Combat Expertise


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Whatever it is worth, this thread has convinced me to take Combat Expertise for my next character.


GâtFromKI wrote:
If you are in a situation where Combat Expertise reduces more your DPR than enemy's DPR, then you shouldn't use it. And that's certainly the case if you're a fighter and you hit only with a 16+ with your first attack.

If you are playing with a spreadsheet or calculator to figure this out at my table, you would be asked to leave. This is the definition of metagaming. My players and I have better things to do with our time than calculate every decimal point for optimal play. You may enjoy it and think it adds to the game. I find it incredibly annoying and refuse to game with players like this. It's fine for theorycrafting. It's unacceptable for actual game play.

Quote:

Actually, I can find it useful under some conditions:

1/ the character is metagaming, computing the DPR output of everyone to see who lose more; or the result of the computation is obvious because of 3/.
2/ the character is fighting monsters without any special ability like "being incorporeal".
3/ the monsters aren't very competent in melee.

or

a/ you are in a very contrived situation, created by the DM to make Combat Expertise look useful.

This is yet another example of why I really won't game with some people. You start with an example of metagaming (DPR calculations), then move on to essentially accuse the GM of not using monsters competently or even contriving a situation.

Quote:
Again: a situational and costly ability should be powerful when it comes into play. Combat Expertise isn't.

How costly is it? Really, is it so costly that your character cannot survive with the feat on the sheet? If so then you shouldn't take the feat. I have yet to see, in 3.0, 3.5, or Pathfinder, this feat to be that costly.

Quote:

Incorporeal creatures can fly and merge into the walls, the floor or the ceiling. And many of them will gain a new ally if they drop someone, and have some intelligence. Barring from DM's fiat, there's no way they attack the fighter: they will always attack the squishies. And that is, if they don't have any save-or-lose like magic jar or frightful moan.

A fighter must kill such a creature ASAP, not make the fight last longer by reducing his DPR for no gain (+2 AC against a creature which isn't attacking you is no gain).

You don't always have the option of hitting those creatures so you might rely on readied actions or even attacks of opportunity or both depending on your build. If you need a 5 to hit and you all of a sudden need a 7, I don't think you're drawing out the fight all that much. You're acting like the character is taking a such a huge penalty that he can't hit anything at all except on a 20 if he uses combat expertise. A small penalty shouldn't stop your melee character from hitting.

Quote:
Again, the loss and the gain is the same, except the monster may decide to do something else than a melee attack against the fighter.

That's why the character should use more options than just combat expertise. Anyone who doesn't change his tactics based on the situation is going to die in combat. You are acting like he's only going to use combat expertise no matter what the circumstances.


Axl wrote:
Bob_Loblaw wrote:
If you are in a situation where you aren't going to hit often anyway, you might as well go for as much damage when you do hit.

If you are in a situation where you aren't going to hit often, any effect that reduces your chance of hitting (such as Combat Expertise) severely reduces your damage output. [Exception: if you need a natural 20 to hit, your chance of hitting cannot be reduced.]

Rather than trying to increase your damage on a lucky blow, it is more sensible to either improve your odds of hitting, e.g. with a helper giving a flank bonus or an aid another action, or by using a different tactic, e.g. combat manoeuvres, or spellcasters with save-based spells.

Depending on the circumstances. Mathematically, you may be right, but I don't see a lot of difference between needing a 19 and needing a 20 to hit. I do see a difference between needing a 15 and needing a 20 to hit. If I need a 19/20/20/20 to hit, that's about the same as needing a 20/20/20/20 to hit. If, after using combat expertise, I need a 19 on that first swing, I might as well go for the increased AC if I'm getting hit often. That bonus could make enough of a difference.


Bob_Loblaw wrote:
I don't see a lot of difference between needing a 19 and needing a 20 to hit.

I see a huge difference between needing a 19 and needing a 20 to hit.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I guess we need to quantify what that '20 to hit' means. Are your bonuses equal to the AC minus 20, or is there more of a difference?


TriOmegaZero wrote:
I guess we need to quantify what that '20 to hit' means. Are your bonuses equal to the AC minus 20, or is there more of a difference?

