Advice on Cleave


Advice

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How often does the ability to cleave come up? I'm a level 3 Barbarian, thinking about whether to take cleave for my 5 lvl feat. Came into a good cleave situation with goblins and goblin dogs. I had planned on taking raging vitality at next level. How often does a good cleave help?


Cleave is better at lower level than it is at mid to high level. The problem is that once you get past the point that you can take down a foe with a single strike it gets less useful. Once you get more than one attack you are usually fighting things that require more than one hit to take down. Cleave does not help in those situations and actually makes it worse. Since you cannot attack the same creature twice with cleave it takes twice as long to take the creature down. You may be taking down two creatures in the same amount of time, but that means two creatures are attack you for a longer period of time.

Cleave is a good feat for a low level fighter to take early in the campaign and then train it to something more useful at 5th level.


In addition to what was covered above the tendency to run into larger sized foes with reach means it's harder to get to/reach the next foe for the attack. Two orcs vs two hill giants for example.


Mysterious Stranger wrote:

Cleave is better at lower level than it is at mid to high level. The problem is that once you get past the point that you can take down a foe with a single strike it gets less useful. Once you get more than one attack you are usually fighting things that require more than one hit to take down. Cleave does not help in those situations and actually makes it worse. Since you cannot attack the same creature twice with cleave it takes twice as long to take the creature down. You may be taking down two creatures in the same amount of time, but that means two creatures are attack you for a longer period of time.

Cleave is a good feat for a low level fighter to take early in the campaign and then train it to something more useful at 5th level.

Well this may be true in a "you get this many attacks" kind of way, it is untrue in one aspect. A second attack would mean it's at-5. Cleave would allow a second attack at your full bab. So if you had, say, +13 to hit someone, 13/13 or 13/8. If you find yourself where you need that extra 5 points to even land a hit, cleave would be superior. I'd rather hit 2 people than hot one guy once and whiff the other swing.

That being said it comes with the built in penalty of -2 AC. So buyer beware.

Cleave also has a bonus of being great because it's a standard action to move, allowing for 2 attacks even on a move, which you'll be doing a lot.

You may get cleave more than other classes as your base damage for a barbarian is just naturally higher. With a good 2 hander and power attack you can expect to cleave at least a couple times a fight and make it count. Dropping 2 foes with a barbarian just is a lot easier than other classes unless it's their focused specialty.

Vital strike may be one to look at however instead. Because you'll be moving around and not getting your second attack, it helps you hit hard on that one guy at higher levels which, (as pointed out correctly) will have some decent hp. You may not always get 2 guys beside each other, but you'll always have one guy until the fights over. Food for thought.

Grand Lodge

I don’t think cleave is as useless as some make it out to be at mid to high levels. I don’t disagree that full attacking when you have multiple attacks is better, because reducing the number of enemies on the field is the name of the game. But I think people forget how regularly a martial is left with just a standard action on their turn. Move action to draw a weapon. Or make a movement. Or it’s a surprise round. The first round rarely lets you full attack unless you are ranged or have pounce, so there’s a decent chance you could use cleave once per combat. And if you use ranged tactics or have pounce then yeah I’d absolutely recommend not getting cleave.

Also, cleaving finish/improved cleaning finish are pretty good feats, and I think that’s puts them in for consideration to get cleave.


Cleavage is overrated.

If you're a fighter with a truckload of bonus feats, then it could be useful as Syries outlined. I'd avoid it in other cases unless you've got nothing more useful to pick.


That is what I was thinking, fairly situational. I'll probably just go with raging vitality. Since we are playing Rise of the Runelords, we are facing a lot of goblins right now, dont think that will last though.


Cleave can be useful at any point in the game. The questions is, is it worth spending a feat on. At low levels you will be more likely to faces lots of weak opponents. If you pick it up at 1st level it doubles the number of attacks you get. This is also the point where you are likely to be facing foes weak enough that a single hit will kill them. At this point it is defiantly worth spending a feat.

