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Why are Combat Maneuvers so frowned upon?


Advice

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im currently between 11th and 12th level, and i wanted to make a healer who when not healing functioned as a CM specialist, not necessarily limited to one particular CM but was a generalist who was good at any CM.

So finished building the character played in my first session and it's like anytime i got a chance to do a CM against the 1 enemy we were fighting i couldn't land anything. Now granted I didn't know the creature's CR or it's stats in General. It was a party of 7 level 11 characters so i presume the CR was something around 15 maybe (can't know for certain)

Anyway suffice to say my CMB is 14 base + potentially +3 or +7 (we do use Path of War) yet even with rolls of 32 (not including the 3 or 7) i couldn't land one CMB, granted these CMB checks were free attacks, my characters theme was pretty much based around it.

So i decided to recently look up a few creatures CMD in the bestiary, and long and behold im seeing that most creatures around my CR range have huge CMD's. So my thing is, why did Pathfinder go the same route of D&D 3.5 and make Combat Maneuvers nearly impossible as a viable way of fighting in an encounter?


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I don't see combat maneuver as an strategy themselves rather than a complement for a combat style.
You cannot rely on getting a combat maneuver to land when you need, but as a free CMB check as part of an attack, I don't think they are as bad.
We have a Fighter in my most recent group who gets free Bull Rush attempts with her attacks and it has proved to be quite effective to avoid getting full attacks from enemies. True, it doesn't always work but when it does it's useful enough to make it worth the feat.
Said that, with characters that cannot get full BAB bonus for their CMD checks or characters who doesn't have a lot of feats to invest in making combat maneuvers work, it might not be worth it.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Pathfinder assumes (as did 3.x) a certain level of investment into combat maneuvers as levels advance. The CR also assumes a certain amount of pre-/in-combat buffing (heroism, haste, enlarge person/giant form/righteous might, etc.).

If you did not invest in various feats to improve CMB with maneuvers, magic items to add bonuses to those maneuvers, and receive several buff spells to improve your bonuses, then yes combat maneuvers will be difficult against creatures that are larger and stronger than your character. On the other hand, they will probably still be effective against NPCs.


Aggree. If you don't build your character around specific combat maneuvers, there's not a big chance of success.


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Well for one thing being a generalist in pathfinder is rarely good idea, and Combat manouvers are no exception in fact besides maybe blasting they're one of the methods of attack that needs the most investment. It can be done though.

Either you find away to make your bonuses really really high or if you're a caster there are some ways to just do a huge amount of checks.

I had a thread called I have a terrible idea wherein a monk/mesmerist/fighter trip build was made. (Mostly mesmerist)

Off the top of my head if with proper wealth by level her CMB to trip would be like 30 and they would have a -2 to their CMD so effectively a 32 to trip. Her other manouvers would be comparatively low however. She would trip fairly reliably on her CR.

The other way is to go for tricks like Toppling spell on magic missile, your CMB at that level would probably be about 17 but you could make 5/7 checks to trip.

Sovereign Court

If you want to be a maneuver generalist, you really need to be full BAB and to belong to a class that gives you free feats. If you're only 3/4 without accuracy boosting class features, you need to prop yourself up with specialization and self-buffs. I'd recommend picking one maneuver (trip is rightfully popular), and sticking to it. CMD increases quickly, and your bonus is low. A CR 5 troll has a CMD of 22, and you'd need to roll an 8 to hit it.

So, if you're +14 right now, I'm guessing that's +8 BAB, +4 Str/Dex, and +2 if you have the relevant Improved feat? Three kinds of maneuvers (trip, disarm, and sunder) can be used through a weapon, so they benefit from enhancement bonuses and Weapon Focus. You should also trade out one of your Improved maneuver feats for a Greater feat; pretty much every Greater maneuver is amazing, and the extra +2 will get some great mileage. Also, divine favor will get you a +3.

To put it all together, if you have a +2 weapon, Weapon Focus, Improved Trip, Greater Trip, and divine favor, your bonus would jump from +14 to +20. That's still not great, but it's a start. You'll be able to trip mooks and some casters, but most CR ~15 creatures will have a CMD of 40+.


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Combat maneuvers are frowned upon typically because people invest feats and can't get as good a return on the investment.

Most monsters have insane CMB and CMD. And the unusual anatomy or abilities that can negate some as well.

Some people just do it anyways and they tend to optimize around it.

