How much does AC matter ?


Advice

1 to 50 of 85 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>

Most threads I've seen point out how much even +1 AC is a godsend in PF2, since it not only lowers your chance to get hit, but also to get crit.

So, while thinking about what to play in an upcoming campaing, I always tried to include a shield option in every melee chracter. The +2 to AC seems too good to pass up.

However, this means:

1) It prevents me to take some specific builds (two-handed ones, for instance, have no way of increasing their AC)
2) It messes up my action economy. Raising a shield or using any other form of parrying takes up an action that could be used for attacking/striking/intimidating. With the proper build, like fighter or bastion, it can take only a reaction, but then it competes with AOO, Shield Block and other reaction you might get (like opportune riposte). Sure, there are higher level stances who give it for free, but then half the game is already done.

So my question, for those of you who actually PLAYED the game and aren't just theorycrafting like me: are those +2 AC actually worth the cost ? Do you often raise your shield as a meleer ? Do you get hit often if you don't have one ?

A rogue with no shield seems easy to drop with 8hp/lvl, and nimble dodge takes a reaction AND only applies on one attack.

A swashbuckler is strapped for actions, so until level 10, it looks like there's little wiggle room with a shield: Panache-enhancer, Finisher, Raise Shield. Done.

A barbarian with a big two-hander is plenty scary, but does the penalty to AC and lack of shield turn him into a punching ball ?

Does a Melee Hunter have to take Twin parry as a feat tax so as not to die ?

So, yeah, basically: what are your actual game experiences and how dangerous is it to go without a shield ?


3 people marked this as a favorite.

It is a balance. Will it hurt to be smacked on with a low AC? Absolutely. Will it render your entire group non-viable and may as well just toss your entire campaign? No. Not in the slightest.

Do what you enjoy. Have a generally rounded party. Pay attention to the tactics-driven approach to combat. You'll be fine.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

+2 AC from shields is insane.

As you've noted big thing to note is that AC in PF2E generally isn't about not getting hit - its about limiting how much damage you take (damage mitigation).

Most enemies have relatively high attack bonuses relative to players, meaning players get hit a lot. They also get CRIT a lot.

Pumping your AC effects both of those possibilities simultaneously though, and reduces incoming damage on both ends.

For the low end of the AC spectrum like casters, you're pumping your AC as much as possible to try and avoid as many crits as possible. You'll still be hit a lot, but your overall survivability is dependent on maintaining your defenses.

For the other end, ie champions, you actually do start to both remove crits to only a natural 20 and push actual overall accuracy to the point where hits are not a given.

All of the above is massively compounded when you consider Multiple Attack Penalties. A Champion with a raised shield is likely near "hit only on a 20" vs a 2nd attack, and making sure your AC is as high as possible makes misses against your AC on 2nd attacks a real benefit for everyone else.

All of which I think you already knew, but I restated it here because it all works together and compounds. The first two campaigns I ran, both parties had/have a shield champion in them who is for all intents unkillable. Not because they don't take damage, but because they make incoming damage slow and predictable and can easily heal enough to not get dropped in the time period of an encounyer.

My next game (which I'm actually playing in) had ZERO shields to start, and it was IMMEDIATELY notable. It took till session two for both monks in the party to grab a cheap shield just to Raise it - no blocking required, it made an immediate difference.

The mitigation if you want to run without such extra AC will likely need to come from a strong healer or another damage mitigatiom strategy.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The other thing I've noticed is that AC is good, but tactics are better. Knowing when to skirmish versus standing in the center to slug it out. There is some risk reward--I think we can finish the baddie this round if we all hit hard, if we don't this will hurt.

Having the higher AC, lowers the risk if your party favors the "stand there and take it" approach. The action economy becomes harder to balance for certain characters if you favor a running battle of small skirmishes.


As they've said, AC changes the game.
I noticed that right away as a Champion blocked away chip after chip after chip. Having a shield was like he had an extra life, at least vs. mooks where he was doing enough damage w/ his smaller weapon. And vs. bosses, one needs to reduce those crit chances. Damage mitigation favors PCs as it makes battles less swingy and makes Heal that much more effective (by protecting the h.p. it grants).

As for two-handed builds, you can get extra AC w/ a Shield spell, but the point is of course to drop your enemy. The damage difference isn't that big though unless you have actions or Striking Runes which multiply the damage die. Without either, a shield's +2 is superior, whether or not you have Shield Block (which gives DR at 1st level!).
It's like trading +2 damage & your 3rd action for +2 AC (& +5 Resistance w/ Shield Block). Unless you have a solid use for that 3rd action, there's no comparison there.

A Reach weapon can be a significant defense if you have an AoO (and even a minor defense if it makes an enemy w/ 3 decent actions spend one to Step to you after you close.) This is of course why Gnome Flickmaces are popular because you get this and a shield too.
Tripping helps to, depending on whom, where, and how many allies & actions are on your side.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

+2 to AC reduces the incoming damage by 20%. So, it's nice if it's free. If it comes with an action, it's less interesting.

I Raise a Shield in 2 situations:
- I have Shield Block and the reaction to use it.
- I have nothing else to do (third attacks are nothing).

It seems to be the sweet spot for me.


