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why are the cleave feats a trap?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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why are they considered a feat trap? sure at lvl 6 you get two attacks but if you have to fight more then two enemies wouldn't cleave be better in that situation?

Scarab Sages

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Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Cleave has the problem of requiring that all of your enemies be adjacent and in practice that rarely happens. That said, it's not terrible, there are just usually better options. If you're a dwarf you can get around the adjacent requirement and you can combine it with vital Strike with a two handed weapon trick.

It is a requirement for cleaving finish, which is a great feat, and what cleave used to be in 3.5.

Dark Archive

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Niche would be a vastly superior term to trap for classifying feats. It works pretty well on certain builds, which is to be encouraged given the large number of options open at this point.


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Davor Firetusk wrote:
Niche would be a vastly superior term to trap for classifying feats.

The two terms aren't mutually exclusive. A 'trap' option is something that looks good, but isn't, and that's certainly true for Cleave. More attacks sounds good, but it rarely works and even then falls behind a full attack unless you invest more and more feats. That does not mean it's impossible to work - it's (thankfully) in the nature of the game that synergy can be a strong thing, i.e. with the right combination of stuff, even a normally weak option can be really powerful.


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It is considered a trap option because it does not scale well at all.

From levels 1-5 it works well because you only have one attack.
From levels 6-8 it works decently because the second attack is unreliable, but you are not doing enough damage to each creature targeted by Cleave and them being adjacent becomes less common.

After this it becomes useless for the below reasons:

Higher CR monsters rarely bunch up because they have Reach, multiple movement options, spells and SLAs
Your extra attacks become more reliable and do more damage

MOST IMPORTANTLY- A monster with 1 hp fights just as well as a monster with 10,000 hp.

This CANNOT be reinforced enough, concentrate on one target. This is a game of statistics. If you have five monsters with 2 attacks that have a 25% chance to hit you, with a 5% chance to crit, you do not want to continue to allow your DM to roll tons of dice, it will NOT go in your favor.

Take out monster systematically. My own group is terrible at this, our wizards always go evocation because they like fireball and lightning bolt. Don't get me wrong, they are helpful when faced with a large number of weaker monsters, but a martial that takes out 1.5 monsters per turn is more efficient than a fireball that wounds 8.


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Yeah, I don't think "trap" is the right word, but it is a problematic feat.

The main issue is: what's your role? Cleave is a reasonably good anti-minion feat. You can use it to carve your way through lots and lots of low-level minions but you can't really use it effectively to hurt the big singular monsters or the bosses.

The problem, partly, is that there are lots of ways to take out the minions. Arcane spellcasters are particularly good at this -- if the fireball or cloudkill won't take them out, the confusion spell will. Arcane casters aren't nearly as good at taking out big singular monsters, because most of their single target spells impose penalties or status effects and not hit point damage. Yes, okay, now the pit fiend has a -2 to all saving throws, but he's still got hundreds of hit points and he's still hitting like a dinosaur-killing asteroid, so you did what, specifically, Gandalf?

Sanding the hit points off the pit fiend usually ends up being the task of the fighter-types, and Cleave doesn't help much with that. When you add in the positional limitations with it -- what do you mean, it only works up if the baddies line up like a bunch of Soviets wanting a loaf of bread -- you can see that there are often better ways to increase your damage output.


I've hardly seen a situation where cleave could be used. Also the desision between getting cleave or getting a feat that is more generally useful. Not a bad choice for fighter bonus feat since he can trade it out later. But as a cleric I'd rather take weapon focus or power attack to make all my attacks better than to get 2 attacks off sometimes.


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Nothing wrong with Cleave unless your GM goes out of his way to avoid positioning npcs so they can be cleaved.


my GM plays every encounter as if every enemy is a tactical genius.


zainale wrote:
my GM plays every encounter as if every enemy is a tactical genius.

Well, that there's yer problem.


After running The Crucible of Freya and having the Barbarian consistently use cleave to kill 2 enemies, my other players have started picking up Cleave on their martials. It'll serve them well once they enter Rappan Athuk, given some of the hordes of less intelligent beasties that reside down there.

