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DMMike
12-05-2009, 10:17 AM
Fighters, as the kings of martial arts, have an untold number of methods for reducing unfriendly creatures to an oozing pile of heat (or cold). At mid and high levels, this necessarily involves a good bit of magic. But at low levels the fighter has two friends: cunning, and feats.

So my first attempt:
At low levels, the fighter's best tactics are to become friends with a hand-and-a-half sword, use a very large shield, and to take Improved Overrun. The shield keep his AC up, the bastard sword keeps his damage up, and when he knocks opponents over, he stands right next to them, since a prone opponent is an easy target, and an opponent who's trying to stand up is an even easier target.

nijineko
12-07-2009, 01:25 AM
hit it till it falls down?

(sorry couldn't resist)

or, still in the same vein, you could use a "little" weapon i made up as a lark... i give you the Sword of Man'Gargh:


One-Handed Exotic Melee Weapon
75gp, 1d10(s), 2d6(m), 19-20 x3, no range, 20lbs., Slashing or Bludgeoning, hardness 10, hp 30.

A Man'Gargh is an unusually shaped sword, being almost as wide as it is long. The blade is perhaps 3'-4' long, and nearly 3' wide, with a long handle partly counter-balancing the weight. It requires a STR of at least 15 or higher, and to be carrying no more than a light load, to be able to use it as a sword.

Anyone wielding a Man'Gargh takes a -1 penalty to AC due to the difficulty of recovering from swinging it. When used in a full attack action, each subsequent attack after the first increases the AC penalty by one per attack. Taking an attack of opportunity counts as an extra attack worth an extra -1, from the time the attack is taken to the beginning of the wielder's next turn. This penalty remains until the beginning of the wielders next turn.

A Man'Gargh is too large and heavy to wield in one hand without special training (the exotic weapon proficiency feat), though it can be wielded as a martial weapon in two hands. A wielder who is proficient (as in, has taken the exotic weapon proficiency feat) can take a full-round action to use the Man'Gargh as a shield, and still make a single attack in that round. Doing so increases the AC penalty to -2 for that round. Using it only as a shield still incurs the normal -1 penalty to AC for wielding the Man'Gargh. A Man'Gargh counts as a heavy steel shield for purposes of AC.

for those who are curious, yes, it was based off of some of the manga and anime that you see where a character is wielding an outrageously sized sword. the rules for it were adapted from the warhammer entry in the complete warrior, and the shield entry from the phb. the name is literally a combination of "manga" for the origin, and "argh" for the lame pun. and yes, there is a Greater Sword of Man'Gargh as well. it has 5' reach, is usable as a reach or non-reach weapon each round-but if used as a reach weapon, it cannot be used as a shield in the same round, weighs 25lbs., counts as a metal tower shield, and has 40hp.

cplmac
12-07-2009, 11:12 AM
Don't just rush forward into combat. Use the time that they approach you to size up and study your opponents. This way you can see who you need to hit first, ie. the opponents spell casters.

Have the fighters up front to provide a shield and your ranged attackers behind them to fire upon the opponents spell casters. This way, if arrows or other missile weapons come flying in, the fighters can use their shields to help block those missiles from getting to the ranged attackers.

Keep in mind that every encounter is going to have things that are unique to it, so you will have to make adjustments based on where you are at and how many opponents there are.

Webhead
12-07-2009, 09:12 PM
Sword-chucks.

Sascha
12-07-2009, 10:45 PM
Sword-chucks.
Indeed.

Webhead
12-07-2009, 11:49 PM
Indeed.

The power of the Sword-chucks lies not in the sword, nor in the chuck but in the synthesis of the two.

nijineko
12-08-2009, 12:54 AM
yeah, not thesis nor antithesis, but in synthesis lies the high road.

d-_-b
12-08-2009, 05:00 PM
... ?

Every fighter should learn the Power Attack feat. When it comes down to dealing damage as a fighter what is ultimately going to matter is strength bonuses and multipliers. A d8, d10 or even a d12 isn't going to matter much in the long run so spending a feat to get proficiency with the hand-and-a-half sword is a waste. IMO a weapon with a decent crit. range is the best option. You'll have to decide whether to opt for a shield or a two handed weapon.

I'm not sure I believe in knocking my opponent over as an ultimate tactic as you waste an attack over running him/her/it. If an opponent is so powerful that you need to gain a such an advantage over it chances are that it will be bigger than you and thus harder to knock prone, in which case max damage is the safest way to go.

Also, we might be forgetting defensive tactics here. I recognize that defensive fighters -such as the Dwarven Defender- tend to die from eventual attrition in a prolonged fight but defence might not be so bad if you've got more than one frontline warrior in your group.

In the end it comes down to fighting styles and I don't think that there really is any way of determining an optimal build for a fighter as it depends much on the campaign and the type of opponents you fight.

Datenshi_noh_Kai
12-09-2009, 10:07 AM
I'm quite fond of a spiked chain tripper build myself. Take advantage of your reach, AoO, & trip attempts. Take feats like power attack, weapon finesse, Defensive sweep, & IIRC there is a maneuver (stance) in the ToB that allows you to keep opponents you threaten from moving through you threatened area.

If you like bows, take a couple levels of Fighter & then PrC into the Order of the Bow Init. from the CW or CA, Idk. Take the Rapid shot/Multi shot feat progression with a Composite longbow & you'll be firing a lot of arrows & dealing a lot of damage. As a bonus you can even take a few levels of scout & have skirmish damage.

