Potential cheese tactic: Certain Strike and Forceful / Twin / Charge / Backstab weapon.


Skills, Feats, Equipment & Spells


So Certain Strike is a feat that I love in concept, I place great value in a move that makes almost certain your foe takes at least some damage, great for downing a near-dead foe who's got like single digit HP or even just for getting the most out of those lower-accuracy 2nd and beyond attacks, (I havent played a character with it yet though I will tomorrow so IDK how fun it is in practice) but in thinking about it a lot I realized some weapons are -much- stronger with it.

For reference for anyone unfamiliar with it, Certain Strike is a level 10 Fighter feat, it takes 1 action to use and has the Press trait (means it can only be used if you're currently taking Multiple Attack Penalty, and most of them have effects that only work if your MAP is -4 or more). You make a Strike and if it hits it works as normal but if it's a failure (but not a crit fail) you still deal minimum damage (Act as if you rolled a 1 on every damage die).

This came about when I was thinking about how it's interesting that a Fighter with this feat does the same damage regardless of the type of weapon you use (As long as they have the same level of Potency), because it's all determined by the number of dice and your static bonuses, not what type of dice the weapon rolls.

But then I realized that's not entirely true.

Weapons with the Forceful trait do an extra point of damage per die on your second attack in a round, 2 per die on the third and beyond.

Twin trait deals 1 extra damage per die if you've attacked with the Twin weapon in your other hand at least once that turn.

Charge trait is 1 damage per die if you moved at least 10 feet before the attack.

Backstab does 1, 2, or 3 damage (not per die) depending on weapon quality if you hit a flat-footed foe.

All of these damage boosts apply to a failed attack with Certain Strike, making them all more effective with it than weapons that lack these traits.

To illustrate the point I'll use a 12th level Fighter with 20 STR, comparing his normal attack damage and certain strike damage with a +3 Greatsword (none of the above traits) and a +3 Falchion (Forceful trait). And for in case it matters I'm going to arbitrarily assume a 65% accuracy for 1st attack each round.

Normal attack with Greatsword, 4d12+5, average 31.

Falchion (1st attack), 4d10+5, average 27.

Falchion (2nd), 4d10+9, average 31.

Falchion (3rd), 4d10+13, Average 35.

Now for Certain Strike. Given the 65% chance on the first attack, we have a 40% chance to hit with the second attack and a 25% chance with the third or more, and as mentioned it can only be used on 2nd or later attacks. In both cases we have a 50% chance of a normal (not critical) failure, which is when the special effect of dealing minimum damage procs.

Greatsword (2nd, 3rd, or later), 9 damage (1 per die+5 for STR)
Falchion (2nd), 13 damage (1 per die, 5 STR, 1 more per die for Forceful)
Falchion (3rd+), 17 damage (1 per die, 5 STR, 2 more per die for Forceful)

The Falchion in this example deals a time and a half as much on the second attack, twice on the third or later when the effect procs (Which is half of the time Certain Strike is used).

Admittedly this is a bit of a niche thing and only applies to one class (unless someone gives up their 20th level feat to get this with Advanced Maneuver) but I thought it was interesting how some weapons could be a time and a half as effective or more with this make-sure-the-punk-takes-at-least-some-damage technique.


Well, I think that the cheese factor is in Certain Strike itself rather than the interaction with the weapons.

But that is an interesting interaction in the rules.

How about Backswing trait on weapons? Would the Certain Strike attack's miss effect count as a miss or a hit for the Backswing weapon?

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Yikes! In light of this, and in keeping with the direction of second edition, we should probably nerf casters a little more by -- I don't know -- increasing npc saves by one across the board or reducing spell slots per level by one, I reckon.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

With the way PF2's numbers are balanced right now, Certain Strike is simply overpowered. Failure is the most likely outcome when attacking strong opponents, so strong effects on failure are incredibly valuable, and this ability lets you combo off other effects on a failure. If we had more strong failure effects then Certain Strike would probably be fine, but as it stands it's sort of in a class of its own for how effective it is on a miss.

breithauptclan wrote:
Would the Certain Strike attack's miss effect count as a miss or a hit for the Backswing weapon?

No; backswing's effect occurs when you miss, not when you fail your attack roll. Normally those are the same thing, but when you use Certain Strike they are not.


...Well.
now I want to make Drizzt.. or Enteri.


