The Disappointed Halberdier


Rules Questions

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4

One of my players has a 6th level Fighter that has a halberd as his weapon of preference. He's a little disappointed that Overhand Chop and Backswing are missing from the Core Rules. His typical move was to use Power Attack, Overhand Chop, and Backswing to devastating effect.

Were these feats (and Devastating Blow) deemed unbalanced? I want to house rule them into the game, but I wanted to see why they were left out first.

Liberty's Edge

I too am curious as to why they were removed. One of my players had a barbarian with overhand chop and it certainly didn't seem too unbalanced.


Tom Qadim wrote:

One of my players has a 6th level Fighter that has a halberd as his weapon of preference. He's a little disappointed that Overhand Chop and Backswing are missing from the Core Rules. His typical move was to use Power Attack, Overhand Chop, and Backswing to devastating effect.

Were these feats (and Devastating Blow) deemed unbalanced? I want to house rule them into the game, but I wanted to see why they were left out first.

I think OC was a bit overpowered in the first levels. Ex a human barbarian with 20 str and raging (24 total str) is adding +4 to the damage. But it didn't scale well. If you raised your STR to 30, it added +5 to the damage.

Now, there are changes that lets you increase your damage for a 2W fighter. First, the Power Attack is +3 per every point of attack losen. Second, Vital strike can be taken at BAB+6. VS and OC are not compatible, as they are different standard actions.

So if that fighter level 6 (and lets say 20 str), was dealing while power attacking and a halberd:
1d10 + 5 (str)*2 + 10 (powatt) = 1d10 + 20 = 25.5 avg, but had -5 to attack
Now, if you change OC with VS, he is dealing:
2d10 + 5 (str) + 6 (powatt) = 2d10 + 11 = 22 avg, but has a only -2 to attack

As you see, not a big lost, I'd say it is better (you loose -2.5 dmg but gains +3 to attack)

The good notice is that you can take Imp. VS and the other feats at higher levels, increasing your damage in a standard attack.
As for Backswing, it wasn't overpowered at all. Your 20 str fighter is dealing +2 dmg in the first attack. But at level 11th, a raged barbarian (+6 str) with Bull's Strength (str 32 total), gets +16 damage. So the feat scaled too well depending on the circumtances and your build.

Devastating Blow was clearly overpowered as I see it.


Right, there's still Feats to increase Damage, they're just not called the same thing.
Let the new rules/Feats sink in a bit, and I'm sure he'll find a new build that works great.


I personally think that those feats dind't make the cut for two main reasons:

1) Ease of use: when a character started to have multiple attacks, it was slighly messy having multiple entries for the damage of your weapon

example: Greatsword +13/+8 (2d6+12, 19-20 x2) (2d6+10, 19-20 x2)

(assuming a 6th level Fighter with Weapon Training, Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization, Str 18 and a Greatsword +1)

2) Balance: Two-Handed weapons had always been the best choice for raw damage, feats like Devastating Blow simply put this choice as almost compulsory for any kind of melee character.

Just my 2c.


angelroble wrote:

[So if that fighter level 6 (and lets say 20 str), was dealing while power attacking and a halberd:

1d10 + 5 (str)*2 + 10 (powatt) = 1d10 + 20 = 25.5 avg, but had -5 to attack
Now, if you change OC with VS, he is dealing:
2d10 + 5 (str) + 6 (powatt) = 2d10 + 11 = 22 avg, but has a only -2 to attack

Sorry I failed my Knowlegde (Math) check:

While using Overhand Chop and Power attack, the Beta fighter deals:
1d10 + 5 (str)*2 + 10 (powatt) = 1d10 + 20 = 25.5 avg, at -5 to attack

While using Vital Strike and Power attack, the PF fighter deals:
2d10 + 5 (str)*1.5 + 6 (powatt) = 2d10 + 13 = 24 avg, at -2 to attack

There, almost the same damage, much better attack bonus: -1.5 vs +3


angelroble wrote:
angelroble wrote:

[So if that fighter level 6 (and lets say 20 str), was dealing while power attacking and a halberd:

1d10 + 5 (str)*2 + 10 (powatt) = 1d10 + 20 = 25.5 avg, but had -5 to attack
Now, if you change OC with VS, he is dealing:
2d10 + 5 (str) + 6 (powatt) = 2d10 + 11 = 22 avg, but has a only -2 to attack

