Cantrips trump alchemists in combat?


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As I've been looking at the alchemist class more closely this week I've come to realize that, at least in terms of combat effectiveness, even the baseline cantrips are better than most anything else the alchemist can dish out!

For example, at 9th-level, my most powerful bombs (an expensive and limited resource) deal roughly 2d8+4 damage against a single target, whereas my at-will electric arc cantrip would do 5d4+4 damage to two targets. At a glance a single feat (such as Otherworldly Magic) appears to add more combat potential than the entire class at most levels of play.

What am I missing?


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Two things:
Electric Arc is way ahead other cantrips. If you compare with Produce Flame, it's suddenly more in line.
Bombs only need one action to be thrown.


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SuperBidi wrote:

Two things:

Electric Arc is way ahead other cantrips. If you compare with Produce Flame, it's suddenly more in line.
Bombs only need one action to be thrown.

I have no experience with Alchemist, but don't you need to draw the bomb before throwing it?


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There's a first level feat to do all that in one action. Pretty mandatory feat, actually...


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SuperBidi wrote:
Electric Arc is way ahead other cantrips. If you compare with Produce Flame, it's suddenly more in line.

Electric arc is something of a moot point. Even a support class should be able to contribute meaningfully in combat. I'm just not seeing that with the alchemist yet.

Even discounting electric arc, optimized bomb builds just don't seem to keep up with the bottom baseline abilities of other classes. Poisons kind of do, if you have Powerful Alchemy to keep the DCs high and your target isn't immune, but the action economy prevents you from creating the poison, applying it, and making a Strike with it before it becomes inert. You either suck up the lower DCs (which make poison useless) or you need haste, or you need to pick up Enduring Alchemy.

EDIT: Turns out Enduring Alchemy doesn't even work on poisons! Only alchemical tools or elixirs!

That's a LOT of investment just to be able to contribute to a combat (and not necessarily even all that effectively), and even then, only when the conditions are perfect.

SuperBidi wrote:
There's a first level feat to do all that in one action. Pretty mandatory feat, actually...

Yeah, but it doesn't stack well with Quick Alchemy and Powerful Alchemy to keep your bomb DCs current.

You either suck up crap DCs again, or spend two actions despite Quick Bomber, one to create the bomb (which is presumably deposited in your free hand), then one more to Strike with it.

When trying to build a viable-in-combat build, it seems like no matter what direction I go, I get tripped up by the class' built-in restrictions or lack of internal synergy.

Grand Lodge

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I don't have much more to contribute other than Alchemist seems like the biggest flop of 2e.

Although I did have an idea for a bomber build that takes an alchemical familiar and gives it manual dexterity and lab assistant. You use one action a round to quick bomb. One to command the familiar and have one free for movement/skills. The familiar uses its two actuons to quick alchemy and throw a bomb, sure its to hit is only = to your level but it will still splash on a miss.


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You're not wrong about the low damage. I think what eventually can make it vaguely competetive is Sticky Bomb. Sure, your upfront still sucks, but when you're doing massive amounts of persistent damage (you did take Calculated Splash, right?), it starts to matter a lot less. Having 5 different types of Persistent Damage (6 if your GM allows peshpine) on a target can melt bosses surprisingly quickly (if they're so tough they live long enough to matter). Plus if you're using those aforementioned peshpine grenades, you can apply poison to them (They're weapons, and deal piercing damage. Fite me). They can also very easily target elemental weaknesses on enemies as well.

Having crap DCs without quick alchemy still sucks, though. I'll definitely agree that Powerful Alchemy should have been a baseline ability. How quickly their accuracy falls off is also problematic, thanks to never getting past Expert proficiency.


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Nicolas Paradise wrote:

I don't have much more to contribute other than Alchemist seems like the biggest flop of 2e.

Although I did have an idea for a bomber build that takes an alchemical familiar and gives it manual dexterity and lab assistant. You use one action a round to quick bomb. One to command the familiar and have one free for movement/skills. The familiar uses its two actuons to quick alchemy and throw a bomb, sure its to hit is only = to your level but it will still splash on a miss.

Hrm. A better idea here might be to keep the familiar in your pack, have it quick alchemy twice (dropping the bombs as free actions), then use Quick Bomb to draw and throw both bombs it makes. Then you at least have something resembling a decent action economy.

Grand Lodge

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Tarot wrote:
Nicolas Paradise wrote:

I don't have much more to contribute other than Alchemist seems like the biggest flop of 2e.

