Animal Companion Analysis


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I made a document with a simple analysis of how animal companions fare as they level. Their contribution from striking once each round goes down considerable as they level.

Analysis here

Please let me know if I missed anything.

Liberty's Edge

Haven't looked into animal companion stuff enough to critique the numbers properly, but just wanted to say this is a much more professional look than I expected when I clicked on the thread :)


Can they use mighty fists to get improved attack mods and offensive runes?


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ChibiNyan wrote:
Can they use mighty fists to get improved attack mods and offensive runes?

I don't think so, the rules say the only item bonuses they can get are to speed and AC.


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Wow great analysis. So based on this, it looks like animal companions are pretty garbage and not worth the feats and action investment.
Only benefit I can see outside of flavor really is for a rogue with ranger/druid dedication to get a flanking buddy...

Liberty's Edge

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Are you just comparing damage to HP or doing full DPR? Because I think accuracy goes up as you level, at least for a while, which means crits go up, which makes a huge difference.

Faenor wrote:

Wow great analysis. So based on this, it looks like animal companions are pretty garbage and not worth the feats and action investment.

Only benefit I can see outside of flavor really is for a rogue with ranger/druid dedication to get a flanking buddy...

Even if this analysis is totally correct, an Animal Companion is still potentially very good mechanically. Let's look at a Bear. If you're high level your Bear is flanking with you and Supports you, you get +2 to-hit and gain an extra 2d8 damage on every hit you make. That's fantastic.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Are you just comparing damage to HP or doing full DPR? Because I think accuracy goes up as you level, at least for a while, which means crits go up, which makes a huge difference.

I listed all the information in the sheets :) so people can take a look at how it's calculated.

It's expected damage, so it includes accuracy and hit rate.

Liberty's Edge

citricking wrote:

I listed all the information in the sheets.

It's expected damage, so it includes accuracy and hit rate.

Cool. Just checking. Is that including flanking or not? It probably won't make a general trend difference but it's gonna be very common and I'm curious.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
citricking wrote:

I listed all the information in the sheets.

It's expected damage, so it includes accuracy and hit rate.
Cool. Just checking. Is that including flanking or not? It probably won't make a general trend difference but it's gonna be very common and I'm curious.

No, I plan to do that when I make a more general analysis of character damage. I'm thinking flat footed half the time seems fair, but it might make more sense to have that change with level.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Even if this analysis is totally correct, an Animal Companion is still potentially very good mechanically. Let's look at a Bear. If you're high level your Bear is flanking with you and Supports you, you get +2 to-hit and gain an extra 2d8 damage on every hit you make. That's fantastic.

Good point about the support for bears, for a wolf and other companions it's much less interesting e.g.

Support Benefit wrote:
Your wolf tears tendons with each opening. Until the start of your next turn, your Strikes that damage creatures your wolf threatens give the target a –5-foot status penalty to its Speeds for 1 minute (–10 on a critical success).

Liberty's Edge

citricking wrote:
No, I plan to do that when I make a more general analysis of character damage. I'm thinking flat footed half the time seems fair, but it might make more sense to have that change with level.

Honestly, I'd expect it nearly all the time once they get one action even if uncommanded.

Faenor wrote:
Good point about the support for bears, for a wolf and other companions it's much less interesting e.g.

That's fair. Wolves can eventually get auto knockdowns if they hit, though. And a lot of the other benefits are very cool if you build around them (making foes flat-footed vs. everyone with a cat is great, for example), but I admit Bear looks most generally applicable.


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Do they still have the problem where a wild version of X animal will outrun X animal companion 100% of the time, without including equipment?

And the problem where an animal companion that is not currently being ordered is effectively "off", and can by RAW take no actions?

Liberty's Edge

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wizzardman wrote:
Do they still have the problem where a wild version of X animal will outrun X animal companion 100% of the time, without including equipment?

Looks like it at the moment, yes.

wizzardman wrote:
And the problem where an animal companion that is not currently being ordered is effectively "off", and can by RAW take no actions?