Doesn't matter. Both have the same effect.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

But it does matter when you can adjust your bonus up or down a number of points.

If you're only 1 point away from hitting on a 19, that's far different from being 10 points away from hitting on a 19.


Bob Loblaw refers to the situation where he needs a 19 or 20 to hit if he doesn't use Combat Expertise. With Combat Expertise, he needs a 20 to hit.


My first real PF character - and still one of my favorites - was a Human Weaponmaster Fighter who wielded a Falchion. One of the appeals to him was being able to get Whirlwind Attack at 4th, which would then build to Lunging Whirlwind Attack at 6th and Dazing Lunging Whirlwind Attack at 11th... as a pre-req for that I had to take a number of 'lesser' feats I never thought I'd use - Mobility, Spring Attack and Combat Expertise. From level 1 to 20 I used all three of them and on many occasions was very glad to have them.

I wouldn't mind seeing a feat like 'Greater Combat Expertise' which would, say, double the defensive bonus you get from the feat, perhaps with a Greater Weapon Focus pre-req or something similarly restricting.

Liberty's Edge

Ravingdork wrote:
Harrison wrote:
AC: 10 (Base) + 14 (Mithril Full-Plate +5) + 7 (Mithril Heavy Shield +5) + 5 (Amulet of Natural Armor) + 5 (Ring of Protection) + 7 (Maximum Dexterity Bonus with Armor Training IV) + 1 (Dodge Feat) + 6 (Combat Expertise) + 6 (Total Defense Action w/ 3+ Acrobatics Ranks) + 5 (Defending Weapon +5) + 1 (Dusty Rose Ioun Stone) + 2 (Shield Focus and Greater Shield Focus) = 69

Play a human with the Racial Heritage (dwarf) feat or a dwarf, then spend all your general feats on Ironhide and Improved Natural Armor. I've actually done this (along with the things you've listed) to get a character with 78 AC. As a fighter, I STILL had enough feats left over to get Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization (and their greater counterparts), Dazing Assault, and Greater Penetrating Strike. This guy killed EVERYTHING and was practically untouchable.

The only things that stood a chance were spells (partially solved with a mantle of spell resistance), touch attacks (though he still had a higher touch AC then anyone else in the party), and grappling from really big monsters (easily solved by a ring of freedom of movement and/or favored class bonuses to CMD).

Not to nitpick, Harrison and RD (because that's a ridiculously high AC anyway - nothing below a CR, oh, 35 or so is gonna hit you on anything but a 20), but how are you getting the +5 from the sword if you're taking the Total Defense action? The errata for the Defending property states that you need to make an attack roll to get the benefit, which you can't do if you're using Total Defense. Or am I missing something?


Bob_Loblaw wrote:
Abraham spalding wrote:

Bob it's a -6 at level 20.

You forgot the starting -1.

You're right. Still isn't that big of a deal for most melee oriented characters.

To be fair, it is. Especially since their extra accuracy is typically sank into Power Attack or Deadly Aim. Any way you shake it, Combat Expertise is definitely going to diminish your DPS, Bob; because if you use CE instead of PA, you're losing 18 points of damage off every hit. If you use them both, then you're eating a -12 to hit on all attacks.


Ashiel wrote:
Bob_Loblaw wrote:
Abraham spalding wrote:

Bob it's a -6 at level 20.

You forgot the starting -1.

You're right. Still isn't that big of a deal for most melee oriented characters.
To be fair, it is. Especially since their extra accuracy is typically sank into Power Attack or Deadly Aim. Any way you shake it, Combat Expertise is definitely going to diminish your DPS, Bob; because if you use CE instead of PA, you're losing 18 points of damage off every hit. If you use them both, then you're eating a -12 to hit on all attacks.

I'm specifically talking about using it when you are taking a lot of damage per hit. If you are offsetting the damage you are taking enough, then it is good to use combat expertise. If not, then you shouldn't be using combat expertise. Every situation needs to be considered individually. I still also think that if a melee character can't find a way to offset the penalty to hit, then he probably shouldn't be a melee character. Being in melee is very dangerous.