Although I did have an idea for a bomber build that takes an alchemical familiar and gives it manual dexterity and lab assistant. You use one action a round to quick bomb. One to command the familiar and have one free for movement/skills. The familiar uses its two actuons to quick alchemy and throw a bomb, sure its to hit is only = to your level but it will still splash on a miss.

Hrm. A better idea here might be to keep the familiar in your pack, have it quick alchemy twice (dropping the bombs as free actions), then use Quick Bomb to draw and throw both bombs it makes. Then you at least have something resembling a decent action economy.

For some reason I thought quick bomb had a once per round clause but it doesn't.

However Quick alchemy is one action so using it and quick bomb twice is the same actions as ordering the familiar them using quick alchemy and placing the bombs in your pouch or whatever and than throwing twice. So it isn't really more efficient in fact it is one action less efficient.


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SuperBidi wrote:

Two things:

Electric Arc is way ahead other cantrips. If you compare with Produce Flame, it's suddenly more in line.
Bombs only need one action to be thrown.

On 1) Electric Arc never gets the benefits from Weakness (while other cantrips absolutely do) and that difference makes up for allowing Electric Arc to hit two targets. There were charts in that other thread.

On 2) 4d8+8 vs. 10d4+8 looks pretty much even. Add in the splash on the bomb's side and Electric Arc doesn't seem as far ahead as it looked on paper. (Read, you're absolutely correct here)


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Nicolas Paradise wrote:
Tarot wrote:
Nicolas Paradise wrote:

I don't have much more to contribute other than Alchemist seems like the biggest flop of 2e.

Although I did have an idea for a bomber build that takes an alchemical familiar and gives it manual dexterity and lab assistant. You use one action a round to quick bomb. One to command the familiar and have one free for movement/skills. The familiar uses its two actuons to quick alchemy and throw a bomb, sure its to hit is only = to your level but it will still splash on a miss.

Hrm. A better idea here might be to keep the familiar in your pack, have it quick alchemy twice (dropping the bombs as free actions), then use Quick Bomb to draw and throw both bombs it makes. Then you at least have something resembling a decent action economy.

For some reason I thought quick bomb had a once per round clause but it doesn't.

However Quick alchemy is one action so using it and quick bomb twice is the same actions as ordering the familiar them using quick alchemy and placing the bombs in your pouch or whatever and than throwing twice. So it isn't really more efficient in fact it is one action less efficient.

You couldn't quick bomb twice, though, since Quick Alchemy only makes one bomb. Using the familiar lets you make the two bombs, then Quick Bomb them both at the enemy. Plus, you throw at your normal to hit, rather than your familiar's.


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Post level 7 Quick alchemy + sticky bomb + calculated splash + a regular acid flask you made in the morning should be a solid amount of persistent damage that can all be applied in 1 turn. Increases again at 8 when you get the inproved calculated splash and 11 when you get item level 11 regular bombs.

My alchemist is frustrated that his damage using a daily resource is so minute (1d8 + 2 + 2 fire flask as a pyro goblin vs 1d12 + 8 raging dragon barbarian), and he doesn't get cantripesque bombs until 7. Bosses having high AC also makes attempting to use those resources feel wasteful. Add that life elixers are 1d6 vs the 1d10+4 of soothe and he doesn't feel he has much purpose.


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Ravingdork wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
Electric Arc is way ahead other cantrips. If you compare with Produce Flame, it's suddenly more in line.

Electric arc is something of a moot point. Even a support class should be able to contribute meaningfully in combat. I'm just not seeing that with the alchemist yet.

Even discounting electric arc, optimized bomb builds just don't seem to keep up with the bottom baseline abilities of other classes. Poisons kind of do, if you have Powerful Alchemy to keep the DCs high and your target isn't immune, but the action economy prevents you from creating the poison, applying it, and making a Strike with it before it becomes inert. You either suck up the lower DCs (which make poison useless) or you need haste, or you need to pick up Enduring Alchemy.

EDIT: Turns out Enduring Alchemy doesn't even work on poisons! Only alchemical tools or elixirs!

That's a LOT of investment just to be able to contribute to a combat (and not necessarily even all that effectively), and even then, only when the conditions are perfect.

SuperBidi wrote:
There's a first level feat to do all that in one action. Pretty mandatory feat, actually...

Yeah, but it doesn't stack well with Quick Alchemy and Powerful Alchemy to keep your bomb DCs current.

You either suck up crap DCs again, or spend two actions despite Quick Bomber, one to create the bomb (which is presumably deposited in your free hand), then one more to Strike with it.

When trying to build a viable-in-combat build, it seems like no matter what direction I go, I get tripped up by the class' built-in restrictions or lack of internal synergy.

