Are solarians gimped compared to other class options?


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A friend of mine was recently lamenting how gimped the solarian was. He primarily cited that it suffered severely from multiple ability score dependency and that the weapon path was a trap option. His statements came as a surprise to me, as I've always seen it as a really powerful, if potentially limited class. So now I'm curious to know your thoughts.

What has been your experience with the solarian so far? Do you agree or disagree with my friend's assertions? Are there other things about the class holding it back, or positives my friend may not have considered?

Discuss.


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in combat it holds up pretty well if you're emphasizing str, using heavy armor, and have a decent charisma

however the solarian will never be as good at its skills as other classes

gimped i would say is maibly attributed to graviton mode and its revelations because they're too situational to use when most of hte photon revelations are more useful for most solarian builds comparitevly

ive made some homebrew to fix those issues if you're interested


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Ravingdork wrote:
Discuss.

Hasn't this been discussed on numerous threads already? Do we really need to start another Solarian debate thread?

Discussion 1

Discussion 2

Discussion 3

Discussion 4

Discussion 5

Discussion 6

Discussion 7

And the list continues..

Grand Lodge

iirc it actually has about the highest average DPR of any class. So no, it's not particularly bad. People are just new to the system and tend to see it as such since it's a little MAD.


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FWICT people who think it's "gimped" are usually having that experience because they are trying to build versions that all but ignore its key Stat and its powers, which they've decided a priori (usually on the advice of online munchkins) are useless. In most cases if you just play the class to do what it's made for, it's fine.


It's slightly weaker than other classes due to being MAD. With careful planning, use of heavy armor to mitigate some of the Dex requirements and an understanding that you'll have to pick up either Iron Will or Great Fortitude to keep pace with other classes who don't take them.

It only ends up slightly behind.

Gimped? No. Factually weaker? Yes.


Jurassic Pratt wrote:
iirc it actually has about the highest average DPR of any class. So no, it's not particularly bad. People are just new to the system and tend to see it as such since it's a little MAD.

It and a melee Soldier will go back and forth. They *can* surpass the melee Solarian but it requires there to be enough enemies around.


HWalsh wrote:
Jurassic Pratt wrote:
iirc it actually has about the highest average DPR of any class. So no, it's not particularly bad. People are just new to the system and tend to see it as such since it's a little MAD.
It and a melee Soldier will go back and forth. They *can* surpass the melee Solarian but it requires there to be enough enemies around.

You can also add a stipulation that Solarian damage tanks hard in the presence of fire resistance or god forbid immunity.


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Tarik Blackhands wrote:
HWalsh wrote:
Jurassic Pratt wrote:
iirc it actually has about the highest average DPR of any class. So no, it's not particularly bad. People are just new to the system and tend to see it as such since it's a little MAD.
It and a melee Soldier will go back and forth. They *can* surpass the melee Solarian but it requires there to be enough enemies around.
You can also add a stipulation that Solarian damage tanks hard in the presence of fire resistance or god forbid immunity.

Wouldn't this be true of most characters? It seems half the weapons in the game deal at least some fire damage, making fusions like "holy" a must have.

The Exchange

I saw a Solarian in play up to level 5 before the group changed games. For that particular game he was perfectly fine in comparison to the other classes in play. We didn’t have an issue with its balance at all.

And he didn’t even follow the build threads!


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Wrath wrote:
And he didn’t even follow the build threads!

It's almost as if there's more than one way to build a character, and still have fun...weird.


Those weapons are easy to switch equipment options. Not so much the solarians fire damage options.


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Dread Moores wrote:
Wrath wrote:
And he didn’t even follow the build threads!
It's almost as if there's more than one way to build a character, and still have fun...weird.

Yeah, who would've thought that if you stop trying to "win" the game and just have fun, that you'd actually have fun. Amazing.


Wrath wrote:

I saw a Solarian in play up to level 5 before the group changed games. For that particular game he was perfectly fine in comparison to the other classes in play. We didn’t have an issue with its balance at all.

And he didn’t even follow the build threads!

