Help! - Melee Magus actual play experience please


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Hi everyone. Brand new to PF2 & this forum (first post!!).

I'm going to be starting a new PF2 game soon, and I am really excited about playing a melee Magus as I love the gish playstyle. However I've been doing a bit of reading on these forums and others, and I'm a bit concerned about about how action constrained people are saying they are.

As I've never played PF2 before, I don't really know, but I was starting to think maybe this is a problem which overshadows enjoying playing the class. But then I found this thread and was surprised to see so many people list magus as in their top Favourite classes to play.

So, this got me wondering. Would some of you who have played a melee Magus be kind enough to share some of your actual play experience and how you enjoyed it despite the action constraint problem please ?

If it's relevant, I believe we are going to be playing Strength of Thousands, with a 3 person party, and the party composition is not fixed in stone yet but is shaping up a bit like this atm:

  • Human Iron Magus (Str/Con) w/ Wizard FA, and Athletics + guisarme for tripping
  • Catfolk Thaumaturge (Cha/Dex) w/ Regalia, and Intimidate for Demoralize and Thievery for traps
  • Gnome Witch (Int/Wis) w/ Druid FA, and Crafting & Medicine

It's probably a really bad party, as we're all brand new to the game, so any suggestions would also be very welcome.

Thanks so much in advance for any assistance !


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Pathfinder LO Special Edition, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I haven't played my magus yet (will be soon, also in a SoT campaign), but I have GM'd for many.

I see a lot of twisting tree and laughing shadow magi, and they don't seem to have problems with action economy. Twisting tree's staff reach (like the guisarme you're mentioning) does a lot for helping keep the action economy in your favor. As does the laughing shadow's conflux spell dimensional assault.

You will need to plan ahead; you will need to have contingency plans; you shouldn't expect to spell strike every round. Going in with expectations that you'll have to vary your routine and look for how to best contribute on a round by round basis, IMO, helps a lot with getting your mind in the right place to enjoy a class like the magus.

I'm still debating between inexorable iron and sparkling targe for my SoT magus. I may end up being the main/sole frontline/melee character. So the extra defense from the shield may be useful (planning to grab sentinel dedication at level 2 for heavy armor), but the extra temp HP and higher weapon damage (plus probably reach) goes a long way with inexorable iron.


As you already mentioned, magus is a class which starves for actions.

Being able to benefit from FA is an incredible boost which would kick in even by lvl 2 ( getting access to more cantrips ), but if you'd prefer to have a less clunky characters, you may consider getting something else in place of the wizard dedication.

From what I happened to see ( mastered for a inexorable iron magus with FA and played as a laughing shadow magus without FA ), there are some possibilities:

- Mounted magus ( using your animal companion to get a free stride - Kicks in by lvl 4 ).
- Sixth Pillar Magus ( Getting a free leap after/before every spell - Kicks in by lvl 12 ).
- Being Quickened ( kicks in by lvl 5, requiring you to use your spells for haste - Probably hard to use with a 2handed weapon ).
- Power Attack ( alternates spellstrike + truestrike and power attack + recharge - Kicks in by lvl 4 ).
- Getting Cleric or psychic focus spells ( fire domain, immaginary weapon, etc... ) to have free spells for your spellstrike that deal double the cantrip damage.

For tanky purposes, consider getting the witch dedication rather than the wizard one, to get several benefits:

- A different school ( occult, which also gives true strike )
- A free familiar
- Basic Lesson ( Life lesson, which gives fast healing )

Temporary HP and fast healing ( eventually a shieldblock or the healing provided by the lvl 10 inexorable iron feat ) will make you an pretty solid frontline.

I'd probably go with Witch ( lvl 2 )> Fighter ( lvl6 )> Sixth Pillar (lvl8)

ps: as for the party, it seems ok to me ( not knowing what tradition did the witch chose though ).


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I don't have Strength of Thousands, and I don't know how many books your GM has, but ask if a lot of of monsters have Attack of Opportunity. It's not common in the Bestiaries, but it's been mentioned on the forums here that AOO shows up in adventure paths a lot more than you'd think.


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SaveVersus wrote:

I don't have Strength of Thousands, and I don't know how many books your GM has, but ask if a lot of of monsters have Attack of Opportunity. It's not common in the Bestiaries, but it's been mentioned on the forums here that AOO shows up in adventure paths a lot more than you'd think.

Guisarme helps a lot with that.


SaveVersus wrote:

I don't have Strength of Thousands, and I don't know how many books your GM has, but ask if a lot of of monsters have Attack of Opportunity. It's not common in the Bestiaries, but it's been mentioned on the forums here that AOO shows up in adventure paths a lot more than you'd think.

Talking about AoO, having power attack is also good to counter this ( damage is more or less similar to cantrip + strike, if 1d12 weapon is used ).


I think the following is all solid advice:

- grab primal witch and life lesson with your FA. Familiar gives you an extra focus point in battle, you get more slots and life lesson is nice to have.

- stay using reach weapons. AoO will become a thing and they punish Magus hard. Plus the actual reach might save an action here or there.

- don't use arcane Cascade often. It's very underwhelming an costs an action. Unless you can pre buff, you can almost always spend that action on something better. Really, it's that meh. Oh, do use it to target weaknesses.

- grab armor training with a general feat, and grab sentinel at lvl 10 with your FA (prior to your medium armor scaling) then retrain the general feat

- don't go for power attack. PA is very mediocre at best, and def not worth neither the opportunity cost (your FA) or the resources (assuming humble gamer is thinking of true strike into PA).

- Try to calculate around being able to spellstrike every round. While there will be some rounds where you simply can't or shouldn't a Magus that isn't SS'ing is just a bad fighter.

Hope this helps


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Lollerabe wrote:
- grab armor training with a general feat, and grab sentinel at lvl 10 with your FA (prior to your medium armor scaling) then retrain the general feat

Strength of Thousands FA is, I believe, more limited than that.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Hello TheOneGargoyle! As you will quickly see, people have a range of opinions about classes and how best to play them. Be careful taking any one person's advice as gospel about the game, as you will quickly find out in play, every encounter will present its own unique challenge and Magi have many ways to take advantage of those unique situations.

