Some thoughts on the combat balance

So, i have now finished act 2 and i can’t say it has run smoothly. Mild spoilers ahead. I am playing on Core difficulty because i started on the hardest and quickly realized that even second hardest was too time and reload consuming. So Core it was, and Core has already proven super annoying. Now, i will directly say here, that i am not playing optimal, i am not a pathfinder veteran, but a roleplaying veteran and i was never extremely minmaxy, so the game should be hard at this stage. But. But. I think there is a big conceptual problem with the game, and that is magic. Please correct me on all my theories when they are ignorant, i would love to be shown a better way. Despite the mythic path that buffs casters quite hard (abundant casting and overcome spell resistance/immunities for damage types for example) the role that every caster in the game receives is buffbot. Direct damage as a caster? Why would you do that? In my opinion, the damage your casters can do not balanced at all with the enemies and your brawlers. Or Lann. Lann will reliably put out ~50 damage/round against most non boss enemies at level 8 unbuffed. To compete with that, a caster would have to cast what spell exactly? So maybe Fireballs would do more damage overall, but, why would i even waste that spell slot? Which targets am i fighting with this fireball? Ghouls? Oh great. Now i can save a few turns of combat by killing ghouls. Take the fight in the citadel right before Lariel shows you the secret passage. The pit of undead. So, i could fire AoE spells in there, or i could wait in the door until Lann has finished those ghouls off while they are hitting Seelah only on a nat 20. I have spent hours to get Seelah to not be hit by this riffraff, why would i even use spells on it. Next, 2 Nabasu hit the stage and now i would like to burn them down as fast as i can, but, of course they both have > 20 spell resistance, they have damage resistance to all elements, are immune to lightning and when all of this isn’t enough to keep you from casting on them, they have ridiculous amounts of hp. Stauton Vhane, obviously a boss, has 28 spell resistance, casting anything on him without Ascendant Element is completly insane, then he has a casual 30 acid/fire/cold energy resistance and has of course freedom of movement. He is not immune to evil eye into slumber though and if you just reload often enough, your 25% chance on a coup de grace kill will come through eventually. Fun gameplay.

So, basically, there are encounters where you could use magic damage for convenience, but won’t because you never know what you will need those spellslots for and then there are encounters where you would like to throw everything at the enemy and realize that your casters have a 20% chance to overcome spell resistance and then a 40% chance to overcome a saving throw and then they will do 34 damage to one enemy with a pool of 200 health.

I simply haven’t come to any fight yet where i though to myself, if only i had a fireball at my disposal now. And most of the time, haste is just better then fireball.

Now, why is that and how could it be solved? Simply putting in monsters that are insanely hard to hit with weapons is no solution, then you have to have a spellcaster in, that spellcaster has to have spells available. There are simply too many encounters for this to work. Having a band of ac 29 monsters with 20 hp each and insane damage potential with a high enough chance to hit so that the tank can’t take them, would mean party death if there are no spells left. Or, savescumming until Lann has landed enough shots. I think the main problem is, that there are too little encounters where you can’t hide behind the neverchanging focus of the mobs and the highest possible armor rating in the front. If the game is only winnable by hiding behind a door in which your tank is standing while you are methodically mowing down the enemies, you don’t need extra layers. Your game will simply work or not work based on how much damage the enemies are doing to your tank and how fast you take them down. To me, the hardest fights were always those, were suddenly new mobs spawn in that attack random party members, and this could be used to make the game more caster friendly. Just have a bit of fodder that will reliably target the back rows and ignore Seelah, but is also much more easy to kill by magic.
Right now, my magic users are Camilla and Ember, both just for the healing and slumber, which is the most overpowered ability in the game. I hate every thing else about Camilla, her spirit magic slots fill only with crap, she can’t convert spells into healing. But slumber is op enough to accept her still. And my main char magus cries herself into sleep at camp, because wasting a spell slot on a touch attack seems not warranted in most cases, and when it would be warranted, the enemy is immune or resistant…

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Yes! I mean in every cRPG game we play we can fireball everything down! If that does not work, it is the game’s fault. Are there players out there who approach this with adapted tactics and builds? Did they explain all of this on this very forum already many times? Do they have a good time and success with that? We don’t care! We want our fireball wizard!

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Cool, the time you put into that post, you could have put into literally anything else. I don’t care what you have a good time with. Troll someone else.

