Please no more combat expertise!


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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I understand that for backward compatibility reasons combat expertise is the prerequisites of several core feats, (whirlwind strike and improved trip as the most important examples) even if those feats have nothing to do with fighting defensively. Effectively CE is a feat tax that you are forced to take even if you do not plan to use it never ever.

That is bad enough. But why in the name of Calistria's honeyed thighs is that feat still used as prerequisites for combat feats that have nothing to do with fighting defensively?. Combat patrol, swift aid, snoutgrip, Disengaging Flourish, moonlight stalker, gang up, merciless beating, Merciless Beating, kobold style, Butterfly's Sting ...all Those feats have nothing to do with having a penalty to attack in order to have a bonus to AC, and the only feat in the game that make good synergy with it, stalwart, do not have CE as a prerequisite, it is crazy!.

But the feat that made me make this thread is slayer feint, a brand new feat in the ACG. How the heck is combat expertise related with being acrobatic?.

Combat expertise is a fun sponge, seriously, It sucks, it is an horrible feat tax, is the most awful and annoying feat tax in the game. "uh, is so fun to take this feat tax so 2 levels later I can start triping people!" - say no one, ever.

Please paizo, do not use combat expertise never ever again as a prerequisite for any feat.


I use the feat primarily as a spring board for martial flexibility.

Mythic Combat expertise is actually pretty nice, you can spend a mythic power to ignore the penalty for a minute and the dodge bonus is increased by 2, so in mythics it's a basically free +8 dodge AC.

Using it otherwise is just a turtling tactic.


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Marcus Robert Hosler wrote:


Using it otherwise is just a turtling tactic.

Here's a turtling tactic


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I actually like the theme of these sort of feats requiring combat expertise, not because combat expertise itself necessarily makes sense, but the INT 13 requirement highlights that these feats are thinking tactically, not just 'hulk smash.'

And, I disagree that it is a useless feat.


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Combat Expertise and Power Attack should just be marial "stances" that anyone can employ. Give them out to your players as bonus feats to anyone with a BaB of +1 or greater.


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Both combat expertise and fighting defensively have helped my groups survive against tough encounters (mummies and ogres come to mind).
Someone stands in front of the big hitting guy and soaks all damage while others take their time to kill it.


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Marcus Robert Hosler wrote:


Using it otherwise is just a turtling tactic.

I have no problems with people using the feat for defense. What I despise is the feat as prerequisites for other things that have nothing to do with what CE does.


shadowkras wrote:

Both combat expertise and fighting defensively have helped my groups survive against tough encounters (mummies and ogres come to mind).

Someone stands in front of the big hitting guy and soaks all damage while others take their time to kill it.

That is great. I have nothing against CE by itself. MOreover if paizo release a feat chain that actually have good sinergy with CE I will be very happy. Like the stalwart feat chain, except that stalwart does nt have CE as prerequisite.

What I dislike is requiring CE to be able to do thigns that have nothing to do with fighting defensively, like, tripping.


Dave Justus wrote:

I actually like the theme of these sort of feats requiring combat expertise, not because combat expertise itself necessarily makes sense, but the INT 13 requirement highlights that these feats are thinking tactically, not just 'hulk smash.'

And, I disagree that it is a useless feat.

Only problem is things like improved trip has an int requirement so there's still no need for ce.


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Nicos wrote:
Marcus Robert Hosler wrote:


Using it otherwise is just a turtling tactic.
I have no problems with people using the feat for defense. What I despise is the feat as prerequisites for other things that have nothing to do with what CE does.

Heck, using CE with most of the things it's a prereq for makes them harder to use. It makes no sense.


So do you think Improved Trip should have a different prerequisite, or no prerequisite?


RJGrady wrote:
So do you think Improved Trip should have a different prerequisite, or no prerequisite?

My answer is 'no prerequisite'.


RJGrady wrote:
So do you think Improved Trip should have a different prerequisite, or no prerequisite?

I would be fine with both. Cause giving martial more options is a thing the game needs. But whatever prerequisites have to actually be useful for combat maneuver builds.


I would even say that Improved Trip being essentially-required to use the trip maneuver really puts maneuvers in a bad spot. Just whiffing the maneuver is punishment enough; an AO for trying tells PCs to just not try at all, unless they have the feat.

-Matt


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I hear that a lot, but I've seen plenty of trips attempted without that feat. And many succeeded.


