Help me get over my HATE for Combat Expertise! Please


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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I almost never play a character that has any Combat Maneuvers unless they come as a class feature because of how much I hate wasting a feat on Combat Expertise.

Anybody got some inspiring tactical ideas or interesting stories on why this feat is just too awesome to hate or do I have to continue belaboring that I will never get to play a "maneuver monkey" because I can't bear taking this crummy feat...


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It's terrible, the proto-typical 'feat tax'.

It seems unlikely to change, but thank god we have it, or all those filthy power-gaming Fighters would have whirlwind attack.

Scarab Sages

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No, it's a terrible feat and the definition of a feat tax. At least there are some options for mitigating it. Lore Warden fighter get it for free, Brawlers ignore the INT requirement, and Swashbucklers may use CHA instead of INT for it.


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OK. Consider this:

You feel abject hatred toward 103 words in a book whose point is to support an imaginary fantasy land utilized by a group of friends with the goal of having fun and drink beer.

Seems silly to have such strong emotions about it now, huh?

Sovereign Court

There was this game I was in where I got missed by 2 while using combat expertise. It was against as a magus who was alpha striking me and I would have lost the character. I respect that feat.


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If your AC is mediocre, Combat Expertise won't really help you.

If your AC is good, Combat Expertise can help you completely shut out your enemy's offense (i.e., they may only hit you on a 19 or 20).

Combat expertise can make a good defense better, but doesn't do enough to make a mediocre defense good.

My combat maneuvers focused fighter in Jade Regent got pretty good mileage out of it (such as between expertise + trip, I fought a duel with a higher level samurai who only hit me maybe twice the entire fight - which I deliberately dragged out because he deserved the humiliation), but my fighter had a high AC (full plate, buckler, etc.).

The inquisitor in the same party whose AC was like 10 (or more?) points below mine (serious glass cannon build - she relied on stoneskin to keep herself alive) wouldn't have gotten squat from combat expertise.


So, what would make Combat Expertise good?

Removal of Intelligence requirement or changing to Int or Dex of 13+, making it easier for martials to obtain?

+2 AC per -1 To Hit, rather than +1/-1?

Allow to stack with Total Defense?

Any other ideas?


It's not a terrible option for melee folks who may need that extra little bump in AC against a sword/axe swingin' BBEG. As far as being a prerequisite for combat maneuvers, I dislike it. The benefit from the feat does not lean itself towards CMs at all. I feel that there are so many better feats one could have chosen to be the Prereq for CMs.

The only build I know of that really uses the benefit would be a tanky build who wants to just jack their AC up super high at the cost of attack. Which, as we all know, does not equate well to tabletop RPGs... As an intelligent enemy would simply ignore Tanky McTankerton and move past him/her to the squishy wizard.

Grand Lodge

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WHATCHU GONNA DO, BROTHER, WHEN BROTHER HOLGAN HOLYWOOD OF THE ORDER OF THE NEW WORLD SKIPS COMBAT EXPERTISE AND GETS THE 24 INCH PYTHONS ON YOUUUUUUUUU, BROTHER?!!


Combat Expertise should be better for more defensive builds and the likes of Rogues.

If it reduced weapon damage in exchange for higher AC...


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Saldiven wrote:

So, what would make Combat Expertise good?

Removal of Intelligence requirement or changing to Int or Dex of 13+, making it easier for martials to obtain?

+2 AC per -1 To Hit, rather than +1/-1?

Allow to stack with Total Defense?

Any other ideas?

In my opinion... two of those things. Remove the Int requirement... If you absolutely need a minimum stat, then I suggest Wis. Tactics do not require intelligence.

The other thing is to allow it to stack with Total Defense, or if that's too "OP". Then allow a synergy with Defensive Fighting.


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Faelyn wrote:
Saldiven wrote:

So, what would make Combat Expertise good?

Removal of Intelligence requirement or changing to Int or Dex of 13+, making it easier for martials to obtain?

+2 AC per -1 To Hit, rather than +1/-1?

Allow to stack with Total Defense?

Any other ideas?

In my opinion... two of those things. Remove the Int requirement... If you absolutely need a minimum stat, then I suggest Wis. Tactics do not require intelligence.

The other thing is to allow it to stack with Total Defense, or if that's too "OP". Then allow a synergy with Defensive Fighting.