SuperBidi wrote:

+2 to AC reduces the incoming damage by 20%. So, it's nice if it's free. If it comes with an action, it's less interesting.

I Raise a Shield in 2 situations:
- I have Shield Block and the reaction to use it.
- I have nothing else to do (third attacks are nothing).

It seems to be the sweet spot for me.

I really do think that the "soft" benefits that go along with the flat 20% reduction to incoming damage increase the value beyond just a flat number.

Theres a significant, tangible advantage for example to incoming damage being predictable that comes with eliminating crits for example, since that lets you better manage your healing resources and actions with lower risk.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Blue_frog wrote:

As a sidenote, I really hate the rules that a natural 20 is a crit no matter what. It should be a HIT no matter what, and only a crit when it's actually 10 higher.

PF1 ensured this through crit confirmation.

I mean, a natural 20 is one degree of success improved. Especially for 3rd attacks, its possible for this merely to be a hit in some scenarios.

I'm not sad to see crit confirmation go away. It made predicting outcomes wonky, and slowed down the game.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

AC matters, and it matters a lot. That being said, there are obvious trade-offs. A two-handed weapon is going to do +2 damage per damage die more than a one-handed weapon, and after striking (+4), that's nothing to scoff at. I think a lot of people were generally pumping up the value of shields because coming from 1e play, lots of "effectiveness" metrics only included offensive statistics (DPR largely), and ignoring defensive capabilities when evaluating a character isn't really a good way to do things anymore.

You can certainly go without a shield, but unless you mitigate that somehow, you will be a lot more squishy. Barbarians have some of this built in with additional and temp HP, but even so, no one's going to argue they'll outlast a well-built paladin with a shield in a battle, even if they do do more damage.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

This thread feels like it should be titled "how much do shields matter." And the answer is that it depends on your action economy. Shields are good if 1) you have the actions to spare and 2) you will actually be attacked.

Fighters get feats which let them get their shield up easier and hit like a truck, making them a great choice. Monks often have a spare action left after they move and flurry. They could use that last action to move away, but that might not be ideal if the enemy has AoO or will just swing on your teammate who is already hurt.

Good Champions get native feat support,but they also have reactions to punish enemies who attack their teammates. That means enemies usually wind up attacking a champion eventually and also have to overcome their top tier AC.

Animal instinct barbarians usually have a free hand, can save actions using pounce, and get better AC than other classmates to boot. Other barbarians may instead want to pile on the damage, which is why you play a barbarian after all.

Rangers usually have enough going on for their actions. War Priests already need to squeeze movement, castings, and striking into their turns, and can usually just heal themselves if they eat a big hit anyway. Conversely, a wizard who has already identified the enemy's weakness might not have a better third action after casting. A sorcerer might not either if they've already used Demoralize on all the enemies.

A shield isn't mandatory on any class though. If you don't have one on a fighter or champion you should have other advantages which offset this. Just play to your concept.


KrispyXIV wrote:
Blue_frog wrote:

As a sidenote, I really hate the rules that a natural 20 is a crit no matter what. It should be a HIT no matter what, and only a crit when it's actually 10 higher.

PF1 ensured this through crit confirmation.

I mean, a natural 20 is one degree of success improved. Especially for 3rd attacks, its possible for this merely to be a hit in some scenarios.

I'm not sad to see crit confirmation go away. It made predicting outcomes wonky, and slowed down the game.

Nothing feels worse than rolling a Nat 20 to crit, only to follow it up with a Nat 1 to confirm.

Many a crit have been robbed from me because of a botched confirmation roll.


Thanks for all the informative answers ;)

However, my question was more in the line of: "in actual play, without this +2 to AC, can you withstand the onslaught of a same level monster ?"

In other words, you're a rogue level 10 without a shield, you're in the reach of a level 10 monster, what are your odds of surviving the turn (without a Champion helping, of course) ? And even if you survive, will you have to move away next turn and/or need a heal spell, thus being more a liability than an asset ?

I appreciate that a game should be about what I want to play, not what I have to play, but I also don't want to drag the party down.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
KrispyXIV wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:

+2 to AC reduces the incoming damage by 20%. So, it's nice if it's free. If it comes with an action, it's less interesting.

I Raise a Shield in 2 situations:
- I have Shield Block and the reaction to use it.
- I have nothing else to do (third attacks are nothing).

It seems to be the sweet spot for me.

I really do think that the "soft" benefits that go along with the flat 20% reduction to incoming damage increase the value beyond just a flat number.

Theres a significant, tangible advantage for example to incoming damage being predictable that comes with eliminating crits for example, since that lets you better manage your healing resources and actions with lower risk.

Yes, but as Captain Morgan said: You need to be attacked. Raising a Shield tends to repulse attacks (if the enemy has a few functioning brain cells) and as such can become counter productive. Now, if you have ways to attract attention or if the situation makes you very attractive, I'm all in for Raising a Shield if you have one.

The thing is: Even when you don't raise it, a shield often comes with an opportunity cost that Tivadar explained. So, unless you have a very predictable way of attracting attention and the action economy to raise your shield, I think it's better to stick to a two-hander.
If you have Shield Block, it's another story, as Shield Block reduces incoming damage a second time for a really great overall reduction (it's very easy to nearly permatank a same level enemy with Shield Block).