I recommend dazing Spell. Not sure what class you are but Dazing Spiritual weapons are pretty fun to let fly.

If you will tell us what class you are we can make suggestions on how to keep enemies down without having to make huge feat investment for small pay off


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Louise Bishop wrote:

Combat maneuvers are frowned upon typically because people invest feats and can't get as good a return on the investment.

Most monsters have insane CMB and CMD. And the unusual anatomy or abilities that can negate some as well.

Some people just do it anyways and they tend to optimize around it.

I recommend dazing Spell. Not sure what class you are but Dazing Spiritual weapons are pretty fun to let fly.

If you will tell us what class you are we can make suggestions on how to keep enemies down without having to make huge feat investment for small pay off

This is not true.

CM, if built around it and with the correct gear is so crazy powerful, it's OP broken, my opinion.

Course these builds do suffer a serious drawback in not being able to do anything else.

So the main reason CM gets bad mouthed is it's worthless or OP broken. Doesn't really have a middle ground.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The large wolf animal companion has a nasty trip.


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Matt2VK wrote:
Louise Bishop wrote:

Combat maneuvers are frowned upon typically because people invest feats and can't get as good a return on the investment.

Most monsters have insane CMB and CMD. And the unusual anatomy or abilities that can negate some as well.

Some people just do it anyways and they tend to optimize around it.

I recommend dazing Spell. Not sure what class you are but Dazing Spiritual weapons are pretty fun to let fly.

If you will tell us what class you are we can make suggestions on how to keep enemies down without having to make huge feat investment for small pay off

This is not true.

CM, if built around it and with the correct gear is so crazy powerful, it's OP broken, my opinion.

Course these builds do suffer a serious drawback in not being able to do anything else.

So the main reason CM gets bad mouthed is it's worthless or OP broken. Doesn't really have a middle ground.

Agreed. A character built and dedicated to grappling is incredibly overpowered against things not prepared for a grapple by having freedom of movement.

Anyone trying to grapple that isn't dedicated to it is going to fail against non-humanoid NPCs (most of the time) and is going to have a bad time.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

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If you invest in one CM, you can exceed the curve on non-Brute targets. If you don't invest and try to be a generalist, you are below the curve.

Dirty Fighting can help with your "below the curve", but you really just want to use CM on targets your size or smaller that don't seem particularly Strength or Dexterity focused.


there seems to be some misconceptions, and some information I myself didn't have. Where does it state you get your weapons enhancement bonus to CMB? and does this apply to feats that improve a weapons attack like weapon focus? cause if so then I have a +6 that i didn't know about before hand.


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Matt2VK wrote:
Louise Bishop wrote:

Combat maneuvers are frowned upon typically because people invest feats and can't get as good a return on the investment.

Most monsters have insane CMB and CMD. And the unusual anatomy or abilities that can negate some as well.

Some people just do it anyways and they tend to optimize around it.

I recommend dazing Spell. Not sure what class you are but Dazing Spiritual weapons are pretty fun to let fly.

If you will tell us what class you are we can make suggestions on how to keep enemies down without having to make huge feat investment for small pay off

This is not true.

CM, if built around it and with the correct gear is so crazy powerful, it's OP broken, my opinion.

Course these builds do suffer a serious drawback in not being able to do anything else.

So the main reason CM gets bad mouthed is it's worthless or OP broken. Doesn't really have a middle ground.

That's by and large, false.

Combat Maneuvers suck because players cannot make as much use of them as the GM can. Monsters are usually larger (which gives them more CMB/CMD, and affect more types of creatures with their maneuvers), have special gimmicks to further amplify their Combat Maneuvers (which likewise gives them more power), and have special options tailored to their every whim.

Players have practically none of these benefits, and if they did, it's very limited (at best, you have Enlarge Person or some other magic that gives you special options, at the cost of action economy). On top of that, any benefits the Players can get, the GM can get tenfold (both in terms of availability and power scaling).

Let's take Grapple; you gotta take Improved Unarmed Strike (which is a feat tax for a lot of players, whereas monsters basically have this built in for free), and in a lot of cases, Grappling doesn't inhibit the use of Natural Weapons (which again, most players don't have or specialize too much in, whereas monsters once again have it built in for free), which means Grapple can, more often than not, screw you over more than help you. And that's assuming you're the better Grappler; in a lot of cases, with bigger monsters, and the growing disparity of CMB/CMD, you won't be.

