Path of Iron - too good?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


Was doing some theory crafting today when I noticed something very interesting - Path of Iron, the Martial Artist level 14 capstone, does not actually require you to make unarmed attacks...

PATH OF IRON [three-actions] FEAT 14
Prerequisites Martial Artist Dedication Frequency once per minute
With a burst of effort, you weave a path through your enemies, striking each in turn as you move past them. You Stride; this movement doesn’t trigger reactions. You can Strike up to three times at any point during your movement, each against a different enemy. Each attack counts toward your multiple attack penalty, but your multiple attack penalty doesn’t increase until you have made all your attacks.

So basically for three actions you can interweave strides and strikes while your strides avoid reactions and you don’t take MAP on your attacks as part of this action. The downside is you have to strike different targets. But is that enough? There’s no unarmed attack requirement, you could Path of Iron with a Maul or a reach weapon - so long as you’re spreading the love you can get effectively six actions, avoid AoOs and MAP. The other downside is the once a minute limit, so it’s essentially a once per combat trick ... but for comparison, if this was a focus spell I would definitely take it

For a level 14 feat! And it has only one prerequisite - the dedication, which by itself isn’t useless for any fighter (always nice to have a lethal unarmed option as a fall back).

What do you think - two feats including your dedication for Path of Iron worth it? Am I going to see every high level fighter take this as meta?

Liberty's Edge

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It's fine.

I'd expect that it will eventually see errata to only work unarmed to fit the theme of the Archetype, and would suggest instituting that in advance of official errata if you think it's too powerful, but distributed damage is weaker than focused damage and it is only once per combat.

And it's four actions, not six. It gives one Stride's worth of movement, not three. I don't really know where you'd get the idea it gave three Strides, honestly.


Deadmanwalking wrote:

It's fine.

I'd expect that it will eventually see errata to only work unarmed to fit the theme of the Archetype, and would suggest instituting that in advance of official errata if you think it's too powerful, but distributed damage is weaker than focused damage and it is only once per combat.

And it's four actions, not six. It gives one Stride's worth of movement, not three. I don't really know where you'd get the idea it gave three Strides, honestly.

It’s one strides distance in movement, but you can break it up between attacks. You could do the equivalent of stride, strike, stride, strike, stride, strike, stride. Potentially 7 actions really, which also has the benefit of potentially putting you into melee, taking three attacks, and putting you more than a step out of melee if you’re building for bonus speed and with a reach weapon sets up your AoO reach attack. Compare that to stride, strike, strike against two opponents, and yet you’re still in melee reach of two opponents, and the second hit has MAP.

Liberty's Edge

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Sure, you can break it up, but total movement rate still matters. All your targets have to be quite close to each other for most characters to effectively even get to three of them.

It being broken up is great and allows for some great tactical stuff, don't get me wrong, but saying it's effectively three full Strides? No. It's certainly an action economy enhancer, and a potent one, but not to that degree.


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I am definitely not saying it’s three full strides, just that it allows move/attack/move, etc. I realize it does not provide a bonus to movement. But in PF2, moving even 5ft is an action. With the ability to ignore reactions, it is more like step, attack, step etc except those steps could be more than 5’ each


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The fact that it's not limited to unarmed strikes doesn't really change much. Even if it had that limitation some classes could use it to great effect. Animal Instinct Barbarian, Mutagenist and Wild Druids (or any Polymorpher, really) come to mind.

The limited range and the fact that you can't use it to focus down a single target make it a strong, but not overpowered feat, in my opinion. After all, having three injured enemies is worse than having two healthy and a dead one.


I do believe Path of Iron with a d10 reach weapon is significantly better than PoI with unarmed only.

I understand spreading around damage may not be optimal, but typically if you’re trying to say safe, setup reach, move/attack/move is your turn. Throw potentially two more attacks on that seems worth a feat.

In PF2, attack bonus adjustment mean a lot. This is a game where people value a +1 attack. Making those 2nd and 3rd attacks without MAP with 3d12 striking weapon can be a big difference on your damage that round, on top of getting you in and out safely. And typically, the damage still needs to be done, and other allies will typically have AoE access.