I've suggested it has limitations at higher levels, but I also don't want to ruin their fun. We'll see how well they do.


When you take a feat or class feature that requires a certain battlefield positioning to work, you'll really start to notice how seldom that positioning actually comes up. All it takes for Cleave to not work is for enemies not to be adjacent to each other, which happens all the time. And there might be situations where two enemies are next to each other, but getting into the right position to Cleave them is awkward, and so forth.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Yes, but the dwarf cleave feats remove the adjacent issues. You pretty much have to be a dwarf fighter for it to work, but it's effective when it does.

I also was with someone who took great cleave with a Lucerne hammer and lunge. They were able to attack a very large number of foes inside the blakros museum.


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Envall wrote:
Nothing wrong with Cleave unless your GM goes out of his way to avoid positioning npcs so they can be cleaved.

I'm afraid this simply isn't true. There are just too many ways to break Cleave that it's more like the GM has to go out of his way to make Cleave useful.

For example, if there's only a single opponent, there goes Cleave. I just skimmed through The Wormwood Mutiny and roughly 40% of the encounters are against a single opponent. Even with the GM using optimal positioning to make your feats worthwhile, a feat that I can't use at all in half the encounters isn't very good.

Any encounter involving skirmishers where they will try to flank will probably also break Cleave (because the opponents will try to be on opposite sides of the combatants, and therefore not adjacent to each other). Any encounter where reach is an issue will probably break Cleave (because the monsters will want to control more of the board). Any encounter where the baddies have reason to suspect AoE spells will break Cleave, because they don't want to get caught in a fireball. Any encounter with prepared sniping points will break Cleave, because tacticians will want to be able to use crossfire to deal with cover issues. And so forth.

Shadow Lodge

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Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Orfamay Quest wrote:

Yeah, I don't think "trap" is the right word, but it is a problematic feat.

The main issue is: what's your role? Cleave is a reasonably good anti-minion feat. You can use it to carve your way through lots and lots of low-level minions but you can't really use it effectively to hurt the big singular monsters or the bosses.

The problem, partly, is that there are lots of ways to take out the minions. Arcane spellcasters are particularly good at this -- if the fireball or cloudkill won't take them out, the confusion spell will. Arcane casters aren't nearly as good at taking out big singular monsters, because most of their single target spells impose penalties or status effects and not hit point damage. Yes, okay, now the pit fiend has a -2 to all saving throws, but he's still got hundreds of hit points and he's still hitting like a dinosaur-killing asteroid, so you did what, specifically, Gandalf?

Sanding the hit points off the pit fiend usually ends up being the task of the fighter-types, and Cleave doesn't help much with that. When you add in the positional limitations with it -- what do you mean, it only works up if the baddies line up like a bunch of Soviets wanting a loaf of bread -- you can see that there are often better ways to increase your damage output.

This is pretty on point. The only other thing to add is that,

1.) when dealing with a lot of non-mindless combatants in groups they have a tendency to want to flank and position to their benefit as even wolves or goblins often grasp the concept of flanking and attacking from better ground if they can get away with it, which negates the Cleave option.

2.) On top of the specificity of the circumstances needed to trigger the feat, it always triggers a penalty to the user with a -2 to AC. This I assume exists to create a risk reward relationship with the players when they use it but considering how narrow the circumstances have to be to use Cleave and the inherent risk of how it delivers these attacks (aka you can still just miss that second roll) the bonus often feels like more trouble than it's worth.

3.) The fact that feats are an incredibly finite resource for most characters regardless of class makes players become very selective and cautious about picking up a feat that doesn't offer either A LOT of versatility, a large power boost to whatever power it enhances, or offers a very useful new power to their build they couldn't get any other way.

Because of this, Cleave often feels more like a combat ability you should just be able to do like charging and something that, if I really need, is often easier to acquire by just getting an item, having a friend cast a spell on me, or waiting till I get iterative attacks which already are more versatile.