Also you could just go with a Warforged Barbarian (Lion totem variant)/ Warfored juggernaut / Frenzied Berserker & just cleave, sunder, bullrush through opponents & pounce.

It all just depends on how you want to play.

DMMike
12-09-2009, 10:14 AM
Also, we might be forgetting defensive tactics here. I recognize that defensive fighters -such as the Dwarven Defender- tend to die from eventual attrition in a prolonged fight but defence might not be so bad if you've got more than one frontline warrior in your group.

For d-b:
Best low-level tactics: thickest affordable armor, tower shield, combat expertise, and improved trip. Stand next to your buddy who needs defending, and ready a 5-foot-step and trip attack against anyone getting close. Quick draw would come in handy here, so you could be ready for your free attack against a newly prone opponent.

Seems like exotic weapons matter less at mid to high levels, since yes, that average 1 or 2 more points of damage doesn't scale. But don't forget that exotic weapons have other features, like higher crit multipliers and special attack options, that make them useful well into mid levels.

nijineko
12-11-2009, 01:04 AM
speaking of archery, my favorite archer to date has some levels of targetteer (sp?), some levels in a ranger variant class, a couple of deepwood sniper levels, and a few levels in cragtop warrior... which combination turned him into a excellent distance warrior capable of hitting anything he can spot, and with a range of nearly a mile or so depending on the specific bow and arrow being used.

Swordnboard
12-11-2009, 07:48 AM
A mile? That seems pretty far... over 5,000 feet without a problem? That's over 1500 yards, which is a feat for a gun...

Cool though, I admit.

By my name you can guess I prefer to play fighter classes as a player. When I start I usually pick a 1h weapon and take Weapon Focus right away. Big shield, biggest armor possible to maximize dex bonus. After that, it varies depending on style. I like combat expertise, personally. But like cplmac said, "Don't just rush forward into combat."

DMMike
12-12-2009, 03:34 PM
Ah, but rushing forward into combat catches your enemies flat-footed...

Improved Initiative, Quick draw, and a greataxe. Keep their heads ringing. Or get some mounted feats and a lance. Just make sure you have mobility, so you can make a sneaky retreat once your heroic charge is complete.

Inquisitor Tremayne
12-12-2009, 03:40 PM
I like smart tactical fighters. I also like to be able to hit things ALL the time so I avoid Power Attack as much as possible. I hate sacrificing Bab for anything!

28 point buy I usually start with Str 16 (10 pts) Dex 10 (2 pts) Con 14 (6 points) Int 14 (6 points) Wis 10 (2 points) Cha 10 (2 points) I also hate having negative ability scores!

Then I always stick with sword and shield. The more AC the better. Then focus on all the "Improved Feats", Improved Trip, Improved Bullrush, etc...

At low levels let them come to you, or if they are ranged get to them asap.

WhiskeyFur
12-14-2009, 04:02 PM
What are the best fighter tactics?

This is really a question you should discuss with the party. If your the only fighter within it, then you might look at more defensive options and things like mobility to help guard the spell casters. At the later levels they're going to be able to do more damage then you can. Protect them, and they'll be able to do even more as they won't have to worry about defense (as much).

If there's too many fighters/barbarians/paladins, then ya'll really need to work out what your roles are. Some should specialize on the quick attack/charge, and that's something a barbarian is great for with their +10 to move, but nothing says they have to. Their added hitpoints also make them good meat shields.

And two fighters side by side with long spears? Someone gets close to them and it's not just one spear attack they're dealing with, but two because of reach. Or more if you have more folks you can spare for your spear wall. And, they're great for breaking charges since if I remember right spears set to recieve a charge get to strike first, and deal double damage.

Fighters, while having the most options are at times too the hardest ones to select feats for, just because of that flexibility. Get with the rest of the party and see where it is they need some support and what are some tactics you can come up with as a party.

Bottom line, don't build just for yourself.

cigamnogard
12-15-2009, 05:49 PM
Or get some mounted feats and a lance.
My party just found out how great that is!

nijineko
12-22-2009, 03:09 PM
i became much more fond of spears once i saw the anime "guardians of the sacred heart" or "guardians of the sacred spirit" (seirei no moribito). a very well done anime with non-stereotypical and well performed characterizations, plus an attractive and realistic spearwoman as one of the main characters. not to mention the awesome fighting techniques displayed. i didn't even know a spear could be used those ways. someone was paying attention to real martial artists when drawing this one.

Datenshi_noh_Kai
12-23-2009, 12:13 PM
i became much more fond of spears once i saw the anime "guardians of the sacred heart" or "guardians of the sacred spirit" (seirei no moribito). a very well done anime with non-stereotypical and well performed characterizations, plus an attractive and realistic spearwoman as one of the main characters. not to mention the awesome fighting techniques displayed. i didn't even know a spear could be used those ways. someone was paying attention to real martial artists when drawing this one.

+1, just because that anime is amazing.

nijineko
12-23-2009, 03:09 PM
+1, just because that anime is amazing.

amen!

DMMike
10-11-2010, 04:52 PM
Resurrected!

I just heard the familiar complaint again, "High level fighters stink in 3E. 'What do you do this round?' 'I attack. Again.'"

How about something, say, around level 11, to the effect of:
Round
1 - I give my warhorse the order to charge, drop my lance, and vault off the back of the horse, drawing my bastard sword in that movement.
2 - I utter my sword's magic word (and become blurred), and advance to a cautious distance from my enemy (10 ft), fighting defensively, and Dodging him.
3 - Since he's standing cautiously behind my now-dead horse, I'll move within 10 feet and ready an Improved Disarm.
4 - Oh, that was his idea too? I wield my bastard sword two-handed for the attempt. Here's my new Initiative.
5 - I step up next to him, try a trip, and then swing madly with my last two attacks, whether or not he's standing.

