Strange play patterns during combat have emerged.


Advice

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We are 2 months into the game now and due to the nature of PF2 and it's 3-action system we've noticed a trend that seems to repeat itself in combat often.

When the PCs are fighting a foe that outnumbers them (say a gang of orcs); the best pattern of play seems to be for the orcs all to essentially spring attack. They Stride, Strike, and Stride away.

They maintain a spread out formation (to minimize AOE effects and the ability for a PC to engage multiple foes at once).

Each turn the gang of orcs will all chain spring attack into one target PC until that PC is slain.

Occasionally the first orc will sacrifice his Stride away to instead set up a flank for the rest of the orcs for the rest of the round. So essentially 7 orcs all get to flank with just one of their allies since they just take their turns in line to wack at the PC who is flat-footed.

This behavior is even more obvious when the PC is doing something like holding a doorway or stairwell against a more numerous foe. By Stride,Strike,Stride the mosnters essentially all get to make their melee attacks against the PC who is guarding the narrow frontage.

Yes it's true; the monsters don't get to make their follow-up attack at -5; but honestly we've found that secondary attacks unless you are 2-3 levels higher than the target are pretty useless (to say nothing of the third attack).

Anyways; it reminds me of an old 3.x RPGA encounter at GenCon years ago where the fight was vs like 6 Ogre Skirmishers who all had Spring Attack.... except its like every fight.

Of course there are fights where the PCs are the ones who are the many vs the one big bad... but then they just tend to do the same tactics themselves; so it plays out the same just in reverse.

Sovereign Court

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That might just be your DM. The games I've played in, the enemies have rarely if ever used such tactics, although we as players have on several occasions.


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This sounds like some white room nonsense to me.

For starters, it doesn’t account for AoO from Fighters, which makes this less than ideal.

Secondly delay and attack effectively counter this, not to mention any amount of battle field control, athletics maneuvers like grapple or trip. No spells, snares, bombs like tanglefoot bag.

Lastly, the second attack has a solid chance of hitting on same level enemies, certainly not a negligible enough to merit consistently skipping it (I just ran a combat with five Gnolls), especially with a lot of enemies having a natural weapon that is agile. Then there are pack tactics for things like wolves, Gnolls and other incentives with combat abilities.

So not to be super rude or anything but this is not my experience at all, doesn’t seem likely, and honestly sounds made up. It sounds like someone who read the rules, picked the most generic enemy (orc), and slapped a “this happens every time” sticker on it.

It’s not even really optimal, on either side of the table.


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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If the GM keeps having enemies employ such tactics, then your party should start thinking of means of countering them. Wall of Fire is a great choice if you have someone who can cast it, though any terrain altering spells will work against a spread out group of enemies. When spread out, it's easier to cut one enemy off from the rest of the group, letting the party quickly dispatch the foe with focused attacks.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

These seem to be tactics that require pretty specific battlefields too. Lots of space needed.


Or your PC can just move away. Force them to spend two actions if they want to attack. That's called outmaneuvering the opponent. If you say you can't, then you simply picked the wrong battlefield.

Also, this is implying that's a 1v7 battle, which is hardly the case. The first prepared round of attacks on the idiot orc that charges in stop the other orcs on their tracks if the GM likes to play the monsters as creatures not bags of HP with some dmg.


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Do to the free movement of PF2, and the narrow defense range across characters, the value of choke points is inverted. You need to rotate target availability instead of having a "heavy" hold a choke point. Simply move your front to the rear with a ranged weapon while the next target soaks. It's your standard mmo tank rotation and it works like a charm when combat is free roaming like this.

Baring a choke point, you can use a 3 team blocking group with one being against a wall, or in a corner


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Is this occurring with one GM, or different ones like maybe in PFS?


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Why are 8 apparently combat-worthy enemies all moving on the same initiative? That seems built to OTK people. Splitting that into 2 or 3 groups makes it much more fair.

Liberty's Edge

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This is a valid tactical option, but as others have noted there are many obvious counters to it, it being ubiquitous is weird, and PCs can use it as well.

Really, it's less of a problem than you seem to be making it out to be.


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I don't see orcs acting that way, unless there's a very clear advantage compared to move and 2 times Strike. If it's a choke point, as pointed above, it's the best tactic. But on an open field, orcs will certainly jump into melee and stay there. It's a tactic I would use with more nimble enemies, elves for example.


Just because the orcs can hit and run doesn't mean the GM should run them that way - NPCs should use the tactics that they would use based on who they are, which isn't necessarily the optimal strategy.

Orcs are more likely to charge in and slug it out (though the hit and run tactics do make sense for goblins, elves and kobolds).