Dasrak wrote:

With the way PF2's numbers are balanced right now, Certain Strike is simply overpowered. Failure is the most likely outcome when attacking strong opponents, so strong effects on failure are incredibly valuable, and this ability lets you combo off other effects on a failure. If we had more strong failure effects then Certain Strike would probably be fine, but as it stands it's sort of in a class of its own for how effective it is on a miss.

breithauptclan wrote:
Would the Certain Strike attack's miss effect count as a miss or a hit for the Backswing weapon?
No; backswing's effect occurs when you miss, not when you fail your attack roll. Normally those are the same thing, but when you use Certain Strike they are not.

What do you mean by "combo off of other effects on a miss"?

That said I can definitely see how Certain Strike could be overpowered. Though without using any of the above-mentioned weapon traits I'm not sure it's that bad, as it only does about 30% of normal damage on 50% of times it's used. I haven't seen it in practice so I can't say yet which way it falls compared to other Press actions but my group will be seeing it in action tonight so maybe I'll chime in then with my experience.

Though I will say that it might be a sign of OP when I think about how I'd run a Fighter with it and mentally picture myself being tempted to try and use it as often as possible, even over other Fighter Feat actions. I'll have to see what it's like in practice though because Fighters can get quite a few options. The one I'm building had 4 actions with the Open trait (I think they were all 2-action abilities) and 3 with the Press trait. I lost a couple when I switched him to a one handed weapon since some required 2-H but it's still 3 open and 2 press.


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When we did the math threads earlier in the play test (first month) we discovered this and mapped out the damage distribution.

You have found the cap.


certain strike+traits was one of the first reported "dpr fighters" from when the playtest started. So.. welcome to the club?

certain strike with a falchion was the highest dpr fighter i could make back in 1.0 (with like 5 or so attacks as a fighter)

but i don't see it as "cheese" i mean, you make lots of attakcs, and they all do some minimum damage.

where's the problem in that?

also, take notice that dual wielding feats like double slice and twin takedown require to alternate weapons, so forceful is split amongst them (i.e. double slice, 1st hit with main, 1st hit with secondary, twin takedown second hit with main, second hit with secondary, etc)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Edge93 wrote:
What do you mean by "combo off of other effects on a miss"?

Anything that happens on a hit, as opposed to strictly requiring a successful attack roll, still happens on a certain strike. For instance, a Wounding Weapon still causes bleed damage because it's triggered by a "hit" and not a "successful attack".

shroudb wrote:
but i don't see it as "cheese" i mean, you make lots of attakcs, and they all do some minimum damage.

It's significantly better than any other feat in an average-case scenario. If this is the balancing point for what a 10th level feat should be, then most of the 10+ feats need heavy buffing to bring them up to the same level.


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I feel like this is cheese just because it's better than other things, not because it's too good.

I mean, just to get Forceful, etc. on your weapon you have to use a smaller damage die anyway.


Yeah, agreed to both of the above. I didn't really think about on-hit effects proccing too. Though I'd assume such effects to also use minimum damage if they're damage based, it's still an issue.


Dasrak wrote:


shroudb wrote:
but i don't see it as "cheese" i mean, you make lots of attakcs, and they all do some minimum damage.
It's significantly better than any other feat in an average-case scenario. If this is the balancing point for what a 10th level feat should be, then most of the 10+ feats need heavy buffing to bring them up to the same level.

but is it really?

forceful weapons are 1 die less than non-forceful weapons.

so, best case scenario, you're comparing a d12 weapon to a d10 weapon.

that's 1 average damage less per die. So that on the second strike you'd just get even with the larger die, and only on the 3rd attack you'd get a bonus.

but, the thing is, 1st attack is your best bet for criticals and your best bet for hits, and it has the LEAST damage. second attack, at -5, still hits pretty often as a fighter, but crits rarely, and 3rd attack+, the only attacks where you even get a "bonus" damage over the larger weapon, is at -10, meaning you rarely hit.

my own calculations back then did infact show that falchion with steady was superior to a d12, but by less than 10% and compared to dual wielding and dual flurry something like 250 vs 220 dpr but dual weapons also had the parry AC going on for them making them more tanky. Also while overall dpr for dual weapons was lower than twohanders with steady, it had better DPR if only 2 actions were used for attacks (so more versatile, more frontloaded damage due to double slice) (all at level 20, vanilla fighter no MC)

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