanks indicates to me that you have similar or greater numbers than the PCs, in which case yes, it does make sense to keep them separated while you gang up on them. Flank EVERYBODY, and the PCs can't do jack to gang up on you in response and don't dare use any of the things I mentioned without risk of hurting their teammates as well.

Shoulder-to-shoulder gives more of your forces soft cover against enemy archers, and clogs up mounted charging lanes.

...

And that's just about it.


Blackwaltzomega wrote:
Knight who says Meh wrote:
_Ozy_ wrote:
Knight who says Meh wrote:
Blackwaltzomega wrote:
Knight who says Meh wrote:
Are the monsters fighting a single adventurer or a group? Is the advantage of flanking worth putting yourself in the middle of a group of adventurers?

As opposed to...putting yourself IN FRONT of a group of adventurers?

I'm not really seeing the upsides of formation "stand shoulder-to-shoulder to get cleaved and fireballed" here.

Um...yes? I'd rather be in front of the enemy than in the middle.

You would rather be in front of the fighter, who's guarding the spellcasters, rather than in between the fighter and the spellcasters?

Not me, not by a long shot.

Between the fighter and spellcaster... You mean flanked?

No, actually, not if the wizard holding his spell component pouch instead of a melee weapon and therefore isn't threatening any squares.

And certainly if you are, say, kobolds or goblins, who are small, extremely numerous, and should outnumber the hell out of the PCs in any given fight, you and three other goblins might between the fighter and the rogue while still more goblins are bearing down on each of them from the outside. You get flanks, they don't, and that wizard's getting torn to pieces because he has to cast defensively and can't use his great area of effect spells while he and his teammates are in the midst of a big melee with a swarm of angry critters on all sides. It's a lot harder to fight monsters on every side of you, every attack coming from a blind spot while you focus on a different one, than to just hack through a convenient mass right in front of you.

If the kobolds spend the whole encounter holding hands while you scythe them down two at a time instead of coming at you from every angle the room has, you might be fighting a junior prom instead of an army.

Ok. I see little point in trying to have a discussion with you. I'm out.


And if the kobolds are all next to you... Why aren't you full attacking (and probably benefitting from Haste, TWF, Flurry of Blows or something like that)?

Haste is a VERY common buff, after all.


_Ozy_ wrote:
Knight who says Meh wrote:


Between the fighter and spellcaster... You mean flanked?

No, I mean ready to take AoOs on the weak caster, out of a clear AoO from a fireball, and now flanking the fighter with my buddy on the other side of him.

Dude, it's not like we haven't actually played the game. Fighters try to keep enemies away from spellcasters for a reason.

If the wizard is sticking around to provide flanking for the fighter then I'd consider it a win, wizard is in reach and making a defensive casting check. if the wizard 5fts away then flank is gone for them and they are still in reach of me.

Most of my characters are melee with medium or heavy armor, and most of them get flanked by enemies, flanks just happen, I don't really care anymore to try and avoid flanking since it's just not worth trying.

And I know personally when I play a wizard I "yell at the party" that "dare let a foul creature near me". Thus for most thinking people aware that magic exists it's counted as a win if you can reach the wizard.


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Another thing that screws Cleave is reach, which is increasingly common as the levels go up. Why would two Ogres stay glued to each other when they can both hit you from 10 ft away?

That's not even being smart, it's just hitting stuff from as far as your arm can reach, which even the dumbest creature should do consistently.


I'm confused that people would try to defend Cleave so vigorously to suggest that enemies wouldn't want to infiltrate the party formation. This is standard, and successful enemy tactics for just about every enemy group with more than just a couple of creatures.


Tabernero wrote:

And if the kobolds are all next to you... Why aren't you full attacking (and probably benefitting from Haste, TWF, Flurry of Blows or something like that)?

Haste is a VERY common buff, after all.

Not among the low-level characters who usually deal with kobolds.


Matthew Downie wrote:
Tabernero wrote:

And if the kobolds are all next to you... Why aren't you full attacking (and probably benefitting from Haste, TWF, Flurry of Blows or something like that)?