RJGrady wrote:
I hear that a lot, but I've seen plenty of trips attempted without that feat. And many succeeded.

Remberber that getting hitted by the AoO reduce your CMB. And well, tripping still have nothing to do with figthing defensively or having 13 int.


Combat Maneuver feats should have no prerequisite, certainly not Combat Expertise and Int 13. Furthermore the Improved + Greater Maneuver feats should be combined back into one feat like they were in 3.5.

Combat Expertise itself would probably work more "cleanly" if it modified the Fight Defensively action rather than being its own separate mechanic.


Athaleon wrote:
Combat Maneuver feats should have no prerequisite, certainly not Combat Expertise and Int 13.

Why?

Perhaps it has nothing to do with the mechanical benefit of Combat Expertise, but tactical fighting should require an expertise of combat and a modicum of intelligence.

Athaleon wrote:
Furthermore the Improved + Greater Maneuver feats should be combined back into one feat like they were in 3.5.

And they weren't one feat back in 3.5. There just wasn't the "Greater" option. The improved option did exactly what it does now, you just didn't have the option to take greater for even further benefit.


Nicos wrote:
RJGrady wrote:
I hear that a lot, but I've seen plenty of trips attempted without that feat. And many succeeded.
Remberber that getting hitted by the AoO reduce your CMB. And well, tripping still have nothing to do with figthing defensively or having 13 int.

Most creatures have low CMD and only one AoO.


thegreenteagamer wrote:
Athaleon wrote:
Combat Maneuver feats should have no prerequisite, certainly not Combat Expertise and Int 13.

Why?

Perhaps it has nothing to do with the mechanical benefit of Combat Expertise, but tactical fighting should require an expertise of combat and a modicum of intelligence.

Athaleon wrote:
Furthermore the Improved + Greater Maneuver feats should be combined back into one feat like they were in 3.5.
And they weren't one feat back in 3.5. There just wasn't the "Greater" option. The improved option did exactly what it does now, you just didn't have the option to take greater for even further benefit.

Int 12 allow you to learn to shape reality, AKA it allows you to cast a spell and become invisible, just to give an exdample. But int 12 does not allow you to learn how to trip someone without provoking? what is exactly the int stat of anderson silva?

There is nothing tactically in tripping someone.


To highlight my point:

Here's the 3.5 version:

The 3.5 SRD wrote:


Improved Feint (Combat)
Prerequisites
Int 13, Combat Expertise.

Benefit
You can make a Bluff check to feint in combat as a move action.

Normal
Feinting in combat is a standard action.

A fighter may select Improved Feint as one of his fighter bonus feats.

Here's the PF version:

The PF SRD wrote:


Improved Feint (Combat)
You are skilled at fooling your opponents in combat.

Prerequisites: Int 13, Combat Expertise.
Benefit: You can make a Bluff check to feint in combat as a move action.
Normal: Feinting in combat is a standard action.

Now let's take a look at Greater Feint.

The PF SRD wrote:


Greater Feint (Combat)
You are skilled at making foes overreact to your attacks.

Prerequisites: Combat Expertise, Improved Feint, base attack bonus +6, Int 13.
Benefit: Whenever you use feint to cause an opponent to lose his Dexterity bonus, he loses that bonus until the beginning of your next turn, in addition to losing his Dexterity bonus against your next attack.
Normal: A creature you feint loses its Dexterity bonus against your next attack.

Not a bloody thing there that was written in the 3.5 feat of Improved Feint. Pathfinder didn't "break apart" the feat, they just added an extra feat that's even better than, but requires, the original. Greater Feint as itself is too powerful of a feat to give away without the prerequisites of Improved Feint.


BAB+6 and Imp. Feint, without INT 13 and CE, seems more than sufficient to me. If PF doesn't want you to take a feat before a certain level, they should just slap 'character level X' on it.

Sovereign Court

Zhayne wrote:
BAB+6 and Imp. Feint, without INT 13 and CE, seems more than sufficient to me. If PF doesn't want you to take a feat before a certain level, they should just slap 'character level X' on it.

This seems reasonable.


It does sort of make sense that an Int 8 ogre wouldn't have Improved Trip, but if you wanted to do it, should the system stop you?


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thegreenteagamer wrote:
Athaleon wrote:
Combat Maneuver feats should have no prerequisite, certainly not Combat Expertise and Int 13.

Why?

Perhaps it has nothing to do with the mechanical benefit of Combat Expertise, but tactical fighting should require an expertise of combat and a modicum of intelligence.