Magus is a "more complicated" starting class for someone brand new to the game. You don't get very many spells and it can be difficult to sort through a very large list of spells and guess what few spells you will have. The good news is, is you are starting at level 1, your spell slots won't play a big role in your character for a couple of levels, maybe 6 or 7 sessions, so you will have some time to see what you wish your character could be doing, that they aren't, and you will likely also be picking up the wizard archetype for free, so eventually, you will have more spells to play with, but for a while it will be all about your cantrips and figuring out what damage types work best against the challenges you face.

Strength of Thousands is not a particularly combat heavy AP, and there will be lots of opportunities to talk and think your way out of problems. Be sure you don't over focus your character on combat. Luckily, being book smart is a good out of combat role to fill and you should be able to spare a skill rank for society as well as arcana.

I would disagree with Lollerabe's assessment of arcane cascade, especially for an Inexorable Iron magus. half your level may not seem like much as far as temp HP, but after you wallop a couple of people with a spell strike, you are going to draw attention to yourself and it comes back every round, essentially acting like DR against all damage types. Make sure you have enough different types of cantrips to get the damage types you want out of it. Deciding to be the Fire Magus, or the Ice Magus is playing against the strengths of the class design and will limit you from being able to hit the enemy with right tool at the right time. Also, the level 4 Inexorable Iron feat builds off of being in Arcane cascade so I would recommend getting used to figuring out when is the right time for you to arcane cascade in your party.

Many parties will try to rush into melee on the first round. Generally, this is a bad strategy. Identifying a creature, then Casting shield (or a blast cantrip is you need a certain damage type for your cascade) and going into an arcane cascade is a very solid first round for you, and if your party stays back, you can let the enemy waste their actions moving up into your face. Then you can Spell strike on your second round, already juiced up. If you need to step to avoid an AoO you can, or you can Spell Strike and then use a conflux spell to recharge for round 3. Personally, I don't love making a -10 strike with thunderous strike, so I would consider taking force fang at level for automatic extra damage on top of recharging your spell strike for round 3. The Damage per Round you get from using force fang as a third action after a spell strike is pretty high compared to just about anything else you can do.

At the same time as I give all of this advice, I will say that, for a very first PF2 character, it is definitely a little more stream line to try out a fighter with the wizard free archetype. You GM very likely will let you try out one and if it isn't doing what you want it to do, they will let you rebuild your character into the other, since the two are very similar conceptually.


It's worth mentioning to your GM that the encounters are all balanced around having a 4 person party, so even built perfectly your group will be under-strength.

Using a reach weapon and having the Free Archetype that SoT grants are both very nice, and I think will smooth out a lot of the usual Magus worries around AoO and spell selection. It's also worth remembering that SoT puts more focus on both skills and nonviolent solutions than most APs, so you can get away with a little less combat optimization.


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For simplicity's sake for yourself, I'd suggest that you FA into wizard. It uses the same stat, and the same skill, and only have to learn one spell list.

I'd also suggest having int secondary rather than con, and discuss who's taking which lores with the witch.


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To everyone unfamiliar in the thread: Strength of Thousands only gives either Druid or Wizard MC as the Free Archetype, by RAW.


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keftiu wrote:
To everyone unfamiliar in the thread: Strength of Thousands only gives either Druid or Wizard MC as the Free Archetype, by RAW.

Thanks. Fixed.


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Wow, thanks everyone for such a warm welcome and for all that advice !

Feels nice to be part of a community like that :-)


NielsenE wrote:
You will need to plan ahead; you will need to have contingency plans; you shouldn't expect to spell strike every round. Going in with expectations that you'll have to vary your routine and look for how to best contribute on a round by round basis, IMO, helps a lot with getting your mind in the right place to enjoy a class like the magus.

This seems really solid advice, I'll do that.

NielsenE wrote:
I'm still debating between inexorable iron and sparkling targe for my SoT magus. I may end up being the main/sole frontline/melee character. So the extra defense from the shield may be useful (planning to grab sentinel dedication at level 2 for heavy armor), but the extra temp HP and higher weapon damage (plus probably reach) goes a long way with inexorable iron.

This is exactly the situation I'm in. I believe I'll be the main frontliner (or maybe sole depending on how the thaumaturge is built?), so I'm choosing b/w targe & iron too. However, I feel like targe would play a bit too much like a fighter and not enough like a gish (I'm not sure if this is true or not?), and would be even more action-constrained from having to raise my shield. So I'm thinking iron for the same reasons you mentioned, I'm hoping that the extra temp hp and a reach weapon will work out for me.


HumbleGamer wrote:

From what I happened to see ( mastered for a inexorable iron magus with FA and played as a laughing shadow magus without FA ), there are some possibilities:

- Mounted magus ( using your animal companion to get a free stride - Kicks in by lvl 4 ).
- Sixth Pillar Magus ( Getting a free leap after/before every spell - Kicks in by lvl 12 ).
- Being Quickened ( kicks in by lvl 5, requiring you to use your spells for haste - Probably hard to use with a 2handed weapon ).
- Power Attack ( alternates spellstrike + truestrike and power attack + recharge - Kicks in by lvl 4 ).
- Getting Cleric or psychic focus spells ( fire domain, immaginary weapon, etc... ) to have free spells for your spellstrike that deal double the cantrip damage.

For tanky purposes, consider getting the witch dedication rather than the wizard one, to get several benefits:

- A different school ( occult, which also gives true strike )
- A free familiar
- Basic Lesson ( Life lesson, which gives fast healing )

Temporary HP and fast healing ( eventually a shieldblock or the healing provided by the lvl 10 inexorable iron feat ) will make you an pretty solid frontline.

I'd probably go with Witch ( lvl 2 )> Fighter ( lvl6 )> Sixth Pillar (lvl8)

ps: as for the party, it seems ok to me ( not knowing what tradition did the witch chose though ).

Wow ok, there are some great options in there that I didn't even know about, thanks !

Some questions if I may:

What are the pros & cons of having a different school from witch dedication ? I vaguely recall reading something about it's not that seamless ?

Also, my limited understanding of a familiar is that it uses an action which I'll already be too short of. What have I missed ?