And no limit on how you move, or when the attacks need to be made - you could be surrounded by three enemies and make three attacks at full attack bonus then move out without incurring AoO

And we’re also talking about just the feat - not a class feature. How does it compare to other generally available combat feats?


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It does sort of run into the cleave/swipe problem of "how often are the enemies going to be lined up where I can maximize this".


PossibleCabbage wrote:
It does sort of run into the cleave/swipe problem of "how often are the enemies going to be lined up where I can maximize this".

That’s the thing, since the APG has been out I’ve been watching out for that in games and it seems to come up regularly. Two happens all the time, and even move/attack/attack/move without MAP or AoO is still good. Even against one enemy it’s still Spring Attack, so it’s not useless if you can’t get three enemies lined up, I think for many melee builds it still offers a preferable option in most combats


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Liegence wrote:
I do believe Path of Iron with a d10 reach weapon is significantly better than PoI with unarmed only.

A barbarian can have an unarmed d12 reach weapon. So the lack of that limitation doesn't really change all that much.

We're also talking level 14 here. Shoudln't be too hard to gain reach in some way for many characters at that level.

Quote:
I understand spreading around damage may not be optimal, but typically if you’re trying to say safe, setup reach, move/attack/move is your turn. Throw potentially two more attacks on that seems worth a feat.

Except move/attack/move lets you Stride twice. Unless you're a monk, I doubt you'll have much (if any) movement left after closing the distance between three enemies in a single stride.

Quote:

In PF2, attack bonus adjustment mean a lot. This is a game where people value a +1 attack. Making those 2nd and 3rd attacks without MAP with 3d12 striking weapon can be a big difference on your damage that round, on top of getting you in and out safely. And typically, the damage still needs to be done, and other allies will typically have AoE access.

And no limit on how you move, or when the attacks need to be made - you could be surrounded by three enemies and make three attacks at full attack bonus then move out without incurring AoO

As I said, it is a good feat, but still situational. And being limited to once per combat does even the playing field quite dramatically.

Quote:
And we’re also talking about just the feat - not a class feature. How does it compare to other generally available combat feats?

You mean like the Archer's Triple Shot + Multishot Stance? I'd say the Archer comes out on top, honestly. Even without the Stance if you were to argue that it's a higher level feat (to which I'd simply reply that PoI is a MUCH higher level than Tripe Shot).


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Yeah, but Triple Shot is -4 to each attack, or -2 in the stance (which is two feats and an action to take stance). This is no penalty to any attack.

Also, I know this generally falls under “too good” but worth noting, the action only states Strike. A strike is from either a melee or ranged weapon - there’s no requirement that the strikes are melee RAW. So as written, compared to triple shot, this is stride and make three strikes without any MAP, and all movement doesn’t provoke reactions


Liegence wrote:
Yeah, but Triple Shot is -4 to each attack, or -2 in the stance (which is two feats and an action to take stance). This is no penalty to any attack.

It's -2 if you only do two attacks. Which is obviously worse than three at -0, but triple shot works every single turn and you can do it at 100 ft without penalty. Doing only 2 attacks alos means the extra action to ener the stance doesn't matter.

If you use Path of Iron against 3 enemies, you're still within Stride distance of 3 enemies, even if you miraculously have some movement left to get away after attacking all three. That's still 6 potential attacks coming your way. It's similar when used against a boss as PF1 "Spring Attack". You're still only one Stride away from a VERY powerful enemy.

Quote:
Also, I know this generally falls under “too good” but worth noting, the action only states Strike. A strike is from either a melee or ranged weapon - there’s no requirement that the strikes are melee RAW. So as written, compared to triple shot, this is stride and make three strikes without any MAP, and all movement doesn’t provoke reactions

Hadn't considered that. But as you said, it's too good so shouldn't matter in any reasonable group.

So, how exactly do you propose to change the feat to make it balanced? Other than adding the "melee" in there, obviously.