13 Intelligence isn't a "modicum", it's enough intelligence to fly, shoot fireballs, speak and understand any language, etc. Combat is more about instinct than intelligence anyways, not that I am advocating a Wis prerequisite instead. An Orc with Int 6 would possess enough cunning to trip opponents without exposing themselves to attack. A character's expertise in combat is already represented by proficiencies and BAB, and any additional class features like Weapon Training, without making them spend another feat on something that vaguely makes them fight even better.


RJGrady wrote:
It does sort of make sense that an Int 8 ogre wouldn't have Improved Trip,?

How it would make sense? what is the minimum int to become a mixed martial artist?


thegreenteagamer wrote:


Not a bloody thing there that was written in the 3.5 feat of Improved Feint. Pathfinder didn't "break apart" the feat, they just added an extra feat that's even better than, but requires, the original. Greater Feint as itself is too powerful of a feat to give away without the prerequisites of Improved Feint.

3.5 Improved Trip

PF Improved Trip
PF Greater Trip

I also disagree on how powerful Greater Feint is.


Nicos wrote:
RJGrady wrote:
It does sort of make sense that an Int 8 ogre wouldn't have Improved Trip,?
How it would make sense? what is the minimum int to become a mixed martial artist?

A vaguely successful one? I'm guessing at least 10.


I agree that the Int requirement is a little steep. The only characters who can really fully invest in combat maneuvers are fighters, otherwise you can start tripping at level 3 without provoking... and that's about it.

If a wolf with an intelligence of 2 can figure out the advantage of tripping an enemy, then any humanoid can do the same. Personally I hate that basic maneuvers provoke AoO, why is that? I honestly don't see thematically or even mechanically the thought process behind it.

Contributor

Its worth noting that you can combine Combat Expertise and fighting defensively, if you're willing to take the massive penalty to hit. Combat Expertise is worded similarly to Power Attack, it requires that you make an attack roll during an attack action or a full attack action (Power Attack isn't as specific, though).

Since you can fight defensively while taking either action and dodge bonuses stack, you can actually get a pretty sick dodge bonus to AC just from having 3 ranks in Acrobatics and Combat Expertise. I believe the total bonus is +4 at 3rd level, then another +1 at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter (assuming you have a full base attack bonus, of course). And that's assuming that you don't further add Crane Style into the mix.


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The only reason Combat Expertise is used as a prerequisite is because it's named "Combat Expertise".

If it had a more fitting name ("Defensive Stance" or whatever), it wouldn't plague so many feats.

BTW, isn't it fun how Dr. Stephen Hawking certainly qualifies for Combat Expertise, but Anderson Silva probably doesn't?


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thegreenteagamer wrote:
Greater Feint as itself is too powerful of a feat to give away without the prerequisites of Improved Feint.

Or Improved Feint could just automatically upgrade to Greater Feint when the prereqs are reached, thus taking a step reclaiming good design decisions and eliminating this feat chain nonsense in the first place.


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Lemmy wrote:

The only reason Combat Expertise is used as a prerequisite is because it's named "Combat Expertise".

If it had a more fitting name ("Defensive Stance" or whatever), it wouldn't plague so many feats.

I agree. Using combat expertise is not particularly smarter than using any other tactic.


Dave Justus wrote:

I actually like the theme of these sort of feats requiring combat expertise, not because combat expertise itself necessarily makes sense, but the INT 13 requirement highlights that these feats are thinking tactically, not just 'hulk smash.'

And, I disagree that it is a useless feat.

And how is it not useless?

The difference in trade off is NEVER worth it andquite honestly, there is very little difference between CE and simply fighting defensively. Heck! Why does CE exist if we ALREADY have a "take a penalty to hit to increase your AC" thing BUILT INTO THE FREAKING GAME.


RJGrady wrote:
I hear that a lot, but I've seen plenty of trips attempted without that feat. And many succeeded.

That is cool...

I've seen Rogues out damaging Fighters, does that mean there is no problem with the Rogue?...

And honestly, your example would work better if:

You told us level
What you were up against
Gear

Because your example could work... at level 1.... but when you get to 7+ EVERYTHING EITHER FLIES, IS HUGE, HAS MULTIPLE LEGS, HAS NO LEGS AT ALL, OR SOME MIX THERE-OF....


