Making Vital Strike work


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Dark Archive

As far as I'm concerned, the Vital Strike feat chain is rather underwhelming. That said, Ultimate Combat offers some ways to make it better. Devastating Strike adds some bonus damage and Furious Finish allows a barbarian to maximize its damage at the cost of his rage.
So, to make it work, a character needs immunity to fatigue. The easiest way is one level of oracle. He also needs a weapon that is as big as possible. Large bastard swords are a good choice, dealing 2d8 points of damage.
Since the character uses micro rages, there's no reason not to use a rage power like Powerful Blow. It's still underwhelming, but it's a bit of extra damage.
Let's take a look at 12th level, the character has 11 barbarian levels and one level of oracle. His BAB is +11 and while raging, he can have a strength of 34.
Let's say he uses a +3 furious large bastard sword. His normal damage with Power Attack is 2d8+32. With Improved Vital Strike, Powerful Blow, Devastating Strike and Furious Finish, it becomes 87. Still not very impressive. Any suggestions?

The Exchange

Use Vital Strike with a siege engine.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Make the line a single feat that scales with BAB, so characters can take real feats instead.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Make the line a single feat that scales with BAB, so characters can take real feats instead.

+1 this is what I do as well.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Make the line a single feat that scales with BAB, so characters can take real feats instead.

This

/Nuke the site from orbit its the only way to be sure.


It will never be as impressive as a full attack. If it was it would be a no brainer feat and everyone would grab it. Your on the correct track however for getting the most out of it as it's written. Big Big weapons.

Here are some spells that work with vital strike very well -
Enlarge person (1 increase in weapon size)
Lead blades (Increases weapon size damage with out increasing weapon).

These two spells can increase a medium weapon to an effective huge size damage, which then gets bumped by the vital strike chain.

As for rewriting the feat. Make it scale with BAB. Honestly....All feat chains should be one feat that scales with BAB. I'm looking at you greater grapple.

The Exchange

Lab_Rat wrote:
Here are some spells that work with vital strike very well -

Yes... but they scale just as well (or even better) with a normal full attack, and that's kinda' the point. Unless you're limited to a standard attack for some reason (such as firing a siege weapon ;) ), then the maths generally doesn't fall in Vital Strike's favour.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I really don't get all the hate and "it needs fixed" for vital strike. Its useful when you can't get a full attack, and unless you're a barbarian with greater beast totem, you aren't getting a full attack if you have to move more than 5 feet. UC added a couple helpful feats that scale with vs, I don't have the book handy and don't remember their names. Its not for every melee character, but very few feats are.

Silver Crusade

Oh, another "fix Vital Strike" thread.
VS doesn't need any fix.

*Takes pop-corn*

Liberty's Edge

Hitokiriweasel wrote:
I really don't get all the hate and "it needs fixed" for vital strike. Its useful when you can't get a full attack, and unless you're a barbarian with greater beast totem, you aren't getting a full attack if you have to move more than 5 feet. UC added a couple helpful feats that scale with vs, I don't have the book handy and don't remember their names. Its not for every melee character, but very few feats are.

The argument is usually that your full attack damage scales with BAB, but your vital strike damage (which is ostensibly there to help bridge the gap between full-round and standard attack) does not scale with BAB. Thus, as you level, the feat becomes less and less useful at the one thing it's intended to do.

I agree with the other posters here the Vital Strike should simply scale with BAB (and that BAB + regular Vital Strike should replace the Improved/Greater Vital Strike requirements for any feat that may require it).

Dark Archive

Maxximilius wrote:

Oh, another "fix Vital Strike" thread.

VS doesn't need any fix.

*Takes pop-corn*

It seems I didn't make my intent clear enough. I'm not trying to fix Vital Strike, I'm trying to make it worth the feat investment it has without changing any rules.

Shadow Lodge

Vital Strike is great if you're a Scout rogue, or if you feint a lot. You don't rely on crits, so you can do what you can to have a big nasty weapon and do large damage regularly.


Bestial Leaper(6th level rage power) allows you take a move action and a standard somewhere along the move. Fly By Attack allows that same thing. Either of those allow you to make a "spring attack" vital striker.

Come and Get Me(12th level rage power) would allow you to swing at everyone you trigger AoO from while you move.

"Spring attacking" would cut down on the number of full attacks taken on you.

Maybe 6 levels of barb, grab bestial leaper and vital strike, one level of sorcerer, then dragon disciple for 4 levels. If you take a few rounds to buff with lead blades and enlarge, and start off with a large bastard sword you would do 4d8 normally. At 11th level, with multiple rounds of buffing you could do 8d8+20 on a bestial leaper spring attack with power attack, arcane strike, and raging, 24 base strength(I didn't include a magic weapon or magic items to buff strength). Once per rage you could Furious Finish to do 84 points of damage.