Anyone else think fighters are boring?

tesral
10-21-2010, 12:12 PM
There are many good roads, they is no one perfect road. For every tactical path you take there exists a counter than will make you look stupid in combat. The trick is to balance the party's fighter strength so there is balance. To the damage monster add a tank. To the close in fighter add a ranged attack specialist.

However do not over speicalisze to the point you have nothing else. I recall the overly speicalized grappler faced with a giant ooze. That just defines a bad day.

DMMike
10-21-2010, 01:26 PM
Grappling? Really? That leaves out about 50% of enemies, doesn't it? Huge creatures, Tiny creatures, shapeshifters, incorporeals, air and fire elementals...

I think people just look at the Fighter class chart and notice two things are missing: special abilities and specifically magic. Evidently, this must mean the class is worthless?

These are the same people who forget that adventurers typically find chest-loads of magical gear over their careers, and are constantly watched or supported by multiple gods.

Is a high level fighter really going to have power that pales in comparison to that of a caster?

Sascha
10-21-2010, 03:03 PM
Is a high level fighter really going to have power that pales in comparison to that of a caster?
By the rules? Yeah, they pretty much will. And it's not really a fault of the fighter, but of the Save DC mechanic and the action economy. Casters can "abuse" both; fighters cannot.

That's not to say the melee-caster gap will pop up in every group, 'cause they won't; and where they do, they won't always be regarded as problems. It's a matter of play style and, as a sub-style, the amount of DM oversight. But the rules themselves have at least implicit encouragement to exploitation. (Which is the reason things like E6 exist.)

tesral
10-21-2010, 04:14 PM
Grappling? Really? That leaves out about 50% of enemies, doesn't it? Huge creatures, Tiny creatures, shapeshifters, incorporeals, air and fire elementals...

I didn't say it was a good idea.

Lord.Sorasen
10-21-2010, 10:36 PM
Part of me would love to do a fighter only campaign. There's so much room for variety everyone could theoretically focus on different things. Has anyone tried it? Does it possibly work?

rabkala
10-22-2010, 07:50 PM
What are the best Fighter tactics? (http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/showthread.php/14113-What-are-the-best-Fighter-tactics/showthread.php/14113-What-are-the-best-Fighter-tactics/page2)

Hire a wizard to fight for you!!!!!!:laugh:

DMMike
10-23-2010, 12:59 PM
By the rules? Yeah, they pretty much will. And it's not really a fault of the fighter, but of the Save DC mechanic and the action economy. Casters can "abuse" both; fighters cannot.
... But the rules themselves have at least implicit encouragement to exploitation.

I want examples.

Also, I want to know if this sort of thing is deduced from a theoretical 20th level Fighter versus 20th level Wizard fight. Or if it's a general perspective on the power of the classes.

ALSO, I want to know if the magical gear that a high-level Fighter -should- have, when mixed with his combat (and...Jump? Swim?) skills, don't level out the power playing field. (A tall order, but I'm willing to contribute if it helps) :)

nijineko
10-24-2010, 12:44 AM
hmmm, playing a thri-kreen dervish who has maximized his jump check. he now qualifies for fly-by attacks... ^^

examples? hmmm, the fighter can use clever movement and has powerful attacks and powerful ac, and a good fort save, likely. they don't have a good will save. if a caster does not gaes, mind control them, or otherwise inflict them with a will save effect, then they will cast time stop and leave about 4 spells ready to smack the fighter before s/he can move. unless they abuse the rules to pull off multiple timestops. in which case the fighter has no chance whatsoever.

situation plays a lot into it as well.

tesral
10-24-2010, 01:42 AM
Situation always plays into it. That is why there is no one "best" fighter tactic. Or any class best tactic. If you could say there is one it would be "be flexible".

Sascha
10-24-2010, 02:42 AM
I want examples.
Of system mastery? There's this post (http://www.montecook.com/cgi-bin/page.cgi?mc_los_142) on Monte Cook's blog. Mechanically, 3E D&D rewards certain options, as they interact with other options; identifying these and utilizing them is intentional design. Then there's this guide (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=104002) to being a wizard. It identifies what spells and feats and such make for a far more effective caster than just picking stuff (more or less) randomly.

Of how the save progression favors casters? Okay, but it's going to get mathy. For the most part - barring special class abilities, like the paladin's - unless your prime stat modifies a save, it's probably not going to change dramatically over the course of 20 levels (temporary effects aside).

We'll take single-class characters (both caster and target) of 1st, 11th, 17th and 20th levels, pit them against 1st, 6th and 9th level spells. Both good and poor save progressions will be represented. Assume 10 for target ability modifier; for caster, both minimum and maximum values are present. Neither caster nor target has a racial ability modifier, or any magical effects (as we'd be here all night analyzing the various options).

Level 1 Target, 1st-Level Spell
Ability 11, DC 11: good save (+2), 60% chance of success; poor save (+0), 50%.
Ability 18, DC 15: good save (+2), 40% chance of success; poor save (+0), 30%.

Level 11 Target, 6th-Level Spell
Ability 16, DC 19: good save (+7), 45% chance of success; poor save (+3), 25%.
Ability 20, DC 21: good save (+7), 35% chance of success; poor save (+3), 15%.

Level 17 Target, 9th-Level Spell
Ability 19, DC 21: good save (+10), 50% chance of success; poor save (+5), 25%.
Ability 22, DC 25: good save (+10), 30% chance of success; poor save (+5), 5%.

