Sell me on a Strength Vanguard


Vanguard

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

At first glance, it looks like the vanguard has the same MAD problem, at least at low levels, that the solarian has. Like the solarian, you have a non-attack key stat, so you need both Con and either Strength or Dexterity, and unlike the solarian, you've got several reasonably good in-class reasons to want Con as high as possible, so you can't just dump it and live off of Extra Resolve.

Given that and Starfinder's very tight point-buy*, trying to raise both Dex and Str just isn't feasible - and frankly, right now Dex looks like the clear winner. The only thing you get for going Strength over Dexterity is a better add to your entropic strike damage at 10th level, but until then there's no benefit at all. On the other hand, Dexterity gives you better AC and initiative, and more importantly makes you not completely useless in starship combat or in skirmishes that require any sort of ranged attacks.

So tell me what I'm missing. Where's the hidden gem of a Strength build that sorts this question out for me?

* Please, please, please consider making PF2-style ability score generation an optional system in the ACOM. It makes solarians and vanguards so much less painful at 1st level.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

I just finished a playtest PFS scenario in which we had both Dex and Str vanguards. Between armor and riot shield movement penalties, the Str vanguard had real issues closing into melee in a timely manner.

My preferred solutions to this would be:

Give vanguards a class feature that allows them to charge as a standard action without penalty. Similar to the blitz soldier and solarion abilities that do the same.

Give vanguards a class feature that reduced armor and shield speed penalties, similar to the dwarf racial ability or PF1 fighter's armor training.

This would at least close the gap.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Design Lead

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Strength is flat not a key ability score for vanguards. While you can add it to your entropic strike at 10th, by then you have had 2 opportunities to add +2 to 4 ability scores, so even if you started with a 10 it's not painful to have bought your Strength up to a 14.

I expect to see Con/Dec vanguards as the most common build, since those add to your entropic strike attack (as an operative weapon) and damage. Getting Str as well at 10th is gravy, not entree.

Sovereign Court

Arutema wrote:

I just finished a playtest PFS scenario in which we had both Dex and Str vanguards. Between armor and riot shield movement penalties, the Str vanguard had real issues closing into melee in a timely manner.

My preferred solutions to this would be:

Give vanguards a class feature that allows them to charge as a standard action without penalty. Similar to the blitz soldier and solarion abilities that do the same.

Give vanguards a class feature that reduced armor and shield speed penalties, similar to the dwarf racial ability or PF1 fighter's armor training.

This would at least close the gap.

I think this is a problem; the class points the way towards heavy armor and heavy shields, but it can't really use those very well and really succeed at being in the vanguard.

EDIT: misread some stuff about how the weapon specialization for entropic strike works.

I think given the problems with heavy armor/shields, that maybe the vanguard should get a "standard action strike and strike" option. Charging isn't quite needed - that's ranging beyond the vanguard of the party - and more importantly, charging can't turn corners or handle other PCs standing in the way.


Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Strength is flat not a key ability score for vanguards. While you can add it to your entropic strike at 10th...

I was a bit confused by this part. Don’t operative weapons get +str to damage normally?...

(Page 245 of the CRB says you add your str modifier to attacks and damage with melee weapons, and page 181 (and 184) say that with operative weapons you can replace the str modifier to attack rolls with your dex modifier. But that seems to entail that you str modifier still applies to damage...)


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The third paragraph of Entropic Strike implicitly overrules the default. You get the damage listed, nothing else.

I agree they should make it explicit.


This is why vanguards should invest into power armor at around 9th or 11th level.

I built it into my 8th level SFS playtest character for funsies; we'll see how ridiculous I am tromping around in Spellcaster's Aegis.

Sovereign Court

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I find the vanguard's approach to strength/dexterity confusing. I was trying to stat up a level 8 playtest character going heavy armor based, and run up against:

* Okay, until level 10, there's barely reason at all to take strength; only for bulk capacity. At level 10 you could suddenly be strength-based instead of dex-based. that's a big switch.

* Vanguards get heavy armor proficiency and are the flagship class for riot shields, but that means a maximum Dex to AC of 3 (riot shield) or 4 (night plate L8 heavy armor), which doesn't jive at all with your weapon being Operative and using Dex to hit and not adding Strength. At level 8, you would be looking at a dexterity in the 18-22 range, depending on how you prioritize augmentations on Dex and Con.

So my impression when trying to build a character is basically "this doesn't make sense". The rules seem to be fighting each other.

One part of the class design pulls me in one direction (strength eventually, heavy armor and riot shields), the other half in a different direction (operative weapons, not adding strength for the majority of a typical career, and needing to get hit to get entropy points).

