Repetition and 2e / "Taking20"s Break Up Letter


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Fargoth's Hiding Place wrote:
Ruzza wrote:
Other systems can reward a playstyle like Ulrics, but it might not be PF2. I don't think that was at the core of this video however. The core was repetition and being locked into doing the same thing over and over, which is just demonstrably untrue.

Did we watch the same video? Cody spells out my point rather well with his magic missile example.

Here: https://youtu.be/-fyninGp92g?t=391

Cody says, "Let me give you another example of an issue that I feel lends to this constant repetition. Let's talk about spells: casting magic and the action economy. Here's probably the biggest lapse in judgment I've had when initially evaluating Pathfinder 2e." He goes on to explain that he was impressed by the versatility of some spells to be cast with one, two, or three actions, yet in play he would only cast Magic Missile as three actions, because that gave the most damage for the cost of the spell slot.

Cody made a slight error of nomenclature. He made his decision from spell-slot economy and ignored action economy. Action economy is making the most out of actions. An action economy example would be spending two actions to cast Fireball and following up with a one-action Magic Missile to down the last enemy standing after the fireball.

Cody's theme is that the repetition proves the illusion of choice. The Magic Missile was another case of repetition because he always cast it as three actions rather than as one or two actions. He appeared to have options but repeated only one option because the other options were sub-optimal. Note that he varies his repetition theme: it is not about casting the same spell every turn; rather, it is about casting the spell in the same way every time he casts it.

Every game system has this illusion of choice: if a player uses a strategy, such as optimal damage or barbarians acting brashly, then he locks himself into the one choice chosen by the strategy. A primary reason to play Pathfinder 2nd Edition rather than other RPGs is that Pathfinder provides great character customization. Locking oneself into one design due to a fixed design strategy tosses away that benefit of PF2. Cody quit PF2 because he and his players refused to abandon their damage-optimization strategy to have fun with PF2's flexibility.


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Mathmuse wrote:


Cody made a slight error of nomenclature. He made his decision from spell-slot economy and ignored action economy. Action economy is making the most out of actions. An action economy example would be spending two actions to cast Fireball and following up with a one-action Magic Missile to down the last enemy standing after the fireball.

Cody's theme is that the repetition proves the illusion of choice. The Magic Missile was another case of repetition because he always cast it as three actions rather than as one or two actions. He appeared to have options but repeated only one option because the other options were sub-optimal. Note that he varies his repetition theme: it is not about casting the same spell every turn; rather, it is about casting the spell in the same way every time he casts it.

Every game system has this illusion of choice: if a player uses a strategy, such as optimal damage or barbarians acting brashly, then he locks himself into the one choice chosen by the strategy. A primary reason to play Pathfinder 2nd Edition rather than...

Cody's position isn't my players are using the same actions and tactics over and over and over again and that's bad. Its: "2e has systemic problems that drive repetitive behavior, and this extends into other parts of the game like spellcasting and combat."

He is making the point that 2e's heavy focus on efficiency drives player choice in predictable and repetitive outcomes. Is this unique to 2e? No. Is it more noticeable in 2e than in other systems, I'd argue absolutely yes.


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Fargoth's Hiding Place wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
Fargoth's Hiding Place wrote:
not being killed, which 2e is having a problem delivering

Note that the PF2 system itself has very little trouble delivering a playful "you can make suboptimal decisions for role-play reasons and reasonably expect to survive" experience, if that's what the group wants. It just requires the GM to recognise the issue and provide less difficult encounters than the CR system suggests.

It's the published adventures that don't provide this experience.

The more work I have to put into making adjustments to material is less I have to run the game, and means those materials aren't worth as much to me. So I'd look for a game that does have the qualities I'm looking for.

It looks like that's the same value proposition that Cody had to face, and he found that 2e wasn't good enough to run, and I have the same opinion for a lot of the same reasons.

To make a PF2 AP easier, you can just subtract one from all of the enemy's stats and have an identical but more forgiving experience.

I don't know what your standard for simple is, but I'm pretty sure that's simpler than what it takes to make a 5e adventure harder.


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Fargoth's Hiding Place wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:


Cody made a slight error of nomenclature. He made his decision from spell-slot economy and ignored action economy. Action economy is making the most out of actions. An action economy example would be spending two actions to cast Fireball and following up with a one-action Magic Missile to down the last enemy standing after the fireball.

Cody's theme is that the repetition proves the illusion of choice. The Magic Missile was another case of repetition because he always cast it as three actions rather than as one or two actions. He appeared to have options but repeated only one option because the other options were sub-optimal. Note that he varies his repetition theme: it is not about casting the same spell every turn; rather, it is about casting the spell in the same way every time he casts it.

Every game system has this illusion of choice: if a player uses a strategy, such as optimal damage or barbarians acting brashly, then he locks himself into the one choice chosen by the strategy. A primary reason to play Pathfinder 2nd Edition rather than...

Cody's position isn't my players are using the same actions and tactics over and over and over again and that's bad. Its: "2e has systemic problems that drive repetitive behavior, and this extends into other parts of the game like spellcasting and combat."

He is making the point that 2e's heavy focus on efficiency drives player choice in predictable and repetitive outcomes. Is this unique to 2e? No. Is it more noticeable in 2e than in other systems, I'd argue absolutely yes.

PF2 APs are hard. It has nothing to do with the system but with the difficulty of APs.

PF2 is the system where you can do a lot of suboptimal actions. If I take PF1 for an example (because I know it) either your character is built to do something and he can do it or he isn't built to do something and he should never do it. PF1 martials are the pinacle of repetition as most of them can only do one single thing in combat: Full attacking.
On the other hand, in PF2, you have the basic actions from your class, some third actions from your skills, some special actions from your skill feats and even sometimes some actions from your ancestry. And all these actions are valid. You have the most versatility out of a specialized character. Doing the same thing over and over is playing PF2 badly as the system allows you to have the maximum freedom of most D&D rulesets I've played.

I personally plays PFS which is way easier than APs and I don't feel at all that I'm commited to one action every turn. Far from it.


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Fargoth's Hiding Place wrote:
He is making the point that 2e's heavy focus on efficiency drives player choice in predictable and repetitive outcomes. Is this unique to 2e? No. Is it more noticeable in 2e than in other systems, I'd argue absolutely yes.

That is where I outright disagree. Pathfinder 2nd Edition's design defies the number-crunching efficiency of Pathfinder 1st Edition. PF1 character optimization is about stacking good bonuses onto the character's favorite abilities. Unfortunately, that led to certain feats, such as Power Attack, becoming almost mandatory because their numbers are good, and other feats, such as Combat Expertise, being labeled as trap feats because their numbers are bad. And feats without numbers are mostly for oddball designs.

PF2 made number advancements automatic. If a character trained in a skill, then the bonus for those skill checks increased by 1 every level. Likewise for weapon proficiencies and saving throws. Further advancements could be piled atop the automatics ones, but those are limited by level, such as master proficiency for skills or access to +2 weapon potency runes.

Thus, PF2 offers a mere +1 for specialty builds rather than the +5 that PF1 offers. Some people argue that it is equivalent because the degrees of success in PF2 makes a +1 more valuable, but I crunched those numbers and the extra value is minor. A PF2 +1 is halfway between a PF1 +1 and a PF1 +2 in effectiveness. PF2 players cannot achieve the high-bonus builds offered by PF1.

In contrast, noticing that hostile humanoids' only ranged attack is throwing spears means that moving away and shooting arrows at those humanoids is a great strategy despite the fighter's melee attacks having a +2 to hit over ranged attacks. Tactics matter and PF2's 3-action system enables more tactics. A specialized Grapple build is probably a weak design in PF2, but being able to grapple against the few opponents weak to grapple is effective. Shoving opponents who rely on special positioning is effective. Tripping opponents who have Deny Advantage against flanking is effective. And all three of those tactic, Grapple, Shove, and Trip, come at the low cost of training in Athletics. My party, trained and expert in Stealth, likes to attack from behind cover or concealment and then disappear back into hiding to foil the counterattacks.

