Precise Strike is not as great as it looks. Calm down and do some math.


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


2 people marked this as a favorite.

So, a lot of people are looking at that Precise Strike deed that Swashbucklers (and others) get access to, and flipping out at how much of a huge damage boost it seems to be. Let's break down real quick how it isn't.

From the level at which it comes online, you're adding your level to damage on all your hits. On top of that you've got the base damage for the rapier you're basically forced to use, your strength bonus, and whatever feats and class features you have to stack on extra damage (weapon training, precise strike, etc.) Rapiers also have an 18-20 crit range, which is always nice.

Let's compare that now to someone using a good ol' two-handed falchion, which is also an 18-20 crit range, and say we have the same feats.

First off, we have the actual dice involved. 1d6 vs. 2d4. Those average out to 3.5 damage per hit, and 5 damage per hit respectively. So that's -1.5 damage to the rapier user so far.

Next comes strength. You add your str mod to the rapier, but 2x str mod to the falchion. -1 potential damage for every 4 points of strength.

Power attack works along the same principle. Assuming we've got a full BAB character and we're really chasing damage, it's a no brainer feat, and we have that same ratio. 2 damage per 4 BAB with the rapier, 3 with the falchion.

So here's how much str you need at each level to outperform the precise strike deed (by that half a point there) at each level, vs. someone with the same str, assuming you're power attacking:

1: 8 (Precise Strike has yet to kick in, dice alone are a huge deal, no power attack here)
2: 8
3: 14 (Precise Strike is now online, assume we're both power attacking now)
4: 14 (PA edge just jumped to +2)
5: 18 1.5 2 2
6: 22 1.5 3 2
7: 26 1.5 4 2
8: 26 (PA edge hits +3)
9: 30 1.5 5 3
10: 34 1.5 6 3
11: 38 1.5 7 3
12: 38 (PA edge hits +4)
13: 42
14: 46
15: 50
16: 50 (it's +5)
17: 54
18: 58
19: 62
20: 62 (and again)

Now, putting it in these terms makes it look like a huge deal. Nobody's ever going to get their str up that high. But again, this is just to establish the baseline. Let's look at it in more practical terms.

If we assume both the rapier user and falchion user have an 18 str and never upgrade it...
Level 1: Falchion's hitting for 4.5 extra damage on each attack.
Level 2: Falchion's hitting for 4.5 extra damage on each attack.
Level 3: Falchion's hitting for 1.5 extra damage on each attack.
Level 4: Falchion's hitting for 1.5 extra damage on each attack.
Level 5: Falchion's hitting for 0.5 extra.
Level 6: Rapier pulls ahead with 0.5 extra, and gains an extra 1 point lead 3 levels out of every 4.
Level 16: Rapier has a 7.5 point lead in the damage race. This is about where most APs end.

Again though, no real melee character is going to neglect their strength that much. Every time you upgrade that belt, cast that enlarge person, or bull's strength, or activate a barbarian rage, whatever, you're upping that lead. It's not unreasonable to consistently be walking around with a strength of 34 by level 16 if you're really pushing it. Do that and the falchion user is closing out a 16 level campaign doing only 3.5 less per hit than the rapier user, and if you're upgrading belts/activating buffs regularly enough (or starting with a 20 str), you keep the lead for a bigger chunk of the low end of the level spectrum.

It's worth keeping in mind that, doing 4.5 more damage per hit at level 1 is a way bigger deal than it is in the mid-teens. It's potentially the difference in dropping something with only 1 or 2 hits, and needing 4 or 5. At higher levels, when martial types can set themselves up to consistently pile up enough bonuses potentially hitting the triple digit range, any single digit edge is pretty trivial.

Then of course there's the precision damage issue. If something is immune, the rapier loses an amount of damage equal to its user's level off this curve, which makes a huge huge difference.

You also feel this difference any time you score a crit... which is going to be pretty often. 18+ crit ranges on the weapons we're talking about, double that and it's a 15+, or 30% of the time. Now true, if you have the Precise Strike deed, every time you score a crit, you can use the point of panache you gain from doing so to add that lost crit damage back in, but that's assuming that A- You don't need that swift action for anything else, B- you don't need that point of panache for anything else, and C- You aren't scoring multiple crits in a single round, and wasting panache by hitting your cap. Plus there's this weird offset where the extra damage gets added to your next hit, not the crit, which can get kinda screwy at times.

