On Balance and Undershooting


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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The Raven Black wrote:
I really don't understand why people expect errata to bring a redesign of classes. An errata is concerned with correcting egregious mistakes, usually of the Too good to be true variety, and sometimes with giving needed clarifications. Redesign is completely out of an errata's purview.

It's happened with the alchemist.


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Personally, having to manage additional stuff has never been a negative point for me, so long as the end result isn't substantially weaker than the simple one. Quite on the contrary, for me complexity is an upside. Give me the gunslinger over the ranged fighter or ranger any day, for example. And I think many new classes achieve this perfectly fine. 5 out of 8 are at least good. The rest is not exactly bad either, which is a far better ratio than can be taken for granted if you look at the market in general. Which is, of course, an extremely subjective assessment, but still.

On the topic of witch, alchemist and errata specifically, I think people are overestimating what is feasible to do with this format. While I would be all for dynamic gaming-like balance "patches", that's not what errata are or maybe even can be, at least at the moment. Those issues would need a lot of resources to identify and fix, which, in my (let's be real here) amateur outside perspective, isn't something Paizo can afford to just do. For something so dramatic, we are realistically looking at an "unchained" type book down the line.


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aobst128 wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
I really don't understand why people expect errata to bring a redesign of classes. An errata is concerned with correcting egregious mistakes, usually of the Too good to be true variety, and sometimes with giving needed clarifications. Redesign is completely out of an errata's purview.
It's happened with the alchemist.

It's not that clear cut. The changes to the Alchemist can be seen as fixing errors and not necessarily buffing the class.

Giving no first level feature to the Mutagenist is clearly an issue that needs fixing. Medium Armor Proficiency may just have been forgotten during the design process. So there's just Powerful Alchemy that has been moved from a feat to a class feature and that's nothing the players asked for.

Next to that, none of the issues (in terms of power) of the Alchemist have been addressed.


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aobst128 wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
I really don't understand why people expect errata to bring a redesign of classes. An errata is concerned with correcting egregious mistakes, usually of the Too good to be true variety, and sometimes with giving needed clarifications. Redesign is completely out of an errata's purview.
It's happened with the alchemist.

Did it really? They changed a few things, but that's not exactly a redesign. Hence the class controversy still going strong to this day.


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If Paizo didn't use Errata to buff the many poorly balanced things in 1e, then I'd guess they aren't going to do it much to the significantly less unbalanced 2e. The best we can hope for is an Unchained version of those classes which have disappointed a good chunk of their fans, or more class specific class archetypes if those ever manifest.


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Using class archetypes as a balancing tool seems like a dangerous choice to me. If you release slightly stronger class archetypes you also invalidate the non-archetyped version of a class.

My feeling is that class archetypes are not supposed to help balancing classes and using them for that purpose may end up with quite an amount of disappointment.


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SuperBidi wrote:

Using class archetypes as a balancing tool seems like a dangerous choice to me. If you release slightly stronger class archetypes you also invalidate the non-archetyped version of a class.

My feeling is that class archetypes are not supposed to help balancing classes and using them for that purpose may end up with quite an amount of disappointment.

Well, not as a balancing tool necessarily but as a playstyle enabling tool. Look at the alchemist as an example, Paizo clearly values the ability to be very versatile with it and if you look at alchemy archetypes they are allowed to be a bit stronger when they only focus on one thing.

So a class archetype could possibly give them martial scaling in bombs at the cost of a significantly reduced repertoire with advanced alchemy, enabling people who really likes the bomb part of the alchemy and doesn't mind not being able to dabble in elixirs as well.


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Pirate Rob wrote:

Issues with Oracle:

I don't mind your points but Oracles also get this for free at level 11 If you spend at least 2 Focus Points before you again Refocus, you recover 2 Focus Points when you Refocus instead of 1.

Every other class gets it a level later and has to pay a feat cost for it.


Onkonk wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:

Using class archetypes as a balancing tool seems like a dangerous choice to me. If you release slightly stronger class archetypes you also invalidate the non-archetyped version of a class.

My feeling is that class archetypes are not supposed to help balancing classes and using them for that purpose may end up with quite an amount of disappointment.

Well, not as a balancing tool necessarily but as a playstyle enabling tool. Look at the alchemist as an example, Paizo clearly values the ability to be very versatile with it and if you look at alchemy archetypes they are allowed to be a bit stronger when they only focus on one thing.

So a class archetype could possibly give them martial scaling in bombs at the cost of a significantly reduced repertoire with advanced alchemy, enabling people who really likes the bomb part of the alchemy and doesn't mind not being able to dabble in elixirs as well.

Pretty much what I was thinking for the alchemist in particular. For example, you could reduce the advanced alchemy level for everything that isn't your research field to level -X. Or a "pick x number of categories" that your advanced alchemy level scales for, the rest stays at level X (or have specific increments like the alchemist multiclass-archetype). Maybe something completely different. It would certainly be an interesting avenue to explore.