That said, I wonder if Cleave would be better if it was just another combat ability like charge that people could just do rather than having to invest a feat in it?


I agree with the dwarf fighter in concept, but not execution. That's a LOT of investment to make it work as intended from the player perspective. If the goal is to move and hit, investing in just Vital Strike and Power Attack is usually better for the feat investment. If you're looking to hit ALL OF THE THINGS, that's what Whirlwind Attack is for, even with its weird stat requirements.


Imbicatus wrote:

Yes, but the dwarf cleave feats remove the adjacent issues. You pretty much have to be a dwarf fighter for it to work, but it's effective when it does.

I also was with someone who took great cleave with a Lucerne hammer and lunge. They were able to attack a very large number of foes inside the blakros museum.

Or a human, aasimar, or tiefling with Racial Heritage(Dwarf)


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

If your GM allows retraining rules, it could be useful to pick them up for early levels and then retrain out of them into other feats once your iteratives start being good. Whether or not it'd be useful to take it early on depends largely on party dynamics. If nobody else in your party is particularly good at taking out piled-up minions, then it could be worthwhile dipping into the Cleave line for a bit. If other party members already have plenty of AoE damage output, then focusing on single-target is likely far better for you.


I usually take Cleave as a low-level fighter feat.

It's really useful to be able to move and attack twice, and lots of foes at these levels have low enough hit points that a big swingy two-handed 2d6+9 or 2d6+12 will take them out. Or hit mook+boss.

If it doesn't work, then I just swap it out at higher levels for something juicier.


It's the adjacent enemies thing that trips it up, really. Ideally with great cleave, you are facing an enemy in a formation like this (O=PC, X=Enemy)

X X X
= O =

Three enemies, all within reach and adjacent to each other. You can hit all three of them! Hooray!

Unfortunately about the only time I think enemies would be standing like this is if they are forming a shield wall of some sort against your attack. Shoulder to shoulder does not offer enormous benefits in melee combat in Pathfinder and with the way movement works the enemies are not likely to remain in this formation as they move unless the GM has them all move at once. Usually in my experience when you are in melee combat and it's one against many, the enemy formations inevitably become

X
O
X

or XOX.

Enemies don't generally face the hero shoulder-to-shoulder. Even animals are smart enough to flank a threatening enemy on instinct alone, and the GM has to deliberately ignore that a two-pronged attack from opposite sides is almost always more effective than two or three attacks from the front if they want Cleave to do its job properly. The PCs will try to flank a strong enemy whenever possible, and NPCs will usually respond in kind since PCs are powerful foes.

Cleaving Finish gets around this issue because it only concerns itself with if you CAN reach the enemy rather than if you can reach the enemy who is standing right next to an enemy you previously hit, but I don't see situations where the PCs are hacking away at a shield wall come up nearly often enough for cleave to be that exciting.

Partially because GMs know after a while that lots of weaker enemies grouped up is major fireball-bait, in which case you're not using Cleave anyway.


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Envall wrote:
Nothing wrong with Cleave unless your GM goes out of his way to avoid positioning npcs so they can be cleaved.

My experience is the opposite. Cleave doesn't work most of the time unless your GM makes especially sure that the enemy stands next to one another so you can cleave them.

Seriously, unless the terrain is positioned in a specific way to give a choke point I rarely see enemies stand adjacent to one another, just like PCs rarely stand adjacent to one another unless there is a choke point.


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Even if it's not normally a good feat, if you get a good chokepoint, it's worth it's existence as a martial flexibility option.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Of course if you choose your battlefield, you can usually make a choke point. Not a lot of groups play that way, but with awizard or Druid you can control the terrain to make choke points even in an open plain.


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Why is it people insist anything that isn't the most effective build is a trap?
Cleaving through one foe and cutting into a second has a heroic feel to it.


zainale wrote:
my GM plays every encounter as if every enemy is a tactical genius.

not only that but they all have out of character information. or mad spy infiltrators that have divination abilities.


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Daw wrote:

Why is it people insist anything that isn't the most effective build is a trap?

