Tactics of the Reach Weapon


Advice

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Just curious on the best way to use a reach weapon in combat.

this is a barbarian with beast totem and spell sunder/sunder using a lucerne hammer.

im not familiar with how to best utilize a reach weapon in pathfinder. Not to mention the whole cant attack enemies next to you thing is a concern.

Im not looking for a trip build, ill be sundering, but i still want to take advantage of what i can with a reach weapon.


Reach weapons are amazing.

People tend to get turned off by the aspect of having a guy just 5ft shift into you. But I think this is a false worry. You can wield a cestus, or armor spikes if you prefer and never have to draw it.

Ultimately combat reflexes is your best friend and somethign I suggest regardless of your dex score. It's an extra attack that scales with your dex score by giving you more attacks all at the highest bab bonus. A reach weapon helps you capitalize on this feat by giving you mroe threatened squares that enemies have to traverse. It also scales ridiculously well wiht size increases since you go from a 10ft. reach to a 20ft. reach and effect an absolute minefield of threatened squares.

You won't find this kind of territorial control in a greatsword or a longbow. It's why I'm in the process of convincing everyone in my WotW group to carry at least a longspear so that the whol area around us is a cloud of pointy bits an enemy has to traverse to even think of harming us.


how do you get 20 feet? i imagine enlarge would be 15


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w01fe01 wrote:
how do you get 20 feet? i imagine enlarge would be 15

Reach and size information.


i see medium 5 feet, large, 10 feet, huge 15 feet.

would you not just add 5 to that? plus thats natural reach.

or are we going by that since a reach weapon give 5 feet, and if you increase its size...thats 10 feet, with natural reach of ten feet.

...ok, think i understand that bit now.

is there anyways to make my claws work instead of spiked armor?


w01fe01 wrote:


is there anyways to make my claws work instead of spiked armor?

Let go of the polearm and you can swipe with a claw.

While its a free action to switch between hands and theorhetically swipe with the other claw after the first the GM may take issue with that.


Lunge also gives you an extra 5' 'reach' at the cost of -2 A.C. - remember also the extra weapon damage when enlarged.


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Lunge, Enlarge Person, Reach Weapon, Combat Patrol, Stand Still.

All of those are methods of getting the most out of you reach. Having them all lets you control a huge swatch of terrain, for a martial, and can even out-right stop people from approaching you (Stand Still). Being able to damage people without them damaging you is kind of the whole point of an archery build, but now you can do it with 1.5x you strength score!


Unfortunately, Stand Still cannot be combined with a reach weapon. It only works if the provoking creature is adjacent to you.

What I love with reach weapons is Combat Reflexes + Trip builds. Yes, trip can be hard to pull off against some creatures but if you are fighting a lot of humanoids trip can be just amazing.

Of all the reach weapon builds I think my favorite is the Dragoon. Loses the main drawback to reach weapons (cannot hit adjacent targets).

- Gauss


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Gauss wrote:

Unfortunately, Stand Still cannot be combined with a reach weapon. It only works if the provoking creature is adjacent to you.

What I love with reach weapons is Combat Reflexes + Trip builds. Yes, trip can be hard to pull off against some creatures but if you are fighting a lot of humanoids trip can be just amazing.

Of all the reach weapon builds I think my favorite is the Dragoon. Loses the main drawback to reach weapons (cannot hit adjacent targets).

- Gauss

Helped my friend build a Fighter that used Lunge, Enlarge, Stand Still Trip and Whirlwind for Whirlwind Trip attacks. The GM's draw dropped when he tripped some 15 mooks at once with his Whirlwind.

Grand Lodge

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Actually, I make great use of reach weapons with just one feat...quick draw. You take your AoO, the drop your reach weapon and free action draw your primary weapons out. If you do sword and shield, use a quickdraw shield.


Tels, I assume you house-ruled the Stand Still to work with a reach weapon?

- Gauss


Gauss wrote:

Tels, I assume you house-ruled the Stand Still to work with a reach weapon?

- Gauss

Would the following work? Set up Combat Patrol using a reach weapon, enemy provokes AoO, move with Combat Patrol, use Stand Still because you're now adjacent to the enemy.