Blue_frog wrote:

Thanks for all the informative answers ;)

However, my question was more in the line of: "in actual play, without this +2 to AC, can you withstand the onslaught of a same level monster ?"

In other words, you're a rogue level 10 without a shield, you're in the reach of a level 10 monster, what are your odds of surviving the turn (without a Champion helping, of course) ? And even if you survive, will you have to move away next turn and/or need a heal spell, thus being more a liability than an asset ?

I appreciate that a game should be about what I want to play, not what I have to play, but I also don't want to drag the party down.

There are damage spikes. But in general martials survive quite well without shields. Cloth casters, on the other hand, tend to fall quickly if they don't have a shield raised.

Rogues are squishier than other martials. But they do fine in general if you don't play them too boldly.


Have other ways to mitigate or avoid damage, that people should keep in mind because trading blows and tanking with your face will end badly for you.

It's not uncommon for Arcane and Occult Spellcasters to debuff enemies while causing damage, mainly with sickened or frightened or reducing their action economy.

A Rogue could trip the enemy, attack and then move away/step, now the enemy either have to get up and move after to attack only once or crawl and attack twice at -2 attack because of prone.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
SuperBidi wrote:


Yes, but as Captain Morgan said: You need to be attacked. Raising a Shield tends to repulse attacks (if the enemy has a few functioning brain cells) and as such can become counter productive.

If Raising a Shield induces an enemy not to attack me at all, I have reduced the damage dealt to myself by 100% ;)

I may not have prevented damage to my party, but I may have induced additional movement, suboptimal targeting, etc. by doing that.

The benefits of raising a shield are different if you're "The Tank" vs. "The Backline", but its always reducing damage.

As The Tank, I want it reducing damage when people attack me. If I'm not the tank, I'm absolutely ecstatic if I spend my action and my foe is dissuaded - but it also helps if they attack me anyway.


KrispyXIV wrote:
As The Tank, I want it reducing damage when people attack me. If I'm not the tank, I'm absolutely ecstatic if I spend my action and my foe is dissuaded - but it also helps if they attack me anyway.

This 100%. My champion's reaction is saved for shield block or liberating step. If the enemy is attacking my allies, I'm going to reduce the damage and let them step away from a second attack. If they are attacking me, I'm going to block it. And if they ignore me, I'm going to trip them so they have to spend even more actions catching up to people who aren't me.

If you want to use a 2-hander, you can also mitigate a lot of damage just by moving away from opponents. So stride, strike, stride/step can be the difference between the monster attacking the person with a shield raised right next to them, and following you the guy with the big sword who just stabbed them. There are also a handful of feats that given reactions to boost your AC without a shield; those may be sufficient for you depending on how you're playing.


Blue_frog wrote:

Thanks for all the informative answers ;)

However, my question was more in the line of: "in actual play, without this +2 to AC, can you withstand the onslaught of a same level monster ?"

In other words, you're a rogue level 10 without a shield, you're in the reach of a level 10 monster, what are your odds of surviving the turn (without a Champion helping, of course) ? And even if you survive, will you have to move away next turn and/or need a heal spell, thus being more a liability than an asset ?

I appreciate that a game should be about what I want to play, not what I have to play, but I also don't want to drag the party down.

Totally doable. My group in Extinction Curse is hardly optimized. Some fights are real rough, but I think most of those were due to getting used to the tactics of PF2.

Something to keep in mind, though, is that on-level monsters are intended to be hard fights that draw out resources. Someone dropping could happen. So, comparing to on-level creatures might skew your math.

If you are interested in getting a rough idea about various creature breakpoints, you should check out the Monster Creation Rules from the GMG.


Blue_frog wrote:

Thanks for all the informative answers ;)

However, my question was more in the line of: "in actual play, without this +2 to AC, can you withstand the onslaught of a same level monster ?"

In other words, you're a rogue level 10 without a shield, you're in the reach of a level 10 monster, what are your odds of surviving the turn (without a Champion helping, of course) ? And even if you survive, will you have to move away next turn and/or need a heal spell, thus being more a liability than an asset ?

I appreciate that a game should be about what I want to play, not what I have to play, but I also don't want to drag the party down.

The short answer is that, no, you will not typically drag the party down without a shield. If you're playing without a shield and decide to triple move to engage the enemies leaving your other party members in the dust, then that's a different story. Going two-handed or dual weapons just means you have to adjust your combat strategy a bit, not that you'll be a burden on the party by default.


I played a Dwarf Barbarian in Age of Ashes with really low AC. I had 0 problems to survive but I had a dedicated healer that was insane.

As I had a lot of HP I was geting crit a lot but I had no problem to survive as I was hiting really hard and enemys die fast too.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Imo, spending an action to add a +2 to potentially stop a crit is way better than a 3rd attack at -10 or -8.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
KrispyXIV wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:


Yes, but as Captain Morgan said: You need to be attacked. Raising a Shield tends to repulse attacks (if the enemy has a few functioning brain cells) and as such can become counter productive.

If Raising a Shield induces an enemy not to attack me at all, I have reduced the damage dealt to myself by 100% ;)

I may not have prevented damage to my party, but I may have induced additional movement, suboptimal targeting, etc. by doing that.

