Level Up (A5E) Manuevers (1st level) - Winners and Losers

Stalker0

Legend
Alright, another look under the hood to see what looks good and what could use some work.

I'm doing 1st level manuevers in this round because I have a new campaign starting with 3rd level characters, so as I've helped my players look at character ideas, I've done a lot of review of the 1st level manuevers and gotten some initial reaction feedback from my players. One of the things you'll note, I am extremely stingy when it comes to exertion. If something costs 2 exertion, it better be a HELL of a maneuver

Winners

Cleaving Swings - Two exertion maneuvers have to really earn their pay with me, but I think the ability to get an extra whole attack at low levels is very strong, and this gives big weapon users a very nice niche to highlight their style.

Doubleshot - The power of this maneuver is its simplicity, just straight up more damage, but with a nice flavor effect of the classic "two arrows at once" motiff.

Warning Strike - One of the best parts of the "Sentinel Feat" put into a manuever, I can see a lot of defensive oriented players liking this one.

Perceptive Stance - Considering the general importance of perception, a maneuver that basically gives you a +3 to perception is very solid.

Legion Stance - You could argue that with the right party, this stance will generate more extra damage than many maneuvers, allowing for a double melee combo to be very deadly.

Imposing Glare - First, the flavor of this one is great. How often does a fighter just want to stare someone down and cow them. But the mechanics are great, bonus action, a nice easy charisma save, and it works until the end of your next turn giving you some time to work with it. I also really love that targets don't become immune, you can keep doing it, its just a bit harder. This is a really solid and fun maneuver.

Striding Swings - It already give you much of the benefit of some of the "charge" type maneuvers, but you get all your attacks. Add to it that you can move through enemies to get to the nice juicy backline, oh yeah, this maneuver is super fun.

Dangerous Signature - Z is for ZORRO! A great flavor and solid mechanics. This is a more restricted imposing glare but can be repeated without additional cost, a fine way to distinguish itself.

Losers

Covering Fire - This consumes your action for the round, and gives one ally a lesser disengage action, but only against certain creatures and only ones you can see. As a reaction or maybe a bonus action...maybe, but as an action this is pretty terrible.

Deceptive Stance - Considering that basically all of the other stances give you a nice solid boost to skills....why does this one only work in combat?

Eye Slash - In theory the payoff on this one could be good, but its a constitution save AND a 2 exertion cost AND doesn't work with extra attack or two-weapon fighting, etc. Now it does last longer than some of the proning maneuvers (end of your next turn instead of beginning) but at double the cost and with a lot of extra requirements.... ultimately, I think the proning maneuvers are superior for the price.

Dangerous Strikes - As cool as this looks, at the end of the day a small increase in your crit range for the round is just not worth exertion....there are better ways to spend your resources. What's worse, the Berserker, the one class that miiiiiiight consider this because of furious critical....can't take it. This maneuver should have been a stance to be worthwhile.

Exploit Footing - I think the "Speed over Strength" maneuver is generally superior to this. It costs half the exertion AND you make an attack or could do a trip as a basic maneuver anyway. While technically this manuever has more chances to be used than Speed over Strength......its 2 exertion, that's half of your pool at low levels. Way too costly.

Riding Leap - This is one of those manuevers that is cool....but is sooooo niche. How often is a few extra feet of a jump on horseback actually going to make a difference? And this takes up a maneuver slot....a precious precious maneuver slot. If this was 0 exertion I don't know if I would take it....it feels like an ability that should be a small part of one fighter knack.

Raking Strikes - It consumes your action, with 2 exertion cost. Now if that was the only thing....it is two attacks on the same creature....so as a low level maneuver I swap out later I could see it. But no....you have to hit with the first attack or your 2 exertion goes down the drain, and you still have disadvantage on the second attack. That is way too many gambles for a 2 exertion maneuver.

Victory Pose - This maneuver has potential but its too restrictive. First....I have to use a specific weapon. Now in O5e that's not that big a deal, but remember in LU weapons matter a lot more, and switching weapons in combat is a much bigger deal. So suddenly there is a solid chance you may not be using your "chosen weapon" at the moment. Then you have to select specific allies within 30 feet. And then those specific allies need death saving throws. AND then....its only advantage on one death save. That's just.....pathetic. If it was a bonus on all death saves or I autopass the first death save or even auto rolled a 20 on the first death save.....ok, maybe its worth the extreme niche use. But for a mere advantage on one roll that might not come...there are much better ways to spend my exertion.