I'm incline to think "No, that doesn't work" but I don't know.


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You have to use Armor Spikes to threaten adjacent squares. Cestus, Spiked Gauntlet, and Claws do not work. Yes it is a free action to let go of your polearm and attack using the Cestus, etc. however you can not take a free action when it isn't your turn. So at the end of your turn you decide whether you have both hands on your polearm and you threaten at reach, or you take a hand off your polearm to threaten adjacent squares. Armor Spikes are the only weapon you don't have to take a hand off your polearm to use.

Improved Unarmed Strike would also work.


^_^ I am curious to hear more about reach, tactics of, etc...

I'm planning a whip/cestus combo for a trip build magus in society (so level 1-12), and would love to know some commonly used tactics for reach in general. (I am aware that whip doesn't threaten, until they head up the whip mastery feat tree).

Not trying to threadjack, just happy to read any reach tactic advice.


MatthewN wrote:
You have to use Armor Spikes to threaten adjacent squares. Cestus, Spiked Gauntlet, and Claws do not work.

natural attacks that don't use your hands and improved unarmed strikes work, too. As do other weapons not held in hand like some helmets.

but apart from that you are right. Letting go of your reach weapon to make an AoO is not possible. Unless you let go at the end of your turn. But then you only threaten adjacent.


MatthewN wrote:

You have to use Armor Spikes to threaten adjacent squares. Cestus, Spiked Gauntlet, and Claws do not work. Yes it is a free action to let go of your polearm and attack using the Cestus, etc. however you can not take a free action when it isn't your turn. So at the end of your turn you decide whether you have both hands on your polearm and you threaten at reach, or you take a hand off your polearm to threaten adjacent squares. Armor Spikes are the only weapon you don't have to take a hand off your polearm to use.

Improved Unarmed Strike would also work.

You can attack with a cestus while holding something. Same with spiked gauntlet.


I guess that attacking with the reach weapon itself as an improvised weapon could also work.

You lose the reach and everything that makes it a good weapon (better critical, better hit dice) and get a -4 to attacks, but at least you got a THW. With a feat, you could even ignore the -4 to attacks.


from fighter archetypes in APG:

Polearm Master
The polearm master is schooled in the ancient wisdom that enemies are best faced at the end of long striking pole, lashing like a serpent before clumsy swords and axes can even be brought to bear.

Pole Fighting (Ex): At 2nd level, as an immediate action, a polearm master can shorten the grip on his spear or polearm with reach and use it against adjacent targets. This action results in a –4 penalty on attack rolls with that weapon until he spends another immediate action to return to the normal grip. The penalty is reduced by –1 for every four levels beyond 2nd. This ability replaces bravery.

Since this is a specfic class/archetype ability gained at the cost of the base class ability, I don't think it would be availabe without using that archetype.
Even though the class ability does not specifally refer to using the pole arm with shortened grip as an improvised weapon.


Cornielius wrote:

from fighter archetypes in APG:

Polearm Master
The polearm master is schooled in the ancient wisdom that enemies are best faced at the end of long striking pole, lashing like a serpent before clumsy swords and axes can even be brought to bear.

Pole Fighting (Ex): At 2nd level, as an immediate action, a polearm master can shorten the grip on his spear or polearm with reach and use it against adjacent targets. This action results in a –4 penalty on attack rolls with that weapon until he spends another immediate action to return to the normal grip. The penalty is reduced by –1 for every four levels beyond 2nd. This ability replaces bravery.

Since this is a specfic class/archetype ability gained at the cost of the base class ability, I don't think it would be availabe without using that archetype.
Even though the class ability does not specifally refer to using the pole arm with shortened grip as an improvised weapon.

It's different : with the class ability, you keep your special abilities with the reach weapon (such as the base dice damage, the crit threat and multiplier, the Trip quality, ...), while as an improvised weapon you have an improvised weapon (low damage dice, critical 20/x2, no quality, ...).


hmmm would armor spikes automatically take the bonuses from yoru armor magical bonuses? or must they be enchanted themselves? if so, how much would it cost?

Dark Archive

They are treated as weapons and must be enchanted seperately.
They also first have to be mw.