The benefits of raising a shield are different if you're "The Tank" vs. "The Backline", but its always reducing damage.

As The Tank, I want it reducing damage when people attack me. If I'm not the tank, I'm absolutely ecstatic if I spend my action and my foe is dissuaded - but it also helps if they attack me anyway.

Sure, sure. But if I'm a fighter and you're a rogue flanking, me raising my shield means I'm doing less damage and will clearly be harder to hit than you. So almost any foe will just attack you instead, which is bad.

But if you take gang up and I take whatever the blocking for allies feat is called, suddenly raising my shield helps no matter who they attack.


As one can deduce from many responses is that party synergy matters a whole bunch. If you're a solo frontliner, you'll need damage mitigation, whether from Heal, an archer Champion within 15' of you & enemies, a guy who likes casting wall spells, or what. A shield's the simplest way to do this on your own.
Having other frontliners (or skirmishers who alternate) eases the defensive burden, yet may also give a false sense of security since smarter enemies may focus fire, especially to spend that Shield Block and get through.

And the reason shields come up so often in the AC conversation is your other sources of AC should be competitive for your level. Period.
Your Dex + Armor base should be 5 (or 6 in heavy) and your armor should have maximum enchantment ASAP. Monks have a little leeway as their Proficiency starts higher, but they need to be on par (and lose less than most classes by having a shield).

And one could also build to be flexible, the simplest method being having a bastard sword to switch, nice to go to d12s after your shield's broken.


In my experience, it matters a lot.

In the campaign where I'm the player, we have a Champion who uses a shield (tower shield at this point, but I'm thinking he might switch to a Sturdy shield some time soon because the second action for another +2 from the tower shield is usually prohibitive). Defensively, he is amazing, often able to hold his own against numerous foes at once.

In the campaign where I'm the DM, we have one character that's the opposite end of the spectrum: a giant-instinct barbarian wielding a ginormous pick. This fine fellow has a tendency to start off fights by using Rage + Sudden Charge and deal a horrifying amount of damage, but he goes down really fast. I think he goes down in about one fight in two or three.

So yeah, AC matters, but so do tactics.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

The level 15 shield Redeemer in my group recently held up under focused fire from two level 12 demons and a level 17 dragon who had extreme to hit and damage after the champion was healed back up from 0 from a breath weapon. It did require some healing from the cleric, but it was still pretty impressive that the dragon and minions couldn't drop him for at least two straight rounds of pounding at his shield, despite teetering at the edge of unconsciousness and being flat on his back. (The dragon was smart enough and experienced enough to know that attacking the other party members would have let to bad things from Glimpse of Redemption, so she ordered all attacks focused on the champion.)


It matters a lot, especially against high level creatures.

Apart from that, the party composition helps a lot:

- A champion will be an excellent frontline and provide great support ( If you are using an evil champion, it would be probably way worse except for the Desecrator, maybe ).

- A dedicated healer will be able to take the party alive.

- A hybrid spellcaster ( Nature Tradition ) Could provide occasional healing while blasting or fight while morphed.

- A pet could provide you flanking and be the target instead of a character.

Remember also that now we have stuff like

-Hymn of healing
-Life boost

which are easy to get for any character, and allows the whole party to deal with enemies in a easier way ( I simulate a party of 4 with 4x hymn of healing, and it was nonsense regardless the encounter ).


Captain Morgan wrote:
The level 15 shield Redeemer in my group recently held up under focused fire from two level 12 demons and a level 17 dragon who had extreme to hit and damage after the champion was healed back up from 0 from a breath weapon. It did require some healing from the cleric, but it was still pretty impressive that the dragon and minions couldn't drop him for at least two straight rounds of pounding at his shield, despite teetering at the edge of unconsciousness and being flat on his back. (The dragon was smart enough and experienced enough to know that attacking the other party members would have let to bad things from Glimpse of Redemption, so she ordered all attacks focused on the champion.)

The dragon wasn't smart enough to know the Champion only had 2 reactions and had to be in 15 foot range of his buddies and the attacking enemy? Which makes for a nice breath weapon attack...

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
rnphillips wrote:
The dragon wasn't smart enough to know the Champion only had 2 reactions and had to be in 15 foot range of his buddies and the attacking enemy? Which makes for a nice breath weapon attack...

Not at 15th level. Or only partially, anyway. The dragon wouldn't get hit with Glimpse of Redemption if they're more than 15 feet away, but the entire party would get Resistance 15 to the breath weapon if they're standing close which is...less than ideal from the dragon's perspective. Or that's one interpretation, anyway (I think it's technically incorrect, but a lot of GMs would run it that way, probably including me).


If the dragon is more than 15 feet away, and because so it's no target for glimpse of redemption, then even exalt wouldn't work.

That's why it's a niche as exalt option, since it requires the party to be close and the enemy which performs the ape to be within 15 feet from the champion ( and the party ).

Apart from that, while fighting a dragon it's probably better to spread to let the breath just hit 1 or eventually 2 characters.


While iffy against breath weapons, Glimpse should shine vs. Trample, which may be more common as well as immediately repeatable.


Castilliano wrote:
While iffy against breath weapons, Glimpse should shine vs. Trample, which may be more common as well as immediately repeatable.