**Wounding Strike - And I saved the worst one for last, my absolute bottom tier maneuver, so bad that I remained confused how this one made it out of beta without changes (I have reread it so many times because I thought I just must be missing something, it can't be this bad). So first, we have to use a chosen weapon, so already restricted there. Then I have to hit with my very next attack or the maneuver is wasted. Now the trick with ongoing damage, it happens at the end of the creature's turn. So, there is a good chance the creature will succeed (on a con save mind you) before it takes any damage, let alone get some medical attention to remove the effect. Now if you look at the lowly commoner, it will have a decent 30% chance to succeed on a standard DC. Over 3 rounds (aka most combats), you're doing about ~3.8 extra damage to that commoner.....which is about the best you could hope for (most monsters you'll do less). Meanwhile, Doubleshot just can slap on an extra +4.5 damage with no save needed (even more if I crit). Now if we consider how much damage the effect would generally do over 1 minute....~5.68 damage (and to a commoner remember), a little better but nothing incredible, this is not some maneuver where you could one shot a creature and expect it to bleed out in the jungle, the odds are just way too low.

Now that's already bad. Then we remember that this consumes our bonus action.....a bonus action we could have just used to make a TWF fighting attack and gotten about as much expected damage for no exertion cost. And then we remember.....this maneuver costs 2 exertion.....TWO EXERTION! This maneuver isn't really worth 1 exertion....at two it instantly goes to the bottom of the barrel.
 
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Nice review!

My only feedback: I think certain maneuvers along the lines of Eye Slash might seem crappy to a fighter, with its massive pool of known maneuvers, extra attacks, and increased pace of learning maneuvers, but to other classes they are quite useful. When you max out at one attack - rogue - or two - berserker - maneuvers that cost an action and don’t grant extra attacks aren’t nearly as much of a sacrifice.

I’m currently playing an A5e rogue that has found Eye Slash, as an example, very useful when getting out of a pickle, especially when one BBEG is staring me down and I want to both get away and help my party out. Is it the best maneuver in the game? No, but it definitely has its niches. I think this applies to a few other maneuvers as well.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Also don't forget that fighters have abilities to reduce exertion cost, so some of these two-exertion maneuvers can be made 1 exertion (Maneuver Specialization).

The duelist feature Panache lets you spend one less exertion, down to zero points, for a limited number of time per rest.
 

Mister_Fish

Explorer
I agree on Covering Fire, when I was inputting some of the maneuvers into DnDBeyond for my players in a home game, I pretty quickly adjusted the text to allow up to proficiency bonus number of attacks (at disadvantage) whenever an opportunity attack would be prevented through the use of this feature.
 

Stalker0

Legend
So I just did my houserules for my first LU game, and the one manuever I did change was wounding strike:

Wounding Strike: Cost one exertion, and you immediately do 1d4 damage along with the normal effects.

At that point, it's still not an amazing maneuver, but it at least has a chance of being ok.
 

When you get to 5th level, Death Blow has me baffled. Costs 3 exertion and 2 extra attacks sacrificed, and I'm not even certain its effects break even. There are some others where you sacrifice an attack that have a similar problem.
 
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FitzTheRuke

Legend
I'm not saying "Covering Fire" is any good - but you list it as "one" ally. It's "a number of creatures (allies) up to your proficiency bonus". So it's a little better than you think. Still not great, but good in a hasty retreat, I suppose.

Wounding Strike, on the other hand, is every bit as shockingly bad as you describe.
 

getquarked

Villager
Losers

Covering Fire - This consumes your action for the round, and gives one ally a lesser disengage action, but only against certain creatures and only ones you can see. As a reaction or maybe a bonus action...maybe, but as an action this is pretty terrible.

Dangerous Strikes - As cool as this looks, at the end of the day a small increase in your crit range for the round is just not worth exertion....there are better ways to spend your resources. What's worse, the Berserker, the one class that miiiiiiight consider this because of furious critical....can't take it. This maneuver should have been a stance to be worthwhile.

Exploit Footing - I think the "Speed over Strength" maneuver is generally superior to this. It costs half the exertion AND you make an attack or could do a trip as a basic maneuver anyway. While technically this manuever has more chances to be used than Speed over Strength......its 2 exertion, that's half of your pool at low levels. Way too costly.