Of course if you just went straight barbarian you would have pounce.

The Exchange

Jadeite wrote:

As far as I'm concerned, the Vital Strike feat chain is rather underwhelming. That said, Ultimate Combat offers some ways to make it better. Devastating Strike adds some bonus damage and Furious Finish allows a barbarian to maximize its damage at the cost of his rage.

So, to make it work, a character needs immunity to fatigue.

Checking the Furious Finish text, this doesn't actually work...

'... If you do, your rage immediately ends, and you are fatigued (even if you would not normally be).'

... it looks like Furious Finish counters any fatigue immunity the character may have going on (to counter just such a spamming of the Feat, I guess). So you can only use Furious Finish one time, then you're fatigued, no matter what. To make this work you need to look for something that removes the fatigued condition, rather than prevents it, since there's nothing in the Furious Finish text to say you can remove it after it's hit you.


Wand of Restoration, Lesser gets rid of fatigue, if you do not have a divine caster then anyone with ranks in UMD can try to take a crack at it.

Dark Archive

ProfPotts wrote:
Jadeite wrote:

As far as I'm concerned, the Vital Strike feat chain is rather underwhelming. That said, Ultimate Combat offers some ways to make it better. Devastating Strike adds some bonus damage and Furious Finish allows a barbarian to maximize its damage at the cost of his rage.

So, to make it work, a character needs immunity to fatigue.

Checking the Furious Finish text, this doesn't actually work...

'... If you do, your rage immediately ends, and you are fatigued (even if you would not normally be).'

... it looks like Furious Finish counters any fatigue immunity the character may have going on (to counter just such a spamming of the Feat, I guess). So you can only use Furious Finish one time, then you're fatigued, no matter what. To make this work you need to look for something that removes the fatigued condition, rather than prevents it, since there's nothing in the Furious Finish text to say you can remove it after it's hit you.

Furious Focus counters Tireless Rage, not immunity to fatigue.

Liberty's Edge

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ProfPotts wrote:
Jadeite wrote:

As far as I'm concerned, the Vital Strike feat chain is rather underwhelming. That said, Ultimate Combat offers some ways to make it better. Devastating Strike adds some bonus damage and Furious Finish allows a barbarian to maximize its damage at the cost of his rage.

So, to make it work, a character needs immunity to fatigue.

Checking the Furious Finish text, this doesn't actually work...

'... If you do, your rage immediately ends, and you are fatigued (even if you would not normally be).'

... it looks like Furious Finish counters any fatigue immunity the character may have going on (to counter just such a spamming of the Feat, I guess). So you can only use Furious Finish one time, then you're fatigued, no matter what. To make this work you need to look for something that removes the fatigued condition, rather than prevents it, since there's nothing in the Furious Finish text to say you can remove it after it's hit you.

I disagree with this assessment. I think that text was meant to counter the Tireless Rage ability. Immunity to fatigue can't just be waived unless the text explicitly says "this affects even characters immune to fatigue."

EDIT: I would make a terrible ninja...


Jadeite wrote:
Maxximilius wrote:

Oh, another "fix Vital Strike" thread.

VS doesn't need any fix.

*Takes pop-corn*

It seems I didn't make my intent clear enough. I'm not trying to fix Vital Strike, I'm trying to make it worth the feat investment it has without changing any rules.

(tongue in killer (but 'RAW obedient') DM's proverbial cheek)

Oh, yes, let's please scale Vital Strike to BAB!
Let's see, now my Ice (or Magma) Elemental does more damage on a Vital Strike than with a Full Attack. Here magey, magey..., let me move up to you and kill you in one blow (100+ damage, CR 11).
Oh, and my Cloud Giant Fighter LOVES this. Let's see that's +12d6 (or +18 w/ a few levels) damage when I take VS with my Gargantuan Greatsword.
Oh, and think of all the critical focus feats I can take with all those baddies who took the whole chain (most true dragons and high CR outsiders) by having two feats freed up.
(tongue out of cheek)
So, yeah, think of another 'fix' before everyone dies.

To Jadeite, not a mechanical change? So you want a build around it?