That's not including maneuvers like Bull Rush, Overrun, Trip, and others that require you to be of a comparable size. Players often face Huge+ sized monsters, and have little to no ways to reach the comparable size required to even pull off those maneuvers, which means in a lot of instances where the players are specialized in such maneuvers, it just simply doesn't work. Maneuvers like Disarm, only work on specific enemies (a lot of monsters have Natural Weapons, which Disarm doesn't work on).

There's Dirty Tricks, which is perhaps the most powerful of the maneuvers, but also has the most investment required, and like Illusion spells, is too heavily reliant on GM FIAT to make work.

The maneuvers are not as universally useful as simply attacking and dealing hit point damage is, because there is always someone or something that will be better at that maneuver than you, or have means to make said maneuver useless (can't exactly Trip an enemy when they're Flying).


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Mako Senako wrote:
there seems to be some misconceptions, and some information I myself didn't have. Where does it state you get your weapons enhancement bonus to CMB? and does this apply to feats that improve a weapons attack like weapon focus? cause if so then I have a +6 that i didn't know about before hand.

From the Combat Chapter under Combat Maneuvers:

Combat Maneuvers wrote:
When you attempt to perform a combat maneuver, make an attack roll and add your CMB in place of your normal attack bonus. 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.

Also, relevant FAQ regarding Weapon Finesse states that certain maneuvers (Trip, Disarm, Sunder) use weapon benefits.


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Mako Senako wrote:
there seems to be some misconceptions, and some information I myself didn't have. Where does it state you get your weapons enhancement bonus to CMB? and does this apply to feats that improve a weapons attack like weapon focus? cause if so then I have a +6 that i didn't know about before hand.

From the Combat Chapter under Combat Maneuvers:

Combat Maneuvers wrote:
When you attempt to perform a combat maneuver, make an attack roll and add your CMB in place of your normal attack bonus. 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.
Also, relevant FAQ regarding Weapon Finesse states that certain maneuvers (Trip, Disarm, Sunder) use weapon benefits.

Thank you my DM told me no when i asked if my weapons enhancement bonuses applied to CMB, because i was kind of uncertain at the time.


I still think combat maneuvers can be useful, but I wouldn't invest in them in a class that doesn't get enough feats and I'd make sure I have some way to get the maneuver as a free check. I don't want my maneuver to be all or nothing, but if I make an attack that also has a chance of making an additional effect in the form of a combat maneuver, it's not so bad.
As I said, I don't think they work as an strategy themselves but as a complement for some combat styles.
Of course, you'd have to deal with immunities, resistances and ridiculously high CMDs but even if that makes maneuvers circumstancial, if you play wise around them you can get some profit from investing in them.


for clarification to what I am, since my DM allows Path of War supplements, and told me we needed a healer, I picked the Medic a 3/4 BAB Martial Adept class, that specializes in healing. I focused primarily on Broken Blade Discipline as far as maneuvers and stances go. My weapon of choice is a +3 Cestus, and as far as feats go I took the ones that seemed like they worked best with a skillful grappler/CM specialist. (H)Fast Learner, 1st-Weapon Finesse, 3rd-Deadly Agility,(B)I.Unarmed Strike, 5th-Signature Weapon, 7th-Broken Blade Style,(B)Agile Maneuvers, 9th-Mighty Frame, 11th-Broken Blade Crush,(S)Broken Blade Rhythm,

as it all turns out in the right situation my CMB is a base +26 at 12th lv. (+5 Dex, +9 BAB, +3 Cestus, +3 Signature Weapon, +5 insight Battle Mantra, +1 size Powerful Build)

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Combat Maneuvers are frowned upon in PFS because they are incredibly overpowered. Most of the baddies are humanoids, so the CM will probably work. Grappling, Disarm/Sunder, and Dirty Trick make the written tactics go out the window and turn an interesting encounter into a cakewalk. Even trip can be chained with other things to ruin an encounter. Overrun and Bull Rush aren't so bad.


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Mako Senako wrote:

It was a party of 7 level 11 characters so i presume the CR was something around 15 maybe (can't know for certain)

Anyway suffice to say my CMB is 14 base + potentially +3 or +7 (we do use Path of War) yet even with rolls of 32 (not including the 3 or 7) i couldn't land one CMB, granted these CMB checks were free attacks, my characters theme was pretty much based around it.