The Original posters character is a barbarian so Raging Vitality is a very good choice for his character. Since cleave requires power attack that means that two of his feats are already spent. So the question is, is cleave worth taking at 5th level. Personally I think that there are a lot better choices for his character.

Combat Reflexes would allow him a second and possibly more attacks per round and allow him to make AoO while flat footed. This would allow him to cut down an opponent that tries to get away from him. If he is using a reach weapon it would also allow him to attack someone closing in on him. To me this is a much better option than cleave. This is not the only thing that he could do. There are a lot of other thing he could be picking up that are better than cleave.


Where (Great) Cleave really shines is in making the enemy's mooks work for you, and to that end you also need a Greater + Quick Reposition mechanic, as well as additional AoO snowballing gimmicks. Why? Because the adjacency requirement is the major annoyance in getting Cleave to function reliably in many situations, especially when opponents have reach, and the GM isn't inclined to pack them in tight together when the setting isn't cramped warren. So, you Reposition to make 'em knock heads, and then AoO slashy-slashy, then use your next iterative (or a granted AoO) to knock another mook next to the "cleaving pile", and slash through them all again. Rinse & repeat.

Enlarged fighter-barbarians excel at this. The GM can, of course, "turn you off" with his selection of encounter opponents, but that can be true for any class.


Cavall wrote:
A second attack would mean it's at-5. Cleave would allow a second attack at your full bab. So if you had, say, +13 to hit someone, 13/13 or 13/8.

That's an oversimplification, because you can only use the second attack if the first attack hits. That's not something guaranteed. A 6th level barbarian with rage, a +2 belt, and Power Attack would hit an average of 1.15 attacks against an average CR6 enemy when using a full-attack action, with Cleave, it's an average of 1.19 attacks.

Sure, if you're fighting multiple grouped together low AC enemies of equal importance that at best even fall from one blow, Cleave can be nice. Does that happen often enough to warrant a feat? Not in my experience.
Around 7th level, most groups have access to some sort of Haste (Haste from an arcane or psychic caster, Blessing of Fervor from a divine caster, or when in doubt, Boots of Speed). At that point, if you don't have to move, a full attack is always better than Cleave. At 10th level, the Barbarian probably has Pounce, making Cleave obsolete in almost all situations.

A feat that notably helps when you have to move would indeed be worth it, but Cleave is too conditional to do that reliably.


Derklord wrote:
Cavall wrote:
A second attack would mean it's at-5. Cleave would allow a second attack at your full bab. So if you had, say, +13 to hit someone, 13/13 or 13/8.

That's an oversimplification, because you can only use the second attack if the first attack hits. That's not something guaranteed. A 6th level barbarian with rage, a +2 belt, and Power Attack would hit an average of 1.15 attacks against an average CR6 enemy when using a full-attack action, with Cleave, it's an average of 1.19 attacks.

Sure, if you're fighting multiple grouped together low AC enemies of equal importance that at best even fall from one blow, Cleave can be nice. Does that happen often enough to warrant a feat? Not in my experience.
Around 7th level, most groups have access to some sort of Haste (Haste from an arcane or psychic caster, Blessing of Fervor from a divine caster, or when in doubt, Boots of Speed). At that point, if you don't have to move, a full attack is always better than Cleave. At 10th level, the Barbarian probably has Pounce, making Cleave obsolete in almost all situations.

A feat that notably helps when you have to move would indeed be worth it, but Cleave is too conditional to do that reliably.

Want to break down your math please?

Based on a (at least) +1 weapon, str 20 start and rage and weapon focus... what's the "average ac of 6 CR?" 18? 19? Hows you're average work? You get flanking and you miss on what... a 2? I don't get your math.


The average/recommended AC for CR6 is 19. Presuming 18 starting strength (and a +1 weapon), sorry that I didn't state that. That's a 70% chance to hit a full BAB attack, 45% to hit the iterative attack. This means the cleave attack has only a 49% chance to hit (70%*70%). If we add flanking, it's 1.44 average hits vs. 1.35. The difference increases when the first hit approaches 95% (to a maximum of +0.2 average attacks over the full attack), and decreases again with even more attack roll bonus/lower AC.