The Talmud warns about the "grudging eye," which isn't satisfied with what it has because it's constantly resenting what other people have. I have to admit I think about that sometimes whenever I see [[such-and-such class] is gimped!] or [Solarian suck!] threads full of apples-to-oranges comparisons to other classes (or for that matter largely irrelevant comparisons to how-things-were-done-in-Pathfinder, as I'm kind of getting to wish those people could just go to the Pathfinder forums to proclaim their preference for Ye Olde System instead of b#+&+ing here). I feel like it's the basic origin of the Solarians-must-dip-a-level-in-Blitz Soldier stuff; it is not possible to be happy with what your Solarian is doing if a Blitz Soldier could possibly do better in any situation.

Sovereign Court

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Could we please stop using “gimped” as the descriptor for classes that (may) be mechanically limited compared to others?


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^ I quite agree. It's distasteful.


*shrug* Standard internet hyperbole. Due to str+cha reliance, Solarian has slightly lower saves than a class that can afford (and chose to) focus in main stat + Dex/Con/Wis. At most tables, it's likely to be a non-issue.


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I don't think Solarians are underpowered. I do however think they're a bit counter-intuitive to build compared to other classes and that they can have a slow early game, assuming you don't go for the Blitz dip.

I do think they could greatly benefit from more variety in the Revelation selection. I really like the synergy between Black Hole and Blazing Orbit, I'd love to see more revelations that reward interaction between Photon and Graviton abilities. So far most solarians I've seen are shackled to Photon Mode because of Plasma Sheath and are rarely if ever not going to choose Photon mode.

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Lack of options is what hurts the solarian the most.

It's also awkward in that it's the only combat-focused class with a non-combat key ability score.


The MAD and the general weakness of Graviton mode is the big issue with it as a class. Statwise they need Str and Cha (Hitting Stuff and Key Ability Score) but as a light armour class they also highly need dex for good AC, while Str and Cha also give no bonus to any saving throws.

Graviton Mode generally has the issue that it's abilities are limited or have Skornergy with the rest of the class. Black Hole can drag people but without Combat Reflexes existing, you're not really going to do much to keep people there once yanked. It lacks stickiness, which hurts it when that also takes a Standard Action to use in a class with a lot of competition for Standard Actions (Like being able to charge and put all your offence to use). Photon Mode in comparison has stuff that enhances what you already were going to do.

It's not an unplayable class by any means but it does have a few more holes in it's design than others do.


I personally kind of theorize that if you didn't mind losing a small amount of damage you could account for the saves MAD issue and still do comparable enough damage to a soldier where you wouldn't miss it to much. the math is so slight. I think people are hard pressed about losing a +2 here and +2 there.

I will say I believe it will be improved greatly when it starts getting more class options.

Sovereign Court

I don't have enough experience with this system to crunch the numbers, but I'm wondering what would happen if the Solarian was allowed to take both Solar Armor and Solar Weapon...?

Would that help to alleviate their MAD-induced shortfall compared to the Soldier and Operative? Or would it be a massive over-correction that would make them too potent?


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I don't understand why only damage is really being talked about. Solarian has quite a few crowd-control abilities and other neat things.

They can literally pull enemies out of cover. Dazzle all enemies in a 60-by-60 foot area with no save. Walk and run on walls for a round, half fall damage, get pretty good resistances to combat maneuvers and good bonuses to some Athletics checks. The list goes on.

Just because direct damage of, "I wanna hit it with my sword" isn't the absolute best doesn't mean it's somehow gimped or lesser.


Azalah wrote:

I don't understand why only damage is really being talked about. Solarian has quite a few crowd-control abilities and other neat things.

They can literally pull enemies out of cover. Dazzle all enemies in a 60-by-60 foot area with no save. Walk and run on walls for a round, half fall damage, get pretty good resistances to combat maneuvers and good bonuses to some Athletics checks. The list goes on.

Just because direct damage of, "I wanna hit it with my sword" isn't the absolute best doesn't mean it's somehow gimped or lesser.

Ive wondered much the same myself. A gun wielding solarian with the armor bypasses a lot of the weaknesses people have listed.

With that in mind. Powers that pull people out of cover or remove their mobility altogether looks far more optimal.