Level 20 Target, 9th-Level Spell
Ability 19, DC 21: good save (+12), 60% chance of success; poor save (+6), 30%.
Ability 23, DC 25: good save (+12), 40% chance of success; poor save (+6), 10%.

Due to the number of save-or-die/save-or-suck spells, the caster has a leg up on melee folk, when it comes to removing or shutting down opponents. Metamagic feats like Quicken Spell (especially Quicken Spell) help tip the scales toward casters. Add to this the ability to create or purchase scrolls or wands and you've given casters a reserve of power that exceeds their spells per day list, as well as something a melee character can't match without sinking lots of (often) vital skill points into Use Magic Device.

Spells with no save, like Ray of Enfeeblement or Acid Fog, are gravy for casters; they get the suck part of 'save-or-suck', without the risk of their target saving. Granted, some require a touch attack to hit, but guaranteeing that is what True Strike is for.

I know what comes next: the wizard isn't assumed to have access to every spell in the book, and other than the spells that come with new spell level access, is limited to scrolls or spellbooks they come across during the course of their adventure. Indeed, and this is one of the balancing mechanisms for wizards; clerics and druids lack this limitation (and that's what makes them more of a problem than arcane casters).

Following that, the assumption that the target of a spell has no ability modifier or resistance bonus to a given save is pretty large. Yeah, it is. It's also been my experience with the system. Playing with folks who optimize puts the limits of the rules into perspective. Avoiding the optimization play style doesn't mean the mechanical issues of optimized play cease to exist in potential form. (Which is all we can really discuss, without putting specifics down.)

The action economy's less intense, but still exploitable as a caster. Each character gets a standard, a move and a minor action, or a full-round action and a five-foot shift. Casting a spell is usually a standard action, though metamagic feats like Quicken Spell and Sudden Quicken Spell skirt this requirement, allowing two spells to be cast in a turn. In addition, spells like Time Stop allow a (very) high-level caster to effectively get free rounds of casting done. Plus, Summon spells drop allies on the field and they get their own actions, independent of the caster directing them; some of these summoned critters get spells and/or spell-like abilities of their own.

In and of themselves, these might not be enough to demonstrate a problem. Mostly because what constitutes "problem play" and "intended play" is expectations; as I mentioned above, folks who disregard optimization might never encounter the potential gulf between casters and non-casters. But it doesn't mean there is no gulf in potential, especially in a system *designed* to be gamed (system mastery).


Also, I want to know if this sort of thing is deduced from a theoretical 20th level Fighter versus 20th level Wizard fight. Or if it's a general perspective on the power of the classes.
General perspective on the potential power of the classes, using only the rules printed. And, other than one feat mentioned above, everything was taken from the first Player's Handbook; you really don't need to go outside its pages to create a gap between melee potential and caster potential.

Something that marks a distinct shift from pre-3E D&D is the save, itself. At low levels, a spell doesn't *do* much, but it's harder to save against. At higher levels, spells put more on the line (like instant death), but the save is easier to make. 3E's math leans away from the latter condition, and the relative rise in save success happens as you approach epic levels, but long after the introduction of many save-or-die/save-or-suck spell levels.

Another aspect in the power gap is the flat experience table. Having a slower level progression pre-3E meant that casters matured into their potential much slower than melee. 3E's multiclassing mechanic would be a nightmare if each class had its own experience table, so they unified the rate at which all characters gain levels; a side effect of this is the more powerful spells appear earlier.


ALSO, I want to know if the magical gear that a high-level Fighter -should- have, when mixed with his combat (and...Jump? Swim?) skills, don't level out the power playing field. (A tall order, but I'm willing to contribute if it helps) :)
Define what equipment a high-level fighter should have and what equipment a high-level wizard should have, and a typical encounter a party containing such characters would face. We'll work the numbers from there.

My initial response though, based on playing a mid- to high-level paladin and a lowish- to high-level bard (along with various one-shot adventures), is that potential gear doesn't affect potential power gaps; it's factored in already. Fighters get trinkets and doodads to help them fight, casters get trinkets and doodads to boost their spells' effectiveness or availability.

Scrolls and wands are probably the biggest offenders here, as they lessen or outright remove the preparation aspect of playing a caster. Second would be any item that boosts a casting ability, caster level or number of prepared spells available.

DMMike
11-03-2010, 03:45 PM
Due to the number of save-or-die/save-or-suck spells, the caster has a leg up on melee folk, when it comes to removing or shutting down opponents. Metamagic feats like Quicken Spell (especially Quicken Spell) help tip the scales toward casters.

Spells with no save, like Ray of Enfeeblement or Acid Fog, are gravy for casters; they get the suck part of 'save-or-suck', without the risk of their target saving. Granted, some require a touch attack to hit, but guaranteeing that is what True Strike is for.

I know what comes next: the wizard isn't assumed to have access to every spell in the book, and other than the spells that come with new spell level access, is limited to scrolls or spellbooks they come across during the course of their adventure. Indeed, and this is one of the balancing mechanisms for wizards; clerics and druids lack this limitation (and that's what makes them more of a problem than arcane casters).

Following that, the assumption that the target of a spell has no ability modifier or resistance bonus to a given save is pretty large. Yeah, it is. It's also been my experience with the system. Playing with folks who optimize puts the limits of the rules into perspective. Avoiding the optimization play style doesn't mean the mechanical issues of optimized play cease to exist in potential form. (Which is all we can really discuss, without putting specifics down.)