I think if you had to make a vanguard for a game starting at level 10, you'd make completely different one (dwarf/vesk/nuar/uplifted bear, strength >= constitution >> dexterity) than for a lower-level campaign (ysoki or shirren, dexterity = constitution >> everything else). And that's bad.


Xenocrat wrote:

The third paragraph of Entropic Strike implicitly overrules the default. You get the damage listed, nothing else.

I agree they should make it explicit.

Ah, right. That makes sense. Thanks!


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Ascalaphus wrote:

I find the vanguard's approach to strength/dexterity confusing. I was trying to stat up a level 8 playtest character going heavy armor based, and run up against:

* Okay, until level 10, there's barely reason at all to take strength; only for bulk capacity. At level 10 you could suddenly be strength-based instead of dex-based. that's a big switch.

* Vanguards get heavy armor proficiency and are the flagship class for riot shields, but that means a maximum Dex to AC of 3 (riot shield) or 4 (night plate L8 heavy armor), which doesn't jive at all with your weapon being Operative and using Dex to hit and not adding Strength. At level 8, you would be looking at a dexterity in the 18-22 range, depending on how you prioritize augmentations on Dex and Con.

So my impression when trying to build a character is basically "this doesn't make sense". The rules seem to be fighting each other.

One part of the class design pulls me in one direction (strength eventually, heavy armor and riot shields), the other half in a different direction (operative weapons, not adding strength for the majority of a typical career, and needing to get hit to get entropy points).

I think if you had to make a vanguard for a game starting at level 10, you'd make completely different one (dwarf/vesk/nuar/uplifted bear, strength >= constitution >> dexterity) than for a lower-level campaign (ysoki or shirren, dexterity = constitution >> everything else). And that's bad.

One more factor in favor of strength-based Vanguard builds is that it helps with Combat Maneuvers, which Vanguards are encouraged to focus on.

__________

That said, I do think it would be cooler if a Strength-based Vanguard build was a more attractive option. Allowing Vanguards to add +Str damage to operative weapons (in addition to +Con damage) might tilt the balance enough to make both Str and Dex builds viable.

Str builds would then have the following advantages:

  • (1) would be encouraged to use heavy armor and riot shields, since they don't have to worry about the Max Dex Bonus caps, (and likewise, would be encouraged to use Vanguard abilities which require heavy armor/shields),
  • (2) would be better positioned to take advantage of the free combat maneuver feats and abilities Vanguard's get, and
  • (3) would get to do a little bit more damage.

    Whereas Dex builds would have the following advantages:

  • (1) would be encouraged to use light armor, which would allow them to be better at most Str and Dex-based skills (smaller armor check penalties), and more mobile (smaller/no movement penalties),
  • (2) would have a higher Dex, which means higher initiative and reflex saves, and would be less MAD in general.

    I think Dex builds would still have the edge (being less MAD is a pretty big deal), but this would make Str options at least look like somewhat tempting options (before level 10) if you really wanted to focus on combat maneuvers.


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    Maybe there should be a Vanguard class feature that lets you choose to some degree whether you want a strength vs. a dexterity vanguard? Like the dexterity feature would make the Entropic Strike count as a Operative Weapon while the strength feature lets you move better in heavy armor. Something like that.


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    Nothing is forcing a Vanguard to go Dex. Just because the Entropic Strike is an operative weapon doesn't mean you can't use Strength to hit with it.

    any character can add her Dexterity modifier rather than her Strength modifier to melee attack rolls with these weapons.

    Strength Vanguards work just fine; they just are a bit more MAD and take longer to come into their own.


    Dracomicron wrote:

    Nothing is forcing a Vanguard to go Dex. Just because the Entropic Strike is an operative weapon doesn't mean you can't use Strength to hit with it.

    any character can add her Dexterity modifier rather than her Strength modifier to melee attack rolls with these weapons.

    Strength Vanguards work just fine; they just are a bit more MAD and take longer to come into their own.

    Yeah, I don’t think anyone was questioning that you can choose to add Str instead of Dex to attack rolls.

    But as is, Owen’s comment suggests you don’t get to add +Str to damage with entropic attacks (even though you normally do with operative weapons) — it looks like the +Con to damage clause is intended to be understood as overriding the +Str bonus you’d normally get. And without that (pre-level 10) it looks like Str-based builds will be a hard sell.


    Porridge wrote:
    Dracomicron wrote:

    Nothing is forcing a Vanguard to go Dex. Just because the Entropic Strike is an operative weapon doesn't mean you can't use Strength to hit with it.

    any character can add her Dexterity modifier rather than her Strength modifier to melee attack rolls with these weapons.

