Self Buffing Martial Advice


The Exchange

{ I almost posted that with the 'i' and 't' switched again to my everlasting embarrassment… }

Ok, I am finally getting some of my martial casters up to mid-levels. Melee druid at 5th, a magus at 7th, my bloodrager and alchemist/gunner are still working up. I’m really liking the way they function. However, I’m already noticing a few things.

The ‘generally-accepted-wisdom’ seems to be; cast a single buff spell, then enter combat. With only 1 spell active, I probably don’t fight as well as a dedicated martial build. If I take the time to cast 2 buff spells, I’m missing too much of the fight.
I’m often told cast a few more spells before the fight starts. Hmm… Ok, but I would say it is significantly less than 1 in 4 fights that I now a fight is immediately imminent. Plus if I start casting a spell when it is immediately imminent, the foe will probably hear me and start off the encounter early.

I’ve also been finding I often have most of my spells left at the end of the day.

So that tells me, I’m not being too efficient with my magical might. Correct me if this is wrong, but here is what I’ve been thinking:

Only prep in the ballpark of 3-6 of the best round/level duration buffs, since I will only usually use 1 in an encounter.
Then maybe 2-4 of the minute/level or 10 minute/level buffs. That is long enough that I can cast them a little ways away so I don’t set off the encounter early and they just might last through a couple of encounters.
Then grab say 2 of the hour/level buffs. They usually aren’t nearly as good, but hey, they last all day (well nearly).
Anything left over would be for offensive, utility type, or special situation spells.

Does that make sense? If that is not what you do, what has been your strategy?

Your plan makes sense. Some super long term buffs are quite good - mage armor, for instance. Your magus, though, should concentrate on Shocking Grasp and the metamagic versions of it. That's your real damage dealer.

the 10min/level last me all of the scenario and then some usually at lv5. The minute per level ones I feel are kinda hard, they'll be up for a fight or two, but if you search at all they're off.

A metamagic rod of extend might help.

Action economy management is something you have to do from level 1. For example I have a cleric that uses Bodyguard to generate untyped +6 aid another AC buffs (using the benevolent armor enchantment) as attack of opps, uses aura of heroism from the good domain as a swift to give everyone a +2 on all d20 rolls, and uses the combat advice feat as a move action to give out a +2 to-hit buff to a part member, then cast one debuff area spell as a std, usually giving a -2 to AC and d20 rolls (archon's aura).

So while I have effectively only cast one spell, which does vary, there is generally like 10 to 15 points shifting in the parties favor by finding something useful to do with every action type (AoO, swift, etc). You can do this will many classes, just have to plan your progression and pick things with action economy in mind.

Good information and scouting are often neglected. You can't prepare for an encounter if you don't know what's coming. I might consider either having some kind of scout in your party (rogue, ranger, diviner wizard, many other possibilities), or seriously working on Stealth and Perception skills.

Long-term buffs -- hour/level or 10 minute/level are the real keys given action economy. Rods of extend spell are very helpful in this. Cast things well before combat.

As a martial character, at a certain point, you almost shouldn't even consider self-buffing in combat if you don't absolutely need the buff. Energy resistance, remove paralysis, and freedom of movement are buffs that are probably that critical, especially if you're dealing with lots of blaster types, ghouls, or grapplers. As a martial character, your job is to smash. Sometimes the round spent buffing is worth it, but often not. If you can't throw down a powerful enough spell such as Haste, don't even try unless it doesn't subtract from your action economy.

Simply put, your turns are often better spent smashing than casting (unless you're a non-melee fullcaster), and packing a few hour-long and 10-minute buffs are best. Only keep around the absolutely critical or incredibly powerful round/level buffs.

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