Against trample would be really interesting.

I wonder if the reaction given by both liberator and Paladin would be better.

I mean, the first ally takes damage from the trample skill.

The paladin or liberator uses its reaction.

1) the monster dies because of the 4/5 AoO ( paladin) without dealing damage to the other party members.

2) allies step away from the charge ( liberator).

Since the trample could bring the creature away from the paladin range of reaction (and because so it wouldn't then be able to strike) but by using the reaction the champion will be able to strike before it goes out of range, then the reaction must necessarily trigger before the monster deal damage to any other creature.

I am just not sure if the DM has to declare its path during the play or in the exact moment it says "the monster uses trample", allowing people to properly benefit from the liberator reaction.


I can honestly say that given the way crits work, AC is very important. An extra +1 or +2 may not keep you from getting hit, but it will certainly reduce the number of times you are crit. In a recent fight for instance, my barbarian had his weapon destroyed and then took a crit (2 crits plus a regular hit). 1 of the attacks on the weapon would have missed had my barbarian either a) not raged, or b) had a shield, and neither crit would have been a crit if I had a shield (though one would still have been a crit if not raging). Granted, the monster only needed a 4 to hit my level 2 barbarian when raging as it had +14 to hit, but reducing the crit percentage from 35% to 25% can be huge. Just as an example.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

What I think is interesting about the question How much does AC matter, is that in PF2, not all paths to high AC are as equal as they might appear on paper.

Having high defenses is important in PF2 because every character will get attacked more often than they probably used to in other games, do to the robust flexibility of system's action economy and 4 tiers of success system. Defenses are invaluable, even though they won't prevent you from taking damage.

However, with so many ways to get your AC up to within 2 to 4 points of optimal numbers, your choice on how to do so will have a lot of impact on the rest of your character.

It is still far too common to see new players to PF2 write off the importance of mobility and think that a -5 to speed is not that big of a deal. A lot of this will boil down to how much GMs tactically use mobility, as a lot of monsters are pretty agile and able to exploit that pretty brutally if the GM wants to, but especially if you are investing ancestry options into getting heavier armor to get a +1 to your AC, while letting your speed and dexterity slip, you can end up making your character a lot more vulnerable than you might realize, when you end up spending two actions a round having to move, and getting tripped relatively easily (remember Bulwark will provide you nothing against non-damaging reflex saves), especially since heavy armor requires strength to offset the speed penalty. Despite its reduced overall value, very few characters that don't start with medium or better armor benefit much dropping DEX to raise STR.

The vast majority of casters for example are much, much better off starting the game with a 14 dex that they keep boosting to 18, and taking fleet, than they are starting with a 14 STR and trying to work a way to getting medium armor with the intention of eventually getting heavy armor. On the surface your AC will feel very similar going the medium armor to heavy armor route, and may even eventually feel like your AC will be better, but it can be even more effective to exploit speed and Reflex to avoid damage than it is AC.

Heavy armor actually requires pretty intense character dedication to use effectively and not end up with a glaring weakness somewhere else in your defenses. If letting your AC be lower by one or two points can buy you 5 to 10 ft of speed and 2 or 3 points of a major save, and possibly HP as well, then as long as you are not trying to be a frontliner, then you might actually be increasing your characters survivability by not prioritizing AC over other elements of your character's development.


Because I'm kind of into whiteboard case studies, I'll present my findings.

My question is, how much does raising a shield (+2 circumstance to AC) help a rogue?

I'll be looking at level 7, because that's also the level where champions get expert armor proficiency, in case I want to do that later. I'll be comparing a level 7 rogue to level 7 monsters with high attack and high damage, i.e. brute or soldier type monsters. I'll do average case analysis as well as bad-case analysis, which I'll explain later. For in-combat bonuses and penalties, I'll assume there are none other than the shield. I think that's fair because in-combat penalties like fear can be applied, but against at-level monsters, there can be multiple monsters, and prone or grab can provide flat-footed. The rogue does have deny advantage at 3rd level, so in practice, the rogue might have higher effective AC due to frightened lowering enemy attacks while the rogue doesn't suffer flat-footed. I'll further assume the monster in question makes two strikes - one at no MAP and one at -5 MAP. I'll assume the rogue has an 8 hp ancestry and +2/level - either +1 con and toughness or +2 con. HP fidgeting should be easy in case you want to assume the rogue has higher or lower con - just add or subtract 7 for each point of con difference you think is appropriate.

Rogue's AC: 10 [base] 7 [level] 2 [proficiency] 5 [armor + dex] 1 [rune] = 25 or 27 with shield.
Rogue's HP: 8 [ancestry] + (8 [class] + 2 [con]) * 7 [level] = 78 HP
level 7 monster's attack: +18
level 7 monster's damage: 20 base

Average case without shield:
First attack - hits on a 7, crits on a 17
20% crit for 40
50% hit for 20

Average damage: 18

Second attack - hits on a 12, crits on a 20
5% crit for 40
40% hit for 20

Average damage: 10
Combined average damage: 28
Number of rounds required to down rogue (HP / average combined damage): 2.79

The rogue without a shield can expect to take 28 damager per round vs an at-level creature. Because the rogue has 78 hp, this lets the rogue take 2 rounds without going down, and the rogue will be downed on the 3rd round. Keep in mind that most encounters with an at-level monster will feature multiple monsters, so it's possible that three separate level 7 monsters will all stride once and strike twice vs the rogue and down the rogue in 1 round.