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A GM should role play the enemies during combat too. The tactic described makes sense for gnolls or a thieves guild for example but not for standard orcs, unless they have some kind of tactically-minded leader strong enough to keep them all in line. I mean, their Int and Wis are lacking to they can be more physically competent.


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Just a reminder that Orcs even if they have lower Wis or Int than average, they are still considerably smarter than a wolf pack. And skirmishing is one of the bread and butter wolf tactics.

I wouldn't expect them to always follow the strategy or even keep it for long during a fight. But they are certainly smart enough to use it to great effect.


This seems like a case of the GM treating the enemies identically, and not role-playing them, if it happens every time the enemies outnumber you, as you say. Not all enemies will use optimal tactics, there is a reason a half a page was dedicated to talking about thinking with the creature's mindset, senses, and worldview. An orc warrior darting in and out would probably be seen as cowardly in orc society.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I mean seems like all the martially inclined characters would find a way to grab Attack of Opportunity if bad guys all persisted in this behaviour, at which point they will cut it the hell out as a full accuracy extra attack in a turn is a pearl without price.


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As others have noticed, this tactic only works if you play into it. Rather than allow them to do this, pull back and force them stride twice to reach an PC. This will likely causes some of the enemy group to be out of range even after two strides.

This sort of thing only works if you don't attempt to improve your tactics at all.


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I have the same point of view: In my opinion, there's a flaw in your party making it very weak against hit and run strategies, and enemies tend to use and abuse it as they are supposed to challenge you.

On the other hand, as a DM, I would avoid using all the time the same strategy, as it's no fun for my players.


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Assuming equal speed, a PC could also just stride < strike<strike on a retreating enemy. It effectively trades the enemy's second attack for the PCs third, which seems like a pretty bad trade.


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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

In an open field scenario, if my group of 4 is facing off with a group of 8 orcs who employ this tactic...

Options:

1. Group up to negate flanking
2. Have ranged characters attack as normal
3. Have melee characters attack the designated orc flanker with one action, and use two actions to ready an attack against others.
4. Move as a group to take down one orc at a time with impunity since they're not grouped up
5. Use environment control spells and items
6. Ready trips and grapples
7. Retreat at a rate of 1 move action a round


BellyBeard wrote:
This seems like a case of the GM treating the enemies identically, and not role-playing them, if it happens every time the enemies outnumber you, as you say. Not all enemies will use optimal tactics, there is a reason a half a page was dedicated to talking about thinking with the creature's mindset, senses, and worldview. An orc warrior darting in and out would probably be seen as cowardly in orc society.

I agree. Those orcish tactics feel like hive-mind behavior. One mind is in total control of the orcs' tactics so that they battle with perfect coordination and don't care about the glory of any one individual. The perfect coordination allows unrealistic tactics.

Alyran wrote:
Why are 8 apparently combat-worthy enemies all moving on the same initiative? That seems built to OTK people. Splitting that into 2 or 3 groups makes it much more fair.

The same initiative for all orcs is for the convenience of the GM. He does not have to remember the individual order of initiative among the orcs. However, this breaks realism and reinforces the hive-mind behavior. It is also unfair that so much damage can be inflicted on one individual party member in a single tick of the initiative order without giving the character a chance to retreat or another party member a chance to heal between orc attacks.

Thus, the GM needs to give his orcs individual initiative rolls. To manage having individualized enemies on the playmat, I use colored meeples and label the initiative order by the color of the meeple: red orc, blue orc, yellow orc, etc. I used to use spare d12 dice with a different number displayed on each, but the colored meeples look better.

A little roleplaying by the GM would help, too. Even if he wants to use Stride-Strike-Stride in order to force the PC to Stride, too, he can roleplay it as each orc charging the PC, striking while still running, and continue charging past the PC from momentum rather than springing back to his starting point. That would feel more like orcish war tactics. In contrast, militant hobgoblins might all group together (PF2 hobgoblins have Formation ability) and delay to act on the same initiative to keep in formation.


Mathmuse wrote:
BellyBeard wrote:
This seems like a case of the GM treating the enemies identically, and not role-playing them, if it happens every time the enemies outnumber you, as you say. Not all enemies will use optimal tactics, there is a reason a half a page was dedicated to talking about thinking with the creature's mindset, senses, and worldview. An orc warrior darting in and out would probably be seen as cowardly in orc society.

I agree. Those orcish tactics feel like hive-mind behavior. One mind is in total control of the orcs' tactics so that they battle with perfect coordination and don't care about the glory of any one individual. The perfect coordination allows unrealistic tactics.

