Best Animal Companion


Advice


So I am building a ranger for a pathfinder 2e game and I was looking at getting my self a fine animal companion but have been struck down by options paralysis what would you say is the best?


siegfriedliner wrote:
So I am building a ranger for a pathfinder 2e game and I was looking at getting my self a fine animal companion but have been struck down by options paralysis what would you say is the best?

It probably varies based on your build. What kind of weapons, what Hunter's Edge, what big feats?


I am starting at level 1 with the two weapon feat and animal companion (human ambition).


Wolf is a great option for tripping your enemy. You can get the bonus for prone to make sure your attacks hit. Though, getting flanking provides the same bonus is pretty easy to get so far in my experience. Especially when you get the class feat that makes you count as flanking if you threaten the same creature.

Bear is also good choice for the additional damage on each hit. I would strongly recommend choosing the Flurry option for Hunter's Edge in either case really.


Soryy I should have said Flurry I kind of forget the existence of the other options


Claxon wrote:

Wolf is a great option for tripping your enemy. You can get the bonus for prone to make sure your attacks hit. Though, getting flanking provides the same bonus is pretty easy to get so far in my experience. Especially when you get the class feat that makes you count as flanking if you threaten the same creature.

Bear is also good choice for the additional damage on each hit. I would strongly recommend choosing the Flurry option for Hunter's Edge in either case really.

Precision if you go the animal companion route. Flurry is nice if you use a lot of actions attacking. Commanding your animal is removing most of Flurry usefulness.


In comparison to having the animal companion, I think you only lose one attack (until very high level when you get Impossible Flurry).

From a quick look it's basically Twin Takedown is the only feat until Impossible flurry that gets you extra attacks in comparison to spending an action to strike.

It is a trade-off, but taking the action to debuff the enemy via your companion or to get some extra damage per hit isn't the worst thing to do.

And if you compare to precision which grants a scaling d8, you can get basically the same effect from your bear animal companion + an accuracy increase via Flurry.

Shadow Lodge

siegfriedliner wrote:
I am starting at level 1 with the two weapon feat and animal companion (human ambition).
Please keep in mind that this combination has action-economy issues:
  • It takes one action to Hunt Prey a single target, which is required for Twin Takedown.
  • It takes another action each round to Command an Animal to get your companion to act.
  • That leaves you 1 action to attack with IF you don't need to move (which makes an archery / pet build more feasible in my opinion).
  • Of course, it is yet another action to draw each weapon, so you are really in trouble if your hands are empty or otherwise occupied when you roll for initiative (Yes, you can take Quick Draw, but that specifically works with a Strike action, so you'd need to take two strike actions (one with each hand) AND a Hunt Prey action before Twin Takedown becomes an option (again, assuming you don't need to move)).
Pets and Two-Weapon Rangers just don't seem to mix very well in my mind, as I'd expect the pet to end up sitting out most combats when you can't spare an action to command it. You really need a prolonged single-target fight for the combo to really work.


Mature companion offset that some though, as can good tactics. For example, carrying at least one weapon out during exploration mode. There will certainly be rounds you can't do everything, but the extra d8 damage from a bear seems pretty nice, as does letting an animal attack twice, once at it's full bonus and once at your reduced flurry rate.

I'd hazard a guess that bear is the best if you can regularly flank with it, but depending on party composition an AC that can render an enemy flat-footed might be even better. If your friends are usually attacking from range, for example.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

TLDR: Badger does best damage in longer fights after it gets Badger Rage; Bear does excellent damage with minimal effort; Cat does second best damage, but you need to set up flanks to get it going full throttle. Birds can be fun if you like persistent damage and dazzled condition.

The Badger seems like it would be best for raw damage once it gets Badger Rage, though keep in mind that it takes an action to start up Badger Rage, so in shorter fights that may not pan out to be any extra damage.

The Bear has great damage potential right out of the gate, with a great support benefit for extra damage when you hit.

Birds are interesting.. less damage, but an amazing support benefit. I think birds are fantastic for ranged attack archers who can hand out persistent bleed and dazzled fairly easily. I think birds are a bit of a dark horse option here, they look fairly weak at first glance, but man.. persistent damage AND dazzled.... so good...

Cats are basically weaker bears that thrive on Flanking. A bear and a cat have the same attack modifier and a bear's average damage is 7.5. A cat's average damage is 5.5, but with flanking it has a more accurate attack with 8 average damage. So.. can you set up flanks? Cats offer better offense than bears. If not, choose the bear.

