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PF2E Is this a fair review of PF2?

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Hello

I watched this review a few days ago. It confirmed that PF2 is not for me.


(EDIT: I am particularly curious about minute 12-20)

But now I'm wondering... is that a fair review? Maybe it's completely biased! So I thought I would ask people who have tried PF2 instead of just reading up a bit about it (like me).

thanks you for your input!
 
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willrali

Explorer
I like Puffin Forest.

This review, however, exaggerated a great deal and missed what I consider to be actual problems. Many of the things in the combat sequence he described only need to be written up once, and then quickly applied in-game. It would be fairly straightforward to concoct a 5e narrative that‘s just as tedious. (I had a grinding three hour encounter just the other day, where the applicability of passive perception was very much in dispute.)

PF2 has a lot of options, and with options come complexity. In my experience, as long as the numbers for expected manoeuvres are done in advance, play is very fast. If not, there’s a lot of referencing and flipping. So: if you don‘t want to do the numbers in advance (about 30 min-1 hr work for a character), maybe look elsewhere.

What he doesn’t focus on is my biggest gripe with the game: the not-great organization. Sure, they tried to make a step-by-step character creation guide right at the beginning. But there are so many conditions, keywords, effects and whatnot that are integral to your abilities, it quickly becomes a bewildering ‘where’s Waldo’ nightmare. It’s like reading a math textbook where the definitions for key concepts are buried in arbitrary places. I actually wrote up my own game-term glossaries and flow-charty rules references for the table so people could actually play the damned game. With those in place, though, the game is fast, flexible and fun.
 


CapnZapp

Legend
Hello

I watched this review a few days ago. It confirmed that PF2 is not for me.


But now I'm wondering... is that a fair review? Maybe it's completely biased! So I thought I would ask people who have tried PF2 instead of just reading up a bit about it (like me).

thanks you for your input!
What does it say for those of us preferring the written word and/or not having 40 minutes of time?
 


Kaodi

Adventurer
Printed books are good to have for the apocal- pauses and looks around -for when the lights go out. But otherwise even online resources for Paizo rulebooks are officially supported so why crack open the books except for maybe for straight readthroughs?

In any case I have not watched the video and I do not plan too. Hearing about it has already gotten boring on Discord.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
I had already watched the video. It pretty much tracks my experience.

Honestly, whether you enjoy PF2 will depend on both the players and your play circumstances. Even one player who can’t remember the standard bonuses will slow the game to a crawl (moreso than 5e, because there are more bonuses and they are more dynamic).

Players devote more time to mechanically customizing their characters. For Puffin (and for me), this extra time spent doesn’t really pay off, but it does for some players.
 

Retreater

Legend
Printed books are good to have for the apocal- pauses and looks around -for when the lights go out. But otherwise even online resources for Paizo rulebooks are officially supported so why crack open the books except for maybe for straight readthroughs?

In any case I have not watched the video and I do not plan too. Hearing about it has already gotten boring on Discord.
Yes, this apocalypse has actually proven the value of Online resources more than print books, based on the amount of time I'm gaming online.
 

Retreater

Legend
To answer the OP's question, I don't think he's giving it a fair review. I watched this video over the weekend and found his review of PF2 to be much like his retrospective of D&D4: full of exaggerations, hyperbole, and a snarky, whining tone. I'm not saying that his assessment is wrong - because PF2 certainly isn't for everyone - just that his presentation was unfair to his viewers who might be interested in the game.
Yes, PF2 is certainly more complex than 5e. We all expected that. But is it streamlined compared to PF1, absolutely. Does it give more options for traditional play and customization than 4E, heck yes. It also succeeds in presenting a ruleset that is more uniformly designed than 5e, options to buy magical equipment (which is a big selling point to many players), fun tactical options for monsters, a far better designed encounter design system, the best ability score creation system I've seen in a D&D adjacent system (as well as a robust, interesting character creation system). It brings martial characters up in power to feel like they're equal contributors in combat. The three action economy is the best model of actions "D&D" has probably ever had. The tiers of success (critical failure, failure, success, critical success) makes every die roll important, regardless of the modifiers. Casters can power up their spells to have greater effects if they have the actions in their turn to spend doing it.
I'm not saying he's wrong. If the system isn't for him, that's fine. But I don't think he's fair about it, and I think the video is a disservice to his viewers who may want to give it a try. Which I would encourage everyone to do. The rules are free online. My group came into it thinking we were going to hate it, and tried it as almost a joke. It's now that group's preferred fantasy RPG.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I don't have 47 minutes spare to watch it, unfortunately. Any chance of a synopsis of the main points?
What does it say for those of us preferring the written word and/or not having 40 minutes of time?
All right.

Tl'DR: Look at 12-20 min, is this real? Then 21 to 28 min for even more complexity.

