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5E Assuming no GWM/SS, are different fighting styles roughly balanced?

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
Specifically, looking for any outliers in the level 1-4 range, 5-10 range, and 11-14 range.

The only one that jumps out at me is EB + AB at level 11+. 3d10+15 with no bonus action. Seems a little too strong for a caster.
 

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CapnZapp

Legend
Just to clarify, your last example means you're including casters in your comparison.

(It's not immediately clear you do since you ask about weapon styles, which are exclusive to martials, and specifically to fighters, paladins and rangers - barbarians and rogues don't get them, for instance)

Cheers

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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Specifically, looking for any outliers in the level 1-4 range, 5-10 range, and 11-14 range.

The only one that jumps out at me is EB + AB at level 11+. 3d10+15 with no bonus action. Seems a little too strong for a caster.
Including all special abilities and their use rates the daily damage output of non-full caster characters and warlocks is pretty similar. Rogues that either don't get advantage often or 2 attacks (two weapon fighting) will likely fall off at each tier in terms damage per day.

Even monks keep up pretty well with flurry of blows.
 

Just to clarify, your last example means you're including casters in your comparison.

(It's not immediately clear you do since you ask about weapon styles, which are exclusive to martials, and specifically to fighters, paladins and rangers -
Who can all cast spells.

The actual non-casting 'Martials,' are the Champ, BM, Thief, Assassin, and Barbarian. Two out of 5 of em get styles. :shrug: Only one gets maneuvers.
 


TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
Just to clarify, your last example means you're including casters in your comparison.

(It's not immediately clear you do since you ask about weapon styles, which are exclusive to martials, and specifically to fighters, paladins and rangers - barbarians and rogues don't get them, for instance)
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Yea. more specifically, I'm looking at-will attack patterns driven by build choice. Like:

1) Archery
2) Two-handed fighting
3) Sword-and board
4) Two-weapon fighting and derivatives
4a) Polearm Master
4b) Crossbow Expert hand xbow
4c) Monk Martial Arts
5) Cantrips
5a) Eldritch Blast + Agonizing Blast
5b) Greenflame Blade/Booming Blade
5c) War Magic
5d) Shillelagh
6) Sneak Attack

There's probably a few other niche ones I'm leaving out (grapple builds, wild shape, Polearm Master Quarterstaff+Shield). Just wondering if any of them are obviously cream of the crop or undertuned over a range of levels, and if there are any styles missing or that could use greater support. (Top of my head, thrown weapon builds and versatile weapons could use some love.)
 

Krachek

Adventurer
Specifically, looking for any outliers in the level 1-4 range, 5-10 range, and 11-14 range.

The only one that jumps out at me is EB + AB at level 11+. 3d10+15 with no bonus action. Seems a little too strong for a caster.
They are roughly balanced, as the rest of the game!
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Yea. more specifically, I'm looking at-will attack patterns driven by build choice. Like:

1) Archery
2) Two-handed fighting
3) Sword-and board
4) Two-weapon fighting and derivatives
4a) Polearm Master
4b) Crossbow Expert hand xbow
4c) Monk Martial Arts
5) Cantrips
5a) Eldritch Blast + Agonizing Blast
5b) Greenflame Blade/Booming Blade
5c) War Magic
5d) Shillelagh
6) Sneak Attack

There's probably a few other niche ones I'm leaving out (grapple builds, wild shape, Polearm Master Quarterstaff+Shield). Just wondering if any of them are obviously cream of the crop or undertuned over a range of levels, and if there are any styles missing or that could use greater support. (Top of my head, thrown weapon builds and versatile weapons could use some love.)
At will damage in 1-4 bracket can be dominated by 2 things.
1. Anything with a bonus action attack that gets mod damage.
2. A dual-wield rouge using sneak attack or a ranged rouge that gets advantage every turn.

Rangers are especially damaging when it comes to at will damage as they can get a bonus action attack with mod damage and they get a very good damage buff at level 3 (colossus slayer).


Levels 5-10
1. GreatSword Barbarian (reckless attack)
2. Hand xbow rogue
3. Dual Wield or GreatSword Ranger with colossus slayer

After level 11 it gets a lot more complicated as there's a lot more to compare.