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MagicA wrote:

in combat it holds up pretty well if you're emphasizing str, using heavy armor, and have a decent charisma

however the solarian will never be as good at its skills as other classes

gimped i would say is mainly attributed to graviton mode and its revelations because they're too situational to use when most of the photon revelations are more useful for most solarian builds comparatively

I agree with this general assessment.

The Solarion holds up in terms of being able to cause damage (even if it's not the best) against a melee soldier. It can get some utility through Graviton powers. It's Photon mode powers help to make up the damage difference between the solar weapon and advanced melee weapon options.

Honestly, I think the biggest disappointment is that you have to choose between solar weapon and solar armor and that solar weapon pretty much locks you into picking up heavy armor proficiency due to being so MAD. I think honestly it would be better to give you both Solar Weapon and Armor. By spending one feat a weapon solarion is about on par with a solar armored solarion so it's not like you gain too much. But it would actually fit the theme of the Solarion much better.

The only problem I've had with my Solarion so far is getting knocked out. Like every combat. There's only been one combat that I've maintained consciousness through the whole fight. After my first attack, enemies tend to focus on me heavily (because you do enough damage to knock someone out in 1 or 2 attacks the rest of the enemies decide you're the biggest threat). It's not really a problem of the Solarion specifically, but a problem with a system in which melee characters are disadvantaged in a ranged focused game.

Edit: I do feel like Solarions are pretty far behind in the skills department and Starship combat department. The problem being that Sidereal influence isn't usable in combat, that non-combat skills don't mesh with the stats Solarions need. I have an Envoy in the group I play with. I have no chance of being relevant at any skills, with the exception of Intimidate because they decided to "throw me a bone" and not invest in the skill. My skills are Perception, Acrobatics, Intimidate, and Athletics. Perception and Acrobatics are practically required (Acrobatics for flight, Perception for obvious reasons). Intimidate as the one charisma based skill that is useful to the group. But I didn't have any other skills I could support very well with my stats, so I ended up choosing Athletics.

Starship combat...I basically just rely on full BAB and luck to be a gunner. With an Envoy in the party there's basically no other roll I can fulfill. It's pretty frustrating. The Mystic and Technomancer have the other important skills covered and without the right ability score support I probably wouldn't be successful at many of the check DCs.

So...in summation Solarions are fine at the combat portion of the game. The could use some better skill support (maybe 6+int skills per level) and different bonus mechanism to skills than Sidereal influence. And in Starship combat they need to add some sort of action that melee (strength based) characters can take to contribute with an area they excel at. Because relying on BAB and luck to shoot sucks.


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Azalah wrote:

I don't understand why only damage is really being talked about. Solarian has quite a few crowd-control abilities and other neat things.

They can literally pull enemies out of cover. Dazzle all enemies in a 60-by-60 foot area with no save. Walk and run on walls for a round, half fall damage, get pretty good resistances to combat maneuvers and good bonuses to some Athletics checks. The list goes on.

Just because direct damage of, "I wanna hit it with my sword" isn't the absolute best doesn't mean it's somehow gimped or lesser.

Their ability to pull enemies out of cover looks pretty awful, at least at low levels - Black Hole won't do anything until combat is over, and Gravity Hold doesn't work on a lot of things, like Sarcesians. Gravity Anchor only protects you against certain specific melee attacks you're intrinsically resistant to (because of the +8 KAC you get), so I'm not sure how you'd use that to contribute meaningfully in a fight.

Their wall running is definitely good, but I can't think of a Solarian build I've seen that didn't take that revelation. The most common ones I've seen for the L2 options are Gravity Boost, Plasma Sheath, and Stellar Rush.


quindraco wrote:
Black Hole won't do anything until combat is over

People say some pretty nonsensical stuff on these threads, honestly.

Out of four times being in combat at 1st level as a Solarian, I had time to get fully attuned in all of them. Every. Single. One. The Black Hole ability is only "awful" if your power DC sucks.

People read falsely-certain and just-plain-false pronouncements like that on these threads and come to the table psyched out by them. It's got to stop.


CeeJay wrote:

People say some pretty nonsensical stuff on these threads, honestly.