Point of order, most bombs don't have DCs. At least not the damage focused ones.


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Captain Morgan wrote:
Point of order, most bombs don't have DCs. At least not the damage focused ones.

Kind of makes one wonder what Powerful Alchemy can be used for then, doesn't it?


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Anyway, I really want to try playing the alchemist. I have suspicions that it is the hardest class to master, and requires good awareness of your abilities to be effective. But I like that kind of challenge myself. It feels to me like something better off in an "advanced" class guide, rather than being the first class in the core rulebook, because it is not something I'd recommend to a beginner. But as an advanced player I think it looks fun.

I do hope it gets some more buffs from errata. Failing that, they could make better class feats. But I don't think the Alchemist lacks good class feats to choose from. But a lot of them feel like things the class should get for free. I've got a lot of house rule fixes in mind myself.


Ravingdork wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
Point of order, most bombs don't have DCs. At least not the damage focused ones.
Kind of makes one wonder what Powerful Alchemy can be used for then, doesn't it?

Powerful alchemy is one of those that feel like it should have been a baseline feature. And probably apply to advanced Alchemy as well. It is also moot if you can keep your items at max level. That works for poisons, but not things with gaps like bombs. But even for things where that does apply, keeping your formula book stocked with the latest and greatest requires a good degree of system mastery, spending money, and having those formulas available for purchase in your game.


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I think Alchemist suffers from a really conservative design on the alchemy rules. I wasn't around for the playtest, but didn't the class receive some substantial rewrites? It feels like something that caught caught in the middle of two design standpoints and its base mechanics are missing that "out-of-the-box" fluidity that the other core classes have. The alchemical items and what a stock-standard Alchemist without class feats can do both look like a class that's just been heavily nerfed rather than designed from the ground up; minor restrictions everywhere that are clearly meant to prevent shenanigans but add up to an overall awkward package in the aggregate

Hopefully archetypes and new options will help out


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Puna'chong wrote:
I think Alchemist suffers from a really conservative design on the alchemy rules. I wasn't around for the playtest, but didn't the class receive some substantial rewrites?

It did, and you're not wrong about the result.


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Ravingdork wrote:
Even discounting electric arc, optimized bomb builds just don't seem to keep up with the bottom baseline abilities of other classes. Poisons kind of do, if you have Powerful Alchemy to keep the DCs high and your target isn't immune, but the action economy prevents you from creating the poison, applying it, and making a Strike with it before it becomes inert. You either suck up the lower DCs (which make poison useless) or you need haste, or you need to pick up Enduring Alchemy.

Daily reminder that optimized bomb builds do more damage than optimized fighter archery builds pre-13th, before we talk about splash damage being dealt to everything in 10ft.

And then we can talk about debuffs and such.


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Cyouni wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Even discounting electric arc, optimized bomb builds just don't seem to keep up with the bottom baseline abilities of other classes. Poisons kind of do, if you have Powerful Alchemy to keep the DCs high and your target isn't immune, but the action economy prevents you from creating the poison, applying it, and making a Strike with it before it becomes inert. You either suck up the lower DCs (which make poison useless) or you need haste, or you need to pick up Enduring Alchemy.

Daily reminder that optimized bomb builds do more damage than optimized fighter archery builds pre-13th, before we talk about splash damage being dealt to everything in 10ft.

And then we can talk about debuffs and such.

Can you link a thread that further discusses this? Don't want to derail too much.


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TBH you're also comparing that cantrip to a bomb that you get at 3rd level. I think that having to wait until 11th level for a better bomb is also pretty rough. That's what admixtures should be for though.

At 11th level Alchemist Fire shoots back up again on effectiveness. Then falls behind again around 15th level.. then picks back up at 17th when you get the upgrade again.

Comes down to there not being as smooth of a progression of heightend cantrips.

Personally I'd love to have seen a repeatable bomb mechanic for Alchemists. Something like being able to toss bombs 4 or possibly more levels below their advanced alchemy level without any real limit.

The issues that I've seen is that a Bomber alchemist can really burn through all of their prepared bombs in the day and then they're resolved back to shooting a crossbow. Which is what they tried to get away from in the first place.


For Poisons you have Potent Poisoner. Don't make poisons on the fly, apply them beforehand.
For Bombs, same. Don't make them on the fly, or you can't use Quick Bomb. Anyway, Quick Alchemy is not very viable until very late level.


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Gloom wrote:
The issues that I've seen is that a Bomber alchemist can really burn through all of their prepared bombs in the day and then they're resolved back to shooting a crossbow. Which is what they tried to get away from in the first place.