Bob_Loblaw wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
Bob_Loblaw wrote:
Abraham spalding wrote:

Bob it's a -6 at level 20.

You forgot the starting -1.

You're right. Still isn't that big of a deal for most melee oriented characters.
To be fair, it is. Especially since their extra accuracy is typically sank into Power Attack or Deadly Aim. Any way you shake it, Combat Expertise is definitely going to diminish your DPS, Bob; because if you use CE instead of PA, you're losing 18 points of damage off every hit. If you use them both, then you're eating a -12 to hit on all attacks.
I'm specifically talking about using it when you are taking a lot of damage per hit. If you are offsetting the damage you are taking enough, then it is good to use combat expertise. If not, then you shouldn't be using combat expertise. Every situation needs to be considered individually. I still also think that if a melee character can't find a way to offset the penalty to hit, then he probably shouldn't be a melee character. Being in melee is very dangerous.

One of the few things I think WoW holds over D&D/PF's head. That's the fact they remembered tanks are supposed to have GUNS too. In the Wrath of the Lich King patch (3.0.1 through 3.3.5 I believe), protection warriors are perfectly capable of dealing absurd damage while they're tanking. Very, very difficult to kill due to high HP and exceptional damage mitigation, they have quite a few CC abilities (ability to daze, stagger, stun, etc), combined with very powerful shield slams (which dispel buffs), make moderately strong hits that reduce a foe's armor, and even unleash devastating "Revenge" hits which activate when they successfully block, dodge, or parry an incoming attack (basically it's a high-damage counter attack).

In D&D, you either have warriors who take less damage but don't bite, or you have all bite and no bark(skin). Considering Fighters, for example, get absolutely no spells, buffs, or tricks beyond whacking stuff, I'd really like to see them being supreme engines of destruction. Their motto should be "I'm the juggernaut..."!

EDIT: See here.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Patch 3.2 was imba, nerf Warriors, buff Warlockz plz kthnxbai.


Too bad comparing to WoW usually just brings about vitriolic hate among people in online communities.


Enchanter Tom wrote:
Every feat that requires CE is junk, prove me wrong.

Can't tell if troll, or really and truly angry...?

Combat Expertise has been a source of player rage since its first printing, hahaha. It's definitely more of a "romantic" feat than a "practical" feat.

Also, I have a hard time believing that the Trip line feats are junk. A very hard time.

Enchanter Tom wrote:

The hell do I care? It's not like they're going to suddenly learn how to do math or care to produce a quality product.

Also, their forum interface is terrible.

Bashing on designers/developers in their own forum is uncouth, though. If you don’t like the way they do things then maybe you should try DnD 4.0 or GURPS? And post on their forums?

Lastly, if you don't like it because it's useless (many feats seem that way a la Prone Shooter), you can always houserule it into something you like, although it looks like a difficult feat to balance.


Manplant. Only the DM can houserule stuff, sadly. Even more sad is the fact that one of the better ones that I know is too lazy to houserule much of ANYTHING, and doesn't let me play my homebrew races.


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Icyshadow wrote:
Manplant. Only the DM can houserule stuff, sadly. Even more sad is the fact that one of the better ones that I know is too lazy to houserule much of ANYTHING, and doesn't let me play my homebrew races

That makes me sad! Maybe bribe him/her with food? I am aware that it's typically the DM's job to create/approve house rules, but hopefully PCs should be able to contribute to the process. PC submits the house rule, DM approves (or doesn't approve, haha.) I feel like that's how a lot of houseruling goes down anyways.

Sorry if wording provoked "dude doesn't know what houseruling is, better help him out" post.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Icyshadow wrote:
Manplant. Only the DM can houserule stuff, sadly. Even more sad is the fact that one of the better ones that I know is too lazy to houserule much of ANYTHING, and doesn't let me play my homebrew races.

If he's too lazy, then he's not one of the better ones.


Gorbacz wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:
Manplant. Only the DM can houserule stuff, sadly. Even more sad is the fact that one of the better ones that I know is too lazy to houserule much of ANYTHING, and doesn't let me play my homebrew races.
If he's too lazy, then he's not one of the better ones.