Alyran wrote:
Why are 8 apparently combat-worthy enemies all moving on the same initiative? That seems built to OTK people. Splitting that into 2 or 3 groups makes it much more fair.
The same initiative for all orcs is for the convenience of the GM. He does not have to remember the individual order of initiative among the orcs. However, this breaks realism and reinforces the hive-mind behaviour

Having one initiative for multiple enemies also recreates some of the balance issues caused by fighting one single enemy - it robs the orcs of tactical flexibility, and gives players a pretty huge advantage if the one initiative rolled for all enemies is a low one.

I eventually switched from rolling one initiative for all enemies, then to doing it in groups, then to every individual enemy with colour coded bases (though the pawns themselves actually have colour indicators on them to differentiate otherwise identical pawns). I tend to be very unlucky when rolling initiative, and encounters became very easy for the players when they could eliminate half of the monsters before any of the monsters got to do anything.

Seperate initiatives makes things fairer and more interesting for both sides, and also keeps players a lot more engaged (as instead of it being them checking out until either their turn or the enemy turn rolling around, there are enemy turns in between many of the player turns).


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Tender Tendrils wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
BellyBeard wrote:
This seems like a case of the GM treating the enemies identically, and not role-playing them, if it happens every time the enemies outnumber you, as you say. Not all enemies will use optimal tactics, there is a reason a half a page was dedicated to talking about thinking with the creature's mindset, senses, and worldview. An orc warrior darting in and out would probably be seen as cowardly in orc society.

I agree. Those orcish tactics feel like hive-mind behavior. One mind is in total control of the orcs' tactics so that they battle with perfect coordination and don't care about the glory of any one individual. The perfect coordination allows unrealistic tactics.

Alyran wrote:
Why are 8 apparently combat-worthy enemies all moving on the same initiative? That seems built to OTK people. Splitting that into 2 or 3 groups makes it much more fair.
The same initiative for all orcs is for the convenience of the GM. He does not have to remember the individual order of initiative among the orcs. However, this breaks realism and reinforces the hive-mind behaviour

Having one initiative for multiple enemies also recreates some of the balance issues caused by fighting one single enemy - it robs the orcs of tactical flexibility, and gives players a pretty huge advantage if the one initiative rolled for all enemies is a low one.

I eventually switched from rolling one initiative for all enemies, then to doing it in groups, then to every individual enemy with colour coded bases (though the pawns themselves actually have colour indicators on them to differentiate otherwise identical pawns). I tend to be very unlucky when rolling initiative, and encounters became very easy for the players when they could eliminate half of the monsters before any of the monsters got to do anything.

Seperate initiatives makes things fairer and more interesting for both sides, and also keeps players a lot more engaged (as instead of it being them checking out until...

Color-coded bases... never once thought of that! I have a set of blue and yellow and green and red ones sitting around.

A thanks from this beleaguered GM. :)


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I might be missing something, but my response as a player here would be ready an action to Grapple one of those suckers as soon as they got close. Then we would smash it so it cannot do that crap anymore. The other orcs should get the message.


I suppose if the orcs are thinking in terms of perfectly synchronized PF2 mechanics they would do this.

RP wise why are they dancing around like dexterous elves vs face charging and beszrking to overpower their enemies?

Also people IRL rarely choose the mathematically optimal choice. Why are lower INT creatures doing it?


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Ultimately, this is an exploit of the rules because the rules allow it. It isn't necessarily how a group of orcs is going to behave from an in-character perspective.

If this is fine for your style of play with more focus on the mechanics and clever use of rules than characterization, then have fun with it. But I'd be disappointed if my group chose to play that way and I wouldn't be sticking around very long.


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It's funny, I was actually playing a dumb fighter type at a table recently and we had just opened a door with a 5 foot hallway into another open room. In the room were 4 monkey-type enemies. My character rolled high on initiative, so they yelled "strategy!", ran in, hit one enemy, then ran back next to the party.... Then the enemies went, and they took turns moving to where they could see us through the door, and each flinging two... ahem, rocks... at us.

Moral of the story? This strategy might work in some cases, but there are going to be a lot of cases where it's a terrible strategy. Enemies who move slowly, party who has ranged attacks, party with attacks of opportunity... If the enemies don't know the party they're facing and they have the potential to be good at this sort of strategy, then I *might* try it, but it probably shouldn't happen all the time, and it might not work frequently.

EDIT: Though I will say I don't find the arguments saying "low Int means they shouldn't use good tactics!" very compelling. This might actually be a totally cromulent strategy for low Int monks/rogues, who do want to flit in and out. Intelligence doesn't dictate ability to act strategically in combat.