(keep in mind that this is my synopsis and I'm trying to be fair, but I'm also trying not to spend too much time on it, and also that as much as I am trying to be fair, I might not get it right).

First, perspective of the reviewer: has been playing 5e a lot - so much so that he almost forgot the old 3.X days.

He's positive about the amount of options and customization you have for your character. He's happy about buying magical gear, although it turned out to be less fun that he thought.

He's very impressed with the 3 action system. (honestly, so am I)

He's concerned about the status/conditions - they are the foundation of the game and they are 48 of them, which makes learning the game more difficult. Some spells description are very cursory. For example, someone cast the good old classic "invisibility" spell. Now I wasn't super happy how the rules were layed out in 5e - you had to dig around to find the consequences of this. PF2 is worse based on his example.

The invisibility spell gives the invisibility condition
The invisibility condition says you have the undetected condition
The undetected conditions means that enemies attacking you have the flat footed condition and furthermore, they have a 50/50 miss chance

He talks about skill spread - more variation than 5e, and much much bigger spread in numbers, but less fiddly than skill ranks (think 3.X). The concept of bounded accuracy is gone and this has consequence. A level 1 monster can't hit a level 7 PC, and a party of level 7 PCs will struggle immensely to even hit a level 12 monster. On the other hand, niche protection is more present - if the wizard can't figure our a complex arcane problem, it's going to be very rare that the barbarian just rolls well and figures it out.

He mentions that it is pretty easy for the GM to adjust the numbers quickly - maybe these are goblin veterans, or maybe this giant is weak? However, it can make the PCs feel that their increasing numbers are meaningless because the challenges just keep adjusting.

The +10 crit rules means that it is important to get the exact number for each attack.

... I'm not listening to all of this again, it's like a nightmare of complexity - I'm sure as heck not typing it all out. Start at 12:05 to about 20:15 for the description of ONE ATTACK. 21-26 min is the attack sequence for one ranger NOT INCLUDING DAMAGE. 26-28.15 is the damage.

It took him half a day to write the script to describe his ranger's attack/damage, and he's not even 100% sure he got it right.

Bottom line is that you can gain a certain amount of proficiency with the system, but then you hit a plateau - you can't seem to go faster than that. There are many conditional bonuses/conditions that change a lot, and core elements of the system make the combats go quite slow. The multi-attack penalty significantly slow things down, especially for the GM. It also makes time prepping sessions longer.

The transition of PF1 to PF2 in Golarion makes using old pathfinder adventures difficult. A tons of villains and problems in PF1 golarion in PF2 have been solved!

Crafting rules has problems. They are best done off-table, but this requires back and forth with the GM, and off-session gaming is... not great.

Final thoughts: The game is not for him. The character creations rules are great sure, but that's not playing the game! All that complexity doesn't add much to the actual play experience, and the combat is too slow. Sure you have great choices of action, but each choice has a wave of consequences that take time to resolve. The 3 action system is great but it could have been much more simpler. They ended up converting their PF campaign back to 5e.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
The transition of PF1 to PF2 in Golarion makes using old pathfinder adventures difficult. A tons of villains and problems in PF1 golarion in PF2 have been solved!
Of course, nobody has to transition from the old timeline to the new one even if they do advance to the new rules. This is, honestly, kind of a silly complaint.
 

Retreater

Legend
First, perspective of the reviewer: has been playing 5e a lot - so much so that he almost forgot the old 3.X days
He mentions in another video that 4e was his first D&D edition, so I don't know how much experience he had in 3.x. But I think it's clear that he's coming into his PF2 review from a 5e-focused mindset. Nothing wrong with that as 5e brought a lot of people into the hobby with a similar experience.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Of course, nobody has to transition from the old timeline to the new one even if they do advance to the new rules. This is, honestly, kind of a silly complaint.
If this part is of interest to you, it's fairly short, from 32:45 to 40:20. I'm not typing out his entire argument ;)
 

CapnZapp

Legend
But I think it's clear that he's coming into his PF2 review from a 5e-focused mindset. Nothing wrong with that as 5e brought a lot of people into the hobby with a similar experience.
I believe that should be the assumption of every publisher of a D&D game after circa 2016.

I believe that Paizo taking essentially zero steps towards making their product palatable to 5E gamers is the single most inexplicable move during over a decade of role-playing history.
 

Nilbog

Snotling Herder
I like Puffin Forest.

This review, however, exaggerated a great deal and missed what I consider to be actual problems. Many of the things in the combat sequence he described only need to be written up once, and then quickly applied in-game. It would be fairly straightforward to concoct a 5e narrative that‘s just as tedious. (I had a grinding three hour encounter just the other day, where the applicability of passive perception was very much in dispute.)