Let's take a look at some hard numbers to see what might be your issue.

Specifically, let's look at a vanilla Core Rulebook Human Fighter and see how his numbers look. We'll say he's a Trip specialist and (counting magical items) his stats are 24/16/14/13/10/7.

At level 11 his CMB for Trip is...

11 from BAB
7 from Strength
3 from +3 weapon
2 from Weapon Focus and Greater Weapon Focus
2 from Weapon Training
4 from Greater Trip

That's a 29 total without flanking or buffs.

What about his CMD?

10 base
11 from BAB
7 from Strength
3 from Dex
2 from Ring of Protection +2

That's 33 CMD with "only" a +2 ring, no Fighter trait, no Dodge feat, no nothing else to boost his CMD.

That Fighter would be considered a CR 11 -- yet a 32 would not be succeeding.

Against CR15 enemies you should expect CMDs in the 40-45 range. Note that our Fighter still has a 50/50 shot on his highest attack of tripping a CMD 40 monster (and give him Flanking/Heroism for a 45% shot of tripping a CMD 45 monster).

Mako Senako wrote:
as it all turns out in the right situation my CMB is a base +26 at 12th lv. (+5 Dex, +9 BAB, +3 Cestus, +3 Signature Weapon, +5 insight Battle Mantra, +1 size Powerful Build)

That's significantly better. Though, again, the unbuffed fighter a level lower is still 3 ahead of you, which is a significant difference on a d20. If he has a 30% chance to trip something, you have a 15% chance.

Shadow Lodge

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thistledown wrote:
Combat Maneuvers are frowned upon in PFS because they are incredibly overpowered. Most of the baddies are humanoids, so the CM will probably work. Grappling, Disarm/Sunder, and Dirty Trick make the written tactics go out the window and turn an interesting encounter into a cakewalk. Even trip can be chained with other things to ruin an encounter. Overrun and Bull Rush aren't so bad.

Maybe in your local meta, but no one cares in mine.


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The problem with combat maneuvers is that they usually are either seriously abusable or completely useless. There's no middle ground: They either break the encounter or might as well be replaced with Skill Focus (basket weaving).

I'm exaggerating, of course... But not much.


Balkoth wrote:
Mako Senako wrote:

It was a party of 7 level 11 characters so i presume the CR was something around 15 maybe (can't know for certain)

Anyway suffice to say my CMB is 14 base + potentially +3 or +7 (we do use Path of War) yet even with rolls of 32 (not including the 3 or 7) i couldn't land one CMB, granted these CMB checks were free attacks, my characters theme was pretty much based around it.

Let's take a look at some hard numbers to see what might be your issue.

Specifically, let's look at a vanilla Core Rulebook Human Fighter and see how his numbers look. We'll say he's a Trip specialist and (counting magical items) his stats are 24/16/14/13/10/7.

At level 11 his CMB for Trip is...

11 from BAB
7 from Strength
3 from +3 weapon
2 from Weapon Focus and Greater Weapon Focus
2 from Weapon Training
4 from Greater Trip

That's a 29 total without flanking or buffs.

What about his CMD?

10 base
11 from BAB
7 from Strength
3 from Dex
2 from Ring of Protection +2

That's 33 CMD with "only" a +2 ring, no Fighter trait, no Dodge feat, no nothing else to boost his CMD.

That Fighter would be considered a CR 11 -- yet a 32 would not be succeeding.

Against CR15 enemies you should expect CMDs in the 40-45 range. Note that our Fighter still has a 50/50 shot on his highest attack of tripping a CMD 40 monster (and give him Flanking/Heroism for a 45% shot of tripping a CMD 45 monster).

Mako Senako wrote:
as it all turns out in the right situation my CMB is a base +26 at 12th lv. (+5 Dex, +9 BAB, +3 Cestus, +3 Signature Weapon, +5 insight Battle Mantra, +1 size Powerful Build)
That's significantly better. Though, again, the unbuffed fighter a level lower is still 3 ahead of you, which is a significant difference on a d20. If he has a 30% chance to trip something, you have a 15% chance.

True that has a +3 bonus but that's because he has full BAB, but don't count me out just yet, many of the throw type maneuvers from Broken Blade usually add a +4 or better competence bonus to the CMB check so that 26 can become a 30 in the right situation.