Well (18 + 2 race + 4 rage +2 item) 8 + 6 bab + 1 weapon + 1 weapon focus -2 power attack... 14. So that's 75 not 70. I mean if I'm using power attack why wouldn't I take weapon focus. Or more importantly if I'm taking power attack why am I NOT taking furious focus? Which would be 85% and 75. Theres some basic (really basic. Like core book basic) feats that are being left out here.

I'm not even getting into the basic level of buffs that should be going around at level 6. Even level 1 spells like bless. Or bards. Or haste. Or a dozen other core book stuff. Like.. of we ignore all that (which doesn't seem logical as it's a team based game and that's basic team game 101) it's still better than swinging the second attack. If you do factor it in, even the most minor of things like flank mean you miss on a 1 for that first attack and makes the second one all the better for cleave.

Of all the classes to take it, barbarians are most likely to just brute force hit to make the best of cleave.


Cavall wrote:
Well (18 + 2 race + 4 rage +2 item) 8 + 6 bab + 1 weapon + 1 weapon focus -2 power attack... 14.

First, when I say "18 starting strength", I mean "18 starting strength", not "18+2 starting strength", and second, I didn't mention Weapon Focus. Hence a +12 attack roll bonus, 70% chance to hit AC 19.

Cavall wrote:
So that's 75 not 70.

Actually, a +14 against AC19 would be 80% chance to hit.

Cavall wrote:
I mean if I'm using power attack why wouldn't I take weapon focus. Or more importantly if I'm taking power attack why am I NOT taking furious focus?

Ok, so you want to have Weapon Focus, Power Attack, Furious Focus, and Cleave. At 6th level. Better be human and not want Raging Vitality...

Furious Focus has the same problem that it stops being useful at mid level. Weapon Focus isn't really that great on a class with a good attack roll boost to begin with.

Please note that I didn't actually replace Cleave with another feat for my sample calculation.

Cavall wrote:
I'm not even getting into the basic level of buffs that should be going around at level 6. Even level 1 spells like bless. Or bards. Or haste.

Yeah, let's include Haste, look how Cleave compares than! You're rather grasping at straws, aren't you?


It's hard to break down the math for every situation, but my instincts say that Cleaving is a good way to get lots of attacks out of a single big weapon.

It is fair to say that monsters tend to get bigger and bigger as you level up, and that does make for less space on the battlefield available for monsters to squeeze in to obligingly get Cleaved by you. I suppose a remedy for this would be to increase your Reach in the way that one does.

Another issue is that in order to maximize your use of Cleave, you also need to maximize the number of monsters attacking you simultaneously, and that is usually bad, especially since you take a -2 to your AC when you Cleave, and presumably, you don't use a Shield, since Cleaving works best with big, 2 handed weapons in the first place. But built advisedly, you should be all right.

Another thing to bear in mind is that Cleave has Power Attack as a Prerequisite, and since your Cleave ends with your first miss, you probably should not use Power Attack at the same time as you use Cleave.


Derklord wrote:
Cavall wrote:
I mean if I'm using power attack why wouldn't I take weapon focus. Or more importantly if I'm taking power attack why am I NOT taking furious focus?
Ok, so you want to have Weapon Focus, Power Attack, Furious Focus, and Cleave. At 6th level. Better be human and not want Raging Vitality...

Chalk up another reason why I dislike Power Attack at low level (especially at it tempts the unwary player into blowing two more feats on WF and FF to alleviate its penalties to secure its meager gains -- literally three feats to get a lousy +4 damage in the 4th-7th early mid-level). In the case of Cleave, PA cannot be avoided as a tax-feat, of course....

