Power Attack


Skills, Feats, Equipment & Spells


Power Attack seems like it could use a slight amount of love. Maybe add an additional point of damage per damage die?


Oh boy.

Dot

Liberty's Edge

Agree - this is also discussed in another thread (so the topic has plenty of love elsewhere, if this doesn't return much). I think PA is good at 1st level, but is not worth the 2 actions for long. I would accelerate the additional damage (1/5 levels, say), and allow it to use two actions, or an action and reaction (for the next turn). There are other good suggestions there as well.


Check out the math threads, links forthcoming, on mobile rn.


Yeah, Power Attack is pretty terrible as written.

It'd be better if it only ever counted as a single attack for MAP, even on a hit. Then you'd be sacrificing a -10 attack for the extra die or two of damage. Now, you're sacrificing your -5 attack on a hit, and that is just a bad trade.


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I'm wary of buffing Power Attack too much, because you have to consider the balance between Power Attack and Double Slice and Dual Handed Assault. Currently DHA is the worst of the bunch, not scaling at all. Power Attack is in the middle and Double Slice is the best.

Right now Power Attacking with a d12 weapon at level 20 does slightly less damage than Double Slice with a d8 and d6 weapon. That's obviously unacceptable, but we don't want Power Attack to do double the damage of Double Slice either.

After doing the math, I've come up with a buff to Power Attack that makes it better than doing 2 Strikes with a d12 weapon at levels 1-3 and 10+, but not so much that it completely overshadows Double Slice.

The solution is:

- Add a 3rd dice to Power Attack at level 15
- Add a circumstance bonus to Power Attack equal to your weapon damage dice + the extra dice from Power Attack

This would result in the following damage values for Power Attack:
Lvl 1: 2d12+6 (1.75)
Lvl 4: 3d12+7 (-0.15)
Lvl 8: 4d12+8 (-2.05)
Lvl 10: 5d12+10 (2.8)
Lvl 12: 6d12+11 (0.9)
Lvl 14: 6d12+12 (0.5)
Lvl 15: 7d12+13 (5.75)
Lvl 16: 8d12+14 (3.85)
Lvl 20: 9d12+16 (1.55)

Except for levels 4-9, performing a Power Attack is numerically better than doing 2 Strikes. How much better? Not much. The difference in expected damage when performing a Power Attack vs. performing 2 Strikes (at 60% accuracy) is shown in brackets above.

At level 20, the expected damage of a Power Attack is 52.15, quite a bit better than the current value of 41.3, and better than the damage of Double Slice (43.4).

Until Paizo looks at Power Attack (and they said it's one of the things they're looking at), you can implement this houserule to make Power Attack a more enticing option at your table.


My solution was adding in a bonus to hit, balancing out the crit ratio so it equals what would be your chance to land a hit on the second attack that you forgo.


I feel like if we just add another die or two at the right levels it might be ok. say every 1-4 1 die 5-9 2 dice etc.?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My checking with the math suggests that if power attack accounted for magic weapons it'd work fine. That is to say instead of adding 1 dice add 1+potency dice. That's about the same step vidmaster is referencing just with pre-assumed magic items.

Power attack works ok til magic items throw off the relative value of a second attack. Tying the solution to the problem prevents it over-scaling if magic items are rarer.


So if my +2 potency great sword did 3d12 power attak would deal 6d12 eh?


That all seems like too much and too complicated. Just +1 damage per damage dice would let it scale both as PA gets better and as your weapon gets better. Some other solutions here sound way too OP.


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well basically power attack should be slightly better then the second attack you give up to use it right? so we are removing -5 to hit from the second attack so the damage bonus needs to be enough to make up for the damage of your second attack with that penalty. so just need to tinker with the math.

Oh and it needs to only be better while using a higher die weapon like a great sword.


It is already is better for large 2Hs. By adding a little bit of flat bonus it makes it not terrible if you want to use it with sword and board. It should be ok for that too (just better for 2H).


I guess I should of said it needs to <<remain>> better for higher die weapons.


It still would.


Data Lore wrote:
It still would.

Still would what? huh? you are so confusing me right now?

OH you were talking about your suggestion the whole time. Ok now that makes sense. No my comment was just an after thought it was directed at your suggestion.

As far as your suggestion goes are you saying just +1 to damage per damage die and thats all or are you saying +1 damage die and + dice but still taking the second action?


Ya, of course. You are getting bonus damage die and, with my suggestion, added flat damage. It should cost two actions to use.


Ah ok so If I had a great sword power attack would give me an extra d12+2? but with a +2 potent greatsword it would give me 1d12 +4?