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Onkonk wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:

Using class archetypes as a balancing tool seems like a dangerous choice to me. If you release slightly stronger class archetypes you also invalidate the non-archetyped version of a class.

My feeling is that class archetypes are not supposed to help balancing classes and using them for that purpose may end up with quite an amount of disappointment.

Well, not as a balancing tool necessarily but as a playstyle enabling tool. Look at the alchemist as an example, Paizo clearly values the ability to be very versatile with it and if you look at alchemy archetypes they are allowed to be a bit stronger when they only focus on one thing.

So a class archetype could possibly give them martial scaling in bombs at the cost of a significantly reduced repertoire with advanced alchemy, enabling people who really likes the bomb part of the alchemy and doesn't mind not being able to dabble in elixirs as well.

Which is fine for me. Now, if the archetyped Alchemists are better than the base Alchemist, then it becomes a problem as you basically invalidated the base Alchemist.

I just meant that using class archetypes for balancing is dangerous, not that class archetypes are bad per se.


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SuperBidi wrote:

Which is fine for me. Now, if the archetyped Alchemists are better than the base Alchemist, then it becomes a problem as you basically invalidated the base Alchemist.

I just meant that using class archetypes for balancing is dangerous, not that class archetypes are bad per se.

Ideally, even if the hypothetical bomber would be the overall "better" alchemist, you'd have different playstyles and such that both options would still be attractive.


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Onkonk wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:

Which is fine for me. Now, if the archetyped Alchemists are better than the base Alchemist, then it becomes a problem as you basically invalidated the base Alchemist.

I just meant that using class archetypes for balancing is dangerous, not that class archetypes are bad per se.

Ideally, even if the hypothetical bomber would be the overall "better" alchemist, you'd have different playstyles and such that both options would still be attractive.

If there's a superior playstyle, then there's not exactly different playstyles. The same way the Fury Barbarian doesn't add anything to the Barbarian but a trap Instinct.

What you mean is exactly what I'd prefer Paizo to avoid with class archetypes. If they use it to balance classes then they invalidate base classes. Balancing should be a separate effort.


I do not exactly agree with the comparison, I think it is much better to compare something like dragon with spirit. One is a lot more generally "better" but they still have their uses.

The concerns of a class archetype being better than the original class would apply to any new option introduced so it feels overly cautious to be specifically concerned about those.


SuperBidi wrote:

I don't get it, because it's the exact opposite. Outside Healing Font, the Cleric is just a prepared divine caster with meh focus spells and nearly no access to out-of-tradition spells (you get your deities spells, but it's rare to have good deity's spells as you already need to check a lot of boxes between font, alignment and domains).

The Oracle is a spontaneous caster with strong Focus Spells and honorable access to out-of-tradition spells.

As such the Cleric is the super specialized healer and that's why I consider the Life Oracle to be a superior choice: When you don't need healing, the Cleric is nearly a sitting duck (you last hardly more than 2 fights with your spell list) when the Life Oracle is not just about healing and is an ok offensive caster when it doesn't have to heal.

Alignment only really matters for damage and playing a damage caster is already a bit of a joke so it isn't something to be overly concerned about. There are a couple of protection spells but iirc those are all uncommon and therefore assumed to be inaccessible.

Normally, I'd say spontaneous beats out preperation casting because there are so few worthwhile spells in this edition. However, the divine list has too many niche spells that need to be heightened all the way to function. That these are also usually unique to the divine list makes them one of the few reasons to even keep a divine caster around. Spontaneous casters simply can't handle the job with their limited number of signature spells. If your gm never hits you with anything that needs them or always provides an out for you if your party can't handle it then it might not matter, but expecting either of those things is short-sighted.

Of course, life oracles can still take divine access 2 or 3 times to build up a solid spell list. But that's not what you want a divine caster for. That's just a bard that traded a superior spell list and focus abilities for heal and the inability to be healed. Or a sorc player that picked the wrong starting tradition and threw away a spell slot and an extra feat or 2 to try and course correct.


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I very much agree with OP. While I really really appreciate that paizo is being cautious, its a tad to cautious IMO.
There's also just things that annoy me: why can't my inventors weapon be an advanced weapon, what would break ?
Why can't I have a heavy armor be my armor invention, if I have access to it from the onset etc?

If anything I would expect more complicated mechanics to allow for higher 'peaks' so to speak, where as I would expect the great weapon fighter to be the king of consistent DPR. Now mind you, it's important to acknowledge that while the difference between a 'great' (mechanically speaking) class and a mediocre one in pf2e is very little. It is still there, and it seems like it would be easy to bridge the gap a bit.

I like the fact that the players at my table who prefer simplicity can chose it, and have it be extremely reliant and strong (unlike the 5e champion fighter, which was like a spiked pit trap for new players). But I do wish that the more complex classes felt more awesome when pulling off their 'thing'.

Overall I just want a APG2 stocked full of new options for the current classes I guess


@PirateRob
The main selling point of oracle is the focus spells imo. Many of them feel more impactful than the focus spells of other classes.
I don't think their defenses are as tragic as you make out, as many of the mysteries do improve defense in some way, and light armor proficiency is good, the other divine caster options don't have it unless you're playing a warpriest who makes sacrifices elsewhere.