Bomber alchemists do get unlimited (lower level) bombs at level 7, but that feels late.

A level 5 bomber alchemist also can pre-prep 27 bombs if that's all they prep. I've made it a point for myself in my next session to see exactly how many bombs my alchemist throws in a day compared to what he preps.


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Xethik wrote:
Cyouni wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Even discounting electric arc, optimized bomb builds just don't seem to keep up with the bottom baseline abilities of other classes. Poisons kind of do, if you have Powerful Alchemy to keep the DCs high and your target isn't immune, but the action economy prevents you from creating the poison, applying it, and making a Strike with it before it becomes inert. You either suck up the lower DCs (which make poison useless) or you need haste, or you need to pick up Enduring Alchemy.

Daily reminder that optimized bomb builds do more damage than optimized fighter archery builds pre-13th, before we talk about splash damage being dealt to everything in 10ft.

And then we can talk about debuffs and such.

Can you link a thread that further discusses this? Don't want to derail too much.

Here you are. I break down the numbers here, and then on request compare it to a triple shot fighter.

The quick summary is that alchemist damage is incredibly deceptive, due to how splash damage is also dealt on a failure.


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Cyouni wrote:
Xethik wrote:
Cyouni wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Even discounting electric arc, optimized bomb builds just don't seem to keep up with the bottom baseline abilities of other classes. Poisons kind of do, if you have Powerful Alchemy to keep the DCs high and your target isn't immune, but the action economy prevents you from creating the poison, applying it, and making a Strike with it before it becomes inert. You either suck up the lower DCs (which make poison useless) or you need haste, or you need to pick up Enduring Alchemy.

Daily reminder that optimized bomb builds do more damage than optimized fighter archery builds pre-13th, before we talk about splash damage being dealt to everything in 10ft.

And then we can talk about debuffs and such.

Can you link a thread that further discusses this? Don't want to derail too much.

Here you are. I break down the numbers here, and then on request compare it to a triple shot fighter.

The quick summary is that alchemist damage is incredibly deceptive, due to how splash damage is also dealt on a failure.

Thanks. I do recall Mark Seifter really reiterating on this fact back at launch (or was it over the playtest) and a feel number breakdowns that showed off how bomb average damage was higher than anticipated due to the failure damage. That certainly applies here, as well, but somewhat lessened by Electric Arc having a basic save.


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Gloom wrote:


The issues that I've seen is that a Bomber alchemist can really burn through all of their prepared bombs in the day and then they're resolved back to shooting a crossbow. Which is what they tried to get away from in the first place.

This is my observation as well. The bomb burn rate on the alchemist in my game very fast. He gets through about 2 encounters and it’s back to his sling.

I think the alchemist as a class requires the GM to bake in some down time so they can build a stash of bombs.

This far the acid bombs with persistent damage have certainly been the most effective. For reference the PCs in my game are about 25% of through third level. In the Battlemarket/howl of the carrion Kong/ legacy of fire.


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Cyouni wrote:
Xethik wrote:
Cyouni wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Even discounting electric arc, optimized bomb builds just don't seem to keep up with the bottom baseline abilities of other classes. Poisons kind of do, if you have Powerful Alchemy to keep the DCs high and your target isn't immune, but the action economy prevents you from creating the poison, applying it, and making a Strike with it before it becomes inert. You either suck up the lower DCs (which make poison useless) or you need haste, or you need to pick up Enduring Alchemy.

Daily reminder that optimized bomb builds do more damage than optimized fighter archery builds pre-13th, before we talk about splash damage being dealt to everything in 10ft.

And then we can talk about debuffs and such.

Can you link a thread that further discusses this? Don't want to derail too much.

Here you are. I break down the numbers here, and then on request compare it to a triple shot fighter.

The quick summary is that alchemist damage is incredibly deceptive, due to how splash damage is also dealt on a failure.

Arrows are practically free, and much longer ranged. Bombs cost reagents. At level 13 you could do this for 18 rounds, if you made nothing but bombs. Make anything else, like quicksilver mutagen or any utility elixir, and that number goes down one round per item type.

Compare to the level 4 alchemist who is doing 2d8 + 4 splash with fire per attack, and if you do 3 a round you're out of bombs after the 5th round. Fighter is doing that much damage with each arrow and is much more likely to hit. Even worse if you try this before you get calculated splash.

Perpetual bombs get buffed a little if you have goggles, so they can stay current-ish, and combined with sticky bombs are tempting, except that I've hardly ever seen persistent damage work for more than a turn or two. Granted this is lower levels but do monsters really last that much longer at higher levels? Quick alchemy starts eating into actions as well until you get double batch.


