Ranged attack optimization. How many feats are really necessary?


Advice


The famous recommendation for feats for Two-handed melee characters is that "you only need one feat: Power Attack"

The recommendation for folks using bows is that there are a ton of them: Point Blank Shot, precise shot, weapon focus, deadly aim, rapid shot, manyshot, clustered shots, improved precise shot, and if you can take them, wpn specialization and point blank master. There may be more even.

Seems like a lot of feats. I've been thinking lately, why not just take one? Deadly Aim, which is power attack for ranged characters. One difference is that melee doesn't take much of a hit for multiple enemies like archery does, so Precise Shot would be necessary, which means Point Blank Shot is required. That's still only 3 feats.

It seems to me there are just more options to optimize/maximize the damage potential of ranged characters than melee ones. There are options to do more damage with a sword, such as Vital Strike, etc, but they aren't listed as 'necessary.' Is there a problem with saying there are only 3 'necessary' feats for archers?

J


Yeah you pretty much only need deadly aim (and point blank shot). The advantage of ranged combat is that you can full-attack every round. All the others give you MORE damage, but those 2 give you that +5 to hit that means it's worth using a bow when your allies run in the way. If you want a bow to be your main method of dealing damage then you want the other feats, but if you just want to be proficient with it then this is all you need.

EDIT: I meant Precise shot, avr is correct =P


Precise shot, which usually requires point blank shot as a prereq is what Mr Charisma means I think.

Depending on what sort of in-class or item damage bonuses you can get, rapid shot or manyshot may be more useful than deadly aim.


I think that for a dedicated archer there are a bit more than Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot and Deadly Aim.

You really need Rapid Shot, Manyshot and Clustered Shot, with the later one being mandatory in high level play, when monster start stacking DR.

Point Blank Master and Improved Precise Shot are really useful too, but i take them only if I have feat to spare.


JDawg75 wrote:

The famous recommendation for feats for Two-handed melee characters is that "you only need one feat: Power Attack"

The recommendation for folks using bows is that there are a ton of them: Point Blank Shot, precise shot, weapon focus, deadly aim, rapid shot, manyshot, clustered shots, improved precise shot, and if you can take them, wpn specialization and point blank master. There may be more even.

Seems like a lot of feats. I've been thinking lately, why not just take one? Deadly Aim, which is power attack for ranged characters. One difference is that melee doesn't take much of a hit for multiple enemies like archery does, so Precise Shot would be necessary, which means Point Blank Shot is required. That's still only 3 feats.

It seems to me there are just more options to optimize/maximize the damage potential of ranged characters than melee ones. There are options to do more damage with a sword, such as Vital Strike, etc, but they aren't listed as 'necessary.' Is there a problem with saying there are only 3 'necessary' feats for archers?

J

Ranged damage builds have many more feats associated with it due to firing in melee and frankly, you get a full attack action every round that you do not move (and melee typically have to move to hit). It's a trade-off.

Also, if you're playing correctly, you have a much less likely chance of suffering HP dmg.


Alzhan wrote:

I think that for a dedicated archer there are a bit more than Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot and Deadly Aim.

You really need Rapid Shot, Manyshot and Clustered Shot, with the later one being mandatory in high level play, when monster start stacking DR.
Point Blank Master and Improved Precise Shot are really useful too, but i take them only if I have feat to spare.

I'll give you Clustered Shot, it will potentially bring your round from 0 damage to some damage (infinity % increase).


Once enemy DR becomes a major factor, Clustered Shots (and whatever prereqs its needs) is the most important.


Depends how much your GM uses cover. Generally the Rapid Shot, Manyshot route is the go-to staple archer build. If you have a GM who thinks he or she is clever, then you may need the Precise Shot line of feats more.

How many feats are necessary? All of them. You have nothing better to spend feats on since you never move and never get hit. Lol.


Point blank shot and precise shot are the only ones I view as necessary, although some builds can skip point blank shot.

The rest are just really good, and a dedicated ranged attacker wouldn't have much reason to go with others.

I don't really view point blank master as necessary, since clever positioning means you usually won't be in melee range and can just suck it up to withdraw or move.


If there was a feat like rapidshot or manyshot for melee builds you'd see them claimed as mandatory as these are.
Like if say they made a feat that requires bab 9 and gives pounce no strings. That would instantly become "mandatory" for melee builds, even though nothing has changed from the current builds and enemies, it would be mandatory because it'd be the best feat you can have.


You can easily get a bite attack with a decent number of characters with little more than a trait or racial ability. Improved Unarmed Strike works well, too. So, yeah, Point Blank Master isn't at all necessary. It's just a nice treat when ZAM gets it so early.

But I think Deadly Aim and Ranged Trip gives you the most bang for your buck when it comes to only picking up a few "essential" feats for a bow, in particular.

Grand Lodge

You don't get 1.5str to a bow, nor do you get 1.5 deadly aim. You make up for these with feats like rapid shot and deadly aim. Without them, I would not consider a build 'optimized'. Rapid shot with the exception of DR/hardness out performs Deadly aim.

