Vital strike is good!


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Dark Archive

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I don't believe the channel smite would be doubled by Vital Strike, any more than Sneak Attack would be. It's not part of the weapon damage.


Derklord wrote:
Also, the Warpriest GWotC build can have the highest crit chance in the game (51%).

Do you have a link to this or could you summarize?

Is this what you mean? I am assuming Keen + 18-20 weapon, getting a 30% chance to crit.

Then using GWotC to roll twice so (70*70)/(100*100) = 4,900/10,000 = 49/100 or 49% chance of no crit or 51% chance of triggering a crit?


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Imbicatus wrote:
Warpriest will always have the next vital strike feat available before the next iterative. Vital Strike works with greater weapon of the chosen to allow you to roll twice, greatly increasing your accuracy and your chances of a critical hit. If you worship gorum, you can vital strike on a charge, which also allows vital strike on an aoo.

I will agree the Warpriest is the best Vital Striker, followed by a tie between the Ranger and the Slayer in my book.

The warpriest wins by a country mile because it's the only mid-BAB class that gets to Vital Strike in a reasonable timeframe (waiting until level 9 is very late for many people), you very much want the ability to roll multiple times when you Vital Strike because a single crappy attack roll can waste your entire turn, and you usually have to be worshipping someone to do anything interesting with Vital Strike. Rangers and Slayers come next because they can take VS at 6th level with the Natural Weapon combat style and then at 10th take Improved Vital Strike and retrain Vital Strike into a different style feat.

I bring this up because of my primary annoyance with Vital strike; it's perhaps the most perfect example of a feat chain that should not be a feat chain.

The tradeoff of Vital Strike is an obvious and straightforward one. At each BAB level that yields an additional attack, your Vital Strike allows you to roll your weapon damage dice an additional time for each iterative you possess when you make a single attack.

Only instead of Vital Strike scaling with your BAB, the way good old Power Attack does, it takes this extremely simple tradeoff and needlessly complicates it by turning it into three feats when it should be only one.

Imagine if you had to buy Power Attack or Deadly Aim again every 4 BAB for the damage boost to increase. That would suck, right? So why does Vital Strike work like that? It's not to gate off the Improved and Greater Versions, because they're still tied to your BAB if the original Vital Strike scales and are so accessed at the exact same level.

Feat chains in and of themselves are not a bad thing, but I feel Pathfinder has way too many of them and this is the most obvious target for consolidation in the entire game. Very few other chains function like this. Every 5 BAB, you must buy a new feat in the chain, which COMPLETELY INVALIDATES the link that came before it but forbids you from retraining it away. You will never, ever use Vital Strike or Improved Vital Strike if you have Greater Vital Strike, because there is no reason to ever use them. But you can't retrain them if you want to keep Greater Vital Strike, so that is now two dead feats, doing nothing but unable to be switched to something useful. This is the only feat chain I can think of that acts like this.

My secondary annoyance with Vital Strike is that when the question "can you combine it with..." comes up the answer is almost invariably "no." A feat that won't play nicely with anything else you can do in combat annoys me.


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That's really my main gripe too. If you could (without further investment) Charge, Spring Attack, use Standard action hit abilities like the Brawler's Knockout and other thematic "big hit" things it would be more versatile and I'd be more apt to take it.


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There are a number of things I dislike about Vital Strike, some of which BWO already discussed, but I think the main one is that it's an obvious feat to give monsters -- especially given the damage dice some of the Bestiary 1-5 critters get, out of proportion to their size. But if the DM does the obvious thing and swaps out Improved Critical and Power Attack on a seps for Vital Strike and Improved Vital Strike, it deals 9d8 bite damage (plus poison) and you either start killing melee PCs more often, or else you have to start softballing encounters to keep from doing so. Granted, an experienced DM would probably avoid doing that, but that same DM would probably wonder what the feat is actually supposed to be for.

I've long advocated that Vital Strike's damage dice increase would be better as a set number of dice, say +2d6/+4d6/+6d6 at BAB +6/+11/+16. That way you could still use it on monsters, but a halfling with a dagger would get just as much mileage out of it.

Grand Lodge

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And make it d12s because they need love too.


