How do you rate the classes in combat in PF2?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Ravingdork wrote:

I'm quite surprised people don't seem to see more value in monks.

I played a 10 Con monk with 50-foot speed, I could Stride in, flurry, and stride out to total cover. Only enemies I ever had to worry about were ones with ranged attacks and/or reactions. There were plenty of fights where I took no damage at all, unlike our our fighters who insisted on standing next to the enemy and trading blows all the time, forcing the cleric to waste lots of resources. My monk did get knocked out from time to time, and ultimately did die, but that only happened when I broke from my core defensive strategy and ended my turn next to an active foe.

That sounds like not helping the party. Defense needs a team effort, so leaving the fighter to get hit while you (a high AC class) hide seems like it is working against the good of the party.


HumbleGamer wrote:

Rogue:

Champion:

Quote:

+Best reaction in the game ( it triggers almost every round ) if you are from the tennets of good.

I prefer Opportune Backstab. To me thats the best reaction in the game, yes its for a melee rogue, with a combat partner. But the party controls the set up.


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citricking wrote:
That sounds like not helping the party. Defense needs a team effort, so leaving the fighter to get hit while you (a high AC class) hide seems like it is working against the good of the party.

It plays into the "independent striker" role, where you keep yourself alive and dealing damage for as long as possible while eating as little support as possible from the rest of the party (support the party probably wants to direct to the Barbarian instead). High mobility also make you an ideal flanking buddy, getting into position to allow your martial friend to abuse that -2 to AC while still being able to pull off their most powerful action routines.


Deriven Firelion wrote:


You seriously underestimate barbarian tanking. Maybe you will change your mind at some point if someone builds a barbarian tank.

Barbarians don't tank.

They simply take hits.

A champion can take more hits while also protect friends.

More than a barbarian I'd prefer a shield fighter, if I had to play without a champion.

Knockdown, better action economy because of paragorn guard, better chance to hit, overall better moves, extra shield block ( plus shield warden) and better armor.

"These" are ways to mitigate damage for both the tank and its allies.


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Henro wrote:
High mobility also make you an ideal flanking buddy, getting into position to allow your martial friend to abuse that -2 to AC while still being able to pull off their most powerful action routines.

Even I have to disagree with this part when playing the independent skirmisher role. You're not providing flanking for anyone but yourself unless you end your turn next to an enemy, which then gets you turned into cream cheese.

In my opinion, anyone who sits next to an enemy, allowing them to use their most powerful 3-action abilities doesn't have a firm grasp of tactics. Given the opportunity, everyone should be moving all the time (or at the very least, not ending their turn within reach of an enemy), if only to force the enemy to waste their actions closing.

Wayfinders

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Ravingdork wrote:
In my opinion, anyone who sits next to an enemy, allowing them to use their most powerful 3-action abilities doesn't have a firm grasp of tactics. Given the opportunity, everyone should be moving all the time (or at the very least, not ending their turn within reach of an enemy), if only to force the enemy to waste their actions closing.

My experience is (as ever) somewhat lacking here, but isn't this a little reductive and super subjective depending on how the party does combat? If you have some good buffs, good heals and some reactions dedicated to baiting attacks and defending allies, sticking close-by could be pretty good. Obviously, still gotta ensure that mobility is possible if need-be.

For instance, let's say we have "Good Cop", a Marshal Paladin with the Inspiring Marshal feat, and "Bad Cop", a Braggart Swashbuckler with the Antagonise feat, and they've spent some time cornering "Perp", who doesn't have a class but does have a big scary weapon. The buddy cops each want to use their full turn to Use Feat, Strike, and either Strike again or use a defensive action (or even use Bon Mot if GC's up first and wants to make sure Antagonise works). Now, Perp is heavily incentivised to attack the softer-yet-scarier Bad Cop, but any sort of hit will proc GC's Retributive Strike, while a crit-miss will proc BC's Opportune Riposte. This works with flanking too, especially as our buddy cops can remain flexible and mobile as-needed with things like Ranged Reprisal, Attack of Opportunity and Being A Swashbuckler. It's not like this needs to be their tactic in every round of every combat, but it is a situation wherein forgoing movement can result in a more powerful turn without crippling ones' defences.

That's just an example off the top of my head, so I'm sure there are other and/or better ways to do it; Bad Cop could be a 10th level Duelist Thief instead, for instance, using a Scorpowhip to further punish and de-incentivise attacks against Good Cop. That said, it's an example that illustrates my point: there are probably ways to stick to foes without demonstrating a "poor grasp of tactics".

(Also there's probably a party here too, doing other helpful things. Is just a very basic scenario idea. I'm guessing a Cleric would be useful here, especially one that likes targeting Will saves. Call 'em "Chief" or something.)


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Gortle wrote:
Zapp wrote:

Now then, defense!

I think you are broadly right here. A party of 4 mostly built for defense will do significantly worse than a party of four built for offense.

Yes I think you are right to buff offense before defense. Cover the basics with defence, but in combat buff it second.

It changes a bit if you can't focus fire, or if it is an unusual opponent and you need to work out what are the right tactics to use against it.

If the GM doesn't focus fire its pretty easy.

Personally I think it works better when you have a dedicated point man who does look at his defense - a shield fighter or a champion. Then the rest of the party is offensive. But in any case every character needs a moderately good attack option even if that is not their primary role. That applies to the tank but also to any healer/buffer/controller.

The idea being that the point man takes a large share of the attacks and provides some defense to the rest of the party, just by being in the way. Lesser cover bonus, AoA, Champions Reaction etc.

However you are making an assumption that the party has a dedicated healer. It is perfectly reasonable to have a couple of part time healers. Primal casters make excellent healers but still have very effective offense. They keep one high level spell slot in heal for when its really needed in combat, but the bulk of the healing is done with focus spells, potions, or treat wounds.

Defense is a deeper discussion than just AC.

AC as defense: The default AC for most classes is a 5 starting from items with a +3 item bonus and expert to master proficiency. Only the monk and champion every obtains Legendary proficiency in defense. This is across the spectrum. Dex caps at 5 for everyone except animal companions who even with a higher dexterity bonus to AC cap around the same as a PC with master proficiency if nimble.

Expert Proficiency ACs will cap at 42 with 43 to 44 with shield spell or shield.

Master proficiency ACs will cap at 44 with 45 to with shield spell or shield.

Legendary Proficiency:
Champion: Caps at 47 with full plate armor and 49 with shield.
Monk: Caps at 46 to 48 without Mountain Stance. Same as Champion with Mountain Stance, but unable to get AC boost from status bonus like Champion.

So AC capping is already worked into the system including who is best at obtaining a high AC. So there is little need to invest heavily in AC as it is capped and it is a low cost to invest in the default AC for the game.

Hit points as defense: This is also capped in the game. The barbarian has the most hit points and among the martials the easiest means of obtaining temporary hit points to further bolster his hit point pool. The barbarian heavily relies on hit points as his primary defense.

The alchemist has a temporary hit point elixir he can use to bolster hit points per battle, but not per round like the barbarian that I know of.

