Combat Expertise - Movement Before and Attacks of Opportunity


Rules Questions


When does the AC bonus from Combat Expertise trigger?

Situation

The PC moves 30 ft to attack an ogre with a 10 ft reach. The movement through the threatened area provokes an attack of opportunity.

Once adjacent, the PC uses combat expertise on their attack.

Question
If combat expertise was declared as the attack action before any movement was made, does the AC bonus apply to the attack of opportunity provoked by moving through the threatened squares?

i.e. When is combat expertise triggered?

  • As soon as it is declared? The PC gets the AC bonus on the AoO
    OR
  • As soon as the attack is made? The PC doesn't get AC bonus on the AoO

  • Sczarni

    Starfinder Charter Superscriber

    You gain the bonus to AC when you make an attack.

    So if you attack, and then move, you're good.

    If you move, and then attack, you're not.

    I believe you're getting Total Defense and Combat Expertise/Fighting Defensively mixed up. You can declare Total Defense and then move, which seems to throw a lot of people off, but in order to utilize the other two you have to be attacking.


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    It clearly only applies after the player has stated they are using it during their attack declaration.

    If they don't bother to state they are using it until after they have moved and eaten an AoO that is their bad planning and they are being penalized for that appropriately by the game system. Chalk it up to the adventurer being nervous under fire and making a tactical mistake.

    If they player had instead stated they would be "using combat expertise and then move from point A to point B to make Attack C", this would not be a problem. They would have summarized their round before executing any actions and they would have defended themselves properly.

    Note the feat does not state it only works when you attack but when you DECLARE your attack. To allow the exact scenario's I describe above.

    Sczarni

    Starfinder Charter Superscriber

    There is no such thing as an "attack declaration". This isn't Magic: The Gathering.


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    Nefreet wrote:
    There is no such thing as an "attack declaration". This isn't Magic: The Gathering.

    I think the feat in question would say otherwise:

    Combat Reflexes Feat wrote:
    You can only choose to use this feat when you DECLARE that you are making an attack or a full-attack action with a melee weapon. The effects of this feat last until your next turn.

    Hence why I answered the way I did.

    You declare/announce/state/say you are making an attack. How you do that and in what order of physical execution is up to you as per the game rules and as shown in my previous examples, but I can guarantee you do it.


    We were just talking about this in our campaign. I would do a full attack with expertise. Then the enemy would move away. Then I would move back in range and shag a aoo on the way in. It seams odd if u figure ur fighting with expertise u would loose it for a brief time.


    PRD Combat Expertise wrote:
    Benefit: You can choose to take a –1 penalty on melee attack rolls and combat maneuver checks to gain a +1 dodge bonus to your Armor Class. When your base attack bonus reaches +4, and every +4 thereafter, the penalty increases by –1 and the dodge bonus increases by +1.

    The bold part is the answer to your question. You make an attack and then you get a bonus to your AC. You use some of your offense power to distract etc. the enemy. The bonus to AC is bound to an attack roll. Without attack roll you don get he bonus to AC.

    PRD Combat Expertise wrote:
    You can only choose to use this feat when you declare that you are making an attack or a full-attack action with a melee weapon. The effects of this feat last until your next turn.

    Combat Expertise is only a valid option for 'an attack or full-attack action'. You cannot combine it with Combat Maneuvers or other special actions for that you have to make a melee attack roll.

    Can you ..
    1. Declare that you use CE
    2. Move into enemies reach and get a AoO with the bonus to AC from CE
    3. Attack enemy

    No you cannot. The AC bonus is bound to an attack roll and you dont attack until step 3. Additionaly there is no RAW that supports 'declaring' of actions. You dont have to say what you do the whole round. You can decide action by action what you do and you can switch between full-round and other actions. You can 'declare' a full-attack but after your first attack you can stop and do a move action. 'Declaring' means nothing in PF. It is only a word, not a game mechanic or rule.

    Gilfalas is wrong.


    Declaration of actions, while not explicitly stated in the rules, is a de facto standard regarding play. You need to commit to your action in some manner for any kind of play to take place. Ergo, you "declare" your actions, determine the result (roll dice, determine what happens, then resolve those results (apply the damage, apply conditions, spell effects, etc).


    Eridan wrote:

    ...The bold part is the answer to your question ...

    Gilfalas is wrong.

    The part you bolded describes the math involved with the ability.

    The feat clearly and unambiguously states you get it's benefit when you declare your attack. So from that point on in your turn, you have the defense increase as long as you make an attack or full attack that turn.


    Gilfalas wrote:


    The feat clearly and unambiguously states you get it's benefit when you declare your attack. So from that point on in your turn, you have the defense increase as long as you make an attack or full attack that turn.