Of course looking solely for at-will damage is a little short sighted. It's much better to look at total damage output over a day IMO.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Yea. more specifically, I'm looking at-will attack patterns driven by build choice. Like:

1) Archery
2) Two-handed fighting
3) Sword-and board
4) Two-weapon fighting and derivatives
4a) Polearm Master
4b) Crossbow Expert hand xbow
4c) Monk Martial Arts
5) Cantrips
5a) Eldritch Blast + Agonizing Blast
5b) Greenflame Blade/Booming Blade
5c) War Magic
5d) Shillelagh
6) Sneak Attack

There's probably a few other niche ones I'm leaving out (grapple builds, wild shape, Polearm Master Quarterstaff+Shield). Just wondering if any of them are obviously cream of the crop or undertuned over a range of levels, and if there are any styles missing or that could use greater support. (Top of my head, thrown weapon builds and versatile weapons could use some love.)
Okay, the full package then. (I was asking because there's a significant portion of the forumists that refuse to consider multiclassing and feats as part of the game and its balance)

Fundamentally, this edition place a very low cost on range. That is, you lose very little by choosing to be a ranged combatant. At range, there are two builds that stand out: your 4b and 5a. Either go Sorlock (Sorcerer with two Warlock levels, and Eldritch/Agonizing Blast) or go martial (probably a multiclassed fighter) with Crossbow Expert and Sharpshooter - your single hand crossbow then practically becomes twin shortswords with 120 feet reach: yes, you gain the better part of two-weapon fighting AND you're not inconvenienced by melee.

Either of these two stand heads and shoulders above a "regular" build.

It is notable that the Eldritch Blaster is not dependant on feats, so in games without feats, this character must be considered broken. Being able to project 4d10+20 force(!) damage at long range, when corresponding featless melee characters do 4d12+20 slashing damage at 5 ft range, what were they thinking?

Which brings us to the greatweapon wielder. You actually gain very little for staying a melee character in this edition. A d12 weapon instead of a d10 (in the case of EB) or a d6 (for the X-bow), and your opportunity attack. Sure with good Strength you can use heavy armor, but Dexterity is probably still superior - light armor isn't sufficiently worse than heavy armor, and Dexterity saves and Initiative trump Athletics. You can improve upon this by choosing a weapon that qualifies both for GWM and Polearm Mastery at the same time for more reliable bonus attacks. Still, you will lose attacks simply because you can't reach your opponent in melee, and if you do this even once, you have lost the DPR race. Being able to project force at over 100 ft - if everyone in the party does this - fundamentally breaks the game, since if you have no incentive to enter melee, monsters cannot deal with your group (monsters are decidedely melee heavy, but lacks the tools and tricks of previous editions).

All of this is because WotC removed or lessened not fewer than eleven (11) restrictions on ranged fire compared to 3.x. Yes, I complained about this in a old thread, and we ended up with 11 distinct parameters that 3.x used to keep ranged fire in check that is no longer present in 5th edition, or can be mitigated/circumvented.

---

At the bottom, you have several builds that look reasonable but on further analysis must be considered trap choices, since we're talking as little as half damage or a third of the damage (or even less in extreme cases).

The war cleric is a perfect example. It practically invites you to spend your rounds swinging a mace or whatever.

But it is part of the bottom feeder tier where you have no more than two attacks, doing no more than weapon die plus ability modifier. That's roughly 10 damage per attack and with two attacks per round, that is very low compared to the power builds.

This is the source of my "triple damage" claim. At level 11, a fighter with SS/CE can dish out four attacks of d6+15, which even if we account for the -3 penalty, easily is triple that of two attacks at d8+5 for a "regular" sword'n'boarder.

---

In between you have things like Rogue. I am personally convinced the Rogue doesn't get enough sneak damage to justify being such a squishy combatant.

By that I mean that if I am to forego all the robustness of a fighter or paladin or barbarian I would have wanted to easily be the king of DPR. But that simply isn't the case in games with feats.

The paladin and barbarian also get 2 attacks only, but in contrast to valor bards or war clerics etc they gain robust combat abilities that well compensates. The paladin probably has the biggest nova of all through smites, so no complaints there. And the barbarian comes with built in damage reduction and an intrinsic way to gain advantages, so it too competes well.

Of course any Cleric is a (very) strong spellcaster, so I'm not saying clerics are bad (far from it). I am, however, saying that the extra weapon proficiences of a war cleric is a direct trap option. They invite you to swing a weapon, which is always a bad choice.

Bards have it worse. The valor bard remains a squishie and doesn't really gain anything comparable to a rogue to justify entering combat. Bards should definitely drop anything they're holding, unless they're holding a music instrument!

---

There are a few speciality builds I don't feel I have enough experience commenting on. So just a few closing remarks on the ones I do:

The Monk can't compete on damage except for the lowest levels, but at levels 5-12ish Stunning Strike is an excellent and most powerful addition to any group, since to so beautifully sets up -5/+10 strikes from the fighters. At high levels monsters start to save against it, and I worry Monks lose out there.