He is, if the rest of them are lazy AND petty, with the understanding that GM-ship is the means to get as many player kills as possible... ;)


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manplant wrote:
Lastly, if you don't like it because it's useless (many feats seem that way a la Prone Shooter), you can always houserule it into something you like, although it looks like a difficult feat to balance.

Yes, we can houserule every useless feat, from combat expertise to death or glory or monkey lunge, and then rewrite every useless archetype, every useless class talent, every broken spell...

... And since we have to rewrite more than half of the system, we can also create a new system and not buy Pathfinder.

Anyway, any DM who doesn't have the time to write an entire system is a lazy DM.


Gorbacz wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:
Manplant. Only the DM can houserule stuff, sadly. Even more sad is the fact that one of the better ones that I know is too lazy to houserule much of ANYTHING, and doesn't let me play my homebrew races.
If he's too lazy, then he's not one of the better ones.

...why didn't I figure that out sooner? Then again, I've been having insomnia for a while now, so I've had trouble thinking straight.


Gorbacz wrote:
Patch 3.2 was imba, nerf Warriors, buff Warlockz plz kthnxbai.

Heh, nice. ^_^

[qoute="Icyshadow"]Too bad comparing to WoW usually just brings about vitriolic hate among people in online communities.

Yeah, it's kind of pathetic. :(

WoW obviously ganked so much from P&P RPGs. They even honored Gygax in one of their patches for all that he had done, his life, and so forth (maybe I'm the only one who reads the next that displays during patches). The WoW Druid is pretty much 3.x druid minus the pet (if you could slap the hunter's pet on the druids, they'd be 3.x/PF druids :P). Warriors in WoW are a mixture of Fighter/Barbarian. Paladins in WoW are more like Clerics in D&D (not as strong as Warriors baseline, but filled with amazing buffs, healing, and spells which can in many cases flip the scale on its head). Hunters are Rangers. Rogues are...well rogues. :P

I just think that it's silly for people to go "Oh noes and MMORPG, let's disassociate and shun the nonbelievers"; when it's obvious they saw good things in P&P RPGs. We too can look to what is good in video games and complete the circle of life. :)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ashiel wrote:
One of the few things I think WoW holds over D&D/PF's head. That's the fact they remembered tanks are supposed to have GUNS too.

That's going away with the next expac. Hunters lose melee as well.

Not that they're losing proficiency, but making them totally impractical to use respectively. The ranged weapon slot goes away now everyone has two hands for weapon slots. Hunters need both for thier weapon, and all ranged weapons take two slots.


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It's not the mention of the WoW game that spawns the hate... it's the threadjacking with WoW discussions that does that.

O.o


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Alitan wrote:

It's not the mention of the WoW game that spawns the hate... it's the threadjacking with WoW discussions that does that.

O.o

Discussing drawing inspiration from a video game to demonstrate what's wrong with Combat Expertise is threadjacking? Hm...

My point was simple, though perhaps overlooked. D&D/Pathfinder has a terrible habit of making you double-pay for things. Now normally, the game is full of checks and balances. The idea is that if you get something, then you're giving something else up. If you cast X spell then you didn't cast Y spell; if you take X feat then you didn't take Y feat; and so on and so forth.

The problem is that a lot of D&D/PF forgets that you already paid for stuff, which is bad. It then makes the cool thing you bought with your options into a double edged sword, more reminiscent of something you shouldn't have had to pay for to begin with. Combat Expertise stands out as one such option.

You are required to spend a resource (one of only 10 feats over 20 levels) to increase your AC by 1 at 1st level, and up to 6 at 20th level, but only when you are attacking. Now that should be enough (dodge works all the time, CE only works when you're actively fighting, and thus cannot stack with stuff like total defense, and doesn't work when you're drinking potions or doing anything else except attacking). Now that would be fine. I'd even go so far as to say it's a wonderful feat.

Now the problem here is someone said "Hey, you can't be getting that extra AC for free! That wouldn't be balanced/fair!" and so they double-charged you, forgetting that you already sunk character resources to get this; and so they apply a scaling penalty to hit, which by its very nature will assuredly diminish your damage output. So now you're expending offense for defense. That sounds very familiar.