Cleaving through one foe and cutting into a second has a heroic feel to it.

It can, yes.

However, if you flip your thinking a bit...

"Here is this cool feat that will let you cleave through one foe and cut into a second!"

"Hey, that sounds awesome! I'll take that as my second feat!"

Later...

"Oh boy, I'm fighting two foes at once! I'll use my feat to hit them both!"

"You can't."

"Huh?"

"You can't cleave if your enemies aren't standing adjacent to each other. They're on opposite sides of you."

"But our enemies never stand right next to each other. How am I supposed to cleave?"

"I dunno, man, you took the feat, not me."

That person is going to feel like the feat was a trap.


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Daw wrote:
Why is it people insist anything that isn't the most effective build is a trap?

They aren't. They are insisting that something which almost never gets used and is only marginally useful when it does get used is probably a trap.

Quote:


Cleaving through one foe and cutting into a second has a heroic feel to it.

And if you very rarely get to do that despite spending a whole feat on it, then this is a problem.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Cards, Tales Subscriber

if you take the feat, then take its playing style along.
if you have cleave, you can "force" the enemy to get into the position you want.
choke points have been mentioned.

I have a 2hander in my game who throws himself into melee, when facing 6+ enemies (pack of wolves, thugs, ...)

then he got surrounded from all direction...
then he laughs when taking hits...
then he uses great cleave and the board is cleaned ^^


Serisan wrote:
I agree with the dwarf fighter in concept, but not execution. That's a LOT of investment to make it work as intended from the player perspective. If the goal is to move and hit, investing in just Vital Strike and Power Attack is usually better for the feat investment. If you're looking to hit ALL OF THE THINGS, that's what Whirlwind Attack is for, even with its weird stat requirements.

That dwarf fighter build is a meat shield and if you run the 2 cleave feats the 2 cleaving finish feats the 3 dwarf cleave feats you might as well take it to the full Monte so grab PA intimidating prowess cor smash and while you are at it grab all of the vital strike feasts an worship Gorum and vital cleave charge your way around the battle field you are meant to hold off the monsters so your casters can deal with them you can easily cover a space larger than a fireball with proper gear or buffs use it to your advantage bottle neck passages if you get enlarge person and your caster gets reduce person share space with them they will never get hit and with cleaving finish you can just keep chopping opponents down and just let the pain train roll


I feel like cleave is actually better on lower BAB characters, where those extra attacks from BAB come in 2 (or 5 if you're doing something unusual) levels later and the lower hit chance on them make the more accurate, earlier multiple hits a better option.

If you build a rogue for it for instance, a surprise round or just winning initiative where you can sneak attack multiple targets because of cleave can be pretty sweet. They're even more likely to be in a cleaveable position. If you have one of those rare things that give you extra standard actions such as Mythic or Monk of the Four Winds, cleave becomes a better option again as well.

To an extent you can take other things to help it work for you; the standard reach trip build can work pretty well for keeping things where you can cleave them. A friend (or pet) with reposition manoeuvres can help a lot, which could make it viable for a Druid, Summoner or Spiritualist. Going fancy, having a golem or undead companion and brilliant energy weapon gives you the option of harmlessly cleaving through your non-living friend if necessary before continuing on to another target.


Vrischika111 wrote:

if you take the feat, then take its playing style along.

if you have cleave, you can "force" the enemy to get into the position you want.
choke points have been mentioned.

Yes, if there are choke points available -- otherwise, you need to hope your wizard will create them for you.

Sometimes. If you're only facing one opponent, though, even optimal terrain won't help.

Quote:


I have a 2hander in my game who throws himself into melee, when facing 6+ enemies (pack of wolves, thugs, ...)

Is that really what it takes to make Cleave a useful option? 6+ opponents in one encounter? Because that is so rare as to make Cleave not just problematic but an active trap. There are six such encounters in The Wormwood Mutiny, roughly 20% of the encounters. There is only one such encounter in Snows of Summer. There are four in Stolen Land.