I think VS is already effective enough to sometimes take. ('Always take' would mean it was too effective)
How many of your attacks are full attacks? In my games, the melee characters have 1/3+ of their attacks happen after a move. If VS adds
4.5 Damage (longsword) 1/3 of the time, that's 1.5 extra damage/round (not per attack because FAs have more). Easy math. Not worth it.
Scale up to greatsword, 2.33/round. Better, but...
Oh, but I'm usually Enlarged, 3.5/round. Starting to look comparable to Weapon Specialization (not TWF/archer) if only because it's not limited to one weapon.
Oh, and we fight a lot of mages/archers/while spread out/in difficult terrain/Spring Attackers, so I'm actually moving 1/2 the rounds. Also 3.5 dam/round, not Enlarged.
Still questionable, but-
This also represents me attacking at my weakest moments (a.k.a. when not Full Attacking), when I'd most like/need the boost, or in a surprise round, or when slowed, or after standing up from a trip, or replacing my weapon after stun/disarm, or maybe, just maybe...
I ready actions a whole lot.
Wait. I do.
(most of my players prefer the melee monsters come to them, so the PC can do the first full attack and/or wait for haste)
Suddenly that extra 7 damage with my Greatsword during "I'm getting screwed!" moments looks a lot better.
It's not about giving up a Full Attack or adding to your mega-DPR stack, it's for when you need mobility, or worse, have no Full Attack anyway.

Or perhaps for when your full attack option isn't so full...
With 3/4 BAB classes, (who tend to be moving more and have iterative attacks that are worth less), it adds extra oomph to the one attack that may hit those tougher baddies.
Half-Orcs with Greataxes, for instance. Clerics with Favored Weapon (insert big THW here).

So, yeah, I think VS works as is. As a THW Fighter, I'd take it in an AP, but not in an Against the Giants campaign where you stand toe-to-toe nearly every round. As a Half-Orc Rogue or melee Bard, I'd take it (mix with tumble).

Back to Jadeite: I don't think building a full BAB PC around the concept of 'choosing to not Full Attack' works well without contrivances. Maybe around a character who wouldn't want to Full Attack anyway, but then they're not likely a full BAB PC.
So what type of PC are you thinking of?

JMK

The Exchange

Jadeite wrote:
Furious Focus counters Tireless Rage, not immunity to fatigue.

That may well be the intent (although, to be honest, I imagine the intent is to counter spamming maximum damage hits every round), but it's not the RAW. What is written is that you are fatigued, even if you'd normally not be. No mention of Tireless Rage, or any other specific circumstances. If you're immune to fatigue, then normally you'd not be fatigued after coming out of a Rage... but using this Feat you are... 'cos that's what it says... ;)

Liberty's Edge

Not sure what creatures you're talkin gabout here, but that Magma elemental would go from 2 attacks at 3d6+8 (and burn for 3d6x2) to 1 attack for 9d6+8+burnx1 . The former (assuming hits, since they have the same to-hit) is 29 damage + 3d6 burn*2 (for 50), the latter is also 50 damage average. And that's with an effective Greater Vital Strike (no other magma elemental other than Elder gets greater).

The cloud giant would either do 3 attacks for 4d6+18, or one attack for 8d6+18 (it only gets improved at its BAB). If you go to BAB 16 then they trade 4 attacks at 4d6+18 for one at 12d6+18.

In short: In both cases, despite being rather optimal due to large size categories, the creature still barely ekes out making full-attack and standard action attack equal. And to be honest, I imagine big creatures as being specialists in this tactic anyway. I mean, how often do you imagine a dragon attacking 6 times in 6 seconds, versus attacking once every several seconds and breaking everything in the near vicinity to the target.

For a normal sized character, however, the feat is much less effective. Even a 2-handing character goes from 2d6+35 four times (say 2 hits average; at 20th level) to 8d6+35 (less than one hit average, but go with 0.95). So they go from 84 average to ~60 average (versus the normal ~40).

So, sure, it's a good damage boost compared to what you could normally do with that standard action, but compared to full attack? Yeah, no.

Worth too much for one feat? Maybe. Worth enough for three? No way.


Hmm. To start with you've got to be a scout rogue. Nobody else gets bonus damage only on their first attack. Then you've got to have low strength, otherwise you're losing too much ground compared to a full attack. That means a finesse or ranged build. Biggest dice you'll manage is elven curve-blade I think, which isn't impressive. As a melee scout you really want spring attack though. Without it you're not getting your 10' movement to get off your sneak attack next turn without risking a failed tumble and an AoO. Using a heavy crossbow would limit you to shooting every second turn even with rapid reload since you need a move action to get sneak attack. That means you're using either a 1d8 light crossbow or a 1d8 longbow. It could be worth it at this point, but this is a mighty weak build, but it may be the best you can do as a ranged rogue without losing trapfinding or trap sense.