Dromaeosaurs are basically cats without the extra flanking damage, but they offer an interesting support benefit that is great when taking down multiple weaker enemies. I think you pick Dromaeosaurs if your own melee attacks are really strong and you want occasional attacks out of your companion but mainly an action-efficient flanking buddy to make your own attacks more powerful. Or if you're a Rogue multiclassing into Ranger, since flanking is your JAM if you're a Rogue.

Horses are for mounted combat. They have low damage output, so take it if you want to ride something and be more mobile.

Snakes are interesting. Their attack is fairly strong.. bear strong in fact.. but they lack an agile backup attack, so they are less accurate in turns where they could attack twice. Constrict looks great on paper, but the snake starts out as Small, so it can only constrict tiny enemies. Not many of those. And when it grows larger it only goes to medium, so it can only constrict small or tiny enemies...

Wolves are a smidge less accurate and do a smidge less damage than a bear, also lack an agile second attack, and their support benefit is only situationally useful. But man, dat advanced maneuver... auto knock down after a hit is fantastic. Knocking down debuffs the enemy and also (typically) soaks one of their actions on their next turn while they stand back up. That's pretty strong.


Thanks for your help my conclusion was that I need to be a goblin two weapon ranger riding a velocraptor.


Its worth noting that your animal companion also benifits from your hunted target edge which creates different synergies and tactics.

For example you get more out of a bird with precision edge, as you only want to 'work together' once per target for the bleed and dazzled effect. Later on it's flyby attack pairs well with precisions bonus damage.

On the other hand cats with the agile trait on their class and bonus damage against flat footed targets really likes flurry Rangers. (Note with twin takedown this gives a ranger and his companion 5 attacks for 3 actions right from level 1


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The Schrödinger's cat ranger :D
I mean, it will never ever happen to have 5 attacks for 3 actions at level 1. It means that your cat and your character are flanking the enemy and this enemy is already your prey (and you are standing, not stunned, not unconscious, etc...) and your enemy survives the 4 first attacks. It happens once in a blue moon.
Truth is, a Ranger with an Animal Companion will rarely make more than 2 attacks per round:
1 action to Hunt Prey
1 action to move to the target
1 action to move the Animal Companion and use the Support Ability
1 action to Twin Strike
You already need 4 actions to be able to attack twice in the most classical situation. Attacking 5 times is once an adventuring career opportunity.


Does the cat +1d4 prescions damage scale with mature and sepcialized?


SuperBidi wrote:

The Schrödinger's cat ranger :D

I mean, it will never ever happen to have 5 attacks for 3 actions at level 1. It means that your cat and your character are flanking the enemy and this enemy is already your prey (and you are standing, not stunned, not unconscious, etc...) and your enemy survives the 4 first attacks. It happens once in a blue moon.
Truth is, a Ranger with an Animal Companion will rarely make more than 2 attacks per round:
1 action to Hunt Prey
1 action to move to the target
1 action to move the Animal Companion and use the Support Ability
1 action to Twin Strike
You already need 4 actions to be able to attack twice in the most classical situation. Attacking 5 times is once an adventuring career opportunity.

Using an Animal Companion with a melee ranger will take some effort, for sure. At low levels, I did a tiny bit of analysis.

Bear in mind, Hunt Prey must be done each round from what I can see. It is a 1-action activity and has the Concentration designation. So this must be done EVERY round. That leaves 2 actions left.

I thought that an animal companion would provide Support Benefits as long as they met the requirement. However, Support looks to be a 1-action activity as well. If you don't Command the companion during your round, they give ZERO benefits, including Support. So whether the animal companion Supports or does their 2-actions from Command, that is the Ranger's 2nd action of the round.

That only leaves 1 action left for the ranger. So it is either Stride or Strike.

That really limits what a ranger can do with their animal companion. I agree that Flurry for a Ranger with an Animal Companion is not very practical. Precision is going to be better.

The best case scenario is if the Hunted Prey/target is already flanked by both the ranger and the animal companion. That could potentially allow for 2 strikes from the ranger (1 action - twin strike) and 2 strikes from the companion (or Support).

So a ranger with a Bear, best case scenario, can get this:

Hunt Prey, Command to Support, Twin Strike. Assume Precision ranger using a d6 weapon = d6 + 3 Str bonus + d8 (precision) + d8 (Support from bear) = 12.5. Both strikes hitting would = 25 damage in a round.

A ranger with Flurry and no animal companion can do the following (best case scenario with no move required):

Hunt Prey, Twin Strike, Strike. Strikes occur with minimal MAP if agile weapon is used. Should look like this: d6 + 3 = 5.5. IF all 3 attacks connect, it would result in a total of 16.5 per round. No flanking partner with Bear, so potentially +2 AC to target too. If you swap Flurry for Precision, it looks better, but requires more hits to land to make the difference. Total could be +10.5 damage for a grand total of 27 damage.