I agree some of the mysteries are bad, but most of them are fine, with several standing out as fantastic.
Ancestors is terrible for actually playing with.
I feel battle is a bit of a trap. especially since the focus spells feel weak by oracle standards and your defenses are rarely better than any other oracle (and can often be worse).
Bones, Life, and lore are all solid. not sure how to feel about lore exactly, but an extra spell in the repertoire is a strong mystery benefit.
Flames, Cosmos, and tempest are all fantastic. strong focus spells, solid cantrips for flames and tempest good bulk increasing mystery benefits for cosmos and flames, and generally manageable curse effects.


gesalt wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:

I don't get it, because it's the exact opposite. Outside Healing Font, the Cleric is just a prepared divine caster with meh focus spells and nearly no access to out-of-tradition spells (you get your deities spells, but it's rare to have good deity's spells as you already need to check a lot of boxes between font, alignment and domains).

The Oracle is a spontaneous caster with strong Focus Spells and honorable access to out-of-tradition spells.

As such the Cleric is the super specialized healer and that's why I consider the Life Oracle to be a superior choice: When you don't need healing, the Cleric is nearly a sitting duck (you last hardly more than 2 fights with your spell list) when the Life Oracle is not just about healing and is an ok offensive caster when it doesn't have to heal.

Alignment only really matters for damage and playing a damage caster is already a bit of a joke so it isn't something to be overly concerned about. There are a couple of protection spells but iirc those are all uncommon and therefore assumed to be inaccessible.

Normally, I'd say spontaneous beats out preperation casting because there are so few worthwhile spells in this edition. However, the divine list has too many niche spells that need to be heightened all the way to function. That these are also usually unique to the divine list makes them one of the few reasons to even keep a divine caster around. Spontaneous casters simply can't handle the job with their limited number of signature spells. If your gm never hits you with anything that needs them or always provides an out for you if your party can't handle it then it might not matter, but expecting either of those things is short-sighted.

Of course, life oracles can still take divine access 2 or 3 times to build up a solid spell list. But that's not what you want a divine caster for. That's just a bard that traded a superior spell list and focus abilities for heal and the inability to be healed. Or a sorc player that picked the wrong...

I don't know what you want to convey. That divine casters are bad? That they should be limited to healing and any successful attempt at doing anything else with them is a problem? That any non-Bard caster should be specialized to some niche abilities or else it's better to play a Bard?

I have a lot of fun with my Divine casters (my most played character is an Angelic Sorcerer, I also have a mid level Tempest Oracle). These are solid classes.

About the status removing argument, I often see this brought up. But truth is once you have Remove Curse you don't need anything else. Restore Senses is strong but permanent Blindness is extremely rare (I actually never saw it in hundreds of sessions). Remove Disease can easily be skipped if you have Robust Recovery. Restoration doesn't need to be heightened. And the other conditions are not lasting days and as such are not relevant in the discussion.
Off course I agree that the Cleric ability to remove conditions is nice, but an Oracle can deal with conditions without ending up with a crippled Spell Repertoire.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

There's two big issues being discussed that should be firmly separated. There's "balance" from a system view and from a player and class comparison view.

The PF2 system really cares when a class's power overshoots the target maximum. That's the kind of thing that leads an edition to an early grave, foments community discussions about bloat and power gaming, and makes early content less and less relevant for later content. A designer would rather undershoot than overshoot.

Players don't care so much about the system health since they're not in position to experience the downstream effects of some options being overtuned here and there. What players care about is that when they compare two classes they feel on par. That means they are less tolerant of undershooting power balance because they feel that potentially overshooting isn't as big a risk as a designer and there should be more head room. Essentially they want X +/- Y whereas designers see it more as X +0/-2Y. Fundamental difference in tolerance expectations.

The bitter pill players need to swallow is that designing for System balance is more important, and the system has already closed the gap between classes FAR MORE than previous editions, and hyper focusing on getting classes perfectly balanced is never a good idea. You're going to have to get used to the differences between classes currently present continuing to exist or you're going to drive Paizo down the Blizzard path of tuning down to +/-2%, at the expense of originality, increasing development costs, and never pleasing everyone because the target will just be shifted to +/-1%.

The goal shouldn't be to make all new classes tightly balanced with existing ones, it should be to make sure they don't break the game and are fun to play. Even the weakest classes have plenty of players who love them, so they are at least partial successes. Increasing their appeal to others can come after, and that may include offering numerical buffs, but those shouldn't be a goal in their own right.


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WatersLethe wrote:
The goal shouldn't be to make all new classes tightly balanced with existing ones, it should be to make sure they don't break the game and are fun to play. Even the weakest classes have plenty of players who love them, so they are at least partial successes. Increasing their appeal to others can come after, and that may include offering numerical buffs, but those shouldn't be a goal in their own right.