Kirth Gersen wrote:

There are a number of things I dislike about Vital Strike, some of which BWO already discussed, but I think the main one is that it's an obvious feat to give monsters -- especially given the damage dice some of the Bestiary 1-5 critters get, out of proportion to their size. But if the DM does the obvious thing and swaps out Improved Critical and Power Attack on a seps* for Vital Strike and Improved Vital Strike, it deals 9d8 bite damage (plus poison) and you either start killing melee PCs more often, or else you have to start softballing encounters to keep from doing so. Granted, an experienced DM would probably avoid doing that, but that same DM would probably wonder what the feat is actually supposed to be for.

I've long advocated that Vital Strike's damage dice increase would be better as a set number of dice, say +2d6/+4d6/+6d6 at BAB +6/+11/+16. That way you could still use it on monsters, but a halfling with a dagger would get just as much mileage out of it.

*EDIT: Ooh, cloud giant is even better! Get rid of Impr. Bull Rush, Awesome Blow, and Improved Overrun, and give him VS, IVS, GVS, for 16d6.

Part of the reason I do the opposite (trade Vital Strike for Power Attack and something else, usually some unique gimmick like Cornugon Smash) usually. I feel more comfortable if I need a 14 to hit the PCs and then do 1/4 of their health than I do hitting on a 10 and doing 1/5 instead (or in the extreme cases, hitting on a 10 and doing 1/2).


Derklord wrote:
Is there something removing the adjacent restriction from Great Cleave?

I didn't say there was. But cleaves viability is another thing entirely, as most GM's will only let cleave work once a fight at most. But when you get to that room FLOODED with mooks (Probably your spotlight room lets be honest)... Cleave and its derivatives are the most satisfying thing in the world.

Also, I indented this thread to be about stuff you can do with vital strike (sorry about the name) not its viability. we all know that for everyone but the Warpriest its a very situational feat. Lets instead talk about some stuff you can do with it, because gosh darn it doing a lot of damage in one well placed shot is fun even if its suboptimal most of the time.


A rogue with racial heritage (ogre), savage critical and vital strike looks like it might be satisfying. Maybe a half-orc using a falchion for when you aren't vital striking.


My very un-optimized, ranger/rogue/gunslinger, in our Iron Gods game, has improved Vital strike. Mainly for the surprise round. Her construct bane EMP rifle is ending some encounters before the rest of the party even see the room.

Shadow Lodge

PK the Dragon wrote:

I enjoy using Vital Strike with crossbow builds. I haven't actually played it, but I've always liked the idea of a Ranger with Gravity Bow using a Heavy Crossbow and Grasping Strike.

I mean, no crossbow build is going to be winning DPR contests (other than maybe the Bolt Ace), but sometimes you just want to use a big crossbow and make one attack per round that does a fair amount of damage. For that, Vital Strike wins IMO.

I've seen it done (minus Grasping Strike, which wasn't out yet). Sniper type, also used Named Bullet on elemental burst ammunition to put some extra oomph behind his opening attacks. Never crunched DPR but it was plenty functional and a very memorable character. Probably helped that the party as a whole was pretty hit-and-run (we also had a buffer/debuffer bard, a cavalier, and an alchemist without fast bombs).


I normally use it if some build has a lot of move action uses for some reason. Like the Mobile Bulwark style that lets you gain total cover as a move action. Then capitalizing on your standard action seems fair.


I used it on my frost bite using, great sword wielding magus. Toss in power attack and furious focus and you are doing some good damage. Level 8 Weapon Master fighter 3/Magus 5 Str 18 attack +14 4d6+16 +1d6+6 non-lethal. Use hit and run tactics.


I've been workshopping an Unchained Eidolon build that uses it. Huge size along with Impact enchanted necklace and Enlarge Person running will net you a base 4d8 damage. Vital Strike is 8d8, plus the obvious Power Attack/Furious Focus combo.

As an added benefit, you have the spare feats for Endurance and Die Hard. Having limted actions while at negative health doesn't matter for VS on a long reach weapon, and you can siphon health from the Summoner to keep it going through almost anything.

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PK the Dragon wrote:

I enjoy using Vital Strike with crossbow builds. I haven't actually played it, but I've always liked the idea of a Ranger with Gravity Bow using a Heavy Crossbow and Grasping Strike.