The action economy's less intense, but still exploitable as a caster. Each character gets a standard, a move and a minor action, or a full-round action and a five-foot shift. Casting a spell is usually a standard action, though metamagic feats like Quicken Spell and Sudden Quicken Spell skirt this requirement, allowing two spells to be cast in a turn.

Another aspect in the power gap is the flat experience table. Having a slower level progression pre-3E meant that casters matured into their potential much slower than melee. 3E's multiclassing mechanic would be a nightmare if each class had its own experience table, so they unified the rate at which all characters gain levels; a side effect of this is the more powerful spells appear earlier.

My initial response though, based on playing a mid- to high-level paladin and a lowish- to high-level bard (along with various one-shot adventures), is that potential gear doesn't affect potential power gaps; it's factored in already. Fighters get trinkets and doodads to help them fight, casters get trinkets and doodads to boost their spells' effectiveness or availability.

Scrolls and wands are probably the biggest offenders here, as they lessen or outright remove the preparation aspect of playing a caster. Second would be any item that boosts a casting ability, caster level or number of prepared spells available.

First: excellent post. Second: "Combat Casting: IT'S A TRAP!"

Then: saving throw structure: with the wizard's save DC being 10+spell level+Ability mod, and spell level=(caster level + 1) / 2, and the defender's save modifier being average roll (10.5) + 1/2 level + 2 + ability mod...
means that targets have about a 50/50 chance against casters, provided they're using a good save modified by a good ability score. Using a poor save, with a poor ability score, it just gets ugly. As reflected by your chart.

Fighters, however, don't go up against a consistently rising save modifier. They go up against consistently rising hit points. To address this, fighters get more and more attacks as their levels improve, from multiple weapons, base attack bonus, cleavage, opportunity attacks, haste, and mount use. Plus, those increasing attacks do increasing damage (mostly from magic bonuses and Strength), effectively making that extra damage into more attacks. But let's assume that extra damage scales with extra CON of the enemies. Let's look at enemy hit dice and fighter attacks, using CR 1, 11, 17 and 20 targets:

Challenge Rating 1, hit dice 2, (psuedodragon)
# attacks per round: 2 (1 BAB, AoO 1)
Attack bonus: +6 (3 STR, 1 BAB, 1 Focus, 1 Masterwork) vs. AC 18
Average hits per round: .9
Rounds to defeat: almost 2

Challenge Rating 11, hit dice 19, (black dragon)
# attacks per round: 10 (3 BAB, 1 AoO, 3 mount (warhorse), 1 haste, 2 two-handed)
Attack bonus: +22 (6 STR, 11 BAB, 2 Gr. Focus, 3 magic) vs. AC 27
Average hits per round: 2.85
Rounds to defeat: 6.66

Challenge Rating 17, hit dice 25, (brass dragon)
# attacks per round: 12 (4 BAB, 1 AoO, 3 mount (griffon), 1 haste, 3 two-handed)
Attack bonus: +34 (10 STR, 17 BAB, 2 Gr. Focus, 5 magic) vs. AC 32
Average hits per round: 5.05
Rounds to defeat: 4.95

Challenge Rating 20, hit dice 34, (black dragon)
# attacks per round: 21 (4 BAB, 1 AoO, 12 mount (hydra), 1 haste, 3 two-handed)
Attack bonus: +37 (10 STR, 20 BAB, 2 Gr. Focus, 5 magic) vs. AC 39
Average hits per round: 8.05
Rounds to defeat: 4.22

Note that just as the caster's odds get better going up against bad saves, so too do the fighter's odds as he goes up against worse combatants than dragons.

Does Quicken Spell give a caster a leg-up? Well, it gives him the initiative. It also uses his spells twice as fast; fighters can swing their swords all day long without running out of sword.

I know what comes next - a 20th level fighter isn't assumed to have a 12-headed hydra mount. Well, fighters have to do -something- with their bonus fighter feats, and mounted feats are included in those. A CR 11 Large Dragon would be just as cool - but would start to blend the distinction between fighting and spellcasting.

On action economy - yes, a wizard's major power is spell casting, and yes, it basically doubles with things like Quicken Spell. But let's refer back to my earlier point - this uses spells up twice as fast. Additionally, Quicken Spell eats up higher level (+4!) spell slots with lower level spells. It's like the fighter gets to make three additional attacks, but only with his bare fists, and only his off-hand fist.

You raise an interesting point with the experience tables. A fighter's power progression is relatively constant: gain a level, gain +1 to your attack skill. While a wizard's spells seem to get progressively better: gain a spell level, do twice as much as you could at the previous spell level. If this holds, then a wizard's level progression should be a bit more exponentially shaped than that of a fighter's. But that's if there's a distinct power difference in the end, of which I'm still not convinced.

I'd talk magic gear, but since this stuff tends to increase the magical power of fighters and wizards, I guess it diverts away from the sheer combat power discussion. Although some magical items/features make the playing field very interesting: spell turning, spell resistance, and anti-magic - which start showing up as early as 9th level.

(Thoroughly un-proofed post!)

tesral
11-03-2010, 06:12 PM
Best fighter tactic: The pointy end goes in the other guy.

Sascha
11-04-2010, 01:50 AM
First: excellent post. Second: "Combat Casting: IT'S A TRAP!"
Sorta. Concentration checks in 3.5 can get crazy, even with CON not often being a caster priority ability. (Plus there's the Quickened Spell + 5-foot shift + regular spell avoidance mechanism.) I *think* the Mage Slayer feat negates some of this (it's been a while and I don't remember the particulars), but it's not a foolproof guarantee of preventing casting.