PF2 is more about being prepared to neutralize an opponent's attacks than having more efficient attacks. PF2 does not have a heavy focus on efficiency.


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
Mathmuse wrote:
Some people argue that it is equivalent because the degrees of success in PF2 makes a +1 more valuable, but I crunched those numbers and the extra value is minor. A PF2 +1 is halfway between a PF1 +1 and a PF1 +2 in effectiveness.

That’s interesting. I would have guessed it to work out as the equivalent of a +2 (arguing something along the lines of a PF2 +1 gives you a 5% chance of turning a miss into a hit and a 5% chance of turning a hit into a crit, each of which is roughly as valuable - therefore being equivalent to the 10% chance of a miss becoming a hit one gets from a PF1 +2...).

Did you post the number crunching publicly? I’d be interested to read it (but not interested enough to do the work myself!)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Last night the table I homebrew for ran into a very nasty, much too nasty creature, and started the combat off with one of the four characters critically failing 2 fort saves against poison, falling unconscious for the fight. It was based on a Bestiary monster, with some slight modifications ti make it fit the environment. The monster was a down right murderer, weighing in at level +3 and being a full caster with an incredibly high AC. The party did an admirable job of fleeing this creature until it had them trapped on a beach with a wall of fire, demanding treasure (which was its ultimate objective all along. It wanted a magical shiny. It had no interest in killing the PCs, only taking treasure, but it also had no interest in not killing the PCs if it was necessary to get its preciouses. The PCs had received a number of treasures in the last several sessions that were not particularly valuable either as trade loot or as usable loot, including a cursed item (a bag of weasels), that I figured they could use as trade if the fight was not going well in their favor. I also know that PCs, being PCs, tend to be willing to throw their lives away rather than offer up a single magical treasure, so I decided that the creature would mostly try to use its poison if it could (which is non-lethal, but very potent), and only resort to attack spells if it was in a situation where in needed to attack at range and keep the treasure holders from escaping.

Unfortunate the dice were unkind to the party and when it cast a lightning bolt at the rogue who rolled a 3 on the reflex save after using his hero point to reroll a medicine check to save the sorcerer with 1 HP, and he critically failed. The level 4 rogue with 42 HP took 88 points of damage and exploded all over the beach (the monster rolled 4 shy of max damage on a lightning bolt). It was our first party death of the campaign.

The PCs probably rightly recognize that this encounter could have easily been a TPK if the monster's objective was to kill the party. The dice were harsh on the rogue, and the party's tactics fed into the monster using spells instead of melee attacks, which proved more permanently punishing. But the thing is, I think that the long term effect of the encounter on the party was that everyone had more fun playing out an attempt to escape an incredibly nasty monster, even though it cost one player their life, then they probably would have offering up their bag of weasels and watching the creature slink off back to its lair. My party discussed character death at the beginning of the campaign and had expressed a desire to make encounters feel dangerous with the threat of death, and so the player who had a character die was ready to roll up a new character for next time with a smile on their face, knowing that their last character made a rather heroic sacrifice using his own hero point to save another character instead of himself.

I really cannot stress enough how valuable it can be for the GM to have more interesting goals than to just kill everyone, especially for the powerful solo monsters that the party will encounter. It is not monsters acting stupidly if they are taking actions that are efficient in accomplishing their goals and it is one of the easiest ways to get PCs to start thinking outside of the box when the monster spends actions moving to an objective that it looks like it might be able to achieve in the next round or two if the party doesn't do something different than just letting it do so. The most efficient actions in combat very quickly change when the party realizes that the goal of each round of combat might be different than kill the enemy as quickly as possible.


Steve Geddes wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
Some people argue that it is equivalent because the degrees of success in PF2 makes a +1 more valuable, but I crunched those numbers and the extra value is minor. A PF2 +1 is halfway between a PF1 +1 and a PF1 +2 in effectiveness.

That’s interesting. I would have guessed it to work out as the equivalent of a +2 (arguing something along the lines of a PF2 +1 gives you a 5% chance of turning a miss into a hit and a 5% chance of turning a hit into a crit, each of which is roughly as valuable - therefore being equivalent to the 10% chance of a miss becoming a hit one gets from a PF1 +2...).

Did you post the number crunching publicly? I’d be interested to read it (but not interested enough to do the work myself!)

Let me calculate attacks, three cases.

The best case for a +1 is when you have a 55% chance to hit. That comes out to a 50% chance of a regular hit and a 5% chance of a critical hit. Let me represent a regular hit as one dot and a critical hit as two dots, where dot stands for a 5% chance of regular damage from a hit. We have 10 dots from the 50% chance of a regular hit and 2 dots from the 5% chance of a crit. That is 12 dots. If we add a +1 before the Strike, then that increases to 50% chance of a regular hit and 10% chance of a critical hit, 14 dots. 14 dots is a 17% improvement to damage over 12 dots.

In contrast, in PF2 without the degrees of success, +1 would be going from 55% chance of a hit to a 60% chance of a hit, a 9% improvement in damage. Critical hits affect the same percentage of 55% chance hits as 60% chance hits, due to the confirmation roll, so extra damage from crits cancels out. +2 would be an 18% improvement, so at 55% a PF2 +1 is almost as good as a PF1 +2.

Let's look at 75% chance at hitting. That is 20 dots. With a +1 it would grow to 22 dots. 22 dots is a 10% improvement over 20 dots. A PF1 +1 would have 80% as a 7% improvement oveer 75% and a PF1 +2 would have 85% as a 13% improvement over 75%. The PF2 +1 is halfway between the two.

Let's look at 35% chance at hitting. That is a 30% chance of a regular hit and a 5% chance of a critical hit on a natural 20, so 8 dots. A +1 does not increase the change of a crit, so it gives 9 dots. 9 dots is a 12.5% improvement over 8 dots. A PF1 +1 would have 40% as a 14% improvement oveer 35%. A PF2 +1 is worse than a PF1 +1 in this case.

Around 55% we have that a PF2 +1 is almost a PF1 +2, but further away from that point, the PF2 +1 is more like a PF1 +1. In two attacks, due to the -5 multiple attack penalty, we have one case where the +1 is like a PF2 +2 and another case where it is like a PF2 +1, so it averages to halfway.


Mathmuse wrote:
...And all three of those tactic, Grapple, Shove, and Trip, come at the low cost of training in Athletics...

I can not quite agree to this line of reasoning because there is another and significant cost involved in all those skills, you either have one hand free or you use the "correct" weapon, all of which requires at least a little system mastery when building your character.

By level 8 my group has not one but two characters who are expert or master in Atlethics, a dwarven Fighter using Battle Axe & Shield and a Spirit Barbarian (who even has Assurance athletics) using a Maul, and I have yet to see a single Grapple or Trip within those 8 levels of play. Mostly because releasing and changing your grip, or stowing and retrieving your weapon to be able to Grapple or Trip effectively doubles or even triples your associated action cost.

So because of this - and if we actually make it until the end of our AP - I expect some rare Shoves from the Barbarian and no combat manoeuvres at all from our Fighter, simply because "they have their hands full".


Ubertron_X wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
...And all three of those tactic, Grapple, Shove, and Trip, come at the low cost of training in Athletics...

I can not quite agree to this line of reasoning because there is another and significant cost involved in all those skills, you either have one hand free or you use the "correct" weapon, all of which requires at least a little system mastery when building your character.

By level 8 my group has not one but two characters who are expert or master in Athletics, a dwarven Fighter using Battle Axe & Shield and a Spirit Barbarian (who even has Assurance athletics) using a Maul, and I have yet to see a single Grapple or Trip within those 8 levels of play. Mostly because releasing and changing your grip, or stowing and retrieving your weapon to be able to Grapple or Trip effectively doubles or even triples your associated action cost.