I mean, no crossbow build is going to be winning DPR contests (other than maybe the Bolt Ace), but sometimes you just want to use a big crossbow and make one attack per round that does a fair amount of damage. For that, Vital Strike wins IMO.

I have a hvy crossbow wielder that uses Vital Strike.

He only gets 1 attack a round, but at 6th level he is doing 2d10+6 with vital strike, weapon spec, and deadly aim.

Now I have to get Adamantine Blanched Bolts and bye-bye doors.

Scarab Sages

I once made a crossbowman fighter 7/rouge x that used vital strike sneak attack readied actions. It worked well. Great at disrupting spellcasters. Monks were the bane of my existence.


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There's a build using a half-orc vexing daredevil mesmerist that seems fun. Half-Orc racial bonus for extra painful stare damage, feinting as a move action to lower AC, and vital strike to help keep damage up. Plus spells and such.


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BobTheCoward wrote:
It is a narrative, shared experience. As long as all players are having fun, there is no "good" or "bad" build. It certainly isn't a concept that can be "proven."

You're absolutely right -- if that's the experience the players are all looking for. Some groups, believe it or not, really enjoy hardcore tactics and strategy and that's the kind of shared experience that they expect. So if one person "shares" a team member that has to be carried, or gets the whole party killed, that person has produced a bad build for that particular game.

Likewise, if everyone is playing a happy furry and they just want to romp and play, someone bringing in a super-optimized hunter-killer has a very bad build for that game.

Granted, most games fall somewhere in between, but there is still a very wide spectrum. So we (all of us) really, really need to remember that playstyles are not universal, and that the game is meant to support ALL of them, not just our own.


Tim Statler wrote:
Now I have to get Adamantine Blanched Bolts and bye-bye doors.

fyi, blanches only work against Damage Reduction. So adamantine blanches don't actually help against hardness. May I recommend a durable adamantine bolt? (lucky you if this is PFS, you can buy bolts in a batch of 10 instead of the 20 arrows my archer had to save up for.)


I remember in Kingmaker they have a Jabberwock with Vital strike feats and they have it use them with it's Eye beams.


If a feat is good, given the right class and spending several more feats to support it, can it still be said to be good?


DM Livgin wrote:
Tim Statler wrote:
Now I have to get Adamantine Blanched Bolts and bye-bye doors.

fyi, blanches only work against Damage Reduction. So adamantine blanches don't actually help against hardness. May I recommend a durable adamantine bolt? (lucky you if this is PFS, you can buy bolts in a batch of 10 instead of the 20 arrows my archer had to save up for.)

Also...

Quote:
Ranged Weapon Damage: Objects take half damage from ranged weapons (unless the weapon is a siege engine or something similar). Divide the damage dealt by 2 before applying the object's hardness.

And...

Quote:

Smashing an Object

Smashing a weapon or shield with a slashing or bludgeoning weapon is accomplished with the sunder combat maneuver (see Combat). Smashing an object is like sundering a weapon or shield, except that your combat maneuver check is opposed by the object's AC. Generally, you can smash an object only with a bludgeoning or slashing weapon.


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Greylurker wrote:
I remember in Kingmaker they have a Jabberwock with Vital strike feats and they have it use them with its Eye beams.

And its BAB is high enough to push that to 60d6. Which is actually semi-reasonable for a CR 23 challenge, if you think about it, because that's equivalent to fighting an actual demigod. A party of four 19th-level full casters will win, because things like displacement are just as effective against rays as they are against swords, and energy resistance spells are low-level and easy to come by. Unfortunately, martial feats like Vital Strike are great for everyone except martial characters, who can never achieve a fraction of the potential that casters and monsters do.


Athaleon wrote:
If a feat is good, given the right class and spending several more feats to support it, can it still be said to be good?

Yes, yes it can.


PK the Dragon wrote:
Athaleon wrote:
If a feat is good, given the right class and spending several more feats to support it, can it still be said to be good?
Yes, yes it can.

Even when you consider the opportunity costs?


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Greylurker wrote:
I remember in Kingmaker they have a Jabberwock with Vital strike feats and they have it use them with it's Eye beams.

Sounds like another case of a published encounter that breaks the rules.