This is less true. The actual terminology is that they use no actions 'except to defend themselves, or escape obvious harm'. They also wander off and do whatever if left unattended for a minute or so.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
This is less true. The actual terminology is that they use no actions 'except to defend themselves, or escape obvious harm'. They also wander off and do whatever if left unattended for a minute or so.

Ah. Well that's generally fair. Still vulnerable to GM fiat, and means there's not really a way (yet) to train an animal companion to drag its master's body away if they happen to get knocked out, but that's better than it could be.


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Keep in mind if your animal companion uses its support action it cannot attack itself in that round so I'm not sure that the bear's support action is actually that good.


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i don't think that the % of enemy health chart indicates anything important.

ALL damage, including the player damage, goes down % wise as the levels rise.

The flat damage chart is much more useful and important imo.

The flat damage is the one that can be used for a relevant comparison, like "this feat grants me 1d8 damage on strikes, that's +x average damage per round, animal companion adds Y damage per round"


shroudb wrote:

i don't think that the % of enemy health chart indicates anything important.

ALL damage, including the player damage, goes down % wise as the levels rise.

The flat damage chart is much more useful and important imo.

The flat damage is the one that can be used for a relevant comparison, like "this feat grants me 1d8 damage on strikes, that's +x average damage per round, animal companion adds Y damage per round"

Yeah, I was comparing martial damage and you're right, it goes down as a percent of health quite substantially.

So I'll have to update this to compare the companions to martial characters.

The thing is it's only weapon damage that's going down. Electric arc damage stays pretty level as a portion of HP.

That's seems worrying.


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citricking wrote:
shroudb wrote:

i don't think that the % of enemy health chart indicates anything important.

ALL damage, including the player damage, goes down % wise as the levels rise.

The flat damage chart is much more useful and important imo.

The flat damage is the one that can be used for a relevant comparison, like "this feat grants me 1d8 damage on strikes, that's +x average damage per round, animal companion adds Y damage per round"

Yeah, I was comparing martial damage and you're right, it goes down as a percent of health quite substantially.

So I'll have to update this to compare the companions to martial characters.

The thing is it's only weapon damage that's going down. Electric arc damage stays pretty level as a portion of HP.

That's seems worrying.

Which can typically only be done once per round, you'd have to compare electric arc to activity attacks and multiple strikes to get a sense for that.


Is anyone else bothered by the AC disparity of the Nimble Wolf vs the Savage Bear? By level 20 it's 38AC vs 44AC. 6 points!! The Bear is good for damage, but not if it's going to be getting crit all the time...

Constructively, the problem could be fixed by giving specialized companions the option of Master in Barding. I mean, it makes sense if they have been using it for so long...


Great Analysis, I love it. I agree with your sentiments that Electrical Arc is busted (for being a spammable cantrip). Maybe Reflex saves will be easier to come by (and Evasion) in the game, thus decreasing it's actual effectiveness.

Also, in regards to weapon attacks decreasing in scaling it should be important to note that you can get AoO's with Weapons. Strikes can be modified (with things like Power Attack or what have you) and their effectiveness in the moment can be increased (flanking, bard buffs, debuffing the enemy, etc. . .)

So I'm not sure how worried I am about the decrease in scaling of Martials weapon strikes.

Not to say that could actually be a problem (if someone provides the numbers to back up said claim), but that just in my gut of guts, it doesn't feel like a problem.

citricking wrote:
The thing is it's only weapon damage that's going down. Electric arc damage stays pretty level as a portion of HP.

How, or where, are you determining the average (Reflex?) save for Electrical Arc? But, Electrical Arc has crazy good scaling, so that statement wouldn't surprise me.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Cool. Just checking. Is that including flanking or not? It probably won't make a general trend difference but it's gonna be very common and I'm curious.

This would just shift the trend line up on the y-axis, it wouldn't change the scaling. So it would still be a downward trend.

Faenor wrote:

Wow great analysis. So based on this, it looks like animal companions are pretty garbage and not worth the feats and action investment.

Only benefit I can see outside of flavor really is for a rogue with ranger/druid dedication to get a flanking buddy...