I think a lot of what you said is super correct, but this last bit is where I disagree. The designers can have all the good intentions and care for system balance in the world, but their internal design process doesn't really matter if it's making the final result... boring. And it my opinion, post-Core releases are really starting to cross that line. When I converted all my tables to 2e and sung praises about it all around, I expected the continuous upkeep of the system to provide options that are as exciting as the excellently-designed CRB, and it's not, at least not to me. It's a bunch of really interesting ideas held back by overzealousness. You're free to disagree of course, "fun" is all subjective after all.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Right, if it's not fun for enough people that's when they really have failed. I personally find all the classes fun except for Witch. I don't know what satisfaction percentage among customers is enough, or whether we are even at all representative on these forums, but I suspect mass discontent would be an awful sign.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Classes that work hard to do their thing and then do it worse than someone just swinging are not good for long term health. Players will realize it over time and it gets frustrating.

As for using errata, we know they can use it to tweak a class, they did with Alchemist.

You don't need to entirely redesign something, you can easily tweak it in ways that fit it in an errata.

For example (and please lets not get into a balance discussion, these are just the kind of things you could easily edit into an errata)
- Giving a class different armor.
- Adding the number of skills
- Make Arcane cascade a free action and/or add damage
- Increase strategic strike damage when used in melee


WatersLethe wrote:
The goal shouldn't be to make all new classes tightly balanced with existing ones, it should be to make sure they don't break the game and are fun to play. Even the weakest classes have plenty of players who love them, so they are at least partial successes. Increasing their appeal to others can come after, and that may include offering numerical buffs, but those shouldn't be a goal in their own right.

Rather than increasing their appeal, it would probably be better to admit some of the current classes ( mostly from CRB ) are too good ( even just using the CRB and a standard AP, some classes will outperform the others, in different areas ).

To make a quick example, nerfing a little the bard would make it more closer to the other classes/archetypes which feel not so good.

But that's not all, because you achieved a better result by just working on a single class:

- Working on less classes
- Making the existing content a "challenge" where before it was a trivial one ( with specific classes and party compositions ).
- Making all classes more balanced ( the same you might achieve by working on every single underpowered class or archetype )

WatersLethe wrote:
Right, if it's not fun for enough people that's when they really have failed.

That's pretty subjective, as there are several groups which look for balance ( which means, balance = fun ), and while getting less powerful classes/archetype could be a little disappointing, to have too powerful ones would be way, way worse.

By reading reddit, or even this forum, paizo can easily understand which classes need to be toned down, and offer a better experience without having to look at all the B.C or D tier classes.

Liberty's Edge

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CaffeinatedNinja wrote:

Classes that work hard to do their thing and then do it worse than someone just swinging are not good for long term health. Players will realize it over time and it gets frustrating.

As for using errata, we know they can use it to tweak a class, they did with Alchemist.

You don't need to entirely redesign something, you can easily tweak it in ways that fit it in an errata.

For example (and please lets not get into a balance discussion, these are just the kind of things you could easily edit into an errata)
- Giving a class different armor.
- Adding the number of skills
- Make Arcane cascade a free action and/or add damage
- Increase strategic strike damage when used in melee

Based on PF1 erratas and the PF2 APG errata, I think the Alchemist is the exception here.

Silver Crusade

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SuperBidi wrote:


I don't get it, because it's the exact opposite. Outside Healing Font, the Cleric is just a prepared divine caster with meh focus spells and nearly no access to out-of-tradition spells (you get your deities spells, but it's rare to have good deity's spells as you already need to check a lot of boxes between font, alignment and domains).

If you look carefully enough this just isn't true. To take 2 of my actual characters:

A cleric of Sarenrae makes a pretty decent blasty sort (fire ray focus spell, fireball blasty spell)

A cleric of Nalinvati gets access to the SUPERB draconic barrage focus spell, lightning bolt for blasting, and several interesting utility spells (invisibility, charm, contingency, etc).

You can build quite a few fun, interesting, versatile and reasonably powerful cleric characters.

They're wonderful for PFS where the ability to fill one of 2 or 3 different roles with the same character is huge. They're also great for campaigns where you can build a character focused on the particular campaign (my cleric of Sarenrae was very, very useful in the undead heavy Abomination Vaults AP. Faerie fire may be boring but it saved our asses lots of times :-). And AoE against undead can rock)


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
WatersLethe wrote:
ThePF2 system really cares when a class's power overshoots the target maximum. That's the kind of thing that leads an edition to an early grave, foments community discussions about bloat and power gaming, and makes early content less and less relevant for later content.

I mean, does it though? I think balance is an important consideration and I like it when developers consider balance, but looking at the most popular RPGs on the market, both right now and historically, seems to indicate that balance has pretty much nothing to do with how successful your game is.


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Players only care about balance when the difference is super obvious, and even then they only care if it makes the game un fun. When you say players care about X +/- Y but devs care about X +0/-2 Y, depends on some stuff, but it's missing an important thing: What is the starting point.