So,.... it's a feat that is useful less than one encounter in five.


Like, when you walk into a room and there's a good 20 dire rats staring at you, you're happy you have Cleave. There's no way you AREN'T going to get some use out of it in a situation like that. Paizo doesn't usually create encounters like this, but Frog God Games on the other hand...

Also good against Orcs, at least the way I GM them. I do not play Orcs as tactical masterminds, at least unless they have class levels in non-martial classes. They tend to charge as a group, which often allows them to be cleaved. Zombies and Skeletons, another favorite of classic low level D&D, tend to also move into Cleaving formations.

Then there's the 20x20 room. Or 30x30, or 20x30, whatever. Fighter opens the doors, there's enemies, everyone rolls initiative, Fighting Guy plants himself in the doorway and lets the enemies come to him. The Cleaves tend to set themselves up. In theory small room dungeon design isn't the greatest, but it's also a staple of premade adventures at least.

So, it's not that it doesn't happen, at least at low levels. To me, the more important problem is that when fights where cleave is useful break out, they are against less intelligent enemies or chokepoint fights that benefit the players anyway. Is it worth a feat to be better in situations that are already good for the player? Maybe. If the forces against the players are overwhelming enough that it's a dire situation even with superior positioning or low enemy intelligence, like in a CR + 3 fight against Orcs my level 2 players walked into in Crucible of Freya (they could have tactically whittled the orcs down ahead of time with hit and run attacks, but they didn't). In that fight, every Cleave counted. But overall? Probably not worth it.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Cards, Tales Subscriber

Orfamay : YMMV.
if you stick to PFS or MAW (modules as written ^^ ) then such encounters might be rare.

if GM likes to give more lieutenants to BBEG (or has to adapt for 6 players instead of standard 4 by adding more opponents) then it's not so rare.

but my points was it's not a trap, I agree it depends on lots of things, where other feats could prove useful all the time.


PK the Dragon wrote:
Like, when you walk into a room and there's a good 20 dire rats staring at you, you're happy you have Cleave.

Yes. And when I walk into a room and there's a single fire giant staring at me, I'm happy I didn't waste a feat on Cleave.

And I can honestly say that the first has never happened to me. On the other hand, I've encountered individual fire giants numerous times.


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You hardly need help smacking down single big guys anyway.
All I can say is that, it lets you fairly consistently flatten 2 goblins in a turn, without getting too far into analysis.

I actually see all those Weapon Focus feats as the real traps. Tying yourself to a single weapon seems reasonable at first, but later becomes a regret.


Vrischika111 wrote:

Orfamay : YMMV.

if you stick to PFS or MAW (modules as written ^^ ) then such encounters might be rare.

if GM likes to give more lieutenants to BBEG (or has to adapt for 6 players instead of standard 4 by adding more opponents) then it's not so rare.

Which is to say, Cleave is a marginal feat that is only useful if the GM goes out of her way to make Cleave useful. Which is not only in keeping with what I (and others) have been saying on this thread, but also directly contradicts what Envall wrote earlier.

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.


Envall wrote:
You hardly need help smacking down single big guys anyway.

Actually, in a typical party, that's where you do need help, because the wizard can smack goblins down by the dozen with AoE spells. The wizard can't handle the pit fiend for you.... why are you handling the goblins for her?


Orfamay Quest wrote:

Yes. And when I walk into a room and there's a single fire giant staring at me, I'm happy I didn't waste a feat on Cleave.

And I can honestly say that the first has never happened to me. On the other hand, I've encountered individual fire giants numerous times.

It's a favorite of Rappan Athuk. Love that dungeon, but I do kinda wish it had less "tons of Dire Rats" encounters. Not that Rappan Athuk doesn't have it's fair share of "one big nasty monster" fights as well.

That gets to my later point, is it really worth speccing for fights the players have the advantage in anyway( like the hordes of Dire Rats)? I'd rather spec for the Fire Giant fight myself. Still, Cleave is significantly more useful in dungeons with plenty of "lots of small creatures" encounters, and I certainly have more appreciation for it after reading through Rappan Athuk.