So the only martial class that can use temporary hit points round to bolster his durability is the barbarian.

Casters have a few ways to obtain temporary hit points, mostly from necromancy spells. They can get the most in a single big hit out of all the classes. A critical fail on a save with vampiric exsanguination can net you quite a big temporary hit point buffer. So casters can play in the temporary hit point arena as well.

Mobility as defense. Some classes are very mobile and can avoid combat by not being where combat is. The monk and the swashbuckler to a lesser degree can do this.

Monks with flurry can move in and out of combat quite easily. Their main concern is AoO attacks, but they a few feats to counter reaction based attacks if moving in and out of battle. They are the best at using mobility as defense.

A swashbuckler with finishers can move in and out of battle using finishers. He isn't as efficient as the monk, but gaining panache with Tumble Through and continuing to move after you do can take you out of combat range or force the target to move after you as you weave in and out of battle landing finishers.

Damage Resistance: Classes with access to shields and shield blocks, spells that provide resistance, or innate damage resistance to gain some mitigation from damage resistance. These options are not super prevalent, but are good options if you can take good advantage of them in combination with other abilities like AC for a champion or temporary hit point generation for a barbarian.

Even the use of the shield spell for mitigate damage once per battle is an option you should use as often as you can.

Caster Defenses: Casters have the usual defenses and they are still quite powerful.

Invisibility: Invis is quite powerful in PF2. There are far fewer creatures in my experience that can easily counter invisibility. Imprecise senses still have to work to find invisible creatures. Not as many creatures have see invisibility. And true seeing now requires a counteract check against the invisibility, which isn't always easy as you level.

Fly is still a great defense. You can stay out of combat range blasting spells. The main problem with fly is you have to spend an action to stay aloft each round which cuts into your action economy, but it is worth the action to stay out of combat range.

Blink is a nice low cost, all damage resistance spell that allows for some extra movement.

Casters have other useful defensive spells both for the group and individually as it would be hard to cover them all.

Suffice it to say investing some in defense doesn't hurt your offense much in this game.There are options, especially for casters, where the defensive option also helps offense like invisibility.

This idea that defense encompasses only AC in PF2 is a very limited idea of defense. There are ways to defend yourself or the party. You should take advantage of defensive options that are best used by your class. If you're a champion, then building up AC is a viable defensive option for you. If you are a barbarian, you have ways to keep those temporary hit points coming. If you're a caster, you should take advantage of defensive spells. If you're a monk, mobility is an option for you. Defense is not just AC.


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You forgot to mention saves. A high AC wont save you from an enemy Fireball. A good Reflex save and/or high HP will.


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HumbleGamer wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:


You seriously underestimate barbarian tanking. Maybe you will change your mind at some point if someone builds a barbarian tank.

Barbarians don't tank.

They simply take hits.

A champion can take more hits while also protect friends.

More than a barbarian I'd prefer a shield fighter, if I had to play without a champion.

Knockdown, better action economy because of paragorn guard, better chance to hit, overall better moves, extra shield block ( plus shield warden) and better armor.

"These" are ways to mitigate damage for both the tank and its allies.

Taking hits is part of tanking. As is holding the attention of the creatures your group is fighting meaning doing enough damage to be a meaningful threat that they don't bypass you and head for the other party members. If a champion did not have Champion's Reaction, most enemies would ignore them to kill more dangerous threats.

The barbarian on the other hand does enough damage to be the main threat on the target and is hard to ignore.

I have never heard anyone thinking of tanking solely as an AC based venture. Tanking is a combination of damage mitigation, taking hits, and holding aggression, not just one of those things.

A barbarian can knockdown if they want to build for it and can in fact knockdown or back multiple enemies at once every round.

You have not investigated the capabilities of a barbarian. They can very much tank and have some very dangerous and adaptable builds with the best reach and size increasing abilities of the martials meaning they can tank over a wider area than a champion or fighter.


Ubertron_X wrote:
You forgot to mention saves. A high AC wont save you from an enemy Fireball. A good Reflex save and/or high HP will.

I forgot saves as defenses which certain classes excel. The monk is very good for saves.


Deriven Firelion wrote:


Defense is a deeper discussion than just AC.

I didn't mention AC but yeah OK.

Deriven Firelion wrote:


AC as defense: The default AC for most classes is a 5 ...

So AC capping is already worked into the system including who is best at obtaining a high AC. So there is little need to invest heavily in AC as it is capped and it is a low cost to invest in the default AC for the game.

I thought the discussion was around spending time buffing defensively rather than buffing offensively or just being offensive.

Anyway there are plently of ways to get a status bonus, and sometimes a few to get a circumstance bonus to defense. These are additional and are worthwhile if you can't effectively attack.

Deriven Firelion wrote:


Hit points as defense: This is also capped in the game. The barbarian has the most hit points and among the martials the easiest means of obtaining temporary hit points to further bolster his hit point pool. The barbarian heavily relies on hit points as his primary defense.

The alchemist has a temporary hit point elixir he can use to bolster hit points per battle, but not per round like the barbarian that I know of.

So the only martial class that can use temporary hit points round to bolster his durability is the barbarian.

Casters have a few ways to obtain temporary hit points, mostly from necromancy spells. They can get the most in a single big hit out of all the classes. A critical fail on a save with vampiric exsanguination can net you quite a big temporary hit point buffer. So casters can play in the temporary hit point arena as well.

OK. But don't ignore Toughness, Mountain's Stoutness, Orcish Ferocity (1 HP when you need it most)

Deriven Firelion wrote:


Mobility as defense. Some classes are very mobile and can avoid combat by not being where combat is. The monk and the swashbuckler to a lesser degree can do this.

I am going to object here. Mobility is useful for getting yourself into and out of a vulnerable position. So there are a lot of uses defensively and tactically just there.

But if all it does is redirect the focus of the enemy to a slower non mobile party member, it doesn't really help the group. You probably can't win with only part of your team.

Deriven Firelion wrote:


Damage Resistance: Classes with access to shields and shield blocks, spells that provide resistance, or innate damage resistance to gain some mitigation from damage resistance.

True but not all damage is hit point loss. There are plenty of bad effects that trigger on a hit, some of these are crippling. So damage resistance helps a lot but is not always a good answer for a low AC

Deriven Firelion wrote:


Caster Defenses: Casters have the usual defenses and they are still quite powerful.
...

Yep spells and stuff.

Plus, as you say later, your saving throws, and sometimes skills like perception.

One reason I think the monk is underated as a tank is their good saving throws. Canny Acumen to cover a poor save is a good option for a tank.


Taking hits doesn't mean enemies will continue focusing you.

There no point in building up defense through resistances, ac and similar since the enemies can simply swap to a squishier target even after a couple of attacks.

I mentioned everything but ac, if not to point out that ac was better than barbarians ( even if it has temp hp and resistances, it doesn't really matter when it comes to critical hit, especially given how they work in this 2e ).

Unless you have something to prevent damage for yourself and your party, in my opinion you are simply not qualified to be a tank.


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this discussion about tanking is becoming a bit pedantic, don't you guys think? In actual play a person who's tanky is immediately identifiable, and a lot of this discussion is based on perception of the meaning of "tank".