PF2 has a lot of options, and with options come complexity. In my experience, as long as the numbers for expected manoeuvres are done in advance, play is very fast. If not, there’s a lot of referencing and flipping. So: if you don‘t want to do the numbers in advance (about 30 min-1 hr work for a character), maybe look elsewhere.

What he doesn’t focus on is my biggest gripe with the game: the not-great organization. Sure, they tried to make a step-by-step character creation guide right at the beginning. But there are so many conditions, keywords, effects and whatnot that are integral to your abilities, it quickly becomes a bewildering ‘where’s Waldo’ nightmare. It’s like reading a math textbook where the definitions for key concepts are buried in arbitrary places. I actually wrote up my own game-term glossaries and flow-charty rules references for the table so people could actually play the damned game. With those in place, though, the game is fast, flexible and fun.
Probably a bit cheeky but is it possible you could share those flow charts? The rule organisation is my biggest bugbear of the system
 

Parmandur

Legend
If not, there’s a lot of referencing and flipping. So: if you don‘t want to do the numbers in advance (about 30 min-1 hr work for a character), maybe look elsewhere.
It’s like reading a math textbook where the definitions for key concepts are buried in arbitrary places. I actually wrote up my own game-term glossaries and flow-charty rules references for the table so people could actually play the damned game. With those in place, though, the game is fast, flexible and fun.
Well, um. This is I actually a much more effectively dissuasive review,with no acrimonious rhetoric. Thank you.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
A few observations. Not 'cause I necessarily I agree with the man (or your transcript rather), but because it's otherwise too easy to write off his criticisms.

At first sight (and really a review can't be expected to look deeper than that) the game comes off as incredibly thought out and tidy. Scratch the surface, and any number of question marks pop up. Kudos to him finding some of them.

He's happy about buying magical gear, although it turned out to be less fun that he thought.
Yeah. 3.x/PF/d20 magic buying is loads of fun, and 5E deciding to drop it like a hot turd is one of the biggest flaws of that edition.

However, he's right it isn't as fun as it could have been. Why? Because while 3e (and 5e!) get magic items right (as opposed to pricing them, in 5e's case) PF2 gets them absolutely wrong. In fact, PF2 brings magic items* back to the 4E nightmare of anemic items that do incredibly little, and often with ridiculous limits on how and when you get the little benefit there is. Players simply can't be bothered to remember to use items when the benefits doesn't significantly bolster their characters' abilities.

*) except for fundamental runes (=striking weapon runes) but that just opens a different can of worms

For example, someone cast the good old classic "invisibility" spell. Now I wasn't super happy how the rules were layed out in 5e - you had to dig around to find the consequences of this. PF2 is worse based on his example.

The invisibility spell gives the invisibility condition
The invisibility condition says you have the undetected condition
The undetected conditions means that enemies attacking you have the flat footed condition and furthermore, they have a 50/50 miss chance
It's even worse than that. You'd think invisibility augments sneaking, but by RAW it replaces it (both give the same condition). The condition of undetected seems to both mean "the enemy doesn't know where you are" and "the enemy doesn't even know something's there at all" simultaneously.

The concept of bounded accuracy is gone and this has consequence.
Nothing new to a player of 3e/PF1 or 4e, though.

The +10 crit rules means that it is important to get the exact number for each attack.
The game is definitely not for the math-averse, that is correct.

Let us stay on that topic for a sec:
The multi-attack penalty significantly slow things down, especially for the GM. It also makes time prepping sessions longer.
On the other hand, that's likely just his inexperience talking.

Assuming he's not maths-averse, that is. Like I said, this game absolutely requires players quick at doing basic algebra in their head. If you're not comfortable calculating 33+2-1+3+1-4+1=? in your head multiple times each round*, PF2 isn't for you. There are no shortcuts or easy cheatsheets.

You simply must be math-friendly. (Don't trust anyone downplaying this!) Luckily most PF1 fans, clearly Paizo's target demographic, seem to have no problems with this. (Me and our group are all a bunch of tech-loving nerds with Int as our by far best ability so this isn't a problem for us)

*) making an attack against a flanked foe (+2) using reach through a friend's square (-1) using your +3 weapon with bless +1 and it's your second attack in the round -4 (because it's an agile weapon) and you switched target from your first attack and got +1 because it's a sweep weapon.

Crafting rules has problems.
Without listening to the video I can only say he's right, but likely not for the reasons you'd think. The crafting rules are so difficult to understand even now a year from release many Paizo gamers doesn't seem to get it right. In reality it's simple: the core benefit of crafting (i.e. item crafting as opposed to recall knowledge or doing field repairs) doesn't save or make you any money. Any money at all. They only ensure you have an Earn Income activity at your own level (instead of whatever level the settlement or GM offers you). The illusion of earning money comes from making more money than your friends stuck with the lower task level of the settlement or GM.
 