The other option is a crossbow fighter. A move action reload crossbow, either light or heavy with rapid reload, is going to do well with vital strike. Take them with bonus feats so you can retrain them once you get crossbow mastery though because at that point full attacks are an option again. And, of course, the build is weak no matter how you optimize. Even noncomposite bows are better because of rapid shot and manyshot.

Liberty's Edge

ProfPotts wrote:
Jadeite wrote:
Furious Focus counters Tireless Rage, not immunity to fatigue.
That may well be the intent (although, to be honest, I imagine the intent is to counter spamming maximum damage hits every round), but it's not the RAW. What is written is that you are fatigued, even if you'd normally not be. No mention of Tireless Rage, or any other specific circumstances. If you're immune to fatigue, then normally you'd not be fatigued after coming out of a Rage... but using this Feat you are... 'cos that's what it says... ;)

If I were your DM, I'd slap you silly and tell you to stop being annoying.

Immunity is immunity. Your character CANNOT take this condition. Would you make an undead barbarian become fatigued doing this? How about a construct? Neither of them even have the physical capability to be fatigued! But of course, by your reasoning they would be anyway.

The Exchange

I'm sorry... what do you think the words written under the Feat actually say? I didn't write the thing. Yes, it makes no sense (apart from as game balance)... but shooting the messenger isn't going to help, now, is it? ;)

Liberty's Edge

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ProfPotts wrote:
I'm sorry... what do you think the words written under the Feat actually say? I didn't write the thing. Yes, it makes no sense (apart from as game balance)... but shooting the messenger isn't going to help, now, is it? ;)

If a messenger is told that they are out of tomatoes, they don't go and tell the recipient of the message that tomatoes have ceased to exist.

It should be obvious to anyone that immunity is not bypassed unless explicitly noted otherwise, and to suggest that something as ambiguous as "even if they would normally not be" can override an immunity is distracting and disingenuous.


ProfPotts wrote:
I'm sorry... what do you think the words written under the Feat actually say? I didn't write the thing. Yes, it makes no sense (apart from as game balance)... but shooting the messenger isn't going to help, now, is it? ;)

Look at it this way, your fatigued but your immune to the effects, so go ahead and write fatigue on your sheet, just dont write any of the penalties.


VITAL STRIKE (COMBAT) (Revised)
You make a single attack that deals significantly more damage than normal.
Prerequisite: Base attack bonus +6.
Benefit: During any round in which you make only a single attack on your turn, that attack deals an additional 2d6 damage. This bonus damage increases to +4d6 if your base attack bonus is +11 or better, and to +6d6 if your base attack bonus is +16 or better. This additional damage applies only to your primary attack, not to any attacks of opportunity you might make that round.

Note the +2d6, instead of +[W], means that a longsword-armed fighter gets the same benefit as a Tyrannosaur.

Liberty's Edge

Kirth Gersen wrote:

VITAL STRIKE (COMBAT) (Revised)

You make a single attack that deals significantly more damage than normal.
Prerequisite: Base attack bonus +6.
Benefit: During any round in which you make only a single attack on your turn, that attack deals an additional 2d6 damage. This bonus damage increases to +4d6 if your base attack bonus is +11 or better, and to +6d6 if your base attack bonus is +16 or better. This additional damage applies only to your primary attack, not to any attacks of opportunity you might make that round.

Note the +2d6, instead of +[W], means that a longsword-armed fighter gets the same benefit as a Tyrannosaur.

I both like and dislike this solution. I like it in that it makes it flatter and simpler (and thus equally useful to various character types). I dislike it in that it reduces the "close the gap" aspect, which I feel is the whole point of vital strike.

The main thing that balances the one-feat version of vital strike is the fact that the extra damage will never multiply on a critical. This means that even if it helps your non-critical damage a bunch, and even if it makes that damage tie your full-round attack damage for quantity, it is still worthwhile to full-round for the critical, even if you only have a 20/x2 critical.

That cloud giant might do about 50% more damage on a vital strike than they would without, but that 50% extra does not critical. If they had an 18-20/x2 weapon that extra 50% not being a critical would be a painful hit to damage (especially with keen).

The higher your BAB and the better your critical rating, the more this hurts (the higher BAB increases how much of your standard-attack damage does not qualify for critical). Since this is ostensibly for big fighter types, they will get the most hurt out of the 'doesn't critical' aspect of the bonus damage, and they are the only ones you have to worry about exploiting this.

Liberty's Edge

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Make the line a single feat that scales with BAB, so characters can take real feats instead.

Blarg.

If you get full-attacks only every other round, Vital Strike with a d12 or bigger weapon grants more average damage than Weapon Specialization. (!) -- I demonstrated the math on this a couple weeks ago in another thread.