HumbleGamer wrote:

Taking hits doesn't mean enemies will continue focusing you.

There no point in building up defense through resistances, ac and similar since the enemies can simply swap to a squishier target even after a couple of attacks.

I mentioned everything but ac, if not to point out that ac was better than barbarians ( even if it has temp hp and resistances, it doesn't really matter when it comes to critical hit, especially given how they work in this 2e ).

Unless you have something to prevent damage for yourself and your party, in my opinion you are simply not qualified to be a tank.

If you want to believe a barbarian can't tank very well, so be it. But I'm tanking just fine in the group I'm in. It's a different way than the champion does it. But with renewed vigor, a ton of hit points, and hitting like a truck with an AoO, I have little trouble keeping the aggression on me.

Hell, the Swashbuckler player and archer are getting slightly demoralized because the barbarian goes on wrecking crew frenzies where he'll crit a target, kill it, then sudden charge to the next target and smash them. Playing a barbarian has been a real eye opener as to their capabilities in a group environment with adequate healing, not even a dedicated cleric.


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Nitro~Nina wrote:

Does Friendly Toss add to the tanking potential by yeeting allies out of the front lines as-needed? I have no experience of this in play; I'm just curious and it sounds greatly amusing. Especially if there's a low-hp enemy you can chuck your rogue at to get them out of danger while still being useful.

In fact, this sounds like a fun idea for my eventual Medic Barbarian. I'll save you the wiki-walk; none of it has the concentration trait. I know, right?? Neither does Quick Alchemy, somehow.

This reminds me of playing Garrosh in HOTS, basically his entire gimmick was chucking people here there and everywhere and it worked really well in a real-time setting. It's a pretty good idea but the two-action cost limits its defensive potential I think.


Deriven Firelion wrote:

If you want to believe a barbarian can't tank very well, so be it. But I'm tanking just fine in the group I'm in. It's a different way than the champion does it. But with renewed vigor, a ton of hit points, and hitting like a truck with an AoO, I have little trouble keeping the aggression on me.

Hell, the Swashbuckler player and archer are getting slightly demoralized because the barbarian goes on wrecking crew frenzies where he'll crit a target, kill it, then sudden charge to the next target and smash them. Playing a barbarian has been a real eye opener as to their capabilities in a group environment with adequate healing, not even a dedicated cleric.

The problem of the Barbarian Tank is healing.

Personally, when I play with a Barbarian I don't heal him during combat as he takes more damage than I can heal. So, in general, he tanks for 2 rounds and sleeps for 2 other rounds.
I dislike Barbarians for that. Either the party revolves around them or they are spending their time unconscious.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:

Taking hits is part of tanking. As is holding the attention of the creatures your group is fighting meaning doing enough damage to be a meaningful threat that they don't bypass you and head for the other party members. If a champion did not have Champion's Reaction, most enemies would ignore them to kill more dangerous threats.

The barbarian on the other hand does enough damage to be the main threat on the target and is hard to ignore.

Are you perchance confusing the wholly separate issues of tanking and aggro?

When somebody discusses tanking they mean the ability to soak incoming attacks. Whether they do so by not getting hit, actively parrying, or just eating the damage (having lots of hit points or lots of healing) is immaterial.

It's useful to discuss aggro, the ability to attract monster attention separate from this.

You're correct that in isolation a hypothetical character that deals no damage but has infinite AC or hp is worthless, because the monsters simply ignore him...

...but that presumes a GMing style that you simply can't take for granted. Yes, a GM can decide to treat avoidance tanks and soaking tanks differently. Yes, it's possible for a GM to basically ruin a Champion by deciding that monsters ignore him, massively nerfing the value of AC. But that's a really bad idea!

There is no aggro mechanisms in pen-and-paper rpgs, so, yes, a GM COULD play like that. Nobody could say you're breaking any CRB rule.

But in reality PF2 and other D&D games depend quite heavily on the Games Master playing his monsters to increase player enjoyment more than to increase encounter difficulty.

The whole idea of a "tank" in D&D relies on the Games Master adhering to an unwritten social contract or gentleman's agreement of actually letting the tank benefit from his defensive abilities. There is nothing in the game balance to suggest that the defense of "lots of hp" (letting monsters believe they're accomplishing something when they really aren't) is intended to be more valuable than the defense of "high AC" (simply making monsters less effective).

The rules mostly fail to enforce aggro. It's up to the GM to play nice and treat all tanking approaches equally, or the game balance will be severely upended.

D&D would be a pretty frustrating place if every monster was played in optimal fashion. So don't do that, despite there being no rule telling you to.

tl;dr: D&D is built upon the notion that monsters mostly ignore AC and go for the hero that appears to be the most dangerous to them. Specifically, the wrong approach from a minmaxing perspective.

Strategies such as "take out the healer first" or "leave the low-DPR tank for last" should only be used by the especially sneaky, crafty or dastardly monster.


SuperBidi wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:

If you want to believe a barbarian can't tank very well, so be it. But I'm tanking just fine in the group I'm in. It's a different way than the champion does it. But with renewed vigor, a ton of hit points, and hitting like a truck with an AoO, I have little trouble keeping the aggression on me.

Hell, the Swashbuckler player and archer are getting slightly demoralized because the barbarian goes on wrecking crew frenzies where he'll crit a target, kill it, then sudden charge to the next target and smash them. Playing a barbarian has been a real eye opener as to their capabilities in a group environment with adequate healing, not even a dedicated cleric.

The problem of the Barbarian Tank is healing.

Personally, when I play with a Barbarian I don't heal him during combat as he takes more damage than I can heal. So, in general, he tanks for 2 rounds and sleeps for 2 other rounds.
I dislike Barbarians for that. Either the party revolves around them or they are spending their time unconscious.

Haha. They're not that bad. At lvl 10 he has 188 hit points and gets 15 temp hit points to start a fight. I did forego getting Come and Get Me and that vengeance strike because 2 less AC would lead to more problems than it helped. He did get hammered a lot early on. Took a lot of dirt naps the first 3 levels.


Deriven Firelion wrote:
Haha. They're not that bad. At lvl 10 he has 188 hit points and gets 15 temp hit points to start a fight. I did forego getting Come and Get Me and that vengeance strike because 2 less AC would lead to more problems than it helped. He did get hammered a lot early on. Took a lot of dirt naps the first 3 levels.

Maybe it's more of a low level issue (I've played with Barbarians only in the early levels) but the fact that you lose rage when you go down is a rule I've seen often used.


If you don't want "tanking" to include agro, just say defence instead. I think it's a lot more useful for everyone if you don't ignore keeping attacks targeting you (barbarians have aoo, trip, and grapple)


In my opinion, one of the best defense is just to split damage as equally as possible among party members. Every time a character has a glaring defensive flow (AC is the most common), it allows the opponents to naturally focus fire and get the most out of it.
That's why I'm not a fan of Barbarians unless they are quite defensive ones (Animal, S&B).