    Correct and what is declaring an attack in PF game mechanics? Correct .. it is an attack roll. With the attack roll you get the benefit of CE, not earlier.

    'I will attack the enemy in round 10' is an attack declaration but it has no effect until you make an attack roll.

    'I will approach to the enemy (move action) and attack' is also an attack declartion without special effect. After your move action you can cast a spell, drink a potion or take a second move. Your are not locked to your declared actions and due to this facts it is impossible to gain CE benefits before your make an attack roll.

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

    Oh Lord, I do declare!

    Sczarni

    Starfinder Charter Superscriber

    The order Eridan bolded is key.

    It's

    "You can choose to take a –1 penalty on melee attack rolls and combat maneuver checks to gain a +1 dodge bonus to your Armor Class."

    Not

    "You can choose to gain a +1 dodge bonus to your Armor Class to take a –1 penalty on melee attack rolls and combat maneuver checks."

    You need to attack to gain the bonus. It's as simple as that. If you have to move first, you don't gain the bonus until you're done moving, and you roll your attack die.


    While I agree with Nefreet as to the way it technically works, I'm quite pleased not to run it that way unless it's being abused (see other threads re: that).

    Duncan888 wrote:
    I would do a full attack with expertise. Then the enemy would move away. Then I would move back in range and take a AoO on the way in. It seams odd if you figure you're fighting with expertise you would loose it for a brief time.

    And this would be why. You are fighting with expertise, and all through the rest of the round you have the bonus, then suddenly you don't until you make another attack.

    Example:
    Round 1: Declare combat expertise, attack adjacent enemy, then move halfway to another enemy.
    Rest of Round 1 - have AC bonus.
    Round 2: Halfway there, lose AC bonus. Finish moving to other enemy (possible AoOs), make attack and get AC bonus again.

    Again - It shouldn't but does work this way, without GM fiat to fix it.

    Edit: Just wanted to say, I'm *much* more concerned about keeping it constant between consecutive rounds of using combat expertise, than I am about granting the bonus before the very first attack using it.


    The game genetally works in that an action modifies another specific action or is an action itself. Ce modifies the attack or full attack action. If you haven't taken one of those no benefit.

    Ill use the above posters examples.

    The pc could a withdraw and be at his nee enemy in one round. He avoids aoo from one enemy risks full attack from the other.

    Or he can do ce attack one enemy then move away he risks aoo when he moves. He can declair full defense the second round and approach the second enemy.

    The combat options for pc are there without deliberately mis reading rules or house ruling them.


    Eridan wrote:

    No you cannot. The AC bonus is bound to an attack roll and you dont attack until step 3. Additionaly there is no RAW that supports 'declaring' of actions. You dont have to say what you do the whole round. You can decide action by action what you do and you can switch between full-round and other actions. You can 'declare' a full-attack but after your first attack you can stop and do a move action. 'Declaring' means nothing in PF. It is only a word, not a game mechanic or rule.

    Gilfalas is wrong.

    I don't actually play Pathfinder much, so I will take Eridan's word for it that 'Declaring' is not a defined term of art in the Pathfinder rules. If that is the case, you should only be interpreting the meaning of 'declare' within the context of the language used to define the feat. Declaring an attack must be something other than making an attack, otherwise the language would simply refer to an attack roll instead of a declaration. The common sense reading is that the word declaration is specifically inserted to give coverage to the entire turn.

    The other language cited, "You can choose to take a –1 penalty on melee attack rolls and combat maneuver checks to gain a +1 dodge bonus to your Armor Class," doesn't even say an attack needs to be made to receive the dodge bonus. Just that the player may opt to take a penalty on any potential attacks they may end up making.


    You've revived a 5 year old thread. Usually anything older that a few months it's best to start again. Why? I dunno, honestly. People get irate at the idea you're late to a party.

    For what it's worth, I think working hard to make CE less useful is self defeating. If you're using it, announce it and take the benefits and penalties for the round.


    Meh, then you have to deal with folks being unable or unwilling to attack at some point after their declaration. There are better ways to house rule a better Combat Expertise.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
    Tarynt Essrog wrote:
    [ Declaring an attack must be something other than making an attack, otherwise the language would simply refer to an attack roll instead of a declaration.

    I believe the point of the language here it to clarify when you have to decide to use the feat. You can't roll, see you have a 19 and say 'Ok, I'll use combat expertise'. You have to decide up front, before anything else.


    Cavall wrote:

    You've revived a 5 year old thread. Usually anything older that a few months it's best to start again. Why? I dunno, honestly. People get irate at the idea you're late to a party.