Tender Tendrils wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
BellyBeard wrote:
This seems like a case of the GM treating the enemies identically, and not role-playing them, if it happens every time the enemies outnumber you, as you say. Not all enemies will use optimal tactics, there is a reason a half a page was dedicated to talking about thinking with the creature's mindset, senses, and worldview. An orc warrior darting in and out would probably be seen as cowardly in orc society.

I agree. Those orcish tactics feel like hive-mind behavior. One mind is in total control of the orcs' tactics so that they battle with perfect coordination and don't care about the glory of any one individual. The perfect coordination allows unrealistic tactics.

Alyran wrote:
Why are 8 apparently combat-worthy enemies all moving on the same initiative? That seems built to OTK people. Splitting that into 2 or 3 groups makes it much more fair.
The same initiative for all orcs is for the convenience of the GM. He does not have to remember the individual order of initiative among the orcs. However, this breaks realism and reinforces the hive-mind behaviour

Having one initiative for multiple enemies also recreates some of the balance issues caused by fighting one single enemy - it robs the orcs of tactical flexibility, and gives players a pretty huge advantage if the one initiative rolled for all enemies is a low one.

I eventually switched from rolling one initiative for all enemies, then to doing it in groups, then to every individual enemy with colour coded bases (though the pawns themselves actually have colour indicators on them to differentiate otherwise identical pawns). I tend to be very unlucky when rolling initiative, and encounters became very easy for the players when they could eliminate half of the monsters before any of the monsters got to do anything.

Seperate initiatives makes things fairer and more interesting for both sides, and also keeps players a lot more engaged (as instead of it being them checking out until...

At least doing some sub groups of orcs for initiative seems sensible. Sure sometimes you could get the murder squad going but if your party beats their init then most if not all of the orcs could be dead before the opponents can even act. It also helps keep the flow of the game going better than all the players go and then the GM does 24 moves in a row. Thats going to get pretty boring for everybody involved.


tivadar27 wrote:
EDIT: I will say I don't find the arguments saying "low Int means they shouldn't use good tactics!" very compelling. This might actually be a totally cromulent strategy for low Int monks/rogues, who do want to flit in and out. Intelligence doesn't dictate ability to act strategically in combat.

Well, intelligence is certainly one factor, but I'd say training is even more important (assuming intelligence isn't near-mindless, at least). The question for me is, how likely is it that a given group of enemies has effectively trained together to execute complex strategies? Because you can't do that successfully without drilling. A lot. Elite military units pull it off because they train constantly. I normally don't see groups of intelligent PCs even attempting that sort of stuff, tbh.

In the case of generic orcs, I'm kinda skeptical that they'd be doing crack precision coordinated maneuvers. Probably more reacting on the fly than anything, with minimal planning.


Even ignoring the issue of versimilitude though, this seems like a tactic that requires a lot of specific scenarios to go right to work. You need the orcs acting consecutively, a lot of open space and PCs with limited defensive, control or ranged combat options at their disposal to really make it work.

It's kind of strange that encounters with all of those conditions and roughly the same enemy composition happen often enough to even establish a pattern here for the OP, honestly, but that's another topic.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

More important than Intelligence here is culture. Here's what the Bestiary has to say about Orcs:

Orcs wrote:


Orcs are violent, monstrous humanoids that live by the rule that might makes right. They amass in brutal warbands both large and small, decimating and robbing those unlucky enough to cross their path. Countless small settlements, outposts, and forts have fallen at the hands of orc raiders, whose fecundity and sheer destructiveness leave an indelible mark on the lands they conquer. Survivors of orc invasions are as likely to be fed to the orcs’ war beasts as they are to be taken as slaves. Unspeakable atrocities await any outsiders brought back to orc encampments, and to many, death is a far more preferable outcome compared to capture by orcs.

Physically, orcs tower over most humanoids and look practically custom-made for violence with their rough flesh, sturdy bone, and iron-hard muscle. For all their tough looks, however, orcs are far from invincible. They lack the discipline to conduct large-scale campaigns, for one thing, and they typically lose their heads in the heat of battle. Even their skin scars easily—though this is a source of pride to the orc people, since scars signify strength and experience in battle. To orcs, the crisscross of old wounds are a much a badge of pride and honor as any beheaded foe or claimed trophy.

Orcs are a people of violent passions in all that they do, not just war. Bonds of blood are especially strong among orcs, and lineage is important. The strongest orc bands are typically made up of brothers and sisters in more than arms; orcs fight harder when they are protecting their own kinsfolk, and orc warriors will fight tirelessly to avenge fallen family members. This emphasis on bloodlines is not an altruistic one, however, and is in fact a double-edged sword. Orcs whose families have been killed find themselves at the bottom of the clan’s totem pole, and even a famous chieftain can become powerless overnight if their brethren aren’t there to back them up.