Trying to revive Crane Wing, eh? The Devs already quashed your OP powergamer feat.


As a Way to boost AC in a pinch i find it ok. But i only use it when i am under pressure. Also it works well with the stalward feats and with generally having High AC. If bad guys only hit you on 17+ then adding 3 to AC is quite great and if you are a place in the Egtved where it matters if they hit you a bit more or less you most likely dosent have the team rigth next to you.

Sovereign Court

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What's worse about Combat Expertise:

It's a feat tax

It doesn't let you dump Int on a martial

I suspect alot of the hate in the thread is about the latter. I don't share any of it. I consider it less of a mistake to put points in intelligence than to dump the stat. If you don't have 18s in your other stats it's not the end of the world, afterall.

As for the former; I do agree. The rules don't need both Fighting Defensively and Combat Expertise. For that matter, the game doesn't need what could/should be universal attack options reserved to feat slots (looking at you too, Power Attack)


Vital Strike Tyrannosaurus wrote:
Faelyn wrote:
Saldiven wrote:

So, what would make Combat Expertise good?

Removal of Intelligence requirement or changing to Int or Dex of 13+, making it easier for martials to obtain?

+2 AC per -1 To Hit, rather than +1/-1?

Allow to stack with Total Defense?

Any other ideas?

In my opinion... two of those things. Remove the Int requirement... If you absolutely need a minimum stat, then I suggest Wis. Tactics do not require intelligence.

The other thing is to allow it to stack with Total Defense, or if that's too "OP". Then allow a synergy with Defensive Fighting.

Trying to revive Crane Wing, eh? The Devs already quashed your OP powergamer feat.

Good lord, no. Crane Wing was all sorts of wonky. I feel that Combat Expertise needs something to make it a more appealing option if it is going to be used as a prerequisite for a TON of feats. Even Pack Flanking (Teamwork) requires Combat Expertise. It makes no sense.


Faelyn wrote:
Vital Strike Tyrannosaurus wrote:
Faelyn wrote:
Saldiven wrote:

So, what would make Combat Expertise good?

Removal of Intelligence requirement or changing to Int or Dex of 13+, making it easier for martials to obtain?

+2 AC per -1 To Hit, rather than +1/-1?

Allow to stack with Total Defense?

Any other ideas?

In my opinion... two of those things. Remove the Int requirement... If you absolutely need a minimum stat, then I suggest Wis. Tactics do not require intelligence.

The other thing is to allow it to stack with Total Defense, or if that's too "OP". Then allow a synergy with Defensive Fighting.

Trying to revive Crane Wing, eh? The Devs already quashed your OP powergamer feat.
Good lord, no. Crane Wing was all sorts of wonky. I feel that Combat Expertise needs something to make it a more appealing option if it is going to be used as a prerequisite for a TON of feats. Even Pack Flanking (Teamwork) requires Combat Expertise. It makes no sense.

I was joking. I personally feel like Crane Wing would have been fine if not for MoMS Monks getting it early.


That feat does not exist. Burn it. Ignore it. What were you talking about again?

Edit 1: VITAL STRIKE TYRANOSAURUS you better have some Vital Strike build or threads out or I'll be very disappointed, the kinda where King Kong is disappointed with Godzilla, I'm checking right now.

Edit 2: King Kong is pleased. Very pleased. #VitalStalker

http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2riap?Does-Greater-weapon-of-the-chosen-make-vi tal#8

http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2reim&page=3?Vital-Strike-vs-Full-Attack#10 6

Edit 3: About Combat Expertise, we substitute a different feat for a prerequisite. Sometimes it's dodge, sometimes power attack, and if not, "+1 bab" or some such. Uninteresting Feat Taxes are just archaic design.


Cheapy wrote:

OK. Consider this:

You feel abject hatred toward 103 words in a book whose point is to support an imaginary fantasy land utilized by a group of friends with the goal of having fun and drink beer.

Seems silly to have such strong emotions about it now, huh?

OK. Consider this:

You came into a topic that's complaining about something to complain about complaining about it.

Seems silly to have such ironic posts, huh?


Errant Mercenary wrote:

That feat does not exist. Burn it. Ignore it. What were you talking about again?