Riding Leap - This is one of those manuevers that is cool....but is sooooo niche. How often is a few extra feet of a jump on horseback actually going to make a difference? And this takes up a maneuver slot....a precious precious maneuver slot. If this was 0 exertion I don't know if I would take it....it feels like an ability that should be a small part of one fighter knack.
Strongly agree with your winners, but going to make a quick pitch for some losers solely bc as a DM I can think of multiple times they would have made a difference:

I think Covering Fire is situationally useful, if you have to reach a location in a short amount of time, running through a battlefield, so im gonna put that nearer to the "mid" list. Situationally useful, plus it effects more than one creature.

For Riding Leap; any time you get to add 4 feet to a jump, you can make this work in your favor. IN ADDITION: does it say anywhere that combat maneuvers have to be done in combat? I mean, I think this can be made to work with any exploration challenge, meaning that jump to the other side of the river just became possible.

And finally for Dangerous strikes, if you are in a position where you could be making a lot of attacks (See: duelist with parrying counter & Parrying thrust) you could really benefit from this. Its honestly 1 point of exertion, and you dont really lose anything besides that one point, so I think it could be strictly a mid tier one with some neat synergies, more so than a loser.

Exploit footing isnt that bad either, but its not great. especially for 2 points, if it was 1, id say its fair.its one of those "meta-knowledge required for proper usage". I.e "this is the last fight before a rest so i'll use it."
 

Stalker0

Legend
For Riding Leap; any time you get to add 4 feet to a jump, you can make this work in your favor. IN ADDITION: does it say anywhere that combat maneuvers have to be done in combat? I mean, I think this can be made to work with any exploration challenge, meaning that jump to the other side of the river just became possible.

And finally for Dangerous strikes, if you are in a position where you could be making a lot of attacks (See: duelist with parrying counter & Parrying thrust) you could really benefit from this. Its honestly 1 point of exertion, and you dont really lose anything besides that one point, so I think it could be strictly a mid tier one with some neat synergies, more so than a loser.
For these two we also have to consider the opportunity cost. Taking these is another manuever we didn't take. Spending actions on these is denying us another manever.

Riding Leap.... again I think its a cool maneuver, and sure you could come up with times where its useful. But is that really worth your maneuver slot, its not like you get a whole bunch of those. Add to that its taking away from other maneuvers you can do in the day, I still think its very weak. If it was 0 exertion, I would still consider it on the weak side but probably wouldn't make my losers list. But the fact it costs both is just too much to me.

Dangerous Strikes: Lets dig in on this one a little more. So a Adept is in theory a good candidate for this ability. A 5th level Adept can get 4 attacks a round, so should be a reasonable test.

Assume a Greatsword (using adept weaponry) and +5 stat (full monty). The adept will do an extra +2d6 + 5, or 12 damage. Using the 5% boost that this manuever gives us, that's .6 damage an attack. Over 4 attacks, that is +2.4 damage. How about with advantage instead? Now we are at +4.44....ok, maybe we are cooking with a little gas now, but that did cost us an exertion. So how much do we get out of a flurry of blows? Lets say the monster is tough and we only hit 50% of the time. Average damage for the 2 attacks in this case = +12 damage! Suddenly that +4.44 isn't looking so great.

How about a ranger going full out with a bow and using its trained accuracy at max. +1d8 + 5 + 5d6 on the first attack, +1.35. Then +1d8 +5 on the second attack, +.475. Total = 1.825. For context doubleshot is a +2.475 if we say there's a 50% chance to hit with the next attack (aka a very tough AC, so about as low as doubleshot is going to go). Ok what if we combined doubleshot with this maneuver and the trained accuracy. Total = +2.05.....it would have been better to just use a doubleshot on the first round and then doubleshot again on the second. Throwing in advantage again: +3.38 and + 3.79 respectively. So here there could be a case where the maneuver gives some advantage.


Overall, the damage boost of dangerous strikes is just not very good, but I could see a situation where a ranger is going FULL MONTY on trained accuracy and is just throwing everything they can into one set of attacks and they have advantage. In that case I could possibly see the use.
 