So because of this - and if we actually make it until the end of our AP - I expect some rare Shoves from the Barbarian and no combat manoeuvres at all from our Fighter, simply because "they have their hands full".

I overlooked the need for a free hand, because my party has 3 spellcasters who keep a hand free for casting, 2 archers who keep a hand free for shooting, a monk, and a champion who would rather command her velociraptor than draw her weapon. Whenever the ranger puts away her bow for melee, she draws a kukri and a shortsword, and the kukri has the trip trait.


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To piggyback on something that Unicore said: combat is not just about one side destroying the other. Everyone, even NPCs, have different motivations. Like many here, I've got an anecdote!

Slithering Spoilers:
There's an encounter in The Slithering with a rather weak ooze in a room with a table. After a number of rounds, a statue in the corner of the room comes to life and begins attacking. With the way my group had been going, I didn't expect the ooze to make it too far. So the ooze went right under the table and used the Hide action. I made sure that my group knew that they could Seek the ooze if they wanted, but it would retain a cover bonus from the table. They could, as well, Drop Prone to easily see the ooze and ignore the cover bonus.

My horrible, evil, fiendish GM plan was to have the PCs all drop to the ground as the golem awakes and begins stomping all over them. Ah ha! Brilliant! Or so I thought. Up comes... Jaltar. The burliest orc witch I've ever seen. I don't think he's cast a spell all game yet. He's mostly been beating people to death with his meteor hammer. Anyway, Jaltar's turn comes up and he runs up to the table and asks to flip it onto it's side. Oh, yeah, that works, too. I give him an easy Athletics check that he absolutely crushed.

Suddenly, the golem comes barreling into play and the PCs have a convenient place to dodge around and Take Cover.

So, because of choices that I - as the GM - made tactically, the players ended up in a dynamic encounter that gave them plenty of agency and control over their environment.

(Also, since I got lost in the weeds of my own story there, the ooze itself was not trying to destroy and consume the PCs, but rather protect itself.)


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Ubertron_X wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
...And all three of those tactic, Grapple, Shove, and Trip, come at the low cost of training in Athletics...

I can not quite agree to this line of reasoning because there is another and significant cost involved in all those skills, you either have one hand free or you use the "correct" weapon, all of which requires at least a little system mastery when building your character.

By level 8 my group has not one but two characters who are expert or master in Atlethics, a dwarven Fighter using Battle Axe & Shield and a Spirit Barbarian (who even has Assurance athletics) using a Maul, and I have yet to see a single Grapple or Trip within those 8 levels of play. Mostly because releasing and changing your grip, or stowing and retrieving your weapon to be able to Grapple or Trip effectively doubles or even triples your associated action cost.

So because of this - and if we actually make it until the end of our AP - I expect some rare Shoves from the Barbarian and no combat manoeuvres at all from our Fighter, simply because "they have their hands full".

My players met a Quickling recently. Not grappling/tripping was equivalent to making one single attack per round for all melee characters. In that case, you are happy to drop your weapon and Grapple it.

Grapple, Shove and Trip are sometimes so useful that you don't care of not attacking at all.

As a side note, the Quickling is such a great monster if you want your players to stop for a second and ask themselves "Wat we gonna do?".


SuperBidi wrote:
Ubertron_X wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
...And all three of those tactic, Grapple, Shove, and Trip, come at the low cost of training in Athletics...

I can not quite agree to this line of reasoning because there is another and significant cost involved in all those skills, you either have one hand free or you use the "correct" weapon, all of which requires at least a little system mastery when building your character.

By level 8 my group has not one but two characters who are expert or master in Atlethics, a dwarven Fighter using Battle Axe & Shield and a Spirit Barbarian (who even has Assurance athletics) using a Maul, and I have yet to see a single Grapple or Trip within those 8 levels of play. Mostly because releasing and changing your grip, or stowing and retrieving your weapon to be able to Grapple or Trip effectively doubles or even triples your associated action cost.

So because of this - and if we actually make it until the end of our AP - I expect some rare Shoves from the Barbarian and no combat manoeuvres at all from our Fighter, simply because "they have their hands full".

My players met a Quickling recently. Not grappling/tripping was equivalent to making one single attack per round for all melee characters. In that case, you are happy to drop your weapon and Grapple it.

Grapple, Shove and Trip are sometimes so useful that you don't care of not attacking at all.

As a side note, the Quickling is such a great monster if you want your players to stop for a second and ask themselves "Wat we gonna do?".

Yeah this is the type of thing I see from the Bestiary creatures.

Giant Slug who just tramples constantly when PCs are bunched up and punishes them with Mucus Trail (difficult Terrain) means pretty much every melee has to adapt to even be able to operate effectively. Heck, in most cases when I ran this fight, they would have had to move twice just to get an attack.

And I think a lot of Bestiary monsters are like that. They are like puzzles themselves.

Sovereign Court

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Mathmuse wrote:
Cody in Taking20 claimed that the need of optimization makes choice an illusion, but I hold that the need for optimization is the true illusion. The GM decides what level of challenge is out there, overriding the module. (Remember that 330-xp army? It was originally 130 xp of creatures. I like my armies to be big.) We GMs can give the players the freedom to play for fun.

My teeth itch every time someone talks about optimization and on closer inspection, it turns out to be best-case circumstances DPR optimization.

This is like someone arguing which is the best formula one, while they're about to go on a cross-continent rally where you also need to navigate congested cities, some off-road desert and wetland parts. Also you'll be scored on how much illegal cargo you manage to transport through the civil war torn area.

PF2 really goes out of its way to make sure no tactic is optimal in all circumstances;

- Swarms resisting single-target spells
- High reflex enemies resisting area spells
- Skeletal undead resisting slashing weapons
- Zombielike undead being weak to slashing weapons
- Intensely punishing melee enemies with no appreciable ranged capability, like clay golems
- Flying enemies with reach and attacks of opportunity, like vrocks, that control your movement
- Enemies that punish you if you spread out, because then they'll flank you
- Enemies that punish you if you bunch up, because then you'll all be in the AoE

And so on.

Coming from a machine learning perspective, the sort of best-case optimization that Cody's folks seem to be stuck in is what I'd call overfitting.


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Midnightoker wrote:


Like if I have my hobgoblins tripping, grappling, demoralizing the players, they almost always try to respond accordingly. It's tough to argue with results, and when you're doing things the PCs know they can also do, it leads to a "monkey see, monkey do" kinda thing. In the case of my groups Barbarian, it comes off as almost challenging them to an "arm wrestle" type of competition ("Oh you think you can Grapple me, I'll show you!")

I think this monkey see, monkey do approach to DMing is great advice and really should be built into the system from the start. It is like the show, don't tell approach to story telling that works so well.

Different tiers of play can offer new things for the players to learn through the actions of their enemies. BBEG can also use some abilities normally reserved in the next tier of play to wet their appetite.

Strategies, counter strategies, teamwork and more. You can still have monsters with their own set of strategies and strengths and weaknesses.


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There may be a "best choice" for an action with a given character in a given situation, if you are judging "best" as that which results in the least usage of resources (such as HP, spell slots, and consumables).

But, "best choice" and "good enough choice" are not significantly different in outcome. Obviously, there is essentially no difference in losing 10 more HP over the course of an adventuring day. But I'd argue there is little difference between ending an adventuring day with 100% HP and 1% HP. HP is easy to regenerate, and the game (especially APs) allows you to trade in-game time for in-game healing with little or no in-game consequences. Spell slots refill with time. Consumables should be provided by the GM so that they are sufficient for the flow of the adventure.

So even if you could measure what is "the best" action to take, it would not be important to take that action. "Good enough" is good enough.

Further, it is generally impossible for the player (or character) to know what "the best" action might be. How many spell slots will be used before rest? How much damage is incoming? Will another player turn a diplomatic encounter into a bloodbath? You don't know what resources to preserve and which can be spent freely.