STR+ 17
DEX: 14
CON: 15 (human, 15,15,14,14,10,7 20pt array)
INT: 10
WIS+ 14
CHA- 07

Traits: Accelerated Drinker, Berserker of the Society
01 barb1 Extra Rage, Raging Vitality
02 fight1 Power Attack
03 fight2 Cleave, Cleaving Finish
04 barb2 [Reckless Abandon], STR>18
05 fight3 Great Cleave
06 fight4 Dirty Fighting, Improved Reposition
07 fight5 Quick Reposition
08 fight6 Greater Reposition, CON>16
09 fight7 Improved Cleaving Finish


Power attack is fantastic at all levels. Two-handed melee (who's not gonna be doing two-handed melee in Pathfinder?) brings the damage up to +3 at level 1. That's not lousy by any means. It's definitely not as good for one-handed or dual wielding builds, but then again, those builds are generally weaker overall... for that very reason.


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Unless you need it for prereqs, I see little reason for nabbing power attack before level three or five. Especially on a two-handed fighter. 1d10+6 or more damage will drop the vast majority of creatures you fight at such low levels already, reducing your accuracy to put them three points further past zero is an awful trade.

I’d rather have combat reflexes or toughness or improved initiative, or even whatever prereqs you’d have to take later down the road anyway to make your build work.


Maybe I'm running the wrong campaign. My party was fighting CR 3 enemies right off the bat, and they definitely took some bigger swings to take down.


@Cavall & Derklord

Scott Wilhelm wrote:
It's hard to break down the math for every situation, but my instincts say that Cleaving is a good way to get lots of attacks out of a single big weapon.

You don't actually need to break down the math, you can just assume a percent chance to hit and apply it.

Let's assume you have +6 BAB and your first attack has a 70% chance to hit:
Regular iterative attacks:
83.5% chance to hit at least once.
31.5% chance to hit twice.
Cleave attacks:
70% chance to hit at peast once.
49% chance to hit twice.

We can change the numbers around and compare as well.

60% chance to hit with first attack:
Iteratives:
74% chance to hit at least once.
21% chance to hit twice.
Cleave:
60% chance to hit at least once.
36% chance to hit twice.

80% chance to hit with first attack:
Iteratives:
91% chance to hit at least once.
44% chance to hit twice.
Cleave:
80% chance to hit at least once.
64% chance to hit twice.

(Feel free to check my maths, I'm not infallable).

So Cleave seems to be a gamble after BAB +6 as you're increasing your chance to do nothing, but also increasing your chance to get two attacks in (assuming enemies are adjacent).

For me Cleave seems worth it to get to Cleaving Finish, which is way better than I remembered (don't have to be adjacent). Spending 2 feats for a reasonably reliable chance at a bonus full BAB attack seems pretty good for any build that already has Power Attack.


TheGreatWot wrote:
Maybe I'm running the wrong campaign. My party was fighting CR 3 enemies right off the bat, and they definitely took some bigger swings to take down.

:D

I like you. We should play together some time.

Of course build advice is variable - the optimal decision depends on the circumstances. My experience is that at level one most creatures die pretty quickly, whether they be skeletons, orcs, ghouls, or player characters. Hence why I focus on defense, accuracy, and initiative - what I consider the holy trinity of very low and very high level play, when things are at their most rocket tag-y, when it's trivial to dish out more damage than your foe has hitpoints barring exceptional investment. But that's my experience, and what I've come to expect from le APs, and is clearly not applicable at every table.


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The campaign is Strange Aeons, and the PCs were up against doppelgangers. Blame Paizo, not me. :p

The whole rocket tag thing at very low and very high levels is exactly why the module I'm writing starts at 4th and ends at 7th.

Was that self-promotion subtle enough? No? Alrighty.


I've seen the other thread. :)


Derklord wrote:

Cavall wrote:
I'm not even getting into the basic level of buffs that should be going around at level 6. Even level 1 spells like bless. Or bards. Or haste.
Yeah, let's include Haste, look how Cleave compares than! You're rather grasping at straws, aren't you?

Grasping at what straws? What straws.

Level 5 casters get haste and often keep it going. When you're not full attacking haste still provides a bonus to hit. Basics of the spell. Are you suggesting that I even hinted one should cleave instead of taking 2 full attacks? Why would one do that, given the AC penalties, and that it directly ignores my original points about cleave? Honestly you're the one grasping at straws by deliberately being ignorant about the current discussion and talking points.