(And Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization do not scale either.)

-- When the thoroughly worthless Hammer the Gap is there to poop on now, why anybody bothers to poop on a very good feat is beyond me.


StabbittyDoom wrote:
The main thing that balances the one-feat version of vital strike is the fact that the extra damage will never multiply on a critical.

This damage was not intended to multiply on a critical, either -- sorry if that was unclear. In general, bonus DICE do not, whereas flat numerical bonuses do.

Liberty's Edge

In the first round, Dwarven ranger (carrying a potion of Enlarge Person in one hand and his large waraxe in the other) casts Lead Blades, then chugs the potion (Accelerated Drinker trait); drops vial as free action; grips weapon as free-action.

His weapon is immediately 3d8, and will be 4d8+reach next round. 8d8 w/Vital Strike, 12d8 w/IVS, etc.

Liberty's Edge

Kirth Gersen wrote:
StabbittyDoom wrote:
The main thing that balances the one-feat version of vital strike is the fact that the extra damage will never multiply on a critical.
This damage was not intended to multiply on a critical, either -- sorry if that was unclear. In general, bonus DICE do not, whereas flat numerical bonuses do.

Sorry, wasn't implying that yours allowed that. Rather, I was saying it was not necessary to flatten the damage as it is balanced by the lack of critical.

Personally, I'm probably going to debate this internally a bit longer, but I feel that (if nothing else) knocking it down to two feats (first stays the same, second makes it scale) would be more then fair. Knocking it down to one is up for debate.

@Mike: Weapon Focus and Weapon Spec DO scale. They scale because you get more attacks for them to work on. It isn't perfect scaling thanks to the reduce BAB of the iterative attacks, but they do scale. (Unless you use natural attacks, of course.)

EDIT: And that dwarf you're using will NOT get critical on most of that damage, and will not get their damage mods more than once. Most reach weapons are x3 critical weapons (though x4 exists). No matter what, the full attack will always be better, the debate here depends vastly on how often you get full-attack versus not, and how that percentage times the damage resulting compares to the feat investment. I'd wager that VS would look good until you consider critical damage on the 18-20/x2 or 20/x4 weapons and how that factors in.

The Exchange

StabbittyDoom wrote:
It should be obvious to anyone that immunity is not bypassed unless explicitly noted otherwise, and to suggest that something as ambiguous as "even if they would normally not be" can override an immunity is distracting and disingenuous.

Well... your insulting me aside...

Do you honest think the intent of the Furious Focus Feat is to allow Barbarians to rage-cycle and get one maximum damage hit in every single round? Or that the clause about fatigue was put in there specifically to stop such shenanigans?

Liberty's Edge

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ProfPotts wrote:
StabbittyDoom wrote:
It should be obvious to anyone that immunity is not bypassed unless explicitly noted otherwise, and to suggest that something as ambiguous as "even if they would normally not be" can override an immunity is distracting and disingenuous.

Well... your insulting me aside...

Do you honest think the intent of the Furious Focus Feat is to allow Barbarians to rage-cycle and get one maximum damage hit in every single round? Or that the clause about fatigue was put in there specifically to stop such shenanigans?

You are not immune to fatigue as a barbarian unless you do something special to get it. If you do that, have fun with your shenanigans. Keep in mind that each round they do this they burn TWO rounds of rage instead of one (one at the beginning to use it, one at the end to keep rage going). And they still can't do it if they're low on health since they'd go unconscious or die.

Not exactly a game-changer in my book. Heck, you can already have the cleric prepare-action heal that fatigue to do this exact thing (EDIT: This is only worth it because you also heal HP if you use the actual Heal spell).


StabbittyDoom wrote:
Sorry, wasn't implying that yours allowed that. Rather, I was saying it was not necessary to flatten the damage as it is balanced by the lack of critical.

Ah, I understand what you're saying now. I still wanted it flattened, though -- all things being equal, I wanted a 6th level sword-and-board fighter to get just as much use out of it as a 6th level Monkey Grip Lead Bladed Anime character whose sword is 30 feet long.


I said it above, but I guess I took too long reading the thread and got overshadowed. So, I'll just restate the wand of lesser restoration.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Mike Schneider wrote:
If you get full-attacks only every other round, Vital Strike with a d12 or bigger weapon grants more average damage than Weapon Specialization. (!) -- I demonstrated the math on this a couple weeks ago in another thread.

And?

Mike Schneider wrote:
(And Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization do not scale either.)

Yeah, WF/WS should be a single feat that scales as well.