Oh yeah! It's already covered in the rules. It's called Fighting Defensively and is something anyone with a brain (actually scratch that, even constructs can do it) can do. Take a penalty to hit and get a bonus to AC. Suddenly, we can see what Combat Expertise is just a terribly designed feat. It gives you an option that is already covered, double charges you, and then has bizarre prerequisites.

Which was my point with the WoW comment. If I was playing WoW back in 3.3.5, and I'm playing a Warrior, I can spend my talent points (read: feats) on something that increases my % chance to dodge something. If I get +5% evasion when wielding a shield (equivalent to shield focus), then I get +5% evasion. It doesn't come with -5% damage or anything silly like that. If I'm playing a Paladin and get something that increases my evasion by 30% when activated (Holy Shield vs Combat Expertise at 20th level), not only do I not take a damage penalty when using this option, but I also deal a bit of extra damage to anyone stupid enough to attack me while it's active.

Dark Archive

I dislike the feat tax, but the 13 INT requirement is a much bigger deal breaker for me.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

GâtFromKI wrote:

Anyway, any DM who doesn't have the time to write an entire system is a lazy DM.

Agreed.

Plus, Combat Expertise is already one of the best feats in the game. Removing the Int requirement will make all fighters impossible to hit.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

I removed a post and the replies to it. Don't make things personal.


Sebastian wrote:
GâtFromKI wrote:

Anyway, any DM who doesn't have the time to write an entire system is a lazy DM.

Agreed.

Plus, Combat Expertise is already one of the best feats in the game. Removing the Int requirement will make all fighters impossible to hit.

I don't know about that. It's up to +6 to the AC which is good but there are plenty of other options, such as AoE and spells that require Will saves.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

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Bob_Loblaw wrote:
Sebastian wrote:
GâtFromKI wrote:

Anyway, any DM who doesn't have the time to write an entire system is a lazy DM.

Agreed.

Plus, Combat Expertise is already one of the best feats in the game. Removing the Int requirement will make all fighters impossible to hit.

I don't know about that. It's up to +6 to the AC which is good but there are plenty of other options, such as AoE and spells that require Will saves.

Yeah, but with their bonus feats, fighters can take Iron Will, which effectively negates Will based spells altogether. As for AoE, they have plenty of hp to soak the damage.

The real problem is the fighter class itself, which is the most powerful in the game. Unlike the casters, they never need to rest, and can dish out a large amount of damage all day long. Making them harder to hit compounds the problem because now they can stay in combat even longer.


Sebastian wrote:

Yeah, but with their bonus feats, fighters can take Iron Will, which effectively negates Will based spells altogether. As for AoE, they have plenty of hp to soak the damage.

The real problem is the fighter class itself, which is the most powerful in the game. Unlike the casters, they never need to rest, and can dish out a large amount of damage all day long. Making them harder to hit compounds the problem because now they can stay in combat even longer.

lolwut


Sebastian wrote:

Yeah, but with their bonus feats, fighters can take Iron Will, which effectively negates Will based spells altogether. As for AoE, they have plenty of hp to soak the damage.

The real problem is the fighter class itself, which is the most powerful in the game. Unlike the casters, they never need to rest, and can dish out a large amount of damage all day long. Making them harder to hit compounds the problem because now they can stay in combat even longer.

I can't believe what I'm reading in here. One person claims Combat Expertise is one of the best feats in the game (effectively loses you attack bonus from highest Weapon Training and Dueling Gloves for +6 AC when monsters will likely hit you anyways)

You're saying a simple +2 to will saves negates will based spells when getting saves required over 30 is easy and even with the +2 he gets a save of +6, plus 5 for the cloak, +3 for wisdom most likely, +1 trait, +1, maybe 2 racial. So if you took a racial alternative, a trait, a +6 wisdom item, +5 cloak of resistance, and a feat you'd have a +20, maybe 21. Against a simple 30 Save you've got about a 50% chance. Any Caster who doesn't have a 30 by level 20 is doing it wrong

Edit: oh and saying fighters are one of the best classes in the game, better than casters, is just plain wrong. While I love martial, I have no problem admitting they don't stand a chance against people that can stop time and/or alter reality multiple times per day


I saw what you did there Sebastian! ;) Good one!


