Level Up (A5E) Maneuvers (4th and 5th Tier) - Winners and Losers

Stalker0

Legend
Alright, lets look at the biggest, baddest maneuvers. Tier 4 and 5 here we come!

Tier 4
Winners
Stand Tell Stance - For the "Adamant Mountain Master" this is a very solid power boost, basically making all of your core maneuvers better.

Wild Swing - Extra attacks at 1 exertion now, alright!

Spinning Parry - This feels like a solid upgrade in the defense department. I can combine the idea of making an attack miss and stunning a target (denying it other attacks for even more defense).

First Blood - Probably one of the few 3 exertion maneuver I whole heartedly offer a Winner rating too. Initiative quite frankly....wins fights. In a key fight, the difference between going first and going last is tremendous, and gaining control of that is just insanely powerful.

Perfect Edge Stance - Just raw awesome.

Steely Steed Stance - It could be argued this is the most "essential" maneuver in the book, as its hard to imagine most mounts surviving the kind of combat you would expect at these high levels without it.

Disrupting Charge - A lot of spell interruptions previously require you to be very close to a spellcaster, but this one provides a lot more chance to put that disruption in play. that would already be pretty good. However, with some reasonable DM interpretation on when the reaction occurs, this maneuver is MUCH more powerful than that. You could for example, move behind a wall, preventing the spellcaster from targeting you. Or you could move away from your group and avoid an area effect, etc.

Mistaken Opportunity - This may be my favorite 4th tier for its design. The extra attack on a miss, fine but I've seen that at lower tiers. Ok adding +5/+6 to damage....not bad, but not quite there. Oh....a reasonable chance to stun an enemy (no save, no legendary resistance), ok I'm sold!

Losers
Mundane Missile Stance - Being able to "throw anything" is cool and all, but this is a high level STANCE.... meaning I am denied access to all of my other cool stances while using this. And two exertion, even for a stance that can be pricy. The idea you can't use this on heavy weapons is a little insulting, that to me is exactly the kind of thing you should be pulling off at this high a level.

Dashing Razor - We have had a lot of "move and attack" type maneuvers so far, and most of them are MUCH lower tier than this one. The speed boost can be nice, and if it was an automatic boost....this might be ok as an upgrade to some other maneuvers. But requiring me to hit to get the bonus sours the maneuver, we should not have to work for this small a bonus at this tier.

Sharpened Awareness - Spinning Parry is both better imo AND cheaper. If this was 2 exertion it would be fine, but 3...come on!

Bloody Roar - I love the flavor of this maneuver, I just wish it was better. So we are giving up our extra attacks, which makes the damage boost less impressive. But the crux, we have to spend 3 full exertion which are completely wasted if we miss. The effect is nice, but not THAT nice for a 4th tier maneuver. Honestly, I would probably like this better if I didn't even have the weapon attack, and instead just got to get the roar off automatically.

Mercurial Striking Stance - So in most cases, your going to have a d6 weapon with this stance (and higher weapons actually get less benefit). For a d6, this stance = .5 damage per attack. I appreciate the 1 exertion cost, the designers clearly respected this was weaker than many other 4th tier stances. But as competition for my single stance slot....I just think there are much better stances out there. I would rather take many 1st tier stances over this.

Wind Strike - Maybe its me, but I really don't see what's so strong about gaining a 20 foot range on a single attack. Its super cool flavorwise, but giving up my other attacks (and often that will be 2 or even 3 attacks I'm giving up), 3 exertion.... for something I could do with a cheap thrown weapon? The final nail in the coffin is the whole perception save thing... I'm sorry but if I'm blowing 3 exertion round after round on one target just to get one attack in....by gum just give me my advantage!

5th Tier
Just noting that we are now in 9th level spell territory. So my expectations are quite high at this point, I'm expecting these maneuvers to rock!

Winners
Horizon Shot - This is one of those maneuvers that brings out the kind of flavor I'm expecting of a 17th level character. The idea of an archer on a mountaintop shooting at people from a mile away is just badass. More practically, this can remove disadvantage from range, but unlike many maneuvers before it, this works on ALL attacks.