What would make it difficult for Haste work with a 2-H wpn ?

Are the cleric & psychic spells that much better than the wizard ones (say Shocking Grasp) ? Or is that just for flexibility of dmg types and so on ?


SaveVersus wrote:
I don't have Strength of Thousands, and I don't know how many books your GM has, but ask if a lot of of monsters have Attack of Opportunity. It's not common in the Bestiaries, but it's been mentioned on the forums here that AOO shows up in adventure paths a lot more than you'd think.

Oooh, that's a great idea ! Thanks, I'll do that.


Sanityfaerie wrote:
SaveVersus wrote:
I don't have Strength of Thousands, and I don't know how many books your GM has, but ask if a lot of of monsters have Attack of Opportunity. It's not common in the Bestiaries, but it's been mentioned on the forums here that AOO shows up in adventure paths a lot more than you'd think.
Guisarme helps a lot with that.

Yes, that's what I was hoping. I've never played a character who uses a guisarme in 40 yrs of role-playing, so that's a real treat for me !

I also saw somewhere that somebody said that (at level 5?) you can get a rune (shifting?) that changes the weapon type. So I could use guisarme for reach and trip, or swap to greatsword for more dmg etc. Is that right ?


Lollerabe wrote:


- grab primal witch and life lesson with your FA. Familiar gives you an extra focus point in battle, you get more slots and life lesson is nice to have.

This AP limits the initial FA we get to only the choice of Wizard or Druid. Do I understand correctly that you can take other Archetypes at higher levels in addition to the first free one ?

Lollerabe wrote:
- grab armor training with a general feat, and grab sentinel at lvl 10 with your FA (prior to your medium armor scaling) then retrain the general feat

Interesting idea ! I was thinking of going Human and using my free feat to pick up Toughness. Do you think Heavy Armour is more valuable than Toughness ?

Lollerabe wrote:
- Try to calculate around being able to spellstrike every round. While there will be some rounds where you simply can't or shouldn't a Magus that isn't SS'ing is just a bad fighter.

Honestly that's exactly what I'm hoping to be able to do. The thought of too many rounds without spellstrike makes me sad already ! LOL.

I guess part of the reason for starting this thread was I was kinda secretly hoping that I'd missed something that would make that problem go away and that someone would say "Oh you just need to do x instead, problem solved!", even though I was guessing that wasn't going to happen.

I suppose if Magi could SS every round reliably it'd probably be borderline OP, although I hear Starlight comes close. But I really want to play melee, and my party needs it, so I guess I just have to work around it !

Lollerabe wrote:
Hope this helps

Yes ! Some great options and thought-provokers there, thanks :-)


Unicore wrote:
Hello TheOneGargoyle!

Hello ! Thanks so much again :-)

Unicore wrote:
As you will quickly see, people have a range of opinions about classes and how best to play them. Be careful taking any one person's advice as gospel about the game, as you will quickly find out in play, every encounter will present its own unique challenge and Magi have many ways to take advantage of those unique situations.

Yes I see that LOL !

Unicore wrote:
Magus is a "more complicated" starting class for someone brand new to the game. You don't get very many spells and it can be difficult to sort through a very large list of spells and guess what few spells you will have. The good news is, is you are starting at level 1, your spell slots won't play a big role in your character for a couple of levels, maybe 6 or 7 sessions, so you will have some time to see what you wish your character could be doing, that they aren't, and you will likely also be picking up the wizard archetype for free, so eventually, you will have more spells to play with, but for a while it will be all about your cantrips and figuring out what damage types work best against the challenges you face.

I can totally see that. I've played a Warlock in 5e and DM'd for a couple too, so that's a similar playstyle, and at least I'll get more spells than that eventually, but yes, this makes perfect sense.

And I realise I'm diving right in the deep end, but I love crunchy char builds, it was my primary motivation in pushing for us to try PF2 next. So I'm not afraid of a bit of complexity, in fact, I love it!

Unicore wrote:
Strength of Thousands is not a particularly combat heavy AP, and there will be lots of opportunities to talk and think your way out of problems. Be sure you don't over focus your character on combat. Luckily, being book smart is a good out of combat role to fill and you should be able to spare a skill rank for society as well as arcana.

This is super valuable advice. I hadn't thought of taking Society, I'll look into it. Is it useful / valuable often ? Are there any particular uses of it I should be aware of ?

Unicore wrote:
I would disagree with Lollerabe's assessment of arcane cascade, especially for an Inexorable Iron magus. half your level may not seem like much as far as temp HP, but after you wallop a couple of people with a spell strike, you are going to draw attention to yourself and it comes back every round, essentially acting like DR against all damage types. Make sure you have enough different types of cantrips to get the damage types you want out of it. Deciding to be the Fire Magus, or the Ice Magus is playing against the strengths of the class design and will limit you from being able to hit the enemy with right tool at the right time. Also, the level 4 Inexorable Iron feat builds off of being in Arcane cascade so I would recommend getting used to figuring out when is the right time for you to arcane cascade in your party.

This is especially interesting !

I'd really like to be able to get into AC as often as possible. I think I'm going to need the temp hp as a squishy in melee, moreso than the tiny dmg bonus.

I'm thinking of taking the following cantrips:
* Gouging Claw - good P/S dmg
* Produce Flame - source of fire dmg & short range option if can't reach melee
* Ray of Frost - source of cold dmg & long range option if way out of melee
* Shield - source of force dmg and one-action trigger for entering AC

So, depending on initial placement of enemies, I could see a few options for spending the first round casting one of the above and then using that to enter AC. And then letting the enemies close.

But my concern is losing a first turn attack and letting the enemies have theirs could tip the balance in their favour more than just charging and spell-striking and maybe taking out an enemy in round 1.

This is where I'd really value input from those with more experience here.


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keftiu wrote:
It's worth mentioning to your GM that the encounters are all balanced around having a 4 person party, so even built perfectly your group will be under-strength.