Ashiel wrote:
You are required to spend a resource (one of only 10 feats over 20 levels) to increase your AC by 1 at 1st level, and up to 6 at 20th level, but only when you are attacking. Now that should be enough (dodge works all the time, CE only works when you're actively fighting, and thus cannot stack with stuff like total defense, and doesn't work when you're drinking potions or doing anything else except attacking). Now that would be fine. I'd even go so far as to say it's a wonderful feat.

Well, to be fair, I think +6 AC for the cost of one feat, 13 Int and being required to attack is probably too much (especially for the non-core magus). But I may be wrong.

But you're right, CE shouldn't even have an associated penalty at low and mid-level:

  • Dodge with +7 BAB: require 13 Dex (and you want Dex if you want AC, anyway), +1 AC anytime.
  • CE with +7 BAB: require 13 Int, +2 AC if you are attacking.

It seems balanced to me if there's no penalty for CE (actually, I still think Dodge is better until +8 BAB).


GâtFromKI wrote:

Well, to be fair, I think +6 AC for the cost of one feat, 13 Int and being required to attack is probably too much (especially for the non-core magus). But I may be wrong.

But you're right, CE shouldn't even have an associated penalty at low and mid-level:

  • Dodge with +7 BAB: require 13 Dex (and you want Dex if you want AC, anyway), +1 AC anytime.
  • CE with +7 BAB: require 13 Int, +2 AC if you are attacking.

It seems balanced to me if there's no penalty for CE (actually, I still think Dodge is better until +8 BAB).

Don't forget the -6 to attack. Either you scrap the power attack (another -6) or you forfeit most of your attacks and damage and thus dps at that point.


My "solution" to CE is to change it so that you add your Int bonus to AC, CMB, and CMD, up to one point per two points of BAB.


Enchanter Tom wrote:
My "solution" to CE is to change it so that you add your Int bonus to AC, CMB, and CMD, up to one point per two points of BAB.

The only thing wrong with that is that you're basically pressing martials to be Einstein to use the feat respectably. I'm not really sure I like the idea that I'd have to have a 22 Int to get the basic functionality out of my feat. O.o

Quote:
Well, to be fair, I think +6 AC for the cost of one feat, 13 Int and being required to attack is probably too much (especially for the non-core magus). But I may be wrong.

Well the fact it requires you to be attacking means that you can't rely on it unless you're attacking something. That means if you double move, run, cast a spell, drink a potion, activate a magic item, and so forth, you get no AC bonus. Magi only reach +15 BAB normally, which means your bonus from combat expertise doesn't even exceed +4 (+1 at 1st, +2 at 4th, +3 at 8th, +4 at 12th, oops, can't hit +5 at 16th without multiclassing). The most they could possibly get with that is +7 AC during the round if they're using CE AND fighting defensively.

Maybe CE without the penalty is too much for full martials. Maybe. It's +30% evasion, which is pretty huge. Would anyone pick up the feat if it was +5% initially, +10% at BAB +6, +15% at BAB +11, and +20% at BAB +16; removing the silly Int requirement and the penalty to hit?

Personally, I'm kind of fine with it being 30% evasion at BAB +20. I think its a nice "capstone" for both martials and multiclass martials. Those who hit BAB +16 get +25% evasion when they are actively fighting, which means most multiclass martials will be able to hit it (so a fighter/cleric or eldritch knight might be able to hit it), while the extra 5% evasion is stored away for those with the perfect BABs.

EDIT: Then again, I should point out that I thin dedicated melee should bloody well be tanks. Tanks with guns, dudes! Hit points are already pretty low at 20th for martial types unless they are speccing Con like it was their job. With a +6 Con, the average HP for a 20th level Fighter is around 230 Hp. That's actually not that much; especially when enemies can bomb you for close to a hundred damage per round. AC is widely considered one of that defenses that becomes progressively less useful as the game progresses (which tends to be true, as monster BAB and muscle often rises quickly and SLAs are abundant). Honestly, having a feat that increases survivability seems like the right track to me.

