Which combat maneuver is the most effective?


Advice


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

Generally speaking which combat maneuver should be considered the most effective or useful one?
What I mean is this: disarm is great... as long as you fight people who whield weapons. The same is true for sunder, works well if your opponent uses manufactured items, not so much if it's abominaton #12. Feinting could be fun (yes, I know that technically it's not a maneuver)... unless your opponent is an animal. Tripping someone could be very effective until you start fighting creatures twice your size and more.

So, in short, which maneuver/maneuvers do YOU think is/are worth an investment in feats for a martial character? Which one/s justify buring feats on it based on the effectiveness that could be expected out of them in a generic campaign?

Here's the list:

Bull Rush
Dirty Trick
Disarm
Drag
Grapple
Overrun
Reposition
Steal
Sunder
Trip
Feint (technically not a combat maneuver but for all effective purposes it is)


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Dirty trick, nothing is completely immune to it


Dirty Trick has the best possible outcomes and stays at least somewhat relevant throughout and can be the funniest. Trip is fairly powerful at low levels, but is negated by flight, centipedes, and mermaids. Grapple then pin is probably the most powerful and useable throughout, but ends up becoming fairly difficult, and requires a lot of investment.

For a low level of investment, Dirty Trick is fine. At low levels, Trip is probably best. If you can invest a lot (Class levels, feats, items, etc.) Grapple is best.


Dirty Trick, with a little creativity there's always something you can do against anything.

Trip specialists can destroy trippable opponents, but there's more and more trip resistant or immune as levels go up.

Bull Rush is safely reliable with enough size increase and dedication, and allows you to use the battlefield as a threat unlike most other maneuvers.

Grapple specialists are scary vs single targets, as long as you can beat FoM and incorporeal.

Spell-sunder barbarians are popular for a reason, once every enemy is buffed that greater sunder means every attack is a free dispel. Otherwise situational, as you rarely want to ruin your loot, but it's nice to remove casters' foci or components, or occasional unique threats...

Lantern Lodge

It depends on what characteristic your looking for:

For disabling, grappling is the best. Nothing but those with freedom of movement type effects are immune.

For atracks of opportunity, tripping is good, but I find way too many things immune to it. Recently I've been leaning more towards repositioning or dragging for that, but you can't reposition or drag something two or more size categories larger than yourself (and without a teamwork feat you yourself don't get the aoo).

For versatality, dirty trick is good.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

Mmmmhhh, my problem with dirty trick is how easily an opponent can get rid of the effect. Yes, blinding someone by throwing sand in his eyes is GREAT as it is getting him to be sickened by kicking him in the groin. Yet all the opponent has to do in order to remove the condition (assuming you beat the DC) is to spend a move action OR a standard action if you have greater dirty trick.
As for grapple seems it might be great but I find it pretty limiting and risky, not to consider it falls to the same problems many maneuvers have, they fail badly when the game reaches high level play (good luck grappling that terrasque... XD)


Rogar Valertis wrote:
(good luck grappling that terrasque... XD)

Try being a high-level crossblooded draconic/abyssal bloodrager and specializing your feats so you can do that. It's within the realm of possibility.


It depends on what you're fighting. There is no one manoeuvre to rule them all, only a best for a given situation.


Dirty Trick.

There are a lot of things that don't have weapons you can disarm.

There are a lot of things your trip maneuvers don't do jack against.

There are a lot of things with nothing to sunder.

There are a number of things just too big to grapple without resorting to outside magical assistance.

Bull Rush, Drag, and Reposition mostly just inconvenience your opponents somewhat and rarely do anything more valuable to winning the fight than just hitting them.

But Dirty Trick? Dirty Trick's got an application for every occasion.

Silver Crusade

Blackwaltzomega wrote:

Dirty Trick.

There are a lot of things that don't have weapons you can disarm.

There are a lot of things your trip maneuvers don't do jack against.

There are a lot of things with nothing to sunder.

There are a number of things just too big to grapple without resorting to outside magical assistance.