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Kinematics

Adventurer
Dangerous Strikes: Lets dig in on this one a little more.
Analysis of Dangerous Strikes should also consider secondary benefits from the crit. In particular, the berserker's Furious Critical feature makes this tempting. Now you're not just getting a tiny bit of extra damage (on average), but an extra chance at a fear effect, knockback, knockdown (advantage), or just flat out extra attacks which themselves can trigger extra attacks. (Or various other effects.)

I've had to do my own rethink of maneuvers for my barbarian -> berserker conversion, because my preferred weapon (glaive) is not a heavy weapon anymore. That immediately removes the majority of the Adamant Mountain school.

If you look through the 1st degree maneuvers, there's actually almost nothing available as an action to improve your damage output. The only option I see from a quick scan is the 2 point Cleaving Swing from Adamant Mountain, which requires a heavy weapon.

The Razor's Edge school seems focused on crit fishing, and it is not an unreasonable focus if you have options to capitalize on crits for more than just basic damage. Unfortunately I haven't seen much other than berserker that really takes advantage of that. Still, I could see a couple different concepts that would work when focused in that way, especially if you get extra BA and reaction attacks (eg: Polearm Savant, dual wielding, various reaction combat maneuvers, etc).

Of course my own character has leveled past the point where Dangerous Strikes would be useful. It would be largely supplanted by Perfect Edge Stance, if I went for the Razor's Edge school. I would probably take maneuvers with a different focus at low level, but I wouldn't consider it a bad option.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Analysis of Dangerous Strikes should also consider secondary benefits from the crit. In particular, the berserker's Furious Critical feature makes this tempting. Now you're not just getting a tiny bit of extra damage (on average), but an extra chance at a fear effect, knockback, knockdown (advantage), or just flat out extra attacks which themselves can trigger extra attacks. (Or various other effects.)

I've had to do my own rethink of maneuvers for my barbarian -> berserker conversion, because my preferred weapon (glaive) is not a heavy weapon anymore. That immediately removes the majority of the Adamant Mountain school.

If you look through the 1st degree maneuvers, there's actually almost nothing available as an action to improve your damage output. The only option I see from a quick scan is the 2 point Cleaving Swing from Adamant Mountain, which requires a heavy weapon.

The Razor's Edge school seems focused on crit fishing, and it is not an unreasonable focus if you have options to capitalize on crits for more than just basic damage. Unfortunately I haven't seen much other than berserker that really takes advantage of that. Still, I could see a couple different concepts that would work when focused in that way, especially if you get extra BA and reaction attacks (eg: Polearm Savant, dual wielding, various reaction combat maneuvers, etc).

Of course my own character has leveled past the point where Dangerous Strikes would be useful. It would be largely supplanted by Perfect Edge Stance, if I went for the Razor's Edge school. I would probably take maneuvers with a different focus at low level, but I wouldn't consider it a bad option.
It also stacks with all sorts of crit range extending abilities, stances, & weapon enhancements (ie keen or whatever). I wouldn't be surprised if there is a spell that mixes with it too
 

Stalker0

Legend
Analysis of Dangerous Strikes should also consider secondary benefits from the crit. In particular, the berserker's Furious Critical feature makes this tempting.
Unfortunately, berserkers don't get access to that school. Otherwise, yes I would absolutely agree this could be a good berserker maneuver. I can't think of any other crit riders that makes this tempting and from a class that gets this maneuver (heralds seem like an idea but again don't get it).
 

Stalker0

Legend
It also stacks with all sorts of crit range extending abilities, stances, & weapon enhancements (ie keen or whatever). I wouldn't be surprised if there is a spell that mixes with it too
This unfortunately does not help the "effective damage boost". With normal rolls, its going to 5% no matter where the original crit range was at, and so my numbers above stand as they are.

For advantage rolls (the one place where I think you could argue DS has some merit), the effect actually WEAKENS with higher crit threat.

Moving from 20 (advantage) to 19 (advantage) is a 9.25% increase to a crit. From from 19 to 18 is a 8.75% improvement, etc. Actually that reminds, me I think I may have given DS a bit too much damage above, I'll need to adjust (I think I gave them a +9.75% crit instead of a +.9.25%).
 
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Stalker0

Legend
Part of my issue with many damaging maneuvers is probably in comparison with battle master maneuvers (which granted is a bit apples and oranges).