Yup


Hmm doesn't seem like enough but I'm not the one doing the math I'll let those guys ^^ handle that. I'm more of the idea man.


Compare it to the Paladin's Blade of Justice. That one is only one action and open (also requires blade ally) BUT it only gives +1 conditional damage (so, less AND minor stacking issues) per damage die. But the damage is only against evil creatures - not against most oozes, animals, etc.

Power attack would give +1 damage per die (with my fix) and added die for two actions. More damage, more broadly applicable.

Seems balanced to me.

The problem is people are comparing Power Attack to Double Slice and Double Slice likely needs a slight nerf (like -1 to hit or something) since its far too good compared to all other low level combat styles.


Hmm interesting. You might be right double slice does seem pretty good.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Having ran the math, power attack from level 5 up (first magic weapon) is currently typically about a 0 to 18% dpr reduction over just taking two swings against enemies you need a 10 to hit (which is about things at your CR). It varies by level, but it's basically universally a reduction in damage unless either you need a 15 to hit or the enemy has resistance.

I've never even looked at double strike, just power attack vs use both actions to Strike. Have also done the math with true strike on the first swing which is still not enough to make power attack have a positive effect on dpr.

With your change power attack would be a tiny (1-2 dpr) increase at levels 10-12 and still a negative for 5-9 and 13-20.

And yeah, in the suggestion I made a +2 d12 weapon would power attack for 6d12 instead of 4d12 (or 5d12 for level 10+) by the current one. This is possibly a touch too strong, but it's the only non-convoluted fix I could think of. Maybe a minor accuracy hit could help narrow in on what they consider an appropriate power increase for a level 1 feat but magic items have such an impact on the math that any model not considering them has huge effectiveness spikes when magic damage kicks in. This resulted in a fairly stable bonus across the levels (as a % of average dpr) which is something you can balance from to find the % you want.


Maybe the ability is not meant to be used in all combats. Instead, it may be more situational (high dr enemies, for example). Fighter does also get Furious Focus.

If you are just meant to spam one thing, would be pretty boring.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Perhaps it is meant to only barely break even against enemies with at least 5 DR on it's better levels and take at least 10 DR to get an appreciable bonus - that would make it a very lacklustre feat though. Especially when most enemies have shifted to weaknesses (which it's even worse against).

The 2 action aspect is already somewhat situational. It doesn't also have to eat 20% of your damage in the vast majority of encounters. Enemies with weaknesses are another example of where it's woefully bad but at least that's one an average person can understand without a spreadsheet or simulator.


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Data Lore wrote:

Maybe the ability is not meant to be used in all combats. Instead, it may be more situational (high dr enemies, for example). Fighter does also get Furious Focus.

If you are just meant to spam one thing, would be pretty boring.

How many level 1 enemies have DR? When you only have 1 class feat you want to be able to make use of it right away, not wait for it to be effective at higher levels.

Point blank shout fighter and double slice fighter will be using their feats every fight without doubt.


Doomsday Dawn has 5 DR (pierce/slash) enemies at level 1.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Actually it's quite a nice bonus at level 1 - nothing huge, only a few percentage point increase, but at least a bonus against anything up to AC 26 (which you shouldn't fight at level 1). It's not til magic weapons it actually becomes a negative.


Tim Schneider 908 wrote:

Perhaps it is meant to only barely break even against enemies with at least 5 DR on it's better levels and take at least 10 DR to get an appreciable bonus - that would make it a very lacklustre feat though. Especially when most enemies have shifted to weaknesses (which it's even worse against).

The 2 action aspect is already somewhat situational. It doesn't also have to eat 20% of your damage in the vast majority of encounters. Enemies with weaknesses are another example of where it's woefully bad but at least that's one an average person can understand without a spreadsheet or simulator.

Its also more valuable against high AC opponents where MAP would severely reduce your chance to hit (even with Furious Focus).

So, high DR and/or high AC enemies, smash them with a strong first hit. Other stuff, lean on Furious Focus.

I guess I just don't see a problem. I agree it could use a small boost (see my original post) but people assuming they should be able to spam this one thing from 1 all the way to 20 seem to be missing the core design of the PF2E fighter.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It's actually not good against high AC enemies though. It's good on a narrow niche of 15 to 18ish to hit (varies slightly by level but it's typically negative or negligible outside this).

It's incredibly rare to find any level appropriate enemy in that range. When I went looking in the bestiary I took a few sample levels and the highest I found was 12 (admittedly didn't check all levels, just a few to sample). This basically means CR+3 enemies, which means only single enemy severe difficulty encounters that happen to also be one of the highest AC enemies & that you can actually work out have such a high AC... Talk about niche!