That's not what this analysis shows, it just shows the relative scaling of an animal companion, and their advances. NOT that it's a DPR decrease relative to other options for a Druid/Ranger. That would be a much more extensive analysis.

I haven't done a Level 1 -> 20 analysis, because of time, but at early levels Animal Companions are a juicy increase in DPR.

You're trading your lowest efficiency attack, for two more attacks (or a gnarly support buff) at a higher efficiency.

Not to mention when Animal Companions just get free actions, even if you don't command them (I think at 4 for Druid, unsure on Ranger).


Could see Goblin wolf rider with Rogue base and druid dedication working.

The Exchange

Electric Arc isn't too worrying since there's a proliferation of things with Electricity resistance and outright immunity in the bestiary.


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Eoni wrote:
Electric Arc isn't too worrying since there's a proliferation of things with Electricity resistance and outright immunity in the bestiary.

Not really.

Aeon, Arbiter (3)
Aeon, Axiomite (10)
Veiled Master (immune)
Demon, Vrock (10)
Dragon, Blue (immune)
Dragon, Bronze (immune)
Drake, Destert (16)
Electric Eel (7)
Genie, Shaitan (10)
Giant, Storm (immune)
Golem, Flesh (immune)
Kobold, Blue (5)
Demilich (5)
Mukradi (20)
Gelatinous Cube (5)
Ochre Jelly (immune)
Roper (10)
Shambler (immune)
Skeletal Whatever (5)
Uthul (immune)

Some of these are iconic and at least somewhat common (although Skeletal X's have similar resistance to all elements), but it's not by any means pervasive.

The Exchange

Xenocrat wrote:
Eoni wrote:
Electric Arc isn't too worrying since there's a proliferation of things with Electricity resistance and outright immunity in the bestiary.

Not really.

Aeon, Arbiter (3)
Aeon, Axiomite (10)
Veiled Master (immune)
Demon, Vrock (10)
Dragon, Blue (immune)
Dragon, Bronze (immune)
Drake, Destert (16)
Electric Eel (7)
Genie, Shaitan (10)
Giant, Storm (immune)
Golem, Flesh (immune)
Kobold, Blue (5)
Demilich (5)
Mukradi (20)
Gelatinous Cube (5)
Ochre Jelly (immune)
Roper (10)
Shambler (immune)
Skeletal Whatever (5)
Uthul (immune)

Some of these are iconic and at least somewhat common (although Skeletal X's have similar resistance to all elements), but it's not by any means pervasive.

Ah gotcha. I hadn't done an analysis yet and was going by your thread where you mentioned there were a lot of enemies lacking it as a weakness.

Liberty's Edge

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Hartan wrote:
Keep in mind if your animal companion uses its support action it cannot attack itself in that round so I'm not sure that the bear's support action is actually that good.

Depends on your own accuracy, but I suspect the DPR to be higher using the Bear's Support at high levels than it is having it attack.


Everyone please check it out again. I updated it with a comparison to other attacking options.

Here


citricking wrote:

Everyone please check it out again. I updated it with a comparison to other attacking options.

Here

If I'm reading your chart correctly, they seem like super good:

They are always a better action than "taking a second attack as a greatsword fighter" and at the levels (and soon after) they get their feats, they surpass/are equal to a first attack of a greatsword fighter.

That some solid damage for a one action cost even disregarding their rest utility like hp sponges, flanking, covers, support powers and etc.


shroudb wrote:
citricking wrote:

Everyone please check it out again. I updated it with a comparison to other attacking options.

Here

If I'm reading your chart correctly, they seem like super good:

They are always a better action than "taking a second attack as a greatsword fighter" and at the levels (and soon after) they get their feats, they surpass/are equal to a first attack of a greatsword fighter.

That some solid damage for a one action cost even disregarding their rest utility like hp sponges, flanking, covers, support powers and etc.

Thank you very much, definitely too good to be true. I made a major mistake. But it's updated now.

They go between the expected damage of a Greatsword Fighter's second and third strikes now (not including press attack Feats).