A player sees option A, B, and C then decide B is the best and C is the worst. They want devs to make things closer to B rather than C and will settle for more A, they rarely want things better than B or worse than C. A dev sees option A, B, and C then decide B is the best and C is the worst. They have 3 options:

* Balancing around A in which case the new option can fall anywhere between B and C.
* Balancing around B in which case the new option can be better than B or closer to A.
* Balancing around C in which case the new option can be close to A or worse than C.

The statement that devs use X +0/-2 Y has the huge problem that it requires the balance to be around the very best, but aims at creating something close to the worst. This is exactly the type of stuff players do not want to see. Players would rather that the game be balanced around the average option and get a better than average result. You can see this type of failure with the design of casters. Bards are the literal best casting class because every option that they have is always very impactful, while Wizards are seen as the worst because all of their options feel boring (or phoned in). So what type of casters have they released since CRB? More classes balanced that are closer to the Wizard and as far from the Bard as possible.

Martials, is less noticeable but you can still see it. CRB martials have effectively always on effects after you activate them. But every single non CRB martial requires that you reactivate their class mechanic every turn or limits the number of uses. Magus/Warpriest could had been balanced around being a martial with 2/3 spells for buffs/burst, that would put them on par with Barbarian needing to Rage or Ranger needing Hunt Target; Instead warpriests got a meh trade off (balanced around it being a caster not a martial) and Magus was balanced around have 4 uses a day of their main thing (balanced around a Fighter's damage, but only 4 times a day).

* P. S. Someone else already mentioned it, players hate nerfs to things they like.


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It's also easier for the GM to fix things if the PCs are a bit too weak because of their building choices than the other way around.

How to make the opposition easier for the PC is much easier to figure out than how to make them harder.


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I think that only APG classes missed the mark power wise. The rest, while still under the ceiling CRB set, are more than capable. Going by the same metrics OP used, I would say sniper gunslinger and some magus builds are a solid 8 or 9. They have been doing a better job with classes with the later rulebooks and honestly I'm pretty excited to see the final state of Psychic despite how underwhelming it was during playtest.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

It's also easier for the GM to fix things if the PCs are a bit too weak because of their building choices than the other way around.

How to make the opposition easier for the PC is much easier to figure out than how to make them harder.

On the other hand, I feel like most players would rather have "easy" or "medium" encounters rather than "hard" or "extreme". That is afterall part of the reason why so many try to optimize (so that they can make challenges easier).

* P. S. I am not saying that hard and extreme encounters are bad, but that they really should be the exception not the rule.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
roquepo wrote:
I think that only APG classes missed the mark power wise. The rest, while still under the ceiling CRB set, are more than capable. Going by the same metrics OP used, I would say sniper gunslinger and some magus builds are a solid 8 or 9. They have been doing a better job with classes with the later rulebooks and honestly I'm pretty excited to see the final state of Psychic despite how underwhelming it was during playtest.

Not sure about sniper gunslinger but I would rate ranged magus (shortbow really hah) At about an 8. Good solid class.

Melee magus? Maybe a 3-4.

For investigator I would have to say the melee version is like a 2. Ranged is a lot better but hard to say where it falls, rather build specific.


Gunslinger good. I don't like the vanguard too much though. Shove becomes less of a defensive tool once you get running reload and step without needing a check.


CaffeinatedNinja wrote:
roquepo wrote:
I think that only APG classes missed the mark power wise. The rest, while still under the ceiling CRB set, are more than capable. Going by the same metrics OP used, I would say sniper gunslinger and some magus builds are a solid 8 or 9. They have been doing a better job with classes with the later rulebooks and honestly I'm pretty excited to see the final state of Psychic despite how underwhelming it was during playtest.

Not sure about sniper gunslinger but I would rate ranged magus (shortbow really hah) At about an 8. Good solid class.

Melee magus? Maybe a 3-4.

For investigator I would have to say the melee version is like a 2. Ranged is a lot better but hard to say where it falls, rather build specific.

In a FA game, a level 10 staff magus with a caster dedication is functionally a ranged combatant. Still leagues behind an archer magus but way better than a 4 (early on reach alleviates magus' problems a lot too). In general, I don't believe any well built Magus deserves a 4.

Sniper with fake out has both outstanding support (it sucks when you get it at 2 unless you get something like cooperative nature though) and decent damage. It is really good. You can also grab Sniping Duo dedication to have an easier time playing around your melee martials and later on Rogue dedication (multitalented is ideal for this) for setting up vital shot with surprise attack. With FA you can even get a casting dedication for some True Strikes.

Investigator is extremely GM dependent until they can pick suspect of opportunity at level 10. If your GM is extremely loose with the free action devise a stratagem it can be borderline OP early on. But yeah, APG classes are not the greatest in general, they went too conservative with them.

Silver Crusade

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CaffeinatedNinja wrote:


Melee magus? Maybe a 3-4.

I'm playing one in Ruby Phoenix and would strongly disagree with that (for level 10+ at least). He gets his spell strike off pretty much every other round and so isn't all that consistent in his damage. But its a fair bit of damage when it works, even just using a cantrip.