SuperBidi wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Haha. They're not that bad. At lvl 10 he has 188 hit points and gets 15 temp hit points to start a fight. I did forego getting Come and Get Me and that vengeance strike because 2 less AC would lead to more problems than it helped. He did get hammered a lot early on. Took a lot of dirt naps the first 3 levels.
Maybe it's more of a low level issue (I've played with Barbarians only in the early levels) but the fact that you lose rage when you go down is a rule I've seen often used.

I did lose rage quite often. I was thinking about picking up Second Wind for a while there. When you lose rage you do roughly fighter or other martial damage without the accuracy of a fighter or action economy or extra damage perks of the other martial classes.

You know who is surprisingly good at tanking: the swashbuckler. I think you could make a pretty good Swashbuckler tank, especially if you did a Champion MC. That Parry stance with high mobility and Wit Swashbuckler -2 on attack rolls with Opportune Riposte give them pretty good AC and mobility defense.


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Zapp wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:

Taking hits is part of tanking. As is holding the attention of the creatures your group is fighting meaning doing enough damage to be a meaningful threat that they don't bypass you and head for the other party members. If a champion did not have Champion's Reaction, most enemies would ignore them to kill more dangerous threats.

The barbarian on the other hand does enough damage to be the main threat on the target and is hard to ignore.

Are you perchance confusing the wholly separate issues of tanking and aggro?

When somebody discusses tanking they mean the ability to soak incoming attacks. Whether they do so by not getting hit, actively parrying, or just eating the damage (having lots of hit points or lots of healing) is immaterial.

It's useful to discuss aggro, the ability to attract monster attention separate from this.

You're correct that in isolation a hypothetical character that deals no damage but has infinite AC or hp is worthless, because the monsters simply ignore him...

...but that presumes a GMing style that you simply can't take for granted. Yes, a GM can decide to treat avoidance tanks and soaking tanks differently. Yes, it's possible for a GM to basically ruin a Champion by deciding that monsters ignore him, massively nerfing the value of AC. But that's a really bad idea!

There is no aggro mechanisms in pen-and-paper rpgs, so, yes, a GM COULD play like that. Nobody could say you're breaking any CRB rule.

But in reality PF2 and other D&D games depend quite heavily on the Games Master playing his monsters to increase player enjoyment more than to increase encounter difficulty.

The whole idea of a "tank" in D&D relies on the Games Master adhering to an unwritten social contract or gentleman's agreement of actually letting the tank benefit from his defensive abilities. There is nothing in the game balance to suggest that the defense of "lots of hp" (letting monsters believe they're accomplishing something when they really aren't) is...

I don't adhere to this meta-reasoning in the slightest, and I still have martials that mitigate damage work in my games.

AOO is enough of a deterrent to make tanking actually mechanically viable even if you play the enemies like a wargame where you are actively trying to win without any regard for the psychology of the enemies.

Sure, some enemies are more straightforward than others and will attack the closest thing in order to simulate their instinctive aggressiveness, but I think that would be a narrative element outside of the conception of a tank role.


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I think Henro's conception of party role is relatively close to the conception I have concerning how to rate the effectiveness of classes in combat.

I do think the dependent striker role could be more clear. I'd use the term supported striker instead to get across the point that this is the effectiveness of the striker taking full advantage of a synergistic team's support. This makes it clear that classes like monk that are self sufficient don't automatically get low scores in supported striker just because they don't require that support to function. Supported versus independent should be viewed as modes for the same characters rather than mutually exclusive party roles.


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Zapp wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:

Taking hits is part of tanking. As is holding the attention of the creatures your group is fighting meaning doing enough damage to be a meaningful threat that they don't bypass you and head for the other party members. If a champion did not have Champion's Reaction, most enemies would ignore them to kill more dangerous threats.

The barbarian on the other hand does enough damage to be the main threat on the target and is hard to ignore.

Are you perchance confusing the wholly separate issues of tanking and aggro?

When somebody discusses tanking they mean the ability to soak incoming attacks. Whether they do so by not getting hit, actively parrying, or just eating the damage (having lots of hit points or lots of healing) is immaterial.

It's useful to discuss aggro, the ability to attract monster attention separate from this.

You're correct that in isolation a hypothetical character that deals no damage but has infinite AC or hp is worthless, because the monsters simply ignore him...

...but that presumes a GMing style that you simply can't take for granted. Yes, a GM can decide to treat avoidance tanks and soaking tanks differently. Yes, it's possible for a GM to basically ruin a Champion by deciding that monsters ignore him, massively nerfing the value of AC. But that's a really bad idea!

There is no aggro mechanisms in pen-and-paper rpgs, so, yes, a GM COULD play like that. Nobody could say you're breaking any CRB rule.

But in reality PF2 and other D&D games depend quite heavily on the Games Master playing his monsters to increase player enjoyment more than to increase encounter difficulty.

The whole idea of a "tank" in D&D relies on the Games Master adhering to an unwritten social contract or gentleman's agreement of actually letting the tank benefit from his defensive abilities. There is nothing in the game balance to suggest that the defense of "lots of hp" (letting monsters believe they're accomplishing something when they really aren't) is...

Not sure what you mean by this.

I have as a DM tried to ignore the Champion, but Champion's reaction, difficult terrain shield, and the ability to move via feats to improve mobility make the champion hard to ignore. An intelligent group can move close enough to the champion to make the Champion tanking style force creatures to attack the Champion. Their damage mitigation and punishing effects like Enfeeblement and persistent good damage can severely punish creatures for not focusing on them. Then once the creature focuses on them, their shield block, high AC, and 10 hps per level allow them to withstand it.

As a DM I try to play creatures like they are. Intelligent humanoids tend to fight in a coordinated manner. Animal or beast level intelligence tend to hit things they perceive hurting them tending to focus on those creatures until they are dead. Highly intelligent creatures might engage in even more coordinated tactics than standard humanoids. Mindless undead tend to focus on a target until it's dead. Intelligent undead are more tactical depending on their focus. Nothing is perfect, but you do your best given what you know to run the monsters in a fashion that is believable and consistent with their nature.

The champion mechanics very much work to force creatures to attack them or suffer greatly for not doing so. The barbarian also tends to get creatures to focus on them by just hitting stuff so hard that everyone else in the group doesn't seem all that dangerous comparatively. The average barbarian hit at lvl 10 is 27. The average crit is 60 points. That is with a +1 striking greatpick. That is hard to ignore when other classes are doing 17 or 18 points per hit. The average swashbuckler non-finisher hit with panache is 18. The average precision archer 1st hit is 18. The average fighter hit is 21 with a two-hander.

The mechanics themselves give the DM reason to focus on the tank targets. It does no good whatsoever for a monster to switch to a soft target like a caster only to have the champion make them a hard target with Champion's defense or the barbarian to kill them quickly while they think they're killing some soft target. Both of these classes have abilities that mechanically force the monster to focus on them or die quicker doing less damage overall.