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RJGrady wrote:
Nicos wrote:
RJGrady wrote:
I hear that a lot, but I've seen plenty of trips attempted without that feat. And many succeeded.
Remberber that getting hitted by the AoO reduce your CMB. And well, tripping still have nothing to do with figthing defensively or having 13 int.
Most creatures have low CMD and only one AoO.

Um... what?

Most creatures have a STUPIDLY high CMD... ESPECIALLY vs things like trip...

Unless you are always up against humanoid type creatures... i mean... really?

Again, most creatures tend to be:

1) Bigger than you (yay for Size bonues to Str AND size bonuses to CMD/CMB)

2) Have a higher HD than you (for BBEG types... oh and therefor more BAB)

3) More legs than you (unless you are a summoner/druid/oracle/shaman)


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Lemmy wrote:

The only reason Combat Expertise is used as a prerequisite is because it's named "Combat Expertise".

If it had a more fitting name ("Defensive Stance" or whatever), it wouldn't plague so many feats.

BTW, isn't it fun how Dr. Stephen Hawking certainly qualifies for Combat Expertise, but Anderson Silva probably doesn't?

Hear my response.


Dr. Stephen Hawking wrote:
Lemmy wrote:

The only reason Combat Expertise is used as a prerequisite is because it's named "Combat Expertise".

If it had a more fitting name ("Defensive Stance" or whatever), it wouldn't plague so many feats.

BTW, isn't it fun how Dr. Stephen Hawking certainly qualifies for Combat Expertise, but Anderson Silva probably doesn't?

Hear my response.

I love you.


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Lemmy wrote:

The only reason Combat Expertise is used as a prerequisite is because it's named "Combat Expertise".

If it had a more fitting name ("Defensive Stance" or whatever), it wouldn't plague so many feats.

That.

That's the issue right here.


K177Y C47 wrote:


Um... what?

Most creatures have a STUPIDLY high CMD... ESPECIALLY vs things like trip...

Unless you are always up against humanoid type creatures... i mean... really?

Again, most creatures tend to be:

1) Bigger than you (yay for Size bonues to Str AND size bonuses to CMD/CMB)

2) Have a higher HD than you (for BBEG types... oh and therefor more BAB)

3) More legs than you (unless you are a summoner/druid/oracle/shaman)

Well, here's the thing. When you're up against giants and such, they may the ones doing the tripping.


leo1925 wrote:
Lemmy wrote:

The only reason Combat Expertise is used as a prerequisite is because it's named "Combat Expertise".

If it had a more fitting name ("Defensive Stance" or whatever), it wouldn't plague so many feats.

That.

That's the issue right here.

Indicative of the larger issue, conflating mechanics and flavor.


At issue to me is GM viability.
I saw so much tripping in my local store for PFS (accomplished via feats and special weapons) that for my home campaign I made CE prerequisite Int 14.

You're getting +4 to your attack and your own armor class, you cost my BBEG his move (or worse, full attack), and you're setting up my BBEG for an AoO when he tries to stand.

These maneuvers are themselves unbalancing fights (or are at least capable of doing so) for the GM.

All players are optimized. Most monsters are not.


Sure, give improved trip for free and suddenly every creature and enemy in the game will start tripping players :P


shadowkras wrote:
Sure, give improved trip for free and suddenly every creature and enemy in the game will start tripping players :P

I'm not advcating giving improved trip to everyone, but I have no problem with monster triping PC. As a GM i really like to use maneuvers agaisnt the PCs.


Nicos wrote:

... why in the name of Calistria's honeyed thighs is that feat still used as prerequisites for combat feats that have nothing to do with fighting defensively?. Combat patrol, swift aid, snoutgrip, Disengaging Flourish, moonlight stalker, gang up, Merciless Beating, kobold style, Butterfly's Sting ...all Those feats have nothing to do with having a penalty to attack in order to have a bonus to AC, and the only feat in the game that make good synergy with it, stalwart, do not have CE as a prerequisite, it is crazy!.

But the feat that made me make this thread is slayer feint, a brand new feat in the ACG.

As a GM, I considered adding the benefit to Combat Expertise, "During a combat maneuver, you may gain the dodge bonus from Combat Expertise without the penalty on melee attack rolls." That would invent flavor why Combat Expertise is a prerequisite for some combat maneuvers and give players a change to attempt combat maneuvers before they take the improved feat for the particular maneuver.