    Strength Vanguards work just fine; they just are a bit more MAD and take longer to come into their own.

    Yeah, I don’t think anyone was questioning that you can choose to add Str instead of Dex to attack rolls.

    But as is, Owen’s comment suggests you don’t get to add +Str to damage with entropic attacks (even though you normally do with operative weapons) — it looks like the +Con to damage clause is intended to be understood as overriding the +Str bonus you’d normally get. And without that (pre-level 10) it looks like Str-based builds will be a hard sell.

    I don't see why it is such a hard sell, then. It's slightly less than optimal, which... the game is designed to survive that. Strength Vanguards can more easily use heavy armor & shields, and do combat maneuvers more effectively. It just depends on your build.


    Yeah, strength vanguards pre-10 are (probably) slightly better protected, much better at maneuvers, much worse at dex skills and reflex saves, and less maneuverable. Post 10 they are definitely better protected and do a few points more damage per hit.

    Whether you embrance your maneuver abilities is probably the key point, given that 1-2 extra points of AC can actually be counterproductive.

    I guess ranged attacks could be a small consideration, but there are advantages to carrying a thrown weapon instead of a small arm anyway. Although a dex build could go longarms and headbut for their entropic strike. Hmm.

    Liberty's Edge

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    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

    Str Vanguards have no inherent advantage over Dex ones on maneuvers. Operative property applies to all melee attacks, including maneuvers.


    You could always do something crazy for a Str Vanguard too and not use your entropic strike. You have advanced melee weapon proficiency, you can always pick up something else to swing around. You will still have trouble getting into melee quickly, but I've noticed that with a lot of lower level melee characters anyway, so you've got company.


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    Uchuujin wrote:
    You could always do something crazy for a Str Vanguard too and not use your entropic strike. You have advanced melee weapon proficiency, you can always pick up something else to swing around. You will still have trouble getting into melee quickly, but I've noticed that with a lot of lower level melee characters anyway, so you've got company.

    One fun thing about the Vanguard is that they don't rightly care if they have to use the Run action to get into melee range on round 1. Flat footed? That just means you feed me EP! Heck, I'd run past some folks to get to the back liners just to take an extra attack of opportunity so I don't have to spend a RP to fuel up.


    Well, I see two optimal builds. A defensive build based on strength, heavy armor, and the riot shield. And an offensive build based on dexterity, light armor, and the tactical shield (which has no maximum DEX bonus). For the defensive build go boundary aspect, offensive go with momentum aspect.

    Scarab Sages

    It seems to me a strength build would be the more damaging one, especially after level 10 when you add strength to damage.

    Anyway, Strength build was the thing I first thought about. Str+heavy armor.

    Honestly though, either seems to have benefits based on level. Heavy armor and shield nets you a good to hit with your non-entropic strikes (remember, you are still proficient in advanced weapons.) So your Vanguard can just run around with a flame doshko and choose tanky abilities.

    A Dex-based build does less damage at level 10+, but also has better reflex saves, and probably better AC as their high dex can work to their advantage. Also, for high dex builds, you can get things live evasion and improved evasion and stuff.

    Dataphiles

    I really don't see any real benefit to strength past 11 or 13 on this class. Combat maneuvers still benefit from DEX, not just STR, for your weapon, and you can use heavy armor regardless as it comes with the class. The bonus to your damage from STR will be relatively small compared to the bonuses you already have since you don't get it until level 10. Could someone describe what benefits you get from a STR build on this class, because people keep referencing a STR build being more defensive and I just don't see why that would be the case in any significant way.

    Like Owen said, this class is not built with STR in mind as any kind of key stat.

    Sovereign Court

    I think the strength build is a real niche case. If you're using on-level armor, not above-level armor, then the difference between light armor with maxed dexterity and heavy armor with at least as much dexterity as the armor allows, is only 1-2 points. But that means already investing significantly in dexterity. At that point, it's MAD to use strength as your to-hit stat because you have to upgrade your strength all the way, while your dexterity is already half there.

    Basically, the two obvious builds are to use light armor and maximum dexterity, and heavy armor and maximum dexterity. The heavy armor build won't use all your dexterity on AC (inefficient, boo-hoo), but it'll still end up just a smidge above light armor. Meanwhile, you will be using all of your dexterity on to-hit.