And you have to factor in his AoE attacks 4 times a day. They're not his bread and butter so he has to choose to use them wisely but its hard to argue with doing 100 or 200 points of damage in a round.

Toss in the utility stuff he has and the benefits of having a high intelligence and I'm quite happy with his overall contribution to the party.

Yeah, a ranged magus would be more powerful. But I personally find them to be very, very boring. A melee magus is good enough AND fun to play.


I think the investigator depends on the usefulness of recall knowledge decided by the gm. I really like keen recollection with known weakness. Outside of the numerical benefits on a crit, the investigator can pick up a lot of information with it, especially if you pinpoint the most relevant lore.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
pauljathome wrote:
CaffeinatedNinja wrote:


Melee magus? Maybe a 3-4.
Yeah, a ranged magus would be more powerful. But I personally find them to be very, very boring. A melee magus is good enough AND fun to play.

Agreed. Ranged magus is miles ahead but not a playstyle I enjoy.

I think a few simple changes could boost up melee magus. Free action arcane cascade with a bit more damage and no AoO on spellstrike would help a ton. Other thoughts but getting a bit far afield hah.


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The problem is not undershooting alone. In fact I really do like the undershooting approach in any game in order to avoid power creep. Apart from this there is always the psychological aspect of nerfing/buffing, which make undershooting relevant, i.e. for the players it is much easier to accept buffs to the Witch, than to accept nerfs to the Bard. However in my humble opinion any such approach should also be accompanied by frequent balancing patches, which of course is easier said than done for an offline game.

Radiant Oath

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The undershooting on powerlevel is fine in PFS and maybe in home games, but The APs (at least Age of Ashes and Extinction curse) are too hard. A party needs to optimize to get through an AP, and that feels bad.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
CaffeinatedNinja wrote:


My understanding (I could be wrong forgive me) is that melee inventor has pretty poor damage in a fragile package. I think ranged inventor is better off (once again, post core classes REALLY want to be ranged)

Gunslinger seems like more of a support/damage than pure dpr.

“Good” and “bad” damage are subjective, and it depends on what yardstick you use for “good”. I like to use “Fighter with a Longsword” as the benchmark to normalize against. By this measure, Inventor seems to be in an excellent spot, damage wise. It’s on-average 5-15% behind the benchmark, but it’s a lopsided distribution where 1-4 and 20 are further behind, whereas 5-15 are really close. That seems like a fair deal to me for an off-stat martial with some focus-spell-like gimmicks.

“Fragile” likewise is another yardstick, but I think Inventor is fine. It’s only 1 hp/level off the base martial, and you get Shield Block. Armor Inventor gets you heavy armor, armor specialization, and a variety of resistances if durability is concerned.

I don’t have a strong opinion on ranged vs melee, but I think Inventor does both fairly well. I don’t think one is particularly better than the other. If anything, I think the melee builds are a little bit better because there’s more options for them, but they’re about the same on the yardstick measures. Guns seem really bad, though. Maybe someone has some experience with that, but Inventor seems to be firmly in the bow camp to me.

Gunslinger I think is Way dependent. Sniper goes toe-to-toe with longbow builds and can actually take pole position with some of their gimmicks. (Ghost Shot is disgusting). The others fall off from there. I don’t know if I would the others as support, but you are trading damage for other stuff and I think that’s a judgement call by person. Pistol builds do have some decent damage between Paired Shot and Pistolero’s Challenge. I wasn’t as impressed with sword-and-pistol and scattergun builds, but I guess some people like them.

If GnG classes were the model for future classes, I would be very happy. They don’t have anything as good as the highest damage Fighter and Barbarian builds, but they compare nicely against the rest of the pack, which I think is fair. To use another F1 analogy, they’re solid midfield players, which I think is extremely healthy.

Overall, I think damage-wise, everything is in a very good spot. The newer classes tend to err on the lower side of the yardstick, but not by much. There seems to be a healthy ecosystem of builds in the “Tiger Monk to Precision Ranger” range, which is roughly -5% to +10% in my math. I think that’s really incredible for a TTRPG with 13 martial classes with over 4x that many subclass options. The only ones I think may deserve a tune-up are Investigator* and Swashbuckler, but I think that’s more an issue of Thief breaking the rules and setting a high bar for Dex builds. Swash is a way better choice than other Dex melee builds, but it compares really poorly against Thief**, IMHO.

*A huge caveat with Investigator is how permissive your GM is with cases. I think 2 cases is enough that it’s very easy to have an enemy each fight you can DAS for free against, but that’s GM-dependent. On top of that, DAS works very well with 2-3 action attacks if you have multiple valid targets, but none of those are available built-in with the class.

** Caveat on Rogue builds in general is that I think it’s trivially easy to flank to get flat-footed, particularly because I tend to assume melee martials are moving once a round. Once you get into assuming they need to use a skill to get flat-footed, Rogues fall back to earth.

TL;DR: I think the not-APG martials are healthy in terms of damage, ranging from slightly less to on-par and getting a good amount of stuff in exchange for the damage they give up. The APG classes need some more help, but part of that may be because Thief sets the bar too high.