Edit 1: VITAL STRIKE TYRANOSAURUS you better have some Vital Strike build or threads out or I'll be very disappointed, the kinda where King Kong is disappointed with Godzilla, I'm checking right now.

Edit 2: King Kong is pleased. Very pleased. #VitalStalker

http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2riap?Does-Greater-weapon-of-the-chosen-make-vi tal#8

http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2reim&page=3?Vital-Strike-vs-Full-Attack#10 6

Edit 3: About Combat Expertise, we substitute a different feat for a prerequisite. Sometimes it's dodge, sometimes power attack, and if not, "+1 bab" or some such. Uninteresting Feat Taxes are just archaic design.

I aim to please.


Vital Strike Tyrannosaurus wrote:
Faelyn wrote:
Saldiven wrote:

So, what would make Combat Expertise good?

Removal of Intelligence requirement or changing to Int or Dex of 13+, making it easier for martials to obtain?

+2 AC per -1 To Hit, rather than +1/-1?

Allow to stack with Total Defense?

Any other ideas?

In my opinion... two of those things. Remove the Int requirement... If you absolutely need a minimum stat, then I suggest Wis. Tactics do not require intelligence.

The other thing is to allow it to stack with Total Defense, or if that's too "OP". Then allow a synergy with Defensive Fighting.

Trying to revive Crane Wing, eh? The Devs already quashed your OP powergamer feat.

You know, you could have just readied an action to vital strike before the monk has time to fight defensively. Or improvised thrown weapon some trees at him or something.

Liberty's Edge

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I consider Combat Expertise, Weapon Finesse, Power Attack, Deadly Aim, and Point-Blank Shot to be feat taxes or anti-feats; they all represent things that you should just be able to do, with training (at best) making you better at them. As such, they are free feats that everyone at my table gets (sans-prerequisites, for simplicity). I also give eschew materials for free because we don't track them anyway, so we may as well make it (un-?)official.

Combat Expertise is particularly perplexing because it exists at the same time as fighting defensively. They both fundamentally do the same thing, yet are for some reason different mechanics...

I agree that Crane Style didn't deserve the nerf. It was nice, but not overwhelming. You just had to keep it gated behind the lvl6+ barrier so you couldn't negate entire creatures (though even then the DM should just be piling more creatures on you). I had a character with it, and he was effective, but most of what Crane Style did was make it so he would actually use combat maneuvers (and use crane style to negate the AoO).


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LoneKnave wrote:
Vital Strike Tyrannosaurus wrote:
Faelyn wrote:
Saldiven wrote:

So, what would make Combat Expertise good?

Removal of Intelligence requirement or changing to Int or Dex of 13+, making it easier for martials to obtain?

+2 AC per -1 To Hit, rather than +1/-1?

Allow to stack with Total Defense?

Any other ideas?

In my opinion... two of those things. Remove the Int requirement... If you absolutely need a minimum stat, then I suggest Wis. Tactics do not require intelligence.

The other thing is to allow it to stack with Total Defense, or if that's too "OP". Then allow a synergy with Defensive Fighting.

Trying to revive Crane Wing, eh? The Devs already quashed your OP powergamer feat.
You know, you could have just readied an action to vital strike before the monk has time to fight defensively. Or improvised thrown weapon some trees at him or something.

My mother told me I was top of the food chain and the dev team, in their moderately high Wis score, saw fit to maintain that quo's status.

Apex predators don't need your cheesy 'strategy'.


LoneKnave wrote:
Cheapy wrote:

OK. Consider this:

You feel abject hatred toward 103 words in a book whose point is to support an imaginary fantasy land utilized by a group of friends with the goal of having fun and drink beer.

Seems silly to have such strong emotions about it now, huh?

OK. Consider this:

You came into a topic that's complaining about something to complain about complaining about it.

Seems silly to have such ironic posts, huh?

Ok consider this.

The thread is "help me get over my hate"


Play a Brawler, ignore Int 13 requirement. Possibly do it on an Invulnerable Rager barbarian with the Stalwart line? That's all I got.


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As an AC boost, its horrifically poorly scaled. Every 4 levels it gives you an extra +1 AC, whoop-de-do, even a wizard gets twice that much increase in to hit every 4 levels, and most everyone else, including a power attacking fighter get 3 times the to hit boost that you get in AC boost...plus you take a -1 to hit to boot. Yuck!