Yes, thanks, we have talked about this. I think we're going to do a few made-up background-y type encounters first to get the hang of the system a bit, then level up to to L2 before we start the AP, so we'll be consistently 1 level higher throughout. Not sure if this will be enough but we can adjust further if needed. I saw somewhere a recommendation to apply the Weak Template to everything to further compensate but that seems like a lot of work for the GM so not sure we'll use that, but I guess it's an option.

keftiu wrote:
Using a reach weapon and having the Free Archetype that SoT grants are both very nice, and I think will smooth out a lot of the usual Magus worries around AoO and spell selection. It's also worth remembering that SoT puts more focus on both skills and nonviolent solutions than most APs, so you can get away with a little less combat optimization.

This is very good to know too. Are there any non-combat things worth covering or doing specifically ?


Sanityfaerie wrote:

For simplicity's sake for yourself, I'd suggest that you FA into wizard. It uses the same stat, and the same skill, and only have to learn one spell list.

I'd also suggest having int secondary rather than con, and discuss who's taking which lores with the witch.

Oooh, ok, this seems like good advice.

I've played with a few stat arrays and am starting to lean towards 18 Str, 14 Con, 14 Int, 12 Dex. Does that sound ok ?

Are there any particular Lores that come up more often or are more valuable than others or any that have other knock on effects ?


keftiu wrote:
To everyone unfamiliar in the thread: Strength of Thousands only gives either Druid or Wizard MC as the Free Archetype, by RAW.

Yes exactly.

The player of the Catfolk Thaumaturge isn't super keen on either of those and would rather Sorceror, but by RAW it's not allowed.

Does anyone know if it breaks anything in the AP if one of the characters goes Sorceror instead of Wizard or Druid ?


Unicore wrote:
Many parties will try to rush into melee on the first round. Generally, this is a bad strategy. Identifying a creature, then Casting shield (or a blast cantrip is you need a certain damage type for your cascade) and going into an arcane cascade is a very solid first round for you, and if your party stays back, you can let the enemy waste their actions moving up into your face. Then you can Spell strike on your second round, already juiced up. If you need to step to avoid an AoO you can, or you can Spell Strike and then use a conflux spell to recharge for round 3. Personally, I don't love making a -10 strike with thunderous strike, so I would consider taking force fang at level for automatic extra damage on top of recharging your spell strike for round 3. The Damage per Round you get from using force fang as a third action after a spell strike is pretty high compared to just about anything else you can do.

This is a super useful conversation, thanks !

My question (kinda the same from the last post I guess), is that this all makes perfect sense, except I'm concerned that is it really worth it to spend the first round getting all buffed and ready and give the enemy a whole extra first round of attacks, doesn't that risk putting you too far behind the eight-ball to come back from ?

Unicore wrote:
At the same time as I give all of this advice, I will say that, for a very first PF2 character, it is definitely a little more stream line to try out a fighter with the wizard free archetype. You GM very likely will let you try out one and if it isn't doing what you want it to do, they will let you rebuild your character into the other, since the two are very similar conceptually.

Honestly I did consider this as from what I hear fighter is just really strong and smooth to play. But if you'll excuse the D&D 5e analogy, I suspect it will feel more like an Eldritch Knight which isn't the playstyle I'm after. Plus, I do like a challenge :-)


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

You don't trade "a full extra first round of attacks" by hanging back and blasting round 1, because that enemy probably spent 1 or 2 of their actions getting into melee with you. (It can be 2 or 3 if your party uses battlefield control.) And your cantrip is also dealing damage anyway.

The thing with Magus is people call it action starved thinking it is trying to do one routine all the time. That's one way of looking at it, but another is you have a lot of varied and interesting things to do with your turn.

TheOneGargoyle wrote:
keftiu wrote:
To everyone unfamiliar in the thread: Strength of Thousands only gives either Druid or Wizard MC as the Free Archetype, by RAW.

Yes exactly.

The player of the Catfolk Thaumaturge isn't super keen on either of those and would rather Sorceror, but by RAW it's not allowed.

Does anyone know if it breaks anything in the AP if one of the characters goes Sorceror instead of Wizard or Druid ?

Just flavor, really. The free archetype is meant to represent the education the Magambya provides. You can't be taught a sorcerer bloodline, though you can be taught to use if you already have one.

Worth noting that past low levels your casting proficiency on archetype falls behind, so you're already better off using them for utility functions which don't require rolls or ability scores.


I'm in an Age of Ashes campaign right now, and we've got a Twisting Tree magus in our party. He seems to be having fun. He tends to play pretty simply, go up to enemy, Spellstrike either Gouging Claw or Hydraulic Push, then bonk with Arcane Cascade until there is an opportunity to refresh the Spellstrike, or use a focus spell if it feels necessary for the combat.

Their ability to extend their staff means that even if they miss they're usually setting up either my character, a dragon summoner, or the barbarian of the group for flanking.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I've played both inexorable iron and laughing shadow

Some observations from games:

-You will feel a little tight on action economy, but it's genuinely not that bad. You can't spellstrike every round, but that's fine, don't try to. Some combats you'll sit right next to an enemy and wail on them, some combats you'll move around a lot. It'll vary. The only time I ever felt really frustrated by action economy is when trying to set up true strikes against moving enemies. Reach helps a lot here, since it gives you a lot more squares to work with.

-True Strike is your friend. Your Wizard dedication seems like a good place to grab extra true strikes. This can be a big win against tough enemies. It can also feel bad when you don't roll high enough both times and lose both spells but whatever. You have to learn to accept that sometimes the dice will ruin your day completely as a Magus. Sometimes you'll roll bad twice and be completely out of top level spell slots and that's just how it is.

-Don't be afraid to use slotted spells that aren't for spellstrike. Obviously spellstrike is your bread and butter, but sometimes if you have an idea what's coming up it'll just make sense to do something else. Against a certain overleveled boss in Abomination Vaults, my Magus did most of their damage via Magic Missile, because it was so much more consistent than spellstrike.

-Cascade is really nice on Iron, the extra temp HP can really add up over the course of a fight.

-Probably obvious, but it's good to have a grab bag of offensive cantrips for multiple damage types. Gouging Claw is your best damage, but it can pay to have some other options at your disposal. Use your free wizard archetype to pick up utility cantrips you feel you're missing.

The class overall is pretty fun and effective, but admittedly sometimes the RNG of it can feel frustrating, given how few times you get to go nova in a typical day.