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It's resource intensive to be good enough at a combat maneuver that you can even land it, and then you eventually end up in a situation where whatever maneuver you're good at doesn't apply either because monster CMD scales way faster than your CMB does, or because you you're going to have trouble tripping fliers and giant snakes.

It's not that combat manuevers are frowned upon so much as "there are often better things to do with your limited number of choices."


Tabernero wrote:

The problem with combat maneuvers is that they usually are either seriously abusable or completely useless. There's no middle ground: They either break the encounter or might as well be replaced with Skill Focus (basket weaving).

I'm exaggerating, of course... But not much.

I see what you mean, I really decided to go this route because as a healer, I figured I should be near the people who are getting beat up the most (fighters) so that when they need healing or even saving I'm right there to do just that. Also it didn't put me at the forefront of being the most powerful fighter. I wouldn't have to invest in dealing the most damage to contribute to combat offensively, if I could pin a monster down for a round or two that means im helping and making it easier for everyone else to bash that person in the head. if I trip the enemy then he has to use a move action to get up and thus can't take a full attack action, if i disarm an enemy there goes his powerful weapon or magic staff, wand whatever have you, If I sunder his armor that makes it that much easier for everyone to hit him ect ect, but yeah I see what you mean.


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Mako Senako wrote:
Tabernero wrote:

The problem with combat maneuvers is that they usually are either seriously abusable or completely useless. There's no middle ground: They either break the encounter or might as well be replaced with Skill Focus (basket weaving).

I'm exaggerating, of course... But not much.

I see what you mean, I really decided to go this route because as a healer, I figured I should be near the people who are getting beat up the most (fighters) so that when they need healing or even saving I'm right there to do just that. Also it didn't put me at the forefront of being the most powerful fighter. I wouldn't have to invest in dealing the most damage to contribute to combat offensively, if I could pin a monster down for a round or two that means im helping and making it easier for everyone else to bash that person in the head. if I trip the enemy then he has to use a move action to get up and thus can't take a full attack action, if i disarm an enemy there goes his powerful weapon or magic staff, wand whatever have you, If I sunder his armor that makes it that much easier for everyone to hit him ect ect, but yeah I see what you mean.

Well... It becomes much more viable (and overall better designed) if you use Path of War and/or good house rudes.


I play Pathfinder for several years now and usually I'm the one who has to fulfill the frontliner/tank role because everyone wants to play op archers or spellcasters.

I love the melee part, but after some time dishing out damage or boosting AC became boring af, so I read into Combat Maneuver and I never played a pure damage dealer since.

Combat maneuvers are just awesome and they are what makes melee interesting. But you have to plan ahead in terms of class, feat and magic item selection. It's pretty easy to specialize in one maneuver and keep it relevant even against large high CR monsters. But it is also possible to build a generalist with the right class. I'm looking at Lore Warden/Martial Master, but Barbarians with reckless abandon and the CM rage powers should also do.

Combining Healing and maneuvers is a bit tricker, but an Arsenal Chaplain Warpriest can get decent CMBs with Weapon Maneuvers (trip, disarm, sunder) as well, if buffed enough.

When built right, combat maneuvers are very overpowered, especially againdt humanoid opponents. Their CMD will never be high enough to withstand a dedicated CM user. Greater Disarm first, then trip and the combat is basically over


Thanks Darksol you explained it perfectly.

Again people mentioning optimized builds around CMs...Your missing the point the OP is doing this on the side and not optimized for it.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
you eventually end up in a situation where whatever maneuver you're good at doesn't apply either because monster CMD scales way faster than your CMB does, or because you you're going to have trouble tripping fliers and giant snakes

Where does this idea about how CMD "scales way faster" come from?

With just a belt of +6 Strength and starting with 18 Strength, for a vanilla Core Rulebook non-buffed Fighter you're looking at...

20 from BAB
9 from Strength (29 total)
5 from +5 weapon
2 from (Greater) Weapon Focus
4 from Weapon Training
4 from Greater Trip

That's 44 total. Without tomes of Strength (inherent bonus could bring it to 34 strength and thus a +3 additional modifier), Gloves of Dueling, flanking, buffs, or anything else that's special. I mean, that tome, Gloves of Dueling, Flanking, and Heroism alone gets us up to 53...and that's not factoring in stuff like Prayer, Bard Song, Greater Heroism, etc.

But for now, let's continue under the assumption of 44...