Fighters, however, don't go up against a consistently rising save modifier. They go up against consistently rising hit points. To address this, fighters get more and more attacks as their levels improve, from multiple weapons, base attack bonus, cleavage, opportunity attacks, haste, and mount use. Plus, those increasing attacks do increasing damage (mostly from magic bonuses and Strength), effectively making that extra damage into more attacks. But let's assume that extra damage scales with extra CON of the enemies. Let's look at enemy hit dice and fighter attacks, using CR 1, 11, 17 and 20 targets:
You're right, they don't; this, in my experience, has worked *against* the fighter, and in favor of the caster. Hit points represent an increase in survivability for characters, but casters have methods of defeating those enemies that completely bypass HP (save-or-die spells), or nullify their presence in the encounter (save-or-suck and battlefield control spells).

On to the more mathy meat of fighter function~ I didn't see what weapons your hypothetical fighter here uses, nor a real breakdown of where you get your numbers, so I'll try to follow as best I can. It's harder without seeing your base statistics, though. (I assumed a 2h weapon, 'cause I felt lazy and didn't want to work out two-weapon fighting probabilities this late :P)


Challenge Rating 1, hit dice 2, (psuedodragon)
# attacks per round: 2 (1 BAB, AoO 1)
Attack bonus: +6 (3 STR, 1 BAB, 1 Focus, 1 Masterwork) vs. AC 18
Average hits per round: .9
Rounds to defeat: almost 2
Base fighter STR of 16/17, respectable. By the starting wealth table, a level 1 fighter doesn't have access to masterwork weapons (as their cost add-on is double his average starting budget, and still over his maximum rolled GP), so I don't think that's a valid bonus going by the rules as written. That'll bring his success rate down slightly, from 65% to 60%. Assume a greatsword as the fighter's weapon (avg. damage 7), and with the ability modifier, comes out to a total average damage of 10. Adjusted for success rate, plus threat range (19-20) and confirmation success rate, I get an average damage of 4.4 per attack. (This seems low, but it's been a long day, so I'll not question it at the moment. Perhaps when I'm better rested I'll revisit the numbers.)

By this calculation, it'd take an average of 4 attacks; if you assume an AoO every round, then 2 rounds on average.

(Also, I'm not sure assuming an AoO every round is accurate, as it didn't factor into our games as much, but that's anecdotal evidence and quite possibly sampling error. We'll operate on best-case scenario :P)


Challenge Rating 11, hit dice 19, (black dragon)
# attacks per round: 10 (3 BAB, 1 AoO, 3 mount (warhorse), 1 haste, 2 two-handed)
Attack bonus: +22 (6 STR, 11 BAB, 2 Gr. Focus, 3 magic) vs. AC 27
Average hits per round: 2.85
Rounds to defeat: 6.66
(Again, here's where the best-case scenario conflicts with my experience, as I've never seen mounted combat in a 3.5 game. But, as with above, we'll assume it anyway.)

Okay, we're looking at a big shift from level 1, what with magic items and a mount; we'll deal with fighter first. It looks like either you're missing the attack bonus from Haste, or you're only working with a +2 weapon; I can't tell just from the data given which it is, so I'll assume it's only a +2, and same weapon as before. Average damage this time around goes up to 15. The first, Haste and AoO attacks are at a very high 80% chance to hit, for an average of 13.2 damage; the second attack at 55%, for 19.675 damage; the third at 30%, for 4.95 damage. Total damage (3 full BAB, plus additional) is ~64.225 per round, average. On his own, it would take this fighter 3 rounds and one attack in the 4th to drop the dragon.

The mount is trickier, as there's the light and heavy warhorses; we'll use the heavy. Its best attack is only a +6, which means it's looking for 20s on each of its attacks; that's a 5% chance of success for its two hoofs and bite. Hoof average damage is 7.5 and bite average is 4.5. Overall, we're looking at the horse's contribution being ~1.02375, which brings the total up to 65.24875. On average, it'd take the fighter + horse ... 3 rounds and one attack in the 4th to drop the dragon.

(And now I understand why we never used mounts in combat :P)

From this small sample, I will say this: these are under ideal conditions; they require the fighter to a) not move more than 5 feet a round, b) be in a position to take an Attack of Opportunity and c) have a Ride check of at least +4. (It seems like a no-brainer, but it's not always the case, what with the fighter's 2 base skill points. Even so, the mount against the black dragon doesn't look like it adds much damage, due to its abysmal BAB.)

(Unfortunately, I spent too much time on this, so I'll have to do the 17th- and 20th-level numbers later. I'm not sure when I'll get around to it, heh.)


Note that just as the caster's odds get better going up against bad saves, so too do the fighter's odds as he goes up against worse combatants than dragons.
Perhaps, perhaps not. We're talking about very ideal conditions for a fighter to dish out his damage, which isn't always the case (especially with movement penalties for heavy armor). If I was inclined, I'd run the numbers again for two-weapon fighting instead of a greatsword, but I'd imagine the average damage will go way, way down, due to the penalties (even with the feat tax to become *moderately* not-bad).

And it wholly depends on the types of critters the party's up against; raise AC and/or add a miss chance and the melee contribution tanks. Raise saving throws or add spell resistance and casters' abilities might not be hampered. (Casters aren't absolutely reliant on directly affecting the opponent to contribute; non-casters are far more reliant on direct action.)