    You would only be using your strength for:
    - bulk capacity
    - a bit of extra damage at level 10+
    - if for some reason you can't use your entropic strike because the enemy is too resistant to both acid and bludgeoning damage. And then it turns out that if you use your weapon without entropic strike that it doesn't have the operative quality anymore. This is likely to happen if you went for a reach weapon. Of course you could avoid this with fusions like Holy, or carrying an operative backup weapon (armory has operative advanced melee weapons).
    - thrown attacks with melee weapons you use with entropic strike

    Frankly, I would recommend scrapping the adding of strength damage at level 10. It's a red herring. It confuses people about how the class works.

    Also, let's just say riot shields are more a soldier thing. Vanguards want the tactical shields.


    A strength build will straight up do more damage because you can focus on strength for both to-hit and damage. You have to focus on both Dex and Con for the dexterity build.

    As it stands, the Vanguard has plenty of abilities which are intended to mitigate damage, and in fact arguably are better with a lower AC, as you get more EP that way (more individual hits means more EP). I'm hoping to see some combats with the class, but haven't yet, so I admit this pure theory craft at this point.

    Consider some sample stats:

    1st level

    Dex 18/Con 16 Vanguard with Second Skin and Tactical Shield
    EAC/KAC: 16 EAC/17 KAC up to 18 EAC/19 KAC /w move action, 1 EP
    Attack: +5 to hit vs EAC, 1d3+3 damage (5 avg) (Entropic strike)

    Str 18/Con 16 Vanguard with Lashunta Ringwear I and Riot
    EAC/KAC: 13 EAC/ 15 KAC up to 15 EAC/18 KAC /w move action, 1EP
    Attack: +5 to hit vs EAC, 1d4+4 damage (6.5 avg) (Utility Welder)

    Strength based Vanguard does 30% more damage at 1st (unless you happen to be playing a Dex/Con race), although with significantly worse AC (1-3 points). Also speed is going to be a real issue at -10 speed (base 20 for most races). Dropping to a tactical shield drops base EAC/KAC to 12/14 which is rough. Arguably at that point dropping the shield and grabbing a 2-handed Flame Doshko might be better (1d8+4 is 8.5 avg damage and thus 70% more damage - not quite kill the enemies twice as fast).

    On the other hand, a strength based Dwarf Vanguard just doesn't care which heavy armor you wear.

    5th

    Stats go up and you've got a +2 personal augment.

    Dex 21/Con 18 Vanguard with D-suit I and Field Tactical Shield
    EAC/KAC: 21/22 up to 23/24 /w move action, 1EP
    Attack: +10 to hit vs EAC, 1d6+9 (12.5 avg) (Entropic strike)

    Str 21/Con 18/Dex 12 Vanguard with Lashunta Ringwear II and Field Riot Shield
    EAC/KAC: 20/22 up to 23/25 /w move action, 1EP
    Attack: +10 to hit vs EAC, 2d4+10 (15 avg) (Industrial Welder)

    Still 20% more damage, although more similar AC, edging out against KAC versus a single target with a move action. Mobility enhancers mean you might only be down the -5 feet from the shield. Or you could use the Tactical shield for 1 less move action AC.

    10th
    Against stats increase, and you've got a +4 and +2 stat augment. Both builds can use entropic strike at this point without issue.

    Dex 24/Con 21 Vanguard with Freebooter armor and Advanced Tactical Shield
    EAC/KAC: 29/30 up to 32/33 /w move action, 1EP
    Attack: +17 to hit vs EAC, 3d6+15 (25.5 avg) (Entropic Strike)

    Str 24/Con 21/Dex 14 with Specialist Defiance Series and Elite Riot Shield
    EAC/KAC: 29/32 up to 32/35 /w move action, 1 EP
    Attack: +17 to hit vs EAC, 3d6+22 (32.5 avg) (Entropic Strike)

    About 27% more damage. AC is compariable, and mobility enhancers mk II is available, so speed might only be -5 feet from the shield, or swap out for Tactical shield for slightly less AC.

    Those Strength based numbers don't sound crazy to me for a class that in some sense wants to get hit by enemies to actually use its abilities.

    Summary
    A strength build has noticeably better damage once in melee range, and the AC is at least competitive and in some situations better in the mid to high levels. The question is it worth the trade off in mobility at low levels. Alternatively, you could tough out the low levels with low AC in light armor and then transition to heavy armor with mobility enhancer around 3rd or 4th level.

    Edit: Just realized a Shobad Vanguard throws this all out the window with 40 foot base speed, 4 arms, and +4 Strength (allowing for the starting 18 Str/16 Con). In which case you get the shield and 2-handed EAC advanced melee weapons, plus mobility.