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Nah, I’ fine :slight_smile:
Gold price of the day for missing the point, which was: Don’t blame others, first look if you can do better. You are in the right place to start your search. To answer this by blaming me to be trolling wins gold.

The enemies are tough on core but if this:

is how you are playing, then things are not going to get any easier for you without changing your play-style and understanding the game better.

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No. I am not complaining that the game is too hard, or that i want my fireballs. I am complaining that the game does a bad job of allowing certain characters. You seem to take this as a personal affront to you and your fun for some reason. Play the way you want, i don’t care. If you have fun with your strategies, more power to you. This does not mean my point is not valid. A valid point would be disproving my claim that magical damage dealing is valuable in the game at the difficulty i chose to play. Play differently is not. And being a jerk about it is neither. Stop wasting my time and contribute. Or don’t but stop wasting my time.

Dude, I am looking at stats in original adventure path…

The final boss of this entire P&P version of adventure path has AC 47, SR 40. In video game version you will fight such opponents by the end of chapter 3. Later you will get to AC 84 and more.

The problem is, that people have expectations when it comes to what is feasible in Pathfinder and they manage their builds accordingly. This game at certain point just tells you “Screw you!” and fires into stratosphere. I mean, they give SR to demons - that I can understand. But they also give HUGE SR to their mortal lackeys which ain’t so fun.

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He’s not trolling. Your approach is a strangely (well not so strangely given the other games out there) one. The point of the game is starting out bad and improving. The improving is the fun. The tools are there to do anything you want to do. You just need to find them.

This isn’t PnP. The Mythics work differently for one thing. The resources are in game to do (more than) anything you want to do. You can spend enjoyable time in-game finding them or miserable time here complaining.

This is your choice.

They’re allowed for me. If they’re not for you that’s because you’re expecting to start out beating the world while I expected to need to figure that part out. I have and am having a great time (and had a great time getting there).

Your premature assumptions are precluding you from doing the same thing.

Here we go again. Cool. But you could kinda expect it to be modeled after original P&P. Of course there should be some changes, but maybe not effective substitution with another system, altogether.

@Desiderius I kinda respect your knowledge and dedication, but also have had enough of your constant elitism and outright refusal to acknowledge at least some of the points of the detractors. You are right, everyone and their dog is wrong.

This game requires from you, very, very specific builds. Also I am at a point when there is not real “learning” going with successive battles - there is only trial and error, until success is achieved. Repeating boss battles until you succeed is not “insightful” if the knowledge you get from them applies only to that one single battle. You need to figure out the sequence of enemy actions and then counter each and every one of them. Frankly, this is obsessives-compulsive gameplay, more than intelligent gameplay based on interplay with enemy as featured in the competition. But the AI is too dumb for that - so we have to compansate with ever-increasing stats.

Having said all that, you are right in your claim that there are a bunch of non-obvious ways fights can be addressed - and indeed this the strength of the system implemented here. It is awesome that analysing the weaknesses of the enemy is rewarded. It is less awesome that it comes down to - fight, lose fight, reload, change spell composition, change buffs, replay.

My point is, there * should * be a way to marry actual P&P stats with more intelligent encounter design and current great “weakness detection system”.

To be honest at this point I am fighting more against UI, which does not allow for sufficient precision for executing certain maneuvres when legions of enemies and spell effects are in play.

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Uhm, first, you are using a screenshot casting a spell that deals no damage to illustrate that i am wrong that damage spells are inefficient in the game. Second, i could argue with you how much minmaxing should be needed for me to beat a specific difficulty of the game and there would be different valid answers to that, but i am not doing that. I gladly accept that i would have a better time if i reduced the difficulty or minmaxed my characters more. That isn’t the point though. The point is that the damage casters can put out does not scale with the difficulty to be useful, and therefore casters are defuff/buff dispensaries. And i proposed how to change that a little. But i guess all you have to say is learn to properly stack ac and ab and git good, because people that do not use the full potential of every class don’t deserve an opinion.