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AceofMoxen wrote:
The undershooting on powerlevel is fine in PFS and maybe in home games, but The APs (at least Age of Ashes and Extinction curse) are too hard. A party needs to optimize to get through an AP, and that feels bad.

Feedback has shown mixed opinions on the difficulty of AoA, and Paizo has nonetheless tuned later APs a bit lower (or it might be argued, less fluky since much of the complaints was due to specific encounters being excessive). That said, I like APs to be tough, w/ modules & scenarios for more casual play. As well as my groups wanting toughness (and they optimized only as far as their RPing concept lets them), it's also easier to scale down an encounter safely than to scale up.


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One other thing I have noticed is that newer classes tend to be less front-loaded. The CRB classes tend to get their stronger features first and have stronger lower-level damage that peters out, whereas the newer classes tend to have poor early damage that scales up, as well as strong features in the mid- and late-level slots.

I don’t think that’s a balance issue, per se, but I do think it becomes a factor if games are more skewed towards lower levels, which I do think tends to be the case.


The undershooting paradigm seems to be what holds the encounter balance math so tight and working even a few years into the edition (the strongest options are still in core, so the supplementary material doesn't invalidate the rules established early on), so I'm glad it's in place, although just a few adjustments bringing the outliers closer to the top of the bellcurve could make the whole thing feel more concise.

I think a lot of the common issues players find could be smoothed out with a more granular (+1) proficiency system, even if that's still a whole edition away or contained in some late-edition optional rules compendium.


AceofMoxen wrote:
The undershooting on powerlevel is fine in PFS and maybe in home games, but The APs (at least Age of Ashes and Extinction curse) are too hard. A party needs to optimize to get through an AP, and that feels bad.

Age of Ashes also has some enemies (Charau-ka Butchers) with stats 2 levels higher than they're supposed to have and they're treated as "mooks" in the AP, with lots of them in certain fights (or some fights where multiple encounters can happen at once quite easily).

My party ended up having a really rough time with them (many, many critical hits with their Barbarian damage).

Radiant Oath

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Castilliano wrote:
AceofMoxen wrote:
The undershooting on powerlevel is fine in PFS and maybe in home games, but The APs (at least Age of Ashes and Extinction curse) are too hard. A party needs to optimize to get through an AP, and that feels bad.
Feedback has shown mixed opinions on the difficulty of AoA, and Paizo has nonetheless tuned later APs a bit lower (or it might be argued, less fluky since much of the complaints was due to specific encounters being excessive). That said, I like APs to be tough, w/ modules & scenarios for more casual play. As well as my groups wanting toughness (and they optimized only as far as their RPing concept lets them), it's also easier to scale down an encounter safely than to scale up.

I'm not sure I agree that it's easier to scale down than up, but you are assuming that the tough fights are caught before I bring the encounter to the table. If a fight turns out to be too weak, it's over quickly and forgotten. If a fight turns out to be too hard, it can end a campaign.


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AceofMoxen wrote:
Castilliano wrote:
AceofMoxen wrote:
The undershooting on powerlevel is fine in PFS and maybe in home games, but The APs (at least Age of Ashes and Extinction curse) are too hard. A party needs to optimize to get through an AP, and that feels bad.
Feedback has shown mixed opinions on the difficulty of AoA, and Paizo has nonetheless tuned later APs a bit lower (or it might be argued, less fluky since much of the complaints was due to specific encounters being excessive). That said, I like APs to be tough, w/ modules & scenarios for more casual play. As well as my groups wanting toughness (and they optimized only as far as their RPing concept lets them), it's also easier to scale down an encounter safely than to scale up.
I'm not sure I agree that it's easier to scale down than up, but you are assuming that the tough fights are caught before I bring the encounter to the table. If a fight turns out to be too weak, it's over quickly and forgotten. If a fight turns out to be too hard, it can end a campaign.

Scaling down is an option AT the table too, so no, I'm not "...assuming tough fights are caught before..." which would be GM-dependent. Of course if one knows beforehand that their table prefers a more casual (or even easy) game, most fights should be scaled down anyway. And that's what's easier to do, since as you've noted, making an encounter too easy has much less impact than making one too hard.

Yet that's a bit tangential, as an AP (IMO) should be geared toward experienced players playing strong, tactical PCs (not necessarily maximized where I'd likely bump up the difficulty). That seems a good baseline, and matches my experiences with Paizo even back to 3.X. To give any less would be to water down the product line. Since 90%+ of build optimization in PF2 can be reached by putting an 18 (some say 16) into one's main attack stat, the one that suits one's class's proficiencies, maybe the issue lies elsewhere? Like I said, feedback has been mixed on AoA, with some finding it easy (which could be due to too many factors to address here).


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Taçin wrote:

The undershooting paradigm seems to be what holds the encounter balance math so tight and working even a few years into the edition (the strongest options are still in core, so the supplementary material doesn't invalidate the rules established early on), so I'm glad it's in place, although just a few adjustments bringing the outliers closer to the top of the bellcurve could make the whole thing feel more concise.