Not sure I see eye to eye with that math especially when you factor in crit chance and the like. This is doubly true when you consider that major threats may often be outside the typical level range and may increase the value of a feat like this.

Anywho, while I agree the feat could use a little love, I am firmly in the camp of not wanting one ability to be a fighter's (even a 2H fighter's) overwhelmingly default spam option in every combat.

There is nothing wrong with a feat being niche especially when you consider how many feats martials get (especially fighters with their flexibility class abilities) and the ability to retrain.


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Data Lore wrote:

Not sure I see eye to eye with that math especially when you factor in crit chance and the like. This is doubly true when you consider that major threats may often be outside the typical level range and may increase the value of a feat like this.

Anywho, while I agree the feat could use a little love, I am firmly in the camp of not wanting one ability to be a fighter's (even a 2H fighter's) overwhelmingly default spam option in every combat.

There is nothing wrong with a feat being niche especially when you consider how many feats martials get (especially fighters with their flexibility class abilities) and the ability to retrain.

No one likes niche feats.

I want my feats to show that I'm better at using my chosen weapon style better, to represent the fact that I've trained that technique.

Niche situational abilities are better as spells. Feats are permanent (or semi now) and their utility needs to be there or the feat will never get taken.


They have stated they want the Fighter to be a sort of "martial wizard" who has lots of tools in the toolbox for various situations. If you just want to be more rawr-smash, I think thats more the Barbarian's bag the way its designed.

That being said, I would argue the niche feats do indeed model a character who is better trained with thier weapons. The combat grab line absolutely exemplifies this but the 2H and TWF lines are similarly varied and have feats that you would not use round after round. But, by loading up on them, I think you are meant to switch between heavy hits, fast hits, parries and the like.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My numbers are based on 1,000,000 simulated rounds at each level against each AC from 10 to 47. Crits were taken into account fully & I ran the simulations a few times to make sure the 1,000,000 was sufficient to even out randomness. External factors were not but most like flanking or buffs or assists actually skew it the other way by lowering the enemy AC so you actually have to find something CR+5/+6 if you can count on flanks or buffs reliably.

I'm fine with a niche feat, but if it's niche it should be good in it's niche commensurate to the rarity of the niche. Averaging 3-4 more DPR against specifically enemies with 10 resistance but only if you're able to identify the DR to know... or an increase against enemies which if you knew it applied you'd have known you should run anyway... that's way too weak.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In fact if that is by design it's niche... then let it also pierce resistances. Make it actually good at it's niche & also clear to someone who isn't running simulators/spreadsheets that it's intended for that purpose rather than scratching their head going "so is that more or less damage?"


Then maybe the issue is the rarity of the niche. So enemy design rather than the feat itself. *shrug*

Either way, whatever solution Paizo comes up with, it shouldn't be to make a fighter spam button.

*Edit* Piercing resistances might be a neat idea. How much exactly would be tricky. Maybe something like 5 points when you first get it and 10 points when it grants you an additional die at fighter 10? On the plus side, that would expand the usefulness of the feat to sword and board users.


Data Lore wrote:

Then maybe the issue is the rarity of the niche. So enemy design rather than the feat itself. *shrug*

Either way, whatever solution Paizo comes up with, it shouldn't be to make a fighter spam button.

*Edit* Piercing resistances might be a neat idea. How much exactly would be tricky. Maybe something like 5 points when you first get it and 10 points when it grants you an additional die at fighter 10? On the plus side, that would expand the usefulness of the feat to sword and board users.

I think the issue comes from the identity of the feats being that certain feats exist to identify a style or method that defines how the character fights normally. Power Attack is one of those feats that clearly has (or had rather) the identity which enshrined what it meant to use a big two-handed weapon effectively.

It just so happened that before Unchained came out, it was the mathematically best style. In PF1 it also had the least amount of feat investment required so it didn't tax the characters much, which is another reason it was used so much on any build that wasn't a ranger or fighter. Even then it was still used the most often for melee.

Honestly the more I read into the design goals and desires of the devs to get away from needing feats like this (and I've been spouting this all over the boards) I think it would be better for options like Power Attack to not exist as feats at all, but rather to include weapon techniques into the weapon traits themselves, and enhance them with proficiency. If combat styles were defined by how well you can use the weapons you have rather than how you spend your feats then the feats can be used for things like niche powers that would otherwise be situational, but wouldn't interfere in your capacity to demonstrate the style of combat that is meant to identify your character's strengths.

Similar to how the different skills have breakdowns of the different actions that can be taken in combat, old combat feats could be absorbed into weapon qualities/categories and gated by proficiency for access. Then they don't have to re-write all these feats for every class and the feats you do take can be the class specific upgrades resembling the class features from before.