Blave wrote:

The fact that it's not limited to unarmed strikes doesn't really change much. Even if it had that limitation some classes could use it to great effect. Animal Instinct Barbarian, Mutagenist and Wild Druids (or any Polymorpher, really) come to mind.

The limited range and the fact that you can't use it to focus down a single target make it a strong, but not overpowered feat, in my opinion. After all, having three injured enemies is worse than having two healthy and a dead one.

Yes, it changes much, because Barbarians, Mutagenists and Wild Druids already have a nice Dedication that most people take: Monk Dedication. It means that you are no more paying a level 2 feat and a level 14 feat, but a level 12 and a level 14 feat (unless you're Human and then you can do a little bit of shenanigans to mix all of that but it's still more limiting). Also, because it competes with Flurry of Blows it's not that interesting on such builds. And the Dedication really gives you nothing.

And I'm of Liegence point of view, this feat is too good to be true. Limiting it to Unarmed attack would be better. It would still be very good. In my opinion, there are a bit too many good options for Unarmed attacks right now.

And Archer Triple Shot + Multishot Stance is nowhere close to Path of Iron. A Path of Iron with a Greataxe deals twice the damage of a Triple Shot.


As a player who often opts for raw over Rai until errata. And who loves martial artist.

I'd house rule is with unarmed strikes.


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if it wasn't a once per battle ability i could see a reason for concern since you could continuously go back and forth wrecking havok with kinda ridiculous damage output.

But as a once per fight i don't think it matters that much. You can use it on the first round and do some burst while positioning yourself, but that's it.

That said, i don't think it's unreasonable to be houseruled or errattaed to be only unarmed since the whole archetype is for unarmed.


Is there any reason you can't use this with a bow as written? All it says is Stride and Strike and using a bow is a Strike.


Errata I would propose is making it unarmed strikes. I think the general question of the thread is if you can do this without unarmed strikes does it become unbalanced (assuming with unarmed it is balanced)

And demon321x2, I do believe as written there’s nothing that prevents you from using it with a bow.

I do, however, look forward to the day where as a rogue i Path of Iron on turn one where all enemies are flat footed and a no-MAP sneak attack three enemies.

As for stride distance, if you’re 20/25 feat obviously not a great option. But you can hit 30-40 pretty easily, and boosting speed can be done with other magic options as well. And that’s not just for PoI synergy, just stacking speed boosts in general is very useful.

Re: being one stride from powerful enemy - keep in mind as written I’m saying this is a good feat for any melee, be it fighter or tank. Being one stride away may be exactly where you want to be - generally someone is up front; having avoided an AoO and being a distanced enough to require more than a step action from the enemy can be favorable enough to be useful in a solo encounter.


PoI is really good, but at once per minute and forced to spread your attacks across three different targets there are a lot of feat combinations that compare pretty favorably to this.


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It's the same level as Whirlwind Strike, which has no limits on uses or weapons (nor does it require a Dedication feat). With a Reach weapon (and possibly Haste to position first and/or some Enlarge effect for extra reach) one will often target 3+ enemies.

So no, I don't see Path of Iron as too good when there's a comparable feat at the same level that's better. It's possible the feat's intentionally made for other melee martials to have something comparable, yet with a touch of skirmishing flavor.

I am surprised it's all weapons given the way Martial Artist is built, so maybe that's an oversight. The feat's not powerful enough that I'd overrule here, especially given how strong unarmed attacks can be.


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Castilliano wrote:
It's the same level as Whirlwind Strike, which has no limits on uses or weapons (nor does it require a Dedication feat). With a Reach weapon (and possibly Haste to position first and/or some Enlarge effect for extra reach) one will often target 3+ enemies.

Agreed.

The giant instinct barbarian in my Age of Ashes game has had some 6 attack turns without any MAP due to huge size and 20' reach. +1 more for AoO. Does it always happen? No, but if there are at least 3 enemies in range it's a no-brainer, and he can potentially do it several rounds in a row.