Out of four times being in combat at 1st level as a Solarian, I had time to get fully attuned in all of them. Every. Single. One. The Black Hole ability is only "awful" if your power DC sucks.

People read falsely-certain and just-plain-false pronouncements like that on these threads and come to the table psyched out by them. It's got to stop.

I can't speak to your anecdotal experience. I've been in 3 combats so far, and we have a first level Solarian in the party. In none of those three has he reached his third turn. I think in only one of them has he actually contributed, but that's mostly his fault - he insists on walking around with his mote in mote mode, which cripples his action economy when combat starts.

It certainly doesn't help him that both the operative and the soldier reliably beat him on initiative.


quindraco wrote:
he insists on walking around with his mote in mote mode, which cripples his action economy when combat starts.

That's not him, that's the rules. It stays in mote form until combat starts.

Grand Lodge

I don't think that's quite true Rysky. As far as I can tell it's just a move action to manifest it and nothing limits you to only taking action in combat iirc (Otherwise you could never have a weapon drawn prior to combat as that's also a move action!).


It's Stellar Modes that can only be activated in combat. The Solar Manifestation can be active at any time, though I didn't realize that at first. (That said, I don't know that I'd go around with my solarian weapon in hand at all times, since I'm in a game where it matters if you make people nervous unnecessarily or tip your hand to potential opponents in this way. Depends on the GM.)

quindraco wrote:
I can't speak to your anecdotal experience.

Which says something about the value of that broad, blanket statement you proffered with total confidence. So maybe don't do that, is all I'm saying. I don't like to get vehement about it but the broader impact of this kind of thing is noticeable and it gets annoying.

Doubly so if your solarian is tactically terrible at deploying his Revelations, I'd say, although I don't know what "insists on walking around with his mote in mote mode" means. Are characters in your game walking around with their weapons drawn at all times? I don't walk around with my guns or solar weapon drawn or manifested unless we're in combat and it hasn't affected my "action economy" in any way I've noticed.


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Yeah, Starfinder battles do tend to take a few rounds longer than those in Pathfinder.


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Jurassic Pratt wrote:
I don't think that's quite true Rysky. As far as I can tell it's just a move action to manifest it and nothing limits you to only taking action in combat iirc (Otherwise you could never have a weapon drawn prior to combat as that's also a move action!).

Ah, okies. I went and reread and it's Stellar Mode that only functions in combat, not your Armament, took me a few reads.

The mention of your mote's glow coming back in Stellar Mode is what messed with me.

Liberty's Edge

Solarian has an issue with low Saves, but nothing you can't fix by buying some Feats. And it definitely necessitates Heavy Armor Proficiency if going melee (which you generally should). These combine to make it a tad Feat starved in many cases.

It's also a little MAD, which matters little in the long run, but can hurt somewhat early on.

It does have pretty close to the highest DPR in the game, though, so there's that. And notably better non-combat and utility options than the Soldier by quite a bit (though obviously still not anywhere near as good as something like Envoy or Operative).

Personally, I think it's fine in most cases, though if you have a typical Envoy in the party you're likely better off going with something else, since that tends to eat your non-combat role by being flatly better at it.

Really, any time you're thinking of playing a Full BAB melee character (which is very much its own thing, as choices go), Solarian should be in consideration, with whether you go with that or Soldier coming down to party composition (ie: any other Cha characters around?) and whether you care more about Saves or utility/out of combat options.


Your experiences may vary. Ive listened to a dead suns podcast where a solarian gets blueballed nigh constantly by the shirren technomamcers frontloaded output.

In my games the 2 soldiers and drone mechanic put out a hefty chunk of hurt.

However there are plenty of fights, particularly against tanky or smart position minded foes that can drag for one reason or another.

On that note. Is it really worth the three round wait?


Which Dead Suns podcast, incidentally?


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Isn't it more of a two round wait?


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Azalah wrote:
I don't understand why only damage is really being talked about. Solarian has quite a few crowd-control abilities and other neat things.

Not. Really.

Quote:
They can literally pull enemies out of cover.

No they can't. They can't pull people through cover. Cover stops Black Hole from working. So to make that happen the Solarian has to get around the enemy's cover as there can be no physical objects between the Solarian and the Target.