Haste is a VERY common buff, after all.

Not among the low-level characters who usually deal with kobolds.

Those kobolds shouldn't be fighting shoulder-to-shoulder in a open battlefield either. Why aren't they using cowardly, dirty tricks and hit-and-run tactics? Why are they fighting like roman legionaries against creature twice as large and strong as them?

If the GM has to ignore the enemy's mental capabilities and personality and/or avoid using the basest of tactics for a feat to work... Then that's probably a pretty bad feat.


Matthew Downie wrote:
Tabernero wrote:

And if the kobolds are all next to you... Why aren't you full attacking (and probably benefitting from Haste, TWF, Flurry of Blows or something like that)?

Haste is a VERY common buff, after all.

Not among the low-level characters who usually deal with kobolds.

I feel that kinda swings both ways.

At low levels the kobolds will generally ambush the party and try to come at them from every side. From the front, from behind, from hidden panels in the walls...Kobolds are generally the GM's way of introducing low-level groups to the idea it doesn't have to be an orc to give you a bad time. In this case, you're going to have trouble cleaving because kobolds tend to be converging groups of skirmishers instead of a phalanx formation. Ambush and flanking tend to be watchwords for kobold fighters, and Meh's counterpoint about flanking won't come up if they can wedge a couple guys between the PCs to keep them from backing each other up effectively. If the PCs counter this by staying really close together, they'll be safer, and cleave will indeed see play, but they'll still get surrounded and the fighter will have to be careful of his allies giving the enemy cover.

At higher levels, you're probably going to want to full attack whether you can cleave or not because of the aforementioned haste and such. And if you're fighting kobolds at high levels the GM has something nasty in mind.


Chesspawn,
The GM deciding that tactically no one is going to "fall for" Cleave is perfectly legit.

A GM who doesn't know the characters' abilities, and does not take them into account, is just a poor GM. I will accept being a module-slave as mitigating this somewhat, but my respect for module-slaves definitely has bounds. Even in that case, I would expect the GM to at least try and vet the characters.

Shadow Lodge

"spread out so he can't cut both our heads off at once"= smart kobolds

"spread out and surround the fighter so that we stand orthaganal to each other because he can only cut our heads off if we're next to each other on a north south east west setting but not a NE SE NW SW one = metagaming.


Daw wrote:

Chesspawn,

The GM deciding that tactically no one is going to "fall for" Cleave is perfectly legit.

A GM who doesn't know the characters' abilities, and does not take them into account, is just a poor GM. I will accept being a module-slave as mitigating this somewhat, but my respect for module-slaves definitely has bounds. Even in that case, I would expect the GM to at least try and vet the characters.

That's the thing. The GM playing enemies in the way enemies should be played just naturally prevents cleave most of the time. Nothing about having enemies not "fall for" cleave.

A GM that alters the world based on every choice a player makes, to me is a poor GM. If the party is 4 melee people that don't even carry a bow between them I feel it's poor GMing to never through a flying archer at them.

Having cleave happens requires a GM to have certain kinds of fights and and play the enemies in those fights in odd ways. It's far more natural for cleave positions to not just happen but be something you'd need to maneuver into.


Daw wrote:

Claxon,

The comparison isn't unfair, the issue isn't the "difficulty" it takes to shut down a tactic/feat. The GM has effectively unlimited resources. If he wants something shut down, it will be shut down.

The issue is whether shutting down the tactic/feat... (possibly because you think it is stupid for anyone to put themselves into a position to be affected by it) ...is a trap (unfair) if you don't make it clear that the tactic/feat is never going to be viable in a game you run.

It is perfectly valid to decide something isn't going to fly in your games. You as a GM are required to set the scenes. It is not valid or fair to allow the players to choose options that you aren't going to let be effective, at least without warning the players.

No, there is a difference. One is role playing NPCs with a modicum of intelligence and basic understanding of tactics and a very basic understanding of the existence of magic. If PCs know to avoid bunching up, NPCs know it too.