And your point about weapon focus not being great on classes with high attack to begin with? How is this relevant. The point to cleave is the first attack hits and cleaves through. You want that to happen. By your own argument youd want that to happen better. Why wouldn't you take the feat that actually fixes the issue you bring up?

You're actively ignoring your own talking points in order to argue and you're accusing me of grasping at straws. You make little to no sense.


Cavall wrote:

Grasping at what straws? What straws.

Level 5 casters get haste and often keep it going.

Your original post was about comparing Cleave to a full attack. You basically stated that Cleave was better than a full attack because with Cleave, both attacks are at full BAB, while the iterative attack is at -5. For that discussion, you're destroying your own argument when adding Haste. To me, that looked like you were trying to list every attack roll bonus in a desperate attempt to salvage your destroyed argument.

Cavall wrote:
And your point about weapon focus not being great on classes with high attack to begin with? How is this relevant.

You said "if I'm using power attack why wouldn't I take weapon focus.", and to that I responded. Please explain to me how my response to your question is not relevant!

Cavall wrote:
Why wouldn't you take the feat that actually fixes the issue you bring up?

Because you don't have infinite feats and you don't want to accompany your two feats that will be useless later on with a third feat that will lose a notable part of its value later on.


MrCharisma wrote:

We can change the numbers around and compare as well.

60% chance to hit with first attack:
Iteratives:
74% chance to hit at least once.
21% chance to hit twice.
Cleave:
60% chance to hit at least once.
36% chance to hit twice.
80% chance to hit with first attack:
Iteratives:
91% chance to hit at least once.
44% chance to hit twice.
Cleave:
80% chance to hit at least once.
64% chance to hit twice.

So, I would characterize what you are doing here as maths that are "hard to break down," and to even get to this point, you are making assumptions about a few scenarios that are not necessarily descriptive of many, likely scenarios, but it's fair to examine these.

You have a BAB of +6 and a 60% chance of hitting a set of opponents on your first swing: you need a 9. You have Great Cleave. You are wielding a +1 Greatsword, you have an 18 ST, and you have Weapon Specialization, so your Damage/Hit = 7 + 1 + 2 + 6 = 16

You Full Attack:

Your first attack has a 60% chance of hitting. your second has a 35% chance because you take a -5 on your next attack = -25%.

Your expected DPR = 14 X .6 + 14 X .35 = 8.4 + 4.9 = 13.3

You Cleave:

Your expected damage on your first opponent = your chances of hitting once = 8.4

Your expected Damage on your 2nd opponent = 14 X .6^2 = 5.04, which is already greater damage than is expected from your 2nd iterative attack.

Your expected Damage on your 3rd opponent and subsequent opponents >0.

According to this, you are better off making iterative attacks in cases where your probability of hitting is already low, where P^2 < P - 25%.

I'm not being entirely fair, here. If you are using Cleave, you should not use Power Attack, and if you are Full Attacking, you probably should. That would change both the Damage/hit and the probability in the first place. Also, I'm comparing the suggested actions of a Fighter who is already configured to Great Cleave. It would be more fair to compare that Fighter with a Fighter who isn't, say a Fighter who is 2 Weapon Fighting with Bastard Sword and Shield and is using Armor Spikes as an Off-Hand Weapon and also has a BAB of +6. But of course, in that case, sometimes a 2 handed Fighter might be using Vital Strike where the 2 weapon Fighter might not....

But my thesis here is not that Cleave is better than Full Attacking, but rather just that Cleave is lovely and the maths are complicated, at least for someone who is just playing a game.


Derklord wrote:
Cavall wrote:

Grasping at what straws? What straws.

Level 5 casters get haste and often keep it going.

Your original post was about comparing Cleave to a full attack. You basically stated that Cleave was better than a full attack because with Cleave, both attacks are at full BAB, while the iterative attack is at -5. For that discussion, you're destroying your own argument when adding Haste. To me, that looked like you were trying to list every attack roll bonus in a desperate attempt to salvage your destroyed argument.