    Having heavy armor proficiency by default means that you can pick up powered armor for a single feat. Focusing on dex/con with your point buy and letting the power armor bring the strength for extra damage at levels 10+ could be really interesting. Most PAs have relatively low dex caps but something like the Celerity Rigging (level 12 PA, 22 strength, +5 max dex cap) could work well for a high dex Vanguard. :)

    Hm... We know that blitz spec/haste doesn't affect your speed in powered armor (since the PA is essentially a vehicle), how does that work with riot shields? Can a PA user use a riot shield without taking the speed penalty?

    Sovereign Court

    @Hiruma: I'm not really sold on your approach. I have quibbles:

    - You need to be a vesk, formian or other race that gets +2/+2 or a +4 on Dex + Con to reach those ability scores. To be fair, that's slightly better than the dexterity approach that can only make it up to 16/16, since I don't think there's any halfway common race with Dex and Con bonuses. Vesk is a good choice though because it grabs you another point of AC.

    - Investing all your ability points in Strength and Constitution and using a race with bonuses only to those abilities makes you really sad in spaceship combat. Conversely, ysoki and androids make great Dex vanguards and can fit in most spaceship roles. A dex-based vanguard is an optimal gunner almost without trying.

    - Your way of outdamaging a dex vanguard is by basically ditching entropic strike. I'm not wild about that, because at that point you're starting to ask "what am I doing that a soldier can't do better?" Between gear boosts and combat feats, I think soldiers will easily win in terms of brute power.

    - I don't like your choice of melee weapon; the welder suffers from both electrical and fire resistance. A sopranino singing disk is both cheaper, targets sonic, and enables ranged attacks. Thrown to-hit is strength based, and you can use the disk to even deliver entropic strikes at range, so you'll have flexibility of using two of the best damage types.

    - You're ignoring a third choice: heavy armor dexterity build. Using only Dex and Con simply uses fewer ability points than using Strength, Con, and also wanting some Dex to fill up your armor's maximum dexterity rating. At level 1, we don't really need to buy a weapon so we can splurge on the best L2 armor that we can afford: Basic Iridishell. No money left for shields, but none of the shields are as efficient as that armor. We get EAC 15, KAC 18. We have only 16 Dex since there's no core race that has bonuses to both Con and Dex, and we're in this for the medium haul so we go 16/16. Of course we take Weapon Focus since we'll be using advanced melee weapons for the rest of our rollercoster life, so we have +5 to hit against EAC, 1d3+3, and no worries about batteries running out.

    How does that look at level 5? Going by the SFS playtest rules we can afford a level 5 armor so we take Basic Hardplate, we also take a L5 riot shield. We're at 20 Dex, 18 Con now due to personal augmentation. Unfortunately we then don't have budget anymore for a shield, but we still get a respectable EAC 23, KAC 24 without bleeding move actions. We have Weapon Focus and maxed out Dex so we hit at +11 against EAC, so we're confident about hitting full attacks for 1d6+9 damage. We can still get a level 4 weapon with a funny property (like Reach), or we can take a level 1 riot shield for +1 (+2) AC. I think at this AC, we should go for the weapon, take Step Up at level 3 and Enhanced Resistance at level 5 and terrorize our enemies.

    How would it look at level 10? Extrapolating a bit from the item budget for level 4 and level 8 SFS playtest characters, we again get a L10 armor (Formian Hide, Superior), a L9 weapon (whatever has nice properties, like reach, and holy, throwing, called and opportunistic fusions) and we can easily afford the L5 riot shield (it's max dex to AC is the same as our armor). We get a constant EAC 29, KAC 31, and can increase it to 33/35 when needed. Our entropic strike is driven by Dex 23, Con 21, Str 14 and does +17 to hit (+13 thrown) for 3d6+17 damage.

    As you can see, the damage is a bit less than the all-out-damage strength build; the AC is a bit higher (and a few points of AC do matter). It's to-hit is 1 lower than a strength build can get because there's no races with as-perfect ability scores for the dex build. But it had to spend less money to get there (you could get away with level -2 weapons most of the time), it's got a bit higher intelligence (ysoki or android), and is vastly better at noncombat skills (because dexterity >> strength).

    So, yeah, you can go Strength, and you won't suck if you do it right, but I think Dexterity is a lot better.


    For the level 10 dex build, you have to take into account Power Armor. It is a simple thing to get by level 9 (you only need to start with Str 11 and raise it at 5th, or be a race with +2 Str at start and throw your theme point in there).

    Power armor at that level is about Str 20-22, so that's +5 or +6 damage that the Strength build worked to get but the Dex build simply bought and has on top of the crazy AC and great skill bonuses.


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    Ascalaphus wrote:
    @Hiruma: I'm not really sold on your approach. I have quibbles:

    I never said it was the best approach. I noted a strength build is going to do more damage. And that doing so has trade offs. Lower AC generally, and probably worse mobility. As I noted I haven't had a chance to playtest the class yet, although I hope to do so.