Captain Morgan wrote:
You don't trade "a full extra first round of attacks" by hanging back and blasting round 1, because that enemy probably spent 1 or 2 of their actions getting into melee with you. (It can be 2 or 3 if your party uses battlefield control.) And your cantrip is also dealing damage anyway.

Yeah, ok, that makes sense. That sounds like a good way to think about it.

Captain Morgan wrote:
The thing with Magus is people call it action starved thinking it is trying to do one routine all the time. That's one way of looking at it, but another is you have a lot of varied and interesting things to do with your turn.

Hmmm ... that actually makes it sound more like a pro than a con. I like that.

Captain Morgan wrote:
Just flavor, really. The free archetype is meant to represent the education the Magambya provides. You can't be taught a sorcerer bloodline, though you can be taught to use if you already have one.

Ok, that's actually really good to know, thanks !

Captain Morgan wrote:
Worth noting that past low levels your casting proficiency on archetype falls behind, so you're already better off using them for utility functions which don't require rolls or ability scores.

I haven't quite gotten my head fully around how all that works yet but this feels like one of those things I should remember and come back to when I understand it more.

Thanks again !


Perpdepog wrote:
I'm in an Age of Ashes campaign right now, and we've got a Twisting Tree magus in our party. He seems to be having fun. He tends to play pretty simply, go up to enemy, Spellstrike either Gouging Claw or Hydraulic Push, then bonk with Arcane Cascade until there is an opportunity to refresh the Spellstrike, or use a focus spell if it feels necessary for the combat.

Good to know he's having fun, that's primarily what prompted me to start this thread.

When you say use a focus spell if it feels necessary, I don't have a good feel yet for how often a 10 min rest to refocus between combats is going to happen (and it's probably highly game/campaign/DM dependent so you probably can't give any one-size-fits-all advice), but how precious are the focus points in general ? Can they usually be spent pretty liberally or do they need to be treated as more scarce ?

Perpdepog wrote:
Their ability to extend their staff means that even if they miss they're usually setting up either my character, a dragon summoner, or the barbarian of the group for flanking.

I might not be understanding this part yet. If they're extending their staff so that they have reach, how would this be helping to flank ? Doesn't flanking position have to be in melee ?


Squiggit wrote:

I've played both inexorable iron and laughing shadow

Some observations from games:

-You will feel a little tight on action economy, but it's genuinely not that bad.

Oh that's fantastic to hear, thank you !

Squiggit wrote:
You can't spellstrike every round, but that's fine, don't try to. Some combats you'll sit right next to an enemy and wail on them, some combats you'll move around a lot. It'll vary. The only time I ever felt really frustrated by action economy is when trying to set up true strikes against moving enemies. Reach helps a lot here, since it gives you a lot more squares to work with.

Not quite following you there. What makes it hard to set up true strikes against moving enemies ?

Squiggit wrote:
-True Strike is your friend. Your Wizard dedication seems like a good place to grab extra true strikes. This can be a big win against tough enemies. It can also feel bad when you don't roll high enough both times and lose both spells but whatever. You have to learn to accept that sometimes the dice will ruin your day completely as a Magus. Sometimes you'll roll bad twice and be completely out of top level spell slots and that's just how it is.

Ok, this is good to know. It feels weird coming from other systems to think of spending a precious spell on a true strike (for example D&D 5e where it's not even worth casting as a cantrip let alone a levelled spell!!). Is it really more advantageous to do that than spend the 1st level spell on something else ? Having asked that I'm totally imagining how bad it would feel to use on of your 4 high level spells and miss ....

Squiggit wrote:
-Don't be afraid to use slotted spells that aren't for spellstrike. Obviously spellstrike is your bread and butter, but sometimes if you have an idea what's coming up it'll just make sense to do something else. Against a certain overleveled boss in Abomination Vaults, my Magus did most of their damage via Magic Missile, because it was so much more consistent than spellstrike.

Interesting. I totally used to go by this approach when playing my bladesinger in 5e, but he was a full wizard and had plenty of spell slots. I imagine it would be much trickier with a magus with only 4.

How many of your 4 spell slots would you typically allocate to other things like this ? Or would it only be if you know something particular is coming up like the high level boss ?

Squiggit wrote:
-Cascade is really nice on Iron, the extra temp HP can really add up over the course of a fight.

I'm hoping so. I'm a little nervous about being too squishy to be a frontliner but hopefully these temp hps, the Toughness feat from Human, and being a level higher than the AP will help .... enough .... I hope ...

Squiggit wrote:
-Probably obvious, but it's good to have a grab bag of offensive cantrips for multiple damage types. Gouging Claw is your best damage, but it can pay to have some other options at your disposal. Use your free wizard archetype to pick up utility cantrips you feel you're missing.

Yeah, I was planning on taking Produce Flame and Ray of Frost for this exact purpose, that would give me 3 solid dmg types. And also to give me a couple of ranged options if I can't close to melee too, including 1 longe range one. Is that enough ?

Squiggit wrote:
The class overall is pretty fun and effective, but admittedly sometimes the RNG of it can feel frustrating, given how few times you get to go nova in a typical day.

I'm so glad to hear this ! I don't mind the occasional wrath of RNG if it generally feels fun & effective most of the rest of the time.

Thanks so much :-)


I didn't know about the FA restriction, but yeah wizard all day then.

Regarding moving enemies and truestrike i think squiggit means it's a 3AP combo, so it's hard to pull off on mobile enemies. Since you most likely need to spend an action on stride to gap close. Prior to haste that can be an issue.

Just to clarify: I didn't mean you shouldnt ever use cascade. Just that's it's not as core as one would think a core feature would/should be. As mentioned, if you can pre buff then great. If it can trigger weaknesses, great.

Rather or not the temp hp is gonna make or a break an encounter ? Eh, maybe using that ap on a stride/truestrike would end the encounter earlier thus negating the need for facetanking.

Best debuff to apply is dead n all that.
I would advice you to not think of AC as something you have to do every encounter.