Depriving spell casters of spells usually requires consistently interrupting the party's sleep or preventing them from sleeping at all. Not like, hey you're in a dungeon you can't just go to sleep. But more like "wandering" monsters rolls every hour.


PCs know not to bunch up, because players metagame subconsciously and can't really be blamed for it.

Really, fighting back to back seems like normal behavior because you want to keep your foe in front of you, not all around you. What do you think the troop and swarm subtypes exist for. You would think armies and animals of the world would know better than to do those things. Don't they know better, have they not read the rules?

There is a single way road here. The fluff informs the crutch sometimes how it ought to behave, but the crutch never inform the fluff. Red dragons being immune to fire does not mean they are literally immune to thermal energy. As a ridiculous example.

Shadow Lodge

"Don't be in fireball formation!

"you know its really hard not to be in fireball formation. Thats kinda the point of fireball. it hits everywhere.


Envall wrote:

PCs know not to bunch up, because players metagame subconsciously and can't really be blamed for it.

Really, fighting back to back seems like normal behavior because you want to keep your foe in front of you, not all around you. What do you think the troop and swarm subtypes exist for. You would think armies and animals of the world would know better than to do those things. Don't they know better, have they not read the rules?

There is a single way road here. The fluff informs the crutch sometimes how it ought to behave, but the crutch never inform the fluff. Red dragons being immune to fire does not mean they are literally immune to thermal energy. As a ridiculous example.

Wait... Are you really saying that the characters can't realize that staying grouped together is bad in a world where fire-breathing monsters and explosion-casting mages are an actual reality and fighting side by side provides no real benefit (while fighting on opposite ends of the enemy does)?

How dumb do you assume the NPCs are?


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Envall wrote:

PCs know not to bunch up, because players metagame subconsciously and can't really be blamed for it.

So do soldiers -- as in, actual, real-world soldiers -- because they don't want to be caught in AoE effects like grenades and artillery fire.

Is this because soldiers also metagame subconsciously? Or is it, as I suspect is more likely, because they don't want to get hurt?

The First World War provided a very interesting object lesson to battlefield tacticians everywhere about how to behave in a world where area-of-effect attacks, such as grenades and artillery barrages, are commonplace. In 1914, many of the armies simply marched forward in relatively close formation, expecting overrun the enemy infantry with bayonets. The casualty reports confirmed that this technique didn't do so well, and by October 1914, the whole idea had largely been abandoned [by both sides] because bunching up simply got people killed.

In our world, we don't have wizards that can kill bunches of people with a wave of a hand; we need artillerist instead. In Pathfinder, where every hamlet has a spellcaster, you don't need expensive artillery to know what a color spray or burning hands spell can do to people.


Civil war era artillery is closer to truth what kind of explosions your generic army trained wizard is going to output. Having served my army time, I know what a proper artillery barrage looks like from modern guns. It is closer to lvl 9 spell Meteor Swarm than few fireballs thrown about.

Another thing, probably will be just as provocative. Do not let your system mastery and knowing the extends of Pathfinder ruleset bleed into the fantasy itself. Wizards in the setting do not know that color spray happens to he a complete busted spell for its spell level. Who knows how many wizards there are in Pathfinder who never learned that spell. Some wizards maybe only work as advisors and craftsmen, never dealing with combat spells. Valeros does not have power attack.

Soldiers in Pathfinder from troops, no matter how much the rules say they are just going to become fireball bait.

Grand Lodge

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I can see that the aversion to metagaming is strong enough to cause serious mental gymnastics on your part, so I'll leave you to it.


Blackwaltzomega wrote:

...

No, actually, not if the wizard holding his spell component pouch instead of a melee weapon and therefore isn't threatening any squares.
...

Holding a spell component pouch? Who does that? Do they not have belts in your campaign world?


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Elf Wizard wrote:
Blackwaltzomega wrote:

...

No, actually, not if the wizard holding his spell component pouch instead of a melee weapon and therefore isn't threatening any squares.
...
Holding a spell component pouch? Who does that? Do they not have belts in your campaign world?

Who need belts when there are no pants?