Cavall wrote:
And your point about weapon focus not being great on classes with high attack to begin with? How is this relevant.

You said "if I'm using power attack why wouldn't I take weapon focus.", and to that I responded. Please explain to me how my response to your question is not relevant!

Cavall wrote:
Why wouldn't you take the feat that actually fixes the issue you bring up?
Because you don't have infinite feats and you don't want to accompany your two feats that will be useless later on with a third feat that will lose a notable part of its value later on.

Half of the post was about comparing it to a 6/1 bab as a 6/6. Haste as a full attack would be 6/6/1. That would be more. In what world would that be the point of talking about haste?

The other half (which you continue to ignore in order to remain confident in your nonsensical posts) was about standard actions. Clearly understandable when talking about Bless and Bards and the host of other bonuses that you would have to willfully ignore to miss the context.

It only seems that to talk about only full attacks if you try hard to not follow along.

However I urge you Dreklord to try even harder to not follow along and stop responding to me. I don't like to read what you have to say, as it is filled with white room nonsense that is not applicable is actual play and wilful misreadings to prove a point not worth reading, even if it means arguing with yourself, which you have.

Just try to continue to avoid me, I just honestly dislike reading what you have to type very much.

Grand Lodge

Since when a debate is reduced to who's right and who's wrong ?


Cavall wrote:
*Angry ranting*

Someone needs a snickers.


Philippe Lam wrote:
Since when a debate is reduced to who's right and who's wrong ?

Since Sophocles and Aristotle, I fear. Schopenhauer didn't improve things either.

Grand Lodge

Agénor wrote:
Philippe Lam wrote:
Since when a debate is reduced to who's right and who's wrong ?
Since Sophocles and Aristotle, I fear. Schopenhauer didn't improve things either.

Although some there are in a Cicero-style level of combativeness, forgetting that usefulness is the key notion, not kerfuffling. I had fun some time ago doing that but there's better things to do.


TheGreatWot wrote:
Cavall wrote:
*Angry ranting*
Someone needs a snickers.

Perhaps.


With Cleaving Finish, a human fighter is capable of three full-bonus attacks at 1st level, not counting AoOs.


Cleaving Finish is a much better feat than Cleave since it lacks the "adjacent to the first" clause, but the fact that it requires Cleave and is still something that you won't get guaranteed usage out of every fight makes it hard to justify. I like it a lot better in games that use Spheres of Might, since you can pick it up as a talent without the prereq's.


Arachnofiend wrote:
Cleaving Finish is a much better feat than Cleave since it lacks the "adjacent to the first" clause, but the fact that it requires Cleave and is still something that you won't get guaranteed usage out of every fight makes it hard to justify. I like it a lot better in games that use Spheres of Might, since you can pick it up as a talent without the prereq's.

You're right about the adjacent-to-the-first thing, but to say that Cleaving Finish is better than Cleave is like saying that circular saws are better than hammer and nails: they are totally different tools that you use for totally different situations!

Cleaving Finish gives you a bonus attack sometimes. Cleave is a poor man's Whirlwind Attack. Also, Cleave and Cleaving Finish stack. Just like there is no reason why you can't use both circular saws and hammer-and-nails for the same building project, there is no reason why you can't use Cleave and Cleaving Finish in the same Attack.


Not only do they stack you need one to even qualify for the other. They may be different tools but they sit on the same bench.

Cleaving, hitting two people then killing one and cleaving to the other is a decent way to spend a standard action.


Obviously cleave will give some benefits or it would not be a feat. The question is not does it give a benefit, the question is, is it worth spending a feat on.

Some feat give scaling benefits that become more valuable as the character levels up. Power attack for example does more damage as the character gains BAB. Raging Vitality gives more HP every level you gain. These types of feats are usually the best feats to take.

Other feats give you a benefit that is always useful under almost any circumstance. Dodge for example gives you a bonus to AC almost all the time. Iron will gives you a straight bonus to all will saves. The value of these feats are based on the how useful the benefit is. How useful something is often depends on the character. To a rouge who dumped WIS Iron will is a great feat. To the cleric with a high WIS it is not so valuable.