Wheeling Charge - The scaling of his maneuver is pretty incredible. just riding past a line of troops can give you 6+ attacks easily. However, the fact you can get two attacks per target is the real appeal. Though you still take OAs, at least they are at disadvantage.

Branding Steel - A wonderful control maneuver. It works on all of your attacks, allowing the chance to brand multiple creatures or to ensure you hit one. Against monsters with no access to healing this can be a huge control benefit, and is really cool.

Burning Embers - The fact is, at these levels spells are common, and getting a solid heal plus the revenge benefit is both mechanically strong and just super cool.

Furious Barrage - In terms of single target damage you gain an average of +2.89 attacks (factoring in the 1 attack you lost taking the maneuver. That's if you assume a 65% to hit rate and then advantage. So in the right circumstances this is the highest damage single target maneuver.

Perfect Assault - As a "finishing move" where a Fighter has used a good amount of their exertion already, there is no more exertion efficient thing in the game. The sheer number of potential crazy combos with this thing is obscene.

Losers
Tidal Parry - The "avoid attacks" train has long left the station, this is a late and fairly weak version of the effect, not worthy of 5th tier.

Tsunami Dash - If this maneuver removed OAs or gave me unlimited attacks, than I would be totally on board. But to get real meat out of this manuevers requires some very special monster placement or probably a lot of OAs. the monsters I'm likely fighting at this level or going to deliver pain, which is a hard sell for a 1d6 weapon. If rogue's could take this it would have a great nice as a crazy "flurry of sneak attacks", but alas they cannot.

Heightened Concentration - Um...what? You have to be a high high level martial to use this ability, your not a spellcaster. I would much rather take an avoidance maneuver to not make the concentration save in the first place AND avoid damage.


Special Note
Armor Lock - When I read through armor lock, I was like "oh this is a winner here, a paralysis rogue for the win!" But then I realized, only Fighters, Marshals, and Warrior Monk Adept actually can take this maneuver, as Rogue's don't get 5th level maneuver. Under a rogue's tutelage with an insane Sleight of hand check (and not giving up any attacks), this maneuver would be solid gold. But the other classes here are not likely to have super skill power, and give up a lot more for the privildge. I still think this maneuver is quite solid, but I don't think it fits the winner category with those notes.

Death Blow - Since someone specifically asked me about this one, here are my thoughts. If we assume that a fighter with this maneuver is going to max out their crit range to 17-20. If I assume the fighter has a 70% chance to hit at base, and then has advantage. I'm giving up about 2 attacks worth of damage using this maneuver all said (factoring in all of the crit doublings), so a big tradeoff. In return, I have a 36% chance to activate a save. Lets look at a demilich as an example, a high CR creature that doesn't have too high a con save but still has a strong one. Lich will have a 45% chance of failure, so a total chance on the attack of 16.2% to kill the lich. Not great, but when you consider that could be like 10+ attacks worth of damage...that could actually be pretty good.

We then have to add in another factor, there is no need to do damage to activate the death effect. If I crit, it activates, even if I do no damage. So against monsters who are immune or resistant to my attacks (which are more common at this level).... suddenly it gains a new use.

And lastly, there is the flavor factor. If a fighter takes up some high level monster in a single swing with this maneuver, I guarrantee you that story will be told in the group for years afterward.

I don't think this maneuver is that great by any stretch...but I can see it in certain circumstances, enough to not make it a loser....barely.
 
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Kinematics

Adventurer
Armor Lock - When I read through armor lock, I was like "oh this is a winner here, a paralysis rogue for the win!" But then I realized, only Fighters, Marshals, and Warrior Monk Adept actually can take this maneuver, as Rogue's don't get 5th level maneuver.
Oh, wow, yeah. I hadn't looked at the limits on maneuvers, but for a tradition that seems tailor made for rogues, to find out that they could only get a single 4th degree maneuver at 19th level, and never get the 5th degree maneuvers, that feels like a really cheap shot.