TriOmegaZero wrote:
I can see that the aversion to metagaming is strong enough to cause serious mental gymnastics on your part, so I'll leave you to it.

Sure, I'll gladly do without your condescending tone.


Envall wrote:
Civil war era artillery is closer to truth what kind of explosions your generic army trained wizard is going to output.

Not at all. The main advantage that 1914 guns had over 1865 guns was firing rate and mobility. The WWI French 75mm was notable for being able to fire 20 or so rounds per minute, largely because the recoil-reduction setup meant that you didn't need to re-aim the thing after every shot. (Of course, a lot of Civil war artillery wasn't even breech-loading, which slowed the firing rate down a lot).

Mobility and firing rate are not limitations of spell-casting wizard. Ten area of effect spells per second while moving at 300 feet per second is something that would have astonished the artillerists in 1916,.... even at the time that the artillerists were rewriting the book of tactics.

You may know what a modern artillery barrage looks like, but you have no idea what one looked like in 1914 or 1864. Nor do you have any conception of how much damage a spell-throwing wizard can do to a bunch of mooks in tight formation. Fortunately, even if you don't, the mooks realistically would.


I think NPC gallery figures an army wizard to be lvl 6 npc with 2 fireballs per day. CL 6 fireballs are going to kill several men by a shot, but I doubt it is going to wipe out whole troop like proper modern guns. But I digress on all the artillery talk, to me technology has been all about making cannons lighter and easier to transport, not really how big payload they can throw into the area. Mastering fragmenting rounds was the real turn of the tide and such. Anyway. It is really offtopic.

Well I do have a concept how much damage a fireball can do a unit of soldiers. But it is in the context I have in my head, and we have not really yet tried to come up with a scenario both accept as the testing ground. But even then, it would kinda distract from the original point which is, who is drilled on the concept of fireballs. Like I said earlier, fireballs have an identity somewhat. They less less abstracted than cleave.

"Attack him together, but make sure you avoid diagonal adjacency" is very different from "There might be fireballs, spread out a bit".

I don't dispute that cleave is not the optimized option in the game from the math side, but if it is bad because no goblin is ever going to be adjacent to another goblin, that is just silly.


Envall wrote:
Sure, I'll gladly do without your condescending tone.

I have not yet begun to condescend!


Envall wrote:
I think NPC gallery figures an army wizard to be lvl 6 npc with 2 fireballs per day. CL 6 fireballs are going to kill several men by a shot, but I doubt it is going to wipe out whole troop like proper modern guns.

So the NPCs are too stupid to notice that sticking closely together is bad and that surrounding the enemy makes hitting them easier... But somehow know the average level of enemy wizards and how many Fireballs they can throw?

Envall wrote:
"Attack him together, but make sure you avoid diagonal adjacency" is very different from "There might be fireballs, spread out a bit".

It's more like "try to surround the enemy whenever possible! It's makes harder for them to defend themselves!", which encourages them to move into flanking position, and as consequence, invalidades Cleave.

Envall wrote:
I don't dispute that cleave is not the optimized option in the game from the math side, but if it is bad because no goblin is ever going to be adjacent to another goblin, that is just silly.

The point is that flanking is basically the basest of tactics. Pretty much every combatant with half a brain (including animals) would realize that flanking is more effective. If a similar was given to allies fighting side by side (without requiring a feat) or if Cleave allowed you to attack opponents on opposite sides of you, it wouldn't be a problem.

No one said "no opponent will ever be adjacent to their ally", only that between such a situation is uncommon enough that you can't take it for granted (there dozens of reasons why they wouldn't want to stick glued to each other) and that even when that positioning happens, the character often has much better options than Cleave.


Tabernero wrote:
Envall wrote:

PCs know not to bunch up, because players metagame subconsciously and can't really be blamed for it.

Really, fighting back to back seems like normal behavior because you want to keep your foe in front of you, not all around you. What do you think the troop and swarm subtypes exist for. You would think armies and animals of the world would know better than to do those things. Don't they know better, have they not read the rules?