I looked at the first nine entries for CR20 mobs here:

- Pleroma Aeon: 57, can't be tripped (aka CMD scaling ain't the problem)
- Asurendra Asura: 61 (that's high, but still have a 20% base chance, getting this above a 50% chance would be pretty easy)
- Magicbane Bandersnatch: 57, 65 vs trip (the extra legs are an issue but it's really the size that prevents tripping...the base CMD is fine)
- Thalassic Behemoth: 64, a new record (this one is quite high, though again size is the problem -- otherwise getting up to a 50% trip chance wouldn't be too difficult)
- Olethrodaemon Daemon: 54, 58 vs trip (size prevents tripping, even with the extra legs the CMD isn't really an issue)
- Balor: 54, easily trippable
- Pit Fiend: 53, easily trippable
- Akvan Div: 58 (size prevents tripping)
- Draconal: 57, can't be tripped

Seven of those nine have base CMDs of 58 or less. Technically one of those has enough legs to bring it to the highest vs trip...so that's 3/9 with really high CMD.

Of course, with some basic buffs/gear that 44 becomes a 53 and we're still at a 50%ish chance to trip.

Fliers/giant snakes (aka stuff that's just immune to trip) are an issue, sure, and so is stuff that's too large to trip...but from the way you're describing it the majority of monsters would have sky high CMDs...and they don't seem to.


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As some people have mentioned, whether combat maneuvers are particularly useful or not tends to vary wildly depending on what the setup is.

If you're in a campaign where the enemies are almost 100% medium humanoids, for example, a trip build can be very good.

If you're in a campaign with a lot of huge, flying, and multilegged monsters as enemies, trip builds suck.

All the maneuvers require a significant investment, and most of the good ones require you to pay an onerous feat tax to Combat Expertise, one of the most unpopular feats in the game. The ones that have Power Attack as a prerequisite are pretty painless to get into, but on the other hand most of the time Bull Rush doesn't do much more than moderately inconvenience your opponent and your friends will get mad at you if you sunder enemy loot.


Nice optimized numbers

Built from level 1 to rock.

Now reread OP picking up a side thing at level 11-12.


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Some thing to make clear, your weapon bonus only gets added on some manuevers, not all

Shadow Lodge

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For monster stats, here is a spreadsheet that was updated through 2015 and is pretty a solid gauge of what to expect.


I'd say the best class for being a Combat Maneuver Generalist is the Brawler (or, by extension, any archetype that gets Martial Flexibility). You can use Martial Flexibility to get feats to specialize in Combat Maneuvers in combats where they'd be very helpful, and get different feats for combats where they won't be helpful.


Sammy T wrote:
For monster stats, here is a spreadsheet that was updated through 2015 and is pretty a solid gauge of what to expect.

Thanks for the link. Yeah, the mean, median, and mode for the CMD of CR20 creatures are in the 52-54 range. And an unbuffed vanilla Core Rulebook only Fighter with no inherent bonuses can get 44 with any weapon based Combat Maneuver.


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I find people also tend to want to invest in, what in my opinion at least, are the wrong combat maneuvers. As far as I'm concerned the only maneuver that holds up through nearly every encounter is dirty trick.

Trip seems popular but multiple legs and flight neuter it.

Disarm isn't going to help vs natural weapons

Sunder is powerful but wrecks party loot.

Reposition/drag/overrun are meh in nearly every situation

Bull rush is dependent on the terrain the encounter is in or useful in a shield slamming build.

Grapple is an all or nothing massive feat investment

Dirty trick is frankly kind of OP if you take the other maneuvers as a baseline, it works on everything, has like five effects you can apply including blindness, and there aren't monsters with random +12 bonuses to resist it.


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In my experience Manuevers can can go from marginal to useless in-game, then to completely overpowering to the point "badfun". The all or nothing aspect of manuevers is really the problem. A trip never just unbalances the target, giving him some penalties. You either dominate, or you do nothing.


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The dominate/nothing thing applies to many spells too. It's just that once you're (e.g.) a trip specialist you're going to be trying that same trip maneuver on everything possible for the rest of the campaign. A spellcaster can move on and try something different.

Overrun isn't as bad as Ryan suggests IMO. It can work as a damage enabler (charge through) or a debuff by knocking prone, possibly adding a minor attack (spiked destroyer and/or vicious stomp) to the debuff. A whole two different uses make it more versatile than most combat maneuvers.