I think a lot of the common issues players find could be smoothed out with a more granular (+1) proficiency system, even if that's still a whole edition away or contained in some late-edition optional rules compendium.

I agree on the +1 but that is neither here nor their. I think they managed to keep the core classes (minus alchemist) in a fairly tight range of power. The post core classes are pretty much at the bottom of it for lots of reasons which is frustrating.

My experience when seeing the new classes has mainly been "Cool but worse than what they have already." Which kind of kills any excitement. Not looking for Cool this is OP but Cool and equivalent is fair.

If a class has to jump through a ton of hoops to "do its" thing, trigger reactions, and be more fragile, why bother when the result is the same thing the core classes can do without all of the hoops and fragility.


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NotDavis wrote:

“Good” and “bad” damage are subjective, and it depends on what yardstick you use for “good”. I like to use “Fighter with a Longsword” as the benchmark to normalize against. By this measure, Inventor seems to be in an excellent spot, damage wise. It’s on-average 5-15% behind the benchmark, but it’s a lopsided distribution where 1-4 and 20 are further behind, whereas 5-15 are really close. That seems like a fair deal to me for an off-stat martial with some focus-spell-like gimmicks.

“Fragile” likewise is another yardstick, but I think Inventor is fine. It’s only 1 hp/level off the base martial, and you get Shield Block. Armor Inventor gets you heavy armor, armor specialization, and a variety of resistances if durability is concerned.

See, that is kind of my issue though. It is less DPS, and way less sturdy. The longsword fighter you are describing is in heavy armor (which they give up nothing to get) has more hp a level, and isn't triggering reactions. It is just a much better melee combatant, and doesn't have a restrictive action econ. It also has quick shield block etc, it is very very sturdy.

NotDavis wrote:
I don’t have a strong opinion on ranged vs melee, but I think Inventor does both fairly well. I don’t think one is particularly better than the other. If anything, I think the melee builds are a little bit better because there’s more options for them, but they’re about the same on the yardstick measures. Guns seem really bad, though. Maybe someone has some experience with that, but Inventor seems to be firmly in the bow camp to me.

Agreed on guns. They are bad if you aren't a gunslinger sadly.

But ranged Inventor DPS tracks right there with fighter DPS. And it makes the other issues go away. 8hp? Trigger reactions? Tricky action economy? Who cares, you are far away hah. 8hp classes tend to have to spend more actions in melee to survive too.

Magus has the same issue only worse, as does investigator. All three classes get a lot of their damage from bonus damage that works melee or ranged and doesn't care about weapon damage size. They also all have restrictive action econ and d8hp. These work much better from range, and with very minimal damage loss.

I know tier lists are subjective and a little dumb, but if you notice lots of them have seperate tiers for ranged and melee magus/investigator/inventor for that reason.


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Balancing things upward vs downward is weird. You can always balance up by adding more enemies, changing the terrain, or making the enemy itself more powerful (equivalent of adding advanced template in other games). But balancing downward is often awkward. You don't always have multiple creature to remove some, lowering stats can cause dissonance if a valid reason isn't given (including unexplained conditions), and making the enemy act "dumb" is ugh.

So yeah would rather have an average base that to start with near max difficulty.

From what I understood of Age of Ashes the people who generally had it easy had either: Lenient GMs which makes things easier, used variant rules which makes things easier, or were really good at teamwork.


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The Raven Black wrote:
I really don't understand why people expect errata to bring a redesign of classes. An errata is concerned with correcting egregious mistakes, usually of the Too good to be true variety, and sometimes with giving needed clarifications. Redesign is completely out of an errata's purview.

People were expecting the egregious mistakes of these classes' power budgets to be corrected, and it to be clarified that the designers weren't thinking clearly the first time around.


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Xenocrat wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
I really don't understand why people expect errata to bring a redesign of classes. An errata is concerned with correcting egregious mistakes, usually of the Too good to be true variety, and sometimes with giving needed clarifications. Redesign is completely out of an errata's purview.
People were expecting the egregious mistakes of these classes' power budgets to be corrected, and it to be clarified that the designers weren't thinking clearly the first time around.

*looks at the power balance of 3.x*

*looks at what this guy is calling "egregious mistakes" in the power balance of PF2*

Huh.

People really do adjust to improvements in their quality of life with startling speed, don't they?


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Sanityfaerie wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
I really don't understand why people expect errata to bring a redesign of classes. An errata is concerned with correcting egregious mistakes, usually of the Too good to be true variety, and sometimes with giving needed clarifications. Redesign is completely out of an errata's purview.
People were expecting the egregious mistakes of these classes' power budgets to be corrected, and it to be clarified that the designers weren't thinking clearly the first time around.

*looks at the power balance of 3.x*

*looks at what this guy is calling "egregious mistakes" in the power balance of PF2*

Huh.

People really do adjust to improvements in their quality of life with startling speed, don't they?

Anyone who has seen a god wizard in play would know better than saying PF2 designers weren't thinking clearly when writing any of the classes.

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