There is a single way road here. The fluff informs the crutch sometimes how it ought to behave, but the crutch never inform the fluff. Red dragons being immune to fire does not mean they are literally immune to thermal energy. As a ridiculous example.

Wait... Are you really saying that the characters can't realize that staying grouped together is bad in a world where fire-breathing monsters and explosion-casting mages are an actual reality and fighting side by side provides no real benefit (while fighting on opposite ends of the enemy does)?

How dumb do you assume the NPCs are?

I mean, my PCs stay pretty bunched up in most of the games I run AND play in, so about as dumb as my PCs.

I think we like the aesthetics of fighting as a group.

Also, in the last game I played in as a player, another player suggested the shockingly revelationary idea of maybe NOT having the casters be in the back, because ambushes happen. I'm pretty sure the idea has occurred to all of us, and yet no one has ever suggested such a thing until now.

Clearly that guy doesn't know how these things work. Casters stay in the back because that's where casters stand. >:)

so yeah, NPCs being grouped together as well isn't particularly outrageous in these games.


The wizard level was merely trivia to the discussion of military grade fireballs. I don't know what conclusion you pulled from that.

Charging forward is probably the actual most basic tactic. Flanking seems something that happens afterwards if they can do it with a 5-step after they have charged the opponent. While it is easy to avoid adjacency with 2 goblins, it gets really precise with 3 goblins. Impossible with 4.


Are 4 goblins going to surround 1 fighter with big sword and full-plate or are 4 goblins going to be going after 2-4 of the party, some of which are frail, have maybe a punching glove, and have no visible armor?

I believe that goblins are smart enough, to know that everyone around the fighter isn't the best idea, that magic can make things go boom (since that's the kind of magic they are used to seeing from other goblins), that magic can make a hurt guy unhurt (from personal experience), and that squishy looking characters are more often easier to kill than the big armored people.
This would lead to 1 or 2 engaging on the fighter to keep him busy, and going into flank since flanking your target is the best way to stand. While the other 2 are going to gang up on a different target or go to harass 2 targets.

To me, this scenario is far more probable and believable than having 4 goblins mob the fighter (the guy that looks the hardest to hurt) and ignore the rest of the party.

Adding more goblins would produce the same results. 2 people ganging up per target, with the best cleave potential being them surrounding a non-armored target, most likely forcing the fighter to provoke AoO to get over to the surrounded wizard.

nothing in there has anything to do with intentionally preventing cleave, but results in naturally preventing cleave.

starting off it's harder to hide 2 people behind 1 object so goblins ambushing likely wouldn't be next to each other at the start of the fight.


Those 4 goblins also probably should avoid getting into melee with creatures twice as big and strong as them... Goblins aren't particularly smart, but they have some cunning and are quite cowardly.

Cleave is okay-ish at levels 1~4... After that it's not worth the effort of reading the feat description.

Again: I'm not saying it's completely useless, only that's simply not worth a feat slot most of the time. It's not horrible for Fighters, who can switch it out later for something better, but it's still not a good option, considering the opportunity cost, IMHO.


PK the Dragon wrote:

Also, in the last game I played in as a player, another player suggested the shockingly revelationary idea of maybe NOT having the casters be in the back, because ambushes happen. I'm pretty sure the idea has occurred to all of us, and yet no one has ever suggested such a thing until now.

Clearly that guy doesn't know how these things work. Casters stay in the back because that's where casters stand. >:)

Heh. That's why in the old days with marching order, you put the clerics/archers in the far back and the spellcasters in the middle. That way, an ambusher had some meat to have to carve through before getting to the squishy center.


Wrong John Silver wrote:
PK the Dragon wrote:

Also, in the last game I played in as a player, another player suggested the shockingly revelationary idea of maybe NOT having the casters be in the back, because ambushes happen. I'm pretty sure the idea has occurred to all of us, and yet no one has ever suggested such a thing until now.

Clearly that guy doesn't know how these things work. Casters stay in the back because that's where casters stand. >:)

Heh. That's why in the old days with marching order, you put the clerics/archers in the far back and the spellcasters in the middle. That way, an ambusher had some meat to have to carve through before getting to the squishy center.