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FWIW, my own math lines up with Cyouni's. The splash damage on miss is worth a LOT and more than bridges the gap between the Alchemist's lower accuracy vs. the longbow Fighter. If you get more than 1 round of persistent damage, if you get to splash multiple enemies, or if you get to take advantage of enemy weaknesses, you're pulling way ahead.

Its not even that you need to be that optimized. Quick Bomber, Calc Splash and Expanded Splash are the three critical feats.

Plus you can trade your minimal damage 3rd attack/3rd action to instead create debilitating bombs and other utility effects (ie. 1 action Quick alchemy, 2nd action throw, 3rd action quick bomber throw).

Of course, you're begging for scraps at the table until 5th level... there's just not enough infused reagents to go around until then.


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Aricks wrote:
Cyouni wrote:
Xethik wrote:
Cyouni wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Even discounting electric arc, optimized bomb builds just don't seem to keep up with the bottom baseline abilities of other classes. Poisons kind of do, if you have Powerful Alchemy to keep the DCs high and your target isn't immune, but the action economy prevents you from creating the poison, applying it, and making a Strike with it before it becomes inert. You either suck up the lower DCs (which make poison useless) or you need haste, or you need to pick up Enduring Alchemy.

Daily reminder that optimized bomb builds do more damage than optimized fighter archery builds pre-13th, before we talk about splash damage being dealt to everything in 10ft.

And then we can talk about debuffs and such.

Can you link a thread that further discusses this? Don't want to derail too much.

Here you are. I break down the numbers here, and then on request compare it to a triple shot fighter.

The quick summary is that alchemist damage is incredibly deceptive, due to how splash damage is also dealt on a failure.

Arrows are practically free, and much longer ranged. Bombs cost reagents. At level 13 you could do this for 18 rounds, if you made nothing but bombs. Make anything else, like quicksilver mutagen or any utility elixir, and that number goes down one round per item type.

Compare to the level 4 alchemist who is doing 2d8 + 4 splash with fire per attack, and if you do 3 a round you're out of bombs after the 5th round. Fighter is doing that much damage with each arrow and is much more likely to hit. Even worse if you try this before you get calculated splash.

Perpetual bombs get buffed a little if you have goggles, so they can stay current-ish, and combined with sticky bombs are tempting, except that I've hardly ever seen persistent damage work for more than a turn or two. Granted...

In one paragraph you argue that you'd run out of bombs doing 3 bombs a round for 5 rounds, and in the next you say persistent damage is useless because it doesn't last more than a turn or two because things die too fast.

What is the first bomber throwing bombs at for 5 rounds if they're all dead after 2?


Draco18s wrote:


On 1) Electric Arc never gets the benefits from Weakness (while other cantrips absolutely do) and that difference makes up for allowing Electric Arc to hit two targets. There were charts in that other thread.

I guess I don't understand what you mean.

Is it just that no creatures have Weakness to electricity, or something?


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Barnabas Eckleworth III wrote:
Draco18s wrote:


On 1) Electric Arc never gets the benefits from Weakness (while other cantrips absolutely do) and that difference makes up for allowing Electric Arc to hit two targets. There were charts in that other thread.

I guess I don't understand what you mean.

Is it just that no creatures have Weakness to electricity, or something?

Correct. There's a grand total of zero (and more than 1 with a resistance or outright immunity).

Ah, quote.

graystone wrote:
BellyBeard wrote:
Are there any weaknesses to Electricity?

I quick look shows only resistances, immunity and Special: Ochre Jelly is immune and the only elemental damage that splits it, Flesh Golem is immune and gets a free reaction and Shambler gets temp hp and extra action.

Offhand only the Iron Golem gets a negative from electricity: slowed. So yeah, electric arc is good for steady damage vs multiple targets but it's not triggering anything good most times: I'm using ray of frost a lot along with the arc: 30' range a lot of times isn't even a single move action and if you aren't thrilled by the thought of melee, that 120' range is better than a bit more damage [and the slowing helps keep it that way].


Ah. I see. So the only boomy thing that could happen would be crit failures from the targets. But no extra damage from weaknesses.
There's still Bestiary 2 and onward. Maybe the occasional one will come up.


One thing if comparing bombs to archery if you are tracking bombs then also track arrow usage. An alchemist can replenish bombs day after day than an archer can replenish arrows. Most people do not pack hundreds of arrows so the daily endurance between an alchemist and an archer probably swings in the alchemists favor unless you come back to town every day.