The Eldritch Knight can easily be played just like a regular fighter, only he spends all his spell slots on Shields to become nigh-invincible in combat. Not convinced it's worth mucking about with cantrips and war magic. Just gain +5 AC and you have probably optimized your magic...

5e The druid's martial capabilities are weak, unless it wild shapes, and as overpowered that is at level 2, it probably loses out in the end. (Of course, by then the Druid is a full caster, so I'm not worried for the class. Just saying that I would drop any ideas of actually wielding a weapon in humanoid form)
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
Without feats they are mostly balanced. Without SS/GWM PAM and Shield Master are your new OP ones.

Sentinel and the dual wielder are roughly where you want the power levels IMHO.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Okay, the full package then. (I was asking because there's a significant portion of the forumists that refuse to consider multiclassing and feats as part of the game and its balance)

Fundamentally, this edition place a very low cost on range. That is, you lose very little by choosing to be a ranged combatant. At range, there are two builds that stand out: your 4b and 5a. Either go Sorlock (Sorcerer with two Warlock levels, and Eldritch/Agonizing Blast) or go martial (probably a multiclassed fighter) with Crossbow Expert and Sharpshooter - your single hand crossbow then practically becomes twin shortswords with 120 feet reach: yes, you gain the better part of two-weapon fighting AND you're not inconvenienced by melee.

Either of these two stand heads and shoulders above a "regular" build.

It is notable that the Eldritch Blaster is not dependant on feats, so in games without feats, this character must be considered broken. Being able to project 4d10+20 force(!) damage at long range, when corresponding featless melee characters do 4d12+20 slashing damage at 5 ft range, what were they thinking?

Which brings us to the greatweapon wielder. You actually gain very little for staying a melee character in this edition. A d12 weapon instead of a d10 (in the case of EB) or a d6 (for the X-bow), and your opportunity attack. Sure with good Strength you can use heavy armor, but Dexterity is probably still superior - light armor isn't sufficiently worse than heavy armor, and Dexterity saves and Initiative trump Athletics. You can improve upon this by choosing a weapon that qualifies both for GWM and Polearm Mastery at the same time for more reliable bonus attacks. Still, you will lose attacks simply because you can't reach your opponent in melee, and if you do this even once, you have lost the DPR race. Being able to project force at over 100 ft - if everyone in the party does this - fundamentally breaks the game, since if you have no incentive to enter melee, monsters cannot deal with your group (monsters are decidedely melee heavy, but lacks the tools and tricks of previous editions).

All of this is because WotC removed or lessened not fewer than eleven (11) restrictions on ranged fire compared to 3.x. Yes, I complained about this in a old thread, and we ended up with 11 distinct parameters that 3.x used to keep ranged fire in check that is no longer present in 5th edition, or can be mitigated/circumvented.

---

At the bottom, you have several builds that look reasonable but on further analysis must be considered trap choices, since we're talking as little as half damage or a third of the damage (or even less in extreme cases).

The war cleric is a perfect example. It practically invites you to spend your rounds swinging a mace or whatever.

But it is part of the bottom feeder tier where you have no more than two attacks, doing no more than weapon die plus ability modifier. That's roughly 10 damage per attack and with two attacks per round, that is very low compared to the power builds.

This is the source of my "triple damage" claim. At level 11, a fighter with SS/CE can dish out four attacks of d6+15, which even if we account for the -3 penalty, easily is triple that of two attacks at d8+5 for a "regular" sword'n'boarder.

---

In between you have things like Rogue. I am personally convinced the Rogue doesn't get enough sneak damage to justify being such a squishy combatant.

By that I mean that if I am to forego all the robustness of a fighter or paladin or barbarian I would have wanted to easily be the king of DPR. But that simply isn't the case in games with feats.

The paladin and barbarian also get 2 attacks only, but in contrast to valor bards or war clerics etc they gain robust combat abilities that well compensates. The paladin probably has the biggest nova of all through smites, so no complaints there. And the barbarian comes with built in damage reduction and an intrinsic way to gain advantages, so it too competes well.

Of course any Cleric is a (very) strong spellcaster, so I'm not saying clerics are bad (far from it). I am, however, saying that the extra weapon proficiences of a war cleric is a direct trap option. They invite you to swing a weapon, which is always a bad choice.

Bards have it worse. The valor bard remains a squishie and doesn't really gain anything comparable to a rogue to justify entering combat. Bards should definitely drop anything they're holding, unless they're holding a music instrument!