Game developers clarified in 2011 that monsters could not use Vital Strike on attacks such as that. I even asked about it in regards to the Tzitzimitl's eye beam attacks, and they said "no." They even acknowledge the jabberwock as having been a mistake:

James Jacobs wrote:

Correct. The monster's eye beams can't be enhanced by Vital Strike because using them requires a standard action. Since vital strike requires an attack action (a specific KIND of standard action, and not the one used by this monster to activate its eye beams—see the entry for eye beams under its special attacks), it can't be used at the same time the monster uses a standard action instead to use its eye beams.

It's a hazy distinction, and one that even we editors/developers took a bit to figure out, which is why we've said (erroneously, in my opinion) things like the Jabberwock COULD use Vital Strike on its eye beams.

Honestly, I wish we'd just errata the Vital Strike feat to specifically limit it to attacks with weapons. The "common sense" solution (that a monster's high-damage unusual attack does average damage more or less for it's CR indicating that doubling that just because it has Vital Strike is not the intent of the monster) doesn't seem to work.

[SOURCE]


Athaleon wrote:
Even when you consider the opportunity costs?

I mean, good doesn't mean best. Good isn't really an absolute, it's simply a (mostly) subjective opinion of value until further defined. What means good for you? For example, if I want to be Good at attacking with a single attack per round, avoiding the full round attack action, then Vital Strike is one of the best ways to achieve that (and very few other martial feats offer a better alternative for this single purpose, so opportunity costs are mostly irrelevent). Is this single strategy a good strategy? Well, it's certainly good for reducing the amount of attacks to keep track of, while still outputting some decent damage. YMMV whether you'd consider that "Good" or not.

In other words, your statement is vague enough that the answer has to be Yes. I can say something is good, and if we disagree, we probably just have different goals, or disagree on how optimum something has to be to be considered "Good". "Better than the alternatives" might be a better phrase to use, that's a bit easier to measure, and specifying something like "for the sake of damage per round" might also help here. Without edits along the lines of those, I wouldn't be able to say anything other than "Yes" to that statement.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Vital Strike is good for two main purposes. One is situational. Mainly for times when you have to move and can't get a full attack. At least with a VS, you can still get in some more damage. And two is as a build. If you're into optimizing for max damage, etc, you can get weapons with big/multiple damage dice, etc. There are not many "bad" feats. And it boils down to... don't take it if you don't like it =P

Dark Archive

I like using it in combination with high-tech weaponry. Vital Striking with a Rocket Launcher or other high-damage AOE Technological Weapon can deliver rather potent hits.


I like Vital Strike as well.

Power Attack and Furious Focus are obvious.

not sure if it was already mentioned, but Cornugon Smash and hurtful gives you another Swift Action attack. Not the best combination with warpriest, which is awesome for VS builds, but maybe combine with a Dedication Id Rager for more damage size.

Staggering Blow is nice.

The warpriest greater weapon of the Chosen way gives you a 51% Crit Chance.


derpdidruid wrote:
Also, I indented this thread to be about stuff you can do with vital strike (sorry about the name) not its viability.

Well, those two kinda go hand in hand - I mean, is a list of every class and the statement "you can play a Vital Strike build with that class" (even if it sucks) what you had in mind? You can take Vital Strike on a 13th level Wizard and walk into melee, and in a really easy campaign even kill something that way. But does that help anyone? Also note that I did not say anything about the viability of Vital Strike - I spoke out against Cuup playing dying swan, and pointed out two flaws in other posts.

I'm following this thread because despite what you might think about me, I want Vital Strike to be good. I see the full attack dependancy a significant flaw in the game's base system, and good Vital Strike builds would be a partial fix.

BobTheCoward wrote:
As long as all players are having fun, there is no "good" or "bad" build.

I didn't think it was necessary to outright state that with 'good' I was talking about mechanical prowess. But you are right, I should have used the word "effective" instead. I apologize.

Imbicatus wrote:
I once made a crossbowman fighter 7/rouge x that used vital strike sneak attack readied actions. It worked well. Great at disrupting spellcasters. Monks were the bane of my existence.

I think Overwatch Style makes Vital Strike completely obsolete on a Crossbowman.

@Covent: Yes, exactly.