Does Quicken Spell give a caster a leg-up? Well, it gives him the initiative. It also uses his spells twice as fast; fighters can swing their swords all day long without running out of sword.
In a sense, yes; casting two spells burns through your spell reserve twice as fast. However, with scrolls and wands, that second spell might not come from the spells-per-day reserve. Also, this is where we get the 15-minute work day; the casters hit hard, maybe even nova, then go and rest.

On the other hand, without the casters' backup, the fighter's not going to last long all by his lonesome. The flip side to our damage per round calculations is the monsters, and in my experience, their success rate in hitting players is way, way higher, and the PC's hit point total is much lower. So, no, a fighter won't be able to swing his sword all day; not because he ran out of sword, but because he ran out of HP.


I know what comes next - a 20th level fighter isn't assumed to have a 12-headed hydra mount. Well, fighters have to do -something- with their bonus fighter feats, and mounted feats are included in those. A CR 11 Large Dragon would be just as cool - but would start to blend the distinction between fighting and spellcasting.
I absolutely agree there, though I find it's an imbalance of the base system. Fighters' feats aren't worth nearly as much to them, as metamagic feats are to casters.


On action economy - yes, a wizard's major power is spell casting, and yes, it basically doubles with things like Quicken Spell. But let's refer back to my earlier point - this uses spells up twice as fast. Additionally, Quicken Spell eats up higher level (+4!) spell slots with lower level spells. It's like the fighter gets to make three additional attacks, but only with his bare fists, and only his off-hand fist.
Or with some ridiculously effective lower-level spells that don't actually lose their usefulness at higher levels. Or paired with scrolls and wands for greater impact.


You raise an interesting point with the experience tables. A fighter's power progression is relatively constant: gain a level, gain +1 to your attack skill. While a wizard's spells seem to get progressively better: gain a spell level, do twice as much as you could at the previous spell level. If this holds, then a wizard's level progression should be a bit more exponentially shaped than that of a fighter's. But that's if there's a distinct power difference in the end, of which I'm still not convinced.
I think it comes down to ideal conditions. The fighter's ideal conditions are based on non-mobile opponents doing things that provoke attacks of opportunity, and surviving incoming damage. The wizard's ideal conditions are any that he's not getting attacked in. I guess you could say it's all about encounter design, and to an extend, I agree. However, I think the fact that you have to take caster flexibility and power into account means you keep them in check far more than you keep the fighter in check, just 'cause they can *do* so much more stuff with their spells.

It's really all about play style. The more one engages with the mechanical aspect (fiddling with stats and finding spells/feats/abilities that synergize with each other), the more the aspects of caster imbalance come to the forefront. That the game was *designed* to be mastered (read: optimization) shows how the game puts the responsibility of evening out relative power more and more in the hands of the DM.

Anecdotal evidence, though, isn't going to convince you of my experiences, nor is it going to convince me of yours ;)


I'd talk magic gear, but since this stuff tends to increase the magical power of fighters and wizards, I guess it diverts away from the sheer combat power discussion. Although some magical items/features make the playing field very interesting: spell turning, spell resistance, and anti-magic - which start showing up as early as 9th level.
Indeed, spell resistance, antimagic and immunities start becoming more prominent, but so do things like DR, concealment, and other anti-melee effects.

DMMike
11-06-2010, 04:16 PM
Yeah, I spent too much time on it too, which is why some details are left out.

But as for weapon type: it shouldn't really matter in these sorts of calculations as long as you're going to exclude crit ranges and crit multipliers. A weapon can be chosen that'll do the same damage die as the opponent's hit die. But at higher levels, STR contributes much more to damage than the weapon's damage die does. (Making criticals much more important)

I call foul on looking at this from anything other than "ideal" conditions, since the wizard's power assessment also seems to come from ideal conditions.

Fighters' feats aren't worth as much as metamagic feats: I think fighters have some valuable feats, but they must work harder (i.e. through a feat tree) to get them. Whirlwind attack can be worth 8 attacks in a round (all at full base attack). Or using a spiked-chain, 24! (Broken, anyone?) Improved Precise Shot: Basically removes everything from the battlefield except the terrain and your opponent's armor. Deflect Arrows: "your perfectly good attack roll? Yeah...no."

I wish we could get our hands on the 3.0 and 3.5 play-testing results. ;)

Sascha
11-07-2010, 10:59 AM
That's sort of my initial point, though: the wizard's ideal conditions are broader than the fighter's; that is, they'll occur more often in-game. The cleric's and druid's are even more broad, as they have the tools to stand toe-to-toe with enemies and still be able to do their thing (and, in many cases, the fighter's thing, too*). And yeah, it takes the fighter more feats to access his bread and butter mechanics, but again, that's the point; his "effective" multiple attacks situation burns through feat chains, and - in the case of Whirlwind Attack - require him to be surrounded (which is a risky deal, in and of itself, due to the flanking mechanics and the lack of adjacent healer).

Really, it comes down to what I said in the beginning: the power imbalance between fighters and casters, baked into the system itself (in that casters can do things that make the fighter redundant or unnecessary), may or may not appear in any given campaign, and even if it does, it may or may not be regarded as a "problem." Pretty much every rule in the book, beyond the basic mechanical interactions, are situational.

*Ever seen the cleric or druid out-melee the melee characters? 'Cause I have. The Divine Power/Righteous Might combo, specifically, turns clerics into effective fighters who can also cast. Druids, ditto with Wild Shape and Natural Spell. Plus they get the regular party buffs and magical gear, and can, with small feat investments, create utility scrolls and wands (or just have the wizard do it) that reduce or eliminate the old preparation and anticipation "mini-game". The older-edition limitations to casters don't exist to the same degree in 3E, where they exist at all.