Average case with shield:
First attack - hits on a 9, crits on a 19
10% crit for 40
50% hit for 20

Average damage: 14

Second attack - hits on a 14, crits on a 20
5% crit for 40
30% hit for 20

Average damage: 8
Combined average damage: 22
Number of rounds required to down rogue (HP / average combined damage): 3.55

The rogue without a shield can expect to take 22 damager per round vs an at-level creature. Because the rogue has 78 hp, this lets the rogue take 3 rounds without going down, and the rogue will be downed on the 4rd round. The actions spent raising a shield effectively buys an additional round, technically a bit more (1.2 rounds).

The above is an average case analysis, but another important metric is bad/worst-case analysis. What happens when the rogue is unlucky and the enemy rolls high? An enemy that rolls 17 followed by a 12 will crit and hit on a unshielded rogue for 60 average damage, but will hit and miss vs a shielded rogue for only 20 damage. In other words, how unlucky does a rogue need to be to have a 'bad round'? I'm defining 'bad round' here to be one crit and one hit, or two crits. This metric is important because a campaign is long and the rogue is bound to face many enemies over the course of many sessions. Eventually, the rogue is bound to be unlucky, but the raised shield shifts the probability and makes it less likely for bad variance to occur. Lower variance is a good thing for a party given a long campaign.

bad case without shield:
Case 1: crit -> hit
20% * 40% = 8%
Case 2: hit -> crit
50% * 5% = 2.5%
Case 3: crit -> crit
20% * 5% = 1%
Total bad case chance: 11.5%
Average number of rounds until bad case (1 / bad case chance): 8.7

With a 11.5% bad-case chance, the level 7 rogue can expect to be 'unlucky' about once every 9 rounds vs an at-level foe. If the level 7 rogue faces 9 combats featuring an at-level foe and the rogue tanks one round in each combat, one of those combats, the rogue will on-average be unlucky and take 60 damage out of his 78 total health.

bad case with shield:
Case 1: crit -> hit
10% * 30% = 3%
Case 2: hit -> crit
50% * 5% = 2.5%
Case 3: crit -> crit
10% * 5% = 0.5%
Total bad case chance: 6%
Average number of rounds until bad case (1 / bad case chance): 16.67

The bad-case chance is a lot lower with a shield raised. It's very unlikely for a rogue to be 'unlucky' but it can definitely happen at 6%. However, it's roughly half as likely as without a shield raised.

TLDR: A level 7 rogue can survive 2 or 3 rounds from a 7th level brute/soldier-type foe. The shield also halves the chance that the rogue is especially unlucky and takes 60+ damage in a single round (11.5% vs 6%).


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
rnphillips wrote:
The dragon wasn't smart enough to know the Champion only had 2 reactions and had to be in 15 foot range of his buddies and the attacking enemy? Which makes for a nice breath weapon attack...
Not at 15th level. Or only partially, anyway. The dragon wouldn't get hit with Glimpse of Redemption if they're more than 15 feet away, but the entire party would get Resistance 15 to the breath weapon if they're standing close which is...less than ideal from the dragon's perspective. Or that's one interpretation, anyway (I think it's technically incorrect, but a lot of GMs would run it that way, probably including me).

The dragon was also down actions from a power word stun and at that point had one its own casting of Horrid Wilting Turned back on it. She didn't have a lot of good options.

Incidentally, the reason the champion was flat on his back was because the round before she had knocked out him, his horse, and the Oracle out with a breath weapon. They got healed back up to their feet, but those three characters were the only ones in her range. Wasting actions to chase down someone uninjured was a much worse idea than trying to finish the wounded champion at her feet.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

I would say, rather than AC being important, damage mitigation is important.

The bad guys are going to be attacking, and sooner or later that will lead to injury. The idea is to kill them before they can injure you badly enough that you are in trouble.

AC is one way to slow down how fast you get hurt. The higher the better of course, but going for sky high AC is only one path.

Defensive spells, actions and alchemical is another. Striding away from a slow enemy is good. Taking an elixir of mist form is good, blocking with a sturdy shield is good. Having an ally who casts fear on a key enemy is good. Or Command. Or anything that debuffs the enemy. A champion's reaction is great.

Having one or more party members capable of healing during battle is another way. Anybody can drink a potion, Heal and Soothe are good, Battle Medicine is good.

What you will find is that as one of these three approaches is doubled down on, you need less of the other types.

So the 2-handed barbarian will need a strong in-combat healer, but a party with a Champion may not even need a “healer” in the party. A party with a strong control caster may do fine with a monk, rogue and ranger who skirmish and play keep away, and drink the odd potion when the enemy really connects.

Meanwhile a party with a shield champion, Shield monk and Shield fighter may actually need a cleric for healing because they tend to stand and deliver, but also kill slowly, so over time the hits add up.

Your need for max AC really depends on the party. One of PF2’s real triumphs is that battle tactics are so varied depending on party composition.