    However, the base damage of the class as represented by entropic strike is on the low end for melee characters. It does get some interesting tricks in compensation. But raw single target damage isn't one of them (until 10th).

    Ascalaphus wrote:
    - You need to be a vesk, formian or other race that gets +2/+2 or a +4 on Dex + Con to reach those ability scores.

    The only +2 Dex/+2 Con/-2 Int race I know of is Bantrid (with a 40 foot move speed as a nice bonus). But yeah, other than that I can't think of any. +4 Str or +2 Str/+2 Con are more common.

    However, I was trying to show off the Dexterity build in the best possible light. If you're focusing damage, 18 Str/14 Con beats out 16 Dex/16 Con or 18 Dex/14 Con even more in the early levels. At level 1 its like having 1.6 Dex vanguards in terms of damage output. Evens out more at 3rd though and later.

    Ascalaphus wrote:
    - Investing all your ability points in Strength and Constitution and using a race with bonuses only to those abilities makes you really sad in spaceship combat. Conversely, ysoki and androids make great Dex vanguards and can fit in most spaceship roles. A dex-based vanguard is an optimal gunner almost without trying.

    I totally agree. But any character build is always about trade-offs. I was looking purely at the stat points and combat capability. I wasn't trying to get into precise builds.

    I mean 8 Str/18 Dex/14 Con/12 Int Ysoki might be comparable to a Diplomacy/Intimidate focused 18 Str/14 Con/8 Wis/12 Cha Korasha Lashunta. That Strength based character has just as good skill rolls as Captain (Diplomacy/Intimidate) as the Ysoki has engineering rolls, and doesn't need to take a theme and possibly multiple feat(s) to get engineering/computers/piloting/stealth as class skills.

    There are many, many theme, racial, and feat combinations one could take to emphasize different things with different trade offs. Which is a good thing.

    Ascalaphus wrote:
    - Your way of outdamaging a dex vanguard is by basically ditching entropic strike. I'm not wild about that, because at that point you're starting to ask "what am I doing that a soldier can't do better?" Between gear boosts and combat feats, I think soldiers will easily win in terms of brute power.

    Well, that is part of the playtest. If a Dex Vanguard does less damage than a Strength Vanguard, which does less damage than a melee Soldier, that Dex Vanguard better be bringing more than just damage and the ability to go down last to the table.

    Before the Soulfire fusion, there were Solar weapon Solarians who walked around with Tactical Pikes at levels 1 through 5 simply because they had reach and did more damage.

    Ascalaphus wrote:
    I think at this AC, we should go for the weapon, take Step Up at level 3 and Enhanced Resistance at level 5 and terrorize our enemies.

    I consider Step Up a poor choice for a Vanguard. You can use reach weapons with entropic strike, and you innately get reach at a high level, which I consider strictly superior to step up and strike which takes a 2 feat investment. If you use Step up by itself, you're not actually hitting anything with your reaction. If you're adjacent and have reach, it makes both Guarded Step and Withdraw both pointless as you get your AoO with no feat investment.

    Those 2 feats would probably be better used on grabbing Skill synergy to make some of those Dex or Int starship skills class skills or taking Skill Focus to get an insight bonus on top of the class skill bonus.

    Basically, if someone came up in SFS with a Strength based Vanguard, I wouldn't tell them they built the character wrong, as you're simply emphasizing the offensive ability of the character. Certainly at level 10, there's likely only to be a 1 point difference in AC when using heavy armor (+2 Dex mod versus +3 cap) for some extra damage and probably accuracy. Certainly they are much better at throwing weapons.

    And of course, Power Armor changes many of the equations. Power Armor basically makes dexterity even more of a master stat given you can get "free" strength, but not free dexterity.

    Although, I'd like to mention to any listening developers, an armor which can be programmed to move faster than you can so as to improve your reflexes and aim makes sense in sci-fi up to the limit of the programming (i.e. a fixed dexterity), just as much as making you stronger. :)

    Sovereign Court

    @Hiruma: yeah I wouldn't want to call you "wrong" :P

    It's a new class with some oddball mechanics, it's going to take some effort to figure out how it really works (and whether it can deliver on what it promises or appears to promise). Trying strange builds is part of that.


    Dracomicron wrote:
    Porridge wrote:
    Dracomicron wrote:

    Nothing is forcing a Vanguard to go Dex. Just because the Entropic Strike is an operative weapon doesn't mean you can't use Strength to hit with it.

    any character can add her Dexterity modifier rather than her Strength modifier to melee attack rolls with these weapons.