Maybe if it was -1 to hit and +2 to AC per stacking, at least then it would keep pace with the wizard trying to smack you with a sword...

Better AC option: Dodge for +1 AC with no to hit penalty, and Crane Style for +4 AC (with 3 ranks of Acrobatics) and -2 to hit. Total of +5 AC for -2 to hit...so much better than Combat Expertise.

Sigh, guess there is no hope for my hate to end. sigh.


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In my set of house rules, combat expertise is just a thing you can do (that nobody does), and it isn't a prerequisite for any feat. I got rid of intelligence requirements for combat feats, as well.

I guess in PFS you're out of luck, but I mean yeah...I don't know anybody who doesn't think combat expertise is stupid and useless and indicative of a major flaw in the feat system.


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It's one of the worst of the feat taxes. I try to avoid it when I can.


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It is an horrible feat that somehow just get worse and worse with every new book (since it becomes the feat tax for more and more unrelated feats)

No more combat expertse! - (I can dream)


Cheapy wrote:

OK. Consider this:

You feel abject hatred toward 103 words in a book whose point is to support an imaginary fantasy land utilized by a group of friends with the goal of having fun and drink beer.

Seems silly to have such strong emotions about it now, huh?

Since having fun is the goal and combat expertise can be such a fun killer...no, probably not hate but extreme dislakement don't seem inappropriate.


Saldiven wrote:
So, what would make Combat Expertise good?

Additionally gain the option of subtracting from your AC to give you an attack bonus?

Not that I've ever had a problem with Combat Expertise. If you're playing a character with high AC, it makes you virtually invincible against most foes. If it weren't a prerequisite for other things, it would be a good, solid feat for certain builds.


Isn't combat expertise the only way to get max use out of stalwart and greater stalwart?


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Like many others have,we have disconnected it from all the Manouver feats and then procedded to game. It's working great.

When it comes to the question:
"Combat Expertise! Huh! What is it good for!?"

... I think that has been answered by everybody else here, and I agree with them.


Ryan Freire wrote:
Isn't combat expertise the only way to get max use out of stalwart and greater stalwart?

there is a halfling feat that gives 2 more when figthing defensively with acrobatics 3 they can do the same. But yes that is one of the uses.

Silver Crusade

I've used combat expertise when I had to. My lore warden (Talos) has had to go toe to toe with nasty incorporeal types, in which case he uses CE And fights defensively, putting his effective AC vs their touch attack at about 21. He ties up the beast while his companions add channel/ magic missiles.

Would I take it just to take it? No. But in the case where you need a good AC it's nice to have.


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Arkadwyn wrote:

I almost never play a character that has any Combat Maneuvers unless they come as a class feature because of how much I hate wasting a feat on Combat Expertise.

Anybody got some inspiring tactical ideas or interesting stories on why this feat is just too awesome to hate or do I have to continue belaboring that I will never get to play a "maneuver monkey" because I can't bear taking this crummy feat...

It sucks pretty hard, yeah. It's been a common house rule around here to remove it as a prereq for the maneuvers along with the INT requirement. It doesn't even make a lot of sense as a prerequisite ... using it makes you *worse* at attempting a maneuver.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

Look at it this way:

You take Combat Expertise. Even if you never, ever use it, you're still two feats up on a 3.5 character :)


Saldiven wrote:

So, what would make Combat Expertise good?

Removal of Intelligence requirement

+2 AC per -1 To Hit, rather than +1/-1?

That's how I do it. And you can use it even if not in melee combat.

Contributor

Combat Expertise is good when you're willing to sacrifice your ability to hit for your ability to not-die. Especially when you absolutely know that the next attack is aimed right for your face.

One of the tricks of the trade that many people forget about Combat Expertise is that it isn't exclusive with fighting defensively in Pathfinder; you can fight defensively and use Combat Expertise at the same time, which adds up quickly to a sizable bonus to AC.

To give myself a plug, I saw Combat Expertise rocket up in popularity when I gave my players my Psychological Combat product. When you give players the ability to anticipate where the hits will be going, defensive strategies become more valuable because they know that the GM won't be metagaming and decide to hit someone else while one character is prepping for a big attack.