    For what it's worth, I think working hard to make CE less useful is self defeating. If you're using it, announce it and take the benefits and penalties for the round.

    I revived it because this is the only thread addressing this question that comes up on the first page of a google search; and the reasoning used to settle the issue is self defeating, so I felt like someone needed to point that out for posterity.

    I was actually trying to find a good ruling on the same issue for 3.5, which I am still looking for.


    blahpers wrote:
    Meh, then you have to deal with folks being unable or unwilling to attack at some point after their declaration. There are better ways to house rule a better Combat Expertise.

    If the attack can't be resolved then the attack action is expended without an attack roll.


    Yeah honestly if someone wants to use combat expertise go just stand there, that's basically already full defense that hes paying a feat for. Mazel?
    And if they are doing it with the intention of not attacking that's always been an issue with combat expertise so again I'd say not an issue. Announcing you're going to hit an ogre than approaching the ogre should be enough to gain the benefits. Just announce your intentions. It ain't hard. Hell. It's easier.

    Silver Crusade

    Cavall wrote:

    Yeah honestly if someone wants to use combat expertise go just stand there, that's basically already full defense that hes paying a feat for. Mazel?

    And if they are doing it with the intention of not attacking that's always been an issue with combat expertise so again I'd say not an issue. Announcing you're going to hit an ogre than approaching the ogre should be enough to gain the benefits. Just announce your intentions. It ain't hard. Hell. It's easier.

    How is it easier than:

    - if attacking, subtract X from the roll and add X to AC
    - if not attacking, the feat does not apply

    The feat is contingent to the attack action. It applies when attacking (and until the beginning of your next round), not before. Declaration of intentions is not a thing in Pathfinder.


    It's easier because you apply it at the start of your turn and it applies when people take AoO you dont have to ask questions like how this applies.


    Cavall wrote:

    Yeah honestly if someone wants to use combat expertise go just stand there, that's basically already full defense that hes paying a feat for. Mazel?

    And if they are doing it with the intention of not attacking that's always been an issue with combat expertise so again I'd say not an issue. Announcing you're going to hit an ogre than approaching the ogre should be enough to gain the benefits. Just announce your intentions. It ain't hard. Hell. It's easier.

    Sure, saying "I wanna use Combat Expertise" and doing nothing is dumb. Saying "I wanna use CE" and then doing something useful that doesn't involve attack rolls is a free scaling dodge bonus.

    That isn't normally an issue with Combat Expertise because you simply cannot use it unless you actually attack.


    And I would squash that kind of action (as rare as it would be to come up) immediately, as any reasonable GM would.

    But that's saying they a) have the feat b) use the feat c) move with the feat d) get hit with an AoO and e) try to spell cast or some such instead. I'm not seeing this as something that's going to come up much if at all.


    Hence my "meh". It's easier to just avoid the need to smack down your own house rule and just run it as written, or with a simpler house rule that doesn't leave room for munchkins to wriggle through. (If anybody cares, mine is 'run it as written, but everybody with an Intelligence score gets it for free'.)

    Liberty's Edge

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
    Tarynt Essrog wrote:
    Cavall wrote:

    You've revived a 5 year old thread. Usually anything older that a few months it's best to start again. Why? I dunno, honestly. People get irate at the idea you're late to a party.

    For what it's worth, I think working hard to make CE less useful is self defeating. If you're using it, announce it and take the benefits and penalties for the round.

    I revived it because this is the only thread addressing this question that comes up on the first page of a google search; and the reasoning used to settle the issue is self defeating, so I felt like someone needed to point that out for posterity.

    I was actually trying to find a good ruling on the same issue for 3.5, which I am still looking for.

    Generally, it is suggested not to revive old threads because the game has been evolving through FAQs and new books until recently.

    AFAIK there haven't been any FAQ or new rules about fighting defensively, so I don't see any problem with reviving this thread.

    Liberty's Edge

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
    Tarynt Essrog wrote:
    Eridan wrote:

    No you cannot. The AC bonus is bound to an attack roll and you dont attack until step 3. Additionaly there is no RAW that supports 'declaring' of actions. You dont have to say what you do the whole round. You can decide action by action what you do and you can switch between full-round and other actions. You can 'declare' a full-attack but after your first attack you can stop and do a move action. 'Declaring' means nothing in PF. It is only a word, not a game mechanic or rule.

    Gilfalas is wrong.