And he hasn't even hit level 15 yet, so that's several times at the first level he's had the feat. As the GM, I'm not setting up these turns deliberately, either, and sometimes they come at the cost of being targeted by a lot of foes (and the giant instinct's lower AC).


Castilliano wrote:
It's the same level as Whirlwind Strike, which has no limits on uses or weapons (nor does it require a Dedication feat). With a Reach weapon (and possibly Haste to position first and/or some Enlarge effect for extra reach) one will often target 3+ enemies.

Disagreed.

Whirlwind Strike is super niche. You have to play a Giant Barbarian and you have payed a high price for your reach. And the lack of mobility greatly reduces Whirlwind Attack efficiency. Either the enemies allow you to use it or you can't use it.
Path of Iron comes with his Stride action so everyone can use it in any situation where there are 3 enemies that are not so far from you. For me, it's borderline overpowered. Even limiting it to Unarmed Strike makes a very strong level 14 feat out of it.


While it depends on your campaign, LOTS of encounters include 4 or more melee only opponents who are highly motivated to kill you. In those encounters Whirlwind starts looking pretty good compared to PoI, and that's before you even start thinking about extending your reach.

But I don't think the point was that there aren't situations where Path of Iron is strictly better. The point was there are multiple feats at or around that level with similar situational efficiency- some of which can be repeated ad nauseum with no per minute limitation.

Heck, a caster with Rogue Dedication can pick up Mobility and approximate PoI efficiency with AoE spells at a fairly low level. Or consider the Mauler feat Clear the Way, level 6 and gives you 5 zero MAP Shoves with a likely reaction proof half Stride for a mere 2 actions with no usage limit.


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SuperBidi wrote:
Castilliano wrote:
It's the same level as Whirlwind Strike, which has no limits on uses or weapons (nor does it require a Dedication feat). With a Reach weapon (and possibly Haste to position first and/or some Enlarge effect for extra reach) one will often target 3+ enemies.

Disagreed.

Whirlwind Strike is super niche. You have to play a Giant Barbarian and you have payed a high price for your reach. And the lack of mobility greatly reduces Whirlwind Attack efficiency. Either the enemies allow you to use it or you can't use it.
Path of Iron comes with his Stride action so everyone can use it in any situation where there are 3 enemies that are not so far from you. For me, it's borderline overpowered. Even limiting it to Unarmed Strike makes a very strong level 14 feat out of it.

Or have a wizard or druid who can enlarge you should be trivial by 14th level.


siegfriedliner wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
Castilliano wrote:
It's the same level as Whirlwind Strike, which has no limits on uses or weapons (nor does it require a Dedication feat). With a Reach weapon (and possibly Haste to position first and/or some Enlarge effect for extra reach) one will often target 3+ enemies.

Disagreed.

Whirlwind Strike is super niche. You have to play a Giant Barbarian and you have payed a high price for your reach. And the lack of mobility greatly reduces Whirlwind Attack efficiency. Either the enemies allow you to use it or you can't use it.
Path of Iron comes with his Stride action so everyone can use it in any situation where there are 3 enemies that are not so far from you. For me, it's borderline overpowered. Even limiting it to Unarmed Strike makes a very strong level 14 feat out of it.
Or have a wizard or druid who can enlarge you should be trivial by 14th level.

Also, haste. I had a barbarian in a campaign and barbarian bowling was definitely a thing. Haste and Enlarge the Barbarian before their turn, Stride > Whirlwind Strike the pins down on their turn.


siegfriedliner wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
Castilliano wrote:
It's the same level as Whirlwind Strike, which has no limits on uses or weapons (nor does it require a Dedication feat). With a Reach weapon (and possibly Haste to position first and/or some Enlarge effect for extra reach) one will often target 3+ enemies.

Disagreed.