Liberty's Edge

TOZ wrote:
Mike Schneider wrote:
If you get full-attacks only every other round, Vital Strike with a d12 or bigger weapon grants more average damage than Weapon Specialization. (!) -- I demonstrated the math on this a couple weeks ago in another thread.
And?
And...so it's not only not a bad feat, it's a great feat. Take the waraxe ranger example listed a few posts above -- show me how else any melee combatant can get +36pts damage off two feats in any suboptimal situation in which he can at most attack once. At 12th, he's pulling nearly if not more than a hundred on a single hit after an average 52 on just weapon dice alone.
Quote:
WF/WS should be a single feat that scales as well.

Weapon Specialization, perhaps (not one of my favs). Weapon Focus? Absolutely not. Why? Because the d20 isn't getting any bigger -- it's not like you're constantly falling behind and need to catch up.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

No, I meant that you take Weapon Focus, and at appropriate fighter levels you get WS/GWF/GWS without taking them.


Mike Schneider wrote:
Quote:
WF/WS should be a single feat that scales as well.
Weapon Specialization, perhaps (not one of my favs). Weapon Focus? Absolutely not. Why? Because the d20 isn't getting any bigger -- it's not like you're constantly falling behind and need to catch up.

Um, then why does Greater Weapon Focus exist?

Obviously, you are falling behind.

So he means make Greater come naturally when you level instead of seperate.

Liberty's Edge

TriOmegaZero wrote:
No, I meant that you take Weapon Focus, and at appropriate fighter levels you get WS/GWF/GWS without taking them.

Why? Is the power-creep not brisk enough already? I can build a PFS character who's +30 at 12th.

Grand Lodge

Isnt Lead Blades a ranger spell only?


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Mike, no one is saying that Vital Strike is useless in every single situation.

The entire problem is that people are looking for a viable way to get a decent increase in damage when they can only make one attack in a round. However, for the overwhelming majority of characters there isn't really a good way to do this. Vital Strike seems to a lot of people like a good option at first, but it is in all actuality an extremely weak option for most people. That's why most people avoid it like the plague, and recommend others to do the same. Sure if you super optimize for VS it becomes a decent option, but how much did you invest in order to make it worthwhile? A trait, a feat, a potion, a personal ranger spell, an attack penalty for the oversized weapon, and you have to adventure with a potion constantly in your hand.

Now you may say that not every feat is for every build, but Vital Strike steals the show because other than Vital Strike there aren't really many options of increasing your damage when you can only make a single strike. Many people (myself included) believe there should be a viable way to increase your damage on single strikes for pretty much any fighter build. And that's why everyone keeps coming up with suggestions how to make Vital Strike good. They want to solve the single attack damage problem for every fighter, not just the weird fringe builds.

Also, I read your math about Vital Strike vs Weapon Specialization in the other thread, and I have to say that I didn't find it very satisfying. No discussion of critical hits, full attacks with more than two iterations, or the fact that VS can't be combined with any other special maneuver (even simple things like charge). Not to mention, that I don't necessarily agree on the ratio of 1:1 for full attacks to standard action Vital Strikes.


StabbittyDoom wrote:

Not sure what creatures you're talkin gabout here, but that Magma elemental would go from 2 attacks at 3d6+8 (and burn for 3d6x2) to 1 attack for 9d6+8+burnx1 . The former (assuming hits, since they have the same to-hit) is 29 damage + 3d6 burn*2 (for 50), the latter is also 50 damage average. And that's with an effective Greater Vital Strike (no other magma elemental other than Elder gets greater).

The cloud giant would either do 3 attacks for 4d6+18, or one attack for 8d6+18 (it only gets improved at its BAB). If you go to BAB 16 then they trade 4 attacks at 4d6+18 for one at 12d6+18.

In short: In both cases, despite being rather optimal due to large size categories, the creature still barely ekes out making full-attack and standard action attack equal. And to be honest, I imagine big creatures as being specialists in this tactic anyway. I mean, how often do you imagine a dragon attacking 6 times in 6 seconds, versus attacking once every several seconds and breaking everything in the near vicinity to the target.

For a normal sized character, however, the feat is much less effective. Even a 2-handing character goes from 2d6+35 four times (say 2 hits average; at 20th level) to 8d6+35 (less than one hit average, but go with 0.95). So they go from 84 average to ~60 average (versus the normal ~40).

So, sure, it's a good damage boost compared to what you could normally do with that standard action, but compared to full attack? Yeah, no.

Worth too much for one feat? Maybe. Worth enough for three? No way.