The extra damage is so low it that it takes a very long time for it to 'pay for itself' in terms of opportunity cost.
And yeah, burst is king so just keep that in mind. You shouldn't slug it out with at lvl enemies as a Magus. THP or not.


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TheOneGargoyle wrote:
Perpdepog wrote:
I'm in an Age of Ashes campaign right now, and we've got a Twisting Tree magus in our party. He seems to be having fun. He tends to play pretty simply, go up to enemy, Spellstrike either Gouging Claw or Hydraulic Push, then bonk with Arcane Cascade until there is an opportunity to refresh the Spellstrike, or use a focus spell if it feels necessary for the combat.

Good to know he's having fun, that's primarily what prompted me to start this thread.

When you say use a focus spell if it feels necessary, I don't have a good feel yet for how often a 10 min rest to refocus between combats is going to happen (and it's probably highly game/campaign/DM dependent so you probably can't give any one-size-fits-all advice), but how precious are the focus points in general ? Can they usually be spent pretty liberally or do they need to be treated as more scarce ?

Perpdepog wrote:
Their ability to extend their staff means that even if they miss they're usually setting up either my character, a dragon summoner, or the barbarian of the group for flanking.
I might not be understanding this part yet. If they're extending their staff so that they have reach, how would this be helping to flank ? Doesn't flanking position have to be in melee ?

You do, but Reach lets you be in melee from further away. Depending on how you set up yourself and your buddies it can give you lots of opportunities to flank enemies since you are using your weapon's extended reach to threaten them.

As for focus spells, I don't believe they've hurt for focus points yet. I can't speak for how your GM will play things, but Adventure Paths are generally set up in such a way that you should be able to ten minute rest between most fights. The game is built around that assumption; your HP will dip faster than in other systems, but being able to use medicine between battles makes it swing back up again, for example. I believe that Age of Ashes is one of the rougher APs in that regard, since it was the first one made for PF2E, so I'd assume the pacing in Strength of Thousands to be much smoother.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

You should generally be spending one focus point every encounter. They are there to be used and renewed. In your toughest or final encounter, spend all your points. With the magus in particular, though, you should be tactical about spending it because your conflux spells recharge spellstrike.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Truestrike is especially different in PF2 than 5e because of the 3 action economy and the crit system. True strike really helps you land critical hits (often nearly doubling you chances or better) and as a Magus, you will have nearly the wildest critical hits in the game. (maybe the gunslinger occasionally out does you, depending on build). When you spell strike, rolling 2 times is always going to be better than rolling once and making a 3rd attack afterwards at -10 to strike. Magi also tend to want to use Hero points for attacking with the spell strike for this reason, even if it leaves you living dangerously if you get brought down. Hero points are a little bit better for not missing, but eventually are much more limited than true strike as a spell. By level 5 or 7. You won’t have 1st level spells you want to spend on attack spells anyway.


TheOneGargoyle wrote:

Wow ok, there are some great options in there that I didn't even know about, thanks !

Some questions if I may:

What are the pros & cons of having a different school from witch dedication ? I vaguely recall reading something about it's not that seamless ?

Also, my limited understanding of a familiar is that it uses an action which I'll already be too short of. What have I missed ?

What would make it difficult for with a 2-H wpn ?

Are the cleric & psychic spells that much better than the wizard ones (say Shocking Grasp) ? Or is that just for flexibility of dmg types and so on ?

1) having different traditions would allow the character to cast different spells. For example, occult would give you access to heroism.

2) the familiar will give you an extra slot per day ( 3 lvl lower than the one you can cast) and a refocus ( allowing you to start a combat with 2 focus points rather than one, or 3 rather than 2 ). You can get a familiar tattoo and let them rest within it. Or any other extra dimensional space.

3) I meant to say that a lot of magus spells would be used for true strike, while others for damaging single target spells. This would leave no room for haste ( casting it from a scroll would be good, buy then you'd have to expend an action adjusting your grip). Round 1 would probably be spell + cascade. Making it spell + change grip is not a efficient.

Never cast spell strike without true strike.
If you do so, consider having at least a hero point to reroll it ( if needed).

4) psychic has the best damaging cantrip sprll ( imaginary weapon), which deals force damage and it's damage can be doubled with a focus point. Being a focus spell would allow you to cast it over and over.

Anyway, knowing you are tied with either wizard or druid with FA, you may consider doing something like:

Lvl 2 magus feat + wizard dedication
Lvl 4 wizard spell casting + striking scroll
Lvl 6 psychic dedication + wizard feat
Lvl 8 imaginary weapon + wizard spell breadth

And you are set.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Some great comments in here. I just wanted to chime in with a few of my own:

1. I'm GMing Strength of Thousands and I let my players pick different FA if they're already capable of casting Arcane or Primal spells. However, Wizard goes GREAT with Magus anyway.

2. Our Magus in Strength of Thousands plays suboptimally, forgets to spellstrike, often hangs back and lobs spells, forgets to use utilize Arcane Cascade... but has still been a great boon to the party. They've had shining moments where they gouging claw spellstrike crit for bonkers damage, as well as teleporting behind an unsuspecting foe to set up a flank. Even hanging back and lobbing Electric Arcs has the added value of contributing a surprising amount while keeping their big moves in reserve and not draining the healer's resources.

3. Almost everyone I've played with has felt the pressure of how to effectively use their three actions. Magus isn't unique in having a lot they want to do with that resource, and the number of times a caster has dropped a sustained spell to pull some clutch maneuver leads me to believe that action starvation also has benefits, such as making combat feel more cerebral and rewarding tactical planning.


WatersLethe wrote:


2. Our Magus in Strength of Thousands plays suboptimally, forgets to spellstrike, often hangs back and lobs spells, forgets to use utilize Arcane Cascade

Reminds me of our fighter/champion who always forgets about their reaction.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
HumbleGamer wrote:
WatersLethe wrote:


2. Our Magus in Strength of Thousands plays suboptimally, forgets to spellstrike, often hangs back and lobs spells, forgets to use utilize Arcane Cascade
Reminds me of our fighter/champion who always forgets about their reaction.

Yeah, champions are a really straightforward class but require the player to stay tuned in outside of their own turns, which is hard for some people.