Another place I like it was on an Agathiel Vigilante with the chosen form of wolf. Increase damage and get some tripping in. Maybe not top tier threat, but could be a fun build.


I like the idea of Vital Strike combined with Measured Response. It would make combat quicker if you only have to track one attack and damage bonus. It can help with making damage more reliable at low levels (where rolling 1's on damage dice can significantly increase combat time) and making turns go by faster at high levels (where you might have 4-5 different attacks, each at a different bonus, and with multiple different buffs and positions to track). I intend to combine these with Mobile Bulwark Style on an upcoming tank character.

Community & Digital Content Director

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Removed a series of posts containing negative hyperbole about other posters and the responses to it. Intentionally divisive language and excessive snark don't tend to help discussions, so let's leave it out of them. Thanks!


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Greylurker wrote:

Which is actually semi-reasonable for a CR 23 challenge, if you think about it, because that's equivalent to fighting an actual demigod.

CR23 isn't a demigod - that's the power lvl of balor lords, avatars of gods (terrasque sp?), higher lvl dragons etc. demigods are CR26-30


dharkus wrote:
demigods are CR26-30

Nope. From Book of the Damned Vol.2: "[A]ll of the demon lords presented in this book are demigods, (...) these creatures could well have CR scores in the high 30s."

Later in the book "Demon lords themselves are full demigods, and (...) if they were to be fully statted out, (...) would likely have CR scores of 30 or higher."

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Derklord wrote:
dharkus wrote:
demigods are CR26-30

Nope. From Book of the Damned Vol.2: "[A]ll of the demon lords presented in this book are demigods, (...) these creatures could well have CR scores in the high 30s."

Later in the book "Demon lords themselves are full demigods, and (...) if they were to be fully statted out, (...) would likely have CR scores of 30 or higher."

Demon Lords, when statted out in the Bestiary 4 and the Wrath of the Righteous bestiaries are CR 26-30.

Book of the Damned was written way before they actually were going about statting the demon lords and were just ball parking.


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So, I did some basic building of a level 12 Fighter. With a +2 Greatsword, 20 STR, and the feats Power Attack, Weapon Focus, Vital Strike, Improved Vital Strike, and Devastating Strike, I was able to get a respectable 30 damage per round (using Donjon's Power Attack calculator) against an average enemy of that CR (AC 27), which meets orange DPR benchmarks for that level- above 25% of an appropriately CR'd enemy's HP (if the rest of the team chipped in that damage, it would be dead and a CR + 0 enemy would be defeated in one turn.). Note that this is extremely conservative, given that you can easily have a +4 weapon, more than 20 STR, Weapon Specialization, but I wanted to take the worst case scenario. With a better build I could get 45+ DPR, which is quite happy.

My takeaway is that this Vital Strike build is perfectly playable. I'm pretty sure a Ranger build could get similar numbers with Lead Blades or Gravity Bow, same with the Warpriest build, or even a Rogue build with Sneak Attack.

I'm posting this because this is the sort of analysis I do when deciding whether to play a build. I'm not an expert. This is not a comparative analysis about what is the "best" or even "better", it's just "will this build work? Will it deal out decent damage and break through DR, while allowing room for further customization". That's all I care about. If a build meets those requirements, then it's good enough.

(oh, and why level 12? I like testing builds at level 8 or level 12 because in my experience these are the levels most likely to be the end of the game. that's all. I'm sure Vital Strike will still continue to just barely hang in there as the levels get higher.)


Having a Fighter, a primary DPR class, only pull the weight of orange, to me, means it's a bad fighter. To me orange is the level you'd want an off fighter to be, like a bard, a class that isn't only DPR.

So sure, it can be good enough for you to play. Don't need to try and convince you it's not, that's your evaluation. But the majority view would be that a primary DPR guy Should be at least the green levels of damage. Meaning if playing PFS and people ask what your character is when you say fighter be sure to let them know that it's a lower damage fighter than normal.


Well, that's a fighter that is, quite honestly, rather deprived in wealth and stats for his level. As I said, a fully functional Fighter build at that level can easily hit 45+ DPR, which is green numbers for that level, and still have plenty of feats left over for upping defenses and utility. I mostly just wanted to account for the worst case scenario. If even a level 12 fighter with only a +2 weapon and 20 STR can output just enough damage to get by, then a fighter that isn't screwed should be able to succeed well. (+4 weapon and 24 STR results in 45 DPR. This still requires only 5 feats spread over the course of the fighter's career.)