But Nicos's list shows that Combat Expertise is a prerequisite for much more than combat maneuvers. Let me list them by categories. I left out feats that have a prerequisite on my list; for example, Improved Feint also means Disengaging Flourish and Gang Up also means Merciless Beating because they are prerequisites.

Combat Maneuvers
Improved Dirty Trick - standard-action combat maneuver
Improved Disarm - attack combat maneuver
Improved Reposition - standard-action combat maneuver
Improved Steal - standard-action combat maneuver
Improved Trip - attack combat maneuver

Feint or Related to Feint
Improved Feint - feint as a move action
Improved Two-Weapon Feint - feint as first attack
Kobold Style - attack bonus against enemies denied their Dex bonus to AC.
Moonlight Stalker - concealment-based attack bonus
Slayer's Feint - Acrobatics instead of Bluff to feint

Advanced Attacks
Whirlwind Attack - mass attack on adjacent foes
Elusive Redirection - redirect eluded attack
Snoutgrip - grapple a missed bite attack

Aid
Butterfly's Sting - transfer effects of a critical hit
Gang Up - alternative flank
Swift Aid - aid another as swift action
Archon Style - transfer AC bonus

Reroll
Second Chance - lose attacks to reroll first attack

Combat Expertise is a direct prerequisite for five improved combat maneuvers and a direct prerequisite to thirteen feats that are not combat maneuvers.

Lemmy wrote:

The only reason Combat Expertise is used as a prerequisite is because it's named "Combat Expertise".

If it had a more fitting name ("Defensive Stance" or whatever), it wouldn't plague so many feats.

None of the eighteen feats truly benefit from being used with Combat Expertise.

I am extremely curious what all eighteen feats have in common so that I can figure out the nature of the feat that should be named "Combat Expertise."

Substituting something else for an attack is a frequent theme. Disarm and Trip are two of the three combat maneuvers that can be made in the place of any melee attack. Improved Two-Weapon Feint put a feint in the place of an attack. Second Chance converts iterative attacks into a rerolled single attack. And special attacks such as combat maneuvers and aid another can be viewed as an attack roll that substitutes a special condition--prone, disarmed, repositioned, losing Dex bonus to AC, etc.--for the weapon damage.

Transferring a bonus to an ally is another theme: transferring a critical hit, a dodge bonus, or a flanking bonus (Merciless Beating).

Whirlwind Attack is an alternative take on a full attack and Gang Up is an alternative form of flanking.

Feint is not an attack, but it is a major category that requires Combat Expertise as a prerequisite. And a feint is appearing to do one attack but really doing another, which fits the substitute theme.

Combat-related substitutes, transfers, and alternatives explain everything except Elusive Redirection and Snoutgrip. And I can't take Snoutgrip seriously.

We need a combat substitution that implies intelligence. How about:

Clever Combat (Combat)
You can increase your flexibility at the expense of your accuracy.
Prerequisite: Int 13.
Benefit: Whenever you make a melee weapon attack roll or combat maneuver check, you can choose to take a –1 penalty on the attack roll. If you miss, you may retroactively change your attack to Aid Another, Feint, Disarm, or Trip but keeping the same die roll with the same -1 penalty. Retroactive combat maneuvers provoke attacks of opportunity as usual.
Special: Clever Combat may substitute for Combat Expertise as a prerequisite for feats.


I wish this would stop. But I think it's actually getting worse. Mathmuse's list doesn't include all the new feats from ACG, for example, Pack Flanking:

a) It not only charges you Int 13 and Combat Expertise, it double-charges you, since your partner also has to have them.

b) It charges you Int 13 and Combat Expertise to use something modeled on the tactics of (Pathfinder Int 2) wolves.


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Int 2 wolves are guided by 300 million plus years of evolution-driven instincts that are unclouded by the burdens of sentience.

Plus they use different rules.


After looking at this thread a couple of months ago I decided to make CE obsolete in my games. The next one to GM agreed and now it seems to be gone forever. I really can't see a reason to 1 require a feet that penalizes my trip action to take improved trip, 2 discourage tactical fighting and 3 nerf the martials. It works really good for all of us. Thanks guys !


I put a house rule in my games that combat expertise and its accompanying 13 Int were pulled from all feat requirements. I figure that combat tactics and prowess were measured in BAB and number of combat feats so even from a flavor perspective CE is redundant. No one has complained an martials got a step towards being very good in late levels.


Necro'ing threads is generally a bad thing... But Pathfinder designers really need to read the OP. So.... I support this necro!

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