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Balkoth wrote:
Sammy T wrote:
For monster stats, here is a spreadsheet that was updated through 2015 and is pretty a solid gauge of what to expect.
Thanks for the link. Yeah, the mean, median, and mode for the CMD of CR20 creatures are in the 52-54 range.

Compared to the 36 range for armor class. (Look at the spreadsheet.) It's roughly twenty points harder to trip something than it is to hit it with a pointy piece of metal at level 20 (even discounting special cases like snakes-cannot-be-tripped or incorporeal creatures cannot be grapped or monsters with such-and-such a feat get +27 CMD vs. dirty trick.)

You asked "Where does this idea about how CMD "scales way faster" come from?" It comes from the numbers.

Your "unoptimized" vanilla fighter can, at level 20, hit three out of four times with a higher probability than of tripping once -- or grappling at all.


Chess Pwn wrote:
Some thing to make clear, your weapon bonus only gets added on some manuevers, not all

This here is the one thing people keep trying to throw out there yet the rules never seem to support this claim. Let me guess your one of those people who says, "it doesn't apply if your grappling, because grappling doesn't mention you can use a weapon." when in fact grapple never says you have to do to it unarmed, or with a weapon but rather that if you are humanoid and you don't have two free hands you suffer a -4 penalty. So by all means please list which ones you think don't apply the weapon bonus. Not trying to be smug but people often like to spout out their house rules or interpretations as fact and after awhile other people adopt them like their law and it gets frustrating.


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There may be something more official somewhere, but here's an explanation on the Paizo blog about which combat maneuvers use weapons and which don't.


If you're going to tell me you get your greatsword's enhancement bonus on your grapple attempt, I'm going to have to get you to explain in some detail how exactly your 120cm sharp piece of metal too heavy to be wielded in one hand helps you grapple somebody. I can't imagine a situation in which it helps, but I'd like to hear you try to sell me on it.

I'll allow stuff like "rapier-enhanced dirty tricks" if you can explain how exactly you're getting the condition you want and how it involves the weapon in question.


There is an faq on trip weapons that was erratted to agree with the above refernced blog, which makes the blog post seem rather official to me.

Grand Lodge

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avr wrote:
There may be something more official somewhere, but here's an explanation on the Paizo blog about which combat maneuvers use weapons and which don't.

That's a very good source that I'll probably use going forward. That said, one problem I can see is that there are a few weapons with the "grapple" special quality like the garrote - while the text doesn't specifically say "you can use a grappling weapon to make grapple attempts" like it does for weapons with the "trip" special quality, it seems pretty clear to me that you are using the weapon in the grapple attempt, and I'd be hard-pressed to say that the weapon's enhancement bonus shouldn't apply in that case. But I also wouldn't complain if you decided to rule it differently in your game.


The main issue with CMB is that it scales absurdly hard (as people have talked about with the numbers) and is an all or nothing attempt. Rather like save or suck spells, failing a combat maneuver role means that you did absolutely nothing that round. Just like if the monster made its saving throw.

This is slightly better for maneuvers that can be attempted in place of attacks like Trip, Disarm and Sunder because you at least have the same number of attempts as you have attacks. This is especially potent if you are, say, duel-wielding since you can have up to 8 sunder/disarm attempts a round on a full attack and haste.

However, the other combat maneuvers are standard actions until level 6 (most likely level 9 since Level 6/7 will be the Greater version of the maneuver, so 8/9 will be the quick version) when you can select the quick version of them. This greatly reduces their value and viability, especially when you are only getting 1 roll a round. Thus unless you are in a very specific situation, you likely have a better choice for your turn than to make roll for a save or suck ability that scales harder than saving throws >_>

Another thing to note, Larger creatures are not naturally better at combat maneuvers than smaller creatures. They are better at resisting them, and they can use their maneuvers on more creatures thanks to avoiding PC size restrictions, but growing larger doesn't inherently make their attempt better than a smaller creature. This is because, just like how benefits to hit apply to CMB, so do penalties. Growing larger boosts your CMB and CMD, but also decreases your base chance to hit. Thus it is only a net boost to CMD. Growing smaller reduces your CMB and CMD, but boosts your chance to hit. Thus it is only a net loss of CMD.

That is why tiny fey can be just as adept at disarming as a hill giant.