Dark Archive

Cost?
300+2000+cost of spikes


Also, unless I've misunderstood the recent FAQ, you cannot actually "wield" armor spikes unless you have a "free hand", meaning that you cannot use a two-handed reach weapon and armor spikes to both threaten 10' and 5'.

Note: This was a FAQ that confused me a bit, and I know there was a lot of complaint about it. My information may not be 100% accurate.


In the game we will eventually be starting, my fighter plans to solve the 5' range issue by multiclassing alchemist and grafting on an extra arm or two. Step inside the bardiche's range, that just gives the battleaxe time to shine. :D

Red


Avh, if you are using a long stick with the reach property as an improvised weapon it is still a long stick with the reach property. Even as an improvised weapon.

The whole 'I can just use it as an improvised weapon' discussion ignores the fact that turning it into an improvised weapon does not remove the reach property.

Longspear: Piercing weapon with the reach property
Longspear being used as an improvised weapon: Blunt weapon (other end) with the reach property.

Note: that assumes that your GM allows you to ignore this line:

CRB p144 wrote:
Improvised Weapons: Sometimes objects not crafted to be weapons nonetheless see use in combat. Because such objects are not designed for this use, any creature that uses an improvised weapon in combat is considered to be nonproficient with it and takes a –4 penalty on attack rolls made with that object. To determine the size category and appropriate damage for an improvised weapon, compare its relative size and damage potential to the weapon list to find a reasonable match. An improvised weapon scores a threat on a natural roll of 20 and deals double damage on a critical hit. An improvised thrown weapon has a range increment of 10 feet.

Because it is it is crafted to be a weapon you cannot use it as an improvised weapon.

- Gauss

Silver Crusade

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To the Original Poster, who asked for basic information about Pathfinder reach weapon tactics, here are a few suggestions:

Reach weapons work best when the foe must come to you. Either the foe refuses to approach you, or you get a free Attack of Opportunity (AoO) against foes who try to come inside your reach. You give each incoming foe two choices, both of them bad.

If your team rushes the enemy, instead of the enemy rushing you, your reach weapons are not much use. Unless you are fighting large foes like Ogres, in which case reach weapon wielders again shine.

In the extreme case the reach fighter can get an extra three or four hard-hitting attacks per round, in addition to normal actions. More realistically, you have to work at it to set up one even AoO per round. No special feats or skills beyond proficiency in Simple Weapons is required.

Don't worry about foes getting in close. You can always 5' step away and whack them with your polearm. Sure, carry a handy secondary weapon, but don't expect to need to need it very often. Also carry a bag of salt.


MechE_ wrote:

Also, unless I've misunderstood the recent FAQ, you cannot actually "wield" armor spikes unless you have a "free hand", meaning that you cannot use a two-handed reach weapon and armor spikes to both threaten 10' and 5'.

Note: This was a FAQ that confused me a bit, and I know there was a lot of complaint about it. My information may not be 100% accurate.

It was a reference to two weapon fighting. Basically it stated that since you were wielding a two handed weapon you could not two weapon fight.

In the case of simply threatening and using a weapon like cestus, armor spikes, or spiked gauntlet you still can and do since it explicitly states you can hold a weapon and use it. But you cannot twf with it and use armor spikes.

The ruling for free actions (which is a silly ruling and one I don't run nor recommend to others) also doesn't apply. Since you are not letting go of the polearm at any point to have to make your attack with armor spikes or cestus or what not. This is the same ruling that allows unarmed strikes or other non hand based natural attacks to work.


Gauss wrote:

Tels, I assume you house-ruled the Stand Still to work with a reach weapon?

- Gauss

Yes, our group believed that 'adjacent' was used because PCs don't usually have reach. In our group, Stand Still works because it seems silly that you can trip, disarm, and sunder from 10+ feet away, but Stand Still doesn't work unless he's in your face.


Magda Luckbender,

Could you describe the situation where reach weapons would not be use if the group rushes the enemy? I have not found this to be a problem.

- Gauss


Tels,

Fair enough, but you should inform the OP that what you are suggesting is a house rule. :)

- Gauss


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Gauss wrote:

Magda Luckbender,

Could you describe the situation where reach weapons would not be use if the group rushes the enemy? I have not found this to be a problem.