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The alchemist class in its current state is riddled with issues. Other than the now fixed mutagenist ability that didn't do anything, the chirurgeon baseline ability actually has a skill tax, it does nothing unless the alchemist is trained in Medicine, and its benefit is to replace Medicine checks with Crafting checks for all Medicine's uses, while you can produce enough elixirs in a day to heal the whole party to full health several times over and an infinite amount of antidotes and antiplagues, and higher proficiency in Medicine is still required to have access to related skill feats. What baffles me the most is the alchemist's bomb proficiency never going beyond expert. Have fun trying to use those sweet additives effectively against the one strong enemy when you have less chances to hit with everything you have than any class ever.

The alchemist would be more interesting if research fields were more impactful, for example by altering the class's progression like the cleric's doctrines do.


Barnabas Eckleworth III wrote:

Ah. I see. So the only boomy thing that could happen would be crit failures from the targets. But no extra damage from weaknesses.

There's still Bestiary 2 and onward. Maybe the occasional one will come up.

Its still going to be very rare, even when it does show up. Weaknesses to fire, cold, and so on are always going to dominate, and the balance of how much damage cantrips can do takes that into account.


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Vlorax wrote:

In one paragraph you argue that you'd run out of bombs doing 3 bombs a round for 5 rounds, and in the next you say persistent damage is useless because it doesn't last more than a turn or two because things die too fast.

What is the first bomber throwing bombs at for 5 rounds if they're all dead after 2?

5 rounds and then you're a crossbow peasant for the rest of the day. That also assumes you make nothing but bombs, so no toolkit elixirs, no healing elixirs, no mostly-useless mutagens. Persistent damage might be more useful at higher levels with sticky bombs and higher health monsters but it's going to be a slog to get there.

I think people are forgetting that critically missing with a bomb does zero damage, so you're only going to splash with that 3rd bomb a bit more than half the time.

Throwing limited inventory bombs for 2 to 4 points of splash damage each also feels asinine. Couple that with when a cantrip like electric arc, balance issues aside, does more damage to some monsters than your limited inventory fire bomb, it feels really lousy.

Given it's been a month with zero news it's looking more like there are no further alchemist fixes incoming, so it might be time to re-roll something useful while Season 1 of PFS is still going.


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Cellion wrote:
Of course, you're begging for scraps at the table until 5th level... there's just not enough infused reagents to go around until then.

IMO, this is always a problem from a straight damage perspective as using your top level bombs costs resources. You then either have to try to max out your available bombs by making a bunch at the start of your day [and then try to figure out where to put a few bulk worth of bombs] or you rely on quick alchemy to pull out a few 'silver bullet' bombs to trigger vulnerabilities.

kaid wrote:
One thing if comparing bombs to archery if you are tracking bombs then also track arrow usage. An alchemist can replenish bombs day after day than an archer can replenish arrows. Most people do not pack hundreds of arrows so the daily endurance between an alchemist and an archer probably swings in the alchemists favor unless you come back to town every day.

With a bomb taking up the same space as 10 arrows, it's not much of an issue: you can put 200 arrows in your backpack that doesn't impact your carry. Buy the basic bag of holding and that's 2500 arrows... That's something an alchemist just can't do with bombs, both because it's a daily resource and bombs have multiple types you need to have accessible while the majority of arrows can be packed.


So far the alchemist has been highly effective and useful. Splash and persistent damage is big for the alchemist. It adds up over the course of battles. Then elixirs like mist form and cheetah provide useful group combat effects.

Cantrips on paper may look more effective. In place the alchemist is a nightmare to deal with usually deals the most damage in a combat.

An alchemist can brew endless 1st level bombs. A 1st lvl fire bomb does 1d8+6 and 3 PF damage on a hit with intelligence splash damage to all adjacent targets endlessly.

The alchemist in our group tries to stack acid and fire persistent damage in single target fights. That damage adds up when you're doing 2d6 PA and 3 or more PF.

I think the alchemist is another one of those classes that on paper is not impressive, but once you put it all together with feats is incredibly effective.


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The class looks bad on paper because it literally came with a broken class path (Mutagenist), the mutagens themselves aren't even worth their penalties, the class doesn't have any progression that goes to master even in specific fields that need them.

Also, let's not forget, it's the only class in the game that have feat taxes that are required for them to keep up over levels.

Honestly, the description of your game sounded like you guys were doing something wrong or maybe the player got some really lucky sessions and skewered the perception to a more positive light.

The class has too much underlying problems to be called "highly effective and useful".


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I get the damage and staying power issues. My group's alchemist can't hold a candle to the Barbarian or Ranger+Companion.