The chaotic and fractious nature of orc culture results in a great variety of beliefs, superstitions, and legacies among different clans. This cultural divergence causes substantial infighting among orc bands, in many cases preventing the rise of larger orc nations. It can also frustrate many attempts at diplomacy, as the taboos of one band may be commonplace and thoroughly accepted practices among others. Navigating a specific band’s culture can often mean the difference between life and death to those who deal with orcs off the field of war. Although orcs, as a rule, rarely deal with outsiders, they recognize the benefits of trade and willingly swap resources with other violent peoples like hobgoblins, drow, and many humans.

Orcs are proud, emotional warriors. They lack discipline. They fight as much for personal glory as the aims of the group. Wounds are a badge of honor. They fight among themselves as much as outsiders.

I could see this sort of skirmishing tactic from hobgoblins or goblins, but not Orcs. They want to be the one to get your head.


Combat is an abstraction, not a perfect simulation of events. If this is a tactic that works within the abstraction, there's no reason to assume that it is what's exactly occurring narratively speaking. It also means that thinking the tactic is too smart for orcs, or too meta for an in game creature, isn't a worthwhile complaint to level.


Well yes they are proud, emotional and lack discipline (as we humans know it); but then if the tribe is run by a Half-Orc it also becomes a lot more tactical.

Their culture is more battle heavy so they would be trained from early on to fight, unlike humans who are usually taught combat after a certain age (usually >15).

Also just to make sure someone mentioned other might see it as cowardice. There is a big difference between skirmishing and cowardice, for one a coward wouldn't go back into the fight. Secondly, and this goes to the scar point, treating scars as badges doesn't mean you will go and stand around while the enemy kills you.

I mean if you die how will you get more scars to show off? Also also the culture also states the when family members die the position of the rest falls, so yeah I dont see them just standing while they get killed.


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ErichAD wrote:
Combat is an abstraction, not a perfect simulation of events. If this is a tactic that works within the abstraction, there's no reason to assume that it is what's exactly occurring narratively speaking. It also means that thinking the tactic is too smart for orcs, or too meta for an in game creature, isn't a worthwhile complaint to level.

How would you abstractly represent poorer enemy tactics then? Just a change to combat stats, and everything always acts as logically and efficiently as possible?

I don't think combat is as heavily abstracted as that. There is definitely a narrative associated with the actions you take in combat.


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BellyBeard wrote:
ErichAD wrote:
Combat is an abstraction, not a perfect simulation of events. If this is a tactic that works within the abstraction, there's no reason to assume that it is what's exactly occurring narratively speaking. It also means that thinking the tactic is too smart for orcs, or too meta for an in game creature, isn't a worthwhile complaint to level.

How would you abstractly represent poorer enemy tactics then? Just a change to combat stats, and everything always acts as logically and efficiently as possible?

I don't think combat is as heavily abstracted as that. There is definitely a narrative associated with the actions you take in combat.

I think it is either you do that or you have strict rules guidelines for how monsters should be run and those guidelines should also effect the CR of the encounter. This has always been an issue, really. It just didn't matter as much in PF1E because well build players still finished most fights in one or two rounds anyways.


Excaliburproxy wrote:
I think it is either you do that or you have strict rules guidelines for how monsters should be run and those guidelines should also effect the CR of the encounter. This has always been an issue, really. It just didn't matter as much in PF1E because well build players still finished most fights in one or two rounds anyways.

Yeah, I guess it's one of those things taken for granted sometimes that the GM is supposed to role play the enemy actions. But I don't think it's taken for granted this edition, as I said before there's significant book space dedicated to telling the GM to do this. So it's more the GM either being unable or unwilling to follow the game's advice.


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BellyBeard wrote:
Excaliburproxy wrote:
I think it is either you do that or you have strict rules guidelines for how monsters should be run and those guidelines should also effect the CR of the encounter. This has always been an issue, really. It just didn't matter as much in PF1E because well build players still finished most fights in one or two rounds anyways.
Yeah, I guess it's one of those things taken for granted sometimes that the GM is supposed to role play the enemy actions. But I don't think it's taken for granted this edition, as I said before there's significant book space dedicated to telling the GM to do this. So it's more the GM either being unable or unwilling to follow the game's advice.

Well, I get where some other people here are coming from. Like, there is an model of roleplaying games that some people in this thread are describing in roundabout terms where the RP/exploration portion of the game is in some way fundamentally separate from the combat rules.