So just be effective enough and play to have fun. There is lots of room for choice.


Ruzza wrote:
I would agree that playing a barbarian with a barbarian mindset ("Hit, hit, hit, always keep hitting, pain don't hurt") ends up being really bad in the long run. Meanwhile, Giant Barbarians excel at area control, Animal Barbarians are fantastic front-line disruptors, and... I haven't had anyone play any other barbarian yet, so I don't know how Spirit and Superstition end up functioning. Maybe Fury is the way to go to hack and slash, rip and tear?

Animal is decent for a "tanky" type Barbarian with access to bonkers level natural attacks. Giant does most flat damage with the most reach.

Spirit is pretty niche, good if you don't have a Champion, Monk, or divine/primal spellcaster, but cuts out tomb raiding adventures, as that is anathema. Superstition is a husk of its former glory due to anathema restrictions, can't really be a party member in any standard group.

Dragon could be interesting, but I don't like that it's basically a Draconic Bloodline feature that gives minimally helpful versatility (due to DC scaling), or is outright useless in some situations.

Fury is bad because, while there is no anathema, and you have resistance to all physical damage, all you get in exchange is an additional 1st level feat from a pool of feats that are garbage-tier to select from. Outside of Sudden Charge, there's no good Barbarian feats until you get your instinct ones, or until like 12th level.

So yeah, those two are played because they are actually decent and fill niches that other classes/choices can't. The rest isn't special or is just outright not feasible.

Liberty's Edge

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Hold up though, regarding Anathema for Barbarians... I'm not seeing this as actually being that restrictive. Sure it uses the same terminology but the consequences are only losing your Instinct specific benefits and any the use of any Feats that list your Instinct as a pre-requisite, not nearly as harsh as that of the other Classes. They keep all of the Training, they can still use the normal benefits of Rage and they don't have anything like Spellcasting to lose.

On top of that, the Barbarian needs not go to great lengths to remove the penalties, no side quest, no atonement spell, or anything like that, instead all they have to deal with is 1 day of downtime "recentering" themselves. All things considered, that's really not that big of a deal as at most you'll likely have to deal with being without your Instinct bonuses and two perhaps three Feats MAX for about half of a single story arc/location/dungeon before you can take a real break and just get it all back again.

Also worth mentioning: For Society play the Anathema restrictions are scaled back and eased even further than this especially for the Superstition which is the only one of the Instincts that TRULY has unavoidable breaches of the A at large. As for the Spirit Instinct, I don't exactly think this would really ever come into play unless the Barbarian is just flat out evil since proper tomb-raiding to the point of desecrating or disrespecting graves and Spirits (NOT Undead) isn't exactly part of the normal adventuring activities for Neutral or Good PCs.


Themetricsystem wrote:

Hold up though, regarding Anathema for Barbarians... I'm not seeing this as actually being that restrictive. Sure it uses the same terminology but the consequences are only losing your Instinct specific benefits and any the use of any Feats that list your Instinct as a pre-requisite, not nearly as harsh as that of the other Classes. They keep all of the Training, they can still use the normal benefits of Rage and they don't have anything like Spellcasting to lose.

On top of that, the Barbarian needs not go to great lengths to remove the penalties, no side quest, no atonement spell, or anything like that, instead all they have to deal with is 1 day of downtime "recentering" themselves. All things considered, that's really not that big of a deal as at most you'll likely have to deal with being without your Instinct bonuses and two perhaps three Feats MAX for about half of a single story arc/location/dungeon before you can take a real break and just get it all back again.

Also worth mentioning: For Society play the Anathema restrictions are scaled back and eased even further than this especially for the Superstition which is the only one of the Instincts that TRULY has unavoidable breaches of the A at large. As for the Spirit Instinct, I don't exactly think this would really ever come into play unless the Barbarian is just flat out evil since proper tomb-raiding to the point of desecrating or disrespecting graves and Spirits (NOT Undead) isn't exactly part of the normal adventuring activities for Neutral or Good PCs.

For Giant and Animal Barbarians, running into anathema is very problematic on the mechanics side of things. Animal Barbarians lose their only major means of attack, plus armor benefits, and Giant loses a good portion of their damage and reach capabilities. Animal is relatively easy to uphold, though, and Giant can be upheld if you play smart and have realistic goals.

Dragon is a bit complicated. With certain choices it can be easy. With other choices, it can be a very bad time. Imagine being abhorrent of Red Dragons and one of the big bads is, indeed, a powerful Red Dragon. You'll be hard-pressed to not play chaotic stupid or risk anathema, especially if said Dragon outclasses you. Conversely, being respectful of Gold Dragons is very easy to uphole, especially in a good-aligned group.

Spirit can interpret disrespecting spirits and corpses as intruding upon their tomb unwarranted and such. Go into a tomb and find a mummy or ghost alive in there, and he don't like your company? You just committed anathema before combat even begins, good luck killing him without your powers now. It can work for some adventures, where dead creatures aren't a staple, but not all, and that's where the disjunction lies.

Superstition is borderline unplayable unless you run with Alchemists or something similar. Some of the bonuses are nice, but too situational for what you pay for it. Even if PFS laxes some of the restrictions, it's not a guarantee, and it's also not RAW or the actual intended way to play the instinct. It also still doesn't provide enough benefits even with anathema reduced.


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:


or is outright useless in some situations.

That statement is applicable to every feature in the game. With Draconic I think you are missing flying and extra reach in Dragon Form. Both of which are impactful.

Animal is a lot better set up for using Grapple and Trip

But I agree I'd only take Fury or Spirit for role playing reasons as they are not that effective at what they do compared to everything else out there.

Superstition has a rough anathema, but if its workable in your group it is very good.

3 good archetypes in a class, a fourth situational, 2 that you probably wouldn't take. That is a pretty good hit rate for an RPG. Normally there is zero or one.


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Ascalaphus wrote:


PF2 really goes out of its way to make sure no tactic is optimal in all circumstances;

- Swarms resisting single-target spells
- High reflex enemies resisting area spells
- Skeletal undead resisting slashing weapons
- Zombielike undead being weak to slashing weapons
- Intensely punishing melee enemies with no appreciable ranged capability, like clay golems
- Flying enemies with reach and attacks of opportunity, like vrocks, that control your movement
- Enemies that punish you if you spread out, because then they'll flank you
- Enemies that punish you if you bunch up, because then you'll all be in the AoE

And so on.

Coming from a machine learning perspective, the sort of best-case optimization that Cody's folks seem to be stuck in is what I'd call overfitting.

Yep they are optimising plan A, stacking on every feature and getting that extra 5% of effectiveness. When what they should realise is plan A only works 70% of the time. You need a plan B and C. They can often be enabled with a small investment of resources.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Fargoth's Hiding Place wrote:


Cody's position isn't my players are using the same actions and tactics over and over and over again and that's bad. Its: "2e has systemic problems that drive repetitive behavior, and this extends into other parts of the game like spellcasting and combat."

He is making the point that 2e's heavy focus on efficiency drives player choice in predictable and repetitive outcomes. Is this unique to 2e? No. Is it more noticeable in 2e than in other systems, I'd argue absolutely yes.

The fundamental problem I have with the video maker's position though is that some of the activities he describes his players feeling 'forced' to do aren't even optimal in the first place. There's even a confusing moment where the video seems to simultaneously suggest that third attacks are never worth doing and the only thing worth doing at the same time.

That completely undermines the premise that they feel forced to play optimally or suffer the consequences and suggests there's another problem at play here.


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Midnightoker wrote:

So you think everyone that’s talking about using maneuvers is “theorycrafting”?

I can assure that is not the case for me. Shoves, Trips, and Demoralize are staples of sessions I’ve been in. It would be shocking for me to see three consecutive strikes from my players at this point.