DMMike
11-07-2010, 12:23 PM
Yeah, I've seen druids get nasty. But I have to wonder - is that just a case of a tank player who doesn't know how to use a tank? Let's recall the Wizards event in which they deemed Cleric to be the best class in the game. Which is really a call to DMs to start using religion effectively in their games - since it's the counterbalance to cleric overpowering. But um...wrong thread.

I'll grant that worcerors could have more power than fighters (barbarians?), but it's not enough to warrant the complaints I've heard, involving the boycott of fighters. At least, nothing a DM can't solve:

"Congratulations on hitting level 15, Steve. Your character, Sir Strikesalot, feels a tingle when he picks up his trusty sword. After you swing it, the world about you seems to spin, and when it comes into focus, you can see everything. Which seems to include yourself, standing next to yourself. It makes your head spin a bit, but as you look at your blade-heirloom in wonder, the other you swings the sword again, to see if any other strange things might happen..."

Sascha
11-08-2010, 10:25 PM
Yeah, I've seen druids get nasty. But I have to wonder - is that just a case of a tank player who doesn't know how to use a tank? Let's recall the Wizards event in which they deemed Cleric to be the best class in the game. Which is really a call to DMs to start using religion effectively in their games - since it's the counterbalance to cleric overpowering. But um...wrong thread.
Which begs the question as to what constitutes "knowing how to use a tank." In my experience, though, no, it's not; polymorph effects, like Wild Shape, ignore the physical stats of the morphed in favor of the new form, giving druids access to ability scores they wouldn't normally reach, before buffs. Plus there are magic items that continue functioning even while using Wild Shape.

As to the use of roleplaying-related restrictions to individual character power, it's a style thing, much like everything else. There is no part of the cleric class writeup that requires a religion, only options; 3E clerics, as written in the PHB, can choose a deity to follow, or can simply select two domains and not worry about it. Requiring a religion is up to the individual campaign, but isn't part of the assumed rules (other than Rule 0).

(From my perspective, it's better to balance mechanics within the mechanics framework, than to rely on non-mechanical regulation. Putting the burden of class balance on DM oversight or world-building makes for a less-fun experience, on either side of the screen. Obviously, my style isn't universal :P)


I'll grant that worcerors could have more power than fighters (barbarians?), but it's not enough to warrant the complaints I've heard, involving the boycott of fighters. At least, nothing a DM can't solve:
Part of the problem is that fighters aren't mechanically good at anything *but* fighting (which is why you pick them :P), while casters contribute both in- and out-of-combat (and clerics and druids can also fight well). The bigger part is the DM can't solve a problem they don't see (this branch of the thread, really), and that has more to do with the rules being obtuse for system mastery, as well as play style giving power levels variable expression.

There is a player-made ranking of classes (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=5293.0), which can be used to gauge potential power mismatches, but it would have been nice if the developers had made it explicit.

tesral
11-09-2010, 01:34 AM
Part of the problem is that fighters aren't mechanically good at anything *but* fighting

That is why the mechanics are not the whole of he game. Fighters are allowed ot have brains as well, and to do things that are not mechanical. After all, which is better, winning a hard fight, or avoiding hard fight and still getting what you want?

One of the best fights that never happened in my game was the gang war that I was ramping up. The rival gang, Elven bigots waxed long on the joys of the Elven homeland (which is not where they where.) Johnny asked them "Why not go there?" Well it took money they didn't have.

Johnny pulled his wallet out. The Elves where on the train headed north before they had time to close their shocked pie holes. Caught me off guard as well. Beautiful move. side stepped the whole idea of a war.

A fighter is permitted to not fight if he can out brain the opposition.

DMMike
11-09-2010, 08:42 PM
I think Sacha's point about fighters not doing anything out of combat is that fighters don't have mechanics for anything other than combat - not that they can't roleplay their way into being useful outside of combat. (Hopefully, any PC can roleplay usefully (or amusingly) outside combat).

And wizards specifically have spells that can be used for purposes other than hurting creatures. Need a bridge built? Animate object!

Well to this I have a one-word reply: Craft. That's right, class skill for Fighters. And Intimidate (who needs Diplomacy or Charm Person anyway?)

Okay, odds are that the players of Fighters don't really mind that they have no (mechanics) relevance outside of combat. While the sorceror is using clairvoyance to scout a far-off battlefield, the Fighter's player is happy to send his character to the docks where he'll drink and gamble until he wakes up from his blackout the next morning. So...not really seeing that as a problem. The problem, if there is one, is when the Fighter's player takes a backseat to the Wizard PC's fun and importance.

Best way to avoid that (if you're playing the Fighter): run up to the bad guys before your Wizard buddy has a chance to use any area or line-of-effect spells. You might get killed, but at least the wizard will have to work harder to outshine you.

Malruhn
11-10-2010, 09:00 PM
I once DM'ed a very elaborate scenario where the entire bad-guy army KNEW they'd be scried upon - and they all set up wooden dragons and such to fool scrying...

It was all foiled when the fighter went down to the docks and got stupid drunk whilst looking for info.

The sorcerer was SO proud of the fact that he had numbers and weapons and tactics and such of the entire army - and he got SO upset when the fighter told him that his numbers were off by 300% and there were no dragons or other critters - that it was all smoke and mirrors to foil the scrying spells.

The fighter was right.

There were too many people in on the scam... and some were bound to talk. This was YEARS before we found out that oral sex in the Oval Office could be a headline even when there were only two people involved. 150 soldiers in on a "secret" mission to fool wizards? They were DYING to talk about it!!