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Claxon wrote:


Agreed. A character built and dedicated to grappling is incredibly overpowered against things not prepared for a grapple by having freedom of movement.

I mean.. kind of? A martial built around grappling is really good at shutting a single opponent down.

But a martial instead built around DPR is just going to kill that enemy outright instead and Dead is a stronger debuff than Grappled.

And a caster built around BFC is going to shut down multiple enemies in the same timeframe.

And both of those latter two options are much harder to defeat AND probably require less investment from the player to pull off.

So the "overpowered" argument always seemed like a bit of a stretch to me.


ShroudedInLight wrote:

This is because, just like how benefits to hit apply to CMB, so do penalties. Growing larger boosts your CMB and CMD, but also decreases your base chance to hit. Thus it is only a net boost to CMD. Growing smaller reduces your CMB and CMD, but boosts your chance to hit. Thus it is only a net loss of CMD.

That is why tiny fey can be just as adept at disarming as a hill giant.

No. The attack penalty for size isn't applied to CMB. Look at the Hill Giant from the bestiary. CMB 15, from BAB 7, Strength +7, Size +1. Also, larger creatures tend to have much higher Strength and only slightly lower Dexterity - anything with the Giant template is going to have significantly better CMB.


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I think what's worth considering is that in many cases, you have to expend a lot of your character's resources known in order to be reasonably good at a combat maneuver... which means you can't be learning other stuff instead. If your one maneuver doesn't work - trip versus most flying stuff, for example - then you're basically out of luck there and can't do much. Most casters can at least try casting something else instead.

Typically, you want at least most of your character's resources to be directed towards things you can do most of the time.

Of course, it gets easier if your character has some advantage with these things. Brawlers, for example, have their Martial Flexibility and Maneuver Training features - so they're rarely limited to just one option unless they're all out of resources for the day.


Though tiny creatures use dex instead of str for CMB, which more than cancels out their strength penalty if they perform a combat maneuver not hard-limited by size.


Matthew Downie wrote:
ShroudedInLight wrote:

This is because, just like how benefits to hit apply to CMB, so do penalties. Growing larger boosts your CMB and CMD, but also decreases your base chance to hit. Thus it is only a net boost to CMD. Growing smaller reduces your CMB and CMD, but boosts your chance to hit. Thus it is only a net loss of CMD.

That is why tiny fey can be just as adept at disarming as a hill giant.

No. The attack penalty for size isn't applied to CMB. Look at the Hill Giant from the bestiary. CMB 15, from BAB 7, Strength +7, Size +1. Also, larger creatures tend to have much higher Strength and only slightly lower Dexterity - anything with the Giant template is going to have significantly better CMB.

Really? The hell, why is that excluded? Attack penalties hit CMB just like buffs boost CMB. Arrrrr.

That not being consistent bothers the hell out of me.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Compared to the 36 range for armor class. (Look at the spreadsheet.)

Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa.

Why are you talking about armor class?

Orfamay Quest wrote:
You asked "Where does this idea about how CMD "scales way faster" come from?" It comes from the numbers.

Try using a little bit more of the quote:

"monster CMD scales way faster than your CMB"

CMB vs CMD. That's been the discussion.

And let's look at the numbers some more.

Level 1 CMB for a Fighter with 18 Str and Improved Trip: 7
Level 20 CMB: 44 (without buffs or flanking or better items or anything)

CR 1 CMD: 13-14 (mean, median, and mode all fall into that range)
CR 20 CMD: 52-54 (mean, median, and mode all fall into that range)

CMB scaling: (44-7)/20 = 1.85 per level
CMD scaling: (53-13.5)/20 = 1.975

The difference between CMB scaling and CMD scaling? Less than 7%. Throw in things like buffs, tomes of inherent bonuses, class specific stuff like Gloves of Dueling, etc, and CMB actually outscales CMD.

Orfamay Quest wrote:
Your "unoptimized" vanilla fighter can, at level 20, hit three out of four times with a higher probability than of tripping once

Without flanking/buffs/etc the fighter still has a 55% chance of tripping on his highest attack...and can still use the rest of his attacks normally even if he fails. And if he succeeds, not only does he (and anyone else threatening the target) get an extra attack (from Greater Trip), his lowest iteratives have a greater chance to hit. And his target has to eat a -4 AB/-4 AC penalty or stand up (which gives another AoO and prevents a full attack).

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