Certainly holds his own against the cleric, though, and that particular cleric is built/played half way between support and combat.

So.. I wonder if Alchemist gets to flex more if it bombs less? It's already been noted in this thread that bombs can do decent damage - not all the time, sure, but it's possible. But.. can the archer figher also make darkvision elixers? Infiltrator's elixers? Juggernaut Mutagens? There are many nifty tricks, many of those tricks can be used by others. The archer fighter just.. shoots. Shoots well, sure, but that's basically it.

Give your tank a Mistform Elixer and now it has concealment for a few rounds. That's not as sexy as dealing big damage with a bomb, but that has some real raw power that it'll add for your party.

How about passing around Bravo's Brew before fighting a dragon? If it prevents even one ally from getting hammered by the fear aura, that's a HUGE benefit and will directly result in a quicker kill.

What I'm getting at is that I think Alchemist is a support class more than a damage class, and perhaps part of the issue is that the support mindset is "awesome, I did one little thing and now these other heroes are safe/amazing/winning" where as the damage mindset is "awesome, I dealt massive damage to the bad guy!" And not every player has fun in both mindsets.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

My first attempt at an alchemist.

Soumral, chirurgeon and warlord (CG female seer elf aspiring river monarch alchemist 9)

"Armies are like plagues: terrible, but ultimately predictable. One only need learn their patterns. Devising a means of systematically eradicating them then becomes a matter of course."

;D


Deriven Firelion wrote:

So far the alchemist has been highly effective and useful. Splash and persistent damage is big for the alchemist. It adds up over the course of battles. Then elixirs like mist form and cheetah provide useful group combat effects.

Cantrips on paper may look more effective. In place the alchemist is a nightmare to deal with usually deals the most damage in a combat.

An alchemist can brew endless 1st level bombs. A 1st lvl fire bomb does 1d8+6 and 3 PF damage on a hit with intelligence splash damage to all adjacent targets endlessly.

The alchemist in our group tries to stack acid and fire persistent damage in single target fights. That damage adds up when you're doing 2d6 PA and 3 or more PF.

I think the alchemist is another one of those classes that on paper is not impressive, but once you put it all together with feats is incredibly effective.

1d8 + 6, 3 persistent, and int mod splash at first level? Yeah, no, your math is really off. I wish alchemist fire were that impressive at level 1. Alch fire does 1d8 damage on direct hit, plus 1 splash. You can bump that up to 1d8 + 1 with 2 persistent if you take a goblin ancestry feat.

Unless you're talking perpetual fire bombs, which you also can't brew until level 7, and even then you can only pick 2 types, and you can't change it without retraining. Even then, a perpetual fire bomb thrown at level 7 will do....1d8 damage, 1 persistent, with 4 splash if you take the almost mandatory feat, and the same bump up if you take the goblin feat. Sticky bombs would do 1d8 with 5 persistent. You also can only get off at most 2 bombs that way per round as well.

All that being said, I agree with the sentiments made after this post. I'd love it if I could hand out a useful elixir/mutagen to my party members at the beginning of the adventure and then throw a few bombs in combat for useful debuffs and damage, falling back on a sling or crossbow as last resort, but until level 7 you can't really do that. You just don't have the reagents, even assuming your party even wants the mutagens, so far I haven't had any takers and I'm up to level 4 now.


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jdripley wrote:
So.. I wonder if Alchemist gets to flex more if it bombs less?

I get where you're coming from, but doesn't this speak to the problem specifically in a way?

I can definitely agree that in terms of raw viability, the issues with the Alchemist are a bit overstated. You can build a pretty good alchemist if you make the right choices.

But I don't think that takes away from the issues people are having with the class living up to its expectations. People come to the alchemist looking for specific build paths to work and essentially the solution we're offering them is to... stop bothering and play a different kind of alchemist altogether. That's fundamentally a problem even if the class as a whole can work under the right circumstances.


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Aricks wrote:
Compare to the level 4 alchemist who is doing 2d8 + 4 splash with fire per attack, and if you do 3 a round you're out of bombs after the 5th round.

At level 4, you can do one bomb + one cantrip (very easy to get Wizard Dedication for an Alchemist), and your doing fine for a truck load of rounds.

Launching 3 bombs a round is like casting 3 1-action Heal a round, it's not the way it's supposed to work.

The Alchemist has issues at low level, but by mid-level, it starts to last, and once you get to high levels, it's a machine. It's the only class with quadratic progression: all other casters are limited to 3-5 top level spells, you get all your reagents as top level alchemical items, which means dozens of them at some point.