I think that's still really good, especially considering this is for the Druid. A Precision Ranger's should be better, but the delayed Feats hurts them.


Hm As a champion would an animal ally be better for damage than a sword ally (assuming you can get a bear or a wolf)?

Another thing to consider is the opportunity cost, an animal companion needs lots of class feats to be relevant at all levels so it might be worth it for a champion but not a Druid etc.. the better the class feats are the less likely you are to invest in an animal companion.

Still I would say that having another source to absorb damage, take place in the grid to control available enemy space and to exchange your 3rd attack (when you would have chosen to make one) for more reliable damage sounds really good.

Edit: had typed fighter instead of druid for some wierd reason


I think the animal would definitely contribute more to damage than adding another rune to your weapon. I haven't looked too deeply at the other blade ally feats, but I feel they probably won't do more than an animal. I'll definitely be analysing them soon though.


During the Playtest, I really tried to focus on the Champion and test the class thoroughly. So, I may be able to speak into the question of which ally does more damage… (since the Champion hasn't changed that much since the Playtest)
I think the short answer is: it depends... 
The Animal Ally is consistent, you spend an action it attacks or Supports you, and is helpful at provoking those Reactions. (cuz it's going to get hit. A lot.)
The Blade Ally is versatile, and specialized. Meaning that it is adaptable for varied situations, crits are more effective, and especially deadly to Evil creatures. (particularly those with a weakness to Good)

They balanced the two for flavour, which I really appreciate.


please note if you are mounted on your animal companion you share multiple attack penalty


@ Iron_Matt17 If damage wise they are equal and/or depends, then Animal Companion has an edge as it is another body on the grid despite needing more class feats and requiring healing maintenance I think.

@ rayous brightblade In this edition I don't think mounted combat gives that much of an advantage (even in pf1 it was a very specialized build not worth it most of the time due to constraints but otherwise good) to be a viable option especially if we are discussing bears and wolves (I have found no way to give them the mount ability that Horses have). Regardless the rule needs to be mentioned as I had missed that.


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ArchangelAzrael wrote:

@ Iron_Matt17 If damage wise they are equal and/or depends, then Animal Companion has an edge as it is another body on the grid despite needing more class feats and requiring healing maintenance I think.

@ rayous brightblade In this edition I don't think mounted combat gives that much of an advantage (even in pf1 it was a very specialized build not worth it most of the time due to constraints but otherwise good) to be a viable option especially if we are discussing bears and wolves (I have found no way to give them the mount ability that Horses have). Regardless the rule needs to be mentioned as I had missed that.

Goblins can mount wolves.

So, technically, everyone can "study" under a goblin to learn how to do so (adopted)


Would you say they are still viable if taken with druid multiclass feats (which means advancement is even slower than for rangers and you will never be able to get to specialized specs)?


@ shroudb I was referring to:

Riding Animal Companions
Source Core Rulebook pg. 214

You or an ally can ride your animal companion as long as it is at least one size larger than the rider. If it is carrying a rider, the animal companion can use only its land Speed, and it can’t move and Support you on the same turn. However, if your companion has the mount special ability, it’s especially suited for riding and ignores both of these restrictions.

The wolf trick is nice if you don't want to be a goblin.... not that being raised by one is much better :P although it will make a fun backstory


Am I right in thinking that a Strike that does AOE damage would apply the bleed from the Bird companion to all targets (assuming they are within the bird's threatened range)? A Ranger/Alchemist might be an interesting idea if that is the case.


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Nadlor wrote:
Would you say they are still viable if taken with druid multiclass feats (which means advancement is even slower than for rangers and you will never be able to get to specialized specs)?

No, not viable for attacking at all. (If you want to use it as a mount that could work)

But, wait a little bit and they'll be releasing a bunch more archetypes, which I bet will have at least one that gives you a viable animal companion.

But for now you could take the bonded animal skill feat instead, that might work, I haven't checked it out.


Arachnofiend wrote:
Am I right in thinking that a Strike that does AOE damage would apply the bleed from the Bird companion to all targets (assuming they are within the bird's threatened range)? A Ranger/Alchemist might be an interesting idea if that is the case.