I think the fact that you've never encountered the horde of dire rats actually suggests how what is good/bad can be biased based on the types of encounters we run and encounter.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Envall wrote:
You hardly need help smacking down single big guys anyway.

Actually, in a typical party, that's where you do need help, because the wizard can smack goblins down by the dozen with AoE spells. The wizard can't handle the pit fiend for you.... why are you handling the goblins for her?

My group's Sorcerer is a Snowball specialist, lol. The martials covering the AoE actually sorta makes a certain amount of sense given the lack of AoE coming from the sole mage.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Envall wrote:
You hardly need help smacking down single big guys anyway.

Actually, in a typical party, that's where you do need help, because the wizard can smack goblins down by the dozen with AoE spells. The wizard can't handle the pit fiend for you.... why are you handling the goblins for her?

I meant if you got your Power Attack, you are good to go on that front in most cases, unless you gotta fight those fire giants REALLY early...


PK the Dragon wrote:


That gets to my later point, is it really worth speccing for fights the players have the advantage in anyway( like the hordes of Dire Rats)? I'd rather spec for the Fire Giant fight myself. Still, Cleave is significantly more useful in dungeons with plenty of "lots of small creatures" encounters, and I certainly have more appreciation for it after reading through Rappan Athuk.

Well, this depends on your role in the party. It certainly makes sense that someone should have the ability to clear out the minions (as I wrote earlier), but it doesn't necessarily have to be the [melee] fighter, and I'd argue that it shouldn't be.

It's very easy to build an anti-minion lawn mowing machine. Casters are generally very good at it even from level 1 with their AoE spells (if we did run into a horde of dire rats, my first thought is that the sorcerer should use color spray on them, or at a higher level, fireball). Archers are very good at turning themselves into machine gun nests without the need for tactical positioning. But when you're up against a dire ankylosaurus with DR 50/-, the party needs the ability to hit a single target for a hundred hit points at a time, and that's harder for the casters to supply.

Quote:
I think the fact that you've never encountered the horde of dire rats actually suggests how what is good/bad can be biased based on the types of encounters we run and encounter.

Which is why I made a point of citing the Paizo sources, since that's about as close to representative of Pathfinder as you're likely to find. Yes, if your GM has an idée fixe about dire rats, you might find lots and lots of rats. But you're just as likely to find a musophobic GM who never uses dire rats at all. And if what you have is a GM who just picks up a module,.... well, the numbers are above.


Hmm cleave seemed to always work good for the barbarians in the group I played with.

Granted I remember this one time the DM had 8 hellhounds in a perfect circle. The barbarian runs up and plants himself right in the centre and the DM is like "Oh no I'm a terrible DM" or something to that effect. He's actually a talented DM when he wants to be.

Needless to say all 8 died if I remember correctly.

Anyways, I can see how it can be nullified rather easily.


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IMO, cleave is seen as a trap feat because not all games are the same. Some GM's throw hordes of minions frequently enough that you will see use from cleave. Some run Dungeon Crawls where most hallways/rooms will facilitate cleave quite well. IIRC, Rappan Athuk has a lot of cleave.

Similarly, some parties will lack AOE support, either because nobody wanted to play a caster, or nobody wanted to play a blaster. I'm personally in the latter group, preferring to do battlefield control and buffing, and almost never taking fireball as a blast, due to how often I see enemies with Fire resistance/immunity, or enemies who have information about the party and access to resist energy. In this instance cleave might stay useful for some time as the party will be better suited for arranging enemies into cleave conditions rather than actually killing them.

On the other hand however, some GM's have most enemies be rather intelligent. Even many animal threats understand the basics of flanking, so cleave will quickly lose its luster if you frequently have fights of relatively few enemies, each with a focus on tactics. This is often the case with Paizo's material, where multiple foe fights tend to be 2-4, minibosses/bosses are often simply one creature, and many creatures are humanoid or else highly intelligent (8-14 rather than 1-7, smart enough not only to use basic tactics like flanking, but also equip themselves with reach and archers and on occasion even balanced parties of foes) and after cleave happens once or twice in a fight will try and ensure it doesn't happen again.