You also use a mix of stats, so, you need dex for accuracy and strength for damage so, like above, without the rest of the feat line you are falling further behind a two-handed melee attacker who only needs strength. The benefit is your full attack in the first round.

Cluster shot can be overrated because special material arrows are cheap, blanches are also cheap and together they cover much more, including incorporeal targets and hardness. So until you get into regular DR/- there are lots of other options that don't use a feat. At higher levels in the right campaign, this could be necessary much earlier.

UAS or a bite attack are not a substitute for PBM. They allow you to threaten but they don't prevent aoos while in melee range. An optimized archer will always do more damage with a full attack than punching or biting. Also, a cestus is easier to get. But getting hit everytime you attack is a brutal price to pay to full attack.

Improved precise shot is very useful as others have said, but some archers can get around the need for them if they have the right spell list, gear or other abilities.


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Archery also has more negative modifiers you have to deal with. Feats like precise shot and improved precise shot are how you deal with them. Since your weapon damage and bonus damage are less than that of a two handed weapon you want to get as many attacks per round as you can. Rapid shot adds still another negative modifier to your chance to hit. Anything you can do to increase your chance to hit gets a greater return on damage due to having more attacks per round.


So I just recently made a archery type, Zen Archer has worked well with me. I did 6 Atchison in one round, I'm level 12,and I did over 200 points of damage in that round. I'm very happy with the build


Meant to say 6 attacks with flurry of blows


I use a bow on a multiclass wizard who has zero feats. She could be a lot better archer, but when nobody else even brings a bow* it's still a good thing to have.
*side note: why not? :/

But of course, there's a difference between "good" and "this is a useful option to have". And there are different levels of table optimisation which provide context for what "good" means. And there's the question of what level spread you're playing within.
I recently statted up a L4 brawler NPC with point blank shot. I thought if she had that and a fight was ranged she could give herself Rapid Shot and be a half-decent archer. And if things got to melee she wouldn't be able to shoot (most likely -8 between the cover and the target being engaged), but she would be able to melee in response. It sort of worked. Following that rationale, you only really "need" rapid shot and deadly aim to be okay. But then, you usually need PBS as a prerequisite for RS, so now you're three feats in, so why not go all in and just be an archer?


Alzhan wrote:

I think that for a dedicated archer there are a bit more than Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot and Deadly Aim.

You really need Rapid Shot, Manyshot and Clustered Shot, with the later one being mandatory in high level play, when monster start stacking DR.

Point Blank Master and Improved Precise Shot are really useful too, but i take them only if I have feat to spare.

I'd add to that. Dip a level in Ranger, so you can use a Wand of Gravity Bow, so your arrows do 2d6.


There is a whole other direction you could go with this: Gunchemist Alchemist or Grenadier Alchemist.

I was thinking of a Goblin Grenadier Gunslinger with Explosive Missile, the Goblin Gunslinger Feat, and Burn! Burn! Burn!. You could take a level in Living Monolith and grow a size, and do even more damage with your exploding bullets.


Scott Wilhelm wrote:

There is a whole other direction you could go with this: Gunchemist Alchemist or Grenadier Alchemist.

I was thinking of a Goblin Grenadier Gunslinger with Explosive Missile, the Goblin Gunslinger Feat, and Burn! Burn! Burn!. You could take a level in Living Monolith and grow a size, and do even more damage with your exploding bullets.

Of course, if you use a gun or crossbow instead of a regular bow, you'll be adding Rapid Reload to your list of necessary feats.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Lucy_Valentine wrote:
But of course, there's a difference between "good" and "this is a useful option to have".

This is very much the case. As a single-class Wizard, your archery attack is a secondary option. Your spells are your primary approach in combat, and will cover any situation where your bow is insufficient or inappropriate. Therefor you don't need the bow attack to be particularly strong or reliable; it's just something you can do if the situation calls for it. A ranged attacker build, like a Fighter, does not have that luxury. Their bow is their primary option and they need it to cover the vast majority of situations. As a result, feat investment is mandatory, and being able to shoot into melee is by far the most common issue ranged-attacking builds have. Therefor, Precise Shot is widely regarded as mandatory.

Lucy_Valentine wrote:
But then, you usually need PBS as a prerequisite for RS, so now you're three feats in, so why not go all in and just be an archer?

This is indeed one of the traps of archery builds; once you become very focused on archery, you may as well spend all your feats on it. There are lots of good archery feats and it can very quickly consume your entire build.

Heather 540 wrote:
Of course, if you use a gun or crossbow instead of a regular bow, you'll be adding Rapid Reload to your list of necessary feats.

You can get away with the Shadowshooting or Shadowcraft enhancements on your weapon to avoid the need to reload altogether. Not an option at low levels, but it allows you to retrain out of Rapid Reload later.


Heather 540 wrote:
Scott Wilhelm wrote:

There is a whole other direction you could go with this: Gunchemist Alchemist or Grenadier Alchemist.

I was thinking of a Goblin Grenadier Gunslinger with Explosive Missile, the Goblin Gunslinger Feat, and Burn! Burn! Burn!. You could take a level in Living Monolith and grow a size, and do even more damage with your exploding bullets.