Yes, I believe the majority of evidence on the effectiveness of many things is based on theory-crafting or biased anecdotal evidence on forums.

Which is why I test these things in play after I read about them. Maneuvers is one of the items I tested. I found them situationally useful becoming less so as you invest more in higher end runes and players gain more feats or spells that accomplish similar modifiers. They also are not often easier to execute than a strike. If they miss, they have the same penalty as a strike without the upside of damage from a strike. It's best to use these types of abilities when they are combined with feats that increase their value by doing damage and applying the effect.

I also think a major reason my views differ is I often play to high level. The higher level you get the more you give up using a maneuver in place of a strike. For example, if my barbarian were to use his highest level strike for a grapple right now he would be giving up an average of 50 points of damage for a regular hit and 120 plus for a critical hit. This is not at all a good tradeoff.

Most of the people that seem to engage in these discussions on forums are playing lower level games where they're giving up maybe a 20 point hit in place of a maneuver. So perhaps to them that is an acceptable trade off. It becomes a far less acceptable trade off as you do more damage.

As groups get higher level, it becomes wiser for them to unload on the enemy. Even casters start doing AoE obliteration. No use wasting time on maneuvers or actions that aren't going to do brutal damage to the enemy.

Demoralize and Bon Mot are still great actions at high level, especially if you have Scare to Death. I don't argue against those. My players are still using those high value actions at high level. They are low action cost, low resource cost, and high value effect with no real trade off, no MAP, and great use of a 3rd action in a round.


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I feel like "Hey, we have to go into this tomb and murk this lich" is more of a roleplaying opportunity for a spirit instinct barbarian than a restriction. There's a built in "self-defense" clause for the instinct, after all.


Gortle wrote:
It also stops them from attacking anyone else.

Is stopping them from attacking anyone else a good idea in PF2? Do you want monsters to focus fire on one target without having to use move actions? Spreading the damage seems wiser in my opinion.

Right now we are experimenting with a group using mobility to avoid damage. I want to see if it works well since I've seen that some monk players are doing this to great effect. I can see the benefit of it as the monk movement gets higher.

In PF2 the best way to deal with monster damage is spread it around or don't be in range to be damaged.

Quote:

Tripping likewise can seem fairly pointless, unless you coordinate with others and time your trip attempt. But if you are coordinating with others it is often simple to get flanking anyway.

All it costs the opponent is their third action, which is not always that big a loss. But it costs you your attack regardless.

So what are you getting with trip? They take a -2 to all their attacks, or potentially you get an attack of oppourtunity if they stand up. Thats pretty good.

The problem is all Rogues and PCs will have Kip Up after a while so that they can get around that.

I tried trip. It can be good against weaker enemies. You might land it on stronger enemies. If you miss it, you suffer MAP and are unlikely to land a trip on second or third attack.

The thing I think a lot maybe don't experience is that using maneuvers on weaker enemies as you level up is a big waste of time. PCs annihilate lower level enemies as they get higher level.

Recent example is we fought 8 lvl 12 enemies against a lvl 15 party. Between AoE spells and martial attacks, they were obliterated within a few rounds. Using maneuvers in place of attacks would have been wasting time and damage.

The ideal use of a maneuver is to set up the rest of the party for easier attacks. This tactic is sometimes helpful. I would say noticeable at lower levels. It loses its attractiveness as you level up.

Right now our lvl 17 party doesn't think much about maneuvers. The rogue has Gang Up, so he always gets flank. The Champion uses a shield and sword with no free hand. The archer has Greater Invis twice a day on top of the bard casting it on him with all their slots. Maneuvers don't come up and aren't particularly interesting to a lvl 17 party.

They have a bunch of max rune weapons, feats, and other abilities that apply only on attack. They want to give themselves as many chances to land them as possible.

Now if grapple let you do your weapon with rune damage on a successful grapple on top of the effect, it might make using maneuvers more attractive at high level. But when you have a +2 Greater Striking Frost electrical greatpick on a barbarian, you don't feel great about grappling in place of swinging your runed out weapon.

Liberty's Edge

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Deriven Firelion wrote:
I also think a major reason my views differ is I often play to high level. The higher level you get the more you give up using a maneuver in place of a strike. For example, if my barbarian were to use his highest level strike for a grapple right now he would be giving up an average of 50 points of damage for a regular hit and 120 plus for a critical hit. This is not at all a good tradeoff.

Even here, I would disagree. There are many factors that go into this decision, and you're not taking them into account.

Let me take my ranger player as an example again. Until quite recently (we had some player turnover), the ranger was in a five-person party with a rogue and a fighter. The ranger had Disrupt Prey, the rogue had Opportunist, and the fighter of course had Attack of Opportunity. So it was incredibly common for the ranger to trip a monster as her opening move, attack the now-prone foe, and then have the rogue move up and get in a sneak attack while the fighter also got into position. Then, when the monster stood up, it faced (usually) three attacks, all at max MAP, and all against a flat-footed target. Setting up that three-attack brutality has often been worth spending the action on the trip attack, even the first action, MAP on the later swings notwithstanding. Had the group maintained that composition, I would have expected that to become more valuable. not less, as they further increased in level.

Context matters in these discussions. What kind of foe you're facing, who's in the party with you, environmental or terrain effects, all of these should be factoring into your actions. What may be the obviously best choice in one situation might be utterly terrible in another.


Deriven Firelion wrote:
Gortle wrote:
It also stops them from attacking anyone else.

Is stopping them from attacking anyone else a good idea in PF2? Do you want monsters to focus fire on one target without having to use move actions? Spreading the damage seems wiser in my opinion.

Obviously that is a call for you to make if you are already the primary target then grabbing the enemy is a waste of an action. Trip instead, that protects you.

Grab is useful to protect someone else, in which case it is helping you spread damage.

Deriven Firelion wrote:


Right now we are experimenting with a group using mobility to avoid damage. I want to see if it works well since I've seen that some monk players are doing this to great effect. I can see the benefit of it as the monk movement gets higher.

Thats what you should be doing, experimenting

Quote:


I tried trip. It can be good against weaker enemies. You might land it on stronger enemies. If you miss it, you suffer MAP and are unlikely to land a trip on second or third attack.

It is Ok but not great as your upfront tactic. If you don't have any support for it, then its situational. Try it with Improved Knockdown, Or Assurance with Athletics which even the low strength wizard can get and use. Tail Spin is nice, Tumbling Opportunist, StaffSweep.

Quote:


The thing I think a lot maybe don't experience is that using maneuvers on weaker enemies as you level up is a big waste of time. PCs annihilate lower level enemies as they get higher level.

Recent example is we fought 8 lvl 12 enemies against a lvl 15 party. Between AoE spells and martial attacks, they were obliterated within a few rounds. Using maneuvers in place of attacks would have been wasting time and damage.

This is one thing PF2 has gone too far with. Level differences are crushing. 3 levels is like +5 to hit and defenses. You should be able to take on 4 to 1 odds with that difference. Tactics are fairly irrelevant if its less than that.


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DF, another major reason why you have a differing opinion is that your group built to not need or want to use maneuvers, which isn't universally true for all groups. If that's a playstyle that works for them, by all means. Other groups with different compositions, strengths, and weaknesses may not see it this way. A front-line monk who Shoves foes back before dashing back to his elven ranger, wizard, bard line-up may view maneuvers drastically differently than a group with a heavy investment in not moving (such as 15 speed champions, flurry rangers, or conjurers).

Discounting entire mechanics and systems based on one particular playstyle isn't healthy to the conversation on the whole.


Shisumo wrote:
Then, when the monster stood up, it faced (usually) three attacks, all at max MAP, and all against a flat-footed target.

Just wanted to point out that while the monster can of course still be flat-footed by other means, e.g. flanking, it will not be flat-footed versus any AoO's made for standing up.

CRB page 474 "Move actions that trigger reactions" wrote:
...If you use a move action but don’t move out of a square, the trigger instead happens at the end of that action or ability...