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Vlorax wrote:

In one paragraph you argue that you'd run out of bombs doing 3 bombs a round for 5 rounds, and in the next you say persistent damage is useless because it doesn't last more than a turn or two because things die too fast.

What is the first bomber throwing bombs at for 5 rounds if they're all dead after 2?

Other enemies.

Let's say the party is fighting three creatures and they focus their attacks to kill one every two rounds or so. If the bomber joins in the focused fire, then the target dies before persistent damage can accomplish much, but the whole combat goes on long enough to use up all their bombs.

You could achieve more persistent damage by targeting the healthiest enemies with sticky bombs, but then the individual enemies survive longer and the party will probably take more damage as a result.


Matthew Downie wrote:
If the bomber joins in the focused fire...

Maybe try not doing that. Persistent damage is for enemies that are going to survive, so throw that bomb at an enemy that isn't being focused into oblivion. When your party changes targets, have them focus on the guy who isn't going to kill himself in two rounds.


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jdripley wrote:

I get the damage and staying power issues. My group's alchemist can't hold a candle to the Barbarian or Ranger+Companion.

Certainly holds his own against the cleric, though, and that particular cleric is built/played half way between support and combat.

So.. I wonder if Alchemist gets to flex more if it bombs less? It's already been noted in this thread that bombs can do decent damage - not all the time, sure, but it's possible. But.. can the archer figher also make darkvision elixers? Infiltrator's elixers? Juggernaut Mutagens? There are many nifty tricks, many of those tricks can be used by others. The archer fighter just.. shoots. Shoots well, sure, but that's basically it.

Give your tank a Mistform Elixer and now it has concealment for a few rounds. That's not as sexy as dealing big damage with a bomb, but that has some real raw power that it'll add for your party.

How about passing around Bravo's Brew before fighting a dragon? If it prevents even one ally from getting hammered by the fear aura, that's a HUGE benefit and will directly result in a quicker kill.

What I'm getting at is that I think Alchemist is a support class more than a damage class, and perhaps part of the issue is that the support mindset is "awesome, I did one little thing and now these other heroes are safe/amazing/winning" where as the damage mindset is "awesome, I dealt massive damage to the bad guy!" And not every player has fun in both mindsets.

The only support class that uses their allies' action economy (they need to drink their potions) and there's not trade-off for that because the buffs offered, while cheap, don't have enough impact to compensate the huge drawback. Sure, you can drink some of them before a fight, but it's unlikely you're fighting knowing there's a battle coming and sometimes, there's nothing you can do to know it beforehand.

Sovereign Court

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Perpetual Infusions lets you create lots of bottled lightning, which you can use to make enemies flat-footed. If you combine that with Wizard MC for Electric Arc, you have an all-day contribution while you can expend resources to deliver spike damage.


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Ascalaphus wrote:
Perpetual Infusions lets you create lots of bottled lightning, which you can use to make enemies flat-footed. If you combine that with Wizard MC for Electric Arc, you have an all-day contribution while you can expend resources to deliver spike damage.

It doesn't say a lot for the class when you're saying 'once you hit 7th level and multiclass, you can actually contribute...'.

Acquisitives

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graystone wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
Perpetual Infusions lets you create lots of bottled lightning, which you can use to make enemies flat-footed. If you combine that with Wizard MC for Electric Arc, you have an all-day contribution while you can expend resources to deliver spike damage.
It doesn't say a lot for the class when you're saying 'once you hit 7th level and multiclass, you can actually contribute...'.

Yeah, if you twist it like that.

Level 1: you throw the occasional bomb, especially against monsters whose weakness you can target. But you can also make ranged attacks because you have good Dex. In our local group the elven alchemist used the ancestry feat to get bow proficiency, and it's not difficult for her to have enough bombs for the whole scenario now.

Level 2: you can pick up the wizard MC if you like. Multiclassing is not dirty in Pathfinder 2. I did wizard MC with my fighter because there were no exciting L2 feats for sword and board.

Level 3: oh hey you can get better bombs now. And it doesn't cost you any WBL, so you can also think about picking up a magical ranged weapon or finesse weapon.

Level 4: Calculated Splash looks nice.

Level 5: 50% more bombs.

Level 6: Debilitating Bombs are a nice setup for a mean twist on Perpetual Infusion, especially since it works at Class DC.

Level 7: Okay, now you just have unlimited lesser ammo.

---

I'm not saying the alchemist is as strong a class as the others, but I think it's not so bad as people claim. I do think that it's a class that requires more system mastery and some luck with the campaign (tendency towards enemies that have weaknesses).

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