Then there are feats like cleave. They give a static benefit only in certain circumstances. The value of these feats are dependent on two things. First how often do they come into play. The more restrictive the circumstance the less value they are. The second measure is how valuable is the benefit. If the benefit can be easily gotten by other means the feat is less valuable.

Cleave falls under the last category. Early on in the game you usually fight multiple weak foes. This means at low level cleave is actually one of the best feats in the game. You gain a second attack which is actually quite difficult to do at low levels. You will also be able to use it quite often. At first level this feat is golden. As you rise in level your opponents get tougher and fewer. at first level you may be facing 9 goblin, by third level you are facing 5 gnoll. Cleave become less valuable in the second fight.


Arachnofiend wrote:
Cleaving Finish is a much better feat than Cleave since it lacks the "adjacent to the first" clause, but the fact that it requires Cleave and is still something that you won't get guaranteed usage out of every fight makes it hard to justify.

Only a very few feats "get guaranteed usage" in every fight, for benefits that are often much more trivial and require considerable grind to accumulate a noticeable difference. A low-level archer, for instance, might need to sink three to five arrows with his Rapid Shot to equal the output of one Cleaving Finish dealt by a two-hander, but nobody playing this game would consider the archery feat a poor choice rather than one of the best available and well worth the -2 attack penalty.

For game balance reasons, additional attacks shouldn't be handed out like candy at low level, but in this one instance, they were, and relatively painlessly too, given that 2hPA melee guys cannot expect routine full-attacking until BAB6, and even then some allowing for the denials of encounter-design.


I think that if I'm a 2H weapon user with feats to burn, I probably go into Cornugon Smash/Hurtful (though a preference for charisma characters definitely weighs the scale in that chain's favor). Killing a big scary foe is a lot better than nearly killing two minor ones in a game with no injury rules, and the only time you'll fail to get value out of Hurtful is if the enemies are so weak you're 1-shotting all of them (in which case the fight is so trivial your investment into fight good doesn't matter much anyways).

Again, Cleaving Finish is a good feat; you can be pretty sure any fight that involves multiple melee enemies you'll get to roll for your Cleaving Finish attack (though fights that involve one or two extremely dangerous foes Cleaving Finish worthless for). Cleave has no such guarantee due to positioning requirements that are largely out of your control - if the enemies don't stay stacked together in a neat line (likely, given that intelligent foes are jostling for flanking position as much as you are) then you're never going to cleave onto anything.

There's a lot of randomness and unreliability in a d20 roleplaying game, I don't see the wisdom in introducing more things outside of your control. Consistency is key to a healthy adventurer, and a feat that's a dead investment in so many situations just isn't very helpful.


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Arachnofiend wrote:
I think that if I'm a 2H weapon user with feats to burn, I probably go into Cornugon Smash/Hurtful
Due to skill rank requirements, you can't pick up Cornugon until 6th or 7th. Hurtful is a great feat for the "I have only one skill!" fighter, but it does eat swift actions, and that will quickly become a painful annoyance not only because it does eat the swift action, but due lack of an upgrade path (i.e., in contrast to Cleaving Finish and Improved Cleaving Finish, neither of which affect action-economy). Hurtful is also banned in PFS, if that matters.
Quote:
(though a preference for charisma characters definitely weighs the scale in that chain's favor). Killing a big scary foe is a lot better than nearly killing two minor ones in a game with no injury rules, and the only time you'll fail to get value out of Hurtful is if the enemies are so weak you're 1-shotting all of them (in which case the fight is so trivial your investment into fight good doesn't matter much anyways).

You don't need to one-shot your target, or have cleaved them, in order to trigger Cleaving Finish; you only need to drop them. Since using Cleave is not required, Cleaving Finish can be triggered during a full-attack.