Battlemaster manuevers provide +4.5 (5.5 at 10th) damage AND a control effect....and generally wait until you hit before you have to spend the die. This is a major difference, meaning that battlemasters are only using their die when they will actually get benefit. Conversely, most LU maneuvers require investment ahead of time, leading to many situations where exertion is "wasted".

Now for conditions this can still be okay, conditions can be very powerful and have a major impact on a battle, so taking some exertion risk with them can be ok if the payoff is worth it. In comparison, adding in just a bit more damage is really not that impactful.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
This unfortunately does not help the "effective damage boost". With normal rolls, its going to 5% no matter where the original crit range was at, and so my numbers above stand as they are.

For advantage rolls (the one place where I think you could argue DS has some merit), the effect actually WEAKENS with higher crit threat.

Moving from 20 (advantage) to 19 (advantage) is a 9.25% increase to a crit. From from 19 to 18 is a 8.75% improvement, etc. Actually that reminds, me I think I may have given DS a bit too much damage above, I'll need to adjust (I think I gave them a +9.75% crit instead of a +.9.25%).
You are looking at it the wrong way. It's not a 5% bonus chance, it's one step in the chain towards a 20% crit chance. There are soo many abilities that work as part of that goal.
 

Kinematics

Adventurer
Unfortunately, berserkers don't get access to that school.
Ah, had forgotten about that. Though there's always the Martial Style feat to get around that, I kinda feel like that's a feat I'd wait til around level 12 to pick up, so as to benefit from the higher tier maneuvers you can choose, and greater flexibility to use more higher-tier maneuvers. So it wouldn't end up being a low-level choice anyway.
 

Stalker0

Legend
You are looking at it the wrong way. It's not a 5% bonus chance, it's one step in the chain towards a 20% crit chance. There are soo many abilities that work as part of that goal.
No it’s a 20% crit chance on a small handful of checks a round. As a stance the small amount of damage would be worth it because it’s all the time, so the extra damage adds up. But right now it’s just now a major damage booster.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
No it’s a 20% crit chance on a small handful of checks a round. As a stance the small amount of damage would be worth it because it’s all the time, so the extra damage adds up. But right now it’s just now a major damage booster.
perfect fist, champion of the arena, center of mass, improved critical, vicious weapons, tactical support, strike the cracks stance, perfect edge stance. 17-20 isn't bad for a crit fishing build, if that's a build with only one attack per round it doesn't matter if it's only used when for example an ally is using a the help action & crossing their fingers for the tactical support feat to go off for yet another jump.
'
Yes there are ways to get it to a semipassive 17-20, but the surgical combatant feat grants You gain proficiency with the Dangerous Strikes maneuver and do not have to spend exertion to activate it." along with a few other benefits making this one of the ways to get 17-20 passively.
 


Doskious

Explorer
I cannot disagree with the analysis as regards Wounding Strike.

I'm contemplating a different change to the ability than the one mentioned above:
So I just did my houserules for my first LU game, and the one manuever I did change was wounding strike:

Wounding Strike: Cost one exertion, and you immediately do 1d4 damage along with the normal effects.

At that point, it's still not an amazing maneuver, but it at least has a chance of being ok.

The change I'm considering is this:

Wounding Strike: As stated, but with the following addition:
- If the creature elects to attempt the Con save, it takes equivalent damage to the ongoing damage it would take from this ability at the end of its turn; if it elects to attempt the Con save and fails, the DC to remove the ongoing damage increases by 1. The target of this ability is not required to attempt a Con save to end the effect.

I feel like this accomplishes almost the same net effect in terms of guaranteed damage as Stalker0's houserule, and introduces some more interesting dynamics to the equation. Creatures with high Con saves are still unlikely to suffer significant damage from the ability (and that feels appropriate, and like it's fodder for some interesting narrative options after the combat), but it becomes significantly more dangerous against creatures with Con saves that are not on par with the DC (or simply unlucky creatures -- it's a save, there's a 5% chance that anyone will fail) who elect not to (or cannot) wait for proper medical aid, as attempting and failing the Con save means the creature will take 2d4 damage that round, or will take 1d4 damage and burn an action or an ally's action trying to deal with the wound. (Unless healing magic or regeneration renders it a moot point, and I feel like regeneration in particular ought to obviate this damage -- at that point, the character using Wounding Strike has brought a lasso to an artillery fight. As for healing magic, any time you can make the enemy react to you is generally a good thing for you.)

Thoughts?
 

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