Sorry I failed my Knowlegde (Math) check:

While using Overhand Chop and Power attack, the Beta fighter deals:
1d10 + 5 (str)*2 + 10 (powatt) = 1d10 + 20 = 25.5 avg, at -5 to attack

While using Vital Strike and Power attack, the PF fighter deals:
2d10 + 5 (str)*1.5 + 6 (powatt) = 2d10 + 13 = 24 avg, at -2 to attack

There, almost the same damage, much better attack bonus: -1.5 vs +3

I think issue comes in with Backswing, which let you keep your second/third/etc attacks. And that power attack in Beta didn't increase. (barring changes in strength)

So your fighter in Beta had 1 attack at 1d10 +20 at -5, and then a second attack at 1d10 + 17 at -5.

While Vital strike your stuck at 2d10 +13 at the -2.

Even maxing up to greater Vital Strike you are at 4x the damage. (at the cost of another feat by the way) But sticking with Backswing the fighter was having 4 attacks.
so a 16th level fighter
was still 1d10 + 5 (str)*2 + 10 at -5 and then 3 more attacks at 1d10 + 17 at -5 (granted your next 3 attacks are less likely to hit) Not sure of the probabilty #'s but lets say only 1 other attack hits.
and you'd be at 25 + 22 = 47.

But the Greater Vital strike guy is
4d10 + 5 (str)*2 + 15 power attack at -5. so about 45

So if only 1 extra attack hits your about the same, with the same negative. However if even 1 more attack hits, then the old methods were drastically better. And your down an extra feat.


Personally, I'm glad that Devastating Blow is gone; it gave a large advantage to users of oddball weapons like picks and scythes which I didn't particularly care for. Although I could have lived with it if it just gave triple damage (including bonuses) instead of a critical per se.

It's a little disappointing that Overhand Chop and Backswing are gone, but I agree that:
(a) two-handed fighters get enough benefits already, and
(b) ideally (IMO) feats should add more options, not just more damage.


I had a player in a playtest take out a great wyrm black dragon because he took devastating blow and some of the dragon killing feats from the Draconomicon and could automatically get a x8 hit on the dragon when he hit with his great axe.

Granted, in the playtest I let him take some really specialized feats, but man, that was insane.


hogarth wrote:

Personally, I'm glad that Devastating Blow is gone; it gave a large advantage to users of oddball weapons like picks and scythes which I didn't particularly care for. Although I could have lived with it if it just gave triple damage (including bonuses) instead of a critical per se.

It's a little disappointing that Overhand Chop and Backswing are gone, but I agree that:
(a) two-handed fighters get enough benefits already, and
(b) ideally (IMO) feats should add more options, not just more damage.

Devastating blow doesn't bother me that much. But I just miss that there were specific feats just for 2 hand weapon users. Shield users get something, 2 weapon users get feats, archers get various feats, why not for 2 handers?

I also don't agree that 2 hand fighters get more benefits than other types of fighters. The increased damage is more than offset by either their reduced AC since they can't have a shield, or their damage increase is offset by the extra attacks offered by 2 weapon users.

The problem with fighter feats is that in order to keep up with other classes in damage potential the feats have to offer some kind of increased damage either through extra attacks, or straight up increased damage.

Dark Archive

angelroble wrote:
Tom Qadim wrote:

One of my players has a 6th level Fighter that has a halberd as his weapon of preference. He's a little disappointed that Overhand Chop and Backswing are missing from the Core Rules. His typical move was to use Power Attack, Overhand Chop, and Backswing to devastating effect.

Were these feats (and Devastating Blow) deemed unbalanced? I want to house rule them into the game, but I wanted to see why they were left out first.

I think OC was a bit overpowered in the first levels. Ex a human barbarian with 20 str and raging (24 total str) is adding +4 to the damage. But it didn't scale well. If you raised your STR to 30, it added +5 to the damage.

Now, there are changes that lets you increase your damage for a 2W fighter. First, the Power Attack is +3 per every point of attack losen. Second, Vital strike can be taken at BAB+6. VS and OC are not compatible, as they are different standard actions.