- Gauss

I think she's referring to the idea its the main advantage as an AoO generator is mroe or less negated since you'll have to move in close and in doing so you give your opponent the option of just stepping into you.

I've also not found this to be much of a problem but I can see how in that situation you may prefer the extra damage and durability of a greatsword or falshion over the smaller damage die and relative brittleness of a polearm. I demonstrated the weakness of a polearm by snapping a devils glaive like a twig with my bardiche using barbarian. Without his reach the rest of my group found it far easier to approach.


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I'm more curious about the bag of salt...


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Another fun thing to do is to dip one level into the Hungry Ghost Monk. You get a monk's unarmed strike damage so you can unarmed strike with your hands full, can pick up combat reflexes for free, good boost to saves, and get punishing kick as a feat. Enemy comes at you? AoO as they approach, then on your turn when they're next to you, punishing kick them back into polearm range, use other iterative attacks if you have them, and 5' step back so they have to close with you again which will provoke another AoO.

I have an [Arcane Duelist Bard / Hungry Ghost Monk 1 / Fighter 1] like this that uses a polearm and employs this strategy combined with a cruel weapon, dazzling display, and shatter defenses to debuff like mad in addition to granting inspire courage in a fight.


kBro wrote:

Another fun thing to do is to dip one level into the Hungry Ghost Monk. You get a monk's unarmed strike damage so you can unarmed strike with your hands full, can pick up combat reflexes for free, good boost to saves, and get punishing kick as a feat. Enemy comes at you? AoO as they approach, then on your turn when they're next to you, punishing kick them back into polearm range, use other iterative attacks if you have them, and 5' step back so they have to close with you again which will provoke another AoO.

I have an [Arcane Duelist Bard / Hungry Ghost Monk 1 / Fighter 1] like this that uses a polearm and employs this strategy combined with a cruel weapon, dazzling display, and shatter defenses to debuff like mad in addition to granting inspire courage in a fight.

How are you getting your AoO in this example? Won't they just charge, and avoid the AoO?

Scarab Sages

revaar wrote:
kBro wrote:

Another fun thing to do is to dip one level into the Hungry Ghost Monk. You get a monk's unarmed strike damage so you can unarmed strike with your hands full, can pick up combat reflexes for free, good boost to saves, and get punishing kick as a feat. Enemy comes at you? AoO as they approach, then on your turn when they're next to you, punishing kick them back into polearm range, use other iterative attacks if you have them, and 5' step back so they have to close with you again which will provoke another AoO.

I have an [Arcane Duelist Bard / Hungry Ghost Monk 1 / Fighter 1] like this that uses a polearm and employs this strategy combined with a cruel weapon, dazzling display, and shatter defenses to debuff like mad in addition to granting inspire courage in a fight.

How are you getting your AoO in this example? Won't they just charge, and avoid the AoO?

The enemy in the example is 15' (3 squares) away. You kicked them away, and then took a 5 foot step. When they move from 10' to 5', they are moving through your threatened area and provoke an AoO. (Even if they charge). If you are using a longspear or something else with the brace property, charging can be a bad idea.


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Oh hey, I never saw that little foot note there. Good Stuff!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

the easiest solution for adjacent opponents is to pick up the animal fury rage power. there is some debate about whether you (assuming you have 2 hands/arms) can use a claw and a 2handed weapon in the same round- it seems to me that you shouldn't be/aren't allowed to do so, but the bite is fine (and it'll be a nice addition if you get disarmed or need to full attack an adjacent opponent).

as for sundering, it can be a brutally effective tactic but remember it can also cost you a lot of valuable/useful treasure. if you're going to make good use of it try to max out your appraise so you can make educated guesses about what things are best to break without totally screwing yourself out of all worthwhile treasure.

Silver Crusade

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Solusek wrote:
I'm more curious about the bag of salt...

Personal quirk: Every PC I create always carries a watertight-sealed 1 pound bag of salt. Usually it's just a quirk, but has been useful enough times that I continue the tradition. The first time you encounter leeches, of any size, you will see why.