Retreater

Legend
I believe that should be the assumption of every publisher of a D&D game after circa 2016.

I believe that Paizo taking essentially zero steps towards making their product palatable to 5E gamers is the single most inexplicable move during over a decade of role-playing history.
I think Paizo was trying to make the game they wanted to play and (based on their playtest) a game they thought existing Pathfinder fans would enjoy. I couldn't really ask from more from a company.

There have been successful systems that have been released since 2016 that don't directly cater to 5E players: Savage Worlds Adventurer's Edition & Call of Cthulhu 7e are two I'm familiar with.

Maybe instead of wanting a piece of the "D&D pie" they've decided they want ice cream? I think that's a valid reason.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Yes. 12:20 is very real. Levels are very important in this game and a huge key to the balance level of this game. If you don't like level-based balance, you will not like PF2. The way they did the math based on the levels is why it runs from 1 to 20 with challenges within the recommended range working at those levels. PF2 is as far as I know the most balanced game in the history of D&D and much more balanced than PF1. They literally made balance the priority. It is enormously difficult to find an unbalanced option in PF2. It is more balanced than 5E. It runs in a very tight range.

That being said it is very easy to create creatures in that balance range. You can create any creatures of any type to be an appropriate challenge while at the same time feeling very real within the game world. If you want to create orcs to challenge lvl 15 characters, you can do so quite easily. There is no preconceived notion that all orcs are lvl 1 creatures or lvl 6 or what not. There is no preconceived notion that any creature is of a particular level. There is only the general design of the creature at a given level, then the ability to modify it to be a truly challenging and terrifying creature of any level you require. This modification is extremely easy to implement.

The spell system is far more interesting than previous editions of D&D or PF1. The four levels of success makes spell balance a little different. Sometimes even a successful saving throw can lead to problems for the target and a critical failure by a few mobs on an AoE spell can make your caster feel like a rockstar.

Personally I prefer the 5E casting as far as how they did heightening and spell selection. I prefer PF2 for how they did saving throws. I'm starting to get used to the incapacitation trait and seeing it isn't as much of an impediment as i thought it was.

_____

PF2 has less small details to manage than PF1. It has less preparation time. It's more balanced than any other version of D&D in history and far more balanced than PF1. It literally went out of its way to balance the math of the game to work from 1 to 20. Even the new Adventure Paths by Paizo are made to play from 1 to 20 with an entire chapter that will be played at lvl 20 including using your level 20 powers and abilities. It is balanced so play at lvl 20 is still challenging and interesting.

There are three types of modifiers: status, circumstance, and item. Everything is built around these bonus types.

Character customization is far more robust than 5E. You can build almost anything using the various systems. Now that the APG came out you can build even more concepts.

Small modifiers make big differences in PF1. When you look at something, make sure you read it carefully. A small modifier may look weak on paper, but it's quite potent and can shift damage and effectiveness quite a bit. Players need to understand how they work to ensure they use powers with small modifiers intelligently.

Martials are the primary single target damage dealers in the game. Casters are for most of their existence weak single target damage dealers, but can be really potent against AoE targets at higher level. Main thing to focus on for casters is effective action options that combine with spellcasting.

Skills are real power in PF2. You need to know what they do and use them. They work in both combat and non-combat situations.

Suffice it to say I prefer PF2. I like it better than PF1 and better than 5E. It has enough extra material to make customization interesting and yet it is so amazingly balanced that I started to homebrew again. I lost interest in 5E when allowing feats and multiclassing made Demon Lords in Out of the Abyss seem weak. I lost interest in PF1 after getting tired of the balance issues. Then PF2 came out and wow, the balance. I can actually pull a giant out of the book against appropriate level characters and quickly make a tough fight no matter how hard my players try to break the game. That means I can focus mostly on story and encounter design, while easily making monsters that challenge the players at any given level as long as I work within the recommended math range. Paizo designers must have really spent a lot of time on the game math.
 
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FrozenNorth

Adventurer
I do think Puffin exaggerated the calculations on his Ranger for comedic effect. That being said, there are a lot of on the fly calculations, and because of 4-stages of success, you absolutely have to do these calculations accurately 2-3 times per turn.

By way of example, my group played Plaguestone (so we were level 1-4), in a party that didn’t rely a lot of buffs. Even in those cases, there were generally 2-3 bonuses/penalties active on every roll. The most common were: bless, flat-footed, and cover.

Our martials tended to attack three times, so it went :

1st attack: attack roll +prof (written on the char sheet) + 2 or 3 bonuses/penalties.

2nd attack: new roll, recalculate with a -5 (or -4 if agile or sweeping against a new target)

3rd attack: new roll, recalculate with a -10 (or a -8 if agile).
 

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