Response to SD

stabbitydoom:

Oops on the Magma (was working from memory of previous research, mixed up which critter broke 100 with the change in VS, there is one), but burn aside (as most will have some resistance up by then if in Magma Elem. areas) it does more damage with the 'improved by BAB' Vital Strike than with a Full Attack. No feat should do that.

The Cloud Giant though, you were off, I was talking about a Fighter Cloud Giant (switch out the morningstar (4d6) for a greatsword (6d6 because he can wield garg. weapons.) Then he takes 'improved by BAB' VS giving him +12d6 (or +18d6 with a few levels). In that instance I wasn't focusing on comparison with FA (as I did with the Elems) but with sheer damage (42 or 63 ave.) granted with one feat to one attack. Too much.
"We slowed him, but... he doesn't seem to mind so much."
(Heck 21 is too much for one feat, but at those levels...)
My main emphasis with both was that they could get to and smash the mage into "gotta run" mode (not quite dead) in one round and there's little to prevent it as they have good reach.

As for comparing Full Attacks to Vital Strike for PCs, I made a point of saying that giving up Full Attacks was a poor option for a melee PC, but that Vital Strike was useful in the many situations when you can't Full Attack (many times when the enemy's gained an advantage on you).

I don't think Vital Strike was meant as "Strike a vital part" (not precision damage) but rather as "You get one attack. It's Vital."
Or to paraphrase Mike Schneider (if I may, Mike), when your combat situation is suboptimal, this feat is very optimal.

Back to the OP. To make VS work, you need to face foes that regularly make you move or put you in positions where you can't Full Attack.
And carry a big weapon.
Hopefully one you can make even bigger.

JMK

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Mike Schneider wrote:
Why? Is the power-creep not brisk enough already? I can build a PFS character who's +30 at 12th.

Is that all?


Merkatz wrote:

Lots of intelligent stuff.

Well said, and I agree that much of the flak against VS is from the hopes it brings being quashed by the reality. (No Spring Attack???) (Heck, out of Full BAB PCs, only Fighters really have the feats to bother, and then only THW ones.)

That said, should there be better options for single attacks? (Or should setting up your Full Attack be a legitimate tactical need? Much as casters need to establish distance.)
How would RAW work that didn't favor those monsters who have strong single attacks already? (i.e. Frost Worms) Or make a halfling's pokey dagger soar in damage. (+2d6? Good max, bad min.)
I think VS is a work-in-progress (look at how many permutations PA & Cleave have gone through) so what would you suggest, Merkatz?

I do have one for y'all to chew on: Instead of weapon damage, add your BAB to damage and let it multiply with a crit.
(Still have a bit of powerful pokey dagger problem, but then maybe small guys need that boost to contend.)

JMK

Liberty's Edge

Merkatz wrote:

Mike, no one is saying that Vital Strike is useless in every single situation.

The entire problem is that people are looking for a viable way to get a decent increase in damage when they can only make one attack in a round.

What's wrong with that? -- Vital Strike is a feat which especially helps you in suboptimal situations: i.e., it's the Surprise round, or you are Slowed, or there's difficult terrain amidst fog or Darkness requiring you to stumble around until you find a target. (I endured all three of these situations in one encounter in a recent PFS module.)

Raising your output in suboptimal situations (in which your adversary may have the upper hand) is arguably much more important than piling on overkill in those situations where you are already Hell-on-wheels -- and this becomes especially so at higher levels where your adversary is acutely aware of the fact that enemies with six or seven attacks are grossly more hurtful than those with only one attack. (And thus, paradoxically, the VS line is actually more valuable as you level into iteratives.)

Quote:
That's why most people avoid it like the plague, and recommend others to do the same. Sure if you super optimize for VS it becomes a decent option,

The Vital Strike line is actually most beneficial to those who aren't super-optimized. I.e., they see bigger percentage gains when multiplying weapon dice than those who are specialized in sneak-attacks, crits, or raw strength & PA.


Think of vital strike as similar to Diehard or Iron Will - you can't make a build based on it, but when it's useful, it's very useful.

Shadow Lodge

Mike Schneider wrote:
Raising your output in suboptimal situations (in which your adversary may have the upper hand) is arguably much more important than piling on overkill in those situations where you are already Hell-on-wheels -- and this becomes especially so at higher levels where your adversary is acutely aware of the fact that enemies with six or seven attacks are grossly more hurtful than those with only one attack. (And thus, paradoxically, the VS line is actually more valuable as you level into iteratives.)

EXACTLY.

Many times, it seems to be that the strategy is to optimize the character assuming perfection in opportunity, and then whine to your GM and argue until he relents and let you have that perfection in opportunity.