They do have weapon techniques though - those live in weapon properties and critical specialization effects.

It could just be nomenclature and folks' expectations based on previous play experiences. If they called it "Penetrating Strike" and added in some DR piercing, most people would be fine with it, I think.


Data Lore wrote:

They do have weapon techniques though - those live in weapon properties and critical specialization effects.

It could just be nomenclature and folks' expectations based on previous play experiences. If they called it "Penetrating Strike" and added in some DR piercing, most people would be fine with it, I think.

Yes there are those things, and I want more of them. I want Power Attack, Weapon Finesse, TWF, and all the other combat identity feats to be absorbed straight into weapon proficiency.

If weapon proficiency scaled to include these tactics as well as crit specialization then the system would be robust and offer many free choices which leads to more customization.

It would also mean something like Power Attack wouldn't need too much of a change to really make it matter, but having it as a feat that isn't very useful given the damage curves compared to the rate at which resistance grows isn't helping the feat's case.

I really want the weapons section to be expanded and include the combat techniques. Then no one gets feat taxed unless they want to spend feats to improve their weapon proficiency, and then weapon proficiency becomes a very good feat to take. It would also make the racial weapon feats seem much better, because they have expanded lists which would mean you get access to more styles with varied weapons instead of needing to invest into entire feat lines which tax all your choices away.

Liberty's Edge

Power Attack is more versatile (it and Sudden Charge are the only lvl1 Fighter Feats usable with Polearms - both are usable with any melee loadout), and might not do the DR niche better than Double Slice (depends on AC). Perhaps simply dropping the 'counts as 2 attacks for MAP' would be enough.


Previloc wrote:
Power Attack is more versatile (it and Sudden Charge are the only lvl1 Fighter Feats usable with Polearms - both are usable with any melee loadout), and might not do the DR niche better than Double Slice (depends on AC). Perhaps simply dropping the 'counts as 2 attacks for MAP' would be enough.

That would bring back the full round argument. Power Attack needs to be better than just making two attacks.


master_marshmallow wrote:
That would bring back the full round argument. Power Attack needs to be better than just making two attacks.

Not always better. It should be the better option in enough situations that it is not considered niche but not so many that it gets constantly spammed.

I don't think being an open action really helps Power Attack and unnecessarily hurts it. I also kinda wish it had a "Finisher" benefit (i.e. something like only costing one action if made with a -8 or worse MAP).


If I take a feat that defines my combat style, then I wanna use it. They seem to be trying this with stances but it feels too clunky and unintuitive.

I get some feats are meant to cover your ass in weird situations. But the ones that are meant to identify how I attack with my weapon should not over complicate the already complex turn. It's one of the better upgrades from 3.5 to PF1 where in the former you had to play a guessing game every turn to figure out how much of a hit/damage ratio could kill the enemy the best. I much preferred PF1's straight upgrade to define the combat style. Once Unchained rolled out, TWF competed for the best weapon style in the game.

I want that depth back.


master_marshmallow wrote:

If I take a feat that defines my combat style, then I wanna use it. They seem to be trying this with stances but it feels too clunky and unintuitive.

I get some feats are meant to cover your ass in weird situations. But the ones that are meant to identify how I attack with my weapon should not over complicate the already complex turn. It's one of the better upgrades from 3.5 to PF1 where in the former you had to play a guessing game every turn to figure out how much of a hit/damage ratio could kill the enemy the best. I much preferred PF1's straight upgrade to define the combat style. Once Unchained rolled out, TWF competed for the best weapon style in the game.

I want that depth back.

What did Unchained do to make TWF the best weapon style in the game?


Ninja in the Rye wrote:
master_marshmallow wrote:

If I take a feat that defines my combat style, then I wanna use it. They seem to be trying this with stances but it feels too clunky and unintuitive.

I get some feats are meant to cover your ass in weird situations. But the ones that are meant to identify how I attack with my weapon should not over complicate the already complex turn. It's one of the better upgrades from 3.5 to PF1 where in the former you had to play a guessing game every turn to figure out how much of a hit/damage ratio could kill the enemy the best. I much preferred PF1's straight upgrade to define the combat style. Once Unchained rolled out, TWF competed for the best weapon style in the game.

I want that depth back.

What did Unchained do to make TWF the best weapon style in the game?

It let you split a single action into two attacks, so you could move and still make multiple attacks. The damage added up to rival power attack once you realized you could use the feat every turn. Rogues got fixed instantly, as Improved Feint became tactically viable while you could still move and strike with both weapons.


So what have we decided. Is taking into account the weapon potency bonus what is necessary to make power attack suitable or was that to strong?

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