Again, it will take some difficult tactical decisions to continue to deliver the best output, but doable.

Scarab Sages

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From Hunt Prey: You can have only one creature designated as your prey at a time. If you use Hunt Prey against a creature when you already have a creature designated, the prior creature loses the designation and the new prey gains the designation. Your designation lasts until your next daily preparations.

Hunt Prey says it lasts the remainder of the day, so I don't see why you'd have to use it every turn. You should only need to use it once per enemy, which should free up your actions for any enemy that lasts more than a turn.


Ah, thanks Kios. I didn't catch that. I was seriously dreading my interpretation. Much better, for sure. :D

But what about the Concentration trait? Doesn't this require an action every turn in combat?

Shadow Lodge

Kalderaan wrote:

Ah, thanks Kios. I didn't catch that. I was seriously dreading my interpretation. Much better, for sure. :D

But what about the Concentration trait? Doesn't this require an action every turn in combat?

No, there is no such requirement: It's more of a 'what can't I do while raging?' sort of flag.

Scarab Sages

I tried looking up the trait on Nethys and couldn't find anything about it taking an action, nor does it say anything about you being required to sustain it. I think the Concentration trait is just there to conflict with Barbarian rage, so you can't easily combine the two.

Taja beat me to it.


Got it. Many thanks Taja & Kios.

Shadow Lodge

One last thing to keep in mind with this sort of build is your party composition: If your group is already melee heavy, taking up two frontline spots with a melee ranger + pet might be problematic, while a ranged heavy group might really appreciate the additional 'meat shield'.


SuperBidi wrote:

The Schrödinger's cat ranger :D

I mean, it will never ever happen to have 5 attacks for 3 actions at level 1. It means that your cat and your character are flanking the enemy and this enemy is already your prey (and you are standing, not stunned, not unconscious, etc...) and your enemy survives the 4 first attacks. It happens once in a blue moon.

I see it as viable as 'impossible flurry' which most ranger discussions seem to fixate on (Which isn't a viable round one option till level 19!)

While full three action attack sequences are unlikely (except in 'All the casters are nerfed!'threads) I tend to regard them like a casters highest level spell slot (in that it's unlikely to be pulled off more than 3-4 times in an adventuring day)

That and While hit and run tactics are usually much more viable, full 3 action attack sequences tend to be round 2-3+ options meaning that your enemy has likely seen some focused fire and your sequence is much more likely to finish them off.


It makes me wonder if all the casters are nerfed threads don't come from these Schrödinger's martials. PF2 casters are very constant in their impact, thanks to failed saves having effects. So it's harder to go Schrödinger's caster in PF2 like it was possible in PF1. Maybe what makes a class "overpowered" is not their actual power but the feeling of power.


You keep mentioning Schrödinger's martials, yet it's not unrealistic to plot out the DPR return of 1,2 and yes 3 action options.

It's not just theorycrafting as the opportunities do show up where a 3 action attack sequence *is* the tactically sound one.

3 action sequences should be seen as the equivalent of a casters highest spell slot options as you only have a very limited set of opportunities to use them each day.

To pretend that 3action attack sequence opportunities 'never ever happen' is just as disingenuous as someone claiming they are a valid turn by turn metric.


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I think you misinterpreted what I was meaning. It's more of a general concept than the fact that a martial can use all 3 of his actions attacking.
For example: "If I use my 3 actions attacking, I have a DPR of 30" defines a martial.
But: "If I use my 3 actions attacking, I can get up to 60 damage, excluding criticals, and if I score a critical, I can trip the opponent. But if I don't score a critical, I can also use my third action to trip, as I have Assurance(Athletics)" defines something that doesn't exist.

The Schrödinger's martial is a martial that uses at the same time mutually exclusive actions. But I could go further away defining the lucky Schrödinger's martial, who also hit with all his attacks and face a Schrödinger's enemy who's having the exact properties and combat style allowing him to maximize his damage output.

In general, people tend to think spike damage dealers are better than sustained damage dealers. If a character doesn't do a single point of damage during 3 rounds and suddenly reaches undisclosed level of damage, people will remember the character as powerful. On the other hand, the character who was dealing a constant amount of damage during these 4 rounds will be seen as weak, even if he actually outdamaged the spike damage dealer.

In PF1, casters were very spiky. When all conditions were met (proper spell, enemies who fail their save), they were outstanding.
In PF2, it changed completely. They are extremely constant in their abilities. So, there may be a part of bia in the "casters are overpowered in 1E and martials are overpowered in 2E" subjects.

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