Yeah I think so, it's a bit hard to do that though, I think maybe just taking multiple strikes is the best safest option.


Arachnofiend wrote:
Am I right in thinking that a Strike that does AOE damage would apply the bleed from the Bird companion to all targets (assuming they are within the bird's threatened range)? A Ranger/Alchemist might be an interesting idea if that is the case.

RAW, it looks like you're right. Still, it's pretty overpowered. Applying Bleed in an area without even rolling anything... I expect a fix, with the ability applying only if you hit an enemy, like the Bear Support Benefit.

Scarab Sages

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ArchangelAzrael wrote:

@ shroudb I was referring to:

Riding Animal Companions
Source Core Rulebook pg. 214

You or an ally can ride your animal companion as long as it is at least one size larger than the rider. If it is carrying a rider, the animal companion can use only its land Speed, and it can’t move and Support you on the same turn. However, if your companion has the mount special ability, it’s especially suited for riding and ignores both of these restrictions.

The wolf trick is nice if you don't want to be a goblin.... not that being raised by one is much better :P although it will make a fun backstory

As far as I can tell it doesn't give the wolf the Mount trait, so it's still worse than a pony.


Do the numbers that you've used for the expected damage use only single attacks or two attacks?

Additionally are they not worthwhile for a no action 2nd to 3rd attack fighter level hit ( I believe the highest damage martial) if the values given use only a single attack?


citricking wrote:

I made a document with a simple analysis of how animal companions fare as they level. Their contribution from striking once each round goes down considerable as they level.

Analysis here

Please let me know if I missed anything.

Perhaps I missed it. Why are you using a greatsword model?


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Maybe I’m just not looking at it right, but I can’t really think of another single feat that brings more to the table.. even if they are garbage compared to other PCs. If your animal companion does nothing more than absorb a crit it’s probably still worth the feat


Abyssiensis wrote:

Do the numbers that you've used for the expected damage use only single attacks or two attacks?

Additionally are they not worthwhile for a no action 2nd to 3rd attack fighter level hit ( I believe the highest damage martial) if the values given use only a single attack?

They use a single attack. In the chart you can see a comparison with a great sword fighters second and third attack (the fighter doesn't have any elemental damage runes or any feats, so that damage is lower than it could be)

Animal companion damage is usually between the fighters second and third strike, increasing when you get a new feat, decreasing when you don't.

Grand Lodge

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SuperBidi wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
Am I right in thinking that a Strike that does AOE damage would apply the bleed from the Bird companion to all targets (assuming they are within the bird's threatened range)? A Ranger/Alchemist might be an interesting idea if that is the case.
RAW, it looks like you're right. Still, it's pretty overpowered. Applying Bleed in an area without even rolling anything... I expect a fix, with the ability applying only if you hit an enemy, like the Bear Support Benefit.

The bird has to threaten the enemy though for the bleed damage to work. So good luck doing splash damage when you're also hitting your bird too (usually)


Syries wrote:
The bird has to threaten the enemy though for the bleed damage to work. So good luck doing splash damage when you're also hitting your bird too (usually)

Animal Companions have hit points. And bomb's splash damage is really low if you're not a bomber. 1-4 damage is something your raven will soak up pretty easily.

Grand Lodge

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Hey if you want to abuse your loyal companion, I guess that's your prerogative.

But as it was already mentioned in another thread, you're still only Striking one target; splash damage doesn't count as a Strike, and the bear/bird only uses its support ability on people you successfully Strike.


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I think it would be really crazy if someone picked a companion just because they liked the animal instead of being concerned with the math, but that's just me.


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J-Spee Lovecraft wrote:
I think it would be really crazy if someone picked a companion just because they liked the animal instead of being concerned with the math, but that's just me.

That's like saying 'I don't understand why people just don't pick a car that looks nice and instead worry about things like 'can I drive a stick shift' or 'does that electric car have enough range to get me to work''.

The game is built on math so, IMO, it's be "crazy" to ignore the math: it's freeform storymaking if the math doeesn't matter.

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