Bull Rush, Drag, and Reposition mostly just inconvenience your opponents somewhat and rarely do anything more valuable to winning the fight than just hitting them.

But Dirty Trick? Dirty Trick's got an application for every occasion.

Dirty Trick only takes a move action to clear. Falls under inconvenience as well.


Dirty Trick because shenanigans. Hilarity ensues when you pants the big bad mid-monologue.


Bloodrealm wrote:
Dirty Trick because shenanigans. Hilarity ensues when you pants the big bad mid-monologue.

Make a save against embarrassment at -10.

The Exchange

"Oh, I didn't want his pants: I just wanted to see if I could take them."


Lincoln Hills wrote:
"Oh, I didn't want his pants: I just wanted to see if I could take them."

That would require a Steal check. If you have Greater Steal, you can take it without him even noticing!


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
My Self wrote:
Rogar Valertis wrote:
(good luck grappling that terrasque... XD)
Try being a high-level crossblooded draconic/abyssal bloodrager and specializing your feats so you can do that. It's within the realm of possibility.

Why crossbloded? Aside from the fact claws don't stack... are you suggesting one should turn into a dragon, grow size and then grapple the terrasque? Sounds fun although I suspect the result could be less than spectacular (the bloody terrasque is still pretty hard to grapple with even if you are a colossal dragon)


You turn into a dragon, then grow size (it lets you grow, even if you couldn't otherwise. No STR or CON bonus, but you get bigger, which is good enough). And you take Eldritch Heritage (Orc) and Improved Eldritch Heritage and Greater Eldritch Heritage to get an eventual +6 to STR. Then maybe use a +5 Furious Courageous weapon while you're at it, after casting True Strike on yourself, while being buffed by a high-level bard with Grand Master Performer.


Or you just rage cycle Strength Surge?


Lirya wrote:
Or you just rage cycle Strength Surge?

Why not do that, too? And add Reckless Abandon in as well.


He's suggesting you stack the STR boosts from the Bloodlines.
Or a regular Barb using STR Surge, or others similar means...
Barbs incidentally are great at Maneuvers, besides STR Surge,
they have bonus to Grappling (Archetype), and Knockback/Knockdown are awesome.
(in fact that is one of few major advantages of Unchained Barbarian, Knockback is now Unlimited)
Anyways, there are various options/combos that pull of Maneuvers better than "normal".

Generically, I guess Dirty Trick is solid, Grapple is great but to really get powerful needs a heavy investment (if you can't Pin in one round, you may be facing a Full Attack... then again, unless you could drop THEM in 1 round, you would still be facing a Full Attack). I like Bullrush, Greater Bullrush particular also nets free attacks (AoOs) from allies, and it just feels funner to play thinking about how to use the battlefield as a weapon (i.e. situational dangers, etc) as somebody here put it... I AM heavily accustomed to doing Bullrush via Barbarian Knockback though, which allows weapon +attack bonuses as well as STR surge etc.


There's something quite loveable about Overrun, especially with Charge Through. Arguably it's more of an NPC weapon, but if you're trying to get to the juicy caster centre of a mixed group of humanoids, being able to both bypass a bodyguard and put them at a combat disadvantage, before going on to hit someone else is just good fun.
Extra enjoyability with mounted combat.


cjtSparhawk wrote:
Dirty Trick only takes a move action to clear. Falls under inconvenience as well.

A move action can be the difference between getting to full attack instead of standard attack, or getting to do something after you move.

Greater Dirty Trick makes clearing it a standard action.

Quick Dirty Trick means you can do it in place of a single melee attack.


Dirty Trick works well as long as your GM supports it: since all the arbitration of Dirty Trick is based on GM's discretion.

Outside of that, I'd go with Grapple. It's one of the few maneuvers that is not restricted by size difference, and very few things are immune to it. Grappling is a nice "game over" for most spell casters or SLA uses, and if you go with a Tetori Monk archetype, you'll even be able to shut down Freedom of Movement at level 9.

I have a trip, overrun, and grapple build currently. The grapple build is the most useful of the three.