    I don't actually play Pathfinder much, so I will take Eridan's word for it that 'Declaring' is not a defined term of art in the Pathfinder rules. If that is the case, you should only be interpreting the meaning of 'declare' within the context of the language used to define the feat. Declaring an attack must be something other than making an attack, otherwise the language would simply refer to an attack roll instead of a declaration. The common sense reading is that the word declaration is specifically inserted to give coverage to the entire turn.

    The other language cited, "You can choose to take a –1 penalty on melee attack rolls and combat maneuver checks to gain a +1 dodge bonus to your Armor Class," doesn't even say an attack needs to be made to receive the dodge bonus. Just that the player may opt to take a penalty on any potential attacks they may end up making.

    Combat expertise wrote:
    You can only choose to use this feat when you declare that you are making an attack or a full-attack action with a melee weapon.

    "You declare you are making", not "You declare you will be making". Present, not future.

    The only moment in which you declare that is the moment when you make the attack.


    Thanks for taking up the discussion, Diego.

    I think you are making a little bit of a leap. The language you are citing doesn't specify when in your turn you must make the declaration. You are suggesting that one should infer from the present tense that it can't be made until the declared action is being resolved, but I can just as easily read the subject of the present tense to be the current turn.

    The language doesn't specifically say that you can declare your attack at the begining of your turn either, but that is the easier inference in the context of other cited rules, so that interpretation shouldn't bear the burden of proof.

    One piece of context that isn't cited in this thread yet is the difference between fighting defensively and and total defense. Fighting defensively explicitly effects the entire round, while total defense adjustments explicitly kick in after an action is expended. The core rules (that Pathfinder is derived from) cite fighting defensively as the normal action that Combat Expertise modifies.

    And, to speak back to blaphers objection, you don't actually have to hit anybody to use Combat Expertise or fighting defensively. Unless I've overlooked a Pathfinder specific deviation from the core rules, you can always expend an attack action on an empty space.

    Liberty's Edge

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    It a problem of rule logic. You can freely change your future action until you actually start doing it. If we accept your logic that is possible to declare we will do "something" and gain the advantages of doing that "something" before actually doing it we end in a situation where either:
    a) you can change your action after receiving the benefits of the declaration of intent, something that is decidedly unwanted;
    b) you are forced to complete the declared action, even if it has no use or has negative consequences.

    Let's say you declare "I will make an attack while using combat expertise." and your opponent has a readied action to use move away when you get within 5'.
    What happens?
    You are forced to attack your adjacent ally because you have declared an attack?
    You can ditch your attack and take a second move to follow the fleeing opponent?
    If you do that all the attack rolls made against you while you where moving should be recalculated?

    In a game that allows changing your actions till the last moment, it is not possible to have a "declaration of intent" that has in-game consequences without specific rules.
    The ready action does exactly that, and is a special initiative action, with an almost whole page of specific rules plus several FAQs about how it works in specific situations.


    Diego Rossi wrote:


    The ready action does exactly that, and is a special initiative action, with an almost whole page of specific rules plus several FAQs about how it works in specific situations.

    And don't forget the numerous threads based on edge cases and varying opinions on how those edge cases around readied actions should be adjudicated. (The number of threads on that topic alone should be enough to scare away anyone who is considering 'declaration of future intent' a good thing).


    I'm more than happy to let someone declare their intention to attack to gain the benfit of CE to move prior to an attack. If they then decide not to/are unable to attack they lose that action. Simple. Effective.


    Diego Rossi wrote:

    It a problem of rule logic. You can freely change your future action until you actually start doing it. If we accept your logic that is possible to declare we will do "something" and gain the advantages of doing that "something" before actually doing it we end in a situation where either:

    a) you can change your action after receiving the benefits of the declaration of intent, something that is decidedly unwanted;
    b) you are forced to complete the declared action, even if it has no use or has negative consequences.

    Let's say you declare "I will make an attack while using combat expertise." and your opponent has a readied action to use move away when you get within 5'.
    What happens?
    You are forced to attack your adjacent ally because you have declared an attack?
    You can ditch your attack and take a second move to follow the fleeing opponent?
    If you do that all the attack rolls made against you while you where moving should be recalculated?

    In a game that allows changing your actions till the last moment, it is not possible to have a "declaration of intent" that has in-game consequences without specific rules.
    The ready action does exactly that, and is a special initiative action, with an almost whole page of specific rules plus several FAQs about how it works in specific situations.

    I'm not 100% sure of your premise that a declared intent requires follow through to be valid. If a player declares they are fighting defensively this turn, but then the situation unfolds as you described and they don't have an opportunity to attack; what then? I'm genuinely not sure if an action gets wasted there, but the worst case scenario is that it is wasted on an empty space.

    I'm not sure what "edge cases" are, so I can't comment on that.

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