---

There are a few speciality builds I don't feel I have enough experience commenting on. So just a few closing remarks on the ones I do:

The Monk can't compete on damage except for the lowest levels, but at levels 5-12ish Stunning Strike is an excellent and most powerful addition to any group, since to so beautifully sets up -5/+10 strikes from the fighters. At high levels monsters start to save against it, and I worry Monks lose out there.

The Eldritch Knight can easily be played just like a regular fighter, only he spends all his spell slots on Shields to become nigh-invincible in combat. Not convinced it's worth mucking about with cantrips and war magic. Just gain +5 AC and you have probably optimized your magic...

5e The druid's martial capabilities are weak, unless it wild shapes, and as overpowered that is at level 2, it probably loses out in the end. (Of course, by then the Druid is a full caster, so I'm not worried for the class. Just saying that I would drop any ideas of actually wielding a weapon in humanoid form)

I like this post a lot. People think the Rogue deals a lot of damage. It doesn't its roughly average.

Without feats EB is an outlier and if you have no feats but allow MCing the Sorlock is the new OP build.

Feats and MCing are basically opting in to break the game. I allow it but are under no illusions to the consequences (encounters being to easy, concentration not being much of a draw back etc).

Your class evaluations are spot on, Monks are decent at damage though and are very useful to have around but they tend to get over shadowed by the -5/+10 feats. Stunning strike and flurry of blows are your bread and butter. I prefer them over the Rogue in the skirmisher role.
 
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TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
Of course looking solely for at-will damage is a little short sighted. It's much better to look at total damage output over a day IMO.
Yea, that's kind of why I'm asking. If I have a baseline of at-will styles that I know are pretty balanced, than I can start looking at other class features, feats and spells and see if there's any that are out of whack, scaling wise. I know SS and GWM mess it up, so they're gone.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
Without feats they are mostly balanced. Without SS/GWM PAM and Shield Master are your new OP ones.

Sentinel and the dual wielder are roughly where you want the power levels IMHO.
Yea, I noticed that as well. I think at low levels, the single best thing to aim for is a way to reliably use your bonus action.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Yea, that's kind of why I'm asking.
A few things, in no particular order, that I believe would greatly enhance the game for people sensitive to charop:

* remove the general +2 bonus from the "Archery" fighting style. It is a far too generous and wholly misplaced bonus, given out by someone that completely underestimates the power of being able to project your party's force at range. Yes, if you're the only archer in the group ranged fire isn't broken, but once the players realize nobody needs to be melee-based, the game ceases to work as intended. (I have added the two words "...with cover" to change it into "+2 against targets with cover")

* remove Crossbow Expert. It provides three benefits, all bad or misshapen. The, by far, most important reason is there should not be any way to remove ranged disadvantage when in melee. But also how the feat initially appears to allow the scimitar + hand crossbow fighting combo - it does not. What it does is overshadow dual wielding since it effectively allows you to dual-wield a single hand crossbow, AND it effectively gives you the "Two-Weapon Fighting" fighting style (the bonus action hand crossbow attack gains Dex to damage) so you can combine it with the "Archery" fighting style! The removal of "loading" is minor, and could concievably stay assuming the other nerfs to the SS/CE archer are implemented. The easiest solution is to simply bury the feat.

* remove the -5/+10 mechanism. 5th edition provides too many ways to turn misses into hits. This means that something like the Precision battlemaster maneuver is calibrated for a 1d12+5 attack - not a 1d12+15 attack! The feats can otherwise stay - replace the -5/+10 mechanism with a simple +1 Strength (for GWM) and a +1 Dexterity (for SS).

* completely reverse the recent clarification/errata on Eldritch Blast so it only scales with Warlock level. EB isn't too broken for a pure Warlock, but for a ranged martial its probably questionable and for a Sorcerer its right out.

Then I'd consider...

...adding a damage feat geared towards single-attack martials. Preferably something exclusive to melee (thrown is okay, but not ranged). This would be a feat that adds +X damage to a melee weapon attack once per turn. This would obviously help a fighter too, but the important take-away is that it should not scale with Extra Attack, so it helps the Rogue just as much. This would help to shore up many weak builds btw: the single weapon "Zorro" build, the valor bard, the war cleric, the sword and board etc...
 

I don't think there is a definitive answer because the efficacy of many of those builds depends on the rest of the party. For example, a shield master build synergises extremely well with other melee attackers, especially Rogues, but synergises very badly with ranged attackers.