    Strength Vanguards work just fine; they just are a bit more MAD and take longer to come into their own.

    Yeah, I don’t think anyone was questioning that you can choose to add Str instead of Dex to attack rolls.

    But as is, Owen’s comment suggests you don’t get to add +Str to damage with entropic attacks (even though you normally do with operative weapons) — it looks like the +Con to damage clause is intended to be understood as overriding the +Str bonus you’d normally get. And without that (pre-level 10) it looks like Str-based builds will be a hard sell.

    I don't see why it is such a hard sell, then. It's slightly less than optimal, which... the game is designed to survive that. Strength Vanguards can more easily use heavy armor & shields, and do combat maneuvers more effectively. It just depends on your build.

    To me STR Vanguard is not a hard sell at all! I think people are too often quick to recognise the usefulness of DEX, but tend to forget what STR does for you, namely: carrying capacity (= take advantage of heavy armor/weaps), combat maneuvers effectiveness (= overpower your foe by preventing them from acting or just break their equipment with sheer STR!), more damage with normal weapns etc.

    Not bad at all

    Sovereign Court

    LotsOfLore wrote:

    To me STR Vanguard is not a hard sell at all! I think people are too often quick to recognise the usefulness of DEX, but tend to forget what STR does for you, namely: carrying capacity (= take advantage of heavy armor/weaps), combat maneuvers effectiveness (= overpower your foe by preventing them from acting or just break their equipment with sheer STR!), more damage with normal weapns etc.

    Not bad at all

    Even with a strength of "only" 10, I don't really run into carrying capacity problems that much. Industrial backpack helps, most noncombat gear only weighs L anyway.

    As for maneuvers: they're not as debilitating to the enemy as they were in Pathfinder (standing up, grabbing a weapon from the floor etc. all don't provoke AoOs anymore). I've been running the numbers on sunder, but most items actually worth sundering tend to have so many HP that it's probably better just to focus on killing the enemy directly. Finally, you can use dexterity on maneuvers when using operative weapons, like entropic strike.

    Strength does do a little bit more damage, but it's really not that huge of a margin.


    LotsOfLore wrote:
    Dracomicron wrote:
    Porridge wrote:
    Dracomicron wrote:

    Nothing is forcing a Vanguard to go Dex. Just because the Entropic Strike is an operative weapon doesn't mean you can't use Strength to hit with it.

    any character can add her Dexterity modifier rather than her Strength modifier to melee attack rolls with these weapons.

    Strength Vanguards work just fine; they just are a bit more MAD and take longer to come into their own.

    Yeah, I don’t think anyone was questioning that you can choose to add Str instead of Dex to attack rolls.

    But as is, Owen’s comment suggests you don’t get to add +Str to damage with entropic attacks (even though you normally do with operative weapons) — it looks like the +Con to damage clause is intended to be understood as overriding the +Str bonus you’d normally get. And without that (pre-level 10) it looks like Str-based builds will be a hard sell.

    I don't see why it is such a hard sell, then. It's slightly less than optimal, which... the game is designed to survive that. Strength Vanguards can more easily use heavy armor & shields, and do combat maneuvers more effectively. It just depends on your build.

    To me STR Vanguard is not a hard sell at all! I think people are too often quick to recognise the usefulness of DEX, but tend to forget what STR does for you, namely: carrying capacity (= take advantage of heavy armor/weaps), combat maneuvers effectiveness (= overpower your foe by preventing them from acting or just break their equipment with sheer STR!), more damage with normal weapns etc.

    Not bad at all

    People keep mentioning combat maneuvers as a benefit to a STR build, and it just isn’t true. Are people forgetting that combat maneuvers are just a melee attack roll, which means that you can still use DEX with your Operative weapon?


    If you want to focus on thrown weapons, Strength build could work nicely. You can use entropic strike with melee weapons that have the thrown special weapon property.


    Ronnam wrote:
    If you want to focus on thrown weapons, Strength build could work nicely. You can use entropic strike with melee weapons that have the thrown special weapon property.

    Yes, but you can simply apply Operative to the thrown weapons using Entropic Strike and use Dex. I put a Throwing fusion on Shadow Chains and chucked them at a robot in the session I played as a level 8 vanguard. Dex works just fine.


    Thrown weapons when thrown can't apply the operative quality (and can't use Dex to hit) since they're not melee attacks. Thrown attacks always use strength, and currently there's no way to get around that.


    Hiruma Kai wrote:
    Thrown weapons when thrown can't apply the operative quality (and can't use Dex to hit) since they're not melee attacks. Thrown attacks always use strength, and currently there's no way to get around that.

