Iterative Attacks

# Thread: Iterative Attacks

1. ## Iterative Attacks

I've been doing some heavy permutations/probability number crunching over the break, and I wanted to run something past the folks here.

Playing around with possible speed fixes for iterative attacks, I've found something that works pretty good for me personally:

• At 6th level, you get a 2nd attack, but both attacks suffer a -2 penalty (-2/-2 instead of 0/-5).
• At 11th level, the penalty drops to -1/-1 (instead of 0/-5/-10).
• At 16th level, the penalty drops to -0/-0 (instead of 0/-5/-10/-20).

But there is just no way around one peculiarity of the 3rd and 4th iterative attacks, to wit:

Against creatures that you have almost no hope of hitting (natural 18 or better on your first attack, and natural 20's thereafter); and against creatures that you almost can't miss (needing "less than a natural 2" on your first attack, with a great chance of success on even your 3rd and 4th attacks), your expected damage will drop off.

So the core poll question is this:

If your expected damage over the range of 80-90% of all creatures you will encounter will INCREASE by 5 to 20%, would you be willing to lose your 3rd and 4th attack, and accept a DECREASE against the "edge case" creatures (very high AC or very low AC)?

EDIT: I want to clarify that. At -1/-1, your expected damage against most creatures you will encounter is BETTER than three attacks at 0/-5/-10; and at -0/-0, your expected damage against most creatures you will encounter is BETTER than four attacks at 0/-5/-10/-15.

There are other emergent benefits to this proposal (levelling the expected damage output non-fighter classes, reducing the necessity of AC-pumping for PCs, etc.) but I am primarily concerned with how this fix strikes the primary fighting classes.

2. So why wouldn't just continuing this -2 on to the third and 4th iterative attacks not work? The biggest power of the fighter types over spellcasters is how many damaging attacks they can do per round.

Or why wouldn't doing -4 for the third, and -6 for the 4th, and have them then offset by further level gain also work?

3. Possibly yes. This is the main reason why I like the strike maneuvers from tome of battle. As a standard action to initiate, they allow me to move and still retain a reasonable damage out. While the damage I deal is typically inferior to a fighter utilizing the full attack action, it is more consistent, in that I am not reliant on full attacks. And of course, dr applies only once (or not at all, for certain maneuvers), so against foes with fairly high dr, I might actually come out ahead.

This is based on the monk's decisive strike variant from the PHB2, no?

I think your proposed change might benefit the fighter very minimally, because he already has a similar option in the PHB2.

This does however, appear to make power attack a must-have feat.

4. Originally Posted by Treebore
So why wouldn't just continuing this -2 on to the third and 4th iterative attacks not work?
Damage goes WAY up.

Or why wouldn't doing -4 for the third, and -6 for the 4th, and have them then offset by further level gain also work?
My goal is to eliminate different bonuses/penalties for iterative attacks, so that you can do the math once and roll in a batch.

Dropping down to just 2 attacks (period) is another marginal increase in speed at the table, but it's not the same imperative as normalizing the penalty.

5. Looks good to me. My DM allowed me to basically double my damage but only do one attack per round - my experience in that campaign was that I was hitting about 1-2 out of every 4 attacks. He also let me develop some special maneuvers I could do in lieu of more damage (including knocking my opponent back, damaging armor [AC permanently drops by 1 to 3 points depending on how much Power Attack I put into it - helps me help the rest of the party finally land a blow], and even shattering magical effects [expend a prepared dispel magic on a successful hit]).

6. OK, so you don't see the extra fighter attacks as balancing their power against what spellcasters can do?

I mean 30 HP fireballs don't seem like much, but if they do 30 HP to 20 different targets mages can do 600 HP of damage per round. Granted, thats likely an unusually high example, but its meant more as an illustration of what I am asking about.

7. Originally Posted by Treebore
OK, so you don't see the extra fighter attacks as balancing their power against what spellcasters can do?
Treebore, of course.

This is not the place to run through the probabilities-- they are long, they are complex, they are not message-board friendly. For some attack permutations, we are talking about 1 chance in 160,000.

Everything you need to know is in the first post. I will repeat it, not to hammer on you, but because I want everyone to be clear.

The fighter does not LOSE damage against 80-90% of all creatures. He GAINS damage. He GAINS damage even without his 3rd and 4th attack.

This change IMPROVES the fighter by increasing his damage against the bulk of foes he will ever face.

Let me repeat that:

A two-attack sequence of 0/0 has a greater expected damage output than a four-attack sequence of 0/-5/-10/-15 against most creatures you will ever encounter.

He will lose damage against the edge cases-- creatures with an AC so high you basically need a natural 20 to hit, and creatures with an AC so low you basically need a 1 to miss.

Most creatures in the SRD-- that is, 80%-90% of all creatures-- fall inside an expected AC range that does not include these edge cases.

But I am not willing to necessarily throw those edge cases away without sounding it out with other folks.

Is the trade-off worth it if there is a perceptible increase in combat resolution at your table? Even if occasionally you will come up against a creature that you would have done better against using the old method (3rd and 4th attack)?

8. ## Iterative Attacks. - Is the proposed trade-off acceptable?

Other: Let's hear it!

Just eliminate Iterative Attacks.

Then...

Limit multiple attacks by monsters (only give them a second attack if they're originally listed as having multiple attacks, and then only if their first attack is successful).

and...

Decrease HP of monsters (whatever "feels" right, somewhere like 10% to 25%, depending on how dificult or "balanced" you want it).

This will also have the added benefit of making combat move faster, and make Feats like Cleave really mean something.

9. So to sum up, your saying your analysis shows by hitting more often with that second attack they actually do more damage close to 90% of the time? I can believe that, because I felt my third and 4th attacks were all but useless to roll for. Like you said, you hardly ever hit with them, especially against encounters "of your level".

Sounds to me like the way to go.

10. Originally Posted by Treebore
So to sum up, your saying your analysis shows by hitting more often with that second attack they actually do more damage close to 90% of the time? I can believe that, because I felt my third and 4th attacks were all but useless to roll for. Like you said, you hardly ever hit with them, especially against encounters "of your level".

Sounds to me like the way to go.
Extremely well put! That's it exactly.