That sounds... delicious! Every party should start doing that again!


What about great cleave and lunge?


Envall wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
I can see that the aversion to metagaming is strong enough to cause serious mental gymnastics on your part, so I'll leave you to it.
Sure, I'll gladly do without your condescending tone.

Acrobatics (Mental) is a key skill for any forum debate. Make sure to max it out!


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Cleave would probably be another good target for feat consolidation, in my view. If the Cleaving Finish feats replaced Cleave and Great Cleave you'd probably see more use from them. Still lets you clear minions without having to fiddle with where THEY'RE standing instead of where YOU'RE standing, fewer taxes.

Add Whirlwind Attack as the capstone and hey, you have a nice three-feat chain more people might actually want to invest in for crowd control.

Elf Wizard wrote:
Blackwaltzomega wrote:

...

No, actually, not if the wizard holding his spell component pouch instead of a melee weapon and therefore isn't threatening any squares.
...
Holding a spell component pouch? Who does that? Do they not have belts in your campaign world?

No. 'tis a dire and dreadful tale, but there are no belts in the kingdom of Dumjoke.

The vile Kobold warlord Yippitywip has stolen them, every one, for unknown but no doubt nefarious purposes. The knights of the realm are helpless to stop him with nothing to hold up their pants. The wizards won't lift a finger to stop him so long as he leaves the headbands be.

Only our brave fellowship, scraping by with knotted cords and lamenting the lack of our +2 to physical stats, has a hope of bringing the fiendish creature down and restoring buckled leather hope to the land.


Envall wrote:
Soldiers in Pathfinder from troops, no matter how much the rules say they are just going to become fireball bait.

Whether or not you think fireballs are common enough to drive a change in combat habits - I should note that there are other factors in Pathfinder that would also promote dispersion, including Pathfinder ranged weapons being much deadlier than their real counterparts, the existence of large monsters, and the availability of relatively cheap grenadelike splash weapons - ahem, whether or not you think they are that common, the Pathfinder world offers no real reason for close-order tactics to develop in the first place.

Similar to how the developers said that it didn't make sense for Erastil to be a bit sexist because he's old fashioned, since sexism never really developed in the first place in Golarion and there's no past era of sexism to get that attitude from.

There's no reason for soldiers to group up in close-order troops out of habit because the Pathfinder world offers no reason to have developed a habit of close-order formations in the first place. Close-order tactics developed in our world in times and places where the advantages outweighed the disadvantages. In Pathfinder most of those advantages do not exist and the disadvantages are greatly more numerous.

Since a world run on Pathfinder rules enormously incentivizes loose-order tactics whether or not there is a wizard with fireball or a barbarian with Cleave around, forming close-order formations out of habit is unrealistic.


That makes me wonder... Should there be some sort of AC bonus for characters shoulder-to-shoulder while wearing shields?

Maybe an optional bonus, that comes couple with a penalty?

e.g.: "When standing side by side with an ally, characters can choose to enter "shield wall formation". While in this formation, they get a +2 bonus to AC, but suffer a -2 bonus to Acrobatics checks and Reflex saves due to the reduced space between them. This lasts for as long as they remain adjacent to each other or until one of the characters decides to drop formation."

...Or something like that. Maybe allow the formation to move together at the turn of whatever character rolled the lowest Initiative.

This would mean we have a more offensive formation (flanking) and a more defensive one (shield walls). It's an interesting idea...


Tabernero wrote:
That makes me wonder... Should there be some sort of AC bonus for characters shoulder-to-shoulder while wearing shields?

There are a couple of Teamwork Feats that do just that, including the cunningly named "Shield Wall" feat.

This, of course, gets into some game design issues. "Flanking" is pretty obviously not a high-level tactic, given that (real world) pack animals like wolves use it. Is the "shield wall" obvious enough that everyone should be able to use it, or is it sufficiently sophisticated that it should require a feat to use? Is it the sort of thing that requires training and practice with your neighbor to pull off, in which case it should be a teamwork feat that your neighbor needs as well?