Overall, if you know the kind of game your GM is running, cleave might be immensely valuable or it might be generally useless. If you do intend to use it, one of my favorite tricks is with an Unchained Skulking Slayer. Using a spiked chain (its finessable, and with a racial trait its fairly easy to pick up), dirty fighting, surprise follow through and improved feint, you can get sneak attack off on multiple creatures, and thus carry a debilitating injury to a group of enemies rather than one. While whittling away at each enemy's HP may not be the best way to injure them, giving each one a penalty to attack rolls or move speed can easily help the party out, as well as keep them in position for your sneak attacks. Alternatively, lowering the AC of 2-4 creatures can also be an asset if you have a large group of allies who make attack roles (such as a party with an archer and a tank alongside the rogue).


Paradozen wrote:
IMO, cleave is seen as a trap feat because not all games are the same.

Yeah, that's a pretty good summary. There are lots of feats out there (Dodge, anyone?) that are pretty universally useful and that don't depend on any specific style of play.

I think that many (most?) people focus on the "omg, this will be SO COOL when I get to use it," aspect of things, without thinking about how often it will come up. The law of anecdotal evidence supports this -- "Oh, yeah, there was this time when our barbarian was surrounded by [large number] of [things] and was able to carve through all of them; that was SO COOL!" But that's one encounter out of.... how long did the campaign run? Sure, if that's the one thing that you remember from the campaign, maybe it was worth it for a feat you only really got to use once. No one remembers the +1 to AC they had for the entire AP. But you're buying coolness, not general effectiveness.


Great post, Paradozen- saying what I was trying to more elegantly.

My group is composed of 3 Melee Martials (Barbarian, Paladin, and Cavalier), 1 Throwing Weapon Martial (Ranger), 1 Battle Oracle, and 1 Sorcerer specializing in Snowball. Despite having 6 players, Cleave is the only AoE they have until level 6. It's an oddball group, very much less than ideal, but nevertheless it's one where Cleave is useful. Combine with with the accidental fortune of being in a scenario where cleave gets a lot of potential use, and it ends up being a great choice... at least until level 6. We'll see how well it lasts after that.

Orfamay wrote:
]Which is why I made a point of citing the Paizo sources, since that's about as close to representative of Pathfinder as you're likely to find. Yes, if your GM has an idée fixe about dire rats, you might find lots and lots of rats. But you're just as likely to find a musophobic GM who never uses dire rats at all. And if what you have is a GM who just picks up a module,.... well, the numbers are above.

I don't really think that Paizo games are the only thing that should be considered, and my argument was specifically about non-paizo games. Yes, moving beyond paizo modules adds a lot of variables. But that's precisely why my argument is "well, there's a lot of variables, and in some of those variables Cleave is actually pretty good!"

Don't get me wrong, I agree with you mostly. I personally have never taken Cleave and probably never will. Casters are better for that purpose and I prefer to do other things with my martials. But my intention was just to offer some other perspectives on the uses of Cleave, as well as an anecdote about my current team that it making better use of it than I expected.

(Oh, and I consider Dodge to be a criminally underrated feat too. That 1 AC can be a lifesaver.)


Also a dodge supporter. I find if you're going to go AC...go AC.

Plus it's a prerequisite for Mobility. :)


Lemartes wrote:

Also a dodge supporter. I find if you're going to go AC...go AC.

Plus it's a prerequisite for Mobility. :)

Which, in turn, is prerequisite for Whirlwind Attack, which is better than Cleave in so many ways that Cleave generally leaves the party in a huff as soon as Whirlwind Attack parks his car.


Haven't seen much of any of whirlwind attack in games. On the fence about it.


So it's basically an issue with how feats that provide horizontal power progression are priced at the same opportunity cost as feats that provide vertical power progression.


I thought Whirlwind Attack was on the top 10 list of most taxed combat feats in pathfinder.

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