Whirlwind Strike is super niche. You have to play a Giant Barbarian and you have payed a high price for your reach. And the lack of mobility greatly reduces Whirlwind Attack efficiency. Either the enemies allow you to use it or you can't use it.
Path of Iron comes with his Stride action so everyone can use it in any situation where there are 3 enemies that are not so far from you. For me, it's borderline overpowered. Even limiting it to Unarmed Strike makes a very strong level 14 feat out of it.
Or have a wizard or druid who can enlarge you should be trivial by 14th level.

Except it's not trivial (and even by level 20 it's not trivial). Unless you have ways to gain more actions by gaining levels, casting a spell still takes a round (and a spell slot). So, for most fights, you won't be enlarged and be able to benefit from your level 14 feat.

In my opinion, despite it's limitation, you'll use Path of Iron more often than Whirdlwind Attack if you're not a Giant Barbarian.


Reticent wrote:
Or consider the Mauler feat Clear the Way, level 6 and gives you 5 zero MAP Shoves with a likely reaction proof half Stride for a mere 2 actions with no usage limit.

Why are those not with usual MAP? As far as I can see you just make up to five shoves with normal MAP, which makes that feat pretty meh...


SuperBidi wrote:
siegfriedliner wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
Castilliano wrote:
It's the same level as Whirlwind Strike, which has no limits on uses or weapons (nor does it require a Dedication feat). With a Reach weapon (and possibly Haste to position first and/or some Enlarge effect for extra reach) one will often target 3+ enemies.

Disagreed.

Whirlwind Strike is super niche. You have to play a Giant Barbarian and you have payed a high price for your reach. And the lack of mobility greatly reduces Whirlwind Attack efficiency. Either the enemies allow you to use it or you can't use it.
Path of Iron comes with his Stride action so everyone can use it in any situation where there are 3 enemies that are not so far from you. For me, it's borderline overpowered. Even limiting it to Unarmed Strike makes a very strong level 14 feat out of it.
Or have a wizard or druid who can enlarge you should be trivial by 14th level.

Except it's not trivial (and even by level 20 it's not trivial). Unless you have ways to gain more actions by gaining levels, casting a spell still takes a round (and a spell slot). So, for most fights, you won't be enlarged and be able to benefit from your level 14 feat.

In my opinion, despite it's limitation, you'll use Path of Iron more often than Whirdlwind Attack if you're not a Giant Barbarian.

Agreed and not even calling whirlwind attack a bad feat overall. But compared to usefulness of path of iron. It's quite a bit worse IMO unless you are aiming for the award of most damage on level 1 foes.


Djinn71 wrote:
Reticent wrote:
Or consider the Mauler feat Clear the Way, level 6 and gives you 5 zero MAP Shoves with a likely reaction proof half Stride for a mere 2 actions with no usage limit.
Why are those not with usual MAP? As far as I can see you just make up to five shoves with normal MAP, which makes that feat pretty meh...

Actually, I may need some clarification on how Clear the Way is supposed to work. My initial reading, which may be wrong, was that the 5 shoves were happening simultaneously- which implies but does not guarantee that they're at equal (and usually zero) MAP.

If the shoves happen serially, it gets a little weird, because then as part of each successful Shove action you can Stride to follow-up, which may well change your adjacency situation (taking you out of contact with some, bringing you into contact with others). Also, that implies up to 6 partial Strides in a 2 action feat, which feels maybe not intentional.

Anyway, maybe not the BEST comparison to PoI- but still an example of heavy action efficiency coming many levels prior to PoI's level 14 requirement.


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it's ok. it's only once per combat. the main problem is that it's not focus fire. even in PF2 focus fire is always the best. Basically this is good for weakening or killing mooks. is it actually any better than chain lightning or other level approiate AOE spell.

It's a nice toy, but no where close to being overpowered.


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There is also rangers impossible volley.

Also you have to spend 2 feats on it, unlike 1 for whirlwind. So it's ok if it a little better than it.


The fact that Whirlwind strike is SO MUCH BETTER on a giant barbarian who is fully hulked up with maximum reach does sort of make it a lot less exciting on everybody else.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Level 14 is pretty late, feats at that level should be really good. Game needs more stuff like PoI, not less.

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