When a fight breaks out, you are now playing a different game; now you are playing a miniatures games where the GM and the players are against each other and that is fun in its own right and perhaps a game that is much more fun for the GM. The GM plays his hardest even in an encounter that is designed to be stacked against him and both sides try their hardest to win. That can be rewarding for the player and the GM. I would say that 4e DnD works pretty well that way, actually.

Perhaps PF2E is unfun if you play that way and that is arguably a weakness of the system for groups that like that sort of game.

As a side note, I think OP and Collette Brunel (or whatever that poster's name is) would get along well.


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Excaliburproxy wrote:
The GM plays his hardest even in an encounter that is designed to be stacked against him and both sides try their hardest to win.

This description makes me cringe.

I would hate playing a game where the GM thought of it as a contest between herself and the players. That sounds totally un-fun to me.

No encounter is ever "stacked" against a GM. If a GM finds am encounter unbalanced, she can simply add some opponents - voila. This, in my opinion, is a far better option than having the NPCs/monsters behave in a way that makes them generic.


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mrspaghetti wrote:
Excaliburproxy wrote:
The GM plays his hardest even in an encounter that is designed to be stacked against him and both sides try their hardest to win.

This description makes me cringe.

I would hate playing a game where the GM thought of it as a contest between herself and the players. That sounds totally un-fun to me.

No encounter is ever "stacked" against a GM. If a GM finds am encounter unbalanced, she can simply add some opponents - voila. This, in my opinion, is a far better option than having the NPCs/monsters behave in a way that makes them generic.

I am sorry that enjoying games in different ways makes you cringe.

I bet you have a very hard time on the internet.

The CR system is specifically a guideline to create encounters that players will consistently survive and reduce their resources by a reasonably consistent amount. In that way, encounters are "stacked against" the GM who gain enjoyment from playing NPCs to their utmost tactical efficiency.

To be clear (and to establish my unassailable rhetorical ethos), I actually don't run my games this way, but I know people who do and I am glad that they enjoy themselves.


Does my previous post appear to be insulting or provocative in some way? Because I'm detecting a hostile vibe. Please correct me if I'm wrong.


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mrspaghetti wrote:
Does my previous post appear to be insulting or provocative in some way? Because I'm detecting a hostile vibe. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Saying that someone's opinions/thoughts make you "cringe" is generally not a positive expression. I would go so far as to say that it is insulting and I was taken aback by what I read as harshness. That said, perhaps I was reading too heavily into your diction.

I do get where you are coming from if you prefer a purely collaborative gaming experience. Many peeps like challenge and conflict, though.


Excaliburproxy wrote:


Well, I get where some other people here are coming from. Like, there is an model of roleplaying games that some people in this thread are describing in roundabout terms where the RP/exploration portion of the game is in some way fundamentally separate from the combat rules.

When a fight breaks out, you are now playing a different game; now you are playing a miniatures games where the GM and the players are against each other and that is fun in its own right and perhaps a game that is much more fun for the GM. The GM plays his hardest even in an encounter that is designed to be stacked against him and both sides try their hardest to win. That can be rewarding for the player and the GM. I would say that 4e DnD works pretty well that way, actually.

Perhaps PF2E is unfun if you play that way and that is arguably a weakness of the system for groups that like that sort of game.

As a side note, I think OP and Collette Brunel (or whatever that poster's name is) would get along well.

That makes sense. I've played Warhammer before, and in that game you play the most tactically optimum way you can play, even if you're playing dumb orks, because that's how the game is played (you probably know this, but I'm elaborating for everyone's benefit) . It's more a board game with elaborate rules than a role playing game. In that context everything I said goes out the window, and if some like to play that way I understand the appeal. I just hope the expectation is made clear to the players for what kind of game to expect, as it can be frustrating for them to try and outsmart the enemies but have them behave uncharacteristically intelligently (not saying this for an orc war party necessarily, but as a general statement). Especially if that leads to excess depletion of resources as a result.


BellyBeard wrote:
Excaliburproxy wrote:


Well, I get where some other people here are coming from. Like, there is an model of roleplaying games that some people in this thread are describing in roundabout terms where the RP/exploration portion of the game is in some way fundamentally separate from the combat rules.

When a fight breaks out, you are now playing a different game; now you are playing a miniatures games where the GM and the players are against each other and that is fun in its own right and perhaps a game that is much more fun for the GM. The GM plays his hardest even in an encounter that is designed to be stacked against him and both sides try their hardest to win. That can be rewarding for the player and the GM. I would say that 4e DnD works pretty well that way, actually.

Perhaps PF2E is unfun if you play that way and that is arguably a weakness of the system for groups that like that sort of game.