Force multiplier classes are extremely hard to quantify. A single Paladin does much less sustained damage than a single Fighter, but put that Paladin in a party and the entire party is more effective than if they had the Fighter alongside them. A single Cleric is way behind a single Barbarian in damage, but that single cleric can bless three people and heal them when they go down, which the Barbarian cannot.

Defence is also hard to quantify. A weapon and shield fighter is doing less damage than a two-handed weapon fighter, but they are harder to hit, so they stay in the fight longer, so they end up doing more damage over the course of the combat. However, "more damage" is going to depend on the attack bonuses and armour classes of their foes.
 

CTurbo

First Post
Are we strictly talking about Fighting Styles? If so, I think the Archery's +2 to attacks is probably the strongest. It is especially awesome at low levels since it literally doubles your proficiency bonus to attack.

The Two Weapon Fighting style is most damaging at low levels(1-4) and hangs with the 2 attack Great Weapon Fighters at 5-10 assuming no feats.

Dueling is strong. +2 to damage is a lot at low levels for sure. 1d8+2 is roughly on par with 1d12+0 and characters that choose Dueling almost always use a shield for a higher AC.

I like the Defense fighting style, but it is rather boring for sure.

I actually do not like the GWF style and usually choose defense on my 2 handed weapon characters.

I have never seen Protection in action so I have no opinion there.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
A few things, in no particular order, that I believe would greatly enhance the game for people sensitive to charop:

* remove the general +2 bonus from the "Archery" fighting style. It is a far too generous and wholly misplaced bonus, given out by someone that completely underestimates the power of being able to project your party's force at range. Yes, if you're the only archer in the group ranged fire isn't broken, but once the players realize nobody needs to be melee-based, the game ceases to work as intended. (I have added the two words "...with cover" to change it into "+2 against targets with cover")

* remove Crossbow Expert. It provides three benefits, all bad or misshapen. The, by far, most important reason is there should not be any way to remove ranged disadvantage when in melee. But also how the feat initially appears to allow the scimitar + hand crossbow fighting combo - it does not. What it does is overshadow dual wielding since it effectively allows you to dual-wield a single hand crossbow, AND it effectively gives you the "Two-Weapon Fighting" fighting style (the bonus action hand crossbow attack gains Dex to damage) so you can combine it with the "Archery" fighting style! The removal of "loading" is minor, and could concievably stay assuming the other nerfs to the SS/CE archer are implemented. The easiest solution is to simply bury the feat.

* remove the -5/+10 mechanism. 5th edition provides too many ways to turn misses into hits. This means that something like the Precision battlemaster maneuver is calibrated for a 1d12+5 attack - not a 1d12+15 attack! The feats can otherwise stay - replace the -5/+10 mechanism with a simple +1 Strength (for GWM) and a +1 Dexterity (for SS).

* completely reverse the recent clarification/errata on Eldritch Blast so it only scales with Warlock level. EB isn't too broken for a pure Warlock, but for a ranged martial its probably questionable and for a Sorcerer its right out.

Then I'd consider...

...adding a damage feat geared towards single-attack martials. Preferably something exclusive to melee (thrown is okay, but not ranged). This would be a feat that adds +X damage to a melee weapon attack once per turn. This would obviously help a fighter too, but the important take-away is that it should not scale with Extra Attack, so it helps the Rogue just as much. This would help to shore up many weak builds btw: the single weapon "Zorro" build, the valor bard, the war cleric, the sword and board etc...
Without SS the archery stye is fine. 1d8 or so at +2 to hit vs 1d12 or 2d6 melee is a fine trade off IMHO.
 

bid

First Post
Are we strictly talking about Fighting Styles? If so, I think the Archery's +2 to attacks is probably the strongest. It is especially awesome at low levels since it literally doubles your proficiency bonus to attack.
Not really.

You are going from ~.65 to ~.75 to hit, that's about the same as going from 1d8+2 (6.5) to 1d8+3 (7.5) damage. That makes it about par with gwf.


That +2 is godsent when you have SS, otherwise it's nothing special.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Without SS the archery stye is fine. 1d8 or so at +2 to hit vs 1d12 or 2d6 melee is a fine trade off IMHO.
Sigh.

Another one not even mentioning the most important part:

That d12 has a 5ft reach, while an arrow has 80 ft or more.

As soon as you can't reach your next foe in melee, which WILL happen, that d12 of yours turn into a d0.

Not to mention how the fact that you DID reach your foe means your foe reaches you. At range you can often avoid enemy melee attacks altogether, and since many many monsters have considerably stronger melee attacks, this is probably an even stronger factor in favor of ranged.

So believe me when I say archery does NOT need a general, always-on, attack bonus!

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