I tend to check the worst case scenario unless I know the GM follows Wealth By Level. Which means for Theorycrafting I just assume the GM is going to be horribly restrictive, lol. But I like to think that I can count on getting at least 20 STR and a +2 Weapon by the time I'm at level 12.


so here's my Warpriest build that focuses on vital striking.

lvl: 12

Str 17 (all 3 stat advancements here for a 20 at 12th)
Dex 14
Con 16
Int 8
Wis 14
Cha 8

Race: Dwarf
Gear: +1 Impact Fortuitous Dwarven long hammer, Sipping vest, lotsa enlarge potions

Feats
1st:Power attack
3rd:Steel soul
bonus 3rd:Combat reflexes
5th:Toughness
Bonus 6th:Vital strike
7th:Divine fighting technique Gorum
9th:Heavy armor proficiency
Bonus 9th: Furious focus
11th:quicken blessing
Bonus 12th: Greater vital strike

With this set up and with sacred weapon you can get up to 9d8 weapon damage + 2d6 from vicious + 3D6 elemental enchantments from sacred weapon +18 damage on one hit. All you're missing out on is your iterative... which really isn't to great at this point and with one level of barbarian you can get Furious finish for when you need to end things quickly.

Scarab Sages

Question, why take gorum's swordsmanship when you're using a long hammer? You only get the benefit with a greatsword.


I was looking at RPGBOT's guide on Vital Strike and I found a few stats on weapon interactions with VS.

How about this combo: Impact Huge Bastard Sword + Effortless Lace (to help manage the size unwieldiness) + Racial Abilities that allow you to use weapons one size larger than you (Ogrekin or Tieflings, for example)? You'd deal 16d8 damage every strike. Warpriests of Nightripper, Ragathiel or Rubicante can help with the proficiency issue.


Imbicatus wrote:
Question, why take gorum's swordsmanship when you're using a long hammer? You only get the benefit with a greatsword.

Oey vey. I forgot about the great sword restriction. Oh well. Not a huge loss, you could probably swap in improved trip or something like that for a similar effect in most circumstances.


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PK the Dragon wrote:

So, I did some basic building of a level 12 Fighter. With a +2 Greatsword, 20 STR, and the feats Power Attack, Weapon Focus, Vital Strike, Improved Vital Strike, and Devastating Strike, I was able to get a respectable 30 damage per round (using Donjon's Power Attack calculator) against an average enemy of that CR (AC 27), which meets orange DPR benchmarks for that level- above 25% of an appropriately CR'd enemy's HP (if the rest of the team chipped in that damage, it would be dead and a CR + 0 enemy would be defeated in one turn.). Note that this is extremely conservative, given that you can easily have a +4 weapon, more than 20 STR, Weapon Specialization, but I wanted to take the worst case scenario. With a better build I could get 45+ DPR, which is quite happy.

My takeaway is that this Vital Strike build is perfectly playable. I'm pretty sure a Ranger build could get similar numbers with Lead Blades or Gravity Bow, same with the Warpriest build, or even a Rogue build with Sneak Attack.

I'm posting this because this is the sort of analysis I do when deciding whether to play a build. I'm not an expert. This is not a comparative analysis about what is the "best" or even "better", it's just "will this build work? Will it deal out decent damage and break through DR, while allowing room for further customization". That's all I care about. If a build meets those requirements, then it's good enough.

(oh, and why level 12? I like testing builds at level 8 or level 12 because in my experience these are the levels most likely to be the end of the game. that's all. I'm sure Vital Strike will still continue to just barely hang in there as the levels get higher.)

Wow...45+? /sarcasm. :)

My level 12 builds @WBL typically hit around 75-100 per round without (me) trying very hard (ie: without putting everything into attack/damage and without ignoring defenses etc.).

Vital Strike simply cannot compete with multiple attacks.


At that point its overkill damage. Also, I'm skeptical of you not investing very much to get 75-100 damage.

beside that, my warpriest build up there can get about 50-65 damage on average, more if you count the three attacks from closing with him.

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