Shisumo wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
I also think a major reason my views differ is I often play to high level. The higher level you get the more you give up using a maneuver in place of a strike. For example, if my barbarian were to use his highest level strike for a grapple right now he would be giving up an average of 50 points of damage for a regular hit and 120 plus for a critical hit. This is not at all a good tradeoff.

Even here, I would disagree. There are many factors that go into this decision, and you're not taking them into account.

Let me take my ranger player as an example again. Until quite recently (we had some player turnover), the ranger was in a five-person party with a rogue and a fighter. The ranger had Disrupt Prey, the rogue had Opportunist, and the fighter of course had Attack of Opportunity. So it was incredibly common for the ranger to trip a monster as her opening move, attack the now-prone foe, and then have the rogue move up and get in a sneak attack while the fighter also got into position. Then, when the monster stood up, it faced (usually) three attacks, all at max MAP, and all against a flat-footed target. Setting up that three-attack brutality has often been worth spending the action on the trip attack, even the first action, MAP on the later swings notwithstanding. Had the group maintained that composition, I would have expected that to become more valuable. not less, as they further increased in level.

Context matters in these discussions. What kind of foe you're facing, who's in the party with you, environmental or terrain effects, all of these should be factoring into your actions. What may be the obviously best choice in one situation might be utterly terrible in another.

Let's take the above situation you just stated:

1. Ranger mark, move up, and trip. Round done. If trip unsuccessful, you did nothing. Trip doesn't work with your Twin Takedown so you don't get multiple attacks. Your animal moves into position. If you don't mark, you don't get your flurry bonus. Without twin takedown, you lose your action advantage.

3. Rogue already has gang up. Opportune Backstab only works if your attack hits. You did a trip. It is not a melee attack and if it works, doesn't provoke Opportune Backstab.

3. Fighter moves up and attacks. If your trip works, he gets a bonus. If not, then he doesn't unless he flanks with rogue. Fighter hits, opportune backstab goes off. Rogue's reaction used.

Not sure what your casters are doing or who else you have in the group.

It seems in your mind's eye you're picturing this easy move up, surround the enemy with the ranger going first and landing his trip. Then the fighter and rogue either delaying or going second moving in while the monster sort of has this happen to it. I can't imagine many recent fights we've had at 16th level where this would be the flow of battle.

Normally opening rounds for our group would look something like the following:

1. Ranger Archer: Mark, attack with Deadly Aim if a soft target or Hunter's Aim if a hard target. Let animal move in independent.

2. Barbarian: Rage and grow, then move in, attack if the enemy starts close enough.

3. Swashbuckler is enter defensive stance, move up Tumbling through, use a finisher.

4. Druid: Actions super varied. Maybe group haste if tough battle. Shapechange if battle where they can hammer. Maybe soften up with an Area of Effect damage spell.

5. Witch: Move within range to hex. Maybe buff party. Start bard song from multiclass.

Then actions start flowing from there. I wonder how people picture the opening battle round like.

Paizo Employee

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Deriven Firelion wrote:


1. Ranger mark, move up, and trip. Round done.

Worth keeping in mind that at 19th level, Hunt Prey is a free action and at lower levels there's lots of ways to have it already active before the fight starts.

The most relevant is probably Survey Wildlife, a ranger-appropriate skill feat you can gain from a background and use while another party member is Treating Wounds. Then you can start tracking one of the creatures you learn about, which both makes it pretty likely it'll be the next thing you encounter and is enough to enter the fight with Hunt Prey already activated. YMMV, but I've found it pretty rare to actually be using Hunt Prey on round 1 of a fight unless there's back-to-back encounters involved.


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Ruzza wrote:

DF, another major reason why you have a differing opinion is that your group built to not need or want to use maneuvers, which isn't universally true for all groups. If that's a playstyle that works for them, by all means. Other groups with different compositions, strengths, and weaknesses may not see it this way. A front-line monk who Shoves foes back before dashing back to his elven ranger, wizard, bard line-up may view maneuvers drastically differently than a group with a heavy investment in not moving (such as 15 speed champions, flurry rangers, or conjurers).

Discounting entire mechanics and systems based on one particular playstyle isn't healthy to the conversation on the whole.

If someone has fun and feels useful with that play-style, I say have at it.

The one thing this guy Cody did not mention about PF2 is that you don't need optimal builds to feel useful in PF2 like you did in PF1. That's one area where I heavily disagree with this guy.

The gap between an unoptimized PF1 character versus an optimized character was like the Grand Canyon. If you were a Beast Totem Come and Get Me high strength barbarian using a two-handed weapon and Power Attack in PF1, you would make a Dragon Totem barbarian using other suboptimal feats look like some kind of joke. Just like if you didn't take all the archer feats getting you the maximum number of attacks in PF1, you would make some archer not taking those feats look terrible.

Whereas in PF2 the difference between a Giant Barbarian and a Spirit Barbarian isn't near as wide. You'll still feel effective as a Spirit Barbarian. Same thing with a two-weapon fighter versus a two-hander fighter. Or a flurry ranger versus a precision ranger. The gap between optimal and suboptimal isn't nearly as wide. You can make a lot of effective combinations that can still prove effective in combat.

I've seen plenty of suboptimal builds in PF2 that do just fine because optimal and suboptimal aren't that far apart. I think Taking 20s stance that he has to make optimal choices is mostly poppycock.

The illusion of choice is more like Captain Zapp has mentioned. Where you have tons of options that don't change the math very much. So the differences are mostly cosmetic and allow you to do a lot of different things without feeling like you made a bad choice.


Ssalarn wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:


1. Ranger mark, move up, and trip. Round done.

Worth keeping in mind that at 19th level, Hunt Prey is a free action and at lower levels there's lots of ways to have it already active before the fight starts.

The most relevant is probably Survey Wildlife, a ranger-appropriate skill feat you can gain from a background and use while another party member is Treating Wounds. Then you can start tracking one of the creatures you learn about, which both makes it pretty likely it'll be the next thing you encounter and is enough to enter the fight with Hunt Prey already activated. YMMV, but I've found it pretty rare to actually be using Hunt Prey on round 1 of a fight unless there's back-to-back encounters involved.

I could see this if fighting a single powerful creature, not so much against groups. A single powerful creature at lvl 16 is not something easy to use maneuvers on. A CR 18 creature is quite the beast. Even if you open the fight with Hunt Prey active, maneuvers still not likely a great idea. Most CR 18 creatures I have faced start off flying, burrowing, or using some form of locomotion or tactics that don't lend well to the PCs closing on them quickly.

Lvl 19 improves ranger action economy further. I know my plan at lvl 19 was to get haste and try to set up for Impossible Flurry, not using trip.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:
If trip unsuccessful, you did nothing.

You keep emphasizing this as if it's unique to combat maneuvers, but it isn't. Strange.

Liberty's Edge

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Deriven Firelion wrote:
It seems in your mind's eye you're picturing this easy move up, surround the enemy with the ranger going first and landing his trip. Then the fighter and rogue either delaying or going second moving in while the monster sort of has this happen to it.

That's an odd way to phrase "watched happen in multiple encounters throughout the Age of Ashes AP," but yeah, that's more or less what happened.

The pronoun is "her," though.


My players and I just finished the battle of the 7th-level 7-member party versus the 330-xp hobgoblin army. The party won, as I expected.

One detail relevant to this discussion of combat maneuvers is that at the end, the surviving 6th-level hobgoblin sharpshooter with nearly full HP ran away. The hasted catfolk monk with Speed 40 chased him down and Grappled him to hold him in place until other party members could reach him and beat him up.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:
Ruzza wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
The point of maneuvers is to give martial characters the ability to target a different defense. There are plenty of enemies with strong AC but have a specific weakness in fortitude or reflex saves and can be easily bullied by a Fighter trained in Athletics.
It doesn't matter if you target a different defense if you don't do anything to kill the monster and the effect applied can be achieved in other ways that allow you to do damage.