All I know is I'm going to be playing a lizardfolk tiefling dual wield giant barbarian so my level 1 AC when raging is only going to be 16.


voideternal wrote:
...shield calculations...

The "problem" with shields is that unless you have the action economy to raise them properly (ideally via a reaction), they may be rather difficult to use. For example in theory my out-of-the-box (and mostly caster) Warpriest is second in AC only to our Fighter, however in real gameplay I am no better in AC than any of our martials most of the time.

Casting a spell and having to move into range? No shield up. Recalling knowledge and casting a spell? No shield up. Casting a spell and using a metamagic feat? No shield up. Doing a skill check (e.g. escaping a grab) and casting a spell? No shield up. etc. etc.

Also during the course of the campaign I think I have raised my shield in vain more often than actually benefitted from my shields AC. This usually happens when I am 2nd line and raise my shield as a 3rd action, however no enemy decides to break through and attack. On the contrary I often do not manage to raise the shield even though I know that this would be the exact time to really really do so, for example when I need to move to the front lines in order get in range for a 2-action heal. And should my character really be beleaguered it often is the better solution to simply walk away instead of raising the shield.

The situation is of course a lot better for martials as they usually have improved action economy over casters, especially if you can raise the shield via a reaction (our Fighters Reactive Shield works wonders).


Well, currently we have different options to deal with.

-fighter dedication ( and then take the reactive shield feat)
-sentry dedication
-bastion dedication

So it is pretty easy even for a lvl 2 cleric to deal with raise shield in the proper way.

It would be IMO a "below the average" reaction if compared to AoO, champion reaction, and similar stuff a cleric could get through dedications, but if the raise shield action is what he wants, that's the way.

I'd probably consider investing in shield feats only as a warpriest, meant to be melee with a tank or some other dps.

By lvl 10, if you expend an action for the raise shield action, you would be able to even perform 2 blocks per round, given the bastion archetype.


Martialmasters wrote:
All I know is I'm going to be playing a lizardfolk tiefling dual wield giant barbarian so my level 1 AC when raging is only going to be 16.

If you survive to level 8, "Renewed Vigor" can be your "raise a shield".


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

In actual play, it matters a lot. And it gives players real in game choices to make, do I make myself harder to hit, or do I go for a hail mary attack to finish them off, or other options (Like move away, draw an item, etc)
And that little tiny bonus, can be the difference between able to attack next round, or dying 2 (for being knocked out by a crit)
Of course Its hard to balance between your reactions, and actions in your turn, but I think that is part of the fun


jdripley wrote:

I would say, rather than AC being important, damage mitigation is important.

The bad guys are going to be attacking, and sooner or later that will lead to injury. The idea is to kill them before they can injure you badly enough that you are in trouble.

AC is one way to slow down how fast you get hurt. The higher the better of course, but going for sky high AC is only one path.

Defensive spells, actions and alchemical is another. Striding away from a slow enemy is good. Taking an elixir of mist form is good, blocking with a sturdy shield is good. Having an ally who casts fear on a key enemy is good. Or Command. Or anything that debuffs the enemy. A champion's reaction is great.

Having one or more party members capable of healing during battle is another way. Anybody can drink a potion, Heal and Soothe are good, Battle Medicine is good.

What you will find is that as one of these three approaches is doubled down on, you need less of the other types.

So the 2-handed barbarian will need a strong in-combat healer, but a party with a Champion may not even need a “healer” in the party. A party with a strong control caster may do fine with a monk, rogue and ranger who skirmish and play keep away, and drink the odd potion when the enemy really connects.

Meanwhile a party with a shield champion, Shield monk and Shield fighter may actually need a cleric for healing because they tend to stand and deliver, but also kill slowly, so over time the hits add up.

Your need for max AC really depends on the party. One of PF2’s real triumphs is that battle tactics are so varied depending on party composition.

This is certainly true. AC is important in the sense that its a straightforward way to achieve damage mitigation that a PC can usually accomplish on her own (i.e. doesn't require the assistance/cooperation of other players). However, it is also important to be rounded. Merely being the super turtle that can't be hit or damaged, but who also can't do anything else, isn't going to be a huge help to the party. Killing said monster or rendering the monster otherwise unable to attack, etc. is another great way of mitigating damage. The trick of course comes in figuring out when to use which method.


It matters a lot if you have an AOO to use. Staying in a forward position with an AoO and a shield up prevents a ton of damage to the party as a whole. 2 of these characters can create a really formidable screen while 3 starts to feel redundant.

If you aren't responsible for standing in front, then I'd say shields are good but not required.

Melee martials without shields are completely viable, but I'd put say they mostly shine when they have the assistance of someone like a shield fighter that can split up the battlefield for them. Barbarians with 2 handers that run ahead do kind of get murdered, though.


If I may promote myself here a bit, you could somewhat reliably test how a character fares vs an enemy with a shield vs two-handed weapon here:

LKG

Obviously it won't work for 1 vs many scenarios, but I've found the results helpful for trying to build my characters.

Scarab Sages

Leitner wrote:

If I may promote myself here a bit, you could somewhat reliably test how a character fares vs an enemy with a shield vs two-handed weapon here:

LKG

Obviously it won't work for 1 vs many scenarios, but I've found the results helpful for trying to build my characters.