Regarding reach weapons and adjacent opponents, I don't get why people are worried. It's more a theoretical concern than an actual in-game problem. Play a PC with a reach weapon for a few levels and you will see this is rarely a big deal.

Here's a detailed example of both least effective and most effective reach tactics.

Silver Crusade

Magda Luckbender wrote:
Solusek wrote:
I'm more curious about the bag of salt...

Personal quirk: Every PC I create always carries a watertight-sealed 1 pound bag of salt. Usually it's just a quirk, but has been useful enough times that I continue the tradition. The first time you encounter leeches, of any size, you will see why.

Regarding reach weapons and adjacent opponents, I don't get why people are worried. It's more a theoretical concern than an actual in-game problem. Play a PC with a reach weapon for a few levels and you will see this is rarely a big deal.

Here's a detailed example of both least effective and most effective reach tactics.

I was thinking about this for a little bit and I realized that it could be a big deal if you run into a foe with the Step Up line of feats. (You 5' step back to attack, they 5' step up as an immediate action--and if they completed the chain, they attack you out of turn to add insult to injury. You're stuck with no movement (because you used a 5' step) and have to drop your reach weapon and pull out a regular weapon if you want to attack (or, if you're a cleric, you could try casting defensively). Once you figure out that's what they're going to do, your best option may be to move back, take the AoO and hope that they don't have a good CMB for tripping or the Stand Still feat. If you get away, you can ready an action to attack them and hope that they don't just decide to attack you with a ranged weapon/spell or pick on one of your allies who doesn't have a reach weapon).

Now the odds that you'll run into a foe with the Step Up line are pretty slim but it's a pretty good counter for reach weapon tactics.(Unless there's a spiked chain or Short Haft style ability involved). Now I did play reach weapon tactics pretty for 19 levels in 3.5 and the inability to attack adjacent foes didn't turn out to be a problem, but it could be if you don't plan for it. (My character in question had Quickdraw, a backup weapon (which was primary in some situations) and close to full spellcasting ability so he didn't lack for options--if he had ignored the possibility, it probably would have come up).

If you're looking to counter a foe with reach but who can't attack adjacent foes (as a player or DM), the Step Up line of feats seems like it would work very well.


Room size: reach works best when there is room to maneuver, especially when fighting a large number of bad guys. If the room is too small, you don't have enough space to back off when you need to (like when all eight of the bad guys decide to come in at once).

Get a Bite Attack: is you don't want to go down the road of armor spikes and such, see about getting a natural weapon that doesn't involve hands or feet. Usually, this mean a bite attack, or a tail attack, but the afore mentioned second set of arms is a beautiful thing.

Ready Actions: If the bad guys are outside your reach, and look like they are about to close (primary/solely melee warriors, or just stupid), ready an action to smack the first one who enters yer threatened area. Then, when they leave a threatened square, smack them again (this was already mentioned).

Combat Maneuver: If you don't have the feats, combat maneuvers usually provoke an attack of opportunity. So get a reach weapon that allows you to preform said maneuver at a distance.

Position: Once the bad guys start acting on where they think you threaten, give them an out. Block off most of an area, and funnel them where you want. Leave a five foot path for them to rush down toward the other fighter, lining them up for whatever magic wave of death the caster has lined up.

That's all I can think of right now. Good luck!


Some of the feats in the Weapon Master's Handbook are *crazy* good for a reach fighter.

For example:

This: Difficult Swings.

or

This: Spear Dancing Style.

The follow up Spear Dancing feats even allow you to use it as a double weapon at 10 feet :o


If you are a GM reach weapons can mix up encounters that would normally be different even if you were say fighting a lot of orcs in lastwall. A few half orcs with a bite attack and a longspear makes for a much difference encounter in an orc cave.

Simple weapon swaps like this can make minimal prep and just swap the weapons and know say what the critical hit and damage is without having to go through a lot of bookkeeping.

I think lizardfolk with a longspear could be nasty to fight. Do you really want to get adjacent and get attacked by claw claw bite. Also if the enemies have a bite attack and get adjacent to caster they can't five foot step back to not take an attack of opportunity. as that would be into the reach weapon. Although with how trival concentration checks get at higher levels this tactic works better at first level. I don't think you fight that many casters as a player so that will not work.