DF, if you truly believe this, I encourage you to come by for the post-holiday session I'm going to run showcasing the tactics and strategies of PF2.

Come join us, here!

I know these games as well as any. There is nothing you can show me that will change the way the game works.

Grappling CR+2 creatures is a bad idea mathematically. I've tried a ton of different tactics in PF2 to see how they work. Grappling and tripping were two that I worked on using a Flurry of Maneuvers build with a monk maxing out Athletics with items geared towards grappling and tripping.

I found the following:

1. If you don't land the first grapple or trip attempt, you are unlikely to land the 2nd or later.

2. You really feel like you wasted your time trying because you end up spending two actions that do no damage to end the fight faster.

3. Grappling does not reduce the attack capabilities of the creature you're fighting. If it is a high CR or dangerous creature, it can tear into using its full attack completely focusing on damaging you.

4. You lose one of your hands grappling and you can't move either while grappled. So it immobilizes your target, but also you.

5. Your trip or grapple only works if you can get to the target or it can't move some other way. If you trip a flier, he doesn't have to spend a move action to stand up before he moves. It's hard to grapple a target you can't see as in if they invisible or
...

I think this is an awful perspective, and I don't mean any offense when I say that. In the martial arts world, there's a saying that goes something like; Even a black belt can learn from a white belt

Your mind is closed and you're saying nothing can change it because you know everything. Even if you spend all day every day studying the game, there's probably some things you don't know.

Grand Lodge

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I believe him when he says this. If he believes that a different perspective is of no use to him, then there really is nothing to show him.

Caralene wrote:
I know these games as well as any. There is nothing you can show me that will change the way the game works.


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Caralene wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Ruzza wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
The point of maneuvers is to give martial characters the ability to target a different defense. There are plenty of enemies with strong AC but have a specific weakness in fortitude or reflex saves and can be easily bullied by a Fighter trained in Athletics.
It doesn't matter if you target a different defense if you don't do anything to kill the monster and the effect applied can be achieved in other ways that allow you to do damage.

DF, if you truly believe this, I encourage you to come by for the post-holiday session I'm going to run showcasing the tactics and strategies of PF2.

Come join us, here!

I know these games as well as any. There is nothing you can show me that will change the way the game works.

Grappling CR+2 creatures is a bad idea mathematically. I've tried a ton of different tactics in PF2 to see how they work. Grappling and tripping were two that I worked on using a Flurry of Maneuvers build with a monk maxing out Athletics with items geared towards grappling and tripping.

I found the following:

1. If you don't land the first grapple or trip attempt, you are unlikely to land the 2nd or later.

2. You really feel like you wasted your time trying because you end up spending two actions that do no damage to end the fight faster.

3. Grappling does not reduce the attack capabilities of the creature you're fighting. If it is a high CR or dangerous creature, it can tear into using its full attack completely focusing on damaging you.

4. You lose one of your hands grappling and you can't move either while grappled. So it immobilizes your target, but also you.

5. Your trip or grapple only works if you can get to the target or it can't move some other way. If you trip a flier, he doesn't have to spend a move action to stand up before he moves. It's hard to grapple a target you can't

...

You don't have to worry about offending me. These games are what they are. They are math driven games where certain tactics are optimal based on mathematical probabilities that start off theoretical, but are primarily determined in play.

In PF2 the math is tight enough where suboptimal play will not be punished as badly as say PF1. So if you want to use maneuvers, you can do so and still be effective. I wouldn't worry about it too much. When I'm speaking it's primarily because I play with a group of optimizers looking to milk every point of damage out of the rules they can. It's why I like PF2 more than some because as a DM it has been enormously hard for my players to game the math in their favor whereas in PF1 they murdered the math in their favor to the point of absurdity.

I play with a group of optimizers who build their characters and interpret the game experience through the lens of optimal play generally meaning most powerful effect most of the time. And most of the time that means the highest damage with the best chance to hit.

They test a lot of different tactics with new game systems. We've tested maneuvers and found them to be a suboptimal option for the various reasons I've listed. They are more optimal at lower levels and eventually become undesirable and completely forgotten as your runes and feats get better.

Not something to be overly concerned with. Not like I'm saying you can't use maneuvers and be useful. I'm saying it's not the most optimal option. It's not as though that matters much. I could say the same thing of an Animal Instinct Barbarian versus a Giant Instinct Barbarian for damage, but in real play the divide between the two wouldn't be so much you wouldn't have fun playing an animal instinct barbarian. So have at it.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Caralene wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Ruzza wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
The point of maneuvers is to give martial characters the ability to target a different defense. There are plenty of enemies with strong AC but have a specific weakness in fortitude or reflex saves and can be easily bullied by a Fighter trained in Athletics.
It doesn't matter if you target a different defense if you don't do anything to kill the monster and the effect applied can be achieved in other ways that allow you to do damage.

DF, if you truly believe this, I encourage you to come by for the post-holiday session I'm going to run showcasing the tactics and strategies of PF2.

Come join us, here!

I know these games as well as any. There is nothing you can show me that will change the way the game works.

Grappling CR+2 creatures is a bad idea mathematically. I've tried a ton of different tactics in PF2 to see how they work. Grappling and tripping were two that I worked on using a Flurry of Maneuvers build with a monk maxing out Athletics with items geared towards grappling and tripping.

I found the following:

1. If you don't land the first grapple or trip attempt, you are unlikely to land the 2nd or later.

2. You really feel like you wasted your time trying because you end up spending two actions that do no damage to end the fight faster.

3. Grappling does not reduce the attack capabilities of the creature you're fighting. If it is a high CR or dangerous creature, it can tear into using its full attack completely focusing on damaging you.

4. You lose one of your hands grappling and you can't move either while grappled. So it immobilizes your target, but also you.

5. Your trip or grapple only works if you can get to the target or it can't move some other way. If you trip a flier, he doesn't have to spend a move action to stand up before he moves. It's hard to

...

The "if you don't do anything to kill the monster" mentality was only ever optimal in the games you were used to because the math of those games was tuned in that way, Pathfinder 2e isn't-- speaking from a full campaign's worth of experience at this point.

It does boil down to killing the monsters, but investing actions on conditions and such yields massive returns: especially feared, slowed, and flat footed (flanking is easy, but it can be difficult to get everyone a flanking angle, and ranged can't benefit from flank at all.)

These cause attacks across future turns to be more likely to hit and crit, mean you have to 'waste' fewer actions on healing and such (because the math is tuned in such a way as to prohibit alpha-striking as a viable tactic, so you can't just not take damage), and the transition to using those was about the time the party actually started dominating encounters in a meaningful fashion. The campaign ended with a Ravener restricted to two actions through slowed, at -3 because of fear and flat footed, and taking massive damage because of it.

The flat footed was inflicted by the Rogue, and the Fear by the Barbarian and Paladin (who were both attempting it to make sure it stuck), in between their attacks.

Its obviously nice if you can layer things together, like a fighter's knockdown for instance, but the game works the way it works, conditions are potent ways to level the playing field, and are more effective than damage alone.


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I wonder if personal experience of testing tactics in actual play is actually a good guide to effectiveness?

PF2 has a lot of abilities that have roughly a 50-50 chance of working (varying a bit with buffs, enemy level, etc.) I might try something eight times and have it work every time or never or (more likely) somewhere in between.

If my trip attempt works five times out of eight, I'll probably think it's good. If it works three time out of eight, I'll probably think it's bad.

I could easily end up wrongly believing a particular strategy is so optimal that it's not worth doing anything else.


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Matthew Downie wrote:

I wonder if personal experience of testing tactics in actual play is actually a good guide to effectiveness?

PF2 has a lot of abilities that have roughly a 50-50 chance of working (varying a bit with buffs, enemy level, etc.) I might try something eight times and have it work every time or never or (more likely) somewhere in between.