As a side note, I think OP and Collette Brunel (or whatever that poster's name is) would get along well.

That makes sense. I've played Warhammer before, and in that game you play the most tactically optimum way you can play, even if you're playing dumb orks, because that's how the game is played (you probably know this, but I'm elaborating for everyone's benefit) . It's more a board game with elaborate rules than a role playing game. In that context everything I said goes out the window, and if some like to play that way I understand the appeal. I just hope the expectation is made clear to the players for what kind of game to expect, as it can be frustrating for them to try and outsmart the enemies but have them behave uncharacteristically intelligently (not saying this for an orc war party necessarily, but as a general statement). Especially if that leads to excess depletion of resources as a result.

Yeah, you get it. I think a lot of groups would benefit from a discussion of expectations regarding the upcoming game. I usually organize a "session zero" where I discuss some basics of the tone of the game and what kind of characters would make sense. I sometimes operate outside of what I lay down in that session but I know most of my players pretty well at this point.


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Excaliburproxy wrote:
When a fight breaks out, you are now playing a different game; now you are playing a miniatures games where the GM and the players are against each other and that is fun in its own right and perhaps a game that is much more fun for the GM. The GM plays his hardest even in an encounter that is designed to be stacked against him and both sides try their hardest to win. That can be rewarding for the player and the GM. I would say that 4e DnD works pretty well that way, actually.

I'm sorry, but there are differences between playing harshly and making hit and run tactics with zombies. Monsters have to be played according to their respective intelligence and mindset.

Also, if you play like a wargame, then why bother rolling Recall Knowledge checks? Just take the Bestiary and check the monsters' statistics.

Playing harshly is not playing badly. It's putting a high difficulty level to combats by playing monsters to the best of their abilities, without crossing the boundary of realism.


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SuperBidi wrote:
I'm sorry, but there are differences between playing harshly and making hit and run tactics with zombies. Monsters have to be played according to their respective intelligence and mindset.

No they don't? That is bringing your own values and preferences to the table that another person might not share. And even if you--as a player--value a certain level of simulation in combat, then a GM can always come up with a plot contrivance to play them how he wants; perhaps a necromancer controls the zombies remotely. Spooky!

SuperBidi wrote:
Also, if you play like a wargame, then why bother rolling Recall Knowledge checks? Just take the Bestiary and check the monsters' statistics.

Why play a videogame without looking up everything about the game first? Because not knowing is part of the game for the players. It is also the reason why I have not read through every scenario in Betrayal on the House on the Hill.

Then again, if a party wants to run fights with all information 100% above board then that can be fine too. Everyone who plays this game long enough is going to essentially know all the abilities of baseline orcs and goblins anyway.

SuperBidi wrote:
Playing harshly is not playing badly. It's putting a high difficulty level to combats by playing monsters to the best of their abilities, without crossing the boundary of realism.

Where realism begins and ends is subjective as is the value of realism to a given encounter or a given party. I know for a fact that there exist groups that run games this way and that is how those groups like to play. Given that people play like this, I think the game would benefit from explicitly describing how ascribed tactics effect the relative challenge of a given fight.


mrspaghetti wrote:
tivadar27 wrote:
EDIT: I will say I don't find the arguments saying "low Int means they shouldn't use good tactics!" very compelling. This might actually be a totally cromulent strategy for low Int monks/rogues, who do want to flit in and out. Intelligence doesn't dictate ability to act strategically in combat.

Well, intelligence is certainly one factor, but I'd say training is even more important (assuming intelligence isn't near-mindless, at least). The question for me is, how likely is it that a given group of enemies has effectively trained together to execute complex strategies? Because you can't do that successfully without drilling. A lot. Elite military units pull it off because they train constantly. I normally don't see groups of intelligent PCs even attempting that sort of stuff, tbh.

In the case of generic orcs, I'm kinda skeptical that they'd be doing crack precision coordinated maneuvers. Probably more reacting on the fly than anything, with minimal planning.

Agreed if it's generic orcs, but if it's an orcish raiding party? A group of orc bandits? I could see it being a strategy they were used to. However, yeah, if it's happening repeatedly in the campaign, then that seems a bit hard to swallow. Just saying that even though they might not have high intelligence, that doesn't mean they would do stupid things in combat. As others have pointed out, even animals have pack tactics.


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Excaliburproxy wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
I'm sorry, but there are differences between playing harshly and making hit and run tactics with zombies. Monsters have to be played according to their respective intelligence and mindset.
No they don't? That is bringing your own values and preferences to the table that another person might not share. And even if you--as a player--value a certain level of simulation in combat, then a GM can always come up with a plot contrivance to play them how he wants; perhaps a necromancer controls the zombies remotely. Spooky!

