5E GWM, SS, CEx: updated!
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  1. #1

    GWM, SS, CEx: updated!

    Okay, rewriting this to match improved estimates: most importantly including a caster. Best estimates* for a 30 round day (11th level chars) so far are -

    Wizard: 20 Int, Evocation, Fire Bolt, Levitate, Fireball, Wall of Force = ~1,700/d aka "the bar"

    Fighter: GWM, 20 Str, GWF, Precision, G.Sword = ~1,400/d Bless +200
    without GWM = ~1,000/d Bless +100

    Fighter: SS/CEx, 18 Dex, Archery, Precision, H.Xbox = ~1,200/d Bless +200
    without SS/CEx = ~800/d Bless +100

    Fighter/Rogue: Sentinel, Shield Master, 18 Dex, Dueling, Precision, Booming Blade, Rapier = 1,200/d Bless +100
    without Sentinel and Shield Master = ~800/d Bless +100

    Ranger: SS, 18 Dex, Archery, Beast Master, Longbow = ~1,000/d Bless +100
    without SS = ~800/d

    Fighter: SM, 20 Dex, Dueling, Precision, Longsword = ~1,100/d Bless +100
    without SM = ~900/d

    Fighter: Sentinel, 20 Dex, Dueling, Precision, Rapier = 1000/d
    without Sentinel = ~900/d

    Elsewhere I argue that range is worth about a +30% damage adjustment. So for me, these numbers justify the following feat tweaks...

    Crossbow Expert
    You ignore the loading quality of crossbows with which you are proficient. When you use the Attack action to attack with a one-handed weapon, you can use a bonus action to load and attack with a hand crossbow you are holding.
    When you make a melee attack against a creature, being within 5 feet of that creature doesnĺt impose disadvantage on your ranged attack rolls for the rest of the turn.
    No longer amplifies SS (see below). Retains penalty on ranged attacks in melee except where the ranged attacker makes a melee attack first. That meets the simple goal that "melee weapons are best in melee". The wording here specifically helps out a few fun archetypes.

    Duelist (Defensive Duelist merges with Savage Attacker)
    Prerequisite: Strength or Dexterity 13 or higher
    When you are wielding a one-handed melee weapon with which you are proficient and another creature hits you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction to add your proficiency bonus to your AC for that attack, potentially causing the attack to miss you.
    Once per turn, when you roll damage for a melee weapon attack, you can reroll the damage dice and use either total.
    I estimate** that Savage Attacker adds +100 damage to straight Fighter duelist. The Shield Master version is then on ~1,200/d. With the defensive benefit, that puts this feat much closer to the value of SS and GWM. It adds a bit more with Sneak Attack, helping out Rogues.

    Sharpshooter
    Attacking at long range doesn't impose disadvantage on your ranged weapon attack rolls. Your ranged weapon attacks ignore half and three-quarters cover.
    Once per turn, before you make an attack with a ranged weapon that you are proficient with, you can choose to take a −5 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack hits, you add +10 to the attackĺs damage.
    This change pushes the best ranged over to Longbow instead of Hand Crossbow. And I think Longbows should do more ranged damage than Hand Crossbows! With this change, Longbow does about 1100/d with SS, +100 with Bless. That puts them nearly exactly where I think they should be relative to GWM, with Dueling still needing a buff in the order of +20%. This tweak also helps out single/few-attack classes like Ranger and Rogue (because for them, SS is unchanged!)

    Why no nerf to GWM? I think the estimates speak for themselves: it looks about where it should be.




    *I round to nearest 100 to represent level of estimating accuracy.
    **Using Excel, to Monte Carlo it.
    Last edited by vonklaude; Wednesday, 11th October, 2017 at 12:39 PM. Reason: Improved estimates = better tuning
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  2. #2
    The simple "Once per turn" addition to both feats balances them a lot, and it certainly has simplicity going for it.

    To your, "What then, does too strong mean?", we shouldn't forget what the cost of a feat is: a +2 ASI. How much stronger is GWM than buffing your Strength modifier by 1? An increase from 1100 to 1300 is 18%. +1 Str mod is +5% accuracy, but how does that impact damage? +1 Str mod also helps athletics and encumbrance, et al, but for many builds these are near ribbon status.

    I still disagree with your choice for Crossbow Expert to connect the short-range benefit with a melee attack. I think it is important for non-melee characters, especially spellcasters, to have access to a feat that cancels out the close-range disadvantage. I think that such a benefit it much less powerful than a +18% damage, once-per-turn GWM.

  3. #3
    Don't forget in your calculations the Str fighter has access to Giant's belt. +4 damage potentially 4x a turn. Innumerable magic melee weapons.

    Let me know how many hand xbows are in the DMG or any published adventure.. I will wait..

    OK. I found 1, in the Yawning portal. As for others available, Apparently they can come in the form of +2 or +3...

    The fact everyone always ignores is that balance is very much predicated on the CAMPAIGN as well as the character. If the entire thing is set in open desert, that STR fighter will probably not get to wear his armor, and not appreciate engagements starting at 500 feet out. If you are in crowded dungeons or caves, the archer will not appreciate there not being more than 15 feet of visibility which effectively leaves him in melee range.

    I don't know if you are planning to also release a Belt of Cobra's Quickness, or ensure that there were crossbow variations of Vorpal, flaming and every other magic weapon. But if you aren't then you are omitting a big part of where damage can come from.
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by ro View Post
    we shouldn't forget what the cost of a feat is: a +2 ASI. How much stronger is GWM than buffing your Strength modifier by 1? An increase from 1100 to 1300 is 18%. +1 Str mod is +5% accuracy, but how does that impact damage? +1 Str mod also helps athletics and encumbrance, et al, but for many builds these are near ribbon status.
    Agreed. The with/without GWF cases both have 20 Strength. (Two ASIs on Strength, one on the feat.) The SS/CEx case has 18 Dexterity (One ASI on Dexterity, two on feats.) The Dueling case is the same.