Oh, and Armor Lock also has Extra Attack as a prerequisite, so a pure rogue wouldn't be able to get that anyway. Of course in this case, I don't know why the Extra Attack limit is on it in the first place, as no class that can actually select it doesn't have extra attack.

Of all the martial characters, herald and rogue are the ones that are limited to only 4th degree maneuvers, and only get access to those at 19th level. I have to wonder about the rationale for that. I guess those two classes do tend to have more options in general (spells and skills), but still..

Looking at the 4th and 5th tier maneuvers from the three traditions that rogue gets, they feel like things the rogue should be able to get. The ones that might not be a perfect fit are restricted by the Extra Attack requirement, and I really wouldn't argue about any of those other than Armor Lock.
 

Njall

Explorer
Alright, lets look at the biggest, baddest maneuvers. Tier 4 and 5 here we come!



Losers


Sharpened Awareness - Spinning Parry is both better imo AND cheaper. If this was 2 exertion it would be fine, but 3...come on!

While, in general, I agree with your evaluation, I beg to differ about Sharpened Awareness.
With PtA errata'ed, there's not a lot of ways in LU to gain advantage for a whole turn, at least for a martial; the only way I found, aside from Sharpened Awareness is Discerning Strike (unless I'm missing something), which, however, is an action.
With Sharpened Awareness you can set up quite a bit of burst damage by comboing it with other maneuvers (for example, with Furious Barrage or Powerful Attacker+Rapid Strike on the following turn).
Yeah, it's costly, but I think it's worth it.

Also, Spinning Parry needs a decent dexterity score, and as a fighter, for example, you'll probably want a high wisdom score more than you want a high dexterity score due to heavy armor. It's a great maneuver, and the chance to stun, while less effective ad higher levels, is still really useful, but it's not a maneuver that everyone can just grab and use effectively.

So well, Sharpened Awareness may not be a winner in my book, but it's not a loser either.
 

Xaielao

Explorer
Horizon Shot - ....the idea of an archer on a mountaintop shooting at people from a mile away is just badass.
This maneuver is Legolas sniping the orc on the back of a warg that nobody else has even noticed yet in Two Towers.
 

Death Blow - Since someone specifically asked me about this one, here are my thoughts. If we assume that a fighter with this maneuver is going to max out their crit range to 17-20. If I assume the fighter has a 70% chance to hit at base, and then has advantage. I'm giving up about 2 attacks worth of damage using this maneuver all said (factoring in all of the crit doublings), so a big tradeoff. In return, I have a 36% chance to activate a save. Lets look at a demilich as an example, a high CR creature that doesn't have too high a con save but still has a strong one. Lich will have a 45% chance of failure, so a total chance on the attack of 16.2% to kill the lich. Not great, but when you consider that could be like 10+ attacks worth of damage...that could actually be pretty good.

I‘m not sure I’d see that as ”pretty good”. More like “not absolutely useless“ in my estimation. ;)

Heartseeker is another underwhelming one. If you have three attacks, do not take this. So let’s assume it‘s being taken by a ranger or barbarian with only two attacks. So if you just attacked twice you would do normal damage on each attack that hit, and double on each crit. With the maneuver it‘s one attack with advantage, but if both hit it’s a crit, so on first glance maybe as good as hitting with two attacks. And if one of those also crits you get a little damage boost. However if both crit there is no further benefit, while with two attacks if both crit you are getting quadruple damage. I’m not seeing much reason to use this one either, unless you are a rogue with just one attack. Really good for them.

Thing is, low level maneuvers often have a pretty good benefit that is widely applicable. I can’t get excited about a high level benefit that doesn‘t end up being as effective relative to its cost, and giving it’s difficult to make a maneuver worth giving up multiple attacks. Erring on the side of not being overpowered has the effect of turning them into weird: ”maybe I can get slightly more benefit from this than just taking my attacks, if I build my character around it and use it in just the right niche situations”. And there is the cost of learning the maneuver rather than spending your limited high level maneuvers on one that is clearly worth its cost—or just picking a lower level one that is still worth its cost.
 
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