Also the enemy can immediately move back into cover if it does happen.

Quote:
Dazzle all enemies in a 60-by-60 foot area with no save.

A -1 to attacks and perception for 1 round at the cost of your standard action.

Quote:
Walk and run on walls for a round, half fall damage, get pretty good resistances to combat maneuvers and good bonuses to some Athletics checks.

This is neat, at level 6.

To combat maneuvers if you know it's coming, or are in Graviton.

"Good bonuses" is disingenuous. +1 until level 6, +2 from 6-9

Quote:
The list goes on.

No. It really doesn't. This is why we can't talk to Paizo about the class issue. People, for a reason I can't understand, exaggerate the class for no reason to try to make it seem much better than it mechanically is.

Quote:
Just because direct damage of, "I wanna hit it with my sword" isn't the absolute best doesn't mean it's somehow gimped or lesser.

It *is* lesser. We've mechanically proved that. It isn't huge, but it is lesser. Usually by a small amount primarily in comparable saves when compared to equally optimized builds.


Ravingdork wrote:
Isn't it more of a two round wait?

Not if you don't take a balanced number of revelations, which you probably wont because most of the Graviton ones are too situational.


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Claxon wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Isn't it more of a two round wait?
Not if you don't take a balanced number of revelations, which you probably wont because most of the Graviton ones are too situational.

Well on that note, I'm curious to know if the increased duration penalty stacks with itself.

If you take nothing but solar revelations, then at high levels would you have to wait several rounds, or just +1 round?


To be clear it is lesser in saves when you make certain choices, whether or not it is lesser as a full package is debatable, it depends on how you value the various abilities the solarian has that no one else does. Since how valuable something is, that doesn't have a numerical value associated with it, is subjunctive there cannot be a definitive answer unless the disparity is so large that it becomes obvious. We have generally agreed that IF the solarian is any weaker as a whole class vs other classes, it is not by much. Therefore you will not be able to "prove" it one way or another. It will always be a matter of opinion.


@ Ravingdork It does not, if you are unbalanced you are unbalanced, there isn't any mention of how varying degrees of being unbalanced would effect anything.


Yeah, my understanding is unbalanced is unbalanced. It takes an extra round to be fully attuned, no matter how many more revelations of one type than another you have (above the allowed difference of one).


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HWalsh wrote:


It *is* lesser. We've mechanically proved that. It isn't huge, but it is lesser. Usually by a small amount primarily in comparable saves when compared to equally optimized builds.

And that's the issue. You are too focused on mechanics and optimization. You aren't seeing the forest for the trees. Try taking a step back, looking at the abilities and what you can do, and think outside the box.


I can't speak personally to strength or anything (someday I'll get to play I'm sure of it TwT ) but I do feel that Black Hole is a bit blown up. It requires being fully Graviton Attuned (frequently the worse attunement, especially at level 1) and as stated doesn't work through solid objects. Which cover usually is. So since it has to be straight towards you that means you have to be behind enemy lines to use it, and also means you have to be outside of melee range (at least when activating it) which as a melee class is annoying. And then as stated, there's little stopping them from turning around and walking back into cover, unless you pulled them all the way into threatening range (note that the area affected and the range it pulls is a good 10 foot difference, position will be vital for using this) and can get an AoO as they leave.


CeeJay wrote:
Which Dead Suns podcast, incidentally?

Rogue Exposure. C.A.R.L is the solarian in question. The group in and of itself would be considered far from optimized.

That said it's not to say it never happens. But the player does lament not being able to do it often.


Ah. Never listened to that one, but I've been meaning to. Thanks.


Shinigami02 wrote:
I can't speak personally to strength or anything (someday I'll get to play I'm sure of it TwT ) but I do feel that Black Hole is a bit blown up. It requires being fully Graviton Attuned (frequently the worse attunement, especially at level 1) and as stated doesn't work through solid objects. Which cover usually is. So since it has to be straight towards you that means you have to be behind enemy lines to use it, and also means you have to be outside of melee range (at least when activating it) which as a melee class is annoying. And then as stated, there's little stopping them from turning around and walking back into cover, unless you pulled them all the way into threatening range (note that the area affected and the range it pulls is a good 10 foot difference, position will be vital for using this) and can get an AoO as they leave.