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If I were to start from the ground up, I'd talk about capabilities of characters when they concentrate on that capability rather than role. Here is the list of capabilities I'd look at to define character capabilities:

Offensive Support - Ability to increase the amount of harm other party members deal to enemies

Defensive Support - Ability to mitigate or heal harm to other party members

Durability - Ability to personally survive incoming attacks

Independent striking - Ability to harm a single enemy without support

Supported striking - Ability to harm a single enemy with synergistic support

Area Damaging - Ability to harm multiple enemies in a group


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Queaux wrote:
I do think the dependent striker role could be more clear. I'd use the term supported striker instead to get across the point that this is the effectiveness of the striker taking full advantage of a synergistic team's support. This makes it clear that classes like monk that are self sufficient don't automatically get low scores in supported striker just because they don't require that support to function. Supported versus independent should be viewed as modes for the same characters rather than mutually exclusive party roles.

Supported Striker is a better term, and I'll probably be using that in the future unless an even better one comes up.

I do agree that being a good "independent striker" is likely to make you at least a decent "supported striker" by default. However, some classes undoubtedly gain a lot more from support than others - generally those that spec the furthest into damage over accuracy and defense, or have combat conditions and can benefit from help to trigger them (like a rogue). I think a independent striker can easily flex into the supported striker role in the middle of combat, but a supported striker can't necessarily do the reverse very effectively. I think one of the greatest strengths of the independent striker is being able to flow in and out of various roles and modes due to not relying too much on the rest of the party.


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I think there's a clear winner for supported striking in the game right now, and that's the TWF fighter with ranger and bard support. If you stack Shared Prey, Synesthesia, and Inspire Courage, the TWF fighter can put out 6 attacks that all have a better than 5% chance of getting a crit on even a boss level target.

The reason I'm bringing up a combo build like this is that the supported striking category needs to be weighted towards this type of thing existing, so I'd use a 6 point scale for this capability as opposed to using a 5 point scale in the other categories to represent the combos this category allows for as 6/6.


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Henro wrote:

Supported Striker is a better term, and I'll probably be using that in the future unless an even better one comes up.

I do agree that being a good "independent striker" is likely to make you at least a decent "supported striker" by default. However, some classes undoubtedly gain a lot more from support than others - generally those that spec the furthest into damage over accuracy and defense, or have combat conditions and can benefit from help to trigger them (like a rogue). I think a independent striker can easily flex into the supported striker role in the middle of combat, but a supported striker can't necessarily do the reverse very effectively. I think one of the greatest strengths of the independent striker is being able to flow in and out of various roles and modes due to not relying too much on the rest of the party.

I agree with you. It's hard to systemize ratings in a game like this. Rogues are dependent/opportunistic strikers. I think that can be represented with the supported score being high and the independent score being low well enough, though. I think the supported term is more fitting for representing other things in the game, like the Fighter's inherent synergy with buffing.


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Queaux wrote:
The reason I'm bringing up a combo build like this is that the supported striking category needs to be weighted towards this type of thing existing, so I'd use a 6 point scale for this capability as opposed to using a 5 point scale in the other categories to represent the combos this category allows for as 6/6.

I agree that there are things more effective than what's possible using base classes within these roles, when using archetyping. My initial analysis used a 5-point system where a 5 was whoever was best at the given role among the base classes, so Champion got a 5 in Tanking, Alchemist got a 5 in support and so on. When talking about what's possible via archetyping, introducing a 6th rating score might be sensible. Similarly, a champion who goes "all-in" on tanking via shield feats might be considered a 6 in tanking. Ultimately the system was more of an overall score given to a class rather than a rating for individual builds.

Queaux wrote:

If I were to start from the ground up, I'd talk about capabilities of characters when they concentrate on that capability rather than role. Here is the list of capabilities I'd look at to define character capabilities:

...

Independent striking - Ability to harm a single enemy without support

Supported striking - Ability to harm a single enemy with synergistic support

I think this rating system could potentially lead to a more nuanced take on class capabilities, while sacrificing the practicality of role ratings. It's a tradeoff, one way or another.

However, I'm not sure Independent/Supported Striking makes a whole lot of sense in this context. The classes I rate highly as independent strikers get their ratings via a combination of "good enough" DPR capabilities and survivability. The only class I can think of that really fits under supported striking under this system seems to be rouge, as other classes don't really rely on support to deal damage, necessarily.

So with my system, an independent striker is a mix of damage and defense, while a supported striker is just damage.


Henro wrote:
Queaux wrote:
The reason I'm bringing up a combo build like this is that the supported striking category needs to be weighted towards this type of thing existing, so I'd use a 6 point scale for this capability as opposed to using a 5 point scale in the other categories to represent the combos this category allows for as 6/6.

I agree that there are things more effective than what's possible using base classes within these roles, when using archetyping. My initial analysis used a 5-point system where a 5 was whoever was best at the given role among the base classes, so Champion got a 5 in Tanking, Alchemist got a 5 in support and so on. When talking about what's possible via archetyping, introducing a 6th rating score might be sensible. Similarly, a champion who goes "all-in" on tanking via shield feats might be considered a 6 in tanking. Ultimately the system was more of an overall score given to a class rather than a rating for individual builds.

Queaux wrote:

If I were to start from the ground up, I'd talk about capabilities of characters when they concentrate on that capability rather than role. Here is the list of capabilities I'd look at to define character capabilities:

...

Independent striking - Ability to harm a single enemy without support

Supported striking - Ability to harm a single enemy with synergistic support

I think this rating system could potentially lead to a more nuanced take on class capabilities, while sacrificing the practicality of role ratings. It's a tradeoff, one way or another.

However, I'm not sure Independent/Supported Striking makes a whole lot of sense in this context. The classes I rate highly as independent strikers get their ratings via a combination of "good enough" DPR capabilities and survivability. The only class I can think of that really fits under supported striking under this system seems to be rouge, as other classes don't really rely on support to deal damage, necessarily.

So with my system, an independent striker is a mix of...

Ah, I see what you're talking about with the independent striker role. I'll concede that your system is simpler, and it's how I'll be stating my ratings once we figure out how to represent casters in it.


For my system, I would probably rate casters similarly, but using a different set of roles. The role of “support” is narrow enough when dealing with martial characters, but broad enough to encompass nearly all of caster roles.


Deriven Firelion wrote:

The average barbarian hit at lvl 10 is 27. The average crit is 60 points. That is with a +1 striking greatpick. That is hard to ignore when other classes are doing 17 or 18 points per hit. The average swashbuckler non-finisher hit with panache is 18.

Isn't that being rather disingenuous? Swashbucklers not using finishers is like trying to do dpr calculations on a Barbarian who doesn't rage, or a Ranger who isn't hunting target VS one that does.

A level 10 swashbuckler with a level appropriate weapon (a +2 striking rapier with a flame rune) makes a single finisher attack each round is doing on average 46 damage with Bleeding finisher (with 1 bleed tick) or around 35 with a precise confident finisher.

That's against average AC for equal level enemies. That single bleeding attack is over two and a half times stronger than your given 18. Hell, with a precise confident finisher is still doing roughly 14 damage *on a miss!* (only 4 less than your average hit with panache)

That and expecting one finisher a round isn't unexpected, as it still gives the swashbuckler 2 actions to set it up.