Of course, if you use a gun or crossbow instead of a regular bow, you'll be adding Rapid Reload to your list of necessary feats.

Actually, the Explosive Missile Discovery removes the need for that:

Explosive Missile wrote:
As a standard action, the alchemist can infuse a single arrow, crossbow bolt, or one-handed firearm bullet with the power of his bomb, load the ammunition, and shoot the ranged weapon.


Explosive missile gives you a flat one shot per round. With a max # of uses per day, too. Yes it's a good shot (if not on the level of named bullet) but you'll probably want rapid reload once 3+ shots per round becomes a possibility.


Scott Wilhelm wrote:
Alzhan wrote:

I think that for a dedicated archer there are a bit more than Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot and Deadly Aim.

You really need Rapid Shot, Manyshot and Clustered Shot, with the later one being mandatory in high level play, when monster start stacking DR.

Point Blank Master and Improved Precise Shot are really useful too, but i take them only if I have feat to spare.

I'd add to that. Dip a level in Ranger, so you can use a Wand of Gravity Bow, so your arrows do 2d6.

Just be a halforc with an orcish hornbow


Ryan Freire wrote:
Scott Wilhelm wrote:
Alzhan wrote:

I think that for a dedicated archer there are a bit more than Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot and Deadly Aim.

You really need Rapid Shot, Manyshot and Clustered Shot, with the later one being mandatory in high level play, when monster start stacking DR.

Point Blank Master and Improved Precise Shot are really useful too, but i take them only if I have feat to spare.

I'd add to that. Dip a level in Ranger, so you can use a Wand of Gravity Bow, so your arrows do 2d6.
Just be a halforc with an orcish hornbow

Be a half orc with an orchish hornbow, and cast Gravity Bow on yourself. Now you do 3d6!


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Scott Wilhelm wrote:
Ryan Freire wrote:
Scott Wilhelm wrote:
Alzhan wrote:

I think that for a dedicated archer there are a bit more than Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot and Deadly Aim.

You really need Rapid Shot, Manyshot and Clustered Shot, with the later one being mandatory in high level play, when monster start stacking DR.

Point Blank Master and Improved Precise Shot are really useful too, but i take them only if I have feat to spare.

I'd add to that. Dip a level in Ranger, so you can use a Wand of Gravity Bow, so your arrows do 2d6.
Just be a halforc with an orcish hornbow
Be a half orc with an orchish hornbow, and cast Gravity Bow on yourself. Now you do 3d6!

At that point vital strike can become a reasonable maneuver with a bow too


Ryan Freire wrote:
Scott Wilhelm wrote:
Ryan Freire wrote:
Scott Wilhelm wrote:
Alzhan wrote:

I think that for a dedicated archer there are a bit more than Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot and Deadly Aim.

You really need Rapid Shot, Manyshot and Clustered Shot, with the later one being mandatory in high level play, when monster start stacking DR.

Point Blank Master and Improved Precise Shot are really useful too, but i take them only if I have feat to spare.

I'd add to that. Dip a level in Ranger, so you can use a Wand of Gravity Bow, so your arrows do 2d6.
Just be a halforc with an orcish hornbow
Be a half orc with an orchish hornbow, and cast Gravity Bow on yourself. Now you do 3d6!
At that point vital strike can become a reasonable maneuver with a bow too

I would argue that Vital Strike / Manyshot both fall into the "non-mandatory" category. Even Clustered Shot can be mitigated with the right ammunition, most of the time.

I think it boils down to Precise Shot, Rapid Shot.


You can do worse than taking Quick Draw as well, in case your bow isn't the answer to the current problem.


Ryan Freire wrote:
Scott Wilhelm wrote:
Ryan Freire wrote:
Scott Wilhelm wrote:
Alzhan wrote:

I think that for a dedicated archer there are a bit more than Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot and Deadly Aim.

You really need Rapid Shot, Manyshot and Clustered Shot, with the later one being mandatory in high level play, when monster start stacking DR.

Point Blank Master and Improved Precise Shot are really useful too, but i take them only if I have feat to spare.

I'd add to that. Dip a level in Ranger, so you can use a Wand of Gravity Bow, so your arrows do 2d6.
Just be a halforc with an orcish hornbow
Be a half orc with an orchish hornbow, and cast Gravity Bow on yourself. Now you do 3d6!
At that point vital strike can become a reasonable maneuver with a bow too

Dip a level in Living Monolith, so you can Enlarge Person as a Swift Action. Now your Base Damage is 4d6.

Vital Strike, now your Base Damage is 8d6!

Where do we go from here?

Now I'm thinking of levels in Grenadier Alchemist.

At level 2, a Grenadier Alchemist can add an Alchemal weapon to his ammunition as a Move Action.

At level 4, an Alchemist can take Explosive Missile, which lets you add a Bomb to your arrows then shoot them as a Standard Action.

Now you have an arrow that does 8d6 Damage, and then it explodes!

People like to equivocate though. Some people might argue that using Explosive Missile doesn't count as an Attack Action.

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