It wouldn't really break anything to give Shield Wall away for free with any shield proficiency you somehow acquired. Of course that still wouldn't fix the problem that wolves are smart enough to flank, and therefore smart enough not to let you use Cleave on them.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Tabernero wrote:
That makes me wonder... Should there be some sort of AC bonus for characters shoulder-to-shoulder while wearing shields?

There are a couple of Teamwork Feats that do just that, including the cunningly named "Shield Wall" feat.

This, of course, gets into some game design issues. "Flanking" is pretty obviously not a high-level tactic, given that (real world) pack animals like wolves use it. Is the "shield wall" obvious enough that everyone should be able to use it, or is it sufficiently sophisticated that it should require a feat to use? Is it the sort of thing that requires training and practice with your neighbor to pull off, in which case it should be a teamwork feat that your neighbor needs as well?

It wouldn't really break anything to give Shield Wall away for free with any shield proficiency you somehow acquired. Of course that still wouldn't fix the problem that wolves are smart enough to flank, and therefore smart enough not to let you use Cleave on them.

I know about the feats... But I'd say it doesn't really merit that kind of investment. In every group fight (of similar numbers and skill), from bar brawls to actual shield walls, each side tends to stick close to their allies (because in the real world, it provides an advantage, unlike in Pathfinder world, where it isn't even good at stopping enemies from flanking you).

However, I do think there should be a feat that improves the effect of the shield wall formation.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Orfamay Quest wrote:


Dodge will nearly always be a useful feat. +1 to AC is useful in every combat encounter, and useful against many traps as well. Weapon focus is almost always useful if you're going to be using a single type of weapon repeatedly. Cleave is not quite to the screen-door-on-a-submarine level of uselessness, but it's comparable to go-faster-stripes-on-a-tank.

Dodge is a feat tax. It is almost never useful. It only has an effect on the 1 out of 20 attacks that it would prevent from hitting you, otherwise it does nothing.

The same goes for Weapon Focus - it only does something 5% of the time that you use the specific weapon, converting what would have been a miss into a hit. Otherwise it does nothing.

Cleave isn't awesome, but it has its uses and particularly early on can be decent - if you use your abilities to help you, by forcing the situation on the NPCs. Use movement to make it easiest to create cleave situations.


Coriat wrote:


Since a world run on Pathfinder rules enormously incentivizes loose-order tactics whether or not there is a wizard with fireball or a barbarian with Cleave around, forming close-order formations out of habit is unrealistic.

Except since Troop exists, there is now exists a twilight zone kind of situation for infantry cohesion.

Say you got 16 Foot Soldier, lvl 1 warriors. If you put them shoulder to shoulder with each other, they are going to fit nicely under the fireball umbrella. So they all get smoked, poof, turned into dust by even CL 5 fireball.

Now you do a magic trick and throw the troop template on them. Same 16 Warriors, we can even say 20 for a round number, still the same space taken. Now suddenly we are dealing with a swarm of warriors with, I dunno, something like 50+ HP as a whole, or what is the CR of 16 1/3 CR enemies again? God I always get these wrong. Correct me. Now we know some of them die, but the survival rate went from "all dead" to "only a few dead" or such manner.

So fireballs can only kill you if you refuse to revoke your individuality as a token and resist melting into the troop blob that is very nasty indeed. Either spread out so there is good 20 feet between you and your friends and SQUEEEEZE together into a gelatinous soldier cube.

And we don't even have to talk about trained humans here. Same applies to troop of zombies.


the Lorax wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:


Dodge will nearly always be a useful feat. +1 to AC is useful in every combat encounter, and useful against many traps as well. Weapon focus is almost always useful if you're going to be using a single type of weapon repeatedly. Cleave is not quite to the screen-door-on-a-submarine level of uselessness, but it's comparable to go-faster-stripes-on-a-tank.

Dodge is a feat tax. It is almost never useful. It only has an effect on the 1 out of 20 attacks that it would prevent from hitting you, otherwise it does nothing.