So if that fighter level 6 (and lets say 20 str), was dealing while power attacking and a halberd:
1d10 + 5 (str)*2 + 10 (powatt) = 1d10 + 20 = 25.5 avg, but had -5 to attack
Now, if you change OC with VS, he is dealing:
2d10 + 5 (str) + 6 (powatt) = 2d10 + 11 = 22 avg, but has a only -2 to attack

As you see, not a big lost, I'd say it is better (you loose -2.5 dmg but gains +3 to attack)

The good notice is that you can take Imp. VS and the other feats at higher levels, increasing your damage in a standard attack.
As for Backswing, it wasn't overpowered at all. Your 20 str fighter is dealing +2 dmg in the first attack. But at level 11th, a raged barbarian (+6 str) with Bull's Strength (str 32 total), gets +16 damage. So the feat scaled too well depending on the circumtances and your build.

Devastating Blow was clearly overpowered as I see it.

I have to agree; I built a 6th level NPC halberdier who could have cleaved two 5th level PCs on the first round (the melee PCs had sucky ACs in comparison to my "optimized" NPC's attack bonus). I never ran that encounter, because it would have been an almost certain TPK. These could have been scaled to work, though.

I'm a bit disappointed with Devasting Blow being cut; I don't think it was actually overpowered... you traded a full attack for a single crit. I haven't compared the damage between DB and Improved Vital Strike, but I'd think they're pretty close to each other. However, DB might have been a better *tactical* option under certain conditions.


eljava77 wrote:

Devastating blow doesn't bother me that much. But I just miss that there were specific feats just for 2 hand weapon users. Shield users get something, 2 weapon users get feats, archers get various feats, why not for 2 handers?

Hey, they have many feats more than the rest of the fighters, because they have not to waste them in the feats NEEDED by the other types of fighters. Greater Vital Strike is nice, but if it is going to add only 1d8 to your damage in a standard action and you have a ton of feats to buy from your tree feat, maybe you think better. The 2HW fighter gets more for the same money, and they have a lot of empty feat slots .

- Their Power Attack is better (add 3x every -1, that's 50% more damage).
- Their Vital Strike is better (add 2d6 instead 1d8 for a Greatsword and a Longsword; with Greater VS, 6d6 vs 3d8, that's 55% more damage)
- Their Improved Critical is better. (the increase in average damage that it gives is higher)
- Any spell/ability that increases Str or Size works better for them.


angelroble wrote:
eljava77 wrote:

Devastating blow doesn't bother me that much. But I just miss that there were specific feats just for 2 hand weapon users. Shield users get something, 2 weapon users get feats, archers get various feats, why not for 2 handers?

Hey, they have many feats more than the rest of the fighters, because they have not to waste them in the feats NEEDED by the other types of fighters. Greater Vital Strike is nice, but if it is going to add only 1d8 to your damage in a standard action and you have a ton of feats to buy from your tree feat, maybe you think better. The 2HW fighter gets more for the same money, and they have a lot of empty feat slots .

- Their Power Attack is better (add 3x every -1, that's 50% more damage).
- Their Vital Strike is better (add 2d6 instead 1d8 for a Greatsword and a Longsword; with Greater VS, 6d6 vs 3d8, that's 55% more damage)
- Their Improved Critical is better. (the increase in average damage that it gives is higher)
- Any spell/ability that increases Str or Size works better for them.

Right on everything but the power attack: A two weapon fighter ends up with the same bonus damage from power attacking (less likely to hit due to two weapon fighting but that's different).

two handed weapon = 3x damage
two weapon = 2x damage primary + 1x damage secondary = 3x damage

Only single weapon fighters 'lose' anything from power attacking (and that's generally waved off due to the fact you can still use a shield).


eljava77 wrote:


Devastating blow doesn't bother me that much. But I just miss that there were specific feats just for 2 hand weapon users. Shield users get something, 2 weapon users get feats, archers get various feats, why not for 2 handers?

Sure, maybe they deserve something. But I'm not sure they need two feats that do the same thing (in slightly different ways): more damage.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The only thing you guys are missing right now is the critical feats that have been added. These combined with devastating blow cause a new problem. If you crit every round you will never let up on the power of those feats and a spec'd fighter applying to saves a round vs staggered and stunned would be truly game breaking. A single opponent would most likely not get actions and be severely hindered by this type of build. Besides 2-handed weapon + lunge + great cleave = a lot of bad times for hordes of enemies as well, albeit at -4 AC. 2-handed fighters simply have to think outside the box a little, Lunge and a reach weapon and cleave also make for some very interesting tactical maneuvers.

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