    Your post brings up another good way to measure "how strong". Taking into consideration the extra point of damage and the extra 5% to hit, one ASI on the relevant ability is worth ~120 damage over an adventuring day. So we clearly want GWM to be worth more than 120 (because it lacks those other things that you point out the ability does.) How much more? How does "100% more!" grab you?

    Quote Originally Posted by ro View Post
    I still disagree with your choice for Crossbow Expert to connect the short-range benefit with a melee attack. I think it is important for non-melee characters, especially spellcasters, to have access to a feat that cancels out the close-range disadvantage. I think that such a benefit it much less powerful than a +18% damage, once-per-turn GWM.
    The problem that this tweak is designed to solve is to avoid ranged characters being as good in melee as melee characters. Each group might have different tastes. For me, I like to be able to say that "Melee weapons, are best in melee." Or I ask questions, like "How good are melee weapons at range?"

    I think of the overall design as forming around "pillars". One pillar is that melee weapons should be strongly differentiated from ranged weapons. That encourages different strategies and gives DMs the tools to mix up scenarios. It means that if a melee foe can reach a ranged character, they can discomfort them. All that ranged safety, up-time and focus fire comes at a cost. Of course, pillars are protected, but they can be (judiciously) sold out. One ASI is just too low a price.

    In conjunction with Sharpshooter, the Crossbow Expert bonus attack adds ~300 damage/day (10/turn!) With "Once per turn" it adds ~200. And it does other stuff. What's not to like Balancing is multidimensional. Stronger Crossbow Expert means disfavoured Bow use. Weaker Crossbow Expert makes Bow viable. Overall the game is more interesting if more weapons are relevant.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by thethain View Post
    Don't forget in your calculations the Str fighter has access to Giant's belt. +4 damage potentially 4x a turn. Innumerable magic melee weapons.

    Let me know how many hand xbows are in the DMG or any published adventure.. I will wait..

    OK. I found 1, in the Yawning portal. As for others available, Apparently they can come in the form of +2 or +3...

    The fact everyone always ignores is that balance is very much predicated on the CAMPAIGN as well as the character. If the entire thing is set in open desert, that STR fighter will probably not get to wear his armor, and not appreciate engagements starting at 500 feet out. If you are in crowded dungeons or caves, the archer will not appreciate there not being more than 15 feet of visibility which effectively leaves him in melee range.

    I don't know if you are planning to also release a Belt of Cobra's Quickness, or ensure that there were crossbow variations of Vorpal, flaming and every other magic weapon. But if you aren't then you are omitting a big part of where damage can come from.
    That's true. The thing to look for is how different assumptions force different dynamics. So if Storm Giant's Belt (Legendary) forces GWM or SS/CEx more than it does other strategies, that's a problem.

    First off, it adds +4 damage per hit, which could sum to ~400 damage. This forces most with Extra Attacks and Action Surges, or a weapon like Hand Crossbow (with CEx), because they produce a lot of hits.
    It will also increase the number of hits, which could sum to ~300 damage. This forces most for Extra Attacks and Action Surges, or a weapon like Greatsword, because each hit that lands is worth a lot of damage.

    What should be obvious here is that any class based around a single-hit - like Rogues - can't get as much value from such items. So it makes such items fundamentally distorting. It would be better to recast the item e.g. have it provide a Strength Surge that lasts for one round, or something like that.

  6. #6
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    I've done some simulations on this (I'll probably post results at some point), and I think the concerns about GWF is a little overblown. Yes, they have good DPR, but they also have to sacrifice AC and a bonus attack. In my simulation, two weapon and dualist/shield master both seem more effective at their role.

    I understand your concern - it seemed like overkill to me as well - but at least for fighters it seems like the weakest option overall.

    In other words I do think the developers crunched numbers and some things are more balanced than they may seem at first glance.

  7. #7
    The power of Crossbow Expert is that it enables a party of minmaxers to completely ditch melee, and breaking the game (as its intended, individual DMs can obviously still salvage their campaigns).

    The need to preserve melee (whether by steel or spell) as the clear damage champion clearly trumps the need for specific spellcaster archetypes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CapnZapp View Post
    The power of Crossbow Expert is that it enables a party of minmaxers to completely ditch melee, and breaking the game (as its intended, individual DMs can obviously still salvage their campaigns).

    The need to preserve melee (whether by steel or spell) as the clear damage champion clearly trumps the need for specific spellcaster archetypes.

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    Agree with this. Crossbow > Bow > Melee is a problem in 5e. Archery needs more downsides.

    I would have liked to have seen:
    - Disadvantage on ranged attacks if a conscious enemy is within 5' of you.
    - Disadvantage on ranged attacks if an ally is within 5' of your target. You may avoid the Disadvantage if you declare that you are shooting "recklessly", which means that any miss must be re-rolled against the ally (randomly chosen if multiple allies).

    Then archery feats could have cancelled those penalties, instead of making archery better than melee. Personally I think there should be no such thing as a "pure archery" build; sometimes...not just when you run out of ammo...you should be better off pulling out the short swords (because rapiers are also completely lame). Melee builds occasionally/often have to resort to ranged weapons; ranged builds should have the inverse.

  9. #9
    What is the cost? How about a negative to all attack rolls, all associated ability checks, all associated saving throws, and all associated opposed rolls.



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    Quote Originally Posted by DocMoriartty View Post
    What is the cost? How about a negative to all attack rolls, all associated ability checks, all associated saving throws, and all associated opposed rolls.
    How about "No magic crossbows anywhere in this campaign. Ever."
    Laugh CapnZapp laughed with this post

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