Gwen Smith wrote:
Dirty Trick works well as long as your GM supports it: since all the arbitration of Dirty Trick is based on GM's discretion.

Which is an odd insert into the text, considering that everything is based on GM's discretion. I wonder if PFS GM's ever feel free to say 'nope' to dirty trick attempts that don't suit them...


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
BadBird wrote:
cjtSparhawk wrote:
Dirty Trick only takes a move action to clear. Falls under inconvenience as well.

A move action can be the difference between getting to full attack instead of standard attack, or getting to do something after you move.

Greater Dirty Trick makes clearing it a standard action.

Quick Dirty Trick means you can do it in place of a single melee attack.

The cad archetype can do it in addition to a successful attack (7th+ level), under certain circumstances; and Dirty Trick can be used to activate those circumstances (by imposing the blinded condition).


Dragonchess Player wrote:
The cad archetype can do it in addition to a successful attack (7th+ level), under certain circumstances; and Dirty Trick can be used to activate those circumstances (by imposing the blinded condition).

Yep, or a build with a single level dip of Maneuver Master can add a free Dirty Trick attempt to the beginning of every single full attack without any cost other than a -2 to the maneuver.


If you can do dirty trick faster than standart action - its the best.
Maneuver master splash, rage powers etc.
My lore warden x / maneuver master 2 can either dirty trick you twice or full attack and blind you. Yes, you can get rid of it, with standard action...wasting your round.

For druid or animal companion i like grt bull rush- you push 5' foe get AOO from eveyone - making it a cost effective action.

Grape is a all in buy, with a rope and rapid manuevers its a win in 1 round

Dark Archive

If you are a 7th level shield champion brawler, you can dirty trick at range.


re: Bullrush/ Knockback (Barbarian), the greatness of Knockback comes from being able to make the Bullrush in place of an(y) attack instead of normal action economy, and taking advantage of weapon - not only weapon attack bonus, but Reach -> AoOs. Also, Barbarian Unexpected Strike Power (and later Come and Get Me) are great AoO feeders which you can trigger Knockback with -> that very often may prevent enemies from being able to close and attack you (or an ally).


Dirty Trick also eventually gets Dirty Trick Master, which essentially lets the user two shot just about anything (Go ahead, spend a standard action to remove Dazed and Nauseated, oh wait you can't). That requires a lot of investment though and really works best if you have the proper archetype support to allow you to get out lots of Dirty Trick attempts in a single round. Dirty Fighter/Dervish of Dawn Fighter is my personal favorite.


Dirty trick as a barbarian with savage dirty trick is really strong.
- Normal dirty trick effect
- additional effect allowing a save
- as long as the additional effect is up DT can't be removed through mundane means
- deal damage equal to your strength mod
- Replaces an attack


Grapple is the best CMB in my opinion. No size restriction is huge compared to a bunch of the other CMB's.


My two favorite builds for maneuvers are:

Shield champion:
Multiple ranged diry tricks/round
Free bullrush on top of everything
Can martial flexibility get any other maneuver he needs

Bounty hunter slayer with strangler feat:
If stamina rules are in play he can get 2 free dirty tricks for every successful grapple check
If stamina rules aren't in play grab a level of maneuver monk and final embrace
Stupidly high cmbs for both main maneuvers
Good damage on top of everything

For the bounty hunter it goes like that:
With stamina rules:
Standard action grapple
Move action damage with grapple
Replace sneak attack with dirty trick
Free action strangler
Replace sneak attack with dirty trick
Swift action grapple for damage
Replace sneak attack with dirty trick
Free action strangler
Replace sneak attack with dirty trick

For maneuver monk dip it goes like:
Full attack
First attack triggers grab
Use your free maneuver for a grapple to do damage
Replace sneak for dirty trick blind
Swift action strangler
Replace sneak for dirty trick
Continue your full attack
Replace each attack's sneak with dirty tricks (each attack is a sneak because target is blind)

Both build qualify for dirty trick master by 11-12


3 levels of Slayer(Bounty Hunter) and you can get a free Dirty Trick in place of the sneak attack dice for any attack. Note that there is a dirty trick for blinding which makes it much easier to sneak attack. And Quick Dirty Trick means that you can start off every full attack with a dirty trick blind and then your following iterative attacks will qualify as sneak attacks, because they are blind.