Nothing too inspiring for the OP, but I just kicked off a campaign and I house ruled that the Int requirement for combat expertise is Dex instead. Same goes for the branches on that particular feat tree as well.

Simple enough, and the party Hunter has a bit more flexibility in his build now.

Sovereign Court

Play an Aldori Swordlord using Crane Wing and the Threatening Defender trait.

Sovereign Court

Any build which uses touch attacks might as well turn on Combat Expertise if they have it. (Unless they're low BAB.)

For example - it's good for a gunslinger within a single range increment, or for a monk who's using scorching ray that round. They're both practically guarenteed hits against most targets anyway - they might as well jack up their AC.

Combat Expertise would be solid if it had an equivilent to Power Attack's Furious Focus. That way there'd be no reason NOT to turn it on any turn in which you don't get a full attack. An extra 2-5 dodge AC any time you move & attack? Yes please. It'd be solid for any non-pounce build.


There is one thing I love about combat expertise, and this comes from something I and everyone else hates about it:

While forcing a 13 int on martials is frustrating, the other side to that coin is that it allows for the creation of a character who is a little more fun to role play.

Say Billy makes a hulking 20 STR fighter with 7 int, 7 cha, etc. He is a stupid hunk of meat, admittedly with no mechanical incentive to be smart. Role playing him will be fun if you want to be a very, very simple person.

But then Jack comes in. His fighter has a more all around stat distribution with 17 STR and 13 INT. Because you want to do combat maneuvers, there is an incentive to raise inteligence even at the expense of his primary attack stat. That's the "roll" play aspect. But the true role playing aspect is effected too because you're allowed to play as a smart military man.

Sure, you could just pump int without the need for combat expertise, but combat expertise allows for a certain type of character flavor to be viable mechanically and therefore your INT fighter is more than just a mechanically useless roleplaying character.


Zolanoteph wrote:


Sure, you could just pump int without the need for combat expertise, but combat expertise allows for a certain type of character flavor to be viable mechanically and therefore your INT fighter is more than just a mechanically useless roleplaying character.

I donn't see this at all. Frankly, while CE is not the worse thing ever it is also true that in most cases using it is not particularly smart either.


Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:

Look at it this way:

You take Combat Expertise. Even if you never, ever use it, you're still two feats up on a 3.5 character :)

Actually, you aren't. In 3.5 you could take drawbacks to get extra feats (2 of them) so a PF character only gets more feats at lvl 19, and until 17 they are a feat behind (since the 3.5 character would get those 2 feats at 1st level).

Further, many of the feats Combat Expertise is a prereq for are now 2 feats instead.

Sovereign Court

LoneKnave wrote:
Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:

Look at it this way:

You take Combat Expertise. Even if you never, ever use it, you're still two feats up on a 3.5 character :)

Actually, you aren't. In 3.5 you could take drawbacks to get extra feats (2 of them) so a PF character only gets more feats at lvl 19, and until 17 they are a feat behind (since the 3.5 character would get those 2 feats at 1st level).

That was only as an optional rule.


I think combat expertise is best feat. In fact, every combat feat should have combat expertise as a pre-requisite. After all, if you don't have expertise in combat, how can you perform great feats in combat?

PS: See alias.


TotallySrsYo wrote:

I think combat expertise is best feat. In fact, every combat feat should have combat expertise as a pre-requisite. After all, if you don't have expertise in combat, how can you perform great feats in combat?

PS: See alias.

Lol, love the avatar! First post that has actually cheered me up re: Combat Expertise, congrats!


I think it would be less of an issue if it gave the same ratio of hit/bonus as power attack.

Taking -5 to attack sucks, but +10 AC would be worth it.

It would for sure make the feat more attractive.

The INT thing doesn't bother me, but that's because I don't believe in dumping stats, because I don't believe in point buy.

YMMV

Grand Lodge

I would actually consider it useful as a wizard or wizard/martial hybrid when at the higher levels. Combine it with mobility and quicken spell and you can take one swing at an enemy, move out of combat, and then fire off a spell all in the same round.

Of course that's from a GM perspective. I used the tactic in a certain boss level single target fight in RotRL.

A good option for a magus perhaps?


master_marshmallow wrote:


The INT thing doesn't bother me, but that's because I don't believe in dumping stats, because I don't believe in point buy.

Point buy does exist. It's right in the rules. Believe!

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