Lantern Lodge

I have not played a magus but have seen a few in Pathfinder Society. I think your concerns are well founded. The Magus is really high risk high reward. The majority of the time they are a subpar frontliner. Worse than almost any martial besides maybe swashbuckler. But occasionally you’ll score a crit hit on your spell strike and explode… but honestly if you’re crit fishing you’ll get better mileage out of a fighter.


HumbleGamer wrote:

As you already mentioned, magus is a class which starves for actions.

...

- Mounted magus ( using your animal companion to get a free stride - Kicks in by lvl 4 ).
- Sixth Pillar Magus ( Getting a free leap after/before every spell - Kicks in by lvl 12 ).
- Being Quickened ( kicks in by lvl 5, requiring you to use your spells for haste - Probably hard to use with a 2handed weapon ).

Yes I consider an action improvement like this as great for any class but essential for the Magus.

Though I don't recommend Sixth Pillar Magus as I find the archetype breaks the conventions of the game. My understanding is it has been flagged for errata.

I currently have a high level Rogue with Free Archetype, and independant mount, Gang Up, and multiclass Magus. One per encounter he has a very big strike.


Lollerabe wrote:
I didn't know about the FA restriction, but yeah wizard all day then.

Awesome.

Lollerabe wrote:
Regarding moving enemies and truestrike i think squiggit means it's a 3AP combo, so it's hard to pull off on mobile enemies. Since you most likely need to spend an action on stride to gap close. Prior to haste that can be an issue.

Ahhh, yeah ok, that makes sense. Thanks !

Lollerabe wrote:

Just to clarify: I didn't mean you shouldnt ever use cascade. Just that's it's not as core as one would think a core feature would/should be. As mentioned, if you can pre buff then great. If it can trigger weaknesses, great.

Rather or not the temp hp is gonna make or a break an encounter ? Eh, maybe using that ap on a stride/truestrike would end the encounter earlier thus negating the need for facetanking.

Best debuff to apply is dead n all that.
I would advice you to not think of AC as something you have to do every encounter.

I see what you mean. That seems like sensible advice.

And yeah, it does seem a little strange that a "core" feature maybe isn't so much. But options & flexibility & tradeoffs I guess is the name of the game here huh ?

Lollerabe wrote:

The extra damage is so low it that it takes a very long time for it to 'pay for itself' in terms of opportunity cost.

And yeah, burst is king so just keep that in mind. You shouldn't slug it out with at lvl enemies as a Magus. THP or not.

I'm not sure until I play how much choice I'll have in that, but I am a bit nervous that I'll be on the squishy side but we'll see.

Thanks for the great input !


Perpdepog wrote:
You do, but Reach lets you be in melee from further away. Depending on how you set up yourself and your buddies it can give you lots of opportunities to flank enemies since you are using your weapon's extended reach to threaten them.

Ahhh, did not know that ! Ok, that's cool !!

Perpdepog wrote:
As for focus spells, I don't believe they've hurt for focus points yet. I can't speak for how your GM will play things, but Adventure Paths are generally set up in such a way that you should be able to ten minute rest between most fights. The game is built around that assumption; your HP will dip faster than in other systems, but being able to use medicine between battles makes it swing back up again, for example. I believe that Age of Ashes is one of the rougher APs in that regard, since it was the first one made for PF2E, so I'd assume the pacing in Strength of Thousands to be much smoother.

Good to know. And is one person with Medicine per party generally enough in this regard (esp in a party of 3 like us) or would it be recommended to have more than 1 ?


Captain Morgan wrote:
You should generally be spending one focus point every encounter. They are there to be used and renewed. In your toughest or final encounter, spend all your points. With the magus in particular, though, you should be tactical about spending it because your conflux spells recharge spellstrike.

Got it. Thanks.

So if I understand correctly, on a round where SS is down, I can use a Conflux focus spell to get a strike and recharge SS for a single action, whereas normally that would cost 2 actions, essentially saving me an action. Then I can use the other 2 actions that round to move and then do something else (shield spell, recall knowledge, etc) that I otherwise wouldn't be able to fit in that round. Is that right ?

Would that be one of the best ways to use the conflux spell ?


My Magus experience was playing an Ancient Elf Sparking Targe Magus with Champion dedication (magic resistant tanker that can spellstrike sometimes). As a Tanker my focus was never the spellstrike everytime so I didn't care too much about the very complex action economy once my main focus was protect myself and my allied yet it exists and effect the class too much.

Notable things about this experience:

  • Spellstrike is a very strong and consistent damage source.
  • The Magus HP maybe is little low for a melee
  • Arcane Cascade is a thing that I used little due the expensive action economy generated by spellstrike. I basically used it only against opponents that I know I need to block magic effects. In general the stride, spellstrike, strike, rise a shield, shielding strike actions was more interesting than enter in arcane cascade. So it's a good thing but many times you will have another better thing to do with your actions (too many good action options to do).
  • AoO opponents can really make some limitation for a Magus (I was take some AoO in the face because many times I didn't use my actions to RK due my action economy and other party members also don't wanted to do too) but as my focus was to tanking this wasn't a real big problem and also I workarounded it using Elemental Wrath.

    In general was a very fun and interesting class to play but it's little tricky. You have to come with the open mind that you have to be very adaptable with your actions if you play it with a pre-planned mind thinking with a perfect action economy tactics in your mind you will probably will frustrate yourself with a melee magus.


  • Unicore wrote:
    Truestrike is especially different in PF2 than 5e because of the 3 action economy and the crit system. True strike really helps you land critical hits (often nearly doubling you chances or better) and as a Magus, you will have nearly the wildest critical hits in the game. (maybe the gunslinger occasionally out does you, depending on build). When you spell strike, rolling 2 times is always going to be better than rolling once and making a 3rd attack afterwards at -10 to strike. Magi also tend to want to use Hero points for attacking with the spell strike for this reason, even if it leaves you living dangerously if you get brought down. Hero points are a little bit better for not missing, but eventually are much more limited than true strike as a spell. By level 5 or 7. You won’t have 1st level spells you want to spend on attack spells anyway.

    Ahhh ! Of course, I hadn't factored the extra crit chance as being so important !