The only weird thing about this combo is how dippable it is. Once you hit level 3, you could continue on as any combat class you wanted to, and it'd still be pretty effective.


Melkiador wrote:

3 levels of Slayer(Bounty Hunter) and you can get a free Dirty Trick in place of the sneak attack dice for any attack. Note that there is a dirty trick for blinding which makes it much easier to sneak attack. And Quick Dirty Trick means that you can start off every full attack with a dirty trick blind and then your following iterative attacks will qualify as sneak attacks, because they are blind.

The only weird thing about this combo is how dippable it is. Once you hit level 3, you could continue on as any combat class you wanted to, and it'd still be pretty effective.

if you look at my build exactly above, i thought so too. but after playing a bit around a full bounty hunter, his lvl 6 ability which basically allows him to do dirty tricks even when he couldn't normally sneak attack is just too damn great and you can pair it with a lot of things (like my two example above, or with grabbing master to inflict dirty trick to two enemies with a single check, or with turtle style or with...)


One of the best users of dirty trick would be the eldritch guardian fighter. This is because that archetype shares you combat feats with your familiar, which basically doubles your action economy with that stuff. With a mauler familiar, you get something with fairly good CMB, so that is perfectly viable.

With the two of you zipping around doing dirty tricks, you can apply two conditions in a round, and they each need their own move/standard action to remove.

And when you get dirty trick master? God...you are basically just turning enemies off for the rest of the battle. In a single round.

Eldritch guardian fighter is also great since it also can work with some fairly decent teamwork feats. Besides the basics, it also has coordinated charge, which allows you to charge as an immediate action when your teammate charges. If your familiar charges, and your turn follow immediately after...you end up right next to the enemy when your turn starts. That is basically a pseudo pounce with an extra attack thrown in.

Side benefit- you might confuse people and make them think you are a ranger running around with an animal companion. It just has that feel. At least until you get to level 7 and grow wings (this archetype stacks with mutagenic warrior, for a nice boost to attack, damage, and CMB, as well as...you know...wings. Enough flight to last every fight from the get go. )


With eldritch guardian and tandem trip, even trip can be nice because (both of) you get to roll twice.

Grand Lodge

I can't believe some of the answers here. The best combat maneuver, hands down, is Brawler.

At level 9 I have a +16 base CMB, which only goes up as I apply feats from Martial Flexibility and various effects. Most maneuvers are +20-26 by the time I go to use them, and almost nothing can't be taken down a few pegs (or out) by one of the maneuvers. Dirty Trick is great if you have to specialize in a single maneuver, but maneuvers tend to be situational in how advantageous they are, and it's often better (in my mind) to dump a mess of damage instead of blinding something for a single round.

Thus, the best combat maneuver is the one that can be any of them at the snap of your fingers. Brawler.


Dirty Trick is already very versatile though. And it's not like the Brawler can't specialize in it too. I'd still dip 3 levels of Bounty Hunter Slayer with the Dirty Trick Brawler though.


dirty trick is the best EVER.
1) it works on most creatures.
2) it effects stack nicely.
i am now working on a way to add fear effects with dirty tricks - rendering most foes useless.


Overrun, while not amazingly powerful on its own, enables barbarians to crash through defenders to start hacking at the big bad. See the Charge Through feat.

They're quite situational but there's a few combat maneuvers or similar not listed in the OP. Awesome blow, spell sunder, stand still, push/pull. None of them has a chance at being the most powerful, I mention them only for completeness' sake.