If my trip attempt works five times out of eight, I'll probably think it's good. If it works three time out of eight, I'll probably think it's bad.

I could easily end up wrongly believing a particular strategy is so optimal that it's not worth doing anything else.

When I think a little more on it, I think it is because you get more abilities to apply the same effect while doing damage at higher level. So maneuvers are better at lower level because it's more difficult to apply the same effect.

A thief racket rogue can apply debilitations with damaging attacks.

A barbarian can knock someone prone with a critical hit with a flail while attacking.

A fighter has things like snagging strike.

A monk has that wolf jaws attack.

Spells can do a lot as well to shift probabilities in favor of the party.

You have a lot more options as you level other than using maneuvers to get the same effect, while doing damage. So pointless to use a maneuver when you can just swing on them for damage while tripping or grappling or other effects.


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As someone who had their decently threatening miniboss monster just kinda collapse after being knocked prone and grabbed, combat maneuvers are good y'all.

Fun fact: getting up from prone has the move trait.


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
Mathmuse wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
Some people argue that it is equivalent because the degrees of success in PF2 makes a +1 more valuable, but I crunched those numbers and the extra value is minor. A PF2 +1 is halfway between a PF1 +1 and a PF1 +2 in effectiveness.

That’s interesting. I would have guessed it to work out as the equivalent of a +2 (arguing something along the lines of a PF2 +1 gives you a 5% chance of turning a miss into a hit and a 5% chance of turning a hit into a crit, each of which is roughly as valuable - therefore being equivalent to the 10% chance of a miss becoming a hit one gets from a PF1 +2...).

Did you post the number crunching publicly? I’d be interested to read it (but not interested enough to do the work myself!)

Let me calculate attacks, three cases.

The best case for a +1 is when you have a 55% chance to hit. That comes out to a 50% chance of a regular hit and a 5% chance of a critical hit. Let me represent a regular hit as one dot and a critical hit as two dots, where dot stands for a 5% chance of regular damage from a hit. We have 10 dots from the 50% chance of a regular hit and 2 dots from the 5% chance of a crit. That is 12 dots. If we add a +1 before the Strike, then that increases to 50% chance of a regular hit and 10% chance of a critical hit, 14 dots. 14 dots is a 17% improvement to damage over 12 dots.

In contrast, in PF2 without the degrees of success, +1 would be going from 55% chance of a hit to a 60% chance of a hit, a 9% improvement in damage. Critical hits affect the same percentage of 55% chance hits as 60% chance hits, due to the confirmation roll, so extra damage from crits cancels out. +2 would be an 18% improvement, so at 55% a PF2 +1 is almost as good as a PF1 +2.

Let's look at 75% chance at hitting. That is 20 dots. With a +1 it would grow to 22 dots. 22 dots is a 10% improvement over 20 dots. A PF1 +1 would have 80% as a 7% improvement oveer 75% and a PF1 +2 would have 85% as a 13% improvement over 75%. The PF2 +1...

Cheers.

I hadn’t gone through the differences arising from varying chances to hit (and concomitant change in chance of a critical). Appreciate the further detail.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

@Deriven, I think there might also be a "terms" miscommunication because I think that for people advocating for using maneuvers, taking higher level feats and abilities that fold maneuvers into them, with a strike is making choices to specialize in maneuvers. You keep building up the attributes and skills that will allow you to be nasty with them when you get the class feats and abilities that build on them. And as people have pointed out, at lower levels when you don't have those options, sometimes targeting a different defense with a first attack is going to yield a 10 to 15% bonus over targeting AC and allow your allies to get an easy 10 to 15% bonus on their own attacks, as well as do stuff like shut down a caster, or cause a slower brute melee monster with a power attack like ability to have to stand up and move every round, only having a 1 action attack instead of a 2.

I didn't see the ranger suggest they had a companion animal, so a first round of mark move up and trip (if they are specializing in athletics), is ok, but maybe the whole party tends to delay with the ranger in front. Then the monster takes the move action for the ranger and then Mark, trip and then still attack twice (with a very reduced MAP on the attacks from flurry), only for the rest of the party to move in and lay the hurt down is more optimal than moving, marking and attacking for sure.


TriOmegaZero wrote:

I believe him when he says this. If he believes that a different perspective is of no use to him, then there really is nothing to show him.

Caralene wrote:
I know these games as well as any. There is nothing you can show me that will change the way the game works.

"The eagle never wasted so much time as when he submitted to learn of the crow." - William Blake, Proverbs of Hell.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:

I also think a major reason my views differ is I often play to high level. The higher level you get the more you give up using a maneuver in place of a strike. For example, if my barbarian were to use his highest level strike for a grapple right now he would be giving up an average of 50 points of damage for a regular hit and 120 plus for a critical hit. This is not at all a good tradeoff.

Most of the people that seem to engage in these discussions on forums are playing lower level games where they're giving up maybe a 20 point hit in place of a maneuver. So perhaps to them that is an acceptable trade off. It becomes a far less acceptable trade off as you do more damage.

A thing to consider is that conditions tend to inherently scale. Sure, you're giving up more damage by using a maneuver instead of a straight attack, but on the other hand the damage your buddies will add because of the foe being flatfooted is also higher. I haven't done the math to see if they scale proportionally, but it's something to consider.

It also means that it might be more useful to have different party members specialize in different directions. If one of you is doing 50 points per hit, and the other is doing 30 points, it's probably better if the one dealing 30 points gives up an action for tripping or the like.

You definitely have a point though in that high-level characters are more likely to have abilities to inflict conditions without using maneuvers or other skill actions to do it. If you have Intimidating Strike, you're less likely to actually Demoralize someone.


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On the subject of usefulness in maneuvers, I actually was essentially forced to perform maneuvers to reduce enemy effectiveness, avoid AoOs, and outright defeat enemies, all in two turn in my latest session.

Half-elf Shelyn Paladin with a Glaive. I was prone from being knocked unconscious, surrounded by 2 enemies with AoOs, weapon on the ground, and with them having flight and massive resistances. I had 23 HP from Breath of Life. . Standing up meant certain death. So did grabbing my weapon, healing myself, and so on. I was basically a sitting duck. One was weak however, and Blade of Justice even with an unarmed attack would kill them. So I hit them and it killed them, or so I thought.

The enemy's soul was instead pushed out, tethered to the stony figure it used as a host. But I still had an action to shove the "statue" from the ground off the ledge to fall thousands of feet, breaking the tether. Even at a -5, the check of 30 was enough to kick the statue off. Had I not used my 3rd action to Shove there, they'd re-enter the next round, and these were tougher on-level creatures.

On the next creature's turn, the enemy fumbled its first attack, granting me a free Trip or Shove on the target. With a 37 check, 5 feet is pushed, and the action is wasted, meaning only 2 attacks went on me. Had that shove not have come, I may have been hit and downed again with a good roll. On my turn, I got the idea to shove him away so I can stand up and grab my weapon safely. Which works to my favor thanks to the skill investment.

Within the course of two rounds, I used the shove action 3 times to great effect on the battlefield.

Of course, maneuvers have their niche, they won't always be the best choice, but damn, I would have lost my character that night had I not relied on maneuvers to get me out of a very, very bad situation.

Sovereign Court

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That's interesting. I think Shove really got better compared to Bull Rush in 1E, because you can't really theorycraft about situations when the terrain makes it good. Now that you don't have to take feats to make it un-painful, and instead get Shove sort of as a freebie for taking Athletics, it's much more likely to see use.

A while back I was running a module with a lot of orcs trying to swarm the party, and the party trying to use a doorway as a bottleneck. But then I had one of the orcs just Shove the PC in the bottleneck backwards, opening the way for the rest of the orcs to surround the PCs.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Also recommended casting level 4 silence on a martial and having them trip an enemy caster. It is effectively a shut down move on any enemy caster that doesn't have silent spell.

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