This point is particularly relevant if we're looking at a single rapier swashbuckler next to one with, say, paired sawtooth sabers. The latter's critting more often, already getting the full damage from doing so, and getting to keep the crit panache to spend elsewhere.

So really, it's not at all like having some sort of always-on smite bonus, like it looks at first glance. It's just a weird offset to the potential damage you're losing by fighting with one hand. It doesn't come close to compensating at low levels, but kinda makes up for it by catching up on the high end of things, but at the end of the day, your output is just being brought up to par with Timmy Two-Handed.

Scarab Sages

Precise Strike is a huge deal if you are playing a class that is already tied to a specific fighting style, such as the magus.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

This is true, yes. If you're already fighting with one hand tied behind your back, then yeah, it's a massive damage boost for free.

Mainly I just wanted to break it down for the sake of people worrying about swashbucklers becoming the new queens of melee damage or something. It's really not a better deal than the reigning standard of two-handed fighting, and it's not even the best option for a swashbuckler, where two weapon fighting puts you way ahead on panache and available deeds.


It's also worth noting that the extra damage from Precise Strike isn't multiplied on a critical and doesn't function against targets immune to sneak attacks or criticals, and can be shut down occasionally by fortification and similar effects.


Sorry, long post up there and my mind is fried right now...

So basically it comes down to precise strike adds your level to damage in most cases while Power Attack with a two hander adds 3/4 your level to damage in all cases, they seem balanced right there (Actually PA is in the lead with starting at +3 at level one, right?). Add in precise strike only coming with one attribute mod to damage (and probably a feat tax) compared to 1.5x attribute mod to damage with a two hander and the two hander looks like it takes the lead.

A precise striker with power attack adds 1.5 level to damage though, right? Considering 13 strength seems like an easy to achieve level.

A Daring Champion though can add 2.5 level to damage which seems more competitive. But that is limited in duration so not too shocking.


yea I don't think precise strike is that great either, and only cavalier and duelist get's it

Note however, that using a katana instead of a rapier (with slashing grace) gives you 1 more damage. Also, you can wear a buckler, a small difference that can be useful. Also you can use your rapier while being grappled.

Contributor

zapbib wrote:

yea I don't think precise strike is that great either, and only cavalier and duelist get's it

Note however, that using a katana instead of a rapier (with slashing grace) gives you 1 more damage. Also, you can wear a buckler, a small difference that can be useful. Also you can use your rapier while being grappled.

Magi can also get it at the cost of two arcana. They need flamboyant arcana and then arcane deed.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I've been playing a Swashbuckler at high level (13 and 14) for a while now. The times you encounter enemies which are immune to Precise Strike is quite high. Enemy spellcasters, elementals and so on... it's really very often that you are down to what your normal damage output without Precise Strike is.


My biggest beef with the swash is that they need crits, but for the classic dex build the crits do very little.


Alexander Augunas wrote:
zapbib wrote:

yea I don't think precise strike is that great either, and only cavalier and duelist get's it

Note however, that using a katana instead of a rapier (with slashing grace) gives you 1 more damage. Also, you can wear a buckler, a small difference that can be useful. Also you can use your rapier while being grappled.

Magi can also get it at the cost of two arcana. They need flamboyant arcana and then arcane deed.

While I would love for my Magus to take it, there is no text stating that the Magus uses their Magus level in place of their Swashbuckler level for the purpose of Arcane Deed. RAW, I believe that taking Precise Strike as a Magus is a wasted arcana.


True Renlar, but as every swashbuckler ability references 'the swashbuckler' and not 'the magus' none of the deeds work and if you honestly think that they printed those with a giant 'ha ha ha these don't do anything' mind set you are being hyper literal, to the utmost. That is RAW worship of an unbelievable, and myopic level.

A more reasonable interpretation lets it works and eagerly awaits for a singe line of errata to render the your argument invalid.

Regards,
DRS


I agree that precise strike is not that big a deal, or rather, it is not a big deal for the reasons people think it is one.

As you've shown, the damage from a swashbuckler is fairly comparable to someone using a 2 handed weapon. But at the same time....the damage is comparable to some one using a 2 handed weapon. As in, it is on par with one of the highest single hit styles out there, on par with the standard that all melee styles compare themselves to.

That is the goal of that particular ability. It makes using a single weapon in 1 hand on par with using a 2 handed weapon. It is meant to make the swashbuckler, who is restricted to some thematic but mechanically weak styles, on par with other full BAB characters.