I know this is an old thread, but some people seem unaware of the old CRB GAS that explicitly allowed using a reach weapon as an improvised weapon without reach.


I love reach weapons w/armor spikes.

Reach weapons double your reach, so long arms. enlarge person and such give you crazy reach.

I have an alchemist barbarian, so my extracts are a standard action to enlarge.

Also you often do not need combat maneuver feats with a reach weapon. As you threaten without them, but often they can not reach you. SO trip away.

Also you AoOs are often used for trip/sunder/disarm. Tripping a charging monster is horrible as their ac is 6 less.


Wow, 6 second difference in posting time Fin!


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While there are a lot of people that focus on enlarge person...that is unfortunately focusing on the area control while abandoning your regular full attacks.

If a creature gets close to you, you have to move 10' back to use your primary weapon in order to attack them. So enlarge is mostly for use when you have a complex denial build (such as trip builds). Not for general offense. Sure, you might have a cestus, or a bite, that allows you to attack close...but that that isn't you nice well enhanced main weapon wielded in 2 hands, now is it?

If you want general offense, then what you want is to stay medium, and then take lunge and pushing assault.

Lunge allows you to attack outside of your normal threatened area during your turn. That means you avoid one of the main problems of reach- when you attack first, your enemy doesn't eat an AoO when they approach you (since they just need to 5' step and full attack). With lunge, they are stuck in the sweet spot 15' away where they have to move 10'to reach you, thereby eating an AoO, and probably losing their full attack. Offense and defense.

Pushing assault is useful for a similar reason- it can allow you to push enemies into that sweet spot 15' away. This lets you reset the battlefield, allowing you to set up more AoOs. Done well, you can kite an opponent so they only get 1 attack per turn, while you get your full attack+AoOs. Combine it with lunge, so that you can continue your full attack after using an early hit to knock the enemy away.

Of course, when you make it that hard to attack you, enemies might try to avoid you. Of course, barbarian builds are not stranger to this- CaGM also brings pain to those that attack a barbarian. So your solution to enemies that avoid your defense? POUNCE THEM. You are no turtled monk. You are a 2 hander...one that can full attack anything in a 45' wide circle when you have lunge. So even before you gain pounce (and for classes without pounce), you can still full attack fairly easily if they avoid you. Plus, you are still a 25' wide circle of pain that can stand as a living obstacle between them and squishier targets. You can still make yourself a priority target by dishing out pain and being an obstacle.

EDIT- thinking about it, you might get enlarge to work with pushing assault. 5' step back, pushing assault with your close range option, and then the enemy should be in range for your main weapon. So yeah- lunge and pushing assault are your distance control options. Everything else is area control. I would rank distance as a higher priority, personally.


w01fe01 wrote:

Just curious on the best way to use a reach weapon in combat.

...
Im not looking for a trip build, ill be sundering, but i still want to take advantage of what i can with a reach weapon.

The reason people talk about reach weapons and trip is that you don't really have to invest anything to pull this off.

With a reach weapon, you can attempt a combat maneuver without provoking an Attack of Opportunity (well you provoke it, but unless they have reach they can't hit you, so it's pointless).
The reason Trip is so good with this, is that it stops their movement for the turn. Someone tries to get within arms reach to attack you, you trip them (without provoking AoO's), and now you can attack them and they can't attack you.
You don't need Improved Trip or any of that jazz, just your big honking weapon.

And Combat Reflexes is great coz it lets you do that to more than one person per round. (even if it's only 1 extra attack/round, that's still 1 extra attack for only 1 feat)

Edit: What I'm saying is: Make your sunder build, it sounds good. Just remember that you can use other maneuvers, and your reach weapon makes that easier.


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While addressing the options might be a valid response, I don't think telling him to do or not do his build is going to change anything. This thread is two years old- if he wanted to do something, he probably has done it already.

Silver Crusade

Im baffled that no one mentioned Pushing Assault.
Its the nonplusultra way to practically hit a melee caster twice each round.
EDIT: Correction second to last post mentioned. and explained it well.

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