Might want to cap it at +6 (or something similar) however. Combat Expertise is already a feat that is way more useful to monsters than PCs, and I'd really hate to see a high BAB with it. :P


DeathSpot wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Harrison wrote:
AC: 10 (Base) + 14 (Mithril Full-Plate +5) + 7 (Mithril Heavy Shield +5) + 5 (Amulet of Natural Armor) + 5 (Ring of Protection) + 7 (Maximum Dexterity Bonus with Armor Training IV) + 1 (Dodge Feat) + 6 (Combat Expertise) + 6 (Total Defense Action w/ 3+ Acrobatics Ranks) + 5 (Defending Weapon +5) + 1 (Dusty Rose Ioun Stone) + 2 (Shield Focus and Greater Shield Focus) = 69

Play a human with the Racial Heritage (dwarf) feat or a dwarf, then spend all your general feats on Ironhide and Improved Natural Armor. I've actually done this (along with the things you've listed) to get a character with 78 AC. As a fighter, I STILL had enough feats left over to get Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization (and their greater counterparts), Dazing Assault, and Greater Penetrating Strike. This guy killed EVERYTHING and was practically untouchable.

The only things that stood a chance were spells (partially solved with a mantle of spell resistance), touch attacks (though he still had a higher touch AC then anyone else in the party), and grappling from really big monsters (easily solved by a ring of freedom of movement and/or favored class bonuses to CMD).

Not to nitpick, Harrison and RD (because that's a ridiculously high AC anyway - nothing below a CR, oh, 35 or so is gonna hit you on anything but a 20), but how are you getting the +5 from the sword if you're taking the Total Defense action? The errata for the Defending property states that you need to make an attack roll to get the benefit, which you can't do if you're using Total Defense. Or am I missing something?

A fair nitpick, and honestly I never read the Errata because I'd never really wanted a Defending weapon until I started thinking of how high I could get my AC. Another possible nit-pick of RD's setup is that Natural Armor doesn't stack with other sources of Natural Armor.

However, that said, it's still possible to hit 70+ AC. If you switch from a Total Defense action to Fighting Defensively, you loose +3 AC, but you keep the +5 from a Defending Weapon, effectively increasing your AC by +8 instead of +6. Switch out the Heavy Shield for a Tower Shield and give yourself the Defender of the Society trait and you hit 73 AC.


Quote:
The only thing wrong with that is that you're basically pressing martials to be Einstein to use the feat respectably. I'm not really sure I like the idea that I'd have to have a 22 Int to get the basic functionality out of my feat. O.o

I also remove it as a pre-requisite for everything.


Harrison wrote:
Another possible nit-pick of RD's setup is that Natural Armor doesn't stack with other sources of Natural Armor.

Actually, it does. That is to say, the natural armor bonus provided by Amulets and the like provide an enhancement bonus (as with Barkskin) which does stack with normal natural armor. A Lizardfolk (natural armor +5) wearing an +1 amulet will have +6 total.


If CE worked properly and was worth the tax then why is there sub branches to get around having to have CE to be a maneuver based character?

Let's face it combat expertise needs something ether a new feat treeline a way to lessen the tax or something nobody has thought of.

I understand this feat is not a 100% Useless but more than 90% of the characters I have thought of dont work with it, and I'm sure others have the same feeling.

I wouldn't mind a class that got this as a class feat even if they don't qualify due to prerequisites (like MoMS) say a Combat Maneuver Master Fighter or a Vigilante Rogue.


I'd actually have it work like power attack instead.

1) Remove AC bonus entirely

2) The thing now scales a bonus to cmb and cmd like power attack for a normal weapon (i.e. 2 at BAB 1, 4 at BAB 4) etc

3) keep the attack negatives here

4) allow for bonuses to pop it to 3 for each -1 if you take the specific trait for each type of combat maneuver such as improved grapple.

This would, in my opinion, work much better for tanking than adding your own AC. If you're tanking you don't want to make yourself tankier. You should already have high HP and likely some DR and a moderate AC. What you should be doing is incapacitating your enemies or giving them a reason to focus you.

If you're not tanking at all why are you taking combat expertise?

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