I mean, I'm pretty flexible here when it comes to freedom of the GM do do what they want, but here I am going to agree with SuperBidi by-and-large. I agree monsters don't "have" to be played according to their respective intelligence, but good roleplaying would *not* have zombies that weren't being explicitly controlled using hit-and-run tactics. Flanking, perhaps, but not hit-and-run.

I should say, if you're running a home game and you want basically all enemies to have tactics, fine. If you're running a pre-made game (scenario, AP, module), then doing this sort of thing isn't really good GMing unless the scenario calls for it.


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Let me crunch the numbers.

For the orcs, we will use the orc warrior from page 257 of the PF2 bestiary. They attack with an orc necksplitter +7 (forceful, sweep), Damage 1d8+4 slashing, and have AC 18. AsmodeusDM mentioned 7 orcs, so we can assume that they are at a low level compared to the party, level - 3. At 15 xp each that makes for a 105 xp encounter, halfway between Moderate and Severe according to TABLE 10–1, Encounter Budget, page 489 of the PF2 Core Rulebook.

For our representative party member, let's take a 4th-level STR 18 champion with a +1 halberd and a regular breastplace. That gives him +13 to hit for 1d10+4 piercing damage and AC 19.

An orc warrior attacking the champion would do an average of 4.2 slashing damage on the first Strike, 2.1 on the second Strike, and 0.4 damage on the third Strike. If the champion is flanked, that average damage becomes 5.1, 3.0, and 0.8. The champion attacking an orc warrior would do 10.5 piercing damage on the first Strike, 5.7 on the second Strike, and 3.3 on the third Strike.

If the orcs began a round all surrounding the champion and three pairs flanking, then the orcs would deal an average of 60.1 slashing damage per round. In contrast, the champion would deal 19.5 piercing damage per round. The ratio of orc damage to champion damage is about 3 to 1. However, to get into this position, the orcs would have to Stride once, so they would deal only 49.5 damage, with only three flanking Strikes, for a ratio of 2.5 to 1.

If the orcs all performed the Stride-Strike-Stride tactic, then they would perform 29.4 slashing damage per round. The champion would Stride up to one of them and Strike twice, for an average of 16.2 damage. The ration of orc damage to champion damage would be 1.8 to 1. The orcs are less effective.

If the first orc sacrificed himself by remaining adjacent to the champion so that the other orcs could flank, then he would deal 6.3 damage, each following orc would deal 5.1 damage, and the total would be 36.9 damage. But the champion would have three Strikes against the sacrificial orc for a full 19.5 damage. The ratio of orc damage to champion damage would be 1.9 to 1.

The Stride-Strike-Stride tactic limits most orcs to one Strikes per round while the champion gets two Strikes and even a second Strike if effective for the champion. It is a bad tactic.

And I did not factor in the other three party members. Two could be lazily standing off to one side shooting arrows for 10 damage and the third could be healing the champion from a distance. In that case, the faster the orcs take down the champion, the less damage they take from the other party members. A slow Stride-Strike-Stride is still a terrible tactic.

AsmodeusDM's GM invented a new culture-breaking tactic for orcs that is less effective than the usual orcish tactics. Oops.

EDIT: This might still be a good tactic for a bottleneck like a doorway, if it is the only way that the orcs in the back can get a hit in.


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tivadar27 wrote:
Excaliburproxy wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
I'm sorry, but there are differences between playing harshly and making hit and run tactics with zombies. Monsters have to be played according to their respective intelligence and mindset.
No they don't? That is bringing your own values and preferences to the table that another person might not share. And even if you--as a player--value a certain level of simulation in combat, then a GM can always come up with a plot contrivance to play them how he wants; perhaps a necromancer controls the zombies remotely. Spooky!

I mean, I'm pretty flexible here when it comes to freedom of the GM do do what they want, but here I am going to agree with SuperBidi by-and-large. I agree monsters don't "have" to be played according to their respective intelligence, but good roleplaying would *not* have zombies that weren't being explicitly controlled using hit-and-run tactics. Flanking, perhaps, but not hit-and-run.

I should say, if you're running a home game and you want basically all enemies to have tactics, fine. If you're running a pre-made game (scenario, AP, module), then doing this sort of thing isn't really good GMing unless the scenario calls for it.

Well, I run my own games that way because that is what I like best and what my players like best. That said, if I was with a GM that liked to run monsters as described above, I would tend to say that the GM in question is not for me rather than saying the GM is playing the game wrong.

@Mathmuse What if the orcs are harassing the mage or healer rather than slapping the tank like a bunch of mouth-breathing orcs?

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