Yeah, Black Hole really needed some sort of 'You can make as many attacks of opportunity as you want for a turn after using this' effect or simply saying that the event horizon prevents people leaving the pulled area for a bit. Something to make the AOE pull actually work well against multiple people, since a single AoO a round and no way to prevent movement hurts it a lot.


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baggageboy wrote:
To be clear it is lesser in saves when you make certain choices, whether or not it is lesser as a full package is debatable, it depends on how you value the various abilities the solarian has that no one else does. Since how valuable something is, that doesn't have a numerical value associated with it, is subjunctive there cannot be a definitive answer unless the disparity is so large that it becomes obvious. We have generally agreed that IF the solarian is any weaker as a whole class vs other classes, it is not by much. Therefore you will not be able to "prove" it one way or another. It will always be a matter of opinion.

The problem is that just isn't true.

When we compare two equally optimized builds we get the result. That means, if all things are equal, there is a disparity.

If we compare Melee Solarian to Melee Soldier... For example...

Both have the same number of skills, the same saves, and the same combat role.

For the Soldier to function and maximize saves, attack, damage, AC, and resolve it can do this.

Soldier:
01: 18/15/10/10/10/10
05: 19/17/12/10/12/10
10: 20/18/14/10/14/10
15: 21/18/16/12/16/10
20: 22/18/18/14/18/12

PU: 28/20/18/14/22/12

Saves:
Fort +16 (+12 +4)
Ref +17 (+6 +6 (Ring) +5)
Will +19 (+12 +7)

HP: (from class) 220+Race

Resolve: 19

-----

Solarian:
01: 16/13/10/10/10/14
05: 18/15/10/10/12/16
10: 19/17/10/10/14/18
15: 20/17/12/12/16/18
20: 20/18/14/14/18/18

PU: 26/20/14/12/18/22

Saves:
Fort +14 (+12 +2)
Ref +17 (+6 +6 (Ring) +5)
Will +16 (+12 +4)

HP: (from class) 180+Race

Resolve: 16

-----

This is without factoring feats... Because one argument "Solarians are fine" people argue is that they can meet (almost) the Soldier if they take Iron Will/Great Fortitude/Spellbreaker.. However if we do that then we assume the Soldier does too, which eliminates the gain.

This is pure math, and pure math, the Soldier can maximize these things. The Solarian can't. In fact *every single class* in the game, following its intended combat paths can maximize these things. They may have a lower bonus (in the case of classes that have 2 weak saves) but that is pure inherent issues. They will still get to equal or higher ability score bonuses than Solarians do.

Is this mathmatically huge?

Not really. It comes out to usually +1 lower attack/damage from ability score, and +5 total from saves. One save usually ends up being 3 lower, one ends up being 2 lower.

It isn't "gimped" by any stretch, but it is there, it is math, it can't be denied, there is no "work around" for it. It is a side effect of being the only class in the game that has 2 stats required for base functionality that *do not* have any impact on combat and/or resolve. (It also ends up being 1 to 2 lower in save DCs compared to other classes as well for its abilities.)

That is what it is and the "Solarians are fine" do need to accept that, or we can never have a reasonable conversation about it.

Note: Accepting it doesn't mean you agree that it is a problem, just that it is a fact of the system. You can say, "Yes, I see the math supports that Solarians have slight deficiencies that other classes do not from a mathematical standpoint, but I feel that they have enough functionality to make up for that deficiency."

I mean. I disagree with you, at that point, but at that point we *are* talking about subjective things. Debating if there is a deficiency isn't a subjective matter.

I just wish we could get Paizo to at least comment on it.


The Solarian does not need to precisely match what the soldier does for saves, damage, and AC. The Solarian needs to be functional for these things while maximizing the usefulness of their powers, which are what set them apart from other combat classes. If your math ignores the powers it is basically useless, or at minimum highly flawed.

I mentioned earlier people trying to ignore or downplay the Solarian's key stats and then going on to complain about how the class is "deficient" in some unassailable mathemtical way. That's a prime example, right there.

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