The same goes for Weapon Focus - it only does something 5% of the time that you use the specific weapon, converting what would have been a miss into a hit. Otherwise it does nothing.

Cleave isn't awesome, but it has its uses and particularly early on can be decent - if you use your abilities to help you, by forcing the situation on the NPCs. Use movement to make it easiest to create cleave situations.

Why do you put solid percentages on the other feats, but not Cleave? Cleave will be useless if the monsters aren't adjacent. What percentage is this? Cleave will be useless if you are full attacking. What percentage is this? Cleave will be useless if you miss the first hit. What percentage is this? Cleave will be useless if you miss the second hit. What percentage is this?

Multiply up those conditional percentages and I would be surprised if that was higher than 5% for most AP scenarios.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Why?
Because they have a very measurable but minor modification on the character's effectiveness. Also they're held up as feats that "always work" even when 95% of the time they do not change the outcome of the die roll.

Cleave is situational.
You can use tactics to improve how often you can use it.
The DM can use solo monsters or tactics to reduce how often you can use it.
The nature of the campaign and DMs style will dictate how often it comes up - that's a factor for the player to judge and what options are available - CORE only, Cleave would be much less appealing.

Creatures that are used to teamwork will naturally tend to avoid Cleave situations, but reasonably intelligent foes will also avoid allowing a melee brute from getting a full attack off too.

Cleave is, like Dodge and Weapon Focus, a Feat Tax for getting cooler stuff later if you follow the feat chains or you can retrain out of it when your BAB approaches +10


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dodge and WF giving a +5% by themselves isn't a huge change. But this game is built up by a +1 here and +1 there.

Why upgrade your armor? it's only relevant 1/20 attacks right?
Why upgrade your weapon? it's only relevant 1/20 attacks right?
Why upgrade your strength? it's only relevant 1/20 attacks right?

It's that attacking and being attacked is something that happens a lot. Sure you can say that your dodge feat did nothing and it was your +1 dex that was the reason the 19 missed your 21AC. But if you want to look at it and say that +1 AC isn't useful against every attack that comes at you why would you ever increase it?


Chess Pwn wrote:

dodge and WF giving a +5% by themselves isn't a huge change. But this game is built up by a +1 here and +1 there.

Why upgrade your armor? it's only relevant 1/20 attacks right?
Why upgrade your weapon? it's only relevant 1/20 attacks right?
Why upgrade your strength? it's only relevant 1/20 attacks right?

It's that attacking and being attacked is something that happens a lot. Sure you can say that your dodge feat did nothing and it was your +1 dex that was the reason the 19 missed your 21AC. But if you want to look at it and say that +1 AC isn't useful against every attack that comes at you why would you ever increase it?

I was going to say the same thing, but CP beat me to it.


As I said above, what about cleave and great cleave with lunge?

Does this combo mitigate some of the failings of cleave(and great cleave) enough to make them worth it?


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Chess Pwn wrote:

dodge and WF giving a +5% by themselves isn't a huge change. But this game is built up by a +1 here and +1 there.

Why upgrade your armor? it's only relevant 1/20 attacks right?
Why upgrade your weapon? it's only relevant 1/20 attacks right?
Why upgrade your strength? it's only relevant 1/20 attacks right?

It's that attacking and being attacked is something that happens a lot. Sure you can say that your dodge feat did nothing and it was your +1 dex that was the reason the 19 missed your 21AC. But if you want to look at it and say that +1 AC isn't useful against every attack that comes at you why would you ever increase it?

To be fair... Gold is a lower investment than feats. And you gotta spend your attribute points anyway.

I do think that Weapon Focus is seriously overrated. It's not bad, but it isn't nearly as good as people seem to think it is either. But worse: It's really freaking boring! It adds nothing to the character (and in fact restricts him to a single type of weapon). It's exactly the same character, except that it hits (slightly less than) 5% more of his attacks...

That said... Weapon Focus doesn't harm the all-important action economy. It gets more and more relevant as the levels go up because characters get more and more attacks. So in a way, the feat "scales" positively, while Cleave becomes a worse and worse option.

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