The thing I like about this though is that the swashbuckler's abilities allow you to use a buckler without any trouble. That means that you can get sword and shield levels of AC, but you are dealing 2 handed levels of damage. Throw in nimble to eventually make up for their reliance on light armor, and suddenly you have a fairly sturdy character. Any slight disadvantages and restrictions placed on their precise strike ability after that (such as their inability to use it on things like elementals) is basically there to balance that out.

Oh, and it also salvages throwing as a style as well. So that is nice too.


remember that they are also stuck with generaly weaker armors unless they spend some feat.

light armor +dex < heavy armor +dex (8 vs 10)
So with the shield it even quite well, you hardy get more ac then a 2-handed fighter untill you get to hight level.


zapbib wrote:

remember that they are also stuck with generaly weaker armors unless they spend some feat.

light armor +dex < heavy armor +dex (8 vs 10)
So with the shield it even quite well, you hardy get more ac then a 2-handed fighter untill you get to hight level.

And +3 armor costs more than a +2 shield and a +2 armor. It is simply an advantage of having multiple AC items in system built around pretty exponential costs.

Plus, heavy armors are not exactly on the shopping list at level 1 either. Heck, other than splint mail and banded mail, it would take until about level 3 before somewhat average wealth by level would allow for most heavy armors (without it being pretty much everything you own). And by that point, the might be well on their way to affording a +1 armor and shield.

Overall, there might be a point or two difference early on, but overall, once nimble starts kicking in, swashbuckler can keep pace. And this is of course not accounting the fact that Dex builds are fairly universal with this class (not necessarily 'required', since sword and shield can give good AC and you could just skip fencing grace by going str....but still the general consensus is that it is DEX based)


Googleshng wrote:

So, a lot of people are looking at that Precise Strike deed that Swashbucklers (and others) get access to, and flipping out at how much of a huge damage boost it seems to be. Let's break down real quick how it isn't.

From the level at which it comes online, you're adding your level to damage on all your hits. On top of that you've got the base damage for the rapier you're basically forced to use, your strength bonus, and whatever feats and class features you have to stack on extra damage (weapon training, precise strike, etc.) Rapiers also have an 18-20 crit range, which is always nice.

Let's compare that now to someone using a good ol' two-handed falchion, which is also an 18-20 crit range, and say we have the same feats.

First off, we have the actual dice involved. 1d6 vs. 2d4. Those average out to 3.5 damage per hit, and 5 damage per hit respectively. So that's -1.5 damage to the rapier user so far.

Next comes strength. You add your str mod to the rapier, but 2x str mod to the falchion. -1 potential damage for every 4 points of strength.

Power attack works along the same principle. Assuming we've got a full BAB character and we're really chasing damage, it's a no brainer feat, and we have that same ratio. 2 damage per 4 BAB with the rapier, 3 with the falchion.

So here's how much str you need at each level to outperform the precise strike deed (by that half a point there) at each level, vs. someone with the same str, assuming you're power attacking:

1: 8 (Precise Strike has yet to kick in, dice alone are a huge deal, no power attack here)
2: 8
3: 14 (Precise Strike is now online, assume we're both power attacking now)
4: 14 (PA edge just jumped to +2)
5: 18 1.5 2 2
6: 22 1.5 3 2
7: 26 1.5 4 2
8: 26 (PA edge hits +3)
9: 30 1.5 5 3
10: 34 1.5 6 3
11: 38 1.5 7 3
12: 38 (PA edge hits +4)
13: 42
14: 46
15: 50
16: 50 (it's +5)
17: 54
18: 58
19: 62
20: 62 (and again)

Now, putting it in these terms makes it look like a huge deal. Nobody's ever going to get their str up...

And what about an inspired blade archetype swashbuckler with power attack and precise strike at the same time wielding a rapier? ;)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

... this thread is three years old, I don't think the OP is still watching it.


Three years later I think we realize that the Swashbuckler, appropriately built, has absolutely no problem doing damage. The problems with the swashbuckler are most everything else the swashbuckler might try to do.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I guess our Paladins are too busy fending off badwrongfun GMs to deal with this recent increase of Necromancer activity...

Is there any brave, noble soul who could put a stop to this growing madness?!


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Three years later I think we realize that the Swashbuckler, appropriately built, has absolutely no problem doing damage. The problems with the swashbuckler are most everything else the swashbuckler might try to do.

"We can't give them ________, they're already OP because of Precise Strike!"

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / General Discussion / Precise Strike is not as great as it looks. Calm down and do some math. All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.