As with casters in general in RPGs, they grow in power the higher their level gets. Take Nenio, can you imagine clearing out entire rooms of demons with one out of combat cast (weird)? Can you imagine, at lower levels, starting off a fight with evil eye - reduce saving throws immediately followed by a phantasmal killer? Well, illusion specialist, baby. And through the mythic feats and skills you can even extend that +6 to DC to other schools of magic, like evocation, and cast Sirocco with insane DCs, basically shutting down an entire back line of enemies, including the entire front line, if you’re in a door way. At later levels Seelah gets the party wide smite ability which for some odd reason adds about 20dmg to every projectile of your magic missile. GOD I wish they allow those to be cast at cantrip level if you take the -1 spell level feat from the Trickster tree. I’ve done it, it’s right there in the cantrip part of the spell book, but it can’t be selected from the UI and I hope they fix that :smiley:
As for SR, you kind of have to start focusing heavily into increased DCs, allied caster, spell penetration and all those glass cannon feats on your casters.
But now that I think about it, Core gives an outright +4 to all stats in comparison to Normal, so yes, that’s a 20% increased chance of enemies making a save and it kinda sux the power fantasy right out of the game :stuck_out_tongue:
As for Camilla and Ember… You know you can exploit the cackle/chant with fortune/luck out of combat for a couple of minutes worth of those OP buffs?

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I would actually be inclined to disagree with this. Damage casters, much like tabletop, start weak and scale later. But a Blue Dragon Sorcerer with Second Bloodline (Air) for total electric conversion, and Ascendent Element (Lightning), with both Greater and Mythic spell penetration, has been my backup solution to any number of things I’ve struggled to kill with the ‘hit with sharp sticks until dead’ approach, including Playful Darkness.

The problem, I think, is that damage casters NEED to be minmaxed to be valuable later, but it is definitely possible. It is worth noting that while basically every enemy in the game has SR, and elemental resistance or immunities, comparatively few have evasion. So when in doubt, stack damage and accept that you’ll have most enemies always taking half due to insane reflex saves. Empowered maximized blue dragon chain lightnings are still an effective answer to, err… Anything that isn’t a rogue, really.

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Maybe i am just biased because i don’t actually have a full damage mage in the group right now, because …well… i don’t like Nenio that much. But, i just believe, all characters played somewhat true to their background should be valuable. And Ember, as much as i love her, failing every spell on enemies because she is not a pure damage caster suuuuuuuuucks. A magus having to put all their feats into overcoming spell resistances and saving throws suuuuuuxx. Fighters already scale their damage output with equipment and feats and buffs, mages do so very little, at least give them some use in dealing damage. And i am not saying that casters are weak, becuase there are a lot of spells that are extremely strong. I am saying there is little use to damage spells.

It’s the opposite of elitism. How do people get this so wrong. If you lose the OMG not PnP mental block you can find the things you’re asking for in game! Many PnPers found this out for themsleves and love the game. That’s what I’m saying. I’m not a powergamer at all.

I don’t dump stats. I don’t splash. Every time I level I think about what’s been killing me and look for solutions. That’s it. I explore. I read. I value skills. It works.

They are all very valuable. You’re new, you haven’t figured anything out yet. You’re jumping to way too many conclusions.

Try this. Figure out what you’re having trouble with. Look for solutions in game. If you’re still having trouble ask for help. That’s what I did and all kinds of other people. This works better than judging the game on literally no experience whatsoever.

Most of what passes for minmaxxing, as your example here, is just creating problems for yourself that you end up having to solve.

This Daeran straight Oracle no minmaxxing:

Using two commonly available items.

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And if I post a screenshot of my fighter doing more damage than that in one hit… three times in one round? What if I link a reddit post about how a guy got regill to do over 500 damage in one round?

Are you are even reading the guys post? His entire complaint is that damage spellcasters are more useful as buff bots than as actual damage dealers. That melee and ranged physical damage get better damage, and scale better, faster, and more consistently. All the while doing it with less effort and selecting fairly obvious feats and gear choices that don’t need tons of study and thinking to pick.

And you know what? He’s right. Melee is better damage in this game, there are many multi hundred hp bosses I killed with one full attack action by my MC, Arueshalae, Lan, Greybor, and Regill.

I use Nenio almost exclusively as a buffer and a debuffer, with things like phantasmal putrefaction from your Screenshot, Ki Shout, Etc. Even Sirocco is more useful as a debuff than it is as actual damage. The various pit spells are awesome at taking enemies out of the fight temporarily, but they aren’t great damage.

I also love all the posters telling the guy how he just needs to study more and min max lol. He also mentions he does not want to have to min max to be effective, god forbid anyone ever want that.

Ok, your point is - enjoy the game in front of you, and not some alternative world game in your head. Correct?