#1 - Dirty Trick
There was a line in the 1e PHB about the Monk class which said something like, "and at high levels possibly the most deadly". That's kind of how I feel about Dirty Trick. I'm currently playing a 12th level PC with 10 levels of the Dirty Fighter archetype for Orc Fighters. I think I've used about 3 Dirty Tricks so far in the campaign whereas I use Trip almost every round against foes who are susceptible to it. That's not because I don't think Dirty Trick is useful. It is because it requires a big investment and possibly some special abilities to get it working well, and it took my particular PC until around 11th level to get all of his Dirty Trick stuff together. You need some feats to make the effect last longer and require a standard action to remove, and it helps to have a way to perform a Dirty Trick in place of an attack. Certain builds could get this stuff together much faster, but one of the most powerful Dirty Trick enhancers, Dirty Trick Master, requires BAB +11 anyhow. Dirty Trick works on just about everything, and with Dirty Trick Master it pretty much shuts the enemy down. In a previous conversation with the author of the feat he agreed that you should probably be able to remove the nauseated condition generated by Dirty Trick Master with a standard action as a caveat to the normal rules. I'd run it this way and plan to play my Dirty Trick PC that way, but RAW lovers probably don't have to fear a FAQ for something from a rather obscure book like Bastards of Golarion.

#2 - Grapple
Grapple is pretty powerful. Sure, some monsters are touch to Grapple because they have enormous CMD, but no combat maneuver will probably be very effective against the. Feint might work, but it isn't really a combat maneuver. Incorporeal foes could be a pain, but they're a pain for most martial characters. Freedom of Movement can ruin your day, but that shouldn't be a frequent problem in APs, and a homebrew DM can rain on pretty much any parade he or she wants ("Of course the monsters all have Freedom of Movement cast on them. There's an evil cult of Freedom of Movement casters devoted to your destruction, and they Teleport from area to area buffing the monsters just before you arrive. I raise the CR of each encounter by +1 to reflect their assistance, so it isn't like you're being cheated out of anything here.") On the downside, Grapple is also perhaps the most confusing of the maneuvers, and you might find that it works slightly different in different groups or areas. Even if your group can master the various steps of grappling and manage to forget some of the 3.5 grappling rules you might be left with lingering questions. Can you "maintain" the grapple with Greater Grapple during the same turn when you establish it? Ask the DM. Do you need to maintain the Pin with the Pin action each round? Ask the DM. Can you grapple opponents of any size? Sure, by RAW you can since there's no restriction listed, but at least at home games you might want to ask the DM. Mark Seifter says there's a big FAQ blog coming for Grapple, and I hope to see it soon.

#3 - Trip
Trip is difficult to use against a lot of monsters and impossible to use against others. When it works it is an absolutely great buff/debuff though, and there are lots of options to add effects onto it such as AoOs from Greater Trip and or Vicious Stomp. In an AP or with a DM who won't consistently alter encounters to thwart you the Trip maneuver is very effective. In a world where everything flies it is close to useless. Using Vicious Stomp to trigger Enforcer is AoO ecstasy, especially if you're also getting an AoO from Greater Trip and a swift action attack from Hurtful. It is like a mini-Pounce (which could potentially be combined with Pounce)

Honorable Mention - Awesome Blow
Awesome Blow doesn't get used by PCs as much as some other maneuvers, but it is great for monsters. When there are PCs with ACs in the 40s and above Awesome Blow is a consistent way to inflict damage. It also provides a good amount of tactical control against PCs who can't fly.


another mini pounce with trip is felling smash.
move and vital strike, get a free trip that trigger AOO.


Be sure to include a free action intimidate and, if your DM will let you have one, a Cruel weapon.


yap.

btw - back to the main topic.
it all depend on the level and the core opponents.

at level < 9 the "best" is trip. as most foes are not flying, and human like.
at low (< bab 6 levels) dirty trick sucks. as the effect last a move action, and most foes have only a single attack any how.

so..
level <9 = trip
level > 8 = dirty tricks
level > 8 & situation depended = grapple .
have uses, but not all the time, rest. bull rush etc.

HOWEVER classes add other parameters.
if maneuver master monk > 1, then dirty tricks are godly. as they ar free.
if cavalier >10 then trip and bull rush are great as they are free every charge.
if barbarian with rage cycle than spell sundering is amazing.

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