    You aren't attacking with a thrown weapon; you're applying the Thrown property to your Entropic Strike, which applies Operative and Block to the attack.

    I mean, if I put a Throwing fusion on an Operative weapon, would it suddenly need Strength to attack?


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    I'm not saying melee attacks don't benefit (an operative weapon, with the thrown property, when used to melee attack uses Dex). I'm saying thrown attack rolls don't benefit.

    You need strength to attack if you throw it. You use Dex if you make a melee attack. The operative property:

    "An operative can use the trick attack class feature (see page 93) with a weapon that has this special property. Any character can add her Dexterity modifier rather than her Strength modifier on melee attack rolls with weapons with this special property"

    The operative property does not change the rules for thrown attacks since they are not melee attack rolls. So it still uses Strength.

    Edit: I should clarify, when I say thrown attack roll, I really should be saying ranged attack roll with a weapon that has the thrown special property, as there technically isn't a thrown attack roll, its a ranged attack roll with the Thrown property overriding Dex with Str.


    And operative weapons only get half the benefit of Weapon Specialization, so that's another reason to try Strength-Vanguard. I'm gonna make one for fun, see how it goes.


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    Ronnam wrote:
    And operative weapons only get half the benefit of Weapon Specialization, so that's another reason to try Strength-Vanguard. I'm gonna make one for fun, see how it goes.

    Actually, the Vanguard gets a special weapon specialization at 3rd level which lets them add their full vanguard level to damage with Entropic strike, even though its an operative weapon. Other class levels still only add half damage.

    Max strength Vanguard still does more damage, but not as much as you might think.


    Hiruma Kai wrote:

    I'm not saying melee attacks don't benefit (an operative weapon, with the thrown property, when used to melee attack uses Dex). I'm saying thrown attack rolls don't benefit.

    You need strength to attack if you throw it. You use Dex if you make a melee attack. The operative property:

    "An operative can use the trick attack class feature (see page 93) with a weapon that has this special property. Any character can add her Dexterity modifier rather than her Strength modifier on melee attack rolls with weapons with this special property"

    The operative property does not change the rules for thrown attacks since they are not melee attack rolls. So it still uses Strength.

    Edit: I should clarify, when I say thrown attack roll, I really should be saying ranged attack roll with a weapon that has the thrown special property, as there technically isn't a thrown attack roll, its a ranged attack roll with the Thrown property overriding Dex with Str.

    Huh. Interesting. Seems to have an unintended RAW effect; I'm not sure why the RAI would intend for a knife-throwing operative to suddenly need strength to make ranged attacks.


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    Dracomicron wrote:
    Huh. Interesting. Seems to have an unintended RAW effect; I'm not sure why the RAI would intend for a knife-throwing operative to suddenly need strength to make ranged attacks.

    Might have something to do with trying to throw something like a Sintered Starknife 250 feet (not quite a football field length) accurately. That I'd argue requires more strength than dexterity, although it certainly requires both.

    Throwing requires some level of force or else it just doesn't go anywhere, so I'm pretty sure its RAI in addition to RAW. Its generally not a problem for operatives, since they can simply pick up a small arm weapon and use dexterity for a ranged attack with it, so it doesn't strike me as a big deal. Dex based Vanguards can simply pick up a small arm as well, although they'll do less damage.


    Hiruma Kai wrote:
    Actually, the Vanguard gets a special weapon specialization at 3rd level which lets them add their full vanguard level to damage with Entropic strike, even though its an operative weapon. Other class levels still only add half damage.

    Thank you! My eyes glossed right past that.

    Are there other Starfinder classes who have Weapon Specializations that function differently?

    Sovereign Court

    Dracomicron wrote:
    Huh. Interesting. Seems to have an unintended RAW effect; I'm not sure why the RAI would intend for a knife-throwing operative to suddenly need strength to make ranged attacks.

    Well here's a thing: knives aren't thrown weapons in Starfinder! Actually, there aren't any weapons with both Thrown and Operative properties.


    Ascalaphus wrote:
    Dracomicron wrote:
    Huh. Interesting. Seems to have an unintended RAW effect; I'm not sure why the RAI would intend for a knife-throwing operative to suddenly need strength to make ranged attacks.
    Well here's a thing: knives aren't thrown weapons in Starfinder! Actually, there aren't any weapons with both Thrown and Operative properties.

    There are, in fact, knives that you can throw (such as the Starknife), but they aren't Operative weapons.

    Except you can put a Throwing fusion on an Operative weapon, such as a Survival Knife. It's weird that doing so can change the nature of the attack roll.

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