If you can't assume you'll have the perfect equipment, the perfect combat conditions, the perfect setup, then the optimal build strategy is very different. I've watched optimizers flail about in difficult circumstances, then assume that if only they were further optimized, there wouldn't be a problem--if only I had another hand to wield yet another metamagic rod! If only I could take a 10' step and full attack! If only my inititative was just another +10 higher!

No, the best strategy is to figure out how to be effective when you can't control the situation. Suck it up and take metamagic feats. Make the answer to "who goes first" not "me" but "I don't care." And... know when to take Vital Strike.

Liberty's Edge

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@Castilliano, you're arguing a point other than the one you think you are.

Cloud giants, magma elementals, etc, are NOT players. Maybe they do get more out of vital strike than the players, but being large creatures there WILL be someone in full attack range anyway, and given abilities like Crane Wing (which can deflect one attack for free), the one-attack-per-round route is likely to have some other hitches.

The one you SHOULD be looking at is the high level PC scenario. Let's take a 20th level crit specialized fighter (because they basically all are crit specialized). And let's assume 30 str. They would use a falchion, power attack, weapon spec, weapon training, etc.

This leaves them with 2d4 + 18 (PA) + 15 (strength) + 4 (weapon training) + 4 (WS + GWS) + 5 (enhancement). This is 2d4 + 46 with a 15-20/x3 critical.

Let's also assume he just barely hits on a 2 on his first attack, giving him the chance to hit of 95/70/45/20. He auto-confirms with a falchion, so to adjust the damage for that we have to add his critical threat range (the part that hits) * hit critical multiplier to this number for total average damage of the hit. This makes 1.55/1.3/1.05/.6.

Total average damage in a full round attack = (1.55+1.3+1.05+0.6) * 2d4+46 = 229.5.

Total average on one attack with GVS: 1.55 * (2d4 + 46) + 6d4 = 94.05
Total average on one attack without any VS: 79.05

Ouch. Not looking so good now, eh? Sure, there are ways to make this look better, but those all involve being a suboptimal character that focuses on big weapons and size growth abilities that don't always work (many games have cramped dungeons or otherwise indoor fights). As it stands this character only goes about 10% of the way from "one attack" to "full attack" damage, and that's with three feats invested.

Now you could argue that they will be getting this bonus damage on the 1/3 rounds that they are normally stuck with that low damage, which would make this about +5 damage for 3 feats. This is still sub weapon spec, though, which supplied 9 damage to the average for the full-round. That makes weapon spec a 440% better feat for this character. That's a pretty huge gap. EDIT: Correction. Weapon spec supplies 9 to full attack, and 3.1 to standard action attack. This rounds to an average benefit (assuming 2/3 full-round and 1/3 standard) of +7.033, which still makes it 322% better than vital strike (or 4.22* the benefit).

So go ahead, make your ridiculously vital strike focused characters that deal as much damage on one hit as they do on a full-round. Then compare that DPR to the guy who doesn't try to do that, and take into account a roughly 2/3 full-round and 1/3 standard attack ratio and, of course, the 3 feats he invested that he now can't invest in things like critical feats. I'm sure you find that he really doesn't get that far for what he invested.

And please, don't bother bringing up monsters. They're SUPPOSED to be scary can't-run-away guys when they're that size (though the mage damn well better have teleport prepared). If you're really worried about them, couple the "one feat that scales" change with a "max +2d6" line. There. Problem solved.


@StabbityDoom: Castilliano also doesn't seem to realize that until you get to over 5D6 base damage does the average exceed the flat top bonuses most of those monsters have, so all one feat does is better close that gap that you so thoroughly pointed out. In essence, what you point out for characters still applies to the monsters who may use vital strike.

Another issue in his counter argument is "its scary for melee monsters to have this." Most of them that have vital strike have as many ups in it as their BAB allows already so they ALREADY can use the tactic he is so worried about. So they gain 2-3 feats to be a bit tougher or shore up a bad save. With the game being all about action economy and numerous posts about how melee types aren't scary enough to be BBEG maybe these monsters need those extra feats to be seen as a more credible threat?

@OP as Stabbity did the math there is no way without changing the system in place to make "vital strike work" you can play the "gobs of dice" with it coupled with the paladin charge feat that lets you burn all of your remaining lay on hands for +1d6 per usage, extra lay on hands is always a good investment now, coupled with Dragon Disciple for wings and death from above for the +5 to hit while charging from above and furious focus for the PA. Or the scout charging sneak attack. All making it one scalar feat does is let these characters add some other options to their arsenal rather than pay an increasing feat tax to maintain near 10% of full attack damage.

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