Inkfist wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:

The average barbarian hit at lvl 10 is 27. The average crit is 60 points. That is with a +1 striking greatpick. That is hard to ignore when other classes are doing 17 or 18 points per hit. The average swashbuckler non-finisher hit with panache is 18.

Isn't that being rather disingenuous? Swashbucklers not using finishers is like trying to do dpr calculations on a Barbarian who doesn't rage, or a Ranger who isn't hunting target VS one that does.

A level 10 swashbuckler with a level appropriate weapon (a +2 striking rapier with a flame rune) makes a single finisher attack each round is doing on average 46 damage with Bleeding finisher (with 1 bleed tick) or around 35 with a precise confident finisher.

That's against average AC for equal level enemies. That single bleeding attack is over two and a half times stronger than your given 18. Hell, with a precise confident finisher is still doing roughly 14 damage *on a miss!* (only 4 less than your average hit with panache)

That and expecting one finisher a round isn't unexpected, as it still gives the swashbuckler 2 actions to set it up.

I play with a swashbuckler. They can do some good damage, not barbarian damage but good damage.

An average finisher with a +1 striking electricity rune is 31 to 32. 6d6 with 1d6 electricity with 20 strength and +2 for expert specialization. His precision bonus converts to dice for finishers. He can do this once per round, which amounts to about 16 points a hit for two hits. I know someone like SuperBidi sees using finishers as better, but I think it depends on the enemy and AC level including buffs and conditions present.

A raging barbarian with a +1 frost rune greatpick does 2d10 plus 1d6 frost +17 for 31 to 32 points.

That means one barbarian hit is worth a single swashbuckler finisher with a rapier. Two barbarian hits blows them out of the water along with most classes.

The bleeding finisher can be nice and he usually gets that started on a creature that can bleed. When he does, that substantially improves the round to round damage though if he misses the Bleeding Finisher has no fail effect.

And some other things to take into account that don't affect barbarian damage:
1. Golems don't bleed. Bleeding finisher useless on golems.

2. Incorporeal creatures are immune to precision damage and don't bleed and have damage resistance against all. This reduces the damage for a swashbuckler far more than a barbarian.

After having a barbarian and a swashbuckler play together, I implemented the following house rule:

Thrill of Battle (lvl 1): The swashbuckler gains panache when he rolls initiative.

Finisher Tag: Finishers are spectacular finishing moves that use your panache. You can use a finisher only if you have panache, and you lose your panache immediately after performing a finisher. You can only use one finisher per round.

Some actions that have the finisher trait also grant an effect on a failure. Effects added on a failure don't apply on a critical failure. If your finisher action succeeds, you can still choose to apply the failure effect instead. For example, you might do this when an attack deals no damage due to resistance.

I removed the no other attacks in the same around as a finisher from the tag. I started them off with Panache for no actions.

Watching a swashbuckler fight next to a barbarian wasn't fair as they were originally built. The barbarian was brutalizing encounters. One swipe crit was just sickening damage. Greatpick crits with barbarian rage are insane. The barbarian would land a greatpick crit, kill something, and then sudden charge to the next target and smash it. The swashbuckler player was starting to get unhappy and started making comments about the "one man show and the barbarian didn't need the rest of the party." I felt I had to do something to make the swashbuckler a little more fun to play.

I honestly have never seen another martial hit like a barbarian. Even at lvl 16 the rogue is doing 80 point crits or so with a +2 greater striking weapon with a fire rune. The barbarian is doing 70 point crits with a +1 striking greatpick with a frost rune. It's like 5d12 plus 2d6 frost plus 38 for 77 average crit. It didn't seem fair to impose these limitations on the swashbuckler of risking starting off a battle trying to get panache and only doing one finisher attack equal to a barbarian.

The barbarian does nutty martial damage. The only comparable hits I've seen are two-hander fighter using power attack. Two-hander fighter not using power attack doesn't hit as hard.


Note: I'm not suggesting that anything really keeps up with Barbarians for pure on hit damage (with the possible exception of precision rangers with an animal companion, using the companion instead of repeatedly attacking to cheese the MAP and get a second bite of that precision damage)

I think specifically in regards to the swashbuckler, a fair chunk of their DPR isn't coming from their own turn (notably the fencer style) with a fair chunk being harder to calculate as it comes from bleeds and opportune ripostes/AoO's.

Using that level 10 comparison, if swashbuckler is building for ripostes they have both Buckler expertise and dance, and goading feint to create essentially a 4 AC difference (5 in regards to a raging barbarian)to fish for ripostes. (2 from the bucker, 2 from goading) with feat to get extra reactions as well. fencing's exemplary finisher+ goading feint also means any riposte/AoO's get are against a flat footed enemy with panache's bonus damage.

It's a bit like how a bomber alchemist gets a chunk of their damage through persistent damage effects as opposed to the direct damage done on their turn.


Inkfist wrote:

Note: I'm not suggesting that anything really keeps up with Barbarians for pure on hit damage (with the possible exception of precision rangers with an animal companion, using the companion instead of repeatedly attacking to cheese the MAP and get a second bite of that precision damage)

I think specifically in regards to the swashbuckler, a fair chunk of their DPR isn't coming from their own turn (notably the fencer style) with a fair chunk being harder to calculate as it comes from bleeds and opportune ripostes/AoO's.

Using that level 10 comparison, if swashbuckler is building for ripostes they have both Buckler expertise and dance, and goading feint to create essentially a 4 AC difference (5 in regards to a raging barbarian)to fish for ripostes. (2 from the bucker, 2 from goading) with feat to get extra reactions as well. fencing's exemplary finisher+ goading feint also means any riposte/AoO's get are against a flat footed enemy with panache's bonus damage.

It's a bit like how a bomber alchemist gets a chunk of their damage through persistent damage effects as opposed to the direct damage done on their turn.

The player took dueling dance and dueling parry. Same general effect. With Wit he can shift AC by 4. Pretty nice defense.

The barbarian does take way more hits and crits as a giant barbarian. Renewed Vigor helps some to deal with it, but he can't match the Swashbuckler for misses. Opportune Riposte does come into effect quite often depending on what he fights. Swashbuckler has much better AC defense to the barbarian.


Just a quick comment, the rating of classes based on role remind me of what was done in class guides for DD4 to evaluate classes according to the role they were supposed to fill (defender / controller / leader / Striker).

There might be some good things there to transpose to PF2 to analyze how PF2 classes manage at different roles?


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Kendaan wrote:

Just a quick comment, the rating of classes based on role remind me of what was done in class guides for DD4 to evaluate classes according to the role they were supposed to fill (defender / controller / leader / Striker).

There might be some good things there to transpose to PF2 to analyze how PF2 classes manage at different roles?

I don't think classes have roles in PF2 myself. All the classes are varied enough you can build in almost any way you feel like and be effective.


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SuperBidi wrote:
In my opinion, one of the best defense is just to split damage as equally as possible among party members.

Yes.

The first and most important criteria for this is that every party member makes him- or herself accessible to at least some monster attacks.