~ ~ ~

Here's an example of how the build I submitted up-page makes this work as early as 3rd level (or 1st, if human fighter):

|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
|__|t1|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
|__|t2|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
|__|__|__|__|Enl.B|__|__|__|t3|__|
|__|__|__|__|Enl.B|__|__|__|__|__|
|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|

t(x) = enemy targets
Enl.B = Enlarged PC with 20' reach weapon

Fight: our martial stages at grid bottom; he 5-foots and swigs an Enlarge potion as a move-action (Accelerated Drinker) to "grow" another 5' closer to his targets, than standard-actions to bardiche Cleave targets 1 & 2 (going for the one with presumed weaker AC first). If either 1 or 2 drops (quite decent odds if higher-Initiative allies have already softened up the opposition), he takes a Cleaving Finish attack against any remaining target of his choice. (If a full-attack is available, then targets are selected in order of presumed "wobbliness", with Cleaving Finish functioning as a pseudo-AoO mechanic, and a pretty decent one too given that it's not reliant upon a Greater maneuver vs CMD lead-in, as many AoOs gimmicks are.)

By early-mid level, with Great Cleave, Quick Reposition, and Improving Cleaving Finish, as well as AoO triggers, he'll have a variety of mechanisms for utterly wrecking multiple-opponent encounters -- especially when weak allied summoned creatures offer themselves as adjacency sacrifices. His output does not decline quite so much (relative to other martial builds) when the encounter denies a pounce or full-attack.


This thread is why I play casters.


TheGreatWot wrote:
This thread is why I play casters.

Well, it's easier not to fret over your feat slot decisions if you don't have any. You only have to fret over your spell picks. Each and every morning!


Hey, casters have lots of feat decisions! Which metamagic to abuse, which crafting feats to annoy my GM with, which Improved Initiative to pick... so many hard choices.


I mean, play a reach Cleric and you can be a caster with Cleaving Finish (bonus attacks on AoOs).

This doesn't have to be mutually exclusive ...


It's adorable that you created a neat little table where the enemies are standing adjacent to each other to illustrate your point that Cleave is useful, when my entire argument is that you can't expect there to always be enemies standing next to each other. Or even most of the time. Literally a five foot gap between t1 and t2 and your investment into cleave is worthless. All you're proving is the usefulness of a reach weapon on a large creature. To which I would say, no duh.

Grand Lodge

We see the value of something when facing less-than-ideal conditions, not when it is tailor-made for the concept. Fighting through denial is a big part of the game, should the players like it or not. Especially at higher levels.


All you have to do to wreck multiple-opponent encounters is exist and swing away for a few rounds. From what I've seen in most APs, whenever groups of enemies are thrown out, the individual enemies are too weak to do anything.


Slim Jim wrote:
TheGreatWot wrote:
This thread is why I play casters.
Well, it's easier not to fret over your feat slot decisions if you don't have any. You only have to fret over your spell picks. Each and every morning!

Yeah, but casters get to change their minds about their spells each and every morning. If they pick crappy spells 1 day, they can pick better spells the next. Martial characters who pick bad Feats can't do that: once they pick their Feats, swapping them out for better ones later is quite difficult, and a lot of the time, it's better to just roll up a new character rather than fix a bad one. That's the very reason I maintain that Clerics and Wizards are the easiest characters to play, and Fighters are the hardest.

Of course, all of this is not to the OP at all, and we shouldn't derail the thread.


The build Slim Jim is suggesting is a valid build, but does not help the original poster. This build is pretty feat intensive so unless your character has a lot of bonus feats it is going to take a while to come online. It’s actually fairly decent for a human fighter. His build requires 8 feats including combat expertise, which requires a 13 INT. The original poster clearly stated that his character is a 3rd level barbarian that is looking at cleave as his 5th level feat. If he followed Slim Jim’s advice he will be able to get everything by 17th level assuming he has a 13 INT. 17th level is not my definition of early-mid level.

Basically cleave is pretty much a niche feat. It is helpful for almost any martial class at lower levels. It can also be an anchor for a fighter to build a fairly effective fighting style. As a standalone feat cleave is not all that good. There are a lot better feats for a 5th level barbarian to take instead of cleave.


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