Interesting. I submitted my Champion fighting himself with Combatant 1 not using a shield and attacking 3 times vs Combatant 2 using a buckler and attacking 2 times.

I ran it a few times and it had Combatant 1 winning around 60% of the time each time (give or take a fraction of a percent).

Changing it to Combatant 2 having a light shield (AC 2 higher instead of 1 and 5 hardness instead of 3) led to Combatant 2 winning about 58% of the time.

As a test case, I set their stats to the same, and it did result in essentially a 50-50 split with slight variation either way.

Which all makes me wonder if raising a buckler is worth it or not. I'll have to check different sequences against some various enemies.

I did find something odd, though. I switched combatant one from using his trident (1-handed +1 striking for 2d8+4) to using his katana 2-handed (2d10+4) against the light shield wielding second combatant still using the trident, and somehow the 2nd combatant wins more often when the 1st combatant is using a weapon with a bigger damage die. I don't know why that would be, but I consistently get the 2nd combatant winning 70% of the time when Combatant 1 deals 2d10+4 and only 57% of the time when combatant 1 deals 2d8+4 instead, which seems like it's moving in the wrong direction.


Ferious Thune wrote:


Interesting. I submitted my Champion fighting himself with Combatant 1 not using a shield and attacking 3 times vs Combatant 2 using a buckler and attacking 2 times.

I ran it a few times and it had Combatant 1 winning around 60% of the time each time (give or take a fraction of a percent).

Changing it to Combatant 2 having a light shield (AC 2 higher instead of 1 and 5 hardness instead of 3) led to Combatant 2 winning about 58% of the time.

As a test case, I set their stats to the same, and it did result in essentially a 50-50 split with slight variation either way.

Which all makes me wonder if raising a buckler is worth it or not. I'll have to check different sequences against some various enemies.

I did find something odd, though. I switched combatant one from using his trident (1-handed +1 striking for 2d8+4) to using his katana 2-handed (2d10+4) against the light shield wielding second combatant still using the trident, and somehow the 2nd combatant wins more often when the 1st combatant is using a weapon with a bigger damage die. I don't know why that would be, but I consistently get the 2nd combatant winning 70% of the time when Combatant 1 deals 2d10+4 and only 57% of the time when combatant 1 deals 2d8+4 instead, which seems like it's moving in the wrong direction.

That is curious. I'll dive a bit deeper into it this weekend, but it might be parsing the multi-dice damage strings incorrectly. I thought I had tested for all those, but I may have missed some variations.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ubertron_X wrote:
voideternal wrote:
...shield calculations...
The "problem" with shields is that unless you have the action economy to raise them properly (ideally via a reaction), they may be rather difficult to use.

It's kind of late to say, but the intention for my calculations for shield to AC isn't to make a general claim that shields are good or bad. My intention is to give an exact number to how good a raised shield is.

For example, given the above calculations, a bard of 7th level will have very similar AC with the rogue. A bard also has a very powerful 3rd action - inspire courage. Assuming the bard casts a spell every round, when should the bard inspire courage?

If a bard is positioned closely to a single 7th level brute type enemy, the bard without a shield can expect to stay standing for about 2 rounds and get downed on the 3rd. Depending on initiative, the bard might be able to pull off 3 rounds of inspire courage before going down. I'd think this is a scenario where the bard should inspire courage, because 3 rounds of improved accuracy and damage for the party might end up helping enough to win the encounter rather than raising a shield for 2~3 consecutive rounds.

On the other hand, if the bard is positioned closely with 3 separate 7th level brute type enemies, the bard will on average go down without a shield and won't see the next round. Is inspiring courage for only 1 round worth it, or is it better to raise a shield for 1 round, survive the round, and inspire courage on the 2nd round? I think the latter is the better option.

Of course, in real gameplay, there are tons more variables, bonuses, penalties, terrain, positioning, party compositions, different kinds of enemies. But the purpose of this thread I think is to ask, how good is AC? And my calculations aim to give one perspective of an answer to that question.

Shadow Lodge

The interesting discussion to me would be to look at the bottom end of AC.

How much can you mitigate for having a low AC? Like as a pf1 caster you could rely upon mirror image, displacement, and other such defensive abilities instead of ac. Is that still a valid tactic?

If you were playing an unarmored character, would dex be more important than con for survivability?

At what point does your AC hit too low? Would a dex 10 unarmored character (making a 13ac at level 1) be not viable, like playing a con 8 character in pf1?


Oddly enough, probably the most survivable "min AC" character would be the monk. Since you have the action economy efficiency to "run up to someone, hit them the useful number of times, run away to an inconvenient distance (possibly behind something blocking line of sight)."

Low levels would be rough though.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:

Oddly enough, probably the most survivable "min AC" character would be the monk. Since you have the action economy efficiency to "run up to someone, hit them the useful number of times, run away to an inconvenient distance (possibly behind something blocking line of sight)."

Low levels would be rough though.

Had a dragon monk trying to do precisely this in a game as an attempt to deal with AC issues at lower to mid levels.

It worked okay against a lot of enemies and slow melee things were kinda helpless, but he went down in pretty much every encounter that had archers and didn't have something he could hide behind.

1 to 50 of 85 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Second Edition / Advice / How much does AC matter ? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.