There are two cases:

Archers and skulkers: these guys are built to handle the hurt. By not offering up your warm flesh to the teeth and claws of the monsters, you are hurting your own party and doing Team Monster a great favor. Nearly always, a monster that can't reach you will be able to reach a team member instead. This is called "focus fire" and it is bad for you.

Spellcasters and other squishies: I believe PF2 nerfed magic too hard. It is difficult to justify bringing along a party member that's too frail to offer up his- or her warm flesh to the monsters, when they don't do outsized damage. Alchemists and Wizards simply aren't given the oomph they need to justify their place in a party during levels 1-10.

In their desire to nuke the LFQW phenomenon of d20 and Pathfinder 1, Paizo kind of forgot that any squishie needs to bring enough of an upside to justify bringing along the weak link in the chain.

---

But more generally everybody's hit points is a resource you must utilize when the going gets rough, and in official AP that's happens more often than not.

The "staying back at range" approach is a luxury you can only afford when the party manages to disperse incoming damage without you. For instance, in D&D 5E, the fights are seldom (read "almost never") as hard as in official PF2 adventures, and there the "sniper" and "skulker" character builds have much more of a place at the table.

In PF2, it's hard to see a better party composition than three melee specialists and one combat medic Cleric.


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Zapp wrote:
Spellcasters and other squishies: I believe PF2 nerfed magic too hard. It is difficult to justify bringing along a party member that's too frail to offer up his- or her warm flesh to the monsters, when they don't do outsized damage. Alchemists and Wizards simply aren't given the oomph they need to justify their place in a party during levels 1-10.

You are too hard on spellcasters.

For level 1-4, I completely agree with you, even if some casters are fine taking hits (Druids, Warpriests, Bards, Oracles).
At level 5-10, casters start to really bring something to the table that martials can't bring. At that levels, casters are still a bit more fragile than martials but have more impact on combat.
At Level 11-14, casters start to be as tough as martials and continue to bring increased abilities. The question is why bother bringing martials as a party with 3 casters becomes viable.
At level 15-20, Wizards and Sorcerers shine to their brightest and outshine the other casters. As you no more have martials in the ideal party at that stage the only classes you need are Sorcerers and Wizards.

Liberty's Edge

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Zapp wrote:
Archers and skulkers: these guys are built to handle the hurt. By not offering up your warm flesh to the teeth and claws of the monsters, you are hurting your own party and doing Team Monster a great favor. Nearly always, a monster that can't reach you will be able to reach a team member instead. This is called "focus fire" and it is bad for you.

Not invariably. Making people focus fire on your Paladin and their flanking buddy solely is great just as one example. It can be bad for this to happen, but whether it is depends a lot on party composition.

Zapp wrote:
In PF2, it's hard to see a better party composition than three melee specialists and one combat medic Cleric.

I think you're dealing with a self-reinforcing bias here. I'll start by saying that I agree that this party composition is quite good in PF2.

However, it is not the only good party composition. There are a lot of alternatives that are equal to it and handle success in combat in a different way. This specific party handles damage mitigation (an absolute necessity in PF2) by a combination of alpha striking foes down and lots of healing from the Cleric. That's 100% a viable strategy, but other combinations work just as well, albeit in very different ways.

But they do, in fact, work in very different ways. Overloading your party with damage mitigation past a certain point can be a lot less effective than just adding more offense, just as a fourth offensive person replacing the Cleric would be a terrible plan in the other direction. But you can easily spread that damage mitigation over more characters, having a character other than a dedicated healer Cleric (who thus has more offense), and spreading the necessary damage mitigation among others. This also opens things up to casting classes being very good, as their buffing and debuffing options easily make for some solid damage mitigation and (combined with actual damage spells) some solid offense as well.

All of which is to say, you've found a strategy that works and are seeing everything through the lens of it being the only strategy that works...but that's not true. It's far from the only viable party composition, and I'm pretty sure it's not even the best one, just a pretty good one.


SuperBidi wrote:
Zapp wrote:
Spellcasters and other squishies: I believe PF2 nerfed magic too hard. It is difficult to justify bringing along a party member that's too frail to offer up his- or her warm flesh to the monsters, when they don't do outsized damage. Alchemists and Wizards simply aren't given the oomph they need to justify their place in a party during levels 1-10.

You are too hard on spellcasters.

For level 1-4, I completely agree with you, even if some casters are fine taking hits (Druids, Warpriests, Bards, Oracles).
At level 5-10, casters start to really bring something to the table that martials can't bring. At that levels, casters are still a bit more fragile than martials but have more impact on combat.
At Level 11-14, casters start to be as tough as martials and continue to bring increased abilities. The question is why bother bringing martials as a party with 3 casters becomes viable.
At level 15-20, Wizards and Sorcerers shine to their brightest and outshine the other casters. As you no more have martials in the ideal party at that stage the only classes you need are Sorcerers and Wizards.

Just to add at for levels 1-4, the casters are not totally bad with regular weapon attacks.


Zapp wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
In my opinion, one of the best defense is just to split damage as equally as possible among party members.

Yes.

The first and most important criteria for this is that every party member makes him- or herself accessible to at least some monster attacks.

...

But more generally everybody's hit points is a resource you must utilize when the going gets rough, and in official AP that's happens more often than not.

The "staying back at range" approach is a luxury you can only afford when the party manages to disperse incoming damage without you. For instance, in D&D 5E, the fights are seldom (read "almost never") as hard as in official PF2 adventures, and there the "sniper" and "skulker" character builds have much more of a place at the table.

In PF2, it's hard to see a better party composition than three melee specialists and one combat medic Cleric.

Such a party suffers badly when there is a chokepoint on the map. What happens when you can only get one or two PCs at the point of battle. Say a doorway or a corridoor. Polearms can help but are often not enough. Its not that unusual for a signficant battle to be fought at range.

A dedicated healer is typically overkill, and more generalist characters like a Bard or a Druid or a Cleric not focused on healing are often better. Especially if you are planning on skipping a Wizard/Sorceror. Out of combat healing is very cheap. Needing huge amounts of healing in combat is rare.

One things parties screw up is basic maths, adding 20% to 3 PCs attack effectiveness or adding the 100% of the 4th effective PC attack?

Some times there is going to be that one PC who will have to go first and be exposed to more attacks by virtue of line of sight and terrain.


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"Three melee specialists and one combat medic cleric" is far too broad to be considered the best party comp - it varies between "pretty awful" and "great", depending on the actual party makeup.

One the trash end, you have something like 3 giant instict 2-handing Barbarians and a Cleric. That comp is going to smash faces at times, but quickly hit brick walls in certain encounters. Additionally, the Cleric is going to find themselves overloaded trying to support all 3 at the same time.

On the optimized end, you have something like; Monk, Barbarian, Whip-tripping Bard, Cleric. Whip-tripping Bard may be stretching the definition of a "melee specialist", but is ostensibly an improvement to adding another martial.