    Can you combine a True Strike AND a Hero point ? If you do, how does that work ? Roll twice, pick the better one first and then reroll it ? Or can you pick either to reroll and then take the best ?

    Since I'm a little worried about being fragile, would I be best to keep 1 Hero Point always in case of going down, and only spend extras on Spell Strike ? As you say, it sounds like living pretty dangerously to use the last one on a SS and then not have one in reserve in case of extreme death. Recommendations ?


    HumbleGamer wrote:


    1) having different traditions would allow the character to cast different spells. For example, occult would give you access to heroism.

    Makes perfect sense but I guess I don't have enough knowledge of the different spell lists yet to know how worth the tradeoff that is.

    HumbleGamer wrote:
    2) the familiar will give you an extra slot per day ( 3 lvl lower than the one you can cast) and a refocus ( allowing you to start a combat with 2 focus points rather than one, or 3 rather than 2 ). You can get a familiar tattoo and let them rest within it. Or any other extra dimensional space.

    Ahhh ok, that's good to know. And is the extra spell & focus pt without costing an action ?

    HumbleGamer wrote:
    3) I meant to say that a lot of magus spells would be used for true strike, while others for damaging single target spells. This would leave no room for haste ( casting it from a scroll would be good, buy then you'd have to expend an action adjusting your grip). Round 1 would probably be spell + cascade. Making it spell + change grip is not a efficient.

    This is particularly interesting to me. I might have to change my thinking on this, as I come from other systems where extremely limited spells means leaning heavily on buffs that can last a whole fight rather than "one-and-done" spells.

    I'd love to know if anyone has done any theorycrafting about which ends up being better, Haste to enable more spellstrikes or a damaging spell to spellstrike with ?

    HumbleGamer wrote:

    Never cast spell strike without true strike.

    If you do so, consider having at least a hero point to reroll it ( if needed).

    I'm guessing you mean spellstrikes with levelled spells here and not ones with just cantrips ? Or do you mean cantrip ones too ? How can you possibly get enough true strikes for that ?

    HumbleGamer wrote:
    4) psychic has the best damaging cantrip sprll ( imaginary weapon), which deals force damage and it's damage can be doubled with a focus point. Being a focus spell would allow you to cast it over and over.

    Ok, good to know.

    HumbleGamer wrote:

    Anyway, knowing you are tied with either wizard or druid with FA, you may consider doing something like:

    Lvl 2 magus feat + wizard dedication
    Lvl 4 wizard spell casting + striking scroll
    Lvl 6 psychic dedication + wizard feat
    Lvl 8 imaginary weapon +...

    Ooooh, that's almost the bones of a build guide ! I will look all of those up, thanks !


    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

    No, True Strike and Hero Points are both Fortune effects, and you can never apply two Fortune effects to the same roll.


    WatersLethe wrote:

    Some great comments in here. I just wanted to chime in with a few of my own:

    1. I'm GMing Strength of Thousands and I let my players pick different FA if they're already capable of casting Arcane or Primal spells. However, Wizard goes GREAT with Magus anyway.

    Oooh, that's a GREAT idea, I love that ! Thanks, I will let our GM know about that idea.

    WatersLethe wrote:
    2. Our Magus in Strength of Thousands plays suboptimally, forgets to spellstrike, often hangs back and lobs spells, forgets to use utilize Arcane Cascade... but has still been a great boon to the party. They've had shining moments where they gouging claw spellstrike crit for bonkers damage, as well as teleporting behind an unsuspecting foe to set up a flank. Even hanging back and lobbing Electric Arcs has the added value of contributing a surprising amount while keeping their big moves in reserve and not draining the healer's resources.

    LOL, ok, that's so awesome to hear. Then there's hope for me too ! I'm pretty sure I will forget a lot of stuff at the start and play pretty sub-optimally initially.

    I hadn't considered taking electric arc, thanks for the prompt. That looks pretty strong if there are 2 enemies adjacent to each other. Am I right in reading the spell description for EA that if they make their reflex save they take no damage at all (as opposed to half or something) ? In which case, I'd probably want to save that for enemies I think have low reflex saves (maybe big tough types with high AC but clumsy) ?

    WatersLethe wrote:
    3. Almost everyone I've played with has felt the pressure of how to effectively use their three actions. Magus isn't unique in having a lot they want to do with that resource, and the number of times a caster has dropped a sustained spell to pull some clutch maneuver leads me to believe that action starvation also has benefits, such as making combat feel more cerebral and rewarding tactical planning.

    I really like the sound of that. Thanks heaps !


    kaisc006 wrote:
    I have not played a magus but have seen a few in Pathfinder Society. I think your concerns are well founded. The Magus is really high risk high reward. The majority of the time they are a subpar frontliner. Worse than almost any martial besides maybe swashbuckler. But occasionally you’ll score a crit hit on your spell strike and explode… but honestly if you’re crit fishing you’ll get better mileage out of a fighter.

    I'm hoping I don't feel like that too often, that would be pretty discouraging I think.

    I guess I'm keen to do/learn/try whatever I can to avoid that happening.

    Any advice from what you've observed as to what some of those players might've done to minimize that, or things they've done that have worked better than others ?


    Gortle wrote:
    HumbleGamer wrote:

    As you already mentioned, magus is a class which starves for actions.

    ...

    - Mounted magus ( using your animal companion to get a free stride - Kicks in by lvl 4 ).
    - Sixth Pillar Magus ( Getting a free leap after/before every spell - Kicks in by lvl 12 ).
    - Being Quickened ( kicks in by lvl 5, requiring you to use your spells for haste - Probably hard to use with a 2handed weapon ).

    Yes I consider an action improvement like this as great for any class but essential for the Magus.

    Though I don't recommend Sixth Pillar Magus as I find the archetype breaks the conventions of the game. My understanding is it has been flagged for errata.

    I currently have a high level Rogue with Free Archetype, and independant mount, Gang Up, and multiclass Magus. One per encounter he has a very big strike.

    Sixth Pillar is definitely flagged for errata, but for what concerns the lvl 16 feat which gives master unarmed proficiency ( or master spell casting).

    A magus can play without taking it, with no issue at all.

    What is required from the archetype is the free leap.

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