I have some pretty clear ideas about what I consider optimal party comp, but they don't necessarily fall in line with this discussion because combat is not the only factor there. Here are the 3 party roles I have mapped out for an optimal party:

Front-liner - The tank and reliable damage dealer. This can be a fighter, barbarian, champion, or monk from what I've seen, though I imagine a swashbuckler works here as well. Often uses a shield or +AC equivalent and has an AOO of some sort. This character is the one standing in the most aggressive position in combat to bait enemies into attacking them.

Scout - maximizes perception and stealth to act as the leading edge in exploration mode. Some form of the trapfinder feat or the higher level skill feats to do multiple exploration activities are required to perform this role. This can be a Ranger, Rouge, or Investigator. At high levels, it's possible a divination caster could fill this party role, but I haven't seen that happen yet.

Support - This role can be split up among characters. This role provides status bonuses/penalties, combat healing, counteracts enemy magic/extraordinary abilities, and provides the party with opportunistic solutions. All of the casters and the alchemist fall in this category, but I would say the bard, cleric, witch, and occult/divine sorcerer are the only ones that can fulfill this role in full by themselves.

The Warrior/Scout/Mage tropes have been around for a long time, so I don't think I'm saying anything controversial here, but I think it's worthwhile to point out that the roles exist in PF2 and should be filled in an optimal party.

One other required role exists in the game, but any class can perform it, so I didn't mention it as part of party comp, Face. That's a little far afield from the discussion, though, and I don't think it merits much follow up in this thread.


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SuperBidi wrote:
Zapp wrote:
Spellcasters and other squishies: I believe PF2 nerfed magic too hard. It is difficult to justify bringing along a party member that's too frail to offer up his- or her warm flesh to the monsters, when they don't do outsized damage. Alchemists and Wizards simply aren't given the oomph they need to justify their place in a party during levels 1-10.

You are too hard on spellcasters.

For level 1-4, I completely agree with you, even if some casters are fine taking hits (Druids, Warpriests, Bards, Oracles).
At level 5-10, casters start to really bring something to the table that martials can't bring. At that levels, casters are still a bit more fragile than martials but have more impact on combat.
At Level 11-14, casters start to be as tough as martials and continue to bring increased abilities. The question is why bother bringing martials as a party with 3 casters becomes viable.
At level 15-20, Wizards and Sorcerers shine to their brightest and outshine the other casters. As you no more have martials in the ideal party at that stage the only classes you need are Sorcerers and Wizards.

Zapp still hasn't experienced the caster hitting a bunch of creatures with an AOE with a bunch of fails with a few critical fails and even an average damage roll.

Or the synestehsia debuff effect that suddenly turns powerful monsters into kittens.

From what it sounds like his group doesn't have a dedicated caster and hasn't tried much casting. They just slog along with melees and a combat medic and gave up on casting a while back.

It's why his experience differs so much with the main problem being Zapp thinks his experience is some kind of absolute that applies to everyone, which it does not. My druid as an example is often the highest damage dealer in the group dealing potent AoE damage, single target focus spell, animal companion, and a weapon. My bard has trivialized so many fights that it's reached the point that once he applies the synesthesia combo for even 1 round, the fight is over.

Then Zapp says ranged damage is weak, while the precision archer in our group is critting for 90 to 100 points and average 40 points a hit at up to 200 feet.

I can only surmise his group didn't have the patience for power curve for casters and archers as the melee combat power curve is very linear across all levels. Whereas casters have a non-linear power curve that ends much higher than the martials and archers tend to improve with more runes, feats that improved action economy and hit chances, more precision dice, and access to abilities like invisibility or high level feint and stealth options.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:
...Whereas casters have a non-linear power curve that ends much higher than the martials...

I think that's a bit of a stretch. I can believe casters are useful for AoE in the late game, but being generally much more powerful than martials? Doubt.


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Djinn71 wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
...Whereas casters have a non-linear power curve that ends much higher than the martials...
I think that's a bit of a stretch. I can believe casters are useful for AoE in the late game, but being generally much more powerful than martials? Doubt.

Have you played a caster and seen what they can do?

A recent example is my lvl 16 bard turned a fight against a lvl 18 Duneshaker Solifugid into a nothing fight. He hit the thing with synesthesia which it failed which left it affected for 1 minute. Then the following round the bard inspired heroics rolling a 50 and then cast true target. Enemy died before it got back to the bard's turn with over half of its hit points remaining. Martials can't touch effects like that.

Druid turned into an air elemental, cast aqueous orb and washed two stone golems and a clay golem off the earth without being touched. This is at lvl 10.

Casters turn fights from a difficult slog to an easy cake walk. They either do it by enabling the martials to do much better damage or just doing tactics that can't be countered. Or they erase damage.

I'm finding casters do more and more as they level, while the martial is still just hitting things for more damage on a fairly linear scale.

Casters aren't as powerful as they were in PF1, but they're still playing in a different ballpark than martials as far as what they can both do.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:
Djinn71 wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
...Whereas casters have a non-linear power curve that ends much higher than the martials...
I think that's a bit of a stretch. I can believe casters are useful for AoE in the late game, but being generally much more powerful than martials? Doubt.

Have you played a caster and seen what they can do?

A recent example is my lvl 16 bard turned a fight against a lvl 18 Duneshaker Solifugid into a nothing fight. He hit the thing with synesthesia which it failed which left it affected for 1 minute. Then the following round the bard inspired heroics rolling a 50 and then cast true target. Enemy died before it got back to the bard's turn with over half of its hit points remaining. Martials can't touch effects like that.

I think Synesthesia is certainly an outlier (I wouldn't be surprised if it got errataed to have Incapacitation unfortunately), but it is only on the occult list. Most casters aren't anywhere near as good as the Bard (which is probably the best class in the game, and not because of what it shares with other casters though).

Deriven Firelion wrote:

Druid turned into an air elemental, cast aqueous orb and washed two stone golems and a clay golem off the earth without being touched. This is at lvl 10.

Casters turn fights from a difficult slog to an easy cake walk. They either do it by enabling the martials to do much better damage or just doing tactics that can't be countered. Or they erase damage.

You can't cast spells in battle forms for one thing. I don't really understand what you mean when you used an Aqueous Orb to wash away two stone golems and a clay golem? 2d6 damage a round is nothing at that level, and you would only be able to hit one of them at a time. I fail to see what you can accomplish with this that a shove focused fighter or a Swashbuckler with Leading Dance couldn't, and without expending a spell slot.

A single hard fight without a caster may be a difficult challenge for a martial party, but an adventuring day without a martial is close to impossible for casters at every level.


Djinn71 wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
...Whereas casters have a non-linear power curve that ends much higher than the martials...
I think that's a bit of a stretch. I can believe casters are useful for AoE in the late game, but being generally much more powerful than martials? Doubt.

At high level, casters outdamage martials, outlive martials, have more utility and less limitations.

Martials deal damage, and at high level they just deal ok damage. They take hits, and at high level they are just ok at tanking (Champion put aside). There's nothing a martial can do a caster can't do at least at an equivalent level. But there are tons of things martials can't do and casters can.
And Synesthesia is far from an outlier. Chain Lightning, Scintillating Safeguard, Circle of Protection are same level spells with crazy effects. Most high end martial feats are not even equivalent to mid level spells.

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